Sunday, June 18, 2006

DISCLAIMER, and some thoughts about Taiwan

In the post below, I quoted someone who had very specific views about the cross-straits issue. Those are not my views. I mean, by quoting them here, I was not in anyway endorsing them. My opinion on this issue is not all that important. I'm not a politician on either side--green or blue, Taiwanese or Chinese--nor can I vote here. Instead, what I find interesting for me, as well as for my potential and actual readers, is to allow people here to speak. No, I don't mean guest posters (though that is a possibility), but direct quotes, sort of like actualities but without the voice.

My goal here--or at least one of them--is to put my finger on the pulse of this society. What are people here thinking and doing and liking and hating and wanting, etc...? What are the trends? What is the historical picture? What is the political struggle? What did someone say to me in the cafe or while cutting my hair or at the hotsprings? I'll tell you.

That's not to say that this site is not also about me (or my view, my realizations, my perspective,etc.); just that when I quote someone, it is not by necessity my view, unless, of course, I say: "Totally far out man! That was a wicked cool idea!" Yes, that probably means I endorse the idea.

To be frank, more often than not, I hear people express the desire for Taiwan to be admitted into the U.N. Being human and somewhat easily influenced by my surroundings, I am swayed by this view--partly because I hear the desire expressed so often, but also because I have a developing awareness of Taiwan's history, and know that Taiwan wasn't in the orbit of the Chinese state until sometime in the 17th century. Okay, you got me, yes, geographically speaking, it was in the orbit.

Over the next few centuries, the island gradually became culturally Chinese, if not always politically Chinese, but Austronesian cultures are still visible on the island, particularly outside Taipei.

But it is not just about the past, but the present as well, and how the past and present infuse each other. How are people thinking now, and how is their present thinking informed by the past? My speculation is that Taiwanese would now have a much different impression of their relation to China if they had fared better under KMT rule. Many people--as far as I can tell--welcomed Chinese rule, and hoped for a better life than they had under the Japanese. Instead, they soon discovered they were treated as second-class citizens. There are reasons why people are skeptical about Beijing's willingness to liberate them.

Well, I initially meant this to be a short post, so I'll stop hear. Stay tuned for more on the developing saga, as the picture continues to emerge.


Blogger Rob said...

Wulingren, this is fascinating! Thank you for providing this forum. His perspective made for enlightening reading. It's always interesting to read the perspectives of people who are impacted by the national policies of their governments. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times had an intersting Op-Ed about the political weakness of Hu in China. I wonder if that might mean some provocations from the government in Beijing so Hu can strengthen himself politically.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

As always, Rob, thanks for the feedback. I missed Kristof's Op-Ed, but I'll check it out. Do you know what day it was? I recently read an interesting piece on the BBC Asia site (the site is worth checking out) on how the central government in China can't control local leaders in places like Guangdong, though it seems to buy into certain Northern Chinese prejudices of the South, and the region in particular, as wild and out of control.

Taiwan is a somewhat different case, since it has been a de facto separate country for more than 50 years, and before that it was a Japanese colony. As any Taiwan independence advocate will tell you, it has never been ruled by the government of the People's Republic of China. Rule of the island over the last 400 years has been handed over from one power to another--Dutch and Spanish, a Ming loyalist with pirate ties who used the island as a base from which to attack the Qing Manchu government and also to control trade in the Taiwan straits, the Qing who reluctantly took control of the island, the Japanese who saw it as the first step in a Colonialist expansionist mission, the KMT nationalist governernment who lost a bloody civil war against the communists and also used the island as a base from which to retaliate, and now the semi-democratic (as democratic as any government in the world) jointly controlled by the DPP, the KMT, and some other parties (breathe). Fascinating place.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I'll definitely check out the BBC Asia site. Click here for the Kristof column.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

That was an interesting Op-Ed. I don't always like Kristof, but he is generally good on China. Too bad the article is only available to those who pay the fee. I'll have to quote some of it here. Isn't this story why it is so necessary to fight against Bush's 17th century unitary theory of the president, or whatever silly jargon they are labelling "return to monarchy."

1:34 PM  

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