Saturday, October 14, 2017

My latest for Ketagalan Media: The conversation about Taiwan's symbols matters

I got a weapon in my lungs
So tell the fuckin' cops to come
Get ready now
We never back down

- Back Down (Traudes)

This is what I was listening to as I worked with Ketagalan Media on the final edits to my latest piece, a rebuttal to J. Michael Cole's editorial on the importance (or lack thereof) of Taiwanese vs. ROC imagery and symbolism.

And it occurred to me: there was a time in Taiwanese history that my writing a piece like this was illegal, and the cops would have come. In many cases, the cops did come, and people died, some by their own hand. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Taiwanese people and not the dictatorship that persecuted them, I can say these things freely. The cops aren't going to come.

And yet, the symbol of the party that once sent the cops a-knockin' is still on the national flag for some unfathomable reason. I cannot agree that this isn't something we should keep talking about, nor that those who want to see party symbols wiped off the flag should settle down and 'play nice' so we can 'transcend' our 'small differences'.

That is to say, while I agree with some of Cole's points, I take exception to others: it is neither narcissistic nor a 'small difference' to have a legitimate point of contention that the symbol on the "national flag" is the symbol of one political party (in a democracy!), and the party that committed mass murder at that.

I'm sure a foreign resident giving her unvarnished opinion on the imagery associated with a country she is not a citizen of is likely to raise some hackles. All I can say first, is that this is my home too, and I do get to have an opinion on the goings-on in my home.  And secondly, that there are a lot of people who agree with me.

Taiwan deserves better. And I may not be the perfect spokesperson for that, but every last one of us has a weapon in our lungs. Let's use them.

1 comment:

HSF from Taiwan/Formosa said...

Dear Jenna,

As a Taiwanese, I am glad that you wrote such a great article to point out the importance of national identity symbols like flags and names.

However, while as you said, the name and symbols of the Republic of China cannot represent Taiwan, the way to solve this issue is far more complicated than simply change these stuffs. That's because while the current government administrates Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, Taiwan and Penghu are not its legal territories. The Republic of China regime, as a Chinese regime, can only make territory claims legally to Kinmen and Matsu.

As a result, the way to solve the issue, is not changing name and symbols of the Republic of China directly into that of Taiwan, but to create a version that can only be allied to Taiwan and Penghu, and leave the ROC version to Kinmen and Matsu.

Here is a recently declassified confidential document of UK government made in 1955 that clearly explains the relation between Taiwan and ROC regime (ie CKS regime).

It is certainly important to give people on Taiwan a name and symbols that express their identity, however, to save Taiwan from China, it is also important to distinguish Taiwan and ROC, admit there are two entities co-existing, and mutually apply different names and symbols to them. Furthermore, legally, Taiwan is not a sovereign state and people on Taiwan still need to exercise their right to self-determination to establish a "real" state, and due to the fact that Kinmen and Matsu are Chinese territories, the territories of the new Taiwan state do not include Kinmen and Matsu. Residents of Kinmen and Matsu have to exercise their own right to self-determination to leave China and join the new Taiwan state. That's the way to establish a state for peoples currently under the administration of the ROC regime.

Thank you for speaking up for Taiwan and welcome to join us to establish a real Taiwan state. No matter how we decorate the Republic of China regime, no matter how much it looks like Taiwan, it was/is not and will not be the real Taiwan state.