Ma Ying-jeou: The KMT is Taiwan

Today is Retrocession Day (光复节) in Taiwan. Singapore’s Morning News (联合早报) writes that Taiwan’s ruling party, the KMT (国民党, Kuo Min Tang), will argue that it was the KMT which, as the ruling party of the Republic of China (中华民国), had recovered Taiwan from Japanese rule, and then – in president and KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou‘s (马英九) words – created Taiwan’s political and economic miracle. The KMT, also in the words of the president, would add that it was still the party which was leading the people of Taiwan to face the challenges of the 21rst century (“创造台湾经济与政治奇迹的,是国民党;如今带领台湾人民面对21世纪挑战的,还是国民党”).

The KMT argues that it had recovered Taiwan (光复台湾), defended Taiwan (保卫台湾), and reconstructed Taiwan (建设台湾).

Morning News points out that Taiwan Retrocession (台湾光复) is interpreted in completely different ways by the KMT and Taiwan’s main opposition party, the DPP (民进党, Democratic Progressive Party). The DPP criticizes the way the KMT equates the end of Japanese rule over Taiwan with a “return to China”, rather than the day when the Taiwanese were put into a position to become their own masters.

Former Taiwanese Lee Teng-hui (李登辉), Taiwan’s (or the Republic of China’s) first democratically-elected leader, diluted the role of Retrocession Day, and the DPP, when introducing two-day weekends (rather than only Sunday as a day off), scrapped Retrocession Day as a holiday and discontinued the tradition of large-scale commemorations from 2001.

Beijing, in turn, picked up the tradition in 2005 and has since emphasized the importance of Retrocession Day as a great victory of the Chinese people in the anti-Japanese war, and as Taiwan’s return into the bosom of the motherland (中国人民在这一天取得抗日战争的伟大胜利,以及台湾重新回到祖国母亲的怀抱), writes Morning News.

Taiwan’s opposition hasn’t made Retrocession Day (or its rejection of it) a big issue so far this year. But earlier this month, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁, currently jailed on what appear to be rather flimsy charges) declared that the idea that the ROC possessed sovereignty over Taiwan had to be unequivocally denied so that a new and independent country could be established in Taiwan, the KMT website quotes from unspecified newspapers.

A blogger from Taiwan, Talk Taiwan, posted some remarks on Taiwan’s legal status on Friday which describe an alternative viewpoint to the KMT’s Retrocession concept.


Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice, September 12, 2009
Taiwan was temporarily…, June 16, 2008
“L’état, c’est moi” , Infoplease

6 Responses to “Ma Ying-jeou: The KMT is Taiwan”

  1. How ironic it is to say that it was a “great victory of the Chinese people in the anti-Japanese war” when the war on the then Japanese-Formosan soil was fought by only Americans.


  2. If China succeeds in browbeating the world into handing over Taiwan, it will indeed have been a great Chinese victory that the US beat Japan.


  3. ‘Αλισον: it seems to me that referring to a “great victory of the Chinese people in the anti-Japanese war” – in this context – isn’t only ironic, but really a pretty silly pretension. The rest of the world should ask more questions about the actual nature of Taiwan’s legal status after the end of Japanese rule, rather than buying the CCP’s version of history.
    Interesting story among your links today, Mr Turton – Ten years to tackle the “Taiwan Question”.
    Your suggestion that America and China should include the people of Taiwan in their discussions is fair enough, but I’m wondering if that will happen. Britain and China for sure didn’t include the people of Hong Kong in their talks during the early 1980s.
    Obviously, Taiwan is a different story from HK, in that Taiwan has been de-facto independent for many decades, and is really a sovereign state.
    But who should speak for Taiwan? It’s current government? It is democratically elected – but even if it made efforts to speak for the entire Taiwan people, its definition of Taiwan’s statehood would look blurred, wouldn’t it? Is Taiwan the Republic of China, or is it simply Taiwan?


  4. Link to this article in the Taipei Times:

    Is it just me or is Taiwan headed towards becoming the first country in the history of the world that regresses from a young and troubled but fully-functioning and recognized democracy to becoming part of a gravely troubled totalitarian one-party state? China is facing a severely troubled economy with 25 million recently unemployed workers and a real possibility of violent social unrest across the nation. The apparent increase in corruption at all government levels and the rapidly widening gap between the abominably poor and obscenely rich combined with a non-existing quality control mechanism makes China a very bad choice for any kind of trade agreement, especially under a One-China policy.

    Is our current government really that weak, naïve, and short-sighted? Do they truly believe that the territory of the R.O.C, by default, includes the territory of China and therefore signing an agreement under the One-China Policy is absolutely acceptable? Or are they all positioning themselves in favorable view of China’s leaders so that when the much sought-after unification takes place they will enjoy great benefits and preferential treatment possibly even being offered positions within the communist party? Now, anyone who has spent time studying the history of China and in particular the historical, ideological and emotional differences between the Nationalists and the Communists would have to agree that this would never happen! How many Tibetan leaders, pro-China or not, were given high level positions and/or benefits that went beyond some temporary face-giving ceremonies and banquets? Hello, anybody home?

    What can Taiwan do, as it is constantly faced with the shortcomings of a “country” that isn’t recognized and doesn’t behave as one due to the political complexity and historical inaccuracy as well as the short-term, financially-oriented thinking and planning of its government and citizens?

    First, let’s focus on what we do have to offer to the world: Pristine and gorgeous East and South coasts, complete with wonderful hot springs and splendid beaches, a central mountain range that offers some of the most spectacular sights anywhere in Asia, and warm, hospitable, and extremely generous people. We must develop and cherish these assets in an ecologically sound way, promote sustainable long-term tourism, and put in place an infrastructure that can facilitate this industry and can be expanded as demand grows.

    Secondly, Taiwan has to implement and enforce tough anti-pollution laws for factories and farms, so that our rivers and coastal areas can once again be safe for harvesting seafood, so that the river water can be used as a clean irrigation source, and so that we can provide an unpolluted and fun environment for recreational activities. This includes that 100% of households and businesses are connected to waste-water treatment plants and it is imperative that this goal is achieved within the shortest possible time.

    Thirdly, Taiwanese factories in China that produce food, or goods requiring highly skilled labor, should be encouraged to relocate back to Taiwan. Government subsidies or tax breaks to offset, at least initially, higher local wages and operating costs, could boost the competitiveness of Taiwan. This would ensure and maintain the well-known, quality and safety-oriented, high standards of Taiwanese goods as well as provide much needed jobs to an ailing economy. Absolutely no food products, cosmetics, and medicines should be allowed into Taiwan until there are rigorous and enforced safety procedures operational in both countries.

    Most importantly, Taiwanese must stand together united, believe in and strive for Taiwan’s identity and recognition, fight for their rights and for their freedom, and prove to themselves and the world that democracy is here to stay!

    Dan Luthi
    Taichung, Taiwan


  5. Maybe a year ago, I was told by a Chinese that sovereignty isn’t voted for, but fought for.
    It seems too early to tell if China’s view of Taiwan as a “renegade province” will eventually lead to war, to “peaceful reunification”, or to Taiwan’s peaceful international recognition as a sovereign state (be it as a Republic of China, or a Republic of Taiwan).
    Some years ago, former president Chen Shui-bian addressed the members of the European Parliament by video. Such gestures are important, as they help to ease Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, but they don’t solve the fundamental problems with China. They are basically gestures, and the main burden of defending Taiwan if need be lies with Taiwan itself, and with America.
    Taiwan is a place of hopeful concepts and projects. But I’m wondering how far the people of Taiwan would go to defend their country. Would they pay the price, if only war could bring them real independence? Would they see their island devastated, and many lives lost, before they can rebuild their democracy on more safe foundations than now?
    It’s an uneasy question, but one I’d like to put to you, Daniel, and to all bloggers and commenters who in their posts refer to the Taiwanese future.



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