Sunday, July 24, 2005

"The Taiwan That You May Not Know About"

EastSouthWestNorth brings us the translation of an article titled "The Taiwan That You May Not Know About" by Lung Ying-tai. It is the single best article I have ever read about the weltanschauung of Taiwan's people. Excerpt:
There are some people who loved Chinese tradition and culture. They learn calligraphy, they read poetry, they study the philosophers but they refuse to identify with the governments of China.

There are some people who do not like the Chinese government, so they want to eliminate Chinese culture altogether. They refuse to speak putonghua and they refuse to travel to China.

There are some people who have a strong sense of national identity and they want China to be strong. They don't care how China can get strong, nor about the price to be paid. In their vision of Great China, Taiwan is a mere historical footnote.

There are others who do not regard either the people or the nation as a meaningful concept. All the talk about nation or people are mere myths used by the rulers to fool the people. The only thing that they care about is that the government -- no matter if it is a colonial administration, or a trusteeship, or an occupation and no matter if the rulers are black, white or Japanese -- will be accepted as long as they receive the maximum personal freedom and civil rights; and vice versa.

After the explanation of the political thoughts, the article discusses the freedom enjoyed by all of Taiwan's people, which concludes:
On both sides of the Taiwan strait, how can this be an opposition between independence and unification? How can this be a clash between socialism and capitalism? How can this be a conflict between nationalism and separatism? As far as most of the people of Taiwan are concerned, this is really a lifestyle choice; it is very concrete and not abstract at all.

Thus, the lifestyle choice is the critical core question for the problem. If you talk to him about "Blood is thicker than water," "The overriding principle of nationhood," "The nation-building project" and other grand narratives, aren't you straying away off topic?

One of the most fascinating things about the article is that it was published in a newspaper on the mainland (with the last part removed). The whole article is certainly worth reading.