Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Today, the president of Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian publicly promised to change the names of government agencies and state-owned corporations so that they use "Taiwan" in their names. President Chen also stated his intention to rectify the names of Taiwan's overseas missions or defacto embassies, which are currently named "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office", or some variation thereof.

China Shipbuilding Corp., Chinese Petroleum, China Steel and China Airlines are all examples of the misnomers which are reminants of the myth propagated by the Kuo-Ming Tang (aka KMT or Chinese Nationalists Party) who fled to Taiwan from China after being defeated by the Chinese Communists in 1949. The KMT made Taiwan their base from which they vowed to restore the glory of the Republic of China which once ruled China. Today the two China myth is still enshrined in the example of China Airlines (Taiwan's national airline), which is to often confused with Air China (which operates and originated from continental China).

So President Chen's announcement was a pretty monumental declaration, since it will have far reaching application- though ironically enough, the impact will be felt more domestically. Taiwan already uses the New Taiwan Dollar currency, is referred to in the U.S.'s Taiwan Relations Act and has American Institute in Taiwan offices in both Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Does this seem like something so basic- that it's a strange thing to be getting all excited all over?!

Well, that's Taiwan for you...

A place that no one will recognize as a country.

A place that can't call itself by its generally accepted name (T-a-i-w-a-n).

A place which now has an official language (Mandarin) which didn't reflect the language spoken by its majority at the time of enforcement.
When the KMT came to Taiwan in the late 1940's, most people in Taiwan spoke Japanese or Hoklo Taiwanese, and interpreters had to be used to facilitate communication between the ruling Mandarin speakers and local Taiwanese Hoklo speakers.

A place that doesn't have a national flag.
The current "flag" is in fact the political party flag of the KMT.

A place that doesn't have a national anthem.
The current "national anthem" is actually the KMT party song.

A place where its people don't know the history or geography of their land because they've been too busy memorizing facts about China's supreme geographic features, and history of dynasties and battles.


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