--- Their Homeland Was Not Their Own
Their Homeland Was Not Their Own
For centuries the people of Taiwan were denied the opportunity to govern themselves. No matter how hard they might strive, their homeland was not their own. Born in Taiwan in 1923, I too lived through the ordeal of a colonial people in my youth.
By the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), people from China’s coastal areas began to migrate to the island and settle among the native inhabitants. During the following century, the Dutch controlled Taiwan for a while until Cheng Ch’eng-kung, a general of the former Ming dynasty, expelled them in 1662. Twenty years later, the Cheng regime was toppled by the Ch’ing dynasty (1616-1912), which by then had replaced the Ming as the ruling dynasty.
As I mentioned earlier, Taiwan was a Japanese colony when I was born, hence I was educated in the pre-war Japanese education system. I was fortunate enough to study at elite schools from primary through middle school, and then to go to high school and one of the best universities in Japan. I entered Kyoto Imperial University in 1943 and studied agricultural economics.
It is impossible to form a political culture that embodies Taiwan’s identity without, first and foremost, an intense love for Taiwan itself. I say this all the time, but the person who will lead Taiwan in the future must be a real fighter, someone who loves Taiwan deeply and will shed blood, sweat, and tears for Taiwan.
In my recommendations for political reform, I cited “Republic of China on Taiwan” as the phrase that best represents the position we are establishing. Under that term, our jurisdiction covers Taiwan, the Pescadores, Quemov, and Matsu, but not mainland China.
As soon as I stated that policy, there was a critical reaction that I was not interested in carrying on a relationship with the Chinese mainland. I believe that before we do anything else, Taiwan has to get its own house firmly in order if Taiwan’s identity is not completely clear to its people, how can we deal with mainland China.
The first step is to convince the international community of our identity and our place in the world. Only then can we think about China as a whole.
I said: “As leader of this country, I have upheld the ideal of popular sovereignty. This is also the principle advocated by Nationalist revolutionary leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sent. The people of our society already have a strong awareness of popular sovereignty today. We all possess the aspiration to be masters of this state.
However, we have not yet fully understood the meaning of ‘symbiotic community.’ We have just begun to practice democratic government, and our institutionalization process has not caught up with democratic development. Therefore, we must admit that different opinions exist in this society, which affect the formation of a symbiotic community. This goal can only be achieved through our mutual understanding, cooperation, wisdom, tolerance, and brotherly love.”