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Cross-strait delegation arrives in Beijing

TRUST-BUILDING: The Ministry of National Defense has canceled a live-fire exercise scheduled to be held on Kinmen tomorrow because of the travel and tourism talks

Thursday, Jun 12, 2008, Page 1


Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, left, receives flowers from Chinese hostesses upon his arrival at Beijing Airport yesterday at the head of a 19-member cross-strait delegation. The talks will begin today.


Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) arrived in Beijing yesterday for historic talks on improved cross-strait relations.

“We hope through the talks this time that the two sides will be able to achieve a win-win situation so that people across the Taiwan Strait can live better,” Chiang said before departing Taipei.

He said his four-day trip to Beijing was a “journey to build mutual trust” with China.

The two sides had their first historic talks in 1993 in Singapore, but China suspended further dialogue in 1999 to retaliate against Taiwanese officials advocating independence.

“Although the schedule sounds simple, the task is very heavy and the significance is also quite heavy,” Chiang said.

“These meeting topics are a starting point, which affects the development of relations between the two sides,” he said.

“Basically, what we are trying to achieve through the talks is cross-strait peace and prosperity as well as stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Chiang said.

The delegation was welcomed upon its arrival by Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中), the executive deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office in China’s State Council.

Liang was scheduled to escort the 19-member delegation to a formal reception last night.

Weekend charter flights and opening Taiwan to more Chinese tourists will be discussed by Chiang and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) today.

Chiang was expected to sign agreements with Chen and then meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) tomorrow. The delegation will return home on Saturday.

The group flew from Taipei to Macau and then took an Air Macau flight to Beijing. Chiang did not make any public comments upon arrival.

The official China Daily said yesterday that this week’s meeting reflected the “warming of relations” since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) replaced former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Meanwhile, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said yesterday that the cross-strait cargo charter flight issue would surely be included in today’s negotiation, rebutting criticism that the government had allowed Beijing to set the agenda for the talks.

Liu said the deals on direct weekend charter flights for passengers and Chinese tourists would materialize soon because both sides of the Strait had exchanged views on the issues many times.

“But there surely will be discussion of the cargo flight issue during the negotiation,” he said, adding that he would comment further after the negotiations.

Liu said the Cabinet was scheduled to approve a proposal next Thursday to open the small three links — the direct transportation between Kinmen and Matsu and the Chinese port cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou — to all Taiwanese.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday that it had indefinitely postponed a live-fire exercise scheduled for tomorrow on Kinmen, after holding one on Monday.

“Cross-strait relations is one of the factors weighed when we made the decision,” ministry spokeswoman Chi Yu-lan (池玉蘭) told Agence France-Presse.

“We are pleased to see bilateral ties moving on the track of peace and stability,” she said.


Understanding the word ‘Chinese’

By Lee Hsiao-Feng 李筱峰
Thursday, Jun 12, 2008, Page 8

Toward the end of the Qing Dynasty, Governor of Taiwan Liu Mingchuan (劉銘傳) issued stamps bearing the words “Great Qing Taiwan Post Office.”<> The postal services were of course part of the Qing administration, but the stamps bore the characters for Taiwan on them alongside the word “Formosa.”

When the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, it implemented policies designed to undermine any Taiwanese identity. The post office was called Chunghwa Post and was no longer allowed to use the name “Taiwan.” Only toward the end of Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) presidency did the government change the name to Taiwan Post.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wants to change the name back to Chunghwa Post and again delete the word “Taiwan” from all stamps.

This “de-Taiwanization” is evident on the Presidential Office’s Web site as well. Under Chen, the Web site said “Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan),” but Ma’s government quickly removed the Chinese characters for Taiwan.

Ma spoke a lot of Taiwan and localization during his election campaign, but after taking office he tossed Taiwan out like a pair of old shoes and is working to put the word “China” back into contexts from which it was removed.

Some people are concerned that Ma’s administration is making a mistake, undoing the progress achieved under Chen to rid this country of the label “China.”

Rather than attacking Ma as imprudent, however, it is only necessary to remind the pan-blue camp of the criticism it aimed at Chen and his government. It should be evident that the government seeks to enforce its own ideology, which is exactly what it accused Chen of doing.

What should be clear now is that our government is incapable of not playing this game of ideology. As former presidential adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) asked, how can politics exist without ideology?

Ideology should, however, have limits. The public should take a clear look at the identities — “Taiwanese” and “Chinese” — that our politicians constantly seek to feed us and decide what makes sense.

Ma used the term “Chinese people” in his inaugural speech and KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) did the same on his recent trip to China.

What does “Chinese people” mean? Is it a term that can stand up to academic analysis? Is it based on any logic or purely political and designed to promote a political agenda?

History might shed some light on this matter.

When Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋), founder of the Ming Dynasty, sought to overthrow the Yuan Dynasty under the Mongols, he promoted the cause with the slogan “expel the barbarians, revive China.” When Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) and others sought to overthrow the Qing Dynasty under the Manchurians, they used the same slogan.

The word “barbarian” made it clear that the Mongols and Manchurians were not Chinese.

After the Qing Dynasty had been toppled and replaced with the Republic of China, this rhetoric changed dramatically. Suddenly the country’s leaders sought to build a republic of “the five peoples.” There was no more talk of barbarians, who were not to be expelled but rather included in a new, wider definition of “Chinese.”

That is the history of the term “Chinese” that politicians today use in their rhetoric and it is a term that has no basis in ethnological and anthropological studies, but rather in a political agenda. “Constructed” would be a nice description of this term, but “fabricated” is more accurate.

Genetic research by Marie Lin (林媽利), director of the Transfusion Medicine Laboratory at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, has documented the differences between the Han Chinese of north and south China. In addition to the Han Chinese, Beijing recognizes more than 50 minority ethnicities within China’s borders.

Is it logical for the many peoples of China to be grouped into one term — the “Chinese”?

This fabricated term was designed to uphold a hegemony. In China, anyone who mentions the words “autonomy” or “independence” or questions the logic of the word “Chinese” as applied to, say, Tibetans, is labeled a splittist. The peoples of East Turkestan, which is called Xinjiang by the Chinese government, are largely Turkic. They have a distinct ancestry, language, writing system, religion and culture. Yet they are trapped by the meaningless phrase “Chinese.” Anyone who supports the distinct identities of Xinjiang or Tibet and who believes they deserve independence is considered a traitor in China.

About 80 percent of the people in Taiwan have a mixed ancestry. They are the descendents of people from Fujian or Guangdong in China and the Austronesian Aborigines of Taiwan. What does the term “Chinese” mean to the Taiwanese?

Taiwan is luckier than Tibet and Xinjiang in that it is not ruled by the People’s Republic of China. If we don’t do our best to defend Taiwan’s independence and sovereignty, however, and if we don’t protect our democracy and freedom but rather allow an imperialist Chinese ideology to guide our future, we will be making a horrible mistake.

Lee Hsiao-feng is a professor in the Graduate School of Taiwanese Culture at National Taipei University of Education.


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