ROC Splendid 100, Who is Paying for This Reinterpretation of Splendid?

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Thursday April 01, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

"Republic of China Splendid 100" so reads Ma Ying-jeou's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) proposed new slogan for Taiwan. Splendid and for Taiwan? How so? When the Republic of China (ROC) allegedly was founded in 1911, Taiwan had already been modernizing since 1895 and was some fifteen years on its way to becoming Japan's model colony to the world. On the other side of the Taiwan Strait in 1911, some Han Chinese that were tired of having had to wear the Manchu queue for centuries in a disheveling Manchu Empire hatched a revolt that never quite succeeded. By 1912, sixteen of twenty-two provinces joined in, but the crucial ones in the north where Puyi was emperor and Yuan Shi-kai, commander of the Beiyang Army held power, remained firm. So begins splendid.

Compromise, compromise, compromise and then collapse. Elections were held in early 1913 and the newly formed KMT would win the majority of the seats for the first China congress, but Yuan Shi-kai would get himself elected president of this questionable new republic. He would dissolve the KMT and in January 1914 he would suspend the parliament. The KMT would run to Japan where they could safely regroup as the Chinese Revolutionary Party. China would enter a chaotic period hastened by Yuan's death (1916). So progressed splendid; in the meantime Taiwan continued modernizing under Japan.

China's splendid chaos would continue. Sun Yat-sen would return (1917) and set up a rival government to the elected one in Beijing. Warlords supporting Sun's government would fight warlords supporting the government in Beijing. Emerging communist Russia recognized Sun's government, while western powers recognized the Beijing government. Taiwan continued modernizing. Is there a déjà vu here or what?

China's chaos continued with the 1921 formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); it would soon enter the fray and continue the Civil War that was unresolved from the days of Yuan Shi-kai. There would be the Japanese invasions, the Great March, the capture of Chiang Kai-shek, compromise, World War II and finally the forming of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. The PRC would eventually take the ROC's UN seat in 1971. As one of the last holdouts, the USA would recognize the PRC's Beijing government in 1979. The USA while declaring Taiwan's status as "unresolved" would acknowledge that Beijing believed there was "one China." This is a splendid history but what does it have to do with Taiwan?

Throughout this, Taiwan had thoroughly modernized under Japan and then entered WWII with it. After the war from 1945 - 1949, Taiwan suffered er-er-ba (2/28) and was denuded by the KMT as it fought its Civil War with the CCP in China. The KMT lost and had no where to go but Taiwan; Taiwan became the KMT's splendid escape valve. In reality, Taiwan suffered martial law, White Terror, and a one-party state under the KMT until 1987. Multiple parties were finally allowed and democratic progress at long last began to be made. If Taiwan were to use the word splendid, it would only come with the consensus of 1996, when all the people of Taiwan were finally able to freely elect their own president. They could then splendidly set about making a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Ironically, despite four successive free elections, Taiwan still remains saddled with its anomalistic name ROC and out of date 1947 Constitution.

So now we are in the present; we first had the slogan "Republic of China, Founded 100 Years" created by Jerry Fan. For those who don't remember Jerry Fan, the KMT supports him. He was the campaign manager of Shih Ming-deh and his Red Shirts back in 2006. At that time Shih raised some US$3 million dollars from nebulous sources; then in six months, Fan spent about half of that US$3 million on advertising. Yes, Fan does own an advertising company. Fan has continued in this business and so it is not surprising that Ma's KMT government turned to him. He has since changed his slogan to "Republic of China, Splendid 100" whatever that means.

Questions of course arise. What does all this have to do with Taiwan? And further, just like the expensive ECFA ads on TV, Who is paying for all of this? The Taiwanese taxpayers? And still further, Ma Ying-jeou now wants Taiwan to be entering into a year long celebration of "ROC Splendid 100." Why? Who will be paying for that year? Do you sense a rip-off?