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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Diversity of statues is needed to honor icons

Diversity of statues is needed to honor icons

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In his will, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) expressed the hope that his spirit would always be with his “comrades and compatriots” — these last words sound creepy to a lot of people.

Chiang’s followers and their own followers in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have not followed his words and they have abandoned his anti-communist spirit — all they do is insist that Taiwanese students and the Taiwanese public always be surrounded by his cold bronze statues.

Placing statues of someone everywhere and promoting individual worship is a fascist trick, and it runs counter to the values of a democratic country.

Has anyone who has ever gone to Washington seen a bronze statue of former US president George Washington? The largest bronze statue in Washington is that of former US president Thomas Jefferson, and the most popular one is that of US marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Since many people think that Chiang should be held responsible for the 228 Massacre, many of the statues of Chiang that are to be found in every corner of Taiwan were spray-painted by protesters on the eve of 228 Memorial Day last month.

Surprisingly, some KMT members claimed that without Chiang, Taiwan would long ago have fallen under Beijing’s rule and become part of China. However, if the standard for deciding who should be honored with a statue is to be based on a person’s contribution to the maintenance of Taiwan’s independence, Chiang is not the greatest contributor, and there are many other people who must not be forgotten.

First, North Korea’s rookie leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, contributed to Taiwan’s independence the most. After Kim launched a war against South Korea, then-US president Harry Truman, who had first chosen not to involve the US, decided to send the US Seventh Fleet to the Taiwan Strait.

Second, former US secretary of state John Foster Dulles’ grandfather, John Foster, who also served as secretary of state, deserves a statue. After Foster left his post, he was hired by the Qing Dynasty as a diplomatic consultant, assisting Chinese official Li Hongzhang (李鴻章) in the negotiations of the Treaty of Shimonoseki with Japan. Eventually, China ceded Taiwan and Penghu to Japan, severing the ties between the Qing empire and Taiwan and Penghu.

Third, years after Foster’s involvement in China’s cession of Taiwan and Penghu to Japan, Dulles dominated the signing of the peace treaty with Japan, also known as the Treaty of San Francisco, which was signed between the Allied powers and Japan.

He was strongly opposed to the British suggestion that Taiwan and Penghu be returned to China, which is why the treaty merely states that “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores,” leaving the status of Taiwan and Penghu undecided. In addition, he also prohibited Chiang from launching a counterattack against Japan and thus helped maintain the “status quo,” according to which Taiwan is not a part of China.

Chiang’s followers should stop talking nonsense and humiliating him. They should be satisfied to always be surrounded by his spirit, instead of statues of him, and they should eliminate the last vestiges of fascist rule and the nightmares of the Taiwanese people.

In democratic Taiwan, a diversity of statues is needed for us to commemorate outstanding talent in all domains nurtured by this land. This would make Taiwan both more truthful and better.

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Eddy Chang

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2015/03/10

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Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch, second left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin, right, hold a news conference in Taipei after Taiwan and Singapore signed a free-trade agreement in Singapore earlier yesterday.
Photo: Pichi Chuang, Reuters

Taiwan yesterday signed a far-reaching free-trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore — the first of its kind with a Southeast Asian country — in a move the government said would boost the nation’s efforts to pursue further economic engagement with trading partners bilaterally and multilaterally.

“This is a milestone achievement for Taiwan’s progress toward economic liberalization and our participation in regional economic integration,” Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) told a press conference at 11am in Taipei.