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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times The PRC at 60: a shame of a parade

The PRC at 60: a shame of a parade

Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect that the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China would produce festivities symbolizing a new era of peaceful co-existence and cooperation with China’s neighbors. Even so, it is disappointing to note that the evolving use of the concept of “peace” or “peaceful” in Chinese government rhetoric simply had no place in a parade that bristled with Stalinist symbolism and offensive weaponry.

A number of analysts have pointed out — somewhat in China’s defense — that the bravado and military pomp primarily targeted a domestic audience, and that relationships with other governments continue to be guided by more congenial and sensitive techniques.

The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was an excellent example of the Chinese government going out of its way to merge the requirements of both locals and foreigners — and largely succeeding in pleasing both sets of audiences. This was, admittedly, in the context of an international sporting event, but sport did not stop previous Olympic hosts, for example, from commandeering a celebration of internationalism in the service of something noxious.

If the National Day parade’s message was primarily domestic, it was still going to have an international dimension, and in this instance, with the aggressive display of indigenous weaponry, it seems the Chinese government is unconcerned that it might be portrayed as tilting toward the hardliners.

With so many ordinary Chinese expressing pride in their country not in terms of its own merits and standards but in terms of comparisons to other nations whose wealth and power they covet, the overall atmosphere justifies concerns over China’s intentions in the region — not just for Taiwan, for which Beijing’s goal is explicit, but also Japan, India, the Russian Federation and the US, for example.

Indeed, it is difficult to see how foreign governments — particularly Western governments and Japan — are going to find solace in the gargantuan bombast and cultural misappropriations that not only characterize China, but oppressive regimes everywhere.

As to the political effect on Taiwan, the reaction has largely been “more of the same” from both sides. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government can point to overtures of peace in speeches on the day and explain away the display of weaponry as stock behavior for any nation’s birthday celebrations. The Democratic Progressive Party, however, can rightly ask how China can be taken seriously in cross-strait negotiations when its primary measure of national might is the capacity for military threat rather than the ability to synthesize diverse regional interests.

For most ordinary Taiwanese, however, the parade will have simply acted as a reminder that people across the Strait are ruled by a political machine that, for all of its strength, is struggling to steer a complex, changing environment at home and to live up to the expectations of democratic states in its international activities.

Whether domestic or global, the pressing, shared problems of the world can no longer be unilaterally solved by great powers, nor by the exercising of power through the barrel of a gun.

Neither reality had any role to play in Thursday’s parade, and if the tenor of that celebration of national features, which ironically expelled ordinary Chinese from the surrounds, is a harbinger of China’s dealings with the region in the foreseeable future, then that is a tremendous shame — and another clear warning.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2009/10/03

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Members of the volunteer medical team looking after former president Chen Shui-bian, including National Taiwan University Hospital physician and aspirant for Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, second left, and the former president’s attorney, Cheng Wen-lung, second right, report on Chen’s medical condition during a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

An all-volunteer civilian medical team looking after former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has been diagnosed as having a degenerative brain disease, yesterday called on the authorities to parole Chen and allow him to be reunited with his family for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Members of the medical team, which includes National Taiwan University Hospital physician and aspirant for Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), and doctors Kuo Cheng-deng (郭正典) and Janice Chen (陳昭姿), made the call at a press conference held in Taipei yesterday, along with the former president’s attorney, Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), and his son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中).