No consensus about national day in Taiwan

On Thursday Arthur Waldron had a letter in the Taipei Times saying he was distressed that the opposition parties would not participate in the Double Ten National Day celebrations. He then suggested a “2010 Consensus” of one national day, different interpretations.

Today the Taipei Times has published two letters in response by Ben Goren and me. Ben places the issue in the context of “of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) … actively [seeking] to reinvigorate Chinese nationalism in Taiwan through downgrading Taiwan from a state to a region within an anachronistic Republic of China.” Ben goes on to write,

Waldron should know that the only consensus the current government cares for is the fictional “1992 consensus,” which in turn is only a transparent tool to reinforce the “one China” principle as a foundation for negotiations with China. If the Ma administration had truly wanted the -opposition to celebrate the ROC’s national day, why did it make every effort to remove and destroy the ROC national flag so that it would not offend the delicate sensibilities of Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November 2008? As one of my Taiwanese supervisors said to me recently, what country denigrates and humiliates itself to the extent of trashing its most potent symbol of national sovereignty so as to please visiting foreign dignitaries?

Waldron’s distress would be better served lamenting how the Ma administration is actively striving to reverse and undermine the gains in sovereignty and national identity Taiwanese have accumulated since its democratization.


My letter begins by saying that Double Ten marks an event that occurred in China at a time when Taiwan was a Japanese colony. I then note that when the ROC did come to Taiwan it resulted in the 228 Massacre and four decades of White Terror. Finally I suggest an alternative date for a national day about which Taiwan could have a real consensus. That part of the letter is below.

Like Arthur Waldron I also hope that everyone in Taiwan can celebrate a national day together. However it should be based on a real consensus of Taiwanese society, not an ambiguous one.

The democratisation in Taiwan over the past two decades is a much prouder achievement and something that should be celebrated by everyone in Taiwan. I suggest that 10 December be made Taiwan’s national day. This marks the anniversary of the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident, a key event that led towards Taiwan’s democratisation. It is also Human Rights Day where the world celebrates the universal values of human rights. This is something that Taiwanese people could have a true consensus about.

7 thoughts on “No consensus about national day in Taiwan

  1. Sire

    you got it wrong, sheesh. re ”On Thursday Arthur Waldron had a letter in the Taipei Times saying he was distressed that the opposition parties would not participate in the Double Ten National Day celebrations. He then suggested a “2010 Consensus” of one national day, different interpretations.

    ART Waldron loves Taiwan and was JOKING when he used the word DISTRESSED. that was irony. can ‘t your read English sir? ASk Dr W yourself before you mouth off! He was kidding, joshing, being ironic.

    Dear Editor
    I am ”distressed” [SIC] to learn that the opposition parties might not participate in the Double Ten National Day celebration for political reasons. Every country needs a national day and Taiwan is no exception. Perhaps the problem could be ”solved” SIC by a “2010 Consensus”: One national day SIC , different interpretations. SIC

    Art Waldron

    Taipei

  2. Ashlee,

    When I read the writings of well known comics and satirists I don’t take them literally. When I watch The Daily Show with John Stewart I know it is not 100% serious. When I read the writings of scholars I usually take them seriously however.

    I apologise for not having a sense of humor on the internet. I hope Arthur Waldron will read the letters as a criticism of the Ma government, and not a personal criticism of him.

  3. I think the irony is that in the context of Taiwanese politics, Waldron’s satirical suggestion does not appear outlandish at all. The national flag of the ROC already seems to be subject to this “one flag, different interpretations” rule. Why not a national day?

    It looks like “one letter, different interpretations” (SIC) to me.

  4. John, thanks for your comment and I think the analogy to the ROC flag is a good one. Waldron’s letter is best read as somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation. It has promoted some debate and Ben and my letters provide a useful counterpoint to the nonsense uttered by the President and others yesterday.

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