Quantcast

China seeks “revival” as it marks return of Taiwan

October 25, 2005

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Guo Shipeng

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing, asserting its claim to
self-ruled Taiwan, called for a national “revival” on Tuesday
as it marked the 60th anniversary of the island reverting to
Chinese rule, the first major commemoration of the event in
five decades.

But the anniversary of the 1945 handover by Japan was
played down in Taipei, where Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists
fled after losing the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Beijing had avoided high-profile official commemorations of
Taiwan’s return in the past because doing so would complicate
its claim that the Red Army — and not the Nationalists — won
the eight-year war against Japan which ended as World War Two
drew to a close.

But China has taken a new tack as part of a drive to rein
in the increasingly assertive leaders of Taiwan, which Beijing
has threatened to attack if it formally declares statehood.

Jia Qinglin, ranked fourth in the Communist Party hierarchy
and head of the top advisory body to parliament, told a
gathering at the cavernous Great Hall of the People in Beijing
that “stopping separatist activities was the top priority.”

He spoke of the Chinese nation’s “revival,” echoing an
editorial in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party
mouthpiece.

“Revival,” in Chinese, alludes to a return to the strength
and power of the earlier years of an imperial dynasty. China’s
last campaign for “revival” was from 1862-73 during the reign
of Qing dynasty Emperor Tong Zhi.

Zhou Qing, a Taiwan writer who also spoke at Tuesday’s
commemorations, told Reuters this month the commemorations were
also aimed at putting Japan in its place in the wake of Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit this month to a Tokyo shrine
that critics see as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

Analysts say the commemorations, along with an historic
visit to China in April by Nationalist Party Chairman Lien
Chan, and the Communists’ qualification of their long-held
claim that the Nationalists had little to do with fighting the
Japanese are all aimed at preventing the island from drifting
further away.

“HUMILIATING HISTORY”

A front-page editorial in the People’s Daily, the Communist
Party mouthpiece, said the Chinese nation was on its way to
“revival” and would not be humiliated again.

China was full of confidence about its revival and
reunification with Taiwan despite numerous difficulties and
obstacles, it said without elaborating.

“The humiliating history of the Chinese people suffering
from invasions, ceding territory and paying compensation should
not be repeated,” the editorial said.

The Chinese, including Taiwan compatriots, “crushed
Japanese militarism’ attempts to destroy China,” the editorial
said.

About 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded during
Japan’s 1931-45 invasion and occupation of much of China.

“Taiwan has never been a country. Rather, it is an
inalienable part of Chinese territory,” the editorial said.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who ended more than five
decades of Nationalist rule when he won the 2000 presidential
elections, has riled China with his insistence that the island
is an independent, sovereign nation. Chen was re-elected in
2004.

Despite simmering tension, trade, investment and tourism
between China and Taiwan have blossomed since the late 1980s.

As part of commemorations, an exhibit featuring 160 old
photographs opened and a seminar was held in Beijing on Monday.

A two-volume archival book on Taiwan’s retrocession will be
published soon.

(Additional reporting by Reuters Television)




comments powered by Disqus