February 29, 2004

Hands across Taiwan.
  • Since I'm not sure that Hands Across America accomplished anything, I have to wonder if the Taiwanese will really see any benefits from this, other than reinforcing their solidarity. Somehow, I don't think mainland China will be impressed, nor does the Bush government seem be inclined to react positively to this sort of thing on an humanitarian basis. I understand why the US has supported Taiwan, but why is the mainland Chinese government so determined? Don't they have enough territory?
  • There is a very strong feeling among virtually all Chinese that China should be a united country. When I was in Taiwan, students repeatedly told me about the Three Kingdoms period when China was disunited, and how it was finally reunited again; this was in the third to the sixth centuries, so I was impressed with both their resolve and their grasp of history. Also, from the point of view of the rulers in Peking (excuse me, Beijing), as long as there's an independent center of Chinese sovereignty their own rule is insecure.
  • The Three Kingdoms period was by no means the only time when China was disunited; pretty much every Chinese knows about it due to the enormous popularity of the historical novel Romance of Three Kingdoms. Fables from ROTK are an integral part of Chinese culture, and they've spawned countless novels/mangas/games throughout Asia. Knowledge of that period doesn't imply a firm grasp of history. Most Taiwanese do *not* want to reunite with China, certainly not before it transforms into a democracy. But yes, most Chinese want to have Taiwan back. There's a running joke comparing the situation to abusive ex and violent threats...
  • Meanwhile, in Hong Kong: Democracy Supporters March in Hong Kong.