Friday, July 27, 2012

Let a thousand flags bloom

Taiwanese show the flag on Regent St in London
As one flag is ignominiously taken down, hundreds, thousands more should bloom all over London 

For a few days it proudly flew, nudged between Syria and Tajikistan, amid rows of national flags festooning London’s Regent Street as the city prepares for the Olympics. Suddenly, for reasons unknown, but easily guessed at, it was pulled down, leaving a sad gap in the otherwise festive display of global fraternity. 

Granted, the Republic of China (ROC) flag is for many people not a national flag but rather a symbol of a regime that imposed itself on Taiwan after World War II, one that, furthermore, unleashed decades of repression on its people. And yet, despite all the hardships, it now stands as the most readily recognizable symbol of nationhood for all Taiwanese.

Yes, it was first woven as the symbol of a political party in China; and yes, it officially stands for the ROC, but over the years, through the long process of democratization and national consolidation, both the ROC and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have become part of the fabric that makes Taiwan what it is today. For people outside Asia who know little about this region’s convoluted history, nothing more immediately distinguishes Taiwan from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) than the ROC flag. 

The reaction among Taiwanese worldwide to the removal of the flag on Regent Street testifies to the strength of that symbol. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

6 comments:

Michael Fagan said...

"With the world’s eyes turned on London over the next few weeks..."

... but not of course, over the next thirty odd years during which Londoners will be taxed further to pay for the stupid Olympic Wankathon, whether they wanted it or not.

Michael Fagan said...

I'm not done...

"...leaving a sad gap in the otherwise festive display of global fraternity."

That, by the way, is utterly crass.

Not only are the Olympics an open sore of corruption and cheating, but none of the major Olympic sports (sprinting, swimming etc) has any sort of substantial following in its own right. Millions of people all around the world pay their own money to go to stadiums to watch football, cricket, baseball, tennis, basketball etc. How many people pay money to go to a stadium to watch say, sprinters? A comparative handful - if any at all. The Olympics are nothing more than a transparent and shameless piece of Statist propaganda - reminiscent of the sort of thing which the Nazis and Soviets - and other scum - would have engaged in.

Viewed in this light, Taiwanese people might have been able to consider the absence of the flag a source of perverse pride - if only that absence had been the result of a refusal to participate, rather than Boris Johnson's lickspittle beurobots taking it down at the behest of the Chinazis.

Taiwan Echo said...

I like what you say, Mr. Fagan.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Mike: OK, I get it, you're not a big fan of the Olympics. Fair enough, but that's not the object of this editorial, which looks at Beijing's suppression of any expression of Taiwanese nationhood.

Michael Fagan said...

"Beijing's suppression of any expression of Taiwanese nationhood."

Expressing "nationhood" at the Olympics in this day and age ought to be a source of embarassment, not pride.

We live in a world of global markets now, and the sooner the nation-state comes to be seen as the anachronism it really is, the better.

Daniel A. Mong said...

An excellent editorial of the issues and the history of a flag, as you explained so well, in spite of a tormented past has become a symbol of Taiwanese identity if not nationhood. Let's be wary of flags however. Like everything it can be hijacked to promote repugnant ideologies. In Taiwan's case it's just a right to refuse to be invisible as when Hou Hsia-Hsien won the Golden Lion for his film "A City of Sadness," and Taiwan's flag pole remained empty, (was it the first time that China pulled its muscles over the Taiwanese flag?)