Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on October 25, 2007
Today used to be a public holiday in Taiwan, marking the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945 and the return of the island to China. Reunification with the mainland only lasted four years, of course, but for decades afterwards Taiwan Retrocession Day (it sounds better in Mandarin) was a public holiday with major symbolic importance, signifying the intention of the KMT government to reunite with the motherland once again. And while the Communists and the Nationalists disagreed about many things, they could at least find common ground in the glorious defeat of the Japanese.
Today, the KMT is no longer the rich and powerful ruling party but a bedraggled opposition, and Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, is from the DPP, which makes no secret of its desire for Taiwan to formalize its independence from the mainland. So no need to celebrate the anniversary of the Chinese government resuming control of Taiwan. I’m in Taipei and just got back from an interview at a big electronics company, because October 25 is now an ordinary workday.
Chen did decide to make this day special, though. This morning at the Presidential office building downtown he was at the front of a relay scheduled to travel around Taiwan, like the Olympic Torch relay that China is doing for the Beijing Olympics. Taiwan’s relay is to draw attention to its bid to enter the UN under the name of Taiwan. So Oct. 25 is still a day for symbolism. Just not the sort that will make the government in Beijing happy.