KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) – To the shock and horror of absolutely no-one, the Kuomintang (KMT) announced this week that it is opposed to making any legal changes to the country’s national symbols, emblems, or name.
Of course, it is. The national emblem of the country is the KMT's party logo and as such it gets free publicity and recognition every time the national flag is flown.
But the days when this country and the KMT were inexorably interwoven are now firmly in the past. The KMT is one political party among many and as such, it is deeply inappropriate for its party emblem to feature on the national flag.
How would Americans feel if the Republican elephant logo featured on the national flag? Or the Brits, if the Labour Party rose took up a quarter of the Union Jack?
Symbol of oppression
The blue sky with white sun logo has to be placed in a historical context too. It was designed by Lu Hao-tung (陸皓東) in 1895 as a symbol of opposition to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). It flew in cities across China during the Wuchang Uprising in 1911, which led to the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC) the following year.
While it was not the official flag of the new Republic to begin with, it was favored by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) when he established his rival government in Guangzhou in 1917. It became the official national flag in 1928.
It flew over the Republic of China during its defeat in the Chinese Civil War and the withdrawal to Taiwan in 1949. It then fluttered throughout the martial law era as the KMT regime under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his successors rained down oppression and terror on both the indigenous Taiwanese population and followers from China.
The modern Taiwan of today is a world away from the history of this emblem and what it represents. It is a free, democratic nation where human rights and the will of the people are respected.
The blue sky with white sun logo does not represent this and it has no relevance to modern Taiwan. The same can be said of the official name of the country, the Republic of China.
Both belong to a bygone era, a time when the KMT still harbored fantasies of reclaiming China. Today, these dreams have dissipated to such an extent that most Taiwanese are unaware of them and even fewer still harbor them.
Most Taiwanese were born here and younger generations have never known anything but the democratic nation they call home.
The majority of people now identify themselves as Taiwanese. A poll last year found fewer than 2 percent of people in Taiwan see themselves as solely Chinese.
Time to deliver
The wider world recognizes the name and identity of Taiwan too, while the official name of the Republic of China causes only confusion and uncertainty. Anyone who had to travel in Europe or North America on a Taiwan passport before the words Taiwan were added to the cover will attest to the frustration of having to repeatedly explain the difference between the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China (China) to confused customs officers.
The ROC is part of history and while its history should be remembered, it's time for Taiwan to move forward. The fact that the KMT is opposed to that shows just how out of touch the party is with, not only with the views of the majority of Taiwanese but also in regard to Taiwan’s standing in the world.
It is worth reminding the KMT that back in 2004, when then President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) suggested the KMT’s logo was illegal because of its close resemblance to the national flag, its response was to request the government change the national emblem. It is time to deliver on that request.
Let’s call Taiwan by its real name, Taiwan. And let’s deliver a national emblem that represents the flourishing democratic nation that Taiwan is today rather than the tired autocracy that the KMT logo represents.