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Former National Assembly member talks de-Sinicization and Taiwan for May Fourth Movement anniversary

Huang Peng-hsiao says Chinese aggression turns Taiwan from ‘Asia’s orphan’ into ‘darling of the free world’

Former Member of the National Assembly, Huang Peng-hsiao. (Facebook, Huang Peng-hsiao photo)

Former Member of the National Assembly, Huang Peng-hsiao. (Facebook, Huang Peng-hsiao photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former National Assembly member Huang Peng-hsiao (黃澎孝) released a statement on Facebook to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the May Fourth Movement (五四運動), linking its historical legacy and the chaotic events that surrounded it to Taiwan’s current geopolitical situation.

Huang wrote that Japan’s Meiji-era "Datsu-A Ron" or “Leaving Asia” intellectual movement (“脫亞論”) was clearly a push for de-Sinicization. Though hotly contested by scholars even today, the thrust of this modernist discourse, (epitomized in an anonymous newspaper editorial most commonly attributed to Japanese scholar Fukuzawa Yukichi), was that Japan should abandon Qing China and Joseon Korea and seek to enter Western civilization.

Huang went on to say that China’s recent military aggression toward Taiwan has attracted the attention of the wider world and that has brought unprecedented changes to the country, per a Liberty Times report.

In the post, Huang traced the chaotic historical arc of modernity in East Asia, from the Meiji Restoration that began in 1868 to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 through to the May Fourth Movement and World War I, which he says took capitalist-driven imperialism to its extreme end and made conditions ripe for the spread of socialist ideology and a number of other unexpected historical developments. Looking back on the conflicts between Taiwan, China, and Japan during the period, Huang concluded that being Taiwanese really was a “blessing in disguise” (“因禍得福”).

Although viewed by the Chinese as a source of great shame, Huang added, the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 (which formalized the handover of Taiwan to Japan by the Ching court) actually kept Taiwan at a distance from China from the late Qing era and early Republican period onwards. This saved Taiwan from countless catastrophes and human disasters, he stated.

After China abandoned Taiwan, the U.S. gave Taiwan another "back-door opening", Huang added, through the Treaty of San Francisco, (signed between Japan and the Allies concluding the War in the Pacific) which allowed Taiwan to use “self-determination” to avoid being controlled directly by China.

Turning to more recent events, Huang went on to say that the limitless friendship between Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, has turned China into a “silent accomplice” (“沈默幫凶”) in the Ukrainian tragedy.

“Taiwan is so fortunate — not only is it no longer ‘China’s Taiwan’, but it is no longer ‘Asia’s orphan,’” he added.

“We are increasingly likely to become the darling of the free world,” he concluded.