井底之蛙

12/13/2007

Asian History Carnival #18

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 3:03 am

Somehow the items that have caught my eye since the last Asia Carnival are more cultural than historical – future carnivals will right the balance. But culture, after all, can’t be separated from history. History doesn’t stop. As Ambrose King of Chinese University of Hong Kong once put it in very Confucian terms: “we live in history, not in the past.”

December offers a number of days to remember. I’m sure you’re all looking forward to the Holiday – December 26? In England this is Boxing Day, but to us it’s the birthday of Mao Zedong.

To celebrate, the nomination for the year’s most original use of the concept “Cultural Revolution” is an editorial in Taipei’s China Post, “Cultural Revolution Redux“ (December 7) which comments on the demonstrations and counter demonstrations between the followers of President Chen Shui-bian and his critics. The immediate occasion for the conflict is the government’s move to change the name of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to Democracy Square. The editorial, decidedly in the anti-Chen camp, sees this conflict as “almost a re-run of the violent struggle between Mao Zedong’s Red Guards and the reactionary ‘black five categories.’” The standoff is but a “tip of the iceberg in Taiwan‘s cultural revolution,” which has been in progress since Chen won the 2000 presidential election. Chen’s ultimate goal, of course, is to wipe out Chinese culture in favor of Taiwan‘s indigenous culture.”

Further Taiwan coverage of the demonstrations is posted on the exemplary blog EastSouthWestNorth , including stories detailing the intense heckling.

In a more scholarly vein, popular movements in Taiwan politics are analyzed in “The ‘Red’ Tide Anti-Corruption Protest: What Does it Mean for Democracy in Taiwan?“ by Fang-long Shih. The article appears in a new free online journal: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective. The journal has a stimulating lineup of articles, review articles, commentaries, and reviews which use Taiwan as a reference point for global issues. The journal is published by the Taiwan Culture Research Programme of the London School of Economics.

Also free online is How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century by Tonio Andrade, published in the Columbia University Press Gutenberg-e project (all books in the project are now online for free). Andrade argues that it was Dutch protection that made Chinese settlement on Taiwan possible.

[Addendum: After I posted this edition of the Carnival, Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan added to his string of analytical and deeply informed articles “Minimum Differentiation, Maximum Indentification” (December 14). Michael points out that aside from (very important?) difference of being either “pro-Taiwan” or “pro-China,” the two parties have basically similar stances on a range of important issues. The “renaming of the Memorial Formerly Known as CKS must be seen as part of the normal electoral dance between the two parties…” not as primal warfare. My only complaint about this article is that I wish I had read it two days before.]

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