Saturday, March 17, 2007

Transcript of 2-28 Symposium at Brookings Now Online

Brookings has posted a transcript for the seminar on 2-28. This is from Richard Bush, a long time US government Taiwan expert, whose writing is always extremely well informed:

The subject of today's seminar is the February 28th Incident, commonly called 228, whose 60th anniversary will be observed next Wednesday. We wish to explore what 228 means, both retrospectively and prospectively. We are not interested in using the Incident as a weapon in the current political campaigns on Taiwan. That would be inconsistent with the educational missions of Brookings and FAPA. Moreover, there are larger issues at stake.

What do I mean when I say that the issues at stake are more significant than contemporary Taiwan politics? To begin my answer, let me go back to the mid-1990s when then-President Lee Teng-hui was emphasizing what Taiwan people had in common. In Chinese he used the phrase shengming gongtongti. In English translations of his speeches, he insisted on using the German sociological term, Gemeinschaft. In plain language he spoke of "a community based on a common experience." He spoke of Taiwan as, "our common homeland" and about a "collective consciousness." He spoke of "fifty years of a common destiny forged in fortune and misfortune have united us all into a closely bound and interdependent community."

Now, I happen to have a lot of respect for what Lee was trying to do here, for reasons that I will come back to. But there was an assumption behind these assertions of what Taiwan people had in common, wasn't there? It's almost a sleight of hand. Lee's assumption was that people on Taiwan actually believed that they had a sense of common destiny and collective consciousness. And part of that shared sense of the present and the future had to be a shared sense about the past.

The rest of it is online there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i don't think lee was assuming so much as he was trying to create a collective consciousness. i think people don't feel unified as 'people of taiwan', so i'm assuming that lee was trying to unify them by telling them that they have a collective destiny and must recognize the bonds they have with each other which will make them stronger going forth to live that destiny. just an educated guess.