This year’s Taiwanese American Heritage Week falls on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China. To many Taiwanese Americans, that makes it extra special. Since 1999, Taiwanese American Heritage Week has been celebrated in the United States starting each Mother’s Day Weekend during the month of May. There are tons of celebrations happening around the country. You don’t have to be a Taiwanese American (I’m Chinese Canadian) to join in. Everyone is welcome.
A Tale of Two Chinas
Many Americans may not know that there is not one but two Chinas in this world. There’s the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which is the China most people know. Then, there is Republic of China (ROC), which most will know as Taiwan. The Republic of China was established by Sun Yat-sen 100 years ago and ruled all of China until Chairman Mao’s Communist party took over in 1949. After the Communist takeover, the ROC fed to Taiwan and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) declared Taipei the provisional capital. Chairman Mao took over all of mainland China and founded the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, leading to two rival governments claiming to be the sole legitimate government of China.
This still stands today. The PRC does not recognize the legitimacy of the ROC and claims Taiwan and other ROC-held areas as a part of its territory. PRC seeks to unify Taiwan and mainland China under the formula of one country, two systems and refuses to renounce the use of military force to do so. Under its constitution, the ROC also officially claims sovereignty over all China though the ROC government currently does not pursue this stance in practice. It does, however, continues to assert itself as a sovereign state.
Caught in the middle of all this is the United States (they’re in the middle of everything). The US has huge investments in both Chinas and walks a fine line between telling the PRC and ROC that they both rule China. Should China ever decide to take Taiwan by force (a computerized simulation conducted by Taiwan’s military concluded that China would capture the island’s capital in just three days if the two sides went to war), the US is somehow legally obligated to defend the ROC. You can imagine the mess this would create.
The chance of the above happening is pretty slim. Things are going extreme well for China right now, and I doubt taking over Taiwan is at the top of their to do list. Then again, you never know what to expect from the People’s Republic.
Forget Politics, Let’s Celebrate!
We celebrated Taiwanese American Heritage Week at the Center for Spiritual Living at the University District in Seattle. The highlight of the evening was a performance by the Keelung Chung Cheng Middle School Folk Sports Troupe. The troupe comes from Keelung in Taiwan. Their average age is 14, and they specialized in rope skipping, diabolo juggling and top twirling. It doesn’t sound impressive until you see them in action. Then it’ll blow your mind.
You can tell the influence of America on Taiwan in the last performance. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. I still can’t get that tune out of my head. A pizza, a pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a pizza. McDonald’s! McDonald’s!