Cultural Diversity Program Highlights Taiwan’s Struggle

kasia-faughn
el-vaquero-staff-writer/" class="creditline">KASIA FAUGHN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Joe Wang, Senior Press
Attache from the Information
Division of the Taipei Economic
and Cultural Office in Los
Angeles, visited the GCC campus
Thursday to discuss
Taiwan’s “bitter struggle for
independence” with the college
audience.

A part of the GCC Cultural
Diversity Program, Wang’s
speech focused on the history of
Taiwan’s relationship with mainland
China, the new administration’s
pragmatism in foreign
relations, and Taiwan’s participation
in non-governmental
organizations.

Wang’s presence on campus
was an expression of the belief
that talking to students, faculty
members and mainstream social
organizations helps “build a
friendly bridge between Taiwan
and the great country of the
United States.”

Southern California seems to
be an area of particular importance
in Taiwanese struggle for
independence and international
recognition. Since about 120
flights to Taipei leave weekly
from the Los Angeles area, and
approximately 550,000
Taiwanese students attend
California’s colleges, Wang
referred to Southern California
as “the gateway to the Pacific.”
With an apparent frustration,
Joe Wang spoke about Taiwan’s
exclusion from the international
diplomatic and political scene.

He assured his listeners that
Taiwan’s main goal is re-entering
United Nations, which he
humorously referred to as “mission
impossible.” In September,
Taiwan’s proposal to be recognized
as a sovereign nation was
turned down by the U.N.
General Assembly for the thirteenth
year in a row. ” As long as
China is in United Nations our
chances of re-entering as very
slight,” he admitted.

Currently there are only 27
countries that recognize Taiwan
as something more than just a
part of the People’s Republic of
China. The U.S. is not one of
them, since it withdrew its support
and recognition of Taiwan
in 1979. However, Wang said,
“The unofficial relations
between the two countries have
never stopped.” According to
him Taiwan and the U.S. have a
common vision of “preserving
democracy, peace and prosperity
around the world.”

Wang’s presentation was preceded
by the Oct. 13 screening
by the Cultural Diversity
Program of the film “Tug of
War: the Story of Taiwan.”

The documentary provided an
overview of the nature of political
and social relationships
between Taiwan and mainland
China over the last couple of
centuries. Taiwan’s struggle to
maintain its political and cultural
identity was marked by the
island’s frequent change of
hands. Throughout its tumultuous
history Taiwan was under
the rule of victorious countries,
such as Japan after 1895 and
then China after 1945, following
armed conflicts.

In the aftermath of World War
II, Taiwan became flooded with
refugees from mainland China
who proceeded to establish the
nationalistic government of the
Republic of China on the island,
in the opposition to the People’s
Republic of China on the continent.
Under the nationalistic
regime and marshal law in
Taiwan, the islanders continued
to struggle for their independence
and identity. After being
forced out of United Nations in
1971, and following the United
State’s withdrawal of support for
Taiwan, Taiwanese opposition
grew stronger and evolved into a
number of democratization
measures.

Their efforts were rewarded
with the lifting of marshal law in
1986 and a number of democratic
reforms in following years.

Taiwanese democracy grew
from the efforts of a number of
opposition and separatist groups.

Although Taiwan and China
became closer economically
after China encouraged
Taiwanese investments on the
mainland in 1980s, their political
relations remained strained.
In 1996, before the first direct
presidential election in Taiwan,
Chinese authorities test-fired
guided missiles off the coast of
Taiwan, in an attempt to send a
warning to the Taiwanese, who
were widely discussing issues of
independence in the light of the
upcoming election. The U.S.
prevented further escalation of
the conflict.

Today Chinese authorities
assert that Taiwan, also known
as the Republic of China or
ROC, is still a part of the
People’s Republic of China.

Taiwan’s continued struggle for
independence and identity is
reflected in Joe Wang’s assurance
that “There are two
Chinas.”

Joe Wang concluded his
speech with a reference to a traditional
Taiwanese saying that
“All men are brothers.”

“Taiwan is your brother. So
please, be your brother’s keeper,”
he pleaded.