Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai muses on how heroes of the past are honoured after their time, recalling that in his youth in Taiwan, the founder of the Turkish republic was lauded as an honourable founding father, next to Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. However, given the similarities in ideals and values, could it be that the high praise for Ataturk was in fact meant to boost the controversial image of Chiang?
Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s trip to mainland China began with a visit to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, where Ma paid tribute to Sun in a wreath-laying ceremony and a speech, in which he mentioned Minguo (the short form of the Republic of China) four times, and called for peace efforts on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Professor Wang Gungwu, recipient of the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology, delivered a Tang Prize Laureate Lecture at Tang Prize 2021 on 20 November. In tracing China’s history from empire to nation, he relates in tandem his journey of becoming a historian, from being a Chinese overseas in his youth, then returning briefly to the motherland before starting a new life in a new country. “That seemed like the real meaning of my leaving China,” he says, “ requiring me to think as a huaqiao settling down as a citizen of a foreign country... But I did learn that I could leave China but China did not leave me.” Whether in his studies of the Five Dynasties period of the 10th century or Mao’s China and the struggle to find its future after throwing away its own past, he noted that wen (文)-texts supported central power and shaped the system’s collective memory, and were most useful as the shi (史) records of every dynasty. This nexus can perhaps help us understand how one Confucian past could serve to denigrate one set of leaders but provide greater legitimacy for another, and how the continuity of China’s history can be preserved in the future.
Although a new Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu, has been installed, the KMT’s stance on cross-strait relations and its aspirations for Taiwan’s future is hazy to many. While Chu pledged commitment to the 1992 Consensus and non-support of Taiwan independence, he did not give a clear response to the mainland’s call for “reunification”. Pledging to stick to the “status quo” would be a no-go either, given the ambiguous term. How then should the KMT position itself on the path to the 2024 presidential elections?
The Russo-Japanese War was in fact not fought in either Russia or Japan, but in China. It was the culmination of a fierce rivalry between a Eurasian power and an Asian country that showed it could hold its own against a much bigger opponent. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao takes us through a painful period in history that saw many Chinese lives taken.
While China has soared ahead in other areas such as expressway construction and port development, it lags behind heavyweights like the US in railway development. A fundamental cause is relying on the government as its single investment channel. Plugging its railway gaps, literally and figuratively, would give China’s economic development a decided boost.
Lost love, tumultuous times. Teo Soon Kim, Singapore’s first female lawyer and daughter of rubber magnate and revolutionary Teo Eng Hock, may have had the most beautiful wedding in Singapore during the 1920s, but she passed away in her staff quarters in China that was just 15sqm in size. In the end, her ashes were laid to rest in Singapore's Choa Chu Kang Christian Columbarium. Chia Yei Yei, senior correspondent of Zaobao, talks to family members and pieces together this poignant story.
Between October and December 1911, fierce fighting broke out between the revolutionaries and the Qing troops. And by early 1912, China's 2,000 years of imperial rule was history. The Xinhai Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen had successfully united the Chinese people against the imperial system, and built the first Republic in Asia, changing the fate of China and East Asia. Hsu Chung-mao takes us on a visual journey through that period of chaos and upheaval.