Sun’s uni­fi­ca­tion ef­forts a val­ued legacy

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

This Satur­day marks the 150th birth­day of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) when a se­ries of cel­e­bra­tions will be held in the mem­ory of the “great na­tional hero, pa­triot and front-run­ner of China’s demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion” across the Tai­wan Straits. The Chi­nese main­land has held many sem­i­nars and com­mem­o­ra­tive events be­fore the day, and Hung Hsi­uchu, chair­woman of the op­po­si­tion Kuom­intang in Tai­wan, paid trib­ute to Sun at his mau­soleum in Nan­jing, East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince, on Nov 1 dur­ing her five-day visit to the main­land.

Born in Zhong­shan in South China’s Guang­dong prov­ince, Sun fought for the full na­tional uni­fi­ca­tion and sov­er­eign in­tegrity through­out his life. His out­right op­po­si­tion to sep­a­ratists is a val­ued legacy for com­pa­tri­ots across the Straits, es­pe­cially at a time when pro-in­de­pen­dence cam­paigns are be­ing or­ga­nized on the is­land.

The Rev­o­lu­tion of 1911 he led ended the feu­dal monar­chy that had ex­isted in China for more than 2,000 years, al­though it could not end the long-drawn con­fronta­tions among sev­eral war­lords. But de­spite be­ing threat­ened by some im­pe­ri­al­ist pow­ers’ pre­pos­ter­ous “di­vide and rule” pol­icy aimed at split­ting the coun­try in half, Sun did not suc­cumb to the pres­sures from home and abroad.

His un­wa­ver­ing be­lief that the sense of uni­fi­ca­tion in gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese peo­ple had played a ma­jor role in keep­ing the coun­try uni­fied, Sun made stren­u­ous ef­forts through­out his life to achieve full na­tional uni­fi­ca­tion. He be­lieved there are no uni­form pat­terns to achieve na­tional uni­fi­ca­tion; it could be achieved through ei­ther force or by win­ning the hearts and minds of the peo­ple.

His idea was visionary and still ap­plies to cross-Straits re­la­tions. The main­land re­mains firm on its prom­ise to deepen grass­roots ex­changes with Tai­wan and pro­mote peace­ful uni­fi­ca­tion, but it strongly op­poses so-called pro-in­de­pen­dence cam­paigns in any form and does not re­nounce the use of force if need be.

This ap­proach is in line with Sun’s un­fin­ished work to build a stronger, uni­fied na­tion, which is the “hope of all Chi­nese peo­ple”. The long­stand­ing con­fronta­tion be­tween the two sides of the Straits has con­sumed con­sid­er­able eco­nomic and so­cial re­sources, mak­ing the is­land a bar­gain­ing chip for coun­tries like the United States that of­ten use it to put pres­sure on the main­land.

Many Tai­wan com­pa­tri­ots feel this pain, which has in­ten­si­fied be­cause of the wan­ing crossS­traits ex­changes since Tsai Ing­wen, chair­woman of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party, be­came the is­land leader in­May.

The Chi­nese Dream will not be re­al­ized if sep­a­ratists keep chal­leng­ing na­tional sovereignty and in­tegrity. Ig­nor­ing this fact, how­ever, a DPP leg­is­la­tor ear­lier this year pro­posed that por­traits of Sun Yat-sen be re­moved from schools and gov­ern­ment build­ings on the is­land to sever the ties be­tween the main­land and Tai­wan and sab­o­tage cross-Straits peace and sta­bil­ity.

Sim­i­lar moves can be seen in Tai­wan again, as Sun’s “Three Prin­ci­ples of the Peo­ple”— Na­tion­al­ism, Democ­racy and Peo­ple’s Liveli­hood— are no longer val­ued in aca­demic re­search on the is­land. This war­rants com­pa­tri­ots across the Straits to make ex­tra ef­forts to re­store the im­age of Sun and re­spect his his­tor­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions, and guard against all sep­a­ratist moves.

The au­thor is a re­searcher with the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

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