Republic of China Centennial
As a companion to my earlier post on the PRC’s celebration of National Day, today Taiwan is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China. As part of the festivities for “double ten” day (i.e., tenth day of the tenth month), the parade in Taipei showcased Taiwan’s military forces, including a flight demonstration by the Thunder Tiger Aerobatics Team.
Unlike the PRC where people with legal training are only beginning to make inroads into the top leadership, Taiwan’s 2012 presidential race is between two lawyers: incumbent Ma Ying-jeou (Kuomintang Party) and challenger Tsai Ing-wen (Democratic Progressive Party). Indeed, both are also U.S.-trained: Ma at NYU & Harvard, and Tsai at Cornell.
Not only are Taiwan’s politicians influenced by American law, so is Taiwan’s legal system. Since the end of martial law in the late 1980s, Taiwan has incorporated American adversarial-leaning reforms into what has traditionally been a system that more closely resembles those seen in Japan and Continental Europe. Reforming the criminal justice system remains a work in progress, as I wrote about in a 2009 article. If the fascinating legal-transplant/translation story isn’t enough reason to visit Taiwan, the mangoes certainly are. I highly recommend planning visits to coincide with the summer mango season.
Although tensions ebb and flow across the Taiwan Strait, it is impressive that the PRC and Taiwan have avoided a large-scale military conflict, and hopefully level heads will continue to prevail on both sides. Further impressive is the durability of the meticulously crafted language of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué. In his recent book On China, Henry Kissinger retells the story of its drafting:
Principle and pragmatism thus existing in ambiguous equilibrium, Qiao Guanhua and I drafted the last remaining section of the Shanghai Communiqué. The key passage was only one paragraph, but it took two nearly all-night sessions to produce. It read:
The U.S. side declared: The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. . . .