Thursday marked Taiwan’s National Day, the 108th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China (ROC). Hong Kong protesters expressed their fellowship with the Taiwanese by raising the ROC flag, a gesture that will prove enormously irritating to the Communist government, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Also the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s National Day, crowds are beginning to gather in the evening at various malls across #HongKong — vowing to recreate scenes in the 1950s when the city’s streets were filled with ROC rather than PRC flags.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) October 10, 2019
The ebullience of ROC flag-raisings in Hong Kong was diminished slightly when some of the protesters paused to remember that the founders of the Republic of China, the Kuomintang party, were not exactly libertarian defenders of free speech and vibrant dissent. The current Kuomintang party in Taiwan is pro-China and opposed to the Democratic Progressive Party of sitting President Tsai Ing-wen.
The ROC flag is much more strongly associated with the modern Taiwanese government than the original Kuomintang, and in any event the Chinese Communist Party does not care for either of them, as the producers of a big-budget Chinese war movie that inadvertently glorified the Kuomintang discovered to their sorrow in June.
President Tsai tipped her hat to the Hong Kong protesters in her National Day speech and cited the unrest in that semi-autonomous city as a reason for Taiwan to reject the same type of “one country, two systems” arrangement:
My fellow citizens, when freedom and democracy are challenged, and when the Republic of China’s existence and development are threatened, we must stand up and defend ourselves. The overwhelming consensus among Taiwan’s 23 million people is our rejection of “one country, two systems,” regardless of party affiliation or political position.
The Republic of China has stood tall on Taiwan for over 70 years. But if we were to accept “one country, two systems,” there would no longer be room for the Republic of China’s existence. As President, standing up to protect national sovereignty is not a provocation — it is my fundamental responsibility.
Tsai is currently running about 13 points ahead of Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu in Tawian’s January presidential election. The Straits Times on Thursday suggested her lead has been boosted by “the multiple battles Beijing is fighting,” from “halting broadcasts of some United States National Basketball Association games to a protracted trade war with President Donald Trump and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.”
Taiwan’s National Day commemoration was attended by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the first sitting American senator to attend the event in Taipei in 35 years.
“At this time, when the eyes of the world are focused on Hong Kong and the brutal repression of Hong Kong, the stakes of fighting for democracy and fighting for freedom are that much more important, and that is what Taiwan rightly symbolizes for the world,” Cruz said at a meeting with President Tsai.