Taiwan And Me

About two years ago, I suddenly had the desire to fly to Taiwan to see that beautiful island which has always had a complex and ambiguous relationship with the mainland since ancient times. So, I searched online for information on how to handle the procedures for visiting the island. To my disappointment, I discovered that since July 2019, the government had already closed the policy of free passage. While it’s still possible to travel to Kinmen, Matsu, and Penghu, this is only permitted for residents of certain cities in the economic zone on the west side of the Strait.

Taiwan, by Google Map.
Taiwan, by Google Map.

I couldn’t help but sigh from the depths of my heart! I thought, if Taiwan were part of the mainland, as a province, I could freely come and go, and how convenient that would be.

Visiting Taiwan, as a dream, often echoed in my mind, continuing until now.

However, I do not wish for Taiwan to belong to the mainland!

I was born on the banks of the Yangtze River, and I have lived in the northeast for a long time, glimpsed the borderlands, left footprints on the Shandong Peninsula, and now I am in the southern city of Shenzhen. This freedom of movement is comforting; no matter where I go, the people I encounter are always kind, at least communicative—because like me, they identify with their Chinese identity, are subject to the same legal regulations, receive the same cultural education, and see the same news. But is that not enough? Why do I still gaze toward that island across the sea? I can’t explain it; it’s just that my inner voice calls out like that.

I must selfishly say, this beautiful land in the southern part of the East China Sea, does it know that on this side of the mainland, an unnamed young person is facing the sea breeze and morning light, nurturing feelings of longing?

I shamelessly say, I love her, I love that land I have yet to set foot on.

This beautiful island is mysterious to me. I know she has a different appearance from the mainland, with continuous mountains, peculiar rock formations, diverse forests, colorful flowers and grass, pristine beaches, exotic old buildings, ancient temples, and people with cheerful accents. The people of Taiwan look like us, I must say, there is no difference between them and us. However, the isolation of these more than seventy years has made us somewhat different. But why the isolation?

At this moment, I feel a sense of bewilderment.

The inner world of a person is always expanding outward. When I was a child, the village was my entire world. I held my Chinese language textbook and recited:

Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in our Taiwan Province. It is located in the high mountains near Taichung. The area is surrounded by mountains, and the trees are lush…

At that time, I didn’t care much about what Sun Moon Lake was, or about Taiwan. However, the three words “Sun Moon Lake” have since been imprinted in my heart. Though I didn’t know exactly where it was, it represented some place, some unknown, unvisited place to me.

Taiwan thus became a legend, a story, a place in my heart for me. In fact, I have held it dear for over twenty years. No one ever told me stories about Taiwan, nor did I deliberately seek to understand it. My scattered knowledge of it comes from a few films, a few texts, and the anti-Taiwan independence propaganda of the state official media. In university, I stumbled upon a Taiwanese landscape documentary series, six episodes in total. I’ve forgotten all the places it showcased, only remembering that it portrayed Taiwan as very refreshing and pleasant. A while ago, I listened to some stories by the late Shan Tianfang, a master storyteller, about the history of Taiwan in “Talking about Taiwan”. Although it’s a narrative, it should be about eighty percent true, with everyone named and every event documented, not entirely fictional. In the book, the storyteller also doesn’t forget to mention that Taiwan has been an inviolable territory of the motherland since ancient times, a treasure island of the nation.

Yet, Taiwan has ultimately become a foreign land! President Tsai Ing-wen is not fond of the mainland, considering Taiwan’s independence from the mainland as an established fact. The mainland’s wishful thinking and intimidating military might do not sway Taiwan.

But is Taiwan ultimately going to leave the mainland?

I’m not panicked about this. Looking at the past, it’s obvious that Taiwan has always been somewhat elusive and hard to figure out, like a shy girl. Yet, it’s precisely this that fills me with love and curiosity for her. Taiwan was colonized by the Dutch and Spanish, ruled by Zheng Chenggong of the Ming Dynasty, later became part of the Qing Empire, was under Japanese rule in the late Qing Dynasty, governed by the Republic of China after the war, and now belongs to the Taiwanese people. It seems Taiwan is an orphan who grew up on her own, never having a stable subordinate relationship with the mainland, just occasional exchanges and interactions.

But the problem stems from the year 1949! After the collapse of the Chiang regime, Taiwan became a refuge. Thus, some left the mainland, and that parting was like life and death. Something tore us apart, severed the blood ties that originally connected us, pulled apart our joined hands, and made our paths diverge. Seventy years have passed, and our distance has grown even farther, our faces even more unfamiliar. They have become Taiwanese, and we remain Chinese living on the mainland.

Yet, something is eroding our thoughts, taking away our beliefs, killing our parents. As a result, we embark on a different kind of life, one that is new, advanced, and scientific.

Now it’s 2021, and we’ve changed a lot. The new generation is joyful and happy, often referred to as the best era, an era of great material abundance. We cherish our current blissful life; wars have long been away from us, the chaos brought by party and warlord conflicts doesn’t exist here, and the poison of religion and superstition doesn’t occur here. Our continued development and improvement stem entirely from the party’s correct leadership and its consistent care for the people.

However, this journey has been so arduous!

Over these years, Taiwan has also been changing, becoming better, more independent. We call for her return, but this “return” is hard to comprehend. I think, if she doesn’t want to come back, then let it be, because the era of coercion is long gone! Taiwan needs her own life. If one day she wishes to return, it would naturally be exciting.

And perhaps on that day, we will not be as we are today, I think.