Thursday, 1 October 2009

Reflections on National Day

Perhaps it sounds a bit too rude and untimely to raise this question today. Yet it also seems to be a difficult but important question that has been taken too easily.

My question is: Why does the founding day of a government is celebrated as the national day? Is there any better or more reasonable choice?

I think so. I believe the national day should be a day of paramount historical significance, rather than the founding day of a regime. When the regime collapses, the national day no longer means anything. However, a day of historical significance, a turning point in a nation's history or a day to be remembered by all the people of the nation should be sustained despite changes of regimes and political leaders. This is why most nations around the world have the day of independence or liberation from autocratic rule as the national day. Freedom and independence are indeed universal human values shared and celebrated by all mankind.

For this reason, I would propose 10 October as the national day of China. This day should be remembered on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and all Chinese people around the world simply because this is the most important turning point in modern Chinese history - the imperial period in China that had lasted for more than two millennia was put to an end on this day 98 years ago. In other words, it marked the beginning of a truly modern China.

How unfortunate it is to see such an important day being ignored and forgotten by so many, and its significance being played down due to nothing more than the antagonism between two rivalling parties. The successful uprising in Wuchang (part of Wuhan today) in 1911 terminated the 267-year rule of Manchus over China. A brand new system of government that was never seen in the Chinese eye was put in place of what had been dominating the Chinese soil for more than 2,000 years. Despite the hardship and struggles that followed, the 1911 uprising should be remembered as the founding day of modern China. The deliberate playdown by the communist regime on the Mainland and the misperception that the celebration of 10 October implies support for Taiwan independence is by all means regrettable. At a time when the official propaganda is advocating patriotism through education, the redefinition of the Chinese national day and the commemoration of the Wuchang Uprising should top the agenda.

1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid your argument is fundamentally flawed.

    Oct 1 is not the founding day of a government or regime (the founding day of the CCP regime is July 1), it is the founding day of a state, and it IS a very important historical turning point in China.

    From the Monument to the People's Heroes:
    三年以来在人民解放战争和人民革命中牺牲的人民英雄們永垂不朽
    三十年以来在人民解放战争和人民革命中牺牲的人民英雄們永垂不朽
    由此上溯到一千八百四十年 从那時起为了反对內外敌人争取民族独立和人民自由幸福在歷次鬥争中牺牲的人民英雄們永垂不朽

    From Mao:
    中國人民站起來了

    I believe if you truly understand the meaning and historical context behind these words, you wouldn't be able to downplay Oct 1 merely as "the founding day of a government". You will realize that the meaning of Oct 1 is not going to diminish even if the CCP is no longer at a ruling position, because the changes it brought to China, before or after, good or bad, will always be there and be remembered. These changes, while often being downplayed and skewed outside the mainland due to a common trend of communist bashing, are in no way less significant than those brought by the fall of the last empire.

    What I want to say is, I don't think that the meaning behind Oct 1 is any less important than those associated with Oct 10. It is actually more important if you consider its direct consequences on today's China---not just from a political point of view, but also from a historical point of view.

    I know interpreting history could be subjective sometimes. For me, I have no problem seeing Oct 1 as THE national day to celebrate, while not forgetting Oct 10 as another historical turning point.

    (forgot to activate email tracker, reposting)

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