Taiwan students share impressions of mainland

BEIJING, April 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from chinadaily.com.cn:

Editor’s Note: During his visit to the Chinese mainland between March 27 and April 7, many students accompanied former Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou. Let’s hear what they have to say about what they experienced during the trip.

Ho Chia-lin: Chinese culture shapes my life

The author is a second-year postgraduate student majoring in commercial law at the College of Law of Taiwan University.

I used to feel a familiarity for and yet also a strangeness toward the Chinese mainland.

It felt familiar because, in Taiwan, we also celebrate the Lunar New Year, eat Chinese food and learn about the 5,000-year history of the Chinese civilization.

It was simultaneously a strange place to me as I had only set foot on the mainland’s soil once before this visit. That was in 2002, when my elders took me to visit relatives in our hometown on the mainland.

When Mr Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, visited the mainland, I was lucky to be included in the delegation to personally see, experience and learn about the mainland further.

The first stop on our 12-day trip was the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, the final resting place of Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of China’s democratic revolution, on Zijin Mountain in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

Walking on the stone steps leading to the mausoleum, I felt as if I were traveling back to that turbulent time.

“The world is for the public” is one of the core beliefs of Mr Sun Yat-sen’s philosophy. Originating from ancient Chinese classic Liji (The Book of Rites), it remains relevant even today.

Then we went to Wuhan in Central China’s Hubei province, a city rich in cultural and historical legacy including the Wuchang Uprising, which ended the millennia-long absolute monarchy in the country.

The unique local customs and human touch remain unchanged after being hit hard by the once-in-a-century pandemic.

Located in Hunan University in the neighboring Hunan province, the thousand-year-old Yuelu Academy naturally prompts admiration from students.

In Southwest China’s Chongqing, I visited the cemetery of General Zhang Zizhong, who was killed during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), saw related relics, and laid a flower to pay tribute on Tomb-Sweeping Day, as well as taking photos with the Taiwan Restoration Monument.

The previous generations defended the peace and integrity of the nation regardless of their personal safety. I was deeply moved again.

Shanghai, where we landed to start the 12-day exchange, was also where we concluded the trip.

Jin Li, president of Fudan University, shared with us how the university takes its name from a famous line in A Commentary on The Classic of History: “Brilliant are the sunshine and moonlight, again the morning radiance returns at dawn”, indicating relentless efforts for self-reliance and diligence. I think it works for life as well.

I was most impressed with the people we encountered during the trip. I was touched by the attentive care of Taiwan affairs offices at all levels, the sincere communication with students and teachers from the mainland, and the warm welcome from local residents.

The consideration and thoughtfulness of the Taiwan office staff were shown in small details again and again, from the itinerary booklets printed in traditional Chinese characters, the use of the most convenient way of transportation such as shuttle buses, and the specially prepared Chongqing hotpot with our preferred level of spiciness.

Along the way, we communicated with young friends from Wuhan University, Hunan University and Fudan University.

When discussing daily life, we talked about whether it is difficult to become a civil servant and the differences between the life of graduates and undergraduates, as well as comparisons between only children and children with siblings.

Academically, we discussed sustainable development and exchanged opinions on the research I am currently conducting on carbon trading and green finance. Resonance seems to be planted in our mind, with no need to seek from the outside.

Upon our departure from Chongqing, the tour guide shared a text from elementary school textbooks in Chongqing, titled “Taiwan, the treasure island”. He is drawn by the spectacular scenery of Ali Mountain and wants to look out over Taipei from Taipei 101’s observation deck. However, due to cross-Strait tension and policy reasons, he was not able to visit Taiwan.

After face-to-face communication during these days, I feel from the bottom of my heart that there is mutual trust and appreciation out of sincerity between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

During an exchange activity at Hunan University, a student from Xinjiang wanted to learn about the influence of Chinese culture on young people in Taiwan.

I remembered my first winter vacation assignment in elementary school was to recite educator Zhu Bolu’s Maxims for Managing the Home.

We eat mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, burn incense and worship Buddha on the first and fifteenth days of every lunar month, and read “The Legendary Swordsman” by martial arts novelist Jin Yong after growing up.

Chinese culture is embedded in my feelings and emotions, and shapes the way I interact with others.

Of the 8 billion people on Earth, almost one in every four is Chinese, and we share the same language and cultural and spiritual systems, so “de-sinicization” is impossible and meaningless.

As inheritors of Chinese culture, what we should really think about is how to promote China’s continuous progress with the efforts of all Chinese people, so that Chinese culture can be interpreted positively and be admired and desired by the whole world.

Let’s meet next year when the magnolia blooms again, striving for peace and national rejuvenation in mind.

The author is a second-year postgraduate student majoring in commercial law at the College of Law of Taiwan University. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Translated by Liu Ming

Yung Po-kang: History should be remembered correctly

The author is a fourth-year postgraduate student at Chengchi University’s College of International Affairs.

If I could use one word to describe my trip to the Chinese mainland, I would say it was “amazing”.

This was the first time I had been to the mainland. The closest place to it I had been before was Hong Kong. I’d heard that the mainland developed rapidly, which later proved true during my visit and even went beyond my expectations.

One thing that stood out to me was the appropriate spacing between new buildings here, ensuring adequate sunlight and ventilation for each household, which is often overlooked in newly constructed buildings in Taiwan. Another thing that impressed me was the concept of “civilization” is vigorously promoted in all aspects of life on the mainland. I first saw this promotion at dining tables, with slogans advocating using serving chopsticks and spoons and not wasting food. There were also other signs on the streets such as encouraging travelers to exhibit civilized behavior and drivers to be courteous. Even public restrooms posted signs reminding people to avoid bad behavior.

During exchanges with mainland students at the meetings, their confident speeches touched me. But I didn’t expect to find they were no different from my classmates in Taiwan: We all use smartphones and social media, look for delicious food on campus and engage in campus life in much the same way. Without exception, the students of our visiting delegation all cherished this opportunity for face-to-face communication. We hope to maintain contact with each other in the future to lay a good foundation for mutual understanding between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The difference between what I learned during this trip about the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and what I had learned in Taiwan before was that the latter was mostly theoretical. Almost all the battles in the war took place on the mainland. Through this trip, I was able to visit the sites and museums of the war and experience the historical environment firsthand, which helped deepen my understanding of history. I hope other young people in Taiwan can also come to the mainland to visit those sites and honor the martyrs.

I was born in 1996, and I didn’t learn much history until sixth grade. The content in the schoolbooks was minimal. I studied liberal arts in high school, so I read quite a bit of history compared to other students. The six history textbooks in high school included two on Chinese history. When covering the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, key events were included, such as the September 18th Incident in 1931, the Lugou Bridge Incident, the Battle of Shanghai and the Battle at Sihang Warehouse in 1937, and the Nanjing Massacre, which took place between December 1937 and January 1938. It was also mentioned in the textbooks that General Zhang Xueliang forced Chiang Kai-shek (after failing to persuade him) to join hands with the Communist Party of China to resist the Japanese invaders. However, in the textbooks, the end of the war was attributed to the two atomic bombs dropped by the United States. My history teacher then added the front in the Chinese mainland trapped the Japanese army and cost them a significant amount of troops and materials, laying the foundation for final victory.

The Democratic Progressive Party authorities attempt to dilute and remove all Chinese elements from Taiwan in an effort to highlight the differences between Taiwan and the mainland. However, this approach is seen as unnecessary and a waste of administrative resources to most in Taiwan.

Due to the bitter sacrifices during the war against Japanese invasion, this part of history cannot be completely erased from Taiwan’s curriculum. Nevertheless, it is increasingly understated and replaced with an emphasis on the contemporary history of Taiwan, along with its friendly relationship with Japan.

In recent years, the DPP has argued only the people on the mainland participated and suffered in the war, while Taiwan, under the “rule” of Japan at that time, was not a victim. This is a narrative that is disrespectful to historical facts. During the early stages of Japanese colonial rule, there were a series of activities against the occupation which gradually evolved into unarmed political resistance during the middle and later stages.

I agree we should not use historical events to foster hatred toward a nation or country. Still, the historical facts need to be recognized and remembered accurately.

The author is a fourth-year postgraduate student at Chengchi University’s College of International Affairs. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Translated by Chen Ziyan

Chou Yung-chin: No distance between students across the Strait

The author is a junior at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of Hsinchu-based Tsing Hua University in Taiwan.

The Ma Ying-jeou Foundation had previously held three sessions of Da Jeou Academy, all of which took participating students to visit historical sites in Taiwan. This time, the session offered me a rare opportunity to visit the mainland and explore the history of the War of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).

This was my second visit to the mainland. My first time was in late autumn of 2018 on a secondary school exchange program. This visit was a completely different and novel experience. What most surprised me was the high-speed train, which was very comfortable, fast and smooth. While riding the high-speed train from Nanjing to Wuhan, I fell into the deepest slumber I’ve ever had on any moving vehicle.

I’ve had the experience of interacting with secondary school students in Shandong during my 2018 visit. I fully felt that no distance existed between students across the Taiwan Strait at that time.

In the exchange activities with three mainland universities during this visit, the passion, closeness, and naturalness of interaction between students across the Strait showed no difference from 2018, despite the rising cross-Strait tensions and confrontation in recent years. This was the most moving and memorable.

I now still stay in touch with some of the mainland students who I met during this visit, including a postgraduate student from Hunan University. He will go to Taiwan for an exchange program in September, and I’ve arranged to take him on a tour of Taiwan and to visit Hsinchu-based Tsing Hua University, where I am studying. I am really looking forward to his visit.

Memorial sites about the War of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression were a highlight of the visit. I’m interested in the war and have studied it. However, my understanding is limited to a military perspective and I know very little about ordinary people’s stories. On the second day of this trip, we visited the House of John Rabe, a German businessman who was dubbed the Oskar Schindler of China for saving hundreds of thousands of civilians during the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. It provided me with new information and I was impressed. I haven’t read any history books used on the mainland, but as far as the historical sites and monuments we visited, they are well preserved and have ample historical materials. Such abundant resources will certainly be a great help to students who wish to learn history.

Though the war of resistance is taught in Taiwan secondary schools, and the senior secondary school curriculum includes some deep content, it hasn’t taken up many pages. More focus is placed on the outbreak, the end of the war and post-war international environment changes.

Under the influence of the “de-sinicization” policy promoted by the Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan, the entire Chinese history section has been reduced, while content about the history of Southeast Asia, South Korea and Japan have been increased. It’s not a bad thing to have an extensive understanding of the history of different nations and peoples, but it’s a pity to remove part of Chinese history.

For future exchanges with the mainland, I’ve always wanted to visit Beijing. At the beginning of the year I applied for a cross-Strait summer exchange program through my university and the list of successful applicants was published the other day. I have been assigned to conduct short-term research at Peking University. I may visit the capital city during the summer vacation at the earliest. I am very excited and look forward to seeing this magnificent and splendid city with a history of several thousand of years.

The author is a junior at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of Hsinchu-based Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Translated by Liu Ming

SOURCE chinadaily.com.cn

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