Shaping nationalism in China

By Jesús Centeno

Beijing, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- After finishing a tour of the exhibition, young Lian turns to the camera and proudly states: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China that will soon be “liberated” and, borrowing from Beijing’s official slogans, added “a country needs to be strong” to avoid being harassed.

The exhibition on the history of Taiwan at the National Museum of China coincides with other cultural productions, such as the film Sacrifice, about the Chinese campaign in the Korean War and The 800, about the Japanese invasion in 1937, shaping a renewed patriotism in Chinese society.

Under the title, A Territory Unbroken: Thematic Exhibition Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Taiwan’s Recovery from Japanese Occupation, the exhibition emphasizes, through documents, maps, and photographs, that the island — over which Beijing claims sovereignty despite having been governed autonomously since 1949 — belongs to the “motherland.”

According to the exhibition, it is “an inalienable part of China’s sacred territory since time immemorial.”


Since the pro-independence Tsai Ing-wen came to power in Taiwan in 2016, tensions between Beijing and Taipei have risen unabated fuelled by United States arms sales to Taiwan, veiled threats from Beijing that it would retake the island by force, Chinese warplanes and American aircraft carriers making their presence known in the Formosa Strait (also known as the Taiwan Strait) and mutual accusations of espionage.

Confronted with this state of affairs, speeches, media coverage, and cultural products in China are geared towards convincing public opinion that their position is reasonable – and it is working.

“Definitively, Taiwan is going to return to China and very soon. It is the desire of both sides,” Lian says, standing in front of a photograph of Taiwanese writer Lian Heng, who he claims is a distant relative.

Lian, who is from Fujian, a southeastern Chinese province just 315 kilometers from the island, says there were people from his family who “went with the Kuomintang (the Taiwanese nationalist party) and never returned.”

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