Last week we had our International Student Orientation in Chicago Booth, in which we had some presentations about American culture and multiculturalism. Something quite interesting when talking about cultures is to observe how people sit spontaneously in an event like that.
Most people on my table were from Greater China. Half of the people were from Taiwan and the other half were from Mainland China. I probably chose to sit there because of my three years living in China, which make me feel like part of China. But what is really interesting is why they chose to sit together.
These people are the generation whom the future of China and Taiwan belongs to, and they spontaneously choose to sit together on the same table. I think this shows that people from both sides of the Taiwan strait recognize each other as belonging to the same community.
When I was living in Mainland China I was asked several times, whether foreigners considered Taiwan was part of China or not. My oversimplified answer to this hypercomplex problem was that, for me, this is not the right question. For me, the right question is “Which country is China?”: Are we talking about the People’s Republic of China or about the Republic of China? Or are we talking about a community with thousands of years of history extended on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and all around the world through the Chinese diaspora? In fact, this third idea, with some important variations, is shared by both the Communist Party on the mainland and the Nationalist Party on the island. They just disagree on the definition of China.
The history of China is the succession of dynasties: establishment of a dynasty, prosperity, fall of the dynasty, chaos. The history of China is also the succession of periods of union and disunion. We are now in what we could call the Communist Dynasty (whose current emperor is Hu Jintao). But the Communist dynasty will fall someday -I do not know how-, exactly the same as the Qing, Min, Yuan, Song and other dynasties fell in the past. I believe the next dynasty will be something we could call the Democratic Dynasty. This dynasty will not be a western-like democracy but a Chinese style democracy, which will also have its own series of emperors. I believe the sooner the Democratic Dynasty arrives on the mainland, the sooner the mainland and the island will be back together.
People like those who sat together on table at Chicago Booth International Student Orientation, or maybe their children, will be in charge of carrying out this.
See my article about the values of Chinese people at work to imagine what a Chinese style democracy could look like.
Image: The image belongs to jaunted.com