Monday, October 12, 2009

Silence on ‘compatriots’

Taipei Times printed the letter in English:

Silence on ‘compatriots’


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) delegation of athletes at the Deaflympics last month did not attend the opening ceremony on Sept. 5, but part of the team did show up for the closing ceremony two weeks later, in full view of the public and on TV.

In an unusual move, the PRC team did not carry the Chinese flag upon entering the stadium during the closing ceremony, but instead held up a long red banner with white simplified Chinese characters that read “Go, Taiwanese compatriots in the disaster zone.”

While the thought may have been sincere and heartfelt, wishing a speedy recovery to victims of Typoon Morakot in the southern part of this country — which the PRC team was visiting as foreign guests — it was at the same time a strange sight to see the PRC banner calling their Taiwanese hosts at this international event “compatriots.”

Compatriots means people from the same country. How on earth could the PRC team have the chutzpah to unfurl such a propagandistic banner in a foreign country? And how did they get away with it, with virtually no criticism from anyone in Taiwan, certainly not anyone in the government or the ruling party and not even anyone in the opposition party?

It is hard to imagine this Alice in Wonderland behavior happening in any other country. Writing the term “compatriot” on that banner meant that the PRC team was saying that Taiwan is part of communist China. It is the height of arrogance to unfurl such an untrue phrase in a foreign country where the PRC team are guests of the Taiwanese.

Taiwanese are not “compatriots” to the communist Chinese in the PRC.

The Americans and the British are not compatriots, even though we have many things in common in our inherited cultures, nor are Canadians and Americans compatriots in any sense of the word. We are friends, but we are not compatriots.

Brits, Canadians, Americans, Australians and New Zealanders all live in separate countries. They are not compatriots. For the PRC team to unfurl its banner in public at the Deaflympics calling their Taiwanese hosts “compatriots” was blatant propaganda.

Did anyone in Taiwan complain about this? Or was this kind of rude and impolite linguistic behavior on the part of the visiting PRC team just accepted by the Taiwanese public as par for the course, business as usual? I did not see any news reports complaining about the banner insult.

This story has been viewed 213,795 times in communist China.

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