Chinese politics is both complicated and straightforward depending on who you talk to. On October 1st, China celebrated “国庆节” (Guoqing jie) or the National Day of the People’s Republic of China which also marks the first day of ‘Golden Week’, a week long holiday for Chinese Nationals and NYU Shanghai students. October 1st is the “official” day for when the People’s Republic of China was established. The holiday is filled with parades and fireworks, especially in the capital Beijing and other major Chinese cities. However, for S.A.R (Special Administrative Region) Hong Kong and ROC (Republic of China) Taiwan, October 1st is not necessarily the same holiday as it is for the people of Mainland China.
In 1997, Hong Kong, which was originally under British rule as a colony, became a special administrative region of China with the exception that they could maintain an autonomous economic and political system from Mainland China. Many people who are native to Hong Kong maintain a proud attitude that their identities are distinct from those from Mainland China since they hold their own passports and internet usage is not restricted as it is on the mainland. However, as a greater number of the politicians governing Hong Kong are members of the CCP (Communist Chinese Party) there is an increasing unrest and fear among citizens that Hong Kong will become no different from Mainland China and no longer be the Hong Kong they once knew. Therefore, during Golden Week when many Chinese tourists flock to Hong Kong to spend their vacations celebrating the establishment of the mainland, the tension between the two lurks in the shadows as the fireworks and cheers fade into the night.
Taiwan on the other hand, who withdrew its place in the UN (United Nations) in 1971, does not celebrate “Guoqing jie” at all. Taiwan is an interesting case because during the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, the opposing party ‘Kuomintang’ fled to Taiwan to establish their idea of “China”. Up until 1971, Taiwan was considered by the rest of the world as China. Currently, although technically a ‘Republic of China’, it is similar to Hong Kong in that it has its own political and economic system. However, unlike Hong Kong who currently is influenced politically by the mainland system, Taiwan has maintained a semi-democratic state. Instead of celebrating October 1st, they celebrate October 10th which is the establishment date of the ROC. Additionally, many Taiwanese people consider themselves culturally different from Mainland China.
Although people from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are all ethnically ‘Chinese’, there seems to be a tendency for people from Hong Kong and Taiwan to wish to maintain a separate identity. The history of both Hong Kong and Taiwan is complicated as both were under different ruling just in the past century. Currently, Hong Kong is undergoing stricter policies under China’s governance, while Taiwan’s current president is an open supporter of Taiwan’s independence. As China continues to grow and develop into one of the largest world powers, it will be interesting to see how the people of both Hong Kong and Taiwan speak of their nationality.
- Golden Week Travel: CNN