A park in the Taiwanese port city of Keelung recently unveiled a statue of a “Hero of Taiwan” — former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.
The bronze statue was the brainchild of a local advertising company director surnamed Lin. He said that while Wen’s politics may have been different, he had helped to create many jobs in Taiwan, and therefore should be praised for his efforts. The theme of the statue is harmony — something Wen is well-versed in — promoting the maintaining of peaceful and prosperous cross-strait relations, SET News reports.
When asked about any possible blowback he might receive for erecting a statue of the former CCP leader, Lin said that people should look at the issue in more depth. “If somebody treats you well, opens up so much, why would you not also treat them well right back? We should say thanks,” he said.
Lin praised the Taiwanese people for their generosity, and extolled Taiwan for its open society, which allows many different voices to be heard in the public sphere.
Wen was the Chinese premier from 2002 to 2012, presiding over an unprecedented time of warming relations between the mainland and Taiwan. By his last year in office, Taiwan was even allowing independent travelers from the mainland to visit for the first time in more than six decades.
In fact, “Uncle Wen” revealed that his own retirement wish was to visit to Taiwan as an independent tourist, saying that if he was too old to walk, he would still go even if he had to crawl. Unfortunately, Wen has yet to crawl up Mount Ali.
Wen championed a strategy of gradual negotiations with Taiwan, with the hope of eventual unification. The Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao administration operated carefully under the “1992 Consensus,” which says that there is only one China, but each side can have their own vastly different interpretation of what exactly that means.
Incoming Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has so far been vague about the same issue, with many expecting that when she and her Democratic Progressive Party take office on May 20th, they will begin undoing close ties made over the last decade and could perhaps even declare Taiwanese independence.
As a warning of things to come if relations do sour, China recently pressured Kenya to deport a number of Taiwanese accused of telecom fraud to the mainland, where they will stand trial for ripping off residents in the mainland.
Where is the “Hero of Taiwan” when you need him?