"President Xi reiterated the leadership's policy toward Taiwan."
One country, two systems is an original political-cum-administrative arrangement formulated by China in its continuing quest to re-unify various entities including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan that the Chinese leadership claims were unhinged and colonized by other countries but which really form part of the Chinese nation.
With the turnover of Hong Kong by Britain and Macau by Portugal, only Taiwan remains unhinged in that historic re-unification effort.
For some time during the first five-year term of the current Chinese leadership, that initiative was seemingly kept in the back burners as China worked its way establishing its standing as the second-largest economy in the world and, perhaps equally crucial, as it grappled with the residual “Democracy Movement” in Hong Kong.
Now, as the global economy slows down and China is in the throes of conflict with the United States, by far the world’s biggest economy and the foremost military power, the Taiwan issue has, for some reason, once again resurfaced as a major agenda item (at least in 2019) in the Chinese leadership’s mind with no less than President Xi Jinping bringing the subject up in a major New Year’s Day policy speech. In that speech which marked the 40th anniversary of, for lack of a better heading, the “Taiwan re-unification initiative,” President Xi reiterated the leadership’s policy toward Taiwan.
In that speech, the Chinese President made two fundamental notions: the Taiwan issue is an internal matter as the island is and will be part of China and it will be united with the mainland through whatever peaceful means possible. As a first step, President Xi said he will urge the early resumption of talks at the highest possible levels to work out an arrangement for the peaceful, systematic and realistic leveling up of cross-border relations. He then pointed to the developments in Hong Kong and Macau, both of which have thrived peacefully under the One China, Two Systems arrangement.
Of course, the critics will always find fault in this hybrid governance system. In Hong Kong, a good number of citizens have voiced concern over the seeming militarization of the state, creeping clamp down on dissent and even in the neglect or non-delivery of services. Whether Taiwan—which is bigger than Hong Kong in many ways—would suffer the same fate is the obvious question. That fear is magnified by the fact that the original inhabitants of Taiwan remain a force to reckon with and the present government upended the earlier Kuomintang leadership for its so-called “pro-Beijing” tendencies.
Those issues notwithstanding, there is no question that the matter of re-unification will continue to boil over every so often considering the progress in cross-straits relations which have been achieved thus far. The better half of Taiwan’s manufacturing sector is now hosted in various parts of China while the remaining ones have had to depend in large measure to parts and components supplied by mainland companies.
Chinese tourists had been literally flooding the island before such crossings were put to a stop when the present Taiwanese leadership took over. Aside from people-to-people exchanges, there have been similar efforts at other levels specially between cultural, academic and professional organizations.
In a word, over the past 40 years since the re-unification initiative was put in place and the global community accepted the One China Policy (only a few nations still recognize Taiwan as a separate state) there has been substantial progress in cross-straits relations. At this point, there is no question that this initiative will gain further ground. If that happens, the acceptance of the inevitable may not take long to hold. We have gone through that phase with the One China Policy and the world was better for it. Let 2019 be the year to re-ignite that effort and move on.
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Today, January 9, is the Feast of the Black Nazarene, one of the most celebrated church events in this largely Catholic country. The Black Nazarene (Poong Itim na Nazareno) is a life-sized image of a dark-skinned, kneeling Jesus Christ carrying the Cross enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. Along with the Santo Nino (The Child Jesus), the Black Nazarene is the most venerated icon in the Philippines and devotional prayers are usually celebrated every Friday at the Minor Basilica.
Legend has it that the Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported to the Philippines in 1606. It depicts Jesus en route to his crucifixion. When it was still enshrined at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in the old Walled City (Intramuros) the procession usually passed along another church where the Virgin Mary (Nuestra Senora del Carmen) was supposed to peep (actually a sorrowful look as if bidding Him goodbye) before the procession proceeds to its final destination.
In 1650, Pope Innocent X granted recognition to the lay Confraternity of Santo Cristo Jesús Nazareno for the promotion of the devotion to Jesus through the icon. For decades, the image was housed in several other churches aside from the San Nicolas de Tolentino before it was finally enshrined in Quiapo Church in 1787 where it has stayed since. The icon is considered miraculous and attracts homage of millions of devotees all over the country.
The image is brought out of its shrine in procession three times a year with January 9 the biggest, longest and most attended. The January 9 event known as the Traslacion procession which usually takes almost 24 hours re-enacts the image’s “solemn transfer” in 1787, to the Minor Basilica in Quiapo from its original shrine inside Intramuros. Similar processions of the Black Nazarene have since been celebrated in other parts of the country the most visible being that in Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao.
We join the millions of devotees and the entire country in solemn praise and prayers to the Black Nazarene. May 2019 be a peaceful, blessed and prosperous year for all!