Should Chairman Mao’s huge portrait still hang above the front gate of Tiananmen Square? Should China’s ruling party still call itself Communist?
These are not idle questions. Unless and until China’s leaders answer both questions with a simple “No” they will continue to have blood on their hands and a tainted legitimacy. Many Chinese do not accept communist rule precisely because the Communist Party denies its past, (and remains) unapologetic about its cruelty.
This is one reason why China has a Taiwan “problem.” The Chinese Communists insist that being Chinese means accepting the political reality of a sole Communist sovereign. Indeed, many Taiwanese think that, if being Chinese means accepting all that goes under the name of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, they will gladly deny their “Chineseness” than assume some of that shame.
Similarly, while a recent poll found that 70% of Hong Kong’s people are proud of being ethnic Chinese, a similar percentage are ashamed of the conduct of the mainland government. Their message to the government in Beijing is this: you cannot take away our ethnicity but you have soiled our dignity through your barbarism. For Hong Kong, the defining symbol of the Communist government is the killing of students with abandon on June 4, 1989.