As part of the activities to celebrate the centennial of the birth of our nation, an Internet poll was design by Academia Historica (國史館) to select the 100 most influential figures in the history of the Republic of China. Controversy immediately arose following the inclusion of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, deceased leaders of Chinese Communist Party who defeated Taiwan’s present ruling Kuomintang in a bloody civil war broken out right after the end of World War II and forced the retreat of ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Before Taiwan lifted the martial law in 1987, Mao and Deng had been listed as “top enemies of Chinese people” by Kuomintang and people on this island were indoctrinated that the Mainland should be recovered by force one day.
Are Mao and Deng two of the influential figures in the history of modern China? My answer will be yes. This answer is formulated based on my notion about China. As far as I am concerned, China is the name for the land that my parents and my ancestors were born and raised, not a sole property of different regimes. And my recognition of this land is beyond political dispute. It is a historical fact that communist force led by Mao and Deng defeated its nationalist counterpart commanded by our late president Chiang Kai-shek; however, Mao and Deng should not be excluded as key influential historical figures because they, like Chiang, are all inseparable from the modern Chinese history.
The name of late Taiwanese singer Teresa Deng, whose voice conquered and warmed the hearts of millions of Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, also appeared on the poll. She was the least controversial choice to be on the list, a sign that people of both Chinas---The Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China should embrace a more broadened historical vision and work hard to attain eternal peace for our offspring.