Language : English 简体 繁體
Society & Culture

The Pig, the Snake and the Pigeon

Apr 12, 2024
  • Tian Shichen

    Founder & President, Global Governance Institution
  • Huang Xianwen

    Postgraduate of International Law, China University of Political Science and Law
  • Guo Hongyi

    Postgraduate of International Law, Tsinghua University

As Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, is leading a youth delegation to visit the mainland, a crime thriller from Taiwan — “The Pig, the Snake and the Pigeon” — is going viral in mainland China. The film depicts Chen Kui-Lin, one of three top criminals, defeating the other two — Bullhead and Hongkie — to make himself memorable. During this process, he gradually becomes acutely aware of his crimes and eventually accepts his end in a death sentence.

The film applies the metaphorical images of pig, snake and pigeon to the three criminals. The connotation traces back to Buddhist Scriptures: the “pig” refers to Chen Kui-Lin’s ignorance and obsession, “snake” to Hongkie’s violence and hatred and “pigeon” to Bullhead’s greed. The Chinese name of the film is literary allusion to an ancient hero, Zhou Chu, who defeated two monsters, realized his previous wrongfulness and improved himself to become a great scholar.

The film went viral on both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan for its rooted cultural identity. Not only is the literary allusion well-known but also the classical plot reflects the cultural link. Before Chen Kui-Lin determines to act, he worships the statue of Guan Yu, who is famous as a warrior and always loyal to his state. In China, people also worship Guan Yu for his loyalty and effort to maintain national unity. Although the Kuomintang left the Chinese mainland because of the civil war, cross-strait cultural ties have never been broken.

People on both sides share a common respect for Guan Yu, and cross-strait reunification was originally a common ideal and vision of the people. However, this vision is currently threatened. In the context of the great power rivalry between China and the United States, the Taiwan issue has become fodder for political manipulation. Reunification is facing its own pig, snake and pigeon.

The primary threat to the reunification of the Chinese people stems from the activities of secessionists in Taiwan who seek independence. This threat manifests in several ways, exacerbating tensions and complicating efforts towards reconciliation.

First, Taiwan’s political landscape has become increasingly polarized, with divergent claims from different political parties. While the Democratic Progressive Party advocates for independence, the Kuomintang seeks to maintain the status quo with the Chinese mainland. The presence of pro-independence voices, particularly within the DPP, fuels tensions and undermines prospects for peaceful reunification.

However, maintaining the status quo is not necessarily a good strategic choice for long-term stability. It serves as a temporary tactic but could pose obstacles to implementing the 1992 Consensus in the future.

Additionally, the DPP’s efforts to promote desinicization during its term further complicate the situation. Under leaders like Chen Shui-bian and Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP has sought to redefine Taiwan’s identity by distorting history. This includes altering textbooks to portray Chinese history as East Asian history, emphasizing Taiwan’s unique cultural heritage and use of language fostering a distinct identity apart from the Chinese mainland.

Unfortunately, the distortion of history perpetuates misconceptions about independence among members of the younger generation, weakening cultural ties and further straining relations across. In essence, the promotion of a separate Taiwan identity by the DPP contributes to the broader challenge of achieving reunification by eroding the cultural and historical connections between Taiwan and the mainland. Addressing these issues requires a nuanced approach that acknowledges Taiwan’s unique identity while also seeking common ground for peaceful coexistence and eventual reunification.

The second threat emerges from military intervention by the United States and its hegemonic mindset, as highlighted in U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remark at the Munich Security Conference: “If you’re not at the table in the international system, you’re going to be on the menu.”

Since the Cold War, the United States has persistently moved to maintain its global dominance and hegemony by strategically weakening its competitors and enemies by designing various conflicts and crisis. From the conflicts in Iraq, Kosovo and Syria to the ongoing crises in the Russia-Ukraine war and the Gaza tragedy, U.S. interventionism reflects a zero-sum mentality under which its voracious appetite comes at the expense of weaker nations and world peace.

This insatiable pursuit resembles the relentless greed of a pigeon, ceaselessly seeking to feed on the flesh and blood of vulnerable countries without regard to the consequences. The human cost of “America first” is immeasurable, resulting in countless deaths and tragedies inflicted upon nations that dare to challenge U.S. dominance. Much like the cult leader Bullhead in the film, whose supposed sanctity doesn’t falter when sacrificing an innocent woman to maintain control over his followers, U.S. hegemony demonstrates a similar disregard for the lives it disrupts.

Regarding the Taiwan issue, the “one-China” principle, as articulated in the 1972 Shanghai Communique, establishes a clear line: Taiwan is an integral part of China, and thus the United States should refrain from meddling in China’s internal affairs.

The third threat comes from the hatred exuded by militant extremists — just as the Pigeon exhibited in the film. Defining militant extremists in the context of the Taiwan issue involves identifying individuals or groups who advocate for or engage in violent or extreme actions to advance their political objectives with regard to Taiwan’s status and relations with the Chinese mainland. These extremists may press their Taiwan independence agenda by means of severe violence or armed force. They may hold to radical or extreme ideologies or positions that reject compromise or peaceful means of resolution.

Overall, people from both sides of the Strait cherish hope for national reunification. Resolving the Taiwan issue will require a comprehensive and nuanced approach that can finally defeat the three evils — the pig, the snake and the pigeon. Key stakeholders, including the leaders of Taiwan and the central government in Beijing, as well as the international community, must engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation to achieve a peaceful resolution that respects the interests and aspirations of the people on both sides. Only in this way can all Chinese people and the international community as a whole be relieved of the threats posed by these evils.

You might also like
Back to Top