The sunset tints the sky above the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek.
And as it happens, day after day, a small formation of elegant soldiers, in black boots and white uniform, advances through the majestic square, skirting the white building. In absolute synchrony, he approaches a centered post that bears a red, blue and… white flag.
After a few more steps of the choreography, under the curious gaze of half a dozen passersby, the soldiers fold the most important cloth in the Republic of China.
This imposing setting is in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. In spite of the solemnity, in no other territory will a ceremony for raising or raising the flag have such a dubious meaning as here.
Taiwan's Insular Prosperity and Sophistication, the Formosa Island
All around, the wealth and sophistication are undisguised. They turned this mountainous and overcrowded island (22.5 million inhabitants on 35,980 km²) into one of the four Asian Tigers, along with South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a GDP per capita, in 2010. Higher than that of Japan and France.
"wait wait i come back” assures the driver who drives us around Taiwan for a fortnight. We see him advance to a doghouse crowned with red neon Chinese characters. There he is served by a young woman in a mini-mini skirt and a low-cut top.
This was just the first of many occasions when he stopped driving to buy the betel nut that he would chew throughout the journey.
Taiwan has these things. They are curious remnants of a traditionalist past in which, blessed by the democratic environment, religion continues to play a role.
The modernization of the capital and other large cities did not cancel out the almost rural existence of the mountainous interior.
In Far Eastern fashion, Taipei is both chaotic and organized, gray but seductive. It was inspired by the solutions of Japanese neighbors.
Until she emancipated herself, under the lights of her own futuristic billboards, inspired by the shop windows of luxury multinationals and the ingenious creations of the engineers and programmers she trains.
Even so, not all natives are ready to put up with the whims of the frenzied metropolis forever. Hundreds of kilometers after we left it, we stopped at a shore of Sun Moon Lake.
The Great Sun Moon Lake Religious and Lake Retreat
In spite of the fog, we find three swimmers fully equipped. We asked to photograph them. Letting go of the conversation, they postpone the next strokes to explain to us the reason for their early-morning activity: “We are friends, all ex-teachers…”, clarifies, in English, Julia Wang, the most extrovert of the trio.
“We worked in Taipei for the years necessary for the reform. Then we took refuge here at Sun Moon. As you can see, we cross it almost every day to keep in shape… “ “When we were younger we even enjoyed Taipei life, but with age we started to think that this was the best place for the homeland to repay our services …"
The word is often used by the island's inhabitants. In practical terms, Taiwanese do not live in a country.
Nor in a province or dependence on any other nation.
They are part of the Republic of China, a unique case of geopolitical uncertainty in the world which, despite its actuality, was sketched in the distant year of 1949.
The Genesis of the Republic of China, Still in Mainland China
During World War II, still in Greater China, the communist army of Mao Zedong and the nationalist Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek joined forces to drive out the Japanese enemy.
With the objective guaranteed, they resumed the Civil War, as they had left it, to decide who would be at the head of the country.
Thanks to massive Soviet support, the Communists reversed the initial nationalist ascendancy.
In 1949, they forced General Chiang Kai-shek and his 600.000-man army, plus a million other supporters, to flee to Taiwan, a stronghold 60 km off China's east coast, ruled by the Kuomintang since the expulsion of the Japanese decreed by the Yalta Agreement.
Upon fleeing, Kuomintang troops took with them the constitution and flag of the original Republic of China, founded in 1911 by its first president, Dr. Sun Yatsen, one of the few admired figures in both China and Taiwan.
It was from this ideological transposition of the continent to the island territories that the present-day Republic of China emerged.
Despite the abrupt withdrawal, Chiang Kai-shek, the new president of the ROC, was convinced that the KMT's stay in Taiwan would be brief, that once its army was reorganized, it would return to the charge.
At the same time, west of the strait, the communists were preparing to invade Taiwan. None of the plans would come to fruition. The Communist People's Republic of China, like the Republic of China, developed in its own territories.
Top View Observatory: An Almost Aerial Perspective on the Capital Taipei
From the terrace of the Top View Taipei Observatory, we can admire the urban grandeur of Taipei. From there, the famous 101 (One o' One) stands out. At 509 meters, this was the tallest building in the world from 2004 until the recent construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
"Sugoi!” exclaim several enthusiastic Japanese. Despite the relegation, people from the four corners of the planet and even the ultra-sophisticated Japanese are surprised by the audacity architectural from Taipei's skyscraper and with the defying prosperity of little Formosa.
Unlike the island's exemplary economy, Taiwan's political situation has long remained stagnant.
The return of the Kuomintang to power softened the relationship between the two parties and made both the declaration of independence and eventual conflict less likely.
The rapprochement did not imply that Taiwan accepted the One China long pursued by Beijing.
O Dragon however, it surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy.
Accordingly, its military budget reaches record numbers that are beginning to worry the Republic of China like the United States, Taiwan's main military allies.
Protecting the United States That Discourages the People's Republic of China
Barak Obama followed up on the commitment made in the Taiwan Relations Act.
Thus, he renewed the double game of the Americans, who favor official diplomatic interaction with the People's Republic of China but inhibit any intention of annexing Taiwan and the remaining islands of the DRC, towards the desired Greater China.
Os USA they frequently renew their sales of military material to the Taiwanese. Each time, they irritate the Chinese government which, as it does almost automatically, releases a new series of controlled warnings and intimidations.
It's nothing that too much affects the busy day-to-day lives of Taiwanese. Since Chiang Kai-shek's arrival in Taiwan, Taiwan has been under threat.