Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sun Yat Sen statue, Honolulu

In Honolulu's Chinatown, on the pedestrian mall by the river, is a statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the Chinese revolutionary and founder of the Republic of China (which is now the government in Taiwan). The statue sits atop a marble base, inscribed in gilt letters with his philosophy and aphorisms in several languages.

The statue was a gift from the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1975. This was a couple of years after Nixon went to (mainland) China, but before the US recognized the People's Republic of China (rather than the ROC government in Taipei) as the legal government of the country. So matters were in diplomatic limbo at the time, and the statue may have been a PR effort to try to stave off the big switch.

It turns out there's a local connection here. Sun Yat Sen moved from China to Honolulu at around age 13 and attended school here, and returned years later while planning to overthrow the Manchu dynasty. Some sources insist he was actually born in Hawaii, and there's even a purported Hawaiian birth certificate out there. I think the idea here is that being born in Hawaii would mean he was a Westerner and not legitimately Chinese, or something along those lines. Which is an amusing flip side to the wacky birther conspiracy theories insisting President Obama wasn't born in Hawaii and didn't grow up here, and that his genuine Hawaiian birth certificate was faked somehow. There's just no pleasing some people, I guess.

Sun Yat Sen Statue, Honolulu Sun Yat Sen Statue, Honolulu

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