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Friday, June 22, 2007


Hsieh the Moderate

Frank Hsieh stands firmly behind the UN entry under the name Taiwan:

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh Friday threw his support behind the government effort to join the United Nations under the name of "Taiwan," saying it falls in line with his longstanding stance on the issue.

Hsieh made the remark while in Kaohsiung to cheer up the southen port city's mayor Chen Chu, whose electoral victory last December was annulled by a district court.

Though a moderate on cross-strait ties, Hsieh said he has consistently suggested the island apply for UN membership under the name of Taiwan. To that end, Hsieh said he led a delegation to the UN headquarters 15 years ago to promote the cause and engaged in a ferocious debate with opposition Kuomintang lawmaker John Chiang in the Legislature.

Note the frame that Hsieh gives it:

Asked how he is to handle protest from the United States, Hsieh said he values the friendship between Taipei and Washington but added the US must understand the proposed UN referendum will not upset the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

The referendum will serve an extra purpose of building national consensus on a key issue, Hsieh pointed out.

Proponents and opponents of the UN bid can make known their views publicly during the process and allow the people to decide which way is better for Taiwan through democratic means, Hsieh said.
Two points here. First, the "moderate" Hsieh has most of the same positions that the "radical" Chen does. Second, Hsieh puts his finger on a problem -- when Taiwan attempts to build a consensus on cross-strait issues, the US objects. How else is Taiwan supposed to build consensus, except through public democracy?

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At 1:14 AM, Blogger channing said...

Although Hsieh as a President has yet to be seen, so far he has not resorted to giving himself a cartoony name (hint: A-Bian) and shouting illogical slogans. It only takes one or two encounters with President Chen's public antics to be able to tell that the man has problems speaking with any significant sophistication or substance.

Hopefully Hsieh will not end up treading the same path.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Feiren said...

A-bian is not a 'cartoony' name. It's the way Taiwanese speaking friends, neighbors and family would naturally abbreviate his name and it indicates a degree of emotional closeness. I'm not going to dignify your characterization of his speaking style with a response.

Michael: the last point about Hsieh and building consensus is a difference between Chen and Hsieh. Chen thinks that he needs to quickly force a consensus so that his nation-building agenda can be put in place. Hsieh on the other hand thinks that more of a consensus on Taiwanese identity needs to be built up before its political expression can be actualized. In terms of means, although not ends, Hsieh may be somewhat more moderate.

But he clearly sees the referendum and using the name Taiwan as ways of building the domestic consensus on identity he thinks is the precondition. Perhaps this is the point outside commentators are missing--joining the UN under the name of Taiwan is not about changing Taiwan's place in the world, but rather about building domestic consensus. Or perhaps they see this but can't respect it, or see it as a legitimate purpose.

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

Yes, I agree. Chen is more high-handed than Hsieh, more of a difference in personality than politics.

Yes, I think outside commentators are missing that. Because they only view Taiwan in terms of China relations, and rarely in terms of itself.



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