OK, I swore I wouldn't get dragged into these word games, but I think this one does make a interesting linguistic point. According to the China Times, the text of Ma's speech on Saturday to the half-hearted return to the UN rally in Taichung had the following sentence:
Taiwan is the Republic of China
In the torturous world of KMT discourse, this is another reluctant step toward normalization of the KMT as the Taiwan KMT.
But the deep blue theologists immediately began turning hermeneutic circles, claiming that this was not the same as saying:
The Republic of China is Taiwan.
While the two sentences probably have to be translated into English as if they mirror one another, the deep blues are insisting that they are not equivalent. Their point is that while Taiwan is a part of the Republic, the Republic is not equivalent to Taiwan. In other words, the sentence can be read as A is equivalent to B, or A is subsumed into B. This is why the deep blues can accept the first formulation because it leaves open the reading 'Taiwan is subsumed in the ROC' but reject the second since it admits two two unacceptable readings: The ROC is equivalent to Taiwan (and therefore its territory does not include China and Mongolia) or the ROC is subsumed into Taiwan (with the same or perhaps even worse implications).
As far-fetched as this hair splitting may sound, I think it is grounded in linguistic reality. The two formulations are not reciprocal.
To confirm this, a KMT spokesman has tried to split the difference and force the reading that 'Taiwan is the ROC' actually is, as they like to say 'in the same spirit' as :
The ROC is on/in Taiwan
Watch that weasel phrase 'in the spirit of' because it is a sure sign that you are trying to make two different things equivalent. Chen Shui-bian tried a similar rhetorical sleight of hand a few years ago when he tried pretend that he was sort of accepting the fictitious 1992 consensus by suggesting that talks with China resume on the basis of the spirit of that consensus. China didn't buy it just we shouldn't buy this one.
But turning back to the linguistic debate, note how the DPP has immediately seized on the asymmetry of the two formulations (Taiwan = ROC != ROC =Taiwan) by demanding that Ma say how big the ROC really is. In other words, does the ROC, in Ma's view from Alice in Wonderland, still in include China and Mongolia?
Round and round they go. But I don't think Ma can come out of this a winner by hedging around the key issue of identifying (in all the senses of the wold) with Taiwan. Linking the ROC with Taiwan will not enough. Ma is being forced to say something that he fundamentally does not believe and he is hedging to get out of it. And the more he talks about it, the greater his discomfort is revealed to be and the better the focus on fundamental nonreality of his position.
A-Gu's reading is close to mine, but I think we differ slightly in our conclusions in that I don't think Ma has taken another step, I think hes been forced to and now he's trying wth limited to success to spin his way out of it for the Deep Blues.
A Formosa TV story last night on an event to celebrate the founding of an organization known as Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce for Ma encapsulated Ma's difficulties well. As a businesswoman from Hong Kong went to the stage to present Ma with a doll of Wang Chien-ming, the MC intoned in a heavy Taiwan guoyu accent "The Glory of Taiwan" (taiwan zhi guang), as the Wanger is known among the heavy breathing set. The businesswoman immediately said that Wang was 'Glory of the Republic of China.
Ma later drove home this clumsily bifurcated message by saying:
The Republic of China' is the our country's official name. The Republic of China has been on/in Taiwan for so long that that it has been tightly bound together with Taiwan. So I'm running for President of the Republic of China. There are also some people who say that I am running for the Republic of China's Taiwan, but no matter what, I'm not running for the president of the Taiwanese state.
Implicit in Ma's comments is that his vaunted linking of the ROC to Taiwan really means a subordination of Taiwan to the Republic of China. Like all Confucians he instinctively buries hierarchies of power in faux gestures to harmony. And that Taiwan is not a state while the fictional Republic is. See Ma squirm.
OK, that's quite enough close reading for one day.