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Sunday, October 14, 2007


The most urgent threat to Taiwan is in Taiwan

In his recent blog Ben Findlay wrote Why should I care about Taiwan's geopolitical future?, in which he talked about his observation on the lack of Taiwanese effort on the international platform:

Yes, Taiwan continuously tries to enter international bodies. Yes, there is going to be a referendum on the UN question. Yes, there are regular protests and marches against Chinese threats. But how is any standard westerner supposed to know about the convictions of Taiwan’s population? Where is the prolific debate in languages westerners understand?

Where are the regular blanket advertisements in western media? Where are the powerful NGOs loudly making Taiwan's case and vilifying the opposition's factual and moral flaws through well financed journals and websites? Why does Taiwan not have any lobbying influence remotely comparable to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee when the case is magnitudes less equivocal?

Where is the tireless, relentless campaign to reach Chinese people with the truth? Where are Chinese people’s funded opportunities to see reason? What possible hope can there be without this?

and what he learned from the above observation is:

I see little evidence that Taiwanese people really, really care.

thus an approach he follows:

Taiwan is a rich country of 23 million people. There are no excuses for their pathetic efforts. When they really start to show that they care, I’ll really start to feel justified in caring myself.

I totally agree with Ben on the lack of Taiwanese-launched international campaign. We do need to promote ourselves on the international platform. Many people, Taiwanese or not, do see this.

However, how people respond to this existing weakness depends on how much they know about Taiwan.

Many people don't understand that the most urgent threat Taiwan has been facing is not PRC military threat or any other lack-of-support from foreign countries, but the political struggle inside. There are still huge pro-china population (like KMT) in Taiwan, who rather see Taiwan as a sub-culture of China and treat Taiwanese as secondary citizens. In a sense those pro-china people in Taiwan serve as front soldiers of China. It's this infight that we have to win first. If we lose this fight to KMT, then don't have to wait for the PRC coming, we will go right back to a society in which Taiwanese are always discriminated.

Therefore we spend most of our resources at where we need most, that is, to spread the Taiwanese consciousness to our own people. There's no way we could put this nearby day-to-day threat aside to spend too much time and resources on far remote campaign.

And this is not an easy task. Think about how long it takes for brain-washed people to change their minds that have been with them since childhood. Simply asking a person to change his attitude toward his wife is not easy, if even possible. And we are talking about "mind change" of a whole country that has been brain washed for decades! This certainly limits the ability to educate more people for handling international issues.

That doesn't mean that we didn't try. Check out FAPA (http://www.fapa.org). It is one of the most influential lobbying groups in the US, second only to the Israel group. It plays a very crucial role in helping US understand the real struggle Taiwan has. Many Taiwan-friendly bills wouldn't have passed in US congress without the long time effort of FAPA.

People who know a little about Taiwan should have already learned this. Judging from Ben Findlay's question "Why does Taiwan not have any lobbying influence remotely comparable to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee", it seems to me that he is not even aware of FAPA.

In fact, it's in those long time foreign campaigns like FAPA has been doing when we realized where our real obstacle is. When we are fighting China's diplomatic suppression and international indifference up front, those pro-China people from Taiwan are pulling our legs from behind. These "pulling-legs" people include those who serve in Taiwan's diplomatic offices oversea, in which they are supposed to follow (DPP) government's orders. Many foreign friends are confused by "two versions of Taiwan" and don't know how to help. A lot of effort is thus wasted. Anyone who has observed Taiwan closely should have also known that whenever Taiwan's government launch a global campaign, those pan-bluers just jump right out to do it in the opposite way. That's how we realized that we have to reach a domestic consensus (i.e., to end the infight) before any effective international campaign can be done.

So this is where we are -- fighting hard for the domestic consensus and don't have enough resources and people to campaign in foreign platform effectively.

Ben's observation is right, lacking more international campaign is our weakness at this moment. But his response to the observed weakness is not appreciated. For one thing, this is not a new issue. People who have been fighting for a better Taiwan all know about this weakness, especially those fighting for Taiwan in the international stage.

Secondly, people who know better about Taiwan understand the difficulty involved and the priority we are facing, therefore know that a pure criticizing talk like Ben's is not gonna help. After all, it's always easy to criticize at the phenomena at its face value, but it's much much harder to get hands dirty to really spend time contributing.

In fact, instead of criticizing at the phenomena on its surface, some choose to jump in to write and speak for Taiwan using the advantage that common Taiwanese lack -- English speaking and composition ability -- to fill in the blank for Taiwan. Examples can be found in this blog and many others like Michael Turton, ah-Gu, ... etc. These are the people who are doing something helpful.



At 8:09 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

That's all well and good, but the KMT doesn't need to pull the legs out from the DPP if the DPP's message is wrong to begin with. It's the complete refusal to countenance DPP's missteps that does more damage than attempts at constructive criticism.


At 7:22 PM, Blogger 阿牛 said...

Thanks for the shout out, बेटा*!

* बेटा (beṭa) Indian term of affection

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Ben Findlay said...

Thanks, A very useful response.

I am and was aware of FAPA but still don't think much of the results in comparison to the cause. I doubt you do either.

I don't feel I have the knowledge, understanding or long term commitment necessary to feel comfortable fighting on Taiwan's behalf. I appreciate the efforts others make and will perhaps join them in due course.

How can one preach on Taiwan's injustices if one doesn't even understand the silence of the supposed victims?

You may not appreciate my post but I certainly do appreciate your response.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

Dear Ben,

I am and was aware of FAPA but still don't think much of the results in comparison to the cause. I doubt you do either.

It shows that you really don't know much about FAPA.

I don't feel I have the knowledge, understanding or long term commitment necessary to feel comfortable fighting on Taiwan's behalf.

That's what I was saying in my post. You don't know enough about Taiwan.

What's puzzling me is, how can someone point finger in a hush way if he doesn't feel he has enough knowledge and understanding?

The reality is, no matter how far you go, there's always space for improvement. And you simply walk in in the middle of the progress, ignoring all those efforts that have been made, and focusing solely on the unfinished business, and complaining about how sucky others are.

It's always much easier to play bossy like that, isn't it?

I sincerely hope that you could put your preset position aside and learn to understand more about Taiwan before you criticize. You don't have to contribute to the course, just try to understand more. That shouldn't be too difficult for you.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Ben Findlay said...

From FAPA’s site:

FAPA's mission is educational. The organization provides US policy makers, the media, scholars and the general public with information on issues related to Taiwan.

Hardly a ringing success is it.

I assume what you mean by “point finger in a hush (harsh?) way” - that thing that I did which is puzzling you – is say “Taiwan is a rich country of 23 million people. There are no excuses for their pathetic efforts”.
How, you wonder, can someone who doesn't feel he has enough knowledge and understanding say that? Because, if Taiwanese really want independence – if independence is really important to Taiwanese, it is self evident. If they have the money (private or public) to promote Taiwan, their not having and doing the things I mentioned is – cumulatively and inexcusably – pathetic.

If, however, Taiwanese people cumulatively don’t really want to make much of an effort to seek independence because they don’t consider it an important enough priority, then – as a foreigner who will not be living permanently in Taiwan – that is none of my business. That is actually just domestic Taiwanese free speech, debate and democracy that I have no right to actively involve myself in.

As I said, once they start to conclusively show that they care (when the domestic debate is settled), that is when I feel I’d be entitled to actively support them.

You may hate the KMT mainlanders but they are entitled to express their opinions. If a significant majority of Taiwanese people hate them, Taiwan’s democracy is strong enough to make their views pretty well ignorable.

At 3:17 AM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...


Thx for correcting my typo in "point finger in a hush (harsh?) way".

You have the point when you said that this is none of your business. I should have known it sooner.

At 5:04 AM, Blogger Mark said...

The truth is, Ben, not all Taiwanese want the same thing. If the Taiwanese had the same political opinions at the operators of this site, every election would be a blow-out, and Chen's approval rating would be higher than Putin's.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Mark, have you noticed how much of the media is controlled by the pan-blue, pro-China, pro-unification side? Have you read any of what I've written about their brainwashing methods? (More here.) Have you read about the problem of KMT vote buying in Taiwan? Have you seen the videos about how the blue media polls deviate from reality by a huge amount? Have you read about the "martial law mentality" that hides reality even more? Is your Mandarin teacher feeding you anti-Chen garbage in every class? Where else would you get this crap comparing him to Putin?

Tim Maddog

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I have read quite a few of your pieces. I don't often agree with your conclusions. The nationalist greens are doing their fair share of questionable election tactics and media manipulation, too. The central government is also illegally using it for political ends:

GIO is wasting money— and breaking the law

I'm sick of the way the current administration has been using its power to further its own political goals rather than improve the well being of the Taiwanese people. I don't have any great love for the KMT either, but your anti-Ma garbage is no more appetizing than the anti-Chen garbage you so loudly protest.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger B.BarNavi said...

Comparing FAPA to AIPAC seems rather.. naive. No, let me rephrase that - it's outright STUPID. One enjoys coverage ans support from the media and political world, and the other is barely even whispered on Capitol Hill or in the halls of the Fourth Estate. One is blamed for undue influence on American policy, while the other doesn't seem to have impact on policy whatsoever!


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