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Friday, September 21, 2007

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Disecting Ma Ying-Jeou's "台灣是中華民國"

Feiren's post "Linguistic nuance?" discussed the meaning of 台灣是中華民國 that Ma Ying-jeou claimed. Here is my take on that subject, based certainly not on professional linquistic studies but on my education and life long experience of usage.

Conditional Interpretation of "是"


In English, the "is" in "Jason is a dog" and that in "Jason is strong" do not have the same meaning. This indicates that the meaning of "is" in "A is B" depends on what A and B are.

This happens to be the situation in "是" in Mandarin too. Consider the following:

(1) 她是我媽媽 (She is my mother)
(2) 白馬是馬 (White horses are horses)
Obviously in (1) the character "是" means "equivalent", but in (2) it is not. In (2), more precise meaning of "是" is:

白馬是馬的一種 (white horses are one type of horses)
So "是" here means "one of".

This shows that in "A 是 B" the meaning of "是" depends on what A and B are.

The most important requirement for "是" to be of meaning of "one of" in cases like "A 是 B" is that

-- The B has to be a collective term
-- Any member inside B can be called B as well
-- A is equivalent to a single B or is a subset of collection B

In madarin there's no plaural form for a noun. So there are some terms/characters sometimes refer to its singular form, and some other times refer to its plaural form.

The "B" in "A 是 B" has to be in this category for the "是" to mean "one of".

In short, only when "B is a collection of Bs" and "A is a B", can "是" mean "one of". Under this situation, "A 是 B" means "A is one of Bs".

Examples


Some examples will help to understand this.

Example-1

白馬是馬 (White horses are horses) -- The character "馬" is used as a collective term, meaning "a collection of all horses", in which every single member in this collection is a "馬" too. In this case, "是" means "one of."

Example-2

可口可樂是飲料 ("Coca-Cola is [a] beverage) -- Here, the term 飲料 is a collection of objects and each object is called 飲料 too. In this case, "是" means "one of."

Example-3

男人是人 (Men are human) -- 人 is a collection of all 人, and 男人 is a subset of this collection. In this case, "是" means "one of."

Example-4

她是我媽媽 (She is my mother) -- The term 媽媽 couldn't be "a collection of 媽媽", 'cos you can have only one mom. Therefore "是" here couldn't possibly be "one of". It can only mean "equivalent".

Example-5

他是我弟弟 (He is my younger brother) -- This is a more complicated case in which 弟弟 could mean "the only younger brother" or "a collection of all my younger brothers". So this could mean "He = my younger brother" or "He is one of my younger brothers."

The above examples demonstrate that there are very specific situations in which the madarin "是" can be interpretated as "one of."

"Part-Of" Distortion of "是"


One important point is, although "是" can be "one of" in some specific situations, it could NEVER mean "part of".

Example-6

手臂是人 (an arm is a person) -- If "是" can be interpretated as "part of", then this sentence should have been correct. But it is obviously not. The "是" here can't even be "one of" (an arm is one of a person).

Note that in this case:

a. Even though "人 is a collection of all 人", but "手臂" couldn't possibly be equivalent to the member of this collection.
b. Even though 人 could be "a collection of all body parts," none of the body parts could be called 人 in its singular form.
It will only make sense if it is revised as:

手臂是人的一部份 (an arm is a part of a person)
Therefore, to describe "A is a part of B" in Mandarin, you would NEVER say "A 是 B", because in Mandarin the character "是" never means -- or even remotely hints -- "part of."

Example-7

台灣是中華民國 (Taiwan is ROC) -- This is an analog to Example-6. Obviously, ROC is NOT "a collection of all ROCs", therefore "是" here couldn't possibly be "one of." It couldn't possibly be "part of" either, 'cos, as suggested above, "是" could never mean "part of."

So the only possible correct interpretation for "是" in "台灣是中華民國" is "equivalent to": "台灣=中華民國"; "台灣" and "中華民國" are exactly the same thing. I believe this is why Tim Maddog is eager to ask Ma Ying-jeou this question: "Does your definition of 'ROC' include Beijing, Tibet, and Mongolia?" Because Ma now suggests 台灣是中華民國, and in Mandarin the only interpretation for it is that Taiwan is exactly the same as ROC, and that would mean "Beijing, Tibet, and Mongolia" are no longer ROC's territory, which is a violation to the claim of pan-blue that Beijing, Tibet, and Mongolia still belong to ROC.

To describe "Taiwan is part of ROC", as Ma intends to, correctly in mandarin, you have to say:

台灣是中華民國的一部份 -- "Taiwan is part of China". Here "是" means "equivalent to".

台灣是中華民國的省 -- Taiwan is one of ROC's provinces. Here 中華民國的省 means a collection of all 中華民國的省s, and "是" therefore means "one of"
Saying that 台灣是中華民國 means "Taiwan is part of ROC" is a two-fold distortion of the meaning of "是":

First, it distorts ROC as a collection of ROCs;
Secondly, it distorts the meaning of "是" as "part of";
It's as rediculous as saying that the phrase "手臂是人" and "手臂是人的一部份" are equivalent.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

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915 UN for Taiwan - I was there!

(TM) Kaohsiung, Taichung, and points between

The correspondents
This past Saturday, Michael Turton and Craig Ferguson were together in Taichung scoping out the old fogeys and hired babes at the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rally. Feiren and I were (separately) in Kaohsiung, as was Wally Santana of AP. The dateline on a Reuters piece o'crap by Ralph Jennings (a veritable king of loaded language) says he was in Taipei (345 kilometers away from Kaohsiung), and while Bloomberg's Tim Culpan wrote about it, too, he may as well have been phoning it in from an alternate universe beneath KMT headquarters. (Read on, and you'll see why I say so.)

Many participants in the SocialForce.tw discussion took part in overseas rallies, including ones at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York, the Federal Building in Los Angeles, the TECO office in El Monte, CA, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and many other places.

I can only wonder how many people around the globe took part in the day's events supporting Taiwan's entry into the UN.

From here to there
First, some details gathered on my personal adventure to Kaohsiung.

My wife and I boarded a Taiwan Railways train at the station in downtown Taichung, where there was a nice big "UN for Taiwan" banner hanging out front. (Be sure to also check out Michael Turton's impressive panorama of the same scene taken 2 days later when there were far fewer people.)

Taichung Station for UN Taiwan

I didn't know if I'd see or be able to notice anybody aboard who might be headed to the Kaohsiung rally. Imagine my surprise when DPP heavyweight Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) got on my car in Chiayi (嘉義) wearing a green-sleeved "UN for Taiwan" jersey and sat a couple rows in front of me. He reclined in his seat and snoozed through most of the journey there, but before disembarking, a smiling supporter had grabbed his attention, so I didn't get the chance to say hello.

Chai Trong-rong snoozing  Entering Kaohsiung

At the station in Kaohsiung, it was more crowded than Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving. I photographed a couple of the same kind of banners that Feiren saw there.

Banners at Kaohsiung Train Staion

So that's why they call 'em "5-star" hotels!
Leaving the train station by taxi, my wife and I headed to our hotel -- a high-class joint a short distance from the start of the parade route. But we were both tired and hungry. I had hardly slept at all on Friday night because I was so excited about the upcoming rally. We looked for food, but of the two nearby places on the map the hotel provided, one was already closed for their afternoon break, and the other apparently no longer existed at that location. So, we went back to the hotel and ordered room service.

By the time we had eaten, the parade had already gotten underway, so we were trying to see how the media was covering it. When I turned on the tube, it was tuned to TVBS where Lee Tao was busy spouting his usual nonsense and looking like his head was about to explode. SET was missing in action. FTV was present and accounted for, so we stuck mostly with that channel.

The TV images showed huge crowds, and we were in an air-conditioned room sitting on a comfortable bed. But I didn't come all that way just to sit there!

4:40 PM - Lots of people  5:04 PM - Will the bridge hold them all?  5:19 PM - Aerial shot of lots of people

Inertializing...
Since the parade was well on its way, we hailed a taxi and headed for Nong 16 (農16), which was the end of the parade route and the site of the evening rally. The ride was not short (costing NT$150), so I didn't regret skipping the long walk in that heat. We were able to get out just a short distance behind the big stage.

Pure energy
There was so much happening, I have to refer to my photos and videos to get everything in order. Also, even though I was trying to not to fill my memory cards with images, I filled 3 of them.

Sign the petition - UN for Taiwan  One letter per person - UN for Taiwan  George Kerr's Formosa Betrayed (Mandarin)

Miscellaneous observations
Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) had lots of energy with which to fire up the crowd. An aboriginal singer-rapper let the rhythms flow in an exciting rapid-fire manner, yet he carried a wonderful melody at the same time. There were many different kinds of T-shirts for sale. I got myself a special one with a design which I'll keep secret. ;-)

The crowd was composed of people of all ages. I saw a guy walking with an upside-down ROC flag hanging from a ragged broom. A man in front of me had flags from earlier pro-democracy rallies I'd attended (228 Hand-in-Hand, 326 Democracy/Peace/Protect Taiwan). There were people as far as the eye could see (with more and more arriving in droves). An Elvis impersonator sang "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," and other tunes. DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) led the crowd with inspiring cheers. I saw Robin Hood (AKA Robin Dale of "Formosa Lily" fame [see the original video]) in the crowd nearby, Vice-President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) implored the US government in English to understand Taiwan's dilemma. Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) via satellite, live from New York kicked out something like a rap -- in Taiwanese:


1:14 YouTube video: "915 UN for Taiwan - Shieh Jhy-wey raps for Taiwan"
Camera/Editing: Tim Maddog

And how could I forget Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) chiding of Ma "Don't Paint Me Red" Ying-jeou:
為什麼不給台灣一個機會?!

[Maddog translation]
Why can't you give Taiwan a chance?!
Coming up to the end of the event, when Cabinet Secretary-General Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) and Kuan Bi-ling introduced President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the crowd went abso-friggin-lutely wild. See for yourselves:


2:40 YouTube video: "Kaohsiung - 915 UN for Taiwan - Chen Shui-bian, unpopular?"
Camera/Editing: Tim Maddog

At the end of the evening, there were lots of fireworks, the sound system played Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" at high volume, lifting spirits even higher, people were enthusiastically chanting "Taiwan! Go, go, go!" and the evening, despite some small glitches, was one for the history books. The people of Taiwan, both at home and abroad, along with friends from nations around the world, had stood up and made their voices heard with a peaceful, positive message: "UN for Taiwan! Peace forever!"

President Chen Shui-bian - UN for Taiwan

A short while later when it was time to go, without necessitating any external pressure, the crowd dispersed in quite an orderly fashion, as they have at every single DPP event I've attended. It was a great end to an awesome evening.

Appreciation
During the rally, I got many smiles, thumbs up, expressions of gratitude, handshakes, and arms around the shoulder for my presence and support. As memorable as it already was just to be there, those things gave the experience an even more powerful flavor which I will forever carry with me.

The soreness
On the downside, my legs were killing me, so after grabbing some nourishment at a nearby bakery, we headed back to the hotel. The TV was strangely not saying a whole lot about the event, so it was time for a little more food, a shower, and sleep.

Rude awakening
The hotel breakfast was pretty bad, and by that, I mean 5-star awful! But equally bad was the China Times (中國時報) hanging on the door handle when we first went out. Perhaps that was the bad taste that lingered within me until noon.

5-star Times

To our surprise, when we picked up the Liberty Times (自由時報) (a "green" paper) from the nearest convenience store, the story wasn't on its front page. (It was on page A3 while the KMT's was on page A2.) However, its "sister paper," the Taipei Times reported it in the front page headline story which, in my opinion, was where it should have been.

The numbers game
First, all the wrong ones, and I'll start with an explanation of what I was alluding to in my earlier remark about Bloomberg's Tim Culpan reporting from "another universe." Head firmly up someone's ass -- perhaps his own -- he says that there were a mere "60,000" in Kaohsiung -- supposedly quoting [DPP] "organizers" -- and "100,000" in Taichung, quoting the KMT. Ralph Jennings of Reuters tells readers that there were "150,000" in Kaohsiung and "100,000" in Taichung. Wally Santana says "more than 100,000" were in Kaohsiung. Even the BBC says, quoting "police," that "At least 100,000 people" took part in the rally in Kaohsiung, and a later BBC story says "250,000." But you know what? They're all wrong -- every last one of them.

My own conservative estimate of at least 500,000 is based on: being there; walking through the whole site twice; actually counting large sections of people; and estimating how many such sections were present. Oh, and there are those photos and videos that I shot, in case you have doubts.

6:14 PM Crowd Panorama 1 (5 pieces)

6:18 PM Crowd Panorama 2 (7 pieces)

The usual BS
The above articles all contain the usual memes/errors/lies/distortions -- you know, the ones about Chen Shui-bian being "written off as an embarrassment" by his own party or of being "unnecessarily provocative" towards the US and/or China, the ones where the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has the "Chinese" part left off, the ones where Taiwan "split" from China in 1949, the ones where the economy is "sluggish," and so on and so forth, ad nauseum.

Readers of Taiwan Matters should certainly know better than to believe any of that kind of nonsense.

UPDATE: Reuters' "The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly Editor" has issued a "correction," apparently a short time before I published this post (see also this) which reads:
China has seen self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory rather than as a separate country since the island broke away from China in 1949 when Mao Zedong's Communists came to power.
Uh, not unless you equate both 1949 Taiwan and 1949 China with the KMT, eh? [/ END UPDATE]

The little surprises
Heading over to Chichin Island (旗津) early Sunday afternoon where the crowds were totally unaware of a "sluggish" economy, my wife almost immediately spotted something exciting -- a green sticker on a light pole reading in white calligraphic script "台灣國" (Taiwan Nation). Thumbs up!

Thumbs up for the Taiwan Republic  This is the Taiwan Republic

But it felt hotter and more humid than the sauna in hell's kitchen, so after stopping at a juice stand across the road, and passing by several of what my wife and I both perceived as being practically identical seafood eateries (no obvious specialties, just the same 50 or so items at every place?), we opted instead to head straight to La Mambo café, where the jingji (經濟, economy) seemed actually rather jingqi (景氣, or bustling).

Every table was occupied at La Mambo

Chichin Island Panorama

We were volunteer "lab rats" on the "choo-choo of (potential) death"

HSR at rest at the Zuoying StationLotsa leg room on the HSRGood bilingual info on the HSRHSR was nearly at full capacityHSR at Zuoying Station

Yep, that's right! We returned to Taichung on Taiwan's relatively new High Speed Rail. It was our "first time," and in contrast with what the Consumers' Foundation (Chinese Taipei) would have had us believe, nearly everything about the HSR was easy-breezy.

Volunteer lab rats?  These people aren't afraid of the HSR

In contrast with what the pan-blue media had been telling me, there were lots of people buying tickets. We got to the station so early (as a precaution) that our wait was actually longer than the trip itself! We walked around the station and checked out the shops, the signage, etc.

Back of the HSR ticket
Read number 4, and tell me if the TVBS reporter who blowdried their ticket was just a dumbass or was trying to create a story where there was none.

The trip home was fast. It was smooth. I was oblivious to just how much danger I was supposed to be in.

Zuoying HSR Station panorama
Zuoying HSR Station

Home, sweet potato home
Back in Taichung, I started putting all the photos and videos onto the hard drive, writing this post, editing videos, uploading and tagging photos, looking for others' experiences with the rallies. It took way too long, but I hope I've given you a view that you wouldn't have otherwise seen.

Even more RELATED INFO:
* A guest post from October 11, 2005 by Jerome F. Keating, PhD, on The Peking Duck blog: Should Taiwan have a seat on the United Nations? Most of the important details related to Taiwan's bid to join the UN can be found within that single post.
* Shieh Jhy-wey in New York with more of his "rap."
* A rockin' slideshow from Canberra and Sydney, Australia accompanied by a song called "相信台灣出英雄" (Here are the lyrics) performed by 水龍頭樂團.
* Strangely, a Hong Kong news report gives one of the highest crowd estimates I've seen ("400,000") and has a great image of the parade participants (14 seconds in).
* A musical interlude with video of the twinkling Taipei 101 Tower "UN for Taiwan" display
* Video from the Taiwanese Association in Belgium (Bruxelles/Brussels) in Taiwanese, French, and English
* A video called "UN for Taiwan--Voices from UK" has a couple of members of the UK Parliament speaking out on Taiwan's behalf.
* EuroNews (who seems to have deleted all their online articles) says "Hundred thousand rally in Taiwan over UN bid
." Never mind the inaccurate number in the title -- see for yourself.
* More from EuroNews: "Hundred thousand rally in Taiwan over UN bid, Part 2." This one shows the climax of the evening rally.
* A slideshow of scenes from Vancouver with the song "She [Taiwan] is our baby." Contains some of the same photos linked near the top of this post.
* People from Berkeley to San Francisco "Represent!" their support for "UN Membership for Taiwan."
* Plenty more pictures from New York and Kaohsiung
* A supporter of UN for Taiwan takes a subversive approach to spreading the message.
* More photos from Kaohsiung
* Yushan TV has lots of video (WATCH THE VOLUME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) including this one from the Kaohsiung rally (which contains many of the same scenes visible in Feiren's pictures) which shows that DPP supporters are not only 「一高二低」 ("old, uneducated, and low income"):

Online Videos by Veoh.com

* Here's a video from Taiwan Nathan ("Taiwan Nation" with a lisp?) (WATCH THE VOLUME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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Discrimination Is The Single Seed of Conflict

Michael over The View from Taiwan wrote in his recent article Taiwan the Toddler, describing that some of the international media treat Taiwan as a kid who can't make a right decision.

In essence, "being treated like a kid" is the same as "being treated like a secondary citizen." It bares the characteristics of master's domination over slaves: you deserve only the life of a slave; you are incapable of making the right decision; every important decision you make will have to be approved by your master.

If you ever try to imagine the mindsets behind all those irrational behaviors of pan-blue in recent years, you would have found the exact same pattern of thinking. President Chen came from the local Taiwanese grass-root movement but not from the elite level of pro-China class, so whatever he did must be wrong, whatever he said must be nut. In pan-blue's eyes it's really not what Chen said or did went wrong. To them what's wrong is the fact "Chen being the president". After all, how can a "slave class" Taiwanese possibly have the right and ability to lead the more superior "master class" pro-china elites?

And if you trace this discriminating mindset even further, you would have found that Chinese started discriminating Taiwanese before KMT escaped to Taiwan in 1947. The study on this "discrimination" could stack a truck load. Deep down, "discriminating against Taiwanese" is the real single seed of conflict for all the current turmoil in Taiwan.

The road of democracy in Taiwan is therefore not only a road of anti-authoritarian, but a road of anti-discrimination and anti-colonization as well. The only final solution to reach a real peaceful Taiwanese society is to eradicate the discriminating mindset of "Chinese is superior than Taiwanese".

Sadly enough, this "discrimination against Taiwanese" is rarely mentioned in current Taiwan political theater. Not only pan-blues refuse to admit it, but also pan-greens are not aware of it. Only when both sides are brave enough to recognize it and admit it, can there be a chance that this discrimination mindset be eradicated and the seed of hatred be eliminated.

Foreign media obviously share this "colonizer superiority over Taiwanese" with pan bluers just that it's on an international level.

Update (9/19/07):

In response to mashhood's request in his comment, I quickly compiled a list to show where my theory in this post came from. This by no means is a complete version. I believe readers can spot more with open eyes.

1) First of all before KMT took over Taiwan from Japanese hand, KMT government in China already decided that they wanted to "keep the structure of colonizational government in Taiwan and use that as the tool to rule Taiwanese." Therefore there was that "Taiwan 長官公署" after KMT arrived. To my knowledge, never in China history was such a government organization setup in China territory. It is a symbol of colonist and indicates that KMT has decided to "treat Taiwanese as colonized" even before they came.

Ref: 李筱峰『台灣史100件大事(下)』p. 6~7
但是新來的中國政府卻以「征服者」的態度對待台灣。首先,國民政府在台灣設立了一個和中國大陸各省不一樣的制度,叫做「台灣省行政長官公署」,作為統治台灣的總機關。這個機關擁有行政、立法、司法、軍事各項大權,齊集一體,很像日本時代總都府的翻版,延續了類似日本時代的殖民體制。

2) When Chinese started to come to Taiwan, they described Taiwanese using the term "奴化" (slaverized?) and have to be "re-educated".

Ref: 李筱峰『解讀二二八』 p.99~100
許多大陸人視台灣人受了日本的「奴化」,動輒以「奴化」加諸於台灣人。。。。教育處長范壽康於1949年4月29日,在台灣省地方行政幹部訓練團的演講中,公開指責台省人排擠外省工作人員是「完全奴化」,引起省參議員郭國基的強烈質詢,認為這是對台灣同胞的侮辱。這種視台灣人受日本「奴化」的觀念,直到二二八事件,官方仍以此為理由來解釋事件的肇因。

3) The looting of resources by KMT back to China before KMT lost China. It ruined the Taiwan society and directly led to 228 killings. This looting was based on a mindset that Taiwanese don't deserve a good living, which, from my point of view, is the only explanation for how could they possibly justify their stealing/robbing/killing acts.

Ref: The looting of Taiwan resources and sending them back to China should be available easily.

4) After KMT occupied Taiwan, Taiwanese were almost excluded from the government's middle and high positions. It's another sign that Chinese don't treat Taiwanese equally.

Ref: 李筱峰『解讀二二八』 p.36~39

5) During the martial law period, whenever Taiwanese characters appeared in TV programs, they were portrayed as low class, dirty, no education, criminal ... KMT intentionally infused the impression of "Taiwanese are low class people" into people's minds.

6) The voting trends of pan-blue supporters -- no matter how good a Taiwanese politicians is, he/she has no right to lead us.

7) The unreasonable hatred against President Chen. As what I mentioned in the post, it's not what ah-bian did or say, but "being a Taiwanese" itself is what they opposed.

8) Many pan-blue supporters, even highly educated, still believe that if not for KMT Taiwan will not be able to enjoy such a developed and democratic society now. They totally ignored or denied the fact that before KMT came, Taiwan was already a much more advanced civil society than China, and Taiwanese then were far more experienced than Chinese in terms of running a country democratically. This "Taiwan would have been worse without Chinese coming" mentality is a deeply rooted discrimination against Taiwanese.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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Open Letter to GIO Minister Hsieh

Dear Minister Hsieh,

First, please accept my congratulations for your effective work in building support for Taiwan's UN bid in New York last weekend.

I am writing, however, to express my disappointment in the form and content of an ad that your Office has run both on one of your English-language websites and the local English-language media.

My first objection is to the requirement that the applicant be a "Citizen of the Republic of China". Why is it impossible for your Office to use the far more natural 'Taiwanese citizen' or 'Citizen of Taiwan'? Or, since you are after all a government office, why not at least use the same formulations as used by the Presidential office and on Taiwanese passports--"Citizen of the Republic of China (Taiwan)"?

My second objection is to the nationality requirement itself. Surely your Office no longer seriously believes in the essentialist dogma that one must be 'Chinese' or 'Taiwanese' to to understand and write about Taiwan. This obnoxious myth is not at all consistent with Taiwan's commitment to being a pluralist and open society. The best way to present Taiwan to the world is to have informed native speakers of both languages work together to produce high quality work about Taiwan that neither could produce by themselves.

Why not open this position to the many foreigners with work rights in Taiwan either by marriage or through permanent residence? Many of the qualified 'ROC citizens' who will apply for this position will hold passports from other countries and have spent less time in Taiwan than some long-term residents. They are not excluded by this nationality requirement.

I urge you to reconsider this ad and also to undertake a serious review of your English language website. Much of the content there undermines the work you are doing for Taiwan. Little things matter.

Best regards,
Feiren

[This letter has also been submitted to the GIO's official mail box]

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Not Gonna Stand For it

David Lague of the IHT has a good story on the breakdown of negotiations over the Olympic torch route with a nice quote from Foreign Minister James Huang:

Taiwanese officials say the Chen administration was prepared to agree that the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag would be the only one officially displayed. That flag, which bears the emblem of Taiwan's Olympic committee on a white background, has been used since the 1984 Games.

But officials say they would be powerless to stop Taiwanese citizens from waving the flag of the Republic of China, the island's official name - or any other flag, for that matter.

"In an authoritarian country, it may not be a problem at all," said Taiwan's foreign minister, James Huang. "But in Taiwan, things do not work in the Chinese way.

"The Taiwanese government cannot agree to issue an order that disrespects and infringes on the rights of the people, and the people will not allow it to do so."


[my emphasis]

It is worth noting that after seven years, Chen finally has his people in the three key positions that control Taiwan's relations with the outside world:

Foreign Minister: James Huang
De facto US Ambassador: Joseph Wu
GIO Minister and EY spokesman: Shieh Jhy-wey

All three are showing very positive signs that they know how to engage the world in terms of Taiwanese democracy as Huang's comments above show and Shieh's remarkable performance in New York last weekend.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

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Linguistic nuance?

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:

台灣就是中華民國

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:


中華民國就是台灣
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 :

中華民國在台灣
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:

「『中華民國』是我們國家正式名稱,中華民國在台灣這麼多年,已經跟台灣緊緊結合在一起,所以我競選的是中華民國總統,也有人說我競選的是中華民國台灣的總統,但是無論如何,我競選的不是台灣國的總統。」

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.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

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UN for Taiwan: The Kaohsiung 915 March

Michael Turton has called for pictures from yesterday's UN for Taiwan march in Kaohsiung, so here are my humble offerings. This was the DPP-organized march in support of the referendum to join the UN in the name of Taiwan. Michael has pictures from the rival KMT event in Taichung over at The View from Taiwan.



We headed down from Taipei on the High Speed Rail leaving at about 1:00pm and arriving just in time for the march to begin from the Formosa MRT station in Kaohsiung.

The march was huge and festive as is usual for pro-Taiwan events. I have no idea how many people were there, and I don't see how anyone could have done a crowd estimate the way we were packed into a a variety of construction-bound space.

A few random observations. I was surprised at how few Kaohsiung foreigners joined the march. With the exception of a German television crew, I saw exactly two other foreigners in about five hours of marching and rallying. And one of those was standing on the side of the road looking like he'd just come out of his Buxiban to see what all the excitement was about. I mention this because there were hundreds of foreigners at the massive Anti Anti-Secession Law rally a couple of years ago in Taipei.

There was no ant-American sentiment whatsoever at the march. Indeed, there was a huge American flag at the rally later in the evening. People came up to me and assured me that while they thought the US government was dead wrong on this, they were positive that the US is the best friend Taiwan has ever had. I sure hope they are right.

Yesterday's event had two distinct segments. The march through the streets of Kaohsiung was the best part. During the march, the focus was very clearly on Taiwan joining the UN. It was a powerful and moving experience to watch the overwhelming working class and rural crowd affirm that they too deserve a seat at the world table. I grasped emotionally what I had intellectually understood already: the KMT must be very, very careful in handling this issue or risk suffering another defeat.

The second part was the rally at a huge field with the thickest, plushest grass I've had the pleasure of sitting on in Taiwan. The field was surrounded by high rise luxury apartments at the foot of which sat hordes of old country people wolfing down their biandangs with the gusto of people who spent an afternoon walking. I wish I knew how to take photos at night because the contrast between those old folks turning on the taps (of course they had tools with them) to wash off and generally yucking it up under those luxury complexes (The Magnficence of Hotel-Style Living for Bosses in Prada-Style Spa Homes) was awesome.

A fair number of tourist buses were picking people up here before they joined the rally. I suspect this had something to do with the wildly varying estimates of the crowd size. Some no doubt were leaving because farmers from places like Chiayi County tucker out around 8:00pm anyway, but others because the rally itself was for the core party faithful and an opportunity for legislators and city councilors to show the folks from home that they know the national leaders by walking across the stage. In other words, the march was to rally the light greens to the cause of getting Taiwan into the UN, and the rally was the first big stop on the presidential election trail.

I sometimes forget that people brainwashed by the Blue media and middle class Taipei sensibilities are unaware of an important fact about both Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh: both of them can really speak. Su has this voice that sounds like it was excavated from a gravel pit on the Jhuoshui River and the energy of a gospel preacher. He also speaks very fluent Hakka that puts the mumbling efforts of Ma Ying-jeou to speak Taiwanese to shame (Full disclosure: my Taiwanese is as almost as bad as Ma's).

Hsieh though is simply the best. Like all great speakers, he begins in a calm, reasonable register in which he sets out his basic themes and then builds into an emotional frenzy before returning to those initial themes in a moving conclusion. The gist of this speech was 'What crime has Taiwan committed to deserve being shut out of the WHO and the UN?' 'And what has Taiwan done that is so wrong that the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou won't give Taiwan a chance to join the UN using its own name?' It was great stuff. Hsieh rocks although he will need resist the temptation to score tempting cheap shots off of Ma when they debate so that he doesn't look like he is bullying Mr. Nice Guy.

If you do sit through all my photos, please excuse the last few that feature weird stuff from unreconstructed Kaohsiung, While I pride myself on living in on of the more down to earth neighborhoods in Taipei on the edge of Wanhua, much of Kaohsiung was a huge nostalgia trip for me because it still filled with all the weird Taiwanese stuff all of Taiwan used to have. Hence my delight in silly signs like the one for the Hag Hair Salon at the end.

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Protests with the Mostest

KMT supporters arrive for the big rally.

Massive rallies in Taiwan yesterday! I stopped by the KMT UN rally today for about an hour and a half during its opening moments, where I met the redoubtable Craig Ferguson of CFImages (Craig's beautiful images are up now on his blog), and watched my first rally from the Other Side.

Waiting in the shade on a bitterly hot afternoon.

Step into the world of the Taiwanese KMT. Everyone at the rally was speaking Taiwanese, including the speakers on the stage, except for a few more formal remarks. The ralliers were asked to proclaim their love for Taiwan (ROC? What ROC?), and many led cheers calling for Chen to step down. Such remarks are so widespread, that one wonders whether the KMT realizes that it is running against Frank Hsieh, not Chen Shui-bian.

The Memorial at 823 Park.

The rally was held at the 8/23 Park in northern Taichung, which commemorates one of the great victories in the artillery war fought between ROC and PRC forces between the islands off the China coast in the 1950s.

Craig Ferguson, loaded for bear.

Craig and I were the only white foreigners there, and we were just there to take pictures. I was approached by several media people, and left a verbal barb in the pro-KMT UDN reporter, telling him that I, like most foreigners here, was Green. I refused all requests to speak; God knows what I would have said with a microphone in my face.

Media and sound trucks poised for action.

The rally was attended by people from all over the central part of the island. There were a large number of people dressed in aboriginal costume.

A souvenir vendor hoists Ma Ying-jeou paraphenalia.

None of the major politicians had arrived by the time I left at 4:30. The heat was oppressive, and most people were sensibly hiding out in the shade.

Brightly colored flags make for pretty pictures.

Ralph Jennings of Reuters on the UN Rallies:
About 250,000 people demonstrated in two Taiwan cities on Saturday to back the island's doomed efforts at securing United Nations membership, a move condemned by rival Beijing and rejected by ally Washington.

Some 150,000 people, including President Chen Shui-bian, marched through the southern port city of Kaohsiung in pro-U.N. green shirts and waving flags. Political opposition forces in Taichung meanwhile marshaled at least 100,000 people.

"The biggest thing is for the United Nations and the United States to notice that this U.N. effort is not just something Chen Shui-bian is doing," said Kaohsiung demonstrator Wang Chun-kai, 35, a businessman from the nearby city of Tainan.

Government officials say they know the U.N. bid will fail, prompting speculation that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has used it to solidify a long-term agenda of greater independence from China by stirring anger at home.

The United Nations is expected to reject the bid on Tuesday.

"The U.N. bid, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with getting into the U.N.," said Ralph Cossa, president of the U.S.-based think tank Pacific Forum CSIS.

"I think it is mostly tied into the Taiwan identity issue and the DPP's efforts to lock future administrations into this mindset."
The last sentence shows the latest wisdom that is rattling about the Establishment echo chamber: that the UN bid is really the "radical" Chen's bid to control the "moderate" Hsieh so that the latter has to follow the "radical" independence path. Never mind that Hsieh and Chen, whatever the personal rivalries, belong to the same party, and have been advocating independence and UN entry for the better part of two decades, nor that Chen was widely seen as a "moderate" upon assuming office. Once the Establishment decides on something, no evidence to the contrary will get it to change the CW. Note that this position is essentially a pro-KMT propaganda theme that has been picked up in some of the more conservative publications -- that the whole UN thing is simply Chen's bid to control the future of the DPP.

The first requirement for a TV reporter is babeness.

The Associated Press reported:
Surrounded by cheering supporters, Chen led marchers through the Kaohsiung streets amid colorful banners and rippling flags, looking poised and confident.

Addressing a rally ending event at a downtown plaza, Chen declared his love for Taiwan as the crowd applauded wildly: "I pay respect and appreciation to you all."

It was a remarkable comeback for a man who only a year ago was written off as an embarrassment by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which feared that a series of corruption sandals involving his family and inner circle would doom it to defeat in the upcoming presidential poll.

But now it is the main opposition Nationalist Party that seems to be caught off balance, torn between its support for eventual unification with the mainland, and its recognition that U.N. membership is a huge vote-getter with the Taiwanese public.

Reflecting the party's dilemma, Nationalist presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou held his own pro-U.N. membership rally on Saturday, attracting about 50,000 supporters to the central city of Taichung. But unlike the DPP rally 125 miles to the south, this one pushed for Taiwan's U.N. re-entry under its official Republic of China name.
"Remarkable comeback?" Only if you believe pro-KMT polls.

Watching the speakers.

The Taipei Times reported that "several members of Congress" had expressed their support for Taiwan:

Several members of the US Congress expressed their support for Taiwan's bid to gain membership in the UN ahead of a rally promoting the bid scheduled for yesterday in New York.

In a letter to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), one of the rally's main organizers, US Representative Anthony Weiner said he deeply regretted that the UN continues to disregard the sovereignty of Taiwan and deny the right of self-determination to its people.

"There is no question that the United States must stand strong and advocate Taiwan's independence from China and inclusion as a United Nations member state," Weiner said.

Releasing a statement on the issue, Representative Dana Rohrabacher said it was incongruous that a world body founded on the principles of universality and self-determination would exclude a free, democratic and independent nation whose population is larger than three-quarters of the UN' member states.

Rohrabacher said that with Taiwan possessing all the qualifications to become a UN member and ample resources to contribute to the work and funding of the UN, the country's accession to the world body is long overdue.

"Let's tell the world how unfair it has been to deny the 23 million people of Taiwan their voice and representation in the United Nations and especially their willingness to [help] other nations in need," he said.
Good to see a Dem, Weiner, in there pitching for Taiwan. Weiner represents Brooklyn and Queens in NY.

Volunteer grandmothers make the world go round.

The Taipei Times reported on the rally in Taichung:
Putting their 14-month-old boy on the father's shoulder, a Taichung resident surnamed Chang and her husband called on the DPP to reflect on its poor policies and urged the government to pay more attention to social problems.

"I closed my betel nut stand today to join the rally. We don't care about the UN referendum. What we want is a better life," said Chang, who declined to give her full name.

Dressed in traditional Amis clothing, Wang Chun-mei (王春梅) and dozens of her friends echoed Chang's demand for higher living standards.

"The people should stand up and fight for our economy. We want the government to take care of disadvantaged groups and develop the tourism industry," she said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) did not attend the march, but showed up at the evening party afterwards.

Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) declined to attend the event.

Addressing the party, Ma condemned the DPP version of the referendum as an election gimmick designed to stir up emotions.

Ma said that the KMT version would not harm Taiwan's relationship with Washington.

Among the other KMT heavyweights NOT in attendance was Jason Hu, the mayor of Taichung, who had the excuse of being abroad.

Traditional music performers are an important part of any election activity.

The Beeb has pictures of the rallies up on its website here. Guess what: the whole world is talking about the UN bid. Go Grand Fenwick!

A KMT candidate exhorts her supporters.

AFP reported:

In contrast to the carnival atmosphere in central and southern Taiwan, dozens of people scuffled with police outside the Presidential Office in Taipei, where they were gathered to oppose the planned referendum.

Protestors sprayed red paint on photographs of the president and on government banners promoting the UN bid in a show of anger.

Some 15 of Taiwan's 24 allies have proposed the island's membership application to the General Assembly, which will decide whether to discuss it when the annual session opens on September 18.

Sounds like Shih's Red Ants were busy too....

Young performers ham it up for the camera.

These rallies announce the beginning of the serious election season here in Taiwan, which means that this issue will decline in importance as the DPP moves on to other activities -- meaning that This Too Shall Blow Over. Observe that all the KMT can do now is borrow ideas from the DPP and react to its thrusts, because -- as I've repeatedly noted -- the KMT has no platform of its own. Running on the economy is a dangerous idea, since Hsieh can co-opt its economic platform of opening to China very easily, and with greater credibility (and at present the economy is doing OK). The KMT has been totally defeated on the identity issue. If Ma loses or the legislative elections are a surprise, a profound identity crisis may grip the KMT. The Taiwanese KMT legislators have grumbled as ideologue Ma tightens his grip on the party, marginalizing their unofficial leader, Wang Jyn-ping, currently speaker of the legislature. They may be ripe for Wang to use as a base to form his own localized KMT party, or even to flip to the DPP.

And waiting out there somewhere is PFP Chairman James Soong, who may retain some shreds of popularity out there in the hinterlands somewhere......

The opening speakers. Everyone was pretty listless in the late afternoon heat at this point.

The Blue Sandal Babes.

The KMT symbol for this rally was the ubiquitous blue sandal, worn by Taiwanese everywhere, supposedly to symbolize the party's identification with the working classes (who, not by coincidence, form the core of the DPP's base). The Sandal Babes were followed everywhere by the media, and showed up in shots in the local newspapers. Smart marketing -- if you want something viewed, put a babe in it -- but the reality is that almost everyone at the rally came wearing ordinary shoes (sensibly too, since no one can walk any distance in flip-flops), at least when I was there.

Hope to see some great pics of the Kaohsiung rally from local bloggers. It may not reflect actual voting patterns, but it was nice to see the DPP rally crush the KMT rally. On to the elections!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

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915 UN for Taiwan

Get your maps, info, and reasons for going to Kaohsiung

915 UN for Taiwan Rally
Two rallies will be held tomorrow in support of 2 separate referenda. The DPP's, which supports joining the United Nations (UN) under the name "Taiwan," is important in that it will let the world know some very important things:
1) Taiwan is a democratic nation.

2) Taiwan is not part of China.

3) Taiwan's citizens do not want to be part of China.

4) Taiwan's citizens want their nation to be recognized as a a participant on level ground with the international community.

5) Taiwan wants freedom from the perpetual pressure from the US and China to bow to their whimsies.
Here's the content of the DPP's petition:
全國性公民投票案連署人名冊格式

主文:1971年中華人民共和國進入聯合國,取代中華民國,台灣成為國際孤兒。為強烈表達台灣人民的意志,提升台灣的國際地位及參與,您是否同意政府以「台灣」名義加入聯合國?

[Tim Maddog translation:]
Primary text: In 1971 the People's Republic of China joined the United Nations, replacing the Republic of China, and leaving Taiwan as an "international orphan." To strongly convey the will of the citizens of Taiwan and promote Taiwan's international standing and participation, do you agree or disagree that the government should use the name "Taiwan" to join the United Nations?
[More info here.]

Background
Neither the PRC, which now holds the "China" seat at the UN, nor the ROC, which once held the same seat, have ever done anything to give real representation to the people of Taiwan. The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan. While the ROC flag has done so, the makers of that flag lost their "China" (of which Taiwan was not a part) to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); hence, the ROC claim that Taiwan is a province of "China" is about as slippery a drop of mercury on a Teflon™ cliff. Nevertheless, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) still clings to the fantasy that the country from which Mongolia became independent in the early 20th century and which they lost entirely in 1949 still exists. For the ROC to "rejoin" the UN would mean that the PRC doesn't exist.

Foreign backing
The KMT is desperately seeking foreigners to use as campaign props in their own "anti-referendum" rally in Taichung.

I would recommend, instead, that you head to Kaohsiung for the DPP's forward-thinking rally and show your heartfelt support for a democratic Taiwan with a brighter future than the KMT and CCP combined could (and would) impose upon it. If you've never been to such an event, I can't tell you how much the locals will appreciate your participation. If you have, then see you there!

The details
Here's the parade route, via the web site of the DPP:

Click thumbnail to enlarge


Here's a Google map where you can see the rally location -- the big grassy area at center right.

Here's a map I built on Wayfaring.com which shows the route, etc. (Hover on the yellow "bubbles" for notes.):

Click once on the map to change to "satellite" or "hybrid" view, zoom, etc.

I've been seeing contradictory information about times and parade routes, but the latest, most reliable info I have says that people should meet at 3 PM at the intersection of Chungshan 1st Road (中山一路) and Minsheng 2nd Road (民生二路), and the parade will start moving toward "Nong 16" (農16, a large grassy area) at around 4:15 PM. According to my Wayfaring map, the route is 2.44 miles (3.93 kilometers) long. Whatever happens, it shouldn't be too hard to find. There's sure to be a big crowd.

Come together, right now, on the green!
So, get on the ball! Many hotels are already booked to capacity for Saturday night. And if you're watching it on TV from either side of the globe, the climax should be happening at 9 PM Saturday Taiwan time (9 AM Saturday, US east coast time).

UPDATE: Info on the New York rally


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Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

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Two Views

Two sophisticated, articulate, and opposing takes on the current imbroglio over the UN referendum today belie the claim we here sometimes too hastily make that no one in Washington really gets Taiwan.

The first is an address to the United States-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference by Thomas J. Christensen, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Among other things, Christensen argues that Taiwan's security is predicated on a moderate political approach to relations with China that does not include assertions of independence such as the UN referendum. He calls the UN referendum "ill-conceived and potentially quite harmful" specifically objects to the "in the name of Taiwan" component of the UN referendum rather than a UN referendum per se, and echoes Dennis Wilder's comments from two weeks ago by bluntly stating that "the US does not recognize Taiwanese independence."

Christensen's rhetoric is especially interesting because it echoes Stephen Young's rhetoric last year when Young attempted to appeal directly to the Taiwanese people in a statement of US policy. Christensen's adress is studded with this rhetoric:

I would like to emphasize that we do not like having to express publicly our disagreement with the Chen Administration on this or any other policy. Taiwan is a longstanding U.S. friend, and we do not like there to be gaps between us on important issues. I can assure you that we would not have done so had we not exhausted every private opportunity through consistent, unmistakable, and authoritative messages over an extended period of time. The problem here is not misunderstanding or lack of communications: it is that we believe this initiative is not good for Taiwan or us and that we have found ourselves with no alternative but to express our views directly to the Taiwan people.
The lie in this rhetoric comes out in that last little phrase "the Taiwan people." The Taiwanese are not "the Taiwan people" or "the people of Taiwan" as Christensen calls them earlier. The Taiwanese have long since come to see themselves as a nationality, not as the inhabitants of some island whose political status is unresolved. To refer to them in the hollow and dehumanizing language of DiploSpeech while ostensibly making a direct appeal to a friend intellectually dishonest and ethically corrupt.

He also contradicts himself by on the one hand stressing the importance of symbolism in relations across the Taiwan Strait ("in the world of cross-Strait relations, political symbolism matters, and disagreements over it could be the source of major tensions or even conflict") while later urging the Taiwanese to set aside their silly preoccupation with the formal diplomatic relations or membership in international organizations and content themselves with their substantive integration with the international community.

There is much more of interest in Christensen's speech, but I'll stop here by suggesting that it should be read in the context of his
Statement Before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2005 where he argues that:

In my opinion, under certain extreme conditions the mainland would attack Taiwan regardless of the balance of military forces across the Strait or across the Pacific. In other words, there are circumstances in which the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would rather fight and lose militarily than to remain idle in the face of what they would define as Taiwan’s provocations. This means that, under these circumstances, any strategy of deterrence adopted by the United States and Taiwan, no matter how robust, would simply be ineffective in preventing conflict. For example, I believe the CCP elites would almost certainly use force if Taipei passed a constitutional revision in Taiwan that would create permanent legal independence for the island from the Chinese nation. In my opinion, the deterrence strategies of the U.S. and Taiwan would not likely play a role in preventing a military attack in such a scenario.

The second article is an op-ed piece ( not yet online) entitled "Righting Chiang-kai Shek's Wrongs" in today's Taipei Times by Stephen Yates, former deputy assistant to US Vice President Dick Cheney for national security affairs and president of DC Asia Advisory. Yates makes a strong argument that Taiwan's UN referendum needs to be understood in the context of the development of Taiwan's democratic institutions and that "there is no doubt that plans for a referendum will proceed no matter what Washington says or does. " While Yates in my view overemphasizes the importance of undoing Chinag Kai-shek's poisonous legacy, he does a good job of debunking the notion that Chen is simply poking China in the eye for short-term political gain. It is indeed more complicated than that.

Most commentators, including Christenson and Yates, have overlooked the Chen administration's repeated statements on 'Taiwanese consciousness' (taiwan yishi) and 'Taiwanese subjecthood' (taiwan zhutixing) in part, I suspect, because foreign policy wonks don't do philosophy even if their Straussian mentors do. Taiwans name change is all about getting the Taiwanese people to recognize themselves as their own masters. That act of self-recognition is deeply bound up in being able to say Taiwan's own name to themselves, which is what the UN Referendum is all about. If the Taiwanese do not know who they are--as evidence by their inability to even say who they are, all is lost for the DPP's nation building project. While these considerations may be outside the scope of strategic group think, they are core issues for the DPP and its Long March to create a new national identity for Taiwan.

Is Yates a lobbyist for the Taiwanese government. One suspects that he must be given DC Asia Advisory's creepy characterization of the services it provides:

Leveraging our rich variety of strategic partnerships, DCAA offers valuable insight and access to leaders in government and business across Asia, empowers clients to manage the impact US politics and policy can have on their bottom line.

I can't find Yates or his firm listed as a lobbyist, but I doubt he or Randall Schriver write Taiwan Times op-ed pieces for the generous NT$1.5 per word that the TT pays. How do lobbyist like this manage to get around registration requirements? Inquiring minds want to know.

Yates's bio interestingly notes that Yates spent two years as a 'church volunteer' in southern Taiwan. Is this a euphemism for having been a Mormon missionary? If so, perhaps those missions really are functioning as a sort of informal training ground for future friends of Taiwan. While Yates may or may not be a paid lobbyist, his sympathy and understanding of Taiwan shine clearly through his piece today just as Christensen's patrician distaste for Taiwan is subtly woven into his despite his protestations of friendship.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

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Red Ants Return

AFP reports that the Red Ant Army of Shih Ming-te is back in action.

Thousands of people rallied in the Taiwanese capital Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of a campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian over alleged corruption.

At least 1,000 riot police were deployed, but no clashes were reported in the candle-lit vigil, held on a square outside the presidential office.

Protesters donned red T-shirts and protest headbands, in a repeat of the huge demonstrations held a year ago when Chen refused to step down over allegations he misused funds intended for national affairs.

"The same place, the same old friends. As the same corrupt president is still there, your anger is totally understandable," democracy campaigner Shih Ming-teh, a former head of Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told the crowd.

But he assured his supporters that their persistence would pay off.

"Because of you, whoever is elected as the president in the future will not dare to be corrupt," said Shih, who kicked off the A-bian (Chen's nickname) Out drive last year with round-the-clock protests in front of the presidential office.


AFP, like most who have reported on the anti-Chen protests, appears disinclined to do any real digging on this event, so I suggest you read my backgrounder over at DailyKos on the sad decline of Shih Ming-te. None of the foreign media have reported that Shih switched to the pro-China side in 2001, going to work for a pro-Blue "think tank" and running in elections against the DPP. AFP also leaves out the inconvenient fact that Shih's followers are all Blues, as Shih himself admitted last year, that there are credible allegations that Shih is getting money from China (Shih is close friends with alleged Taiwan embezzler Chen Yu-hao, who has links to the PRC government), and so on. These reports make Shih appear saner than he is, since no foreign media report has included any of his wilder remarks, such as claiming that bags on his HQ doorstep were bombs sent by the DPP, or saying that his followers were unemployed pigs. They have also failed to report that his own followers sued him for financial irregularities. In other words, the foreign media, in presenting Shih's protest, have left out everything that might enable the reader to actually understand what's going on: the whole thing is a faux protest, a pan-Blue put up job. Instead, what is created is essentially a pro-Blue political construction.

The first time the Red Ants appeared I mused on the odd connections between once-powerful local politician James Soong and Shih Ming-teh. Soong spoke at the protests many times last year, and was frequently pictured sitting next to Shih. Apparently Shih was not bothered by Soong's conviction for tax evasion (with the largest fine ever handed out to major Taiwan political figure) and the fact that he was fingered in a French Court for being the bagman on a US$400 million payoff in the Lafayette Frigate scandal. Last year, when Soong's party, the PFP, began putting pressure on the KMT about the stolen asset issue, suddenly, Shih began talking about the same thing.

Soong, a prominent pan Blue politician who once had a huge following and came just 3 points short of winning the Presidency in 2000, went into hiding after being shellacked in the Taipei mayoral elections in December of last year, where he got only 9% of the vote in the Bluest city in the country. With the Red Ants on the march again, think we'll be hearing from Soong soon?

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The many faces of Ma Ying-jeou

The Lon Chaney of Taiwan politics?
In a semi-facetious comment over on Michael Turton's blog last Thursday, I wrote about the many different "versions" of the increasingly ragged-looking former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九):
Michael, I believe Hsieh may have been talking about the Ma Ying-jeou (v.1) who said he hoped the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Youth Corps would "produce another Hu Jintao." This was apparently a "different" Ma Ying-jeou from the one (v.2) who got mad at the DPP for juxtaposing his image with someone shouting "Long li[v]e Hu Jintao!"

Then again, there was also that Ma Ying-jeou (v.3) who said that Taiwan could join the UN using the name "China Taipei" (中台北). (See the very beginning of Part 3 of the September 5, 2007 edition of Talking Show [大話新聞]. If Ma [v.3] "protested" that name, as he says right there in the video, why did he even say the words, much less suggest them as a "possibility" -- in the same sentence, even?!)

And, of course, there was yet another Ma Ying-jeou (v.4) who disputed the words of v.3 just a few hours later.

The case against Hsieh will rest entirely on which anti-Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou he was referring to. I hear there are several more of these Ma Ying-jeous ;-)

UPDATE: A little bird tells me that these are all the very same Ma Ying-jeou, and he's long overdue for an upgrade -- so long overdue, he may just have to be replaced altogether. I'm sure readers will understand my confusion.

Tim Maddog
Therefore, I am not surprised to see Ma doing yet another 180-degree turn while trying to blame the situation on his political opponents.

What is it this time?
Let me give you the background first. Here's something I wrote on my personal blog back on November 14, 2005:
The artist formerly known as "the defender of the ROC flag," Ma Ying-jeou
At two international sporting events held recently in Taipei (the Asian Short Track Speed Skating championship and the Sixth Asian Youth Judo Championship), the ROC flag (which I consider to be the flag of an occupying power rather than the "real" Taiwan flag) was replaced by the Olympic flag of Chinese Taipei which, due to Chinese pressure, has been flown at the Olympics since 1984. (Being mostly white, it also looks way too much like a surrender flag.)

The problem this time is that while the events were held in Taiwan, not only was the ROC flag removed from the facility, but spectators were forbidden by the event organizers from even carrying such flags inside. The organizer of the latest even[t] shed crocodile tears on TV news while blaming "the (central?) government" for the situation.

Good try, but the thing is that [then-premier] Frank Hsieh had made clear that there were no laws to prevent such free speech.

But when the flag of the enemy is raised, and the local one is lowered (at an event representing "peaceful competition"?), the lyrics of Alanis Morisette naturally start bouncing around in your brain.
(Note that if you hover on the "Alanis Morisette" link, you'll see that there were "only" about 700 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan back then. The number now surely exceeds 1,000.)

What the November 11, 2005 version of Ma said was this:
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, said that all international games held in Taipei follow the IOC's rules.

"This is about following the rules of the IOC and ensuring that sports events run smoothly. It has nothing to do with my national identity ... I love the Republic of China and I love the national flag," Ma said.
Raising a red flag (about his past behavior and statements)
But in response to the very latest removal of flags, here's a quote from the September 8, 2007 version of Ma in Sunday's Taipei Times:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has vowed to defend the right of audiences at sports games to carry national flags, adding that if he were elected next year, his government would cancel any games where Chinese teams refused to cooperate.

"I will make it clear with China that the existence of the Republic of China [ROC] cannot be ignored in cross-strait exchanges. Any move that belittles the ROC will damage cross-strait relations," Ma said in a written statement on Friday.

Ma made the remarks after attending a meeting with locals in Pingtung, where he was asked to comment on the Straits Cup basketball tournament in Hualien last week, where some fans were prevented from waving the national flag.

"We will fight for our freedom to bring the national flag if the host country blocks Taiwanese from carrying the national flag or from singing the national anthem," he said in the statement.

Ma said that International Olympic Committee regulations on national flags and anthems should not include the audience. As such, audiences should be allowed to bring flags and sing national anthems.

"As long as the audiences bring the national flags or sing national anthems voluntarily, their actions should not be banned, as it is the public's right to express their passions for their country," he said.

If elected next year, Ma said he would not allow China to demand that the country cover national flags or pictures of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) during cross-strait exchange events in Taiwan.

"Such incidents happened frequently after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power. I will not accept it and won't let it happen again if I am elected," he said.
What a load of horsecrap! These events may have happened "after the [DPP] came to power," but more importantly, they happened under Ma's mayorship (and even during his brief party chairmanship), and the DPP lambasted the incidents in real time.

Oh, and there's a big problem with Ma's use of the word "should" -- while Olympic rules may "forbid political banners in venues," and while agreements with the International Olympic Committee may apply the flag rule to the teams and venues, I don't believe that these agreements prevent spectators from waving the ROC flag.

Note also that in the most recent flag flap, the people stopping spectators from displaying their flags used the same excuse as Ma above -- the one about harming Taiwan's international reputation.

So, while Ma couldn't control events in his own city, he hides that truth so as to be able to appear that he can control them abroad?

Read the full article to get the DPP's side of the story from party chairman Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃[方方土]).

Yeah, but you're only quoting "green" media,
and besides, Maddog, who stopped the flags?

Then how about this from ETtoday on December 14, 2001, with a quote straight from the horse's mouth [English translations, explanations mine]:
亞洲盃女足賽/比照奧會模式 馬英九籲民眾配合

Asia Women's Soccer Cup / follow Olympic model, Ma Ying-jeou request's people's cooperation

第13屆亞洲盃女子足球錦標賽4日登場,由於兩岸三地都有代表隊出賽,為免因國旗、隊名問題引發爭議,一切程序比照奧會模式處理,不建議民眾帶國旗進場。台北市長馬英九說,身為主辦城市的台北市必須遵守國際規範,才能繼續舉辦國際賽事,希望民眾配合

The 13th Asia Women's Soccer Cup was held on the 4th. Due to the presence of teams from the 2 sides and 3 areas [refers to the 2 sides of the Taiwan Strait, including the 3 "areas" of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China], the Olympic model [i.e., calling Taiwan "Chinese Taipei" and using a special flag in ceremonies] was recommended in order to avoid conflicts regarding the national flag. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou said, "As host city, Taipei must abide by the international norms, or it won't be able to continue hosting international event, and I hope the public will cooperate."

[...]

由於今年中國大陸與台灣都有代表隊出賽,為免先前「亞洲盃溜冰錦標賽」因國旗而引發的抗議事件重演,市府將遵照中華足協規定,比照奧運模式進行賽事,台灣代表隊的名稱為中華台北、會旗則是梅花旗。
As mainland China and Taiwan both have teams in the competition, in order to prevent a recurrence of the protest incidents like those which happened at the Asia Cup skating championships, the city will comply with the rules of the Chinese Football [Soccer] Association and follow the Olympic model which is to use the name "Chinese Taipei" and the "plum blossom" flag.
Once more: Olympic rules don't prevent spectators from waving the ROC flag.

And here's something more recent from ETtoday [English translation, clarifications, commentary mine]:
此景相信大家並不陌生,民國九十年台北市舉辦亞洲盃女子足球賽期間,有民眾自發帶國旗進場為中華隊打氣,警察卻告訴民眾說『帶國旗會損害我們的國際形象』,在勸阻橫奪民眾的國旗之際,卻放任十數支的中共五星旗在場邊飄揚。2005年的中日韓棒球邀請賽,台北市政府要求警察進入會場搜查究竟有誰拿「中華民國青天白日滿地紅的國旗」。2007年亞洲男子排球四強挑戰賽在嘉義市港坪運動公園舉行前夕,主辦單位與嘉義市政府就先宣告比賽禁止民眾攜帶國旗入場,以及現場不能懸掛國旗。

People may not be surprised by this, but in ROC year 90 [2001], when Taipei City hosted the Asia Women's Soccer Cup, some spectators carried [ROC] national flags into the arena, and police told these spectators "Carrying the [ROC] national flag will harm our international reputation." The police then snatched the flags away. However, any 5-star flags of Communist China [PRC] that were present at the event were allowed to remain. And at the 2005 Chinese-Japanese-Korean Invitational Baseball competition, the Taipei City Government [Y'know, the one mis-led by Ma Ying-jeou?] asked police to enter the arena in order to check people for possession of the ROC "blue sky, white sun, red earth" flag. The day before the 2007 Asian Men's Volleyball Quarterfinals in Chiayi City's [another KMT-misled city] Kang Ping Sports Park, the hosts and the Chiayi City Government forbade spectators from bringing [ROC] national flags into the arena and removed from view any [ROC] national flags that were originally on site.
Same mendacious excuse, many different days.

And as you see above, pan-blue media tells us it was the "Taipei City Government," then under Ma Ying-jeou, who told police to enforce these rules and Ma himself asking the public to cooperate with rules he says on other days "should not include the audience."

Anyway, the real problem behind this is much bigger -- the fact that Ma Ying-jeou's "ROC" includes all of China, and even Mongolia. That fantasy is smashed to bits by simply recognizing the fact that the ROC is defunct and that Taiwan isn't part of China, but these are the things that make people like Ma's heads explode.

So be sure to stick around for the next episode of... "The Many Faces of Ma Ying-jeou"!

BONUS LINKS:
* MUST SEE! A video compilation of many similar flag flaps with KMT characteristics (Mandarin listening ability required)
* See Chinese losers grabbing the ROC flag from the Taiwanese champions at the 2006 International Children's Games
* A text version of the follow-up to the above, in which the Chinese team, when asked "Is violence your only choice?" answered in unison, "Yes!" (Note: Ma Ying-jeou fancied himself defending the flag that day.)
* A different telling of the story immediately above: "A matter of flag"
* A video I uploaded to YouTube in February 2007 about "Ma Ying-jeou's double standards" (includes English explanation)

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Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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