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Monday, January 14, 2008

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How'd the KMT win? What's next? WTF?

They got high with a little help from their friends

In startling contrast to my predictions that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was desperate in the runup to Saturday's legislative election, they won a 2/3 majority.

However, in line with my aforementioned predictions, DPP votes were much higher than the numbers promoted in those pan-blue polls. Let's take a look at the helping hands that lifted the KMT to this win.

First of all was the new system which was rigged in the KMT's favor with its "winner takes all" setup assuring 8 seats in Taipei City alone. Even without all the other problems, the new system alone may have done the DPP in.

As for the polls, ESWN's Roland Soong says that calling them "pan-blue" is just an excuse (actual quote: "contemptuously dismissed as 'pan-blue' polls"), but Michael Turton does the actual analysis which self-described pollster Soong should have provided. Turton's pulling back of the curtain shows that even though the KMT numbers were right, the DPP figures Turton analyzed showed that the polls were off by as much as 75% regarding that side of the political divide. He also shows how even though the total number of DPP votes increased over those of 2001 and 2004, fewer seats were gotten due to the new system.

Clever Claire's own analysis of the numbers focuses on those same figures and tells us that "KMT gets 53.5% of the votes but obtained 77.22% of the seats, while [the] DPP's 38.17% [of the] votes gets them only 16.46% [of the] seats."

Low voter turnout (less than 57%) looks like a very important (if partial) factor here. Ya think those distorted pan-blue polls might've discouraged a bunch of DPP voters from going to the polls?

Then there's the issue of voter intimidation -- even by one's parents! My wife's father returned from the polling place before voting and "reminded" her (because one of the KMT's "observers"/henchmen saw him carrying his notification slip for the referendum) not to take the yellow notification slip with her. Of course she responded, "That's none of your business." But the fact that there were two slips and that they were different colors sure made it easy for the "observers"/henchmen.

Kinda makes those KMT cries of "The DPP-controlled CEC is repressing us!" fall flat, eh?

My wife and her sister both witnessed these "observers"/henchmen telling people outside the polling station where she voted "Don't vote for the referendum" as uniformed police officers stood by doing nothing.

The KMT aired their fake ads to the very end. Even after several fakes were discovered in their earlier ads, another guy pretending in their ads to be poor was discovered to have two children studying in Canada.

Vote buying was also a serious problem. Despite it being known about by everyone already, the evidence brought it even further out of the shadows this time around. Still, that wasn't good enough -- unless some of those cases turn some election results around. Don't know how probable that might be, however.

The help continues
As long-time observers would expect, the very non-neutral international media used this opportunity to kick their incessant distortion of Taiwan into high gear.

A BBC article on the outcome which quotes "China analyst" Shirong Chen refers to the KMT in their headline as "Taiwan nationalists," not only leaving the "Chinese" part off their full name, but getting it completely backwards. A different BBC article reveals that Shirong Chen is, in fact, their China editor. What else would one expect from the Beeb?

Echoing the meme, an Associated Press piece mirrored on CNN and under a different headline in the New York Times (probably in hundreds of other places as well) calls the KMT "Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party." Ugh!

What the DPP did wrong
* They allowed five of the "11 bandits" (11寇) to represent them. Did that get them any of those so-called "swing votes"? Nope.

* They allowed (by drawing lots, for cryin' out loud!) the gerrymandering of voting districts which gave them fewer seats even with more votes. And some people call that "greedy"?

* They didn't properly handle transitional justice or the redshirts or James Soong's threats or the constant flow of slander from the pan-blue media or so much more.

What can be done now?
* Gladly remember, as Hai Tien at the Bala Daily (巴樂日報) reminds us, "that we're not the ones who respond to losing an election by crashing trucks into government buildings, inciting riots, and throwing rule of law out the window."

* Turn off the pan-blue media -- unless you're going to spend the time to point out their contradictions a la Media Matters for America -- and encourage others to do the same.

* Brush up on the kinds of logical fallacies you will experience when dealing with KMT supporters so you'll know how to deal with them.

* If you have that right, get out and vote on March 22, 2008. Even if you don't have that right, you can encourage others to do so. Help others wake up in the meantime. Get a blog, comment on others' blogs, upload videos to YouTube, do everything in your power as a human being. It won't work with everybody, but I have singlehandedly gotten people to take off their blinders and switch their votes from the KMT to the DPP before. Have you even tried? Do you give up easily? Do you expect it to happen all by itself?

* The editorial in Sunday's Taipei Times has some thoughts about how to turn things around in the next [69] days.

* Brainstorm in the comments section. Pro-democracy comments are what I'm looking for. If you're anti-democracy, feel free to reveal your true colors as well.

Additional resources
* Sunday's Taipei Times has a PDF file that can be downloaded showing the results of the election on a huge map, Taipei City and Kaohsiung City are shown in a smaller image along with legislators at large and aboriginal seats, votes by party are a bit more visible, and a graphic comparison of the 2004 and 2008 legislatures is also available.

* The Liberty Times (自由時報) has separate pages (zh) showing vote counts for all the legislative races, votes per political party, and votes for the two referendums.

* Read about the BBC's anti-Taiwan bias as previously covered at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy and Taiwan Matters:
1) BBC gets Taiwan all wrong
2) BBC angers all who care about Taiwan
3) BBC still not getting Taiwan right
4) BBC continues Taiwan deception
5) BBC strikes again
6) BBC Taiwan Coverage: Pathetically Biased
7) BBC cooks up more nonsense about Chen recall bid
8) Who will observe the Taiwan observers?
9) BBC has news about Taiwan totally backwards
10) Another distortion piece from the BBC
* In order to get a feel for how much of the international media constantly brainwashes the world with Chinese propaganda about Taiwan, take a look at my collections of examples of some of the more common memes they use:
1) Memes: Taiwan provoke China (22 items awaiting addition)
2) Memes: Taiwan "renegade province" (35 items awaiting addition)
3) Memes: [Taiwan and China] "split in 1949" (42 items awaiting addition)
* Watch Talking Show (大話新聞) every night from 8:55 - 10:55 PM on SETN or catch the online version at your convenience via the TaiwanUS.net web site.

* Check out some of the blogs in the sidebar.

Lessons to be learned: , , , ,

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

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24 Comments:

At 5:10 PM, Blogger STOP Ma said...

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But the fact that there were two slips and that they were different colors sure made it easy for the "observers"/henchmen.

LOL! (Groan!) They had different coloured slips along with two separate ballot boxes? Jeezus! Why not have the KMT henchman actually vote for you, too.

You know, I wonder when the KMT (I mean, CEC) will start implementing paperless Diebold-like electronic machines. Pre-program them and there won't be a need for these henchmen.

I'm sure one of the hi-tech companies in Taipei can answer that call.
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At 11:28 PM, Blogger David said...

Something that should be done is try to do more to expose to the international media how the KMT influenced the participation and voting in the referendum. This was done in a subtle way that might not have been obvious to the international observers.

Offer Hello Kitty magnets to everyone that votes. That should get the voter turnout rate up near 100%. (OK, this suggestion was a joke, but it does say something about the apathy of voters in Taiwan.)

 
At 8:18 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

Yes, clearly it was the different colored slips and/or intimidating electoral observers (none of which raised an eyebrow from international observers) which accounted for the 26% vote-rate on the referendums...

As far as the theory that "redistricting" is responsible, I'll just point out that the winner of the presidential election will be winning 100% of the presidential seats available, despite only winning 50%+ of the popular vote. In other words, that's the way this political system is designed, period.

The legislative makeup doesn't imply that 76%+ of Taiwanese support the pan-Blues. But it does show that in 76%+ of Taiwan, a majority of voters support the pan-Blue parties. And that's a reflection of the true nature of Taiwanese society... other than the deep South, the KMT is more popular than the DPP in every other region of Taiwan.

I challenge anyone claiming "redistricting" is at fault to come up with a clever (but hopefully reasonable) new district map, even with the benefit of hindsight, which significantly changes the election results.

For some reason, I doubt the two of you spend much time fretting about the identical formula used to select the legislatures in the United States.

 
At 8:25 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

Oh, and in terms of "what's next"... here's what's next:

The KMT government will liberalize relations with mainland China, and civil/social/economic ties between the two sides of the strait will continue to grow. There won't be any significant political liberalization for years and probably decades to come, but on every other axis, integration will be forwarded significantly over at least the next 4 years.

Taiwan will probably both positively and negatively influence mainland China, and vice versa. But the net effect will be positive on both sides of the strait.

Even if the DPP returns to power in 4 years, putting this genie back into the bottle will not be easy. You won't easily force mainland tourists, pandas, or trade out of Taiwan once we've been welcomed in. Taiwan has been set down a slippery slope; there will likely be a few negative bumps in the road, but the long-term trend is obvious and unavoidable.

And you'll probably continue to whine about it. But just as was the case this time around, you won't be able to do a damn thing about it.

zhonghua minzu jiayou.

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger 阿牛 said...

Let's not forget how badly the DPP campaign was run. For all the help the KMT had, they probably would have won without it.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Hai Tien said...

I wouldn't be so sure about economic relations translating to political ties. Official or not, increasing economic exchanges between Taiwan and the PRC are nothing new. If anything, the idea of a separate Taiwanese identity has grown along with it. Even in best case scenarios where neighboring states are on relatively good terms with one another (eg, USA and Canada, UK and Ireland), increased economic ties have not led to any perceptible increase in unificationist sentiment. With systems and societies that differ as drastically as they do on the two sides of the strait, I do not forsee any EU-type arrangement on the horizon anytime soon (which the PRC has empathetically rejected).

Speaking completely anecdotally, most blue voters I know (family and classmates) are of the light blue variety - voting primarily on bread and butter issues. To most of them, the KMT's increasingly fuzzy and distant ideas of political unification are fuzzy and distant enough that they are willing to go KMT for the perceived economic and social benefits. In the highly unlikely situation that the KMT tried to do something perceived as capitulationist, their votes would evaporate just as quickly as those of light greens whenever the DPP takes a turn for the dark green side.

I'd even hazard a guess to say that one reason why people have been more willing to vote KMT this time around is because of that - the KMT has watered down much of its old unificationist rhetoric, essentially embracing LTH's Two States idea (even if they're reluctant to say so openly).

The dark greens and dark blues do share a common trait however, both seem quite divorced from mainstream opinion in their own way.

 
At 2:06 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

hai tien,

Cross-strait relations for the last decade can be characterized as increased economic exchanges partnered with a total freeze on social/civic exchanges. The increase in "independence sentiment" must be seen in that light.

Due to those conditions, mainland China has been successfully painted in Taiwan as an economic threat, without an equal opportunity for it to present itself as a social partner.

I don't delude myself into believing that the vote this past weekend was a mandate for unification. It was a mandate for moderation, pragmatism, and good government... nothing else.

From the mainland perspective, the most positive *message* I'd take away from the vote in and of itself is that being perceived as "pro-Chinese" is no longer a death sentence in Taiwanese politics.

But still I see that as a hugely meaningful step. Over the next 4 to 50 years, all of the aborted social exchanges will gradually materialize. The Olympic torch will go to Taiwan, and then the mainland (I really think Ma will make this happen this year). And then a few decades later, it will go from the mainland to Taiwan.

Mainlanders and Taiwanese will increasingly marry, partner up on business, become classmates and colleagues. We'll listen to the same music, watch the same movies, and play the same games.

None of this is a guarantee of unification... but it is a guarantee of an end to hostility and growing amity. And 50 or 100 years from now, when it's finally time to decide whether our differences outweigh our similarities... it seems likely to me the Taiwanese and mainland Chinese will have the same opinion, whatever that may be.

 
At 2:11 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

One more comment:

"Even in best case scenarios where neighboring states are on relatively good terms with one another (eg, USA and Canada, UK and Ireland), increased economic ties have not led to any perceptible increase in unificationist sentiment."

In those other examples, there's no native unification sentiment in and of itself. No one in the United States is interested in unifying with Canada, and vice versa.

I'd propose Hong Kong as a counter-example. 10 years after Hong Kong's reunification, the initially very skeptical Hong Kong public has grown far more supportive of Chinese interests (and anti-Taiwanese independence). This has happened despite two very different systems on either side of the HKSAR border.

I think the type of growing social/economic ties we see today between Hong Kong and Shenzhen will mirror what we'll see in Taiwan, except perhaps over an exaggerated timeframe.

 
At 3:38 AM, Blogger B.BarNavi said...

"UK and Ireland"
"In those other examples, there's no native unification sentiment in and of itself."

Just... WOW. If you haven't heard of Ulster Unionism and the IRA and all that craziness by now, I just don't know what to say about you.

Also, you seem to suggest that China and Taiwan are on equal footing, and can thus influence each other on the same playing field... and you even extend the example to Hong Kong! Well, let me introduce you to two little concepts known as SIZE and POWER. Hong Kong may be influenced by China - the rest of China sure as hell ain't influenced by Hong Kong. You think the same would apply to Taiwan?!

 
At 5:49 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

Presumably you understand the difference between Northern Ireland and Ireland itself. I assumed the previous poster was referring to Ireland (where there's no meaningful unionist movement), his comments make no sense otherwise. There's obviously plenty of reunification sentiment in Northern Ireland.

As far as your statement that seems to suggest Hong Kong hasn't influenced the rest of China... "just WOW" seems to be the right statement.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Hai Tien said...

Quite a bit of activity since I last checked, let me see if I can address your points one by one.

Cross-strait relations for the last decade can be characterized as increased economic exchanges partnered with a total freeze on social/civic exchanges. The increase in "independence sentiment" must be seen in that light.

I must beg to differ on the assertion that there is a freeze on social/civic exchanges. PRC-made TV dramas are popular in Taiwan (along with Korean and Japanese dramas), and speaking from personal experience, academic exchanges between schools and universities in Taiwan and the PRC are quite common. Many people from Taiwan have been to the PRC for business or pleasure at least once. While official exchanges are infrequent, there is no shortage on contact below the official level.

... mainland China has been successfully painted in Taiwan as an economic threat, without an equal opportunity for it to present itself as a social partner.

The media in Taiwan regularly paints the PRC as an economic opportunity, and there are plenty of popular books on the shelves about the riches to be made by doing business in the PRC. Perhaps you've heard of the term "西進"? Many businessmen will tell you that the only way they can keep costs down is to move manufacturing to the PRC. Put simply, there is no shortage of the viewpoint of the economic opportunities of the PRC in Taiwan. In fact, the view of the PRC as an economic threat is primarily a backlash against the whole "Go West" sentiment as blue collar workers see their jobs outsourced.

We'll listen to the same music, watch the same movies, and play the same games.

Like we don't already? Most of my PRC classmates know the pop culture scene in Taiwan better than I do.

None of this is a guarantee of unification...

Yup.

...but it is a guarantee of an end to hostility and growing amity. And 50 or 100 years from now, when it's finally time to decide whether our differences outweigh our similarities... it seems likely to me the Taiwanese and mainland Chinese will have the same opinion, whatever that may be.

Again, the end of hostility and the existence of common viewpoints is no guarantee of unification. The PRC, or whatever successor state exists then could very well decide that there is no point in jeopardizing a perfectly profitable relationship with a neighboring friendly state.

Your view rests solely on the assumption that the whole Taiwan identity is solely the result of intentional manipulation by those in power. I make the opposite argument that the positions of those in power reflect what the electorate wants. Witness the degree to which KMT policy has departed from what it was 20, or even 8 years ago.


In those other examples, there's no native unification sentiment in and of itself. No one in the United States is interested in unifying with Canada, and vice versa.


Actually, for some time after the US declared independence, there was significant sentiment favoring the annexation of what would eventually become the Dominion of Canada (Much of the loyalist population in the US fled to Canada following the end of the Revolution). Up till around WWI both the US and Canada kept plans for the invasion of the other. Eventually, both countries wizened up and figured they were similar enough to be good neighbors.


I'd propose Hong Kong as a counter-example. 10 years after Hong Kong's reunification, the initially very skeptical Hong Kong public has grown far more supportive of Chinese interests (and anti-Taiwanese independence). This has happened despite two very different systems on either side of the HKSAR border.


As many have pointed out before, Taiwan isn't Hong Kong. Hong Kong was never a sovereign state, and had very little say in its own affairs till the 90s shortly before the end of British rule.

Technically speaking, Hong Kong should have been the part of the PRC most qualified to handle democracy, and most likely to return a result favorable to Beijing. Despite this, Beijing has refused to implement full suffrage, and continues to pack LegCo with pro-Beijing delegates, while introducing various sorts of "anti-subversion" legislation. People in Taiwan look at this and see a regime so paranoid that it won't even trust a territory positively disposed towards it.

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger Hai Tien said...

cctang said...

UK / Ireland stuff...


I was referring to the Irish Republic. Ireland was partitioned in 1921 with the southern Catholic counties separating from the UK and eventually forming the Republic, while the northern Protestant counties remained part of the UK. In the case of pre-Anglo-Irish War Ireland, republican sentiment still had to contest with Unionist sentiment till well after the Easter Rising and the failure of the Home Rule movement.

Of course, each situation is unique, but can help shed light on similar ones. My reference to Ireland and the UK was to illustrate the idea that neighboring states with close economic and cultural ties can coexist quite nicely without unification. Especially if a distinct national identity exists. This appears to be our major point of disagreement. You seem to think that the Taiwanese identity distinct of the Chinese (as in political) identity is completely artificial and will collapse without intentional sustainment from above. My assertion is that the Taiwanese identity as it is today is well entrenched enough that it can survive on its own.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger channing said...

cctang, I'm usually cautious with bringing Hong Kong into the debate, because in some green circles HK today is just another brainwashed Communist Chinese city--especially if you make a claim of its views on Blue-Green and TW Independence.

For those who think Hong Kong doesn't influence mainland China, dollars beg to differ. The SAR is the single largest foreign investor. Buildings are built by Hong Kong developers and those of local developers often get names derived from Hong Kong. Even its culture (cuisine, films, slang) is visible in the mainland and Taiwan.

But going back to topic, even without all of their alleged election tricks, I'm pretty sure KMT-PFP would have maintained their majority. What remains to be seen is whether this will influence the presidentials in March. I live in an area with a lot of Taiwanese; many of the immigrant generation are flying back to vote.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger STOP Ma said...

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Yes, clearly it was the different colored slips and/or intimidating electoral observers (none of which raised an eyebrow from international observers) which accounted for the 26% vote-rate on the referendums...


It clearly raised the eyebrows of a few international observers in 2004 (I wish I could find the link to back that up, but I can't). Having 2 ballot boxes eliminates the anonymity which is needed to ensure that coercion of this kind (where outside observers can determine if you voted for the referendum or not from a good distance from where the ballots are dropped in the boxes) cannot happen. What is so hard to understand about that?
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At 4:19 PM, Blogger B.BarNavi said...

Oh please. Popping Andy Lau in Chinese CD players hardly qualifies as "influence." Do you think HK's brand of subversive wit is making inroads in the streets of Shanghai?

 
At 2:18 AM, Blogger channing said...

I'm not sure what you mean by subversive wit, but I don't think it exists anyway.

There's a reason why films from a certain place overwhelmingly dominate the Golden Horse awards in TW, but since you don't consider them "culture," I won't argue any further.

And the anti-subversion bill was utterly defeated before even getting a vote in the Council. This is proof that trying to be heavy-handed will disgust the population--producing utter defeat such as the DPP in this LY election.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous 阿旭 said...

read this -

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2004/12/31/2003217393

"The KMT and PFP argued that whether voters had picked referendum ballots revealed which ticket they might have voted for."

 
At 2:36 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

I think it's a given that the way the referendum was carried out was hardly the best democratic practice. For that matter, refusing to vote at all in and of itself is hardly democratic.

But the first academic observation is hardly relevant in a real world sense; the referendum would've been defeated solidly regardless of how the ballots were printed.

While official exchanges are infrequent, there is no shortage on contact below the official level.
Glass half full or half empty? It's an exaggeration on my part to say there has been no social interaction; 1-2 million Taiwanese (depending on who you ask) live on the mainland, and many times that number have visited.

But it's also not an exaggeration to suggest that the level of interaction has been effectively crippled by government policies. DPP policies over the last 8 years on everything ranging from limiting match-makers, to education opportunities (like refusal to recognize any mainland diplomas) has prevented things from progressing organically.

My firm believe is that if/when Taiwanese and mainland Chinese are separated by a 30-45 minute flight, can live/work/study together without any concern about government inconvenience, social links will absolutely strengthen to a far deeper level from the superficial exchanges that define modern relations.

You seem to think that the Taiwanese identity distinct of the Chinese (as in political) identity is completely artificial and will collapse without intentional sustainment from above.
Your putting words in my mouth. I don't believe that Taiwanese identity is "completely artificial"; if it were, I'd lay out a far shorter path towards reunification, and predict it as being inevitable within Ma's term of office.

I give Taiwanese nationalism as much respect as I think Chinese nationalism is due. I believe both are potentially a very strong force which supercedes purely economic considerations, and certainly not easily manipulated by either government.

But I do believe that given sufficient time (decades) Taiwanese nationalism/identity will unravel as the underlying principles that drive it become proven false.

I believe the formation of Taiwanese nationalism is driven by memories of victimization by outside invaders, with special emphasis towards recent history under the KMT. I believe it to be focused on supposedly unique elements of Taiwanese culture that doesn't exist elsewhere, and which can only be protected by an independent Taiwan.

But I do strongly suspect that greater social exchanges will eventually dissolve these issues. I believe that after 3-5 decades, they will see a China that will (in places) be more prosperous than Taiwan; they will see a China that is as democratic (in places, like Hong Kong) than Taiwan. I believe they will find Hoklo culture thriving on the mainland, and I believe they will see all of these cultural differences valued and appreciated. (Beijing, while promoting putonghua, has never banned any of the regional dialects.)

And I believe that the Taiwanese will end their fear of Chinese domination.. not just intellectually, but emotionally.

People in Taiwan look at this and see a regime so paranoid that it won't even trust a territory positively disposed towards it.
The British Crown didn't implement full suffrage in Hong Kong for the century that it administered it, but Beijing's failure to do so in the decade following reunification is indicating of... what?

And the "anti-subversion" legislation? The one which is called for by the Basic Law, but has yet to pass? How many notable opponents of the Communist Party remain active in Hong Kong today? How often are newspapers published or banners held up in Hong Kong, calling for the destruction of the Communist Party? And how many have been arrested or found subversive in *any* way?

The fact that Hong Kong is positively predisposed towards Beijing today is confirmation that Beijing policies are functioning well, and that Beijing has formed a happy balance between mainland and Hong Kong concerns. Hong Kong was hardly always positively predisposed, as anyone who was on the island in 1997 (as I was) will clearly remember.

It's ironic, really. The ardent Taiwanese nationalists criticizing Chinese "paranoia" in Hong Kong are often the same ones questioning the loyalties of Taiwanese politicians on the basis of ancestral origin alone.

But there's really no point in trading spit over many of these issues. Only time and actual practice can prove whether the fears of the Taiwanese are justified. The last 10 years have proven wrong just about every critical prediction made before the hand-over, and I suspect the same trend will continue to occur.

Now as I said earlier, not just the Taiwanese will be changing; mainland China itself will continue to remake itself as times progress and ideas evolve. However, I believe that the concept of unilateral independence for Taiwan is increasingly out of reach. The prediction I'm making is that a mature, peaceful, and lasting independence for Taiwan is only going to be possible if the people on both sides of the strait can form a joint consensus... a joint consensus that will require many decades of mutual interaction to form.

Now candidly, in the year 2008, I have a difficult time imagining that the mainland I know will be satisfied with being "friendly, profitable" neighbors with Taiwan. Our path through history isn't remotely like that of Canada or the United States. But by the year 2058, enough time will have passed that I believe anything is possible.

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Hai Tien said...

It's an exaggeration on my part to say there has been no social interaction...

Thank you for clarifying your previous statement. I'd wager though that Taiwanese on average still have more exposure to the PRC than vice versa.

But I do believe that given sufficient time (decades) Taiwanese nationalism/identity will unravel as the underlying principles that drive it become proven false.

I believe the formation of Taiwanese nationalism is driven by memories of victimization by outside invaders, with special emphasis towards recent history under the KMT.


That may have been what kick started it, but I would say that it has evolved well beyond that. The American identity began with grievances towards the British crown, but few would say that that is all that defines an American today. Similarly in Taiwan, a distinct identity has developed that focuses not on past grievances, but on many shared experiences, and a common vision that whatever differences we may hold, we still view this island as home, and whichever direction we choose to take, it is our choice.

Victimhood still gets dusted off around election time, but as you might have noticed, has only a limited appeal.

I believe it to be focused on supposedly unique elements of Taiwanese culture that doesn't exist elsewhere, and which can only be protected by an independent Taiwan.

Might I suggest you talk to more people? In my experience while most people prefer to avoid talk on the far future, a common sentiment irrespective of political party is that we'd prefer the PRC keep their hands to themselves.

The British Crown didn't implement full suffrage in Hong Kong for the century that it administered it, but Beijing's failure to do so in the decade following reunification is indicating of... what?

That being under the enlightened governance of the compatriots in Beijing means they treat you no better than western imperialists treated you.

And furthermore, while Hong Kong might not have had the chance to choose its own leaders, or conduct its own affairs as a de facto sovereign state, Taiwan has.

The fact that Hong Kong is positively predisposed towards Beijing today is confirmation that Beijing policies are functioning well...

Then why go through the trouble of packing half of LegCo with Beijing approved delegates? And speaking of which, why not allow the populace to vote for Chief Executive? Better yet, why not hold a referendum allowing the people of Hong Kong to state unequivocally that they do not want full suffrage? What better way to shut up critics?

It's ironic, really. The ardent Taiwanese nationalists criticizing Chinese "paranoia" in Hong Kong are often the same ones questioning the loyalties of Taiwanese politicians on the basis of ancestral origin alone.

Happens on the extreme wings of both sides of the aisle in Taiwan. Thankfully most people know better.

Only time and actual practice can prove whether the fears of the Taiwanese are justified. The last 10 years have proven wrong just about every critical prediction made before the hand-over, and I suspect the same trend will continue to occur.

Depends on who you ask. Most everyone in Taiwan will tell you one thing: as expected "One Country Two Systems" is light on the "Two Systems" part. We don't want that in Taiwan. Alternatives such as confederation have been proposed and rejected by Beijing.

When LTH proposed that China be governed under a federal system back in the 90s, Beijing spun it as LTH saying that China should be broken up into chunks.

However, I believe that the concept of unilateral independence for Taiwan is increasingly out of reach. The prediction I'm making is that a mature, peaceful, and lasting independence for Taiwan is only going to be possible if the people on both sides of the strait can form a joint consensus... a joint consensus that will require many decades of mutual interaction to form.

On this we are agreed. I'm simply saying that mutual interaction is no guarantee that Taiwan will simply roll over and accept PRC rule as you suggested in previous posts.

Now candidly, in the year 2008, I have a difficult time imagining that the mainland I know will be satisfied with being "friendly, profitable" neighbors with Taiwan ...But by the year 2058, enough time will have passed that I believe anything is possible.

Few in the 1950s would have foreseen Russia relinquishing its claim to the Baltic states in the 1990s either. What the future may hold is anyone's guess.

 
At 2:21 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

hai tien,

Beijing's priority on Hong Kong isn't to "shut up" international (or domestic) critics. It's priority is to maintain an orderly society and consistent economic growth, while gradually implementing reforms. Opinion polls confirm this is successful, period.

It seems to me Taiwanese opinions of "one country two systems" is far less informed than Hong Kong opinions, and the latter has gradually grown to become overwhelmingly positive over the past 10 years.

On Taiwanese identity, the development of a "permanent" unique non-Chinese identity is certainly hypothetically possible. In the United States, it took a civil war, decades of nation building, and a large repatriation effort of Tories before the Loyalist movement disappeared. The same could eventually happen in Taiwan.

But these most recent election results only confirm that despite the passionate prayers of many on this/related blogs, for most Taiwanese, it's clearly a secondary issue. To the great disappointment of some in the DPP, the Taiwanese electorate are *not* rejecting the "Chinese Nationalist Party" simply for their perceived links to China, and the potential risk that "Taiwanese identity" (as defined by Taiwanese nationalists) will be compromised.

 
At 2:27 AM, Blogger channing said...

Nobody packs the SAR Legislative Council with candidates. Half of them are directly elected, and the other half are elected by representatives from various sectors of society who tend to be less radically "against Beijing."

But in any case, being policy-friendly to Beijing is pretty much the equivalent of "pro-Beijing hater of democracy" to the greens. That's all that matters when ignorant DPP executives tell their clown stories about SG and HK. Beyond their deep supporters, they make jesters of themselves to the rest of us.

 
At 5:44 AM, Blogger Hai Tien said...

cctang said...

But these most recent election results only confirm that despite the passionate prayers of many on this/related blogs, for most Taiwanese, it's clearly a secondary issue.


Secondary issue does not mean non-issue, and a big reason why many voters are willing to vote KMT for its economic policies is due to the recent movement of the former towards the political center. The average voter doesn't particularly care about sudden changes in the short-term, but resents PRC interference and reserves the right of self-determination. Witness the marginilization of parties advocating radical changes one way or the other (PFP, NP, TSU), even before the new districting system.

In the late 90s and early 2000s the DPP focused more on appealing to the political center: "We prefer de jure independence, but the ultimate choice is up to you". Consequently, they did quite well even in traditionally blue constituencies such as Taipei City. The KMT took a similar tack in the run up to this election. Combined with the political gridlock of the last couple of years, as well as the perception (fair or not) that the DPP wasn't interested in bread and butter issues, this allowed them to do quite well, either by appealing to moderates, or at the very least, by causing light green voters to stay home.

and the potential risk that "Taiwanese identity" (as defined by Taiwanese nationalists) will be compromised.

This may come as a surprise to you, but no single party in Taiwan has a monopoly on defining that the Taiwanese identity is, though both may try to appeal to it.

channing said...

Nobody packs the SAR Legislative Council with candidates. Half of them are directly elected, and the other half are elected by representatives from various sectors of society who tend to be less radically "against Beijing."


Call it what you will, but it is intentionally stacking the cards against those that Beijing disapproves of. The fact remains that the ultimate goal of universal suffrage, both as a method for the selection of the Chief Executive (Chapter IV, Section 1, Article 43 of the Basic Law), and LegCo (Chapter IV, Section 2, Article 68) have not been implemented.

If the people of Hong Kong are happy with that, good for you. However Beijing's continuous postponing this does not reflect well on One Country Two Systems when viewed from Taiwan. This isn't a blue or green thing. Go ahead and ask your average pan-blue supporter whether he/she supports going the Hong Kong route. For all the differences between blue and green, one common viewpoint is that we are not Hong Kong.

... Beyond their deep supporters, they make jesters of themselves to the rest of us.

As do people who think that the positions of extremists on either side of the political aisle are in any way reflective of that constituency as a whole. That would be like me basing my impression of Chinese people solely from the 憤青 who permeate the Internet.

 
At 3:31 AM, Anonymous cctang said...

hai tien,

The point is that if it's an issue of secondary importance, then it can be compromised. I don't doubt for a second that it's a near impossible pitch to sell unification to the Taiwanese electorate at this point in time, but given time and proper circumstance, it will be erased for all the reasons I articulated earlier.

Feel free to cast stones at the nature of mainland or Hong Kong affairs, in the year 2007. If I were Taiwanese, I certainly would be skeptical as well.

But time is on Beijing's side (with the help of a moderate administration in Taipei).

I believe in 15 years Hong Kong will be ruled by an orderly, universally elected government with productive, members responsive to the needs of the community, and without anyone throwing shoes, or eating legislation, or resorting to crass populist measures that cause more problems than they solve.

I'm not asking that you share my vision for the future of Hong Kong or the mainland, but you should at least admit that if my vision comes true, the issue of cross-strait affairs will evolve in a whole new direction.

 
At 4:14 AM, Blogger channing said...

Nobody is saying Taiwan should be absorbed via Hong Kong's path. The sheer difference between Taiwan's situation and that of the two SARs which were DESTINED to return to China is the exact reason why pan-greens and pan-blues are being counterproductive by lavishing their respective clown stories and glory stories about HKSAR under Chinese sovereignty.

If you think the majority of pan-greens hold no opinion in this issue, I won't argue further (I may or may not agree--haven't decided).

 

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