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Mar 2, 2009

round up

Two or three big stories over the weekend that mostly went under the radar.

First, Taiwan Echo covers the unconstitutional National Communication Commission's politically motivated fining of radio stations. In my view, there are likely several aspects to the political motivation -- punishing the stations for being friendly with the opposition, discouraging the stations from helping organize protests in the future (a move which will surely please China whether or not it works), and a dash of pure old-fashioned sadism.

Second, Taipei Detention House’s decided to preemptively announce a plan to limit former President Chen Shui-bian exercise time and the number of visitors allowed to see him if he goes hunger strike again (brief mention in final paragraph here). The decision is shocking in my mind because it is clearly a retributive punishment; Chen's hunger strikes draw sympathy and media attention, so the Detention House decides to limit visitors in order to discourage him. No considerations of Chen's health could have possibly entered the decision making process here. It is a decision targeted at one man, and almost certainly politically motivated.

More embarrassing for the Detention House was their incompetence demonstrated by allowing a Financial Times reporter to interview Chen in the presence of a guard. This naturally infuriated local media, who have been denied such access, and angered KMT legislators, who would prefer to dominate international coverage and framing of the case.

Then there's the KMT's shockingly shameless alteration to it's own 'black exclusion' clause, passed only last November as an election ploy to convince the public the party was changing and would not stand for corruption, by George.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) recently relaxed its “black exclusion” clause, allowing party members who were involved in trials before Nov. 22 last year but not convicted in the first trial to run in the party’s primary for year-end city and county chief elections.

The party headquarters informed its local chapters of the regulation yesterday — one day before the first-stage primary registration closes — in a last-minute letter.
Michael Turton also blogs on couple of cold war era pro-Taiwanese independence articles which I browsed through. There were two points I found to be more salient today than they would have been in the past. They are:
Thus, by deliberately choosing the policy of non-commitment and ambiguity the United States has forced itself into an untenable position, and has supplied the Communists with a great leverage in the propaganda war. For they can readily persuade Asian neutrals that the United States is occupying China’s own territory.
Both Chinese Governments have vehemently denounced the idea of Two China as un-Chinese. The Communist leaders have staked their prestige to the very hilt by repeated promises to “liberate Taiwan.” They seem confident that the Chinese on Formosa will not settle down permanently as exiles but will eventually come to terms with the mainland Chinese as repentant sinners. As for the Nationalist Government, to acquiesce in the Two Chinas concept means political suicide. It would be a grave mistake to regard the “Restoration of the Mainland” as a mere slogan for stirring up the flagging morale of the Nationalist armed forces and for attracting the loyalty of the overseas Chinese. A strong case can be made that conquest of the Chinese mainland is indispensable to the survival of the Nationalist Government. In order that the Nationalist regime may continue its claim to be the sole, legitimate government of China, it must keep insisting that conquest of the mainland is still possible and in preparation.
Even though the Nationalists are no longer calling for a re-conquering of China, we should remember that their adherence to the One China policy is not a new-found pragmatism designed to improve Taiwan's economic and security situation vis-a-vis China given modern realities.

One China is still the ideological core of the KMT, a claim masked as policy which the KMT has been making since they arrived in Taiwan; this claim is as absurd now as it was then. It is designed to justify the Nationalist view of history, their control over Taiwan and their determination to crush all possibility of Taiwanese independence, and to secure their party's place in China's future, not just its past.


Tim Maddog said...

Have you seen the actual Financial Times article? In usual FT fashion, they distort the story of Chen Shui-bian.

Here's something that the body of that article says:
- - -
Dressed in a grey prison uniform and watched closely by a prison guard, Mr Chen, in his first remarks to the media since his indictment in December, said his arrest and trial was prompted by Beijing’s hatred of him.
- - -

But look at the headline:
- - -
Beijing behind arrest, says Chen
- - -

Not the same thing.

As usual, any whining from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is likely just a big show -- just like when Ma Ying-jeou said he'd reform his party. So much for that, eh?

Tim Maddog

Taiwan Echo said...

"there's the KMT's shockingly shameless alteration to it's own 'black exclusion' clause"

I bet Ma Ying-jeou will keep saying something like "we have reformed the party with the highest standard" while he keeps a blind eye to what his party is doing at the same time. If once confronted, you will hear him say "I am not responsible."

The fact is he never assume any responsibility for anything. Everything is just lip service.

Michael Turton said...

I agree, Echo, I was just about to blog on the KMT's changing of the rules -- but still nothing compared to rewriting the rules after Ma was indicted. That was the ultimate in cynicism.

Fortunately for them they have Chen to flog. He's so useful, he'd have to be invented if he didn't exist.


Ben Goren said...

Good post. I agree with all the comments. I can attest from my course at University that teaching the one china (Taiwan as a historical part of china) is still well and truly alive). For my part, I watch as the Professors wince when I say something like ... "During the ROC colonial period ...". If they feel uncomfortable they reach for their stock phrases: "controversial, undecided, unknown" and my all time favourite: "so-called ...". This last one can be put in front of any noun to cast doubt upon its validity eg so-called Taiwan independence. Final note: tonight the professor was making a big point of no-one knowing how many people really died during 2-28 and the white terror period and also subtly downplayed it's impact by claiming that the Japanese killed more. I pointed out that the KMT have the figures but won't release them. He tried to cast doubt that the KMT have any figures (saying they weren't good book keepers like the Japanese) but to my surprise quite a few of the Taiwanese students rebutted him and agreed that the KMT had accurate figures but just didn't want to release them, for obvious reasons. The truth is there but no-one wants to look it directly in the eye for fear of going blind. Better to just make a joke borne out of cynicsm - the truth everyone knows but nobody can confirm.