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May 20, 2009

More dissaembling Ma's dissembling

Ma made one other statement at his international press conference that struck me as, well, false:


When asked by a foreign reporter about his view on the mainland leadership, President Ma said that although there had not been a major change in the mainland's Taiwan policy, there had been a shift in their strategy; the last ten years of emphasizing "one country, two systems" and peaceful unification has already switched to a focus of preventing Taiwan from going toward independence. This shift away from advocating unification is a demonstration of [the mainland's] greater flexibility.
Certainly the tone of China's rhetoric has shifted dramatically, and this is because Ma has already accepted the one China principle and that Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to all Chinese people on both sides of the strait.

My objection is his characterization of the Chinese position. Hu mentioned one country, two systems and peaceful unification in a major speech just as recently as March 18. Realizing the peaceful unification of the motherland through 'one country, two systems' was a topic on this year's political section of the Chinese Gaokao. And the Chinese leadership even refuses to admit that the '92 consensus' can be fairly stated as "one China, two interpretations."

What is accurate to say is that the CCP and KMT have never been closer on either their ultimate goals, which include unification and preventing formal Taiwanese independence. They are also in agreement on the means (just study Hu Jintao's Six Point proposal). Both parties avoid saying "unification" now because talking about the elephant in the room would ruin the plan -- less because those two parties are in disagreement and more because talking about unification would alert the Taiwanese people to the final stop on this ride. Or so I like to think.


Unknown said...

It's entertaining watching your mental gymnastics, as in the last sentence of this entry (and other recent entries). I get the sense that you are gradually coming to accept that a great majority of Taiwanese are exactly what you desperately wish they weren't:

- less than passionate about achieving legal independence (often spoken of in code as "self-determination"),

- accepting, if not actually supportive, of KMT moves towards accommodation with the mainland that makes independence less likely.

So, regardless of what ex-pat bloggers writing in English desperately wish... the survey numbers + every day experience + voting results constantly proves that the great majority of Taiwanese:

- want to be masters of their fate,
- do *not* want to be forced into reunification, especially under 1C2S with the PRC in its current incarnation,
- but are accepting of the notion of a unified "one China" on some future date.

That's the reality. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can get that bitter taste out of your mouth.

Robert R. said...

you mean this survey? Where 8.4% want reunification now or later, and 21.8% want independence now or later?

Or are you talking about the election where the winner had promised that he would safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty? ...Because there haven't been much in the way of elections since then.

And on the point of elections, I think a lot of bloggers do fail to make not that voters do not just vote on this one issue. Most often it's on more personal issues, taxes, income, etc. And the problem with an effectively 2-party system is that if you want one thing, you have to take all the other baggage that comes with it, especially when the legislator is more controlled by the party than the electorate.

Tommy said...

"- but are accepting of the notion of a unified "one China" on some future date."

So would I be, if China and its authorities were a country that valued human rights and was willing to accept different points of view. But, then again, if this were the case, Taiwan would not be an issue, now would it? Taiwan would already be independent on paper as well as in reality.

cctang, thank you. You have agreed that the Taiwanese are flexible, but the Chinese are not. You have agreed that the Taiwanese value their right to be the masters of their own fate, but that the Chinese do not approve. In essence, while you think you are making a smartypants point, you are actually validating the cultural difference that all of us who love Taiwan and the Taiwanese noticed long ago.

And THAT, cctang my dear, is the reality. The sooner YOU accept it, the sooner you can get that bitter taste out of your mouth.

Gilman Grundy said...

@Thomas - There is nothing naturally or culturally anti-democratic about Chinese culture which does not exist in Taiwanese culture. The difference is that Taiwan has managed to achieve democratic rule because of the flagging influence of KMT hardliners, and a greater level of acceptance of democracy within and without the KMT due to closer relations with the west and greater economic development and opportunity. Had the KMT chosen to go the Tiananmen route, then democracy in Taiwan would have been crushed the same way it was on the mainland. Were the situation reversed, China would be the democratic state, and Taiwan the imprisoned island.

I think cctang's view is representative of mainstream Taiwanese opinion, and I think as a result that neither reunification nor independence is likely in the next 10 years: a basic change in attitudes is necessary for either of these to occur, and short of a war I don't see it happening. Because of the requirement for a 50% quorate referendum, no constitutional change is likely that a pan-green government cannot remove.

Unknown said...


I'm sorry to say to you that had the KMT pushed for a Tiananmen style of repression, then not only the KMT would be in the end of the line, but most probably that Taiwan would be indeppendant. Just remember what happened in East Timor. A violent repression of the people would have made the West and Japan act, probably with embargos, and Taiwan would probably turn either into a battle zone, or into another Myanmar/Cuba.
The KMT had to democratize, because only doing that they got the favours of the rich countries, and where able to transform the country from being a backwater to a developped country.

Gilman Grundy said...

@Miguel - No argument, but Burma and Cuba remain dictatorships. Democracy is always the best path for a country, you do not need to convince me of this, but for some ruling elites dictatorship is an easier choice.

All I am saying is that Taiwan is not democratic because Taiwanese culture is more democratic, but because of history and the fact that the KMT (eventually) came round to allowing freedom. Chinese people are not somehow more naturally dictatorial than the people of Taiwan.

Tommy said...

"There is nothing naturally or culturally anti-democratic about Chinese culture which does not exist in Taiwanese culture."

We could say the same thing about any culture. What is naturally undemocratic about French culture? Nevertheless, France was a monarchy for over 1,000 years. The point is that currently, Taiwan and China DO have different cultures. As you say yourself, a major cultural change will be needed to overcome this obstacle to unification. The second point is that if this obstacle were overcome in China, the independence of Taiwan would not be an issue rendering the issue moot.

FOARP, you, like cctang, have missed each of these points.

Gilman Grundy said...

@Thomas - I am not arguing for or against reunification, only for a more realistic view of things. Idolising the Taiwanese and making out that the Chinese people are naturally despotic is inaccurate.