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Jun 5, 2009

ECFA referendum

The DPP and TSU are consolidating their efforts to prepare for a referendum on the upcoming ECFA Ma will likely sign with China by the end of the year.

The current DPP text is:

"Should the government subject economic agreements signed with the mainland China to popular referendum?" [whoops! Thanks for the correction commenters, not sure how such things could slip into my head...]
While the TSU is planning to go with:
"Do you believe the government should sign an ECFA with China?"
I think the DPP text is more useful in that 1) it avoids the problem of Ma changing the name or scope of the agreement, thus getting around the referendum results 2) It's asking people should later approve by referendum the full text of the final agreement (the details of which are still mostly opaque; no drafts have been presented).

This conveniently places the DPP in a moderate position 'of advocating for a referendum on economic agreements with China in principle, as South American countries have done for free trade agreements involving the Western Hemisphere ; the DPP is not using this referendum to shoot down the ECFA directly, at least not yet.

My hope is that the final text agreed upon by the TSU and DPP is essentially identical to the DPP version. There should probably be an ultimate decision by next Wed.


Robert R. said...

Sounds like a good start.
Quick question. Did you make the English translations or was that from elsewhere?

Asking because there was a long discussion on Michael T's blog about the use of 'mainland'.

I did have to laugh at Premier Liu's comment to farmers: "Once you have a better understanding of the content of the ECFA and its impact, I hope you can all support the policy,...". We would have a much better understanding if they actually would tell us something about it besides "it's great".

Tim Maddog said...

Robert R. wrote:
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We would have a much better understanding if they actually would tell us something about it besides "it's great".
- - -

But what we already know -- that China will only do it under a "one-China" framework -- is more than enough to hate it. Nothing they can tell us would negate that. Hence, the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) silence.

I do share your doubt about the translation. It should say "China" -- not that other word.

Tim Maddog

Tim Maddog said...

Thanks for the fix, A-gu.

The reason such mistakes happen is that we're brainwashed by hearing the word hundreds of times a day, even in the so-called "green" media. Check out this Google search or this one or this one to see what I mean.

I think that the Taipei Times is more careful than the other two. I'd suspect they even have a policy on use of the word.

Related, check out this editorial from May 20, 2009:
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Careless wording in wire reports can lend credence to Beijing’s portrayal of Taiwan as a “renegade province.” Although a reporter may sidestep the word “country” to avoid taking a stance on Taiwan’s status, alternative phrasing may instead suggest that Taiwan is part of China. Frequent references in wire articles to China as “the mainland” and Taiwan simply as “the island” do just that.

An Associated Press (AP) report on Monday offers an example that is hardly limited to that agency. The report on the Strait Forum in Xiamen, China, said “mainland purchasing groups” would travel to Taiwan to buy agricultural products and mentioned “President Ma Ying-jeou’s [馬英九] policy of allowing more investment by mainland Chinese in the island.”
[Maddog note: 島內]

That wording suits Beijing. While the term “mainland” is appropriate to denote China in the context of Hong Kong and Macau, in an article on cross-strait relations it is misleading. More than geographical proximity, it implies a political link similar to that between China and its two former European colonies.
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The only qualm I have with that editorial is that it calls very consistent reporting of falsehoods "sloppy" instead of what it actually is: mendacious. Could you imagine, for example, an AP report about Taiwan without the "split in 1949" lie?

Tim Maddog

Gilman Grundy said...

A referendum as to whether or not to hold a referendum? Who can take this seriously?