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Dec 28, 2011

Pressure on Tsai to name non-'92 consensus policy

The Taiwan blue media (plus Apple Daily), as well as a pro-China outlet, are stepping up the pressure on Tsai Ing-wen tot explain what sort of policy she can adopt to replace the "proven" '92 consensus and prevent relations from "deteriorating." Naturally, this analysis ignores that China intentionally deteriorates relations anytime they don't get what they want, which in this case is an admission that Taiwan is part of the same country as the PRC.

Apple Daily publishes a piece by Professor Chu Yan-gui (朱言貴), who not only intentionally misidentifies the US Taiwan policy as adhering to the "One China Principle" but also mislabels "One China, two interpretations" as a policy China has adopted. But the author raises another point: just as the DPP can't give up the principle of Taiwan's "independence" [even while the real policy is self-determination], China can't give up "One China," so obviously... only the KMT can work around this problem and maintain peace and stability. This analysis  ignores that China alone causes tensions, and that there was plenty of peace under Chen Shui-bian's administration. Calls to war are one-sided. The editorial fails to lay blame where it lies and also fails to admit that there can be plenty of peaceful progress without the One China principal, as there was under Chen. This progress need not sacrifice Taiwan's sovereignty.

The United Daily News asks similar questions in a signed editorial, but I found this passage most pointed:
The one character difference between "Chinese Taipei" with a national reference, as China uses and "Chinese Taipei" with a cultural reference as Taiwan uses has tortured cross-strait relations for 20 or 30 years, and that is a topic that our government disputes as it ought to.  The '92 consensus of "One China, two interpretations," involved retreating one step but advancing ten; only with this could the two sides implement the three links or sign the ECFA, and this is an example of retreating when appropriate. Stating that both sides of the strait belong to One China, or that the two sides belong to the same Zhonghua Minzu is also retreating one step to advance ten. Chinese Culture is a cultural and historical concept, not a political label.  
How does this paragraph at once acknowledge the Ma government's acceptance of Taiwan and China being the same country, and down play this threat down in favor of an entirely different "cultural and historical" model? I posit they aim to confuse the distinction, bolstering support for a political "same country" policy by trying to graft feelings people have about culture onto that "same country" model.

China Review News goes further, suggesting that the DPP hopes to identify "peace" with "unification" in order to frighten people onto the road of "independence." Their obvious conclusion, of course, is that Taiwanese Independence obviously means (to the DPP!) a lack of peace and a state of war. This nonsense needs no further elaboration on my part.

A fair question all these articles raise -- has Tsai answered these questions to the satisfaction of the electorate? Do people care enough about cross-strait policy, and if they do, will the medium voter be swayed to Tsai's side or be scared off?

We'll see. 

Dec 26, 2011

Tsai supports TSU

Just saw this! Tsai Ing-wen is openly inviting DPP-sympathetic voters to give their at large votes the the TSU. I guess Tsai imagines that the party hardcore will stick with the DPP while "independents" might be attracted to Lee Teng-hui's part. More substantially, maybe she's hoping that if any one party breaks the 5% threshold, it better be the TSU.

 與民進黨守護台灣 小英︰盼台聯過5%

Not sure how politically astute this suggestion is in the long run, but perhaps she's just throwing a dog a bone without any expectation that voters will change their minds and DPP strength will remain as strong as it could get anyway.

I'm a bit surprised and am not sure of the political implications, but quite pleased (emotionally) with this move. 

Dec 19, 2011

CNA is So Not All That

I checked Weibo for hits related to the Taiwan election debate, and found some interest but few overwhelmingly positive reviews. Most people felt the debates were dry or politically correct  Others said it was basically interesting, and most expressing any preference said they liked Soong's performance.

But Taiwan's Central News Agency, already plagued with image problems due to KMT interference in their operations, put out a propaganda piece instead about how the "mainland" people wish they could have exactly this sort of debate!

Frankly, it looks like CNA knew the article they wanted for their preconceived headline, and sought out posts that would fit their thesis.  I don't think that's good journalism.

The sloppiness doesn't start there, of course; check out CNA's recent headline "Scholarly World Supports Ma," which is really about a pro-Ma group of scholars forming their pro-Ma organization.

One of my favorite websites is NewsRumble, which contrasts news (mostly editorials) from the same paper before and after Ma's election. Mostly it's to show how these papers act as attack dogs and shields for the KMT.  NewsRumble doesn't update too frequently, and they've more or less run the gamut on most issues by now (you know, who's fault the bad economy is and so on). But I still check in every now and then for the giggles. 

Dec 17, 2011

I'll believe it when I see it

I was surprised by Su Jia-chyuan's comment about the DPP's plans to classify Hakka, Holo Taiwanese and aboriginal languages into 'national languages' if elected.

I was always thrilled about how much the DPP did much to advance the treatment of these previously repressed languages (a policy which, by the way, the KMT did continue by developing input methods for both Holo Taiwanese and Hakka). And the DPP not only established the Hakka television station but also made Holo Taiwanese respectable in public settings in a way the KMT never did.

Still,  I can't see how the DPP's latest gesture is much more than lip service.

I've often contended you can't revive Hakka and Holo Taiwanese by making them an elective class kids take twice a week. You can't even do it by making it a mandatory class  for every year of students'  education. The only way to make people competently fluent again is to force them to use it in a wide array of situations. The best way to do this would be to teach one or two core subjects in a non-Mandarin language every year -- and rotate that so that kids are exposed to all core subjects in multiple languages over the course of their education. I don't see how else you solve the problem of these languages disappearing.  And this argument of mine, rather well founded in the experiences of other multilingual countries, is universally rejected in Taiwan. So either I'm completely wrong or everyone else is blind.

Some people don't even realize these languages are disappearing, and for no language is this more true than Holo Taiwanese . Native Holo Taiwanese speakers in their thirties will laugh at the idea of Holo Taiwanese disappearing, because they still speak it all the time -- all while their own children forget how to speak after their first weeks in kindergarten. And to make matters worse, they're largely indifferent to the loss of their mother tongue. "Eh, it won't help you make money," seems to be the most common sentiment. Is money the point of life, of education, of culture? Golden calf, anyone?

In any case, we'll see just how much more the DPP is willing to strengthen Hakka, Holo and aboriginal languages. We already have the television networks for Hakka and aboriginal languages; how much farther will they go? My guess is they won't manage to make more than the most shallow, symbolic gesture. And that pains me greatly. 

Dec 5, 2011

Ma's muddling of identity

Forget that Ma Ying-jeou is trying to have it both ways, calling Taiwan a "country" for the first time to gain political points, while at the same time maintaining an official policy that relegates Taiwan to one of many provinces of China.

The President himself made one mistake and one telling claim when explaining how using "Taiwan" as a moniker for the ROC mirrors international practices.

Ma noted that the Netherlands is often known as Holland abroad. It's true that English speakers use the Netherlands and Holland interchangeably; not so much the Dutch themselves. The provinces of North and South Holland account for two of that country's twelve provinces, so this is a case of pars pro toto, whereby foreigners who don't know much better take the two terms to mean the same thing. Actually, this is a very apt analogy, as Ma is trying to get people to think he's equating Taiwan with the ROC when he's really claiming Taiwan is but a small part of the ROC (which for him, includes Hong Kong, China, and parts of neighboring countries).

Ma then incorrectly formulates that England = Great Britain = United Kingdom, when in fact these are each distinct political entities. I'm sure you can look that one up yourself if you're not clear on the distinctions.

Actually for me I guess the biggest surprise was just seeing the Want Daily's news articles linked on Taiwan's Yahoo! News. That's a new development for me. As far as I know, they are not printing but just web posting (their print paper is the China Times). Their slogan of "Taiwan First, Best [paper] on Either Side of the Strait" says all you need to know about their focus. 

Dec 3, 2011

Oddly enough....

I think Soong is winning the debate.