Sunday, July 05, 2015

Hung: I can't say that the ROC exists

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Hung isn't going to be on many local candidate billboards, but the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen is going to become very familiar.

Current KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu's Cross-Strait policy is a thing of joy to her opponents. Hung's foreign policy, she explained the other day, is that her One China, same interpretation means that the PRC recognizes the existence of the ROC. Then moments later she said that, well, that would mean a two state existence, which is incompatible with her foreign policy (story). She must be nuts, right?

But these are not "foreign policy statements" in the sense that ordinary people understand such things. Rather, they are True Believer affirmations. They are intelligible as "foreign policy" only in the way that then-President George Bush's famous comment to Chirac about going after Gog and Magog in the Middle East was (story). In other words, not at all to rational people who are not "insiders" who speak in the same coded language.

Another bizarre set of comments made the news this week...
Hung brought more controversy with her “one China, same interpretation” proposal when she said during an interview with Taiwan Television on Thursday night that the strategy was aimed at pressing China to recognize the existence of the “government” of the ROC, because “I can’t say that the ROC exists."
Many outsiders said that this put the DPP in the odd position of defending the existence of the ROC while Hung was denying it. Actually, neither was the case. The DPP was merely affirming the existence of the ROC as an administrative entity, while Hung? Hung was speaking to insiders, and outsiders be damned because after all they are the spawn of Satan...

For forty years in the 14th century, the Catholic Church was split in two, with two Popes and two colleges of cardinals, one in Rome and one in Avignon in France. Had anyone at the time remarked "The Catholic Church does not even exist!" everyone in Christendom would have known exactly what was meant. That's Hung.

Recall that the KMT is not a political party, but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. In a key sense, it's the political expression of the social identity of that ruling class. That's why the KMT is constantly spinning off new parties, on one side from the factions that support it at the local level, on the other, in schisms at the top driven by purity considerations, like the New Party. These more-Chinese-than-the-Chinese ROC bitter-enders are what is meant when local legislators refer to the "New Partyization" of the "KMT: the top has fallen into the hands of the bitter enders!" they are complaining. The Bitter Enders, the non-mainstream faction, have at long last defeated the mainstream localization crowd. Hung is their darling.

Hung was not denying the existence of the ROC. Instead, Hung was speaking in code to this die-hard group of Deep Deep Blues, among whom she has rock star status. Hung is like a conservative Pope who wants to return the Church to Latin Mass and hairshirt vests: such a pope would not be welcomed in most places, but a segment of the Church would adore him. If such a Pope said: "Does the Catholic Church even exist?" everyone would grasp his meaning. So it is with Hung: that die-hard wing of the Party has been energized by her. They know what she meant.

Remember, for Hung's more-KMT-than-the-KMT wing of the KMT, ideological purity is everything. Saying the "ROC doesn't exist" is not a statement of fact, but is a criticism of light Blues for not being ROC enough, and of Taiwan in general for not living up to her pure standards. She's speaking in code to her fellow Deep Blue ROC die-hards, saying "Taiwan is the land of the fallen" and in Taiwan, the ROC has strayed from the One True Path of Return to China. Does it really even exist anymore?

Thus Ma says that Hung and his policies are "consistent". He too is speaking for insiders: the consistency does not lie in a "policy" which is for outsiders who understand nothing, anyway, and may be safely bamboozled, but in fact averring for insiders that he and Hung are of one mind where their social identity is concerned. Ma's claim that he is "Taiwanese" was just the KMT version of the Pauline exhortation to be all things to all men, in order to make the cause victorious. That was Ma's sacrifice for the Sacred Cause. Hung does not make such tawdry offerings: for her, purity is everything.

This crowd is terrifying. They are watching the factions leave, and really, they don't care, because those people are all Spawn-of-Satan Taiwanese anyway, inferior to True Believer and True Chinese ROCers. Reality means nothing to this kind of mind, ideological purity and social identity are what counts. When they lose, as is inevitable, they will not explain the defeat by reference to some reality like their own incompetence or demographic change or poor policy choices. Rather, since they represent everything that is good in the world, it can only be the operation of evil that defeated them: they will explain their loss via conspiracy.

I can't wait.
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Judgment Day: July 19th.

Could the KMT disappear into the distance?

Wow. New Zeitgeist: The Journalist's lead article on wed is about the KMT splitting. Wednesday night's talk show on Next TV was 2 hours of on the possibility of the KMT splitting. Radio Taiwan International also did one.   It's all over the media. The rumors, stories, and news of the KMT implosion are flying about -- one can hardly keep up. Some highlights... UPDATE: Taiwan Take, the Coming Collapse of the KMT, part 2.

 From the KMT news organ:
Hung Hsiu-Chu (洪秀柱), Deputy Legislative Speaker and KMT Presidential candidate in-waiting, has drawn some criticism over her “One China, One Interpretation” and cross-Strait peace agreement campaign planks. Yesterday, after visiting former KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Hung said Lien noted that a cross-Strait peace agreement was one of the “Five Visions” proposed in the 2005 Lien-Hu meeting. Lien said, “For the good of Taiwan, these visions must be carried out.”

Yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed his support for Hung. He pointed out that “One China, One Interpretation” and “One China, Different Interpretations” both emphasized the “commonalities” as in “seeking commonalities while shelving differences.”As for Hung’s insistence on “One China,” Ma continued, “it is almost identical to my advocacy that ‘One China’ is the ROC.” “One China, One Interpretation” is the same as the KMT’s cross-Strait policy, added Ma.
Yes, that's right, Hung sought to dispel concerns about her strange cross-strait policy by gaining the support of two-time presidential loser Lien Chan. President Ma, a hardliner and ideologue who is still powerful within the KMT even though he has done severe damage to the Party, publicly said this week that there was "no possibility" that Hung would be forced to give up the nomination. On Twitter Ben Goren of Letters from Taiwan opined that Hung was Ma's catspaw to carry out the cross-strait policies that he dare not.

It's already July and Hung still hasn't assured us she is Taiwanese. Even Ma unbent enough to do that.

How long can Hung stay the candidate with this gathering storm of opposition and laughter? Frozen Garlic remarked that KMTers are living in a bubble universe. Got a little taste of that bubble yesterday, when the author of that bad East Asia Forum piece responded to my comments on his piece.
Hung is indeed a lightweight in the KMT. While other heavyweights chose not to run and waited to be drafted, Hung at least had the courage to throw her hat into the ring. Those who felt she is not the ideal candidate should either run of persuade their preferred choice to run in the primary. They assumed Hung is not going to cross the threshold and waited for the draft to happen. When the draft did not happen, they tried to justify their stance against her by leaving or threatening to leave the party. So far, only one former legislator has done so.
Bubble world at work: According to this writer, Hung is not an existential threat to the party who is making people consider leaving, it's just sour grapes by losers. Bubble world at work 2: Look at last sentence -- when those words were written, at least two had already left, one of whom had established her own party, and the KMT legislator in Changhua said "I am not running for re-election" despite having won huge the last time. The Taipei Times identified her as the 7th legislator who has declined to run.

The fact is that the KMT is facing devastation, because the flip side of this support for Hung is contempt for the Taiwanese who make the party go, and their informal leader, Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. The Taiwanese local factions are now fleeing the party, just as many of us thought they might months ago when we first identified the KMT's potential for implosion.

The Taipei Times noted in a piece on the resurrection of James Soong's political career and his emergence as a possible presidential candidate:
The PFP held a press conference in Taipei to announce its five legislative candidates for the Jan. 16 elections. Three of the candidates are former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, including Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), who just withdrew from the KMT earlier this week.
The KMT candidate in Tainan (District 4) has also declined to run. Solidarity translates an article from the pro-KMT UDN on the situation in Changhua:
Changhua County was always blue until the November 29 elections, when it all turned green. It is a bellwether for the next presidential election. The KMT had drafted its incumbents—Wang Hui-mei 王惠美, Lin Tsang-min 林滄敏 and Cheng Ru-fen 鄭汝芬—to contest 3 of Changhua’s 4 legislative districts, and it felt optimistic about each. But Cheng has now refused her nomination, and the party is still struggling to find a candidate for the fourth district. It had drafted Chang Chin-kun 張錦昆, chief of Yuanlin Township, but he has told the party he’s not interested and recommended former Legislator Hsiao Ching-tien 蕭景田. Hsiao, in turn, has stated several times he’ll go wherever Wang does. The KMT elites’ attitude toward Wang, and Hung’s statement that “if Wang wants to continue being Speaker, the only way to do that now is to run for Legislature in a district” made Hsiao unable to see or hear anymore because he was extremely disappointed.
Of course, note that Soong a key qualification of Soong's for a pan-Blue presidential run is that he is a mainlander and member of the ruling elite. But now his party is increasingly being seen as the place to which Taiwanese legislators in the KMT will bolt. Soong, who came within 3% of being President in 2000, briefly ruled a huge PFP, and then vanished into obscurity, is now being promoted in the media, back from political death as a possible savior. I suppose if one is going to be savior, one has to rise again...

A Soong-Wang ticket would be formidable and tough for Tsai to beat. The factions won't fight for the KMT in this election if Hung is the KMT's choice, but they will fight for a ticket with Wang. An advantage for Wang is that if he becomes the PFP vice presidential candidate, he can get a seat in the legislature as a party list legislator (not elected, the parties get extra seats based on their showing in the election). KMT Chairman (for how much longer?) Eric Chu has already indicated that he won't be given an extra term as a party list legislator. Solidarity commented:
Plenty of pundits are floating Wang as a PFP presidential, vice presidential, or speaker candidate, but it’s not that simple. As soon as Wang became a PFP candidate, the KMT would eject him from the party; to avoid that dignity he would have left already. But once he’s out of the party, he’s out of the Legislature as well: party-list members, unlike district representatives, serve at the discretion of their parties. That’s why Ma tried so hard to make the KMT to force Wang out earlier.
However, a viable Soong run assumes that he pulls enough legislators out of the KMT to make a run of it with an enlarged PFP.

July 19th, the Party Congress. Judgment Day. Will Skynet go with Hung?
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Typhoons for Tuesday

Expecting guests....

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Taroko Road in Japanese era

National Historic Monuments of Taiwan on Facebook sent around this lovely old pic of the road above Taroko in the Japanese era. Unfortunately the spot on the modern road is covered by vegetation. But enjoy this anyway.
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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

KMTitanic 14: Heading for the July 19th Iceberg =UPDATED=

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This Taiwan Solidarity Union poster says "Government and Business are in collusion, emptying Taiwan of its wealth", and calls on Ma Ying-jeou and Hau Lung-bin to make public the assets of their adult children (under the assumption that Ma and Hau are hiding their assets under their children's names as many politicians do). Gonna be brutal, this election. 
FLEET:Oy, mate... that was a close shave.
LEE: Smell ice, can you? Bleedin' Christ!
My god I'm getting old. I've been blogging so long that the other day I met someone with a masters degree who said to me: "I've been reading your blog since high school." Was quite a compliment, but it made me feel old. Yet glad I've lived long enough to see this...

First, Frozen Garlic updates us on the news about KMT heavyweight Hau Lung-bin, the former Taipei mayor and in many ways now the number 2 man in the KMT...
Hau Lung-pin has apparently decided on running Taichung 7 (Taiping and Dali). In thinking that it could be a good district for him, he is probably looking at a few things. First, there is a small concentration of former military voters in Taiping.... Still, many of the old second and third voters still live in the area. Second (and related to the first), this was the old political base for former New Party, PFP, and KMT legislator Feng Ting-kuo 馮定國. Hau probably expects he can build on Feng’s old networks. Third, Ma won this district in 2012, 51-46%. Actually, that’s the problem. Ma won every district in Taichung in 2012, but Taichung seems to be changing fairly fast. Basing expectations on what happened four years ago, much less ten or twenty years ago, is likely to lead Hau to an unhappy ending.
I popped over to the election database of the CEC to check. In the Nov 2014 election, Taiping went for the DPP's Lin Chia-lung 56,413 votes to 40,779, while Dali was an even bigger blowout win for the DPP, 65,123 to 43,174. Both are working class areas filled with small Taiwanese-owned factories, brutally neglected by the previous KMT administration of Jason Hu, which focused on western Taichung where big developers could make big bucks. This is a local election, and Hau will be a parachute candidate. Though he should do better than Hu, still... good luck with that...

In non-news, Eric Chu. I'm sorry. Who is Eric Chu? Name rings a bell...

President Ma will apparently make a speech at Harvard during his short swing through the US on his trip to Latin America this month. He'll be back on July 18, just before the KMT party Congress.

And so we turn to my favorite presidential candidate, the KMT's Hung Hsiu-chu. UDN quotes:
民調顯示,二成三的藍營選民支持蔡英文,學者、立委均建議蔡英文和洪秀柱應向中間靠攏。洪秀柱說,她本來就很中間,「要怎麼再往中間靠?」

Survey shows that 23% of the pan-Blue voters support [DPP's] Tsai Ing-wen. Academics and legislators all suggest that Tsai Ing-wen and Hung Hsiu-chu move toward the center. Hung Hsiu-chu said that she was already very centrist: "How can I become even more centrist?"
....with her wildly pro-annexation views, how can she become more centrist? Dunno. Tough question, eh?

The always insightful Solidarity, who is both one of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite people, translates a TISR poll on the election. Cautioning that it is early, he writes:
Q1. If the presidential election were between the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文 and the KMT’s Hung Hsiu-chu 洪秀柱, for whom would you vote?
Tsai: 47.7%
Hung: 27.8%
Don’t Know/No Response: 13.6%
Won’t Vote/Blank Vote: 10.9%
TISR Notes: A majority of 20-49s support Tsai. Among KMT voters, 76.5% support Hung, 12.3% Tsai. Among DPP votes, 91.9% support Tsai, 3.3% Hung. Among neutrals, 39.6% support Tsai, 14.7% Hung, and 20.2% wouldn’t vote or would cast a blank ballot.
...same patterns seen in all polls. Under-50s support Tsai, middle of the roaders support Tsai, Tsai dominates Hung. Tsai also wins a three-way with Soong, 37 to Soong's 24 to Hung's 20. Recall that in the 2012 election Soong was reliably polling 10% of the vote, but ended up with about 3%. All numbers should be taken with whiskey and a large grain of NaCl.

Hung's bizarre China policies are warping the KMT in strange and unpredictable ways. The staid old pro-KMT China Times, which often adopts a "loyal opposition" position in its editorials, went all-out for the party's candidate in an editorial circulated in many Taiwan networks, attempting to re-package her:
“One China, One Interpretation,” is not opposed to “One China, Different Interpretations.” It is an evolution of “One China, Different Interpretations.” It is a more logical and intuitive narrative of the cross-Strait relationship. As Hung Hsiu-chu quoted the late President Chiang Ching-kuo, who said, “The times are changing, the environment is changing, the trends are changing,” the KMT must not cling to “One China, Different Interpretations.” The 1992 Consensus helped the KMT win the presidency, twice. The time however, has come for a repackaging and upgrade.
As a commentary in the China Times noted (Solidarity trans) with what-is-wrong-with-these-people wonderment, the party platform is still on the 1992 Consensus and Ma Ying-jeou policy, and doesn't even mention Hung's "One China, same interpretation".

The KMT core and its Taiwanese legislators were already at odds over the services pact and the crushing defeat in the November elections. Now Hung's ardent pro-China rhetoric is further chilling KMT legislator support for the party and local support for the KMT legislative candidates. A spate of news this week...

First, a KMT legislator from Yunlin threatened to leave the party because of Hung's pro-China polices. (Solidarity translation). Solidarity says she won by 1% last time, so faces uphill struggle.
Chang said Hung’s “one China, same interpretation” policy involves questions of identity and will have a huge influence on local elections. “I can’t understand, how can Hung pop off such urgent unificationist statements?” she asked. She agreed with media evaluation that Hung’s candidacy represents the New Party-ization of the KMT and said that’s another reason she’s considering leaving. Chang believes that Hung should show respect for the KMT’s localist comrades when she speaks, because otherwise she will “absolutely cause the KMT to split."
*"New Party-ization" -- the New Party split off the from the KMT because the KMT wasn't pure enough in its ideological commitments to China and to "unification."

Such sentiments are widespread. Solidarity also observed that the KMT incumbent in Changhua 3 is giving up. Solidarity remarked: "What the KMT doesn’t want people thinking about this story is this: If someone who won 56-44 last time is giving up now, how much trouble are they in elsewhere?"

Chang Shao-wen's resignation from the KMT is also news this week. The Taipei Times scribed:
Following former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chang Sho-wen’s (張碩文) announcement of his withdrawal from the party on Monday, two KMT legislators yesterday threatened to do the same, with one saying the cross-strait policy of presumptive KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) was the source of her misgivings.

Chang, who was also KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien’s (連勝文) spokesperson during the campaign last year, released a statement on Monday announcing his withdrawal from the party.
That's right. This guy is so Blue he was a spokesperson for a KMT princeling. Now he's out.

There is obviously strong opposition to Hung at the local level. This split is old and fundamental within the KMT, but it was papered over by the victories of Ma in the presidential elections and the continued flow of central government funds down to local patronage networks. The Taiwanese legislators have been grumbling about the KMT's neglect of their concerns for years. Here's the 2006 call for a "Youth Forum" because the legislators, in touch with locals, already sensed the aging of the KMT voter blocs. Consider this comment from that article:
According to the Chinese-language media, Hsu [Hsu Shu-po (許舒博)] sent out invitations yesterday calling on his fellow legislators from southern Taiwan to “draw on their collective wisdom to find a correct direction for the party,” because the KMT needs to examine itself so the party can return to the middle course and grow stronger.
Of course, as Jujuflop noted in one of his insightful posts, it was all about the money and power. But that's really the point. Taiwanese, KMT heavyweight, and legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng, their unofficial leader, was already being marginalized by Ma Ying-jeou, as I noted in an old post at Taiwan Matters here. In a sense the split that was already forming in the Chen era, delayed by Ma, is now taking form as Hung crystallizes the splits in the KMT.

These splits have also been pressured by the KMT's China policy. Recall that the KMT legislators wouldn't vote for the services pact, which is why the KMT committee chair attempted to have the pact made into law without a vote (which triggered the Sunflower occupation of the legislature). They did not support it because their constituents could see what a catastrophe it would be, and they knew they would face more difficult re-election prospects if the unpopular pact passed. Because the KMT's China policy brings it into conflict with the SMEs and farmers who form the backbone of the economy, it is inevitable that the closer the KMT moves to China, the farther it moves from its own (Taiwanese) legislators. Hence their terror at contemplating Hung's "unification now!" rhetoric and what it will do to their voter base.

As an article notes above, many in the KMT must be waiting on the July 19th KMT Party Congress before they decide what to do. If the Party Congress confirms her, the KMT will face a difficult task in keeping its legislators in line and in the party.

UPDATE: DON'T MISS: Solidarity translates UDN editorial: KMT expects exodus, may not keep 30 seats. Perhaps exaggerated, but make no mistake -- Hung is creating an existential crisis for the KMT. AlSO: Lead story in The Journalist is about the KMT splitting.

Recent sightings of the good ship KMTitanic
KMTitanic 13: Hung over an Abyss -- The Latest from Hung -- KMTitanic 12: Hung can see the Statue of Liberty -- The KMT rules -- It's Hung -- The rational party is Hung -- The Comic Genius of Hung Hsiu-chu -- Eric "Hamlet" Chu suffers the insolence of office -- KMTitanic 11: The Captain is no longer aboard -- Hung? Really? -- Comedy and ethnicity in The Rational Party -- KMTitanic 10: the ship is foundering -- Wang out -- Chu goes there? -- Rounding up the KMT again -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Presidential election campaign round up

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Old school style

Current KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu is interviewed in Commonwealth Magazine here. The interview is a complete nothing, sadly. But she gave us another week of Hung this week...

She met with the UK representative in Taiwan this week (Taipei Times)
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopeful Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), if elected, would base her policy on her “one China, same interpretation” proposal, despite it being left out of the party’s newly drafted policy platform, Hung’s spokesman Philip Yang (楊永明) said yesterday.

Yang made the remarks in response to media queries regarding the omission of Hung’s proposal from the policy platform, which is pending approval from the KMT national congress on July 19.

The “one China, same interpretation” proposal was described by Hung as an “advanced version” of the so-called “1992 consensus,” backed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

According to Hung’s interpretation, “one China” would be the Republic of China (ROC), not the People’s Republic of China.

....

Although Hung has praised the apparent cross-strait rapprochement that has taken place under Ma’s administration — which she attributes to his adherence to the “1992 consensus” — she questions whether Beijing has ever recognized the existence of the ROC.

She has said that her formula would make China “accept the fact that the ROC exists.”
Yes, that's right. Hung's foreign policy idea is totally different from her party's and is not in its platform. It's no wonder many people are viewing Hung as a provisional candidate, a sort of placeholding "Well..." in the presidential election process.

Her cross-strait policy is simply a KMT True Believer affirmation of the ROC. Note that we're talking about this because Hung has talked of little else -- her economic and social policies remain sketchy, but it appears she will differ little from the Ma Administration.

As I noted earlier, Hung's out-of-touch China policies undercut the KMT's ability to criticize DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. Sure enough, the DPP went after Hung this week (Taipei Times):
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday criticized Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of recklessness in her cross-strait policy proposals after Hung accused Tsai of hiding her support for Taiwan’s independence to cheat voters.

We should refrain from being reckless in cross-strait policies, as the public expects us to have platforms that are stable, predictable and in line with public opinion,” Tsai told reporters when asked to comment on Hung’s criticism of her cross-strait policies during a campaign event in Taichung. “These are the most fundamental principles that any policymaker should follow.”
Tsai has carefully located Hung out of the mainstream. Good work.

Frozen Garlic, the excellent local elections blog, came out with two big posts on the election. The first is on the KMT's second thoughts about Hung, saying that four things had happened to make him think that Hung's candidacy was not a certainty:
First, in this week’s KMT Central Standing Committee, Wang supporter Lin Jung-teh 林榮德 openly blasted Hung, saying, “She hit the USA with her left fist; she hit Wang Jin-pyng with her right fist; she tripped up Eric Chu; and she was ‘New Partyizing’ the KMT so that it might become a small party after next year’s election.” This is pretty open and hostile stuff coming in the KMT’s official forum. They should be producing statements about party harmony and unity, not publicly airing this sort of internal conflict. Still, we could overlook this as simply sour grapes from a bitter nomination fight.
That line I've highlighted above is pretty much what we've been saying since the November election -- the KMT die-hards are strangling the KMT, which must become a Taiwanese party if it wants to remain a viable political organization. The New Party was formed by the non-mainstream KMTers in the 1990s as a "purer" version of the KMT, which had become "contaminated" with Taiwaneseness under Lee Teng-hui. It's one of the many amusing aspects of Taiwan watching that we constantly hear about how fractious and rickety the DPP is, but it's the KMT that has spun off two major parties (and spun off some more this election).

Froze also points out that her degree isn't very good, which won't help her, and that some reporter asked her if she is speculating in real estate in Shanghai. There is no evidence for the latter, but if it turns out to have substance, it would destroy her. Froze takes the accusations and complaints as evidence of internal KMT struggle over Hung's candidacy. So stay tuned, she could well be replaced.

The other piece from Frozen Garlic is on the decline in the KMT's party ID. This analysis is strong, and it echoes stuff I and others have been writing about for a while (like this). Froze observes:
To put it bluntly, the KMT has suffered a massive decline in its party ID over the last four years, and party ID is one of the most important variables in all of political science. You can see this decline in data from TISR and the Election Study Center, NCCU, pictured below. From the late 1990s until 2012, party ID was fairly stable. The blue camp, mostly the KMT, had a consistent lead of about 5-10 points over the green camp, mostly the DPP. Not coincidentally, the blue camp consistently had about a 10% edge in most elections. In hindsight, the 2012 election might be both the most “typical” election result and also the last election of that party system.

....

What’s amazing to me about this plunge is how it happens in nearly every sub-population. Maybe you think young people are abandoning the KMT. They are, but not any faster than old people.
His remarks on the urban-rural class issues are excellent, and the whole analysis should be read in its entirety. Froze was speculating on the fall in KMT support among working class people back in November -- it was apparent from the results of the election, as was continued support among rural Hakka communities. That might be blunted this election -- the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen is a Hakka from Pingtung. The TISR numbers are here.

Most interesting of Froze's comments was this one:
Blue supporters are mostly ignoring last year’s elections. They don’t matter. They were local, not national elections. People just wanted to express dissatisfaction with President Ma, but they’ll come back to the KMT in national elections when it really matters. The KMT had lousy candidates. Whatever the reason, I keep talking to KMT true believers who think the KMT is in good shape for next year’s elections. They aren’t convinced that Hung Hsiu-chu can’t beat Tsai Ing-wen, to say nothing of the possibility that the KMT will lose the legislature.
One of the problems with living in Taipei where Froze's interlocutors live is that it is different from the rest of Taiwan. This echo chamber effect where the conventional wisdom is largely pan-Blue propaganda affects the judgments of foreigners who live there, but it also affects the locals...

Meanwhile Tsai Ing-wen was reassuring farmers in Taitung, who ship much fruit to China, that China will continue to purchase fruit from Taiwan even if she wins the election. The DPP struck back at comments from a local prof saying it might give up the ROC claim to the South China Sea -- but note that the prof unwittingly reveals that if the claim was adjudicated according to UNCLOS, China would have no claim....
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Daily Links:
  • Massive fire at Water park during concert. 350+ injured, including six foreigners Video. Injury count now over 500, with over 180 seriously injured. AP story. The crowd was sprayed with a cornstarch based paint formula, creating a powder explosion. Although the management and organization were completely incompetent, the response was brilliant, with young people spontaneously jumping to help, the water park pouring resources into it, and first response teams on the scene right away. This tragedy, with many young people sustaining massive burns, brings to mind that stupid event years ago in Taichung in which 9 people were killed at a fire performance in a local club. Both exhibit a similar contempt for safety and ingrained lax local administration. Last year Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu refused to issue permit for a similar concert, citing safety concerns. Kudos to her.
  • Call for submissions, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Angkor Photo Exhibition
  • Ketagalan Media: The Rabbit Temple and Same-Sex marriage. Excellent and little known side of Taiwan
  • Thinking Taiwan with good piece on what Singapore and China blocked from the Taiwan music awards
  • Taiwan universities set up condom machines on campus.
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Ah, CNN: "China's Taipei-based..."

h/t to tim maddog.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

ECFA success #25904: Exports, Industrial Production Slump

Rift_Jun_2015_330
Wish I could have gone to Tainan...

FocusTaiwan has the news:
Taiwan's industrial production index fell 3.18 percent to 106.71 in May from the previous year, ending 15 consecutive months of growth, according to data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

...........

In a breakdown of the production in the different sectors, the data showed that manufacturing dropped 2.57 percent year-on-year in May, mining and quarrying increased 4.71 percent, electricity and gas supply dropped 19.32 percent, water supply fell 4.21 percent, and buildings construction rose 2.45 percent.
Quarrying and mining -- essentially gravel digging in Taiwan -- and construction are two sectors tightly linked to local patronage networks that are critical supporters of the KMT. If these flows of money and work to that sector continue, it will help the KMT.

Meanwhile, ECFA continues to drive massive increases declines in exports to China. The Taipei Times reports:
The value of export orders dropped 5.9 percent annually and 4.1 percent monthly to US$35.79 billion last month, dragged down mainly by declining orders from China and Hong Kong, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

The value of orders from China and Hong Kong fell by US$1.17 billion from a year earlier to US$8.98 billion last month, accounting for 52.7 percent of the US$2.22 billion annual drop in overall export orders last month, the ministry said.
ECFA has had little positive effect. Our trade surplus with China is shrinking and will likely return to ~2007 levels this year. Of course, this is due in part to China's increasing ability to manufacture its own stuff, as the article notes.

UPDATE: A comment below notes:
This is a lot to drop in just a simple comment, but Taiwan will need to reckon with its longtime trade surplus eventually, not seek to achieve it across various trade relationships. Who does a cheap currency truly help? Exporters and the owners of those companies. Who's hurt? Regular households that are not employed by the export sector and being severely underpaid across decades. Taiwan's air, water, land, sweat, and blood have been sold too cheaply abroad for far too long. In the beginning, this was actually useful to develop nascent industries, but today's Taiwan is so far beyond that it is only an addiction that benefits the rich. It's madness that has to end, and if you are looking at China, what's important is that China has been copying the model of Taiwan and Japan before it, but now is being forced to reduce all surpluses and develop the domestic consumer market. Unfortunately, China is being forced to adjust prior to achieving the same level of wealth of Japan and Taiwan, but that's how it is, because the US consumer is out of money and can no longer get a poorly thought-out loan.

Taiwan would do well to prepare for a much appreciated TWD. One bright spot: there's a ton of domestic demand opportunity in infrastructure investment that the government could do, as in that regard, Taiwan's government has been relatively conservative in spending money versus other developed countries.
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KMTitanic 13: Hung over an Abyss

Rift_Jun_2015_278
Taking a morning walk.
LOVETT: It still gets me every time... to see the sad ruin of the great ship sitting here, where she landed at 2:30 in the morning, April 15, 1912, after her long fall from the world above.
BODINE: You are so full of shit, boss.
I do not want to make this blog about Hung Hsiu-chu, but the Discovery of Hung is not only endlessly fascinating, but critically important for the KMT. So for the nonce there's going to be a lot of posts about her. Apologies.

Probably the most important bit of news yesterday was the KMT's insistence that Hung will be confirmed as the nominee:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesperson Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) yesterday said that it is “absolutely impossible” for any change to be made to the party’s decision to nominate Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) as its presidential candidate, after Next Magazine reported that Hung’s nomination might be at risk as her master’s degree has been called into question.
Nevertheless, numerous observers continue to speculate that the KMT will swap candidates. Everyone I talk to sooner or later offers some variation of the following two sentences:
"I can't believe they aren't going to change candidates."
"I admit, I kinda have a sneaking fondness for her."
...myself included. She's so authentically herself, many of us can't help but like her.

The commentary on Hung continues to grow -- and much of it negative. Like many other observers, my friend Brian Hioe notes that Hung is an existential threat to the KMT:
Where Hung is a thought of dangerous and unpredictable, it is because of the fiery nature of her rhetoric. When Hung states criticisms of the DPP and opposition to Taiwanese independence, she is not truly saying anything new, but Hung states it in terms that threaten flare-up sub-ethnic tensions in Taiwan. In an interesting contradiction, having joined the KMT despite being the child of a victim of the White Terror, Hung has acquired a reputation for anti-native Taiwanese chauvinism, for example, regarding cutting the budgets of Taiwanese language programs or even casually making fun of the enunciation of the Taiwanese language. Hung’s appeals seem primarily aimed towards deep blue KMT diehards, which has been a crucial factor in her past inability to capture larger Taiwanese demographic and may be a factor as to her future inability to do so.

Where we may speculate as to the internal dynamics of the KMT, if Hung’s support comes from KMT hardliners within the party, it may be that the past year’s defeats of the KMT have not made the KMT reevaluate its need for internal reform. Recent attempts to highlight young members of the party in cognizance of the disconnect of the KMT with younger Taiwanese notwithstanding, it seems that the solution arrived at by hardliners is if what they are doing now is not succeeding, they need to go back to the good, old days—as represented by Hung. This kind of behavior, too, is not entirely surprising where, for example, the Ma administration’s reaction to the large-scale popular resistance to attempts to sign free trade agreements with China in the past year as expressed in the Sunflower Movement and its aftermath has largely been to attempt to continue attempting to draw Taiwan economically closer to China.

With every issue in the past year that stirred the fear of Taiwanese that Taiwan was in danger of encroachment from China—whether regarding the CSSTA trade agreement that the Sunflower Movement was reacting to, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which also prompted protest, or flight route M503 which was seen as allowing Chinese airplanes to get dangerously close to Taiwanese airspace—Hung has taken the line that such fears were unfounded and attributed the outbreak of protest to the machinations of the DPP rather than any popular expression of the will of the Taiwanese people. Hung will almost certainly never connect with the Taiwanese public at large if she keeps this up and is unable to moderate herself.
Hioe's article is excellent and should be read in its entirety. He argues that Hung represents an opportunity to target the KMT in a way that another candidate would not. Her strident anti-Americanism may rupture the historical American support for the KMT, and her obdurate Nationalist views will surely chill voters, especially middle of the road voters.

Expert Jon Sullivan makes that argument in an excellent SCMP piece.
Hung is an advocate of faster economic integration leading to unification. In a long and undistinguished political career, she is best known for her strident ideological views. Until now a marginal character in the KMT, Hung has a reputation for pugnacity and a sketchy electoral record. She secured the deputy speaker position as a balance to the "local wing" speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, who prizes pragmatism in terms of future political solutions. Although her father was a victim of the KMT's White Terror, a political purge during the martial law era, Hung has shown strong commitment to the party. In a polity where pragmatism is the norm, at least at election time, Hung's commitment to old ideals and pursuit of unification with China is unusually steadfast.

This would not be a story if Hung's nomination were consistent with the trajectory of Taiwanese public opinion. But the attitude of the majority of the electorate is moving firmly in the opposite direction, both on China and "traditional" attitudes...

....If the KMT suffers a heavy loss, the party will face potential ruptures. Factional cleavages in the party are long-standing. Despite several splinter parties breaking off, the core party has held together because it has had superior resources and political capital. But if substantial losses in 2016 compound the loss of its control over local politics, the KMT will be weakened to the point that it may no longer be able to cover over the cracks in its ranks.
Yep. This piece is important for me in two ways. First, it shows that critiques of Hung as non-mainstream in Taiwan are acceptable in the international media. This means we will see more of them, and because the international media validates in Taiwan local politics, they will reverberate back here, helping Tsai.

The second reason is personal: Sullivan was on Twitter criticizing those of us who have been maintaining that this is an existential crisis for the KMT (long before Hung appeared on the scene), saying that the problems were merely cyclical. Welcome to the Dark Side, Jon. If you haven't read them, myself at The Diplomat and Courtney Donovan Smith at Sullivan's own (and excellent) China Policy Institute blog explain why the KMT is in the throes of an existential crisis. It may yet recover, but prospects look pretty grim right now...

Meanwhile, there's the Cross Strait policy mess (Taipei Times)....
KMT cross-strait policy is consistent with the Three Communiques signed by Washington and Beijing — the Shanghai Communique, the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Relations and the 817 Communique — as well as the Taiwan Relations Act, Hung said in the interview with Broadcasting Corp of China on Friday last week.

Hung said that the elements of the KMT’s policy” — the “one China” principle, the “1992 consensus” — a tacit understanding between the KMT and Beijing that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means — and a rejection of Taiwanese independence — are indicated in the communiques.
Hung is either lying (but not in a very slick way) or has zero grasp of this thicket of obfuscation, which has swallowed commentators far more versed in it than herself. The 1992 Consensus, which says that Taiwan is part of China, is not consistent with US policy, which says that Taiwan's status awaits final determination. Nor does the US "reject" Taiwan independence, it merely "does not support." Not that it matters, for US officials are unlikely to issue any clarifications for what is obviously a local matter. But her ineptitude will matter to them privately...

Also of note: her vapid comments on the US, Taiwan, and China relationships are totally undercutting the key KMT propaganda claim that Tsai needs to "clarify" her stance. How can they maintain that position when it is obvious that their candidate has no clue?

Indeed, the media had a good laugh this week when an anonymous KMT member compared Hung and her followers to the Boxers:
Saying that Hung has launched a full attack against the US, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Chu, the unnamed member compared Hung to militants of the Boxer Rebellion, who believed themselves to be invincible and started the uprising in China in the 19th century to annihilate Westerners.
As for the Taishang, the businessmen in China, some 200,000 would like to come home to vote, according to an association head. Yet, the Taishang are a typical expat population in many ways, spending their time in the new country, educating their kids there, and generally cutting ties with home. As time passes, these propensities grow. As Hung's prospects sink, the Taishang who are supposed to be super-KMT may well rethink spending the time, money, and hassle to come home to vote. Recall that the election is scheduled for Jan 16th, but the Lunar New Year is Feb 8. This means that many businessmen will face the unpalatable choice of coming home and then flying back immediately to be with their businesses during the critical lead up to New Year, then returning a couple of weeks later to do New Year, or staying away from the business for almost a month. And all that to vote for a candidate who likely isn't going to win.

Yet, they might come, to help save the legislature. As I've noted several times, Hung isn't going to help the KMT anywhere outside of the north. She could cost them the legislature.

What's missing? So far Hung has offered nothing on the economy, society -- except for doubling down on the unpopular pro-China changes to the curriculum -- or environment. The DPP's Tsai, by contrast, is maintaining a wait-and-see silence, deliberately letting Hung be hung. So the campaign at the moment is occupied by Hung's strident pro-China, anti-American views. Sweet.

We're weeks into her campaign and no competent English writer has cleaned up Hung's Legislative Bio. It's still studded with gems: "Her mother used to rag on her" that have no place in formal writing. Is there a Hung team competence issue here?

Finally, this week, which saw an approving interview in TIME of Tsai even if the rest of it was filled with KMT propaganda (my rip of it is now one of my top posts in terms of views), produced the dumbest "controversy" ever. TIME wrote:
Tsai gained a reputation for being wonky—the type who likes to debate protectionism over early-morning sips of black coffee or oolong tea.
KMTers immediately seized on that to proclaim that TIME had implied that she was "unreliable" which is another meaning of "wonky." No, seriously, the Hung camp really did that.

That's the level the Rational Party is working at, folks.

Recent sightings of the good ship KMTitanic
The Latest from Hung -- KMTitanic 12: Hung can see the Statue of Liberty -- The KMT rules -- It's Hung -- The rational party is Hung -- The Comic Genius of Hung Hsiu-chu -- Eric "Hamlet" Chu suffers the insolence of office -- KMTitanic 11: The Captain is no longer aboard -- Hung? Really? -- Comedy and ethnicity in The Rational Party -- KMTitanic 10: the ship is foundering -- Wang out -- Chu goes there? -- Rounding up the KMT again -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?

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Monday, June 22, 2015

The Latest From Hung

The top image is a manga of the scene from the end of the awful Tsai interview piece in TIME netizens sent around. The photo was a big hit with people in Taiwan. Incredibly, FocusTaiwan, the government news organization, posted the bottom image to its Facebook page.

If you can hack some Chinese, enjoy the riches of this April interview with Hung from a HKK media outfit. In it she claims that the M503 air route near the midline of the strait makes Taiwan safer, argues that Malaysia rejected Singapore because the Chinese are too hardworking, and many other wonderful observations. I haven't read it all yet because I'm afraid my IQ might implode.

All of us tracking this election are getting up every morning humming with anticipation at Hung's latest antics. Tonight the Straits Exchange Foundation was giving a banquet for Taiwanese businessmen in China, and Hung decided to go in the morning, then canceled in the afternoon (Storm media). All without informing the SEF.

Her campaign team is coalescing, and there's a good leavening of people  from the Sean Lien campaign in Taipei, which was crushed by Ko Wen-je in the Nov mayor's election. Naturally we are all very happy to hear that she has gathered such an experienced team around her.

Meanwhile the controversy over her visit to the US continues, with FocusTaiwan rounding up the latest news. KMT Chairman Eric Chu insists that she is going to visit the US after being confirmed as the candidate at the July 19th party congress, but she is still insisting that there isn't enough time, with only six months before the election.

I can't wait to see the leaked reports on her visit if she goes.
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Then and Now: Shuishe Village at Sun Moon Lake

National Historic Monuments of Taiwan on Facebook sent around a pic of Shuishe village from Sun Moon Lake in the late 1920s or 1930s, it looks like. Shuishe is on the north side of the lake and is now occupied by big hotels, including the Lalu Sun Moon Lake, and a pier. Today it looks like this, from Streetview:
The hills are still visible on the right side, but of course the village is gone.

Interestingly, a friend pointed out to me, the Japanese English versions all refer to the aboriginal villages as "savage" villages in English, but the Japanese language uses the term used today in Chinese, buluo, which does not appear to have that connotation. Part of the Japanese project for Taiwan was emphasizing their own "civilizing" mission by heightening the difference between the Japanese and aborigines and reducing the status of the aborigines; this was particularly true of representations to outsiders.
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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tsai makes TIME

Got good news and bad news for you'ns. The good news is that DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen made the cover of TIME with an article on her that was highly positive. Considering all the crap published on DPP candidates in the last two elections, like this godawful turd from the NYTimes, that's progress. The Time piece is online in English and Chinese here.

The bad news is that no progress was made on the reporting. Aside from the parts about Tsai, the entire piece is a quagmire of Beijing/KMT propaganda claims, commonplace tropes, errors of fact, misinterpretations, and pro-China slant, the kind of zombie nonsense that could easily have been slain by anyone willing to use Google. I've been saying for years that Beijing-based reporters lack the knowledge, experience, and competence to report on Taiwan, a claim sadly once again confirmed. The truly terrifying part about the Tsai piece is that it shows the extent to which Beijing-based reporters incorporate Chinese propaganda claims into their thinking and reporting. Saddest of all, it goes without saying that there will be no acknowledgement or corrections of the errors by TIME.

Onward...

The Nelson Report gave some background:
Profiling for the report was carried out through close-up observation over a 3-day period in mid-May by TIME's Beijing correspondent, Emily Rauhala, and award-winning photographer Adam Ferguson, with a final in-depth interview conducted by TIME's Asia editor, Zoher Abdoolcarim.
The piece credits Natalie Tso, a Taipei-based reporter whom I have some small acquaintance with. Given the way Beijing-think permeates the piece, it seems unlikely that she had much input. The opening section on Tsai is quite sympathetic and some of it is very good, though she has the Tsai's view of the status completely wrong (below):
Now, as the early front runner in Taiwan’s January 2016 presidential election, her vision for the island is proudly, defiantly, Taiwan-centric. Tsai says she would maintain the political status quo across the strait with China—essentially, both Taipei and Beijing agreeing to disagree as to which represents the one, true China, leaving the question of the island’s fate to the future. But Tsai wants to put Taiwan’s economy, development and culture first. While Ma and his government have pushed for new trade and tourism pacts with Beijing—China accounts for some 40% of Taiwan’s exports—Tsai aims to lessen the island’s dependence on the mainland by building global ties and championing local brands. “Taiwan needs a new model,” she tells TIME.
Note first that almost all of the other comments in the piece are sourced from KMTers. Lung Ying-tai, the Deep Blue author and former culture minister in the Ma Administration, claims Taiwan's democracy as "Chinese" and its traditions as "Chinese".
“This election matters because it’s a window into democracy rooted in Chinese tradition,” says Lung Ying-tai, an author and social commentator who recently stepped down as Culture Minister. “Because of Taiwan, the world is able to envision a different China.”
The cover calls Taiwan "a Chinese democracy" but in fact it is a Taiwanese democracy, created in defiance of the KMT -- the party that Lung Ying-tai has steadfastly supported -- who asserted a Chinese identity for Taiwan, largely by self-identified Taiwanese . All of that vanishes from this piece. The term "Taiwanese" is used only once to identify certain supporters of Tsai. For TIME, Taiwan is not Taiwanese at all.

The piece then forwards Beijing's propaganda point of view. I'm heartily sick of people "explaining" Beijing's point of view by using Beijing agitprop:
Taiwan’s politics irritate and befuddle Beijing. To the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is the province that got away, a living, breathing, voting reminder of what could happen to China if the CCP loosens its grip on its periphery, from Tibet to Xinjiang to Hong Kong.
You all know this trope: Poor, put upon Beijing! Taiwan is not "the province that got away". That's merely propaganda for the masses. The elites in Zhongnanhai know perfectly well they are engaging in territorial expansion to annex a territory China does not own. I have this dream that reporters, well, someday will report instead of forward. 

The next non-Tsai speaker appears to be a Chinese political warfare specialist cum Taiwan "expert" who of course forwards Beijing propaganda re the DPP:
“A DPP government means uncertainty for cross-strait ties,” says Lin Gang, a Taiwan specialist at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
As we all know, tension and uncertainty are introduced into this relationship by Beijing and its desire to annex Taiwan. Beijing manipulates claims of "tension" and "provocation" to manipulate and control... well... people who report on cross-strait affairs, for example.

Then a common error:
To the U.S., which is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to come to the island’s aid if it’s attacked,
...the TRA binds the US to exactly nada; that has been explained to me by the people who helped draft and administer it. The text is on the internet, folks. Even Beijing-based reporters should be able to find it.

Next up, the famous "warier" trope.
Washington worries that Taiwan’s people, especially its youth, are growing warier of China, and that any conflict between the two might draw in the U.S.
I have this dream that reporters, well, someday will report. People here are not 'wary' of China, they don't want to be part of it and don't trust it. Why that simple fact is never reported simply and clearly is a mystery.

Then follows a comment from Shelly Rigger. Rigger is not a pro-Green commentator either, though (to be fair) judging from her Dissent interview in which she forwards KMT propaganda while putting forth progressive ethics, she views herself as a progressive. 3 for 3 in non-Green commenters so far. When was the last time Rigger was in Taiwan? Like six years ago?

Isn't this island chock full of experts on Taiwan? Why not call one of them? But instead of local people, we get a political warfare expert from China, and someone located in North Carolina. Nice.

Then comes a priceless quote from Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT's current candidate:
Hung, 67, would be a contrast to the more professorial Tsai should she get the KMT’s nod. “I don’t think [Tsai] is a strong opponent,” Hung tells TIME.
Yep. 4 for 4 on non-Green commentors. Nigh-on zero balance at all in this piece. Then another error:
Tsai grew up in a home on Taipei’s Zhongshan Road North, a street named after Taiwan’s symbolic father, Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese revolutionary who helped overthrow the Qing and co-founded the KMT
Sun Yat-sen is not Taiwan's father, he's the spiritual father of the ROC. The ROC does not equal Taiwan, it is US policy and international law that Taiwan is not the ROC or part of China. That is one reason the ROC formally describes itself as the "ROC on Taiwan". *sigh*

Then more Beijing agitprop:
If the archetypal DPP operative is a bare-knuckle street fighter,
Say what? There is no such archetype, and note the pejorative "operative". The article refers to the Kaohsiung incident, where the only bare-knuckle types were thugs apparently employed by the KMT to attack the protesters, as well as the police/troops themselves. The DPPers who rose to prominence in that incident include people like Su Tseng-chang, Frank Hsieh, and Chen Shui-bian, all lawyers, as well as Chen Chu and Shih Ming-te, and the Melidao crowd, who were mostly writers and intellectuals, and a group of intellectuals and activists from the Presbyterian Church already prominent and not for street fighting. Not a bare knuckle thug among them. OMG but that's stupid.

Finally, there are two quotes -- but only about Tsai -- from DPPers Hsiao Bi-khim and Jason Liu. Then a couple of very nice paragraphs. On the Sunflowers:
The movement was grounded in questions of social justice. Since coming to power in 2008, Ma has argued that cross-strait commerce is the key to the island’s fortunes, signing 21 trade deals. Yet young people in particular wonder if the deals benefit only Big Business on both sides of the strait. They say rapprochement with Beijing has left them none the richer, and agonize over the high cost of housing, flat wages and the possibility of local jobs going to China. A sign during a protest outside the Presidential Palace on March 30 last year captured the mood: “We don’t have another Taiwan to sell.”
Note that the writing ("young people... wonder if the deals benefit only Big Business") downplays the reality: the deals really only help big business. The RDEC commissioned a report on that a couple of years ago, and that may be regarded as a fact. I blogged on it.

We get another quote, from a high-ranking KMT official about KMT policy. Fair enough. Then comes rank nonsense:
That will be hard. The KMT has long argued that it, not the DPP, is best qualified to run the economy, which, corruption apart, did not do well under Chen.
This is utter trash propaganda. First, the economy did very well under Chen, especially in the second Administration when growth reached 6.0% annualized before Ma took over and the economy crashed in 2008. Moreover, the Chen Administration did better on almost all economic indicators than Ma has. There's scholarship on that which I review here, or the numbers can easily be located on the DGBAS website. See also my recent post on ECFA, which shows the post-ECFA debacle. It's completely shameful that this pre-2008 KMT election propaganda continues to be circulated as deathless zombie fact. Two minutes on Google could dispel it.

Moreover, the comment "corruption apart" is clinically insane. One of the Taiwan parties is the richest political party in the world, with a nearly-century long history of association with gangsters, political killings, authoritarian rule, and long time opposition to democracy. HINT TIME: It isn't the DPP. I'm not even going to get into all the problems of Chen's conviction, an obvious political prosecution.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the colossal failure of the Ma Administration to do anything for the economy has exploded the myth of KMT managerial superiority. TIME's reporters are trapped in a 2008 bubble.

At long last! A pro-Green writer, J Michael Cole, is cited on the KMT's propaganda claims. This is balanced immediately by Alan Romberg, whose political allegiance should be well-known to my longterm readers, forwarding once again the claim -- already made by the Chinese "Taiwan expert" -- that the DPP is bad news for cross-strait relations.
“Beijing is going to want to make a point through all sorts of channels, including Big Business, that cross-strait relations will not be as smooth if you vote a government into power that has not accepted the foundation that has underpinned developments of the last eight years,” says Alan Romberg, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Note the passive "cross strait relations will not be as smooth" which fails to assign agency. Let's rewrite that in direct, clear English:
"Beijing is going to make trouble for cross-strait relations if the DPP is elected."
There. See how easy that was?

Next up: the 1992 Consensus:
Cross-strait relations are managed according to the so-called 1992 Consensus reached by Beijing and Taipei (then also governed by the KMT), a formula the KMT’s Yang calls “a masterpiece of ambiguity.”
Did Beijing and Taipei reach a consensus? No, they didn't agree on anything in 1992. That's a clear error. In reality, the unelected KMT government in Taipei merely claimed that they had. Moreover, Beijing has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that the DPP should (rules are binding on others, see?). The 1992 Consensus is a propaganda cage to imprison the DPP, it lacks any basis in reality and democratic governance. It exists merely to give Beijing a fig leaf to cover action against Taiwan ("those provocative, tension-mongering ingrates in Taipei have violated the 1992 Consensus!"). As I noted a month ago:
The KMT and CCP do not need an idea they can agree on to talk, they can talk any time they like and do. It's not like Chu and Xi sit down and an aged cleric walks out with a copy of the Lun Yu and then Xi and Chu both take an oath on it to adhere to the 1992 Consensus before they talk. Neither gives a flying f@ck in a rolling donut about the 1992 Consensus. Like all legal ideas put forth by Leninist authority organizations like the KMT or CCP, the rules cage others; they don't apply to the Party itself. It's always important to keep in mind when thinking about the KMT that it is not a political party but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. Hence, the key point from the KMT-CCP view is that it is a cage that both Chinese parties can use to imprison the DPP's policy makers, since each insist the DPP must adhere to it if it wants to talk to China.
Thus, forwarding Yang's remark that "it's a masterpiece of ambiguity" is mere forwarding of KMT propaganda, compounded with the erroneous factual claims. Sad.

This discussion of the 1992 Consensus also shows that the remark up in the third paragraph:
Tsai says she would maintain the political status quo across the strait with China—essentially, both Taipei and Beijing agreeing to disagree as to which represents the one, true China, leaving the question of the island’s fate to the future.
...is very obviously wrong, since Beijing does not agree with the 1992 Consensus, and Tsai has already aligned her idea of the Status Quo with the US concept. Again, sad.

After the 1992C error, the writer then slips deep into propaganda again.
This [independence] platform resonates with the DPP base but is increasingly untenable given China’s economic clout and growing power on the world stage. 
Almost every sentence in here is garbage. Independence is supported not just by the DPP base but by the vast majority of people in Taiwan, including a solid chunk of KMT voters. To say "it is increasingly untenable" is pro-China writing dignified with the appearance of "analysis", especially since "inevitability" is a KMT/China propaganda trope.

Note no KMT point is similarly deconstructed.

Then note another common trope: the mysterious tensions that arise mysteriously without cause:
While the first DPP presidency under Chen was hardly a break from the past, it did see a cooling with Beijing. Things warmed again under Ma.
Simple: Beijing cooled relations under Chen and warmed them again under Ma. Why not say facts? Then of course, we return to the pro-China "Taiwan expert"/political warfare specialist from China
Lin, the Taiwan expert at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, says Tsai is somewhere between Chen and Ma: “If she wins the election, she will not pursue Taiwan in dependence. But she will not promote the development of the cross-strait relationship as Ma Ying-jeou did.”
Yes, it is true she's very unlikely to place China's interests ahead of Taiwan's, as Ma apparently did. That is followed by -- Yes! -- another quote from the KMT:
Hung, Tsai’s potential KMT opponent, says the DPP flag bearer needs to clarify her stance on cross-strait relations. “People ask her, ‘What is the status quo?’ and she can’t say anything specific,” says Hung. The KMT’s Yang offers a metaphor: “Before you harvest, you have to plow the land, transplant the seedlings, fertilize; all the work … has been done by the KMT, and yet they are going to harvest the crop?”
Ah yes, the "clarify her stance" trope -- that is KMT/Beijing propaganda specifically crafted for this election, presented free of comment or clarification. Note again that the DPP's independence stance was instantly deconstructed as "increasingly untenable" while KMT propaganda is never so treated in this article: a total lack of balance. Reuters forwarded the "clarify" trope again this week by noting that Beijing has been "lambasting" Tsai with this.

Then the piece forwards Yang's claim that Tsai will harvest the crop without doing the work. More KMT bullshit, of the kind that google searching or asking a real expert could get answers for in two minutes. Reality is, of course, the opposite: the DPP under Chen laid down the structure for the gains of the Ma Administration, pursuing cross-strait flights, legalizing investment, and creating many structures for cross-strait exchanges in education, crime-fighting, and so forth. The KMT picked up that low hanging fruit. Cross-strait engagement has a history of over two decades going back to the Lee Administration. Another teachable moment blown up by TIME's forwarding of KMT propaganda without comment or context.

It ends on a great note, kudos to whoever thought to include it.
She puts a final piece of tuna on my plate. It’s from Pingtung County in the south, where she was born. “Go back to Beijing, ” says Tsai, “and tell them you were served by the next President of Taiwan.
Well done, that ending.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the writers of the TIME piece for writing up Tsai so prominently. And also thank them for their style of writing. As long as the media churns out rank crap like this, Taiwan experts, academics, government officials, media workers, and ordinary people will continue to make my blog, and other great blogs and websites like Thinking-Taiwan, Letters from Taiwan, and Solidaritytw necessary and popular websites for anyone interested in what is really going on. Thanks TIME! Without you, I wouldn't exist.

******
On a lighter note, the Wiki Wars have begun! WantWant reports:
In the four days since the primary polls confirmed Hung's eligibility for the KMT nomination on June 14, her page on Wikipedia's Chinese-language site has been edited over 150 times, suggesting an online battle between internet users supporting the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen and Hung supporters online. Her page on the English version of the site has also been significantly updated and improved; only one week ago, the content on the page had largely been lifted directly from her bio on the website of the Legislative Yuan that has been a rich source of amusement for local bloggers on account of its poorly rendered English, including claims that Hung is a "royal (sic) KMT member" and that she was "accidentally elected to the Legislature."
Of course, Tsai's Wiki page was edited to briefly state she is President of the Republic of Taiwan.

If only.
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