Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why the DPP lost the election

As everyone knows, the DPP lost the local elections on Saturday. This was expected by all serious observers. What does this loss mean, and how bad was it?





What was the score?




It's important to tote up what actually happened: The Taipei Times had the call:

The KMT won 14 out of 23 city and county constituencies, while the DPP -- which previously controlled 10 counties and cities -- won just six seats.

Among the constituencies that changed hands from the DPP to the KMT were the traditional pan-green strongholds of Taipei and Ilan Counties. The DPP also lost Chiayi City, long an anti-KMT sanctuary during the days of Martial Law and the dangwai democracy movement.


At the local level, the situation was:

City and county council election results indicate that the pan-blue camp -- the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) -- won a majority of seats, obtaining around 47 percent of a total 901 seats.

The pan-green camp -- the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) -- followed closely behind with 24 percent of the seats.

Final figures were unavailable as of press time, but independent candidates took as many as 256 seats.


This looks like a savaging and everyone is spinning it that way. Certainly at the county level the DPP took at beating, losing the counties of Taipei, Chiayi, and I-lan. It was inevitable that the DPP would lose Taipei County sooner or later, since the north is heavily mainlander, and full of civil servants who support the KMT as well. The loss of I-lan, however, was a serious coup for the KMT, since not only has that long been a DPP stronghold, but the KMT candidate was someone who would not have looked out of place in Goodfellas. The DPP also lost Chiayi county, another DPP fief.

But there are a couple of things that should be recalled. First, the DPP did take Yunlin county, long a stronghold of KMT machine politics. Moreover, in this campaign the DPP candidate was a female who offered articulate clear policy choices, and the KMT "local faction" machine that would not have looked out of place in Goodfellas was in disarray due to the arrests of its leadership. Yunlin points to a clear two-pronged DPP strategy -- take out the local gangs that support the KMT, and offer the public something positive, and the votes will roll in. In I-lan, only half of this strategy was followed, resulting in defeat.

Here's another interesting thing about this "defeat." Let's take a look at those figures for local council seats:

The pan-green camp -- the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) -- followed closely behind with 24 percent of the seats.

Wow! Just 24%. Looks grim, until you look at the previous scores:

1998: Blues: 52% Greens: 16%
2001: Blues: 49% Greens: 17%
2005: Blues: 47% Greens: 24%

Folks, I might be slightly math-challenged, but there's a clear trend here, and these results show a resounding 41% gain in four years. No way to spin this other than as a DPP success.

The same trend, albeit not as marked, also showed in the election for township chiefs.

Township election results were also returning a pan-blue majority. At press time, the percentage of pan-blue chiefs elected in the 319 townships stood at 55 percent, while the pan-green camp had around 11 percent.

In the last township chief elections in 2001, pan-blue chiefs secured 62 percent nationwide, while the pan-greens took only 9 percent.


Sure, it doesn't look like much...but the Greens grew about 20%. The good guys may have been slaughtered at the County Chief level, but we're inching up at the local level. The DPP needs to more aggressively pursue the gangster-businessmen combines that run the townships and towns across Taiwan, and make sure to get candidates for every seat. The results will not only be a cleaner Taiwan, but more DPP candidates elected at the local level. Of course, with the KMT in charge of so many counties now, pursuing "Black Gold" may become more difficult.



The Uphill Climb: Why the Loss?






Most of the reasons for the DPP's loss are well known and need no enumeration here. The effective KMT campaign to hamstring governance, the pro-KMT broadcast media, the string of scandals, including the Kaohsiung MRT scandal, the TVBS disaster, and the crowning revelation by a pro-DPP doctor of Taichung Mayor Hu Tz-chiang's health records, along with the confused reaction to those scandals, the ascension of Ma Ying-jeou to KMT Chairman, and various other factors. I'd like to comment on a couple of things........


China
What China?

That's right. What China?

If the import of this hasn't hit you, it should be smacking you on the head like a club by now. It is easy to identify factors such as the DPP's poor overall localization strategies, the KMT's long establishment at the local level, or the greater financial advantages of the former ruling party, but it is much harder to see what is missing. And here's something that wasn't there: China.

Not a peep was heard out of China this election. Someone has finally convinced the thick-headed bureaucrats in Beijing that if they grit their teeth and hold their tongue, the KMT will deliver Taiwan to them. For the first time Beijing did not provide the DPP with fodder it could use to rally the troops and sway the undecided. Many commentators abused the DPP for following its tried and true strategy of pointing out that a KMT victory meant Beijing was that much closer to swallowing Taiwan. The DPP looked slightly absurd for claiming that in rallies late in the election, and the chattering class grew shrill in its declaration that the strategy was outmoded. What they failed to note was why that strategy failed. It did not fail because it was fundamentally incorrect in its assessment of the relationship between Beijing and the KMT, or because voters would not respond to it. It failed because for the first time Beijing gave the DPP nothing it could point to as fresh evidence of China's nefarious intentions. As a factor in this election Beijing ceased to exist.

Brilliant. If China can resist the temptation to threats and bluster -- and so far Beijing has shown the diplomatic finesse of a Kaiser Wilhelm -- then it will enormously smooth the KMT's task of delivering the island into its hands.

Localization
The DPP's localization problems were neatly illustrated by the experience of our home township. As I noted earlier, volunteers for the campaign of the county chief, Chiu Tai-san, had told us that Chiu banners they had placed in our township tended to disappear. As if that were not lesson enough, on election day I dropped my wife off at the local school to vote. As she stepped out of the car, she was accosted by Taiwanese local faction members, who would not have looked out of place in Goodfellas. Members of the "red-lipped tribe", the local circumlocution for betel nut chewers, they told her in a wheezy, betel-nut colored undertone to vote for number 8, the KMT candidate. As she went in, she encountered a local policemen bringing out tea to the local faction members who would not have looked out of place in Goodfellas. No wonder the DPP has problems.

In addition to the problems of the DPP everyone has noted, we should also point out that in the election for township chief, both the candidates were KMT. There was no DPP candidate for our township -- this despite the fact that our township went for Chen in 2004 and should have been a good ground for further gains. This represents another pervasive problem for the DPP: not enough quality people at all levels to stand in local elections.

Look up "All politics is local" in your quotations dictionary and there you will find a picture of Taiwan. In contrast to the DPP, which keeps pulling keep people out of local areas and into the central government, the KMT has taken that dictum to heart. The China Post notes:

The DPP could take some comfort in the fact that five KMT winners in the elections are members of the national Legislature.

They will have to give up their lawmaker seats, and as a result the opposition camp will lose their thin majority in the Legislature.

While the DPP in their heyday never once obtained a majority of seats in the Legislature, the next two years until the 2007 legislative elections may be the only time that the DPP comes closest to dominating the Legislature. (thanks for the tip, STOP_george)


In other words, the KMT put so much emphasis on the local elections that they were willing to rotate people out of the legislature and risk losing their majority, in order to make gains at the local level. The DPP's local successes, limited though they may be, have significantly impaired the KMT's machine politics, both by redirecting money flows away from KMT cronies, and by getting KMT allies in trouble with the law. The willingness of the KMT to bring people out of the legislature may reflect confidence in its ability to get those seats back, and keep the DPP at bay there. Or it may reflect a quiet desperation: the KMT is pre-eminently the party of local factions, and outsiders have not yet grasped just what a rickety coalition it really is. At the moment it is attracting even less young talent than the DPP. As Taiwan's civic society becomes more entrenched, and the population ever more educated, the KMT's long-term prospects are not bright. Is the KMT's local election strategy the first move in a Counter-Reformation, or just the dying gasp of a party bereft of vision and hope? Only time will tell.

The KMT's historical advantages continued. Last week the Lost Spaceman bemoaned the incredible loyalty of local aborigines on the East Coast to the KMT despite the fact that DPP policy toward them is much better. Not only did Hualien continue as a KMT fief, but I-lan went to the Dark Side as well. Hakkas, long a KMT constituency, also continued their support of the former ruling party. It is mind-bloggling to imagine that the Hakkas in Taiwan feel that a Hoklo (Taiwanese) government in Taipei would be indifferent to their interests, while a Han government in Beijing would listen to them. The DPP needs to work still harder on getting local minorities to come over.




What Will The Future Bring?






The KMT attack machine positioned this election as a chance to give the DPP a lesson. On talk shows and in the print media, KMT commentators drove this point home. However, it should be noted that in the next election, voters may feel they have driven their point home and revert to previous pro-DPP trends. This is because Taiwanese dislike all-or-nothing solutions where human beings are involved, feeling that those lack ren ching. They may just instinctively restore the balance next time around.

How much momentum does this give the KMT going into the next round of elections? Not much, I'd say. The KMT is a local party, and national elections -- the legislative and presidential elections coming up -- are where the DPP performs well. Looking past the county chief failure, the DPP actually made gains in the townships and in the town councils. That augurs well for the next election round. Remember that for all those nice pictures of a Blue northern Taiwan you've seen since the election, the local factions are not uniformly Blue, and there are plenty of "Blue" townships -- such as the one we live in -- where the chief is Blue, but the voters went for Chen in the 2008 elections. The real Taiwan is a patchwork quilt.

More interesting will be the potential political re-alignments. There's always talk of the PFP and KMT getting back together -- if only James Soong weren't hated nearly as much as Chen Shui-bian by the mainlanders in the KMT -- and it may increase. Or perhaps, as a perceptive commenter on David at jujuflop's blog noted, they may be emboldened to pursue an alliance with the DPP, feeling marginalized by the apparently growing might of the KMT. It should be noted that Wang Jyng-ping, Ma's ethnic Taiwanese rival for the KMT chairmanship, was basically left out of the election run up. Look for something interesting from there over the next couple of years. I feel that the urbane, hardworking, and well-liked Wang has not yet played his last card.

The big loser here was not the DPP but the TSU, which did not gain a single county chiefdom. It is time the DPP made a serious push to bring the TSU back into the fold and eliminate a rival on its left. Voters treat the TSU like a teenage boy to whom girls always say "You're such a good friend...." It is instructive to recall that in the infamous Chu An-hsiung scandal in which he spent $10 million in bribes to fix the Kaohsiung city council election, Chu didn't even bother to bribe the lone TSU member of the council. It's silly to have two Taiwan nationalist parties. One should go.

Will we see a more open DPP policy toward China? The local punditocracy is calling for it, but this deponent feels that we won't. Taiwanese businessmen are already diversifying out of China and local investment there is dropping. If the Chinese economy slows over the next couple of years, as many are saying, so will pressure on Chen to promote links with China.

Additional talk-talk:

David at jujuflop (and don't miss the comment from James)
Jason at Wandering to Tamshui
Sun Bin too wonders who really won

55 comments:

Taiwan's Other Side said...

Deny, deny, deny, eh?

Chen's "your Chinese neighbors are actually the enemy" rhetoric didn't work this time around, and I'm not buying the "this defeat was actually a victory" spin either.

MJ Klein said...

the main reason that i'm here in Taiwan is because its Taiwan, NOT China. the KMT will roll over and show its throat like a wimp dog and allow the rape and pillage of Taiwan by China. Taiwanese don't get this. this is about a 50 year old grudge, and the Chicoms won't give up until this place in in ruins. i'll be long gone before that, as will most foreigners who are in business in Taiwan. i wonder if that kind of education is worthwhile or not. probably not. Taiwanese indifference has grown to such proportions because of the prosperity that the island has enjoyed. the hard times are beyond the memory of the rich man's sons who are too busy playing with KTV girls to realize what is going to happen to them. my advise: plan your exit strategy now.

Sun Bin said...

i agree with you that the 'china' card is marginal in this election. but a better word would be the "unification/taiwan independence" card. it is equally valid to say the 'TI card" does not play.

in fact, you also forgot to mention that it was DPP and CSB who consistently played this card in election. CSB played it again this time (calling "a pan-blue win" would results in his retaliation of tighting strait relationship), and that failed.

this is one of the main reason for DPP lost, on top of the scandals.

Sun Bin said...

"It was inevitable that the DPP would lose Taipei County sooner or later, since the north is heavily mainlander, and full of civil servants who support the KMT as well."

IMO this is not true.
1. If so, DPP wouldn't have got TP County in the last 16 years.
2. the pure-blood maindlander % is always on the decline (i.e. every time there is a cross-marriage)
3. civil servants, again, what is the difference over the last 16 years?

p.s. IMHO also stereotyping waisheng and bensheng is going to hurt both groups. true, waishengren felt insecure and intimidated by pan-green's radical view, so they support pan-blue even if they do not like them. but many bensheng still identify with china culturally and emotionally (this is independent from the fact that they want to control their own fate)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your comment on the election. I really enjoy it.

BTW, did you go to the blogger lunch in Taipei? Is there any blog entry (on any site) about the event?

Tim

opposite to the other side said...

Congratulation to all Chinese, you're one step closer to your "unification".
But some of us are not gonna giveup just yet, not til we have a real country of our own or you cleanse us out.

David said...

Thanks for the analysis, which is far more rational and well considered than anything in the mainstream media.

Michael Chang said...

I also agree that Wong Jing-Ping, and James Soong in the same regards, are the men to watch in the next two year.
I am sure that this point has crossed DPP’s mind before. Why hasn’t he defected? He seems well liked and respected by the pan-green. My theory is that Wong probably has a lot of skeleton in the closest from his long career in KMT. He was curiously low key after chairman election and during this election. Something is very well likely to happen in the next two years to drive him to the other camp, something he should have done if he has half of James Soong’s political ambition and drive.
Quite a few rats have already left the sinking PFP ship. Which way will Soong go depends on how pissed off he is about KMT. Ma is very good at playing the role of a young leader deferential to the old guard; the rest of KMT is very good at gloating. Til today, the PFP is leaning toward returning to KMT, but Soong and hardcore faction has not cast the final vote.

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent analysis of the recent elections, and very scholarly, I might add. I suppose if more Taiwanese read stuff similar to what you write, rather than the 24-hour news channels, there would be a much better informed electorate. Thank-you!

BetterTaiwan said...

You clearly fell into the "us and them" mentality. The reality: today the ethnic difference is less clear than you (and the politicians) want to believe. Yes, DPP played the ethnic card well; but most of Taiwanese (either 'mainlanders', 'Taiwanese', 'Hakka' or "Yuanzhuming") are tired of the game. Do NOT polarize the people here in Taiwan! It's insulting to continue labeling us! The "Taiwan Issue" is more complex than you think. Voting for KMT candidate does not mean that one agrees with "reunification"; choosing a DPP candidate does not mean one supports "Taiwan Independence" wholeheartedly. Simply seeing the colors, instead the livelivhood of all Taiwan residents, is unfortunately misleading.
To Mr. MJ: You may care about this place, but you ARE not one of us. Why do the Taiwanese youth become indiffernt? It's too easy to blame "prosperity". As a Taiwanese, I resent your simplistic view of my country and its problems. Obviously you have an exit plan already. I, on the other hand, know that my friends and I will stay here and make this a better place.

CCTang said...

Your ignorance shows when you call "Hakkas" local minorities and suggest this should inspire their political choice. The Hakkas are distributed through a huge sphere of southeast Asia, and played a huge role in the Chinese republican revolution.

Good luck attempting to draw a line between "Han" and "Hakka" when Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping, amongst many others, were Hakka!

Your automatic assumption that the Han/Hakka divide might be politically divisive reflects yet again how easy it is for Western ex-pat observers to bring their own personal biases onto Taiwanese/Chinese politics.

The ethnic/minority divide has been a common fault line for Europe and the United States over the past century (and certainly gaining special relevance in the 21st century), but it has been far less relevant in China.

Even during the vast chaos of the early 20th century when warlords faced off against each other, the vast majority of China didn't split along these "minority" lines. Sun Yat-sen wasn't a president for the Cantonese/Hakkas; Chiang Kai-shek wasn't a president for the Yangzi river valley (Jiangsu/Zhejiang); Mao Zedong wasn't a leader for the Hunanese; Deng Xiaoping wasn't a leader for the Sichuanese. All 4 of these men received support from across the spectrum of those who would self-identify as being Chinese.

We had divisions based on religion, based on political ideology, based on economic class... but *not* along imaginary "minority" vs. "majority" fault lines. Not a single general flocked to CKS because he was a Christian from Zhejiang; not a single Communist flocked to Mao because he was from Hunan. Any attempt to understand Chinese history (or the Chinese future) along these lines will only lead you off-track.

You also make this comment: "As Taiwan's civic society becomes more entrenched, and the population ever more educated, the KMT's long-term prospects are not bright."

This passing comment makes me skeptical of your other "insights" into Taiwanese society, for it reflects ignorance of Taiwanese demographics. Polls show [b]higher[/b] support for the KMT with climbing educational levels. University graduates are far more likely to support Blue than Green, while those with lesser degrees are more likely to support Green than Blue. The same is also true with higher income levels.

None of this is intended to be causal proof that with more education, any given individual is more likely to be pan-Blue; all we have at hand is correlation. But at the very least, if you intend to argue a point that runs counter to the correlation, you can't just get by with a prima facie presentation of the facts and a claim that this is indeed the case.

Let's see some evidence beyond the anecdotal "friend" or "neighbor" that, indeed, more education represents a blow against pan-Blue support

Scott Sommers said...

Michael, where did all those KMT voters come from? Popular vote for the DPP has remained relatively stable. So where? The breakdown given on the front page of the Sunday China Post was highly illustrative of the situation. Almost all of it came from the other Pan-Blue parties. Unlike previous elections, there is no more PFP or New Party.

There has been virtually no shift. In fact, to me, it continues to look like the KMT can control local voting patterns better than the DPP, and that's why they won.

Anonymous said...

I read your analysis with much interest and I can see that you've though much about the loss. However, I see a logic inconsistency in your interpretation of the reasons for the loss. One particular claim, regarding the gangsters, seems improbable. If such bullying were so effective, why did the KMT not use them in the last 2 presidential elections? If the media is so pro-blue and so effective at opinions, why did the KMT lose the last election? If the KMT is just a pure obstructionist force, why did it perform so well? Clearly, the KMT represents the opinion of a significant proportion of the people in Taiwan and the democratic political process is finding its rigthful expression. This is a triumph of democracy and a reflection that the people are not happy with current governance. The polls were significant and you do the DPP no favors by dismissing them.

Michael Turton said...

You clearly fell into the "us and them" mentality. The reality: today the ethnic difference is less clear than you (and the politicians) want to believe. Yes, DPP played the ethnic card well; but most of Taiwanese (either 'mainlanders', 'Taiwanese', 'Hakka' or "Yuanzhuming") are tired of the game. Do NOT polarize the people here in Taiwan! It's insulting to continue labeling us! The "Taiwan Issue" is more complex than you think. Voting for KMT candidate does not mean that one agrees with "reunification"; choosing a DPP candidate does not mean one supports "Taiwan Independence" wholeheartedly. Simply seeing the colors, instead the livelivhood of all Taiwan residents, is unfortunately misleading.

Please explain how I fell into the Us vs Them mentality. Use examples. I fear your analysis of my thinking is a mite knee-jerk.

in fact, you also forgot to mention that it was DPP and CSB who consistently played this card in election. CSB played it again this time (calling "a pan-blue win" would results in his retaliation of tighting strait relationship), and that failed.

Actually, I did mention that it was the DPP that trotted out the China scare tactic, and that it did fail to win the election. But I am not hampered by any doctrinaire reflex that requires I thoughtlessly reject any activity Chen & Co undertake, so I wondered why it failed. So I set out to answer the question. For some reason I find the variations on "CSB is a fuck up!" that emanate from the pro-KMT blogs to lack a certain depth of explanation. Can't think why.

IMO this is not true.
1. If so, DPP wouldn't have got TP County in the last 16 years.
2. the pure-blood maindlander % is always on the decline (i.e. every time there is a cross-marriage)
3. civil servants, again, what is the difference over the last 16 years?


3. the difference is about 18% ;)

2. Being mainlander is not about "blood," Sun -- and to think you accuse me of stereotyping! -- but about political identity. HINT: the ethnic clash in Taiwan isn't an "ethnic" clash at all.

Your ignorance shows when you call "Hakkas" local minorities and suggest this should inspire their political choice. The Hakkas are distributed through a huge sphere of southeast Asia, and played a huge role in the Chinese republican revolution.

No shit? Really? I guess I'll have to go back and re-read all those books I have on Chinese diaspora populations. I sure forgot how those Hakkas in Thailand and Borneo and Vietnam profoundly affect the local political situation in Taiwan. I can't imagine how I overlooked those waves of foreign Hakkas protesting on street corners and canvassing for local candidates in Taiwan. I'm sorry that I missed the incredible effects of Hakka populations in Malaysia and the Philippines on the recent local election in Taiwan. Why don't you enumerate them for me?

Your automatic assumption that the Han/Hakka divide might be politically divisive reflects yet again how easy it is for Western ex-pat observers to bring their own personal biases onto Taiwanese/Chinese politics.

Right...right...and when Hakkas and Hoklos in Taiwan fought it out in the 19th century, they yelled at each other: "God damn those horrible westerners and their personal biases! Look at the way they make us kill each other!"

Any attempt to understand Chinese history (or the Chinese future) along these [ethnic] lines will only lead you off-track.

...then it's a good thing I am trying to understand Taiwan, and not China, eh? ;)

BTW, since when is "mainlander" an ethnicity? Whose thinking is shallow here?

This passing comment makes me skeptical of your other "insights" into Taiwanese society, for it reflects ignorance of Taiwanese demographics. Polls show [b]higher[/b] support for the KMT with climbing educational levels. University graduates are far more likely to support Blue than Green, while those with lesser degrees are more likely to support Green than Blue. The same is also true with higher income levels.

Imagine that. Who would have thought that several generations in which mainlanders had far greater access to higher education would in turn have them support the KMT at this juncture? Unbelievable. I guess I have to turn in my analyst's badge. In coming discussions, I'll be sure to project the current situation into the future as if nothing were going to change over time.

Let's see some evidence beyond the anecdotal "friend" or "neighbor" that, indeed, more education represents a blow against pan-Blue support

Well, actually, my friend told me that my neighbor informed him of this.

SCOTT: There has been virtually no shift. In fact, to me, it continues to look like the KMT can control local voting patterns better than the DPP, and that's why they won.

Yep.

If the KMT is just a pure obstructionist force, why did it perform so well? Clearly, the KMT represents the opinion of a significant proportion of the people in Taiwan and the democratic political process is finding its rigthful expression. This is a triumph of democracy and a reflection that the people are not happy with current governance. The polls were significant and you do the DPP no favors by dismissing them.

"dismissing them?" I just expended much time writing this up! What do I have to do? Write a doctoral dissertation?

Yes, of course the KMT represents the opinion of a significant portion of the people of Taiwan. Thank you for informing me of that fact that I missed when it took 47% of the city/council seats in the local election. Of course, that response does nothing to tell me why it represents opinion, whose opinions it represents, what opinion is being represented, and so on. If people aren't happy with the current governance, and they blame the DPP, why did the Greens make a 41% gain in the city/county council elections? Clearly things are complex and quite interesting, and more sussing out must be done than saying "the KMT represents a significant portion of opinion.....and thus democracy is vindicated!"

BTW, I don't see any contradiction between the KMT being an obstructionist force and them performing well in elections. Your question makes assumptions about the voting population in Taiwan that I do not share.

As for the effectiveness of gangsters, they are more powerful at the local level than at the national. Hence the KMT's influence in local elections, and its more equivocal effectiveness in Presidential elections, where about 6 million votes have switched sides since the election of 1996.

Michael

MJ Klein said...

bettertaiwan: yeah, thanks for the welcome. no matter how much business and revenue i bring into Taiwan (i'm not an english teacher) i'm reminded every day that i'm NOT from here.

so, go ahead and you tell me: why are Taiwanese youth indifferent? i'm still waiting for you to explain what i obviously am not capable of understanding because of not being born here.

i know the answer, and its very simple. this simple truth will result in the takeover of Taiwan by the largest police state on our planet. get ready.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response (I am the last anonoymous), but let me clarify that I'm just trying to understand your position here, please don't feel that I'm attacking you. I repsect your opinion, but I still can't understand your reasoning about the gangsters. I can't understand how intimidation works at one level and not another.

I think you do a good job of analysis, but moderation is key to credibility. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

Sun Bin said...

MT said, 'Being mainlander is not about "blood," Sun -- and to think you accuse me of stereotyping! -- but about political identity. HINT: the ethnic clash in Taiwan isn't an "ethnic" clash at all.'

well...if you think it is 'pilitical' rathan than 'ethnic'. then perhaps dropping the 'mainlander phrase' and returning to the phrases 'pan-blue' vs 'pan-green' sound just fine.
there is a tendency among (some in) DPP to equate anyone who is sympathetic to a Chinese culture or identity as betraying the interests of taiwanese people. that is simply not right and potentially very dangerous (and divisive) for social harmony in Taiwan. that is basically what i wanted to say.

Sun Bin said...

about Hakka,

1) add Lee Tenghui and Lee Kuan Yew as well.

2) do not elevate the issue of Hakka to cross-strait relationship. the reason is quite simple, since DPP played the ethnic card, Hakka (and Aborigines) is intimidated by the Hoklo/Minnan majority, and naturally sided with other minorities, i.e., waisheng.

in other words, DPP only has itself to blame for losing out on Hakka (despite having a few prominnent hakka's as pan-Green'ers, eg LTH, are Hakka)

CCTang said...

I can't speak for anyone else, but sarcasm and promises that you've read "all those books" about the Chinese diaspora doesn't exactly impress. Try harder.

I didn't raise the question of Hakka and Han identity. You did, when you questioned Hakka's apparent preference for a Han government in Beijing. You suggest you're befuddled by the Hakka preference for a political party that supports a Han-dominant, greater Chinese identity. I can only assume this means you thought a Hakka/Han split would make sense.

Why?

If the Hoklo/Hakkas fought in the 19th century, how does that affect the Hakka/Han relationship in the 20th and 21st centuries? Why are you surprised about a Hakka-affinity for Han Chinese identity, when many of the greatest Han Chinese heroes of the 20th century were Hakka?

Don't make the topic of conversation my response to your blog. Don't tell me you've read a bunch of books on the subject. Tell me what you've learned, and tell me how you can defend that position.

TaiwanIndependence said...

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I'm linking you from my site www.TaiwanIndependence.net

Sun Bin said...

let's just clarify a small piece of fact, clear to chinese people (including the taiwanese), but might be confusing to foreigners.

hakka and hoklo are both Han, genetically, culturally, historically, etc.

analogy: tuscanite, florentine, sicilian are all italians.

oooh said...

let's clarify another piece of fact.
STOP TELLING ME WHO I AM!
You wanna be Chinese? Good for you,
just don't drag everyone else with you.

hakka and hoklo are both Han, genetically, culturally, historically, etc.
analogy: tuscanite, florentine, sicilian are all italians.


Well, that really explains it all.
But, wait a second, I thought Japan
used that bit in WW2 already? Japan
"tried to help" China and Korea to form a "East Asia League", since
they were genetically, culturally, historically close enough.

Analogy:Irish, American, and Canadian are not British. Lao are not Thai. Kuwaiti are not Iraqi, etc. IF you want more examples, just
ask anytime, will you?

Michael Turton said...

No problem. Nobody said they weren't Han. What does that have to do with anything?

Sun Bin said...

oooh, calm down.

clarifying the definition helps to avoid unnecessary argument or confrontation. that is all.

as for what you want to be, you be what you want to be. but that does not change the academic facts that are in discussion.

Sun Bin said...

michael,

i think the mis-understanding between cctang and you lies in your description of 'hakka' and 'han government on the other side of the strait', which sort of implied they are different people.
(while in reality the hoklo government in taiwan are also han)

he might thought this is divisive. but i do not think it is intentional from you, because, in reality, AFAIK, DPP (or even extreme TI supporter) never say they are not Han themselves.

oooh said...

Sun Bin, I'm calm.
Just want to make sure you hear it.

Academic facts?
In that case, you may want to rephrase it to something like "hakka and hoklo are Han descent",
which is still nowhere close to a valid arguement for your claim, thatTaiwanese = Chinese.

Sometimes, I do wonder if Japanese actually saved themselves from being assimilated by the Chinese by losing
to US in WW2.

oooh said...

Sun Bin, please clarify this for me.
What is your definition "Chinese"?
Is it a ethnic group, nationale, or both? Are Chinese American, Chinese Taiwanese, Taiwanese Chinese, Taiwanese, or anyone who once in the line of his/her family has something to do with Chinese, all just Chinese?

Sun Bin said...

What is your definition "Chinese"?
Is it a ethnic group, nationale, or both? Are Chinese American, Chinese Taiwanese, Taiwanese Chinese, Taiwanese, or anyone who once in the line of his/her family has something to do with Chinese, all just Chinese?


you know, i try to dodge this question as it can get political some times. since you asked, this is my personal understanding.

1) chinese includes Han Chinese, and various minorities such as Miao, Yao, and everyone who has a Chinese nationality. That should include caucasians who have a Chinese passport
2) Han Chinese is one of the Chinese, it is an ethnicity, not neccessarily related to PRC (though highly correlated)
3) there are Han in Singapore, USA, Japan and Taiwan and many countries. they are all Han people. (they also refer themselves as Tang people, or Chinese people)
4) Han includes Hakka and Hoklo.
5) Chen Shui Bian calls himself 华人, you can translate that as Chinese as well.

Sun Bin said...

the definition of the word "Chinese" is not very rigorous. I am no authority here.

But the definition of Han is.

Han people can hold passport of any country. Some Han people even established a country of their own (together with other people), e.g. Singapore.

IMHO there is no conflict of being Han or being Chinese, with what your political aspiration is. But that is my persoanl opinion.

Jon said...

"let's just clarify a small piece of fact, clear to chinese people:
hakka and hoklo are both Han, genetically, culturally, historically, etc."

Oh yeah, this fact is as clear to Chinese people as the fact that "Taiwan is historically a sacred part of Chinese territory." Translation, "you should take this as a fact and never doubting it!"

Well, Sub Bin, can you provide me with any book, reference on what "genetically constitute a Han?" If not, then how do you know that "Hakka and Hoklo are both Han, genetically?"

Anonymous said...

hmm... so, according to you, Han is the only term which does not equal to Chinese? Tang ,华 ,and the others are? Like you said, that's only your persoanl opinion.

However, your personal interpretations were used to define someone elses nationale without any consent from that person. Such as "Chen Shui Bian calls himself 华人, you can translate that as Chinese as well". Well, personally, I don't translate that as Chinese. And yet, you wrote the line as if it's as clear as black and white.

At the end, that's not an issue, is it?

Jon said...

cctang,

I do not know why you are so upset with calling Hakka as "local minority."

Well, according to you, "The Hakkas are distributed through a huge sphere of southeast Asia." Last I checked, Hakka wasn't even a province within China. So why didn't you just say Guandong-ness or Hebei-ness, etc? You yourself are treating Hakka differently than other Chinese!

In fact, Hakka is a minority in China. Hakka is also a minority in Taiwan. What's wrong with calling it a "local minority?" Since when does "minority" become a dirty word?

One more thing, Hakka has traditionally maintained their own culture, even though they spread all over the places. Whether or not Hakka is Han is debatable, because there has never been a clear definition on Han (the word Han is much less clear than Hakka). All I can say is Hakka IS a minority in China, because they maintain distinct culture and identify themselves as Hakka regardless which province they live.

Put the Hakka is Han argument aside, Michael's question is still valid. If Taiwanese Hakka worries about their minority status in Taiwan, why would their minority status in China under Beijing's totalitarian rule will be any better? After all, percentage wise, there are probably more successful Hakka politicians in Taiwan than in China.

Sun Bin said...

Jon, here is one of the source. if you are not lazy, you can also google for more.


anon,

there is never a perfect translation. but you did not offer your translation, so there is no way to see if you have a better one.
AFAIK, hakka in malaysia, singapore, hk, (and many in taiwan), and many other countries told me they are Chinese and they are Han.
Yes, you are right, you have no right to change what they identify, all the right you have is to call yourself whatever you like to.

e.g. Lee Tenghui called himself a Japanese, even if his parents called themselves Hakka. But Lee Tenghui did not force all Hakka to become Japanese.

oooh said...

Sorry, it was my post, just forgot to enter the nickname.

If you really want know, I believe there are Chinese, and Taiwanese, which are two different nationales with similar traits. And, Malaysian Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, American Chinese, Taiwanese Chinese, and Chinese are Chinese. As for Chinese Malaysian, Chinese Singaporean, Chinese American, and Chinese Taiwanese, are Malaysian, Singaporean, American, and Taiwanese.

And yet, some tend to regard them all as Chinese.

Lee Tenghui called himself a Japanese, even if his parents called themselves Hakka. But Lee Tenghui did not force all Hakka to become Japanese.

I Believe, Lee had said that he was once Japanese Nationale when he was young, which had nothing to do with his ancestry. And of course he did not "include" anyone else into his own belief, why would he?

"chinese people (including the taiwanese)".

Anyone regard himself/herself as Taiwanese Chinese or just Chinese, be Chinese, doesn't matter if he or she lives in Taiwan or not. I have absoultely no objection to that. Perhaps, for some Chinese, Taiwanese is merely another ethnic term, not a nationale. For some reason, Ireland pops into my mind...

oooh said...

To me, Han, Tang, and 华 are used to refer to someone with Chinese ancestry, which does not equal to Chinese Nationale.

Jon said...

Sub Bin,

LOL, Wikipedia certainly knows better than putting a blanket statement as "Hakka is genetically Han." This is what Wikipedia says, "due to common ancestry as traced in clan genealogies, Hakka descendants are as Chinese as their neighbours," which I am not surprised at all. History has proven that even though inter-marriage may be prohibited culturally, given time, it always happens for people living in the vicinity. There is also gene study shows that Taiwanese and aborigines share the same genes. Now does that conclude that Taiwanese aborigines are Han as well? And since Taiwanese aborigines also share same genes with Polynesians, that must include Polynesians as well ...

See, my point was not to say that Hakka is genetically distinct from Han. Far from it! My point is that it is often futile to try to use genetic to make distinction like that. To discuss ethnic group, I much prefer to use culture as the basis.

In this regard, Hakka do have their own distinct culture. In fact, in Wikipedia, the sentence right before genealogies quoted above says, "In these conflicts, indigenous settlers thought that Hakka were not Chinese at all..." In other words, at least in the past, Hakka was not viewed as Han Chinese by their neighbors. That is why I said whether or not Hakka is Han is "debatable" in my reply to cctang.

As I said in that post, whether or not Hakka is Han is unimportant in Michael's argument. I do not know why you and cctang are so hung up on that (which tends to be the general trend of Chinese).

Funny that you term using google as a substitution for academic research (which is what I expect when you write such a affirmative statement) as "not lazy." All I can say is that if my student does that, they would not get a passing grade from me. (I teach graduate study in university.)

Jon said...

As alleged by Sun Bin, "Lee Tenghui called himself a Japanese, even if his parents called themselves Hakka."

Lee WAS a Japanese national, why would this have any contradiction to his parents being Hakka? Has Lee ever said that he is presently a Japanese? In fact, not just Lee, but all Taiwanese of his age, Hakka or Hoklo alike, were Japanese national due to the historical fact, and you can google on that! LOL!

Sun Bin said...

now you presented 2 interpretation of Chinese. 'by ancestry' (genetic, sort of), and by "passport'. which are both right.

i believe i have made it very clear in my first reply to you i was referring to the definition of 'ancestry'.

in that context, hakka and hoklo are both chinese.

that is all i have said.

Sun Bin said...

jon,

1) this is the first line in wiki.
please do not add your own words to quotes.
"Hakka (Chinese: 客家; pinyin: kèjiā, literal meaning "guest families") are a Han Chinese people whose ancestors are said to originate from around Henan and Shanxi in northern China over 2700 years ago. Their ancestors migrated southwards because of social unrest, upheaval, "

2) say whatver you want about LTH. i do not care about this person. but what you said had no relation (and does not invalidate) to my original sentence.

3) why i asked you to google? because it is very simple facts that a freshman can do. and you can trace the links to academic works.

4) why does michael's orinigal line need clarification? i already said above.
there is 1 more reason: some of the extreme pan-green tend to stir up ethnic hatred and drive divisive issues in claiming that hakka, hoklo, and chinese from other areas are different people. this does nothing but promote conflict, and they lie.

5) "hakka are as chinese as their neighbors", please do not take words out of context. the 'neighbors' mean Han people who "thought" they are intruders.
as for aborigines, they are closer to polynesian than to Han. they are not Han Chinese.

6) hakka is Han is UN-debatable. Just read the world text in wiki and keep away from alcohol and drug.

that is it for me here. you can have your last words, but no more from me.

Jon said...

Sun Bin,

1) I do not see the sentence you quoted from Wikipedia support your genetic claim. As I said, it is futile to try to make that kind of distinction genetically.

2) You don't care about LTH, but you are the one who mentioned him first. In fact, I was not talking about LTH, I was talking about Taiwanese of LTH's age were Japanese national as a matter of history. Now I suppose you don't care about this either, even though it is the history of the majority people on Taiwan (the only exception been those who came after WWII).

3) Ethnic harmony cannot be achieved by only emphasizing the history of one group and refuse to face (care about?) the history of another group (which happens to be the majority BTW), disagree?

4) In your point #5, you state, "hakka are as chinese as their neighbors, please do not take words out of context. the 'neighbors' mean Han people who thought they are intruders." This is exactly how I understand it, where did I take it out of context? The neighbor (i.e., Han people) "thought" they are not Han Chinese (please stick to Wikipedia, which does not say "intruders.") This very fact indicates that it is "debatable," regardless what conclusion Wikipedia draws.

5) Whether or not Hakka is Han is in fact VERY debatable. If you follow your own advice and do a google, you will find that the origin of Hakka is debated on the net quite often. One theory is that Hakka is originated from Hun (whom Chinese called Xiongnu, not a very glorified name, which is rather unfortunate, I will explain later). After defeated by Chinese, some moved westward, and some migrated south, and lived among Chinese. Chinese history also has recorded that Caocao of the Han Dynasty (tri-kingdom era) moved Xiongnu into today's Hena area. It is believed that they have continued moved southward and dispersed to various places.

Now since you like to talk about genetic linkage, there is also blood and DNA analysis done by researchers showing the linkage between Hakka and Hun. (Generally speaking, DNA analysis is more useful in finding linkage between two far away populations than to prove/disprove the separation of two neighboring groups due to the inevitably inter-marriages I mentioned before.)

Due to the similarity of the two words, "Han" and "Hun;" there is often confusions here. Some even argued that the word Han is originated from Hun (presumably in their own language), and thus, Hun is Han in Chinese. If you adopt this view, then what do you call the people who fought against Xiongnu? (Remember I said the definition of "Han" was not very clear?)

In addition, because Xiongnu is such an unglorified name in Chinese, some Hakka immersed in Chinese-based education would often reject such a theory outright, and feel being insulted. The fact is, Hun/Xiongnu is as respectable as Han. The one who does the insult is not the persons who suggest the linkage between Hakka and Hun, but those who came up with the pathetic Chinese name of Xiongnu to describe Hun in the first place

There is a book written by Clyde Kiang, a Hakka himself, The Hakka Odyssey. I suggest you pick it up before shouting "Hakka is Han is UN-debatable."

Note, I am not saying that this theory is correct, but unlike what you swear by, this issue is quite debatable, and the theory I mentioned is certainly not the only theory around.

7) I don't mind whether you want to continue this discussion or not. If you want to debate it, then I will respond. However, if you do not "care" about the history of Taiwanese (see 2, above), then I guess you would not care about Hakka's history either. There really is nothing to discuss if you just want to declare it as "UN-debatable" like a religious fundamentalist treating his bible.

Sun Bin said...

Jon,

You put me on the spot, i have to make a last clarification. because i am a hakka, that is what qualifies me to talk. I know speak the hakka language, and I know how similar it is to other Han dialect. And how smooth it read ancient Chinese poems. Hun/Mongolian language/culture are totally differnt.

han=hun is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. since when did chinese (and hakka, or mongolians, or huns) used roman alphabet? only in English spelling can I recognize the similarity you mentioned.

Han is from Han dynasty 汉
Hun=XiongNu=匈努, Xiong sounds very close to Hun in some Chinese dialect (e.g. Cantonese). Hakka has similar words with Cantonese, Mandarin and Minnan.

I would suggest you try to take some Chinese classes before going into research like this.

Sun Bin said...

since you raised a valid question. i quick google search give you and find this,

Clyde Kiang proposes that all Hakkas were "sinicized" Xiongnu(Huns) assimilated with Han. Based on that, he claims Hakkas are not even indigenous Chinese. That is a crucial point of the debate. Unfortunately, there are some very fundamental errors in his book that even a layman would not make in defining Han漢 . Here are some interesting quotations:

google is not an academic source, but it does help us dispel mis-informations. isn't google great?

---
having said that, every chinese person today probably have some gene from hun/qiang/etc during the past 2 thousand years of assimilation, as you have pointed out earlier

Michael Turton said...

4) why does michael's original line need clarification? i already said above.there is 1 more reason: some of the extreme pan-green tend to stir up ethnic hatred and drive divisive issues in claiming that hakka, hoklo, and chinese from other areas are different people. this does nothing but promote conflict, and they lie.

This is why nobody who does any serious analysis of the island takes the KMT supporters seriously, Sun. Identity politics is a KMT invention, not a pan-Green tactic, intended to divide the island into isolated cultural communities so that it could be ruled more efficiently. Had the KMT treated the Taiwanese like Chinese instead of like a subject people inferior to the mainlanders, then they would not have validated a different identity for them. The modern concept of "Taiwanese" is in part a direct result of KMT policy, though of course it has older roots. The KMT deliberately set the island's communities against one another, and then leveraged the minority communities against the majority Hoklo population.

The tactics were very similar to those used by slave-owners in the old US South, who invented the "White" ethnicity as a way to pit two populations of poor, disenfranchised groups, poor whites and poor blacks, against each other, and use the whites against the blacks. In the same way the KMT invented the political identity "mainlander" to create solidarity between impoverished peasant soldiers and the island's ruling elites, to co-opt one group of peasants from the mainland and use them against another group from Taiwan, and prevent either from rebelling against the KMT and both from uniting against it.

The sad fact is that identity politics is built into the KMT recognition that some Chinese -- though who came over with it -- are more equal than others. The whole idea of having an identifiable group of MAINLANDERS whose culture was a faux idealization of Chinese culture, and whose theology and identity were defined over and against a separate Taiwan means that at its base "mainlander" is a political identity that exists to suppress a separate political identity for the island. One identity adumbrates the other. If Taiwan becomes independent and stays that way, eventually the mainlanders will either have to go back to their homeland or assimlate into the mainstream. If Taiwan is annexed to China, then the separate Taiwanese identity will be destroyed. Identity politics is inevitable as long as one political identity, the mainlanders, defines itself as existing in order to destroy Taiwan. And that "mainlander" identity is an invention and extension of KMT policy. Identity politics are a KMT invention.

The division between Hakkas and other Chinese cultural groups is recognized on both sides; genetics is not relevant (are French distinguishable from Germans genetically? Alsatians from Bavarians? East Germans from West Germans? But everyone recognizes sociocultural divisions between them). To argue from "DNA" is essentially to disguise your values with science the way a chef covers a cut of spoiled, second-rate meat with an expensive sauce. Whether Hoklos are genetically distinguishable from Chinese is also irrelevant; they think that they have their own identity -- my wife does not call herself a Chinese, for example -- and you will have to deal with that. It won't go away by claiming some horrible pan-Green conspiracy and that really Taiwanese are Chinese. If it is all a conspiracy, why are the election sound trucks all blasting away in Taiwanese and not Chinese?

It's fascinating, Sun Bin, that you can come up with a strong analysis of Taiwan Straits issues through game theory, and then, when it comes time to discussion what it means to be Chinese and how different groups of people see each other, you revert to medieval concepts of ethnicity that were in part responsible for some of the bloodiest events of the 20th century. It's a damn shame that when balance and nuance and sophistication are most needed, you are unable to rise to the task of understanding who and what your opponents are, and why they oppose you. Propaganda is nice for achieving political ends, but one should never confuse one's propaganda with one's analysis. Down that road lies the madness that infected the 20th century.

Michael

Jon said...

sub bin,

Well, Dr. Clyde Kiang is a scholar with credentials. And what is the credential of the person who allegedly "dispel mis-informations?" The good thing about internet is everyone can post what they want on the net. The bad thing about the internet is everyone can post what they want on the net. The internet will help to spread misinformation if you just take what's written on the net as the truth.

I checked out the site, and the arguments presented are neither consistent nor compelling.

For instance, it says, "North of Han are a number of nomadic tribes which are more distinct in their language, custom, and physical features: Xiongnu ..." Here it basically defines Xiongnu as one of the north Han.

Here are samples of its arguments:
* Huns are significantly different from Hakka in their cultural behavior. Although both Huns and Hakkas are migratory, Huns never settled in one place.

Well, nomadic tribe is a product of the environment, not a product of genes. Hun DID finally settled in one place (today's Hungary, intermixed with local population of European descents), and is no longer nomadic.

* If Hakka were actually sinicized "non-Han", then Hakka migration from north to south would not be "fleeing" the "northern foreign invasion" to "preserve" their own culture. Intead, Hakkas would have to be the actual "invaders" from the north trying to spread their own culture to the south.

Who says northern foreign invasion cannot be the "foreign invaders" after Xiongnu? (And who says fleeing foreign invasion is the only reason why Hakka migrated south?) How can Xiongnu be the actual "invader" after they've been defeated and dissimilated into Han China?

* The Mongolian "Khan" (or "Han") is only a sound that happen to be same as the Han people. Khan as in Gingis Khan is written in word as "sweat"汗 which is only a phonetic translation.

So? The Chinese characters of "ke han (sweat)" is clearly a translation by sound. Who cares whether or not this "han" means sweat in Chinese and is a different Chinese character than the one used in Han Dynasty? The suggestion was that the name Han (漢) could have come from a similar translation at a much earlier date thousand years apart. Why is the resulting translation of the two Chinese characters has to be the same to prove that the origin is the same? AFAIK, isn't President Bush's name translated into differently Chinese characters by Taiwan and China? Does that prove that he is not the same person?

So much for "dispel misinformation!" As a matter of the fact, the author of the site concluded, "In conclusion, the theory that Hakkas were derived from Xiongnu needs a lot more substantial support." A fair statement which leaves the possibility open.

One thing I do agree with you though, "google is great;" at least you now know that Hakka origin is debatable!

Sun Bin said...

michael,

genetic difference/similarity is a continuum. of course each person has his own genome. i used the term loosely, mainly meant to imply similarity. i don't think i disagree with you there.
yes, it is irrelevant in those other issues you talked about, i also agree with you.

there is also no doubt that KMT discriminated against Benshengren from 1945 to 1985. and CKS was responsible for the division today.

however, since 1985 KMT changed a lot, willingly or unwillingly, and LTH was chosen as a leader.

i will just repeat what i said, "identity politics" is divisive in itself and does nothing good for the people in Taiwan. And DPP played this in its election game, it did more in promoting this than the KMT did since 1990s.
example of such divisive statement? "if you do not agree with my identify, please leave this pice of land"

Sun Bin said...

jon,

'un-dabatable' is not a good word to use, it was a response to your 'debatable'.
the fact is, there is really very little fact to support kiang's claims. in addition, many of kiang's so called evidence reflects his ignorance on history and language.
i really wonder where he got his PhD from and how 'credible' his scholarly publication is.
i couldn't find anything to support that, yet.

so, yes, the conclusion line on that site is a very polite refutable to kiang. i don't have problem with that. :)

---
michael,

"medieval concepts of ethnicity" would be to stir up difference and hatred. i am proposing exactly the opposite.
the fact remains as, the difference (in any measure) between hakka, hoklo and say those Han Chinese in Hunan, Guangdong, Beijing, Heilongjiang (whatever name you want to give to this branch of the tree), is smaller than the difference between Hoklo and the Taiwan aborigines.
If these people (some in DPP, I do not think CSB said that himself) are able to accept the fact that Hoklo and aborigines can be the same family, why would there be continued divisive emphasis about the difference between Hoklo/Hakka/other Han people (and by telling a lie that they are more different)?

maybe I was wrong that they accepted the aborigines, as discrimination is still wide-spread.

Willy said...

MT,

I am a Taiwanese graduate student currently living in NYC. It’s nice to see an American caring so much about my country. I want to share some of my thoughts here after reading all these comments.

Growing up in Taiwan as a BenShengRen kid from the southern part of the island in the 70s and 80s, and going thru college education and military service... etc, I don't feel there is discrimination against local Taiwanese. Having spent the majority of my life in Taiwan, I feel my first hand experience is a lot more real than 3rd party analysis.

Also, access to higher education is based on your ability to do well in the exam system, not based on your ethnic background. How do you think 阿扁 was able to get into 台大?

To play the ethnic card in Taiwanese politics at this day and age is not meaningful. Even the majority of KMT members are BenShengRen local Taiwanese.

People care more about real issues - economy, jobs, government corruption...etc. And I think these are the biggest reason why DPP lost this election. 阿扁's problem is he preaches reform but doesn't practice it when it matters. This started with him backing off from 農會改革 to the whole High Speed rail funding fiasco to the Kaohsiung subway scandal to whopping bonuses paid to his close associates appointed to patronage positions in government enterprises... the list goes on and on. These are the reasons why the DPP lost support, especially amongst many 20 or 30 something year old urban voters. I voted for 阿扁 in 1998 mayoral election in Taipei and in 2000 and 2004. My family lives in Tainan and has traditionally voted green. But we just could not, in good conscious, support the DPP this time.

DPP is simply not living up to many people's expectations. Inexperience is excusable, but corruption and pork barrel politics are not. Yes, I agree KMT used to be worse. And that is why they lost power. Will 馬英九 be able to change things and bring reform to KMT? I don’t know. But I sure hope he will shape the KMT into a political force worthy of my support someday. The voters need alternatives. We need good competition & meaningful debate in our political system, not public stunts and ethnic tension.

Most Taiwanese in my generation agree with many things the DPP was founded upon and fought for (freedom of speech, democratic reform, separation of party & State... etc). Many in my parents and my grandparents’ generation stood up and sacrificed for the freedom and democracy we enjoy today. But I fear the DPP government is not living to the high moral and ethic standards set forth by these early democracy activists. Imagine how Cheng Nan-jung(鄭南榕) would feel if he knows the DPP government today is threatening to close TV stations that criticize government policy and publicize media scandal?



Willy

Michael Turton said...

I don't feel there is discrimination against local Taiwanese. Having spent the majority of my life in Taiwan, I feel my first hand experience is a lot more real than 3rd party analysis.

Actually, having spent the majority of my life reading research on Taiwan and living in it, I don't think one person's experience count for much either way. The research says you are wrong, I go with that.

Also, access to higher education is based on your ability to do well in the exam system, not based on your ethnic background. How do you think 阿扁 was able to get into 台大?

台大 (National Taiwan University) is a good example. Studies have shown that although mainlanders account for less than 1/6 of Taiwan's population, they accounted for 2/3 to 3/4 of entrants to National Taiwan University under the old KMT system. Clearly, your firsthand impressions won't stand up to serious analysis.

Of course the colonial power has to co-opt promising young locals into its system.

To play the ethnic card in Taiwanese politics at this day and age is not meaningful. Even the majority of KMT members are BenShengRen local Taiwanese.

Do you realize how much your second comment completely contradicts your first?

BTW, the competing mainlander-Taiwanese nationalisms are not an example of an "ethnic" conflict.

People care more about real issues - economy, jobs, government corruption...etc. And I think these are the biggest reason why DPP lost this election. 阿扁's problem is he preaches reform but doesn't practice it when it matters. This started with him backing off from 農會改革 to the whole High Speed rail funding fiasco to the Kaohsiung subway scandal to whopping bonuses paid to his close associates appointed to patronage positions in government enterprises... the list goes on and on. These are the reasons why the DPP lost support, especially amongst many 20 or 30 something year old urban voters. I voted for 阿扁 in 1998 mayoral election in Taipei and in 2000 and 2004. My family lives in Tainan and has traditionally voted green. But we just could not, in good conscious, support the DPP this time.

I don't disagree with this analysis at all. It's a good thumbnail of how the DPP is judged by Taiwanese.

I am sure the DPP learned a lot from your decision not to support them last Saturday. I am glad you taught them a lesson by supporting the corrupt, gangster-connected alternatives. I am sure they will get that message loud and clear.

support someday. The voters need alternatives. We need good competition & meaningful debate in our political system, not public stunts and ethnic tension.

I agree totally. It's time the KMT stopped pretending that mainlanders are different, and joined the Taiwan mainstream. ;)

Imagine how Cheng Nan-jung(鄭南榕) would feel if he knows the DPP government today is threatening to close TV stations that criticize government policy and publicize media scandal?

He'd probably criticize this, like many in the DPP did, and many of their supporters. He'd probably also wonder -- more importantly -- about the incompetence that permitted a Chinese-owned TV station to broadcast in Taiwan in the first place, while pretending that it wasn't. The system is screwed up, but most people have paid attention to the wrong screw-up. The same thing happened in the Kaohsiung MRT scandal.....

Michael

Sun Bin said...

I agree with 99% of what Willy said. Willy is probably the 10-25% voter that determine who is going to win in 2007 and 2008, and every election.
and i think that is good for taiwan and proves democracy works.

one minor point about discrimination. i think willy is right that there was no systematic or organized discrimination. but most of the senior position were occupied by the KMT clan, and they happened to have been brought by CKS from the mainland. that naturally led to certain bitterness among benshengren. i can totally understand why they thought this was not fair.

the people who moved with CKS from mainland included corrupted KMT official. but many of them were also well educated scholars and academics. They did contribute to the education and industrialization of taiwan.
(similar to the shanghainese textile entrepreneur to HK in the 1950s).
this should also explain the relatively higher enrolment of waishengren in prestigeous universitites (and are from educated families and they had better envoronment to study).

however, as willy pointed out, confuscius education does not discriminate. it was the exam scores that mattered. people like CSB and Frank Hsieh were able to excel into Taiwan University.

and again, the old KMT was corrupted, but they were not colonists. they were incompetent and selfish, but they did not systematically discriminate against benshengren.
however, there was biase in opportunities, simple because those in charge were the KMT clan, and they were selfish people.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't mind those determined Chinese whom reside in Taiwan, on the other hand, profit driven neutral voters is another story. In some cases(first hand experinces), they're merely pan-blue supports who claimed to neutral, or think they are. Be honest here, who on earth in their right mind would vote for KMT which by the way is the majority in parliament, and blocked the arm sale and so many other reforms concerning economy, jobs, corruption, and etc.

To qualify as a real neutral voter, don't you think the ability to analyse with a conscious mind is a must-have? instead of swallowing everything from the media(especially Taiwanese Media). Besides, other than DPP there is TSU to choose from, why the big leap to KMT? Because of 馬英九? If Chen is unable to cure every wrong KMT had done over the last 5 decades, why would you think 馬英九 is gonna fixup the KMT with even longer histroy of being KMT?

Jon said...

Sun bin wrote:
"many of kiang's so called evidence reflects his ignorance on history and language."

Oh really? Did you read the book, and do you care to point out where is the ignorance on history and language that you refer to?

I have already pointed out the problems of so-called refuting arguments by the site (and they don't even address the whole book)! Do you at least care to respond to those?

I feel it is funny and irresponsible for you to call someone ignorance when neither you nor the site you provided has anything creditable to counter it!

Sun Bin said...

Jon,

IMO you failed to refute the refutal. Kiang is extremely ignorant, failing to understand the basic knowledge of history and chinese language (e.g. the origin of the word Han, etc.)

but let's just agree to disagree, and let the others read the asiawind site and kiang's quotes themselves. do not take my words or your words for it. i am sure they could come to their own conclusion themselves.

Jon said...

Sun Bin,

As I said, I think it is ignorant to call someone ignorant without providing any arguments yourself.

In addition, I think you or the so-called "refutal" by the site missed the whole point about the "origin of the word Han."

No one is saying that the word Han is not from the "Han Dynasty" (your so-called ignorant to Chinese history I suppose). But that word could have been translated from a northern (foreign) tribe's tongue. And if it was a phonetic translation, then how it is written as Chinese character is not important.

Same goes for your so called "Han" and "Hun" is similar only in "spelling." No, they are similar in "pronunciation," how they are spelled in alphabets, or written in characters does not change this fact.

TaiwanIndependence said...

Some of the statements here make me fuming mad.

Lets be frank here, many of the 20-30 year olds (I fall under this category) do not follow politics as closely as many elders would like and expect too mainly due to their comfy life-style that has never seen a real threat.

I've never seen a crowd of people so quick to align with the media and blame so and so without waiting for that person they didn't like to at least admit they did the crime or wait until they are convicted.

I've also never seen a crowd so naive as to believe anything said by any candidate that gets his segment on TV. All this crap about how President Chen was doing this, and that, and so forth when in reality is that neither this man nor any member of his family has been convicted of any crime as yet.

Meanwhile all I hear is excuses and hypocrisy when it comes to Ma's receipts and funding scandal, and double standards as to whether Ma should step down, or how its totally innocent that a dead body was doing rotting away for half a year unnoticed at Taipei's City Hall.

Is all this "looking the other way" due to the disappoint with the DPP's effectiveness in fighting corruption?

Sure the DPP disappointed many, as many were also idiotically expecting corruption to magically vaporize once the DPP were in power. How naive; it took America 200+ years and there is still corruption on all levels of government.

How can one expect the DPP to "clean" up Taiwan within 8 years? If half the people here give up so easily, they might as well fly to China and defect now. Who needs human rights and civil liberties if they aren't willing to stand by and fight for it?


I have spent the last few years fighting so hard against corruption, against China, and for Taiwan. To show for it, I've gotten news segments, newspaper articles, and a whole slew of new supporters, as well as an alliance between the Tibetans, Mongolians, and Uyghurs against China's 2008 Olympics. I've volunteered for dozens of Taiwanese related events, worked for TAITRA to help improve trade, helped out TECO whenever I had the chance. How did I find the time to do all this? All I did was give away 2-3 days a month.

So I want to ask, what have half of you guys done for Taiwan recently?

Please go out and do something, I don't care what side you're for but make sure you're well researched and fighting for the side of the law and not irrational emotions. Start a blog, do whatever, just don't sit on your comfy couch and whine.

zoossh said...

"Now does that conclude that Taiwanese aborigines are Han as well?", as someone said, I find that very mind puzzling.

One just got to go around visiting these few countries in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and China, and see the locals.

History have shown many cultures in demise, especially when written records were not done. But certain things can be easily seen from our eyes. If someone cannot differentiate an Indian and a Malay, and cannot differentiate a Taiwanese aborigine and a Chinese, it is probably easier to differentiate an Australian aborigine against a White.

What many fail to understand Chinese history is that it basically works on the principle of coexisting opposite definitions. What the Chinese invades will be regarded as Chinese territories in future and to be dated before their entry, and what is being lost in invasion is still China and Chinese nevertheless, which is why many foreign regimes disregarded by the Chinese at their time is now regarded by the Chinese today as Chinese, including of the other non-Chinese legacy of these foreign regimes. And again, whoever who is sinisized, becomes a Chinese, and whoever who is actually Chinese but is desinisized is still a Chinese. The basic principle is to multiply no matter which direction proceeds. There is tons to be described, but we shall stop here before it went out of topic. Sometimes we cannot fully just trust history as it is written, because it depends on who writes it. It certainly is not the aborigines who wrote it.

Basically the Malay-Polynesian-Yuet roots are just as important, if not predominantly in the Taiwanese aborigines, Hoklo, Hakkla and the population in Southern PRC. Hua ren is basically a specific term meant to mean people who is sinisized, but Han isn't. And we got to understand that English and Chinese terms does not meant the same thing, because in the first place, when the Westerners reach this part of the world, they didn't differentiate between a Mongol and a Chinese, or a Manchurian and a Chinese - everyone is referred to as Chinese.

So if the "Chinese" is to refer themselves as the descendents of Huang-di with at least 3000 to 5000 over years of history, they are referring as a Han-centred culture. Tibetans shared no similar part, and in fact, never came under Chinese control until the annexation by the communists. So, if the Chinese wanted to reinvent the meaning and usage of Chinese to be applied on all the people in PRC, then they need to remove the contextural issues and the Han-centralised nature.

American and White means different things. And Chinese and Chinese means different things too. See the problem?

It is true that most Taiwanese is Chinese. It is also true that all Taiwanese is not Chinese. It is also true that a minority of Taiwanese is Chinese. And it is also true that some Taiwanese is not Taiwanese.

Pretty confusing. But that is exactly how complex the situation is - that contextual descriptions are often written as conclusive statements. But there are always people who make use of one context and one statement and expect that to be the fact for all contexts, without further specifications, and hence only brew endless arguments because understanding will never be possible.