Sunday, August 31, 2008

How many were at the rally?

I've decided to discuss the numbers again because the topic is so interesting and to help think about how many really were there.

First, a Taipei Times report from two years ago discusses a simple methodology for calculating crowd size.

Lin Ming-hua (林明華), director of the city police's Public Relations Department, said that they stopped giving out estimates of crowd sizes or marches two years ago when a march organized by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party was staged in front of the Presidential Office.

The demonstration was orchestrated to demand the "truth" about the election-eve assassination attempt, which many pan-blue supporters believe was staged by Chen despite any solid evidence to back up their theories.

Lin said that the city police originally refused to publicize the number of participants in Satur-day's rally on Ketagalan Boulevard, but they were told by the police chief at around 10:45pm to make it public.

Lin said that the official numbers were reliable because they were calculated using a formula.

Taking Friday's "siege" march as an example, Lin said that police estimated 40,000 people could fill 1km of the road that protesters walked down. As the march stretched more than 5.5km, the police estimated that about 220,000 people were on the street. On top of that number, city authorities figured that about 140,000 more were scattered along Ketagalan Boulevard and elsewhere, making the total number 360,000.
Two key points from this. First, the police say it is 40K to a kilometer on a street. I'm not sure about the size of the street, but that's comparable to my count from the other day, so I am greatly cheered.

Second, this article notes that the police stopped giving crowd estimates four years ago. So how did AP obtain a "police said" estimate of 40,000? It is possible that someone gave out information they were not supposed to, or that policy was contravened in this instance, both of which have happened before. But that estimate is so laughably low it stinks of a deliberate plant. It should be noted that the Taipei Times reported that the police would not give out an estimate. Even the KMT-supporting China Post had 50,000 people, a number not referenced and suspiciously, exactly half the DPP prediction -- almost a concession that in fact more than 100,000 turned out.

So AP, you got some 'splaining to do.

The pro-KMT side might deflate the numbers, but the pan-Greens are no better. The Liberty Times today dramatically reported that 300,000 people showed up. Check out the photo there. It is highly suspicious -- showing only the crowds from the south gate to the stage -- but on the ground, my photos show that the area to the south and east of the gate was precisely where the crowd thinned out -- and is the area not shown in the photos. Very suspicious. Note that it is still light when this photo is taken.

What would three hundred thousand or more look like? Here's a Taipei Times photo from the truly stupendous anti-secession law rally. See how jam-packed the area is? Google image search will give you more but they will all show that it was an unbelievable sea of humanity that day.

Now compare the dense ranks in the photo above to this CNA photo printed in today's Taipei Times:



If you look carefully, the density starts to peter out once you get past the south gate. It's far denser on the other side. It is easy to see that 300K is an inflated overestimate.

I'm not going to beat this dead horse any longer, but it should also be noted that the CNA photos don't have times attached. The marchers seemed to have already arrived in both the Liberty Times and the Taipei Times pics, and thus spread out near the old gate. In my photos the bulk of the marchers are still arriving, in my opinion. I should also like to add that there is no need to embellish the numbers. Leave that to the other side.

On to the videos. I shot two that were worth anything (yes, video is an art and I suck at it; be patient, it is going to be a long time).


This video I shot after we had started to line up to march but before we started moving. You can see that it was noisy and energetic, that there were thousands of people here, covering the sidewalks, the metro station plaza, etc.


This second video I shot right after we had arrived at the stage. You can see where we are. At this point the area between the stage and the old gate is absolutely packed but starts to thin out as the crowd reaches the old gate. You can get some glimpses of the massive crowd behind me. Plenty of good energy here.

Why is it so hard to get good estimates? Take this photo to the left. How wide is the crowd? How many to a rank? What constitutes a rank? Ok, let's say we're 40K to the kilometer in the street.....







...then what about these marchers -- four and five across on the sidewalks? If you only count the street, as you would certainly do in an photo from the sky, you'd have a 20% undercount, at least. I tried to include them, and that's how I came up with 50K with me. Depending on how you count, a rank had anywhere between 16 and 25 people, so conservatively 7 ranks was 100 souls, but in reality it was sometimes a lot less and sometimes a lot more. And then....


...what about these blackshirted fellows and the hundreds of others participating by yelling and waving flags from the sidelines, but not marching? Do we count them?








Here was another problem we encountered, though I don't really have a good picture of it. I started near the front of the march, but by the time we were halfway through, the march had elongated considerably and I was someone in the middle. People started to join from the front. You can see that it extends for a considerable distance in front of me.




As we walked down this large street, we look a little thinner in this photo, but actually, there are even more of us. Why?








As this important historical photo shows, large numbers of marchers "taking to the streets" are actually taking to the expansive sidewalks.








Another issue is resting marchers. You can see that in the park beyond many marchers are taking a break, as they did all along the way. Again, any count of "marchers" underestimates the crowd.







When you look at the photos by the old gate, you see the fantastic crowds, but you don't see these guys -- the ones sitting on the walls, standing on the sidewalks, and sitting in the park under the trees.

Finally, what is the correct time to sample the size? I can tell you how many I think marched with me (50K give or take) and you can look at the photos to see how many were there when I arrived. Is that the right time? Do we count only those who stayed the whole time to hear the speakers?

You tell me. But not all the crowd estimates are off by large percentages because the police are nefarious and controlled by the Dark Side. It's because counting the crowd is no simple task.

UPDATE: A commenter left this link to another discussion of the crowd numbers. It goes into great detail on the area that the crowd occupied and concludes:

就算一平方公尺以 4 人計算,新公園內的也不算、信義路與仁愛路上頭的也都不算。也不必以一平方 6人來高估。至少也都有 13 萬人了。
真不知官方的 4 萬多人是怎麼算的。

We calculate the one square meter contains 4 people, and we don't count the New Park, Hsinyi Rd, Aiguo Rd. We don't need to use the highest figure of 6 people per square meter. There were at least 130,000 people there.
I really don't know how the authorities arrived at a figure of 40,000.
That's similar to the number I arrived at. 50,000 with me, a like number in the other group, and 30-40K already present when I arrived. Then I factored in all the people in the park and elsewhere. Nevertheless, 130K is a nice conservative figure.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would also like to point out that as soon as many people arrived at the old gate they walked off and went home. Many people didn't stay for the speakers.
All in all, it was a great crowd for an event in the sunshine and the heat. Many people in Taiwan avoid going out in the direct sunlight for any length of time and the heat and humidity at the time of the rally was peak.

David said...

I was in the crowd taking photos and marched from Longshan Temple to Ketagalan Boulevard. I guess I was somewhere in the back half of the march. It is really difficult to get any kind of grasp on how many were there from that position.

Reliable figures would best be obtained by using a helicopter to take aerial photos or setting up video cameras at several points along the route to count the number passing.

The exact number doesn't matter. What is important is that Taiwan stood up, the DPP is not dead. 加油臺灣!

Michael Turton said...

Yes, many people must have left. It might not be completely absurd to reduce the number under 100,000. But the claim of "40,000" is ridiculous. More people than that were in my wing of the march. On the other hand, by the same token, if you counted everyone who stopped by at some point, you might even hit 300K. Who knows?

The issue simply highlights the need for running tallies at different points of the march to give better depth to the numbers. The whole idea of a fixed amount needs to be dumped.

Michael

Prince Roy said...

Wish I had been there for these protests. No coverage in the mainstream US media. No surprise there.

I agree it's not very useful to obsess with the numbers. Having said that, the response doesn't seem to be any more significant than what I observed on the DPP side at the Hsieh election rallies, both in Taipei and Taichung.

I probably would agree with Ma that what Taiwan is going through right now is more indicative of the repercussions in the global economy primarily due to US financial mismanagement and the mortgage crisis. Still, as president, the buck stops here, so he should be prepared to face the music. He made a lot of pie in the sky promises in that campaign.

The PRC tourist issue remains to be seen, and it's premature to blame Ma's government at this point. First, the Olympics kept a lot of PRC Chinese home this summer. Also, the PRC internal travel permit bureaucracy hasn't kept up with the pace of applications for Taiwan travel permits to PRC citizens wishing to visit Taiwan. I would wait another 6-12 months and examine the numbers again at that time.

In the end, what to make of this? Whatever the numbers, should it surprise anyone that DPP supporters are not happy with Ma? Of course not.

What about light blues, light greens and 'independents'? Did they join the protests? And more significantly, even if a majority of people are unhappy with Ma at this point, does that mean they would now have voted for Frank Hsieh? My guess is that Ma still would win handily.

And there is still the whole CSB mess. Unlike David, I don't think the DPP is out of the woods yet, but if anyone can salvage the party, that person is Tsai Ing-wen.

Anonymous said...

I think it says a lot that some of the most ardent supporters of Taiwan Independence are foreigners who make sweeping statements like "Taiwan stood up" with the sense that they actually understand Taiwan, and in the next breath says "加油臺灣!". In fact, independence, (re)unification and identity in the ethnic Chinese world is complex and ambiguous, without clear black/white distinctions. Another example is the foreigner-dominated "debate" over "Zhonghua Minzu", which is a concept rooted in culture and history, and which cannot be grasped without a deeper understanding of the Chinese language.

All I can say is: home go.

Michael Turton said...

I think it says a lot that some of the most ardent supporters of Taiwan Independence are foreigners who make sweeping statements like "Taiwan stood up" with the sense that they actually understand Taiwan,

I think it says a lot that some of the most patronizing commenters on this site are ardent proponents of the idea that foreigners don't understand "Taiwan" with the sense that they actually understand what foreigners think.

To other blog go.

Michael

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
I distinctly remember the reporter from Bloomberg (who was based in Hong Kong) doing the same thing as AP after the Anti-Secession 3/26 march in 2005.

He gave a number with the phrase "police estimated", but I could not find one corporate news article that repeated this underestimate (including such pro-blue publications as The China Times). I emailed him and asked him why he was the only one reporting this grossly underestimated number. He replied with only a brief statement telling me that he was simply reporting what the police told him.

.
.
.

Carlos said...

Anonymous, you may be surprised how ambiguous and fluid identity is in the West, too. I am half Valencian, a region in Spain that is pretty well integrated into the Spanish identity but is close to Catalan identity (who do not identify closely as Spanish... but the way they patronize Valencians seems to drive Valencians towards feeling Spanish, even though they speak the same language and have the same symbols as the Catalans).

Someone from the Southern US has their own identity issues too. It's not simple in the rest of the world.

But you're right, no one can make sweeping generalizations as if all of Taiwan felt the same way. I know more people who don't see much of a problem with unification than these blogs imply.

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
BTW, As Tim Maddog points out on Taiwan Matters -- my memory failed me a bit. The Bloomberg reference should have been about the Anti-Chen march in 2006, not the 2005 Anti-secession march. It was an over-estimation, not an under-estimation. Same point though.

Here's the article that was written by your's truly...

Bloomberg Blue Bias Barefaced
.
.
.

Anonymous said...

We have seen bigger rallies in TW. Even in HK they can arrange bigger rallies with smaller population and territory.

TW is not advertising democracy well. How can you convince mainlanders to embrace democracy when you show that it is only causing paralysis and division. Another example is Thailand. All the rallying and protests damages the economy. It is not surprising that Singapore is as a better example: clean and efficient.

Anonymous said...

"Zhonghua Minzu", which is a concept rooted in culture and history, and which cannot be grasped without a deeper understanding of the Chinese language."

Good point.

The concept of a "minzu" is a concept adopted by Chinese nationalists the Meiji Japanese during the last years of the Qing. Prior to this deliberate construction of "race", which was a popular concept at the time, there had been no real racialism in Han culture. "Zhong hua minzu" first appeared on the scene as the social darwinists of the republican movement sought to appeal to Han secret societies and brotherhood which wanted a Han-Chinese nation.

See: Dikotter, Frank. 1992.The Discourse of Race in Modern China pp. 108-109

Michael Turton said...

. I know more people who don't see much of a problem with unification than these blogs imply.

I only go by the poll numbers, which consistently show low levels of support for annexing the island to China in all polls.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

TW is not advertising democracy well. How can you convince mainlanders to embrace democracy when you show that it is only causing paralysis and division.

It is not causing paralysis and division. That is the way it is presented in the media. Rather, it permits divisions to be fully manifested and resolved -- unlike authoritarianism where they fester until they cause serious damage.

Another example is Thailand. All the rallying and protests damages the economy.

All the rallying and protesting had no effect on the economy. The economy was damaged by the military government's monetary and economic policies. The rallies make a convenient scapegoat, but they don't make policy.

It is not surprising that Singapore is as a better example: clean and efficient.

Any fool can keep a city running. Singapore has no hinterland, no natural resource or agricultural sector, etc or any of the many other things that cause division in nations.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

"Zhonghua Minzu", which is a concept rooted in culture and history, and which cannot be grasped without a deeper understanding of the Chinese language."

Good point.

The concept of a "minzu" is a concept adopted by Chinese nationalists the Meiji Japanese during the last years of the Qing.


Yes, I know. I was laughing helplessly when that fellow told me I didn't know anything about the Taiwanese and then went on to say that a late 19th century concept borrowed from the Japanese was "deeply rooted in Chinese culture."

Although it would be an error to say that the Han had no racism prior to that time. Racism or ethnic chauvanism is unfortunately deeply rooted in Chinese culture.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

unlike authoritarianism where they fester until they cause serious damage.

...and, I should add, do not get resolved in a way in which everyone recognizes is legitimate. Democracy not only permits a greater range of solutions but also legitimates them.

Michael

Andrew said...

Michael,

not that there was no discrimination (race was still a concept that hadn't been conceived in the empire) . It was more a concept of human and non -human culturalism. The concept was that non-"human" barbarians could be "tamed" and act like Han and/or transformed into "people" (This ideology was behind much of the Qing colonial policy on the frontiers. Pamela Kyle Crossley calls it "transformationalism". Han represented human as it is rooted in Confucianist beliefs. But the real idea of "race" was a much, much later, borrowed concept.

Anyway..

This poster is not totally to blame. The ROC, like many other modernist polities seeking authenticity, seek to find it through the "ancient" and not through mandate. They manufacture histories and narratives to serve their own anxiety of authenticity and use points of contact between the state and the citizen to promote their ideology.
Just as the KMT has used "ancient China" to validate its modernist enterprise and its desires, the DPP had onceused Ping pu (plains) aborigines the same way.

A lot of what is thought to be ancient Chineseness in Taiwan is actually the product of state production.

See: Hobsbawm, Eric. 1982. The Invention of Tradition

Anonymous said...

The sad part about Anon's comment is that many in the KMT hold his racist, ignorant and outdated point of view.

Janus said...

Excellent posts followed by excellent commentary. Such a rarity in the blogosphere...thanks, Michael!

Thomas said...

"In fact, independence, (re)unification and identity in the ethnic Chinese world is complex and ambiguous, without clear black/white distinctions."

You ARE on the highest horse in the pasture, aren't you? I would think the conflict in Georgia, or over Kosovo, or over Southern Sudan (which is due to be independent within the next few years), or anywhere else would teach you that the whole world has to deal with the complexity of self-determination. To criticise well-informed foreigners based on debatable collective national experience of a global issue is the height of arrogance.

B.BarNavi said...

"despite any solid evidence to back up their theories."

Freudian slip? I'm sure they mean "lack of any solid evidence."

vidrienne said...

thanks michael! I was so upset not being able to take part in the rally, and the news over here censored almost everything. No pictures nothing, thanks to you, I still get to experience it overseas.

also from what i heard from my mother, ( We live at GongYuan Road ), there were many more at other districts and sections around the area who were unable to join in with the crowd or stood by another side due to the weather.

Roughly, the figures should be about 150 000 ~ 25 0000.. who knows even more.

Figures isn't any issues as long we know people are standing up.

Anonymous said...

princeroy:

No, I think complete lack of a tourist surge is a huge problem. First, there has been a lot of investment in preparation of Chinese tourism, greatly encouraged by the KMT, and if you believed Ma's hot air, pretty reasonable given how many points he was up and for so long.

Second, the whole problem of trying to base economic growth around tourism is exactly that the flow is turned on and off by China! That's called putting all your eggs in one basket for the promise of a return that isn't so great anyways.

Third, sub-prime is a problem that started last summer. The problems in the credit crisis in the US accelerated so that today even prime, ie people with good credit, ie all the Freddie and Fannie in the news, are now in trouble. When were the elections in Taiwan again? March of THIS YEAR?

Fourth, having an economics background, their policy of increasing government spending in a high inflation environment makes no sense whatsoever. It appears it was designed merely to make good on campaign promises without any regard to actual economic environment. This is just increasing economic pain and has little to do with the external environment.

The current KMT government is just incompetent. It's getting ridiculous. The try to lie about everything (saying there was 8 trillion about to be invested in the stock market to prevent any more drops, saying that there are "8 big measures", and then an official coming out saying, yeah, we just want people to calm down, whether we actually implement that still needs to be researched. They are treating people like they are idiots.

I can definitely tell you that people of all spectrums are mad as hell. But you're right that as long as Chen Shuibian is still in the news, people would still have voted for Ma. When it shifts to Ma vs Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP is going to start getting some surprising wins. Time will tell.

不藍不綠 said...

It doesn't matter to DPP, KMT, or Taiwan whether 40,000, or 50,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 attended this particular rally. Five million Taiwanese did vote for a DPP candidate in March, so it wouldn't have been too hard to get these many supporters to attend a DPP rally even post Chen scandal. There are just many die-hard DPP supporters who will stay with DPP through scandals, corrutpions and even bad economy.

Simply put, this rally took place too soon after DPP/Chen left office, and therefore lacked certain legitimacy to the other Taiwanese when the marchers only blamed Ma without blaming the previous administration for the current economic problems. It would have been more beneficial to DPP if the march takes place in 2011 and the economy is still bad or China does take over Taiwan.

This particular rally/march only served to solidify the same old DPP Deep Green base and might fool the DPP leadership into complacency again. There were many young faces in your pictures, but I saw far more of the same, traditional, Southern, older-generation DPP supporters in your pictures.
What you pointed out as DPP's problems in your March 23 "Election Rejection" entry and other bloggers who responded are still present and still need to be fixed. For example, in your video I still heard people chanted only in "Taiwanese" which is the language that you and your kids don't quite understand.
The bigger question is where will DPP be in 4 years and if 17% of voters that DPP lost to Ma in 2008 will come back to vote for DPP again in 4 years?

I sincerely hope DPP leadership doesn't congratulate itself too soon because of the inflated estimate of 300,000 marchers. This sort self-congraulatory often turned into self-inflicted wounds by DPP leadership. The burying-your-head-in-the-sand menatality had occurred too many times and only weakened DPP at the end.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, any waishengren that doesn't identify Taiwanese is a foreigner and has no right to tell any white foreigners (some are clueless, some know a lot, some are permanently here and love this country) what to think about Taiwan.

James said...

FYI:

another 2 articles dedicates to estimate the scale of marcher amount.

http://www.wretch.cc/blog/billypan101/14363385

http://blog.hi3b.com/archives/511

Michael Turton said...

There are just many die-hard DPP supporters who will stay with DPP through scandals, corrutpions and even bad economy.

Yes -- just as there are too many KMT supporters today who still remain with the KMT no matter how much money it stole, how many people it killed, and how badly it will loot and betray the island.

The DPP is currently the standard bearer of a positive dream. That is why the people stay with it.

And why do you people keep spreading that lie about the bad economy?

Michael

reeb said...

It would have been more beneficial to DPP if the march takes place in 2011 and..China does take over Taiwan.

Think about what you just wrote. Do you actually believe China will allow anyone to protest once it takes over?

And btw, many people stick to the DPP because their is really no other choice. The DPP stands for keeping the Politburo out of Taiwan. The KMT stands for capitulation. There is no SQ or consensus. It is only a KMT wetdream.

Wake up and smell the tofu.

Anonymous said...

Princeroy said:
I probably would agree with Ma that what Taiwan is going through right now is more indicative of the repercussions in the global economy primarily due to US financial mismanagement and the mortgage crisis.

So, you also agree that the economy under the Chen adminstration was influenced by the global economy? Ma and the KMT conveniently overlooked that yet now claim they are victims of the global economy......

Anonymous said...

1. "I think it says a lot that some of the most ardent supporters of Taiwan Independence are foreigners who make sweeping statements like "Taiwan stood up" with the sense that they actually understand Taiwan, and in the next breath says "加油臺灣!"."

That's strange - I thought some of Taiwan's olympic athlete's also said, "臺灣加油!". I suppose any 'foreigners' who feel Taiwan is province of China are OK, though, and need not 'get out'.

2. "As far as I'm concerned, any waishengren that doesn't identify Taiwanese is a foreigner and has no right to tell any white foreigners (some are clueless, some know a lot, some are permanently here and love this country) what to think about Taiwan."

Thank you - well stated. But what you might be surprised to know is that some of the 'waishengren' you are referring to are white themselves.

不藍不綠 said...

"And why do you people keep spreading that lie about the bad economy?"

What? Were you in the Aug 30 rally? This was one of the 3 "reasons" why DPP held this rally. If you think your fellow marchers are spreading "lies", you should take down the various pictures on your August 30 rally entry that said "顧腹肚" and especially the one picture showing the piece of red paper that complained how bad the economy is. It's too bad that you were matching with "liers."

"Yes -- just as there are too many KMT supporters today who still remain with the KMT no matter how much money it stole, how many people it killed, and how badly it will loot and betray the island."

That is why it doesn't help DPP to congratulate itself by the turn out of this rally. I remember that KMT held a similar rally towards the end of 2000 with great turn out too. The feel good rally didn't help KMT win the next few elections. 忠言逆耳, but it's a reality that DPP needs to face. However, DPP's power center (中常委) is still controlled by Chen's die hard supporters who are just waiting for opportunity to resurrect Chen, so this break is not as clean as you would like to think.

Michael Turton said...

"And why do you people keep spreading that lie about the bad economy?"

What? Were you in the Aug 30 rally? This was one of the 3 "reasons" why DPP held this rally. If you think your fellow marchers are spreading "lies", you should take down the various pictures on your August 30 rally entry that said "顧腹肚" and especially the one picture showing the piece of red paper that complained how bad the economy is. It's too bad that you were matching with "liers."


Miscommunication! I thought you were taking another potshot at Chen Shui-bian.

不藍不綠 said...

It would have been more beneficial to DPP if the march takes place in 2011 and..China does take over Taiwan.

"Think about what you just wrote. Do you actually believe China will allow anyone to protest once it takes over?"


Hahaha.. my bad, I didn't emphasize the "sarcasm" in my tone. That is the cynical me talking. I remember the fear mongering among the Deep Blue voters in 2000 and 2004. All that fear of Chen unilaterally declaring independence never materialized. Why would Ma want to downgrade himself from a President of a country to a provincial governor in four years by willingly handing Taiwan over to China. China has also a long list of other problems on its hand right now ranging from Tibet, rebuilding the earthquake zone, to dealing with a cooling economy that I really don't see China trying to invade Taiwan by 2012 to take it back to force. Both sides have basically agreed to disagree and binned the issues of independence/reunification to deal with more urgent issues like the economy.

You can chew my head off if by 2011 Ma hands Taiwan to China or if China take over Taiwan by force...seriously..hahaha...

BTW, have you been to China yet? It was quite an interesting and enlightening trip for me in 2007. Even the DPP politicians are flying to China in drove now, so you should pay a visit to China. As a matter of fact, I would suggest any TI supporter or strong anti-China type to go visit China. I am not saying that you will give up the TI dream or your anti-China stance because of the trip. From a "war" strategy point of view, Chinese has a great saying: 知敵知彼 百戰百勝. :)

Carlos said...

Not-Green-Not-Blue, I'm not sure you understand our feelings towards China. Most of the hatred towards the PRC was implanted by the KMT's educational system (maybe it's changed recently, now that they feel the greens are a greater threat to them), and of course all the "you will be assimilated... or bombed to oblivion" threats by the CCP aren't great advertisement either. But it's not really about the PRC; it's the ROC that caused the anti-China bitterness. And by telling the Taiwanese that the PRC was even worse, they made China look very scary!

Despite that, a lot of Taiwanese mostly see China as an interesting place that a lot of our culture came from in the distant past, and as a big market to play in. It's great that you can now go to China for tourism or business, but that's all it is. It's not really a homecoming unless you have family that lived in China a couple of generations ago. From my half-Hispanic point of view, I can say it's very similar to how a lot of Latin Americans view Spain.

Andrew said...

Carlos,

What is important I think, is not where the culture came from, but the alterity, or what was and is being done with it by the locals that gives it power.

不藍不綠 said...

"Not-Green-Not-Blue, I'm not sure you understand our feelings towards China."

Hi Carlos- did you mean "our" feelings towards China? I was born and raised in Taiwan during the martial law era. (Grew up as poor as Chen in the country side. Like Chen, I only escaped poverty and destiny of a life-time hard labor because of my academic 'ability'.) So..yes, I know all about the anti-communist sentiment instilled in us. I can still recite some passages in the textbooks about how poor our 大陸同胞 were and that these poor Chinese compatriots were waiting for the KMT's liberation: 「新三年、舊三年、縫縫補補又三年」「解救大陸同胞於水深火熱之中」.hahaha...

That is why I said the visit was interesting and enlightening to me personally. It didn't make me more pro or anti communist China, just interesting and weird to finally visit a place that one has studied so much and knew about for decades. By the way, it was funny to hear Taiwanese spoken in every site we visited and every restaurant we ate in! We joked that Taiwanese already "liberted" China(反攻大陸了), or at least all of their major tourist attractions! :)

reeb said...

..All that fear of Chen unilaterally declaring independence never materialized.

Anyone that knows even a little about Taiwan understands that it is the LY that controls what gets put on the agenda for laws to be passed including changing the constitution and any independence issues.

The LY has been blue controlled since day 1. The only time when the DPP had even a chance to take control was in Dec04 elections, but they blew it. Chen all along stated he would never declare independence during his term.

Why would Ma want to downgrade himself from a President of a country to a provincial governor in four years by willingly handing Taiwan over to China.

Ok, just for starters:

(1) Deep blue business interests in China.

(2) KMT fear of losing power to a democratically elected DPP again. (If you haven't been paying attention, the KMT has been pushing for a Singapore style autocracy for the last few years.)

(3) Han uber alles greater China superiority complex within the deep blues.

(4) Lien Chan's desire to leave a legacy that he was the one to unite Taiwan with the PRC.

(5) Bankrupt gov't and financial institutions in TWN that need China's investment money.

(6) Fear that the US military will no longer protect Taiwan so they may as well suck up now.

(7) Western biz consultants such as GS, JPM, Kissinger, Wolfowitz, that are pushing the KMT to unite with the PRC so China doesn't stop buying US Treasuries and GSE agency paper.

(8) Ma is just a puppet that does what he is told.

China has also a long list of other problems on its hand right now...I really don't see China trying to invade Taiwan by 2012 to take it back to force.

Yep, agreed, they have their hands full. One thing you missed though is that perhaps the cooling economy becomes overwhelming for the CCP to keep things under their control. They may whip up the "unite the motherland" nationalism issue once again to sidetrack people from economic issues.

Also, you mentioned twice in your feedback "use of force" but I think you are fooling yourself. China doesn't need to use force to take Taiwan (imo). This has been discussed on this blog many times, so I won't get into it here except to say with a pro-china KMT in charge, it only makes it easier for the CCP to walk right in especially with the electronic keys to the fort in hand. Btw, the Taiwan military is once again singing praise to China in their marching tunes.

Both sides have basically agreed to disagree and binned the issues of independence/reunification to deal with more urgent issues like the economy.

No, they haven't. This is just B.S. made up by the KMT. Haven't you been paying attention to the way the PRC keeps marginalizing Taiwan on every front? Step by step they will strangle Taiwan's sovereignty.

BTW, have you been to China yet?

Speaking for myself, I've been there many times over the years most recently in Mar08. You know what I have learned the most? It's that I am incredibility thankful that Taiwan is not run by the same government as China. The CCP is the real enemy of the people who live in Taiwan.

p.s. had to type this fast, I hope you can absorb it.

The Foreigner said...

I agree with David about the usefulness of aerial photos (and perhaps computer software to count 'em up), but I can see an additional source of undercounting error. A lot of folks join a march, stay for a bit, leave, and others come to take their place.

Take pictures at say, 2 pm and 4 pm, and you may count a certain number of heads. But some of those heads may actually represent more than one person - people who leave early as well as latecomers.

By the way, I didn't go. I thought all the talk before the march that more people than the organizers originally expected would show up was false bravado. Frankly, I expected the only people who would go would be a tiny contingent of dispirited die-hards. And I thought that would be a bit depressing.

Hey, hey -- glad I was wrong.

Thing is though, I'll bet a lot of folks in the KMT thought as I did. Because the DPP's fortunes really are at their nadir right now. Wiped out in the legislative elections. Defeated in the legislative elections. Morale-breaking revelations about Chen Shui-bian.

And after all that, they still manage to get 100,000 people out to protest Ma Ying-jeou, who's only been on the job 100 days?

Impressive. Most impressive.

Runsun said...

It turns out that Taipei Police Department uses different formulas to calculate the people count for "Anti-Bian" protest and "Anti-Ma protest:

Anti-Bian(2005): 4 persons/square meter
Anti-Ma(2008): 2 persons/square meter


resulting in either overestimate of anti-bian count, or underestimate anti-ma count, or both.

遊行人數計算兩標準 引發北市議員質疑
http://iservice.libertytimes.com.tw/liveNews/news.php?no=123818&type=%E6%94%BF%E6%B2%BB


Way to go, horse-ass-kissing TPD !

Can't imagine how stupid they are to think they can get away with this in this information age.

Carlos said...

Not-Green-Not-Blue,

It's kind of sad that Taiwanese/Hokkienese will thrive in China as it fades away in Taiwan. I don't think much of Taiwan's educational system... it's probably the biggest reason why my mom moved to the US and why I didn't spend much of my childhood in TW.

I wonder how Chinese tourists see Taiwan.

不藍不綠 said...

"Speaking for myself, I've been there many times over the years most recently in Mar08. You know what I have learned the most? It's that I am incredibility thankful that Taiwan is not run by the same government as China. The CCP is the real enemy of the people who live in Taiwan."

It makes sense to me if you said that CCP is enemy of Taiwanese because of the political tension and missiles pointing at Taiwan's direction. Perhpas I misunderstood you, but it sounds like you feel that CCP is the enemy of Taiwanese from some specific "personal" experience you had while visiting China, so I am extremely interested in learning more from your personal experience and what led to such a dramatic claim? Did you personally encounter any specific incidence(s) of oppression, imprisonment, or roughing up by the PRC government, the PRC army or police during your frequent visits? Did you feel targeted by PRC government or police while there because of your accent?

Everyone in my 32-people tour group was first time visitors to China from Taiwan, so our heads were "filled" with fear that if we said the wrong thing about Taiwan/China political situation, and then we would be arrested by the "secret" PRC police.

However my visit to China turned out to be quite different from my imagination and expectations in so many ways. The following is speaking purely from my personal experience and personal observations:

1. We toured Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Guilin and Hong Kong in 15 days. Sure, in Beijing there were more police and we did see army guards near the Tiananmen Square by the "People's Congress/Hall", but all the other big cities felt just like the cities n Taiwan, S. Korean and Japan or America. Even the country side near Guilin with the water buffalos/veggie fields reminded me more of the countryside of Taiwan from say 30 years ago. We didn’t see any too many PRC soldiers outside of Beijing.
2. The infrastructure was impressive and intimating to our group (just from learning how fast Puo Dong 浦東 was developed.) It was almost sad to think that how fast China has caught up with Taiwan economically and with their infrastructure. When Taiwanese were so caught up with the political infighting since 1999, China was developing in leaps and bounds. Any “superiority” that my group mates felt as being the “richer” Taiwanese before the tour began was gone by the time our flight took off from Shanghai. By the time we finished the last leg of our tour in Hong KOng, we (Pan Green, Pan Blue) were actually discussing why the Hong Kong model might not be bad for Taiwan.
3. We ate lots of Taiwanese food in Taiwanese restaurants, sang lots of songs in KTVs, and got awesome massages in places mostly operated by Taiwanese!! Perhaps all the Taiwanese tours take the same routes, so we constantly ran into other Taiwanese: heard and talked Taiwanese all day long when we passed the other groups. That's why we joked that Taiwanese did already liberated China!
4. When we talked to mainland "Chinese," we all identified ourselves by which places we were from: I am from Hunan, or I am from Shanghai, I am from Taiwan & etc. It's not like anyone had to specifically emphasize that we are "Chinese" vs. "Taiwanese", because that was not how people identified themselves inside China.
5. We got so comfortable with our tour guides that we were even exchanging political jokes and complaints! Our guides asked lots of questions about the elections and rallies in Taiwan. We even compared notes as to what is more costly to our wallets on either side: corruption by the Communist officials in PRC, or the corruptions by KMT/DPP PLUS all the money that goes into these election campaigns in Taiwan. No one got arrested by secret police, because of our discussions and complaints.
6. Oh yea, there were rude people everywhere and traffic rules were routinely ignored too! It was just like in Taipei!! hahaha...
7. We dad some difficulty reading the simplified writing at the beginning, but quickly got over it. Most mianland Chinese we came into contact with spoke Mandarin with their hometown accents, so we couldn't quite pin down what being "Chineseness" is inside China.
8. The whole time we were there, we didn't feel any ordinary Chinese citizens or ourselves were under surveillance.

That is why I didn't leave China feeling more pro or anti China. It still feels a little surreal to this day, especially comparing news coverage about China to our own experience. Anyway, perhpas our experience was the exception, not the norm, so please elaborate and share your experience if you have time. I am planning to visit China again next year and would certainly appreciate your perspective and watch out for "dnager" and "enemies" tha tyou have mentioned more carefully next time.

Andrew said...

"It's kind of sad that Taiwanese/Hokkienese will thrive in China as it fades away in Taiwan"

Carlos,

Maybe the fultility in trying to define and fix the meaning of what constitutes "Taiwaneseness/Hokkieneseness is the problem as it essentializes these identities and terms in constructions and denies them the ability to change or recognize the coevalness of these identities. By doing so you will only alienate people. Again, it creates a battle for authenticity, which is always a losing battle.

Andrew said...

"I wonder how Chinese tourists see Taiwan."

I think this is a real interesting question as the KMT's tourism program and their goal of unification with China are running on two different and opposing trajectories.

The unification program seeks to make China more like "us" and to "modernize" them and remove the differences between the populations of Taiwan and China... or deny the differences that exist for political unity.

Tourism opposes this idea by marketing Taiwan's differences and casting Taiwan and the cultures of Taiwan as "exotic" to the Chinese... to commoditize the fetish of the "other" or "different".

Andrew said...

"I wonder how Chinese tourists see Taiwan."

I think this is a real interesting question as the KMT's tourism program and their goal of unification with China are running on two different and opposing trajectories.

The unification program seeks to make China more like "us" and to "modernize" them and remove the differences between the populations of Taiwan and China... or deny the differences that exist for political unity.

Tourism opposes this idea by marketing Taiwan's differences and casting Taiwan and the cultures of Taiwan as "exotic" to the Chinese... to commoditize the fetish of the "other" or "different".

Carlos said...

Andrew, I just meant the language when I said "Taiwanese/Hokkienese." I assumed the people Not-Green-Not-Blue was talking to were speaking in Hokkienese (but it sounds like they might've actually been from Taiwan). I think the CCP, feeling less threatened by its own subjects than the KMT, has done a better job at letting local cultures be themselves.