Thursday, July 23, 2009

MOEA Exploits Ethnic Stereotypes to sell ECFA

The Taipei Times reports on the DPP reaction to the blatant stereotyping in the recent comic that the MOEA launched to sell the ECFA China trade agreement to the general public (image)....
On Monday, the ministry unveiled a four-frame comic strip featuring a male character named Yi-ge (一哥) and his female counterpart Fa Sao (發嫂) as part of its efforts to advertise the ECFA.

A ministry press release said the purpose of the comic strip was to “allow people of all ages to easily and clearly understand the purpose and content of the ECFA.”

The comics portray Yi-ge as a 45-year old Hoklo-speaking man from Tainan City who works as a salesman in an unspecified traditional industry. According to his profile, Yi-ge is a vocational school graduate who speaks “Taiwanese Mandarin” and knows very little about the proposed ECFA. He is content being a follower in all things, but when it comes to protecting himself, he “goes all-out.”

.....

His profile also says that he lacks the sensitivity for danger, lives life in a carefree manner and never cares to improve himself because he has a steady job. He has had some conversations with his colleagues about the ECFA and even though he knows nothing about the subject, he is worried about losing his job once the pact is signed.

One of Yi-ge’s acquaintances is Fa Sao, a 40-year-old Hakka from Hsinchu who works as a supervisor at an import-export company. She is described as an active, self-motivated and highly capable married woman who is fluent in English, Mandarin, Hoklo and Japanese. She is always hungry for knowledge and eager to learn more about money-management. Her profile suggests she keeps herself well-informed and is a keen observer of market trends. Fa Sao was recently promoted to company spokesman. Her knowledge of cross-strait trade has prompted her to learn all about the ECFA.
There's so much to unpack here, one hardly knows where to start. Clearly Fa Sao is presented as the very image of Taiwanese modernity -- fluent in English and Japanese, works in a trading company, watches market trends. The class issues practically scream off the page -- informed, modern upwardly mobile forward-looking people support ECFA. People in traditional industries are not modern or informed, are ignorant, and don't support ECFA.

Modern ethnic politics in Taiwan are a KMT invention, and it has long exploited them to maintain its grip on power. Here too the Ministry works in the Hoklo vs. Hakka ethnic rivalry, with the position of superiority assigned to the Hakkas, who have long been a stalwart group of KMT supporters. The Hakka is from Hsinchu (hint: science park, think technology and all those positives), while the Hoklo is from Tainan, the center of Taiwan nationalism. The construction of the Hoklo is a smear that reproduces the KMT claim that Taiwanese speakers, especially southern Taiwanese speakers, are low-class, uneducated scum who can't even speak Mandarin properly ("Taiwanese Mandarin").

The Ministry's explanation is a classic:
Deng said the two characters were the result of long, painstaking efforts by public relations experts to reflect the make-up of the general public.
The Hakka is a blonde (a high status hair color), while the Taiwanese has red hair. As a friend snarkily commented, this is because those two hair colors reflect the make-up of the general public.

In truth, the characters so faithfully reproduce KMT ideological claims and ethnic stereotyping that it wouldn't surprise me that PR staff at the Ministry had put in long, painstaking efforts to create them. That kind of stupidity doesn't happen by accident -- it takes years of indoctrination, combined with that specially bureaucratic kind of insular, arrogant, groupthink necessary to put such hogwash out in public without realizing what the obvious message was.

The DPP commented acidly:
“The comic strip is extremely offensive and derogatory. It describes those who oppose the ECFA as stupid and unaware of current events. This is glaring racial and class discrimination,” DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said.
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29 comments:

Dixteel said...

It is quite ridiculous even without the ethnic BS stuff. Basically people that do not know WTF ECFA is or does not like ECFA are low class, while those that support ECFA are high class. Feel like we are going back to the era when I was a kid.

I don't know about the recent survey, but there were 80% of CEO in Taiwan that do not know what ECFA is...this comic is just pure BS.

Unfortunately, I am sure there will be some idiots that believe this s**t, given the past record.

阿牛 said...

I could simply not believe this when I saw it.The fundamental argument, which is that people who know what you're talking about are ECFA fans while those who don't pay any attention oppose it, is insulting and inaccurate enough. But to add these layers of racism and regionalist stereotypes ... just wow.

I can't wait to see what my wife has to say about it.

Anonymous said...

"Modern ethnic politics in Taiwan are a KMT invention, and it has long exploited them to maintain its grip on power. Here too the Ministry works in the Hoklo vs. Hakka ethnic rivalry, with the position of superiority assigned to the Hakkas, who have long been a stalwart group of KMT supporters."

Discrimination of the Hakka by the Hoklo is a time honored tradition that predated the arrival of the KMT by many generations. My Hakka grandparents told me how in the old days (Japanese period), Hakka suffered so much discrimination at the hands of the Hoklo that many Hakka tried to "pass" as Hoklo in order to survive in most of Taiwan outside of the few Hakka majority areas such as Hualien. It was only after the arrival of the KMT that Hakka's have had any semblance of equality vis a vis the Hoklo in the hundreds of years both groups lived on Taiwan. TI fanatics claim they have been oppressed by the KMT for 60 years, but we have been oppressed by the Hoklo for 300 years.

Tim Maddog said...

Gee, where did Fa Sao "learn all about the ECFA"? She must already be part of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) inner circle. After all, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan himself said that he can't tell us anything about the content!

Oh, and Wen Jiabao said that an ECFA would "certainly bring about complete unification of the motherland [sic]." I guess that's all that somebody like Fa Sao needs to know.

Never forget "一高二低"! Never forget Kuo Kuan-ying and others like him!

Tim Maddog

Readin said...

Deng said the two characters were the result of long, painstaking efforts by public relations experts to reflect the make-up of the general public.

The Ministry's explanation was really stupid. Had they any sense, they would have said they didn't intend any stereotypes and the use of Hakka and Hoklo hadn't been given any thought, and it wasn't even clear where that idea had come from.

But no, it turns out they thought long and hard about their racism, and did it anyway.

At least they didn't throw around any comments about a "Wise Hakka" making better decisions and old male Hoklo. Or did they?

Anonymous said...

Anon "Discrimination of the Hakka by the Hoklo"

I think you are constructing too much after the fact.
Hoklo hated other Hoklo and Hakka hated other Hakka. Aborigines hated other Aborigines.

Ethnic conflict in Taiwan was as much region based as it was class based. Ethnicities were often bridged by class and a mutual distrust of other classes from other regions. It was not confned to ethnic lines. Groups of people from one area would hold blood feuds with people from another, yet marry their daughters into a plains Aborigine family of the same class or a Hakka family of the same class.

The construction of simply Hoklo, Hakka and Aborigine identities was a much later invention.
Your construction is not widely supported.

Michael Turton said...

Discrimination of the Hakka by the Hoklo is a time honored tradition that predated the arrival of the KMT by many generations.

Yes, but exploitation of that cross-ethnic hatred for modern party politics is a KMT invention.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Any idea where we can get a copy of this comic before it disappears?

SY said...

TI fanatics claim they have been oppressed by the KMT for 60 years, but we have been oppressed by the Hoklo for 300 years.

Run it by me again?! How did the Holo oppressed the Hakka?

Did the Holo at any time in the "300 years" control any public institutions or any governance such as government, military, legislative power, judiciary system, education, etc. to "oppress" the Hakka?

The truth is that Taiwan has always been controlled by someone sitting outside of Taiwan, except for the short period between the Dutch and the Manchu colonization.

Many of today's Holos (and Hakkas) are in fact descendents of the aborigines; they still retain some aboriginal customs such as the bride presenting betel nuts to guests on wedding day. Some of today's Holos are Holo-ized Hakka like the English-speaking "French" in Louisiana. Which one do you pick to point your finger to?

Ever heard of anthropological human migration patterns, particularly the lingua-cultural aspect?

I have yet to find any real historical evidence of the Holo as an ethnic group discriminating the Hakka. So, give me convincing evidence from the history; otherwise, I don't buy your claim.

As well, there are quite a few "TI fanatics" that are Hakka.

Playing victim is easy, isn't it. The KMT loves your attitude. They love pitting the Hakka against the Holo while pretending innocent and, most importantly, acting as the administering jury of the fight.

not sure said...

I'm surprised they didn't add something about using RMB as currency in Taiwan will be good for the economy.

Likewise, it will be a good thing to take out a loan for your next house or business in RMB from a Taiwan based China bank.

I feel so secure that the KMT is protecting our interests.

Anonymous said...

LMAO.

Considering Hoklo and Hakka are both subgroups of Han, it's hard to call it racism like the DPP did.

Looking further into the demographics of TW, 70% identify as Hoklo vs 14% as Hakka (plus a further 15% WSR, making TW a 98% Han nation). In truth, most Taiwanese are a mixture of Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal. So do you, and the DPP really expect everyone to believe that a minority group in a free, democratic society can effectively discriminate against the vast majority? That'd be like saying white Americans are being ethnically discriminated against by black Americans, and are suffering because of it.

Simple Googling can give the basics of what the ECFA is about. And that's in English. I suspect there's a lot more basic info in Chinese. Not detailing specific info is par for the course in economic agreements - the inner workings are almost always secret pre-signing, no matter which 2 countries it's between. Complaining that they KMT can't tell you exactly what is involved is just displaying ignorance. Does the US detail everything involved in economic agreements it signs? Of course not.

And, in reply to Tim Maddog @ 3:17, Wen's statement from that DPP video was spliced together from 2 separate statements (although in the same speech). We know that mainland China was unification and Taiwanese don't. That's no secret. Wen didn't however say that the ECFA was bring unification about. Unification can only come about in practice as a result of the TW people voting for it. Economic agreements and sovereignty are 2 different things. Sprouting DPP talking points that are factually incorrect does your argument no favors.

Michael Turton said...

So do you, and the DPP really expect everyone to believe that a minority group in a free, democratic society can effectively discriminate against the vast majority?

Yes, of course. The majority of people may be identified as Han, so clearly there are no ethnic groups, and class, regional and ethnic discrimination is impossible -- because the majority may be identified as Han.

I know the pro-China crowd is st00pid, but do you guys have to keep making public announcements of how dumb you are?

Michael

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course. The majority of people may be identified as Han, so clearly there are no ethnic groups, and class, regional and ethnic discrimination is impossible -- because the majority may be identified as Han.

I know the pro-China crowd is st00pid, but do you guys have to keep making public announcements of how dumb you are?


Hakka and Hoklo are both ethnically Han peoples. Class is not race. In a country where everyone has an equal opportunity for higher education, class is not really an issue either. Just look at A-bian. Born to a poor tenant farmer and was an honors student. If class were an issue, he'd have never been able to become a lawyer, much less mayor and president.

Anonymous said...

@anon -

Economic agreements and sovereignty are 2 different things.

And here, yet again, we see the total ignorance of a KMT supporter on full display.


Cluetrain: GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

Kaminoge said...

Now I know what Kuo Kuan-ying is doing these days.

Thomas said...

"So do you, and the DPP really expect everyone to believe that a minority group in a free, democratic society can effectively discriminate against the vast majority?"

This is about the least informed question/comment that I have heard this month, and perhaps this whole year. In case you haven't noticed, ANYONE can discriminate against ANYONE because all humans discriminate (recognize perceived differences). Such discrimination can be racial and/or offensive. But while racial discrimination is proscribed by law in some places, this does not mean that discrimination of this sort cannot happen.

Case in point: Someone else here brought up Sotomayor's "wise latina" remarks. Regardless of whether you think her intention was good or bad, the comment sets up a comparison based on ethnic traits. She IS a minority, and she IS in a representative democracy, and ethnicity did factor into her decision. And would Obama's support be as high among African Americans if Obama didn't have some African blood in him? It isn't nice to say things like this, but the experiences of black people in the US, combined with their aspirations for real equality, probably paid at least a tiny tiny role in their support for this candidate in particular as opposed to, say, Hillary Clinton.

Just because a country has a representative government which makes a show of equal treatment doesn't mean all ethnicities will refrain from discrimination.

Michael Turton said...

Hakka and Hoklo are both ethnically Han peoples. Class is not race. In a country where everyone has an equal opportunity for higher education, class is not really an issue either. Just look at A-bian. Born to a poor tenant farmer and was an honors student. If class were an issue, he'd have never been able to become a lawyer, much less mayor and president.

Wow. This post really brought the idjits out of the woodwork.

Yes, and if race were an issue in the US, Obama would never have become president. Therefore there are no race problems in the US. Clearly exceptions to general rule prove that there is no general rule and that society is simple and easy to understand.

I'm not even going to get into Taiwan's highly stratified educational system, in which the children of monied individuals are not only disproportionately represented at the best universities, but receive taxpayer subsidized education, while the working class has to pay for its own education through loans and sacrifice.

*sigh*

Michael

Tim Maddog said...

@ 10:02 anonymous troll, the Wen Jiabao bit in the ECFA ad is not exactly the "2 separate statements" that you describe. I have seen the speech, and ECFA was one of a series of things (including cultural exchanges and other things that wouldn't fit into a 30-second ad) which led up to the "climax" of Wen's speech: "complete unification of the motherland [sic]."

Writers use ellipses [...] all the time without changing the meaning of things. The one who is spouting "talking points" is you.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

@Thomas - you obviously missed the word "effectively". Of course ANYONE can discriminate against ANYONE. But it's very difficult or almost impossible for a minority to discriminate in an effective and sustainable manner. The majority can easily vote the discriminators out, boycott their businesses etc.

@Anon 11.24am Accusations but no proof. Par for the course in TW I guess.

@MTurton Children of monied class disproportionately represented at top univs. happens in every country. Poor and working classes still have access to public education and the opportunities are there if they work for them. Also, NTU is the only university in the top 100 globally at 55, and the 2nd best TW uni ranks only 179. It's not as if access to the top uni's makes a huge difference.

It does seem though, after reading all the anger in blog posts, comments etc that it's not so much the idea of discrimination that bothers anyone, but once again a case of DPP-good KMT-bad. I'd remind you that the DPP has it's own history of playing the "ethnic card" but I'm sure you can all find some way to justify that.

Michael Turton said...

.....It's not as if access to the top uni's makes a huge difference.

LOL. YOu guys crack me up. First you all claim that the system is fair, then when that point is trashed, you turn around and say it isn't fair in any country. Can't you pro-China types get the propaganda straight?

I'd remind you that the DPP has it's own history of playing the "ethnic card" but I'm sure you can all find some way to justify that.

Denounced here many times. I wish you guys knew how to read and quit reading everything through the prism of your own corrupt, incompetent lenses.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

But it's very difficult or almost impossible for a minority to discriminate in an effective and sustainable manner.

Perhaps on Troll World. Here on Earth it happens all the time.

Whatever the case is on Troll World, here in Taiwan, the ethnic and class stereotyping is loud and clear in this comic from the MOEA. You might check out the guest post above for some enlightenment.

Michael

Anonymous said...

I think what's missed is that the KMT party-state apparatus was a very effective socializing institution. People in Germany during WWII also believed in the Nazi party. It wasn't just a few bad apples. Nearly everyone was swept up in the madness (which obviously looked nothing like madness to someone swept up in it).

The KMT and the mainlanders in charge made it so that bensheng believed they were inferior to mainlanders, that mainlanders were all rich and educated and that there accent was the correct one. They felt ashamed of speaking Taiwanese or Hakka. They believed they were the real Chinese and that the China was full of culture-less Commies.

Unfortunately, the old mirages haven't completely disappeared. Ask 20-something young people, and I bet you a lot of them have negative ideas about speaking Hoklo or Hakka or the people that often speak them, even when they know it's wrong to feel that way.

The minority population discriminating against the majority was made possible by all this. It shouldn't be surprising at all.

Anonymous said...

Hakka suffered so much discrimination at the hands of the Hoklo that many Hakka tried to "pass" as Hoklo in order to survive in most of Taiwan outside of the few Hakka majority areas such as Hualien.--
i like the chinese way. they just told everyone to speak mandarin and being the chinese or else... no bitching no Hakkas in mainland China in the next 20 years.. outside too because everyone is oversea chinese you know..

Thoth Harris said...

@ Anonymous Troll 7:31 p.m.
Maybe everyone in the world should just should just shut up and speak English. Nor more Chinese, no more French, no more Russian, nor more Arabic, etc. You say Chinese; I say English. Everyone in Asia wants to learn English anyway. All hail the People's Republic of Fascism!

Readin said...

The KMT and the mainlanders in charge made it so that bensheng believed they were inferior to mainlanders, that mainlanders were all rich and educated and that there accent was the correct one.

Even in the small amout of time I was able to spend in Taiwan I observed this.

Aaron said...

do you know of any online scans of the cartoons? I'd like a look at how the KMT does Hoklo Amos & Andy.

Tim Maddog said...

The cartoons can be seen here, for the time being:
http://www.ecfa.org.tw/p2.html

I've saved them to my hard drive just in case they disappear. If they do, I'll upload them elsewhere.

Tim Maddog

vin said...

Thanks for the cartoons, Tim. A quick look at them drove home to me what an insult to us as a species -- Taiwanese, Western, whatever -- these presentations are. A serious matter deserves better than this, and even the many Taiwanese I know who choose not to pay attention to this issue at least choose inattention at a level above the level of cartoons, let alone idiotic cartoons such as these. To fail like this with such resources at one's disposal is pathetic; the DPP government blew their chance, and now the KMT is looking even dumber. Who will move beyond Chinese/Taiwanese/whatever dumb-ass? No one, it seems, unless the people themselves finally decide to do it.

Tim Maddog said...

After saying there was nothing wrong with it, then giving a fake "apology," the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) eventually took their bigoted ECFA comic offline.

As promised, I uploaded the 12 parts of the comic elsewhere (ImageShack URLs shortened to fit the space of 3 Tweets):
1) http://twurl.nl/5uq6hf
2) http://twurl.nl/1zjc8c
3) http://twurl.nl/6crpvy
4) http://twurl.nl/tx1sq0
5) http://twurl.nl/0m6ugi
6) http://twurl.nl/mxykp5
7) http://twurl.nl/hx0qaw
8) http://twurl.nl/zj83rn
9) http://bit.ly/62ezA
10) http://bit.ly/uMmWR
11) http://bit.ly/VqAJH
12) http://bit.ly/8OFqV

Tim Maddog