The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
As many news reports have related, the Dalai Lama will be in Taiwan soon (w00t!). He is getting a visa as a foreigner, not an entry permit as an overseas Chinese as in 1997, too. The move was a nifty one by the DPP, not only making President Ma squirm and the Chinese bluster, but also reminding the world that Taiwan exists and even more crucially, once again drawing attention to the disaster here -- which is still ongoing and still requires donations (after all, the Dalai Lama has a global following who donate to worthy causes). This was a great move by the DPP, and its payoffs go beyond politics.
There was much media commentary on this, some of it quite good, but the normally excellent Economist published an inexcusable piece on the upcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to Taiwan. I'd say it was crap, but I have no desire to slight honest fertilizer. This is one of the worst pieces they've put out on Taiwan in some time. Let's take a look....
After eight years of worsening relations under President Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), now the main opposition, even a Taiwan-China summit has become conceivable. Now that Mr Ma is also chairman of the ruling Nationalist party, the Kuomintang, or KMT, such a meeting could be held with Hu Jintao not as China’s president, but as the head of its Communist Party.The "worsening relations" propaganda theme seems to have acquired a tenacious hold in the media -- which is hardly surprising, since that is the only place where relations worsened. In the real world the busiest air route on the planet was between a city in China and one in Taiwan, and hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese had invested billions in China, a sum that grew yearly under the DPP Administration, which legalized investments. Indeed, relations got so bad that the two sides negotiated direct charter flights, student exchanges, informal police agreements, academic exchanges, and other items too numerous to list. None of these things existed under the Lee Teng-hui Administration (except for the factories moving to China) or previous KMT administrations, but never mind that. If Beijing says relations worsened, the Economist will dutifully say so too.
Thus, when investments grow and exchanges expand, relations are worsening, if you're from the DPP. And when Chinese missiles accumulate, relations are worsening, but it is the DPP Administration's fault, and has nothing to do with China's desire to annex Taiwan even at the cost of a regional war. It is hard to think of anything more stupid, more shitty, more anti-democracy, more completely retarded, than this "eight years of worsening relations" horse shit, and I devoutly hope never again to see it in print.
Pardon my rant. Why after four years am I still dreaming that facts can somehow insert themselves into discussions of cross-strait relations under the DPP?
But further observe how that in this construction China has vanished as a player -- relations get better or worse based solely on what Taiwan does. China is merely the passive recipient of Taiwanese action. This media construct is not merely wrong but actually upside down -- the determinant of cross-strait relations is China's attitude, and it didn't like the fact that the DPP defended the island's sovereignty and economy, and dickered hard with it. Finally it ceased to talk to the DPP (the DPP wanted good relations with China). Relations are "better" because Ma does Beijing's bidding, since in this calculus "better" is defined as what makes China happy -- and of course, as I have ceaselessly noted on this blog (example), the KMT has given away the shop on Taiwan.
Onward and upward....
So it seems astonishing that Mr Ma has jeopardised all this by doing the one thing most calculated to upset China: accepting a visit to Taiwan from the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, whom China reviles as a “splittist” when it is polite and “a jackal in monk’s clothing” when it feels cross.China's control over this writer is so powerful that he apparently believes that Ma has jeopardized his China Kowtow and 2011 Hu-Ma Nobel Peace Prize Lovefest Sell-Out Tour. Not a chance. Does this writer seriously believe that China is going to expel a million Taiwanese and $200 billion worth of investments? Cut direct flights? Cancel ECFA? Start bombing immediately? Take away the er nai of Taiwanese businessmen in China? In any case -- it is worth repeating and I haven't said it in a while -- cross-strait relations are being run by KMT elites who detest Ma, not Ma himself. Ma will make a convenient whipping boy for all involved, but as reported today, China finessed the whole issue anyway by bloviating at the DPP, and the sellout will go on regardless even as the audience sits entranced by all the political theatre. It's not like ECFA, the real goal of the current Administration, will be slowed even one minute by this.
The Economist then goes on to give three reasons why the DL's visit couldn't be turned down this time as Ma did before, and continues...
China has of course responded angrily to Mr Ma’s decision to accept the Dalai Lama, as it does when any foreign government gives house room to the Tibetan leader—or these days to Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled activist from China’s ethnic-Uighur minority.Note that the point of view Beijing expresses here is the one the Economist has actually adopted in presenting this article -- that the DPP "worsens" relations (remember those eight years of worsening relations).
It is noticeable, however, that China has directed its fiercest criticism not at Mr Ma, but at the DPP, which favours Taiwan’s eventual formal independence from China. It accused the party of trying “to sabotage the hard-earned positive situation of cross-straits relations”.
Did you catch that gross error there? Instant replay:
.....at the DPP, which favours Taiwan’s eventual formal independence from China.Hey but (1) Taiwan isn't part of China now and (2) thus the DPP does not favor independence from China but simply independence, period. Taiwan independence supporters do not believe that Taiwan is part of China. Once again Beijing adumbrates the writer's presentation of affairs.
This indicates both the greater sensitivity China has shown in recent years to Taiwan’s internal politics, and the dilemma its policy always faces there. If it punishes Mr Ma by introducing sanctions or slowing down the pace of rapprochement, it would undo his government’ s main achievement. And the biggest beneficiary of this would be the DPP, China’s enemy.Beijing-centric again -- the DPP is described in terms of China, and in terms that China would approve of -- the DPP is not China's enemy ("The DPP's evil motives will definitely be opposed by compatriots across the Taiwan Straits," Beijing howled today). The government of China, rather, is the enemy of Taiwan independence and democracy, just as it is the enemy of democracy in its own land.
I was talking about this on the net with a long-time observer of Taiwan affairs, who recalled that years ago The Economist printed a Leader advocating Taiwan independence. But The Economist was made of sterner stuff then.
UPDATE: Excellent comments below
- Jon Adams explains why Ma permitted the DL to come to Taiwan
- Ralph Jennings of Reuters reports on Ma attempting to salvage his reputation after Morakot.
- China Daily gives the propaganda rundown from the Empire. The article is actually an interesting mix of distortions, disinformation, truths, half-truths, and lies. Great work.
- NYTimes says that China opposes the DL's trip to Taiwan. No kidding? And in other news the Raj opposed Gandhi's visit to India, and Apartheid advocates resolutely rejected attempts by Mandela supporters to get him out of jail. If the Dalai Lama wants better press, he needs to set up 1,400 missiles opposite a democracy, demand that it be annexed to Tibet, and then threaten to plunge the region into war if he doesn't get his way.
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