Friday, August 28, 2009

Economist stinks on Dalai Lama visit

No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.
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.

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”.
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).

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

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Daily Links
  • 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.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

48 comments:

Dixteel said...

Boy...I am wondering if the piece from the Economist is actually written by Chinese or extreme pan-blue in the US.

Islander said...

Wow, lots of anti-Taiwanese people posting comments on the Jon Adams article on DL's visit.

Tim Maddog said...

Thank you for this incisive post, Michael. Please "rant" more often!

Tim Maddog

D.T. said...

Mr. Turton, it's a little difficult for me to conceptualize how the cross-strait relations haven't worsened POLITICALLY in the past eight years. Perhaps, as you say, bewtween civilians, academics, and investment parties, considerable progress has been made. However, with former president Chen's 四不一沒有 policy, there haven't been any talks on a higher administrative level (KMT official visits don't count). The way I see it, is that China always runs a double-handed approach, giving leeway in some aspect and tightening the noose on the other.

As for the Dalai Lama's visit and the political storm he can potentially churn up, it is hardly surprising that China would call him a "splittist"; he may or may not have designs of independence, but the forces supporting him certainly would benefit from China's destabilization. China just doesn't have a better label to stick to him. In this sense, I cannot agree to simply calling him an avatar of peace/democracy, he is so much bigger and complicated than that.

Jeremy said...

I think the DL's visit is a bad idea. He's going to get in the way of the reconstruction efforts and his visit will cause pandemonium and politicization of the Morakot aftermath. What good is it going to do? It's going to exacerbate a bad situation and we're going to see all those politicians green and blue jumping on the bandwagon of his visit.

Michael Turton said...

DT --

The DL is not out to destabilize China, but to get his country back. There is no evidence to suggest that China giving up its colonial holdings will destabilize it.

Relations between Taiwan and China were excellent, except in the media. I could go on all day listing things the DPP got out of China with some hard nosed bargaining on both sides. The only way you could imagine relations are "worsening" is if you support Beijing's view that they "worsen" when moving in directions Beijing doesn't like.

Michael

Readin said...

Jeremy wrote: "What good is it going to do?"

I think Michael Turton's comment that "fter all, the Dalai Lama has a global following who donate to worthy causes" answers your question. The fashionable people with money seem to love Tibet and the Dalai Lama while hating Taiwan for its capitalist and self-defensive ways. Getting the Dalai Lama in Taiwan will call attention to the country and likely lead to greater support both immediately for relief efforts and in the longer term to avoid the need for future relief efforts after a Chinese missile strike.

Readin said...

"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."

Michael Turton responded: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.

I think the criticism here is overdone. Let's grab a couple definitions from dictionary.com for "formally"
1. in a formal manner: The store was formally opened on Tuesday.
2. as regards form; in form: It may be formally correct, but it is substantively wrong.

Example #2 fits very well. It may be formally correct to say that Taiwan is part of China, but it is substantially wrong. Why is it "formally correct"? Because if you look at the constitution used to govern Taiwan, it says Taiwan is part of China. If you look at the government of Taiwan, it is called "Republic of China". If you look at pretty much any formal document around the world, whether it be international organization membership documents, treaties, agreements, whatever - Taiwan is usually referred to using "China" or "Chinese". So formally Taiwan is part of "China".

However we all know the facts are different. If the facts weren't different, the article could simply have said "favours Taiwan’s eventual formal independence from China".

But since Taiwan already has independence in fact, the DPP is simply seaking to make that independence formal, i.e. to have that independence recognized both by the international community and by he government of Taiwan itself.

Michael Turton said...

Thank you for this incisive post, Michael. Please "rant" more often!

Thanks! It blows my mind that in an international publication, you can write about worsening relations during the DPP administration even though during the Lee Administration China was flinging missiles at Taiwan. Apparently, when you go from direct missile "tests" to direct flights, relations have gone downhill.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

I think the DL's visit is a bad idea. He's going to get in the way of the reconstruction efforts and his visit will cause pandemonium and politicization of the Morakot aftermath. What good is it going to do? It's going to exacerbate a bad situation and we're going to see all those politicians green and blue jumping on the bandwagon of his visit.

I disagree. He'll bring in another wave of funds, which the effort needs, and he'll be no more in the way than any other VIP visitor, especially if his visit is handled properly.

Michael

Readin said...

The NYT article said
Analysts saw the move as lose-lose for Mr. Ma and win-win for the opposition. George Tsai, a political analyst and professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, said Thursday that the invitation was “purely politically motivated, aiming to harass both Ma and China.”

“While both Ma and Beijing are put in a very awkward position, the D.P.P. is in an absolutely no-lose position,” he said. "

I was surprised Michael Turton wasn't all over this telling us who George Tsai is and how it was dishonest of the NYT not to divulge that information. Who is George Tsai? Is George Tsai and unknown?

JerryZ said...

I, too, was most disappointed by the tenor of the article in the Economist and lack of in-depth analysis which I have come to expect of the Economist. I always look forward to laying my hands on a copy of the Economist or the Financial Times.

While harsh, I like your post. I appreciate the direct approach. I loved the "China Kowtow and 2011 Hu-Ma Nobel Peace Prize Lovefest Sell-Out Tour" remark. Priceless!

Ma is too me to be too much of a PRC sycophant/toady for my taste. I come from a Russian Jewish family in the US; I am used to tough negotiations. Ma just seems to kowtow. That is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

In retrospect, I have come to appreciate Chen's approach to negotiation. I have been here nearly 2 years and it has taken a while to get a grasp on the situation here. I am still learning.

BTW, I see that this article and subsequent comments in the Economist has brought out the usual PRC crew who are chronic Dalai Lama/Tibet haters.

Maybe we should invite Rebiya Kadeer to Taiwan, too. LOL

Michael Turton said...


Example #2 fits very well. It may be formally correct to say that Taiwan is part of China, but it is substantially wrong. Why is it "formally correct"? Because if you look at the constitution used to govern Taiwan, it says Taiwan is part of China. If you look at the government of Taiwan, it is called "Republic of China".


The status of Taiwan is determined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty and related treaties, not by what Taiwan is called in the Constitution of the ROC (which has no legit claim under international law anyway) nor by what it is called in cowed international organizations.

The real issue is the misrepresentation of the DPP's position, though.

Also, I've talked about George Tsai many times. It is not difficult to Google him to find out who he is.

Michael

JerryZ said...

While a visit by the DL to Taiwan surely has political ramifications, whether here, in China or abroad, I see another value/worth to his upcoming visit. I believe that he will bring some healing and comfort to some very distraught, suffering, perhaps depressed people and to many Taiwanese, in general.

Living here in Taipei, I have noticed a somber attitude/tone since Morakot struck. I would liken it to a wound to the soul of Taiwan and the Taiwanese. I also notice a subtle, subdued anger and sense of confusion. Maybe it is just me? But my girlfriend, who is Taiwanese, says she has noticed a similar change in people she knows. It is a tough pill to swallow when you feel that not even your own president cares about you, let alone the rest of the world.

I noticed a similar attitude/feeling in the US after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And I was saddened and angered by the seemingly cavalier attitude of President Bush (or Shrub as we cynically call him). I had hoped the world would never see a president behave so shamefully again in a similar situation. But maybe Ma has one-upped Shrub by his handling of Morakot.

I would say to the Dalai Lama, "Please bring the healing and comfort to a people and a nation which richly deserves your presence, comfort and healing. Thank you, Dalai Lama."

討厭自已為是的老美 said...

"The status of Taiwan is determined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty and related treaties, not by what Taiwan is called in the Constitution of the ROC (which has no legit claim under international law anyway) nor by what it is called in cowed international organizations."

WTF. Taiwan/ROC's fate was determined by a dubious San Francisco Peace Treaty, not by our own constitution? What is your standard for self determination, if my country was not defined by Constitution of the ROC. What are you doing in Taiwn/ROC if you don't respects our Constitution.

You are full of shit and should get OUT of ROC, TODAY.

台灣和中國間的糾纏愛恨情仇 我們自己會慢慢解 不需要你在這裡吠 像你們這種老美只是把台灣當成對付中國的棋子 只有蠢綠的DPP才會老愛舔老美的LP
最討厭你們這種自已為是的老美 滾回美國去.

Geoff..Adelaide said...

You might like to check out this crappy piece from our local parochial Adelaide Advertiser. From "Taiwan correspondents" it is blatently pro-China. It does emphasize the millions of follwoers of Daoist "Mazu", but fails to even mention Tzu-Chi's contribution to disaster relief. But that is the nature of Australian newspapers....tawdry parochial rags! http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,25998522-5005962,00.html

Anonymous said...

Beijing's position is the same as 60 years ago and Taiwan's position is the changing variable. Everybody wants the status quo for now, but that is not possible if one party (Taiwan) wants change. The DPP wants change, so the DPP is provoking. Michael Turton should get some courses on logic because the spinning is just nice play of words but simply not credible.

Jeremy said...

I disagree. He'll bring in another wave of funds, which the effort needs, and he'll be no more in the way than any other VIP visitor, especially if his visit is handled properly.

I don't think it will be, as you say, handled properly. It will turn into a media circus with politicians from both sides using the occasion as a photo opportunity for the upcoming elections.

Michael Turton said...

Trolls posted for amusement purposes only. Respond at your own risk.

Michael Turton said...

Geoff, lol, that Adelaide Now article is from AFP, the pro-China French press or, it's worst piece yet. How could anyone write such unbalanced crap?

Michael

Marc said...

It's just all mudslinging folks. Wrestle with pigs; you get all dirty and the pigs like it.

Anonymous said...

"The only way you could imagine relations are "worsening" is if you support Beijing's view that they "worsen" when moving in directions Beijing doesn't like. "

Michael, this IS worsening relations. Realtionships by definition are between two or more parties.

Imagine a marriage (in fact this is just like my friends unfortunately for her). Married her sweetheart who over a period of many years, became physically abusive, slept around and demanded that she wait on him hand and foot.

He might have said, just what you did (before she divorced the bum). Anyone wanted to suggest our marriage is going through worsening relations is just looking at it from the wifes perspective. seemed like things were looking up from his perspective.

An outsider viewing that marriage, would have correctly observed, the relationship was worsening. It is not wrong for outside political observers to note China/Taiwan relations worsened under the 8 years of DPP.

Im not so simplistic to deny you can list a long list of achievements under the DPP administration. Conversely, when you say things like "It blows my mind that in an international publication, you can write about worsening relations during the DPP administration". Do you filter out the anti cessation law, Bush going from "doing anything for Taiwan" to having Chen sit on an ice cube in Alastka.

Im curious, does it really "blow your mind" or you kind of get it, but like just to focus on the political spin you like?

warmest regards

Mick

Don said...

The ROC died in 1949, surviving in name only. It's a zombie republic, dead from the neck up. It came to Taiwan uninvited, a desperate squatter, bringing its violent corrupt authoritarian past with it. It murdered a generation of Taiwan's best people and plundered the land to fill the pockets of its own kind. Now we would like it to go home.

No wonder people such as 討厭自已為是的老美 feel so insecure.

Please take your republic of "China" back to the corrupt authoritarian country where it belongs.

As to The Economist, bless its patronising little heart...they have a lot at stake in China including grovelly EIU tie-ins with Xinhua "News Agency" for conferences and reports. Seems their brave journos simply have to bend over and take all that anti-Taiwan propaganda up the Khyber like the best of them!

Michael Turton said...

Michael, this IS worsening relations. Relationships by definition are between two or more parties.

There is no rational or objective view of the word "worsening" that can encompass moving from firing missiles to a wide range of exchanges. For no other two countries would it be possible to write like this.

Beijing's view is a PROPAGANDA description of the relationship. I should have written "if you accept Beijing's propaganda". My bad for not being clear.

An outsider viewing that marriage, would have correctly observed, the relationship was worsening. It is not wrong for outside political observers to note China/Taiwan relations worsened under the 8 years of DPP.

Again, only if you accept as the measure of "worsening" the propaganda line of Beijing. In reality relations improved dramatically, with trade volumes going up, exchanges widening, direct contacts, you name it. That's reality. But in Beijing's propaganda claim, relations "worsened" because the DPP wouldn't serve its goals of annexing Taiwan. "Worsening relations" is a phrase that Beijing uses to discredit the independence supporters here. The Economist article nowhere hints at these complexities. Instead it leaps right in and hands us Beijing's view on things. They have Xinhua, they don't need the Economist.

The key point is that other countries are not conducting "relations" with A looking to annex B. That fact should color every presentation on Taiwan-China "relations". Hence "worsening relations" and "warming relations" are terms that serve Beijing's purposes and need to be carefully nuanced.

And are you saying that relations between the DPP and Beijing were worse than between the LTH government and Beijing? Worse than under CCK? Worse than under CKS, when the two sides were shooting each other? That relations were improving at the end of the 1990s?

Im not so simplistic to deny you can list a long list of achievements under the DPP administration. Conversely, when you say things like "It blows my mind that in an international publication, you can write about worsening relations during the DPP administration". Do you filter out the anti secession law, Bush going from "doing anything for Taiwan" to having Chen sit on an ice cube in Alastka.

The article filtered all that out to pin the negatives on the DPP. That "worsening under the DPP" was only one-half the construction, Mick. The other, and more odious part, is that it makes the DPP into the engine of those negatives. If the article had written: "During the DPP administration the Beijing government became increasingly intransigent, threatening, and radical" that would have been a more acceptable way of framing the construction, since it would restore full agency to Beijing and correctly identify the source of tension in the relationship. The only point of view from which the DPP can be a source of tension in the relationship is Beijing's.

However, as it was written, it turns China into the passive recipient of DPP actions, which cause worsening. It then reinforces that by including a comment from Beijing to that effect, near the bottom (observe that there is no balancing comment from any supporter of our democracy here). The piece is utterly lacking in nuance or facticity, and totally China-centric. Dollars to donuts the correspondent lives in Beijing.

The Bush Administration's switch on Taiwan relations was related to their eagerness to serve Beijing. They found Chen a handy target to pin the blame on.

Im curious, does it really "blow your mind" or you kind of get it, but like just to focus on the political spin you like?

Neither/both. I just recognize that media has its own reality, and serves power rather than truth, and provide balance accordingly. And sometimes I just like to cut loose and rant -- the failure of people from democratic countries to nurture and serve democracy in all its forms never fails to astound me. Especially in the Economist, which I hold in both high esteem and to very high standards.

Michael

M chen said...

At the end of the day, Economist is a magazine for capitalism. Economist does not agree democracy has a value, but stable situation certainly can reduce investment risk. Of course, human rights have no value, but cheap labor creats value. That's how Economist see things.
Your article pinpoints one thing I was not comfortable but didn't know how to express it. Now, I can see it. The international media forgets that China is hurting her people in Tibet and 新疆. The international media forgets that Dalai Lama is a recognized world leader. Therefore, the international media should not just report the anger of China over Dalai Lama's visit, but to state how ridiculous China is to protest Dalai's visit to Taiwan. Why does the international media help a bad guy to threaten others?

Readin said...

The status of Taiwan is determined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty and related treaties

What democratically elected representatives of Taiwan signed those treaties? I'm firmly in Jefferson's camp that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". If these treaties were not signed by a government that the Taiwanese had consented to, then the Taiwanese cannot be bound by them.

I find the reliance on the SF treaty problematic for three reasons. The first is moral as I've already described. The other two reasons are tactical. From what I've read about the treaties and such, the legal argument can be approached many ways. What if you rely on these laws and treaties, and some "international law" court of appeals rules that the treaty is no longer in effect, or that it doesn't say what you think it says? Also, if you accept the San Francisco, then you are accepting the right of the signers of that treaty to determine the fate of Taiwan. What if those signers re-convene in the near future and declare that Taiwan is both part of China and part of the PRC?

Michael Turton said...

Readin, I don't rely on the treaty to determine the future of Taiwan; both of us believe that only the people of Taiwan can do that. But the only legal document that determines the status of Taiwan -- and makes it undetermined -- is the SF Peace Treaty, a perfectly valid international agreement.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

BTW, Mick, the Economist piece claimed that accusations that the government hand rejected aid to deal with China were "probably baseless". The Taipei Times today noted that NSC head Su Chi admitted that MOFA consulted with the NSC before sending out the cable rejecting aid. Note also that privately circulating among knowledgeable individuals in Taiwan circles is a document dated Aug 10 from the Taiwan Affairs Office of Beijing offering aid. Perhaps it's a pure forgery....

Michael Turton said...

On the "baseless" accusations, this article also draws some interesting connections:

TT Commentary today

D.T. said...

@Don:

Your line of discourse, asking for the ROC to head back to China is blatantly disparaging towards those who still feel affiliated with the KMT or ROC, and is rather similar with the discourse that hurt the feelings of many 2nd gen waishengs. Why aren't comments like yours acknowledge as trolling - albeit with very polished grammar?

Mr. Turton, I agree with Mick that the dynamics of a worsening relationship can be created or even affirmed (scarily enough) by one party. Beijing's discourse on worsening, as I mentioned earlier, should not only be viewed as propaganda but a two-handed tactic employed towards Taiwan. What's so fascinating about propaganda is its reification of ideologies: if the officials say so, citizens who don't think twice/or are not involved with Taiwan in one way or another take it as the expression of the status quo. Similarly, when I was in middle school, the 認識台灣 history textbooks changed 日據 to 日治; drastically lowering the colonial undertones of the Japanese colonial period. And kids internalized the term in everyday useage. Of course, these affirmations work on very different scales, but they do share one fact in common: they are both ideas delivered by way of narrative. Any narrative, charged by the intentions of its creator, is innately charged with a position. In turn, your narratives inform and reinforce your own beliefs, and those who tend to agree with you on certain issues. I cannot agree to the fact that propaganda is MERE propaganda; it has actual, concrete effects.

Anonymous said...

Hello jerks with bad memories. The KMT under Lee Teng-hui had much WORSE relations with China than the DPP did. The DPP improved relations over the then KMT. In fact, things like chartered direct flights were negotiated under the DPP with all the safety mechanisms put into place--it was China that just would not give the final go ahead, not the KMT. Twelve years ago, China was screaming and lobbing missiles near Taiwan; the US sent a carrier task force THROUGH the Taiwan Strait. Nothing even close to that happened in the last 8 years.

I agree Ma is more friendly with China than Chen Shui-bian was, but Chen was more friendly than Lee before him. And friendly doesn't mean stable. Without arms and upgrades of the military, the situation in the strait will rapidly destabilize to a point where China says, "why not?" when it knows it can win quickly and decisively. A strong Taiwan is necessary for a peaceful strait. Ma, who has zero expertise in international politics, doesn't understand that.

Thomas said...

For what it's worth at this point, the "worstening relations" line comes entirely from the media's perception of the official lack of direct communcation between the Chen administration and Beijing. They ignore anything besides the fruit of the photo-opp hand-shake meetings.

The claim of worstening relations is a willful disregard for the fact that politics can happen behind the screen. As this sort of "news" rejects the inconvenient facts, it is very much propraganda in the classic sense.

Some associations have adopted such lines out of genuine ignorance. Others, like AFP it seems, have their own motivations.

This sort of thing should always be opposed.

Gerd said...

M chen: Therefore, the international media should not just report the anger of China over Dalai Lama's visit, but to state how ridiculous China is to protest Dalai's visit to Taiwan.
The problem is, that international media cite xinhua, as if it were a normal news agency and not a means of propaganda in the first line. On the other hand there's no other news agency they could cite in order to counterweight the "news" from xinhua, since other news agencies generally just deliver -- news.

Robert R. said...

What democratically elected representatives of Taiwan signed those treaties? I'm firmly in Jefferson's camp that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".

Perhaps my knowledge of history is incomplete, but at what point did the inhabitants of Taiwan consent to being governed by the ROC?

Anonymous said...

The signing of the ROC constitution on 1947 had a grand total of "0" representatives from Taiwan as Taiwanese were regarded by the Chinese as "slaves" of the Japanese who let the fatherland down by being good colonials. This was viewed as a mark of inferior mental qualities that a only period of political tutelage could hope to remedy by turning Taiwanese into good Chinese citizens. That's how many Taiwanese chose to belong to the ROC.

Anonymous said...

DT, brush up on your Taiwanese history. It was the KMT that imposed 日劇 on Taiwan to make Japanese sound like "occupiers" when in fact, the KMT was just as foreign and continued the colonial us-vs-the-natives state of affairs. The natural term in popular use at that time (and still used in Taiwanese) are 日本時代. 日治 is a neutral term and that's what it should be; it's not like the DPP called it "the good old days" or something ridiculous like that (and yes, idiotic terms like that do exist--光復 "glorious return" for example for the handover to KMT control). Schools shouldn't be a place where the KMT and China-lovers get to indoctrinate children. Tell the kids what the Japanese did; tell them what the KMT did. Leave it to the kids to form their own opinions.

Rhys said...

@Robert: The ROC is a democratic state, and the Taiwanese have voted in its elections for its politicians many times. That qualifies as consenting to be governed by it.

Readin said...

Perhaps my knowledge of history is incomplete, but at what point did the inhabitants of Taiwan consent to being governed by the ROC?

Whether or not they consented to ROC government is debatable. But it is clear that they never consented to the San Francisco Treaty.

The argument in favor of saying they consented to ROC government is that there have been multiple free elections for the legislature and the presidency and none of the elected government have renamed the country or set up a constitutional convention. I.e., by doing nothing the elected governments have consented to the status quo as have the people.

The argument against that is that the contest between the choices was never a fair one. Given the nature of a the constitutional system, overturning the established order requires far more than a majority vote - and in this case the established order was never established by vote.

It is clearly a complex question but after nearly 15 years of democratic government, there is at least a case to be made that the Taiwanese have consented to the current ROC government. It is much harder to claim that the Taiwanese consented to government by the ROC government of the 1950s or to government by any of the signers of the San Francisco Treaty.

Robert R. said...

It is clearly a complex question but after nearly 15 years of democratic government, there is at least a case to be made that the Taiwanese have consented to the current ROC government. It is much harder to claim that the Taiwanese consented to government by the ROC government of the 1950s or to government by any of the signers of the San Francisco Treaty.

Complex indeed. It is definitely easier to claim that they consented to the RoC than the SFT, but I think the best description is that they have not been consulted and thus haven't consented to either. However, I think Michael's statement is best that it leaves the status of Taiwan as undetermined. The SFT essentially Japan saying "It's not mine!" and leaving it at that.

As you well stated, the structure of a constitutional system makes it difficult to change it. I know you [and 90% of the readers of this blog] are aware of all of the following points, but there are extra burdens that have been placed in the way, including the KMT's structural & financial advantage that they constructed prior to the outbreak of democracy, as well as the demographic shift they brought with them.

And then, there's the Anti-Secession Law. It's bad enough that government changes [usually] entail a large fight within a country. Having to fight another country as well?...

D.T. said...

@Anon:

Facing your somewhat blunt suggestion of "brushing up" on Taiwanese history, I would like to respond that I have indeed gone through the 認識台灣 courses in middle school; perhaps that isn't enough, but you insinuate that there seems to be "a version" of Taiwanese history which I can obtain the "facts" sounds disagreeable to me. To me, no historical narrative is neutral. A book by 游啟亨 will greatly differ from that of John F. Cooper, and that from a Chinese scholar. I admit that I am not thoughroughly informed in TW history, and I occupy specific positions - Which results in my observation that 日治 is not a neutral term, not just "what it should be".

日治 can be considered neutral in appearance at best; it is equally ideologically charged as you say, 光復. But can we not say that the changing of terms in 1997 was also an imposition, which us students did not have a chance? Of course, if the kids actually formed their own opinions, it would facilitate diversity of thought and lively debates(throw in a few fights, too). However, given Taiwan's middle school educational structure (this applies to pre 1997 and the present as well), there is very little that encourages children to develop their own ideas: you get beaten down by daily tests - ring ring, bell goes off at 7:30 in the morning, 班長 gives out the tests. You write 日據, bam, 5 points off. Because the CORRECT answer is 日治. And they tell you every test is important, because it all makes up a little chunk of your future. As for "indoctrination", it works either way; education and culture itself - if we borrow Jacques Derrida's exposition on the subject - is colonial in essence. You don't get to choose which culture you're born in, and most of the times, the educational institute as well.

The DDP may not have officially called it the "good old days", but an ambivalent, sometimes unambigous affinty has been expressed by many pan-green figures: a recent volume in English on the Japanese colonial period, edited by David Wang and Ping-Hui Liao, with contributions from American, Japanese and Taiwanese scholars may shed some light on this debate.

Perhaps you are right on the fact that the KMT, something born AFTER the Japanese brought colonial modernity to Taiwan, is very foreign to the Taiwanese public. Notwithstanding, there is still an aspect of connectivity and closeness that a Chinese regime has, over a Japanese one. Let me expand this line of thought. In your arguments, you have not considered the complex cultural affinity expressed between Han people, and the myriad ties still existing between Taiwan and China (Qing). You assumed a clear cut between the two straits during Japan's fifty years of governance. Check out the later writings of 林朝崧 and 丘逢甲; while in their poetry and essays exists a simultaneous rise of a Taiwanese-centered subjectivity, you can also detect longing, affection and imaginations of the mainland.

Anonymous said...

I think consitutions and treaties are moot points for most Taiwanese. It comes down to a visceral and entirely reasonable preference not to be subsumed by a hostile third-world nation. The people of Taiwan have for some time now enjoyed the freedoms that no Chinese have. Who wants to give that up for some 19th century idea of empire?

Michael Turton said...

It is much harder to claim that the Taiwanese consented to government by the ROC government of the 1950s or to government by any of the signers of the San Francisco Treaty.

Whether the Taiwanese consented to the treaty is not relevant. Under international law, when a treaty is ratified by the majority of nations, it is binding on all.

Michael

Readin said...

Whether the Taiwanese consented to the treaty is not relevant. Under international law, when a treaty is ratified by the majority of nations, it is binding on all.

Yes, much international law has all the legitimacy of Norwegian Blue parrot.

Michael Turton said...

,I cannot agree to the fact that propaganda is MERE propaganda; it has actual, concrete effects.

I totally agree; that's essentially what I am documenting here -- the Economist writer's absorption and reproduction of Beijing's propaganda line on Taiwan-China relations.

The key is not whether propaganda is effective but whether one can tell the difference between propaganda and reality.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

If you want to see how a balanced article on a topic like this is written, see this identical situation of Russia trying to stamp out an independent Estonia. This is an NYT article on "tensions" between Estonia and Russia.

Observe that the article correctly locates the source of the tension in Russia's desire to annex Estonia again, not in Estonia's desire to be free. In western news reports about the former Soviet colonies in Eastern Europe, western news reports are always sympatico with the EEuropean states. In Taiwan, where the situation in identical save that the local pro-(Russia/China) is in power, the international press is much less sympathetic to the aspirations of the Chinese, even when the reporters are. And of course, they totally suck up Beijing propaganda in a way that western reporters posted to Moscow never do. The contrast is very educational in understanding how the mystique of China is an important aspect of its soft power.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Michael,

The situations are not analogous as with the FORMER soviet states, they were formerly under the control of the polity seeking unification. Taiwan was never ruled by China... only parts of the island by the Qing.

Anonymous said...

DT, applying post-modernist critique to ideas of ethnicity and nationalism in Taiwan is highly detrimental to your position. The same anti-structuralist arguments you seem to be fond of would acknowledge the nebulous links between Taiwan and China and then it would obliterate them into oblivion. Taiwan is a complex place; trying to emphasize imagined links with China over other imagined links while citing Derrida is going to be a very futile exercise, but hey, you're welcome to keep trying.

Michael Turton said...

Anon --

I'm making an analogy in terms of who controlled what, but comparing the way the media treats two very similar situations of a large power trying to annex a smaller nation right next door. If you are a brave post-Soviet republic, the press loves you, if you are a DPP-run democracy, the international media treat you with the back of the hand.