Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ma: Taiwan is a Province

President Ma displayed another example of his habit of downplaying Taiwan's status when in the presence of outsiders when he referred to Taiwan as a "province" in a meeting with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. The Taipei Times reports:
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) referred to Taiwan as a “province” yesterday while describing the sister-state relationship between Taiwan and Texas, rekindling the controversial issue of his perception of Taiwan’s status.

Ma told Texas Governor Rick Perry during a meeting at the Presidential Office that the country’s relationship with Texas was a close one.

“In 1988, Texas and Taiwan Province became sister states,” Ma said. “Over the past two years, we have engaged in many exchanges in technology, culture, education and agriculture.”

Ma thanked the Texas legislature for passing a resolution last year reaffirming the “sister state and sister province” relationship.
Ma's constant downgrading of Taiwan is an issue that grates even with his supporters, especially among the young, never mind Greens and independent voters. This habit of his to belittle Taiwan, even when completely unnecessary (there was no reason to refer to Taiwan as a "province" in this context), also reveals his ideological commitments. Local elections loom, and Global Views has satisfaction with the President at 28%, yet the President and Chairman of the KMT continues to speak as if it is 1963. This determined reference to the zombie claims of yesteryear demonstrates that Ma is not a "pragmatist" but an ideologue steeped in ROC mythology and ideology, who deploys its discourses with understanding and with malice aforethought.

But I am sure that analysts in the US will continue to be puzzled by Ma's total lack of popularity.

UPDATE: But see comment below that undermines my position.
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53 comments:

Anonymous said...

One point worth making here is that Taiwanese of a certain generation were brought up referring to Taiwan as "Taiwan Province", everyday, at least in Chinese. For many, perhaps including Ma, it might well be the case that this simply rolls of the tongue, without much thought being put into it. Much as the older generation in English speaking countries still say Peking, or even Formosa.

I wonder, therefore, if this is not so much a case of intentional belittling as the use of a lexical compound simply without thinking about it.

Michael Turton said...

It's certainly possible. I've heard "Taiwan shen" in many contexts.

Anonymous said...

You're a very reasonable man, Michael. That's what I like about you - and about your blog too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know that, too - the old way of referring to Taiwan as a 'Province', back when there was a provincial government with its seat in Zhong Xin Xin Chun in Nantou -- but that was under the Chiang dynasty when the KMT were still going to retake all of China.

Ma's use of it now may be mimetic, maybe, maybe...

...maybe careless...

...but he's not been consistent with his national nomenclature, if memory serves, and his slips may reveal that nothing has changed as far as he's concerned.

Cary Allen said...

Perry is a notorious secessionist. Did he object to Ma referring to Texas as a state rather than a republic? The U.S. needs to test some missiles in Oklahoma to teach Perry a lesson about his provocative, splittist rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

I'm absolutely convinced, that it is pure ideology driving him. There have been so many obvious examples in the recent past i.e. speaking of the Taiwanese as being all Chinese and entirely ignoring the aboriginal peoples, immigrants, referring to the common mythical descent of the Chinese, etc.
He knows exactly, what he is doing and on the same time he is completely ignorant how most Taiwanese feel about his utterances.
I believe this all-Chinese-ideology is so much part of him, that he couldn't speak differently, even if he tried.

Michael Turton said...

@6:07, that's how I see it. It is easy to find similar references that shape his speech and thought.

Thomas said...

"He knows exactly, what he is doing and on the same time he is completely ignorant how most Taiwanese feel about his utterances."

Is he completely ignorant or does he just not care? I think it is the latter. He would have to truly be daft to not understand by now that many Taiwanese don't share his love of China. I think that he has faith that the power and money of the KMT party-state will be able to continue the suppression of a Taiwanese identity. He sees the Chinese as allies in this suppression. From this angle, it would not be surprising that some in the KMT might prefer a SAR role for Taiwan within China. It might keep the current power structure intact indefinitely, with the exception that a new layer of bosses would be added above.

Sage said...

"reveals his ideological commitments"

and this should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Bottom line Taiwan is not a province in many Taiwanese eyes and certainly a "president" should be intelligent enough, respectful enough, sensitive enough to not make such a stupid comment. He's an idiot. Ma Ying-Joke.

If the Taiwanese do not react to this in a strong way, then the complacency is beyond evident.

Also, I'm not sure being a "sister anything" to Texas is flattery.

But, maybe a good idea for a bumper sticker? "Don't mess with Tex ... Taiwan."

Anonymous said...

Patriots on both sides of the Red River earnestly desire the unity of the motherland. But due to foreign imperialism (from Mexico, perhaps), some Texans have become confused about their identity.

Also, certain religious people--wolves in sheep's clothing--have taken to meddling in politics.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan is a province of the Republic of China. When Texas and Taiwan province signed the agreement in 1988, Taiwan province had a fully functioning provincial government and provincial legislature. While the provincial government ceased to have real effective power after 1997, it was never abolished. In Taiwan you still often see references to the province (for example 全省). The recent upgrade plan of various municipalities makes no sense without remembering there is a Taiwan province. Upgrading means they will be under the direct control of the central government.
I really can't see what the fuss is about.

Michael Turton said...

Taiwan is not a province under the ROC government, but an island whose status in undecided. The recent upgrades have nothing to do with the provincial government.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan is not a province under the ROC government, but an island whose status in undecided. The recent upgrades have nothing to do with the provincial government.

Do you expect the president of the ROC to say that Taiwan's status in "undecided"?
The newly upgraded cities become "direct-controlled municipalities" under the authority of the central government. This means that they have the same status as a province and are entitled to more money. The remaining counties that have not been upgraded remain a part of Taiwan province. Although Taiwan province has lost its effective power, this structure remains in place. The "Republic of Taiwan" does not yet exist. If it did there would be no need for a Taiwan independence movement.

It is also worth remembering that Taiwan has considerable difficulties in conducting foreign relations as a sovereign nation. One way round this is to build relations using either the provincial government or city governments. Taipei and Kaohsiung have been quite pro-active in doing this. The relationship between Taiwan province and Texas is no different.

Michael Turton said...

Do you expect the president of the ROC to say that Taiwan's status in "undecided"?

I think you've missed the point.

The newly upgraded cities become "direct-controlled municipalities" under the authority of the central government. This means that they have the same status as a province and are entitled to more money. The remaining counties that have not been upgraded remain a part of Taiwan province. Although Taiwan province has lost its effective power, this structure remains in place. The "Republic of Taiwan" does not yet exist. If it did there would be no need for a Taiwan independence movement.

I know all this. Why are you telling me? The upgrades are occurring not because of anything the provincial government is doing, but because of budgetary issues.

That is an interesting point about diplomacy, but in belittling Taiwan that is not Ma's goal.

Anonymous said...

I know all this. Why are you telling me? The upgrades are occurring not because of anything the provincial government is doing, but because of budgetary issues.

Yes of course the upgrading is all about budgetary issues. But the fact that changes took place through the current system is also significant.

That is an interesting point about diplomacy, but in belittling Taiwan that is not Ma's goal.

How was Ma "belittling" Taiwan? At the moment, Taiwan has a provincial government. Ma was using this organ to strengthen Taiwan's relations overseas. This is sensible, practical diplomacy.

Actually this agreement with Texas was signed back in 1988. Do you suggest that it now be cancelled because Taiwan is not a "province"? Should Taiwan insist on recognition as a state before it makes agreements like this? Did you read the rest of what Ma said? Did you notice that except when referring to the agreement with Texas and the recent law passed by the Texas legislature, he refereed to Taiwan simply as "Taiwan". And that he talked about the "Republic of China" reaching agreements with the United States?

Michael Turton said...

Actually this agreement with Texas was signed back in 1988. Do you suggest that it now be cancelled because Taiwan is not a "province"?

Why are you wasting your time asking stupid questions like this?

Should Taiwan insist on recognition as a state before it makes agreements like this? Did you read the rest of what Ma said? Did you notice that except when referring to the agreement with Texas and the recent law passed by the Texas legislature, he refereed to Taiwan simply as "Taiwan". And that he talked about the "Republic of China" reaching agreements with the United States?

TT noted what I noted as well:

"Interestingly, Ma does not refer to Taiwan as a province when talking to local audiences. Whenever elections are closing in and campaigning steps into high gear, voters can hear Ma, along and other Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights, roaring slogans that trumpet the name Taiwan. Whenever they mention Taiwan in their campaign speeches, the electorate assumes that the word “Taiwan” implies the country for which the official name is the ROC."

The pattern for Ma is to downgrade the nation's status whenever he is overseas. If it didn't happen so regularly, I would not be remarking on what it reveals about him. A popular interpretation of Ma is that he is a pragmatist, but events like this make clear that he is not. The issue is not when Ma refers to Taiwan, but when he doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Why are you wasting your time asking stupid questions like this?

Not a stupid question at all. The agreement was made between Taiwan province and the state of Texas. How else should Ma refer to it? How should Ma refer to the law that the Texas legislature passed last year. Since you think this "belittles" Taiwan, surely it would be better if it was cancelled.

The pattern for Ma is to downgrade the nation's status whenever he is overseas. If it didn't happen so regularly, I would not be remarking on what it reveals about him. A popular interpretation of Ma is that he is a pragmatist, but events like this make clear that he is not. The issue is not when Ma refers to Taiwan, but when he doesn't.

Firstly, he was in Taiwan. Secondly, although he was hosting a foreign visitor, the intended audience for things like this is domestic. Third, except for reference to the agreements between Texas and Taiwan province, he referred to Taiwan simply as "Taiwan", and also mentioned hoped for agreements between the "Republic of China" and the United States.

Michael Turton said...

You've become repetitive.

Anonymous said...

You've become repetitive.

You claim that referring to a "sister-state" agreement reached between Taiwan province and Texas back in 1988 is "belittling" Taiwan. But strangely you won't say that you don't support the agreement.

You have nothing more to say, so you start on the insults. There is a definite pattern there.

Anonymous said...

It is very rare to hear locals refer to Taiwan as the ROC. In the mind of the citizens Taiwan is the country no matter what the official name of the state is.

Michael makes a great point in showing that Ma seeks to stifle Taiwan's space internationally despite playing up to Taiwan nationalism at home in a play for votes. It is similar to how the KMT bigs shamefully struggle with addressing SOUTHERN audiences in Taiwanese despite actions off the trail that seek to marginalize those who regularly speak the language.

Ma has taken every opportunity to NOT promote Taiwan abroad and never assert Taiwanese sovereignty over Taiwan. Compare this with the Chen administration that, sometimes awkwardly, sought to squeeze the word "Taiwan" into every possible medium for communicating with foreign audiences.

Thomas said...

"How else should Ma refer to it?"

How about referring to it as "Taiwan", a name that would not be controversial because it can be, depending on the sentiments of the listener/reader, an island, a country, or a province? Incidentally, this would frame Ma as president of all of the Taiwanese as opposed to those who just ascribe to the KMT's version of history. The issue is over the insensitivity and inconsistency of Ma. Your history lesson adds nothing of value to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys cool it! Ma just don't want Washington to call him a trouble maker!

Sage said...

Does Ma refer to himself as Taiwanese?

Jade said...

I have no doubt that Ma's ideology is "Taiwan is part of China". Unfortunately, Taiwanese people have such a bad case of amnesia, that when it's time for election, Ma's 'I love Taiwan' campaign slogan will give them another hope that perhaps he is one of us. When 'No new taxes' pledge turned out to be fatal for Senior Bush, I hope the DPP can learn something from that. In the next election, play all the evidence on TV to remind the general public that you were so close to becoming a citizen of a country that removes your right to vote, censor your Internet use, and deprive your freedom of speech and still can convince a lot of people that it is for your own good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,

I was the first person to comment on the post (the 9:49PM one).

What both you and the TT say is interesting:

("Interestingly, Ma does not refer to Taiwan as a province when talking to local audiences. Whenever elections are closing in and campaigning steps into high gear, voters can hear Ma, along and other Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights, roaring slogans that trumpet the name Taiwan. Whenever they mention Taiwan in their campaign speeches, the electorate assumes that the word “Taiwan” implies the country for which the official name is the ROC."

The pattern for Ma is to downgrade the nation's status whenever he is overseas. If it didn't happen so regularly, I would not be remarking on what it reveals about him.)

I think this may undermine my own point suggesting that his use of "Taiwan Province" might not actually mean that much. If he switches, according to the audience, then it does mean something. In particular, if he's doing this primarily with a foreign audience.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Texan, born in Dallas. My parents are Taiwanese. This is embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Did you not notice that this was a sister-relationship with the *state* of Texas? It's nonsensical for Texas to have a sister-relationship with the "country" of Taiwan.

Go find a better hobby, Michael. You've jumped the shark.

Anonymous said...

It IS nonsensical for a country to have an complimentary relationship with a single US state and that makes Ma's message so confusing.

Sage said...

Beating to death what Ma may or may not call Taiwan is really an exercise of little consequence when the evidence has always been transparently presented.

Ma does not claim to be Taiwanese and he and those of the same cloth, would never admit to being Taiwanese.

Of course the KMT conveniently considered Taiwan a province when they swarmed the island, their tails between their legs, while looking over their shoulders.

Today the sons of those who fled their country to take other peoples homes, continue to carry the flag for their fathers. However knowing the old cause is long hopeless, they now struggle to maintain face while giving away their prize and insuring their favorable position in the aftermath.

Always keeping in mind the past one can understand the course and predict the future to some degree.

For the past 60+ years, the KMT have not considered Taiwan home, they've only considered Taiwan theirs.

The reality however, one which must be very difficult to come to terms with, is that these are people who do not have a country. They do not consider Taiwan as a country or their homeland and to their dismay, the Chinese do not consider them at all.

Anonymous said...

'Did you not notice that this was a sister-relationship with the *state* of Texas? It's nonsensical for Texas to have a sister-relationship with the "country" of Taiwan.'

Exactly. If he claims that its a country-country relationship, then he is for Texas independence then or just looks stupid? LOL. Ma is in a catch-22 here. Before in 1988 Taiwan was technically a province and so province-state sisterhood was possible. Now its an anachronism.

I guess the DPP should be logically consistent and promise to break all of these sister-state/province relationships.

Grant said...

Trolls are still around, I notice. Posting the same useless questions.

Anonymous said...

Just because someone have different opinions and you automatically call them trolls?

So you don't respect the voices of others ?


Are you a Red Commy?

I do find the other opinions sensible and not so biased as the 'sushi' traitor here.

Anonymous said...

Sage--

For the record, Ma DID call himself a "New Taiwanese" in the early 1990's as he stood next to Lee Teng-hui. The Xin Taiwanren Lun (新台灣論) was a construction Lee hoped to use to bridge the ethnic divide that separated Mainlanders from other Taiwanese.

What the new turn of phrase couldn't do is to resolve the imbalance of power that was the result of decades of state centered ethnic division in practice which placed Waishengren in positions of greater power or access to power. It secured avenues to financial and social mobility that was denied or limited to other ethnic groups. Ma was a beneficiary of this system and many Waishengren feel that adopting a Taiwan-centered outlook will result in their marginalization. They fear loss of the power they have been useful.

In reality, most Waishengren have already adopted a Taiwan centered outlook, but political actors continue to appeal to this group as a "threatened" ethnic group to mobilize them behind larger agendas that involve making a shitload of money for an elite few. The DPP has done an abysmal job in wooing these Waishengren by continuing to play to the same old memes of ethnic politics, which is often done point for point with the KMT.

Ma uses the themes that appeal to his core base of power, which are industrialists, organized crime entrepreneurs and those reliant on China for their fortunes. Ma does not have to grovel for the grass roots votes of for the votes of the farmers or fisherman's unions. The need to have to pull "indigenization" stunts has passed as it serves Ma better to placate China and when he does they throw him a few more political bones.

Chip said...

The most important question has not yet been asked: WHY TEXAS?

Anonymous said...

Before in 1988 Taiwan was technically a province and so province-state sisterhood was possible. Now its an anachronism.

Taiwan province does still exist! It should not be confused by the sovereign state called the Republic of China. It does not include Taipei City or Kaohsiung City, or in the near future the other municipalities due to be upgraded. It also excludes the ROC territories of Jinmen and Mazu.

Anonymous said...

See Michael silenced...good job! :) Logic or law is not Michael's strong points...

Thomas said...

"Taiwan province does still exist!"

So do fairies. Everytime someone says fairies don't exist, a fairy somewhere dies. So keep up the lovely fiction that Taiwan is a province. If in your heart it keeps the dream alive, then you can feel good about yourself.

I on the other hand am glad to pronounce Taiwan province non-existent. Its existence was always in dispute, because it is enshrined in a constitution that was never approved by a Taiwanese administration and which the KMT will use its power to prevent from being altered or ditched.

Sorry anonatroll, you can drone on and on, but that little fairy you are clinging to is only as real as you claim it is, and you probably know how much most people here think your claims are worth.

Sage said...

Anonymous said..."For the record, Ma DID call himself a "New Taiwanese" in the early 1990's as he stood next to Lee Teng-hui."

I appreciate the comments Anon and obvious insight.

I sure Ma would develop scales if it suits his purpose.

Michael Turton said...

See Michael silenced...good job! :) Logic or law is not Michael's strong points...

ROFL, CCTroll isn't worth the time, loon.

Anonymous said...

So do fairies. Everytime someone says fairies don't exist, a fairy somewhere dies. So keep up the lovely fiction that Taiwan is a province. If in your heart it keeps the dream alive, then you can feel good about yourself.

I on the other hand am glad to pronounce Taiwan province non-existent. Its existence was always in dispute, because it is enshrined in a constitution that was never approved by a Taiwanese administration and which the KMT will use its power to prevent from being altered or ditched.

Sorry anonatroll, you can drone on and on, but that little fairy you are clinging to is only as real as you claim it is, and you probably know how much most people here think your claims are worth.


So Taiwan province doesn't exist, even though it still has state-to-state relations with 44 US states? Surely then these agreements should be cancelled? Why isn't anyone calling for that?

Of course, Taiwan province still exists. However, it has been altered substantially. It now has no effective power. These changes of course happened under a KMT regime.

This whole thing has been a bit of a shitstorm in the green blogosphere, but for most Taiwanese it will hardly register. Most Taiwanese are sensible enough to realize that since Taiwan has difficulties conducting state-to-state relations, it needs to pursue alternative diplomatic channels. The sister-states agreements are one of these channels. They will also note that Ma only talked about "Taiwan province" when specifically referring to the actual agreement between the state of Texas and Taiwan province. The other times he simply used "Taiwan" or the "Republic of China". However, the green critics have whipped themselves into such an indignant fury that they are now unable to acknowledge this simple fact.

Michael Turton said...

However, the green critics have whipped themselves into such an indignant fury that they are now unable to acknowledge this simple fact.

You're so cute, writing fantasy and posting it to my blog.

Anonymous said...

You're so cute, writing fantasy and posting it to my blog.

Whatever Michael. Do you think that the sister-state agreemenents should be cancelled? Or that we should just not mention them again because to do so would "belittle" Taiwan? Because that is all that Ma did.

Michael Turton said...

CCTroll, that question has already been answered by others in this dialogue. The answer is in fact obvious, which is (I'm sure) why you will studiously ignore it.

Anonymous said...

CCTroll, that question has already been answered by others in this dialogue. The answer is in fact obvious, which is (I'm sure) why you will studiously ignore it.

I have tried to contribute constructively. I have not used any personal insults. In return I get called "repetitive", "stupid", and a "CCTroll". Why can't you just politely disagree with people Michael?

Michael Turton said...

Because you're a fraud asking irrelevant questions, troll. As Thomas noted above:

"How about referring to it as "Taiwan", a name that would not be controversial because it can be, depending on the sentiments of the listener/reader, an island, a country, or a province? Incidentally, this would frame Ma as president of all of the Taiwanese as opposed to those who just ascribe to the KMT's version of history. The issue is over the insensitivity and inconsistency of Ma. Your history lesson adds nothing of value to the discussion."

That's a wrap, thanks.

Anonymous said...

They don't make trolls like they used to. Some used to be somewhat talented or halfway intelligent. I hope they're not paying full price for this one.

Anonymous said...

Because you're a fraud asking irrelevant questions, troll. As Thomas noted above:

"How about referring to it as "Taiwan", a name that would not be controversial because it can be, depending on the sentiments of the listener/reader, an island, a country, or a province? Incidentally, this would frame Ma as president of all of the Taiwanese as opposed to those who just ascribe to the KMT's version of history. The issue is over the insensitivity and inconsistency of Ma. Your history lesson adds nothing of value to the discussion."

That's a wrap, thanks.


Michael, he obviously did refer to it as "Taiwan" except in the particular instance that he was referring to the "sister-state" agreement. You have chosen to completely ignore this and instead hurl insults. Guess you have to have to last world on your own blog, but this is truly pathetic.

Anonymous said...

What's a CCTroll?

Anonymous said...

What's a CCTroll?

"Chinese Communist Troll" - slur used by green bloggers to attack anyone who disagrees with them. The accused "CCTroll" in this case has nothing to do with the Chinese Communist Party and said nothing in support of the Chinese Communist Party.

Michael Turton said...

"Chinese Communist Troll" - slur used by green bloggers to attack anyone who disagrees with them.

Wrong. You're not in the loop, so it's best to be quiet ;).

Anonymous said...

Wrong. You're not in the loop, so it's best to be quiet ;).

Really? You Taiwan separatists are quite a clique. ;)

What does it mean then?
I can only think of the KMT CC clique..

Surely not a carbon copy troll?!

Anonymous said...

Troll uses two interesting, and revealing code words.

The first is "green". This person has already accepted the Green vs. Blue dichotomy in analyzing Taiwanese political discussions. XYZ is "green" and ABC (guffaw) is "blue". This tells me the writer accepts preloaded ad hominem labels and is familiar with its use.

The second is "separatists". This term is rarely used within Taiwan and is rarely used by individuals. This term as a slur is usually reserved for polemics. Overseas "Chinese" (from China) use this term as do groups that have very little experience living in Taiwan. Also, this term is also used, but not often, by the descendants of immigrants from the ROC who fled to other countries besides Taiwan yet continued to support the Chiang regimes.Those who did not live through the democratization period.

Anonymous said...

Troll uses two interesting, and revealing code words.

The first is "green". This person has already accepted the Green vs. Blue dichotomy in analyzing Taiwanese political discussions. XYZ is "green" and ABC (guffaw) is "blue". This tells me the writer accepts preloaded ad hominem labels and is familiar with its use.

The second is "separatists". This term is rarely used within Taiwan and is rarely used by individuals. This term as a slur is usually reserved for polemics. Overseas "Chinese" (from China) use this term as do groups that have very little experience living in Taiwan. Also, this term is also used, but not often, by the descendants of immigrants from the ROC who fled to other countries besides Taiwan yet continued to support the Chiang regimes.Those who did not live through the democratization period.Troll uses two interesting, and revealing code words.


It was meant in jest, hence the use of the wink afterwards.

On the second one, I prefer the term "Taiwan independence supporters".

For the reasons why Taiwanese politics is now analysed through the green vs. blue dichotomy, I think we have to look back to the Chen presidency.
"There is no left-right political axis in Taiwan, just the question of independence or unification"

Michael: What is a CCtroll then?