Tuesday, October 19, 2010

James Soong Rises from the Political Tomb

Whatever happened to James Soong? A colossus who once bestrode Taiwan politics, who missed becoming President in 2000 by a mere 3% of the vote, who headed a political party spun off from the KMT -- and shot meteor-like across the landscape of the first Chen Shui-bian term, then vanished after being blown out in the last Taipei Mayor election. Yeah, that Soong.

He's baaaaaccckkk!

Soong blasted the adminstration of Mayor Hau of Taipei last week, then stuck his wily hand in the election in Kaohsiung by pledging his support to Yang Chiu-hsing, the DPP defector now running an independent campaign.
[The KMT's] Su’s remarks came in response to reporters’ questions about the possibility of a “dump-save” effect after Soong pledged his support for Yang on Sunday.

The “dump-save” effect refers to strategic voting in which a party with little chance of winning leans toward one of the major parties during a campaign.

The entry of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member Yang has turned the race into a three-way contest with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the DPP and KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順).

Su said Huang was the best choice because a change of government was the only way for residents in the region that will become Greater Kaohsiung to change the status quo.

If the KMT’s policies were correct, Su said he was confident the party would obtain the support of the majority of voters in the south.

Meanwhile, PFP-turned-KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said Soong’s support for Yang would “more or less” affect Huang’s electoral chances.

The article had a nice picture of former President Lee Teng-hui on the platform with Chen Chu calling for DPP votes. Thanks, LTH.
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Daily Links
  • Japanese cancel flights to China due to Senkakus dispute.
  • A-gu asks how Ma's declarations that Taiwan and China are one country keep sailing under the radar.
  • Taiwan's Mirage fighters are in decline? Don't even think about it; spineless American politicians aren't going to sell us F-16s.
  • Weirdly, this AP interview with Ma Ying-jeou states that in the mid-1990s Taiwan and China "nearly came to blows." Here on the real Earth, Taiwan held an election and China launched missiles into nearby waters. That doesn't look like Taiwan coming to blows with anyone, and does look like violence moving in one direction, from Beijing towards Taiwan. Anyone have greater insight than I? Was there some near-war I missed?
  • At the same time, kudos to AP for this article on Taiwan's business community: "Since Ma took office in May 2008, Taiwan's economic connection to the mainland -- already robust even under the pro-independence regime of his predecessor -- has moved into high gear..." It's so rare for someone in the international media to actually notice the massive trade between Taiwan and China under the Chen Administration. Thanks Peter.
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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

[Insert clever comment linking image to text here]

Don said...

Michael, you got me thinking with your question about AP and their "nearly came to blows" statement.

It fits with the general "international flashpoint" interpretation of Taiwan's predicament which goes something like:

(1) split in 1949...(2) "renegade province"...(3) decades-long CCP-KMT conflict over title to the island as a legacy of Chinese Civil War...(4)...eventual "reunification"

This version (call it Version A) of history is spiced up for international news consumers with the exciting prospect of "(3)b -- outbreak of war" inserted between (3) and (4) above.

I've noticed that Version A is beloved of the international news media. It also happens to be more or less the off-the-shelf version of history peddled by the rump ROC party-state, by the PRC party-state, and (to their enormous discredit) by sundry Western academics and pundits whose visas to and access in China are tied to not offending CCP sensibilities.

On the other hand, anyone who takes a good hard look at the history and who is prepared to trust the evidence of their own eyes and ears, soon arrives at Version B, which goes something like:

(1) Taiwan was never part of "China" proper. It was a reluctant and restive appendage of the Manchu empire, as were Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia.

(2) Taiwan and the Manchus "split" in 1895.

(3) A militarist party-state from China seized control of Taiwan in 1945 in the expectation that a future peace treaty with Japan would confer the blessing of international law. As it turned out, that blessing was never given and the island has been in legal limbo ever since.

(4) The Taiwan public established full democracy in 1996, cementing the independent status of their polity and rendering the KMT-CCP rivalry (and their Civil War narrative -- see Version A above) irrelevant. The Taiwanese people do not claim title to Chinese territory, they do not threaten China militarily, and in fact they have no further beef with the people of China apart from finding them annoying and arrogant -- like neighbouring nationalities anywhere in the world.

(5) In response, the corrupt and unelected CCP-military elite in China have accelerated their strategic programme (and smartened up their tactics) to eliminate Taiwan as a free entity and annex it to the PRC. Bloodlessly if possible, by invasion if not.

I've noticed there are some great journalists out there who are prepared to report the news as it is, rather than as it comes pre-packaged for Establishment-friendly consumption. Jonathan Manthorpe at the Vancouver Sun does a good job, Jonathan Adams at Asia Times Online, and those stentorian editorialists at the Taipei Times over the years.

Too many others -- intelligent, talented commentators -- just seem to check their professional and personal pride at the door when it comes to framing the Taiwan issue.

Maybe it's just too much trouble to tell it like it is. Maybe because this idea of fictional parity between two opposed forces apparently jostling for a fight with each other is just easier to comprehend than the fact that Taiwan (meaning the Taiwan people, not the parasitical ROC party-state that has usurped their name) is being mugged in full view of the international community -- which is something news consumers would rather not hear about because let's face it it makes us all feel shitty.

Garggh. I don't get it. And there goes another hour of my day...

Anonymous said...

@anon -
Q: What did one fly say to another?
A: Your man is down.

Michael Turton said...

Sorry Don! But from my perspective it was an hour well spent!
Great comment.

Okami said...

My question about the F-16's: Would the ROC govt even buy them if they were offered?

My guess is they picked a fighter plane that they can barely maintain on their own that is quickly going out of production because they knwo they can get better stuff out of General Dynamics and they know that by the time it goes through that "Meibanfa, they don't make them anymore!" Considering the level of machining excellence the island possesses and the reverse engineering capability, don't you think that if they were really clued in that they could make those planes fly as long as the US Air Force has done with the F-15's?

SoCalExpat said...

James Soong, more than anyone else, is responsible for Taiwan’s democracy. When CCK died, Gen. Hau Pei-tsun and other top brass were not interested in handing power to civilians, especially LTH. Soong convinced the military and internal security forces that civilian rule was in their best interests and they listened to him because he had credibiity based on his service to CCK. In retrospect, the Taiwan Independence movement would have been better served if the military remained in control because they were, and are, adamantly anti-communist and did not allow any trade or investment with the PRC.