Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with Ma in Wash Post

Not bad as interviews of Ma go, Keith Richburg interviews President Ma of the ROC on Taiwan. Ma hit the usual notes, asking for the F-16s again, noting that the island needs arms (it would have been great if Richburg had possessed the background knowledge to ask Ma why his party had blocked the major arms purchase 60 times in the legislature, even when Ma was chairman), inserting a couple of hacks on the DPP, and in general being the Ma we've always seen in interviews. This interview was conducted in Chinese, with Ma speaking through an interpreter.

A contradiction between Ma's usual position that Taiwan has already been annexed to China, and what Richburg reported emerged in internet discussions. Ma clearly did not say that Taiwan is a sovereign state as Richburg appeared to report in his article.
Taiwan "is a sovereign state," Ma said in an interview at the presidential palace here.
This looks like sloppy editing. Surely Ma did not contravert his lifelong claim that there is no such thing as sovereign Taiwan.

Richburg did manage to gently point out that Ma was full of it, which is more than many interviewers have done, for whatever reason....good on him:
Just to continue that, since the relations are good, and everybody on both sides agrees to that, why, for example, are you still developing your own missile system? And why are you still requesting the new F-16C/Ds from the United States? Shouldn't this be a time to be decreasing missile weapons?
Since relations are good, why are you still trying to kill each other? Ma downplayed the effect of the recent spy case on US-Taiwan relations, though his own officials have said the effect was serious.

All in all, par for the course, Ma, as always, on script -- one of his biggest assets as the face of the KMT is his ability to stay on message.
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les said...

Maybe Richburg deliberately misquoted Matong in order to force him to publicly correct that and make a clear statement (that Taiwan isn't sovereign)?

Anonymous said...

Found this comment in the translation of Li Ao's speech at Beijing University in 2005:

"Li: When I came to Beijing, I was afraid to talk about the Taiwan problem. Indeed, this has just come up. Let me tell you, this is the different [sic] between a politician and a thinker. Ma Ying-jeou has a nice face, he is a nice guy but he is someone who never does anything. We call him a 'pot non-sticker.' He does not do anything good and he does not do anything bad. He knows how to smile and campaign for votes. He gets many votes this way. But we think that it is important to have people who actually do things. It is not enough to go around with a pretty face. I think Ma Ying-jeou is in the wrong business. He should have been a movie actor or a singing star. At a minimum, he would be better as a big lecher."

blobOfNeurons said...


If you read the transcript, Ma says, in response to the second question about decreasing missile systems

"However, the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign state; we must have our national defense."

Richburg is assuming that Ma thinks of the names 'R.O.C.' and 'Taiwan' as being the same politically, when in reality Ma means that the R.O.C. is a sovereign state now controlling a piece of land geographically known as Taiwan. But Ma does not admit to there being an independent Taiwan state.