Friday, April 29, 2011

Tsai Makes Splash: Round Up

Let's kick this off with the announcement from statesmen in Beijing: We Don't Like Tsai:
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) warned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday that it risked serious problems if it pressed for independence.

“If [their] cross-strait policy is established on a ‘Taiwan independence’ splittist basis ... it does not matter how ingenious the packaging, it will certainly ... damage the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and affect stability in the Taiwan Strait,” TAO spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) said.

A sound endorsement, that. But note how the PRC stays on message -- it is democratic choice that causes the problem, not the PRC's desire to extend its empire.This reverse-of-reality messaging has made headway in certain quarters in the west, sadly.

Still the article did report that in the famed prediction market at National Chengchih University, Tsai and Ma basically stood neck-n-neck. Several local polls also put them close. It doesn't mean a thing for the election months from now, but it sure feels good for once not to be 20 points down at the start of an election. The CNA reports:
In telephone surveys carried out by the United Daily News (UDN) and the China Times, Tsai was marginally ahead of Ma, while Ma narrowly outpaced Tsai in a similar poll done by the TVBS cable channel.
The article has some good information on how voters might compare the two.

The Bloomberg story on her has a nifty pro-Ma slant, promising this blogger hours of blogging fun as the election approaches. Yes, it is titled "Author of Policy that Enraged China to Challenge Ma for Taiwan Presidency." No slant there! I especially love this quote:
“On the surface she seems mild and rational,” said Wang Jianmin, a researcher on Taiwan at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “She is in fact quite a separatist. If she becomes president, the cross-strait relationship will suffer a huge reversal.”
If only she were rational like Beijing, and threatened to maim and murder to get her way. Bloomberg's reporting does not present any of Dr. Tsai's qualifications, accomplishments, or policy stances, save that she once angered Beijing. No slant there! Readers must wonder who she is and why she was selected. I thank Bloomberg for this; reporting like this is responsible for the continued existence of us bloggers.

Bloomberg's presentation of The Formula on What Happened in 1949 is quite interesting:
The Kuomintang Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan with tens of thousands of followers in 1949 after losing the civil war to Mao Zedong. Though political rivals, the KMT and Communist Party are united in their one-China policy, while native Taiwanese like Tsai and Lee have increasingly sought to carve out an independent state.
That's actually a fairly good representation of the current state of affairs and kudos to Bloomberg for printing it. Much better than AP's asinine, erroneous, and pro-Beijing "split in 1949". 

That said, contrast Bloomberg's glurge with the sturdy Establishment presentation of Tsai in the corresponding AP article. There we learn that Tsai is a moderate on links with China, unlike the horrible Chen Shui-bian (you know, the President that legalized links, engaged in negotiations across a wide range of issues, and erected legal frameworks for carrying them out, but never mind reality, eh?). AP observes:
But she also acknowledges that a robust commercial relationship with China — combined with strong ties with other countries — is necessary for Taiwan's long-term prosperity. That is a significant departure from the policies of the DPP's Chen Shui-bian, who infuriated China during his 2000-2008 presidency by pushing for greater independence.

Tsai, who has a doctorate from the London School of Economics, began her political career in the late 1990s under former Nationalist President Lee Teng-hui as an adviser on Taiwan's National Security Council.

She reportedly made several secret trips to Washington to help ease American worries about Chen's independence-leaning stance while serving as head of the Cabinet-level body responsible for China ties between 2000 and 2004.
The Economist has a similar piece here.

J Michael Cole has a short interview on her in The Diplomat. He notes:
‘Her “middle-of-the-road” approach to China — engage, but with caution and with clearly defined red lines when it comes to Taiwan’s sovereignty — should have appeal with centrist, undecided, and “light blue” KMT voters. Within the pan-green camp, her willingness to adopt a more “pragmatic” policy of engagement China could lose her votes and support with the “deep greens,” but at the end of the day their relatively small number shouldn’t have too much of an impact.’

And where does she stand on the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty? Cole told me that Tsai’s adherence to the DPP charter, which clearly emphasizes Taiwan’s sovereignty, and the perception that she won’t yield on that fundamental aspect of her platform, should be sufficient to allay fears as she makes her case for engaging China that she would “sell out” Taiwan in the process, ‘something that has haunted Ma and the KMT.’

He added: ‘She has relatively little experience running for office, with her bid for New Taipei City mayor in late November last year representing the first time she did so. While some would say she comes across as “bookish,” she has undeniable charm and is Western educated, with good English skills. She’s of Hakka descent and also speaks Taiwanese (also known as Hoklo) fairly well, meaning that she can tap into those resources for support.'
The China propaganda rag WantChinaTimes has a report here. It contains little you haven't already seen.

Meanwhile, all the speculation you want on the Veep choices of the two candidates.
Daily Links:
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David said...

Regarding V-P candidates it will be interesting to see if KMT choose a woman to pair with Ma. Chair of the CEC Chang Po-ya, Chiayi City Mayor Huang Ming-hui and CLA Minister Wang Ju-hsuan are all possibilities.

Okami said...

I'm interested in how she does in the rough and tumble world of politics. I don't think she has thick enough skin nor the experience. She'll also be dealing with a media that will try to "Palinize" her at every opportunity.

I don't think it will turn out well.

Anonymous said...

I think a culture of misogyny, that is aware of its misogyny, will shy away from attacking too heavily to avoid appearing like they are bullying a woman.

Obama received a similar treatment as political cartoonists couldn't figure out how to lampoon him without looking racist.

Jenna said...

I'd say the opposite - that a culture of misogyny will happily attack a woman and that never in the history of the world has there been a political media machine that has shied away from attacking a female candidate just because she's female (maybe they held back because all media is biased and they liked her, or they were afraid of her a la Indira Gandhi). My own country is supposedly a beacon of women's rights and look how we treated Hillary (I'd argue that Palin deserves a lot of what she's getting. Female or not she's ridiculous).

But anyway. I also disagree that Taiwan has a culture of misogyny. Gender bias and sexism still exist here but if you want to see a 'culture of misogyny', go to Japan, Korea or China (and many parts of India) or much of the Middle East.

Marc said...

Thin skinned? She's a daughter of the South, of Fenggang, and a Hakka - I think she has deep reserves of toughness!

Anonymous said...

Sigh... if only Dubya and Obama have even only half of Tsai's smarts then America will no longer have to rely on China for finance!


Anonymous said...

Turton, you've got some of the most devastating yet dead accurate sarcasm I've ever read. Spot on - great post!

Mark said...

Would love it for Tsai to become president and really dismantle the disgusting smug KMT and their huge supporting dirty money media machine!