Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ma's New Year Speech 2013

Daisy
Backyard daisy, up close.

Today's New Year's Day Speech from the President offered some real head-scratchers, like this statement:
In the future, the government's industrial policy must concentrate on boosting local employment and increasing people's incomes. For our policy to attract more foreign investment, we need to break free from traditional approaches, which are over-reliant on tax breaks and low labor costs.
Right, we have to break free from traditional approaches... what's the Ma Administration policy for bringing back Taiwanese firms to Taiwan? I blogged on it a while back: it's tax breaks and low labor costs -- the formation of "free economic zones" (read: traditional industrial and science parks) where labor laws don't apply and more foreign workers can be imported. Not surprisingly, the proposals have been excoriated for their obvious tendency to promote traditional resource- and labor-intensive industries.

But the really fun part was President Ma once again displaying his ideological roots in the bygone security state era with reference to the Chineseness of Taiwan, in context of cross-strait relations:
The people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are all ethnic Chinese. We are all descended from the legendary Emperors Yan and Huang.
Ma's powerful ideological commitments to this conception of Taiwan as "Chinese" which dominate his thinking, Han Chauvinist to the core. Note that the speech contains no references to Taiwanese culture or Taiwaneseness. Ma wrote on his Facebook page before the election, which I blogged on:
“I am a descendant of the Yellow Emperor in blood and I identify with Taiwan in terms of my identity. I fight for Taiwan and I am Taiwanese,” Ma wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “In nationality, I am a Republic of China [ROC] citizen and I am the president of the ROC.”
Ma is Taiwanese only for the sake of elections, and only to the minimal extent necessary. That post contains several examples of the way Ma downplays Taiwaneseness into a subclass of Chineseness. Here in today's speech he simply eliminates the idea that there is any significant difference between Taiwanese and Chinese, and the aborigines, immigrants, and others who are Taiwanese simply vanish. Ma's thinking on this, like the KMT, is based on the archaic idea of "blood".

When Ma asserts that the people on the two sides of the Strait are Chinese he is also implicitly asserting that they are all part of China. It is an article of faith among right-wing Chinese ideologues like Ma that everyone who is Chinese should be incorporated into a single super-state. Thus, to assert that group X is Chinese is to assert that they should be annexed, as we have seen with both Taiwan and with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which PRC officials have said is Chinese since its ethnic Tibetan inhabitants are "Chinese."

Ma returns to the theme of Chineseness at the end of the speech:
My fellow citizens, please rest assured that no matter how difficult and hazardous the world may be, as long as we remain confident, work as one, seek reform, and skillfully marshal the forces of progress, we can surely achieve positive things and create a new future for the Chinese society.
...not a new future for "Taiwan."
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27 comments:

Anonymous said...

any links to the chinese text?

David on Formosa said...

Ma's Han Chauvinism doesn't even deserve to be called that. It is plain and simple racism. It is very ugly and it is totally unacceptable for the head of state to speak in such a way.

arex said...

Michael, I've been perusing your blog for years and I love how even as a Caucasian living in Taiwan you're more Taiwanese than many I'm now finding. Keep up the good work and giving proper perspective for those who live outside the beautiful country of Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Exactly right David.


Thanks MT.


The post you made a few days ago about ROC citizenship is a racial issue as well.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks Arex. I really appreciate it.

Hans said...

I wonder how many local Taiwanese actually care about his speech or got a signal from all these "Chineseness" in Ma's speech. I feel that he's a transparent hollow man who people in general just ignore whatever he's trying to preach until the line is crossed (sovereignty, taxes, mainly), then the crowd explodes.

@ David on Formosa
Racism and nationalism to the core.

Michael Turton said...

Hans, I think people don't care, as you say. But I really enjoy skewering all those media assholes who wrote about what a pragmatic technocrat Ma Ying-jeou was in the run up to the 2007 election whenever Ma reveals what a craven ideologue he is.

Martin Krenz said...

Dear Michael,

I find your quotation of Adolf Hitler disgusting and as a German living in Taiwan I feel offended. You can criticize Ma for a lot of things and I welcome that, but when you start to insert Hitler and Nazis into the discussion, most Germans will be appalled.

It's no secret that Ma's identity is Chinese. It was no secret to most voters in 2012, also to those of Hoklo and Hakka descent who tend to identify as Taiwanese. So what new did we learn in your post? Nothing. It looks like you just wanted to attack Ma for the sake of attacking. And you are probably pleased, that your ideological henchmen reacted the way they did. The disgusting comment by David on Formosa -who is not really on Formosa anymore- is what you wanted to achieve, right? Is it really impossible to discuss Taiwan politics without name calling, hate mongering and inserting racism? It's a bit tiresome already.

Ma identifying as Chinese is not racist per se. Is it racist, if Shinzo Abe identifies as Japanese? Or Angela Merkel as German? If she said "we can surely achieve positive things and create a new future for the German society", would that be objectionable? KMT was and still is a Chinese political party, everybody in Taiwan knows it. Ma does care about the future for Taiwan, but one that is part of China. I strongly disagree with him on his cross-strait policies, however to associate a democratically elected centrist politician with the mass-murderer Hitler is just pure nonsense and it shows how lost some of you on this forum are after DPP's blow at the elections. Your predictions about Tsai's victory were completely wrong. Is it really that hard for you to acknowledge that your ideology has failed and that this is the wrong way to discuss the reality of Taiwan's politics of today?

"Ideologien resultieren aus dem Wunsch, mit dem Denken an ein Ende zu kommen." -Michael Richter

Michael Turton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Turton said...

I took the quote down.

Michael Turton said...

Martin -

I find your ignorance appalling. I suggest you pick up one of Frank Dikotter's books on the evolution of racial thinking in China. Then you will learn that the Volkish thinking that underlies Hitler's thinking also underlies the Han Chauvinism of Chinese like Ma. They have the same ideological roots, in the thinking of European racists of the 19th century.

Ma is not "identifying as Chinese". Rather, he is proclaiming that everyone in Taiwan is Chinese. The colonial and expansionist nature of that claim is obvious to the others in this conversation, who have academic degrees in Taiwan related affairs and have lived here for many years.

Obviously both your understanding and your education could use boosting.

Ma is not a centrist politician but a right-wing Chinese nationalist. When you understand that much of the coded language he uses will become clear.

Your predictions about Tsai's victory were completely wrong. Is it really that hard for you to acknowledge that your ideology has failed and that this is the wrong way to discuss the reality of Taiwan's politics of today?

I never predicted a Tsai victory, only its possibility. I always thought Ma would win, and never changed that position (to be accurate, I thought he'd win by 4). You have no idea what my ideology is (obviously).

Good luck with your education. It is not a steep learning curve, but it is a long one.

However to associate a democratically elected centrist politician with the mass-murderer Hitler

Actually, I usually associate him with the mass murderers Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, right-wing nationalist Chinese leaders whose ideology and party affiliation Ma shares.

Michael

MJ Klein said...

with all the SE Asian wives on the island, even suggesting that "we're all" any one ethnicity shows a basic lack of knowledge of Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

@ martin

congrats. It is only Jan 2, but you have won the dumbest comment of the year award already.

Readin said...

Anon wrote: "The post you made a few days ago about ROC citizenship is a racial issue as well."

How so? As I explained in a response (a bit late but sometimes don't have an opportunity to post immediately, and sometimes I think a bit before responding), Taiwan's policy of demanding that new citizens give up their previous citizenship, while not demanding people renounce Taiwanese citizenship when becoming citizens of foreign countries, is simply good policy that benefits both Taiwan as a country and Taiwanese as individuals. The bureaucracy that implements the policy sounds like it needs improvement to avoid creating stateless peoples, but the policy is rational.


Readin said...

@martin

Michael Turton can be accused of pulling a Godwin, but in this case I think the quote was appropriate. There was no attempt to claim that Ma would like to replicate every facet of Hitler's behavior. But the way of thinking that led to the Anschluss and to the annexation of parts or wholes of other nearby countries is clearly rhyming with Ma's statements. (It has been said that history never repeats but that it often rhymes. Why learn history if not to be able to recognize those rhymes?)

Whether or not it is "racist" is a legitimate question of debate. I'm a conservative in America so I'm well acquainted with unfounded accusations of racism. However in this case we have to look at the question of what is meant by "Chinese". Your comparison to Merkel identifying as "German" is different because the identification is with a country where simply becoming a citizen is supposed to make one German regardless of their ancestry. So when Merkel talks about "all Germans" she is likely talking about all citizens of her country.

However, Ma's usage clearly indicates not an interest in just the citizens under his jurisdiction, but an interest in creating a political unification with all people who share some other non-citizen-ship based definition of the word "Chinese". Perhaps he is using the word culturally, but he says "We are all descended from the legendary Emperors Yan and Huang." The use of "legendary" can be argued to mean that the words should should not be taken literally, but basing Chineseness on descent clearly implies a racial component to the definition.

I don't know to what extent Ma is basing his definition on race vs culture. If his definition were purely cultural I think he would try to avoid any indication of a racial definition. The fact that he appears to mix the both race and culture suggests to me that his real definition is at largely racial but that he mixes in some cultural stuff to be sure to include all the subject peoples of Taiwan and China.

wasabi said...

It will be interesting to see how good this being Chinese does the KMT and their cohorts after Taiwan is annexed by China. I suppose when they are in huddled in their reeducation camps or eating their allotted one bowl of rice, they can take solace in the fact that, well, at least their oppressors are ethic Chinese.

Michael Turton said...

The bureaucracy that implements the policy sounds like it needs improvement to avoid creating stateless peoples, but the policy is rational.

The policy is racist. It is based on fear of dilution of the Pure Blood by the Other. The reason the East Asian nations all have aging population problems is that they all have the same race-based definition of citizenship.

Michael

Anonymous said...

I hope that one day in the not too distant future, Taiwan goes back to China, and China evolves into a more representative type of government.

Readin said...

"The policy is racist. It is based on fear of dilution of the Pure Blood by the Other. The reason the East Asian nations all have aging population problems is that they all have the same race-based definition of citizenship."

I realize you wrote this at 6:00am and were probably in a hurry to get to work, but I think an accusation of racism is serious enough that it should have more support than a simple re-iteration of the charge.

I won't argue that there is no racism in Taiwan or in particular within the KMT. I'm just saying that the policy in question is not on its face racist. There are rational non-racial reasons for having the policy. And is the policy applied equally to people from say, Singapore and America, who have Chinese ancestry from 150 years ago? If such people are given special exemptions that would be new evidence. If not, it suggests that the policy isn't racist since it is written and applied in a race-neutral manner.

Michael Turton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Readin,
You really don't understand anything about this place. Why do you keep trolling here?

Andrew Kerslake said...

On a side note:

"Overseas Chinese" and ROC citizens may use their valid USA drivers license to obtain an ROC license. A foreign resident with an identical license may not do the same.

These are racialist policies that reflect the ROC's indivisibility of race and nation.

Michael Turton said...

""""won't argue that there is no racism in Taiwan or in particular within the KMT. I'm just saying that the policy in question is not on its face racist.""""

Read Whittle's piece on naturalization and pay close attention to the reasons the bureaucrats give for not adopting a rational citizenship policy.

And if it isn't race-based, Readin, why do Overseas Chinese have their own immigration category!?

Michael

Michael Turton said...

"Overseas Chinese" and ROC citizens may use their valid USA drivers license to obtain an ROC license. A foreign resident with an identical license may not do the same.


You've got to be fucking kidding me.

Michael

Readin said...

Whittle's article is, as you mention, quite lengthy. I read and skimmed through it again to see if I could find what you were talking about. I found many many things to dispute in the article, but on the topic of racism the closest I found was this:

"Taiwan stands alone among its peers in applying the double standard of freely allowing dual nationality for its own, but insisting on renunciation of citizenship for foreigners seeking ROC nationality. That is an egregious and reprehensible act of exclusion against non-Chinese members of Taiwan's immigrant population." This statement doesn't make sense unless by "Chinese" they are using the non-racial usage of the term (i.e. people from the PRC). Is the claim being made then that PRC nationals can obtain the full rights of ROC citizenship without renouncing their PRC citizenship?

Ma's special relationship with China does indeed suggest (but not prove) racism as I mentioned in an earlier post. The different rules for "Overseas Chinese", as pointed out by Kerslake, are certainly racist.

But having one policy that racist does not mean that all your policies are racist (just as having similar expansion policies as an infamous dictator does not mean that you will have similar genocidal policies).

We were discussing a policy of refusing dual citizenship to immigrants while allowing it for natives. Do "Overseas Chinese" who obtain ROC citizenship get to keep the citizenship of their native country? If so, I think you have pretty strong evidence that in the case of Taiwan, forcing foreigners to renounce original citizenship to gain new citizenship is racist.

Otherwise it's just good policy. If you want to have all the rights and privilege's of citizenship in a country, you should commit to that country. Taiwanese understand that when they get angry at politicians who have American passports. Everyone should be in the same boat. Would you want to be on a ship with no lifeboats except for one reserved for the captain? Or perhaps one lifeboat for just the ships' crew (but not for the passengers)? In a democracy, everyone shares leadership. It is wrong then for some to have a lifeboat while others don't.

Readin said...

@anon "You really don't understand anything about this place. Why do you keep trolling here?"

I troll because I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan.

MJ Klein said...

someone told me that the reason Taiwan requires renunciation of former citizenship is because of all the Chinese who moved here. Taiwan wants them to all change their loyalty to Taiwan, and they try to accomplish that through the process of renunciation.