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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