Friday, February 22, 2013

Frank Hsieh Trolls Beijing

TeaLeafNation has the call:
Within twenty-four hours of registration, Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) deleted the microblog account of Frank Hsieh, former premier of Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Ironically, Hsieh’s last tweet before he lost the power to post on Weibo was: “Whether or not there is freedom of speech does not depend on how freely you speak when you criticize high officials or people in power, but whether you lose your freedom after you speak.”

What followed was a wave of Chinese netizen attack: they criticized the Chinese government of for infringing on freedom of speech, expressing concerns that such display of intolerance would antagonize the fellow Taiwanese people and diminish prospects of cross-strait reunification.
The blog goes on to list a few responses, including some from the pro-independence crowd who thought that Hsieh was currying favor with Beijing. Although no one is "revisiting" the question of "reunification" in Taiwan as TeaLeafNation claims, since few here want to become annexed to the PRC, the major point, that Beijing's clampdown on Hsieh was ham-handed, is spot on. The Taipei Times made the same point:
Beijing, which appeared to be ready for closer engagement with the independence-minded DPP, extended its goodwill by sending several high-ranking officials to meet Hsieh [during his recent trip to China], who, conversely, was criticized by many of his fellow party members for “kowtowing to China” during the trip.

That explains why the case is so symbolic to Taiwanese, some of whom still expect Beijing to change its stance on reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait, and it was, perhaps, a stupid move by the Chinese government, which says it wants to “win the hearts of Taiwanese compatriots.”
I wonder. Hsieh's troll of Beijing's censors was certainly fun for all concerned, and certainly does once more demonstrate the future that Beijing is actually offering Taiwan. Yet I wonder what would have happened if Hsieh had treaded lightly instead of heavily, and attempted sustained engagement with the Chinese on the microblog. A chance to explain Taiwan, lost.... Ah well, probably Beijing would have clamped down in any case.
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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What does "delenda est, baby" mean? I see it a lot on your posts

Brian Benedictus said...

I laughed for minutes after reading the title of this post.....well done.

Feiren said...

Fortunately for Beijing, not too many people in Taiwan tweet.

Michael Turton said...

Anon, delenda est is a famous quote. You can complete it via google search.

Michael Turton said...

Also, though that has been there for many years, you're the first to ask. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Carthage must be destroyed?" I don't get it...

How does that relate to Taiwan?

Michael Turton said...

How does it relate to Taiwan? What is the context? Rome vs Carthage.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan is neither Carthage nor Rome...