The Economist actually took the Zhang visit as a serious event, and not a PR campaign aimed at the Chinese domestic media and the international media, where it was totally successful. First see this piece (also online here). It apparently hasn't occurred to anyone in the media that the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office is not a ministerial-level official, he's just the government bureaucrat nominally in charge of some affairs of China's drive to annex Taiwan and not what one would normally think of as a "minister" when discussing a government (does anyone imagine that he has some serious administrative clout? Zhang was far more powerful as Fujian Province chief). China can give him any title they like: Duke, Pope, Quarterback, but guess what, it still isn't a ministerial-level visit. The title is just lipstick on a pig....
Banyan at the Economist chimed in with a few comments on the visit. The piece contained a couple of truly nasty tropes that are media commonplaces. Banyan said:
The DPP’s decision to shun protests during Mr Zhang’s visit implies a new pragmatism and less reluctance to engage with China. Even die-hard pro-independence DPP members or activists have held informal meetings with Chinese officials.This is utter crap. It's as if eight years of DPP negotiations with China have simply vanished (in case you can't remember, here's a 2005 paper). The DPP is quite happy to negotiate with China and wants normal relations with China, it is China that rejects the DPP. Note how in these discussions the "die hard" aspects of Chinese engagement with Taiwan -- the hundreds of missiles, the military build up, the threats to maim and murder Taiwanese -- all disappear. Only independence supporters are die hard; Chinese officialdom never is.
Moreover Banyan's contention is just plain wrong. The DPP is not shunning the protests because it is exhibiting some new pragmatism or because it is "less reluctant" to engage China. The DPP has been keeping its distance from the student movement and protests for reasons that are largely domestic in nature, to prevent them from being discredited as partisan political movements. Because you know what Banyan would have written if the DPP had been involved:
The partisan protests against Mr Zhang led by the DPP show the party's reluctance to engage Beijing as well as that street protests in Taiwan are merely DPP political actions and do not represent the true will of the people.In this trope, the DPP is always reluctant to engage Beijing, irrespective of the circumstances. That phrase must be worked in to every piece. It seems to have pained Banyan to be unable to discredit the protests as DPP actions. Ironically, in another paragraph Banyan observes that China won't recognize the DPP. It's hilarious that one side doesn't recognize the other and wants to suppress it, but the other side is invariably described as "reluctant to engage." The cognitive dissonance required to pen this stuff must be astounding...
Accolades must also be handed out. AP seems to have upgraded The Formula. Raph Jennings writing for AP:
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. China sees the island as part of its territory that eventually must be reunified — by force if necessary — despite a Taiwanese public largely wary of the notion of Chinese rule.No more of that lying "split in 1949" crap and look, Jennings actually tells us what the Taiwanese think. So rare.
Comedy moment: O yeah, a Thailand sighting in a piece over at Counterpunch where every sentence contains an error:
Not that China has had much luck on the other end. Taiwan’s tremendous Sunflower Movement emerged last year as a direct result of China’s attempts to pull the Kuomintang government of Thailand closer into its orbit through a bilateral trade pact. The resulting protests involved tens of thousands of people in the streets and the cancellation of the agreement. China’s territorial claims over Taiwan include the Senako Islands, which Japan also claims, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office director, Zhang Zhijun visited last week in a historic show of polity. Although Zhang used the local dialect and came with offerings of peace, his presence was protested throughout the area. At one point, protesters splashed the dignitary with white paint, causing the cancellation of two events.Brace for Rant! Finally, this post wouldn't be complete without a nod to the Nation. It finally mentioned Taiwan! Yes, in a puff piece on the US Justice Department, it lead off with the sordid tale of Chen Shui-bian's housing purchases in Manhattan as an example of corrupt billionaires stashing their wealth in US real estate. LOL. There's no political context or the biased, politicized trial mentioned in the Chen case, except to disparage it. The article presents the sordid spectacle of the Justice Department colluding with the former authoritarian party of Taiwan to help hound a pro-democracy politician to death in jail. Way to go, team!
The single thread that ties together so many of the cases mentioned in the article is that the individuals pursued by the Justice Department all fell out of favor with governments that had previously supported them, rendering them easy prey. What the article really shows is that "Justice" will only go after you when you're weak, politically marginalized, and there is no political cost. For some reason the article didn't mention Soong Mei-ling, wife of KMT dictator and mass murderer Chiang Kai-shek, who lived placidly in her Manhattan apartment amid the spoils of two countries until she died of old age there. Never mind that corrupt Chinese officials and their princeling children own assets all over the US, never mind that a certain political party I know well is the richest in the world and it and its officials have many assets in the US, never mind that Wall Street remains untouched by justice -- these people are immune. "Justice" will never go after them. As I said when "Justice" made its announcement of this two years ago, if only Chen had run a murderous authoritarian state or blown up the world economy, his assets never would have been touched. Obviously Chen should have jailed his opponents instead of running against them in free elections...
Take my usual complaint about Taiwan being ignored by the Left as read. Maybe someday the Nation will write on our democracy, or our health system, or our China dilemmas... but don't hold your breath. Instead we will only get a steady stream of this ungodly stupid Cold War lensed crap.
- Maddog observes that Calls for DPP to freeze its independence clause don't come from mainstream of either society or DPP, just from a few fringers who want to curry favor with Beijing.
- Sean Lien, the wealthy scion of the Lien family, who got to run for Taipei Mayor only because he is the son of somebody, complains Ko is waging class war.
- DPP blockade ends legislative session with failure to vote on the Control Yuan nominees, who have been brutally criticized.
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