Wednesday, March 18, 2015

OMG TENSION and Elections set for Jan 16

People's Park, Taichung.

Still catching up from the last few days....

First Chen Shui-bian's son Chen Chih-chung, who'd done so much damage to the DPP, yet had been accepted back into the party which needed his followers, announced a few days ago that he was going to step aside and not run for a legislative seat. Yay!

Also stepping aside from his Taipei legislative run was Freddy Lim of the New Party (Platform) for a Social Democratic Party politician. I can't find the translation of the party platform anymore on solidarity.tw, it's been taken down. Lim said he didn't want the "party-state" infrastructure to capitalize on disunity in the opposition.

Pet Peeve alert. Here's example #9982: if you're an small country resisting invasion from a giant neighbor with an ethnic element in your homeland skewing your local politics in favor of the big neighbor, and you happen to be located in Eastern Europe, you'll get favorable press. Indeed, the government and its officials will forthrightly state that your big neighbor is causing instability in your local government and nation. If you're located in Asia, however, you are provocative and tension-mongering. No double standard here to see, just move along folks.

A good example of this pet peeve at work is also in The Economist this week. The magazine offered another China-centric piece on China's warning to Taiwan's DPP. Read carefully -- note how the piece never tells the reader that China itself does not accept the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that Taiwanese politicians do. The Economist forwards China's threat without contextualizing it as an attempt to attack the DPP and suppress Taiwan independence and democracy. Another odious aspect is taking the "anti-secession law" seriously. Yes, China passes a "law" "allowing" it to attack Taiwan, as if the Chinese gov't were constrained by law, and then suddenly the media is alive with the idea that China is now "allowed" to attack Taiwan. What, you mean it wasn't allowed before? Like the idea of "tension" itself, which the Economist duly conveys without comment or insight -- a complete propaganda success for Beijing, a complete kow-tow by the Economist (see my Diplomat piece) -- the purpose of the "law" was to use the western media to catapult its propaganda. Imagine if, in the western media, each time the "anti-secession law" was mentioned, the writer pointed out that it is a violation of international laws and agreements to which China is a signatory. Or the writer pointed out that the law was absurd because China can attack any time it wants anyway. It is just another example of what I'm always observing: that in Chinese society, if something is said by officials to be happening according to the law, it means someone is getting royally screwed.

Nothing positive is said about Taiwanese resistance to Chinese aggresssion. Tsai is reported to have a tough choice between angering China and looking weak (really? just those two poles?) though at least they pay her the courtesy of letting the reader know what she has proposed. The hundreds of thousands who demonstrated against the services pact suffer from "anxieties" about the effect of the pact, not actually perceiving it correctly. The piece is titled "China's bottom line" I guess because Taiwan has no bottom line. Again note the framing -- the paper defaults to the normative presentation of tensions -- they just happen without human agency, for no reason, like quasar explosions in distant galaxies:
AFTER more than seven years of calm relations between China and Taiwan, leaders in Beijing are beginning to warn that tensions will rise again if the winner of Taiwan’s next presidential election, in January, fails to make a clear commitment to the notion that there is only one China...

Few believe that China would use a DPP victory as a pretext to attack Taiwan, but many of the island’s businesspeople worry that a renewed chill in cross-strait relations could impede trade and investment flows between the two sides and make it more difficult for Taiwan to sign free-trade agreements with other countries.
Yup... the Economist got through that whole piece without clearly assigning the cause of tension to Beijing. It even forwards Xi's claim that independence forces in Taiwan cause tension! ROFL. That's some awesome cognitive dissonance there. Let's rewrite the second one so the agency is clear:
Few believe that China would use a DPP victory as a pretext to attack Taiwan, but many of the island’s businesspeople worry that if Beijing ramps up tensions and chills cross-strait relations, it could impede trade and investment flows between the two sides. They also fear that China will make it more difficult for Taiwan to sign free-trade agreements with other countries.
Why shouldn't they fear that China will block FTAs? It never promised not to, and it has consistently been doing that since ECFA was signed. Indeed, Ma himself has attributed Taiwan's FTA troubles to China. The Economist is only six years late in cottoning on to this...

ADDED: And finally:
The KMT’s acceptance of the 1992 consensus has played a critical role in lowering tensions with China and boosting cross-strait economic ties.
ROFL. Yes, the Economist thinks Taiwan is the cause of tension in the Taiwan Strait. "Tension" is a strategy of Beijing's for manipulating the foreign policy of the US and other countries and for reducing Taiwan's international space and attacking the pro-Taiwan side. Oh yeah, and for controlling editors and writers in the international media. Once again, Taiwan is not the cause of tension in the Taiwan Strait, China's desire to annex Taiwan is.

Sad.

You'd think that a western and democratic neoliberal paper would support the neoliberal democracy party that is allied to the west and opposed to China, but instead the paper supports a quasi-Leninist party that socialized most of the economy, ran an authoritarian one-party state, and is allied to China. Figure that one out, if you can. The piece scribes:
The KMT is now struggling to remould its image. The hugely unpopular Mr Ma has resigned as KMT chairman; a charismatic city mayor, Eric Chu, has replaced him. But the party is still plagued by infighting and has yet to find a presidential candidate. Mr Chu, its best hope, says he does not want to run.
Yep, you're probably wondering about that "charismatic" there. Haven't you heard that before?
  • "..Ma Ying-jeou, the charismatic nominee of the main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT)..."
     (Economist 2007).
I suppose Chu has charisma, I mean, compared to Lien Chan or Wu Den-yi.

The big news this week is that the elections are set for January 16. That's finals week at many schools, which means many students will not be able to travel. 24 student groups from around Taiwan criticized the decision. The CEC didn't have a large number of viable choices, since it was constrained by the requirement to have the legislative election before Jan 21 by law, and it had decided to combine the Presidential and Legislative elections. It is too early to say how that will affect the youth vote, since many profs will change their schedules to let their students go vote.
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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting points...Hope you wrote to the economist

citizen54 said...

The article is kind of funny when you consider The Economist's mission statement:

"First published in September 1843 to take part in 'a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."

Looks like the timid ignorance won.

Michael Turton said...

No point in writing to the Economist. But thanks.

John Scott said...

When is treason not treason?

For anybody who think defining treason should be (and must be) simple and straightforward, the KMT explantions will sound painfully contorted.

Unfortunately, I think the case of the officer caught spying is not anything unusual in Taiwan.

Maybe it is unusual in that his case resulted in an actual investigation and formal conviction.

Besides the acts of spying and selling/giving secrets to the only foreign nation that threatens Taiwan (activities which I tend to doubt are particularly unusual among high-ranking officers), I wonder what he must have done to make the military leadership angry enough to actually investigate and convict him.

Was he especially careless or indiscreet about it? Did he flout some unwritten rules? Or it is customary for officers to wait until they retire before going to China and getting chummy with PLA officials?

Brian Castle said...

Regarding your pet peeve about the favorable press Lithuania is receiving compared to Taiwan, I won't say this is the cause but I will say that if I were a reporter it would certainly make me think more highly of Lithuania than Taiwan - from the linked article: "In tiny Lithuania the threat from Moscow feels so real that the country plans to reintroduce military conscription." What is the reaction of the Taiwanese public to the increasing threat from China? You're eliminating the draft. 'nuff sad.

Martin Boyle said...

"You'd think that a western and democratic neoliberal paper would support the neoliberal democracy party that is allied to the west and opposed to China, but instead the paper supports a quasi-Leninist party that socialized most of the economy, ran an authoritarian one-party state, and is allied to China."

Interesting discourse there, Michael.Do you mean 'neoliberal' as in the Chicago Boys/Thatcher/Reganomics sense of the word and 'socialized'as that Palin/Tea Party/Cruz/Paul-esque elision and trope that craftily lodges the word next to 'socialist' in the mind of the reader? You could, after all, have said that the KMT ran a 'corporatist' or 'statist' system like the old US-backed military regimes in Latin America, but you highlighted the quasi-Leninist (it was in fact fully Leninist in internal structure) nature of the KMT.

My understanding of the DPP's platform is that it claims to be social-democratic and progressive rather than neoliberal - think Euro centre/soft-left.

Michael Turton said...

Thats what they claim to be....

Mike Fagan said...

@Brian Castle

Eliminating the draft is not incompatible with wanting to defend the nation if that nation contains the value of individual freedom.