Well well. The meeting of Eric Chu, KMT Chairman, and Xi Jin-ping, President of China was on May 4th, a day fraught with symbolism in Chinese history. Yeah, remember when Chu denied May 4 was the meeting day?
Since nothing important happened or was agreed on (Cole at Thinking Taiwan) at this utterly routine meeting, one more in roughly two decades of contact between the two longtime anti-democracy foes, the big news was the spat between Eric Chu, the KMT, and the CCP on one side, and poor AP on the other. Chu had said
"兩岸同屬一中"...which means that both sides belong to one China. This is boilerplate. The Taipei Times then reported on the ensuing storm, which was as artificial as snow at a California ski resort:
Chu also said the KMT has “expressed a stern protest against and demanded the retraction of” a report by The Associated Press (AP) that said Chu “reaffirmed the party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland” when meeting Xi.WantWant described:
In the article, which AP ran under the headline: “In China, Taiwan party leader calls for more global access,” Chu was reported to have “affirmed his party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland,” according to the KMT.
Describing the report on Chu's comments as non-factual and fabricated, Lin Yi-hua, head of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee, said Chu did not broach the topic of unification with China during his recent visit to China.AP of course retracted. The reason AP retracted is simple: the writer of the piece was Chris Bodeen and Bodeen is based in Beijing. Moreover, unlike a long line of Beijing-based reporters I could name, Bodeen seems to dedicated to getting things right on Taiwan, which surely must have pissed off two anti-democracy parties I'm familiar with. Since Beijing had leverage -- goodbye, Bodeen's visa -- AP had no choice but to take it down.
One takeaway: Taiwanese are so anti-annexation that Chu's apparent affirmation of it had to be swiftly
Hau Lung-bin, the former mayor of Taipei who is now in charge of much of the day-to-day running of the KMT, did his kow-tow to Beijing quietly in April. This means that both the major mainlander princes have now given fealty to the Emperor and received his blessings.
China again promised political talks with Taiwan as an equal, provided the One China principle was accepted. Typical.
NYTimes' Austin Ramzy, in otherwise excellent piece on the Chu-Xi lovefest, says:
Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party has been critical of the consensus and denies the two sides reached any such understanding.Su Chi, the KMT heavyweight publicly stated that there was no 1992 Consensus (in 2006, almost a decade ago), and so has Lee Teng-hui, who was president at the time and who ought to know. As the Wiki page notes, which I had forgotten, so has AIT head Burghardt. Indeed, on this topic, 1992 Ma Ying-jeou says 2015 Ma Ying-jeou is wrong. The 1992 Consensus as we know it today was coinage of later date as a cage for future DPP cross-strait policy-making, legitimated by casting it back into the past, like Chinese claims to South Sea Islands (here's a google search on the term in English for 1993-1999: no hits). A key point is that China has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that Taiwan politicians do so. Frozen Garlic harrumphed on the 1992 Consensus today:
I’m pretty fed up with claims that the 92 Consensus is historically based and claims that it is a fiction invented a decade later. Personally, I think the important point is that the KMT and CCP have found an idea they can agree on; whether or not it is based on something that happened in 1992 is not that critical. They could call it the “Super Awesome Neato Arrangement Sponsored by Samsung and Coca-Cola” for all I care. Diplomatic-speak makes me yearn for the relatively straightforward and honest rhetoric of election campaigns.Froze's idea of "the important point" is incomplete. The KMT and CCP do not need an idea they can agree on to talk, they can talk any time they like and do. It's not like Chu and Xi sit down and an aged cleric walks out with a copy of the Lun Yu and then Xi and Chu both take an oath on it to adhere to the 1992 Consensus before they talk. Neither gives a flying f@ck in a rolling donut about the 1992 Consensus. Like all legal ideas put forth by Leninist authority organizations like the KMT or CCP, the rules cage others; they don't apply to the Party itself. It's always important to keep in mind when thinking about the KMT that it is not a political party but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. Hence, the key point from the KMT-CCP view is that it is a cage that both Chinese parties can use to imprison the DPP's policy makers, since each insist the DPP must adhere to it if it wants to talk to China. Wiki has a review of the history.
And yes, each time it is mentioned, I will note that it never occurred and that its importance lies in the way it is used to cage the DPP.
At Forbes Ralph Jennings correctly identifies one real goal of the talk -- Chu is probably seeking some practical help against the pro-Taiwan side, which looks like it is going to do well in the 2016 election.
Kerry Brown's magnificent tweet boner....
in this UPI piece, for example, the fact that the party regards itself as Chinese and that its ideology of Chineseness is a driver of its goal of annexing Taiwan to China, simply vanishes. Instead, Chu is the head of Taiwanese party.
More ominous than the entirely predictable moves of Chu was the Chinese decision to punish a Taiwan scholar for taking a stance Beijing didn't like. Solidarity.tw reports and translates:
Today’s edition of Hong Kong’s China Review 中評社 contained a column called “Talking with Beijing” in which the author stated that several scholars in Taiwan are coming out to help the Democratic Progressive Party by libeling KMT chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 and labeling him red, and these scholars provide “seemingly objective and neutral” analysis that misreads policy and misleads the electorate, said the author."Looks like the DPP's strongest election opponent this cycle will be the Communist Party," he concludes.
More directly, the author called out National Chengchi University Professor Tung Chen-yuan 童振源, saying that because of his twisted words, mainland China has stopped him from leading a delegation to visit there.
And watch out for the self-[CENSORED].
UPDATE: Commenter below says 1992 Consensus appears in two late 1999 pieces behind paywall. Re-searched adding the term Taiwan. Only five hits, none before 2000. The 1992 Consensus only became important with the first Chen Administration. See the opening paragraph of Cabestan's 2002 piece at Jamestown. May give fuller treatment later if I have time.
UPDATE 2: As this sarcastic image observes, although Chu insisted AP change its reporting that Chu accepted eventual annexation of Taiwan to China, there is no similar insistence that Chinese media change theirs.
- Newsweek piece on CFR report calling for new China policy. A bonus: this is the first time I've seen a major mainstream article refer to the pro-China crowd in the State Department, which all sides in the Taiwan debate assures me is a major problem for Taiwan. The CFR report also said that the US needs to fix its economy. It can do that very simply: (1) raise minimum wage to $20 to help restore US consumption so we can help out our friends by importing their goods -- of course they seek other markets since our elites have destroyed our middle class; (2) institute universal health insurance; and (3) terminate our stupid, wasteful, fossil fuel driven wars in the Middle East. But none of that will happen....
- Taiwan This Week podcast from ICRT featuring central Taiwan's Courtney Donovan Smith and Jane Rickards, who writes on Taiwan for the Economist.
- Ben on how Ma poisoned the well
- Taiwan government urged to investigate when it is discovered that Taiwanese backpackers on work holidays in Australia are treated just like foreign laborers in Taiwan.
- Scholars from Soochow U and other universities say that if young people in Taiwan don't have culture, Taiwan will become like the Philippines. Yes, you can really say stuff that stupid in public in Taiwan.
- Central bank intervening to slow the Taiwan dollar's rise.
- Lessons for the Gulf states from... Taiwan.
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