LOVETT: It still gets me every time... to see the sad ruin of the great ship sitting here, where she landed at 2:30 in the morning, April 15, 1912, after her long fall from the world above.I do not want to make this blog about Hung Hsiu-chu, but the Discovery of Hung is not only endlessly fascinating, but critically important for the KMT. So for the nonce there's going to be a lot of posts about her. Apologies.
BODINE: You are so full of shit, boss.
Probably the most important bit of news yesterday was the KMT's insistence that Hung will be confirmed as the nominee:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesperson Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) yesterday said that it is “absolutely impossible” for any change to be made to the party’s decision to nominate Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) as its presidential candidate, after Next Magazine reported that Hung’s nomination might be at risk as her master’s degree has been called into question.Nevertheless, numerous observers continue to speculate that the KMT will swap candidates. Everyone I talk to sooner or later offers some variation of the following two sentences:
"I can't believe they aren't going to change candidates."...myself included. She's so authentically herself, many of us can't help but like her.
"I admit, I kinda have a sneaking fondness for her."
The commentary on Hung continues to grow -- and much of it negative. Like many other observers, my friend Brian Hioe notes that Hung is an existential threat to the KMT:
Where Hung is a thought of dangerous and unpredictable, it is because of the fiery nature of her rhetoric. When Hung states criticisms of the DPP and opposition to Taiwanese independence, she is not truly saying anything new, but Hung states it in terms that threaten flare-up sub-ethnic tensions in Taiwan. In an interesting contradiction, having joined the KMT despite being the child of a victim of the White Terror, Hung has acquired a reputation for anti-native Taiwanese chauvinism, for example, regarding cutting the budgets of Taiwanese language programs or even casually making fun of the enunciation of the Taiwanese language. Hung’s appeals seem primarily aimed towards deep blue KMT diehards, which has been a crucial factor in her past inability to capture larger Taiwanese demographic and may be a factor as to her future inability to do so.Hioe's article is excellent and should be read in its entirety. He argues that Hung represents an opportunity to target the KMT in a way that another candidate would not. Her strident anti-Americanism may rupture the historical American support for the KMT, and her obdurate Nationalist views will surely chill voters, especially middle of the road voters.
Where we may speculate as to the internal dynamics of the KMT, if Hung’s support comes from KMT hardliners within the party, it may be that the past year’s defeats of the KMT have not made the KMT reevaluate its need for internal reform. Recent attempts to highlight young members of the party in cognizance of the disconnect of the KMT with younger Taiwanese notwithstanding, it seems that the solution arrived at by hardliners is if what they are doing now is not succeeding, they need to go back to the good, old days—as represented by Hung. This kind of behavior, too, is not entirely surprising where, for example, the Ma administration’s reaction to the large-scale popular resistance to attempts to sign free trade agreements with China in the past year as expressed in the Sunflower Movement and its aftermath has largely been to attempt to continue attempting to draw Taiwan economically closer to China.
With every issue in the past year that stirred the fear of Taiwanese that Taiwan was in danger of encroachment from China—whether regarding the CSSTA trade agreement that the Sunflower Movement was reacting to, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which also prompted protest, or flight route M503 which was seen as allowing Chinese airplanes to get dangerously close to Taiwanese airspace—Hung has taken the line that such fears were unfounded and attributed the outbreak of protest to the machinations of the DPP rather than any popular expression of the will of the Taiwanese people. Hung will almost certainly never connect with the Taiwanese public at large if she keeps this up and is unable to moderate herself.
Expert Jon Sullivan makes that argument in an excellent SCMP piece.
Hung is an advocate of faster economic integration leading to unification. In a long and undistinguished political career, she is best known for her strident ideological views. Until now a marginal character in the KMT, Hung has a reputation for pugnacity and a sketchy electoral record. She secured the deputy speaker position as a balance to the "local wing" speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, who prizes pragmatism in terms of future political solutions. Although her father was a victim of the KMT's White Terror, a political purge during the martial law era, Hung has shown strong commitment to the party. In a polity where pragmatism is the norm, at least at election time, Hung's commitment to old ideals and pursuit of unification with China is unusually steadfast.Yep. This piece is important for me in two ways. First, it shows that critiques of Hung as non-mainstream in Taiwan are acceptable in the international media. This means we will see more of them, and because the international media validates in Taiwan local politics, they will reverberate back here, helping Tsai.
This would not be a story if Hung's nomination were consistent with the trajectory of Taiwanese public opinion. But the attitude of the majority of the electorate is moving firmly in the opposite direction, both on China and "traditional" attitudes...
....If the KMT suffers a heavy loss, the party will face potential ruptures. Factional cleavages in the party are long-standing. Despite several splinter parties breaking off, the core party has held together because it has had superior resources and political capital. But if substantial losses in 2016 compound the loss of its control over local politics, the KMT will be weakened to the point that it may no longer be able to cover over the cracks in its ranks.
The second reason is personal: Sullivan was on Twitter criticizing those of us who have been maintaining that this is an existential crisis for the KMT (long before Hung appeared on the scene), saying that the problems were merely cyclical. Welcome to the Dark Side, Jon. If you haven't read them, myself at The Diplomat and Courtney Donovan Smith at Sullivan's own (and excellent) China Policy Institute blog explain why the KMT is in the throes of an existential crisis. It may yet recover, but prospects look pretty grim right now...
Meanwhile, there's the Cross Strait policy mess (Taipei Times)....
KMT cross-strait policy is consistent with the Three Communiques signed by Washington and Beijing — the Shanghai Communique, the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Relations and the 817 Communique — as well as the Taiwan Relations Act, Hung said in the interview with Broadcasting Corp of China on Friday last week.Hung is either lying (but not in a very slick way) or has zero grasp of this thicket of obfuscation, which has swallowed commentators far more versed in it than herself. The 1992 Consensus, which says that Taiwan is part of China, is not consistent with US policy, which says that Taiwan's status awaits final determination. Nor does the US "reject" Taiwan independence, it merely "does not support." Not that it matters, for US officials are unlikely to issue any clarifications for what is obviously a local matter. But her ineptitude will matter to them privately...
Hung said that the elements of the KMT’s policy” — the “one China” principle, the “1992 consensus” — a tacit understanding between the KMT and Beijing that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means — and a rejection of Taiwanese independence — are indicated in the communiques.
Also of note: her vapid comments on the US, Taiwan, and China relationships are totally undercutting the key KMT propaganda claim that Tsai needs to "clarify" her stance. How can they maintain that position when it is obvious that their candidate has no clue?
Indeed, the media had a good laugh this week when an anonymous KMT member compared Hung and her followers to the Boxers:
Saying that Hung has launched a full attack against the US, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Chu, the unnamed member compared Hung to militants of the Boxer Rebellion, who believed themselves to be invincible and started the uprising in China in the 19th century to annihilate Westerners.As for the Taishang, the businessmen in China, some 200,000 would like to come home to vote, according to an association head. Yet, the Taishang are a typical expat population in many ways, spending their time in the new country, educating their kids there, and generally cutting ties with home. As time passes, these propensities grow. As Hung's prospects sink, the Taishang who are supposed to be super-KMT may well rethink spending the time, money, and hassle to come home to vote. Recall that the election is scheduled for Jan 16th, but the Lunar New Year is Feb 8. This means that many businessmen will face the unpalatable choice of coming home and then flying back immediately to be with their businesses during the critical lead up to New Year, then returning a couple of weeks later to do New Year, or staying away from the business for almost a month. And all that to vote for a candidate who likely isn't going to win.
Yet, they might come, to help save the legislature. As I've noted several times, Hung isn't going to help the KMT anywhere outside of the north. She could cost them the legislature.
What's missing? So far Hung has offered nothing on the economy, society -- except for doubling down on the unpopular pro-China changes to the curriculum -- or environment. The DPP's Tsai, by contrast, is maintaining a wait-and-see silence, deliberately letting Hung be hung. So the campaign at the moment is occupied by Hung's strident pro-China, anti-American views. Sweet.
We're weeks into her campaign and no competent English writer has cleaned up Hung's Legislative Bio. It's still studded with gems: "Her mother used to rag on her" that have no place in formal writing. Is there a Hung team competence issue here?
Finally, this week, which saw an approving interview in TIME of Tsai even if the rest of it was filled with KMT propaganda (my rip of it is now one of my top posts in terms of views), produced the dumbest "controversy" ever. TIME wrote:
Tsai gained a reputation for being wonky—the type who likes to debate protectionism over early-morning sips of black coffee or oolong tea.KMTers immediately seized on that to proclaim that TIME had implied that she was "unreliable" which is another meaning of "wonky." No, seriously, the Hung camp really did that.
That's the level the Rational Party is working at, folks.
Recent sightings of the good ship KMTitanic:
The Latest from Hung -- KMTitanic 12: Hung can see the Statue of Liberty -- The KMT rules -- It's Hung -- The rational party is Hung -- The Comic Genius of Hung Hsiu-chu -- Eric "Hamlet" Chu suffers the insolence of office -- KMTitanic 11: The Captain is no longer aboard -- Hung? Really? -- Comedy and ethnicity in The Rational Party -- KMTitanic 10: the ship is foundering -- Wang out -- Chu goes there? -- Rounding up the KMT again -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis -- KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
- Diss fellowship from Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
- Excellent piece from Denny Roy on how trading away Taiwan is a bad idea, in response to another fest of incompetence from Charles Glaser.
- Also at The Diplomat, another piece arguing that Taiwan is integral to the Pivot. So good to see people catching up to where I've been for a decade now...
- McDees is selling its local branches
- Dafydd Fell of SOAS sent this around:
We just ended the Second World Congress of Taiwan Studies here at SOAS, the largest ever Taiwan Studies conference held in Europe. You can see some pictures on our facebook:
The conference was also featured in the Taipei Times this week:
IN addition the 15th and 16th books in the Routledge Taiwan Research Series have now been published. The latest is Environmental Governance in Taiwan by Simona Grano from Zurich University.
- Pelosi stands down, now supports TPP
- Three cases showing Taiwan government can't be trusted with death penalty
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