Monday, March 28, 2016

Catching up: Huadu + links =UPDATED=

The Cross-Strait restaurant outside Changbin, where Taiwan is served on a platter daily.

Last week spokesman extraordinaire J Michael Cole wrote a rather odd piece for the China Policy Institute claiming that Beijing now faces 2 independence camps in Taiwan. The piece blew up a dismissive term used by some Taiwan independence types (=Taidu) for independence types who are willing to accept independence under the ROC label (=Huadu) into a full blown political camp. Ben Goren and I pointed out Cole's error in a follow on piece at CPI.
Although the piece is creative, it posits a false dichotomy based on a misunderstanding of the etymology of the term ‘Huadu’. Although the term has become more popular in recent years, it originated as a dismissive phrase coined by Taidu supporters to refer to other Taiwanese who they see as weak-willed appeasers of the ongoing ROC colonial occupation of Taiwan. Outside of this tiny subset of active citizens who are politically engaged on the issue of Taiwan’s independence, the term Huadu remains largely unknown.
Persual of BBS systems where people discuss such things shows that the term remains a mystery even to those might use it; outside of a few young people engaging in discussions on the internet, there is no camp, no ideology, no political demands, no philosophy for the "huadu". It exists as no more than a feeling that it might be ok to be independent under the ROC label, though it is obvious that people who think that way have never thought much about what the means. Some random remarks from users on a BBS:
Huadu faction [note: not "camp"], except for the Constitution and the nation's name, are Taidu
Huadu hopes that over time the opposite side will gradually become a normal country
國號根本不重要 某些台獨派太狹隘
What we call the nation is not important. Some Taidu people are too narrow-minded
Taidu and Huadu are just labels that are used to divvy up the independence movement into purist and moderate factions, largely for discussion purposes among a few aficionados. Outside of this discussion among Taidu types about other Taidu types, there is no Huadu camp. As Ben and I note in the piece at CPI, if China ever permitted Taiwan to be independent, this "difference" would vanish in a heartbeat.

Brian Hoie at New Bloom riffed on Cole's piece to speculate on how the DPP might treat ROC independence. He also observes of Cole's error:
If terms such as “ROC independence” or “Taiwanese independence” are terms commonly used in Taiwanese discourse about unification/independence politics to frame specific political positions, such terms are not used in English. Discussion of political positions about independence/unification politics are framed in different terms in English.

In writing about the use of such terms in Taiwanese discourse about unification/independence politics, one hopes to bridge the sometimes vast gap between Taiwanese political discourse within Taiwan and Anglophone discourse about Taiwan—even if others may arrive at different political conclusions than one’s own. But that leaves open the possibility that individual seeks to appropriate a term from its original meaning in Taiwanese discourse to create a different meaning for it in English, which creates misleading perceptions about political discourse within Taiwan.
This does not mean that at some point in time this discourse might spill outside its current existence on the BBS and become a full blown camp with advocates, a program, an ideological system, and so on. Perhaps Cole was just trying to get the jump on such a process as a couple of people observed: "I saw it first!". But at present, there is nothing like that in the offing, and Beijing contends with the Taiwanese and their democracy, as Cole rightly noted in his piece.

ADDED: Jenna responds to Ben and I
Where, however, it seems to me - again in my totally non-scientific observation - that they are wrong is in dismissing it as existing at all simply because it is not an organized or semi-organized political force or a self-identifying label
...except, we never denied that such people existed. *sigh* What we denied was that they represented a "camp" that Beijing had to contend with, or that the terms used in a tiny subset of the political discourse could be blown up that way. To wit:
The only evidence of Huadu’s existence surfaces intermittently in polls that ask whether Taiwanese want independence, the status-quo, or annexation. Those polls provide too little information on the identity of respondents to conclude that those who favour the status-quo have a unique and consciously shared political identity
Taidu is a real political identity conscious of itself, with an ideology and program. "Huadu" is a term used by Taidu people to describe other Taidu types who are less purist. It's really that simple. Everything else is just blowing the whole discussion out of proportion.
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Anonymous said...

Indonesian military harassing Taiwan fishing boats

They also demanded an apology and compensation from Indonesian authorities.

Argentian sinks the boat.

Japan apologizes and gives money,new boat.

Indonesia takes "fine".

Argentina is the only solution because you know that boat wont be back fishing illegally in their waters.

Jenna Cody said...

I didn't say you denied that such people existed.

I said you denied they existed as a group. I think they do exist as a group, and something of a cohesive one, even if they are not labeled and not organized as of yet. And I do actually agree with Cole that they are a force to contend with, because Beijing seems to have this idea that they will roll over and play Unification when, in fact, they won't, and they are a massive barrier to China's annexation strategy (and arguably a stronger one than the pro-independence supporters as there are just so many of them).

Jenna Cody said...

...and also that I'm not sure it's "an attempt to divvy up" the independence movement by some outside force so much as something that "huadu" (I also don't like that term) themselves are saying, that they don't care for some of the nativist rhetoric of the pro-independence supporters or aren't willing to support independence immediately if it means war (which it probably would). This comes from them, not some shadowy Nationalist svengali manipulating public discourse.

Carlos said...

I think Jenna's post fits better with what I've observed among family and friends in Taiwan. Most of the light blues can be described that way, and even some deeper blues like my wife and her mom. They've moved from being pro-unification 10+ years ago to... well, it sounds like a Two China policy to me, but no one's willing to use that wording. They're waishengren and identify very strongly with the ROC, so it's not a matter of being softer Taidu supporters. They'd see that as the death of everything their older family members fought for during the '40s. My family's Hoklo from Kaohsiung, but it isn't uniformly green. There are some ROC-identifiers in the fold and they've moved away from "eventual unification might be okay under certain circumstances" to either favoring unification or making the status quo permanent. The latter are the reason Ma had to keep repeating that bit about it being a sovereign and independent country, without being clear which one he was talking about.

China will have to deal with them, in that it hasn't accepted just how many pan-blue voters would resist unification. That'll be true even if the pan-green parties peel the "less purist" Taidu types away.

TaiwanJunkie said...

I guess I would be labeled by the purist Taidu supporters as Huadu, but it would only be because the methodology to achieve the endpoint is different.

I don't put much stock in the status indeterminate idea that most purists would advocate. Instead, I'm with the idea that the population already passively accepted ROC rule and legitimacy by repeatedly participating in ROC's representative government. Then it is simply a slow and gradual evolution of the ROC through transitional justice and constitutional reform to gradually Taiwanize completely (but still hiding under the outer coat of the ROC) until the timing is right for the final step of official name change.

If that makes me Huadu, so be it.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks for all the fine discussion.

Anonymous said...

My family are Benshengren from Tainan. So you'd assume they are green. However, the older generation (my parents in-law, and my wife's aunts and uncles) are very blue. I'm sure it is no coincidence that almost all of them are retired teachers and government employees. My wife's generation range from light blue to light green to apathetic.

I would say that my wife is in the light blue camp. She prefers the KMT because she equates that party with stability, and she views the DPP as promoters of chaos. However, she will be the first to tell you that Taiwan is NOT a part of China, and should never be part of China. Personally, I don't understand how one could be a KMT supporter and yet have such a strong stance regarding the status of Taiwan. But she seems perfectly comfortable with the cognitive dissonance. As an outsider looking in, I would say she fits in the "huadu" category. She loves all the ROC symbols (flag, anthem, Sun Yat-sen portraits, etc.). But she views those things as Taiwanese symbols. She finds "taidu" talk about changing flags or anthems as nonsense. According to her "why does Taiwan need to create a new flag, we already have a different flag from China."

A couple of days ago I asked her about this term "huadu." She had no idea what I was talking about.

J said...

Glad to see that article on eliminating elections for mayors getting some attention. It's shocking how openly disdainful of democracy politicians can be.

Michael Turton said...

""But she views those things as Taiwanese symbols. She finds "taidu" talk about changing flags or anthems as nonsense. According to her "why does Taiwan need to create a new flag, we already have a different flag from China."

A couple of days ago I asked her about this term "huadu." She had no idea what I was talking about."""

Yep, lots of people have this idea. Unfortunately there is no survey work on this.

Jenna Cody said...

I'm not sure how anyone could seriously view a Sun Yat-sen portrait as Taiwanese...bro only spent like one night in his entire life in Taiwan and other than being the founder of a government born in China, has never had anything to do with Taiwan. Identifying him as an ROC symbol sure, but as a Taiwanese one? Color me confused.

But then I also don't get how anyone who believes in democracy in Taiwan and is proud of Taiwan's achievements in this regard can think the DPP is the "party of chaos". Without the dangwai elements that eventually became the DPP, Taiwan wouldn't have democracy at all. What chaos, then?

Jenna Cody said...

And Carlos gets it! A lot of "huadu" (I still don't like that term hence the scare quotes) *do* identify with the ROC and wouldn't want to give up that identification because, as I noted in my post, they see themselves as the carriers of the cultural heritage of Chinese history, or they just don't want to admit that their grandparents fought in vain for a man who became a brutal dictator and was never wanted in Taiwan. I could see not wanting to admit that, even if I disagree with such pro-ROC identifiers!

Michael Turton said...

"""lot of "huadu" (I still don't like that term hence the scare quotes) *do* identify with the ROC and wouldn't want to give up that identification because, as I noted in my post, they see themselves as the carriers of the cultural heritage of Chinese history""

Huadu does not refer to these people. That's yet another political group which has no name, and consists large of people over 45.

Anonymous said...

Jenna Cody: I mentioned that my wife seems very comfortable with cognitive dissonance. She grew up in a blue family during the years of Chiang Ching-kuo (whom she still admires). Every day at class she saw portraits of Sun Yat-sen in her classroom. Every Double 10 day her father hangs a large ROC flag in front of their house. He's done this ritual since before my wife was born, and still does it. When my wife was a child she assisted him in this ritual. So, it is no surprise to me that she has a lot of attachment to ROC symbols. She doesn't view these thing's as foreign to Taiwan, but synonymous with Taiwan.

To make matters even more confusing, my wife's family are not waishengren. Her ancestors have been in Tainan since the Qing Dyanasty. Her mother tongue is Taiwanese. She learned Mandarin at school. My wife is very proud of Chinese culture, but she has no love at all for the PRC. She will tell you that Taiwan is NOT a part of China, and should never be a part of China even if China democratizes. She says that Taiwan and China have been apart for far too long and have developed in very different ways, so she thinks the two are incompatible.

My wife's whole family equates DPP with chaos. They think the DPP likes to stir up the emotions of uneducated people for the benefit of votes. They also think the KMT promotes stability in the cross-straights relationship. None of my inlaws liked either Hung Hsiu-chu or Eric Chu, but they held their noses and voted KMT anyway. I think my in-laws would have been more excited about Wang Jin-pyng.

I don't pretend that my wife's family are representative of Taiwanese. They are certainly a minority in Tainan. They are but a part of Taiwan's complex society. I do think that the ROC = Taiwan view is probably held by a sizable chunk of Taiwanese. I believe the the purists on either side (Republic of Taiwan, or ROC includes the mainland) are extremist minority views.

Carlos said...

“Huadu does not refer to these people. That's yet another political group which has no name, and consists large of people over 45.”

If it’s a term that no one uses on themselves, then why shouldn’t it apply to two-China / ROC identifiers? There needs to be a better label for people who believe in formalizing ROC=Taiwan than “light blues.”