Saturday, January 14, 2006

China Tries to Get Taiwan to Hate Japan

Believing one's own propaganda is a very rapid road to hell, and China seems to be strolling right down it. Richard at Peking Duck points to this article on how China is trying to create fellow feeling between Beijing and Taiwan by playing on supposed anti-Japan feelings common to all Chinese.

In October, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, blamed Japanese rightwing forces for inciting current efforts to separate self-ruled, democratic Taiwan from China.

Jia claimed that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should "feel proud" of the "exalted victory" that secured Taiwan's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

On Oct. 25, thousands of people attended a China National Museum exhibit marking the 60th anniversary of Taiwan's return to China after 50 years of Japanese rule. Some museum visitors confessed they did not know China blames Japan for Taiwan's current self-rule and hostilities toward Beijing.

China, in its push for China-Taiwan reunification, is increasingly attempting to win over Chinese citizens as well as Taiwan leaders by portraying Japan as a common enemy, Asia scholars say.

The article goes on to point out what everyone here knows: that the Taiwanese absolutely love Japan (it is always good to see an article in the western media get Taiwan right):

But political analysts say the Beijing rhetoric is not working, because Taiwan people do not dislike Japan as Chinese do.

Japan, though it occupied Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, helped it modernize toward the end of occupation. Taiwanese also have more freedom than Chinese citizens to visit Japan or import its culture, bringing the two places closer.

"Senior Chinese officials would like ordinary citizens on the mainland to see Japan as an aggressor that wrenched Taiwan away in the Sino-Japanese war, but unfortunately for Beijing, the attitudes of many Taiwanese undercut that view," said Gordon Chang, author of the 2001 book " The Coming Collapse of China."

"You've got to look at history and look at reality. Most Taiwanese people see things that way," said KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung recently.

Yup. If the KMT had ruled Taiwan fairly, there might be a far more balanced view of Japan's harsh and dictatorial rule over Taiwan. But the KMT was so corrupt, brutal, and incompetent, that they made the Japanese look good.

The article further notes

"Given the intensification of hatred toward Japan among Chinese from 1982 onward and given the rise to power of Lee Teng-hui and the DPP, both of which had friendly feelings, as do most Taiwanese, toward Japanese culture, the Communist Party anger at Taiwan and the rage at Japan began to meld together," Friedman said.

That is certainly an interesting observation. It is also one with the complaints about De-sinicization, and the accusation that Lee Teng-hui is a Japanophile, and so forth. One should also recall that when the KMT first came over they accused the locals of being 'tainted' by Japanese rule. One aspect of this is an underlying, semi-conscious perception of a purity violation -- the "pure" Chinese culture has been adulterated by the admixture of things Japanese, which must be cast out, violently. China's annexation of Taiwan will be a purification that will "restore" Chinese culture. With the Chinese one always harks back to the idealized past, from which society has strayed and to which it must return. That myth is authoritarian at heart, and that myth of the pure past a political construction that serves authoritarianism.

And China worries that whoever rules Taiwan may grow closer politically to Japan, especially since the United States has moved since 1996 to pull them together on regional security issues, said Marc Lanteigne, a political science lecturer at McGill University.

"As Japan continues to develop a more independent strategic policy it is very likely that Taiwan will be a growing concern in the area of Sino-Japanese relations," Lanteigne said.

Closer relations between a free Taiwan and a free Japan are probably inevitable, and China's belligerent behavior and expansionism are only going to feed that "problem."

I think it would be very possible to persuade the Taiwanese to annex themselves to China peacefully, if China knew how to go about it properly. Crushing democracy in Hong Kong and pointing missiles at locals are not the proper way to go about it, however. Nor is getting paranoid about Japan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is amusing, the Chinese must be delusional wrt TW attitudes having malded their own people's so well.

It's worth remembering the Cantonese troops hired to defend TW from japan, during the Tiger Republic era, were so bad that the Taipei merchants wanted the Japanese army to arrive quickly. Of course when the Japanese got near the Chinese stopped looting and fled in panic.
Foreshadowing of the KMT?