Thursday, April 06, 2006

Taiwan's Fading Independence Movement? Or Robert Ross' Fading Understanding?

Taiwan's Fading Independence Movement
Foreign Affairs, March-April 2006
Robert S. Ross

This article appeared in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, the prestigious Establishment foreign policy magazine. It is both amazing and alarming that a piece of writing this poor found its way into a journal as important as Foreign Affairs. One-sided, it contains factual errors, significant omissions, and serious misconceptions.

Ross begins by asserting his case.

Political developments in Taiwan over the past year have effectively ended the independence movement there. What had been a major source of regional instability -- and the most likely source of a great-power war anywhere in the world -- has become increasingly irrelevant. The peaceful transformation of relations between China and Taiwan will help stabilize eastern Asia, reduce the likelihood of conflict between China and the United States, and present an opportunity for Beijing, Taipei, and Washington to adjust their defense postures -- all without hurting Taiwan's security or threatening U.S. interests.

Summarized, they are (1) Taiwan's political developments have ended the independence movement; (2) Taiwan is a source of regional instability now nuetered; (3) Bringing Taiwan into China's orbit will not harm Taiwan's security nor Washington's interests.

Let's get right to the alarming part: on his recent trip to the US Ma Ying-jeou revived an old proposal of James Soong's (from the campaign of 2000) for a 30-50 year peace treaty between Taiwan and China. US conservatives rightly recognized this as bringing Taiwan into China's orbit. Here is Robert Ross pushing from the US end for essentially the same outcome. A very alarming coincidence.

As we shall see, the first of Ross' claim is clearly wrong, the second is a blatant ethical and analytical error, while the third manifests either an astounding naivete or an astounding ignorance. The reader will have to choose; I am unable to.

Ross begins his case with a number of historical errors:

Taiwan's independence movement gained momentum in 1995 when Washington allowed Taiwan's then president, Lee Teng-hui, to visit the United States. During his stay, Lee gave a speech at Cornell University that signaled his impatience for independence. Before that trip, the United States had long banned visits by Taiwan's leaders in deference to Beijing's insistence that Taiwan is a Chinese province. By suddenly allowing Lee to visit, Washington seemed to Beijing to be encouraging independence.

China reacted by deploying short-range missiles across the strait from Taiwan and accelerating its purchase of Russian submarines and advanced aircraft. In March 1996, it conducted provocative missile tests near the island, interfering with shipping to Taiwan and provoking the United States to deploy two aircraft carrier battle groups to the vicinity of Taiwan. Following the face-off, the Pentagon began actively planning for hostilities with China and expedited U.S. deployments to eastern Asia and its acquisition of new weaponry. Washington also pressed for closer defense ties with Taipei, which it urged to buy costly, high-profile weapons such as submarines and Patriot missile defense systems. Beijing, viewing these measures as further evidence of the United States' encouragement of Taiwan's independence, became increasingly suspicious of U.S. intentions.

Johnny Neihu, who watches the media from his perch atop the Taipei Times, has the call:

"China reacted" to Lee's visit by deploying missiles in 1995? As if innocent China was forced to deploy hundreds of ballistic missiles, capable of killing tens of thousands of Taiwanese, to defend itself from the depredations of that evil Taiwanese independence mastermind. I can hear the voice of Taiwan-born action master John Liu (劉忠良) in a 1970s kung fu flick: "I do not wish to fight you, but you leave me no choice."

Fine. Except China was deploying missiles targeting Taiwan as early as 1993, two years before Lee went to the US.
Oops! A clear historical error. As Johnny Neihu notes, Ross' ethics are upside down, making China the aggrieved party when in fact it is the perpetrator here.

Pay close attention too to Ross' rhetorical manuevers. Ross mentions the provocative missile tests of China in 1996, but does not say that they came in the midst of a Presidential election in which a pro-independence candidate, Lee Teng-hui, won overwhelmingly. To mention that would call into question his assertion that independence is dead. The cold hard fact is, that once you strip away the party hype, all three democratically elected Presidents of Taiwan have been pro-independence. We'll return to this in a moment.

One of Ross' rhetorical moves is to makes the complexities of history vanish with a wave of "1995". The real momentum giver to independence was not when Washington allowed Lee Teng-hui to come to Cornell but when Washington became angered in the early 1980s over KMT misbehavior, including committing murders on its own soil, and when the burgeoning democracy movement forced the KMT to legalize opposition parties in 1986. After that, with the ending of martial law in 1987, the only direction things could move was up. By stripping out the previous history of both Lee's activities, China's violent threats and desire to annex Taiwan, and the independence and democracy movements in Taiwan, Ross manufactures the illusion that independence was somehow jolted by Lee's visit in 1995. Taiwan's profile in the US might have been raised, but independence was already rolling.

Another rhetorical move has to do with the way the two paragraphs are constructed. Watch the word "provoke." First, Lee comes to Cornell. This "provokes" China, which in turn launches missiles at Taiwan, which "provokes" the US. The real tale is too complex to discuss in full, but this CRS brief by my old teacher Robert Sutter on Lee's visit and the aftermath shows that in both nations complex politics, heavily shaded, led to a series of events. Ross is creating a false chain of causation that connects China's decision to fire missiles at Taiwan back to Lee's visit to Cornell. This heightens the sense that Taiwan is a source of regional instability. Ross removes agency from China, making it "provoked" -- the passive recipient of Taiwan's actions. In reality, there were many possible responses to Lee's move, including doing nothing at all. China was not "provoked" -- it decided on one option out of many.

It was Parris Chang who correctly identified the real source of the instability with regard to Lee's visit: President Clinton's flip-flopping on the issue of the visa for Lee Teng-hui, and then blame of Taipei. The US did not handle Lee's visit quietly, and misled PRC officials. Chang also notes that Lee began pushing for higher visibility for Taiwan back in 1993. His visit to Cornell in 1995 was a continuation of an existing policy, not a sudden shift in cross-strait relations (the Wiki page is based on another article by Ross)

Finally, Ross reverses reality in another important way. By placing the onus for regional instability on Lee and independence supporters, Ross effectively apologizes for Chinese expansion. China has no valid claim to Taiwan, and Ross nowhere recognizes that the problem is not Taiwan's desire to be independent, which threatens no one, but China's desire to annex it, in pursuit of which it has threatened to plunge the region into war. Ross writes as though China has no choice but to threaten to maim and murder Taiwanese.

After 1996, the situation remained tense, and the repeated steps toward independence taken by Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president since 2000, fanned the flames. Although the independence movement enjoyed a high profile internationally, it never won widespread domestic support. The increasingly unpopular Chen and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the driving forces behind the independence movement in recent years, have suffered several electoral defeats, and advocates of greater cooperation with the mainland have gained ground. A new, calmer era in cross-strait relations seems to be dawning.

This article contains multiple and very common errors. Note first that it makes the elementary analytical error of confusing support for independence with support for the DPP. In 1996 Lee Teng-hui, who was known to be pro-independence, won overwhelmingly in the presidential election. Yet Lee was running as the KMT candidate. Chen Shui-bian gained 11 points between 2000 and 2004, being elected by a razor-thin majority of voters. Reality will not support Ross' case. The public is thoroughly pro-independence, as the widespread support for the status quo -- independence from Beijing -- and outright independence show. No one wants to become part of the PRC. The fascinating question here is whether Ross really believes that anything other than Chinese missiles keeps Taiwan from being independent. He continues:

Taiwan shares a culture, language, and heritage with mainland China. But after Taiwan's half century of autonomy, economic progress, and democratization, and the resulting contrast between Taiwan and authoritarian China, many on the island have developed a strong sense of "Taiwan identity," and they believe that Taiwan now merits international recognition as a sovereign country. By the mid-1990s, the "Taiwan identity" movement had become a major force in Taiwanese politics. But it has not resulted in widespread calls for a formal declaration of independence. Voters, reflecting Beijing's military and economic hold on the island, have preferred to accommodate China's opposition to Taiwan's independence. By 2000, thanks to its accelerated missile and aircraft deployments, Beijing had developed the capability to destroy Taiwan's prosperity before the United States would have time to intervene. Equally important, the rapid growth of China's economy has given Beijing leverage over Taiwan's economy. In 2001, the mainland became Taiwan's most important export market (in 2005, it bought approximately 40 percent of Taiwan's exports), and since 2002, more than half of Taiwan's foreign investment has gone there. Without firing a shot, therefore, China could cause chaos in Taiwan.

Observe the rhetorical move at the top -- Ross makes history disappear again. Taiwan has not been independent of China for half a century. It has been independent of China for the whole of its existence, and it has been independent of a government based in Beijing for 110 years now, with the exception of four years of KMT control from 1945-9. Fifty years of Japanese rule simply vanish into the ether! The fact is that "Taiwan identity" began to take form under the Japanese and continued to grow under the ROC. Ross' point of view is that of the KMT, which would like to forget that Taiwan was ever a Japanese colony. I especially love this one:

But it has not resulted in widespread calls for a formal declaration of independence. Voters, reflecting Beijing's military and economic hold on the island, have preferred to accommodate China's opposition to Taiwan's independence.

Ross here avoids mentioning China's desire to murder Taiwanese lest they have a democracy, preferring to reach for the euphemism of "accommodating to China's opposition." Yes, the way a rape victim "accommodates" to the weapon held to her head. The next paragraph contains another hint of a pro-KMT position. I split it into two:

As a result of such factors, Chen and other politicians who support independence do not command much support among Taiwan's voters. For a decade, opinion polls have consistently reported that approximately 90 percent of the electorate opposes immediately declaring independence. Indeed, Chen's political success reflects electoral aberrations rather than the popularity of his policy toward the mainland. He won the presidency in 2000 with 39 percent of the vote only because the opposition split between his two competitors. Although he won a majority in 2004, it was the only time his party has done so since the country began holding presidential elections in 1996. And in 2004, Chen won by only a 0.1 percent margin -- after an alleged assassination attempt on Chen and his running mate the day before the vote.

Note the pro-KMT position signal embedded in the last paragaph -- the "alleged" assassination attempt. There being no reason to believe that the DPP staged an assassination attempt and no evidence to suggest such a thing, either Ross is a complete fool, or Ross has spent too much time listening to pro-KMT types complain about Chen Shui-bian. The word "alleged" there is simply a strong signal of a pro-KMT source/bias. Ross portrays Chen's success as due to "aberrations." This is essentially a KMT position -- an apologetic for KMT losses in the last two elections. As usual, decontextualizing removes the realities. Chen's garnering of 50% of the vote reflected an 11% gain over the 2000 election. A gain that large cannot be dismissed as an aberration. As many analysts remarked, between 1996 and 2004 some 4 million voters switched parties. Ross's discussion is a disservice to his readers. Further, Ross's analysis of Chen's victory contains no remark about the corruption of the KMT, or the fact that it ran the most unpopular major politician on the island for the Presidency in 2004.

More importantly, by decontextualizing the information, Ross lies to the reader:

For a decade, opinion polls have consistently reported that approximately 90 percent of the electorate opposes immediately declaring independence.

That is quite true in the trivial sense. But in order to show the meaning of such polls, Ross would need to clarify it by mentioning that the same polls show even less support for unification, and overwhelming support for the status quo. And as I mentioned before, the status quo is independence. It is numblingly obvious that the people of Taiwan do not want to be part of China.

Despite the widespread belief that Taiwan has an identity separate from China's, voters have consistently backed the so-called mainlander parties, including the Kuomintang (KMT), which was long associated with violent repression of the democracy movement. The KMT attracted popular support even when it was led by a lackluster presidential candidate and was infamous for its corruption.

All true, but wrong. As noted above, it is an elementary error to confuse voting for the KMT with opposition to independence. I personally know many people who vote KMT yet support independence. They have a variety of reasons, all which go unmentioned and unanalyzed in Ross's piece -- they like the KMT's economic policies, they think voting for the DPP will cause a war, they have longstanding ties to the KMT, or they like particular candidates. Or they get paid. Ross is again decontextualizing to create a fictive story world in which he can say that people oppose independence so greatly that they are willing to vote KMT despite the corruption.

As I have frequently noted here, corruption is a structural feature, and in a system where access must be purchased, it is rational for people to vote for corrupt politicians. Ross mentions none of this -- the whole complex context of Taiwan's local politics is simply removed from the reader's sight, thus making it possible to claim that the people are so anti-independence they vote for the anti-independence party even thought it is corrupt. Ross continues.

Despite his shallow support and the mainland's growing ability to destabilize Taiwan, Chen has continued to risk war by pushing for independence. In the run-up to the legislative elections of December 2004, for example, he and his supporters repeatedly indicated that they might seek to adopt a new constitution that would reflect what he called Taiwan's "present realities," perhaps by changing the country's formal name from "the Republic of China" to "the Republic of Taiwan" or by renouncing Taipei's formal territorial claims to the mainland. Beijing has long maintained that it would consider such changes acts of war. But Chen and his supporters dismissed such threats as empty talk, arguing that China's domestic problems (such as high unemployment, rural instability, and the regime's declining legitimacy), combined with the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan, had reduced China to a "paper tiger." Beijing responded to Chen's provocations by escalating its threats to use force, prompting the Bush administration to step in and discourage Taipei from such moves. President George W. Bush even publicly criticized Chen and affirmed his opposition to Taiwanese independence in a joint press conference with China's president, Hu Jintao, in November 2004. The DPP lost the elections, frustrating Chen's plan to amend the constitution.

Oops! The DPP didn't "lose" the elections! After the smoke cleared, the DPP was the largest party in the legislature. It failed to gain a majority, however. Once again the complexities of local politics are smeared away. By focusing on the international reaction, Ross can avoid mentioning the fact that Chen's approach was highly successful . As longtime Taiwan observer Cal Clark wrote in Issues & Studies last year, The Paradox of the National Identity Issue in Chen Shui-bian’s 2004 Presidential Campaign: Base Constituencies vs. the Moderate Middle*:

There appear to be three possible explanations for Chen Shui-bian’s victory. The first is that the outcome was determined by idiosyncratic factors, in particular the failed assassination attempt on President Chen and Vice-President Lu Hsiu-lien on the eve of the election. Second, there is at least some evidence that the growth of a Taiwanese identity has changed both the nature of public opinion on this issue and its political consequences. Finally, President Chen has been fairly skillful in creating strategic ambiguity about his pursuit of Taiwanese nationalism, a skillfulness which almost certainly has helped him at the polls. In combination, these three explanations suggest that appealing to the DPP “base” turned out to be an inspired strategy.

Ross' position is not merely hugely biased, it is also plain wrong. The salient lesson of the last three Presidential elections, all won by pro-independence candidates, is that the center of Taiwan's political spectrum is a pro-independence center. That is why Chairman Ma of the KMT has been making noises recently about recognizing independence as a viable democratic outcome for Taiwan -- he knows where the center of Taiwan politics lies on this issue, even if Ross doesn't. Ross continues:

Despite voters' apprehension over Chen's independence initiatives, the opposition had long been too cautious to challenge Chen's policies toward the mainland. In particular, the KMT, Taiwan's largest opposition party, feared that advocating closer relations with Beijing would hurt them at the polls. But the DPP's setback in the December 2004 legislative elections created an opportunity for Taiwan's opposition politicians -- and they grabbed it.

Again, the "setback" was not doing as well as they hoped. The DPP actually had more seats than any other party. Ross discusses the Anti-Succession Law and then the trip by the pro-China politicians to China.

Polls taken shortly after Lien's trip showed that 56 percent of Taiwan's electorate supported his visit and that 46 percent believed that the KMT was the party most capable of handling cross-strait relations. Only 9.4 percent believed that the DPP was most capable.

Again, we have the elementary analytical error of concluding that because the electorate thinks that the DPP can't handle China policy, the electorate must be anti-independence. Ross appears incapable of grasping the complex and contradictory nature of the Taiwan electorate. Ross is simply providing free advertizing for the KMT.

Since Lien's visit, other opposition politicians have gone to Beijing, bringing home commitments by Beijing to expand cross-strait trade and cultural ties. Going around the allegedly "obstructionist" Chen, the KMT has reached trade agreements with Beijing granting preferential access to the mainland's market for Taiwan's agricultural products. In addition, the KMT and the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office have opened bureaus to facilitate communication and the resolution of business disputes on the mainland involving Taiwanese companies. Beijing, in effect, has begun campaigning for the KMT.

This paragraph is wonderful. First, it ignores the meetings between the KMT and Chinese officials that predate the 2004 election. Second, although it mentions the fruit tariff issue, it does not mention that the tariffs do not apply to any fruit that Taiwan actually exports. Finally it is not Beijing that is campaigning for the KMT, it is the KMT that has become a pro-Beijing party. Once the KMT indicated it was willing to sell out its anti-communism, the way was open.

The KMT's new strategy has paid off handsomely. The opposition dealt the DPP a major defeat in the December 2005 local and municipal elections; Chen's party won only 6 of the 23 open posts, while the KMT- led coalition carried the rest. Although corruption in the DPP was a major campaign issue, so too was the party's policy toward the mainland. Once again, voters opted for cross-strait stability and pragmatic diplomatic and economic policies. Since the election, support for Chen and the DPP has been in free fall. Only 10 percent of the electorate -- and 5 percent of the business community -- approved of Chen in December's polls; the DPP's approval rating was 18 percent. The DPP is riddled with growing divisions, as younger politicians trying to reorient the party toward more pragmatic policies vie for leadership with the party's "fundamentalist" pro-independence elders.

This analysis is completely comical. Ross ignores the fact that the KMT's share of local city and county council seats fell as the DPP increased its share of these by 41% (in fact it has fallen successively in the last three elections). Once again, anything that might complexify the issue goes by the board. The KMT's policies are described as "pragmatic" although Ross has already noted that they are essentially pro-Beijing (thus again betraying the clear pro-KMT bias of this piece). The idea that the DPP "elders" are fundamentalist on independence is absurd -- in fact some of the strongest and most consistent criticisms of Chen and his circle have been that they are too pragmatic, too willing to sell out independence for short-term political gains. Chen is a centrist at heart, which is how he was able to get elected as Taipei mayor originally. Similarly, the crisis in the DPP reflects the crisis of a revolutionary party that must rule in a system that is corrupt, against an opposition that is in leagure with the island's worst enemy, in a society whose political models do not emphasize flexibility and consensus. It is Chen's leadership style, not his independence stance, that is the issue. The faction fights Ross refers to, as Linda Arrigo pointed out in her excellent presentation on the independence movement, were present from the beginning of the DPP and from the independence movement. In other words, we are not looking at some short-term problem, but a long-term one. Ross is either unaware of this, or withholds it from the reader.

Two other things deserve to be mentioned. First, the KMT is in a generational and ethnic crisis too, discussion of which has been abated by Ma Ying-jeou's ascendancy. Yet it has spun off two major mainlander parties in the last 15 years. Second, the article has that focus on Chen that is a strong signal of a pro-KMT source, since the KMT and China both are obsessed with Chen.

Rather than adjusting to this new political reality, Chen has denounced the KMT's cross-strait activities, blocked visits to Taiwan by mainland negotiators, and rejected the unofficial agreements negotiated with Beijing by opposition politicians. In his 2006 New Year's Day speech, Chen reiterated his support for independence and a new constitution. He also called for tightening the constraints on cross-strait economic relations, despite the widespread defection of business leaders to the KMT and government polls reporting that over 75 percent of voters support trade liberalization. In January, the mainland publicly offered to send two pandas to Taiwan, but despite a public outcry in favor of accepting them, Chen's government resisted, charging that Beijing's "panda diplomacy" was intended to undermine Taiwan's vigilance against the threat from China.

This paragraph is a priceless illustration of a pro-China slant. Note that it is "Chen" taking all the action, and all negative. There is no mention of China's fixed policy of not speaking to the DPP -- it is all that bad, bad, bad, Chen doing bad, bad, bad things. Ross refers to the Constitutional issue again...

In his 2006 New Year's Day speech, Chen reiterated his support for independence and a new constitution.

...without mentioning that Constitutional reform is the goal of both parties, since Taiwan's Constitution was never meant to function as the foundation for a democratic state, but instead, was simply the exoskeleton for one-party rule. In fact Constitutional reform has been ongoing for the last 15 years, a reality that Ross withholds from the reader. This constant decontextualization of issues functions to make his position seem more rational than it is. Ross' piece is driven forward by rhetorical tricks, not powered by evidence and argument. Ross' piece even refers to the "public outcry" on the panda issue, which shows up in the early polls from the pro-China parties, a clue as to his sources.

The KMT's popularity, meanwhile, has continued to surge. Following the December 2005 elections, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, likely to be the KMT's candidate in the 2008 presidential election, received an 80 percent approval rating in opinion polls. Like Lien, Ma publicly opposes independence and supports the 1992 consensus, which he helped negotiate. To promote Taiwan's economic growth, he advocates liberalizing trade with the mainland and allowing direct shipping and direct flights to the mainland (currently, cargo and passengers are required to go through Hong Kong).

Actually, Ma's approval rating in Taipei has plummeted 22 points in recent polls, the 1992 consensus was exposed as a fiction when the legislator who coined the term admitted he made it up -- there is no 1992 consensus. Note that again we have the elementary analytical error of confusing being pro-KMT with being anti-indepedendence. The KMT's rise in popularity has to do more with the public's disgust at the deadlock in the legislature, and the KMT's successful propaganda campaign to blame the DPP for its own obstructionism, as well as the strong KMT and Chinese control of the media. In fact two of the more popular media outlets, TVBS, and Apple Daily, are owned by Hong Kong Chinese who are anti-democracy and anti-DPP.

Ross then spends a paragraph on the glorious fantasy of the future, a Taiwan economically cowed, whose people flow to China in ever greater numbers. He then completely misinterprets East Asian politic realities. I'll take it line by line....

The demise of Taiwan's independence movement has removed the only conceivable source of war between the United States and China. The two countries will continue to improve their military capabilities and compete for influence in eastern Asia, but as the threat of war over Taiwan recedes, they may moderate their defense policies toward each other.

As Johnny Neihu pointed out in the piece I referred to earlier, this is simply wishful thinking. In fact, there are a range of issues that the US and China might go to war over, not the least of which is China's relationship with Japan. Taiwan is one flashpoint among many.

As Beijing gains greater confidence that Taipei seeks not independence but cooperation, it should be able to relax its military posture. Unilateral freezes on new missile deployments and redeployments of missiles away from the Taiwan Strait by Beijing would increase support among Taiwan's voters for the KMT's policy of engagement. Such actions would also promote good relations between China and other countries in the region, serving China's declared objective of a "peaceful rise."

More wishful thinking. Beijing knows perfectly well that the only reason Taiwan "accommodates its position" is because it maintains a threatening military posture directed at Taiwan. Without that, no Taiwanese would choose to be part of China. In other words, Ross argues that in the future the lion will lie down with the lamb. As those of us not intoxicated with visions of perfect KMT worlds know, in that situation, the lamb won't get much sleep.

Ross does make one good suggestion:

The United States will also be relieved of the imperative to prepare for war with China. The United States will be able to reduce its pressure on Taipei to buy costly U.S. weapons that are ill suited for Taiwan's defensive needs and politically controversial. In fact, Washington should develop a new defense package for Taiwan that is more sensitive to Taiwan's strategic and budget realities and that could promote more cooperative political ties between Taipei and Washington by removing a source of acrimony from their relationship.

We can only hope. Ross then instantly returns to fantasy.

Once freed from the immediate threat of war, Taiwan will be able to focus on promoting economic development and consolidating its still- young democracy.

Consolidate its democracy? With the KMT in power? Don't think so, Robert.

It's a shame that Foreign Policy fell flat on its face here, accepting a poorly-constructed and highly biased article that makes only a pretense of scholarly objectivity. Sad. I hope the journal gets plenty of letters deconstructing this terrible piece. I certainly plan to send one.


A Formosan in MN said...


I totally agree with you on this, and I think you have done a great job correcting those obvious errors. Would you consider maybe sending a letter to the editor of the Foreign Affairs or may be even try to sent out a short piece to the journal and see if they are willing to publish it in the next issue?

Michael Turton said...

I'm definitely going to send a letter to FA but I doubt they'll publish it. FA is published by the Council on Foreign Affairs, and judging from the way they let Ma run on unchallenged when he met there, they are pro-KMT.


Tim Maddog said...

Excellent title, Michael. It's just as revealing as the rest of the post.

Taiwan's Other Side said...

'bringing Taiwan into China's orbit'
-uhmm...alarming, yes but don't you think that the genie has been let out of the bottle? Taiwan, like the US for that matter, already IS in China's orbit.

"I personally know many people who vote KMT yet support independence."
-I agree 100%. We KMT'ers believe that the ROC is already independent.

"They have a variety of reasons, all which go unmentioned and unanalyzed in Ross's piece...they get paid."
-unlike the DPP, which NEVER pays for votes, right? Come about creating a fictive story world. At least Ma is making people swear publicly to stay clean.

"The salient lesson of the last three Presidential elections, all won by pro-independence candidates, is that the center of Taiwan's political spectrum is a pro-independence center."
-are you creating a fictive story world of your own here? I think you are. Proof? Please?

Again, if you mean most people want to preserve the status quo, and the status quo means an independent Republic of China, I think you're getting carried away by translating that into support for an independent Taiwan...

Echo said...

other_side: "At least Ma is making people swear publicly to stay clean."

Are you talking about 吳俊立? Or 鄭永金 ? Or maybe 許財利?

What date is today? Early April? When was the above people elected? Last December, right?

In only 4 months after the election, out of KMT's 17 elected, there are already 3 went down because of corruption.

What is Ma's role in this ?? Before the voting, Ma asked 吳俊立 NOT to represent KMT, but -- Ma specifically promised him -- all KMT support to him will not be changed, but only go under the table.

So, all bad things are justifiable as long as it goes under the table ? Is that Ma's idea about "stay clean" ?

As for 許財利, the news of his corruption roaming like hell before the election. What did Ma do? Ma not only went there to help him campaign, but also, Ma spent his precious time showing up to stand by 許財利 during the voting (this is already violating the law).

After these people were caught, did Ma ever display any wee bee of remorse for asking people to vote for corrupted politicians? Not at all. He never apologized for his support to the corrupted guys. He behaves as though that he has never asked people to vote for these corrupted guys.

Talking about "creating a fictive story world of your own" ......

Michael Turton said...

"The salient lesson of the last three Presidential elections, all won by pro-independence candidates, is that the center of Taiwan's political spectrum is a pro-independence center."
-are you creating a fictive story world of your own here? I think you are.

If people in Taiwan wanted to be part of China, they would all be choosing unification. However, when offered the choice, they opt for some choice that says "We do not want to be part of China." The pro-independence center is recognized implicitly in Ma's suggestion that independence is a viable option. He knows perfectly well where the center is. Nobody believes in the ROC, TOS, it is pure fiction.


LA said...

I believe in and support ROC. After all, it is a bastion of free Chinese. It is a concept that haters of Chinese culture and people of Chinese ethnicity find hard to believe.

Michael Turton said...

I know lots of local people who believe in the ROC, anon. Mainlanders are raised on that belief. But outside of Taiwan everywhere realizes that it is merely a political fantasy. The question is how well Ma understands that.

Echo said...

I have been wondering how could Ma be so naive on this ROC issue. Unlike President Chen who spent all his life in Taiwan, Ma did have the chance to study in USA and observe/study the western culture and in direct contact with the way westerners think. Can he be really so stupid that the way the entire world looks at the term "ROC" is completely out of his scope ?

Or he said so simply because of the president election?