Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Frank Ching: Chen is Illogical

Frank Ching's latest in the South China Morning Post -- the article is currently behind a pay wall, so enjoy.

There is no possibility that Taiwan can enter the UN, as both Washington and Beijing have said. Yet the DPP government insists on holding a referendum on the issue on March 22 - the day of the presidential election - primarily to drum up support for its candidate, Frank Hsieh Chang-ting.

Beijing has warned that this has created a "highly dangerous" situation. But Mr Chen and his associates evidently believe that strengthening their candidate's chance of winning is more important than the safety and security of Taiwan's 23 million people.

I'm always amazed by comments like this. Apparently Mr. Ching thinks that Taiwan's safety and security are threatened by Chen Shui-bian, and not by Chinese missiles and aircraft. Mr. Ching, who accuses Chen of being illogical, seems to suffer from a few blown logic circuits himself. If only those silly French resistors hadn't threatened the safety and security of France by fighting the Nazis. And think how much safer Ethiopia would have been if only Menelek II hadn't objected to a clause in a treaty placing Ethiopia under Italian "protection".... Ching maunders on....

The decision not to display festive slogans on National Day underlines the pro- independence position of the current government. It shuns any association with the "Republic of China" - even though that is how it is known to its few remaining diplomatic allies.

It is unprecedented for a government to turn its back on its own flag, anthem and national day in this fashion. The administration wants to change all the trappings of the state, replacing them with ones that have no link with mainland China. Thus, at DPP rallies, displaying the Republic of China flag is considered provocative because it is associated not with the DPP but with the opposition Kuomintang. The president is photographed with the national flag only on formal occasions, when it is unavoidable.

..."because it is associated with the opposition Kuomintang." Yes. Doh. The "national flag" is a "party flag" because -- and among Ching's intellectual shortcomings appears to be selective amnesia -- that flag was the flag of a one-party colonial state that murdered and imprisoned many of the people who had fought for democracy here. Of course they minimize their connection with the illegitimate government of the island that oppressed them for 50 years! In a piece in the Taipei Times yesterday entitled "The roots of the 'abnormal' Taiwan," this point of view is perfectly expressed:

But there aren't too many perished states around that have brought their national title, flag, constitution and system to a place that wasn't even part of the state's founding. So if you say there's nothing abnormal about that, then you are probably the one that is a bit abnormal.

What Taiwanese feel is a contradiction and it makes us feel awkward because when we are celebrating our national day, we are celebrating the national holiday of a perished state.

With Ma and his supporters thinking that the ROC is completely normal, they should be happy that the government -- which happens to think that the ROC is not normal -- is celebrating the ROC's national day at all. But instead, pan-blue politicians dressed up in red on last year's national day celebrations and stirred up a ruckus.

Now there are reports that they are planning the same thing again this year. With such behavior, only a fool would believe them when they profess to deeply identify with Taiwan.

Pan-blue supporters often ask pan-green politicians why they would want to be president of the ROC or ROC legislators. There's a simple reply to that: Would you prefer the old system be overturned in a violent revolution?

The DPP treats the ROC flag as exactly what it is: a useful virtual state that will disappear either because the Chinese swallow Taiwan, or the DPP succeeds in gaining independence. Either way, the ROC has no future. But here's Frank Ching's denunciation of the DPP's "illogic."

On the one hand, they denounced Beijing's passage of the 2005 Anti-Secession Law, which gave the mainland the legal right to use military force if Taiwan moved towards independence. Mr Chen responded by saying the law's passage "will pose the greatest threat to regional stability and world peace".

On the other hand, the Chen administration is confident that Beijing will never attack, regardless of Taiwan's provocations. Thus, Mr Chen told The Wall Street Journal last month that "time has proven that the United States' concerns about, and criticism of, our actions were all unwarranted. Nothing happened."

Similarly, he said, he can assure Washington that "nothing is going to happen" after a referendum on joining the UN.

So, Beijing is both a threat to regional and world peace - and yet it will do nothing about Taiwan's provocations. The two positions are not consistent.

Either the Anti-Secession Law is not a threat to peace, or Mr Chen's actions are likely to trigger a military response from Beijing. He can't have it both ways.

It's Ching who has problems, not the DPP. If you threaten to murder people -- and Beijing cannot pass a law that gives it the right to kill Taiwanese, unless Ching believes that it also has the right to murder Chinese dissidents since it has passed laws enabling it to do so -- then you are a threat to peace. Period.

There's nothing wrong with Chen's logic. Ching's position is like arguing that a serial rapist is not a threat to the women in the neighborhood unless he is actually raping someone. Chen's position is that it is probably safe to walk past the house of the rapist this time, but everyone should be careful, because you never know what he's capable of. Nothing illogical about that position.

Observe also Ching's acceptance of the rather odd state of affairs: there's no hope of the referendum succeeding, since China can block it at the UN with its veto. So why is China upset? Ching apparently does not feel that is a question worth asking....

If that referendum passes, China will not be able to pretend that Taiwan independence is the dastardly plot of a tiny cabal of splittists (acting, of course, in conjunction with the equally nefarious governments of the US and Japan). If it passes, it will signal that a people in the Chinese cultural world can still eat tofu, speak a Chinese language, and pray to the gods of ancient China, but not be part of the Chinese state. If it passes, it will demonstrate that Chinese people can exercise democracy just like any other people on earth.

These things, not just independence, terrify the government in Beijing. Frank Ching, though, just doesn't seem to have much interest in them.


Anonymous said...

Spot on Michael! Beautifully said.

Tommy said...

I don't put much faith in any editorials in the SCMP when they have anything to do with HK-mainland relations or Taiwan-China relations. The newspaper is ridiculously slanted. I know because I must read it every day for my job. In the past few days, all I am reading is how Miss Article 23 Regina Ip is not that bad and Anson Chan is a shallow "false democrat". Oh, and according to another article I read today, Guangzhou is doing way better at implementing air pollution controls than Hong Kong. I wouldn't read much into their editorials on a hot-button subject such as this.

channing said...

After reading editorials like those in the Taipei Times, this one feels like child's play. Compare to blatantly false information that has been seen on TT editorials masquerading as "facts":

Hong Kong is forced to speak Mandarin! Hong Kong switched to Simplified Chinese!

Back to topic: This guy's viewpoint is a incomplete. Rather than saying Chen is provoking the balance of peace, he should have said "Given the threat of military action from the other side of the Strait, Chen's policies can be seen as hardline and non-conciliatory."

That would complete the argument that under Taiwan's current situation of being threatened, Chen's words are not really helping.

Michael Turton said...

Hong Kong is forced to speak Mandarin! Hong Kong switched to Simplified Chinese!

Got quotes?

Back to topic: This guy's viewpoint is a incomplete. Rather than saying Chen is provoking the balance of peace, he should have said "Given the threat of military action from the other side of the Strait, Chen's policies can be seen as hardline and non-conciliatory."

What would a "conciliatory" policy be? Why is it that Chen's policies are "hardline" but threatening to kill people is not "hardline."


channing said...

I'm not saying Beijing isn't hardline. My point is that "given" the current situation, Chen's policies are viewed as hardline.

I'm fairly convinced that returning provocation with provocation can be considered as "hardline" as well, by definition.

I'd have to search TT archives for quotes, but you have my word.

Tim Maddog said...

channing finally said:
- - -
... returning provocation with provocation can be considered as "hardline" as well, by definition.
- - -

... which shows that you know China provoked Taiwan before Taiwan did anything in reaction.

Since you seem to be fond of the word "righteous" (apparent from viewing your other comments), the definition of "hardline" might depend on who's right. In the case of China provoking the Taiwanese under a democratically-elected president who doesn't claim to rule all of China plus Tibet and Mongolia, the righteousness is appropriate. Standing up for oneself in the face of a hegemonistic, bullying neighbor can by no means be called "hardline." Giving in under such conditions can only be termed "appeasement."

When you wrote "I'm flattered; people are finally coming after me!" in an earlier comment on Taiwan Matters, you revealed how very justified all the righteousness you face on the green blogs is. Stop provoking us, channing. (And stop making me laugh so hard!)

Search those Taipei Times archives good now, y'hear?

Tim Maddog

channing said...

Of course I'm lovable--I get such fancy and elaborate "corrections" from you guys--responses much fancier than my own writing. Since I also seem to be a little bit unbelievable, I've got a link from TT archives as you asked for:


I can't confirm the other one--it could be too old, or my memory could be incorrect.

Tommy said...

Channing, I don't think anyone is arguing or ever was arguing that the Taipei Times never prints irrational editorials. I think people just want to see exactly what you are referring to. If the editorials in the Taipei Times are so much worse, we would like examples to judge for ourselves, that is all.

On a side note, the editorial you are trying to look for cannot be accessed because you have not added the bit after "archives".

Was your memory incorrect about this one too, or did you just forget to paste the whole link out of negligence?

channing said...

Sorry; here it is.


TT has a record of printing editorials that hardly qualify as decent journalism, containing blatant ethnic and national insults much like DPP rally mentality.

Michael Turton said...

Channing, that's a letter to the editor from a private individual. That is not a Taipei Times Editorial. Letters to the Editor traditionally contain points of view that are not necessarily those of the newspaper.

Once again, do you have any evidence to back up your claims that the Taipei Times prints such editorials?


channing said...

I posted the link twice and I couldn't have made the same mistake. You keep asking for my evidence and I posted it twice, and twice it does not show up correctly. You saw the article and cut my link.

The fact that Taipei Times is willing to print such editorials (another example: Cao Changqing) seriously undermines its claim to be a professional instrument of journalism. It's great at satisfying its own audience by feeding their mentality. I'll have to admit, I'm a regular reader of the editorials simply because it's great entertainment.

Michael Turton said...

Channing, the comment function doesn't wrap stuff. If the link is too long, it disappears on the side. Please use HTML code to give links. If you don't know how to use HTML, email me the link and I'll put it up for you.

The link is to a private letter from a private individual to the Taipei Times, as I said. The Taipei Times prints all sorts of nutty stuff, from that error to Trace Gomez's attacks on the DPP. That's their public role; and they might be sued if they didn't publish such letters (have been sued, in fact).

Once again, that's not a Taipei Times editorial. You've confused letters to the editor with editorials.

I agree -- reading the nutcases can sometimes be fun. But you can't learn anything from them.


channing said...

Ah, I stand corrected. Apology for the accusation--I was shocked for a bit.