Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Once and Future Regional Administrator

Cue the pattern. You already know it. President Ma of the ROC on Taiwan travels to a foreign land and speaking to the press, makes another outrageous announcement about Taiwan's status. This a definite strategy to cushion the blow, and enable retraction if necessary. Last time around it was in Mexico, where he announced that Taiwan and China (always "the mainland", an appellation which government publishers are now enforcing on authors, I have heard) were merely two regions separated, presumably, by a common tongue, as Shaw would say. This time around Ma went to Japan where he announced that China is part of the ROC:

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said mainland China is the territory of the Republic of China (ROC) in an interview with a Japanese magazine, the first time Ma has made the official claim since he took office in May.

Ma said under the ROC Constitution, the ROC “definitely is an independent sovereign state, and mainland [sic] China is also part of the territory of the ROC.”

The interview was published yesterday.

Back! Back! Back we go! Back past the time Chen said the ROC and Taiwan are same! Back past One China and One Taiwan! Back past the special state-to-state relations of Lee Tenghui! Back past the renunciation of the ROC claim to Mongolia and to China in the early Lee years! Yes, watch them flicker by! In just five months, Ma has made the last twenty years The World That Never Was.

It's a good thing that Ma is soooo pragmatic.....
(CNA, Sep. 26, 2008) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is drafting a uniform position paper to explain new diplomatic policies under President Ma Ying-jeou’s pragmatic diplomatic strategy “modus Vivendi,” Foreign Minister Francisco H.L. Ou said

(CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou's definition of cross-Taiwan Strait relations as "special" reflects his long-standing pragmatic approach toward China, ...

New Taiwan president to walk fine line on China (Radio Australia, Mar 24 08)

MA YING-JEOU’S victory represents a shift in the political landscape of Taiwan, signaling the rise of moderate and pragmatic policies and international relations. (The National Interest, 3/24/08)

Since taking office in May, the Taiwanese administration of President Ma Ying- jeou has embraced a forward-looking, pragmatic attitude to promote friendship ...

Pragmatism is the common thread linking South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, both inaugurated this year,

Political scientist Chao Chun-shan, of Tamkang University, said as pragmatic leaders, Ma and Chinese President Hu Jintao may usher in an era of detente.

In a major shift under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan adopted a modus vivendi and (with a clear aim for a rapprochement) has been pursuing a more pragmatic diplomacy toward China, which considers it a renegade province.

...a landslide victory by Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition Kuomintang party in the island's presidential election. Mr Ma, who takes a more pragmatic attitude towards...

The article notes that “while rhetorical and political tensions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) government on Taiwan have decreased considerably since the inauguration in May of the latter’s President Ma Ying-jeou who has undertaken a pragmatic diplomacy with the mainland,”

....pragmatic. You know, the kind of guy who would never put ideology ahead of common sense. Moderate. The kind of guy who can see all sides and would never adopt an extreme position on a topic of public controversy.

I've been talking about Ma's conception of his own social role as that of the Confucian Scholar-Emperor, and lo and behold, he attends the rites for Confucius' birthday and is feted like an emperor:

The Taipei Confucian Temple marked the 2,558th anniversary of the birth of Confucius yesterday amid criticism from some city councilors that the temple performed the bayi dance — traditionally performed to pay homage to an emperor — to “fawn” over the presence of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

As if to reinforce this imperial self-image, at the ceremony President Ma strode through the 中門, the Central Door of the Temple, which only emperors are supposed to use. Readers should not miss the reference to "China" in 中 either...

And the worst part is, there's no uphill from here, folks. We're only five months in and it's only going to get worse.


Anonymous said...

If there weren't the Chen scandal going on, Ma would be facing being out of office at this point. This is an extreme position, and the "neutral" voters, i.e. Min-nan that voted for Ma this time, do not like this one bit. Even the women fawning over an aging man with pects that are now boobs do not like this.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long before the National Assembly and legislators who were all elected in Nanjing in 1947 all get their old jobs back... I'm sure the same number of bills would pass.

Tommy said...

I don't get what he is trying to do. I mean, who would this announcement please? China maybe, but they frown on calling the ROC sovereign. Ultra-conservatives in the KMT? Maybe. But are there really that many who truly believe that the country on the other side of the strait is not really a country anymore? The average Taiwanese? Hardly. Most don't support this point of view.

This is the thing that has been really bugging me about Ma recently. This is not about ideology. He just sounds like a loon.

Maybe he feels there is something to gain from China indeed by hitting rewind -- as if the negotiations will be easier if the former adversary on either side of the strait situation truly exists.

Anonymous said...

Jeeze! Maybe while he's at it, he can bring my libido back to where it was in 1986 too.

Anonymous said...

I would put the hope of the restoration of the ROC in the same category as the hope for the second coming of Christ. While many true believers of both don't expect such events to happen anytime soon or even in their own lifetimes, they will not give up on the belief because it is an integral part of their being.

skiingkow said...

This is the thing that has been really bugging me about Ma recently. This is not about ideology. He just sounds like a loon.

And this is precisely what the international community will think when he says R.O.C. = China (which, by the way, is what he's been always saying with the so-called 1992 Consensus -- this is just more in your face).

There is method in this madness.

This discredits Taiwan in the global community. Hmm... now why would they want to do that? Why would they possibly want to make Taiwan look unreasonable?

Gee...I can't seem to fathom why they would want to do that.

For those who are not sensitive to snarkiness -- this is political sabotage.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan used to get laughed at in the foreign press for pretending to represent China. In recent academic articles and history books those old claims are often cited as representing the absurdist ideology of the Cold War at that time... I guess Ma didn't get the memo.

The next non-KMT president (if that is ever allowed to happen) MUST declare independence. Change the game so all these assholes can focus on Taiwan for once.