Monday, March 16, 2009

Kuo Kuan-ying = Fan Lan-chin?

A huge story last week was the revelation that Kuo Kuan-ying, a GIO employee serving in the Taiwan diplomatic office in Toronto appears to have an alter ego named Fan Lan-chin who is a raving mainlander bigot:
On Wednesday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) accused Kuo of having written a number of articles defaming Taiwan and its people under the pen name.

In the articles, the author referred to the Taiwanese as taibazi (台巴子, “Taiwanese rednecks”) and wokou (倭寇, “Japanese pirates”).

The author said “the imposition of martial law had been a benevolent act of the then government,” and that “[China] should spend many years suppressing [people in Taiwan] instead of granting any political freedom [to them] once it has taken Taiwan by force.” The author also called Taiwan a “ghost island.”

Kuan said her allegation was based on the fact that one of the online articles about Taipei’s Jiancheng Circle market posted on Fan Lan-chin’ blog on July 25, 2006, was also published by Kuo in the Chinese-language China Times on Aug. 2, 2006.

The article described feelings about the decline of the Jiancheng Circle, Taipei’s oldest food market. A phrase that read “we are high-class mainlanders” was mentioned in the article.

Hsu said Kuo sent a statement to the GIO to explain himself, in which he said that he wrote the China Times article but not the others under the name Fan Lan-chin.

Kuo was quoted by Hsu as saying the article he wrote was then posted on Fan Lan-chin’s blog.
It's amazing how an article published early August in the newspaper was copied onto a blog seven days before its publication.

Blogger Weichen collected a bunch of Kuo/Fang's missives in this post. Unfortunately I can only provide a taste. For example, the reference to the Jiancheng circle, Weichen notes:

In "Unable to get around the traffic circle" he claims that the mainlanders are high class, and shows extreme contempt for the Taiwan culture of the common people.
The Jiancheng Circle affair, in which the famous landmark was torn down and replaced with a sterile modern failure, was seen in pro-Taiwan circles as just another mainlander attempt to wipe out Taiwanese culture (Ma Ying-jeou was mayor of Taipei the time).

The pattern of contempt for things Taiwanese is seen in this one identified by Weichen:

....his response is ridiculous, he said the year to that the central government, military, bureaucracy, and academics all moved to Taiwan, the standard of the mainlanders was indeed much higher than the Taiwan people...
...anyone who has read Kerr or any discussion of Japanese colonialism in Taiwan knows that in reality, the Taiwanese were much healthier, wealthier, better educated, and more cosmopolitan than the majority of mainlanders who fled to the island. He finishes with the remark that independence supporters are Japanese pirates.

In the very first paragraph of his UDN piece on 2-28 this year, Fan argues that the history of 2-28 has been turned upside down, that the notoriously corrupt and double-dealing Chen Yi, Chiang's pick for governor of Taiwan, was actually an upright civil servant who loved the people, and that Chen Yi and Chiang Kai-shek were entirely correct in their handling of the situation. As the news article notes, later on he avers:
In this incident, about 800 mainlanders were killed, and about 1000 Taiwanese. insanely low figure. Fan is indulging in the Taiwan equivalent of Holocaust denial -- note that this article was in the United Daily News, one of the pro-KMT papers.

Maddog pointed out in an email to me that some of the pages were removed from the internet after the news broke. For example, this article, is gone from the internet, but Google cache still has it. Gone too is the link to this piece, where Fan says....
"Tai wan" currently is walking the path of the dead.
歹丸" -- rotten fish ball -- is a play on words, since it sounds like "Taiwan" in Taiwanese.

Social Force has a robust discussion in Chinese on the Fan issue, with plenty of links.

Whatever his real identity (Kuo admits to only the one article mentioned in the Taipei Times piece yesterday), Fan represents colonialist opinions that are widely held in the mainlander population in Taiwan. Weirdly, I have even heard educated foreigners raised in democratic countries express complete identification with these attitudes. Taiwan's "ethnic divisions" will never be healed until such attitudes are no longer a part of local mindsets.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

The irony, as a source in Toronto's Taiwanese community informs me, is that the majority of Taiwanese expatriates there are pan-green. The articles — whoever penned them — were not well received there.

Of course, a great number of Chinese expats also live in Toronto, in suburbs like Markham, so I guess Kuo/the author(s) was/were reaching out to them more than to Taiwanese.

Anonymous said...

This is part of KMT/ROC state ideology. The ROC is structured around a framework which posits that the highly centralized Chinese nationalist ideology is "modern" and "advanced" in contrast to the "degraded" peoples. In any case where local/indigenous systems or beliefs conflicted with the grand centralized Chinese nationalist definitions of "Chinese culture", the offending culture was eliminated or suppressed.

Of course, we now know that terms like "backward vs. advanced", "primitive vs. modern", "higher vs. lower" are all pejoratives that were invented by colonists to locate the object of their desire on a trajectory of advancement to demonstrate the "object's" ability to be "civilized/tamed" and "improved". It provides the reasoning/excuse to engage in a civilizing/colonizing project.

This is exactly how we should view the ROC and Chinese nationalism in general, an ongoing civilizing project that seeks to define the terms of modernity and engage in the acts of transforming their object into something "better". This process is going on in Taiwan to this day and well as in China's peripheral regions.

The education system in Taiwan is a major tool for the elimination of local/indigenous beliefs to make way for the "object's" eventual acculturation and assimilation into the invented traditions of Chinese nationalism.

Many foreigners accept the concepts of monolithic state "Chineseness" as there is a lack of a public alternative and when in contact with the locals the education system had made many locals believe in the myth of "our ancient Chinese culture". KMT domination of the propaganda machine hasn't helped either. In reality, Chinese culture is a phantom from a more recent concept, projected back anachronously through time to fulfill nationalist goals. The term is meaningless outside of Chinese nationalism.

Michael Turton said...

The term is meaningless outside of Chinese nationalism.....


Anonymous said...

Mainlanders in Taiwan have expressed some really weird things to me. How they think they are more cultured, grew up much wealthier, think they are the "Jews" of China (whatever that means), think that they are part of some elite crowd that are elites in both Taiwan and China...

Kuo has definitely been up to no good. His responses to the media have been self-contradictory already; you should listen with your own ears to how he says it too, his voice is someone with something to hide.

Ben Goren said...

"the notoriously corrupt and double-dealing Chen Yi, Chiang's pick for governor of Taiwan, was actually an upright civil servant who loved the people"

Funny. My Political Development of Taiwan professor said last week that Chen-Yi was 'clean' and 'not corrupt at all', almost 'incorruptible'. But then he also admitted that his father was a Chinese War Lord which leads me to suspect, given filial piety, that although he claims to be 'independent' it was a ruse to avoid being cast as a pro-ROC colonisation. He couldn't admit to ROC colonisation because he said that technically there could be no colonisation after 1945 because that was when it 'officially' ended.
He said this was according to the legal definition of colonisation. I said what about an academic, empirically based definition? No answer, just weak awkward smile and time over.

Dixteel said...

This IMO is not just colonialism but out right racism. I think you can call this a sort of "Chinese Supremecy" view. It's worth to note that not all mainlanders are like that. A lot of them I met aren't. But what I noticed is that those who are closer to the KMT system in the past and present are more like that. Like I said before in a lot of respect KMT is similar to the German Nazi.

Because of this, their view are often twisted...because they just have trouble accepting historical truth and current reality due to years of brain washing, thinking they are the "superior race."

It's good though that these kind of people get revealed. People can see the side of KMT that is beyond ugly, and notice this kind of problem in Taiwan, that is there for decades but few talk about it.

The thing I am worried about is that this guy is only a tip of an iceberg. I am sure a lot more of these KMT racist are out there as diplomats of Taiwan. They will do a lot of harms to Taiwan while getting paid by ironic.

And sometimes you wonder how much do these A-Holes' influence the US and Canadian officials, for example??

Anonymous said...

In some of Fan's articles, Fan also called Taiwan a renegade province of China, expressing the view that Taiwan is not a country. He said that he wished for PRC to 'wash Taiwan with blood'. The term 臺巴子 'Taiwanese rednecks' is actually commonly used by the real Chinese, rather than mainlanders in Taiwan. As I grew up in Taipei, I knew a lot of mainlanders who actually showed superior attitudes and called Taiwanese all sorts of names and 臺巴子 was never one of them. I wonder what sort of association he has with PRC or what his views are towards PRC as he seems to adopt the PRC propoganda against Taiwanese. If Fan really is Kuo, whose interest is promoting or representing in his official position in Toronto?

Furthermore, Kuo was on point 9 on the Taiwanese official spinal system. As soon as Ma got in power, he was given this position in Toronto which is on point 12. Why was he given such a huge promotion and by whom? When Chen, Shui-bian gave one of his close aides a big promotion, he was immediately attacked but pro-KMT media don't seem to question Kuo's credential and the justifications for Kuo's big promotion.

Michael Turton said...

Claudia, that's very interesting. Thanks for the comments.

Tommy said...

"Of course, we now know that terms like "backward vs. advanced", "primitive vs. modern", "higher vs. lower" are all pejoratives that were invented by colonists to locate the object of their desire on a trajectory of advancement to demonstrate the "object's" ability to be "civilized/tamed".

Yes, but I think they also could serve to reduce the colonised people to such a low status that the sin of colonisation of their land is expiated. This goes hand in hand with Dixteel's claim that this is outright racism.

To me, when one demeans a group of his own countrymen/women in this way, the speaker is not indicating that the object of his criticism can be civilised. Had he said something like, "Those Taiwanese hokies need a hand to guide them. They would be lost without us, and with a little help, they will be on the right path," the potential for this statement to indicate prospects for advancement would be clearer.

Michael Fahey said...

Alas I don't have time to blog on this but the blue press (UDN, China Times) yesterday and today have been full of apologists for Kuo. Kuo's rights to free speech are being trampled on, the DPP legislators and bloggers who have brought the case to the public's attention are fomenting ethnic strife, and the DPP was silent when people in Tainan allegdly told 'Chinese pigs to piss off back home' during the Red Shirt marches.

One of their own has been caught expressing widely held derogatory views of Taiwanese and Taiwan. But anyone who dares suggest that there is prejudice against Taiwanese in WSR circles is fomenting ethnic strife.

It's as if anyone who suggested that there might be white racism in the US south was encouraging anti-white sentiment.

Anonymous said...


You're right on. The other half would be that the object can never fully jump the gap from the colonized to the colonizer while maintaining their distinction as separate; colonial taint. The experience of being colonized is enough to result in this form of othering.

The "civilizer" has no intention of ever seeing the object of his desire "completed", but rather in a constant process of tutelage and "improvement".

As long as the civilizer dangles the carrot of completion, he has cause to continue his project.

Chinese nationalism borrows some core beliefs from racialism and biological determinism, therefore asserting some peoples are incapable of "improvement" and justifying their perpetual domination. Chinese nationalism as it stands, IS a racist ideology and that is why Taiwan needs to reject it.

Taiwan Echo said...

claudiajean:Kuo was on point 9 on the Taiwanese official spinal system. As soon as Ma got in power, he was given this position in Toronto which is on point 12.

I read some report that Kuo in one of his articles wrote he got promoted because his participation in the anti-CSB red army was appreciated by the KMT.