Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Chu goes there?

To some, those red polka dot balls are "art." I must be getting old...

Well well. The meeting of Eric Chu, KMT Chairman, and Xi Jin-ping, President of China was on May 4th, a day fraught with symbolism in Chinese history. Yeah, remember when Chu denied May 4 was the meeting day?

Since nothing important happened or was agreed on (Cole at Thinking Taiwan) at this utterly routine meeting, one more in roughly two decades of contact between the two longtime anti-democracy foes, the big news was the spat between Eric Chu, the KMT, and the CCP on one side, and poor AP on the other. Chu had said
...which means that both sides belong to one China. This is boilerplate. The Taipei Times then reported on the ensuing storm, which was as artificial as snow at a California ski resort:
Chu also said the KMT has “expressed a stern protest against and demanded the retraction of” a report by The Associated Press (AP) that said Chu “reaffirmed the party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland” when meeting Xi.

In the article, which AP ran under the headline: “In China, Taiwan party leader calls for more global access,” Chu was reported to have “affirmed his party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland,” according to the KMT.
WantWant described:
Describing the report on Chu's comments as non-factual and fabricated, Lin Yi-hua, head of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee, said Chu did not broach the topic of unification with China during his recent visit to China.
AP of course retracted. The reason AP retracted is simple: the writer of the piece was Chris Bodeen and Bodeen is based in Beijing. Moreover, unlike a long line of Beijing-based reporters I could name, Bodeen seems to dedicated to getting things right on Taiwan, which surely must have pissed off two anti-democracy parties I'm familiar with. Since Beijing had leverage -- goodbye, Bodeen's visa -- AP had no choice but to take it down.

One takeaway: Taiwanese are so anti-annexation that Chu's apparent affirmation of it had to be swiftly obfuscated clarified lest it hurt the KMT's (and perhaps Chu's) election prospects any further. Chu even got the nice bonus of playing the victim. Ben Goren of the Letters from Taiwan and I were chatting that evening before about the cataract of clarifications the KMT was going to issue on the morrow, and Ben neatly nailed the actual text of the "clarification" the KMT. It was all very predictable. Too bad AP got blindsided.

Hau Lung-bin, the former mayor of Taipei who is now in charge of much of the day-to-day running of the KMT, did his kow-tow to Beijing quietly in April. This means that both the major mainlander princes have now given fealty to the Emperor and received his blessings.

China again promised political talks with Taiwan as an equal, provided the One China principle was accepted. Typical.

 NYTimes' Austin Ramzy, in otherwise excellent piece on the Chu-Xi lovefest, says:
Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party has been critical of the consensus and denies the two sides reached any such understanding.
Su Chi, the KMT heavyweight publicly stated that there was no 1992 Consensus (in 2006, almost a decade ago), and so has Lee Teng-hui, who was president at the time and who ought to know. As the Wiki page notes, which I had forgotten, so has AIT head Burghardt. Indeed, on this topic, 1992 Ma Ying-jeou says 2015 Ma Ying-jeou is wrong. The 1992 Consensus as we know it today was coinage of later date as a cage for future DPP cross-strait policy-making, legitimated by casting it back into the past, like Chinese claims to South Sea Islands (here's a google search on the term in English for 1993-1999: no hits). A key point is that China has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that Taiwan politicians do so. Frozen Garlic harrumphed on the 1992 Consensus today:
I’m pretty fed up with claims that the 92 Consensus is historically based and claims that it is a fiction invented a decade later. Personally, I think the important point is that the KMT and CCP have found an idea they can agree on; whether or not it is based on something that happened in 1992 is not that critical. They could call it the “Super Awesome Neato Arrangement Sponsored by Samsung and Coca-Cola” for all I care. Diplomatic-speak makes me yearn for the relatively straightforward and honest rhetoric of election campaigns.
Froze's idea of "the important point" is incomplete. The KMT and CCP do not need an idea they can agree on to talk, they can talk any time they like and do. It's not like Chu and Xi sit down and an aged cleric walks out with a copy of the Lun Yu and then Xi and Chu both take an oath on it to adhere to the 1992 Consensus before they talk. Neither gives a flying f@ck in a rolling donut about the 1992 Consensus. Like all legal ideas put forth by Leninist authority organizations like the KMT or CCP, the rules cage others; they don't apply to the Party itself. It's always important to keep in mind when thinking about the KMT that it is not a political party but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. Hence, the key point from the KMT-CCP view is that it is a cage that both Chinese parties can use to imprison the DPP's policy makers, since each insist the DPP must adhere to it if it wants to talk to China. Wiki has a review of the history.

And yes, each time it is mentioned, I will note that it never occurred and that its importance lies in the way it is used to cage the DPP.

At Forbes Ralph Jennings correctly identifies one real goal of the talk -- Chu is probably seeking some practical help against the pro-Taiwan side, which looks like it is going to do well in the 2016 election.

Kerry Brown's magnificent tweet boner.... a reminder of another media problem: inability of the media to use "Chinese" when referring to the KMT. Not to pick on anyone, since the problem is widespread, but in this UPI piece, for example, the fact that the party regards itself as Chinese and that its ideology of Chineseness is a driver of its goal of annexing Taiwan to China, simply vanishes. Instead, Chu is the head of Taiwanese party.

More ominous than the entirely predictable moves of Chu was the Chinese decision to punish a Taiwan scholar for taking a stance Beijing didn't like. reports and translates:
Today’s edition of Hong Kong’s China Review 中評社 contained a column called “Talking with Beijing” in which the author stated that several scholars in Taiwan are coming out to help the Democratic Progressive Party by libeling KMT chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 and labeling him red, and these scholars provide “seemingly objective and neutral” analysis that misreads policy and misleads the electorate, said the author.

More directly, the author called out National Chengchi University Professor Tung Chen-yuan 童振源, saying that because of his twisted words, mainland China has stopped him from leading a delegation to visit there.
"Looks like the DPP's strongest election opponent this cycle will be the Communist Party," he concludes.

And watch out for the self-[CENSORED].

UPDATE: Commenter below says 1992 Consensus appears in two late 1999 pieces behind paywall. Re-searched adding the term Taiwan. Only five hits, none before 2000. The 1992 Consensus only became important with the first Chen Administration. See the opening paragraph of Cabestan's 2002 piece at Jamestown. May give fuller treatment later if I have time.

UPDATE 2: As this sarcastic image observes, although Chu insisted AP change its reporting that Chu accepted eventual annexation of Taiwan to China, there is no similar insistence that Chinese media change theirs.
Daily Links:
  • Newsweek piece on CFR report calling for new China policy. A bonus: this is the first time I've seen a major mainstream article refer to the pro-China crowd in the State Department, which all sides in the Taiwan debate assures me is a major problem for Taiwan. The CFR report also said that the US needs to fix its economy. It can do that very simply: (1) raise minimum wage to $20 to help restore US consumption so we can help out our friends by importing their goods -- of course they seek other markets since our elites have destroyed our middle class; (2) institute universal health insurance; and (3) terminate our stupid, wasteful, fossil fuel driven wars in the Middle East. But none of that will happen....
  • Taiwan This Week podcast from ICRT featuring central Taiwan's Courtney Donovan Smith and Jane Rickards, who writes on Taiwan for the Economist.
  • Ben on how Ma poisoned the well
  • Taiwan government urged to investigate when it is discovered that Taiwanese backpackers on work holidays in Australia are treated just like foreign laborers in Taiwan.
  • Scholars from Soochow U and other universities say that if young people in Taiwan don't have culture, Taiwan will become like the Philippines. Yes, you can really say stuff that stupid in public in Taiwan. 
  • Central bank intervening to slow the Taiwan dollar's rise.
  • Lessons for the Gulf states from... Taiwan.

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!


Anonymous said...

I found this quote from an August 1999 issue of Asian Wall Street Journal: "In addition, concerns about deteriorating relations between Taiwan and China contributed to a 2.5 percent drop in the Hang Seng Index on August 5. Talks between the two countries have been at an impasse following the rejection by Beijing of a letter sent by Taipei in late July 1999 that sought to resume dialog on the basis of a key 1992 consensus in which the two “agreed to disagree” regarding their differing definitions of “one China.”"

Anonymous said...

I found this quote from an August 1999 issue of The Straits Times: "Following tremendous pressure from the US, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taipei's decision-making body on mainland affairs, had issued a much toned-down explanatory memorandum.
It said that Taipei remained committed to the 1992 consensus reached with Beijing on "one China" with different definition."

Anonymous said...

I think neither Chu nor China expected the reaction to this meeting to be as negative as it has been. Between the furor over that Taishang woman's statement and the 同屬一中 moment, this has proven to be fairly damaging for Chu individually and the KMT generally. The insistence on AP retracting that story (even though how else would one interpret 同屬一中?) and the CCP lashing out at scholars who were critical of the summit shows panic on the part of the KMT/China but will only make things worse for their cause.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks -- AWSJ is behind a paywall, so cant be seen.


Michael Turton said...

Anon, are both of those 1992 Consensus quotes from the same writer? The latter is collected in his 2001 book.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have access to a library with copies of newspapers from 1992? I thought Lee had first rejected that there was any type of consensus, then he affirmed it in the 2000 election, before he denied it again.

Anonymous said...

Here is some info with refs.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, very useful. An old piece from 2002 from Su Chi! I'll pull this into a nice post tonight.


Julian said...

One problem Chu faces, I suspect, is that he's a novice at the convoluted KMT rhetoric which his predecessor had mastered during several decades of explaining and spouting cross-strait policy statements. So Chu's enthusiasm for advancing the party line is not matched by adeptness in keeping everyone soothed and asleep about where this is heading. So he says too much and crosses invisible lines, showing too much passion and not enough restraint. He's got a tiger by the tail. But whatever the challenges rhetorically, the policies are potentially catastrophic and will have to be pulled back if common sense prevails.

Unknown said...

To some, those red polka dot balls are "art." I must be getting old..

Yes, you are a bit of a rube not to appreciate the evocative nature of the exhibit. To me, they speak of movement while sitting still, family joy and laughter in the midst of betrayal. People, vegetables, phatoms, prehistorical animals - all struggling in a rich mosaic.

Seriously! Doesn't it remind you of MarioKart? That's art!

Tommy said...

I think the MAC's Andrew Hsia has sealed Chu's fate by saying that Chu has gone where the KMT-led government has not.

TaiwanJunkie said...

Haha, love the screenshot from China. That's priceless. Chu is pretty much gone after this.

Anonymous said...

I work in a library and have access to Asian Wall Street Journal and The Straits Times through our subscription databases. The Asian Wall Street Journal article I quoted from was written by Russell Flannery. It is dated August 9-15, 1999.

The Straits Times article I quoted from was written by Ching Cheong. It is dated August 10, 1999.

I found another article from The Straits Times (also written by Ching Cheong) dated August 25, 1999. Here is a quote: "Mr Qian also offered Taiwan another chance to return to the 1992 consensus on "one China", by telling the group that Beijing still expected Mr Koo Chen-fu, Taiwan's top negotiator with the mainland, to provide a "genuine" explanation.
This implied that Mr Koo was under pressure not to deviate from Mr Lee's position when he made his initial reply, which was rejected two hours after it was tendered.
Beijing saw the 1992 consensus as the basis for dialogue between the two sides."

Michael Turton said...


Unknown said...

(1) raise minimum wage to $20 to help restore US consumption so we can help out our friends by importing their goods -- of course they seek other markets since our elites have destroyed our middle class; (2) institute universal health insurance; and (3) terminate our stupid, wasteful, fossil fuel driven wars in the Middle East.
The wisdom of the Middle East wars is certainly a wide open question. Clearly we shouldn't have invaded Iraq.

However your suggestion that we can grow the economy by interfering with people's ability to find employment or by removing the motives for keeping health costs down is even more suspect. That's the kind of something-for-nothing thinking that has led us down the path of shorter growth spurts followed by ever deeper and longer debt fueled recessions.

If we want to grow the economy we have to put our government spending into productivity-increasing projects - roads, railroads, basic R&D, law and order (so our cities don't get burned down), education, etc.. What's left should be used to pay down the debt or be left in the hands of the taxpayers so they can invest.

STOP Ma said...

I will never understand how people coin an agreement to disagree as a "consensus". It's Orwellian double-speak

Even if you do believe that the so-called 1992 Consensus happens, it actually means nothing. Why this is not stated more often is a puzzlement to moi.


Anonymous said...

You are not referring to "Who Goes There", the obscure science fiction by a certain niche magazine editor who published himself under a pseudonym about shapeshifting assimilator monsters, are you?

Michael Turton said...

Not me. because I would never think of Chu as a person whose shape was too slippery to pin down.