Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Diplomat Publishes Panegyric to Chang An-lo

On a hilly road outside Taichung, saxophone players serenade a group having a picnic.

Editors at the Diplomat fell down on the job this week, publishing a panegyric to the gangster, assassin, and dope smuggler Chang An-lo. Much of it is unintentionally hilarious, and all of it is fatuous and inept. We who have long followed his career had many good laughs, but this gem was widely circulated:
At public events, Zhang is routinely followed and waited upon by a well-trained entourage; when encountering people on the street who may or may not recognize him immediately, Zhang is a perfect elderly gentleman, making way for others and treating women and children with particular courtesy.
The Diplomat could easily have searched its own archives to find J Michael Cole's piece from 2014 on Chang's violent threats to the Sunflower student activists:
Besides playing the politician, Chang has also turned to the old practices of the Bamboo Union triad, which he reportedly once headed, to threaten and intimidate various sectors of society, including NGOs, a city mayor, and the Dalai Lama.


Twice already, Chang’s people have harassed the activists gathered at the legislature, threatening them with knives, firecrackers, and improvised bombs. While his disastrous outing may have sealed his fate in politics, Chang is not to be underestimated. As Taiwan’s “most educated” gangster (he completed two college degrees while serving time in a U.S. prison), the White Wolf is a proud man with solid connections within the CCP, and perhaps some alliances with the KMT. And his willingness to use violence should not be ignored.
Cole observed in an earlier piece on Chang at the Diplomat:
Chang’s first known troubling move occurred in early November 2013, when he threatened to deploy 2,000 of his followers to protect President Ma Ying-jeou and other KMT officials amid a shoe-throwing campaign of protests spearheaded by an self-help group for laid-off workers. (Interestingly, neither the KMT nor law enforcement authorities said anything about Chang’s “offer”). As the threat failed to deter the protesters, who were planning a mass rally in Greater Taichung, the site of a KMT party congress on November 10, Chang changed course and offered money to the protesters in exchange for their abandoning the planned activities. On two occasions, one of the protest organizers, a young woman, was called into an office for “discussions” with Chang’s people. Although that tactic also failed and the protest went ahead, there is reason to believe that the implicit intimidation led the organizers to cancel certain planned activities.

Later that month, members of Chang’s group routinely turned up at the many protests coordinated by civic organizations — including the Black Island Youth Alliance, created to oppose a controversial Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement — during a visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming. Once again, the presence of such individuals intimidated the protesters and made them fear for their personal safety, thus undermining their democratic right to hold protests.

Things took on a much more sinister hue in late February 2014 after a group of pro-independence activists angered with recent government policy decisions felled a bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen, seen as the founder of the Republic of China, at a park in the southern city of Tainan. During a press conference the following day, Chang retaliated by threatening “war” against Taiwanese independence groups, including the World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI), a pro-independence organization that, as far as we know, had nothing to do with the statue incident (the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan was responsible). The next day, Chang showed up at the park bearing flowers and vowed to “take action” against Tainan Mayor William Lai of the DPP, who also had nothing to do with the toppling of the Sun statue, if he didn’t apologize within two weeks and ensure it is restored. (Pictures of a scuffle involving members of the Alliance and Chang’s followers at the site suggest that the latter, clad in black and bearing tattoos, were organized crime elements.) Once again, Chang was making veiled threats against members of society, this time the elected mayor of a pan-green city.
We should not, in 2017, be publishing odes to the greatness of a man who did a decade in US prison for dope smuggling, something which I note is missing from this presentation, who helped assassinate a prominent writer, and who has been a gangster the entirety of his adult life. The editors should have laughed and sent this back.

There is no point in fisking the piece, filled with comical errors, nonsense assertions, and pro-Beijing code language. For example:
Zhang has done exactly that. At age 70 and having long ago withdrawn from affairs of the underworld, Zhang utilizes a lifetime of knowledge and connections in leading the UP, the only force that openly promotes Taiwan’s integration into the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
"the only force..." Well, there's the much bigger and more powerful KMT, a real political organization with plenty of political power, the New Party, and many other organizations, including several tycoons. This is totally loony. And the inevitable attacks on Lee Teng-hui...
Behind this trend is a meticulously devised de-Sinification process started under Lee Teng-hui’s presidency (1988-2000), which has saturated education, history writing, the registration system, and popular culture. For the young generation, advocating for Taiwan independence, trash talking about the mainland, and glorifying Japanese colonialism have become politically correct and trendy.
"de-sinification" is pro-Beijing talk for 'Taiwan-centered'. Sorry, dear writer, but advocating for Taiwan independence, trash talking China, and being level-headed about Japanese colonial rule have long been habits of Taiwanese of all ages.

The writer is a prof at Valparaiso University, and on the board of its Confucius Institute. In April of this year the National Association of Scholars put out a devastating report on the Confucius Institutes. As everyone who reads this blog knows, CIs are arms of the Chinese government located in foreign universities reporting directly to China's security apparatus, collecting information on students and professors, and attempting to use their influence to suppress Taiwan-related activities. The writer went to Bei Da, which suggests she has excellent personal connections.

This is the kind of piece that looks like the writer is merely an uninformed Chinese nationalist nutcase on the surface, but also suggests that there may a deeper influence campaign going on. Certainly writings of this nature can be shown to superiors back home as a way to impress them, whether or not she was commanded to write it. Thus does the propaganda get catapulted, because everyone understands what should be said without having to be told.

Just another lesson, as if any were needed, that the CIs need to be closed and their workers sent back to the Chinese security state from whence they came.
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