Archive for November 12th, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province: Paying their Respects

Sun Yat-sen, a Chinese revolutionary and political leader, was born on November 12, 1886. A Xinhua article, republished by Enorth, reports that

November 12 is the 144th anniversary of revolutionary pioneer Sun Zhongshan’s [孙中山 / Sūn Zhōngshān] *) birthday. On this special day, entry to the Sun-Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing is free.

The mausoleum had started taking entry fees in 1993, writes Xinhua, but was open to the public free of charge on Friday. The article seems to suggest that Friday was only the first of two or several days of admission-free entry. Daily opening hours are from 08:30 to 17:00 hours.

The article refers to Sun’s birthday as 诞辰 (dàn chén), which is a rather formal and respectful expression. A visitor from Nanjing is quoted as paying his respects (瞻仰, zhānyǎng).

Are you in a festive mood today, Mr President?

Are you in a festive mood today, Mr President?

But the article’s actual issue is Taiwan:

Zhongshan Mausoleum management director Wang Pengshan (王鹏善) explains that since 2001, the site has held several cross-strait youth summer camps, to play an active role in enhancing the national identity of Taiwan’s youth. With the background of the continuously closer relations across the Taiwan Strait, Lien Chan, James Soong, and [Update/Correction, 2010-11-12] Ye Yu / Yok Mu-ming have come to the Zhongshan Mausoleum to pay homage since 2005, and in 2008, Wu Po-hsiung twice led delegations of some 100 people to pay homage.
中山陵园管理局局长王鹏善介绍,自2001年起,中山陵多次举办两岸青少年夏令营活动,为增强台湾青少年民族认同感发挥了积极作用。在两岸联系不断紧密的 背景下,自2005年起,连战、宋楚瑜、郁慕明纷纷前来拜谒中山陵;2008年和2009年,吴伯雄连续两次率100人左右的访问团到此拜谒。

Sun Yat-sen, as the founder of the KMT which ruled China until 1949, and Taiwan for most of the time since 1945 (with two presidential terms served by Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party / DPP in between, from 2001 to 2008), matters most to those Taiwanese who see themselves as Chinese, rather than as Taiwanese nationals. But that doesn’t mean that he would be irrelevant for all members or supporters of the DPP, which seeks more international recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Several years ago, EastSouthWestNorth extensively covered surveys which show that the way the Taiwanese think of themselves isn’t simply “either-or”. The question of statehood, would lead to the choice between Taiwan or the Republic of China. People who think of their cultural background as Chinese don’t necessarily think of themselves as Chinese nationals.

But as Sun Yat-sen’s permanent site is in China, it’s an easy job for Xinhua to imply that visitors to the mausoleum from Taiwan are just visitors from another province.

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Note
*) Sun Zhongshan is the name Sun Yat-sen adopted as a politician – his birth name was 孫逸仙 / Sūn Yìxiān.

Related
Chinese Military Buildup “closely watched”, August 17, 2010
Taiwan News Encyclopedia: Dr. Sun Yat-sen, RTI, Aug. 14, 2010
Sino-Japanese Communiqué: Fully Understood, July 27, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Senkaku Islands: The So-Called Video, and other Mysteries

An unnamed Japanese coast guard  crew member reportedly claims responsibility for leaking video footage about the Senkaku collisions that occured in September this year.

The coast guardsman may be arrested on suspicion of breaking the national public service act,

reckons the Global Times, a CCP mouthpiece, and covers the Chinese foreign ministry’s reaction in another article:

“I would like to reiterate that the Japanese patrol boats had disturbed, driven away, intercepted and surrounded the Chinese fishing boat, which led to the collision,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “The so-called video cannot change the fact and cannot conceal the unlawfulness of the Japanese action.”

Your Beijing Bible: So-Called Video Changeth Nothing

So in short, the video not only changes nothing, but it isn’t even a video. But what then is it in reality?

There is no shortage of interpretations. Pictures are more powerful than words, at least in the mainstream media, and they are more likely to trigger public reactions than any number of legal documents. Tokyo could argue legally, concerning the Senkaku status, and would have a lot of valid points on its side. But the question about “Who rammed who” is much more attractive.

And therefore, the leakage appears to be the right choice in the current propaganda war, no matter if the decision was made by an individual coast guard serviceman, or by the Japanese authorities themselves. It originally seemed that Japan had caved in under Chinese pressure – to the alleged halt to rare earth shipments to Japan (which may still be in effect), and to what has come across to many of the global audience (including this blogger) as the taking of hostages.

The current stress test is revealing – that’s what makes it valuable. Beijing has been badly rammed by his own patriotic fishermen, or so spokesman Hong Lei‘s foot-in-mouth statement (if correctly quoted) would suggest.

Which leads me to two questions: given that the Japanese prosecutors have confirmed that the leaked video is identical with the footage they had been shown during their investigations, can we guess that the Japanese authorities wanted it to be leaked? There didn’t need to be a confirmation after all.

And did Beijing plan the incident to bring the Senkaku issue back to the agenda, exactly by having another of their fishing boats intrude into the Senkaku vicinity? M. J. Klein, a commenter on The View from Taiwan, suggests that

the Chinese vessel has a reinforced bow designed for ramming other vessels. otherwise a full-on collision would collapse the bow.

Hidetoshi Kaneko, a senior expert writer, quotes Chinese military-related websites that the Minjinyu 5179 – the Chinese trawler – had a carbon-steel-reinforced bow, and lists some more mysteries.

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Related
Why Japan claims the Senkaku Islands, Asahi Shimbun, Sept 23, 2010
The EP-3 Incident and what Really Happened, August 2008, 2010

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