Archive for June 3rd, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Year after June 4, 1989

It is frequently said that you can do anything you like in China, as long as you don’t plot to overthrow the CCP, or to endanger public order.

To remember June 4, 1989 publicly would amount to such illegal action, in the view of those who rule China. Many people in China may not be aware of this day in history. As a rule, those who are aware will remain silent.

Where Chinese people are free to honor the dead and the bereaved, many will do just that – in Hong Kong, and outside China.

I’m a Christian only in that I formally belong to a (protestant) church. I’m no believer. But every single symbol for a life lost, even something as simple as a sanctuary lamp, makes me aware of how important memory is, and how much it can do to help the bereaved to cope.

For twenty-two years, remembrance has been illegal in China. For many years to come, it will remain illegal in China.

They call that “stability”.

Friday, June 3, 2011

KMT-CCP Relationship: the Lame leading the Blind

Ma Bang-chiu

Ma Bang-chiu

If you try to categorize Wang Hsing-ching (王杏慶), aka Nanfang Shuo (南方朔), firmly into one of Taiwan’s big political camps – the KMT-led pan-blue (泛綠聯盟), or the DPP-led pan-green (泛绿联盟) one, you may be facing a difficult task. At the age of 65, he is The Journalist magazine’s (新新聞週刊)  editor-in-chief, and when he speaks, be it in Taiwan, be it in Hong Kong, many people will listen.

Wang was critical of president Chen Shui-bian, although he calls him a friend to this day, and refers to him as A-Bian (阿扁). And he is critical of president Ma Ying-jeou now, even if his biography would suggest that Wang is a Chinese, rather than a Taiwanese nationalist. Wikipedia suggests that it was a Senkaku Islands incident (known as the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese) which made Wang stay in Taiwan and pursue his career as a journalist there. It was Taiwanese students who, in 1971, organized demonstrations to protest a transfer of the islands to Japan, by the United States.

But while he frequently disagreed with Chen, from 2000 to 2008, he is no political fan of Ma Ying-jeou either.

For one, he doesn’t support the logic that what would be good for corporations would also benefit a country*), as stated in a Liberty Times (自由時報) interview on May 23:

Owing to the fact that the market lies on the other side, [signing the ECFA] accelerated Taiwan’s cash-flow to China, decreasing job opportunities in Taiwan’s high-quality work environment in return for Chinese tourists, a low-quality tourism. With decreasing employment, of course there will not be any raise in pay.
If you total up the calculations, despite Taiwan’s own efforts and China’s economic arrangements, Taiwan will become the downstream in the top-down Chinese economic system, causing all the high-end companies to move to China and leaving Taiwan to sink lower and lower in the entire system. This is why I have a problem with the ECFA.

由於市場在那邊,造成台灣資金加速往大陸去流動,換回來是陸客,一種低品質的 觀光,台灣高品質的就業事實上是在減少,當然工資就不可能提升。所以這總帳算一算,台灣有算計,大陸也有它的經濟安排,台灣會變成大陸經濟圈垂直分工體系 下的一個下游的分工位置,大公司都往那邊去移動,台灣高品質產業會慢慢萎縮掉,台灣在整個分工體系下會愈來愈沉淪。

To tell the public – the lao bai xing – that ECFA would open the path to free-trade agreements with ASEAN, too, was also deceptive, said Wang. A follow-up FTA hadn’t even been reached with Singapore. The deception was the Ma government’s responsibility:

The government, however, still deceives the public and said, after signing the ECFA, we would be able to sign a Free Trade Agreement [FTA] with ASEAN. It’s lying. Signing the FTA would mean recognizing Taiwan as a country that is half-way independent, and China won’t stand for that. Even Singapore hasn’t been able to wrap up the deal yet, right? You can deceive up to the very last moment, but you still won’t be able to make it work out.

Word-games were no solution for the problems that would lie ahead if Ma won a second term as president, said Wang. Ma was trying to please both pro-unification and pro-independence voters with stating both scenarios as no-goals. That was no responsible position for a government.

Wang seems to endorse neither Ma Ying-jeou nor Tsai Ing-wen’s presidential bids for January 2012 explicitly – but he suggested that China’s leaders should make their own decisions, rather than thinking of the KMT as an advisor when  Taiwan-related issues emerged. Hadn’t Beijing heavily relied on the KMT during Chen Shui-bian’s presidency, the years from 2000 to 2008 could have been a less bumpy ride in cross-strait relations:

Beijing has for a long time only listened to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on issues concerning Taiwan. The Taiwan that Beijing knows is the Taiwan painted for them by KMT government figures both high and low. When Chen assumed the role of president, it was with great determination that Chen reiterated the “four noes and one not” (四不一沒有) policy. If I had been Beijing, I would have met Chen’s initiative with a kinder response, and perhaps Chen’s second term would not have been as hard. From watching Chen’s actions and hearing his speech, Beijing cooperated with the KMT to pick on Chen; Chen was forced into madness.

我曾經去過北京,我認為北京對台灣長期以來只聽國民黨片面的說詞,北京所認識的台灣,是國民黨大官小官告訴他們的。阿扁上台時提出四不一沒有,這是下了很 大決心咬牙講出來的,如果我是北京,我對阿扁善意回應,阿扁的第二任恐怕就不會這麼艱苦。可是北京對阿扁聽其言觀其行,與國民黨聯手欺侮阿扁,八年都不理 他,阿扁是被逼瘋的。所以我告訴北京:對台灣的問題,必須要有自己的判斷,不要一天到晚聽國民黨的,國民黨給的是錯誤訊息。

Ma was a good person, but no good leader –

Without core values, the Ma administration is in fact forever deceiving people on every side; deceiving Taiwanese, deceiving Beijing, deceiving every side. In the end, the lies will be seen through, and he won’t be able to smooth things over on both sides. I think that the recent World Health Assembly (WHA) incident is Beijing’s warning to Ma.




*) The trade relationship between a developed industrial country (Taiwan) and an emerging economy (China) was only briefly addressed in the interview, but the issue of employment and growing – or decreasing – incomes applies to all economies in different developmental stages. Ralph Gomory pointed out a year ago that a technological edge alone won’t create noticeable numbers of jobs. To that end, technology and innovation needed to be applied to manufacturing industries at home, rather than to industries abroad.



» June 4: Tsai’s criticism of Ma “Unthinkable”, Taipei Times, June 3, 2011
» China “slaps Ma in the Face”, May 10, 2011
» Government by Facebook, April 29, 2011
» Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice, Sept 12, 2009


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Politics of Nature: “Oriental Despotism”

The Chinese press continuously carries news about droughts – rarely right in the headlines, but further down the pages on an almost daily basis. Some of the news finds its ways into China-Daily-related English-language publications, too, but given that it doesn’t seem to have close connections to China’s political system, or obvious political implicatons (which would probably secure it more prominent coverage in international media, too), it is rarely discussed on the English-language blogosphere.

King Tubby‘s post of Thursday offers some thoughts to fill the gap –

Oriental Despotism, the Sino Engineering Mentality and Environmental Lunacy.

If you find commenting elsewhere dull at the moment as it seems you do – even the blogs with the traditionally longest threads seem to be hibernating -, why not trying there? It’s an “underlying”, but relevant topic, and should be a comparatively fresh one, too.

Advice: if you comment there, make sure that you keep a copy of what you wrote, before you post it – it may get lost as you push the submit-button, and you may have to try again.

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