Archive for June 17th, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen’s BBC Interview

DPP chairperson and presidential nominee Tsai Ing-wen was interviewed by the BBC during her visit to Britain earlier this month. The interview was broadcast on Thursday and Friday, and posted on her YouTube channel (with Chinese subtitles), also on Friday.

A personal impression, and nothing I can back up with statistics – I seem to have heard more from Tsai on foreign media very recently, than I have on Radio Taiwan International (RTI) in half a year. That said, German coverage of her visit hadn’t been ample during her recent visit to Berlin – but foreign affairs are usually no big issues here anyway.



» For the World to Hear, August 3, 2010
» BBC Hardtalk with Ma Ying-jeou, February 2007

Friday, June 17, 2011

Claudia Kotter, 1980 – 2011

I’ve carried an organ donor card for decades, ever since I was a student. I found that piece of paper in the entrance hall of some official building, filled it out, and put it into my wallet, feeling that it was the right thing to do. But I have never lobbied others to do likewise, even though just 14 to 17 percent of Germans are donors, while – paradoxically – around 60 percent of people say they think its a good idea, according to a Deutsche Welle article of June, 2008.

Donating your organs is voluntary in Germany, and it’s one of the issues about which I have no clear-cut opinion. For sure, organ donation shouldn’t be mandatory. To be a donor seems to require some kind of trust in other people (medics who conduct transplants, for example, and who are faced with people who want to live, but may have to die, because there is no organ for them within reach). Trust doesn’t go without saying. There’s no obligation to trust. There may be no way to trust, and there may still be many other individual reasons to dislike the concept. But maybe it would be a good idea to have reluctant people carry a paper that states that they do not want to donate organs when they die. Maybe.

The strangest thing about the issue would be the discrepancy between liking the idea, but not making it happen – if the statistic quoted by Deutsche Welle  is accurate.

Claudia Kotter, a organ-donation activist, died in Berlin on Tuesday. She had suffered from a rare immune deficiency disease. In her late years – she only became thirty years old -, she lived with someone else’s lung. She didn’t advocate mandatory organ donation. “A disease is no license to blackmail others”, she said.

But she and the association she founded, “Young Heroes” (Junge Helden) would talk to people, grown-ups and schoolkids alike. Frequently, they threw parties to promote organ donation. “There is no ‘later’ and no ‘some day’. Life is now.”


» Junge Helden website

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tsai and Beijing play their Cards

“Taiwan Affairs Office” (TAO) spokesperson Yang Yi (杨毅), on a press conference on wednesday, reacted to a statement by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Tsai,  a day earlier, had said that her party would engage in dialogue with China with a more energetic attitude, but would not accept the One China principle, writes A-Gu.

Yang suggested that

cross straight relations and “peaceful development”, had advanced and produced results because they were being realized on the foundation of the common recognition of the One China principle of the ’92 consensus. It was hard to see how cross-strait relations could be maintained or developed without that foundation, if the “one-China framework was denied, and if the “splittist position” of “one side, one country” was intransigently upheld.

A-Gu is

struck by the way the statement closes: it’s merely difficult to imagine, not impossible, for relations to remain intact with a DPP that denies “One China.” That seems to hint to me that the Chinese leadership is at least still debating this question, though unlikely already resolved to maintain current agreements like the ECFA (however, uncertainty on this question would surely assist the KMT come  2012); and the Chinese leadership is doubtlessly eager to see just how “energetic” of an attitude the DPP will display during this time where the Chinese government need concede nothing.

Re-reading my (or A-Gu’s, again) translation of what TAO had to say after Tsai had been nominated as the DPP’s presidential candidate in April, Yang’s statement of Wednesday clearly looks more moderate. Among suggestions that “one side, one country” would influence things or have an impact, her April statement had also included the strong accusation that the DPP’s position would “破坏两岸关系和平发展” (destroy the peaceful development of cross strait relations).

Apparently no longer. But why the – relative – moderation?

One answer could be that as unwelcome as a DPP victory in Taiwan’s presidential elections would be to Beijing, it is quite a possibility. In the past, it has been Chinese practice to act as if no threats had ever been made. Rather than “eating their words”, they acted as if they had never been spoken.

That Beijing would still do everything it could to isolate Taiwan is a different story – but that applies to these days of Ma Ying-jeou‘s presidency, just as it did to the days of Chen Shui-bian‘s.

Another explanation might be that Ma isn’t quite the “chess piece” Beijing had hoped he would be. Ma wavered a lot – but as an elected leader (and one who sought reelection), he had to take the will of Taiwan’s public into account. (It’s no decent campaign approach anyway to suggest that Ma were Beijing’s willing henchman who’d put Taiwan’s de-facto independence to death.)

Another might be that points made by Taiwanese visitors to Beijing, such as Wang Hsing-ching (aka Nanfang Shuo), who is not suspected of being particularly splittist there, have had some impact after all. Wang had long argued that relying only on the KMT to get a picture of Taiwan’s public mood was no wise policy.

Global opinion may play a role, too. While China seems to be going ballistic in the South China (or West Philippine) sea, it may have registered that the DPP is making use of the cards Taiwan still has. Tsai travelled to Britain and Germany this month, and has met with a number of not-so-unimportant politicians there, and after her return to Taiwan. President Ma can show off some international contacts as well.

There would be many good reasons for Beijing to respect the results of democratic elections, either way, at least abroad. Maybe occasionally, such good reasons will be good enough even for China’s leaders.


Updates / Related

» Ros-Lehtinen: a Duty to Deliver, Taipei Times, June 13, 2011

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