Posts tagged ‘Lee Teng-hui’

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Lee Teng-hui, 1923 – 2020

Lee Teng-hui and Nelson Mandela met twice: in 1993, when Mandela visited Taiwan, and in 1994, when Lee attended his inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president.

台湾的主张, 台湾,1999,p. 103

They were two 20th-century giants of democracy, and there were a number of experiences they had in common – struggles for emancipation, more or less intensive tries at Communism, and a crucial role in the democratization of their countries, respectively. But while Mandela led a long open struggle, spending many decades of it in jail, Lee rose through the ranks of the nationalist KMT, supported and promoted by Chiang Ching-kuo during the 1970s and 1980s.

Lee probably owed much of his career to Chiang’s intention to co-opt native Taiwanese citizens into the KMT – a party which Lee actually (and secretly) hated. In the end, he owed his presidency to Chiang, to those in the KMT who threw their weight behind him after Chiang’s death in January 1988, and his own skills as a politician and a technocrat.

Lee’s career came full circle after his presidency had ended in 2000. The KMT revoked his membership in 2001, citing violation of party rules, not least their former president’s and chairman’s close contacts with the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

The KMT had been a vehicle on which Lee pushed forward Taiwan’s democratization, and the re-emergence of Taiwan’s own identity. This rediscovery is still an ongoing process.

While Mandela’s successes and limits in democratizing South Africa were a matter of wide global concern, attention and respect, Lee’s achievements and setbacks mostly took place in the shadows. The likeliest situations that would make the global public look towards the island was when it was threatened by China, with words or military exercises.

Delivering a lecture to an audience at his American alma mater, Cornell University, in 1995, Lee described Taiwan’s situation this way:

When a president carefully listens to his people, the hardest things to bear are the unfulfilled yearnings he hears. Taiwan has peacefully transformed itself into a de­mocracy. At the same time, its international economic ac­tivities have exerted a significant influence on its relations with nations with which it has no diplomatic ties. These are no minor accomplishments for any nation, yet, the Repub­lic of China on Taiwan does not enjoy the diplomatic rec­ognition that is due from the international community. This has caused many to underestimate the international dimen­sion of the Taiwan Experience.

When Lee retired, he essentially moved from the “pan-blue” (KMT-dominated) political camp into the “pan-green” (DPP-dominated) one. He supported both President Chen Shui-bian, and then current President Tsai Ing-wen. And he was prosecuted by the KMT after Ma Ying-jeou had taken office as president in 2008. Lee apparently wasn’t accused of unjustified enrichment, but of “diverting funds and money-laundering”. In November 2013, he was acquitted.

While Lee was known as a technocrat, especially with a record in agriculture, he also sought for new “spiritual” foundations for Taiwan’s emancipation from the Republic of China, i. E. the Chiang Dynasty’s China, imposed on Taiwan during the 1940s’ second half.

My active advocacy, he wrote in the late 1990s,

for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

Zhongyuan (中原, the central plains) is a term charged with a Chinese sense of mission and civilization – in that context, it may appear surprising that Lee, a “splittist element”, would use the term at all. The way Henan party secretary Xu Guangchun (徐光春) referred to the central plains may give you an idea: The history of Henan Province constitutes half of the Chinese history. Two years earlier, Xu had apparently given a talk in Hong Kong, with a similar message. But this wasn’t necessarily what Lee had on mind, in 1996.
From “Taiwanisation – Its Origin and Politics”, George Tsai Woei, Peter Yu Kien-hong, Singapore, 2001, page 19 – 20 (footnotes omitted):

Another anecdote should also be mentioned here. In 1996, Lee Teng-hui declared his ambition to “manage the great Taiwan, and to construct a new Central Plain”. As is known, Central Plain (zhong-yuan) was, and still is, a term usually reserved to describe cultural China. To “manage the big Taiwan” is something easily understood, but to construct a new “Central Plain” is very controversial, to say the least. Some argued that Lee’s aim was to help rebuild China as a “new” central plain, but with his foot firmly on Taiwan. But others rebutted that what really was in Lee’s minds was to build Taiwan as a new Central Plain so that there was no need to unify, or have connections, with the “old” central plain, China.

But while the Taiwan experience hasn’t become as much part of human heritage as South Africa’s has, Lee power to shape his country’s development was probably much greater than Mandela’s to shape South Africa’s.

Lee had become president in extraordinary times. Opposition groups, and “illegally” founded political parties among them, had demanded the lifting of the decades-old martial law for a long time. And when Lee began his second term as president in 1990, after the two remaining years of what had originally been Chiang Ching-kuo’s term, students occupied what is now Taipei’s Liberty Square. Once Lee had been sworn in again, he received a fifty-students delegation and promised Taiwan’s democratization, less than a year after the Tian An Men massacre in China.

When a man follows the leader, he actually follows the mass, the majority group that the leader so perfectly represents,

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s*), and added:

The leader loses all power when he is separated from his group; no propaganda can emanate from a solitary leader.

Lee understood that. Maybe Chiang Ching-kuo understood it, too. But when he made Lee Vice President in 1984, and therefore his heir-apparent, he probably did not know at all how far the “group” – Taiwan’s complex mixture of “ordinary people”, Taiwanese and Chinese nationalists, and, all among them, the islands Indigenous people – would make Lee Teng-hui go.

Taiwan Presidential Office Spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka remembers Lee Teng-hui – click photo for Tweet

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*) Jacques Ellul: Propaganda, the Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Paris 1962, 2008, New York 1965, S. 97

Friday, January 22, 2016

Taiwan Election Data, the Changes, and the ROC Convergence

Wrote a bio of sorts in a German blogpost about president-elect Tsai Ing-wen last Saturday, as it seems to me that in the English-language press, there’s lots of coverage about the Taiwan elections, sometimes beyond the mere “conflict with China” issues. In most of Germany’s media, Taiwan would hardly emerge even on election days, if it wasn’t for China’s “claims” on the island.

What looks notable to me is the voter turnout in the January 16 elections: 66.27 per cent, compared with 76.04 percent in 1996, 82.7 percent in 2000, 80.28 percent in 2004, 76.33 percent in 2008, and 74.38 percent in 2012, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC), quoted by CNA. Also notable: the general trends in the pan-blue and pan-green shares in the presidential elections.

 

Taiwan's presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016

Taiwan’s presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016. The 1996 numbers for the pan-blue camp include the two independent candidates’ shares. Both of them were close to the KMT, but critical of then president Lee Teng-hui‘s China policies. Numbers taken from Wikipedia.

 

Taiwan presidential elections chart, 1996 - 2016

Usually, I’m surprised to find out how time flies. But in this case, it strikes me as odd how big change can be within “only” two decades, from 1996 to 2016. Also, no DPP candidate has ever drawn as many votes – inabsolute numbers – as Tsai Ing-wen has last Saturday. This would seem to suggest that some of the reasons for the record-low in turnout could lie in the KMT’s performance during the election campaigns. An uncertain number of people who’d normally support the KMT may have seen no sense in voting for Eric Chu, or any KMT candidate, for that matter.

Frozen Garlic, a blogger in Taiwan who has been doing a lot of number crunching during the past week, probed district-level turnout data in “blue” and “green” districts this week, and found some clues there that would support this guess.

There were, however, nearly 1.6 million voters who chose James Soong who is more China-leaning than the average KMT candidate. Soong only fared better in 2000, under what might be carefully described as exceptional circumstances.

Another notable first – in the parliamentary elections, that is – is the emergence of the “New-Power Party” – they’ve actually overtaken James Soong’s People-First Party there  (seats: 5 – 3; votes: 6.1 percent – 5.5 percent).

What does this tell about the KMT? The party remains a force to be reckoned with, for – reportedly – being one of the world’s richest political parties, and for its connections within Taiwan’s elites and civil society, big business, as well as for connections to China, and to America. But how “Chinese” can the KMT remain if it wants to remain competitive? Probably not as Chinese as incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou.

China’s accusation until December (by quoting the KMT, that is) that Tsai Ing-wen rejects the 1992 Consensus has become old news. Literally, she said in an interview with the Liberty Times on Thursday that

In 1992, the two parties [the Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits] from the two sides communicated and negotiated through an approach of mutual understanding and “seeking common ground while shelving differences,” and I understand and respect this historical fact. [The interview in English, Taipei Times]

在一九九二年,兩岸兩會秉持相互諒解、求同存異的政治思維進行溝通協商,達成了若干的共同認知與諒解,我理解和尊重這個歷史事實。[The interview in Chinese, Liberty Times]

Thinking about it, while there have been big changes during the past twenty years, there’s been a remarkable convergence toward what Taiwan and the outside world commonly refer to as the “status quo” – the KMT and the DPP used to be further apart in the past, not only in terms of public support or votes, but in terms of their respective international concepts, too.

One day after Tsai’s election, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office had announced that it would continue to use the 1992 Consensus and oppose any Taiwan independence activities in cross-strait relations, as quoted by Radio Taiwan International (RTI). And on Monday, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, during his stay in Taiwan, met with incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou, the defeated KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu, and Tsai Ing-wen, who reportedly said that [t]he U.S. anticipates seeing a successful political transition.

There is continuity in Taiwan’s foreign policy: Cindy Sui, the BBC‘s (occasional) Taiwan correspondent pointed out on election day that it was Tsai who, in 2003 and in her capacity as the Mainland Affairs Council chairperson during president Chen Shui-bian‘s presidency, made a case for further legalizing trade and communications links with China.

Tsai, as opposition leader, also took a fairly public measure on Taiwan’s (or the Republic of China’s) national day on October 10, 2011, saying that the vast majority of Taiwanese today could acknowledge that “Taiwan simply is the Republic of China”, as the two have merged, for a new life in Taiwan.

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Related Tag: Taiwan Consensus

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Twenty Years ago: Island Democracy seeks Recognition

1. A Democracy introduces itself

It had been a long and challenging journey, the president said. But there he was, at the lectern at Cornell University, his alma mater, delivering his Olin lecture.

He represented a country with a per-capita income of USD 12,000, its international trade totalling US$180 billion in 1994, and foreign exchange reserves of over US$99 billion, more than those of any other nation in the world except Japan.

His country had developed from a developing country to an industrialized country, and, in a peaceful transition, into a democracy.

Almost every president of the world may tell this kind of story. But this one, told on June 9, 1995, at Cornell University, was a true story. And the president who told it wasn’t welcomed by his colleague Bill Clinton, but shunned instead.

There were no official diplomatic relations between the visiting president’s country, Taiwan, and the United States. Washington recognized the Chinese government in Beijing, which claimed to represent both China and Taiwan.

That the Taiwanese president in 1995, Lee Teng-hui, had been allowed to visit the US didn’t go without saying. He wasn’t a state guest, but the university’s guest.

But his concern wasn’t that of agricultural economist or an academic – it was a politician’s concern:

I deem this invitation to attend the reunion at Cornell not only a personal honor, but, more significantly, an honor for the 21 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan. In fact, this invitation constitutes recognition of their remarkable achievements in developing their nation over the past several decades. And it is the people of my nation that I most want to talk about on this occasion.

He only fulfilled this promise by half, if at all. Much of his talk was about himself: how he had listened in America and in Taiwan, and how he had learned. That he spoke on behalf of his people. That he heard the yearning of his people to contribute to the international community, with the Taiwan experience, development and democracy.

2. Lee Teng-hui

Even back then, twenty years ago, Lee was seen as the “father” of Taiwanese democracy, even if the ultimate goal or final success of democratization hadn’t yet been reached.

Like all Taiwanese of his generation (and the generation before), Lee grew up as a subject of the Japanese Emperor. From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan had been a Japanese colony. As a colony, Taiwan’s experience with Japan was less bad than China’s in the Japanese war from 1937 to 1945. And parts of Taiwanese population – especially the elites, and not only those of the upper classes – were co-opted by the Japanese elites. Lee Teng-hui’s family was probably co-opted, too. Lee’s brother, Lee Teng-chin, was killed in the Second World War, as a member of the Japanese military. His name is registered in the internationally controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which also contains the name of 14 A-class war criminals.

Reportedly, Lee also tried Communism, out of hatred against the KMT, Chiang Kai-shek‘s Nationalist Party, that had fled to Taiwan to “recover the Chinese mainland” from there.

After Communism, Lee tried the Christian religion, apparently with lasting success. And finally, he had himself co-opted by the (more or less) hated KMT: in 1971, he joined the one-party dictatorship, became minister of agriculture shortly afterwards, then Taipei mayor in 1978, and vice-president in 1984. Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek and his father’s successor as a Republic-of-China president on Taiwan, supported the careers of “indigenous” Taiwanese like Lee, at the cost of the faction of traditional KMT officials who had fled Taiwan along with the Chiangs.

Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988. The KMT’s central committee elected Lee Teng-hui as party chairman and made him president of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Lee had tried a lot of things, and he had achieved a lot. And he had no small plans for his country.

3. The Will of the People, the Chicken, and the Egg

What a people wants, and if it “can want” anything, is up for arguments.

When a man follows the leader, he actually follows the mass, the majority group that the leader so perfectly represents,

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s, and added:

The leader loses all power when he is separated from his group; no propaganda can emanate from a solitary leader.

Basically, it seems that political leaders in democratic mass societies opportunites to shape their countries are limited. But Lee had become president in extraordinary times. Opposition groups, and “illegally” founded political parties among them, had demanded the lifting of the decades-old martial law for a long time. And when Lee began his second term as president in 1990, after the two remaining years of what had originally been Chiang Ching-kuo’s term, students occupied what is now Taipei’s Liberty Square. Once Lee had been sworn in again, he received a fifty-students delegation and promised Taiwan’s democratization, less than a year after the Tian An Men massacre in China.

Democratization was hardly only on the minds of the opposition, or on Lee’s mind. Chiang Ching-kuo might have had similar plans, even if less ambitious, and American influence probably continued to matter, too, even after Washington had switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing, in 1979. But with Chiang Kai-shek in office, a bloodbath in reaction to the 1990 events would have been much more likely than democratic reform.

4. Full Speed, 1995

Lee Teng-hui’s Cornell speech was part of the first presidential election campaign ever since the KMT had seized power in Taiwan. The mass media, still quite under KMT control, made sure that Lee’s visit to the US wouldn’t go unnoticed at home. On June 6, 1995, Taiwan’s domestic media had started coverage, and that culminated on June 10 (local time in Taiwan), with the Olin lecture.

Back then, when Lee approached a convincing election victory in March 1996, there were misgivings within the KMT about Lee’s loyalty to the KMT goal of “unification” of China and Taiwan. In summer 1999, toward the end of his first democratically legitimized presidential term (and his last term), Lee defined Taiwan’s relations with China as state-to-state relations, or at least special state-to-state relations. Not for the first time, Beijing reacted angrily to the “splittist” in Taipei’s presidential palace.

5. The “New Central Plains”

A lot seems to suggest that in 2000, when his presidency ended, Lee helped to bring about a victory of the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and their presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian. That spelled completion of the Taiwanese democratization project, but at the cost of Lee’s KMT.

After that, Lee continued his search for ways and visions for Taiwan. In “Taiwan’s Position”, a book published in 1999, Lee focused on his country’s Chinese heritage, but without making clear if he referred to China or Taiwan.

My active advocacy for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

Lee had first used the term of “new central plains” in 1996. Scholars kept arguing about what he actually meant with the term. But these were hardly Chiang Kai-shek’s central plains, and, no less likely, Beijing’s.

But obviously, without the KMT, who had expulsed him for his “Taiwanization” business in 2001, and without public office, Lee wasn’t nearly as influential as before. Or, as propaganda expert Jacques Ellul put it in the 1960s, Moses (isolated from the masses) is dead on the propaganda level.

Incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, again a KMT president with rather “Chinese” manners, led a technocratically efficient government, but has been lacking success in terms of propaganda – and in terms of policies that would benefit all classes of society. Now, another “Taiwanese” politician is trying her luck. Tsai Ing-wen concludes her visit to the US today. In March 2016, Taiwan will elect another president. It could be her.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Even if Peace isn’t Peace, “Taiwan must try to Conclude a Peace Accord with the PRC”

Now that President Ma Ying-jeou has been re-elected, Taiwan must try to conclude a peace accord with the People’s Republic of China, writes Joe Hung, in an article for the (pan-blue) China Post. Hung blames former president Chen Shui-bian (DPP) for China’s “anti-secession law”, and basically credits Lien Chan, the then-chairman of the Kuomintang, with having made a journey of peace to declare together with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Hu Jintao in Beijing to work toward a peace accord across the Taiwan Strait.

A peace accord would have nothing to do with Chinese unification, Hung adds. Rather, the pact is one to end formally the long Chinese civil war, which started or resumed right after World War II. Lee Teng-hui’s administration had put an end to Chiang Kai-shek’s civil war, but Beijing has never accepted Taipei’s claim that the war is over.

Hung argues that the Chinese civil war hadn’t begun as a war between two sovereign states, but international law applied now, because the People’s Republic exists side by side with the Republic of China in Taiwan:

The difficulty facing Beijing and Taipei is that of the rectification of names. Taiwan has to negotiate with China as an independent, sovereign state named the Republic of China while the People’s Republic, with the endorsement of the United Nations, regards it as one of its provinces. But there is a modus operandi. There exist the “private-profit organizations” of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) in Taipei and its Chinese counterpart Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). They have concluded 19 agreements in line with the modus vivendi of the “1992 Consensus,” a tacit pact under which both Taipei and Beijing are agreed that there is but one China whose connotations can be orally and separately enunciated.

Which makes me wonder what there would be to be gained for Taiwan, by a peace accord with China.  Hung himself points out how Taiwan would be in a much weaker position in such negotiations than China. What’s the use of a peace treaty or accord, if it isn’t sanctioned by the United Nations, and if any future Chinese aggression can still come in the name of “unification” – justified by a need to stop “secession”, or a need to establish any other kind of “order”  in the “province” of Taiwan, in accordance with the Chinese leaders’ wishes?

If the recommended path was taken, Hung writes,

Ma must initiate a referendum, which certainly will be adopted. The SEF and the ARATS can do the rest of the work. The new Legislative Yuan will ratify it to usher in a lasting peace across the Strait.

But it’s hard to see how “lasting peace” should be more likely with, than without an accord.

A-Gu suggests that

From Beijing’s perspective, the best course of action is to lock Taiwan in to some sort of political framework before anyone else can win or lose. From the KMT’s perspective, this is also beneficial, as it gives them the option of painting any non-’92 policy the DPP may advocate as “dangerous,” as they’ve just done, but perhaps with a stronger effect. Indeed, both the KMT and CCP hope that they can ultimately force the DPP to adopt the ’92 consensus and eventually the “inevitability” of political integration.

Certainly, the idea of a “peace accord” sounds nice. “Peace” usually does. And as they once said at a conference organized by the UNESCO, “peace is a journey – a never-ending process”. That’s what many Taiwanese citizens could certainly live with.

But  the UNESCO had the role of religion on its mind, not negotiations between two sovereign states. If it is up to Beijing, there is a defined destination point for the journey Lien Chan – in Joe Hung’s view, anyway – started in April, 2005.

The two parties hope that the results of this visit and talks will help to increase the happiness of the compatriots on both sides of the strait, open up new prospects in cross-strait ties, and create the future for the Chinese nation,

the KMT-CPP agreement of April 29, 2005 said.

Peace isn’t necessarily war. But as long as China can only listen to its own narrative about Taiwan, and as long as Beijing remains committed to annex the country either by means of peace or war, peace isn’t really peace, either. The best result of the recommended negotiations would be the status quo – exactly what Taiwan has today. When there is nothing to gain, but a lot to lose, why should Taiwan’s government seek “peace talks”?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why Taiwan is no Model for China’s Political System

Radio Taiwan International QSL card, showing the shortwave broadcasting site in Tainan

Broadcasting to China and to the world: Radio Taiwan International Tainan Shortwave Broadcasting Site (RTI QSL card)

I had a discussion with an (apparently) Taiwanese commenter on a Peking Duck thread during the past two days. Having a discussion is quite different from reading, or from revisiting your own brain’s lobes, and can lead thoughts into quite different directions. Both his, and my comments, could stand as blog posts in their own right respectively, but obviously, I can’t simply copy and paste someone else’s comments from someone else’s blog. The Taiwaner’s views can be found here and here. The following is a re-mix of what I wrote in the same thread. It’s basically about why Taiwan may or not be a model for China’s future political development. The following is also more decided than many of my usual posts, as frequently happens when its the result of an argument, rather than of mere reflection.

China probably isn’t going to become a democracy at all, and will feel “threatened” by the mere fact that democracy is a more attractive concept to most other nations.

Within China, fear of the outside world will continue to perpetuate dictatorship – but obviously, I hope that the brave people within China who continue to believe that their country can do better will prove me wrong.

But there are great differences between the Taiwanese “model”, and the Chinese “copy”.

One difference is that Confucianism isn’t the Chinese model. There have been and there still are academics who advocate the great tradition (i. e. political, rather than just popular, Confucianism). But the party is far from adopting Confucianism. They’ve cherry-picked some of its most stifling aspects, like “harmony” – but even Mao liked to use the classics for creating slogans of his own. No party document refers to classical values, but each document refers to Leninism, Marxism, Maoism, Dengism and the “Three Represents”.

There is another decisive factor which makes China and Taiwan very different. Chinese people fear the world. The Taiwanese, if anything, fear China. A climate of fear perpetuates dictatorship. I think we have seen (comparatively sophisticated) beginnings of such a climate in America, after 2001, and they still seem to continue to exist in parts of American legislation – but there, such trends haven’t continued to reinforce [each other]. Provided that efforts within civil society towards liberalisation are to continue in America, the 9-11 streak will abate.

I think the only time when the Chinese public made genuine moves toward the rest of the world was in the 1980s, and possibly at times during the 1990s and early this century. Especially if democracy continues to stumble forward in the rest of the world (in a number of Arab countries, for example), China’s leaders will continue to create fears, and make use of them.

The climate among urban Chinese, including some people who I know quite well, doesn’t make me think that GDP or purchasing power per person will be the defining metric here. It isn’t an irrelevant factor in my view, but it’s not always a pivotal one either. Within Arabia, I think it’s possible that, despite a much lower GDP per capita than Saudi Arabia, Syria is a more likely democracy than its rich neighbor to the south, and that Taiwan, even if its GDP per capita was lower than China’s, would be a more likely democracy than China.

China is a country where many mortifications are felt. The roots for many of these can be found inside China as it is today, rather than abroad – but it is abroad where most Chinese people, even otherwise liberal-minded, seem to seek fault.

I’m sure the CCP has nothing against Confucianism as a popular tradition, as long as it works the way you describe in your previous comment – if it’s conducive to perpetuating the powers that be should be alright. But that doesn’t elevate Confucianism to a guiding ideology within the party. You won’t find references to Confucianism in CCP documents, as far as they are published, to the end that Confucianism would be part of what they build their organization on. That would be everything from Leninism to the “Three Represents”, i. e. the ruling dynasty’s heritage to date.
It may be hard to think that Chinese rulers may not put Confucianism first, and what Chinese scholars put forward in that regard, even very palpable constitutional drafts as the one by Jiang Qing, or Zhang Xianglong‘s concept of “special Confucian zones” [might suggest that they expect to have an actual say in China’s future design],  but the CCP is a very particular brotherhood, and I think there are Confucians who are too convinced of the “naturally guiding role” of Confucianism to understand the relativeness (if not irrelevance), in Beijing’s view, of their ideas.

It seems to me that the last time Chiang Kai-shek undertook a genuine ideological effort to control peoples’ minds, and not just their behavior, was his “New-Life movement”. His rule on Taiwan was authoritarian, but I see no totalitarian ambition there. That authoritarian rule weakened has a lot to do with the vanishing ambition to “regain the mainland”, simply because that goal was becoming unrealistic. Taiwan counted in CKS’ books as a military base, not as something worth in itself to possess. Sure – Chiang Ching-kuo kept referring to the “recovery of the mainland” even in his last speeches, but these were somewhat ironic (and melancholic, I feel) scenes, just the more as Chiang was by then wheelchair-bound. All that stuff about getting the mainland back had become an empty slogan, waiting to be replaced by something else.

1987 Double-Ten Military Parade

1987 Double-Ten Military Parade (click picture for source)

The meaning of Taiwan had begun to change, even among KMT loyalists from China. That’s one important factor which loosened the KMT’s grip in the first place. The CCP has no reason to follow that example. Another factor was that Taiwan is quite different from China. To keep myself from going from length to length, I’ll just drop the “yellow” and “blue culture” buzzwords for now. If they are of any use, and if they are relevant categories when it comes to Taiwan, I’d categorize Taiwan as rather “blue”.

Context here. The thread contains arguments far beyond this topic, and Richard‘s (Peking Duck)  post’s original intention wasn’t Taiwan-related either.

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Related

» Lee Teng-hui’s New Central Plains, October 18, 2011
» Causes of Democratization, Wikipedia, as of Dec 4, 2011

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Soong Chu-yu’s BBC Interview: Can the Moor go Now?

James Soong Chu-yu

James Soong Chu-yu, 2008 (Wikimedia Commons, click photo for source)

One thing can be said almost for sure: James Soong Chu-yu (宋楚瑜) has no plans to become Taiwan’s next president. You can’t describe both the KMT and the DPP as “unconstitutional” for not throwing themselves behind a goal of “reunification” with China, and expect to outdistance both president Ma Ying-jeou (KMT) and Tsai Ing-wen (DPP), come election day.  That more than 30 per cent of voters haven’t made up their minds yet (that’s what Soong said in his interview with the BBC‘s Chinese service,  published on Friday, GMT) doesn’t mean a lot, when assessing Soong’s prospects. Provided that the undecided are going to cast their vote at all, the  majority of them – be they 30 per cent of the electorate, or more, or less – will make a choice between incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou and opposition leader and presidential nominee Tsai Ing-wen.

It’s not the first time that Soong runs for president. In the 2000 presidential elections, he split the KMT’s electoral base by running as an independent, after losing the KMT’s presidential nomination to Lien Chan. And despite being a rather pro-Chinese candidate, Soong only narrowly lost to Chen Shui-bian (the oppositional DPP’s presidential nominee, and a strong advocate of international recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty). Lien Chan, the KMT’s official candidate, came in third.

Back then, I heard many Chinese – and some Taiwanese – people speculate that all this had been a premeditated plan by outgoing president Lee Teng-hui to pave the way for Chen Shui-bian’s victory, to further the non-Chinese side of Taiwan’s identity. There are no run-off ballots in Taiwan’s presidential elections. It’s first-past-the-post.

Ma Ying-jeou certainly has better chances to get re-elected in January, than Lien Chan had to become president in 2000, if recent opinion polls are anything to go by. And one of the reasons is that Soong won’t come in second this time. He will come in third. But why then did he decide to run for Taiwan’s highest office at all?

Revenge against the KMT could be one explanation. Soong most probably knows how to cultivate old grudges. To spoil Ma Ying-jeou’s chances may mean more to him than “reunification with China”.

Another motivation may be ongoing negotiations with the KMT – they are most probably still going on. The KMT has long accused Soong of having taken NT-$ 240 million of assets from the KMT in 1999. That wasn’t necessarily unauthorized, but the way KMT wealth is allocated among its leading officials is by no means transparent, and judicial means to fight political enemies are routine tools in Taiwan. Soong may also still be seeking concessions in the campaigns for the Legislative Yuan – that KMT legislative candidates should give way for his own People-First Party’s candidates. (I’m not aware of a law or regulation that would bar candidates from throwing in the towel, even last-minute, in favor of another party’s candidate.)

But a more respectable reason shouldn’t be left out of the account either. There certainly are Taiwanese citizens who share Soong’s expressed view that China is “a member of the family”, and therefore “more than a friend”*). Soong’s candidacy will  give these citizens an opportunity to vote for a candidate who seems to be closer to their views on China (no matter if that, or something else, motivated him to join the race).

Another question seems to be if China’s leaders wanted Soong to throw his hat into the ring. If so (but that’s a big “if”, of course), this would suggest that Beijing is much less worried about Tsai Ing-wen becoming president, than what most utterances from Beijing, or their reflection in the international media, would suggest – and that Ma Ying-jeou either never was, or no longer is, quite the cornerstone in China’s Taiwan policy.

Has the Moor done his duty?

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Note

*) 一家親, BBC, November 25

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Related

“Too strong to describe it as pressure”, Taipei Times, Nov 27, 2011

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lee Teng-hui’s new Central Plains: “The Rising Winds and Scudding Clouds of Modern Thought”

The following is a quotation from “Taiwan’s Position”  (台湾的主张), a book written by former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), first published on June 11, 1999, pages 36 – 38.

The book was sold in Hong Kong and in many places outside China, and somewhat surprisingly, Hong Kong bookshops had copies with simplified characters (简体字) on offer – the way they are usually written in China (minus Hong Kong and Macau, where traditional characters prevail), and in Singapore. Traditional characters are standard in Taiwan.

Links and highlighting within the following blockquote added during translation – JR.

Although I received Japanese education from an early age and loved Japanese culture, I did a lot of desultory reading of Chinese literature, too. The May 4th movement in particular, and the rising winds and scudding clouds of modern thought, left a deep impression on me.

虽然我自幼接受日本教育,受过日本文化的熏陶,但对中国文学与思想,也曾多所涉猎。特别是五四运动之后,风起云涌的现代思潮,更对我有很深的影响。

Chinese people have always been proud of their long history. But it is hard to deny that under its long-lasting feudal system, traditional culture was twisted, and produced chronic social ills.

中国人一向以拥有悠久的历史而自傲。然而不容否认的是,中国长期处于封建体制之下,传统文化受到扭曲,也使社会产生了许多积习难改的弊病。

In 1928, Hu Shih published “Virtue” [or Norm, 名教 – JR] in the New Moon Magazine, a painful criticism of China’s blind worship for catch phrases and slogans. He pointed out that Chinese people didn’t believe in religion, but held a superstitious belief in their own singularity, in having a long tradition of virtue, and that they correspondingly “idolized everything that had been written”. Therefore, they paid no attention to reality and sought for inner fulfillment through slogans, with the result that not only problems remained unsolved, but that values became confused, too. So he urged those in power : Government isn’t about catch phrases and slogans – once something needs to be done, go and do it.1)

一九二八年,胡适在《新月杂志》上发表的〈名教〉,就对中国社会迷信标语、口号的现象痛加批判。他指出,中国人不信仰宗教,却迷信自己独有、且具有悠久传 统的“名教”,即“崇拜所写文字的宗教”。因此,做事不重实际,只以口号、标语来求心理的满足,结果不但没能解决问题,反而造成价值的颠倒错乱。他因而奉劝当时的主政者:“治国不在口号标语,顾力行何如耳”。

Lu Xun‘s “True Story of Ah Q” and other of his stories, in a taunting way, ridiculed the Chinese culture of loving face, and struck a chord with many people. He believed that whenever a thing crops up, and Chinese people can’t think  of a way to solve the problem, they only seek to placate themselves and to save face – that had made Chinese society come to a standstill and was the main reason for its inability to make headway.

鲁迅的《阿q正传》等著作,以嘲讽的手法,深刻描绘中国人爱面子的文化,也引起许多人的共鸣。他认为,中国人遇事不思解决,只求自我安慰、保住面子的心态,是使中国社会陷于停滞,无法进步的主要原因。

In his research of ancient history, Guo Moruo criticized the harm that stemmed from the feudalist system, and encouraged young people to rise to reforms. In his “Book of Ten Criticisms”, “Bronze Age”, and other books, by assessing pre-Qin personalities and thoughts, he praised early Confucian [scholar] Mencius and the importance Mencius attached to people-oriented thought. He denounced Han Fei’s “legalist”, “monarch-oriented” views and and Qin Shi-huang’s “totalitarianism”2), etc., advocated the idea of “the people as the foundation”3), believing that only if China freed itself of tradition’s constraints, reason to hope for development would be there.

而郭沫若以考古及历史研究的角度,批判封建制度之害,更鼓励了许多年轻人,起而改革。他的《十批判书》与《青铜时代》等书,借着对先秦人物与思想的评论, 如推崇早期儒家孔孟的重视民本思想,贬斥韩非的“法术”、“君主本位”,和秦始皇的“极权主义”等,宣扬“以民为本”的思想,认为中国只有摆脱传统的束 缚,才有发展的希望。

These theorists, who criticized the social ills of Chinese tradition, had a resounding effect among knowledgeable young people. I was only 29 years old at the time, but I had also read these books carefully, and explored the issues of Chinese culture. I believe that China’s greatest problem is that its feudal system brought development to a halt. It really looks like the soy vat referred to by Bo Yang, distorting peoples’ words and deeds.

这些批判中国传统社会弊病的论着,在知识青年群中,引起很大的回响。当时才二十几岁的我,也曾经详加研读这些书,并深加思索中国文化的问题。我认为,中国最大的问题,是在封建制度下所导致的发展停滞。就像作家柏杨所说的“大酱缸”,使人的思想言行产生扭曲。

Up until today, I admire these thinkers’ views. It’s a pity that China’s social development still hasn’t reached a mature stage. Therefore, even as the Chinese thoroughly criticize the society and the system, they haven’t been able to produce feasible methods to solve problems. Even if young people generally hold revolutionary ideals, they are still unable to grasp a direction or method with certainty.

直到今天,我仍然对当时那些思想家的看法,相当佩服。可惜的是,当时中国社会的发展,尚未进入成熟阶段。因此,尽管他们对社会与制度有很深刻的批判,却无法提出可行的解决方法。而一般年轻人虽然也怀抱革命的理想,却仍无法掌握确实的方向与作法。

From this perspective, it can be said that Taiwan’s successes stem from the actual implementation of these reformist currents of thought. Over the years, on the foundation of stable economic and social development, we have gradually freed ourselves from the shackles of tradition, set out anew, and concerning political reform and social transformation, we have been very successful. Obviously, to reach the ideal status may require still more efforts. But we believe that the direction we have taken is correct. What we have done has also brought new hope for the restructuring of Chinese culture.

就此一角度而言,今天台湾所缔造的成就,也可以说是当年这些改革思潮具体实践的成果。这些年来,我们在经济和社会稳定发展的基础上,逐渐摆脱传统的束缚, 重新出发,在政治改革和社会改造方面,都取得了很大的成就。当然,要达到理想的境界,可能还需要更多的努力。但是,我相信,我们的方向是正确的。而我们所 做的这一切,也都为中国文化的再造,带来了新的希望。

My active advocacy for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.4

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

A trial is scheduled to begin at Taipei District Court on Friday. Lee is accused of embezzling state funds. The charges reportedly date back to a period around 1994.

Chiang Ching-kuo, Lee Teng-hui

“Taiwan’s Position”, page 226: 李登辉是从《蒋经国学校》学会如何当一名政治家的 (“Lee Teng-hui learned from the “Chiang Ching-kuo school” how to be a politician”).

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Notes

1)In full: 為政者不在多言,顧力行何如耳, or 为治者不在多言,顾力行何如耳. Once something needs to be done, go and do it isn’t a very faithful translation.

2) I’m not sure if “totalitarianism” is the adequate translation of 极权主义 – it may also be something like “despotism”. However, totalitarianism seems to be the term most frequently offered by dictionaries.

3 or “the people at the center”, “people-oriented”

4 Zhongyuan (中原, the central plains) is a term charged with a Chinese sense of mission and civilization – in that context, it may appear surprising that Lee, a “splittist element”, would use the term at all. The way Henan party secretary Xu Guangchun (徐光春) referred to the central plains may give you an idea: The history of Henan Province constitutes half of the Chinese history. Two years earlier, Xu had apparently given a talk in Hong Kong, with a similar message.  But this wasn’t necessarily what Lee had on mind, in 1996.
From “Taiwanisation – Its Origin and Politics”, George Tsai Woei, Peter Yu Kien-hong, Singapore, 2001, page 19 – 20 (footnotes omitted):

Another anecdote should also be mentioned here. In 1996, Lee Teng-hui declared his ambition to “manage the great Taiwan, and to construct a new Central Plain”. As is known, Central Plain (zhong-yuan) was, and still is, a term usually reserved to describe cultural China. To “manage the big Taiwan” is something easily understood, but to construct a new “Central Plain” is very controversial, to say the least. Some argued that Lee’s aim was to help rebuild China as a “new” central plain, but with his foot firmly on Taiwan. But others rebutted that what really was in Lee’s minds was to build Taiwan as a new Central Plain so that there was no need to unify, or have connections, with the “old” central plain, China.

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Related

» Who’s afraid of an ICAC, July 2, 2011
» Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice, September 12, 2009
» “Always in My Heart”, Olin Lecture, June 9, 1995
» Audio archive: CBS coverage on Olin lecture, June 9, 1995
Soundfile removed for upload space reasons – if you are interested in the file, contact me and I will make it available online for a limited period – JR
» “Guo Moruo worships Confucius”, A Glossary, HK, 1995, p. 346
» Lee Teng-hui, Wikipedia

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

UDN / CNA: “Su Jia-chyuan Reminds us of Chen Shui-bian”

DPP’s vice presidential nominee Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) is accused of having declared a mansion a farmhouse, so as to use agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

United Daily News (聯合新聞網, UDN) and the China Times (中時電子報),  both KMT-leaning, carried the story on Thursday. Excerpts from the UDN article are available in English, on the official Central News Agency‘s (CNA) website. UDN comes across as more vocal than the China Times – “Su Jia-chyuan reminds us of Chen Shui-bian”, says UDN. This appears to be over-egged when considering that many of the charges against former DPP president Chen Shui-bian after his presidency were criminal charges, while those against Su Jia-chyuan may just amount to a regulatory offense, or maybe not even that. But then, only Su’s pattern of defending himself “reminds us”, i. e. UDN, of Chen Shui-bian, anyway.

The China Times, on the other hand, compares Su with Chen Shui-bian’s predecessor, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝, KMT chairman during his presidency, and a KMT member until some time after his last term as president). Lee is praised by the China Times for his steadfastness in defending farmland against legislators who wanted restrictions on land sales to be relaxed, back in 1998. Lee had backed government offices which opposed the motion, even if with limited or without success, the China Times seems to suggest.

“Limited farmland sales” became legal “under certain conditions”, in September 1998.

Defending the liberalization measures at the time, president Lee, himself an agricultural economist and former cabinet minister without portfolio, responsible for agriculture, called for reserving the remaining arable land for agricultural development which should follow the example of the Netherlands.

Land ownership, landuse rights and land seizures have remained a controversial issues in Taiwan. Only in July this year,

Hundreds of angry Taiwanese farmers staged a protest in Taipei overnight, demanding the government abandon proposals that would make it easier for their land to be forcibly turned over to developers,

reported AFP.

In that light, the allegations  against Su Jia-chyuan must be welcome news for the KMT headquarters. If they are going to evaporate or if they will pose a threat to his popularity remains to be seen. The China Times’ headline, too, is pregnant with election campaign issues – “Su Jia-chyuan doesn’t live up to Lee Teng-hui” (苏嘉全对不起李登辉), it reads.

Lee, no longer a KMT member, but now leader of a rather pan-green (i. e. opposition) party, was charged with embezzlement in summer this year, and his trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 21.

Meantime, Tsai Ing-wen, DPP chairwoman and her party’s presidential candidate, has returned from a visit to Japan where she was “slighted” by Taiwan’s representative in Tokyo, John Feng (馮寄台), who picked up his wife at the airport instead – reportedly thirty minutes before Tsai’s arrival there.

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Related

» If King Ma Loses…, October 4, 2011

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