Catching Up on Taiwan News

With a dose of great links

Michael Turton , September 15, 2015 9:28am

People are always asking me, “How did you beat schizophrenia?” and I’m like, “Shut up! You’re not real!”

Ok, couldn’t resist leading with a joke. Happy to be blogging again.  At last a brutal run of work is over. And so we can revisit last week…

Hung says Populism will lead to Nazism: This was another classic moment for Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT’s Presidential candidate [WARNING: MAY CONTAIN MAKE TRAINS RUN ON TIME-LIKE SUBSTANCE]. She posted on Facebook (translated by Solidarity)

Governing the country through populism: The final, most extreme example of this is obviously the Nazis. The Nazis ceaselessly created enemies within the country to control the entire society. Think about it: Although Taiwan isn’t that extreme, isn’t our situation like that? It’s like that classic saying: “When the Nazis were killing the Communist Party, I wasn’t in the Communist Party, so I said nothing. When Nazis killed the Jews, I wasn’t a Jew, so I said nothing. When the Nazis killed the Catholics, I was a Protestant, so I said nothing. When the Nazis arrested me, there was no one there to speak for me.” Isn’t this kind of scene a little familiar to us?

When soldiers are bullied by populism, we aren’t soldiers, so we don’t speak. When teachers are bullied by populism, we’re not teachers, so we don’t speak for them, either. When civil servants are bullied by populism, we aren’t civil servants, so we don’t speak for them, either. But don’t you worry that on the day when you’re bullied, there will be no one to speak for you?

There’s no shortcut to resisting populism. The people in society who are willing to listen to reason can only choose to stop being a silent majority…

Note the opposing sides of her speech — on one side, “populism”, on the other, soldiers, teachers, and civil servants. These are all traditional KMT support groups, where the mainlanders who aren’t elites can find jobs and pensions for themselves and their children. Obviously, by “populism” she means the majority Taiwan identity, and its various disorders, such as critical thinking, opposition to authority, and preference for democracy. This commentary reeks of colonialist fear of majority rule, as a longtime observer pointed out to me. This fear haunts the mainlander colonial class, since it is losing its privileges to this populist insurgency. Indeed, KMTers often claim that if the DPP ever gets the upper hand, they will all be kicked out of Taiwan, rank nonsense, but one of the ways the KMT keeps its people in line is through constantly feeding them a diet of fear and victimization.

Nazism, in this case, has no meaning, except to be a handy signifier of ultimate evil, since few Taiwanese have any real understanding of it. But, there’s a bit of pleasing sound association in Chinese: the word for Nazi is 納粹 while the word for populism is 民粹. The second character, cui4, is the same in both. Thus, it has the same pleasing childish appeal of saying something like “Trump is a chump!” in English (sorry, can’t remember who pointed that out to me).

The Glaser Mess: UDN carries its statement kinda sorta admitting it might not have been exactly right [WARNING: MAY CONTAIN APOLOGY-LIKE SUBSTANCE] (via KMT):

In an article carried in the September 11 issue of this newspaper, it was reported that Glaser thought Xi hoped that the US could play an active role in stabilizing cross-Strait relations and that the next President of Taiwan must accept the “1992 Consensus.” Glaser reportedly said “I would guess” to predict what Xi might bring up in his meeting with President Obama.

The correspondent’s report from Washington D.C. contained no error, nor was it misleading. However, the headline was less than precise. The United Daily News apologizes for its imprecise headline in the above-mentioned article.

J Michael Cole at Thinking Taiwan describes the situation: the headline wasn’t imprecise — it was 100% wrong, and hard to believe it wasn’t deliberate:

This is what happened today with the UDN article, which was headlined 美智庫學者:下任台灣總統 須接受九二共識, or “American think tank: The next president must accept the ‘1992 consensus.’” The problem with this headline is that nowhere in the article does the American academic in question — Dr. Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose comments during the Q and A are the basis for the article — make such a statement.

It would be tempting to blame the reporter for the mistake, and they often are. But in this case, doing so would be invidious, as Alex Lai (賴昭穎), the Washington correspondent for UDN, got it right. Twice in the article, the author makes it clear that Dr. Glaser is speculating on what Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is likely to say during his visit to the U.S. The report says: 葛來儀表示,中方沒提出台灣問題才會讓她訝異,她推測習近平要傳達的訊息會是美國在確保兩岸穩定上扮演更積極的角色;而為了兩岸穩定,下任台灣總統必須接受九二共識,更重要的是一個中國。不過,兩人討論台灣問題的時間應該不會太長。From the original transcript: “… I would guess that Xi Jinping’s message will be that the United States should try to play a more proactive role to ensure that cross-strait stability exists, and in order to have cross-strait stability, that there must be an acceptance by Taiwan’s next president of the 1992 Consensus, and more importantly, One China, and that the US should play a role in ensuring that that happens.”

Glaser was upset to be misquoted like that and said so on Facebook:


…since she’s a major commentator on Taiwan in DC, UDN had to beat a tactical retreat.

Of course, Glaser set herself up for this by explaining what Xi would do, instead of analyzing and deconstructing the situation. Academics, media people, and commentators need to stop talking for Beijing — stop saying what Xi will or will not do, as if they means anything. I’ve been complaining about that for ages, and here’s a good example of why. It’s a terribly shallow and misleading level of information supply — hardly can be dignified with the word “analysis.” It always risks sounding as if the speaker is simply playing stenographer for Beijing.

Next time Glaser should sterilize the question by saying the truth: “The 1992 Consensus never existed. It’s just a cage that the CCP and the KMT constructed when Chen came to power to imprison the DPP”. Or just say “We’ll have to see what Xi will do.”

The problem is that if she spoke that truth, she’d never be invited to one of those shindigs again.

But once again, I thank Brookings and CSIS and all these other groups for always inviting the same people to say the same thing, Washington talking to Washington about Washington’s constructions of Washington’s world (doesn’t it get terribly boring?). It means that people who want to know what’s really happening will continue to visit my blog and all the other great blogs and websites in our Taiwan blogoverse. Thanks, guys!

Wang Jin-pyng: KMT, desperate, begins to consider revising its “rulz” [WARNING: MAY CONTAIN RULES-LIKE SUBSTANCE] to let KMT heavyweight and Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng be an at-large legislator again.

Voices supporting Wang to become an at-large legislator had gained traction since the KMT’s new Central Standing Committee (CSC) was elected in August. Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟), a pro-Wang legislator and KMT CSC member, stated on September 12 that this seemed to be the trend, adding that he would exchange views with Speaker Wang on whether it was appropriate for him to propose revising the party rules at the CSC so as to allow Wang to serve another term as an at-large legislator.

Another pro-Wang legislator stated that a great deal of criticism of Wang was meant “to please deep Blue supporters.” However, the same legislator stated that the KMT might only secure 45 seats in next year’s legislative elections given the KMT’s current low support ratings. Therefore, many KMT members hoped that Wang Jin-pyng could be renominated on the party list, so that he could stump for other KMT legislative candidates and help reverse the tide, leading the KMT to secure a minimum of 50 seats in the 2016 legislative elections, the same legislator concluded.

As readers know, Wang is the informal head of the Taiwanese KMT and especially of southern faction legislators. He is also hated by President Ma Ying-jeou, who at the moment has an iron grip on the KMT. Hence the comment I’ve bolded above. If Wang is not pleased, he might not campaign — and that will cost the KMT.

But, as a friend commented, putting Wang in the Legislature implies that he will become the Speaker. But recall that up and coming KMT mainlander elite politician Hau Lung-bin, the former mayor of Taipei and the son of die-hard far right “unificationist” Hau Pei-tsun, is running for a legislative seat in Keelung. Will he be willing to step aside for Wang? Or does he want to be speaker — doubtful if he can’t get the support of the Taiwanese KMT.

The latest TISR poll is out over and Solidarity has the translation. Both the TSIR and a DPP internal poll discussed in another article have Soong and Hung below 20% and Tsai in mid-40s. Soong is fading and will continue to face, which he knows. Few KMTers have come over to him. The KMT is stringing Wang along, keeping him from moving over to Soong, and the Taiwanese KMT will take their cue from him.

And through it all, Tsai Ing-wen, DPP Chair and Presidential candidate, keeps gently talking. So far, a good ball control campaign, letting Hung do the talking.
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Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.