Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Historic Undermining of Taiwanese Leadership

I am subbing for the usual POYS editor today as he is surely busy studying for his finals.

For the first time in over half a century, Taiwan Nationalist party leader, Lien Chan, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao last week for the purpose of easing tensions between the two long-time rivals. Although this was a historic meeting, the first since a meeting between Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong back in 1945, one must not place too much emphasis on the results of such a meeting. After all, the Nationalist party is no longer the ruling party in Taiwan after losing for the first time back in 2000 and again in 2004. This would be like Howard Dean holding negotiations with Al Qaeda, an enemy who threatens to attack the United States. Then, it would be like Al Qaeda treating Howard Dean as if he were the president of the United States, in hopes of showing that the Democrats can effectively negotiate a peace that will ensure no more terrorism in the United States for the purpose of getting back at the Republicans. The notion is ridiculous. But this is the game that China and the Nationalist Party are playing.

This meeting is a ploy to undermine the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan. In recent times, China has hated the DPP more than the Nationalists for the DPP’s refusal to acknowledge that Taiwan is even a part of China, even though in reality Taiwan and China are sovereign nations with different governments. The Nationalists' hate the DPP simply because they are the Nationalists' main opposition and have taken their power away. Lien Chan is hoping to gain popularity with the Taiwanese people in showing that he can improve relations with China and avoid a war in the future. China, on the other hand is hoping that she will not have to make good on her threat to invade Taiwan, should Taiwan declare independence, and can eventually acquire Taiwan through peaceful means as she did with Hong Kong.

I cannot help but think that the Nationalists are betraying the Taiwanese government and the Taiwanese people. Clearly, the popularly elected government of any nation should be the one to represent the nation in talks of this magnitude, especially if such talks have not occurred in 60 years. Chan’s desperation play could hurt his own party’s credibility in the long run as a party that is willing to negotiate with the enemy to preserve its own power and perhaps more significantly, hurt Taiwan’s chances for becoming an independent democratic nation, one that is formally recognized by the rest of the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous sensationalism and written with a pro-DPP bias.

The title "A Historic Undermining of Taiwanese Leadership" is so dramatic and exaggerated. “sling” makes it seem that this meeting was so great an example of undermining that it is worthy to be placed in history textbooks.

What is the leadership of Taiwan?
Barring arguments that the current president, Chen Shui-bian cheated in the 2004 election and is an illegitimately elected president, how much of the government of Taiwan belongs to the Democratic People’s Party? They have the presidency, but they do not hold the majority in the legislative body. The 2004 election also did not give Chen a decisive victory, indicating that the population is not overwhelming in support of him and his party. Isn’t it unfair to say that the Nationalist Party has no part in representing Taiwan?

Were the Nationalists underhanded and seeking to surprise everyone?
No, the Nationalists publicly accepted the invitation to visit China. It was clearly known to the world and the DPP. China wanted to open dialogue with Taiwan and invited Taiwan’s leadership including Chen and the DPP. However, Chen and the DPP refused to go. Was it wrong for the Nationalists to accept China’s invitation?

Should Taiwan and China simply not talk to each other?
We are in a world with increasing globalization. It is ridiculous to not have diplomatic channels especially between two parties surrounded in tension. In the case of Taiwan, China is Taiwan’s biggest trading partner. Economics aside, there is no other country more culturally and historically tied to Taiwan than China. Why should the two governments, despite their differences, not meet and talk in a peaceful setting?

Did the Nationalist Party historically undermine the Taiwanese leadership?
Well, the Nationalist Party is part of the Taiwanese leadership, so no. But assuming the Nationalist Party has no part in the government of Taiwan, the chairman of the Nationalist Party, Lien Chan, did not reach any official agreement with the Communist Party of China. They did not undermine the Taiwanese government or the leadership. Chen Shui-bian remains the president and the status-quo remains after the visit. No binding agreement of any sort came out of the meeting. The meeting was a friendly meeting and a photo-opportunity.

What if the intent of the Nationalist visit to China was to thwart Taiwanese independence?
Assuming that to be the case, do the Nationalists not have that right? If the opportunity exists, doesn’t everyone have a right to peacefully advocate their position? I can make a nationwide television advertisement in Taiwan arguing against Taiwanese independence which could convince and people and thwart Taiwanese independence. Am I not entitled to do that? So, the Nationalists used an opportunity to show their support for Chinese dialogue.

Should the Nationalists thwart Taiwanese independence?
If it is their position to be against independence and they are continuously elected to office, then isn’t their action against independence legitimate?

Assuming the Nationalists are no longer in power and the people of Taiwan want independence, should they thwart independence?
If the Nationalists truly believe that Taiwan should not be independent, but reunited with China in the end, then they should pursue what they believe. Sometimes, the majority can be wrong. If there is truly good cause, good reason for their position, then even actions such as undermining the existing leadership can be justified.
I give you beginning of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson:
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

5/04/2005 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with your comments, and the charged rhetoric you employ is consistent with the inflamed nationalism and irrationality that is employed by DPP sympathizers and Taiwan nationalists particularly in debates. While I do not like many Chinese policies, I am deeply troubled by the conflation of certain ideas that are entertained even by educated Taiwanese intellectuals like yourself. There is a difference between the "Chinese state" and the "Chinese nation." Sovereignty is only referring to the "states" of Taiwan and China not the "nations" of Taiwan and China. It is entirely a plausible argument that China and Taiwan's separation as nations and as states was a product of the Cold War just as East and West Germany, North and South Korea despite their threats to attack each other. Rational people applaud any warming of relations rather than retreat into their various corners insulting each other from afar. I applaud Lien's efforts to warm ties in a tense environment. Do rational people keep on insulting the other side as "al Qaeda" or "the enemy" making matters worse? Yet, many in Taiwan fail to understand, like in your post, that separation as soverign states does not render possible reunification as a united nation moot. Even if not possible reunification, increased diplomatic and social ties. Independence does not mean isolation. The comparison between China and Al Qaeda, Dean and Lien Chan is completely out of place. I will not even try to honor such ridiculous comparisons with a comment. A much better and less charged analogy is at place: the visits of former President Bill Clinton to the tsunami ravaged nations - a good will visit by a former official of the government. Let us not forget that Lien Chan was a vice-presdient of Taiwan even though he is now the head of the KMT. He can equally represent Taiwan as a former head of state if Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter can represent the U.S. in visits abroad with or without authorization by the President and even if they are prominent members of the non-ruling parties. Just as impasses between North Korea and the U.S. were approached by Jimmy Carter, why can't Lien be the first one to break the ice? Remember also that many members of Congress represent the nation despite their membership in non-ruling parties. The representation is pure symbolism and a measure of good will not diplomacy. Remember too that Lien Chan also did a lot of public visits to schools and universities. Letting the Chinese people, not the state, learn more about Taiwan is not a bad thing. How is this betrayal? True, there are problems with the Chinese government policy, but there are also problems with the Taiwanese government policies. Let us not defend Taiwanese policies by empty gestures to "independence," as if "independence" will solve all of Taiwan's problems. Often "independence" and "nationalism" in Taiwan is used as a panacea and slogan without any reflection.
Do not also forget that President Chen, after the elections, promised to visit China. "Chen also reiterated his willingness to travel with his running mate Annette Lu to mainland China for a visit of "reconciliation and communication." At the same time, he invited PRC president Jiang Zemin, premier Zhu Rongji and Wang Daohan, director of the PRC's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, to visit Taiwan." Let us not also forget that President Chen asked James Soong to carry a message from him to the Chinese government. Is this also betrayal? Does a party who only barely won the election become the "Taiwanese people"? Or is it not betrayal because the DPP is involved. As rational observers, let us not hold the irrational position that the DPP is always right and the opposition is always wrong even though they may suggest the same action. Let us not get so naive as to believe that without a change in Chinese policy, the world is going to recognize Taiwan as a independent nation (and it's already democratic). Perhaps Lien is correct to acknowledge the power dynamics in world politics, and unfortunately, we are not living in a world of U.N. idealism. Did you know the U.S. did not want to acknowledge the new government of Cambodia and kept its recognition of the Khmer Rouge simply for its own self-interests? Recognition comes with playing the diplomatic game, not by isolating oneself and purporting to take the high road while insulting Taiwan's most powerful neighbor.

5/04/2005 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ha ha hit him again said...

really how would Mr. DeLAY react if Howard Dean met with Al Qaeda

5/04/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

Thank you both for your comments. I am clearly in the company of those who are more knowledgable on the subject. However, I will try to address a few of the comments made because I believe some of my comments were taken out of context. By the way, I don't consider myself to be a DPP sympathizer nor a Taiwan nationalist nor a Catholic (see earlier comments regarding the new pope).

5/04/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

Anonymous #1,

Yes, my title was a bit dramatic. However, the meeting was "historic" in some ways even if no agreement was reached. It is also true that Lien is going against the wishes of the DPP, who I assumed represented the Taiwanese leadership. Thus, my title is not empirically incorrect.

When I used the term "leadership" of Taiwan, it simply refers to the fact that the DPP are the "ruling party". The terms "leadership" and "ruling party" are subject to debate, however, I believe many people would agree that the DPP are now the ruling party of Taiwan. Either way, even if I improperly used the term leadership, aren't you being just a little picky?

The Nationalists are underhanded in that it is a ploy to make the DPP look bad. Would the Nationalists be visiting China if they had won the presidential election? It is certainly questionable.
See (warming of relations)

I never said Taiwan and China should not talk to each other. They are still trading with each other regardless. Again, see (warming of relations)

Your line about the Nationalist Party being a part of the Taiwanese leadership is a bit ridiculous, since it's pretty clear what I was referring to. The undermining refers to the idea that the Nationalists and the Chinese government wish to see the DPP defeated. The friendly meeting and the photo-opportunity are the means by which to undermine or weaken the DPP by making them look worse in the eyes of their countrymen.

I agree with you that the Nationalists have a right to peacefully advocate their position and I do think you made it more than clear at the end of your comments, which is why I don't have to address the last three questions seperately. Although I suspect not many people in the Nationalists leadership really want to see Taiwan reunited with Communist China. My statement that they are "betraying the Taiwanese people" was improper then, but I did say it because I did not believe that thwarting independence was their true motive.

5/04/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

Anonymous #2,

The seperation of Taiwan and China is really another issue where there is no right or wrong answer. Just because the Allied powers created Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia or gave Taiwan to China, doesn't necessarily mean that is or isn't the way it should be. Regardless, I never said Taiwan should be independent, although I can see how it could sound that way. I only said that this visit could hurt Taiwan's chances for independence.

When I brought up Dean and Al Qaeda, I knew it wasn't a great example and that it might offend others. I was merely trying to give a hypothetical example of a supposed "enemy" of the United States wanting to exact revenge on a particular party by negotiating with the other party. China has often threatened the use of arms against Taiwan and is Taiwan's greatest fear just like Al Qaeda is the US' greatest fear. Clinton's visit is not a great example either because he had no other political agenda in mind. His visit was not to bolster the Democrats standing and undermine the Republicans for failing to visit. Nor was his visit a controversial one, that has essentially never been done since the government relocated to Taipei.

I do agree with you that there should eventually be a warming of relations. However, I felt this was a sensitive manner that was not Lien Chan's to undertake. China has made repeated threats to Taiwan, and although the answer may not be to condemn China, it doesn't mean Taiwan should just accept any warming of relations. Take the example of China's relations with Japan (that I may write about when I make another guest appearance next week), should China just apologize to Tokyo for the recent demonstrations for the sake of improving relations? Should a former US official visit the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War or is that something only the President or Security of State should do? Perhaps, but the answer is not necessarily as clear as day and night. There are many underlying issues that need to be addressed before such an apology should be issued or such a visit should be made. I never proposed isolation either as I do believe Taiwan needs China for economic reasons. However, I am not so naive as to believe the visit was only for the sake of warming relations. China and the Nationalists have a clear interest in seeing to it that the DPP do not win the next election.

I have never claimed that the DPP is always right. Certainly, the DPP have their flaws and such flaws appeared to come out around the 2004 election regarding the whole presidential assassination incident. There is no way to know in 50 years whether the world will recognize Taiwan or not regardless of a change in Chinese policy or not. From this whole incident, I don't know if it will benefit or hurt Taiwan, but to me it appears as if China and the Nationalists are working together to weaken (undermine) the DPP (Taiwanese leadership).

5/04/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sling, do you know what empirically means? Your diction is terrible. More importantly, however, you should not begin posting a subject you are not knowledgeable about. You realize the implications of such actions: there are people who may know nothing about the subject and what they read from you may be all that they know - which is an ignorant, bigoted perspective. Unless your intent, in this case, is to make everyone sympathize with the DPP and Taiwan independence.

You wrote: "Would the Nationalists be visiting China if they had won the presidential election? It is certainly questionable." You make it seem like they totally wouldn't? I think you are wrong. As you should have read from the other commentor, Chen Shui-bian even promised to visit China. How would the party that supports increased ties with China (Nationalists) not want to visit China had they win the recent presidential election? You should realize that you are wrong and your attempt to defend your ridiculous arguments with statements meant to confuse unknowledgeable readers is really sinister.

5/05/2005 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: "win" should be "won" in the previous comment.

In addition, I would also like to add the following.

sling wrote:
"The undermining refers to the idea that the Nationalists and the Chinese government wish to see the DPP defeated. The friendly meeting and the photo-opportunity are the means by which to undermine or weaken the DPP by making them look worse in the eyes of their countrymen."

Don't all political parties want to see their opponents defeated? What is the point of saying anything about the intent of other parties wanting the DPP defeated? In the manner in which you speak, it is clear that you are a biased DPP supporter. You abhor any “undermining” of the DPP, which is why you write such things.

Is it wrong that the Nationalists used a meeting and a photo-opportunity to weaken the DPP? Is it wrong for a newspaper to publish a report that reveals the wrong-doing of the ruling party? Is it wrong for someone to suggest an alternative that the ruling party wouldn’t like? What is your point in saying that the Nationalists are making the DPP look bad in the eyes of their countrymen? If the Nationalist Party is a party that cares about Taiwan, they should reveal what is best for Taiwan before everyone, even if it makes the ruling party look bad. The DPP has left their promise to open dialogue with China unfulfilled. The Nationalists has taken initiative to do what they believe is best. If the Taiwanese people end up viewing the DPP in a negative light as a result, then the DPP deserves to look bad. Why are you saying anything about it as if though you are so upset? It’s pretty clear that you just can’t stand the DPP looking bad.

5/05/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... you are so upset about the DPP looking bad that you portray them as victims of some unfair "undermining."

Ever heard of politics?

Also, the Taiwanese people have a choice in what they think. If the DPP gets voted out of office because of this Nationalist visit, then that's the way it is. Isn't that democracy?

5/05/2005 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger The Critics said...

How ironic. Sling, an ASIAN, posting about ASIAN (read taiwanese) dicta!

5/05/2005 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

To be honest, I don't really care that much about this issue. This was an issue selected by the POYS editor. If I had to write my own blog, I wouldn't touch upon this subject. I've had a blog for a couple years (which I discontinued 5 months ago) and I never wrote anything about Taiwan on it (which I'm sure pleases you guys). I'm not passionate about this subject matter and I'm clearly not upset at shit.

Whatever Jterpslaw... my main historical interests are not in China-Taiwan relations nor in Asian history. Although, I do admit I am interested in Asian-American issues.

5/05/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why did you write such a biased, inflammatory, and manipulative post?

It is a lie that you don't care about the issue and it is obvious what your opinions are.

5/06/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger The Critics said...

Hear hear!

5/06/2005 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...


5/06/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

criticize the entry if you want (which you already did).. stop trying to pick fights by analyzing my feelings or what you perceive to be my feelings on the issue.

and you certainly don't have to resort to calling me passionate or a liar just because i wrote one three paragraph entry on the subject.

5/06/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you, who doesn't really care about the issue, write such an inflammatory and biased piece? And then reply with so many posts defending what you wrote?

5/06/2005 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terps draws attention to the fact that Sling, an Asian, chose to post on an "Asian" issue.

Although Sling later noted that POYS selected the topic, why is this significant?

When GOPJew, I mean Terps, was given the floor, he chose to discuss an Israeli/Palestinian issue. Should I draw attention to the fact that you're Jewish?

Of course not.

You're so amusingly stupid.

- Taiwanese Jew

5/06/2005 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger bum from jersey said...

i don't even care about your topic yet i am going to point out your errors:

1. howard dean is not a leader. when he held office, it was as governor of a state that only had 8 people, 10 people max. so comparing a real leader to howard dean is unfair and stupid (thats the first time i think i used that word appropriately and not out of spite).

2. your post as being relevant. who cares? seriously, i can name only one person inside of these us borders who cares about this and i can actually do it w/ one finger. guess which finger i am going to use to count it w/ (here is a hint, its not my thumb)? call me a narrowminded american but why is this relevant to me, you, or any other american? why should i wake up in the morning and think about this? seriously why? cause i just don't know.

5/09/2005 03:45:00 PM  

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