"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A stroke of genius

Today is Double Ten Day, Taiwan's National Day. This morning, President Chen Shui-bian delivered a speech that seems -- at least in print -- to be a coup de grace for himself as president, for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the ruling party, and for the sovereign nation of Taiwan in the face of military threats from China.

In the speech, President Chen...

... spoke of the "bittersweet" success of Taiwan's Olympic victories:
When Taiwan's first gold medal was conferred officially, waves of emotions swept through the hearts of our athletes and millions of our fellow citizens, who witnessed that glorious moment in history with tears of joy streaming down their faces. Perhaps those not from Taiwan find it difficult to comprehend the bittersweet sentiment so deeply felt by all of us--one that stems from a profound regret that our gold medallists are forbidden to sing our national anthem and salute our national flag, and that our only recourse is to make a loud appeal to the international media: "I am from Taiwan!"
... struck back at all of Taiwan's so-called "artists" who turned down the chance to sing the national anthem at the rally for fear of reprisal from China and instead honored Taiwan's Olympic and Paralympic medalists:
Today, we have invited our Olympic and Paralympic champions to lead the chorus of our National Anthem. In a song that entwines our people with the remembrance of our glorious past, we honor the "Heroes of Taiwan"; and as sounds of our national Anthem reach far beyond the horizon, we join here today with our Olympic heroes as a symbolic gesture that each and every one of you, my fellow citizens, is a hero of Taiwan.
... argued for Taiwan's inclusion in the United Nations [Clarification: Chen is referring to Resolution 2758 in this passage, not 2785.]:
The Resolution 2758 of the 1971 UN General Assembly addresses the issue of representation of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the UN and relevant organizations. However, it never endows the PRC any right to "represent the people of Taiwan." It is essential that Resolution 2785 [sic] should not be wrongly used as an excuse to exclude Taiwan from the UN system. Misusing this resolution to obstruct the participation of Taiwan people not only violates the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights principles; it is also the greatest irony to the principle of "universality of membership."
... made a direct reference to China's disdain for the people of Taiwan, specifically during the SARS crisis:
Taiwan must stand tall on the international stage, with parity and dignity. This is a wish shared by the 23 million people of Taiwan. In the same spirit, it is the yearning of each of our fellow citizens to see our national flag raised and our national anthem played in the Olympic award ceremony. It is but a simple wish that should never be ignored by any member of civilized societies nor met with flagrant attitude that retorts: "nobody cares about you!"
... reminded everyone of China's bellicosity while simultaneously extending an olive branch:
The threat of military force poses the greatest "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" across the Taiwan Strait. At present, there are more than 600 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan, and the numbers grow by 50 to 75 missiles each year--a serious threat that neither the Taiwan people nor the international society can afford to look on idly. These "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" not only directly threaten the peaceful status quo of the Taiwan Strait, they also undermine regional stability and global security.

Taiwan is pleased to witness the steady progress, reforms and peaceful emergence of China. We also extend our best wishes to the other side of the Strait as it prepares for the 2008 Beijing Olympics; and we hope that it will be a successful event conducted in accordance with the Olympic spirits of peace and equality. Nevertheless, the international community should be wary of and yet hope for the emergence of China to be accompanied by a "peaceful awakening", rather than a hegemony of belligerence and aggression.
... set forth a clear proposal for making progress in relations with China:
On many issues, the governments and the peoples on both sides of the Strait hold different views--some of which result from the absence of communication. In light of this, I have, on many occasions, proposed that, based on the existing foundation, both sides should promote the resumption of cross-strait dialogue and communication channel, so as to reduce the gap between the two sides and to construct a foundation of mutual trust. Today, I would like to take the initiative to propose that both sides use the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong, to seek possible schemes that are "not necessarily perfect but acceptable", as preparation of a step forward in the resumption of dialogue and consultation.

Any conflict in the Taiwan Strait could result in irreparable damages to the peoples on both sides. Therefore, I propose that both sides should seriously consider the issue of "arms control" and take concrete actions to reduce tension and military threats across the Taiwan Strait. Not too long ago, Taiwan's initiative to cancel the Han-kuang military exercise originally scheduled for last September was based on such deliberation. We believe only when both sides are committed to exercising restraint and avoiding any action that might further complicate the situation or induce conflicts, can we ensure that cross-strait relations develop on a peaceful and stable path. In the long term, both sides should formally end the state of hostility across the Taiwan Strait and establish confidence-building measures through consultations and dialogues. Furthermore, we should review the armament policies of both sides and seek to establish the "Code of Conduct across the Taiwan Strait" as the tangible guarantee of permanent peace in the Taiwan Strait.
... and promoted a 4-point plan for Taiwan's progress, both domestically and internationally:
Distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, "Unite Taiwan, stabilize cross-strait relations, seek social harmony, and reinvigorate the economy"-these are not only my commitments to the people of Taiwan; they are also responsibilities that all political parties must shoulder together. The impending legislative election at the end of this year presents us an opportunity, as well as a challenge. Therefore, I hope that all political parties will hold a sensible campaign based on goodwill and rational competition--so as to open a new era for post-election politics and to give Taiwan a chance to attain lasting unity, stability, peace, and prosperity.
I'll have to watch how it gets covered by the pan-blue media later this evening, but in the meantime, I'm pretty impressed.

A stroke of "village idiot"
On the other side of the globe, George "W is for War" Bush was being "testy" -- not at all "presidential" -- and "ramp[ing] up the aggression" during his second debate with the Democratic -- more presidential -- candidate Senator John Kerry. Well, what else would you expect from someone who was appointed to the job?

Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 (with Mandarin subtitles) will only be arriving in Taiwan on October 22. For a lot of Taiwanese, this will be their first chance to see a little of what they've been missing from the mainstream media, and I think they will be shocked and awed. I'll have to be there to catch some of the reactions.
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