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

Monday, February 06, 2006

Speaking with clarity on Taiwan

Taiwan needn't be "hard to understand"

Back in May 2000, just after Chen Shui-bian was elected to his first term as Taiwan's President, he first mentioned "five noes" during his inauguration speech. In that speech, he promised that he would not abolish either the National Unification Guidelines or the National Unification Council (both of which are products of the KMT's sentimental childhood fantasies of returning to their mommy-land) that he wouldn't change the official name of the country or the constitution (both of which were products of the KMT's failed rule of China), that he wouldn't push for a "state-to-state" model to be included in the constitution, and that he wouldn't declare independence.

On January 29, 2006, Chen gave a speech in which he said that he would consider abolishing the National Unification Guidelines and the National Unification Council, that he wanted to draft a new constitution, and that he would like the nation to be represented in the UN as "Taiwan," implying a change from the "official" name to the one that people use and which clearly states what the territory ruled by national government in Taipei is called.

Here's how the Taipei Times reported what Chen said in that speech:
Now is an appropriate time to seriously consider abolishing the National Unification Council and the Guidelines for National Unification in order to reflect the current state of Taiwanese consciousness, President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday.

"What Chinese unification are we after?" Chen asked, describing the guidelines as "a store whose sign has disappeared and stocks gone."

"In addition to considering whether to abrogate the nominal Unification Council and guidelines, I'd like to see the nation join the United Nations with the name of Taiwan," Chen said.

"In addition, I'd like to see the draft of a new constitution completed by the end of the year so it can be put to a popular vote next year," he said.
Contrary to the impression which the reporting on this had been giving, when Chen gave his inauguration speech back in 2000, he wasn't merely spouting platitudes. Those promises were all based on a vital condition.

Here are those promises again, with the context of that condition included:
Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, the abolition of the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines will not be an issue.
Of course, this caused the pan-blues to get upset, but they throw tantrums over just about anything. Here's the KMT chairman pitching a bitch about the January 29 speech:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou responded to Chen's comments by saying that the president had promised before his election and re-election that he would not abolish the council.

If the president now decided to abolish the council, his credibility would be questioned, Ma said.
He's a guy who whined "Don't paint me red" (i.e., "falsely make him look like a supporter of China") and sued the DPP when they made a TV spot which showed his face while a veteran in the background shouted "Long live Hu Jintao."

That Ma sure is a strange red fellow. Just last month, Ma said he hoped (paraphrased here) "that the KMT Youth Corps could produce another Hu Jintao."

Department of State-of-Panic
But it wasn't just the pan-blues who went into panic mode when Chen Shui-bian spoke clearly.

Even the US State Department got all pissy:
Warning that Chen's speech could be "inflammatory or send the wrong signal," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli read a special department statement reiterating US cross-strait policy at a routine press conference.

Ereli admitted that Washington was "surprised" about Chen's announcement, and that the administration had not been consulted about it beforehand.

Ereli also said that the administration feels that an effort to join the UN under the name "Taiwan" and holding a referendum for a new constitution by next year -- two other pledges in Chen's speech -- would likewise constitute changes in the status quo.
It sure looks like the "Shock and Awe" people will wet their pants over anything.

A Yahoo article has some unidentified surfer dude at the US State Department spewing these gnarly imitations of imaginary "spokes-sentences":
A US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that Chen had "said some stuff that is going to spin people up.

"We don't want people to get spun up. We don't want China to get spun up, we don't want Taiwan to get spun up. So we thought it would be useful to make it clear in a public way that the goal post haven't changed [sic] on this," the official said.

Asked to identify aspects of Chen's statement that could send the wrong signals, the official said, "Like Taiwan wanting a seat at the UN, change in constitution ... things that he said he wouldn't say again and now he said it again."

"It's like woah, woah, woah...," said the official, sounding that Chen was pushing things too far.
[I'm not making that up! No wonder he didn't want to be identified.]

The article also like totally ignores the "if" part of Chen's promises. That's like so bogus!

The State Department then went into full-mommy mode with this nonsense:
A senior State Department official has called on Taipei to communicate fully with Washington to avoid a repetition of President Chen Shui-bian's "surprise" Lunar New Year proposal to scrap the National Unification Council and unification guidelines and seek UN membership as "Taiwan."


The State Department is said to be angry that Chen put forward his proposals on UN membership and the unification council without telling Washington first. That would explain the department's sharp reaction on Monday when it took the unusual step of widely publicizing its reaction statement to Chen's speech, equating his speech with an effort to change the "status quo."
The reporter seems to have left out the part where the unnamed mommy-figure angrily said, "I'm going to count to three!!!"

What kind of "status quo" is this?
So what has happened since Chen's 2000 inauguration that would warrant the clarity of his January 29 speech? Have there been any other "changes in the status quo"? Here's a short list to refresh your memory:

* In March 2005, China promulgated an "anti-secession" law which "legislates" the arbitrary use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan.

* The number of Chinese missiles along the coast facing Taiwan has increased exponentially. In fact, there are currently nearly 300 more missiles than there were just over two years ago.

* Bird flu: Lack of transparency from China. Infected birds smuggled into Taiwan from China. False accusations made against Taiwan that certain cases of bird flu originated here, but tests showed that "the H5N1 found [...] was most similar to the virus found in China." China has continually blocked Taiwan's participation in the WHO.

Why did Chen wait until now to speak up?
The timing of Chen's recent suggestion about abolishing the rusty relics from the "retake the mainland" days wasn't enunciated for several days after his speech, but Vice-President Annette Lu finally turned on the spotlight:
Lu said that Chen did not break his promises, because they were made on condition that China abstain from using military force against Taiwan.

"Everyone just remembers the 'five noes,' while forgetting the 'one if.' While Beijing has been increasing the military threat it poses to Taiwan, the prerequisite for Chen's promises has actually never existed," Lu said.
Still not clear enough for you?

I can see clearly now, Zemin is gone
How about this? The article also mentions that the speech came just as China was commemorating the 11th anniversary of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's "Eight Points" which purportedly sought "peaceful" unification with Taiwan. In the interim, however, this has proven to be, er, utter bullshit. If just the few items listed above don't provide enough clarity, you should remember that it was just a year after the "Eight Points" were "catapulted" that China fired missiles into the waters off Taiwan.

It should have been plenty clear one year after Jiang's "Eight Points." Six years onward, it should have been clearer still.

Eleven years on, it's got to be as clear as a bell! As clear as day! As clear as crystal!

As clear as 784 mother-killing missiles!

Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of Taiwan and speak clearly about Taiwan's situation. Don't wait until more missiles fly.

Others spoke clearly, too
Michael Turton points us to the text of an announcement from FAPA, emphasizing something I will include farther below. But this is the part that struck me right between the eyes with its unusual clarity:
We are thus surprised at the State Department's pronouncement on January 30th, in which it reiterated its worn-out "One China" policy. That policy was devised more than 30 years ago in response to a situation in which two repressive regimes -- the Chinese Nationalists and Communists -- both claimed sovereignty as government of China.
For the sake of even more clarity, the "Chinese Nationalists" referred to are the KMT, but isn't that a whole helluva lot clearer than that "renegade" bullshit that news writers like to copy and paste so often?

FAPA also had this to say:
By insisting on its anachronistic "One China" Policy, and by stating that the US "does not support Taiwan independence" and that a resolution needs to be found that is " ...acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait", the State Department is actually standing in the way of a peaceful resolution: it inhibits creative thinking about Taiwan's future, and gives a Communist China a say in decision-making on a democratic Taiwan's future that should be made solely by the Taiwanese people themselves. Imagine if someone had suggested in 1776 that the future of the American colonies should be " ...acceptable to people on both sides of the Atlantic."
Oh, how I yearn for such clear statements to be made on a daily basis!

Earlier would've been better still
The Taipei Times finally got around to editorializing on this matter a whole week after Chen's January 29 speech. Here's a big chunk of what they had to say:
[A] closer examination of Chen's words fail to reveal any groundbreaking departure from the status quo -- at least nothing substantive enough to invite the level of surprise that the US government has demonstrated.


[T]he National Unification Council has not been convened once since 1999. It serves absolutely no function and a pan-blue controlled legislature slashed the council's annual budget to the ridiculously low amount of NT$1,000 (US$31). If anyone in Taiwan genuinely wishes for unification then it would have to be members of the pan-blue camp. However, not even they felt that it made sense to provide the council with more than a NT$1,000 bill each year.

[...] [O]nly the Taiwanese people can decide whether there should be unification with China. The existence of the National Unification Council and unification guidelines takes unification as a given, something that is at odds with democratic progress and development.

As for Chen talking about wanting to join the UN using the name "Taiwan" [...], this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation either. [...] In choosing between "ROC" and "Taiwan," it is a toss up as to which is more offensive to China, since the former claims sovereignty over China's territory and the latter conflicts with the "one China" principle. Neither is going to be acceptable, so Taiwan might as well pick one that it prefers and which also happens to faithfully reflect the political reality of an independent sovereignty.

And as for the talk about holding a referendum on a new constitution, Chen has cited this as one of his major political platforms for quite some time now. It comes as no surprise.


The real question is: Do Taiwanese crave unification? The answer is a blindingly obvious "no."
Major league madness
Michael Turton also refers us to the words of Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo in a letter scolding the commissioner of Major League Baseball on matters related to the silliness surrounding Taiwan's participation in the upcoming World Baseball Classic -- something that needs to be clarified every time Taiwan participates in international sporting events:
For more than 20 years, because of pressure from the People's Republic of China, athletes from the Republic of China (Taiwan) have been forced to compete under the name "Chinese Taipei" in the Olympic Games even though Taiwan is not subject to the control of the unelected government in Beijing.
While Tancredo (R-Colorado) gets it relatively right, it's totally fucked up that someone who "supports" Taiwan is an anti-immigration idiot who "advocat[es] terror against civilian populations." The fact that he and people like Dana Rohrabacher seem to "support" Taiwan actually makes me kind of nervous.

Even though Tancredo got a few things right in the case of Taiwan, we really need other people to be the ones saying these things -- people who don't advocate terrorism when it suits them.

Now, if we could only get a whole bunch of real "Taiwan hands" to speak clearly and speak often, we might just make some progress.

UPDATE: Corrections have been made to these three items:
* [gnarly imitations of imaginary spokes-sentences] was changed to [gnarly imitations of imaginary "spokes-sentences"] (quotation marks added) to assure readers that the neologism was intentional.
* [enunciated of for several days] was changed to [enunciated for several days] (removed the word "of") to fix an error that resulted from trying during my pre-publishing edits to be clearer than what I had typed during a draft of the post.
* [the speech just as China was commemorating the 11th anniversary] was changed to [the speech came just as China was commemorating the 11th anniversary] (added the word "came") to fix the oversight.
Thanks to Dok Uni at The Poison Dart for his contributions to the "self-correcting blogosphere" and to "clarity." ;-)

Twenty-three bottles of biru on the wall: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
eXTReMe Tracker
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?