One thing Chinese officials still don’t get is the fact that Taiwanese don’t like to be told what to think or how to vote. An even worse, self-defeating tactic is to threaten them. Jia Qinglin, CPPCC chairman, did both at the weekend
It is fascinating how an otherwise sophisticated united front campaign initiated by Beijing to win the “hearts and minds” of Taiwanese can, in some instances, descend into a crude and self-defeating tirade — and nothing draws the worst out of Chinese officials like the idea that democracy could generate outcomes that depart from Beijing’s plans.
The latest instance came over the weekend, when Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林, pictured above) told Taiwanese during a cross-strait forum that they should “choose the right person” and “vote for the right people” in next year’s presidential and legislative elections.
There is little doubt that by “right person,” Jia meant President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and that the “right people” are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates.
Of course, it is beyond Jia’s comprehension, along with that of his political masters, that he has no right to decide for Taiwanese who the “right” person to represent them might be. It is also ironic that an official operating in an authoritarian system where the party, then the state, dictates what is “best” for its citizens, would presume to educate a polity that has cultivated democracy — and used it as an instrument of empowerment — for 15 years.
My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.