Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to lose ‘hearts and minds’

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.


Michael Fagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerome Besson said...

Agreed, meddling in the domestic affairs of the WTO separate autonomous customs region of Tai-Peng is none of Zhongnanhai’s business. But, a self-defeating tactic? Hmmm…

The unsubstantial and deceptive stance of remaining “agnostic” on the issue of the sovereignty of Taiwan allowed the Chinese on both banks to bury their hatchets to better fill the void. Time to shift stance, put one’s foot down on the Taiwan issue had come.

A while ago, as Zhongnanhai was drooling over a screensaver display of the hot, luscious Sweet Potato Chinese Taipei was cooking for them, a message popped up on their LCD screen, “Title Temporarily Unavailable. Oops!”

A buried sutra spells out who can claim title to Tai-Peng. That old scripture has been unearthed and the news, a blurb on your LCD screen, has been gingerly but unmistakably conveyed to Zhongnanhai and Chinese Taipei.

How can the KMT carry on playing upon an irredentist claim to the sovereignty of a Taiwan that the ROC failed to include in its map? Lien Chan’s joke of a Confucius Prize was the dunce hat the CCP awarded him and his KMT with. It came with “shelf life expired” stamped inside.

CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) made his remark precisely because they know from experience how the Taiwanese voter will react. Ma and the KMT fade out, Tsai and the DPP fade in. But the hologram of a sweet potato that has “taro” written over it will remain.

In the larger scheme of the regional balance of power, a KMT in opposition to a rule of law-abiding DPP government can be counted upon to display a firework of dirty tricks aimed at currying favors with Zhongnanhai.

Taiwan is temporarily unavailable, where “temporarily” means, as we know, for many, many years to come. But, as long as the hologram remains on screen, diverting the Taiwanese populace’s attention from the real issue, Zhongnanhai can keep pushing its irredentist argumentation.

While the site administrator delays pulling the plug on that hologram, what you are given to see is blocking your sight.

Jerome Besson
Valenciennes - France

Anonymous said...

Good editorial Michael. Keep up the great work!!