井底之蛙

5/23/2008

Whither Taiwan?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:18 am

Ma

If you were wondering how different the new Ma government in Taiwan would be from the DPP government it is replacing you should go read Michael Turton’s analysis of Ma’s inauguration speech. (Given in Chinese (I assume Mandarin) with an English translation displayed at the same time)

Ma spends a good deal of time taking digs at his predecessors and promising vague but wonderful things for the future, as is typical is speeches like this. He also refers to the people of Taiwan as part of the 中華民族, rather than 国民 or citizens. How to translate 中華民族? I suppose the most literal way would be “Chinese race” although “Chinese ethnicity” probably sounds better. Both in Taiwan (at least under the KMT) and on the Mainland governments would claim that this “Chinese race” includes ethnic minorities. And, as some of Michael’s commenters point out there are more explicitly Han chauvinist terms he could have used, like 漢族. Still, it is hard to disagree with Michael or with the KMT aboriginal legislator who walked out of of the speech that this term is a lot less welcoming to non-Chinese that the 国民 that the DPP preferred. I also found it sort of interesting that he explicitly outed himself as a mainlander. “Taiwan is not my birthplace, but it is where I was raised and the resting place of my family. I am forever grateful to society for accepting and nurturing this post-war immigrant.” 英九雖然不是在台灣出生,但台灣是我成長的故鄉,是我親人埋骨的所在。我尤其感念台灣社會對我這樣一個戰後新移民的包容之義、栽培之恩與擁抱之情 I thought this was sort of weird. Yes, he is a mainlander, but it seems odd to bring it up,1 unless he is trying to tie himself more firmly to China. If he pisses off the aborigines that might create trouble. If he goes so far as to piss off the non-mainlanders (whom I guess I would define as people who speak Tai-yu first) he could have real trouble.2

He clearly -is- trying to butter up ‘China’, although it is not clear how much this will involve throwing ‘Taiwan’ under the bus. Maybe a lot. “In resolving cross-strait issues, what matters is not sovereignty but core values and way of life” This is actually pretty scary, in that the Taiwan government seems to be at least downplaying and perhaps abandoning entirely the ROC’s claims to sovereignty, and looking to a common ‘Confucian’ culture. At least for Ma Taiwan seems much more part of Greater China than it was before.

  1. even though he does say he was an immigrant, thus sort of implying that Taiwan is not the same as China. Maybe this is an olive branch to the less China-y types out there []
  2. I studied in Taiwan ages ago when the old Taiwanese-Mainlander split was fading rapidly, and I find it hard to imagine he is trying to revive it []

Powered by WordPress