A pan-blue politician friend of mine told me the other day that during his recent trip to Beijing, he met with a Chinese government official who gleefully told him how happy he was that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had finally realized how to launch full-scale media warfare against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his failings. Thanks to this, Beijing believes that the KMT will embark on a winning streak that will return them to power in the 2008 presidential elections.
Seeing my friend overjoyed with the prospect of electoral success for the KMT, I could not help but pour cold water on his assumptions by saying "Don't get hypnotized by the KMT's media warfare," and that "The KMT had better not force a showdown, for it is still far too early to tell if it is going to be plain sailing for the party."
Since former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) visited China this year, the duo have been attempting to ally themselves with Beijing and project an image of the governing DPP as incompetent and corrupt.
Clearly, the pan-blues have learned from Beijing how to launch three types of warfare, namely, media, psychological and legal, against the president, and now take pride in their rising popularity in recent opinion polls. They claim that Chen's popularity has plunged to a unprecedented low, for he is the biggest source of chaos in the nation.
The pan-blues now realize that media warfare that combines politics and the pan-blue owned media, can work wonders. They have become so addicted to the strategy that they are now intensifying their attacks on Chen.
In fact, "collective" and "fictitious" are the two main characteristics of China's media warfare strategy. Moreover, in an attempt to woo support, the speaker usually pretends to be sympathetic to the public by seeking to establish common ground and some sort of link between both sides. If such a strategy is skillfully employed, it could win the sympathy of a lot of people.
However, the recent wave of attacks launched by the pan-blues seem to have become stuck in a rut, continuously lauding China while denigrating Taiwan. In failing to go beyond personal attacks aimed at former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen, the blue camp's campaign appeals only to the already converted, and will not succeed in persuading anyone else.
Although the recent spate of criticism of Chen has caused his popularity rating to plunge, in the heat of an election campaign, all these accusations are likely to be forgotten. As a result, the blue-camp's media campaign is likely to fail.
Wang Kung-yi is an associate professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University.
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG