China's reaction to the controversy and political crisis surrounding Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) can best be described as gloating. Naturally, China's reveling in the political troubles of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is merely par for the course. However, the manner in which the Chinese media is covering the latest political firestorm in Taiwan also contains some food for thought.
Traditionally, Chinese media coverage of Taiwan, especially regarding politics, has been quite reserved and cautious. This is the main reason why the Chinese know so little about Taiwanese politics and democracy. However, Chinese coverage of Chao's case is rare in that it is very in-depth.
On May 25, China's official Xinhua news agency posted a photograph of Chao being taken into custody on its Web site. The headline was "Collapse of the pan-greens!" accompanied by other eye-catching photos of Chao and the First Lady. Meanwhile, China's three top Web-portals, Sina, Sohu, and Netease, have been imitating the sensationalism of government news sources. Sina has even started a regular column called "Chen consumed by family scandal".
Chinese Communist Party(CCP) mouthpiece the People's Daily quoted People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (
Public discourse is dominated by the state in China and such media engagement of an issue would be impossible without the CCP first deliberately blaring it out and encouraging domestic media to report on it. The question is, why would the CCP do this?
If the CCP were merely relishing the opportunity to trumpet Chen's and the greens' failures, then how does one explain why KMT Legislator Chiu Yi's (邱毅) speech at Peking University was canceled by Chinese authorities at the last minute? The speech would surely have aired Taiwan's dirty laundry, benefitting China's cause. Some say the cancelation was motivated by a fear that Chiu's speech would stimulate discussion of not only corruption in Taiwan, but also in China.
Such speculation is ridiculous. Let's assume for the sake of argument that Chiu had the guts to turn the tables on China like that, what could he say that independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) hasn't? The CCP has no qualms about Li shooting his mouth off in China, why should they worry about Chiu? There is only one possible answer: The CCP cannot have the world perceiving Chiu as being in cahoots with China when the present controversy hits boiling point. Such kind consideration extended to Chiu offers much to think about.
We cannot know for certain just what all of China's motivations are for behaving the way it has recently. What is certain, however, is that the string of scandals are like Christmas gifts to the CCP as it strives to annex Taiwan.
Wang Dan is a member of the Chinese democracy movement and a visiting scholar at Harvard University.
Translated by Max Hirsch