Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong (郭金龍) is back home, probably recounting the success of his recent six-day visit to Taipei to his masters in Zhongnanhai. The Taiwanese, however, should be mourning it as another nail in the construction of the coffin of annexation.
Much importance should be attached, some academics said this week, to the fact that Guo’s 500-member delegation was the first Chinese provincial delegation to visit Taiwan in more than six months. There was apparently a temporary moratorium on such visits because of Beijing’s sensitivities ahead of the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections. The delegation’s trip was a friendly gesture, they said.
It is time those academics left their ivory towers. It would be more truthful to say that Beijing was trying to hide the success of its “united front” and “cultural missile” policies during the run-up to the elections. Or perhaps it did not want its officials getting any ideas about how real elections are held.
Any way you want to describe it, Guo’s trip should be seen together with the recent completion of a cross-strait Chinese-language database as yet another step down the path toward Beijing’s ultimate goal of ruling this nation. Both are clearly part of the third step mentioned in Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) “six points” speech on Taiwan in 2008 — the promotion of Chinese culture.
Guo, after all, was in Taipei to help promote yet another “Beijing Culture Week” — this time a three-week-long exhibition of modern art by Beijing artists and one of traditional arts and crafts at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei. Perhaps no official bothered to tell Guo and his minions that Taiwanese already know about cloisonne enamel ware, Beijing opera masks, paper cuts and Chinese musical instruments because they have been made in this country as well for decades — or at least the cloisonne was, until it became much cheaper to manufacture it in Chinese factories in the 1990s. So why is it considered necessary to provide Taiwanese with “a better understanding of traditional Chinese craft,” as one participant from Beijing was quoted as saying.
Also, considering Beijing’s attitude toward Ai Weiwei (艾未未), one of the most prominent of modern Chinese artists, how could any modern art that has an official Beijing imprimatur really been seen as worthwhile?
Then there is the question of how a man whose career has been built on destroying cultural traditions and human rights violations can be held up as a promoter of cultural values.
According to this nation’s laws, Guo should have been barred from visiting because of his record of overseeing human rights abuses, both as vice secretary and then secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s Preparatory Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region and toward the Falun Gong as Beijing mayor. As both mayor and the executive president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Guo oversaw the destruction of scores of Beijing’s traditional hutong and other neighborhoods to pave the way for Olympic facilities and to “clean up” the city. This is a man to be talking about saving traditional crafts?
Not everyone was willing to take Guo’s visit lying down. The Democratic Progressive Party protested against it and there were protests both by Tibetan activists and supporters and Falun Gong practitioners at many of Guo’s stops. A group of Falun Gong practitioners even filed a lawsuit with the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office, asking it to probe Guo’s alleged crimes against humanity.
The government has no hesitation in refusing people like the Dalai Lama and World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer visas, yet it welcomes an apparatchik like Guo with open arms, heedless that the stains on Guo’s hands might rub off on it. Governments, like people, are known both for the friends they keep and the ones they turn away.
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