On Tuesday, a brawl broke out between a group of Hakka protesters and some ethnic-Hakka opposition legislators at the Legislative Yuan over the pan-blue camp's plan to freeze 80 percent of the budget for the Cabinet-level Council for Hakka Affairs. An explanation from two ethnic-Hakka legislators -- Chun Jung-chi (鍾榮吉) and Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) -- saying the opposition had withdrawn the motion to freeze the budget, did little to allay the anger of the Hakka protesters. According to media reports, the two received a few punches and kicks from the protesters.
Everyone knows the machinations of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance. Hakka voters have long been staunch supporters of the pan-blue camp. Now, worried about an apparent shift in their support, the KMT-PFP alliance tried to freeze the Hakka council's budget in an attempt to cut off the council's resources so that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would have no Hakka card to play in the election campaign.
Their action reminds us of one of the pan-blue camp's biggest campaign slogans: ethnic reconciliation. Speaking in Taoyuan, one of the Hakka strongholds, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) on Saturday accused the DPP of discriminating against Hakka people. His remarks were a stark contrast to the opposition camp's attempt to freeze the council's budget. The KMT-PFP camp apparently thinks Taiwanese voters are dumb.
Only disadvantaged groups and victims of discrimination are qualified to talk about "ethnic reconciliation." It is laughable that the KMT, after exercising White Terror and authoritarian rule for decades, is now suddenly espousing ethnic reconciliation in the election campaign.
The KMT has been very good at creating taboos and using them as their protective umbrella. In the past authoritarian era, under the "everyone is Chinese" assimilation policy, people were distinguished by their "provincial ancestry" from cradle to grave, but they were not allowed to discuss ethnic issues. Today, the authoritarian system is gone, but the KMT continues to mobilize the local media, most of which is controlled by mainlanders, to create another ethnic taboo. Whoever dares to challenge this taboo is a sinner.
Ethnic issues involve vested interests, the power to interpret history, the power to guide culture and the power to allocate resources over the past half century, as well as Taiwan's ultimate problem -- a review of national identity. A political party which committed crimes in the past is now calling for "ethnic reconciliation" and wants everyone to love each other and forget about past grievances. This political party is still very good at propaganda and political manipulation.
Recently, we saw the establishment of an "Ethnic Equality Action Alliance" led by internationally renowned film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢). At a press conference to launch the group, National Taiwan University professor Hsia Chu-joe (夏鑄九) quoted the words of Lee Hsing-chang (李幸長), a dumpling franchise operator, accusing pro-DPP voters in southern Taiwan of boycotting his shop and causing his income to fall by 15 percent because he had opposed the DPP government's education reforms. Hsia used those remarks as proof that the DPP was engaging in ethnic mobilization.
Hsia and Lee's accusations are low and shameless. Most people in southern Taiwan do not know Lee, who is not that famous. Their accusations only proved that some people with a strong ethnic consciousness are trying to hide it and accusing others of harboring ethnic consciousness. This has got to be what is most hypocritical and most laughable about the opposition alliance and this ethnic equality alliance.
Although internal Chinese politics are largely defined by meticulously concocted mysteries, it is an open secret that the battle for who will ascend to the highest echelons of Zhongnanhai is decided at the Beidaihe resort. It is where factions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) engage in horse-trading over leadership selection and delegate appointments long before the party’s national congress. What unfolded at last month’s 20th National Congress was predetermined at the Beidaihe gathering in August. In this context, the CCP, and particularly Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), used the event to project power and party unity.
The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and the New Taipei City Prosecutors’ Office recently uncovered misconduct by Kaohsiung news outlet China VTV Co (中華微視公司). The company is being investigated for allegedly having financial connections with China without the approval of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission. China VTV also allegedly conducted an information campaign by creating videos in line with Chinese propaganda and posting them on social media, aiming to foment social division and mistrust in the government, prosecutors said. This is nothing short of exhilarating, as it means that the government is finally using legal means to stop pro-China “accomplices”
There has been a surge of global interest in Taiwan’s security in recent years. Amidst the noise, it can be easy to lose sight of broader trends that are shaping the environment within which Taiwan operates. Taking a broader view can bring into focus what tasks are most important for Taiwan to protect its democratic way of life. At the global level, several trends are unfolding in parallel. First, great power competition is intensifying. Russia is employing violence to seek to redraw boundaries. China is advancing its ambitions by operating below the threshold of conflict. China-Russia relations are unnaturally close by
Saturday’s local elections were a setback for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but it does not necessarily mean that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would be victorious in the 2024 presidential election. In the 2018 local elections, the KMT also claimed victory, but the DPP triumphed in 2020. The KMT has two major problems. First, it is like a tree with a weak trunk and strong branches. The KMT mayoral and county commissioner candidates have won due to their personal qualities, rather than the party’s support. If KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) or Broadcasting Corp