Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) made an interesting point in his latest Taipei Times article yesterday (“Preserving Taiwan’s hard-won dignity,” page 8), though it wasn’t the first time someone has made it.
“The public used to think of the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] as the party that spared no effort to protect national symbols such as the flag and the presidential title, while the DPP did the opposite. However, this only seems to apply to domestic politics. At international events, it is the DPP that safeguards these symbols, while the KMT tries to avoid or even remove them,” Lin said.
The trigger for this comment was the World Games opening ceremony, which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) opened and where Republic of China flags freely fluttered.
Ma, ever the smarmy co-optor of other people’s hard work, claimed his opening of the Games was a credit to his cross-strait blah-blah-blah and his diplomatic rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb with China. Naturally, some in the DPP took offense, pointing out how long ago the Games were awarded (to the city, not Taiwan as a whole) and that the bloody Chinese athletes boycotted the opening ceremony anyway.
I could also point out the stinginess of the central government’s Sports Affairs Council, which has done Kaohsiung no favors in terms of funding and political game-playing. Thank you very much, Mr President and Mr Premier.
The Chinese boycott turned out to be part of a compromise that allowed the Chinese athletes to attend. Much more importantly, it allowed Chinese media to cover the competition and facilitate lucrative sponsor exposure in China.
Claims by KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) of a deal between the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and the Chinese to secure the compromise probably left out the crucial piece of the puzzle.
That piece is Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the DPP. Dear reader, in addition to all the to-ing and fro-ing between Kaohsiung’s organizing committee and the International World Games Association, you will recall that Chen made a strange, groundbreaking trip to China where she talked to Chinese officials in Shanghai and Beijing and dared to refer to Ma as “president,” attracting bipartisan support back home and even praise from Legislative Speaker Wang “The Inscrutable” Jin-pyng (王金平).
She must have made a real impression over there.
And let’s be honest. A woman who (a) spent years in prison at a time when the KMT was still assassinating its enemies and (b) bounces back from a stroke to continue governing our second-largest city and stage a successful World Games is not going to be intimidated by fuckhead Chicom officials whose main claims to infamy are bad hairpieces and breath reeking of five-grain liquor.
Let’s see if we can make sense of the chronology.
May 21: Chen arrives in Beijing, sans “Taiwan compatriot travel document,” directly stating that she is on a World Games promotional tour. She invites the mayor of Beijing to attend and reminds officials that participants will have visa-free entry for the duration of the Games. She also announces meetings with Chinese Olympic Committee chairman Liu Peng (劉鵬) and the mayor of Shanghai.
Courtesy of a source who remains anonymous because he is not authorized to condemn conscientious Chinese media professionals to a pig-feeding gulag for Uighurs, I understand that at least one Chinese media outlet was informed during or just before Chen’s visit that the World Games were a no-go: The athletes would not attend, and the press was not to report on the competition.
Nothing surprising there; all that was missing was a slur against splittists and a tirade on Opium War gunboats.
May 24: Chen tours and praises Shanghai’s Yangshan Harbor before returning to Taiwan.
After Chen left, at least one Chinese media outlet was informed that Chinese participation in the World Games had been green-lighted: Athletes would compete but not take any part in the opening or closing ceremonies. And with them came the Chinese press.
Magic. Like I always say: Show the Chicoms strength and they’ll respect you (it helps to detail financial incentives when the reporters leave the room). Display deference and they’ll pop a cap in your ass. Are you listening, Mr Ma?
Chen is the only person in Taiwan who has any balls when it comes to the Chinese — and the KMT dares to call her a model for the DPP! Stand up, stick your chests out and be proud, Kaohsiung: Your leader is prepared to upstage KMT self-congratulation and piss off pro-independence hardliners to get the job done for the city.
Some of the latter got all stupid and criticized Chen for daring to make things work, but their numbers are insignificant — certainly a lot smaller than the moderate KMT voters Chen will win over at the next election.
But the DPP wouldn’t be the DPP without a bout of distracting histrionics somewhere up and down the chain. The biggest fuss of the week was not over the World Games but over a cartoon.
In a stroke of marketing inspiration, the Minstry of Economic Affairs decided to use a cartoon to promote the government’s long-promised, ill-understood economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
So far, so good: Cartoons are cute and unthreatening, even if the content is frightening.
Our two protagonists are an educated, well-informed Hakka blonde (blonde? That’s representative) from Hsinchu called Fa Sao (發嫂, a suitably wealth-inducing name) who knows more about the ECFA than the cross-strait negotiators themselves.
She’s the foil for a less educated, ruddy-complexioned Hoklo gentleman from down south called Yi-ge (一哥), whose pingpu (平埔) Aboriginal afro seals the deal. This chap’s only two or three generations away from those Formosan monkeys you see in the zoo — if you cotton on to what these PR guys are trying to suggest (the ministry commissioned a public relations firm for this stuff? Oh dear).
If Yi-ge’s skin had been any darker you could have called him “Sambo.”
And of course, our feisty, thrifty Hoklo cousin — a vocational school graduate! — was about to spend the next few months being politely lectured by his Hakka comrade about what’s good for his future. (Fittingly enough, the two characters’ ancestors would have been just as happy burying machetes into each other’s heads.)
The DPP cried racial discrimination. That’s a bit strong, perhaps. But which slick genius thought that identifying the ethnicities of the characters was a good idea?
The cartoon was withdrawn and may be subject to a watchdog probe, but I’m terribly disappointed. I want to know where the token Mainlander and Aboriginal characters entered the picture.
Maybe it would have gone something like this: Skeptical Hoklo southerner triumphantly dismisses a number of the Hakka lady’s arguments, only for the Mainlander character to descend from the sky on Sun Wu-kung’s (孫悟空) zippy little cloud and overwhelm him with a tale of history, fate, social class, educational worth, proper pronunciation and knowing your place in the scheme of things.
Meanwhile, the Aboriginal guy, wearing a headdress and with a machete by his side, breaks into a dance, swigs a mouthful of xiaomijiu (小米酒, millet wine), exclaims “Ho-hai-yen-hai-ya” and nods along with whatever the Mainlander says. When the lecture’s over, the Mainlander returns to his Taipei condo on his Monkey cloud, but not before slipping the Aborigine a couple of thousand NT dollars for services rendered.
So the Hoklo guy sits chastened, pulls out some betel nut, munches quietly, then takes his comb from his shirt pocket and tidies up his afro as the Hakka babe grins from ear to ear.
Wait a minute ... doesn’t Chen Chu have an afro?
No wonder the ministry pulled the cartoon.
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