Top officials frequently bemoan the public’s lack of understanding of government policies and goals. However, they have no trouble at all identifying who is at fault. It is the public, of course, not officialdom.
This appears to be the main thrust of Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) comments in an interview with the BBC’s Chinese-language service this week, where, among other things, he complained that people do not understand the impetus behind the free economic pilot zones plan.
The plan is really a model for Taiwanese-Japanese cooperation in finance and technology that will allow both nations to compete globally with their Chinese peers, he said, adding that those who think it is aimed solely at enhancing economic cooperation with China have “failed to recognize the strategic value” of the proposal.
Perhaps the public has failed to recognize the potential for links with Japanese companies because the focus of the government’s promotion of the zones has been how they will help the effort to join the nascent Trans-Pacific Partnership and other such pacts, and because most of the examples of ventures sought for the zones are Taiwanese or Chinese companies focused on the China market, such as building healthcare facilities to tap the Chinese health tourism market.
Japan has rarely been mentioned. Actually, about the only time countries other than China are mentioned is when officials promise that the zones will help Taiwan maintain its place on the global stage.
Globalization and internationalization are very close to the hearts of Jiang and the rest of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration. Ma et al pontificate about keeping up with international trends and brag about gaining admittance to international organizations or attending presidential inaugurations with other world leaders. The only time they are not rhapsodizing about maintaining an international presence is where it counts, vis-a-vis China.
Jiang also made that point in the interview when talking about the government’s push for a meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at an APEC summit. He said the Chinese are worried that the APEC idea is “an attempt to use an international event to elevate Taiwan’s international profile.”
Where could the Chinese ever have gleaned that idea? It looks like the government also has a problem getting its message across to Beijing.
Once again, in the Ma administration’s version of reality, it is not the message or the messenger that is the problem, it is the target audience. If the audience would only listen and try to understand, there would not be any misunderstandings.
The problem is that the administration spends too much time complaining about how unreceptive — and unappreciative — its audience is and too little time asking itself what it is doing wrong in presenting its programs and proposals. That the administration has an abysmal track record in keeping its promises does not help with the trust gap either.
However, the understanding gap works both ways, as Jiang showed when asked about the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong and the push for democratic elections in the territory. He said that the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities were handling the issue at a scheduled pace, but Hong Kongers expected the leaders to adapt to meet their expectations.
The idea that the public would think the government should meet its expectations appears far-fetched to Jiang. However, this is not the first time he has shown that he does not understand the concept, as his comments about the Sunflower movement and other protests attest.
He seems to have forgotten that government, like communication, is a two-way street. Unfortunately, he is not the only elected official or bureaucrat to have done so.
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his