The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) excels at semantic gymnastics, somehow transforming nonsensical ideas into flawless logic.
It is a craft exemplified by the story of the shameless diner who asks for a steamed bun and then revises his order to a bowl of noodles, eats the noodles and then goes to leave without paying. The restaurant owner asks him to pay up, but he says that he had exchanged the noodles for a bun and saw no reason why he needed to pay up. The owner asks him to pay for the bun instead, but the diner says that he had not eaten it.
It is difficult to fault his logic, but you know he is making no sense.
It is easy to feel the same frustration listening to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate.
He borrows the CCP’s rhetorical devices to massage the madness emerging from his mouth.
The KMT had a taste of the CCP’s underhanded tactics before, when it was still in China. After the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) invited Mao Zedong (毛澤東) to take part in the Chongqing Negotiations and asked a confidante serving in Hunan Province to act as his delegate to persuade Mao to stand down.
Chiang had no idea that Mao would try to get into his delegate’s head, and sow divisions between him and the KMT leader. Apparently, Mao told him how poor the people of Hunan were and that it was the people of Guangdong Province who fomented revolution, but it was the people of Hunan who spilled blood, while the people of Zhejiang Province gave out commands.
Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) Chinese Revolutionary Party was largely based in Guangdong and in the east, much of the fighting that occurred during the Northern Expedition was in Hunan and the power was mostly held by people hailing from Zhejiang, such as Chiang and Chen Lifu (陳立夫), Mao said.
Mao’s words were very persuasive and had the desired effect of creating divisions. When Mao returned to the north, Chiang’s delegate reportedly bid him a fond farewell.
Han has said that officials in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have “pale skin and slightly plump figures,” while their KMT counterparts have a “dark complexion and thin physiques,” in a clear attempt to sow class tensions.
A person’s complexion and body size are personal characteristics, and there is no dearth of pale-skinned and portly individuals in the pan-blue camp, so the comparison makes little sense.
Han is using rhetoric to fabricate an association between the DPP and pale skin and large waist sizes, and equating these with corruption and vested interests, which he is attempting to link to DPP figures such as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).
He is trying to create a division between the DPP and the public, in anticipation of future class warfare, taking a leaf from the Chinese communists’ playbook.
This is something that everyone must be vigilant against.
In 1945, Chiang, basking in the glory of having defeated the Japanese, enjoyed a numerical superiority over the communist forces and yet Mao was still able to chase him and the KMT out of town. The DPP is in government and has the benefit of its resources; Han is armed with the communists’ deceitful ways and his own rhetorical gifts.
The DPP would do well not to let its guard down and ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Lai Cheng-chang is president of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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