Saturday, August 21, 2010

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve
So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?

 In a follow up to yesterday's post, Michael Turton summarizes his criticism of Jerome Cohen this way:

"You can't support democracy and the KMT/CCP ECFA sellout talks at the same time, since the ultimate success of the latter entails the loss of the former."

Turton also says, "these two positions are inherently contradictory: the KMT and CCP can only kiss and make up over the dead body of Taiwan's democracy."

Which is funny, because the KMT/CPP talks have always reminded me of the political cartoon of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin meeting over the dead body of Poland. (above)

Turton also notes that Cohen's attempt to stake out the high middle ground has made him a target for both sides: supporters of democracy in Taiwan and supporters of annexation/unification in China.

"The reason they are both shouting at Cohen is not because he has found some lofty perch in the Moderate Middle but because his position is incoherent and self-defeating."

This makes me wonder about the Via Media that KMT Leader Ma Ying-jeou promised when he was running for president - and continues to promote as a "way forward" for Taiwan to get out of the political and diplomatic wilderness that the KMT put it in.

But whenever Ma (a.k.a. the Telflon President) talks about the Via Media, it always reminds me of the politician who says he has found the Golden Mean between honesty and dishonesty. And this way "out of the wilderness" leads straight back to Egypt.

When will the Taiwanese wake up a see that there can be no Via Media between Annexation and Independence? No Golden Mean between tyranny and freedom?

Surely what has happened in Hong Kong is a lesson written in Chinese characters (socialism with Chinese characteristics?) big enough to see across the Taiwan Strait? "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong people" doesn't mean autonomy or democracy.

Yet it seems everyone in Taiwan clings to the myth of status quo and repeats the mantra that Hong Kong tour guides have learned so well: "Nothing has changed."

The Golden Path they have chosen is paved with Fool's Gold and is, in fact, Via Dolorosa

The way I see it, the Children of Taiwan have to choose: either they cross over into the Promised Land of democracy and independence or go back to China - back to the house of bondage.

But they think they can continue to wander in the wilderness, worshipping their Golden Calves - Chiang Kai-shek and the God of Fortune.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rule of Law: Neither "Green" nor "Blue"
but maybe Turquoise when you take off the rose-coloured glasses

In Taiwan's colour-coded politics, being "Blue" means being pro-Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party), defending their dictators and supporting their one-China policies. 

On the other hand, being "Green" means being pro-democracy, pro-Taiwan independence and supporting the parties that have spearheaded the movement, chiefly the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Most expat businessmen I met in Taiwan supported the KMT (either implicitly or explicitly) because, basically, "they make the trains run on time." 

Diplomats were divided, but I found that (privately, at least) the more they actually knew about Taiwan, the more they were pro-Taiwan and pro-Green.

Most real journalists I knew supported the goals of Taiwan Independence and democracy, even if they didn't necessarily support the DPP or its political allies.

When I worked in Taiwan, I was accused of being Green (by the aforementioned expat businessmen) - and therefore supporting the DPP - because I supported real democracy. And because I insisted that Taiwan was a real country - no matter what Beijing or Washington said.

And when I was critical of the KMT or its dictators (from Chiang Kai-shek to Ma Ying-jeou), I was told, "You are not Chinese, so you do not understand." 

I confess I am no expert on Taiwan or China; merely a scribe who tries to learn and understand - and then explain to others. 

But apparently, I am in good company. Professor Jerome A. Cohen is co-director of NYU School of Law’s US-Asia Law Institute and adjunct senior fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

In an op-ed that first appeared in the South China Morning Post, Cohen argues that he is neither "Green" nor "Blue". But Cohen  says he has been accused of being "Green" because does support rule of law, accountability in government and an independent judiciary that is not merely the tool of an autocratic party that hungers for the old days of martial law. 

And, of course, Cohen has been told that he does not understand and appreciate the "one-China" principle because he is not Chinese.

My friend, Michael Turton, who makes no bones about being Green (pro-Taiwan, pro-democracy) responds by saying that Cohen is so busy correcting other people's colour blindness that he forgot to take off his rose-coloured glasses.