Wearing the same political pants
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2015.7.20
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been repeatedly endorsing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential nominee Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) “one China, same interpretation” formula. He has even brought the phrase with him on his foreign travels, saying it falls within the scope of Ma’s longstanding mantra of “one China, with each side having their own interpretation.”
It is clear that Hung was able to glide through the primaries without a hitch because her biggest supporter is Ma.
There is a proverb in Chinese: “A husband and wife, like two birds that inhabit the same patch of forest, are momentary companions; when faced with difficulty, each flies their separate way.” In this sentence, are the words “same” and “each” identical in meaning? Not unless the proverb is appended with: “Eventually, both birds fly into the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) lair.” This shared final destination is, of course, the main reason Ma supports Hung.
For successive days, the Chinese-language Web site China Review News Agency, whose main financial backer is China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, has been voicing grievances on behalf of Hung, and political commentators have revealed that Chinese officials have held secret meetings with Hung’s inner circle. All this effort is aimed at achieving the same goal: unification with China.
No matter how you look at it, there is a world of difference between the terms “each side having their own interpretation” and “same interpretation.”
To use the wearing of pants as an analogy, currently Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) are wearing different pants. Although the brand, “China,” is the same, their pants are a different style and length. However, Hung and Xi are wearing the same pair of pants: brand, style and size. Hung has forced herself into Xi’s capacious lower garment.
Since Hung’s “one China, same interpretation” formula has caused a backlash among the public — and even within the KMT’s conservative faction — both Ma and KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) have been trying to guide Hung back to their version of “one China.” Hung, with her blunt manner, needs to learn to employ Ma’s verbal sleight of hand, and temporarily refrain from using her “same interpretation” mantra.
During the Taipei mayoral election in 1998, Ma said: “I am a new Taiwanese who grew up eating Taiwanese rice and drinking Taiwanese water.”
Ahead of the 2008 presidential election, Ma again said: “Even if I were struck down and burnt to ashes, I would still be Taiwanese.”
However on becoming president, Ma’s prime task has been to sell Taiwan out to China.
Now, Hung is parroting a similar line, saying: “I eat Taiwanese rice, how can I not love Taiwan?” Hung, a female version of Ma, has shown her true colors.
Ma and Hung are cut from the same cloth: Both are obedient disciples of a one-party state education system. Hung is akin to a head lecturer, and Ma a professional student. This education system is still causing damage to Taiwan; producing either ferocious wolves like Hung or seemingly gentle pussycats like Ma as its leaders. Taiwan’s education system is in need of reform.
Last year’s Sunflower movement and this year’s campaign to stop the so-called “minor adjustments” to the high-school curriculum guidelines shows that young Taiwanese have a desire to change their future.
The curriculum can be seen as the soul of Taiwan’s education system. By attempting to ram through “minor adjustments” to the curriculum guidelines, Ma has lobbed a grenade into the political arena before stepping down from office. This is why Hung has been shouting herself hoarse, saying the changes to the curriculum do not go far enough.
Hung also keeps talking about the battle for historical interpretation between the Republic of China (ROC) and those advocating Taiwanese independence. Lest it should be forgotten, the historical perspectives of the ROC and the CCP only differ in the slightest degree. For the most part, however, both sides share the same interpretation of Chinese history. From the Opium Wars up until Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) military unification of China, both the KMT and CCP have worn the same pair of pants.
Since the opening-up of China, both Ma and Hung have ignored China’s reactionary politics, instead rushing headlong toward China’s enveloping economy to achieve their goal of political unification.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Edward Jones