‘Bumbler’ Ma set to go to China

    By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2024.03.31

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced he is to travel to China tomorrow, which is April Fool’s Day. The date must have been deliberately chosen by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is clearly trying to court Ma while also fashioning him into a sock puppet.

The Economist once called Ma a “bumbler” and China takes a similar view. He seems to have cheerily accepted the sobriquet.

The “trifecta” consensus is a marvel. Last year, Ma “returned to his ancestral hometown” in China to pay homage to his ancestors, and to show adulation for the mythical Yellow Emperor.

Ma also took the opportunity to pay homage to the CCP. His behavior was oddly reminiscent of Zhang Guotao (張國燾) — one of the CCP’s old guard founders.

While he and Mao Zedong (毛澤東) were on their Long March retreating from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) forces, Mao’s Central Red Army and Zhang’s Fourth Front Army were to rendezvous in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province.

Mao’s forces were in tatters, while Zhang’s were legion and strong. As the primary leader of the CCP’s Central Military Committee, Mao was deeply fearful that Zhang would absorb his forces, so he spread lies and concocted events to sow discord among Zhang’s forces.

After Mao reached northern Shaanxi Province, he used the excuse of wanting to open up international supply routes to dispatch Zhang’s best troops far away to East Turkestan. While the troops were traveling in the barren Hexi corridor, Mao used ethnic Hui cavalry commanded by KMT-affiliated warlord Ma Jiajun (馬家軍) to wipe them out.

Mao later convened a “criticism meeting” to reprimand Zhang at Mao’s remote post-Long March base in Shaanxi’s Yanan.

In April 1938, Zhang, in his capacity as the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region government representative chairman, went to Xian, where he prayed to the Yellow Emperor. It was then that he fled his communist comrades and joined the KMT, betraying the CCP.

Being nearly politically irrelevant, perhaps Ma Ying-jeou might make his pilgrimage to the Yellow Emperor and submit to the CCP — same tune, different lyrics. His mentality is understandable. A while back, I was living in Indonesia and was especially drawn to the historical culture of the “motherland,” taking pride in being ethnic Chinese.

However, after living in China for more than 20 years, what real use did ancient historic culture and dreamed-up scenery of towering mountains and long flowing rivers have for someone trying to eke out an ordinary living?

In the 1980s, while I was an editor at the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Lau Nai-keung (劉迺強) wrote an op-ed column, fawning for Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control.

He went as far as to say that even if the CCP broke every promise to Hong Kong, he would still support its return and questioned why someone would not be proud to call themselves Chinese.

The CCP later gifted him a seat in the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Tragically, he passed away before he could take up his post, forever unable to enjoy a “happy” life in a city that has been muted indefinitely.

The KMT plays its role for the CCP when required, revealing just how much value it has as a pawn. KMT Deputy Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) is one of Ma Ying-jeou’s men, not one of KMT Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫), which is remarkable. Ma Ying-jeou might soon make a move.

People are becoming enlightened to the facts on the ground. During the CCP’s rubber-stamp “two sessions” in Beijing, it was demanded from out of the blue that Hong Kong finish passing its national security law as soon as possible.

Hong Kong Legislative Council members attending the sessions immediately rushed back to Hong Kong and worked overtime and over a weekend to pass the amendments to Article 23.

It turns out this was done to line up with the former president’s trip to worship the Yellow Emperor. This is all a grandiose unification drama concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan and the world. Ma Ying-jeou just happens to be seeking a best supporting actor award.

Paul Lin is a Taipei-based political commentator.

Translated by Tim Smith


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