Chen Shui Bian's Figaro interview

(I am sick at home so I am blogging uninteresting topics these days, sorry.)

Chen said in his interview with Le Figaro (Chinese synopsis, French original. I do not read French so I have to rely on the synopsis)

  • Unification can be included as one of the 'options' for Taiwan, with 5 pre-conditions
  • 1) CCP renounce one party dictatorship
  • 2) Implementation of 'true' democracy, freedom and human right systems
  • 3) Do not suppress Taiwan [in international scenes]
  • 4) Publicly renounce the use of force, remove the missiles
  • 5) Abolish Anti-secession Law
All fair points. At first I just wondered if I should have translated (5) as "cease to ...", just kidding.

The problem is. He is not asked how he or his party/supporters would/should vote. He is asked if it could be an option. He could not distinguish the difference between allowing the people an option vs what his people would vote. There may be a procedure of pre-consultation about the options, but the decision is not up to any one single person/party. This is 'democracy 101'.

To be honest, there will be a sizable number of voters who would still reject such option even if the 5 litmus tests are passed, mainly TSU hardliner and DPP fundamentalists. On the other hand, perhaps most of the centrist and even many pan-Blues would vote using these 5 tests or some variations of it. I do not see any problem with the tests and I think CCP should agree to the tests but delay the referendum for 50 years (because it cannot meet all of them today).

The problem is: CSB still did not get what MYJ got a few months ago. "Everything can be an option in the referendum, if there is one, but this is what I will vote or I will recommend my supporters to vote. If we lose, I will have to respect the result."

Reportedly CSB did a lot better than MYJ in Taiwan University Law School. Did Ma' one year in JFK School change him that much?

(Update) David pointed out that the Eastday translation is misleading. He provided a more faithful translation which showed that MYJ and CSB are saying the same thing about option. See comment below. I have to apologize to CSB, as the misguide logic (about option vs choice) is only a bad tactic used by his assistants.



Anonymous said...

Sun Bin, I think you're reading this wrong - I don't think there is any difference in the position of Ma and Chen on this (although their personal preferences are obviously different).

Chen has repeatedly said that any option is possible as long as the people of Taiwan choose it - and it's also a position that Ma has taken since he became head of the KMT. Similarly Chen's conditions are very similar to Ma's for talk on unification.

Here's my schoolboy french translation:
Q: You have said that reunification with China is one option among many. Under what conditions?
A: I want to give the right to choose to the 23 million Taiwanese. I don't exclude that they'll one day choose union with China. But I don't accept that someone can impose conditions, or dictate the result in advance. Future relations between the two sides must be with the consent of the Taiwanese people.

In the current climate it's impossible that a majority of Taiwanese will choose reunification. They may make a different choice if the CCP abandon their monopoly on power, if China stops their obstruction of Taiwan, if they renounce the use of force, remove the missilies pointed at the island, and if Beijing respects the freedom of the 23 million Taiwanese. But it's a distant(?) dream. Today, China won't accept this.

So Chen's just giving China some ... err... 'friendly advice' on what they need to do to win the Taiwanese over. If those conditions were met, what would the vote be? I honestly haven't got the faintest idea (and i'd be very suspicious of anyone who did). I'm pretty sure I know which way CSB would vote though :)

Sun Bin said...

so you are saying the Eastday translation is misleading. That would make more sense.

i had doubt initially, but given all those accusations of Ma by Chen's associates based on the twisted logic, I thought this is his position as well.

Sun Bin said...

I updated the post above.
Yes, I think I know how CSB would vote as well:)

It is really not a very big deal IMHO. It used to be (prior democracy) because it affected the daily lives of the people there. But it no longer is. I am with Dalai's EU analogy school of thought.

Sun Bin said...

Here is a better translation in Chinese, very close to David's above.

Sun Bin said...

A reader "Ultrableu" provided his translation and comments below through email (he seemed to encounter some difficulty with blogger comment posting)

It's a pity you are sick to a point you feel compelled (?) to blogg uninteresting topics and, in this case, about such a lame-duck politician.

What Ah-Bian and/or the DPP might say about Unification vs. Independence pale with regard to their innermost goal -- founding a Taiwanese state. This interview in French, like those in English or any other European languages, is for Westerners' consumption. That said, you made a good comment of the Chinese synopsis. (In the meantime, China Times puts back the genuine issues while Ah-Bian just talked and criticized ... chinatimes; that newspaper was charitable enough not to remind the putrescence getting closer and closer on Bian and his familly.)

This is a rough translation of the last part from which is stemming the blog:

Vous avez admis récemment que la réunification avec la Chine est une option parmi d'autres. Sous quelles conditions ?

You recently agreed that reunification with China is one option among many others. [What are] the requisites?

Je veux rendre le droit de choisir à 23 millions de Taïwanais. Je n'exclus pas qu'ils optent un jour pour l'union avec la Chine.
I want to give back to 23 million Taiwanese the right to choose. I do not exclude they might opt for union with China one day.

Dans le climat actuel, il est impossible qu'une majorité de Taïwanais soutiennent la réunification. Ils pourraient faire un choix différent si le Parti communiste chinois abandonnait son monopole de pouvoir, si la Chine cessait une obstruction systématique contre Taïwan, si elle renonçait à l'usage de la force, ainsi qu'à ses missiles braqués sur l'île, et si Pékin, enfin, respectait pleinement le libre-arbitre de 23 millions de Taïwanais. Mais c'est un rêve plutôt lointain. Aujourd'hui, la Chine ne peut pas l'accepter.
Right now, it is excluded that a majority of Taiwanese favors reunification. They might choose otherwise if the Chinese Communist Party gives up its monopoly on power, if China ceases to systematically oppose Taiwan, renounces to the use of force as well to missiles aimed at the island, and if Beijing, at last, fully respects the self-determination of 23 million Taiwanese. But this is a rather remote dream. Today, China is not in a position to agree with.

For me this is just meaningless Bian-talk although the mainland side might make a bold move such as removing these missiles under certain conditions. (Jiang Zemin allegedly proposed to froze the missile deployment if the United States reciprocates with a reduction of arms sales to Taiwan when he was at Crawford Ranch in October 2002.) On the other hand, part of this rhetoric has almost nothing to do with cross-strait relations as it is related to domestic issues and, above all, to the imperious need, for Bian, to maintain the appearance of political relevance.

Two parts deserve some commentary:

Answering to the first question ("Don't you fear that George W. Bush [will] lecture you again as Hu might expect?"), he said "We just exchanged thorough and comprehensive views with American administration. I am convinced President Bush heard my commitment, and understands they have never varied." Then, he credited the combined American presidential admonition and mainland pressures to his 2004 re-election («l'affaire a fini par se retourner contre Pékin et j'ai été réélu en 2004»). Bian seems unaware that, as Henry Lee pointed at, all closed cases can be re-investigated if necessary., including the 3-19 "assassination attempt."

Reacting to the focus on security issues Bian stressed on, Jean-Jacques Mével questioned the reality of the threat. He asked him why, in this case, the arms procurement bill has not been voted since George Bush offered that "over 10 US$ billion dollar package" in 2001. Ah-Bian blamed the opposition, and added that "only a national consensus about a strong defense [posture]" can provide "the confidence necessary to discuss directly with the Chinese leadership." Only foreigners unawared or ill-informed about the cold civil war ambience Bian and the DPP have been nurturing in Taiwan could give credit to the possibility of a "national consensus." How about the 8-18 operation in 2003, or the 2004 "cut-throat" strategy, as well as the call to shed blood in late 2005? He should also know that the mainland side has no interest at all to openly engage a more than discredited leader, especially when there is not a single day without new revelations about his entourage, including his wife -- dubbed the Empress -- and his daughter. (In addition to SOGO coupons now, there were also insider tradings, emerald jewelry ornaments provided by the wife of a shipbuilder, first class upgrade, etc.)
There were also two companion-articles to the interview from Jean-Jacques Mével -- «Un casse-tête dans le grand jeu Pékin-Washington» and «L'inconnue de la succession à Taipeh». The first article developed the theme that 80% of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo -- neither independence nor unification («ils s'opposent en masse à l'indépendance comme à la réunification»). The second article focused on the "Hongkong-born and Harvard-trained" Ma Ying-jeou, viewed as rather closed to the United States which, from a French perspective is not a compliment at all.

With my best wishes for your recovery,


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