Jerome F. Keating's writings

2010 - 2nd Quarter Writings

Part II, Deconstructing Taiwan's Past in Search of its Identity

Saturday June 26

When a colonizing nation approaches an imagined geography and seeks to impose its imagined community on that geography/colony, a natural Hegelian dialectic develops. The colonizer imposes its sense of imagined community; the colonized already possessing their own sense of imagined community (if even subconsciously) resist in a dynamic process. The result is a hybrid or different identity. One can ask, why should present twenty-first century Taiwanese be concerned with this continuous process dating back to its Dutch, Spanish, Koxinga and later Manchu periods? The importance lies in the fact that this dialectic has been continuously there from the start. It is part and parcel of Taiwan's ongoing history and has thus helped form the unique identity of what it means to be Taiwanese. The roots of Taiwan's identity and future imagined community are the continuous result of dialectical resistance and development. It is in realizing this dialectic with its economic role that Taiwanese begin to see scope and uniqueness of how their history is not China's history, and how China's history is not Taiwan's history. ...

Deconstructing Taiwan's Past in Search of Its Identity Part I

Thursday June 24

A pressing problem for Taiwan in today's world remains finding an answer to the question, "What does it mean to be Taiwanese?" Put in a different way, "What is Taiwan's national identity?" To be sure there are other pressing or immediate problems, such as the economy, the threat of attack by the People's Republic of China, and the preservation and strengthening of Taiwan's democracy. But the answers to each of those problems still hinge upon establishing what is Taiwan's national identity, and where the Taiwanese want their nation to go. The identity issue is not new, recent examples are Melissa Brown's "Is Taiwan Chinese?," the book, "Memories of the Future, National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan" (ed. Stephane Corcuff) and my own, "Taiwan the Search for Identity." ...

Taiwan Hosts Film "Formosa Betrayed" and Historical Musical, "Days of Bananas"

Sunday June 13

This past week in Taiwan had a combined sense of déjà vu as art, history, and reality all came to bear. On Monday there was a private showing of Will Tiao's film "Formosa Betrayed" which portrayed how the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as late as the 1980s, tried to suppress democracy and human rights movements on the island; in the process it sanctioned several high profile murders. Then on Friday, Tafen Musical Theatre's new historical musical, "Days of Bananas" opened; this drama portrayed the struggles and ups and downs of Taiwan farmers in the turbulent 1960s where the KMT and its carpet bagger middlemen profited off of the work of Taiwanese farmers. A banana tycoon Wu was further caught between the later power struggle of Madame Soong and Chiang Ching-kuo for control of the autocratic KMT as the doddering Chiang Kai-shek lived out his last autocratic days. Wu would eventually be destroyed by that link to the corruption of the times. ...

ECFA! It's More than Trade; It's a Matter of Ma's Credibility and Competency

Friday June 11

Any fool nation can sign a trade agreement with China if it gives China everything it wants. The question of ECFA is not a matter of trade with China; that is a no-brainer. The question is how and under what circumstances and conditions. In Taiwan's case it is even more; it is a question of the competency and credibility of its President. A well-known visiting professor of international trade negotiations put it this way. "If any of my graduate students proposed entering a trade agreement of such serious proportions as ECFA and forthwith set a deadline date for negotiations and agreement, I would fail him immediately." Yet here was Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou saying that come hell or high-water, the country must sign the ECFA agreement with the People's Republic of China (PRC) by the end of June; this challenges Ma's credibility and competency to the max. ...

The KMT, Taichung, Crime and Corruption: Do They Still Go Hand in Hand?

Wednesday June 02

It read like something out of the "Godfather" movie series. There they were in the middle of the afternoon of a working day, four of Taichung's finest police officers (with alleged gangland ties) having tea at the offices of another well-known boss of questionable repute, Weng Chih-nan. All of a sudden a gunman burst in and fired off sixteen shots. Seven of the shots hit Weng and others hit a friend. How long does it take to fire off sixteen shots? ...

Kuo Kuan-ying, Remember that High-Class KMT Mainlander?

Saturday May 29

The long arm of the law finally caught up with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Kuo Kuan-ying as he was sentenced to either pay a small fine (NT$ 50,000) or serve 50 days in jail for defaming National Taiwan Univ. professor Chen Shih-meng and political commentator Chin Heng-wei. Kuo if you have forgotten was a KMT government official serving in Toronto who in 2008 proclaimed that he was a "High-Class Mainlander" and bemoaned the fact that his talents were wasted serving these low-class Taiwanese redneck farmers. In typical style of old guard KMT; Kuo implied that the Taiwanese should thank the KMT Mainlanders for oppressing the Taiwanese and forcing their "culture" on them. ...

An Open Letter by Academics and Professionals to the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan

Sunday May 23

No one is against trade with China, but Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou continues to insist that ECFA (the economic cooperation framework agreement) be signed in June. He does this despite the fact that all dealings and have been non-transparent and without consultation, circumventing the checks and balance of the Legislative Yuan (LY) i.e. the Legislative Branch of the government. This letter by concerned academics and professionals is urging the Speaker of the LY to live up to his responsibility as head of the LY and check the headlong, runaway push of Taiwan's Executive Branch ...

Thinning the Herd Beijing Style: So Why Does Ma Keep Pushing Taiwan Towards Unification?

Tuesday May 18

In the past few years, the international media has been filled with plenty of stories of how the Middle Kingdom of Pollution, Poison and Propaganda has sent out deadly products such as poisoned toothpaste, poisoned pet foods, poisoned toys rife with lead-based paint etc. etc. The world has been shocked, but not enough to give up the quest of the almighty dollar; thus it has chosen to ignore the facts on how Beijing thins the herd of humans around the world. Instead it has continued the mantra, "Buy China! Make a Profit." A bitter mantra and a bitter pill, especially if one thinks of all the collateral damage this causes. ...

Taiwan, Will the ECFA Early Harvest be the Early Shaft?

Wednesday May 12

May 20 will mark the official two year anniversary of Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration as President of Taiwan. And while this is the half-way point of his four years as president, people are wondering what has he done? From the mishandling of Typhoon Morakot, to the erosion of justice, to the beef scandal, to the claims that Chinese tourists would rescue the economy with all of their tourists' dollars, the country is not in good shape. People are asking why? Yet to be sure, Ma's spin doctors will be working hard to stress all that has been done. Perhaps that is why Ma is pushing so hard to have an ECFA signed by June despite all the cautionary protests of numerous groups. Questions that will have to be examined in the coming weeks not only abound but seem to be multiplying, yet Ma pushes ahead so he can have something concrete to point to. Below are a sampling of the many concerns that are being voiced. ...

Taiwan's Double Standard, Money, Money, Who's Got the Money? Part II: Those Friggin Frigates

Sunday May 09

It reads like a John le Carre spy-thriller. The ingredients are all there. Billions of dollars for military hardware-here read French Lafayette Frigates. The staggering amount for bribes and payoffs alone reaches well over US$600 millions of dollars. Even the PRC military got in on the action and were paid well not to protest France selling these ships to Taiwan. How France got the contract instead of South Korea which had seemed to have had it in the bag, is only the beginning; the known body count of accidental deaths and questionable suicides has reached at least 8 with falling out of windows from tall buildings seeming to be the accident of choice. Yes, even by Taiwan standards this is a scandal of scandals. ...

Taiwan's Double Standard: Money, Money, Who's Got the Money Part I?

Friday May 07

In a previous post you saw how Chen Shui-bian has been in jail for nearly two years on corruption charges concerning US$21 million from his eight years of presidency. The courts have yet not stated and/or proved just how much of that money is illegal and how much is rightfully his, according to the loose and vague laws concerning campaign donations. They are operating on the presumption that some amount of it (though they have not yet specifically proven it) is illegal and therefore they are justifying keeping him in jail. In the meantime, the prosecutors are also badgering, harassing, and interfering with the lives of many associated with Chen to try and get some one of them to create evidence for their case. Contrast that with the following that was just in the news about the infamous Chung Hsing Bills affair that broke just before the 2000 presidential elections. ...

Do You Know Where Ma Ying-jeou Stands on the Boundaries of Taiwan?

Tuesday May 04

By a strange confluence of events, the day after I spoke with Chen Shui-bian, I attended a conference by Ma and shook hands with him afterwards. At Ma's conference on ECFA, In an effort to get him on record, I had asked him about the boundaries of the ROC as he saw them. ...

A Visit with Former President Chen Shui-bian Raises Questions on Taiwan's Double Standard of Justice

Friday April 30

Former President Chen Shui-bian has been in jail for over 500 days on corruption charges while others found guilty of the same and/or other crimes were never jailed and walk free. Those walking free are from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People's First Party (PFP); Chen is from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chen has been denied the human right of proper defense and proper lawyer client privileges. His judge was replaced when he did not give the desired verdict wanted by Chen's opponents who work for Taiwan's current president Ma Ying-jeou. Many of those associated with the President Chen's case have been jailed in an attempt to force them to fabricate, create and/or provide incriminating evidence against Chen. No one involved with the numerous other corruption cases of the KMT and PFP have been treated this way. For the moment, however, let's leave aside the double standard of justice in Taiwan. There is time enough for that later. Today I just want to describe the conditions one experiences if he/she visits former President Chen. ...

Taiwan, a Tale of Two Presidents

Tuesday April 27

This week started in an unusual way. On Monday, I visited former President Chen Shui-bian where he is being held in prison. On Tuesday, I shook hands with current President Ma Ying-jeou after he had explained his position on ECFA to the Taiwan Foreign Correspondent's Club. Two different men, two different situations; I will write on both shortly ...

The Great ECFA Debate: Excuses Before It Begins

Saturday April 24

The great ECFA debate between Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen looms. Ironically after two years of Ma telling Taiwan that it was absolutely crucial for its survival, Ma's staff is crying that he has only had two hours to prepare. Say what? Something that Ma claims is crucial for the country but he only has two hours to spare??? He must love the country. ...

In Search of Taiwan Minzu: the First Step, Seeing What it is Not

Saturday April 24

Nothing exemplifies Ma Ying-jeou's lack of identity with and/or grasp of what it is to be Taiwanese than his constant attempts to push Zhonghua minzu on the Taiwanese. Ma mentioned the words repeatedly in his 2008 inaugural address, and now as he constantly pursues his pro-China agenda; it is part and parcel of his agenda. The truth of the matter is that historically Zhonghua minzu has little to do with Taiwan. And as for the future, to put it bluntly, Taiwan needs Zhonghua minzu like it needs a hole in the head. What Taiwan really needs to foster as it develops its democracy is the fullness of its historic Taiwan minzu. This is exactly what Ma is trying to suppress. ..

Taiwan as the World Turns: the Credibility of Ma Continues to Erode

Tuesday April 20

Taiwan got another taste of the duplicity of Ma-speak yesterday. The day before President Ma's Premier, Wu Den-yih, stated flatly that Ma never opposed having a referendum on ECFA. The next day, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of which Ma is the chairperson and which has the controlling majority in the Legislative Yuan flatly blocked for the sixth time the referendum bill on ECFA. Conflicting words? Not with Ma-speak. ...

ECFA, Another Insult from the People that Gave Taiwan 6-3-3

Friday April 16

Only a complete dunce totally out of touch with Taiwan's reality would claim ignorance of Ma Ying-jeou's infamous 6-3-3 promise in all its foolhardy glory. This campaign promise of the 2008 presidential elections came about when Ma's so-called A-Team of economic advisors told him that 6-3-3 was easily achievable and he should have no fear of promising it. It was of course a gross misread of the economic scene from the git-go. Despite all the back-tracking that it would have to wait until a nebulous transformation in 2016 when Ma could comfortably escape as well as attempts to blame it all on outside forces, the reality remains it was bad advice and a total economic misread. ...

Taipei Police Need to Realize They are not the Beijing Police

Friday April 09

Anyone who has watched the antics of the Taipei police in the past year and a half would think that they are trying to imitate and/or curry favor with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou. In that time, Ma has of course been trying to curry favor with the People's Republic of China (PRC). Whether Ma's efforts reflect a secret desire to unify Taiwan with the PRC or whether they are driven by his trying to salvage Taiwan's economy which began to sag right after Ma was elected is a different matter. Whatever the case, let us focus for now on the antics of the police as they have repeatedly abused Taiwan's citizen's rights to freedom of expression. ...

ROC Splendid 100, Who is Paying for This Reinterpretation of Splendid?

Thursday April 01

"Republic of China Splendid 100" so reads Ma Ying-jeou's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) proposed new slogan for Taiwan. Splendid and for Taiwan? How so? When the Republic of China (ROC) allegedly was founded in 1911, Taiwan had already been modernizing since 1895 and was some fifteen years on its way to becoming Japan's model colony to the world. On the other side of the Taiwan Strait in 1911, some Han Chinese that were tired of having had to wear the Manchu queue for centuries in a disheveling Manchu Empire hatched a revolt that never quite succeeded. By 1912, sixteen of twenty-two provinces joined in, but the crucial ones in the north where Puyi was emperor and Yuan Shi-kai, commander of the Beiyang Army held power, remained firm. So begins splendid. ...