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Jul 13

In Taiwan, DPP politicians get more familiar with the mainland

Written by Buxi on Sunday, July 13th, 2008 at 5:42 am
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Tourists from mainland China aren’t the only ones taking advantage of direct cross-strait flights.  Taiwanese politicians from the DPP, known for its traditional insistence on Taiwanese independence, are also beginning to take trips to the mainland.  Yunlin county commissioner Su Zhifen, a member of the DPP, is leading a trade commission to Beijing. 

This article from the Southern Metropolis Daily (连接) gives us more.  Partial translation is below:

“I’m going to the mainland in my role as a county commissioner.  So, my perspective is anything that benefits the interests of the people in my county, then I will do it.  If I complicate my thoughts on this issue too much, then many things won’t get done.” 

Ma Yingjiu’s defeat of Xie Changting’s was critical in allowing the Mainland Affairs Commission to change policies towards the mainland.  On July 3rd, the law was revised relaxing restrictions on Taiwanese county commissioners and mayors visiting the mainland.  Su Zhifen will be the first DPP member to take advantage.  (Ed: KMT mayor of Taizhong, Jason Hu, has also been to Xiamen following this change in law.)

Today (July 12th), Yunlin county commissioner Su Zhifen will lead a delegation aboard a cross-strait weekend charter flight, headed to Beijing.  They are going to “find a route for Yunlin county’s farmers”, pushing quality agricultural products.  Su Zhifen will be the first DPP county or city head to visit the mainland since 2000.  Although this trip is based on economic needs, everyone has noticed the change in political path implied by the trip.

Southern Metropolis: You’re headed to Beijing tomorrow, how do you feel emotionally?

Su: Of course I’m hopeful.  I’m going to Beijing in order to push Yunlin county’s agricultural products, and I hope that we can return satisfied.

Southern Metropolis: How many times have you been to the mainland?

Su: I’ve never been; I’ve only been to Hong Kong, Macau.

Southern Metropolis: What’s your imagined view of Beijing and Tianjin?

Su: My first thought is of the Forbidden Palace.  I’ve seen some books, and I know Beijing has some hutongs.  I’m pretty interested in hutongs.  I know for the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese mainland invited many foreign architects.  I’m curious with that clash between culture, between old and new, what the city will look like.  I really want to go see.  Other than that, they all say traffic in Beijing is very serious.

Southern Metropolis: In all of the cities and counties ruled by the DPP, why is the Yunlin county commissioner the first to go to the mainland?

Su: This doesn’t have too much to do with the party central.  Every county and city head is independent, they’re all administered in their own styles.  Yunlin is an agricultural county, and for the past 40-50 years has always been run by the KMT.  I’m the first person to take charge as a member of the DPP, and so many situations are different from other areas.

In the past, while the KMT was in charge of Yunlin, we felt it was a little backwards in methods and values.  So, these two years we’re not just headed to the mainland, but also Japan and other countries.  For example, this year lone, we will be going to Macau, Beijng, and then Singapore.  On Taiwan itself we’ve also arranged numerous sales activities.  We’re going to grab every opportunity; as a county chief, I believe I’m a salesman, and not just the head of the local yamen. 

Southern Metropolis: Mainland and Taiwan relations are a little tricky, especially since the DPP internally has a complicated attitude towards the mainland.  When you decided to go to Beijing for your sales trip, what was the reaction from inside the party?

Su: Privately, we had a summit between seven county commissioners and mayors from southern Taiwan, and this problem was brought up and discussed.  We exchanged thoughts on this; what should we sell over there, what are our thoughts…  that was it.  The party has never brought up this issue with us.

Southern Metropolis: Gaoxiong mayor Chen Ju will also be going to the mainland in a little while.  Based on your understanding at this summit, will more and more DPP politicians be headed to the mainland on sales trips?

Su: Right now, only Chen Ju and I are going.  I haven’t heard anything from the other commissioners or mayors, but they might have similar plans.

Southern Metropolis: I noticed tha the DPP’s “Liberty Times” has basically had only negative reports on the arrival of mainland touists.  The title of one article was: “Opening the door will wreck Taiwan”.  I feel like your perspective might be different from theirs.  In the DPP, who’s perspective better represents the mainstream, you or the Liberty Times?

Su: When Taiwanese tourists traveled around the world, they can also have some crude actions, and we’re all against this.  We always say that when Taiwanese tour foreign countries, they must be careful of their international image.  I think that’s just the case for mainland tourists.  Mainland tourists are guests however, so we must view and treat them with good will.  I haven’t seen that article from the Liberty Times, so I won’t express an opinion on it.  But I will just make a statement of principle, whenever someone goes to a different place, we hope that both sides will be courteous and polite.  To guests, we should have a friendlier attitude.

Souther Metropolis: If you could say a few words to our readers and mainland friends, what would you say?

Su: In the past, because of political reasons, contact between Taiwan and the mainland was relatively little.  We hope to market Yunlin county’s agricultural goods in Beijing during the Olympic season, so that we can open another window and let mainland consumers better recognize Yunlin’s agricultural products.  As an agricultural county, Yunlin works hard to make sure our products are safe and nutritious.  We hope more mainland consumers will come to recognize us, and if you like it, hope that you will help support our efforts!

This is probably the most meaningful aspect of improving relations; reunification won’t be possible just because pan-Blue politicians support it… they’re more or less the choir, no need to keep preaching to them.  Instead, it’s important in the long run that moderate pan-Green supporters come to tolerate closer integration with mainland China.  And if Su’s only knowledge of Beijing is of traffic and hutongs, I think she’s going to be pleasantly surprised by what she finds.

I’m not going to appeal to their Chinese nationalism, but if pan-Green politicians are truly focused on the concrete interests of the people they represent, I’m increasingly optimistic.  It’s a sad fact that even this very innocent promotion of cross-strait trade was frowned upon by the DPP under the previous administration, and I hope we’ll never return to those days again.

DPP politicians aren’t the only ones making the trip.  Aboriginal performers from Taiwan are headed to the mainland, in order to perform in the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.  Aboriginals in Taiwan are known as the gaoshanzu (high mountain) in the PRC’s official classification of 56 nationalities.


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25 Responses to “In Taiwan, DPP politicians get more familiar with the mainland”

  1. Andrew Says:

    It seems really interesting that an American publication would use the phrase “Taiwan and the mainland”. As it is far more than physical geography that seperates Taiwan from the P.R.C. Actually for myself I regard the phrase “Taiwan and the mainland” is banal trite euphimism used by the C.C.P. to hide the cultural, economic and historical differences between the P.R.C and Taiwan

  2. Netizen Says:

    County commissioner or County mayor? I think the latter is a more common translation.

  3. Netizen Says:

    @Buxi,
    It’s competition, among Taiwan cities and cities. Once Taiwan is open to the Mainland, these city and county politicians will have to compete for Mainland tourists and business, just like Mainland provincial and city politicians do.

    Gaoxiong’s Mayor Chen Ju is a hardcore separatist. Now she has to recognize the economic reality and attract Mainland businesses to its port which is falling behind in world ranking year after year. Eight years ago, it was ranked number 3 port in the world, now it is ranked number 8.

    I’m optimistic the Mainland and Taiwan interaction will bring increased integration which wll lead to more stable and peaceful relationship, and ultimately will lead to unification.

  4. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen – Kaosiung is falling behind as a port because Taiwan no longer exports as much in the way of manufactured goods as it used to, much of the Taiwanese manufacturing base has been moved to the mainland – this is a result of improving relations, not of seperatism. Certainly tourism can help the Taiwanese economy – but have you ever been to Kaosiung? It has some nice spots – as a British expat I found the museum at the former British consulate particularly touching – but by and large the city itself is not really a place which is going to attract much in the way of tourism from the mainland anyway.

  5. Netizen Says:

    Hong Kong and Singapore don’t have much manufacturing but they have world topping ports. The Gaoxiong city itself aspire to be higher in ranking for its port. That’s a fact.

  6. FOARP Says:

    @Netizen – Hong Kong and Singapore may not be manufacturing giants, but they both act as trans-shipping centres for large areas. It is impossible for Kaosiung to act in a similar fashion for mainland China.

  7. chorasmian Says:

    @Andrew

    I don’t think there is any problem saying “Taiwan and mainland” as both of them are geographic concept. Politically, you can say “PRC and ROC”, there is no country in the world called “Taiwan”.

  8. John Says:

    Really?? There is no country called Taiwan? I just went to a country called “Taiwan” a few years ago. In fact, I still send mail to my friend there and I mail it to Taipei, Taiwan. Hmm…..

  9. A-gu Says:

    This again just demonstrates that DPP politicians are happy to have good economic and friendly ties with China. It’s just the DPP won’t sacrifice Taiwan’s right to self-determination to do it.

    The DPP is not pro-independence per se, even if many of its supporters are; instead, the party insists that only Taiwanese people have a right to decide Taiwan’s future via referendum. And that’s an issue the KMT won’t touch with a 10 foot pole attached to a 20 foot pole.

  10. Buxi Says:

    In fact, I still send mail to my friend there and I mail it to Taipei, Taiwan. Hmm…..

    You know, some kids can contact Santa Claus by sending mail address to the North Pole. All your anecdote proves is that you have a courteous postal service.

    We would *like* to keep the commentary here intelligent and informed. In case you really didn’t understand chorasmian’s point, let me try to simplify for you: there is no country that legally and officially calls itself “Taiwan”. The elected government of the place that you visited would tell you exactly the same thing.

  11. Buxi Says:

    This again just demonstrates that DPP politicians are happy to have good economic and friendly ties with China. It’s just the DPP won’t sacrifice Taiwan’s right to self-determination to do it.

    I question the use of the term “again”. The last 8 years aren’t exactly filled with previous examples of “again”. I seem to recall the DPP caucus up in arms when KMT county mayors/commissioners sent agricultural sales trips to the mainland a few years ago, similar to what Su is doing today (except elected officials couldn’t participate until this month).

    A-gu, I don’t understand the desire to paint the DPP as anything other than what it obviously is (or maybe I should say, has been). We’ve all been watching the news. CSB wanted independence (or, alternatively, insisted that Taiwan was already independent). CSB’s administration wanted to reduce economic ties between the two sides of the strait as much as possible. CSB’s administration wanted to reduce social ties between the two sides as much as possible… to the point that panda bears were animals non grata.

    We can talk about the legitimacy of this campaign without trying to white-wash history.

  12. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I think Su is doing what any reasonable mayor (or equivalent) would do: advance the prospects of her city and her constituents, in this case making a sales pitch to a new and HUGE audience/market. Whatever her politics may or may not be, the reality is she should try to sell her city as a viable tourist and economic destination, and I think that is what she is doing. For the same reason, envoys from US and Canadian cities have in recent years made sales pitches to China.

    However, if economic and cultural gains can be made for Taiwan (and the mainland) with this new arrangement, no doubt it is historic and ground-breaking, but I’m not sure how it furthers the desire for reunification. If such could be had without unification, then why not carry on with the new status quo?

  13. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – That is a charicature of Chen Shui-bian’s politics, there certainly wasn’t any effort to reduce social links with the mainland, only an effort not to have such links defined by the mainland as ‘domestic’. There certainly wasn’t a real effort to reduce economic ties, economic ties with the mainland were in fact much greater in 2008 than they were in 2000 or 1996. The various controversies (8 inch chips, agricultural products, pandas etc.) were all sparked by security/diplomatic concerns.

    As for the ROC already being independent, I should say that the ROC in law is in no way, shape, or form, dependent on the PRC. It may be that few countries recognise the ROC as a legitimate government, but you have to ask why that is – who is it that has been removing legitimacy from the ROC? Who has prevented its membership of international organisations? Who is it that does not allow it to compete in sporting events as the ROC? Who is it that has for the last thirteen years at least been engaged in a military build-up directly designed to point out how powerless the ROC is to defend its own citizens from outside attack? Which country’s representatives attacked child atheletes who dared to display the ROC flag? If you want to know why the ROC has lost legitimacy in the eyes of many in Taiwan, then you might start by asking these questions, rather than point out politicians who acted on this impulse.

  14. Andrew Says:

    The problem with attempting to wrap things up in the phrase “Taiwan and the mainland” is that the area under the soveriegnty of the P.R.C. does not just include the “mainland” it also includes Hainan and a number of small islets. I was wondering how would the CCTV 9 spin doctors hadle a situation if there was a sporting event with team members on one side from Taiwan proper and Quemoy island on one side (as the P.R.C. regards Quemoy as part of Fujian) and on the other side you had athletes from the actual mainland, Hainan and a couple of islets under the jurisdiction of the P.R.C.

    Yes, while Taiwan does not gain status of a country in the U.N. which is a self fulfilling prohecy as the P.R.C. exercises a veto there. It does however meet the criteria of a nation state far more neatly than many so called coutries with UN representation. But there is a completely self governing political entity universally referred to as Taiwan which maintains international relations and signs international agreements.

    I really have developled an interest in C.C.P English. I mean why is the entity in Taipei which carries out the function of governing Taiwan refered to as an authority not a government. I mean the Shaanxi provincial government is refered to as a government on a provincial level. So what qualifies the entity that governs Taiwan as an authority not a government. Finally what is the purpose of the C.C.P line that Taiwan has being an inaliable part of China since ancient times. As it took me a while for me to realise in C.C.P English that ancient times can be used to refer to the late seventeenth century.

  15. A-gu Says:

    Buxi,

    I recommend this balanced article on DPP attitudes toward China:
    http://thirstyghosts2.blogspot.com/2008/07/where-are-protests.html

    And the fact that A-bian insists Taiwan is an independent country (from the PRC, which they also consider a country) should come as no surprise: that’s a consensus view in Taiwan. But for the DPP the ultimate question of independence or unification really is less important than the means: the Taiwanese people must decide any such thing by referendum; no party, president or threat should be able to decide such a critical question for them. This is the principle enshrined in the DPP charter, not independence.

  16. Buxi Says:

    @A-gu,

    I’ve read that article before, and it’s interesting how DPP partisans seem to want to focus on the quote insisting that Ma and Chen have “identical” policy stands towards the mainland. If the two were indeed identical, one might wonder what all the fuss was on anti-media.tw.

    The money quote, if there is one in that article, is here:

    Exhibit A is Ma’s embrace of the “1992 Consensus”—a flimsy formula, never written down or formalized, to agree on “one China” while fudging its meaning. Mr. Chen’s DPP rejects that formula as a downgrade of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

    Ma’s embrace of “one China” (however fuzzily we define it) is a rather firm difference from Chen’s insistence that “one China” degrades Taiwan’s sovereignty, wouldn’t you say?

    FOARP accused my position of being a caricature of CSB’s administration. Can we go with the FEER editorial representation of his administration, then? He didn’t want independence, he just refused to accept a definition of “China” didn’t included the Republic of China on Taiwan.

    And the fact that A-bian insists Taiwan is an independent country (from the PRC, which they also consider a country) should come as no surprise: that’s a consensus view in Taiwan.

    When you say a “consensus view in Taiwan”… do you mean a consensus view of everyone not in the pan-Blue camp? You’re trying to simplify the debate to unrecognizable dimensions.

    Can you go through an intellectual exercise, A-gu? Can you try to render the KMT’s position on “one China” in your own words without making my mistake, of making it a caricature?

  17. Buxi Says:

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – That is a charicature of Chen Shui-bian’s politics, there certainly wasn’t any effort to reduce social links with the mainland, only an effort not to have such links defined by the mainland as ‘domestic’. There certainly wasn’t a real effort to reduce economic ties, economic ties with the mainland were in fact much greater in 2008 than they were in 2000 or 1996. The various controversies (8 inch chips, agricultural products, pandas etc.) were all sparked by security/diplomatic concerns.

    I’d concur that economic ties were indeed much greater in 2008 than they were in 2000 or 1996, that’s an undeniable fact. But considering that both the PRC and the ROC entered the WTO in 2001, that’s not saying much.

    Governments always have limited ability to control their economies (at least in a market economy), but take a look at the actual campaigns that the CSB administration tried to put together on the economic front. Anything it could do to hold back investment was tried. Go South?

    You can’t really believe that the panda issue, the diploma issue are born of security or diplomatic concerns? Some like to accuse Beijing of waiting for Ma Yingjiu to unveil the cross-strait tourism policy (as someone who’s been waiting to take advantage of that policy, I think that’s bullshit… but I’ll move on)… who was holding back recognition of mainland diplomas? Who was holding back acceptance of the pandas? What has been done to address the “diplomatic” concerns involving pandas?

  18. Buxi Says:

    @Andrew,

    I was wondering how would the CCTV 9 spin doctors hadle a situation if there was a sporting event with team members on one side from Taiwan proper and Quemoy island on one side (as the P.R.C. regards Quemoy as part of Fujian)

    I hope you aren’t suggesting only the PRC regards Quemoy/Jinmen as a part of Fujian… because the people behind this website would be surprised to hear that:

    FUJIAN Provincial Government – Republic of China

  19. A-gu Says:

    @Buxi

    Re: “When you say a ‘consensus view in Taiwan’… do you mean a consensus view of everyone not in the pan-Blue camp? You’re trying to simplify the debate to unrecognizable dimensions. / Can you go through an intellectual exercise, A-gu? Can you try to render the KMT’s position on ‘one China’ in your own words without making my mistake, of making it a caricature?”

    No, everyone I know in Taiwan agrees that the PRC is a country and Taiwan is not a part of it, including all the blue voters I’ve talked to. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for me to prove my assertion here. See, most opinion polls ask “Do you support the status quo, declaring independence or unification?” when it comes to this topic, and everyone picks status quo; what I would like to see is a poll conducted asking people in Taiwan “What is the status quo?” Obviously your results would vary based on the choices you offered, but if the choices included something like “One China” and “One side, one country,” all of your respondents would pick “one side, one country.”

    If you threw in an “unresolved,” your numbers would split between “one side, one country” and “unresolved.” But I don’t know a single person in Taiwan who really buys the “One China” line, or even “One China, two interpretations;” but many blue voters believe such semantic battles are unimportant and it’s better just to use a vague 92 consensus for now if it helps get talks going, and they are not adverse to future political unification of some kind, but they consider that a task for the next generation.

    Unfortunately, the polling data in this area is virtually nonexistent. I’d be happy if you could find some related polls that I haven’t, things that ask people to define the status quo. I can’t find any poll like that.

    I’m not going to define the KMT’s “One China” or “One China, two interpretations” because they won’t define it. I’ve paid very careful attention to their formulations on this and they’re all over the map.
    Ma said before he was elected that (1) Taiwan = ROC and (2) the ROC is a sovereign country.
    Sometimes they indicate Taiwan and China are separate political entities; sometimes they act like they are ultimately one country; and sometimes they just say it doesn’t matter.

    But for my closest effort at explaining the KMT’s idea of what constitutes One China, see this:
    http://a-gu.blogspot.com/2008/03/92-all-over-again.html

  20. Buxi Says:

    @A-gu,

    You’re playing bait and switch here. I fully concur that there is a consensus on Taiwan that the PRC represents a different government + polity from the ROC; the term “country” is very loaded and I don’t accept that’s appropriate for any definition of a consensus on Taiwan.

    But your suggestion is that this consensus position is the same as that held by Chen Shuibian and the DPP is… well, quite simply, wrong. I have a hard time believing that you’re unfamiliar with the first line of the DPP Party Charter: Establish a sovereign, independent, self-ruled Republic of Taiwan (建立主權獨立自主的台灣共和國).

    Do you really mean to argue that this position is “identical” to the consensus on Taiwan?

    As far as the KMT’s definition of “one China, two interpretations”… we can conveniently turn to the (far less ambiguous) DPP Party Charter and guess at what the KMT position is not:

    – it does not support the establishment of a Republic of Taiwan with a new constitution, and a redefinition of the borders,
    – it does not support returning to international society as an independent Republic of Taiwan,
    – it does not support relations with the mainland being conducted on the basis of international law.

    You also say:

    But I don’t know a single person in Taiwan who really buys the “One China” line, or even “One China, two interpretations…Unfortunately, the polling data in this area is virtually nonexistent. I’d be happy if you could find some related polls that I haven’t, things that ask people to define the status quo. I can’t find any poll like that.

    http://www.rdec.gov.tw/public/Data/87316423171.pdf

    69% support Ma Yingjiu’s position of proceeding with cross-strait relations under the “One China, Different Interpretations” framework. The exact phrasing of the question is:

    The ‘One China’ in our country’s constitution is the Republic of China; the Communists “One China” is the People’s Republic of China. Although our positions are different, if we are able to start negotiations by respecting each other’s position… are you supportive or opposed.

  21. A-gu Says:

    I think these first to lines of the Resolution on Taiwan’s future (台灣前途決議文) do in fact precisely reflect the national consensus here:
    第一、台灣是一主權獨立國家,任何有關獨立現狀的更動,必須經由台灣全體住民以公民投票的方式決定。
    第二、台灣並不屬於中華人民共和國,中國片面主張的「一個中國原則」與「一國兩制」根本不適用於台灣。

    And while I do appreciate the poll, it doesn’t let people define the status quo for themselves. Rather, it lays out a nice sounding “Two China” sort of formula with a surface “One China” title and asks if people if they would like to talk under such “respectful conditions.” I’m not going to call it a loaded question, but it is nto the same as asking people to define the status quo.

    I mean I think ultimately we are very close to agreement here, and just being stuck on the word “country” is the only problem. But I can live with that. My question is, can China live with the idea that only the Taiwanese people have a right to decide their future by referendum?

  22. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – It is news to me that the ROC has joined the WTO. Likwewise, WTO membership may have helped, but the main impetus was the opening of back-door channels for investment on the mainland – this is the reason why the Virgin Islands, the Caymans etc. are such big sources for investment in China – not so?

  23. Buxi Says:

    @FOARP,

    More on the WTO’s Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei).

    The Virgin Islands/Caymans are big sources for investment into China for more than just Taiwanese businesses. Numerous “Chinese” companies listed on the Nasdaq/NYSE today are or were domiciled in those territories. Because of the PRC’s tight regulations on foreign exchange and beneficial policies towards foreign investment, even mainland capital is often exported and reinvested through the Caymans.

    I guess I’m not clear what your point is with reference to this, however… that path for investment has been open for Taiwanese, Hong Kong, mainland, and overseas Chinese investment since the ’90s, so nothing new has happened in that respect since 2000. The growth in Taiwan/mainland economic ties since 2000 is impressive, but if you look at the opportunity cost of what could have been… well, there’s reason for complaining.

    @A-gu,

    I don’t think the question is loaded. I think the “92 consensus”, the “one China, different interpretations” is pretty well captured by that question: a mostly formless, but very symbolic agreement of what the ROC and the PRC share.

    Are you mixing “one China, two systems” with “one China, different interpretations”? Two very different concepts. MAC surveys consistently show only about 10% of Taiwanese support 1C2S, so that’s obviously a non-starter, and precisely why Beijing is moving on. But “one China, different interpretations” obviously has greater support.

    My question is, can China live with the idea that only the Taiwanese people have a right to decide their future by referendum?

    I don’t think so. Not right now, at least. But I think by putting off the question to future generations instead of forcing a solution, the current leadership is at least leaving that on the table as an option.

    But you’re missing the point if you focus on the “difference” (异) part of “seek common points while preserving differences” (求同存异). Everyone in both capitals are well aware that there remain deep, deep ideological differences between the two sides. The point is, we can’t solve them now, and we don’t need to solve them now.

    The great majority of Taiwanese are supportive of going forward while “respecting” (without denying) PRC claims to Taiwan, and that’s something Chen Shuibian and the DPP had been unwilling to do.

  24. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – So ever-increasing amounts of money has been invested in the mainland by Taiwanese companies, with restrictions only in specified areas. Not great, perhaps, but not disasterous, and certainly not bad enough to sentence the DPP to eternal election defeat – is this not a reasonable interpretation?

    You mention the Go South campaign, but Taiwanese companies themselves are making an effort to diversify away from mainland China – isn’t facilitating this part of the government’s duties? I do not at all agree with the policies towards mainland diplomas, and I think that pretty much everything about the whole Panda affair stank of political point-scoring by the CCP, KMT and the DPP, but these do not by themselves constitute wanting to ‘reduce social ties between the two sides as much as possible’. To be honest, what sticks in my craw is the way in which certain mainland commenters insist on demonising Chen Shui Bian when in reality he was little more than a B- politician. I’ve seen him only once in the flesh, at an aboriginal festival up in the mountains around Miaoli (one dedicated to preventing dwarves carrying off all the tribes’ women, apparently) and he looked a fairly ordinary chap.

    Planning a holiday in Taiwan? I’m sure you’ve got a good idea of where you want to go, but if I was off to Taiwan for the first time I’d be sure to:

    Taipei –

    1) Give the palace museum a miss, unless you like looking at hundreds of bits of bronze that look pretty much the same. I guess I like my history in a more digestable form, and most folk I know who’ve been there feel the same.

    2) What used to be (and probably will soon be again) CKS Memorial Hall – a nice park in a relaxed part of town. Hopefully by the time you get there the statue will be open again for visitors.

    3) Seven-Star Mountain – A great view across the entire northern tip of Taiwan, you can see everything from the former CKS airport in the west to Keelung in the east. It’s a bit of a climb to get to the top – it took me and a friend a good hour or so to make the climb from the northernmost MRT station.

    4) The Xinyi district – Some of my favourite modern architecture in the whole world, with the Taipei 101 as its (figurative) centre-piece

    5) The Shilin night market (or any of the others) – my sister lived near here when she was in Taipei, and every time I visited her we’d jet off for some deep-fried seafood here, not bad stuff.

    Outside Taipei-

    1) Taroko Gorge – Simply the most stunning place and scenery I have ever seen in my life. Stay at the Grand Formosa and enjoy brilliant walks along the gorge. Bask in hot water bumbling straight out of a hotspring at the bottom of a deep,sheer-sided ravine. Beautiful, but not for anyone who suffers from vertigo.

    2) Tainan – Great seafood and interesting history. There’s a nice little museum at the old Anping fort, as well as interesting history surrounding the former (Japanese) government buildings.

    3) Miaoli – I list this only because of what you can find in the mountains surrounding the city: Aboriginal culture, a delightfully scenic old railway station, mountain lakes and much else besides. I had the good fortune of being invited to a wedding up in the mountains once – there was just enough room between the cliff drop on one side and the mountain-side on the other for a few huts, a road, and a marque with a karaoke machine. However, I can’t think of any guidebooks to help you find all these places (at least not in English).

  25. Buxi Says:

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – So ever-increasing amounts of money has been invested in the mainland by Taiwanese companies, with restrictions only in specified areas. Not great, perhaps, but not disasterous, and certainly not bad enough to sentence the DPP to eternal election defeat – is this not a reasonable interpretation?

    I never said, or even hinted, that Chen Shuibian’s policies would “sentence” the DPP to eternal election defeat. I think his policies from an economic point of view were about lost opportunities, a major mistake on a strategic level that has substantially shifted Taiwan’s future economic path… but not the end of the world.

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