March 17, 2000

Taiwan’s Day of Decision


On the internet "Taiwan" is abbreviated TW, and "China" is abbreviated CN. This manner of referring to the two Chinese political regimes vying for the title of legitimate ruler of all China is dangerously misleading. It implies that the PRC or People’s Republic of China comprises only the continental portion of China, and the ROC or Republic of China comprises only the offshore Chinese island of Taiwan. Worse, it implies that something named "Taiwan" which does not even contain the word "China," has nothing to do with China.

In the case of Internet abbreviations, this is not the result of any dark conspiracy, merely regrettable semantic imprecision. It is harmless enough as long as politics is not part of the equation. Unfortunately politics often is, at which time the "CN vs. TW" formulation is the source of infinite confusion and mischief.

As the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius once explained,

"Above all it is essential to refer to things by their correct names. If things are not referred to by their correct names, then our language will not reflect reality. If our language does not reflect reality, then our actions will not reflect reality, and will be exercises in futility."

George Orwell, who warned against the abuse of the English language by the totalitarians in our midst, could not have put it any better.

Americans need to be reminded that the name of our great republic is these United States of America, not "The United States of America," and that the name of our Department of Defense, before we learned to dissemble, was the Department of War. Chinese on Taiwan meanwhile, need to be reminded that the name of the government which is holding its presidential election is the Republic of China, not "Taiwan."

Even if out of convenience, expediency or laziness China watchers don’t always employ the proper terminology, and I myself plead guilty, we must never forget that an objective reality exists independently from our misleading linguistic formulations, which we neglect at our own peril.


According to a Thursday, March 2, 2000 article by Steven Mufson in the Washington Post entitled "McCain’s Mother and the "Little Guy,"

"... Roberta McCain, mother of presidential candidate John McCain, flew the Taiwanese flag out her apartment window last October on the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s victory in the Chinese civil war. She lives near the Chinese Embassy in Washington and is said to be sympathetic to the capitalist, self-governing island of Taiwan, which Beijing asserts should be reunified with the mainland."

"Taiwanese flag?" What Taiwanese flag?


I assume Mother McCain was referring to the Republic of China flag. The Republic of China flag features a white twelve pointed sun on a blue background on a red field. It is known as the "qing tien bai re, man di hong" or "blue sky, white sun, red earth" flag. It is the flag of the old KMT, of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, of the party which in 1911 overthrew the "Last Emperor" portrayed in Bernardo Bertolluci’s Academy Award winning epic.

Taiwan separatist zealots, busy counting their chickens before they’ve hatched, have designed a "Taiwan" flag, such as it is. Their would-be "Republic of Taiwan" flag sports a red eight petaled chrysanthemum on a white field with green borders. It was modeled on the Japanese emperor’s Chrysanthemum Flag, only with fewer petals.

Why fewer petals you ask? Excellent question. Because Taiwan "independence" Quislings, deathly afraid of displaying any genuine independence, felt obligated to defer to their former colonial overlords, the Japanese, hence fewer petals.

So much for their shrill demands for "dignity" in reunification talks with Beijing.

The Quisling Lee Teng-hui once permitted separatist fanatics to raise this ersatz Japanese flag on a flagpole over Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek International Airport for several days, before protests from patriotic Taiwan Chinese forced him to order it taken down. I doubt this is the flag Mother McCain was flying. I doubt Mother McCain has ever laid eyes on the "Taiwanese flag."


"Joe McCain, her other son... said, 'My mother is a free market type, a Western democracy type... [my] mother has always had great affinity for Taiwan... she always favors the little guy against the big guy.'"

So Mother McCain "... always favors the little guy against the big guy." Really? Always? During the Vietnam War, which incidentally the Vietnamese refer to as "The American War," (Imagine that!) Mother McCain’s "little guy" was Vietnam. The "big guy was the World’s (soon to be) Only Remaining Superpower. Did Mother McCain favor "the little guy against the big guy" then? Did she favor the Vietnamese David over the American Goliath while her son was a guest of the Hanoi Hilton?

Will the day ever come when libertarian anti-interventionists no longer have to endure this kind of smug, facile, self-congratulatory, cracker barrel, "David versus Goliath" formulation from every Benevolent Global Hegemonist and his mother? I sure as god hope so.

Text-only printable version of this article

Bevin Chu is an American architect of Chinese descent registered to practice in Texas. Currently living and working in Taiwan, Chu is the son of a retired high-ranking diplomat with the ROC (Taiwan) government. His column, "The Strait Scoop," now appears Fridays at

Archived Columns

Taiwan’s Day of Decision

One China, Two Systems

Taiwan’s Pseudo-Democracy

Taiwan Independence and the 2-28 Incident

The Least of Three Evils

A New Millennium, Really

Taiwan Independence Beats a Retreat

Hollywood's Tibet: Tinseltown's Sacred Cow

International Trade and National Security: Back to Basics

Tibetan-Chinese Are Not American Indians

American China Policy versus Common Sense

Letter to an American Patriot

The Myth of Casualty Aversion

Gary Bauer's Un-American Values

The Dalai Lama's Politics of Race

A Republic, Not an Empire: The Conventional Wisdom is Wrong, Dead Wrong

All Politicians are Essentially Actors: Al Pacino, Ronald Reagan and Lee Teng-hui

Playing Politics with Taiwan's Quake Victims

Taiwan's Great Earthquake and the Mandate of Heaven

Taiwan's Little Emperors

Globocops With Guillotines

Taiwan Independence and the Stockholm Syndrome

Taiwan Independence and Free Lunches (8/31/99)

Inside the Taiwan Political Scene (8/19/99)

American Values in Dire Straits (8/10/99)


Mother McCain’s gesture of solidarity was made toward a Taiwan that no longer exists, having been destroyed by Lee Teng-hui in what I refer to as Phase Three of Taiwan’s modern political evolution. See "Taiwan’s Pseudo-democracy."

Mother McCain’s political naiveté is humorous, and has the makings of comedy. Senator McCain’s abysmal ignorance combined with colossal arrogance, a mix shared by too many of his colleagues in Congress, sets off alarm bells, and has the makings of political tragedy.


Taiwan’s voters are being treated to a special ballot on March 18. Rigged ballots. In past years whenever an independent candidate was listed on the preprinted paper ballots, his "Party Affiliation" was indicated as "None." This year, the space for independent candidates James Soong and Hsu Hsing-liang’s "Party Affiliation" have been left blank!

This amounts to an open invitation to less alert Soong and Hsu voters to stamp their ballots in the blank space below their candidate’s names instead of above their candidate’s name.

Is this a big deal? You’re goddamned right it is. Voting regulations specify that if a ballot is stamped in the incorrect space, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the ballot is discarded as null and void.

Now nobody on Taiwan believes the ruling KMT deliberately left the space below former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsing-liang’s name blank so that Hsu’s supporters would be disenfranchised. Hsu is not going to get more than one or two percent of the vote.

But plenty of ROC voters have no trouble believing Lee Teng-hui deliberately ordered the space below former Taiwan Provincial Governor James Soong’s name left blank so Soong’s supporters would be disenfranchised. Soong after all, according the last round of polls conducted was in the lead.


In case anyone thought I was exaggerating when I warned darkly of a revival of the White Terror, imagine the following fictional scenario.

A corrupt, scandal-ridden American president faces imminent impeachment.

Fortunately for the White House, Congress boasts a "friendly" majority. Unfortunately for the president, the Speaker of the House is fed up with the president’s unrepentant wrongdoing and intends to defect to the opposition party. The speaker’s defection may precipitate more defections, an opposition majority, and as a result, the criminal prosecution of the soon to be out of power president.

The day after the Speaker holds a press conference revealing what he’s done, IRS and FBI agents surround his home. Black uniformed SWAT Teams burst in and turn the Speaker’s home inside out, with the pretext of searching for evidence in an unrelated case against a personal friend of the Speaker. Press kits, prepared in advance, are handed out to the television crews, who were notified in advance, all the better to capture the event live on TV, in a calculated attempt to influence voters.

Would Taiwan independence fellow travelers and China bashers refer to such a president as a "champion of democracy?" Would they weave elaborate excuses for him?


The President in this fictional case is "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui. The Speaker of the House is Liu Chung-fan, President of the Legislative Yuan, the Republic of China’s closest counterpart to our own House Speaker. Three weeks ago, disgusted with Lee Teng-hui’s overt corruption and covert separatism, Liu defected to reformist James Soong’s camp. For this the 70 year old, six term senior lawmaker of the ROC Legislature was subjected to political persecution rivaling that inflicted against mainland political dissidents.

Liu’s case is not unique. Other KMT members who have defected to the Soong camp have received similar "special" treatment. Welcome to Taiwan’s "thriving democracy."

These are the shabby depths to which Newsweek magazine’s "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui is willing to stoop in his determination to promote Taiwan independence. The Taiwan separatist elite’s apologists should ask themselves the following question. If the ROC electorate really wants Taiwan "independence" as badly as separatists claim, why does "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui feel compelled to resort to such anti-democratic measures to ram through his secessionist agenda?


According to Government Information Office Director-General Chao Yi, another Lee puppet, the arrival of more than 400 foreign journalists on Taiwan to cover the presidential election "indicates that the international community attaches great importance to the ROC’s upcoming election, as it symbolizes the consolidation and progress of the country’s democratic system."

Oh, please.


In fact an election of sorts has already been held, and the results are not nearly so flattering.


Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Share prices opened low and closed even lower on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TAIEX) on Monday, with the weighted index, the market’s key barometer, plunging a record one-day fall of 617.65 points to close at 8,811.95. Affected by uncertain political factors five days before the presidential election, the bourse opened at 9,279.9 points... Losers outnumbered gainers 582 to 13... All eight major categories lost ground... "


Taipei, March 15 (CNA) The Taiwan Stock Exchange (TAIEX) lost ground on Wednesday, with the benchmark-weighted price index plunging 195.55 points to close at 8,640.03."

Taiwan’s shareholders have already voted, with their portfolios, and they have voted a resounding, thunderous NO! No to Lee Teng-hui. No to Chen Shui-bian. No to Taiwan independence. They have done so decisively and unequivocally, by withdrawing their personal fortunes from Taiwan’s economy. Just as during the Cold War refugees voted with their feet across the Berlin Wall, across the Florida Straits, so Taiwan voters are voting with their NT Dollars.

They are fearful Lee Teng-hui’s covert "qi Lien bao Bian" i.e., "dump Lien, save Bian" string-pulling may have ensured that Lee’s REAL hand-picked successor Chen Shui-bian, will succeed him and carry on Lee’s drive toward separatism, the opposition of Taiwan’s citizenry be damned.


Tomorrow, Saturday, March 18, 2000, is election day in the Republic of China. The office the candidates are running for is President of the Republic of China.

Taiwan does not have a president. It never has. Taiwan is a Chinese province, not a sovereign state. The highest office for the Chinese province of Taiwan is, or rather was, until Lee Teng-hui abolished it in flagrant violation of the Republic of China’s Constitution, Provincial Governor.

Who will become President of the Republic of China? I sure as hell don’t know, and neither does anyone else. If the candidate who has won the hearts and minds of the largest number of voters in the ROC wins, it will be former Governor James Soong.

But Lee Teng-hui’s White Terror has wreaked havoc to the democratic process. Any hope of an authentically free and fair election is already out of the question. If Soong wins it will be in spite of Lee Teng-hui’s pseudo-democracy, not because of it. It will be, as title of the Phil Collins tune goes, "Against All Odds."


When neoconservative would be patriots thump their chests and propose amendments against "desecrating the American flag" I have to laugh. More than a few of these "Champions of American Values" think nothing of violating their fellow Americans’ fundamental right to free trade, including the importation of cheap textile products, specifically American flags, from various regions of China, including Taiwan, Hongkong, and the Chinese mainland.

Eight out of ten American flags flying on flagpoles in these United States of America are made in the Republic of China, aka, "Taiwan."

Neocons who wouldn’t recognize a fundamental American value if it bit them on the ass, have been floating trial balloons about a constitutional amendment making it punishable by law to destroy squares of nylon fabric imported from Taiwan, as if they were the Shroud of Turin. So what if it tramples over the rights of sovereign American citizens to dispose of their private property as they see fit?

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