Friday, January 19, 2018

Mr. Xi's Soft Prong

This sort-of-okay thing that veered into a steaming pile of garbage from the Economist, uh, exists. So that's...there.

Please draw your attention to this paragraph particular line towards the end:

Lin Chong-pin, a Taiwanese scholar and former senior official, calls this Mr Xi’s “soft prong”. 


Now we know why Xi Jin-ping is so obsessed with taking Taiwan.

Now, I really hope Lin formulated this thought on purpose, as a big, fat, hard jab at Xi Jin-ping, perhaps hoping we would understand the encoded message in his long, straight, pointed finger.

But even if he didn't, this says a lot. All those powerful cylindrical metal planes circling Taiwan and it's huge rocky mountains, standing tall and erect right there across the strait. He has to take a stab (well, maybe not a stab, more like a flaccid wriggle) at Taiwan to prove to us - and more importantly, to himself - that he's packing heat (well, maybe not heat, more like those squishy hand warmers you can rub. They get warm but they never get stiff). All those big, powerful missiles pointed right at Taiwan, ready to launch.

Because I don't want to linger too long on, uh, Mr. Xi's Soft Prong, let's take a look at the flaming heap of crap that makes up the final two paragraphs of this utter head-scratcher of a piece.

Now I will say, it starts out okay. It could take more time to discuss the perspective of Taiwan, but as it stands it is a pretty clear laying out of China's coercion tactics against Taiwan, which are important for Westerners to know about.

But then....whhaaaaa?

All this is out of the old playbook. Mr Xi’s innovation is to single out young Taiwanese and to pile on the blandishments.

In terms of pay, yes, but if he thinks he's actually going to win them over politically...he's not.

Colleges offer Taiwanese teachers better pay than they could get in Taiwan. Chinese provinces are opening research centres aimed at young Taiwanese. In the southern city of Dongguan, Taiwanese tech entrepreneurs can get free startup-money and subsidised flats.

Yeah, that's the strategy. Want to talk about why it's a problem?

Over 400,000 Taiwanese now work in China. The young in particular are crossing the strait in droves.

I guess not. Well, okay.

You do realize they're not moving to China because they want to, yes? You do realize they are doing it because the economy at home isn't offering them fair wages for fair work, and because they feel it's their best opportunity to make money - but not because they actually want to live in China, yes? Why are you implying that there is anything other than economic rationalization for this? Nobody - literally nobody - thinks China is overall a better country to live in than Taiwan.

Lin Chong-pin, a Taiwanese scholar and former senior official, calls this Mr Xi’s “soft prong”.


In some respects it seems to be reshaping attitudes towards China.

No, it isn't. Identification with China, liking China, thinking China is anything other than a terrifying enemy who must be dealt with for economic reasons, is not actually changing. This is simply factually wrong. 

It does not help Ms Tsai that she has failed to make much progress on her promise to create more opportunities for the young.

Duh, but what does that have to do with China? That's a domestic issue. Her administration is simply not doing a good job with this. 

Taiwan’s economy remains sluggish.

So does the rest of the world's. Want to put what you're saying into perspective a lil' bit maybe?

The young think older generations get the better deal.

This is true but it is not related to China. 

But she gets the blame for tricky cross-strait relations more than Mr Xi does.

Does she? I mean, personally, I think the one thing she is doing right is her cross-strait policy. What's your source on this? 

A recent poll even shows Taiwanese feeling more warmly towards Mr Xi than to Ms Tsai.

Oh, I see, a poll that you don't link to. Hmmm. I'd like to see this poll. How is it worded? What questions are asked? Where is this coming from? Where is your source? Why aren't you comparing Tsai's approval ratings to pro-China Ma Ying-jiu's (man, talk about a soft prong...ahem) to show what it means in a Taiwanese context? 

They do not admire China’s political culture.

No shit. So why don't you say more about this? And if they don't admire China's political culture, why do they admire Xi so much?

But Mr Xi may be nurturing a reluctance among young Taiwanese to bite the hand that feeds them.

They know perfectly well that they are not being fed so much as slowly poisoned. They also know - they're not stupid after all - that slow-acting poison food is better than no food. But if you think for even one second that this is going to change how they feel about China, or Taiwan, or Xi Jin-ping in a way that will get them to accept unification...

...well, then do I have a soft prong for you! 

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