Saturday, April 29, 2023

Don't You Forget About Me?

My great-grandmother Verjine and her three brothers, around the time when their father was dragged away by Turkish soldiers and never heard from again. All they were trying to do was leave Smyrna.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day came and went on April 24th, and despite my best intentions, I couldn't write a thing. I tried to pen something article-like, thinkpiecey, memoirish. But no matter how much I called the black dog of fate, he would not come.

So instead I'll just ditch all the prose about what Armenians might think and feel on this day get on with what I really want to say: 

Restorative justice, international recognition, a meaningful apology -- these things matter. But what really upsets me every year on this date is the way that Turkey and a handful of its allies go balls-out posting ahistorical trash and victim-blaming Armenians, and the way that this rhetoric is alive and well today. Not just from Turkey, but deployed by China against dissidents and perceived "separatists". It terrifies me that seeing the exact same language and tactics portend fresh death.

Every year, there's also a small chorus of spectators to this show who ask whether Armenia shouldn't just get over it, pursue peace with Turkey today, let the past be the past

There's historical precedent for this: the Treaty of Lausanne was one big fat Letting Turkey Get Away With It, all because Turkey threw a temper tantrum. Of course, that temper tantrum turned into a war. 

Okay, but so what? Well, if we Let Turkey Get Away With It, we continue to tacitly condone a blueprint for anyone so inclined to commit atrocities and Get Away With It. And if there's a decent chance that the world will decide to ignore your genocide "for international peace and stability" or "we can't do anything about their domestic turmoil" or some such, then exactly what is stopping governments who are so inclined to just...well, commit genocide?

I'm not being hyperbolic here: I don't know if that oft-cited Hitler quote asking "who...speaks today of the Armenians?" is apocryphal (though it's probably real), but there's no way he wasn't aware of the genocide and the implications of Turkey's impunity. 

But let's talk about what's happening right now. Every year without fail, the Turkish government puts out some horrifying press release denying the genocide, without ever explicitly naming the accusations against it. 

I'm especially irritated by the part where Turkey says it does not need to be lectured about its own history by anyone. Bitch, that's my history too. I'll talk about it all I like.

This isn't new. Even before 1915, Abdul Hamid II was denying the Hamidian massacres while simultaneously making excuses for them:

In a rare interview, granted to a representative of the London Times, he declared that the reports of Armenian massacres were 'gross exaggerations.' To the mild inquiries of the English and French Ambassadors, the Sultan's Ministers replied politely, or sometimes not so politely, that the situation of the Armenians was an 'internal matter', and that, in any event, it had resulted from Armenian provocation."

If you realized that, without context, you might have mistaken all this for some Chinese wolf warrior lying about the Uyghur genocide or threatening Taiwan, congratulations. You've got the point.

And if you're wondering how an event they deny perpetrating at all could have also been "provoked", well, lies don't need internal logic. They just need to get pesky foreign countries off your back about all those crimes against humanity. Making sense is a nice-to-have, but it's not a need-to-have.

Back then, all of this -- the side-by-side denial and justification of massacres, the debate about whether Armenians deserved to not be killed en masse, was called the Armenian Question.

You know, kind of like how China and assorted bloviators refer to the Taiwan Question today. As though the words themselves weren't dehumanizing. Even people who should be smart enough to know better sign off on this sort of language as though the humanity of Taiwanese people -- of any people -- is a fucking question. As though this construct has any merit at all.

It is not, and it does not, Bonnie.

This sort of language is a precursor to genocide. 

Turkey's various allies help out -- not just through overt genocide denial, but in making it sound like it was committed by Armenians against Turks:

I cannot stress this enough. China is using the same sort of manipulative language that Turkey employs in its genocide denial when it insists that Hong Kong dissidents are "secessionists" for being unhappy that they didn't get the autonomy through 2047 that they were promised. (Some actually are secessionists, but they're not wrong.) It isn't that different when it calls Taiwanese whom they have never governed "separatists" who will be sent to re-education camps -- you know, the same way Turkey called Armenians "separatists" and then sent them to die in the desert.

Turkey continues to tell the world that recognizing the Armenian genocide is a "mistake". China tells the world to look away from its harassment of Taiwan -- apparently said harassment is fine, but challenging it is a "provocative activity". 

China is, in other words, creating pretexts.

Sometimes, they're post-texts. The Uyghurs whom they themselves terrorize are "terrorists",  and anyone who speaks up merely "interferes in China's internal affairs". The Uyghur genocide, of course, has already begun. China's lies terrorized Turkey into silence, even after the Premier League Genocide Denier itself had called it a genocide! This is some Circle of Life shit, except, you know, the opposite of that.

Anyway, this is already getting longer than I want it to be.

When people say victims of past atrocities and their descendants should leave such things "in the past", move on, focus on a contemporary peace, they miss the point. Not only is it wrong to lecture victims on the point at which they should be "over it" for your convenience, but it's not really about the past at all. It's not even about the future. It's about right now.

When I read sad testimonials and historical discussions about the Armenian Genocide, which are common around April 24th, I'm struck by how much the tactics and language employed back then continue to be employed not only by Turkey in its ongoing genocide denial, but by other countries looking to Get Away With It just as Turkey did.

Often, they do. In what way is China meaningfully hurting from its genocide of the Uyghurs? To what extent is it incentivized to stop? Or to leave Taiwan alone, never engaging in the slaughter it so frequently promises? The answer is not at all. Even people who want to deter China still treat Taiwan like a "question"!

China does these things -- it follows the same blueprint -- because we've learned so little. They're doing it because they can Get Away With It. 

This is what April 24th means to me. This is why it matters. Not because of the past, but right now. I'm less concerned with what happened a hundred years ago than the fact that China is using the same playbook, inventing the pretext now for a genocide in Taiwan.

In 1915, Turkey was able to exterminate Armenians from Anatolia. The world knew, but when Turkey told them to shut up and do nothing, they obliged. When Turkey insisted it never happened -- or that it did, but the "Armenian Question" was an "internal matter" and "provoked" by "terrorists", most countries tacitly accepted this. It took until 2021 for the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Today, China is erasing Uyghurs and their culture from East Turkestan. The world knows, but China tells them to shut up and do nothing, and that's exactly what they do. They insist it's not happening, or an "internal matter", or stopping "terrorists", and most countries are tacitly allowing it.

What year will it be when China decides it can invade Taiwan and ship anyone who resists off to a death camp? How much time do we have before calling Taiwanese "separatists" and the "Taiwan Question" an "internal matter" turns into labeling them "terrorists"? Will telling the world to shut up and do nothing work yet again?

Turkey wants you to forget. Don't. China doesn't want you to notice that they're using the same tactics, the same rhetorical flourishes. Notice.

Armenians were never a question, but they were a warning. And the Taiwan Question is not real -- it's a pretext.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The ROC constitution is not the argument winner you think it is


In a spin-off of my last post, I wanted to talk some more about the ROC constitution.

In that post, I described Taiwan independence bait & switchers in that post: people who talk about Taiwanese sovereignty as though it doesn't already exist, but make those statements in relation to China, not in relation to any sort of discussion or debate happening in Taiwan. When it's pointed out that Taiwan is indeed independent of that China, they snottily retort that Taiwan claims to be the "Republic of China", and therefore isn't independent from...that?

Nevermind that they began by talking about the PRC, and the ROC and PRC are different governments regardless. Both governments fundamentally acknowledge this: Taiwan now openly states it, and the PRC talks about how "Taiwan will be ours", which is an admission that Taiwan is not currently theirs.

I mentioned then that a lot of these people will point to the Republic of China constitution, insisting that its wording proves that Taiwan considers itself "part of China", if not the "real China" which claims the territory currently governed by the PRC. 

This is arguably false. I've talked about this before, but have more to discuss, and want to zoom in a little more. As Brendan likes to say, people who want you to swallow China's (or the KMT's) narrative on Taiwan don't want you to learn more about Taiwan. Their arguments work better if you remain ignorant. Those of us who advocate for Taiwan welcome everyone to learn more: the more you learn about Taiwan, the clearer it becomes that it isn't part of China, and doesn't want to be. 

In the spirit of "learning more", I'll be drawing on a useful Twitter thread that deserves a more permanent discussion. 

What are "existing territories"?

In the thread, Drew points out the oft-cited Article 4 which discusses the "borders of the Republic of China": 

The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.

I've discussed this as well -- the article never clarifies exactly what the borders are, and that matters -- but Drew takes it further. He points out that the vagueness was intentional, as the boundaries at the time were indeed somewhat fluid and the language of the constitution had to account for that without any change potentially invalidating the document. That's not just his opinion: he's quoting the Council of Grand Justices:

Article 4 of the Constitution provides: "The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly." Instead of enumerating the components of national territory, a general provision was adopted, and a special procedure for any change of national territory was concurrently provided. [Emphasis mine]. It is understandable that this legislative policy was based upon political and historical reasons.

A years-old Taipei Times piece offers a clearer interpretation of this fairly terse ruling: 

First, Article 4 has been ruled “non-justiciable” by the Council of Grand Justices. Asked whether Mongolia was still a part of ROC territory, the council in 1993 issued Interpretation No. 328, which ruled that the legislative intent of the term “inherent/existing” was specifically to avoid setting down precise boundaries, since the areas controlled by the ROC in China at the time were continually shifting with the tides of the Chinese Civil War. The interpretation thus held that the phrase is a political question that cannot be assigned any fixed legal definition. The practical impact of this ruling is that it is legally impossible to “violate” Article 4, since anyone could assert any notion of “inherent/existing national boundaries.”

Essentially, "non-justiciable" means that the Council of Grand Justices has declined to rule on the meaning of Article 4, as the wording is intentionally vague, which is a fundamentally political issue. Thus, it can mean anything to just about anyone. Which, of course, indicates that it means just about nothing at all.

Article 4 is technically no longer in force, but the same wording ("existing national boundaries") is used in the updated additional article, so I'm applying these ideas to both. There's more to discuss here; it will come up again below.

In other words, the judiciary branch of the Republic of China refuses to enforce any legal interpretation of that article, including that it must include territory currently governed by the People's Republic. At this point, the government that currently runs Taiwan has not actively claimed "mainland China" for decades, and continues to decline to comment on any such claim.

And lest you think that this was some sort of partisan judge hack job: in an otherwise jibberish article, even the KMT praises the wisdom of this ruling! I suspect it was meant to be a bit of a smack at the DPP, who had sought to shed new light on what the constitution means to modern Taiwan by getting the judiciary branch to clarify the so-called territorial claims. However, it ended up being a boon to Taiwan advocates: if the wording of "existing national boundaries" is so vague and political that it cannot be meaningfully interpreted by the court, then it can't really be meaningfully be interpreted by anyone. Therefore, it is not meaningful.

Chen Shui-bian is quoted by the Financial Times (and here, the Mainland Affairs Council) pointing out that the question of dubious claims such as Outer Mongolia aren't even the point -- when the Republic of China was founded, Taiwan was a colony of Japan. A 1936 early draft of the constitution did not include Taiwan, which further shows that these "existing borders" are indeed malleable. 

In addition to the Grand Justices, we've now had two presidents of the Republic of China who have insisted that it is an independent country and does not claim the territory of what the world considers to be "China". Three, if you count Lee Teng-hui and his "state to state relations" (and I do). Every elected leader of Taiwan except one has been clear on this. How many government officials clarifying this will it take before people stop making this dead-end argument?

Let's look at the last part of Article 4. I occasionally hear these "Checkmate, Splittists!" commentators say that this needs to be changed by a referendum, but that's not actually true. 

The Additional Articles

The original article states that it can only be amended by the National Assembly, although the amended article, which dates from the early 2000s, gives that power to the Legislative Yuan. The National Assembly no longer exists, and hasn't since 2005, when the replacement article took effect. 

As Bo Tedards pointed out all those years ago, from the Taipei Times link above: 

Second, Article 4 is no longer in effect. It was replaced in 2000 by paragraph 5 of Additional Article 4, which itself was amended in 2005. Although Additional Article 4 contains almost the same phrase, “the territory of the Republic of China, defined by its existing national boundaries,” surely the use of the term “existing” in 2000 or 2005, without qualification, does not mean “existing as of 1947.”

For the sake of comprehensiveness, here's what that paragraph says:

The territory of the Republic of China, defined by its existing national boundaries, shall not be altered unless initiated upon the proposal of one-fourth of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, passed by at least three-fourths of the members present at a meeting attended by at least three-fourths of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, and sanctioned by electors in the free area of the Republic of China at a referendum held upon expiration of a six-month period of public announcement of the proposal, wherein the number of valid votes in favor exceeds one-half of the total number of electors.

The original additional articles to the constitution were promulgated even earlier than that, in 1991. The early-noughts replacement to Article 4 does differentiate between the "territory of the Republic of China" and "the free area of the Republic of China", but I find it hard to believe that many Taiwanese in 2005 -- one year before I moved to Taiwan -- truly believed that their votes from Taiwan could or should have any bearing on, say, Tibet or Mongolia.

Perhaps a few centenarians and some KMT diehards clung to this, but in 2005 most people in Taiwan identified as either purely Taiwanese or both Taiwanese and Chinese. Almost nobody believed themselves to be purely Chinese, a downward trend that began in the mid-1990s. There's no way the general electorate in 2005 still had some inherent notion that unification was desirable. Not even the pro-China Ma Ying-jeou, elected a few years later, dared to say otherwise at the time.

It's difficult, then, to disagree with Tedards. If the sentence "existing national boundaries" was written in 2005, and the Council of Grand Justices has already said it's a vague, political phrase that takes into account the possibility of changing boundaries, then the boundaries referenced in the 2005 replacement of Article 4 can only sensibly mean the Republic of China as it existed in 2005.

Why do the additional articles exist?

When the original additional articles went into effect, President Lee described the re-defined relationship with China as "state to state" or "special state-to-state" relations. Even China saw this move as a blatant shift toward "Taiwan independence". Here's a nice long turducken quote from my previous post on the topic (linked above):

This article is extremely biased to the point of affecting the quality of the scholarship, but it offers up a real quote from Lee and a taste of how angry China chose to be:

According to the transcript released by Taipei, Lee said that since 1991, when the ROC Constitution was amended, cross-strait relations had been defined as "state-to-state," or at least "a special state-to-state relationship." Cross-strait relations, he maintained, shall not be internal relations of "one China," in which it is a legal government vs. a rebel regime, or a central government vs. a local one. Lee's controversial statement, not even known beforehand by Su Chi, Chairman of Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), sent shock waves to Washington as well as Beijing. [Note: Su Chi is the same guy who fabricated the "1992 Consensus" well after 1992].  
For Beijing, Lee Teng-hui's "two-state" theory was identical to the claims by Taiwan independence forces, that treated Taiwan and the mainland as two separate states. Lee had completely abandoned the unification guidelines of 1991, not even paying lip service to the one-China principle. The spokesman of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office criticized Lee for playing with fire....In Beijing's eyes, Lee had made an open and giant step towards independence. The "state-to-state relation" theory went beyond the limit of "creative ambiguity" around the one-China principle and represented a major shift towards de jure independence. 

As Drew points out, Chen Shui-bian extended the "special state-to-state" theoretical framework, later calling the relationship with China "one country on each side". Although Ma Ying-jeou represented a break from this clear trajectory, Tsai brought it back into fashion, calling Taiwan "independent" (also linked above). In other words, since democratization there has been exactly one president of Taiwan who has conceived of Taiwan's relations with China as anything other than "state to state", and this framework is directly linked to the constitution as it existed after 1991. 

Miscellany: Tibet, Mongolia and the Provincial Council

The ROC constitution tryhards don't give up easily; they'll often point to mentions of Tibet and Mongolia in the document. To that I say: so what? The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission was dissolved in 2017/2018, and most mentions of those old claims are either tied to rules regarding the National Assembly which no longer exists, or play no meaningful role in the current government.

The Provincial Council was also dissolved -- you need to use the Wayback Machine to access its old website. Because the constitution stipulates that something like the Provincial Council must exist, a government worker technically fills the lead role, but draws no additional salary. It exists in name only. That whole framework is a ghost, a shadow. It says a lot about the entire ROC-oriented framework of the document as a whole, frankly.

Cherry-picking these bits and pieces of the constitution to make the case that Taiwan actively claims "all of China" as the Republic of China actually makes your case weaker, because there's just so little there there.

Taiwan does not claim China, nor does it claim to be "the real China". It hasn't since the 1990s and that position has only been cemented in the 2000s. The constitution itself says this, if you bother to read it carefully. Only one elected president has ever paid it lip service, and he's hilariously unpopular. 

The entire thing is a massive straw man: it's easy to argue against Taiwanese sovereignty even when one can't deny its de facto existence if one can point to a document and say, "hah, see? Even Taiwan agrees it's China!" But the document doesn't say that, at least not any longer, and few in Taiwan still believe it should.

To be honest, I don't think these constitutional truthers want what's best for Taiwan, nor are they interested in understanding or learning more about Taiwan. If they were, they'd know this already, or be open to hearing it.

So why not change the constitution?

Taiwan did change the ROC constitution -- that was what the additional articles were all about! 

But, I see the point here, and I'll bite: why not amend the core document, rather than add to it? Why not abolish the vestiges of the Provincial Council? Why officially "delegate" responsibilities for these defunct assemblies to other government agencies, rather than change the document that states they must exist? The Legislative Yuan has that power, so why not do it?

I believe the Taiwanese electorate does mostly want this, but it's a deeply unfair question. Why indeed? If it can be done, and Taiwanese people would likely support it, it shouldn't be difficult to deduce the reason why it doesn't happen: not Chinese control, but Chinese threats. 

Taiwan isn't controlled by China now, so changing it doesn't change China's power in Taiwan (that it has none). So why do it, when they're threatening to slaughter you?

Taiwan absolutely does not want a war, for exceedingly obvious reasons. We can all agree it would be a terrible outcome; the only entity who seems to want war is China. If Taiwan is already self-governing and doesn't need to specifically amend the constitution to maintain its sovereignty, and China has threatened to subjugate and annex Taiwan if it makes those changes, with millions of Taiwanese dying as a result, why would Taiwan do so?

Taiwan can and should make these necessary changes when China has resolved not to use force, not to invade, and to respect the wishes of its neighboring country. Until then, what purpose vis-à-vis the PRC would it serve, at such a terrible cost?

Insisting on constitutional amendments that don't change Taiwan's current sovereignty therefore doesn't make any sense, unless you're looking for a reason to blame Taiwan for China's actions. I suspect most of the ROC constitution truthers are doing just that.

It's that same old Catch-22: insisting that Taiwan cannot be "independent" until it makes declarations or constitutional amendments that may cause China to attack, but then blaming Taiwan for "provoking China" if it actually makes those declarations or amendments. There's no way to win, which is exactly what the anti-Taiwan, China-simping ROC constitution truthers want. 

Don't listen to them. They don't know what they're talking about.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Get Your Independences Straight

I'm done with intentionally obfuscatory discourse

Because I'm super fun at parties, I want to have a little rant about rhetorical lack of clarity and why it plays right

into the hands of CCP trolls, tankies and little pinks. 

The central problem: one can hear from multiple sides some sort of call for Taiwan to "be independent" or "declare independence", or call Taiwan some version of "not fully independent", usually in relation to some threat or snotty baby tantrum from China. Case in point:

“People tend to interpret his position as leaning towards unification. But in his tenure, even until today, he didn’t say anything about unification — or at least he didn’t propose any road map for unification,” Lu (Yeh-chung, an NCCU professor) said.

Rather, Lu said, Ma’s remarks demonstrate his preference for Taiwan’s status quo — neither fully independent nor fully united with the mainland.

First, Lu is wrong: Ma has talked about unification -- he specifically said "don't support independence, don't reject unification" in 2018. Does the good professor think we have such short memories? 

That aside, my question is simple: what on our beautiful green Earth does "neither fully independent nor fully united with the mainland" mean? Does Lu think that the government of the People's Republic of China has some sort of control over Taiwan? Not fully independent from what?

If we're talking about China, there are perhaps a dozen centenarians who still insist that "China" must and can only mean The Republic of China (on Taiwan), plus approximately three of their grandchildren and a couple of old white dudes who actually believe tedious reiterations of this opinion.

Of course, that's slight hyperbole, but it becomes less so every year.

Everybody else conceptualizes that as the People's Republic of China, period. If you say "China" and not "The Republic of China", no meaningful percentage of people think of the government in Taiwan. Even if you do say "The Republic of China", assuming the listener doesn't simply assume you misspoke and meant the People's Republic, it's more common to consider that a weird historical anomaly than actually China

And if we're talking about the country that just about everyone imagines when hearing the word "China", then I'd really love for one of these "if Taiwan were to become independent" or "Taiwan doesn't have full independence" commentators to please, for the love of sweet zombie Jesus, tell me what the hell that is supposed to mean.

Taiwan is already independent from that China. If that's what you mean, what exactly would Taiwan declare independence from? So again -- independent from what? How can anyone claim with a straight face that Taiwan isn't independent from the country the entire world associates with "China", when that country has no control over and no governance of Taiwan?

The common retort is some word salad along the lines of "well it's the Republic of China, so it also claims to be China". 

Even if that were true (it's not, and hasn't been for decades), that is not what most people think of at the word "independence". It's not even what the speaker meant in the first place, because again, these bad takes always come in the middle of a conversation about China. You know, the China you just thought of when you read the word "China".

They meant the PRC when they started bloviating, they know they meant the PRC, and switching out China for the government on Taiwan the second they're challenged on that is disingenuous and dishonest. It's not even obtuse, because I think they're fully aware of what they're doing. They expend so much verbiage on China's reaction, China's anger, China's position, China's threats, and they and everyone else know they mean China

Even our friend Professor Lu above spoke of Taiwan "not being fully independent" in the same sentence as "the mainland", even though "the mainland" (that is, China -- "the mainland" is not the name of a country) does not control Taiwan at all. There is no way this vaguery is sincere. It's clear obfuscation.

Then they reference Taiwan not having independence, and suddenly, it's a different China they are talking about, because intoning that Taiwan is somehow governed by the PRC is simply not justifiable, and they know it. It's a third-rate magic trick, a rabbit pulled out of a hat except everyone knows the hat as a false bottom. Abracafuckingdabra! 

All this is is a way to keep the old discourse about "Taiwan independence" on life support, as though Taiwan does not already have independence. Why? Well, it's so stupid that I don't even know why, but here's a good guess: they don't want to just admit that the PRC doesn't control Taiwan and never has, because that would probably lead to admitting that it has no claim, and never should get Taiwan. Or they're so balls-deep in outdated rhetoric that they just can't admit they've been wrong since at least 1996. 

Perhaps they think this wording projects an image of centrism and moderation, when it all it really does is announce "hello, I'm so out of touch that my opinion was last meaningful when the Macarena was a hit song!" 

Or, worst of all, they either don't care about Taiwan and just want the issue to go away (for them -- for Taiwanese this attitude on a global scale means lots of people will be slaughtered), or they actually think Taiwan should be a part of China, but know they can't reasonably defend this view. The China Is Taiwan, It's Just Tankie Vibes, Man remix. 

Independence from the Republic of China -- that is, changing the framework of the government that currently runs Taiwan's archipelago -- is a valid concern. The ROC system, the name, the constitution: it's got to go. Taiwan would be better served by a government tailored to its own needs, not one constructed with the notion of ruling that huge chunk of land on the continent. 

But, again, that is simply not what most people mean when they talk about independence. Yes, some deep green activists mean this, and I agree with them. The ROC has got to go. When they say "we are pro-independence", they are always clear that they mean a domestic form of independence, a throwing off of the ROC colonial framework. Crucially, they are almost always talking to other Taiwanese people,  usually in Taiwan. That is the context which allows their audience to understand what they mean. 

They might say Taiwan needs to openly declare this, but a declaration is different from already having something: you might elope and announce it to everyone later, but the fact is, you got married when you eloped, not when you told the world. Taiwan doesn't "become independent" when it announces as much. It became independent when it started fully governing itself, and stopped any active claim to that big country on the continent that we all consider "China", if not before. 1949, 1996 or 2005 (when the National Assembly was dissolved) -- take your pick, they're all well in the past. 

What's more, if these opinionators need to make the rhetorical switch from the PRC to the ROC when discussing Taiwan's "lack" of independence, often without clarifying unless pushed, then they already know that the PRC and ROC are two separate entities. They may not have fully internalized the fact that Taiwan does not want to be part of China, and hasn't claimed otherwise in decades, but they know this. The ROC and the PRC are not the same governments, and it's deceitful to refer to them interchangeably as "China". Either there is only one China -- the PRC, which does not include Taiwan -- or there are two, but even if there are two, they are not the same thing, and the commentariat absolutely knows this, even if they can't admit it. 

Finally, this sort of disingenuousness both assumes and forces discourse on Taiwan's relationship to the ROC to only exist in relation to the PRC. It implies that Taiwan deciding of its own accord to amend its own constitution is somehow related to PRC governance, when it is and should be an internal discussion. The same is true for name rectification (from the country to the airline) or other frameworks that ought to be modified or abolished to better meet Taiwan's needs. While some of these changes are tangentially related to China, the connection is not direct: the government of the PRC has no say at all in the governance of Taiwan.

To make Taiwan's potential choices seem more intertwined with China than they are -- that any action Taiwan takes is fundamentally in relation to the PRC, and cannot exist apart from that as a choice made by a self-governing people -- is to lend credence to China's ridiculous claims on Taiwan, and its subsequent manufactured anger and hissy fits.

The imprecision and its harmful intentionality infuriate me. It's not ignorance, it's purposeful obfuscation, and it must be treated as such. These people are not interested in learning about Taiwan; their objective is to harm Taiwan's international stature and waste your goddamn time.

So let me say it again: if you're talking about China and you mean the PRC -- which just about everyone does -- then it lacks integrity to say Taiwan "isn't independent" from "China", only to switch "China" to the ROC when called out. Stop it. Serious people do not do this. 

Be precise: do you genuinely think is Taiwan not independent from the PRC? If so, please justify this. In what way does the PRC control Taiwan? What would change about Taiwan's governance right now if it were to declare independence from the PRC -- anything at all?

Or do you think "Taiwan independence" means "from the ROC framework"? If so, why did you (most likely) bring it up in a discussion about Taiwan's relationship with the PRC? Did you think your audience wouldn't notice? 

And if you do mean "the ROC", start there. No backsies, no switcheroos. 

However, I would ask that the well-meaning activists and supporters (including myself) who want to see the establishment of a Republic of Taiwan please consider their audience. Are you talking to potential allies abroad who might not realize that your "independence" doesn't mean "from the PRC"? If so, you're likely to confuse them with talk of Taiwan "not having independence", as they imagine that independence to be from China. That is, their conception of China, which isn't the ROC at all. It might be well-intentioned but it's likely to backfire, as it portrays Taiwan as some sort of separatist "renegade province". It's a lot harder to support that than a sovereign nation that already governs itself and has never been governed by the big bully next door claiming it. 

What can no longer be tolerated, however, are all the commentators who aren't concerned with ROC colonialism and instead use linguistic deception to make Taiwan appear less sovereign than it is. 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Lao Ren Cha is going live on YouTube!

Today's the day for a big announcement: I've decided to start my own YouTube channel! 

I've been thinking about this for a long time, but wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger until now. Long-form writing is a relic of the past, and deserves to be abandoned in favor of newer, flashier media. What better way to inject content directly into as many eyeballs as possible than transitioning from Blogger to Youtube?

Content is king, and I will create a lot of it in my new career as a Youtube influencer and star. You will be swimming in so much Lao Ren Cha content, you won't know what to choose! I'll be keeping things relevant, with upcoming videos on exciting topics like: 

Night Market Challenge! What's the CRAZIEST Night Market Food?

Taiwan BUBBLE MILK TEA Tasting Extravaganza!

Top Ten Taiwan Culture Shocks You Won't Believe

Taiwanese SHOCKED! This Foreigner Speaks INTERMEDIATE MANDARIN! 

Lao Ren Cha Talks To Real Taiwanese! Top Ten Things Taiwanese Would Do If China Invaded

Taiwanese People: Just Like You And Me! 

You Wouldn't Believe These Top Ten Taiwan Traffic Accidents!!

Lao Ren Cha Local: We Visit An ANCIENT, TRADITIONAL Indigenous Village For Their Harvest Dance Ceremony

Taiwan Ocean Challenge: We Dive Off QINGSHUI CLIFF! 

Beautiful Fashion Island: Shopping at Wufenpu vs. Zhongshan

In Memoriam: Remembering Our YouTube Team Member Who Dove Off Qingshui Cliff

My Mom Visited Taiwan and Tried DUCK HEADS! 

Top Ten CRAZY Things You Can Buy At 7-11! 

Convenience Island: Is Taiwan TOO Convenient?!

Lao Ren Cha Local: Do Taiwanese LIKE China or HATE It??

Lao Ren Cha x PCHome Collab: Top Twenty-Six AMAZING Items On PCHome You HAVE To Try


IT STINKS! Foreigners Try STINKY TOFU For The First Time

Of course, as I am launching this comprehensive content platform as a career shift, I'll need sponsors. So far we've got some exciting ones lined up: extra special thanks to About Face Skincare, Mr. Sparkle Laundry Detergent and Yu Wan Mei Amalgated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp. To bring the best value to our sponsors, we'll be cross-posting on TikTok, WeChat and Weibo. DM me if you want to collab! 

I'll post a new announcement when the channel goes live. Remember to hit like and smash that subscribe button for all the Taiwan content you could ever want!