Showing posts with label bad_writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bad_writing. Show all posts

Saturday, March 9, 2019

With doing lots of genocide, Xi Jinping of China keeps with tradition

Photos from the province full where Xi Jinping is committing genocide RIGHT NOW, not that the
New York Times thinks that's important, after all...his hair is graying, so...that's a story, right?

by Confucius McDoorknob

HONG KONG (because we can't report freely in China) — President Xi Jinping is known for keeping the rules of Chinese politics, amassing more power than any leader since Mao, and doing almost as much genocide. 

His latest attempt to shake things up may be one of his boldest moves yet: Mr. Xi is going slightly — though unabashedly — anti-Uighur, in total lockstep with longstanding Communist Party tradition.

For decades, Chinese leaders have attempted to show unnatural 'togetherness' between the various cultural and religious groups of China, a look that symbolized unity and gave the party a not-genocidey veneer.

But Mr. Xi, 65, appears to be dispensing with vanity as he presents himself as a relatable and avuncular mass murderer, part of his efforts to soften his hard-line policies.

As Mr. Xi takes part in the annual meeting of China’s legislature this week, the concentration camps he's set up to systematically wipe out the people of East Turkestan through re-settling the area with Chinese, a heavy-handed surveillance state, "re-education" and straight-up murder have been a hit with delegates and the public.

“He’s very humble,” said Gu Yan, 47, an employee at a technology firm in the eastern city of Xiamen. “He’s not afraid to be himself.”

Mr. Xi has a history of making genocide choices that underscore his image as a man of the Han people. He is often pictured in China wearing a navy blue, zippered windbreaker which doesn't have any blood on it because he doesn't personally do all the genocide, a symbol of humility as he leads a campaign against corruption and also anyone who criticizes him or the CCP, anyone who is not Han unless they are an obedient "ethnic" minority that will dance for Han tourists and also wear colorful costumes but never actually question their (subordinate) place in Chinese society.

His lots-and-lots-of-murdering further reinforces that image, as well as Mr. Xi’s desire to be seen as a paternal figure - I mean like if your dad was a murderer - and live up to the nickname by which he is popularly known, “Murderin' Uncle Xi,” China apologists and flunkies say.

“It’s not this image of the stodgy cadre who must be exactly dyed and dressed in the right mold,” said Western Guy O'Whiteass, a useful idiot who studies Chinese history and politics at Prestige Academy, whom we asked to make it look as though we did any real research into what's actually going on in China. “It’s an image of the party that is more relatable and less apparatchik-like in its aesthetics, but definitely not in its murdering of people who look, act and believe differently."

Going full-on Hitler was not always such a big deal in China — both Mao and Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leaders, embraced spilling blood on Chinese soil for infractions such as asking for freedom and human rights. The former was thought to have caused the deaths of millions during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, and the latter, of course, gunned down protesters (or just ran over them with tanks) during the Tiananmen Square protests, which the world seems to have forgotten about and we definitely don't want to remind you about with this article because, you know, profit.

But more recently, as the party promoted a “collective leadership” model to spread power more evenly after the strongman days of Mao so that the blame for disappearing thousands if not more of their own citizens would be more difficult to pin on a single person, and any given person would be able to deny knowledge or complicity, genocide was not as widely practiced, although murder and disappearance definitely still happened.

In the past, how much genocide one does has often been seen as a symbol of status within the party. In 2015, for example, Zhou Yongkang, China’s former chief of domestic security, was shown confessing to crimes during a sentencing hearing, his formerly jet-black hair having turned into a shock of white while he was in detention. Of course, that was probably because he was tortured and forced to admit to whatever the party wanted. 

Zhang Jiehai, a sociologist at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said that in the past Chinese officials embarked on genocide in secret so as not to raise eyebrows both in China and abroad. But now, he said, Chinese officials are younger and society has grown more open. 

“It has become more natural,” he said. “The leaders no longer need to cover up their actual literal real-life concentration camps.”

How exactly Chinese officials maintain the "I didn't mass murder anyone oh actually haha I did"  look is something of a state secret, though copious amounts of money are probably involved.

Mr. Xi’s murder record was mostly unknown when he rose to power in 2012. But as he has grappled with a slowing economy, diplomatic tussles in the South China Sea and a trade war with the United States, he has turned to taking the lives of anyone who opposes him in thought, deed or creed or just looks like someone who might, so as to scare people away from assailing his position of power.

His really-serious-genocide-committing look has not gone unnoticed in the party.

In 2016, a delegate at the National People’s Congress said she had noticed during a meeting with Mr. Xi that he had "done a lot of genocide, I mean, I'm not criticizing him or anything, please don't drag me away and torture me."

“Our country is so big,” the delegate, Zhu Xueqin, speculated at the time. “He needs to manage all sorts of things and it’s very hard.”

Mr. Xi’s example seems to be catching on: many members of the Politburo, an elite 25-member council at the highest levels of the Communist Party, also are surely complicit in some genocide. 

While genocide might be seen as undesirable elsewhere in the world (President Trump proudly declared on Saturday, “I have not committed genocide, at least not yet”), in China some view it as a sign of wisdom.

At barbershops in China, stylists said they applauded Mr. Xi’s decision to kill lots of non-Han people who are viewed as a disobedient threat to CCP control. 

“It makes him look like he works harder — that he’s laboring day and night,” said Liu Ke, a stylist at a salon in the central city of Xi’an.

Jiang Zhirong, the co-owner of a barbershop in a Beijing alleyway, said Mr. Xi couldn’t go wrong.

“Whether he mass murders lots of people I don't know and don't care about or not,” she said, “the president has great style.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Beware the phony expert: a Deutsche Welle dumpster fire

As a long-termer in Taiwan, it's a common disappointing occurrence to read an absolute horrorshow of an opinion piece about this country, thinking "well this is pretty crap, but it's probably by some nobody who just doesn't know what they're talking about", then get to the end only to find out that the writer is an accomplished scholar (though not in any field that has anything to do with Taiwan) and as such, people will actually take them seriously.

That's exactly what happened a few days ago in Deutsche Welle, when this mess was splattered across its website: Taiwan, China share common heritage, chequered history

You know something like this is going to be painful to read when even the title gets basic facts wrong: Taiwan and China do not share a common heritage in the way readers are intended to infer. The common trope is that Taiwanese and Chinese culture are 'the same'. They're not - Taiwanese culture certainly contains much Chinese influence, but it also contains heavy strains of indigenous, Japanese and Southeast Asian culture lacking in China - if 'Chinese' culture can be said to be one cohesive thing at all, which it isn't.

All in all, reading this thing was like listening to glass slowly crack and burst: you'd think for someone whose scholarship is specifically in the field of narratives and ideologies would have more to say about Taiwanese, rather than Chinese, narratives - and know a marginalized narrative when he sees one - but apparently not. 

With that in mind, let's dive in. I say we start with what's good about the piece. You know, to whet our appetites for the bloodbath to follow. 

Because one thing is certain: neither will Taiwan reclaim mainland China, nor will the People's Republic occupy and undermine Taiwan.

Let's leave aside "neither will Taiwan reclaim mainland China" - both that "mainland" is a made-up word by people in power to impose a certain narrative of what is mainland and what is territory off that mainland, and that Taiwan ever had China (it didn't - the ROC did, but Taiwan did not) - and look at the second half of that sentence. That's nice.

I mean, nice just like I suppose it's nice if you're trapped in the desert dying of dehydration and you find a muddy puddle and lick it just to get some water, only for it to give you bilharzia. But hey, you got some water! Nice!

Today Taiwan is a modern, open and tolerant democracy. It has nothing in common with the dictatorship that the Kuomintang had brought to the island when they arrived in 1949.

Yeah, okay, sure. Why couldn't you keep this thread going, Professor Görlach? Why'd you then have to take that former dictatorship's definition of what Taiwan is as the whole truth about Taiwan, despite the government itself being foreign (Taiwan was Japanese when the KMT arrived) and, at the time they consolidated themselves and their ideology about Taiwan, not representative of the Taiwanese people? You should know better. 

The island is, after all, one of Germany's and the European Union's most important trading partners. Taiwan, once again, exemplifies the success of the democratic model: political and economic freedoms go hand in hand and eventually lead to prosperity and harmony. Despite our friendship with China, Taiwan will thus remain a special ally among the Asian states.  

Cool story bro. So, how about some diplomatic support in the face of Chinese aggression up in here?

Also, not so sure about the harmony but the blue and green camps aren't exactly killing each other (anymore - one side used to routinely kill the other), so...fine.

Okay, that's enough. Time for blood. 

During my time in Taiwan, I realized that the young generation dissociates itself from that heritage. The Civil War, which ended in 1949, is far away. Hence, they consider themselves Taiwanese rather than Chinese.  


You think the young generation doesn't identify as Chinese because the Chinese Civil War was a long time ago? Have you actually asked any young Taiwanese - or any non-KMT Taiwanese at all - why they identify as Taiwanese? If you did, what do you think they'd say?

I have asked, so I'll tell you what they've said to me: that it has nothing to do with any civil war in China or ROC ideology, and everything to do with the fact that Taiwanese history and culture are simply different from China's. From an island of indigenous tribes, to a history of colonization by European powers, Chinese powers and Japan (yes, Chinese presence on Taiwan was, and is, colonial), to a modern history that has sharply diverged from China's, Taiwanese history is its own unique thing. In terms of culture, this is harder to quantify, but Taiwan just feels like a place influenced by both Japan and China, and has an entirely different cultural feel from China despite the two cultures' similarities. It's like going to the US from Europe. Even the language (Mandarin) is a colonial one. Until the post-1949 language policies of the KMT began to have an effect, the native languages of Taiwan were numerous, and none of them Mandarin.

Is it so hard to believe that the Taiwanese identify as Taiwanese because the attempted brainwashing of those in power - so that they could stay in power - didn't work? That there's something real to it, and it is about remembering history rather than forgetting it?

Dealing with 'transitional justice'

As a German, I'm well acquainted with this gimmick: during the post-World War II period, both German states — the democratic West Germany and the communist East Germany — considered themselves to be legitimate representatives of the "one Germany."

And I'm well-acquainted with this gimmick: positioning the word "gimmick" very close to another term in scare quotes, to imply that you think the term is bullshit.

You wanna go ahead and own that? That you think things like letting families finally read the goodbye letters their long-dead relatives wrote before their (unlawful and unfair) executions is a "gimmick"? That opening records that were only sealed so the party responsible wouldn't have to face justice for what they'd done is a "gimmick"? That the historical narrative finally echoes what really happened - is that a "gimmick" too? That untold sums of money were confiscated, swindled or outright stolen from Taiwan and the Taiwanese by that same party, and only now does it seem they won't be able to keep their loot - is that a "gimmick" too?

All I can say is I'm happy your opinion doesn't mean anything in Taiwan.

The rest of the world should appeal to moderation on both sides of the conflict.

Ooooooohh, nice job implying very subtly that identifying as Taiwanese - which is something most Taiwanese naturally do and have done for decades (some for far longer) - is somehow not moderate, and therefore must be an extreme position.

I see through the ruse, but nice try. I commend you, sir, for your attempted chicanery.

I had just completed my tenure at a university in Cambridge on the US East Coast when I arrived at National Taiwan University to take up the position of visiting scholar. Most certainly, I arrived with an understanding of how complex and painful the aftermath of a civil war can be.

Sure, but remember, the only reason that civil war ever came to Taiwan's shores was because one side took it there. It had nothing at all to do with the millions of Taiwanese who, until just a few years previously, had been Japanese subjects. The warring ideologies of that war were so far removed from a local Taiwanese context that, to be frank, it feels like an accident of history that it ever became a part of the Taiwanese narrative at all. 

I reencountered much of this in Taiwan. The island state has its origins in the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, the defeated Kuomintang party of Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to the island. They remained convinced that they were still representing the real China that had become a republic under their leadership only a few decades ago.

So, before the 1940s, Taiwan didn't exist? Huh - I had thought Sun Yat-sen caused it to be raised from the ocean floor in 1911, but apparently it was several decades later, when Chiang Kai-shek took the magic tome, said the appropriate incantations to the gods, and made it so that Taiwan came into being where there had once been nothing but open sea. Ya learn something new every day!

(Yes, yes, I know he's talking about the "ROC on Taiwan" here, but he said "Taiwan". You may be surprised to learn that Taiwan did, in fact, exist as a unique entity long before the Chinese Civil War. Its entire history was colonial, but it did exist as a place one could refer to as itself rather than part of a larger whole.)

For the coming decades, the notion of reclaiming mainland China remained a crucial part of their rhetoric — despite the fact that their large neighbor was already on its way to becoming an economic superpower. The People's Republic of China on her part considers the island republic a renegade province.

Okay, so we get the KMT's view, but no sense of what actual Taiwanese thought about this whole thing or about China (remember, in those decades the KMT quite assiduously avoided identifying as Taiwanese. Many still don't.) So we get two perspectives from two Chinese regimes, and nothing at all about the perspectives of the vast majority of people in Taiwan who, until the KMT came, had had little to do with China besides having had a few distant ancestors come from there. 

Let's also keep in mind that the definition of what Taiwan is, according to Görlach, was created by a political party that is not currently in power, because the people of Taiwan decided they didn't like that narrative. How can anyone say that this is the story - of a common household torn asunder - that truly represents Taiwan?

For someone who has written so extensively on the importance of liberal democracy and how ideological narratives shape identity, it's interesting that Görlach does exactly what both China and the KMT want him to do by excluding the most marginalized narrative in this story, giving prominence to the stories woven at odd, tangential angles to the truth by those in power who are trying to keep (or expand) their power. 

As always, when the victors and the defeated interpret their history, conflicts arise. Only in 1992 did both parties finally agree to accept the notion of "one China," although differences in its conception persist.

Again, more of China and the KMT's view, nothing about what the Taiwanese think. Also, he reifies the 1992 Consensus just as so many hack journalists do. The 1992 Consensus is a fabrication: if differences in what "one China" mean persist, then that's not a consensus! In any case, we already know the term was basically a post-hoc fabrication meant to perpetuate a notion of what is and is not 'China' in the face of changing Taiwanese views on their own culture and history. 

Even if the 1992 Consensus were a real thing - and it's not - the parties that would have agreed to it were not democratically elected. This arguably matters more on the Taiwan side: how can Görlach imply, as he does here, that something that is claimed to have happened in 1992, with the Taiwan side represented by unelected officials sent by a government that had not yet fully democratized, should be taken as the position of "Taiwan", a country whose liberal democracy he himself praises? 

What could the experiences of both the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany mean for the conflict between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan? First and foremost, it signals that both sides should continue their work on the consensus of 1992 to pave the way for a better future. Neither side should be forced to lose face in this process. 


Seriously, for a professor I'm astounded at how little homework Görlach has done on the so-called 1992 Consensus.

Also, again, what's up with claiming the KMT narrative of Taiwan ultimately being Chinese, and not paying any attention at all to the more globally marginalized narrative of the vast majority of Taiwanese who feel differently? How is a better future only possible if we take the KMT and Chinese narratives as the only ones that matter, and ignore what the Taiwanese actually think about their own damn country, and acquiesce to the idea that Taiwan is, in fact, a part of China?

Is it really so easy to throw away all those years of writing about narrative, political policy, ideology and liberal democracy and say that because the KMT wants to hold on to power, and China is super aggressive, that this whole other idea that Taiwan is not a part of China, and never really has been for any length of time that matters can just be ignored?

Is it so easy to discount the voices of the 20-million-plus people who have been saying emphatically for years that their ancestors may have come from China, but that they are Taiwanese?
Is it so easy to throw out the idea that a just world - and Görlach seems concerned with justice - would offer a solution that allows for both Taiwanese independence and peace, which most Taiwanese (and I would gather most Chinese) want?

Görlach talks about losing face (aww, we have a budding wannabe Confucius on our hands - adorable) - but the ultimate loss of face is Taiwan being told that it is Chinese, because some people in power decided to create an agreement from thin air that it was so. 

The People's Republic of China won the Civil War. It is in China's interest to interpret the outcome of the war in its own words. In this regard, the country is not acting exceptionally. That provides context, but does not excuse Beijing's behavior. The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping has not shown any intention of restoring the wisdom and harmony between the two unequal siblings. Should that happen in the future, the People's Republic of China will have achieved its goal of becoming a distinguished and responsible actor on the international stage. 

Let's leave aside that the Communists and Nationalists - one-party leaders of the PRC and ROC, respectively - were the ones engaged in this war, not any actual Taiwanese (the descendants of those ROC soldiers who came to Taiwan are Taiwanese, but the soldiers themselves mostly fought this war in China.) This is a Chinese war, not a Taiwanese one, but whatever.

I wanted to like this paragraph, because he's calling on Xi and the entire People's Republic of China to basically stop being such massive assholes, and that's great. But...the only way one can think of Taiwan and China as siblings is if you've already swallowed the notion that Taiwan and China are, in fact, siblings. And that means taking China's, and the KMT's, narratives about Taiwan at face value, never once questioning the perspectives pushed by those in power to try and define (and by defining, control) that which they wish to rule, and never even considering that another, more democratic, more ethically correct, more modern and liberal perspective - Mr. Esteemed Liberal European Professor Sir - even exists, let alone interrogating it.

Or even just asking the people who live that other perspective daily why they think the way they do. That would be enough, but he didn't even do that.

I'll do it for him - I talk to a lot of young Taiwanese. I often ask them about their views on history, or even just how things work in their country (it's actually something I have to do in my line of work).

While I've gotten a few young Taiwanese who do identify as Chinese, not even once, over talking to hundreds if not thousands of young Taiwanese adults, has anyone ever taken my question about their "country" to mean "China". It is always - every single time - taken to mean "Taiwan".

It has literally never happened. Truly, not once. And I doubt it ever will, regardless of what some unelected powerful dudes say they said in 1992.

So on what planet do you, Alexander Görlach, think that it would be natural, preferable or right for the Taiwanese - not the KMT, not that ROC government that came from China and whose status on Taiwan is, by international law, undetermined - but the Taiwanese, to think of themselves and their beautiful island as a part of China?
This is all the more disheartening because Görlach seems from his curriculum vitae and academic interests to be someone who ought to see through the smokescreens put up by people in power to try and keep that power: that is, he should be someone most qualified to look beyond what China says about Taiwan's 'Chinese' heritage, and see it for the attempt at a territorial annexation claim that it is. He should be able to look at the KMT's similar attempts to paint Taiwan as 'Chinese' as well, and see that for what it is too: an attempt by those in power to control the narrative for everyone else, and to keep marginalized voices firmly on the sidelines. He should know enough about critical Han studies to know that any attempt by those two sides to paint 23.5 million people whose minds they do not control and whose history they can no longer revise as 'Han', and therefore as ultimately members of a greater 'China' in which there is a 'mainland' and an 'island' (Taiwan), are simply attempts, again, at power trying to grab more power, and set the narrative for everyone else based on what benefits them.

But he doesn't. He sounds like just another Chinese shill, and that disappoints me. He could have done better, but didn't. He's one of the smart ones, but this op-ed is so painfully, out-of-tune dumb, it hurts the ears.

Görlach may be a great academic in his field, but it's painfully clear from reading this conflagration of bad ideas that he doesn't know the first thing about Taiwan, and cannot be said to be anything of an expert on Taiwanese affairs.

Oh, and don't look at the captions in the slideshow below. I don't even have the energy to deal with those.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Your periodic reminder that Forbes sucks just as hard as Reuters

Here I am again with yet another installment of "fuck this fucking nonsense", where I take some FUCKING NONSENSE and tell it to fuck off.

Here is today's fucking nonsense, courtesy of Forbes. For your consideration:

The title sets the scene for the whole thing, and it's a scene reminiscent of what happened that one time after I ate fish and chips two days in a row: 

China's Efforts To Increase Pressure On Old Foe Taiwan Are Backfiring


The Republic of China perhaps is, but "Taiwan" is not, and although Taiwan is (unfairly) governed by the (colonialist) Republic of China, anyone with any grasp of the nuances of the political realities of the region knows that there is a clear semantic difference between what we mean when we say "Taiwan" and what we mean when we say "the ROC". The ROC is a lost regime on life support that was foisted, uninvited, on the Taiwanese people. Taiwan is an island and a point of identification in terms of politics, culture, history and land. "Taiwan" (and the Taiwanese people) would like nothing more than to co-exist peacefully with China, enjoying warm relations and the benefits thereof, have its sovereignty respected and maybe not have a few thousand missiles pointed right up its ass THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Wanting to co-exist with your big fat jerk neighbor does not make you an "old foe". It makes them a bully and you a victim. Foes wish each other harm. Taiwan does not wish China harm (though China does wish Taiwan harm - so this whole fight is really quite one-sided, and the "foe" is not Taiwan).

And no, I don't know how to change the weird spacing on this part. 

China intentionally pulled back on group tourism to Taiwan last year by about 18%, resulting in a squeeze for those in the tour bus and hotel industry.

Okay first of all, this is the weirdest start to an article ever, it reads like something halfway through a paragaph? Whatever, it's got far worse problems than that.

No mention at all of why China pulled back on group tourism (to try to force Taiwan to make concessions relating to its sovereignty, i.e. to force them to accept the [fucking nonsense] 1992 consensus WHICH IS NOT A REAL THING). No mention of the general reaction to this in Taiwan which was positive, not negative. No mention that tourism overall has not suffered, really, as the drop in Chinese group tours was made up for - and then some, I think? - by tourists from other countries. No mention of the fact that these Chinese tour groups are not only not that profitable for Taiwanese businesses due to the low costs insisted upon by the China-based operators, but also that most of them aren't even really Taiwanese businesses at all, as many of the facilities in Taiwan are ultimately managed by tour operators from China, not Taiwan.

What does it say as well about China's tourism strategy in Taiwan that their cuts in group tours mainly affected tour companies in China, which have links to that same government? (Please tell me I don't have to answer that question for you).

Oh yeah, and tourism isn't a very big contributor to the Taiwanese economy. The effect, insofar as there was one at all, simply wasn't that big.

Basically, this is just hoisted from a skank tank of nonsense and plopped at your feet with none of the unpacking necessary to report the story accurately. Bad journalism, in effect.

Beijing probably thought the same about its easing off permits for students to study at Taiwan’s 152 tuition-thirsty universities. The number of non-degree students dropped from 34,114 last year to 32,648 now and some reports say enrollment in degree courses is about to fall. 

This is actually true as far as I'm aware, but the mention of it only glosses over - merely implies rather than explicitly reporting - that China is trying to force Taiwan to make policy in accordance with China's wishes rather than those of the people of Taiwan. Basically, to cede some amount of sovereignty, even in an abstract way.

These measures, combined with other more obvious pressure moves against Taiwan such as sending an aircraft carrier around the island, have hurt.

Who was hurt?

China has claimed Taiwan as part of its turf since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. It insists the two sides eventually reunify.

"Reunify"? The People's Republic has never owned Taiwan. You cannot "reunify" what was never unified to begin with. You cannot even "unify" when one side is not interested in unification. You can only annex.

Use the correct word. We won't stop making fun of you until you do. It is misleading and inaccurate.

It lost momentum toward that goal in May 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen took office as Taiwan president without agreeing to Beijing’s dialogue condition that both sides belong to a single entity known as China.

It is debatable whether it had that momentum to begin with, but let's not even get into the question of whether support for Ma Ying-jiu's "economic but not political ties/no independence, no unification" was a concrete step toward what China wants, or whether it was a large group of voters being intentionally misled by Ma's campaign promises toward a goal they had never actually agreed with.

That aside, no, what momentum that may have existed was lost in March 2014 when the country woke up to what a lying sack of turds Ma Ying-jiu and his cronies were.

This has been going on a lot longer than Tsai's inauguration. There is no investigation here of the true roots of post-2014 political discourse in Taiwan, not even a one-sentence summary of why, exactly, Tsai was elected in the first place and why, exactly, she could not give in on this 1992 Consensus nonsense. 

Formal talks went on hold.

IF YOU USE THE PASSIVE VOICE IT MEANS YOU ARE AVOIDING SAYING WHO PUT THE TALKS ON HOLD and maybe you think you can trick us into assuming Taiwan put them on hold, but YOU CAN'T because guess what, WE'RE NOT STUPID.

Who put the talks on hold, Ralphie? WHO?

Just say it.

For fuck's sake, say it. Say China's name. SAY IT.

And Beijing got mad.

So what?

And if it matters [it doesn't], why'd they get mad? Why can't you just say "they got mad that Taiwan, which is a fully self-ruled liberal democracy, didn't like its big fat jerk neighbor telling it what to do"? Or something more polite for your readers, whatever, but something? Why is it automatically a big problem when China "gets mad" (oooHHHHOooHHHhoohhhh) but not a problem when a democratic country's sovereignty is openly and repeatedly threatened?


As I've said before, China wants to be not only a global leader, but the preeminent global leader. China also doesn't care about the sovereignty of fully functioning nations, and cares little for human rights, international law, democracy or freedom of any kind.

How is this totally okay, and even something to be concerned about when they get mad, instead of being called out for what it actually is, which is fucking terrifying?
How is this okay to not even question?
China’s economic sanctions have rattled tour operators to the point of street protests in September.

This happened, sure, but you are not a very good journalist, let alone much of an investigative journalist if you don't ask yourself why, exactly, they were protesting when tourism has not dropped. What other motives could there be, considering that many tour operators are China-owned rather than Taiwan-owned and that many of the China-owned operators have ties to the Chinese government, and the services provided were often negotiated at such low rates that any Taiwanese businesses involved didn't make much money?

Considering all that, why, exactly, were they protesting again?

Even if we assume the protestors were sincere (which I do not - I think the motivations are far shadier than that), at some point, certain decisions that are good for the whole are going to have some effects on tiny slivers of industry or society that some people might not be happy about. So? The tour operators had a right to protest (sincere or not, and I think I've been clear that I don't think they were), but that doesn't mean it's a problem if the government doesn't necessarily make any changes.

I hate saying that, because I hate it when my side protests and nothing changes, but realistically, it's just got to be this way, even if sometimes that affects my side badly.

Officials in Beijing probably imagine that if Taiwanese feel a pinch as China withdraws tourists, students and other elements of its $11.2 trillion economy from Taiwan’s much smaller market...

Again, the tourist withdrawal didn't actually affect the Taiwanese economy much, if at all. There were enough tourists from elsewhere to make up the shortfall. I have my theories as to why that is not generally reported. The statement, as is, is not accurate. 

...the public will push Tsai to restart dialogue. Or voters will replace Tsai’s party with one that favors a stronger political relationship with China.

How can Tsai "restart dialogue" when Tsai wasn't the one who shut it down to begin with? Why not say "the public will push Tsai to give in to China's demands so that China will re-start dialogue"? That would be the accurate way of reporting this. Why be misleading when you could be accurate?

Oh, right...


Are you so afraid of saying "the public will push Tsai to concede to the 1992 Consensus to a degree acceptable to China, which would preclude any chance of Taiwanese de jure independence?" Because you know that's what that means.
Some people are pressuring their president, and non-government surveys show an erosion of public confidence in her leadership. “If [Tsai] cannot back up her stance one step or two steps, things will get even worse,” says Liu Yih-jiun, public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. “I think President Tsai is in deep trouble.

Fo Guang University? Okaaay.

Anyway, this implies that public confidence may be eroding because Tsai needs to be nicer to China. I would argue the opposite is true: that public confidence is eroding because she's not stepping up and making tough but important decisions as a leader. She comes across as wishy-washy, and that's the problem. Backing up even more (where would she back up to, even? What does this mean? Why is it taken at face value?) would make her appear even weaker. Why is Jennings reporting this douchelord's opinion as indicative of public opinion generally by putting his blather next to poll results when one is not necessarily the belief that drives the other?

And can I just say how ridiculous it is to constantly imply that Taiwan is the one that needs to cede more to China, when China is the aggressor, and Taiwan has a lot more to lose - and that no matter what Taiwan offers, China will always, always want more?

Why, again, is this not investigated, questioned, discussed, critiqued or even reported accurately?

And who, besides this, err, guy and some KMT blowhards who never really cared about Taiwan to begin with, is pressuring Tsai to be nicer to China?

Seriously - who cares what this Foguangshan guy thinks? I'm not even interested in remembering his name, that's how irrelevant his opinion is. Why include it, unless you want to inaccurately portray Taiwanese public opinion?

Still, there is some good to be found in this article, such as this paragraph which I cannot find fault with:

Still, Taiwan shows resiliency. Last year’s $528 billion GDP should grow at least 1.7% this year, the International Monetary Fund says. A rise of around 2% would be roughly consistent with growth over the past three years. The island’s all-important semiconductor industry is expected to grow 3.5% this year, the Taipei-based Marketing Intelligence & Consulting Institute forecasts, and its PC sector is expanding because of contract orders. As travelers from China hang back, arrivals from Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand went up about 29% over the half year ending in March. University enrollment from around the world went up 4.6% from October through March as numbers from China tapered.

But then it's bookended with this:

Taiwan’s next telltale elections – a slew of local ones – are set for 2018. It’s hard to know now whether voters will show discontent then toward their president. 

Seems okay, but you'll note that above, Jennings implied heavily that that discontent was driven by a desire for Tsai to soften on China, when that is not necessarily the case (and I'd argue the opposite could well be true: a lot of her supporters, or at least people who voted for her, are unhappy because she is not taking a stronger stand on China). Such an implication, then, is inaccurate and misleading. 

I'll leave you with this:

“What seems unarguable is that blame for whatever pain people in Taiwan feel as a result of all of these roadblocks imposed by Beijing is importantly being directed toward the mainland,” says Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia program at U.S. think tank The Stimson Center.

Here is the problem. I don't know if the journalists did it to the think-tankers or the think-tankers did it to the journalists or we all got butt-reamed by pro-China views in academia and government that trickled down like slime down a neglected gutter, but senior people, respected experts, people whose opinions shape policy and, to some extent, reporting, still refer to China as "the mainland", rather than by its actual name: China. 

As long as we continue to act as though China is some sort of "mainland" to Taiwan, which implicitly links the two through language choices meant to imply a connection where there isn't one, we cede ground to China.

If experts are still calling it "the mainland", we're already losing ground, and people who don't know better (like, say, the writer of this article) will get pulled under and report inaccurately. Readers will be misinformed, and China will gain another inch.

I don't really care about Alan Whoozits, director of the East Asia blah blah blah, because he doesn't appear to be very good at his job. But when we let this go unquestioned, this is what we are allowing to happen. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five Reasons Why Ralph Jennings Is The Absolute Worst Journalist

1.) Five Great Things About Taiwan's Business Practices
It's easier to get face-to-face personal service.

It's one way, especially if you're talking to smaller businesses, to get out and meet people in the community as well as not hide behind electronic devices. Also, dealing with a representative face-to-face builds a human connection that a phone call cannot, which will mean a stronger customer-business relationship and may even be a good way to network in some cases. Even for those who don't like it, remember that Taiwan has a lot of phone scams, so there is a reason why people prefer to deal with things in person. To some extent, it is a cultural thing. In any case, Taiwan's customer service is influenced by Japanese culture in some ways, and most of the time I can expect - and do receive - a similar level of service.

A vibrant street life means senior citizens have more chances to get out of the house and socialize

One of the best ways to make local connections is to get to know your neighbors. What better way to do that than to patronize local shops and get to know Uncle and Auntie Lin or Grandma and Grandpa Chen, who can usually be found chatting with customers and generally enjoying their advanced years with family and community around them. It really lends a local, almost village-like air to cities that could be unfriendly and antiseptic, but thanks to this and other cultural practices, aren't. Usually they are friendly and if Grandma likes you, you can expect good treatment, great service and sometimes even special discounts or other favors. My local dollar store gave me watermelon once, just because they were eating it! Don't worry, they only stare at you if you're giving off bad vibes. In that case, it's probably you.

Proprietors have interesting personalities

You're definitely not going to meet too many cookie-cutter bosses or franchise-owner types in Taipei's cafe and small business scene. Everyone's got their own unique thing going on, and they're going to be themselves rather than make every hipster cafe seem the same. Strike up a chat - you'll probably learn something or at least have your stereotyping preconceptions challenged! Or, don't do that, be dismissive, and wonder why everybody thinks your angry listicle ranting about Taiwan is a load of ignorant crap worthy of maybe a first-year backpacker English teacher, which makes you come across as a mediocre journalist.

Service people know they aren't your butt-suckers

Like, try to solve your own problem first. If you can't, call customer service, sure. If they ask you to try something, maybe it's because they have a lot of experience dealing with customers like you (though usually the customers are less angry and ranty) and they know what the problem likely is. So check it out, and if your situation is different, they'll try to help you another way.

Public buses rarely skip stops, and I do appreciate when they drop you off closer to, rather than farther from, major intersections.

Seriously I don't even know what to say about this. Why not move to a Western country and take buses there...oh wait, the public bus systems in most Western countries is a joke, unlike Taipei. My bad, I assumed the West was always better than Taiwan like the author of this fistful of garbage article.

2.) Five things wrong with this stupid article in just the first three paragraphs

- Tsai isn't "proposing a change in Beijing's conditions", she's made it clear that she does not intend to meet them because they are unreasonable

- "Mutual trust" - no, Taiwan has never had a reason to trust China. For good reason - China has always been clear that it can't be trusted as it's ultimate goal is at odds with Taiwan's ultimate goal. Also, Ma Ying-jiu didn't build up that "trust", China decided to talk to him because he gave proverbial handjobs to every high-ranking CCP power-broker who asked. Trust is built by two sides working together, not one side deciding "I'll only talk to you if you elect the leader I want".

- Tsai (and, implied, only Tsai) doesn't dispute "both sides are one China" as being at odds with Taiwan's desire to continue self-rule. EVERYONE says these are at odds, BECAUSE THEY FUCKING ARE.

- "The most urgent business" was not taken care of by Ma Ying-jiu because every "improvement" he introduced into cross-strait ties was a loser for Taiwan (though the direct flights are nice I suppose).

- That's four, but why the hell am I reading this nutsack? I am not obligated to swallow this trash, so I won't.

3.) Two reasons why I personally dislike Ralph Jennings and one impersonal reason just for fun

- The article isn't available online anymore, but he once asked me for a quote about Ding Tai Fung and I said something like "it's good, the quality is there, but they charge too much for what it is because tourists and businesspeople will pay it", and he butchered it to something like "it's expensive because it's good and the quality is there, which is why people will pay". Nope, not what I said at all.

- In that article, he quoted me as a "food blogger"? Other than being a bit pudgy because I do, in fact, really like food (#sorrynotsorry #eatme), do I look like a food blogger to you?

- Seriously, he writes like Backpacker Q. McEnglishteacher in Taiwan for his first year, before he's really gotten to know how things work. This makes for journalistic mediocrity and makes his writing just personally irritating and often straight-up wrong. Why Forbes (or anyone) publishes this sludge is beyond me. This bothers me more than it should because a.) he publishes a lot about Taiwan, and Taiwan deserves better than this joke person and b.) I've heard him offer good insights on ICRT. He's capable of being better than he is, but instead of maybe getting a B+ (because let's face it, bro-ham ain't gettin' no A) he's the class clown in the back of the room lobbing spitballs.

4.) Three advantages the Empire has over the Rebellion

1. You rarely see rebels write anything or read anything. You don't see the empire doing it either, but they couldn't have built that big empire without a robust written language and high literacy rates, could they? So they must be better.

2. Imperial culture - from their black capes and cowls to the height of classical music (they don't call it the Rebellion March), the Empire has hewed closer to traditional galactic culture than the rebellion, which lets all sorts of impudent, inferior alien races live comfortably. Sone even get permanent rebellion status, which the empire generally, and wisely, does not allow. This plus their "modern thinking" about freedom dilutes history!

3. Stormtroopers are effective and efficient law enforcement professionals.

I wanted to stop it there but I just have to add a comment on the whole "China has more Chinese culture than Taiwan".

5.) Like five hundred stupid articles Ralph Jennings has written

Oh fuck it, I can't even be arsed to search for them, let alone read them again to reconfirm that they are all steaming turds. Find them yourself, I don't care, I'm out.

Go home Ralph. You're drunk.

No, seriously, go home.