The Name Game: From ROC to ROT?
April 23, 2006
According to an April 22, 2006 Central News Agency (CNA) news report entitled “ROC, PRC titles should be abolished, says legislator”:
NAME GAME: A DPP legislator said that a gaffe made in Washington was caused by the similarity between Taiwan’s and China’s official names. A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday that both Taiwan and China should change their national designations to avoid confusion. Speaking during a meeting at the Legislative Yuan on affairs of state, DPP Legislator Chen Chung-hsin said that when US President George W. Bush met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the lawn outside the White House for an official meeting on Thursday, the People’s Republic of China was incorrectly referred to by the announcer as the Republic of China prior to the playing of the national anthems. Chen attributed the fiasco to the fact that Taiwan’s official title of the “Republic of China” was too similar to China’s. Chen suggested that both countries discard their confusing national designations altogether and simply call themselves China and Taiwan. Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lo Chih-ming said the mistake by the announcer at the White House reflected the fact that it was imperative and justifiable for Taiwan to change its official name.
Taiwan independence Quislings are, as usual, exactly wrong. How so? Let’s subject their disingenuous Taiwan independence spin control to systematic Reality Checks, one point at a time.
Taiwan Independence Spin Control: A DPP legislator said that a gaffe made in Washington was caused by the similarity between Taiwan’s [sic] and China’s official names. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday that both Taiwan and [mainland] China should change their national designations to avoid confusion.
Reality Check: The DPP is exactly wrong. Taiwan’s official name, according to the Republic of China Constitution that is the basic law on Taiwan, is “Province of Taiwan.” The DPP is attempting through disingenuous semantic sleight of hand to elevate the Chinese province of Taiwan to the status of a nation. Sorry, but that won’t wash. Taipei, Taiwan is the capital of a political entity known as the Republic of China, but the Republic of China is not “Taiwan.” The government of the Republic of China is located on the Chinese island of Taiwan, but the nation known as the Republic of China does not equal Taiwan and cannot be reduced to Taiwan, or even “tai peng jin ma” (Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen, Matzu). Taiwan is at most a geographical term, or the name of an adminstrative region of China.
In order to better grasp the situation, try this “thought experiment.” Suppose that during the Cold War, a civil war broke out between Australian capitalists and Australian Communists. Suppose the Australian Communists were victorious and seized control of the Australian mainland, and set up an Australian Communist government in the Australian capital of Canberra. Suppose the Australian capitalists meanwhile, retreated to the Australian island of Tasmania, and set up a rival Australian capitalist government in Hobart.
Under such circumstances, would anyone who understood the situation mindlessly refer to the Australian capitalist government on Tasmania as “the Tasmanian government?” Of course not. Both governments are Australian governments, i.e., governments of Australia. The government on Tasmania would not be “the government of Tasmania.” It would be the “government of Australia located on Tasmania.”
Well, guess what? The same is true of the government on Taiwan. It is not “the Taiwan government.” It is not the government of Taiwan. It is the “government of China located on Taiwan.”
Taiwan Independence Spin Control: Speaking during a meeting at the Legislative Yuan on affairs of state, DPP Legislator Chen Chung-hsin said that when US President George W. Bush met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the lawn outside the White House for an official meeting on Thursday, the People’s Republic of China was incorrectly referred to by the announcer as the Republic of China prior to the playing of the national anthems. Chen attributed the fiasco to the fact that Taiwan’s [sic] official title of the “Republic of China” was too similar to China’s.
Reality Check: Again, the DPP is exactly wrong. The “Republic of China” is not “Taiwan’s official title.” The “Republic of China” is China’s official title. Just as the “Commonwealth of Australia” is Australia’s official title, and not “Tasmania’s official title.” The “Republic of China” is the title of one of two rival political authorities, both claiming to be the legitimate government of all of China. It is emphatically not “the official title of Taiwan.” Taiwan’s official title is as Google correctly noted, “Province of Taiwan.”
As far as the DPP’s complaint about the “Republic of China” being “too similar” to the “People’s Republic of China” used by the rival political authority in Beijing is concerned, that ironically, is exactly as it should be. Since both political authorities are rival Chinese political authorities, their official titles ought to be similar. In fact, they ought to be identical. That would reflect even more clearly the fact that both poltiical authorities are Chinese political authorities, and that there is no “Taiwanese” political authority, period. The only “Taiwanese government” that has ever existed is the currently frozen Taiwan Provincial Government.
In fact, it is said that Mao Zedong later regretted his decision in 1949 to change the official title of China from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Some of his advisors allegedly warned him that changing the national title from ROC to the PRC would merely serve to diminish the perception that the CCP had succeeded the KMT as the sole.legitimate ruler of all of China.
Taiwan independence Quislings, who are advocates of democracy, the political system Thomas Jefferson denounced as “nothing more than mob rule,” are in the habit of mocking Pan Blue allegiance to constitutional republicanism, the political system America’s Founding Fathers favored. Specifically, Taiwan independence Quislings are in the habit of mocking the Pan Blue camp’s “strict constuctionist” position that “The Republic of China is China, and includes the Chinese mainland.” KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou correctly reaffirmed this Pan Blue point of constitutional law during his recent debate with “president” Chen Shui-bian, only to be greeted with howls of derision from Taiwan independence Quislings. Ma is too much of a gentleman to lash out at these traitors to the Chinese nation the way they deserve, so I will do it for him.
For starters, this Taiwan independence Quisling tactic is sophomoric “argument from intimidation,” and as such amounts to an indirect confession that one’s own case is indefensible. As Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation, and a regular contributor to MSNBC once noted: “A good rule of thumb in political debate is that you can judge the seriousness of an adversary’s argument by the seriousness with which he treats yours. If he takes you seriously, it means he’s pretty certain he’s got you beat on the merits. But if he resorts to hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm, then he clearly fears an honest debate.”
In the ongoing political debate between Pan Green advocates of Taiwan independence and Pan Blue defenders of Chinese national unity, Pan Green propagandists seldom if ever treat Pan Blue arguments with any seriousness. As Eric Alterman correctly noted, that merely means the Pan Greens know the Pan Blues have them beat on the merits, and they clearly fear an honest debate.
When Pan Blue defenders of Chinese national unity insist that the Chinese mainland is part of the Republic of China, Taiwan independence Quislings invariably resort to hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm, dismissing the “strict constructionist” Pan Blue position as “Ah Q,” or even “delusional.” But just exactly which political camp’s position is “Ah Q and delusional?” Is it the Pan Blues’, the Pan Greens’? Have Pan Greens already forgotten what their Furhrer Chen Shui-bian blurted out in a moment of rare honesty? He said “Taiwan independence is self-delusion and delusion of others. Taiwan independence is a myth.” That was one of the rare occasions on which a Pan Green leader actually spoke the truth.
Pan Greens argue that because the Chinese Communist authorities on the mainland are vastly more powerful militarily than the Chinese capitalist authorities on Taiwan, any Pan Blue claims that the Chinese mainland is part of the Republic of China are obviously “Ah Q and delusional.” The Pan Greens typically resort to mocking Chiang Kai-shek era vows to “fan gong da lu” (retake the mainland).
Alas, this Pan Green argument proves too much. If, as the Pan Greens insist, the Chinese authorities on the mainland are vastly more powerful militarily than the Chinese authorities on Taiwan, then it is Pan Greens and not Pan Blues who are “Ah Q and delusional.” After all, the vastly more powerful Chinese authorities on the mainland are absolutely unwilling to tolerate Pan Green claims that “Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation which does not include the Chinese mainland,” whereas they are willing to tolerate Pan Blue claims that “The ROC government is the legitimate ruler of all of China.”
Besides, this Pan Green argument completely misses the point, and confuses form with substance. From the Pan Blue perspective, the KMT has already “retaken the mainland.” The KMT has effectively retaken the mainland by winning the ideological war between Communism and capitalism, by making the Chinese Communist Party see the error of its ways and adopt the free market economic policies of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo. The Pan Blues don’t need to defeat the Chinese Communists militarily in order to win the Chinese Civil War. The Pan Blues have effectively retaken the mainland by converting the Chinese Communists into Chinese capitalists. That is not an “Ah Q” rationalization. That is an inspiring historical fact.
Taiwan independence Quislings hate the Chinese Communists not because they are Communists. After all, Lee Teng-hui was once a Communist. Taiwan independence Quislings hate the Chinese Communists because they are Chinese. The Pan Blues, on the other hand, have never hated Chinese Communists for being Chinese, only for being Communists. Now that the Chinese Communists are Communists in name only, Pan Blue patriots have no reason on earth to hate them. Mainland China’s “capitalists in red clothing” are not the Pan Blue patriots’ enemies, they are the Pan Blue patriots’ fellow countrymen. In fact they are the Pan Blue patriots’ comrades in arms against the real enemy, the Pan Green Taiwan independence Quislings on Taiwan.
Taiwan Independence Spin Control: Chen suggested that both countries [sic] discard their confusing national designations altogether and simply call themselves China and Taiwan. Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lo Chih-ming said the mistake by the announcer at the White House reflected the fact that it was imperative and justifiable for Taiwan to change its official name.
Reality Check: Taiwan independence Quislings would like nothing better than to take advantage of the Cold War standoff between the CCP and KMT to conveniently replace the Republic of China with a “Republic of Taiwan.” Dream on. Talk about expecting a free lunch. Unfortunately for the Taiwan independence Quislings, it doesn’t work that way. If Taiwan independence Quislings are serious about wanting a sovereign and independent ROT, they are going to have to fight a war of independence for a sovereign and independence ROT. Taiwan independence Quislings are not only going to have to politically defeat the Pan Blues on Taiwan, but also militarily defeat the Reds on the Chinese mainland. And as they themselves have so smugly reminded the Pan Blues, the Chinese Communist authorities on the mainland are vastly more powerful.