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China: Twittering Taiwan's presidential election

Venture capitalist and IT guru Isaac Mao tried something very interesting this week the day before the presidential debate in Taiwan, first posing six open questions [zh] via Twitter to any Taiwanese readers, then using Twitter-specific search engines to see who twitted back.

In his March 8 post, Mao writes:

台湾的新一届总统大选在即,这是近年来个人关心最多、最靠近的一次。除了因为了解和接触诸多台湾的部落格、产业界以及乡土朋友给我更多的兴趣去深入了解台湾社会,还更因为私下认为此次选举应当是台湾民主进程中一个新的经验重整机会,必定对中国的未来有很好的参考作用。

The upcoming Taiwan presidential election is the one in recent years to which I've paid the most attention, and the one to which I've been closest. Aside from the many Taiwanese bloggers I know of and have met, industry and native friends there have piqued my interest in learning more about Taiwanese society, particularly with the private view that this election ought to be a new opportunity to see reshuffling in Taiwan's democratic process, and is bound to serve as a great reference for China in the future.

作为没有宏观政治愿望的人,我当然是想从最平常百姓的角度去看这样的大选。所以如果能够请求台湾的朋友们给我启蒙一些民主观念,我觉得比中国人只能空谈要真实的多。当然,两类空谈(一个是民主社会主义,还有一夜民主),还是有本质的区别。有时候听听两边的Blogger们是如何的在不同时空进行思考,真想问问大家的思想在哪一个时代。曾经在大约五年前还有闲去看一些论坛上大陆、台湾两地网民的那些争吵辱骂。后来就根本无兴趣看那些匿名的重复性信息垃圾。而之后在两岸同步蓬勃兴起 Blog空间,就更多见的是对话和了解,这显然是不同的思维态度。于是,我罗列了大约20个问题,想借助纯粹的草根媒体空间来获得那种茶馆闲聊出来的认知,而不是主流媒体上轰炸致死的宣传言论。至于是否主观,根本不重要,倾听然后自我判断才是最重要的。那些所谓的义正言辞的立场,都是不动脑筋的泛我思维。就未来而言,说“我”比“我们”更重要。

As someone with no overall political aspirations, naturally I would want to watch this general election from the perspective of an average citizen. So if I were able to ask some Taiwanese friends to enlighten me with some thoughts on democracy, I think these would be a lot more real than empty talk from Chinese people. Of course, there are intrinsic differences between the two kinds of empty talk (one being democratic socialism and the other overnight democracy). Sometimes as I listen to bloggers from each side engaging in thought at different space-times, I really do want to ask everyone from just which era it is that their ideas come. Around five years back, I'd go from time to time to check out the disputes and abuse on BBSes from both mainland and Taiwan netizens. Later, I lost all interest in seeing this anonymous and repetitive information rubbish. Later still, blogs began popping up at the same time on both sides of the strait, and what you saw was more conversation and understanding, and most obvious were the different ways of thinking. So then, I came up with about 20 questions, thinking I could rely purely on grassroots media space to get the kind of cognizance that comes out in a teahouse chat, and not the kind of lethal bomb propaganda found in mainstream media. As for this being objectivity or not, it doesn't matter in the least; listening and making your own judgments is what's most important. Stances of so-called righteous rhetoric are all just mindless sort of pan-egoism. In terms of the future, “I” will be far more important than “we”.

所以我请求来自台湾的Blogger们来谈谈这些问题,为了简化,问题已经压缩到六个,这样交流面更宽一点,不必一定伸张自己的颜色立场,也不至于只和自己熟悉的部落客进行引导问答。所以有必要让这个“闲话”延伸到更多的空间(例如,Twitter)。而为了更好地整理,把这六个问题附加了六个标签(例如,[TWQ1] 。任何人希望回答这六个问题中的任何一个,都可以用对应的标签来简要说明。也许最后可以形成一连串有意思的社会对话流,让我们更了解台湾的民主形式,以及背后的诸多文化线索。如果你觉得这些压缩后的问题也有空泛之处,请理解本意在普及我等基础知识,不要再吹毛求疵了。

This is why I asked bloggers from Taiwan to discuss these questions. To keep it simple, the questions have been compressed down to just six; this way, discussion can be broader, and no one feels forced to assert their political affiliation or stance, or ends up directing questions to bloggers with whom they're already familiar. Thus the necessity to extend this “gossip” to as many spaces as possible (Twitter, for example). And for optimal sorting, six markers have been attached to these six questions ([TWQ1], for example). Anyone who wishes to answer any of these six questions can use the corresponding tag as a brief descriptor. Eventually this might give shape to a series of meaningful social exchanges, allowing us to further understand Taiwan's form of democracy, as well as the many background cultural cues. If you feel these post-compression questions have any vague spots, please understand that the intent is to increase my knowledge base, so don't have a hairy.

好,给台湾Blogger的六个问题是:

[TWQ1]. 在中国大陆,很多人不假思索地认为自己应当支持国民党,你觉得其中的原因是什么?
[TWQ2]. 除了国家认同的考虑,你是否认为中国大陆和台湾之间有哪些符合现实的合作前景
[TWQ3]. 在选择你理想的执政领导时,你如何全面考虑自己的决定?
[TWQ4]. 哪些人或者事件对你认识台湾的民主有过切身的触动?
[TWQ5]. 你觉得台湾的选举和美国的选举的不同在哪里?
[TWQ6]. 从你个人的思想经历,如何为中国的民主提供一些基本的建议?

Right, so my six questions for Taiwan bloggers are:

[TWQ1]: In mainland China, many people wouldn't hesitate to say they ought to support the Kuomintang; what do you think the reasons for this are?
[TWQ2]: Consideration of national identity aside, do you feel there to exist any prospects for cooperation between mainland China and Taiwan?
[TWQ3]: In choosing your ideal governing leadership, how do you go about making your decision?
[TWQ4]: Which individuals or incidents have had a personal hand in your understanding of Taiwan's democracy?
[TWQ5]: What do you feel are the differences between elections in Taiwan and elections in the United States?
[TWQ6]: From your personal experience, what basic suggestions would you make for democracy in China?

As responses trickled in [zh] over the following few days, Mao was able to keep track using the [TWQ] tag and services like Terraminds and TweetScan; here are the responses to [TWQ5]:

Kenworker的赐答:

[TWQ5] 單純從選制來看,美國比較複雜,台灣地狹人稠,可實現完全一人一票的直選。認真說起來是「真民主」,但弔詭的也是,這樣的民主是否真能反應正確民意,或需要更多制度的設計。

Kenworker:
Looking simply at electoral systems, America's is rather complicated. Taiwan is small and densely populated, so ‘one person, one vote’ direct elections can be fully carried out. In all seriousness, this is “true democracy”, but it's also a paradox: can this kind of democracy truly reflect the will of the people? Or does the system need further design?

BestGuy的赐答:

[TWQ5]對美國的選制了解不深,但是台灣直接訴諸每一人民的選舉方式,會讓“嘩眾取寵“、“扒糞抹黑“的惡質選舉手法有可趁之機,因此學習期較長,需要整個社會一起進步,才能真正實踐民主真正的力量。

BestGuy:
My understanding of the American electoral system doesn't go that deep, but Taiwan's election style of directly appealing to every citizen leaves the door open for malicious election ploys like playing to the peanut gallery or dirt digging and mud throwing. This is why the learning period is so long; all of society needs to move forward together in order for the true power of democracy to truly be put into practice.

史莱姆的赐答:

[TWQ5].台灣的候選人議題比較混雜,左右翼的觀點可能同時出現在同一個陣營裡面。

Slime:
The topic of Taiwan's candidates is rather messed up. Both left and right wing views can appear simultaneously within the same camp.

PipperL的赐答:

[TWQ5] 我對美國的選舉不熟。 :p 不過應該沒有像台灣的選舉這麼流於意識型態,以對手為焦點(而不是以自己的政見為焦點),媒體應該也不會過度注重於誰拍誰的背。

PipperL:
I'm not familiar with American elections. :p Though I imagine they don't flow along ideological lines like Taiwan's elections do, with the focus on the opponent (and not your own political views). The media probably doesn't pay excess attention to who's patting whose back either.

Annpo的赐答:

[TWQ5]明顯的是美國從黨內初選開始便有清楚政策辯論,選民也有清楚的政策方向上的認識。領導人風格清楚。但台灣派出的候選人常是「明星」,背後有個路線不清楚還在辯論的黨,因此選民流於民粹,單純地認定自己在情感或各種抽象因素上應該選誰。而不思量國家政策。

Annpo:
What's obvious is that in America, starting with the in-party primaries, there are clear debates over policy, and voters have a clear understanding of policy direction. The leaders have a clear manner. But the candidates Taiwan puts out are often “stars”, and behind them is a party still debating with no clear political course. That's why voters go with the populist flow, choosing who they think they should vote for based simply on emotion or other abstract factors. And not in consideration of public policy.

Ilya 的赐答:

[TWQ5] 台灣仍有許多歷史包袱尚未釐清、制度未建立。仍有許多意識形態空間讓政客便宜行事。比較原始。

Ilya:
Taiwan has many historical burdens which still haven't been made clear, and systems which haven't yet been established. There are still many ideological areas which leave politicians acting with discretion. It's quite primitive.

小王子 (akiraken)的赐答:

[TWQ5]美國為地廣人稠,跟台灣的地狹人稀不一樣,所以選舉制度上本來就應該不同,美國的過程較為繁瑣,台灣較為單純,但就因為單純,也更能直接的表達人民的意識及意願。

Akiraken:
America is vast with sparse population, different from Taiwan with small area and dense population, and that's why their electoral systems are bound to be different. The American process is quite particular, and Taiwan's simple. But because of its simplicity, the people's ideas and wishes can be directly expressed.

Kerim的赐答:

RE: TWQ5, This has been excellently discussed by Turton: http://tinyurl.com/yvoszh My take: TW nat'l elect. are like US state elect's

Kerim:
RE: TWQ5, This has been excellently discussed by Turton: http://tinyurl.com/yvoszh My take: TW nat'l elect. are like US state elect's

MarkPlace的赐答:

[TWQ5]光以選舉人票與人民直選的方式來看應該就很不一樣。另外,2000 與 2004 年因為連戰的輸不甘心讓台灣亂八年,而美國總統過去兩次選舉輸的一方竟然很有風度的認輸,這也很不一樣。

MarkPlace:
There's quite a difference between looking to an electoral vote and a people's direct election. Furthermore, Lien Chan's refusal to accept defeat in 2000 or 2004 put Taiwan into chaos for eight years, yet the losers in both the past two American presidential elections actually admitted defeat with style.

Tenz 的赐答: (他的更多回答在自己的Blog上)

[TWQ5] 抱歉,我對美國的選舉制度不熟悉,無法回答。

Tenz:
Sorry, I'm not familiar with the American electoral system, unable to respond.

ancorena 的赐答:

[TWQ5] 美國選舉不僅指出願景、並且就特定政策內涵進行公開辯論(但並不平常)。一般而言台灣與美國選舉策略大致同步,但在議題設定以及深入探索等等行為上興趣極低。

ancorena:
American elections don't just point out vision, but also see the holding of open debates on the meaning of specific policy (although not as a rule). Generally speaking, election strategy in Taiwan is more or less in sync with that in the US, but in terms of setting topics or exploring things in depth, interest is extremely low.

Alice425 的赐答:

[TWQ5].美選制從黨內初選就開始有辯論,辯論會讓未來候選人的執政方針越來越清晰;台選制訴求全民直選,但是從有選舉開始,賄選永遠都是個說不清楚也看不清楚的黑盒子。

Alice425:
Debates begin in the American electoral system with the inner-party primaries, and it's the debates which bring future candidates’ governing policy more into the open; the Taiwan electoral system demands that all citizens vote in the direct election, but ever since we began having elections, vote-buying has always been this inexplicable and indefinite black box.

Also in Taiwan this week, popular blogger Vista has been behind a Twitter-based campaign [zh] to rally support in hopes of seeing his favorite baseball team take part in this year's Olympic Games; so far only a number of his Twitterfriends have “put on the uniform”:

ctbaseball.jpg

3/14 update: Taiwan blogger Portnoy shares a link on Twitter showing the different styles of ‘uniform’ participants have been making for themselves.

3 comments

  • john doe

    TWQ1]. 在中国大陆,很多人不假思索地认为自己应当支持国民党,你觉得其中的原因是什么?

    中国大陆人认为国民党与中国文化有更深的渊源,也更倾向于反对台独和支持统一。

    [TWQ2]. 除了国家认同的考虑,你是否认为中国大陆和台湾之间有哪些符合现实的合作前景

    经济贸易合作,观光和文化交流。

    [TWQ3]. 在选择你理想的执政领导时,你如何全面考虑自己的决定?

    政见,政治派别,个人风格。

    [TWQ4]. 哪些人或者事件对你认识台湾的民主有过切身的触动?

    陈水扁,李登辉

    [TWQ5]. 你觉得台湾的选举和美国的选举的不同在哪里?

    对政见讨论不够深入,公开电视辩论太少。

    [TWQ6]. 从你个人的思想经历,如何为中国的民主提供一些基本的建议?

    下有民众个人权利意识的觉醒,中有知识阶层和开放媒体的言论支持和对权利的监督,上有开明政治人物的变革决心和宽容态度。开放言论自由和党禁是构建民主的前提和基础。中国上中下三个条件都还不具备,民主的道路路漫漫兮

  • guyfan

    每次看到大陸同胞羨慕的看台灣民主選舉, 都很感慨, 不知道中國要等到什麼時候,才會出現一個願意放棄共產黨既得權貴利益的領導人。 在那一天到來之前, 中國是統一不了台灣的。

  • Teo

    Sir, In a democracy govnment system majority rule.

    How does your Taiwanese demo system work in your Parliament sitting if Hsieh should have won the presidential election. Surely he does not have majority vote on his side. Hsieh can do very little when he trys to move or put forward a resolution or a bill.

    Kindly email me your constition; or just explain how it works in your parliament sitting. Many Malaysian do not understand. although we follow your 2100 program in Astro. Hope to hear from you real real soon please.

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