The first of three televised debates in Taiwan's upcoming presidential election was held this weekend, and watched closely by mainland Chinese microbloggers.
Ma Ying-jeou still leads the Kuomintang (KMT), but the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), now rid of Chen Shui-bian, looks ready to make a comeback headed by Taiwan's first female presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen.
A third candidate, James Soong, has registered as a candidate but says he'll only follow through if he can get a million signatures.
People were able to watch the debate live through various browser-based streaming TV feeds, and clips of it have have been posted to all the major video websites, but the discussion has centered around Sina Weibo. Many viewers expecting something as lively as a US Republic Party primary debate wound up disappointed, and a lot of ‘livetweet’ online discussion sought to point out what many accept as obvious:
Carrying on with Sina Weibo's legacy of turning lies into ‘fact’, discussion there leading up to the debate even prompted Weibo Piyao, the microblogging platform's official rumor-quashing account to write:
From Wikipedia, ‘Republic of China presidential election, 2012′ (12/04/2011):
One big election topic appears to be the 1992 consensus, a term describing the outcome of a meeting in 1992 between the semi-official representatives of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. The KMT is putting this consensus forward, which aims to be more democratic and to be ratified by the legislature and a referendum for ROC citizens. Under the DPP's new consensus, this should be the basis for negotiations with the PRC.
According to some news junkies, however, in comparison to Taiwan's 2008 presidential election, more Chinese netizen attention was focused during this debate on issues other than just the future of cross-Strait relations. Phoenix blogger Zheng Dongyang covered the whole range of issues, domestic policies included, in his lengthy post about the things which interested him in this debate. With regard to the debate over
reunification vs. independence, however, Zheng writes:
What I feel with this televised debate, though, is that if the lasting impression the blue and green camps have given the Taiwanese public is their division over the issue of
Correction: “统一” in English is “unification,” not “reunification” (回歸). Taiwan has never been part of the PRC, so please don’t use the “re-” word unless it’s a direct quote.
Thanks for pointing out the mistake, corrections made.
Thanks for at least striking through the “re-” part. It’s an important distinction that is often missed.
Zheng’s post is interesting because it shows that Chinese observers really are gaining sophistication about Taiwanese politics although the conclusions are still often wishful thinking. The more rational nature of the campaign probably has more to do with Tsai’s character than any fundamental shift in how the DPP conducts its politics.
Ma’s Taiwanese (Minnan) is not getting any noticeably better and his trips to the south aren’t doing much. The Zhuoshui river remains a dividing line between green and blue and if anything the line is moving north. The absence of debate on independence is not a sign of the ‘historical burden’ being put down. It’s simply a consensus that Taiwan has no common future with China.