Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
Unfortunately, it is that in international media, we will soon be seeing the very real effects of the Xi-Ma meeting. Namely, the world may be sucked into the narrative of peaceful reconciliation on the basis of Xi and Ma’s statements during the meeting. In the meeting, both leaders stressed the need for peaceful and cooperative exchanges, to move beyond past conflict and bloodshed.
Again, it is that most of the world does not understand very much about the situation of Taiwan and China. Thus, given that Xi and Ma largely spoke in platitudes and cliches, much of the world will not get much out of the Xi-Ma meeting, and will be suckered by surface-level rhetoric about peace and reconciliation. For somebody who knows nothing about the relation of Taiwan and China, what could be wrong with peace and reconciliation? Who would oppose that?
And it may be that the massive media spectacle of the meeting was deliberately aimed at imparting the world with this perception. Moreover, it requires close reading to dig out the political meaning underlying Xi and Ma’s statements, where there were in fact significant statements made. Indeed, much of what Xi and Ma said was highly coded, not only politically, but culturally. The finer details may be lost in translation, for example, in regards to the shared “cultural” sense China referred to by both Xi and Ma, beyond the sense of Republic of China or People’s Republic of China.
Nevertheless, perhaps it was that all this was a organized, highly choreographed performance from the beginning. Ma and Xi do not meet to communicate or even make joint decisions, they can do that any time they want through hidden channels. Meeting publicly is deliberately an act aimed at drawing attention and so each and every word and phrase would be part of this elaborate choreography. And if the performance may draw more critical remarks from Taiwanese, it may have succeeded much moreso in terms of the face it wanted to present to the international world.
Because if Xi and Ma put forward a phony vision of peace and reconciliation in order to facilitate moves aimed at draining away Taiwan’s de facto sovereignty, anyone who opposes this version of “peace” and “reconciliation” will be deemed to be dangerous troublemakers intent on stirring up war. The specter of the Chen Shui-Bian administration will be conjured up in this, in the way that Chen Shui-Bian was viewed as a dangerous warmonger acting on ideological fanaticism to Taiwanese independence ideology by much of the world.
It seems this was probably Ma Ying-Jeou’s plan to counter-act the past year’s worth of protests. Keeping in mind the frequent mediocrity of international media in reporting on what happens in Taiwan, it may be that Taiwanese activists will need to be careful in articulating their demands to the the international world in this light–in order that the world does not take their protests to be the actions of fanatics intent on disrupting “peace” and “reconciliation”, but as the expression of the democratic will of the people of Taiwan in standing against the undemocratic Ma Ying-Jeou administration.
Author: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: FTV News
Biography: Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a resident of Taipei, Taiwan.