Japan from the inside out

Taiwan election

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HERE’S a fascinating look at Taiwan’s election earlier this week written by John Parker, a freelance writer and entrepreneur based in the PRC. In the first part of the article, Mr. Parker examines the attempted assassination of a KMT official who is the son of a prominent Taiwanese politician.

But I recommend sticking around to the end to read Mr. Parker’s comparison of the attitudes of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public in Taiwan with those of their counterparts in the PRC:

Taiwan’s election was fascinating to witness for this writer, who has spent years of his adult life in mainland China but knows Taiwan only from brief visits…

What was most striking, to an observer accustomed to mainland China, was the public mood. Despite the attack on Sean Lien, the people at these rallies — for both parties — were happy. All one had to do was look at their faces to see the profound importance of the political disparity that has arisen between Taiwan and the PRC…

The contrast with the mainland could not be greater. On the mainland, all the feelings associated with politics are overwhelmingly negative: fear, hatred, rage. Overtly, all this negativity tends to be directed against the supposedly malevolent “enemies” (foreign and domestic) that the CCP is constantly warning the Chinese people about; but in reality, it originates with the frustration that political impotence causes the population to feel, and their helplessness in the face of the contemptuous way they are treated by CCP officials almost every day of their lives. It seems impossible that much of this negative energy would not be directed against the CCP, were it not for the fact that ordinary mainland citizens can, and often do, suffer colossal adverse consequences for acting on any rebellious impulse…

The default public mood in the PRC, as I see dozens of times every day, is a kind of sullen, hostile rudeness; hysterical, atavistic ultranationalism lurks just beneath the surface. To be fair, this is more pronounced in older Chinese who lived through the traumatic 50s and 60s, but it’s not totally absent from the younger ones either.

After becoming accustomed to this atmosphere, Taiwan was a complete revelation to me: I saw more genuine smiles my first day in Taiwan than I had seen on the mainland in years.

And all of this during an election campaign in which a gangster almost murdered a politician.

The article should be required reading for Thomas Friedman. He probably wouldn’t get it, but you will.

Link stolen from Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan

One Response to “Taiwan election”

  1. Fat Tony said

    Thomas Friedman can read?

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