Ma administration already beginning “rectification of names”?

Over a year ago I wrote two posts on pro-independence President Chen Shui Bian’s (陳水扁) campaign of “rectification of names (正名)”, in which various agencies, school texts, and other labels were renamed to suggest an affiliation with Taiwan rather than China.

Taiwan rectifies names in new history textbook: January 31, 2007

More on rectification of names in Taiwan: February 7, 2007

Where the now former president Chen is a member of the pro-localization Democratic Progressive Party (DPP-民進黨 ) and himself of the more radical localization/independence faction, the new president Ma Ying-jiu (馬英九) is a member of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT-國民黨), and may make Chinese appeasement an aspect of his administration’s policy. This could easily include reversals of DPP iniatives such as the renaming of national corporations (post, oil, etc.) and the removal of former dictator Chaing Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) name from both the Taipei area airport which formerly bore his name, and to the grand Ming imperial tomb-inspired complex now currently knows as Democracy Memorial Hall (臺灣民主紀念館), but originally constructed as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (蔣介石紀念館) following his death. While one can understand why Taiwanese democrats (small ‘d’) might object to the former dictator being memorialized in the style of the Ming Emperor’s (although his body is not buried there), it is also easy to see why some members of the KMT-Chiang’s political party-objected to the alteration, and why there is bound to be at least some amount of lobbying for a new executive order to change it back, now that their party has retaken the presidency.

One of the most notable of these renamings was the change of the national postal system from Chunghwa Post- which means China Post (中華郵政) to Taiwan Post (臺灣郵政). While this change has not (yet?) been reversed, it is possible that Taiwan may be in for a round of doubly confusing name flip-flops and reversals. As the Taipei Times reported on the day of Ma’s inauguration (yesterday, May 21)

Forty-year-old Mr Chen waited for two hours before he could put his hands on the sets he had ordered. He said he had purchased the stamps not only because Ma was president, but also because the Chinese characters for “Republic of China” were once again on the stamps.

Last year, the stamps issued by Taiwan Post Co only bore the name Taiwan.

Is this merely an example of the Taiwan Post Co honoring the new chief executive by printing his portrait next to the official name of the country he now leads, or a foreshadowing of a larger restoration of China -oriented names by the new administration? How deeply has Chen’s rectification of names really penetrated in Taiwan? Do most people prefer the localized names to the ones matching the country’s official name of Republic of China? How much has the necessity for campaigning in competitive elections with an electorate made up mostly of ethnic Taiwanese really changed the formerly mainlander-dominated KMT? And where does technically-mainlander but Taiwan-raised pragmatic Ma fit into this? Unfortunately, I have not been in Taiwan for over two years now and I really do not have a very solid sense of how most people have been reacting to these issues recently. It may be safe to predict that Ma will not be renaming any more “China” such-and-such to “Taiwan” such-and-such, but whether he will let all of the recent changes stand is another question entirely.

10 thoughts on “Ma administration already beginning “rectification of names”?”

  1. Ace- In what way is this Ma showing his true colors? If you look at the more detailed coverage, Ma actually seems to be taking heat mainly for trying to not get involved at all.
    “While the Presidential Office issued a statement on Thursday afternoon reaffirming Taiwan’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, Ma has remained tight-lipped amid calls for him to clarify his position on the issue.”

    Even the severely anti-KMT papers don’t seem to be putting this dispute too much on Ma- but are angry at him for being totally ineffectual at taking care of it. The crazy war statement was made by the Premier, who is not under control of the President’s office. From what I’ve seen, there’s still been no statement from Ma himself on this issue, aside from something vague about “sovereignty” that didn’t address any of the specifics of the incident.

    BTW, this quote from the Taiwanese Representative to Japan Koh (許世楷) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ou (歐鴻鍊) is interesting:

    “The Japanese word for “regret” can also mean “apology,” said Koh at a press conference late last night after a 45-minute closed door meeting with Ou.

    “In many instances throughout the history, Japan used the word ‘regret’ to express its apology,” he said.

    When asked if the ministry would accept such answer, Ou smiled and said: “We can feel Japan’s good will in their response in this matter.”

    You don’t see the Chinese or Koreans being talking like this about Japanese diplomatic language.

  2. “Ma actually seems to be taking heat mainly for trying to not get involved at all.”

    That seems to be the press coverage in all Japanese media.
    But “premire,who is not under contol of the President’s office? The premire of the Executive Yuan is appointed by the president and unlike the DPP days,KMT is also dominant in Legistrative Yuan.So is Minister of Foreign Affiairs.They must have permission from Ma.He is just watching the situation by unleashing his aides and acolytes.

    BTW,did you know that Ma Ying-yeou’s doctoral thesis at at Harvard was legal status of Diaoyutai and he went there with scholarship from KMT?

    “You don’t see the Chinese or Koreans being talking like this about Japanese diplomatic language.”

    How about this.

    Ofcourse.Koh had been in exile in Japan for 33 years and was the professor in TsudaJyuku Women’s University in Tokyo.He also has colorful friends in Japan.

  3. I didn’t actually know that was Ma’s doctoral thesis, but I did know that in the past he had been very aggressive about the Diaoyutai issue, and had even made statements in the past hinting that war might be possible, like the recent stupid one from the premiere. This is why I think people were so annoyed/surprised that he hasn’t been making any statement. Clearly he’s trying going out of his way to be moderate as president, but will he go so far that he’s just a weakling.

    I wonder how big Ma’s KMT scholarship was. He claimed that he got a green card while studying in the US so he could apply for American scholarships or student loans and not because he wanted to live abroad, which was one of the biggest issues in the campaign.

    I think the last line of the article is the real substance though-
    “ ただ、陳水扁前総統が任命した許氏は政権交代に伴い、近く辞任する予定だった。”
    Making that statement when he resigned is just to embarass someone else.

  4. Ma was in the U.S because Chiang Ching Kuo wanted educate elite members of KMT in American university.He was also reporting the political acitivities of Taiwanese students at the U.S campus to his superior in KMT.(Ma was the editor in chief of the Taiwanese student newspaper)

    “This is why I think people were so annoyed/surprised that he hasn’t been making any statement. ”

    “People”are annoyed with Ma for not gettting much tougher to the Japanese,No?

    Anyway,at least KMT can now bring this up to any criticism of “selling Taiwanese sovereginity”from Greens.
    This happened in Hong Kong in 1997 right before the turn over.The democrats in HK used The Senkaku issue to gather more attention from the public and deter the criticism from mainland-connected media that “democrats are un-patriotic for they side with Chris Patten and not Jiang Zemin”.

  5. “Anyway,at least KMT can now bring this up to any criticism of “selling Taiwanese sovereginity”from Greens.”

    That’s not totally true, since the Diaoyutai are claimed by both Taiwan and China- except of course the KMT position is still that Taiwan is still in some vague way part of China so from the Chinese side, defending the islands from Japan can just as easily be considered pro-Chinese sovereignty as pro-Taiwan. In fact, I even read a brief mention that there were some sort of protests in China supporting Taiwan’s action against Japan for these islands, although I haven’t tried to find any details yet.

  6. No.What I meant to say is some of the current cross-straits ongoing after KMT’s return to power has been getting criticism from greens and KMT was in need to deter this.
    Ofcourse the green also claim the Senkakus(except Lee Teng Hui)and with this move the nationalism in Taiwan had now shifted to focus on multiple issues,that is to say Anti-Japanese and Anti Chinese.And KMT can always criticize green which has been taking much more low profile on the issue,not tough enough for Taiwan soverignity,
    And Yes.Solidarity with mainland has come up among some of the hardliner in the KMT.Another reason for them to have closer ties with the mainland.

  7. Have a look at some of the editorials in the English language newspapers from Taiwan- like these two from the generally pro-KMT China Post

    Ma must be firm on Tiaoyutai issue

    Ma must address the nation

    It doesn’t seem to me like Ma has done a good job of making anyone happy with this fiasco. People expect a president to take a stand, and when he said something like “well, it’s the job of lower level officials” to take care of a major international territorial dispute right after assuming office, it hardly inspired the voters.

  8. Ma’s personal popularity isn’t an issue here,Roy.The logic of KMT holding grounds in public opinion is a lot more important.As you can read in the last paragraph of
    China Post.

    “Ma’s predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, took a much softer line on the issue, seeking friendly relations with Japan and toeing an ambiguous line on Taiwan’s claim to the islands.

    Actually, the Tiaoyutais are ROC territory from a historical, geographical, and legal point of view. The Ma administration must stand firm on this position, or it will not only disappoint the people of Taiwan, but people in other Chinese communities as well.”

    Ma is trying to change the tide of Taiwanese nationalism into Chinese nationalism by using Senkaku issues,of which was a success,I must say.

Comments are closed.