Zhonghe City politics

Since I’m temporarily living in Zhonghe City 中和市, and Zhonghe is a district in the upcoming Xinbei City Council elections, I thought I’d write a little about this city’s history, its politics, and maybe even about the upcoming city council elections.  (I’m stealing heavily from Wikipedia, the Zhonghe City website, and a few other things I found on the internet.)

File:中和市位置圖.png

Zhonghe City is in Taipei County, just southwest of Taipei City.  It has a population of over 400,000 today, but almost all of this population has arrived relatively recently.  When Yonghe Town 永和鎮 (which was not yet Yonghe City 永和市) was carved off of Zhonghe Village 中和鄉 in 1960, the population of Zhonghe was a mere 23,000.  Taipei City grew fastest during the 1960s, and by the 1970s population growth in the Taipei metro area was mostly across the river in Banqiao 板橋市, Yonghe 永和市, Xindian 新店市, Xinzhuang 新莊市, Sanchong 三重市, and Zhonghe 中和市.  These six cities exploded through the 1970s and 1980s.  By the mid-1990s or so, they were largely saturated, and areas a bit further out in Taipei County, such as Tucheng 土城市, Shulin 樹林市, Xizhi 汐止市, Danshui 淡水鎮, and Sanxia 三峽鎮 started experiencing much faster growth.  Zhonghe was promoted to a city in 1977.  Currently, it is the sixth largest city in Taiwan (after Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan, and Banqiao), but this will no longer be the case when Taipei County is upgraded to a direct municipality and Zhonghe simply becomes a district of Xinbei City at the end of this year.  Then it will be simply the second largest administrative district in Taiwan (after Banqiao).

Here is what I found on Zhonghe’s population growth:

Year Population Land

(km2)

Population

Density

(pop/km2)

1960 23,000 19.71 1,167
1970 77,382 19.71 3,926
1975 130,835 19.71 6,638
1980 261,684 19.71 13,277
1985 324,930 19.71 16,486
2000 398,123 20.14 19,768
2008 412,060 20.14 20,460

For reference, a population density of 20,000 is roughly equivalent to what you find in the most densely populated districts of Taipei City.  However, where downtown Taipei City has more parks and businesses competing with residential space, Zhonghe has larger areas of mountainous land.  (Neighboring Yonghe City, which is almost entirely residential space, has a staggering 41,408 people per square kilometer.)

A large portion of Zhonghe’s population is immigrants from other parts of Taiwan who moved to the Taipei area but could not afford Taipei City’s high real estate prices.  However, unlike Sanchong and Xinzhuang to the northwest which are almost entirely populated by native Taiwanese (meaning Minnan or Hakka), Zhonghe’s population is more complex.  I don’t have data on the percentage of mainlanders in Zhonghe, but it is fairly high.  Taipei County as a whole has about 18% mainlanders; I’m guessing it is somewhere around 25-30% in Zhonghe.  What makes this politically more significant is that Zhonghe has a lot of “communities” 眷村.  There are several military installations here, and many of them have housing communities.  As you might guess, these were the KMT’s “iron” votes until the emergence of the New Party and People First Party.  Now that the KMT has absorbed those parties back into the fold, these communities tend to be very solid in their voting behavior.  This is not only because they individually share the KMT’s ideology, but also because the tight social network reinforces that stance, mobilizes voters, and punishes deviants.  There are also communities for other groups, such as workers in state owned companies.  One of the more famous groups of mainlanders here in Zhonghe hails from the Golden Triangle area of Burma, Thailand, and southwestern China.  On Huaxin Street 華新街, lots of signs are in Burmese and/or Thai, and you can get delicious ethnic food.  I think they probably have been revitalized in recent years by new immigrants in the same way the American Chinatowns have been.  A less prominent group of Zhonghe residents hails from Jinmen 金門縣, the island right next to Xiamen.  I have even heard claims that more Jinmen people live in Zhonghe than in Jinmen, though I doubt that.  The Jinmen County government owns five communities in Zhonghe City.  Originally, these were owned by the military, which basically ran Jinmen as its own fief for several decades.  The five communities are Fuxing New Village, Taihu New Village, Taiwu Village, Wujiang New Village, and Jiuru New Village (復興新村、太湖新莊、太武山莊、浯江新村、九如新村).  To give an idea of how big a community can be, the Fuxing community has around 300 households.

Politically, Zhonghe is a very blue city.  Even when the DPP wins Taipei County, it never wins Zhonghe.  Generally the DPP is 10-15% lower here than in the whole county.  Moreover, because there is a large part of the electorate that is highly unlikely to consider voting for the DPP, Zhonghe is far less likely to swing to the DPP than other areas in Taiwan that seem to have similar partisan balances.  For example, think of Hsinchu County, which is also heavily blue.  In Hsinchu County, the mostly Hakka population favors the KMT, but it is not a betrayal of basic identities to swing to the DPP in certain conditions.   So if 70% of the electorate is skeptical (but not deathly opposed), a successful DPP candidate has to win 2 of every 7 of these skeptics (plus the 30% base of DPP supporters).  In Zhonghe, first you have to subtract the 25% of the electorate that is mainlander and which is highly unlikely to ever swing to the DPP.  So if the DPP has a base of 30% and 45% are skeptics, the DPP has to win roughly half of these skeptics to win the election.  That is much harder, since “skeptic” is already a very generous term for people who habitually vote blue, many of whom are very firm in their beliefs.  The first 5% of defectors are much easier to attract than the second 5% and so on.  Getting half of the native Taiwanese KMT vote is a monumental task for any DPP candidate.  Here is the party vote in Zhonghe City in several recent elections:

KMT DPP New/PFP other
1993 County executive 40 36 23 1
1994 Provincial governor 59 31 10 0
1996 President 41 19 28 12
1997 County executive 45 34 4 18
2000 President 20 30 49 1
2001 County executive 58 42
2004 President 61 39 0
2005 County executive 63 37 1
2008 LY party list vote 57 29 (TSU: 3) 8 3
2008 President 68 32

These are all straight party to party races.  The partisan balance is somewhere between 60-40 and 70-30.  In multimember races, such as the old legislative and national assembly elections, the blue camp tended to be a bit stronger.  (I’d show those, but I don’t have them at my immediate disposal.  Maybe I’ll edit that table in later.)

Enough of the boring national politics; what about the much more exciting local politics?  Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of juicy stories here, but I’ll try to sketch some of the basic outlines of Zhonghe factions.  Remember, almost all local factions in Taiwan support the KMT.

Most observers have identified three broad local factions, the Lin-Jiang faction 林江派, the Lu faction 呂派, and the You faction 游派.  Sometimes these two latter factions are combined as the Lu-You faction.  Here are the principal members that I have identified in various sources as faction members.  I also list a few other politicians whose names indicate they might be part of that faction, but who I have not seen listed in any roster.  This latter group is marked with an asterisk.

Lu Faction

Name name Offices
呂芳契 Lu Fangqi County assembly (58-82) vice-speaker (68-73) speaker (73-82)
呂芳海 Lu Fanghai City council, mayor
呂芳煙 Lu Fangyan County assembly (82-98), mayor (98-06)
呂芳雲 Lu Fangyun
呂學圖 Lu Xuetu National Assembly

You Faction

Name name offices
游火金 You Huojin Mayor
游任和 You Renhe Provincial assembly
游詩源 You Shiyuan County assembly (90-02)
游輝廷 You Huiting County assembly (90- )
游明財 You Mingcai Legislator
游文貴* You Wengui* County assembly (82-90)
游國華* You Guohua* County Assembly (90-94)
游文煌* You Wenhuang* City council, county assembly (98-02)

Lin-Jiang Faction

Name name offices
林德喜 Lin Dexi Mayor
江貴元 Jiang Guiyuan County assembly (46-58), mayor
趙長江 Zhao Changjiang County assembly (68-82), national assembly
江上清 Jiang Shangqing City council speaker, mayor, provincial assembly
趙永清 Zhao Yongqing Legislator (92-08)
張慶忠 Zhang Qingzhong National Assembly, legislator
陳錦錠 Chen Jinding County assembly (94- )
江永昌 Jiang Yongchang County assembly (06- )
江敏行* Jiang Minxing* County assembly (82-94)

Another way to think about factional presence in Zhonghe politics is to consider this table with the main three offices of the city government (mayor, city council speaker, city council vice speaker).  Note how many people are named Lu and You.  Since You and Lu are not particularly common surnames, the odds are pretty good that they are members of those factions.  Probably many of the people with different surnames are also related to one faction or another by marriage or other ties.  (Source: Zhonghe City website.)

year mayor mayor speaker Speaker Vice speaker Vice speaker
1946 游火金 You Huojin 林江榮塗 Lin Jiang Rongtu
1948 游建池 You Jianchi 呂傳濤 Lu Chuantao
1950 呂傳濤 Lu Chuantao
1951 蕭昌銅 Xiao Changtong
1953 蕭昌銅 Xiao Changtong
1955 呂傳濤 Lu Chuantao
1956 蕭昌銅 Xiao Changtong
1958 游火金 You Huojin
1960 江貴元 Jiang Guiyuan
1961 呂傳亮 Lu Chuanliang 簡阿甫 Jian Apu
1962 江貴元 Jiang Guiyuan 呂芳海 Lu Fanghai
1964 江貴元 Jiang Guiyuan 林坤地 Lin Kundi 林士斌 Lin Shibin
1968 林德喜 Lin Dexi 呂芳海 Lu Fanghai 游祥雲 You Xiangyun
1973 林德喜 Lin Dexi 呂芳海 Lu Fanghai 游象傳 You Xiangchuan
1977 呂芳海 Lu Fanghai
1978 徐宗居 Xu Zongju 游象傳 You Xiangchuan
1982 江上清 Jiang Shangqing 游明財 You Mingcai
1985 江上清 Jiang Shangqing 游明財 You Mingcai 林再發 Lin Zaifa
1986 江上清 Jiang Shangqing 游明財 You Mingcai 林添福 Lin Tianfu
1990 童永雄 Tong Yongxiong 林建宏 Lin Jianhong 邱獻樹 Qiu Xianshu
1994 童永雄 Tong Yongxiong 林建宏 Lin Jianhong 許進勝 Xu Shengjin
1998 呂芳煙 Lu Fangyan 許進勝 Xu Shengjin 邱献樹 Qiu Xianshu
2002 呂芳煙 Lu Fangyan 許進勝 Xu Shengjin 游象賢 You Xiangxian
2003 呂禮旺 Lu Liwang
2005 邱垂益 Qiu Chuiyi 游象賢 You Xiangxian 馬兆玲 Ma Zhaoling

There is a fourth grouping that is emerging, which we might call the Qiu faction 邱派.  It is centered around the incumbent mayor Qiu Chuiyi邱垂益, city council vice speaker Ma Zhaoling馬兆玲, former city council member Qiu Xianshu邱獻樹, and Qiu Chuiyi’s son and candidate for Xinbei City Council Qiu Fengyao 邱烽堯.

I don’t know very much about the You, Lu, or Qiu stories, but the Lin-Jiang faction has some interesting ties.  It looks to me like the key figure is Zhao Changjiang趙長江.  The two mayors from 1960 to 1973, Lin Dexi林德喜and Jiang Guiyuan江貴元, were allies, but Lin seems to fade into the background.  Zhao Changjiang married someone in Jiang Guiyuan’s family (his daughter?), and most of the prominent subsequent politicians are descended from Zhao Changjiang.  Zhao’s oldest son is Jiang Shangqing江上清, who took his mother’s surname.  Jiang was speaker of the city council (82-85), mayor (85-89), and then a member of the provincial assembly (89-98).  Zhao Changjiang’s other son who is prominent in politics is Zhao Yongqing趙永清, who was in the legislature from 1992 to 2008.  He is by far the person with the highest national profile in this story, so we’ll come back to him in a moment.  Zhao Changjiang also adopted a daughter (or perhaps she is a foster daughter or the relationship is purely informal, the terminology is confusing to me).  This daughter, Chen Jinding陳錦錠, has served in the county assembly since 1994.  She is married to Zhang Qingzhong張慶忠, who sat in the national assembly (91-96) and has been in the legislature since 2004.

Let’s go back to Zhao Yongqing.  Zhao graduated from NCCU 政治大學 with a degree in political science and then got an MA in political science from New York University.  He came back to Taiwan and plunged into politics in the 1992 legislative election, when he was 35 years old.  I seem to remember an MA thesis that someone with connections to the Zhao-Jiang family wrote, in which the author claimed that Zhao really had two campaigns in 1992.  He ran his campaign based on issues and high political appeals, while his family, who looked at his campaign with a mixture of amusement, condescension, and indulgence, ran the far more important “traditional” campaign (read: they bought votes).  My memory is fuzzy on this point, and this is such a common story that I may have mistakenly applied it to Zhao.  At any rate, Zhao quickly developed into a fully mature politician, and by the mid- and late-1990s, he was fully in control of his own political destiny.  He developed an image as a fairly incorrupt (certainly by the standards of local faction legislators) politician who was concerned about firemen, education, environmental protection, and good governance.  He developed his “little sun” logo somewhere in this era, and it fit him well.

His stance on nuclear power turned out to be critical for him.  During the 1990s, the KMT was trying to build a 4th nuclear power plant in the Taipei County township of Gongliao 貢寮鄉.  Gongliao is pretty far from Zhonghe, but it was still in Zhao’s legislative district (all of Taipei County), and he was resolutely opposed.  Many other Taipei County KMT legislators were also opposed, but Zhao proved to be the most intransigent.  In 2000, Chen Shuibian was elected president, and his first big showdown with the KMT-dominated legislature was over nuclear power.  The Premier ordered construction halted, and the legislature demanded that the budget be spent.  During this struggle, KMT member Zhao found himself on the wrong side and was subjected to party discipline.  He eventually quit the KMT, and after a short period as an independent (including his re-election in 2004), joined the DPP.

This makes him unique.  All of the other faction members listed in this post are either KMT or independents; only Zhao has aligned himself with the DPP.

The KMT reacted quite shrewdly to Zhao’s defection.  They nominated Zhang Qingzhong, Zhao’s brother-in-law (or at least informal brother-in-law) to run in 2004.  Both Zhao and Zhang were able to win, even though they were drawing heavily on the same factional network.  In 2008, Zhao and Zhang ran against each other once again, but this time, with the new electoral system, only one could win.  By all accounts, the campaign was quite vicious and personal.  Zhang eventually won 60-40%, which is not surprising given Zhonghe’s partisan structure.  You’ll note, however, that 40% is the high end for DPP candidates in Zhonghe, and it came on the same day that the DPP and TSU combined for 32% in the party list tier.

Factions are continually evolving, and my guess is that the Lin-Jiang faction does not really exist any longer.  The Zhao-Zhang fight, which is not just a factional fight but also a partisan fight, has probably forced everyone connected with their network to choose sides.  I’m guessing that there are probably now two distinct networks.

I’m astounded at the degree to which politics is a family business in Zhonghe City.  In my mental model of factional politics, factions rely heavily on dense social networks.  They should not work so well in a place like Zhonghe, which has lots of people moving in and out and people enjoy the anonymity of life in the city.  Somehow, the same few families have managed to absorb waves of immigrants into their political networks.  I have no idea how this works.

Ok, what does the upcoming Xinbei City Council race look like in Zhonghe?  Zhonghe is its own district, and last time it had seven seats.  Here are the results from the 2005 Taipei County Assembly election:

name name party votes % win? incumbent?
205053 100.0 7 5
.
陳錦錠 Chen Jinding KMT 27343 13.3 Y Y
簡文劉 Jian Wenliu KMT 22829 11.1 Y Y
林秀惠 Lin Xiuhui DPP 21398 10.4 Y Y
張瑞山 Zhang Ruishan DPP 20612 10.1 Y Y
游輝廷 You Huiting KMT 19014 9.3 Y Y
江永昌 Jiang Yongchang IND 18775 9.2 Y
李肇南 Li Zhaonan PFP 16298 7.9 Y
楊桂屏 Yang Guiping KMT 15334 7.5
馬兆玲 Ma Zhaoling IND 15255 7.4
呂萬煜 Lu Wanhuang PFP 14295 7.0
劉梅花 Liu Meihua New 13900 6.8
.
By party KMT 84520 41.2
DPP 42010 20.5
PFP 30593 14.9
New 13900 6.8
IND 34030 16.6
.
By camp Blue 144268 70.4
Green 60785 29.6

There were no turkeys in this race, and it was dominated by incumbents.  There are also several faction members in this table, including Chen Jinding, You Huiting, Jiang Yongchang (Zhao Yongqing’s cousin and ally), and Ma Zhaoling (Qiu Chuiyi’s ally).  I don’t know if Lu Wanhuang is from the Lu faction.

The PFP and New Party did quite well in the race, taking a combined 22% of the vote, more than the DPP won.  However, if one counts Jiang Yongchang’s[1] vote, the Green camp got 30%, a quite good showing.  (Remember, the DPP always does worse in multi-member districts and much, much worse in local elections.)

I expect Zhonghe will continue to elect seven members to the new Xinbei City Council.  So far this year, the public campaign has been almost entirely dominated by KMT hopefuls.  I assume this means that the KMT is moving earlier with its nomination process.  Over Chinese New Years, all the KMT candidates put up copious numbers of Happy New Year signs, both of the billboard variety and the more traditional doorway couplet 春連 variety.  Here are the eight candidates vying for KMT nominations (ok, the eight that have advertised enough to make me aware that they are running):

name Name notes
陳錦錠 Chen Jinding Incumbent, wife of Zhang Qingzhong
簡文劉 Jian Wenliu Incumbent
游輝廷 You Huiting Incumbent, You faction
許進勝 Xu Shengjin Member (and former speaker) of Zhonghe city council
邱烽堯 Qiu Fengyao Son of mayor
戴德成 Dai Decheng Member of Zhonghe city council
金瑞龍 Jin Ruilong Member of Zhonghe city council
楊宗翰 Yang Zonghan

Last time, the blue camp had eight candidates running for seven seats; they only won four seats with 70% of the vote.  This wasn’t really the KMT’s fault, since it only nominated four.  The blue camp would do well to nominate six candidates this year.  I don’t know whether the PFP and NP will nominate their own candidates, or if they have been completely absorbed into the KMT.  Since the PFP incumbent is not in the above table, I have doubts as to whether the KMT will be able to control the total number of blue candidates.  Also, I’m not sure if the Lu faction has a candidate in the race.

Let’s assume the three incumbents will be renominated.  That leaves two or three other spots.  I’m going to guess that Yang Zonghan and Jin Ruilong are the two weakest candidates.  This is based entirely on how many billboards each has put up.  I’ve seen one Yang billboard and only a handful of Jin billboards.  Billboards are not a good indication of popularity, but a lack of them, especially for a challenger, is an indication of financial weakness.  With nothing else to go on, I’m going to consider them to be fighting uphill battles.

That leaves the other three challengers, Xu, Qiu, and Dai, as the interesting candidates.  Xu and Qiu have a little history.  Qiu’s father is the current mayor, and he won the seat in 2005 by defeating Xu.  One newspaper article said that Xu had the backing of Zhonghe’s traditional factions (so maybe Xu is the missing Lu faction candidate), and that Qiu’s victory was an indication that the traditional factions were weakening.  At any rate, Xu and Qiu will fight another battle this year, and the first round will be for a KMT nomination.  It is, of course, possible that they could both win.

The last candidate is Dai Decheng.  Dai is a bit unique in that he is the only one of the eight candidates whose billboards say anything at all of substance.  Almost all billboards feature hackneyed and meaningless slogans (developing a new Xinbei City, moving forward) or just feature the candidate’s picture, name, and ask for support.  Dai is positioning himself as the image candidate.  He promises to be a professional/expert interested in social welfare issues and he claims he will run a clean campaign.  He seems to have good financing, at least judging by his picture plastered all over the city.  He is also working pretty hard in my neighborhood.  He has sponsored a couple of (apolitical) events in my housing complex, and he seems to employ quite a few workers.  I’m moderately impressed.

So if the KMT decides to nominate only five candidates, the last two spots will come down to the faction candidate (Xu), the son (Qiu), and the image candidate (Dai).


[1] The Taipei County Assembly website still lists Jiang as an independent, but I found a couple of news articles that seem to indicate he has now joined the DPP.

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3 Responses to “Zhonghe City politics”

  1. family politics in Taiwan | Frozen Garlic Says:

    […] put two or three of those on my list to make it more balanced. Also, the Zhonghe Chang family is a fine case, but you might want to mention that it also includes some DPP politicians such as CC candidate […]

  2. five KMT incumbents in trouble | Frozen Garlic Says:

    […] and he has been the appointed district head for the past four years. Zhonghe factional politics are messy and largely familial. In the last two elections, Chang has beaten a cousin representing the DPP. The other families may […]

  3. KMT campaign event | Frozen Garlic Says:

    […] KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung 張慶忠 open up his campaign headquarters. I have written about Zhonghe local politics in detail in the past. Suffice it to say that Chang is from a prominent local family, and his DPP […]

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