Chinese bigwig Chen Deming was in Taiwan last week, and he made some awkward comments. Chen is one of the top officials in charge of China’s Taiwan policy, so he might be expected to have a nuanced understanding of Taiwan’s democratic politics or have a feel for how certain comments might be received. Apparently not.
First, Chen praised the Want China Times group for upholding the freedom of the press. Yes! We all know that the CCP and PRC are fervently dedicated to the freedom of the press! And Want Want has a long track record of insisting on the facts, no matter how inconvenient they are!
Second, Chen suggested that public opinion isn’t always right, and sometimes history judges people who at one time had majority support very negatively. You know, like the Nazis. Yes, exactly! Why didn’t we see that before? Tsai Ing-wen is clearly the second coming of Hitler! Thanks to Chen Deming’s incisive argument, I’m sure voters’ eyes have been opened to the DPP’s true nature, and next week’s polls will show the KMT surging into the lead.
There is a “law” that the first person to bring up Hitler loses the argument, since the analogy is almost always ill-advised. Now, East Asians aren’t as sensitive about Nazism and Hitler as Americans or Europeans, but even in this part of the world most people know that you have to wait for a fairly serious case to bust out the Hitler comparisons. This kind of crude overkill (How in the world is Tsai like Hitler?? Hell, she isn’t even very charismatic.) says more about the person making the argument than the target of the argument.
By now, China should know that their best strategy for dealing with Taiwanese elections is to just shut up. When they say such outlandish things, it leads Taiwanese to think that “they” simply don’t think the way that “we” do. Moreover, the Taiwanese electorate is fiercely protective of its autonomy, and anything China says or does will backfire. But they can’t help themselves. Internal pressures force Chinese officials to try to stick their noses in. What’s more surprising is that, after all these years, they are still so clumsy at it.