campaign trail: KMT in Taipei City

This is an event from October 7. Kao Yang-kai, a KMT nominee for Taipei city council in District 6, was opening his campaign office. The featured speakers included Wayne Chiang, Eric Chu, and Ma Ying-jeou. One of the notable features of this campaign is how little the KMT candidates talk about China. They generally stay far, far away from that topic. Chu will say something about China every now and then, but Ma is easily the KMT figure most eager to talk about China. Unlike Chu and the candidates, Ma often seems uninterested in how his positions will sound to ordinary voters. Indeed, his primary goal seems to be defending the positions he took as president and his historical legacy.

This event was held near Ma’s home in Mucha, which is one of the deepest blue neighborhoods in Taiwan. Back in the day, the New Party got lots of votes in this area. Also, keep in mind that the audience includes lots of KMT party workers and true believers. If there was any place for Ma to make an ultra-Chinese nationalist statement, this was a pretty good choice.

About halfway through his litany of terrible things President Tsai and the DPP have done, Ma turned to Tsai’s 2021 National Day speech. Ma was shocked that Tsai had said that the two sides do no belong to each other 兩岸互不隸屬. The mainland, he said, was the ROC’s territory; our constitution says so, and so does the other side’s constitution!

I was a bit stunned by this. If I remember correctly, the ROC stopped actively asserting its claim to the mainland in about 1994. Moreover, the two sides not belonging to each other is pretty solidly entrenched in mainstream public opinion. And since when is it a good idea in a Taiwanese campaign event to cite the PRC constitution as an authoritative document?

I rewatched the video a few times to see how everyone else reacted. The audience mostly seemed bored by Ma. The reactions to his entire speech were unenergetic. When he demanded the audience respond [“Am I right?”], they repeatedly gave very flat and perfunctory responses. While he was talking, the other people on the stage were looking elsewhere and even staring at their phones. Wayne Chiang was standing right next to Ma during the speech. When Ma was going through the standard list of complaints (vaccines, Green Terror, energy policy, and so on), Chiang was nodding in agreement. When Ma turned to the ROC territory, Chiang suddenly froze. Ma’s speech wasn’t exactly thrilling the choir. It was more like he was a cranky old uncle who you pretend not to hear when he starts saying embarrassing things about minorities.

If the KMT does well in these elections, there will be people arguing that it is evidence that Taiwan is becoming more open to unification. That will be wrong. Even this audience wasn’t very interested in Ma’s Chinese nationalist rhetoric.

One Response to “campaign trail: KMT in Taipei City”

  1. Mozart Lin (@mozartlin) Says:

    I second to you on that! Some voters believe that local election has nothing to do with “nationalist rhetoric.”

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