DPP apologists blame Beijing for election losses
- Following democratic elections in Taiwan, the naysayers are now spreading conspiracy theories, going so far as to call the KMT ‘a deeply pro-Beijing party’
Fellow travellers are often more extreme than the parties with which they ally themselves. So it’s hardly surprising that some apologists for the Democratic Progressive Party have been spreading wild conspiracy theories and casting doubts on the Taiwanese electorate in the aftermath of the party’s debacle in the so-called nine-in-one elections on the island.
Many DPP leaders have been far more gentlemanly or ladylike. Despite having played up anti-mainland and pro-independence sentiments before the elections, they admitted shortcomings and called their Kuomintang rivals to congratulate them.
Not so with Wang Dan. The exiled student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen protests is now a media propagandist for the DPP.
Before the elections, he predicted there was no way for the KMT’s charismatic Han Kuo-yu to win the mayoral race for Kaohsiung, a DPP stronghold. For Wang, there is no difference between the Chinese Communist Party and KMT leaders such as Han, who had campaigned on economic development and job creation for the city, partly by promoting mainland investments. Those who voted for Han are sacrificing their democratic freedom.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s localist eminence grise Joseph Lian Yizheng thinks millions of Taiwanese voters have been duped by manipulation and influence operations from the mainland. In his New York Times op-ed, he wrote: “Democratic countries that worry about the Chinese government’s attempts to influence their politics should study its success in this weekend’s elections in Taiwan.
“The DPP’s defeat reveals Beijing’s increasing reach into Taiwan and, more specifically, its ability to exploit the weaknesses of an open society: namely, openness itself.”
The defeat couldn’t have been because of the policy failures and ineptitude of the party and its leader Tsai Ing-wen or simply a swing of the proverbial political pendulum. Everything Beijing has said and done in the past decade counts as manipulation for the latest election results: printing pro-unification leaflets at a university back in 2014; running a mainland-friendly editorial in the China Times in 2013; or threatening invasions, cutting tourist visits, and exercising military manoeuvres.
Even offering preferential terms by the mainland to Taiwanese businesses and higher wages to young Taiwanese jobseekers amount to interference. The KMT is now “a deeply pro-Beijing party”, wrote Lian.
Of course, Lian doesn’t need logic or evidence. With the Times’ veneer of respectability, he is appealing to the mistrust of his American readers about China as they are likely already made paranoid by actual Russian interference in their 2016 presidential election.