Taiwan, Mama Wants You To Come Home for Dinner!

October 1 commemorations are now in the rear-view mirror, but there remains much excavation left to perform on the event and China’s self-interpretation.

One very important aspect of the celebrations and Xinhua/CCTV’s emphasis therein was on unity and harmony with Taiwan.   Major goals of CCP foreign policy since the inception of the state — should nto be suprising.  Xinhua outlets excitedly reported on their cooperation in broadcasting the celebration to Taiwan television and internet media.  Comments on this story on the Huanqiu Shibao BBS included a combination of scary and cute things, for instance, this comment:

台湾,妈妈60大寿了。你快回来吃饭吧![Taiwan, mama has now reached her grand age of 60.  Why don’t you quickly come home and eat!]

and the rather stirring, almost classical/statesmanlike comment:

六十冬夏与春秋,共渡时艰并喜忧,今朝神州庆华诞,明日中国傲全球。[For 60 winters and summers, and spring and autumns, we have together traversed both love and melancholy.  In this era, we Chinese celebrate the birth of the Shenzhou rocket, and tomorrow’s China gives pride to all the world.]

— Note:  One of the last characters in this comment, 傲 (proud / ao 4), can also mean “overbearing and arrogant” — I haven’t seen it used before as a verb; would welcome criticism or direction from other readers of the blog such as the Sinophone Beijing Sounds, who, come to think of it, might recommend that I add a splash of 儿 to 傲, making the Northern orientation of the Huanqiu editors plain.

What is surprising is how much Taiwan has been internalizing and channeling this vision of a great China.  For instance, television commentators on Taiwan were simply oozing triumphalism recently, describing how Taiwan-China harmony makes South Korea really jealous.  In the hot market for superconductors and flat screen TVs, they argue, Taiwan’s increased access to the mainland market gives ROK companies fits.  Moreover, in comparing states divided by the Cold War, the PRC has thrived as a trading partner, while South Korea is saddled with the toxic bag of sharp irons that is North Korea.

And not only does Taiwan reject a visa for Xinjiang independence activist Ribiya Khadeer, they now backpedal from having invited the Dalai Lama (sorry, Beijing!) and now reject Li Hongzhi’s visa application to come to visit his many Falun Gong adherents on the isle of Taiwan.  And the reason is explicitly stated that “we don’t want to anger China.”

I’m not crazy about Li Hongzhi and have even translated for a group of anti-cult scholars who came to learn about deprogramming with the amazing Paul Martin at Wellspring in Ohio, but is he really that dangerous?  What is the Epoch Times going to do if they have to denounce both China and Taiwan?

(“By the way,” the followers whisper to me at the Michigan truck stop,” have you heard of the “Eight Commentaries on the Communist Party?  Would you care for some literature on CCP organ harvesting of our followers?”  No, thanks!  But I’m glad you can be counted on to meditate outside of the PRC consulate in Manhattan, because it means we still mostly have freedom of speech. Anyway…)

And so, with reference to Taiwan, the PRC fuels the pride, saying, for instance, these really complementary things about Taiwan’s commitment to Confucius studies.   No wonder we don’t want to discuss our destruction of the Four Olds these days!  It might interfere with the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

9月28日清晨,台北孔庙隆重举行孔子诞辰2559周年释奠典礼 - Celebrations of Confucius 2559th birthday in Taipei, Sept. 28, 2009 -- via Huanqiu Shibao
9月28日清晨,台北孔庙隆重举行孔子诞辰2559周年释奠典礼 - Celebrations of Confucius' 2559th birthday in Taipei, Sept. 28, 2009 -- via Huanqiu Shibao

Meanwhile, the Chinese press has been on the warpath with India; relations have been not so good of late.  Just before October 1, Huanqiu Shibao filed this report on India’s grand vision to outstrip the U.S. and China in nuclear energy by 2050.  Then Huanqiu ran an extensive photo retrospective on the 1962 Sino-Indian border war.  Comments on the latter story included 流亡藏人真悲哀,土地被阿三占了,现在还沦为阿三的帮凶! and 我们不是光西藏的师上去了,是丁盛丁大胆带队上的.丁盛后来任广州军区司令员,八大军区对调后任南京军区司令员 and 我国只出动了西藏小小的几个师就把印度吓到举国武装…

Forget the Chinese civil war!  We need to protect the Himalayas from the BJP! (cue CCP rhetoric on India, as per JustRecently recently)…

Which requires that I take drastic countermeasures on this Himalayan blog post, staying out of the reach of the Zarathustrans

….and DROP A BEAT on it…

CCP and BJP get tangled in the ether

14,000 meters, it’s getting clearer

the struggle in the Himalayas knows no prophylactic

it’s hacked beyond the ventricles of altitude and ski wax

Do you really want to refight your version of the Afghan war?

the Finland-Soviet winter conundrum you’ve been dying for?

organize the troops to defend a line named McMahon

this ain’t the Super Bowl shuffle, it’s a n Aksai Chin rumble in a icy garbage can

in 1962, you neither were atom-splitters

your GDP was non-aligned, not much for foreign givers

East Pakistan was hanging on by a sea-borne thread

but you had to clash, Nehru bashed against the red

the non-aligned in time would find a split, and Chengdu mobilized

the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, goal to tantalize

the documents of this jumble not to full release

unlike the mortars celestial, 西游记 increase

cos when the BJP and Congress get themselves all full aflutter

the CCP gets sour, the mouth lined with stale yak butter

it’s fodder for imperialists, it’s fodder for your peeps

McMahon line increase the peace? better beep imperial digits:

[Beat stops.  Sound of a door open, bicycle whizzing by, a street.  The strong warbling voice of an elderly lady, Cockney accent, emerges:]  O Gordon! Gordon Brown!  Time to come home!  Mummy’s calling!   It’s dinnertime!  And, Gordon, bring your Sharpie!  Your friends brought a map and daddy’s at his cirrhosis treatment!

[Beat resumes.]

[Outro with record skratch, a scitar scale, and a Dalai Lama byte on forgiveness overlaid by Nehru pontificating with a vertical wash of Mao proclaiming the republic 成立了.]


  1. Adam,

    Seriously, if you consider Huanqiu Shibao running that piece part of the effort to be “on the warpath with India”, what do you call what the Indian media have been pulling in the past couple of years?

    And “Xinhua outlets excitedly reported on their cooperation” by reporting some Taiwanese websites airing the Chinese National Day parade? Come on! You are reading too much out of nothing.

    Overreading everything. Ridiculing everything. I find that many western expats and China-watchers tend to be like this. Maybe they have too much time on their hands.

    1. Good points, esp. on India front. I don’t read it regularly, although _Dawn_ is supposed to be quite good, just pick up things in talking with friends disenchanted with the BJP. Mutual antagonism would be the way to characterize it, but since I focus on China, the PRC tends to be the one I portray with “agency” on such things. Trying to work my way through Goldstein’s magisterial new treatment of Sino-Tibetan relationship 1951-1955, quite a lot of US-India relations bound up in it as well.

      Taiwan, I’m just proving information, man! Open to your criticism of overreading things, of course. Probably better to couch it in terms of soft power from both sides. I spend most of my time in the print world reading about Chiang Kai-shek and Mao in the 1940s, so this may also be part of my still-suprised reaction to the love-fest across the Straits.

      Anyway, glad to see you here! Hope I’m not quite as ironsided as our friend at One Free Korea, definitely welcome your ongoing critiques if you think the content is worthy of it.

      1. On the ridiculing front, I suppose that’s one reason why people read blogs rather than just the news sources. I’ve also got a horde of 20 year olds in train (e.g., American university students) who seem to respond to it. Suffice it to say that I am not at all snarky in my academic articles or book manuscripts, whose existence, I suppose, makes me a bit different from many of my expatriate and China-watching blogging colleagues.

  2. From what I’ve gathered 台湾,妈妈60大寿了。你快回来吃饭吧 was a pretty popular expression on the message boards prior to National Day.

    1. I wonder why? I’m probably missing something. And besides “China Smack,” I’m not aware of sites that regularly monitor or translate action on Chinese BBS. There’s probably a good communications M.A. thesis topic in there somewhere, creating a kind of durable model (along the lines of the great monograph “Words Kill” where the number of keywords on any given day, on any given subject, could be isolated and compared, and correlated to publications like Huanqiu). Is it a direct chain, or does the rhetoric change when rendered by netizens? It seems to my impression thus far that at least as regards Japan, even stories which Xinhua intends to induce friendly feelings are often twisted up with the old-school anti-Japanese angle when they hit the BBS.

      Of course, the bigger question deals with significance: if the Chinese netizens bloggers amplify, modify, or even oppose government rhetoric, what’s the impact? These people are going to be slumped over in internet cafes, not out mobilizing and mobilizing unemployed workers.

      1. Well, it’s just another play on the very popular “贾俊鹏你妈妈喊你回家吃饭,” right? It’s another “我是去打酱油的” or “很黄很暴力.” I was just reading an article called “经济学家,你妈妈喊你回家吃饭!”

        1. Dylan K — I see — thanks for the learned alacrity! And I hope all you Vancouver folk have recovered from the spiritual/political shockwaves of the Dalai Lama visit.

  3. Thanks for your hospitality, Adam. I must say that I admire your work, particularly your insights on things North Korean. Being a (North) Koreanophile myself, I have learned a lot from your writings. Keep up the good work!

    1. No problem, Juchechosunmansei — and hope to see you back here! I’m not as lyrical, well-documented, or widely read as the authors at TomDispatch or in D.C., but I’ll keep working to keep things moving on this site and in the print world. I’m not sure how long you’ve been frequenting this site, but I thought you might enjoy this post from August 23, 2009.

  4. Adam, I appreciate the rolling with the punches as much as the primary material here and hope you continue to keep up the excellent moderating to avoid the comments turning into a trollfest.

    Re: 明日中国傲全球。
    Since you asked and since the research staff at the Beijing Sounds studios takes things pretty literally…

    First, you wouldn’t want our advice on translation, since the chief editor here is a poor imitation of a polished Zhonglish speaker, but I can’t help but think that the mainland would appreciate your rendering of 傲 as “proud” rather than “overbearing”.

    Vis-a-vis erhuayin for authenticity. Best advice is to shy away from it for verbs. As far as I’ve been able to document so far, 玩 is unique in getting erhuaed as a verb. If that’s right, then any southerner who erhuas another verb in search of authenticity ends up in the ironic situation of doubly marking themselves as inauthentic AND striving! It’s a juicy idea, but tough to make gravy out of in the space of one blog post.

    1. Sheng’er (although I suppose that my apostrophe violates pinyin rules, I’m going with it anyway):

      Thanks for the tip on the verb front…and the moderation can get a little taxing. In fact, it is somewhat more difficult than running a classroom discussion about, say, Koreans getting swept up into Japanese-American internment in the U.S. in 1941 (one of my topics this morning). But then again, that is why I am paying myself $120 (about one thousand RMB) per hour to blog, you know? To quote Lu Buwei: “It’s all about the Hamiltons, baby.”

    2. And my regards to your staff! Perhaps this June we’ll have an opportunity to get them all together in Mao’er Hutong for an employee appreciation banquet.

      1. With the not inconsiderable caveat that we (Royal) are even duller in person then we appear on the blog, it would be really great to see you out here. June you say? I’m blocking off the whole month right now…

        Regarding the pay rate — all I can say is thank God that blogging involves the money that it does, otherwise it would just be the usual exercise in self-pleasuring for only the briefest bit of satisfaction.

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