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Entries tagged with “Ma Ying-jeou”.


How Taiwan looks at German Vergangenheitsbewältigung* 

After the recent High School Nazi Cosplay Scandal, President Tsai gave an English speech about how Taiwan should deal with history, education and transitional justice. Here is a transcript and a video.

With the 70th anniversary of 228 around the corner, transitional justice and how to proceed has become a hot topic in Taiwan again recently.

Depiction of the 228 Massacre

Former president Ma Ying-jeou, for example, recently said: “Do we need to conduct a deep re-evaluation of the nation like South Africa, post-Word War II Germany and Germany after unification did? I do not see the need.”

And also this: Insofar as Taiwan is considered by the international community a stable democracy, “is there really the need to walk on the path of transitional justice?”

His successor Tsai Ing-wen sees things differently and has declared (mehr …)


12 questions, 12 answers, 1 video

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou has not been talking to the foreign press in English since he felt being misquoted by AP a few years ago. In order to give non-Chinese-speakers an impression of what a press conference with Ma is like, I recorded today’s event with the English simultaneous interpretation. Just watch the video below.

Ma Ying-jeou press conference

When I received the invitation, it read: (mehr …)


Taiwan’s president and the Chinese heritage

Taiwan’s president Ma often stresses that Taiwanese are ethnic Chinese, even though this cannot be said of all citizens. With his latest quote on the subject, he might cause new controversy.

Ma Ying-jeou recently gave an interview to several reporters working for foreign media. During this interview, he is quoted as having said:

All our efforts in Taiwan have aimed at showing ethnic Chinese societies around the world that the imported concept of democracy can take root, germinate, and grow into a big tree on purely ethnic Chinese soil.

This quote appears identically in at least two reports:

This could either mean that Ma answered in English and was quoted verbatim, but that is unlikely since he refrains from giving English interviews ever since feeling misquoted by AP a few years ago. Or it could mean that he answered in Chinese and both journalists quoted from the official English translation which is usually provided by the Presidential Office staff who record all interviews.

Tsou Aborigine Taiwan

Taiwanese? Definitely! Ethnical Chinese? No.

Who do you call Chinese?

It probably goes without saying that President Ma calling Taiwan’s society „purely ethnic Chinese soil“ has the potential to be highly controversial. (mehr …)


How Taiwan president Ma addressed the foreign press

The other day, the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents‘ Club welcomed President Ma Ying-jeou to an international press conference. All members had the right to raise questions. After asking you, dear readers, I decided on one that I found especially important. Watch how Ma replied.

Cardboard President Ma

(No, this is not the real Ma on the photo. It’s a cardboard version at the Presidential Office. Although I would love to ask him if he likes my Doraemon shirt.)

Human rights in Taiwan: Suggestions that must not be forgotten

The question I decided to ask had been suggested in a comment by David Reid, an Australian blogger with a long interest in Taiwan.

It’s about the state of human rights in Taiwan and the government’s promise to voluntarily reach UN standards. Taiwan has ratified the United Nations‘ human rights conventions, even though it cannot be a UN member. To show they are serious, the government in early 2013 invited an international group of reknown human rights scholars to review Taiwan’s first Human Rights Report and draw up suggestions on how to improve.

Human rights: Nowak, Wu, Ma

I met with the experts in Taipei. They told me that they were basically simulating an official UN Human Rights Council assessment, and that they had direct access to all kinds of civil rights groups during the process, taking their suggestions and complaints into account. They said they never had a comparable opportunity anywhere else, since usually the official UN assessments take place in Geneva and not on the ground. They praised the open and transparent way in which the Taiwanese government had structured the process.

Still, they did come up with a long list of suggestions (82 points) where Taiwan should revise its laws and regulations to better adhere to internationally accepted human rights standards, as laid out in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

You can download the complete Concluding Observations and Recommendations at the Ministry of Justice’s website. There, you’ll also find more background information.

Some time has passed since then, so I decided the time was right to find out what the government plans to do now, or if the list is going to end up in some office drawer. Also, I wanted to take the opportunity and remind my reporter colleagues of the subject.

So when, unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to ask Ma the very first question at the press conference, this was it:

Mr. President, earlier this year your government has invited a group of international human rights experts to come to Taiwan and review the human rights situation in Taiwan. They came up with a list of more than 80 suggestions on how to bring Taiwan’s laws more into line with international human rights standards. Very detailed. My question is: Which of those suggestions will you implement in the near future?

This is how the president replied (video):

As I somehow expected, Ma evaded mentioning any specific measures or areas with a need for improvement. He is media-savvy political professional, after all, and (like German chancellor Merkel), these guys really know how to duck questions they don’t want to answer.

Still, what I am taking away from his answer is:

  • Ma is familiar with the subject and was immediately able to come up with some relevant numbers and data
  • There will be an implementation report at some point in the future that I am looking forward to

Ask English, reply Chinese: The complete Q&A

After my first question, the Q&A went on. Ma, however, realized that despite his English ability, which is usually regarded as excellent, the original plan was to answer all questions in Chinese. So mine was the only question that got an English answer.

After he had originally been very fond of giving English interviews to the international press, Ma adopted this strategy after he felt being misquoted in an Associated Press interview in 2010.

Watch more videos of Ma Ying-jeou speaking English

So this is how the rest of the event played out. Most reporters focussed on Ma’s China policy and subjects like peace talks, political negotiations, military threats, and the trade and services agreement with China. However, there were also questions about gay marriage and Taiwan’s energy and nuclear policy.

You can jump directly to each question using the links in the video description.

Read more about the human rights reports

These are some texts I wrote about the human rights experts‘ visit to Taiwan:

About me

I am a German reporter living and working in Taiwan. Read more English posts on this otherwise mostly German blog. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, and Google Plus.

English posts you might want to have a look at:


Anything you want to know from Taiwan’s president?

On Friday morning, President Ma Ying-jeou will give an English press conference for the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents‘ Club. Like all members, I will have the chance to ask him one question. What would you suggest?

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou

What do you want me to ask Ma Ying-jeou?

Please leave a comment with your suggestion.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Only serious suggestions. I will not publish anything else here.
  • No arguing. I am only interested in suggestions.
  • Not too uncritical. Even if you like the man or his politics, I believe that journalists should always have a critical attitude towards those in power. Also, it would be a wasted opportunity.

    Negative example:
    „President Ma, please explain how you will improve the relations with Beijing even more.“

  • Not insulting or confrontative. Even if you dislike the man or his politics, he is a duly elected head of state, and foreign media ought to respect his status.

    Negative example:
    „President Ma, don’t you agree you should step down, since you obviously lost the public’s support?“

  • Not too predictable. Ma is a seasoned professional when it comes to dealing with media, and you can be sure that he has a lot of stock answers prepared in the back of his head.

    Negative example:
    „President Ma, there are people who accuse you of selling out Taiwan. How would you reply to these accusations?“

  • Not too long. Everyone only has 30 seconds to ask his question.

Your comments will appear after I’ve approved of them. No need to post more than once.

What then?

I will take all suggestions into consideration and then try to ask Ma the question I find most interesting on Friday morning.

Please note: There is no guarantee that I can actually ask a question. The whole event is limited to an hour, and the moderator will select questions through a show of hands. There will probably not be enough time for everyone to ask.

In any case, I will try to post a video of the whole press conference as soon as possible.

„We are an independent country“ *

Over the years, I’ve seen Ma Ying-jeou address the foreign press in English on at least five occasions.

Ma last addressed the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents‘ Club in 2010. Back then, I filmed this video with a key quote:

It was even featured on an Al Jazeera program in the run-up to Taiwan’s 2012 presidential elections.

(* Note that Ma carefully says „we“ and not „Taiwan“, so he probably means the Republic of China. Nothing spectacularly new in this statement, really.)

More videos of Ma Ying-jeou speaking English

2012, international press conference ahead of the presidential elections (video):

2013, welcoming a group of international human rights experts (video):

What did the scholars say about Taiwan’s human rights situation?

About me

I am a German reporter living and working in Taiwan. Read more English posts on this otherwise mostly German blog. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, and Google Plus.

English posts you might want to have a look at:


Immer wieder überraschen mich in Taiwan Parallelen zu Deutschland: Auch hier könnte der Präsident bald seinen Job los sein. Allerdings auf natürlichem Weg, denn am 14. Januar wird gewählt. Taiwan ist erst seit den neunziger Jahren eine wirkliche Demokratie, und es ist erst die fünfte freie Präsidentenwahl. Klar, dass so ein Ereignis für die Menschen eine noch größere Bedeutung hat als etwa in Deutschland.

Amtsinhaber: Ma Ying-jeou (l.), Chinesische Nationalistische Partei (Kuomintang, KMT)

Für mich ist es besonders interessant, denn als ich vor vier Jahren das erste Mal nach Taiwan kam, herrschte auch gerade Wahlkampf. (Hier mein Bericht vom Wahltag 2008.) Damals war das Ergebnis aber schon Wochen vor der Wahl abzusehen, diesmal wird es spannend. Nach vier Jahren sind viele Wähler enttäuscht. Die Wirtschaft läuft nicht recht, die Gehälter von Normalverdienern stagnieren, und die Preise für Eigentumswohnungen sind in teils unermessliche Höhen gestiegen. Die Regierung konnte viele Wahlversprechen nicht einhalten.

Und dann ist da noch die Sache mit China. Eigentlich ist die Volksrepublik mit ihrem Machtanspruch ja die größte Bedrohung für Taiwan. Trotzdem hat die aktuelle Regierung ganz auf Schönwetter-Diplomatie gesetzt, eine Reihe Wirtschaftsvereinbarungen unterschrieben und Taiwan für chinesische Investoren, Touristen und Studenten geöffnet. Peking hat das Säbelrasseln sein lassen, weil Taiwan sich ganz von allein in seinen Orbit bewegte. Chinas Position aber hat sich keinen Millimeter verändert. Noch immer behaupten die Parteikader in Peking steif und fest ihre Ansprüche auf Taiwan, noch immer rüsten sie weiter auf für den Fall, dass sie eines Tages die Insel militärisch blockieren oder gar angreifen wollen.

Herausforderin: Tsai Ing-wen (l.), Demokratische Fortschrittspartei (DPP)

Im Moment ist diese Gefahr nicht akut, aber vielen Taiwanern ist der Schmusekurs mit der Volksrepublik nicht geheuer. Sie wollen mehr Distanz zu China, jedenfalls so lang es eine Diktatur ist. Taiwan möglichst bald offiziell für unabhängig erklären wollen die meisten aber auch nicht – das würde China einen Vorwand liefern, aggressiv zu werden. Am besten soll also alles erst mal so bleiben, wie es ist. Welcher Seite Taiwans gemäßigte Wechselwähler am ehesten zutrauen, den „Status Quo“ zu erhalten, könnte die Wahl entscheiden.

Sind Taiwaner eigentlich Chinesen? Eine schwierige Frage, auf die es viele Antworten gibt. Über 90 Prozent der Menschen stammen von Familien ab, die vom Festland übergesiedelt sind, meist zwischen dem 17. und 19. Jahrhundert. Taiwans Gesellschaft und Kultur sind chinesisch geprägt, unterscheiden sich aber teils deutlich von der heutigen Volksrepublik. Die einen ziehen Parallelen zum geteilten Deutschland oder Korea und meinen, dass beide Seiten eigentlich zusammengehören. Die anderen denken eher an so etwas wie Deutschland und Österreich: Zwei Länder, die eine Sprache und streckenweise auch Geschichte teilen, die sich aber unterschiedlich entwickelt haben und nun getrennte Wege gehen.

Ein Land, viele Meinungen.

Wie auch immer die Mehrheit der Taiwaner sich entscheidet – der Rest der Welt sollte es akzeptieren. Wichtig ist vor allem, dass die Wahlen fair ablaufen. Stimmenkauf und parteiische Beamte sind in Taiwan traditionell ein Problem, auch wenn die Situation sich gebessert hat und für Stimmenkauf harte Strafen verhängt werden. Außerdem geraten Taiwans Wahlkämpfe oft zu Schlammschlachten, in denen beide Seiten sich vorwerfen, korrupt zu sein und das Recht zu beugen. Sachthemen treten da in den Hintergrund. Aber im Großen und Ganzen funktioniert das System. Ich bin froh, in dieser Demokratie zu leben, und ich hoffe sehr, dass China eines Tages den Weg Taiwans einschlägt – und nicht umgekehrt.

In den Kommentaren bitte ich um Zurückhaltung! Einseitige Lobhudelei oder Gemeckere über eine Partei oder ihre Kandidaten veröffentliche ich hier nicht. Blogger-Kollege Ludigel schreibt auch über die Wahl und fordert ausdrücklich dazu auf, sich bei ihm zu streiten, also bitte hier entlang.