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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, Monday 月曜日

I got up at usual this Monday morning, and while eating breakfast, noticed that Gregory Clark was back with another column in today's Japan Times. Entitled "Hope for peace in partition?", he mentions Taiwan in several places:

"Taiwan is a good example. Separation from mainland China in 1949 gave the embattled anticommunist Chinese minority the chance to regroup, regain confidence and even do much to educate the dominant majority during the latter's periods of ideological madness. Hong Kong, too, has played a crucial (role) in educating and helping its Chinese parent to revive economically. True, those partitions only came about through historical and geographical accident. And Taiwan's refusal today to accept some reconciliation with the mainland creates problems. But they are significant all the same, today especially."

Clark has long been sympathetic to dictatorial regimes like the ones in Beijing and Pyongyang. He once wrote something to the effect that China's claims to Tibet date back 2000 years, and in a recent column he tried to paint the Serbs as the victims in the Kosovo situation - a classic piece of Clarkism (ever hear of "Greater Serbia", Greg?). Here, he naturally assumes that Taiwan is a part of the greater Chinese nation, and puts the blame for cross-strait tensions squarely on Taipei, conveniently ignoring the fact that Beijing refuses to deal with a democratically-elected government. It's obvious Clark has no conception of Taiwanese history. Later, he writes of how partitioning Kosovo relates to Taiwan:

"...if satisfying Serbian historic nostalgia is important, then the concept of residual sovereignty can also be used — a concept that the international community has used very successfully to ease tensions over Taiwan."

"Residual sovereignty" is a concept that was developed during the American occupation of Okinawa, and eventually paved the way for its return to Japanese rule. It has also been suggested as a possible solution to Japan's dispute with Russia over the Northern Territories 北方領土, though so far without any success. Clark favors the status quo that says "Taiwan is a part of China, though for the time being it is under an administration separate from that which governs the mainland". He has never shown much sympathy towards the idea of self-determination, especially when it comes to his beloved Chinese empire, so it comes as no surprise that Gregory Clark doesn't entertain the thought that perhaps the majority of the people on Taiwan might have different ideas.

There was also this bit:

"In the early stages of Australia's Vietnam War some of us in Canberra pushed for what was called the enclave solution. This said that if it was clear the anticommunist Vietnamese could not prevail against their pro communist enemies, the U.S. and its allies would move to create a protected enclave — a little Taiwan — where the anticommunist forces would be able to regroup and recover.

Our idea got to the top levels of the then-opposition Labor Party. But it was ridiculed by both the right and the left, and went no further. Both were certain their side would prevail.

Eventually one side did prevail, but only after 10 more years of napalm, Agent Orange, B-52 bombings and some 2 million deaths. The other side was then left cruelly to fend as best for itself as it could."

Gregory Clark had the solution to the dilemma of the Vietnam War all along, and no one listened! When will we ever learn? At least we still have our little enclave called "Taiwan".

On a different note, today was the middle of Ghost Month 鬼月, and the section of Fengyuan's (Fongyuan) 豊原 main street, Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Road 中正路, was closed so that hundreds of people could make offerings in front of the main Matsu (Mazu) Temple in town. The result was chaotic traffic and smoky air.

While trying to get away from the heat and the smoke, I noticed this sign for a clothing store.

The name of the shop is "Dorobo Nikki" 泥棒日記, a "Thief's Diary", and underneath it reads "Nihon zenkoku de kyou ninki" 日本全国できょう人気. The problem with this sentence is the word きょう. Something is popular all over Japan, but unless きょう can be replaced with a kanji, that something is not clear. Babel Fish suggests it might be "present" or "today" 今日, but who knows for sure what the owner wants to say?

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