The Big Bad Blue Lying Machine is BackAn incident involving an academic’s invented quotes from a closed-door meeting between the DPP chairperson and a US official sets a new standard for crassness
How time flies! Less than a year from now, Taiwanese will have elected a new person to lead the country, concluding eight long years of the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presidency. The idea hasn’t completely sunk in yet, but election season — and the complete, all-consuming madness that comes with it — is right around the corner. In fact, the madness part of the electoral cycle has already begun.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) may still be struggling to find a viable candidate for the January 16 election, but this hasn’t prevented the big machine behind it from shifting into high gear to undermine its opponent, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). And given what’s at stake and the high likelihood that Tsai could win this time around, the nastiness of the 2012 elections could feel like a walk in the park compared with what lies ahead.
That the KMT has a tendency to punch below the belt in election time isn’t exactly a surprise. We all remember the doomsday predictions that surrounded a DPP win in 2012, the illegal surveillance against Tsai’s campaign, and the allegations about her illegal profiteering in Yu Chang Biologics Co (宇昌生技股份有限公司), which though spurious nevertheless created just enough doubt about the ethical character of the DPP candidate to have had some influence on the outcome.
It didn’t matter that government officials were caught falsifying official documents (they were never punished for it) or that the crass allegations risked destroying one of the few real success stories in Taiwan’s biomedical industry (now known as TaiMed Biologics Inc [中裕新藥股份有限公司], the company has pioneered research and the development of Ibalizumab, a promising drug also known as TMB-355, for the treatment of HIV/AIDS): Fabrication worked, and the blue camp knew it could count on the media to amplify the damaging message against Tsai, forcing her to dedicate substantial time, energy, and resources to counter the false claims.
The blue machine is at it again. Once again we’re being warned of the “dire consequences” to Taiwan’s economy and to relations with China that would result from a DPP victory on January 16. And once again, pro-KMT pundits and media are distorting reality to hurt Tsai’s chances in the election. True to form, pan-blue media have led the charge with unsubstantiated reports about the U.S. government refusing a Tsai visit to Washington, D.C. “because she doesn’t have a China policy” and other problems she may be facing with a skeptical White House.
Though based on falsities, such incidents still pale in comparison with what Edward I-hsin Chen (陳一新), a professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of American Studies, recently did in an op-ed for the pro-KMT China Times, a publication that, it must be said, rarely hesitates to distort the facts if doing so serves its political agenda. Not only did Mr. Chen, who is also a consultant with the National Policy Foundation (NPF, 國家政策研究基金會), the KMT think tank, completely invent the dialogue that occurred during a closed-door meeting between Tsai and U.S. Congressman Ed Royce (Mr. Chen wasn’t present), he then used the made-up dialogue — “quotes” and all — to provide an analysis that discredited Tsai.
Even after it was exposed that he had fabricated the exchanges, Mr. Chen said that didn’t matter, as his imagined dialogue (and subsequent “analysis”) was based on his “personal understanding” of previous U.S. positions. And when the DPP declared on March 17 that the alleged exchanges between Tsai and Mr. Royce were completely made up and demanded an apology, Chen didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. Instead, he smugly asked the DPP to prove a negative by making public the minutes of the private meeting between Tsai and the American delegation.
And we’re only in March. Besides disgracing himself and undermining the reputation of academics, what Mr. Chen has done with his “op-ed” is to demonstrate that in the lead-up to 2016, the pan-blue camp will not limit itself to fabricating information about its Taiwanese opponents. This time around, its minions will not hesitate to even put words in the mouths of senior U.S. officials — the Chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, no less! — if doing so can help the KMT.
The DPP did the right thing by pushing back and exposing Mr. Chen’s fraudulent antics. Such individuals should be made an example of, and if KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) is serious about reforming his party and the NPR (having rid it of Ma holdovers), he might be advised to reconsider its associations with individuals who engage in such practices. Perhaps the U.S. government should also step in and make it clear that it will not countenance political hacks inventing quotes from its officials, especially when doubts remain about Washington’s commitment to a neutral stance in the 2016 elections. After all, its own reputation is at stake here.
J. Michael Cole is editor in chief of Thinking Taiwan, a senior non-resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and an Associate researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei.
就算馬政府官員當時就被查出變造公文書（註2。變造者從未受到任何懲處），野蠻粗暴的指控更不惜以徹底摧毀台灣生物醫學產業屈指可數的成功個案為代價（宇昌生技公司離開台灣後改組為中裕新藥公司，是全球研究發明治療愛滋病新藥Ibalizumab / TMB-355的先驅）：但變造手法還是得逞了，泛藍陣營也充分運用媒體強力放送損害蔡英文名譽的訊息，逼得她消耗大量時間、精力及資源反駁不實指控。
儘管以上這些全是編派胡謅而來，但與淡江大學美國研究所教授陳一新（Edward I-hsin Chen）近日在親國民黨的《中國時報》上發表的對頁評論（註3）相比，全都相形失色；讀者須知，這家報紙一貫毫不遲疑地歪曲事實，為其政治意圖推波助瀾。同時具有國民黨智庫國家政策研究基金會國安組顧問身分的陳一新，不只無中生有編造蔡英文與美國眾議員艾羅斯（Ed Royce）閉門會議的談話內容（陳一新根本不在場），更引述推論這段捏造的對話，寫成煞有介事的分析來誹謗蔡英文。
寇謐將（J. Michael Cole）是英文想想論壇總編輯，也是諾丁罕大學中國政策研究所不駐所內的資深研究員，以及法國現代中國研究中心台北分部副研究員。）
（註1）J. Michael Cole, “Rumors, Scandal and the Outcome of Taiwan 2012”, Ballots & Bullets, 1/4/2012
（註2）Chris Wang, “2012 Elections: Yu Chang papers altered twice: DPP”, Taipei Times, 12/22/2011