The Big Bad Blue Lying Machine is Back

An 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
Photo: Flickr / CC / CSUF Photos
Photo: Flickr / CC / CSUF Photos
J. Michael Cole
By

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.

 

巨大的藍色造謠機器重新啟動

一位學者憑空編造民進黨主席與美國政府官員閉門會議談話的風波,再次突破了粗野的下限。

果真是時光飛逝!從現在算起,不到一年後,台灣人就要選出一位新的國家元首,馬英九總統的八年任期也即將結束。選戰的思維未必到位,但選舉季節,以及伴隨大選而來的吞噬一切的徹底瘋狂早已伺機而動。實際上,選戰輪迴中的瘋狂此刻已經啟動。

中國國民黨或許還在絞盡腦汁,為明年1月16日的總統選舉推派一個有力的候選人,但幕後主導這個黨的巨大機器照樣提高分貝、加足馬力詆毀他們的對手───民主進步黨主席蔡英文。從這次大選的重大意義,以及蔡英文聲勢看好的情形看來,2012年選戰期間的種種卑劣伎倆相較於今後即將上演的戲碼,恐怕只不過是小菜一碟。

國民黨在選戰期間玩弄不正當手段的習性,其實不足為奇;我們都還記得民進黨勝選台灣就要毀滅的恐嚇預言,針對蔡英文競選團隊的非法監控,以及關於蔡英文非法圖利宇昌生技公司的指控(註1),儘管純屬無中生有,卻足以讓選民質疑這位民進黨候選人的道德人格,從而在一定程度上影響了大選結果。

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。

如今,巨大的藍色機器再次啟動。我們再一次收到警告,要是明年1月16日民進黨勝選,台灣的經濟發展以及對中國關係將要面臨何等「嚴重後果」。親國民黨的政治評論員與新聞媒體,也再一次為了打擊蔡英文勝選的可能性而扭曲事實。親藍媒體一如既往地打頭陣,大力宣傳未經證實的所謂美國政府以「缺乏中國政策」為由拒絕蔡英文訪問華盛頓的報告,還有蔡英文和充滿疑慮的白宮打交道可能會面臨的問題。

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。

就算憑空捏造雙方對話的行徑東窗事發,陳一新仍然不以為意,堅稱他空想的對話(及所謂「分析」)全都是根據他對美國先前立場的「個人理解」。當民進黨在3月17日發表聲明(註4),表示蔡英文與艾羅斯的所謂對話純屬捏造,並要求捏造者道歉,陳一新仍然拒不認錯;他甚至洋洋得意地要求民進黨公布蔡英文與美國代表閉門會談的全文紀錄才能否定他的說法。

現在只不過是3月而已。除了自取其辱、玷汙斯文之外,陳一新在這篇「對頁評論」裡更讓我們認清了:從現在開始到2016年,泛藍陣營絕對會毫無顧忌地捏造編派本土競爭對手的各種黑資料。而這次,只要有利於國民黨,他們的打手更是毫不猶豫地把自己的話塞進美國資深官員嘴裡───那位資深官員不是別人,正是眾議院外交事務委員會主席!

民進黨做出了正當的駁斥,並且揭發了陳一新的詐騙手法。陳一新這樣的人應當被看作一個榜樣,要是國民黨主席朱立倫真心想要改革國民黨和(擺脫了馬英九影響的)國家政策基金會,就應該做出明智決定,對國民黨相關機構裡幹出這種勾當的人斟酌去取。美國政府恐怕也有必要介入,清楚表達絕不容許外國政客捏造美國政府官員言論的行為,尤其在華府當局對2016年大選能否保持中立仍有疑問的當下。畢竟,這種手段同樣損害了美國政府的名譽。

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

http://nottspolitics.org/2012/01/04/rumors-scandal-and-the-outcome-of-taiwan-2012/

(註2)Chris Wang, “2012 Elections: Yu Chang papers altered twice: DPP”, Taipei Times, 12/22/2011

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/12/22/2003521327

(註3)陳一新,〈時論:美方看破蔡英文手腳〉,《中國時報》,3/17/2015

http://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/20150317000460-260109

(註4)陳慧萍,〈國民黨智庫虛擬蔡英文與美議員對話 民進黨批造假〉,《自由時報》,3/17/2015

http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/1260070

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