President Hu recently met with a delegation of ethnic minorities from Taiwan, and pledged further support from the mainland for whatever help Taiwan may need. Ethnic minorities in southern Taiwan, living often in remote villages, were the hardest hit group in Taiwan by the recent typhoon. Here is a translation of a story on the People’s Web by China News Wrap:
“Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, met with members of a delegation of Taiwan’s ethnic minorities in the Great Hall of the People and delivered a speech on the afternoon of 19 August.”
“Hu Jintao firstly gave a warm welcome to this delegation of Taiwan’s ethnic minorities on their visit to the mainland, as well as gave his condolences to these Taiwanese ethnic minority compatriots.”
“Hu Jintao said, ‘Taiwan recently suffered from a typhoon of a size that is rarely seen in history, and the lives and property of our Taiwanese compatriots have suffered great damage – Taiwanese ethnic minority compatriots in particular had endured acute hardship during the disaster. We share their pain, and are extremely concerned about their welfare. At this point, I would like to represent your compatriots on the mainland, and send our sincere and deep condolences to Taiwanese who have been affected by the typhoon.”
‘Hu Jintao said that the peoples of China have always possessed an outstanding tradition of overcoming adversity and providing each other with mutual support. Compatriots on either side of the Taiwan strait are a single family sharing ties of blood. The difficulties that our Taiwanese compatriots endure are also our own difficulties, and we will continue to provide our Taiwanese compatriots with aid and support, and support them in their recovery work.”
“Hu Jintao pointed out that Taiwanese ethnic minority compatriots are important members of the great family of the peoples of China, and that ‘for a long period of time, you have engaged in an unwavering struggle to resist foreign aggression and preserve national dignity, and have worked tirelessly for the development of the peoples of China and the development of Taiwan, making a great contribution to the improvement and development of cross-strait relations. Your own actions prove that compatriots on either side of the strait only need to unite their hearts and work in unison, in order to be capable of properly protecting and establishing our common homeland, and create a new era for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”
“Hu Jintai said that in the past year cross-strait relations had achieved historic improvements, resulting in a series of major accomplishments. This is in the fundamental interests of compatriots on both sides of the strait, and is what the hearts of the people long for. ‘I sincerely hope that that compatriots on both sides of the strait will join hands together even more closely, to achieve the great revival of the people’s of China.”
The trip by the delegation was planned long before Morakot became news – as part of the increasing culture ties between the Mainland and Taiwan. The delegation was headed by May Chin, a popular Taiwanese entertainment star. Besides visiting Beijing, the group will also be visiting southwestern Yunnan Province, a place home to some 20 ethnic minorities on the Mainland.
Personally, I am very satisfied at the increasing economic and cultural exchange between the Mainland and Taiwan. I am pleased to see the Mainland offer help in so many ways (see, e.g., here, here or here) – in ways reminescent of the way so many Taiwanese reached out to help the people of Sichuan after the Wenchuan quake struck more than a year ago.
While there are few still to be rescued from being trapped now, much help is still needed to provide for the victims on the ground. I sincerely hope that whatever help Taiwan needs, politics will not cause the government in Taiwan to flinch or refrain from asking the Mainland for any help it needs.
Charles Liu says
Oh god, what’s next? Some trumped up human rights criticism over oppression of Taiwan’s aborigines? Set up some kind of “GaoShan House”, get a movie star like Jackie Chan to front it? Heck maybe even fund an government-in-exile for them?
Give it up Hu, you can’t pull off stuff like that.
C’mon Charles, you know the rules. I just changed one word but please, next time just stay within the bounds.
Out of curiosity, is there something you object to in Allen’s article? All I could see were positives for both China and Taiwan.
The delegation was headed by May Chin, a popular Taiwanese entertainment star.
Mr Hu liked her so much that she reportedly received 20 million yuan during her visit from Wang Yi, head of China’s “Taiwan Affairs Office”. Of course there’s now no oversight of that money.
MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said Chinese parties interested in donating money to the relief effort and reconstruction should do so through the Ministry of the Interior, the Straits Exchange Foundation or the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China.
“It is inappropriate for an individual to handle relief funds,” he said. “We hope the money will be handled properly and go directly to the victims and their families in a fair and reasonable manner,” he said.
Also I don’t think that she should have gone through with the trip – she should have stayed in Taiwan to help with things there, especially after she criticised the Taiwanese government for its slow response.
Aboriginal lawmakers across party lines had panned Chin for going abroad while Aboriginal communities struggle in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.
“Anyone with sympathy would not think this is an appropriate time to travel abroad,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) of the Sediq tribe said.
“As an Aboriginal lawmaker, she should have stood by the nation’s Aborigines,” Kung said.
Raj#3, I see nothing wrong with that. She is giving a signal that if both KMT and DPP don’t perform, she will go for CCP. Is this not the best timing to do that?
Sidetrack a little, every time I look at the minorities stand along with the Chinese, the question come to mind is why no Chinese wear any traditional attire or we don’t have one?
@Rhan: There is a “People Park” (民族公园) in Beijing, where you can see the Han attire. I don’t remember what it looked like, unfortunately.
Actually, I don’t really understand why minorities as a rule should wear their traditional attire. It seems kind of Soviet and old-fashioned to me, showing dances in traditional dress to show the harmony between peoples.
Otto Kerner says
“People Park”? I always thought it was called Racist Park.
@Otto: LOL, I forgot the right translation! 🙂
Otto Kerner says
It’s actually a pretty hard phrase to render into normal-sounding English. A lot of Chinese sources use “nationality” for 民族, but the meaning of “Nationality Park” would pretty opaque. I prefer to translate 民族 as “ethnic group”, but “Ethnic Group Park” hardly sounds appealing. A more subjective American PC version would be “Diversity Park”, which gets the point across.
The DPP can’t do anything about the relief response – they’re not in power. You’re right that it’s understandable if she doesn’t feel satisfied with the KMT response given they’re in power. By why would she appeal to the CCP rather than the Chinese government? That would be like saying “the local politicians here are crap – please run Taiwan for us”. That said she is a unificationist so maybe that’s what she thinks. Of course if she were Chinese doing that in regards to how the CCP runs China she’d be in real trouble! 😉
Wukailong, some ethnic minorities choose to wear garb like that to regain their sense of independence and others just wear modern clothing. Maybe that’s not what you were talking about. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but it does seem that whenever an “ethnic minority” figure appears with a Chinese politician they’re in traditional garb. Perhaps it is a Soviet-style “look at all the happy and loyal minorities standing beside our great leaders” thing.
@Raj: That was my point exactly. Though of course I can understand that there are people who wear it as a way to assert their own identity, it sometimes does feel a bit fake. During the Olympics, there was a report of a large group from some minority on TV who all watched the games happily together in traditional garb. My brother told me this (I was working during the days) and he said it felt kind of Soviet-like.
@Raj #9, Wukailong #10,
You both have mentioned the ethnic minority dressing up and “looking all happy” as “Soviet-like” several times before.
When I first came across it (in other threads), I didn’t think much of it. People sometimes make observations here and there as just … well, observations. But since you both have done it several times, I wonder what point you are trying to make. Do you both have some sort of fascination with the Soviet Union? Are you trying to create an innuendo that this is mere propaganda (i.e. trying to project reality of harmony when in reality there is oppression) by associating this practice with the failed Soviet Union?
I am curious because to me it is what it is. If you have more information about minorities being forced (or pressured) into doing this by some propaganda ministry – that would be interesting. But as Wukailong has also noted, it’s entirely possible that some minorities like to dress up simply because they feel a more concrete sense of identity and connectedness with their culture when they do so.
I know in America, Native Americans dress up when they confer in their own town meetings and pow-wows. Yes – some of it is to attract tourists. But they also do it when there are no tourists around – when it’s their own thing (I know it cause one of my college roommate was a Native American and has shared with me his family albums).
Anyways – I guess I like to dig deeper what you two are trying to say. If you are both making a presumption on what is happening now because of some superficial similarities with Soviet Union practices – that seems kind of superficial. I might as well walk around and every time I hear Russian spoken, jump up and say – hey that reminds me of the Soviet Union when they pronounced “we will bury you”!
But since you both have done it several times, I wonder what point you are trying to make. Do you both have some sort of fascination with the Soviet Union?
We haven’t done it several times. W raised it, I said it did seem a bit like that and he confirmed my confusion over what he meant. That’s not “several times” by any dictionary definition.
Are you trying to create an innuendo that this is mere propaganda (i.e. trying to project reality of harmony when in reality there is oppression) by associating this practice with the failed Soviet Union?
It certainly is the case in my view that the Chinese political leadership likes photos of minorities in traditional garb for propaganda value. Whether there is “oppression” depends on the minority.
If you have more information about minorities being forced (or pressured) into doing this by some propaganda ministry
Did we say they were, or that they were in the Soviet Union?
You’re being somewhat defensive. Maybe you should try to relax a bit?
I was defensive in Steve’s Taiwan thread, but I don’t think I am defensive here.
I think I am asking a perfectly legit question.
By the way even you didn’t make the “Soviet” observation mentioned above in other threads, I swear I’ve seen it many times. But I do apologize about stating that you personally have made the observations several times.
Otto Kerner says
The comparison seems obvious to me. The idea that ethnic minority people in China might be required to dress in putatively traditional costumes and used as propaganda props is indeed creepy, and it’s the sort of thing that was done in the old Soviet Union. The comparison is all the more obvious because the PRC’s policy on minorities was originally based on Marxist-Leninist thought.
Whether a particular person’s clothing in a particular instance is freely chosen is naturally hard to judge. I would tend to assume that when you participate in a government of CCP event, you usually dress the way you are expected to dress, not necessarily how you feel like dressing.
If this discussion about clothing came up in an inappropriate place, I apologize. There’s just been a disaster and there might be much more important things to discuss than such details… Just to make clear what’s behind what I wrote, though:
First of all, I don’t think minorities are forced into wearing traditional attire or that their doing so is an example of oppression. I think it’s more something they are expected to do when there are reports or pieces made for TV or newspapers. From what I saw about the Serf Liberation Day, for example, it only seemed to consist of traditionally dressed Tibetans holding dance meetings, and I’ve seen many similar examples with smaller or less known minorities. The same happens (more or less frequently) in other countries when tourists expect an exotic experience, or there is some sort of meeting between government officials and minority representatives. Since I’m particularly interested in the situation of the indigenous people in Scandinavia, the Samis, I’ll bring them up as an example. Many in that community felt that the first minister in charge of Sami questions seemed more interested in doing the “fun stuff” – riding a reindeer sleigh, taking picture with traditionally dressed Samis and holding speeches about their great cultural heritage.
The question about minorities is knotty for any country that’s not homogenous. Historically, what it has chosen to convey to the world in terms of its policies seem to have switched between extremes. Sometimes governments have tried to stamp out and prohibit any shows of nationalism or difference among the minority peoples, while at other times they have put on a show of exoticism by dressing up, playing music and dancing. And often, they have done both at the same time.
I’m not particularly fascinated by the Soviet Union (the main fascination in the comments on this website seems to be about the US, which is often used as a comparison 😉 ), but Chinese policies are indeed in many ways copied or studied from the Soviet Union, so I do think it makes sense to make comparisons. The Soviet Union too was very concerned about nationalism and seemed particularly happy to show minorities happily leading their traditional life under socialism. It may be true that they are indeed doing that, but it’s also true that their style is the same. And there’s also the insistence of many that somehow their country or system have solved the minority question and everyone is living harmoniously together.
Still, I don’t know exactly what drives individuals, so I prefer not to make too much judgements.
Just for a little fun…
These two Taiwanese Americans are doing something interesting to try to help out the victims in Taiwan.
Their spoken Taiwanese is terrible but their Taiwanese singing is not too bad…
@14 Otto Kerner
Maybe the question should be is if the Chinese government force people of different ethnicity to dress differently or these minorities are dressing differently by their own free will. If these minorities are being used as propaganda props are ‘creepy,’ and these minorities are being ‘forced’ to dress like Han Chinese, would that be considered ‘cultural genocide?’
Perhaps these minorities want to be proud of their ethnic minority and they are showing it.
Why minority groups in China are wearing traditional clothing is speculation on everyone’s part since none of us really know the reason. I prefer to think they’re doing it because they choose to do so. Unless proven otherwise, I’ll continue to think that way. I can’t see any reason to speculate a negative without any compelling reason.
When there is a formal occasion in San Diego Chinese society, it’s not unusual for the women to wear qipao. They wouldn’t wear them on the street or in a non-Chinese function and they choose to voluntarily wear them, so my guess is that this same idea applies to Chinese minorities.
Money talks, bs walks.
Interesting take on why people wear traditional clothing though. Maybe Raj can shine in on why so many Indians wear their traditional garbs completed with dots on their heads everywhere around the world. Afterall, he apparently thinks near politicians, minorities wear ethnic clothing only for propaganda purposes. In order to fight propaganda then, maybe all minorities should only wear western style shirt/ties or skirts when they are next to politicians.
Is it real minority with minority clothes?
Han dressed with minority clothes like during opening of Olympic Games ?