Monday, November 10, 2008

China - Taiwan

In 2005 a big news story was the visit to the Chinese mainland of the first ranking politician ever from Taiwan. Mao and the Communists had banished the Nationalists under Chang Kai Shek to perpetual exile until then. The next few posts comment on the reciprocal visit to Taiwan of the highest ranking Communist ever which has just taken place. In 2005 the Taiwanese guest paid homage to Sun Yat Sen, founder of the Nationalist party, at Nanjing which was the Nationalist capital for a good stretch during the civil war of the 1930s. Sun Yat Sen is also a hero to the Communists because he brought an end to feudalism and the Chinese dynasties in the revolution of 1911. Lynne and I were in Nanjing at this memorial to Sun Yat Sen in November 2007.

Chen Yunlin

Airplane Head (left)

Airplane Head

He stepped off the plane with a mission: Make history by becoming the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan. Sign a landmark trade deal. Draw the wayward island closer to motherland China.
Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin did all those things during his trip that ends today. But his five day visit also highlighted how – socially and politically – Taiwan and China are not merely like two separate countries. They are more like different planets. While Chen hobnobbed with tycoons and officials on Taiwan's banquet circuit, he was mocked by comedians, cursed by rowdy street protesters and scrutinized by the island's aggressive media. The press dubbed his Elvis style pompadour hairdo "airplane head". A newspaper headline asked, "Who knows how much hair gel he uses?" A popular chant by street protesters who dogged him was "Chen Yunlin scram!" They unfurled a huge banner from a window at his hotel that called him a "Communist bandit" He was trapped in a banquet hall past midnight Wednesday by demonstrators who surrounded the venue and blocked traffic.

Source: Associated Press, Friday November 7th 2008.


Sun Yat Sen Memorial, Nanjing