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The Day After in Gaifu 外埔

In the aftermath of yesterday's presidential election triumph by Ma Ying-jeou (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九 of the Kuomintang (Guomindang) 中国国民党, the Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 tried to explain the reasons for, and the possible ramifications of, the results in an editorial entitled "Taiwan voters offer olive branch to China" http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/20080323TDY04310.htm. While the Yomiuri's editors cite the usual factors found in most Western media coverage of the voting (a sluggish economy, corruption scandals, the supposed benefits to be had from closer economic integration with China), they seem less than convinced of Ma's adherence to Taiwan's democratic ideals:

"Ma's electoral victory likely is bound to temporarily set back Taiwan's ongoing efforts to make progress in democratization 民主化 and 'Taiwanization,' the process of establishing systems distinct from those of China--politically, culturally, educationally, linguistically or otherwise. The movement started in the 1990s, when Lee Teng-hui (Ri Tōki) 李登輝 was president."

They also ask the question:

"(During the election campaign) Ma emphasized the need to maintain a one-China policy 一つの中国. However, this was also complemented by his conciliatory approach toward native Taiwanese, who account for 85 percent of the island's population. He said the future of Taiwan must be determined by the 23 million Taiwanese. Will Ma keep this policy intact after taking office?"

Will he indeed. The Yomiuri goes on to ponder the impact of Ma's victory on Japan:

"Ma has said Taiwan will seek good ties with Japan. On the other hand, he has strongly opposed Japan's territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島. Given this, his policy toward Japan should be closely watched."

The Senkaku dispute stirs a lot more emotions on the Chinese mainland than it does in Taiwan. A good indication of where Ma's heart truly lies could be revealed by how he approaches this issue after he takes office in May.

Maybe it has something to do with geographic proximity and the colonial legacy, but leave it to a Japanese newspaper to sum things up much better than most Western publications:

"The future of Taiwan could significantly affect East Asia's security. We hope Taiwan's president-elect will exercise care and caution in running the island."

Hardly a ringing endorsement of the incoming administration. Prove me wrong Ma, please!

Speaking of the colonial past, the family went for a drive this afternoon to a small town in T'aichung (Taijhong) County 台中県 called Waip'u (Waipu) 外埔, and paid a visit at the Tz'ulien (Cihlian) Temple 慈蓮寺. It wasn't clear whether the temple dates from the Japanese era in Taiwan (1895-1945), or whether it was built in a Japanese style at a later date, but the appearance of the main hall, along with the torii 鳥居-looking gates and small garden in the back, definitely make this place stand out from most Buddhist temples here.

Given the Ma administration's lack of enthusiasm towards the preservation of Japanese-era architecture while he was mayor of T'aipei (Taibei) 台北, will buildings such as these survive the purge following the establishment of the Taiwan Special Administrative Region?



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