First, from Reuters, is a very long piece on China’s response to Ma’s speech. The key point is right up front:

China vowed on Thursday to seize a chance for reconciliation with Taiwan and respect the desire of Taiwan’s people to be their own masters, a sign it is in no hurry to bring the island it claims as its own back to the fold.

Chinese Minister of Taiwan Affairs Chen Yunlin, speaking two days after Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan’s new president, ending the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party’s troubled eight-year rule, said both sides were making “positive” efforts to resume negotiations. There is no timetable for talks.

“We understand, trust and care about Taiwan compatriots and respect the desire of Taiwan compatriots to be masters of their own destiny,” Chen said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

It was China’s first response to Ma’s inauguration speech on Tuesday in which he offered to reopen dialogue but pledged to maintain Taipei’s self-rule and separate international profile.

A most interesting set of comments. Note the acknowledgement that Taiwanese want to be their own masters…..which sounds nice, until you get the par-for-the-course follow up attack on independence. This is very much in the “one country, two systems” mode of discourse. Reuters helps Beijing a bit with this paragraph:

He extended an olive branch to pro-independence diehards in Taiwan, saying those who “misunderstood or had doubts” about China were welcome to visit.

Pro-independence “diehards.” Surely a less loaded way to refer to supporters of democracy and independence for the island can be found. As always, in the international media, to advocate independence is to take a position that is irrational; whereas to want to suppress independence by plunging the region into war is never so labeled. I don’t know how anyone can imagine that asking people to visit is “an olive branch,” especially since the speech was very clear: Taiwan’s independence and presumably, its democracy and identity, are to be suppressed. The KMT has already begun to roll back the DPP’s attempt to remove markers of the former colonial regime’s ideological positions. I’m curious to see what they do with the former Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.

The Reuters piece is long and most of it is good. Meanwhile Taiwan News had some very positive comments on the choice of Tsai Ing-wen as DPP Chair….

In her modest inaugural ceremony Tuesday morning, new DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, a former vice premier, ex-DPP lawmaker and graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics, immediately launched the task of transforming the demoralized and factionalized former ruling party into a modern party of the center - left that defends both progressive ideals and Taiwan’s political autonomy.

The most important priority for the DPP is, as Tsai noted, to repair its previously close linkages with Taiwan’s dynamic civic reform and social movement organizations, particularly in fields such as human rights and direct democracy, labor, environmental protection, social welfare, educational reform, culture and media reform, feminism and ethnic communities, including Hakka, indigenous peoples, mainlanders and new immigrants.

After all, the only possible check to the great possibility of attempts by the restored KMT camp to roll back Taiwan’s progress in Taiwan-centric identity and social, cultural, political and legal reform and to launch a “neoliberal” project of completely freeing interaction with the PRC market can be the combination of the DPP with these “social progressive forces.”

As noted by the new chairwoman, the DPP, and allied parties, must bear the defense of Taiwan - centric consciousness, the building of a “comprehensive Taiwan democracy” and the promotion of social progressive values if Taiwan is to overcome the twin threats of a rising China and globalization, threats whose consequences the KMT government is either blind or intent on encouraging.

The new leadership is evidently determined to get the DPP in motion as fast as possible, as reflected by decisions to initiate the formation of a party think tank to upgrade its policy discourse and formation capabilities so as to act as a “shadow government” and to accelerate preparation for the critical late 1999 city and county mayoral elections.

The whole piece is excellent; don’t miss it. Tsai is a real leader; tough, smart, an able adminsitrator, and very professional. I’m looking forward to a return to the DPP’s progressive roots, a more inclusive party that ceases to carry out witch hunts in its own ranks, and strong responses to the KMT’s attempt to remake the island in terms of its own ideology, something the Taiwan News commented on today:

Many citizens may be unaware that almost immediately after taking power from the Democratic Progressive Party administration of former president Chen Shui-bian Tuesday, the term “Taiwan” was purged from the Chinese language header of the homepage of the “Office of the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan).”

Moreover, one of the first actions by new KMT Defence Minister Chao Chao-min upon assuming his post was to similarly expunge the phrase “Taiwan” from the front page of the Ministry of National Defence - owned “Youth Daily News” and to change its banner lead slogan from “fighting for Taiwan’s survival” to “fighting for the Republic of China and fighting for the security of the people on Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.”

In addition, the official stamp commemorating the inaugural of President Ma and Vice President Vincent Siew on May 20 also made no mention of Taiwan in Chinese.

These facts, along with other statements and symbolic actions taken by Ma and new KMT government officials, point to an ideological agenda of “detaiwanization” and stand in stark contrast to the new president’s ringing declaration in his inaugural address Tuesday against “improper interference” in fields such as education by “all kinds of ideology.”

Actually, the phrase “Taiwan” had only been added to the presidential website three years ago or five years after former president Chen took office, a sign that the decision was made after considerable thought and preparation.

However, the new occupants of the presidential office did not hesitate for even one day to remove virtually all mention of “Taiwan” from the website, from the description of the ROC down to the notice of copyright, with the trivial and even deceptive exception of the English language caption on the website`s header.

In other words, except for the English title, the term “Taiwan” is gone from the President’s homepage.