Mainland Mouthpieces Ooh Over ‘Ah Ma’

Ma Yingjeou.jpg
Taiwan’s next presidential election is one year off, but it’s no secret as to whom Beijing is endorsing. Official media fanfare for “Ah Ma” (ÈòøÈ©¨), likely Nationalist Party (KMT) nominee (È©¨Ë㱉πù), has been less than subtle of late.

Over the weekend, the CCTV-4 program Haixia Liang’an (ʵ∑Â≥°‰∏§Â≤∏) featured Ma in a string of flattering news spots.Given the PRC’s rapprochement with Ma’s KMT and anathema for Chen Shui-bian and the DPP, the coverage is not entirely surprising. Propaganda-wise, it kills two birds with one stone. But the media slant on the election is considerably sharper than that of government officials, who refrain from playing favorites when asked. One wonders if mainland media support will end up working for Ma, or against him.

Here, courtesy of CCTV, is a clip of Ah Ma ripping into the ruling DPP for the dissembling of a huge statue of late President Chiang Kai-shek in central Kaohsiung.

Here’s Ma mingling with the fishermen of Kaohsiung and discussing his possible plans to take up humble lodging in the DPP hotbed during his campaign.

And here’s Ma unveiling his campaign headquarters in Taipei.
The official media are highly selective, of course. Xinhua rosily reported Ma’s reassertion on Saturday that if elected, he would pursue his proposal of a truce with the mainland. Xinhua did not note, as the Taipei Times did, the key condition in Ma’s proposal that he laid out – that the mainland remove 1,000 missiles on the southeast coast pointed at the island.

The coverage also tends to poo-poo the graft indictment against Ma that still could kill his presidential hopes. Xinhua plays it down in this report about his campaign kickoff. China News Service even suggests the mainland readers might somehow contribute to Ma’s drive. Iit notes that until the KMT formal nominates him, Ma is not accepting donations and will foot the bill for all campaign expenses himself. But In the same graph, the report prints the telephone and fax numbers of Ma’s new campaign headquarters.

Among Taiwanese political figures, Ma has developed a rare if not unprecedented cult of personality on the mainland over the past couple years. But one wonders if the press he gets in the PRC might skew the election. It will be intriguing to watch if and how it is controlled, and whether the DPP will succeed in using mainland support against him.



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