Ma Ying-jeou’s China-Leaning Policy and the 1683 Fall of the Zheng in Taiwan: A Cross-Centuries Geopolitical Comparison

  • Stéphane Corcuff


On October 22, 2001, Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV Chinese Channel started to broadcast on Formosa a 50-episode Chinese drama series, Kangxi’s Empire out of which 18 episodes were devoted to a theme to which Taiwanese were quite sensitive: the attack of island in 1683 by the Chinese Admiral Shi Lang (1620–96), who obtained the submission to the Manchu throne of the Zheng insular regime who had resisted the new Qing dynasty. 1 It was quite an event on Taiwan, just a few years after Taiwan’s Government Information Office had authorized the first China-made dramas to be broadcasted in Taiwan.2 Most importantly, it was a year and a half only after proindependence Chen Shuibian was elected president of the Republic of China, on the island. For Taiwanese opposed to unification—around 70% at that time3—it sounded like a clear warning and a bitter experience. As history was sounding like an alarm, the anxious audience was large. Taiwan’s China Television Channel, or CTV bought the rights and started to air Kangxi’s Empire on its own waves early the following year, in the midst of an ongoing debate about the oppor- tunity of showing Chinese historical dramas considered as simplifying history with propaganda intentions. A decade after, one of my interviewee, a young second-generation half-Mainlander in his forties, still recalled vividly his feel- ings: “I felt very bothered. I had the feeling that that story was a little bit simi- lar [to the current course of events].”4


Chinese Communist Party Taiwan Strait National Anthem United Daily News Anxious Audience 
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© Peter C. Y. Chow 2012

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  • Stéphane Corcuff

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