Although the election has passed, here’s one more post on a Taiwan campaign banner.
This banner reads qi?ngjiù M? Y?ng-ji? s?xi?ng (“rush to save Ma Ying-jeou thought” / ???????).
This is an unusual banner for a number of reasons, not just because even die-hard KMT supporters might be hard pressed to say what exactly “Ma Ying-jeou thought” is. (I’m not trying to set up any punch lines here — really.)
Referring to a prominent figure’s “thought” is much more common in China than in Taiwan and is predominantly associated with Mao Zedong — not the sort of figure to attract votes from pretty much any segment of Taiwan’s electorate.
The standard phrase is Máo Zéd?ng S?xi?ng (????? / ????? / “Mao Zedong Thought”). See, for example, the Cultural Revolution-era poster at right, which reads “Mao Zedong Sixiang wansui!” (“Long live Mao Zedong Thought!” / ???????). As far as I know, though, people in China didn’t have to urgently rush to save it. Searches on Google and Baidu for “???????” (“rush to save Mao Zedong thought”) yield no responses at all. On the other hand, giving a Japanese reading of “banzai!” for wansui (??) might change the feeling of urgency some.
Before turning to a look at numbers, I’d like to offer a few more observations about this banner:
- The candidate isn’t Ma Ying-jeou, though Ma is the only person shown here and the only one to have his name mentioned. The only way to identify this candidate would be through the candidate number. Even Ma being head of the KMT doesn’t help, since candidates’ political affiliations are not given on the ballot other than in presidential elections.
- A campaign-material color scheme of black and red doesn’t indicate an anarcho-communist candidate but rather a supposedly urgent need to vote for someone. A candidate who uses predominantly black campaign material is one whose election may hang by a thread and so needs all the help he or she can get. But this is usually nothing but a campaign gimmick.
Here’s a table of the results of Google searches for the “thought” of some prominent political figures, with Confucius thrown in for good measure, as he was more of a real philosopher than all the rest of them put together. Also, to give a sense of the relative numbers of Web pages, I’ve added the search results for ?, the most frequently used Chinese character; this provides a very rough and unscientific ratio of about 2.4 Web pages in China for every 1 Web page in Taiwan.
I ran four variations on each main search. In addition to looking for the exact phrase of “[someone’s] thought” I checked the results as restricted to .tw domains, .cn domains, Taiwan governmental domains, and PRC governmental domains.
|?????||Mao Zedong thought||2,330,000||8,200||1,140,000||174||342,000|
|?????||Deng Xiaoping thought||27,800||256||14,900||12||1,660|
|?????||Sun Yat-sen thought||10,300||1,210||2,720||196||361|
|?????||Jiang Zemin thought||4,120||59||573||5||98|
|?????||Hu Jintao thought||2,400||34||1,140||0||198|
|?????||Chiang Kai-shek thought||850||15||251||0||17|
|?????||Ma Ying-jeou thought||326||31||1||0||0|
|?????||Lee Teng-hui thought||85||52||2||0||0|
|?????||Chiang Kai-shek thought
|?????||Chiang Ching-kuo thought||34||11||7||0||0|
|?????||Chen Shui-bian thought||33||7||6||0||0|
Thus, the phrase “[somebody’s] thought” is overwhelmingly a PRC usage and associated with Mao Zedong more than with all the others put together and multiplied by 20. So what’s it doing here with Ma Ying-jeou’s name?