Exactly how good is Mayor Ma’s English?

Well, it is an old news. But I didn’t know the interview until very late last year since I wasn’t in Taiwan at the time.

BBC HARDTALK interviews Ma Ying Jeou, then still the mayor of Taipei city, about the tension across the Strait. You can see the interview from BBC website. Ma is famous for his attractive appearance and prestigious academic background. He is often praised for the eloquent English capability and thus is assumed to be the leader with a great sense of world view.

The interview is allegedly broadcast in CtiTV 中天電視 for only one single night.

The tension across the Strait has become one of the many ways to elevate the visibility of Taiwan in the international arena. Whatever the BBC’s stance is in this issue, it is a great chance to see how the politician present his point of view to an outsider. And of course, to examine exactly how good his and our English is.:-)

Some interesting excerpt of the interview-

Transquipt courtesy ajen

Host: Does China pose a threat to Taiwan?
Ma: Yes.
Host: How great a threat?
Ma: Uh, depends on the type of, uh, situation you are talking about. Obviously they have a, uh, not all, but some of their military installations directed against Taiwan.
Host: They have over seven hundred missiles markedly directly at Taiwan.
Ma: Yes. Not just Taiwan, elsewhere as well.

Host: They have also been conducting military exercises, which according to the Taiwanese government are clearly simulations of attacks on Taiwan.
Ma: Mh-hmm, yes.


Host: Let me put it this way. we know that China is suppressing freedom of speech… [Ma: yes.] … by closing down newspapers. They don’t allow, for example, BBC online to be seen inside China. We know that, according to Amnesty International at least, dozens of people are still in prison as a result of the events in Tiananmen Square over 15, 16 years ago. We know also that in August 2005, one journalist working in China was arrested, now faces charges of spying for Taiwan. Amnesty International expressed deep concern about that. Are you telling me that China and the Chinese authorities are people that you can do business with?
Ma: Well I think Great Britain also do business with China. Could you do business with China when they do all these human rights violations?
Host: But with respect, we don’t have 780 missiles pointed at our island.
Ma: Well, no matter whether they are hostile to you or not, they are having some human rights violations that you disagree. But Great Britain still trade with them, and recognize them, but they don’t recognize Taiwan. Why is that?
Host: But you need to trust Beijing in a way that we do not. Because they pose, as you said, a grave military threat to you. So my question is, are you prepared to take the word of President Hu and other Chinese leaders in direct negotiations, which is what you seem to heading towards.


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