Dear Mr. Yang,
Your PacNet piece is the best thing I’ve read. Would you be interested in coming to New York to brief us on the topic?
這是我在華府戰略暨國際研究中心 (CSIS) 任職的時候，收到的一封 email。寄件人我早已經久仰大名，曾任美國駐中國大使。他跟另一位前大使正要前往中國，希望出發前邀請我到紐約跟他們簡報。
他們 email 裡說是因為看到我寫的文章：“PacNet piece”。
那是我生平第一次寫政策分析評論，是某個週末心血來潮寫的。寫完之後發給我老闆 (也是一位知名的中國專家)，他居然直接打我手機 (never happened before) 然後問：「這是你寫的？真的是你自己寫的？沒有其他人幫你？是你寫的？」
我跟他保證我沒有抄襲之後，他就把我的文做了一些修改，然後刊登到CSIS旗下太平洋論壇 (Pacific Forum) 的刊物 PacNet。隔週，華府的兩岸政策專家居然開始討論這篇文，然後文章又被其他國際媒體轉載。
後來我就遺忘了它。17年之後的今天 (哎呀，透露自己年紀了) 回去看，我才看出一點點頭緒。
一點背景：這篇文章的主題是台灣跟美國政府的溝通。2004年寫的時候，陳水扁面臨選舉壓力，推公投，讓美國很不爽。台灣官方很多團來美國跟 CSIS 等智庫見面 (畢竟不能直接見美國政府)，但溝通效果不佳。我這篇文章就是討論溝通為何沒有成果。
Yet officials and experts from Taiwan have been unwilling to tread into the domestic political dimensions of the referendum, and instead steadfastly insist that it is necessitated by international conditions.
“tread into the domestic political dimensions of the referendum”？ “Necessitated by international conditions”? “Steadfastly insist”? 反正就是把一堆音節很多的字，串成很多很長的句子就對了。
Is your writing good or bad? It’s your readers who decide.
- 我沒有寫 “low point”，而是寫 “nadir”
- 不是寫 “toned down enough”，而是 “sufficiently moderated”
- 不寫 “fits with”，而是 “accords with”
我看了都很想打我自己。可是… 就因為我的用字像一位政策分析 (或學術) 的人會寫的，才會讓對方覺得「這個是自己人」。反而是我的老闆會精神錯亂，因為這文筆跟他辦公室外面的那個小毛頭，反差太大。
專業歸專業，偶爾還是要來點文字遊戲，讓讀者「喔」一下，不然一直用 “policy speak” (政策的語言，無聊但是精準)，沒人想要看下去。
Taiwan believes that yelling is the only recourse when its hands are tied, and that the referendum is a rather loud amplifier.
But the way Taiwan has been voicing its opinions is flawed, and repeatedly beating this broken old drum for weeks to American ears has clearly proved counterproductive.
要了解這個點，必須回溯一下背景。我那時是實習生嘛 (不過文章刊登時突然被晉升為研究助理)，工作就是安排大大小小的會議，其中很多是台灣的官員跟專家帶團來美國，幾乎都會來 CSIS 因為是主要智庫之一。
Most folks in Washington… believe that the referendum is first and foremost an election gambit.
true allies do not undermine each other’s interests for immediate political gains. That Taipei fails to see this is mind boggling, and simply infuriates the Americans.
No more one-sided complaints about Beijing or its cozy relations with America in front of U.S. officials who still feel betrayed and want apologies.
很多屬於情緒的字眼對不對：mind boggling, infuriating, feel betrayed, want apologies, etc.
我後來也寫了其他文章，文筆說實在更好，但… 完全沒人理我 🦗。就因為後來的文章，都是我為了延續之前的「成功」，硬是逼自己擠出來的，既沒有一定要表達的觀點，也沒有抓到任何人的痛點，當然沒有人看。
Some of the best writing happens when you’ve spent time carefully observing the world and getting in tune with emotions around you, to the point where an article is almost bursting out of you. Write THAT.
Btw #1：Who is Andrew Yang?
當時台灣也有一位 Andrew Yang，是非常有名的國防軍事專家，好像還做過國防部長。我的文章出來後，一些人誤認為是他，還寫信給他說文章很好，但他為何跑到美國當實習生🤣。他一頭霧水，email 給我老闆問到底是怎麼一回事 (我好朋友Eric 老師表示：如果要往政治/政策圈走，改名成 Andrew Yang 好像不錯 lol)。
Btw #2：Did I go to New York?
Taiwan Needs to Change Its Tune
Less than two months before the Taiwan presidential election, incumbent Chen Shui-Bian unexpectedly finds himself accused of having sunk U.S.-Taiwan relationship to a historical nadir. Compounding situations are misperceptions by Taiwanese policy-makers and advisors alike of opinions and moods in Washington that have led to their failure in mounting an effective campaign to explain their positions. To halt the freefall in its international standing, Taiwan will have to rethink its diplomatic communication strategies. And as there appears to be little chance of resolving disagreements over the referendum, Taipei will have to get over this ugly episode, and begin engaging Washington more effectively on numerous post-election issues.
Based on recent statements and publications from government officials, prominent policy wonks, and those known to be in President Chen’s inner circle, several broad views exist within Taiwan’s policy community that would only elicit more rolled eyeballs in the U.S. First and foremost is the insistence that the status quo equals Taiwan independence, and that China, not Taiwan, is threatening stability with its military menace. The argument proceeds that the renamed “peace” referendum, in addition to setting a milestone for Taiwan’s democracy, is a legitimate and needed response that informs the world of the PRC threat and offers a way out of the current deadlock.
Most folks in Washington, unfortunately, overwhelmingly believe that the referendum is first and foremost an election gambit. That many Taiwanese at home and abroad share this feeling does not help Chen’s case. The referendum has deservedly attracted other criticisms. Not only are public votes felt to be unfit for deciding national security issues, but the content of the referendum is also inappropriate for what it aims to achieve. Its first question asks whether Taiwan should purchase more defensive weapons if China refuses to remove its missiles and renounce the use of force. Apparently, the idea is to defuse a military threat peacefully by threatening another arms race that Taiwan is anyways incapable of waging. All of these further feed into Washington’s belief that the referendum is nothing more than a ploy.
Yet officials and experts from Taiwan have been unwilling to tread into the domestic political dimensions of the referendum, and instead steadfastly insist that it is necessitated by international conditions. But since the significance of the referendum in the Pan-Green vs. Pan-Blue battle is well known, neglecting this aspect has simply bred even more suspicion in Washington.
When the Taiwanese do connect the referendum to electoral developments, moreover, they are more likely to urge the Bush administration to “not read too much” into President Chen’s remarks, because he often speaks for political purposes. In this case Taiwan may want to consult German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who in the midst of a stagnant reelection bid in 2002 openly opposed Washington’s Iraq policy, and rode the subsequent anti-American frenzy back to the Chancellorship. The Bush administration has yet to completely forgive him, and for an obvious reason: true allies do not undermine each other’s interests for immediate political gains. That Taipei fails to see this is mind boggling, and simply infuriates the Americans.
All of this is not to say that Taiwan does not have real gripes. The island’s population is clearly frustrated with their limited options in seeking changes to undesired conditions, of which Chinese missiles are but one example. The United States, in the midst of a honeymoon with the PRC, is either ignorant or dismissive of this fomenting dissatisfaction. Taiwan believes that yelling is the only recourse when its hands are tied, and that the referendum is a rather loud amplifier. But the way Taiwan has been voicing its opinions is flawed, and repeatedly beating this broken old drum for weeks to American ears has clearly proved counterproductive. It has come to a point where many experts in Washington readily dismiss the possibility that someone from Taipei could utter anything novel.
In fact, the referendum fiasco is beyond remedy because neither side can afford significant compromises. Chen can no longer even alter, let alone cancel, the referendum without severely damaging his reelection chances and credibility. Across the Pacific, while Washington seems appeased that the content of this public vote has been sufficiently moderated, it will never come around to an endorsement. The toned-down referendum still smells like an election tool, and the Bush administration is too wary of provoking Beijing. Taiwan needs to get over this failed campaign, and instead begin engaging Washington on other post election issues such as the constitutional reform and a revived cross-strait dialogue.
In the process, Taiwan must learn from past mistakes to improve its communication strategies. First, Taipei must show that it is attuned to American interests and anxieties. This means, for instance, no more one-sided complaints about Beijing or its cozy relations with America in front of U.S. officials who still feel betrayed and want apologies. And rather than blaming Washington for “interfering” with Taiwan’s domestic politics and “misreading” president Chen, Taipei should at least acknowledge U.S. concerns over its intentions before and after the election.
The logical next step would be to assure the Americans about Taipei’s agenda from March 21 on. Chen’s sudden moderation in proposing to set up a demilitarized zone, a liaison office, and envoy exchange with China is a good start. Such a gesture accords with a widely held belief in Washington about Taiwan’s demands of sovereignty or missile removal: do not just complain to us, it is ultimately Beijing’s consent that matters, so instead of provoking them, you need to start talking to them. To further assure the U.S., it could also help not to repeat Secretary General Chiou I-jen’s suggestion that Chen would void the “four no’s and one without” if asked by a majority of Taiwanese. These measures will help persuade Washington that it can still get through to Chen and his closest aids. The Bush administration has rightly felt that, in exchange for its security commitment to the island, it is at least entitled to some influence over Taipei’s decisions that could potentially lead to war. But one of the most often-heard U.S. complaints has been that Chen is either inaccessible or insensible to their advice. It is unsurprising, then, that the American commitment has appeared less absolute in recent weeks. To have any hope of restoring a positive relationship, Taiwan needs to demonstrate that it is still responsive to American opinions and concerns.
Taipei is reportedly gearing up for another month of advertisement campaigns to sell the referendum to the world. If it continues its old ways, wasted time and taxpayer money may be the least of their troubles. Worse will be even lower levels of international support. At a time when China, which already has half the world believing the referendum will change the status quo, continues to gain diplomatic influence, Taiwan has to stop shooting itself in the foot.