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The Queen Mother of the West in Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi’s go to to Taiwan this week for an viewers with President Tsai Ing-wen was each daring and expensive. As she tweeted,

America’s solidarity with the 23 million folks of Taiwan is extra vital right now than ever, as the world faces a selection between autocracy and democracy.

But at such a extremely delicate second in world affairs, her journey has infected relations with the PRC, prompting a lot ominous sabre-rattling from them; and in keeping with many China-watchers, and certainly the US authorities, it was ill-advised. So far not solely has the PRC escalated the conflict of phrases, however is retaliating significantly by launching live-fire army drills.

Pelosi’s go to was illustrated by this putting picture that has been making the rounds on social media:

The transliteration Nanxi Peiluoxi 南西 佩洛西 is felicitous (cf. Shuaike 帥克 for Švejk). Her Italian mother and father migrated west (xi 西), and her mom got here from the south (nan 南); extra to the level, in the picture above the ultimate xi character has been elided into the standard deity Queen Mother of the West (Xiwangmu 西王母). * It illustrates the, um, nexus between sacred and secular energy that one finds so typically in Chinese faith (resembling the ritual associations of Hebei). And on opulent processions in each Taiwan and Fujian throughout the strait, such god photographs are borne aloft on palanquins to re-assert territorial boundaries.

Mazu. Source.

Still, against this with Pelosi’s tour,  pilgrimages for the seafarers’ goddess Mazu 媽祖 have been a significant component since the Nineteen Eighties in the political, financial, and cultural rapprochement of folks on each side of the strait (see e.g. right here).

President Tsai additionally awarded Pelosi the civilian Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon (Qingyun xunzhang 卿雲勳章)—one other ritual title (cf. deities resembling Houtu, enfeoffed as Chengtian xiaofa Houtu huangdi 承天效法后土皇帝). Perhaps Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi’s Italian-American background additional enhances the ritual connection, recalling the Madonna pilgrimage (one other niangniang feminine deity) of Italian Harlem.

For her “long history of opposing Beijing”, together with her 1991 go to to Tiananmen to commemorate the victims of the 1989 demonstrations, click on right here.

Pelosi Tiananmen

Meanwhile, as rabid nationalist Hu Xijin of the Chinese Global Times denounced Pelosi’s go to, Chinese netizens have fabricated an unlikely fantasy love affair between them:

Pelosi Hu

Just as unlikely, “back in the USA”, for as soon as, Fox News and Mitch McConnell—usually Pelosi’s harshest critics—are full of reward for her initiative.

* * *

Around the time of Obama’s go to to China in 2009, “Obamao” T-shirts (“serve the people”) have been offered in Beijing earlier than being banned:


While the T-shirts made a preferred kitsch picture in Beijing, adroitly combining enthusiasm for a overseas icon with misplaced nostalgia for Mao, in the USA they have been quickly in demand amongst Obama’s opponents, who fatuously in contrast his health-care reform with the Holocaust.

The world is a sophisticated place (You Heard It Here First).

I suppose most individuals learn it merely as “Nanxi Peiluoxi wangmu niangniang” reasonably than “Nanxi Peiluo Xiwangmu niangniang”, but it surely’s a pleasant ambiguity—cf. the basic story of the hilarious misconstruing of a report on Prince Sihanouk’s go to to China!


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