Thursday, June 30, 2016

Links and Comments for Thursday

This was a woman who knows how to pack stuff...

Many pieces in the international media noting that Tsai wants communication with China. A sharp friend of mine observes that Tsai is playing China the way she played Ma: moral high ground, give them rope, let them hang themselves, stay calm and quiet. Each display of calmness and earnestness from Tsai is a victory.

One interesting way China is handling the international media is its repeated use of the faux 1992 Consensus. The 1992C is, of course, just another way to say Taiwan is part of China. But Beijing is not bluntly insisting "Say Taiwan is part of China." Instead, Beijing is cloaking this claim in the "1992 Consensus" verbiage. For listeners, this softens the demand by calling it a consensus -- even though nothing happened and only the unelected representatives of two Leninist authoritarian parties were present to disagree with each other. But nowhere does the international media ever make that clear...

Forward Taiwan, which works on issues affecting foreigners, notes on Facebook:
Apple Daily reports that a bill to amend the Naturalization Act has made it through the first reading in the Interior Affairs Committee.

1. Foreign spouses applying for citizenship would no longer need to prove that they can support themselves financially

2. A foreign national applicant for naturalization would renounce his or her original nationality one year after becoming a Taiwanese citizenship (currently original citizenship must be renounced before naturalization causing some applicants to become stateless).

3. The good moral character requirement to become a Taiwanese citizen would change to a negative requirement that the applicant has "no [record of] reprehensible conduct and no criminal record".

4. A naturalized citizen whose citizenship is revoked would get a hearing before a committee at the Ministry of the Interior at which the naturalized citizen will have a chance to plead his or her case before revocation.

The report makes no mention of any provisions that would allow a naturalized citizen to be a dual citizen.

The text of the bill is not yet available and the bill will still need to be passed by the full Legislature to become law.
Would love to have dual nationality, like Chinese who marry Taiwanese.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In Which Cole again makes a point others have been making for years

High on the Bogusness Index: this sign in Fengyuan says this is the Fengyuan Boulevard Bike Route. Notice any dedicated infrastructure? Me neither. But you know this is on a government promotion material, somewhere. This is simply a big road that cyclists regularly use to get where they want. The government had nothing to do with it. 

J Michael Cole observes at News Lens that the media is always predicting China's anger, which helps China...
So keen have international media and alarmist experts been to create an atmosphere of conflict in the Taiwan Strait that Beijing rarely has to say anything anymore — they’re doing the job on its behalf. All Beijing needs to do is to give media an occasional push, to send a well-timed signal, for the scribes to escalate the rhetoric and foster a sense of alarm.
Of course, over the years, many of us have made this exact point. In fact a decade ago, Johnny Neihu, who stopped writing, got heavily into gambling, and now lives a dissolute life somewhere in the warrens of Taipei, wrote as if that trope were already old:
In other travesties, this week saw a particularly egregious trotting out of the "in a move likely to anger China" saw.

You've seen it before: it's the stock phrase the wires insert to build anticipation on cross-strait tensions, which more often than not fail to materialize, and instead only serves to coddle the hypernationalist sensitivities of the bullying Chicoms across the Strait.
In 2010, I observed in a long analysis:
Finally, wouldn't it be a good idea to wait and see what Beijing actually does, rather than propagandizing for its policy of using "anger" to manage its relations with foreign countries and to impact foreign media reporting?
There are others. Cole's piece could have been strengthened considerably if he had pointed out that he sat within a long stream of writing on this, that this trope is old and it is high time it disappeared. Cole even notes at the beginning that we have "traveled back in time"...
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

The Dunning-Kruger Party Swings (further) Right

Timber Processing in Miaoli.

Were you thinking the KMT was going to change? Doesn't look like it. The last couple of weeks have been filled with news item like these....

The Liberty Times, which is deeply pro-Green, reported the other day that a Deep blue organization within the KMT has demanded that the Party kick out its two leading Taiwanese: Wang Jin-pyng and Huang Min-hui. Huang ran against current Deep Blue Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu in the recent chairmanship election. This sends a strong signal to Taiwanese in the Party that they will never be accepted by the ruling elites and the Huangfuxing, the deep Blue old soldier base of the KMT.

This week the KMT decided to expel outspoken critic and former spokesman Yang Wei-chung...
The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) decision yesterday to axe the party’s outspoken former spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) has drawn ire, with some interpreting the move as the beginning of the party’s shift toward a deep-blue ideology.

....

Due to the political sensitivity of the case, the disciplinary committee decided to convene a second meeting after spending two-and-a-half hours discussing whether Yang should be expelled over his frequent critical remarks about the KMT during its first meeting on Friday last week.

Yang was initially invited by the disciplinary committee to defend himself in person at the second meeting, but he was unable to attend due to a prearranged plan to participate in summer camps held by the Taiwanese Association in the US. He is scheduled to return to Taiwan on July 11.

“Members of the Evaluation and Discipline Committee made the decision by a consensus vote,” KMT Culture and Communications Committee director Chow Chi-wai (周志偉) said.
"Consensus vote" in local parlance means "whatever the Chairman of the committee decides. Note that they held the disciplinary hearing when Yang was out of the country, a final little dig at him.

The article on the Yang case observed that there was continued rumbling among the Deep Blue base to expel Wang Jin-pyng, who was once the unofficial leader of the Taiwanese KMTers in the legislature. The Party lost because it wasn't Taiwanese enough...

Hau Long-bin, the former Taipei mayor, now a vice-chairman of the KMT, accused the President of belittling the ROC in her visit to Panama this week...
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday accused President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of “belittling the official title” of the nation by describing herself as the “President of Taiwan” during her first overseas state visit.

“The Republic of China, abbreviated as ROC, is the title of our nation. It is the official national title under which we have repeatedly endeavored to seek global recognition,” the fomer Taipei mayor wrote on Facebook.

Hau posted a photograph of the message Tsai left in a visitor’s book after touring the sluice gates of the expanded Panama Canal on Sunday, in which she wrote: “Witnessing the centennial achievement, jointly creating future prosperity,” and identifying herself as “President of Taiwan [ROC].”
I'm sure Hau's stance will go over well with today's Taiwan-oriented voters...

UPDATEToday's Taipei Times editorial on Yang:
A recent investigative report by online outlet Storm Media showed that young KMT members are still complaining about having no stage in the party and about being treated as lackeys “who are called upon only when they are needed for party events,” despite the January election results and the party’s losses in the 2014 nine-in-one elections.

Yang has criticized KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) over the direction she is leading the party. His latest denunciation was against the person Hung invited to speak at yesterday’s Central Standing Committee meeting about the party’s assets, Wu Chi-chang (武之璋). Wu has championed the view that the 228 Incident was a riot by a motley mob of gangsters instigated by political speculators influenced by Japan who attacked waishengren (外省人, Mainlanders) and had to be put down.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dana Ter on the changing media environment about Taiwan

The Miaoli 16, pure pleasure...

Dana Ter writes in the Taipei Times about the changing media attitude towards Taiwan...
Up until recently, the international media’s coverage on Taiwan has been either super serious (politics, cross-strait relations) or superficial (cat cafes, toilet-themed restaurants).

.............

There’s been more of these stories on Taiwan in the international media in recent years — stories that look beyond sensationalism. In terms of travel, there’s the occasional New York Times story. “Taiwan, an island of green in Asia” (Dec. 3, 2014) talked about eco-tourism and referred to the Beitou Library (臺北市立圖書館北投分館) and Da-an Forest Park metro station (大安森林公園站) as must-see sites. A BBC article from March 4, 2013, titled “Hiking the landslide capital of the world,” shared a couple of good hiking spots. It also discussed the history of these various sites and included practical information for hikers.
I too hate those toilet-themed restaurant and similar garbage stories and never link to them. Ter's explanation...
Taiwanese millennials are creating more time for leisure activities such as surfing or brewing craft beer. While their parents came of age in an authoritarian era, when hard work and long hours got you ahead, this ethos is becoming increasingly irrelevant to young people who grew up with disposable income in a time of political stability.

Since there are more people partaking in leisure activities, there are more journalists writing about them. Contrary to what has been said about millennials — for example, that we have short attention spans — it’s stories like these that speak to us. While social media has a tendency to disillusion, it’s narrative-driven, human interest stories that gain our trust. Ironically, a Forbes.com listicle puts forth this argument quite persuasively (“3 reasons why millennials want long form storytelling over ‘snackable’ content,” March 8, 2016).
Well, perhaps. She contacted me to chat about this story. I had never formally sat down and thought about it, but there are actually several major categories of stories about Taiwan: tech, finance and economic, politics (but only cross-strait), and travel and lifestyle. The first three are fixtures, but it is the last category that has really evolved. The deeper travel and lifestyle stuff that has emerged in the last decade is I think related to several trends beginning in the late 1990s...
  • The end of martial law and especially, KMT rule at the end of the 1990s meant that people here and abroad could talk about Taiwan without fear of retaliation.
  • Taiwan became a known destination for foreign English teachers, which meant guides and a mass of knowledgeable foreigners came into existence to promote the island, especially on the internet
  • A critical mass of foreigners writing on Taiwan as a travel destination emerged: people like Steven Crook, Robert Kelly, and Joshua Brown, among many others, who could credibly pitch travel narratives outside the mainstream.
  • The Chen Administration began promoting "Taiwan" as a thing in itself overseas and the Taiwan government began promoting Taiwan relentlessly as a travel destination. This also led people to ask what was this thing called "Taiwan." Later the Ma Administration continued this policy. This "Taiwan is a thing" idea also helped create a market for Taiwan centered articles, a virtuous cycle of growth in interest.
  • In the academic world, scholars began treating Taiwan as a thing in itself, which in turn helped create a market in the lay world explaining what this thing called Taiwan is
  • The "ZOMG TAIWAN IS TENZ" political narrative also led to interest in what this thing called Taiwan is that was causing all this trouble.
  • Several writers produced general works on Taiwan for educated reader, Melissa Brown and Jon Manthorpe, among others.
  • Until a few years ago, the major media organizations all had reporters stationed here who had to churn out stuff, and churn it out they did
  • As Ter notes, Taiwan itself changed: there is more to write about.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Busy Busy Links

Nantou city across the rice fields...

Busy busy busy. Have a few links...
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Oh Noes China stops communication with Taiwan = UPDATED=

A driveway in the mountains

Reuters reports that China has stopped talking to Taiwan via the "communication mechanism" because Tsai won't recognize the faux "1992 Consensus"....
But China has insisted she recognize something called the "1992 consensus" reached between China's Communists and Taiwan's then-ruling Nationalists, under which both agreed there is only one China, with each having their own interpretation of what that means.

In a brief statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said that since May 20, when Tsai took office, Taiwan has not affirmed this consensus.

"Because the Taiwan side has not acknowledged the 1992 consensus, this joint political basis for showing the one China principle, the cross Taiwan Strait contact and communication mechanism has already stopped," spokesman An Fengshan said.
Note first that Reuters, knowing the 1992C is faux, shies away from concretely reporting on it. No time or place of agreement is mentioned, all is vagueness. Moreover, this presentation is wrong: China has never recognized the codocil "each having their own interpretation", which was invented and promoted by KMT politicians.

If you think about it logically, it appears that Tsai could totally agree, with Taiwan's "own interpretation" being that Taiwan is not part of China. Once you realize how absurd that is, it is easy to see that what China wants to say is that Taiwan is part of China -- the 1992 Consensus is just an old whine in a new blargle.

As I've always said, the 1992C exists only to put the pro-Taiwan forces in a box.

China is really engaging in media management: making China look more fierce than it is (cue the ZOMG TAIWAN IS TENZ! articles). China knows that the media will report "tensions" which in turn will cause people in Washington to argue that Taiwan ought to be suppressed. But this is 2016, not 2006, and China is causing trouble all along its borders. The case that Taiwan is the problem is difficult to make in the face of China's omnibelligerent posture.

In fact Taiwan and China will continue to talk to each other across a range of actors and organizations. This is just another one of those non-punishment punishments, that cost China nothing -- like reducing group tourist quotas while ignoring the travel agencies shifting to individual tourist visas.

ADDED: Ben Goren of Letters from Taiwan pointed out on Twitter that this news is being released now because Tsai is transiting the US... typical petty Chinese hogwash...

UPDATED: The NY Times has an otherwise good piece on it that cites Cabestan and Sullivan, two serious experts on Taiwan, but apparently there is no Google in their office....
China has several methods by which it could further constrain Ms. Tsai. It could seek to lure away Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies with promises of lucrative infrastructure investments. It could also place restrictions on Chinese tourism to the island, which has increased significantly in recent years, becoming a bright spot for the otherwise struggling Taiwanese economy.
Tourists are a net loser for Taiwan, and exist only because China hopes to establish patronage links within the Taiwan economy, and to help the KMT further its patronage links in local areas. It seems that the alleged "positive effect" of Chinese tourism is now a Journalistic Fact and journalists will never discover that reality is the opposite.

Of course, the NYT reports the cut-off as "a sign of growing friction". Wrong. The friction is always there, and always the same. It just manifests itself variously. But sexy headlines about tension attract clicks and sell papers.

UPDATED: The international media is as predictable as the sunrise. Here is Reuters imaginatively writing: Tensions between China and Taiwan rise again over 'One China' policy.

UPDATED: A commenter observes:
Has Reuters slipped up and actually acknowledged the fact that only the KMT were in on this so-called deal, and that it has nothing to do with public opinion, there was no mandate from the people, and no space in which such a deal could have been discussed. This is the closest I've seen in the international media to a tacit admission that the talks were merely party to party.
Almost looks that way. Though Reuters couldn't note that both were dictatorships and no democratic process intervened in this "Consensus" on either side.

REF: AIT Burghardt on the 1992 Consensus just today.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Flight Attendants Strike over + Some tourism notes

Nantou's betel nut covered slopes

The flight attendants strike is over, as the TT reports:
A preliminary agreement between China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) and the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union was reached last night to end the union’s strike, with the firm agreeing to demands for new holiday and working hour guarantees, along with extra pay for overseas stationing.
However, look for management to attempt a stealth rollback of these gains. The deal is only preliminary. But clearly Someone realized that having gorgeous young females out there militant and powerful would serve to inspire other labor unions. Like the nurses. At the bottom of this post below the READ MORE line I've placed a wonderful piece that was sent around Facebook:7 Must-knows to Support the Strike of China Airlines Flight Attendants. It explains what the strike is all about...

I sure hope this strike leads to more changes. Ordinary workers in Taiwan are suffering.

I ran into an expert on Chinese tourism in Taiwan, who told me why the group tourist count was down 31% in May but the individual tourist count rose 12%. He was in the arrival line with a Chinese tourist group at the airport and listened as they reached the Immigration Desk: they were all coming in on individual tourist visas, organized by their tour group. In other words, the quotas for group tourists were indeed slashed, so the tourist agencies simply switched to individual visas. "The figures don't mean very much. Don't forget, some of those 'tourists' are here on business," he reminded me. But overall arrivals are indeed down. These numbers should rise once the tour companies all switch to the new approach.

Beijing must be turning a blind eye because it doesn't want to disturb the networks it has built up in Taiwan and to preserve the profits of the tour firms in China, which Taiwan media claims are closely connected to the Taiwan Affairs Office there.

See also New Bloom on the CAL strike and its aftermath

REF7 Must-knows to Support the Strike of China Airlines Flight Attendants
YING-CHAO KAO·FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016

Flight attendants of China Airline (CAL) is starting their strike and the largest strike in Taiwan labor movement history. June 24 midnight, Taiwan time; noon of June 23 (EST)....

Friday, June 24, 2016

China Airlines Strike Begins!

The mountains from the 3.

UPDATESETV livestream

Thursday night the strike against China Airlines by its overworked, underpaid flight attendants began. New Bloom asks the question on everyone's lips: is this a historic moment for Taiwanese labor?
As news of the street occupation spread, Taiwanese youth activists made their presence increasingly felt. The size of the street occupation was comparable to—and probably larger than—the Ministry of Education occupation in August 2015. Usual suspects of Taiwanese activism made their appearance, including New Power Party politician Freddy Lim, Social Democratic Party politician, noted activist and show organizer Indie DaDee, Wu Cheng of Democracy Tautin fame and currently part of the New Power Party, as well the chairman of the Liberty Times executive council. It is reported that over fifty lawyers volunteered to aid the strike as well, and the striking workers prepared their legal teams beforehand.

KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-Chu, on the other side of the political aisle from Taiwanese youth activism, would also make a late night appearance around 2 AM, probably in imitation of Tsai’s late night visit to the Ministry of Education occupation in August 2015 and continuing the pattern of the KMT attempting to imitate past actions of the DPP. The crowd gathered had decidedly mixed reactions to Hung’s visit, given how bizarre it was when the KMT has had a long history as an antagonist of Taiwanese labor. A past KMT rally during election season which coincided somewhat strangely with a passing labor demonstration saw KMT supporters cursing out workers as they marched past. Hung would later release a statement on social media vaguely attempting to pin blame for the working conditions that led up to the strike on Tsai Ing-Wen, evidence that her visit was probably a strange, badly done attempt to try to co-opt Taiwanese youth activism.
Brian was down there among the strikers that evening. It could be a huge moment for labor in Taiwan -- many young girls dream of being flight attendants, traditionally one of the few escapes for women from working class lives in Taiwan, and also a validation of their beauty and elegance, since such women are often thought to be beautiful. UPDATE: Brian writes on the KMT's laughable attempt to co-op the strike.

In my experience masculinity in Taiwan society contains a strong element of submission to authority which women are entirely free of, thank all gods. Women in Taiwan are tougher and more militant than men. So don't expect these women to give up easily.

An acquaintance whose wife was among the strikers humorously observes:
No problem. Apparently the sit in demo will continue today. I have to say that photographing beautiful flight attendants on strike is way more pleasant than any other demos or riots I've covered.

____ told me that after the word went out on social media, Taipei's young men realised there were thousands of flight attendants demonstrating and they all rushed over to show support tongue emoticon

It gets better. One young man who displayed a signboard saying he'd missed his flight but didn't care because he supported the strike, suddenly became the hottest stud in Taiwan. The ribald on-line comments and what the girls offered him was fascinating. Quite an insight into the spiritedness of new gen Taiwanese women.
If these tough women can get the ball rolling on labor conditions in Taiwan it could be huge -- in Taiwan's patriarchal labor systems, females are at the bottom and do the scut work, and the males at the top collect the fruits of their labor. Family businesses especially are organized this way. Brian H has been following this closely and covered their demands in another post:
As part of a waiver which workers are required to sign as part of Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Law, according to workers, China Airlines is seeking to increase the work time of airline staff to 220 hours per month, more than the 174 hours which the act would stipulate. It is reported that China Airlines would also seek to redefine work hours for flight attendants, counting work hours as starting from 90 minutes from departure to 30 minutes after landing, a decrease from the previous policy of counting work hours from 140 minutes before departure and 60 minutes after landing.

Despite the shortening of work hours in which cabin crew would be paid, the amount of work cabin crew have to perform would remain the same, however. Workers would also be signing away their rights to overtime and negotiation of work hours through the waiver. Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Law is aimed at reducing excessive overtime. Part of the issue at hand, however, is that international airline flights can last for over eight hours. There is concern that this would lead to flight attendants working on regional flights being deprived of their rights as compared to those working on international flights, as well as loss of rest time. As such, workers are refusing to sign off on the waiver.
One group that may be inspired by these women on strike are nurses, whose hours and treatment are brutal. I sure hope so... on a couple of nurse discussion groups I am on the flight attendants strike is being closely watched. It is also the topic of intense discussion on PTT, the major discussion board.

This will be a major test of the Tsai Administration, which should come down hard on the part of the flight attendants and force the airline to roll back its demands. Let's see whether that "Progressive" in DPP really means something....
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Two notes on Taiwan Laws.... from friends

Early morning city.

A friend of mine whose car was stolen a while back reports on the resolution of the case:
The case of our stolen car has been resolved. The gang had stolen 13 cars. The police traced the vehicles and busted the chop shop then went to investigate. Throughout the case it turned out the vehicles had all been transferred to the ownership of a woman whose identity information was stolen from a travel agency (the gang "found" the "lost" ID and NHI card).

In the end, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Why do other countries send their Taiwanese crooks to China, again?
A friend writes of her trouble trying to get a simple sperm donation:
I started seeing a fertility doctor about 2 months ago because I had concerns and I'm getting older and want to have a baby. Yes, I have a boyfriend, but the chances of us getting married are slim and I'm not all that interested in getting married. I've been getting several tests done to find out where my problem is with getting pregnant. My doctor, after my 2nd appointment, suspected that I will need the IVF procedure to help me get pregnant. So I started saving my money even more because I know it's not covered under insurance. Last night I went to see my doctor for the latest results and they weren't good at all. She said if I want to get pregnant, it's now or never. She asked if I planned to marry my boyfriend and I said no. I want donor sperm for the procedure. She then told me that the law in Taiwan says that unmarried women cannot receive donor sperm. I can adopt a child as a single woman, but I can't have one on my own. Because of this my last option is to go abroad to have the procedure done which is more costly and very inconvenient because I would have to be ready to fly out with little notice and the first treatment may not work. Sometimes it takes 2-3 treatments so I would have to fly back and forth.
Just plain silly.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Thim and myself in The National Interest: It's Not Time to Start Worrying About Taiwan

DSC02405

Michal Thim and I with "It's not time to start worrying about Taiwan"
Good policy making benefits from factually up-to-date, open-source analysis taking place in a public space and conducted by policy specialists, journalists, and scholars. This kind of analysis is even more critical when its subject is Taiwan, a country of pivotal importance for U.S. interests in East and Southeast Asia. Yet, more often than not, Taiwan-related analysis is based on outdated narratives and incomplete understandings that offer only misleading policy implications.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

From the Nelson Report: Taiwan and TPP

Harvesting

The Nelson Report sent this around:

++++++++++++++

TAIWAN MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE: In anticipation of its bid to join TPP, Taiwan has made a list of roughly 45 changes to its law, from intellectual property to food safety, that would bring it into compliance with the Asia-Pacific deal, according to Francis Kuo-Hsin Liang, who heads up the government-sponsored Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

Liang, who is in Washington with roughly 70 Taiwanese executives this week for the SelectUSA summit, said it's not clear how many of those changes the Taiwanese Parliament would choose to take up before Taipei begins its accession to the Asia-Pacific pact - noting that the Taiwanese legislature is as opinionated as the U.S. Congress. But in an interview with POLITICO, Liang emphasized that joining the TPP would be vital for the Taiwanese economy.

"If the United States and the other 11 parties finish the first round and ratification, then Taiwan should be included in the second round," he said, calling it a necessity for the island. "Because TPP is not ratified, no TPP member could say anything concrete, but we are preparing ourselves," said Liang, who has been a prominent trade official in Taiwan for many years.

As an example of why Taiwan needs to be part of TPP, he pointed to "functional fabric" that is manufactured in Taiwan and shipped to places like China and Vietnam to be made into apparel. Because of the textile provisions of TPP, which largely require clothes to be made in the TPP region from the yarn forward for tariff benefits to apply, Vietnam could begin sourcing elsewhere. He also cited a conversation with a tech company whose executives worried that it would become more expensive to manufacture in non-TPP participants South Korea and Taiwan after the deal takes effect.

The bilateral trade issue that looms large in conversations about Taiwan's TPP accession is pork, which the island refuses to import from the U.S. because American ranchers use the feed additive ractopamine. Many in the U.S. want Taiwan to open its pork market as a confidence-building measure before joining the Asia-Pacific pact. Liang noted that his government seems to be looking at the issue closely, but said "from a practical standpoint" it might be easier to explain a market opening in the pork sector to the Taiwanese public if it was paired with a give-and-take as part of a larger negotiation.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

More Taiwanese Scam Suspects Shipped to China

Went up to Longfeng Waterfall at the end of the Nantou 22 on Sunday. Not recommended. The scenery is nice, but getting to the 22 requires taking either the 3 or the 14. 

Busy as heck here with the semester ending this week, but another batch of alleged scammers deported to China...
Cambodia yesterday said it would deport 21 Taiwanese nationals arrested on fraud charges to China, ignoring attempts by Taiwanese officials to have them returned instead to Taiwan.

Cambodian authorities arrested 13 of the Taiwanese along with 14 Chinese on Monday last week.

Another eight Taiwanese suspects were detained on Saturday, Cambodia’s General Department of Immigration Director of Inspection and Procedure Major General Uk Heisela said.

“We have decided to deport them to China because they all are Chinese. The Chinese side has asked us to wait while they work out whether to send a plane or buy tickets for them,” Heisela told reporters yesterday.

He said Cambodia refused to draw a distinction between Chinese and Taiwanese, as the country adheres to a “one China” policy.
Note that the "Taiwanese = Chinese" is a position held by Cambodia. The article contains the Chinese statement:
“China requested Cambodia to send all the suspects to the mainland as most of the victims in this case are in China, and they obstructed our personnel from visiting the Taiwanese suspects,” the foreign ministry said.
This has been the position of China throughout -- the position that adheres to established international practice and law -- that the crimes were committed against Chinese in China, and thus, the criminals should be sent to there. China HAS NOT been saying loudly that the Taiwanese are really Chinese and thus Beijing has jurisdiction over them. Note that China has asked for deportation, not extradition. In the Kenya case, the Kenya government was able to deport the Taiwanese fraud suspects to China because they had entered the country illegally and thus could be returned to their last port of embarkation. Cambodia under the 1994 Immigration Law can simply deport anyone who enters the country under false pretenses, and dollars to donuts, these suspects not only did that, but also entered from Guangzhou, as the ones in Kenya did.

Next time guys, enter from Tahiti or Maldives, so you'll be deported someplace nice... and don't commit crime in China while based in a country that has become more or less a protectorate of Beijing.

J Michael Cole, who has been churning out articles at the News Lens, observed:
According to Cambodian immigration officials, 13 Taiwanese and 14 Chinese nationals were arrested for alleged Internet fraud on June 13 in a raid at their villa in Phnom Penh. Soon thereafter, Taiwanese representatives contacted their Cambodian counterparts to ensure its nationals were sent back to Taiwan. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that the Taiwanese officials were unable to meet with the suspects.
There is simply no reason to have these men shipped back to Taiwan, and the possibility of being shipped off to do real time in a Chinese prison might actually function as a deterrent to people entering this "profession." MOFA should expend its resources on other things.

MOFA's lack of leverage highlights the short-sightedness of the Ma Administration's China-focused foreign policy, which -- probably deliberately -- neglected SE Asian nations. Fortunately the Tsai Administration has a strong push to reverse that neglect.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Weak End Review

Mingde Reservoir, Miaoli

AND THE INTERNET LAFFED OUT LOUD: Big shout out to the international media here. The international media has been claiming for months that tourists from the Middle Kingdom have been slashed/will be slashed/could be slashed/are being slashed/ any moment now, but as my readers know, that was laughably wrong. Arrivals from China rose in February and again in April. But in the finest stopped clock fashion, the international media was finally right: the number of tourists from China indeed fell in May. Numbers were posted by Solidarity.

Why am I thanking the media? By writing nonsense about our collapsing supply of tourists from China when it was actually rising (remember, these shrill notes date from the October announcement by the Tourism Bureau of a 95% cut), it provided free advertising for more desirable tourists for other countries, signaling them that Taiwan was a place less overrun with Chinese tour groups (while tourism from China declined in Dec, we got massive spikes in Japan tourism). Thus, despite the drop in obnoxious miserly tour groups from China, we still managed to show 1.87% overall tourism growth in May. A much lower number than previous months, but evidence that we don't need those Chinese tourists. Tourism from Japan, Korea, and SE Asia is rising long-term, and with Tsai in power and the Go-South policy in full swing (the Tsai gov't is mulling easy entry for citizens of ASEAN nations) expect tourism from those areas to continue to increase. Even as I write this, some Malaysian friends of mine are climbing over Wuling on bikes...

What declined? Group tours fell by 31%, according to the government. But solo travelers were up 12%, according to spokesmen.
But the number of travelers from China visiting Taiwan on their own rather than as part of a tour group rose by 12 percent in May from the year-earlier period, the sources said Friday.
Airlines suspended flights between Taichung and China...
Chang said that since March, flights between Taichung Airport and Changsha, Zhengzhou, Jinan, Qingdao, Tiangin and Chengdo in China have been discontinued because of a low passenger load factor that resulted from an 8 percent drop in group tourists from China.

He was responding to a local media report that said airlines operating between Taichung Airport and Hangzhou, Nanjing and Ningpo had canceled 10 routes since March.
Although some media have been reporting that Chinese students will also be banned, the Min of Ed said a week or so ago that it had no such information.

Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about the whole affair was the number of expat netizens tracking China tourism. Think anyone in the international media will write about how wrong the media was? No, they will crow about how awesomely insightful and correct they were. I can't wait.

How low was the cut? China tourists in May reached 327K, or the same as in Dec of 2015, also a low supposedly in response to the election (it rose again in January to 366K)(source). It is much too soon to say whether this is seasonal variation or a real cut, although tour group numbers started falling in April (2.9%) according to one of the articles above. Nevertheless, it could simply be that tour companies themselves were nervous about the new president, and so stayed away. We will simply have to wait for the June numbers to come out.

PIXELS FORMING THE SHAPE OF MA YING-JEOU VISIT HONG KONG: this week also saw the big controversy over Ma Ying-jeou's visit to Hong Kong. New Bloom reviewed the whole thing here:
This was the first time a former Taiwanese head of state had applied to leave the country during the three years after their term ended. Ma did not actually file the application twenty days beforehand, having planned to deliver a speech at the Society of Publishers in Asia’s Awards for Editorial Excellence on June 15th, but only having filed his application on June 1st. But the reasons cited for the rejection of his applications by government spokesmen revolved around Ma’s previous access to classified information and security concerns from Ma visiting as politically sensitive an area as Hong Kong. Likewise, Ma has outstanding lawsuits against him and the fear that he may flee the country in order to avoid lawsuits has been raised in the past. Nevertheless, with respect to that, the Taipei District Court later refused to approve of a court proceedings filed by DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming attempting to restrict Ma’s travel based on standing lawsuits filed against him.

.....

The KMT has seized upon Ma’s denial of travel in order to claim political persecution by the DPP, citing freedom of speech concerns and linking this to that former president Chen Shui-Bian was allowed to attend a banquet in Taipei earlier this month, despite that Chen is currently on medical parole for his jail term. Critics have also seized on the event to call Tsai hypocritical for claiming to value democracy and freedom of speech but denying this to Ma, as well as claiming that though Tsai claimed during her presidential campaign that she will heal political divisions in Taiwan, she is carrying out actions completely the opposite. It bears pointing out that much of the criticisms on such grounds disguise rather obvious pro-Beijing bias, however.
While the criticism from the KMT tended to focus on Tsai Ing-wen as the dastardly overmind of the decision, scholar Jon Sullivan at the U of Nottingham pointedly pointed out:
Former President Ma Ying-jeou’s application to travel to Hong Kong for a brief speaking engagement has been turned down by the new Tsai administration. It was a decision based on consultation with government security agencies and wasn’t Tsai’s unilateral decision. Technically Ma’s application did not meet the rules regarding the 20 day advance notice for former presidents within 3 years of leaving office. Lee Teng-hui was allowed to travel to the UK one month after stepping down in 2000 (by a DPP government); but the UK does not have the symbolism that HK does (it was where the meeting between KMT-CCP took place in 1992 that gives its name to the ‘1992 consensus’), and after all, HK is quasi governed by China. Ma is in possession of huge amounts of “classified knowledge” and the potential for either purposeful or accidental disclosure of information is much higher in HK than almost anywhere else in the world. This is not to imply that Ma has or had any intention whatsoever of disclosing classified information, but given that for 8 years Ma has espoused pro-China preferences it is no surprise that most Taiwanese are suspicious of a visit so soon after he stepped down to a location that has been used as a (often clandestine) meeting place for ROC/KMT PRC/CCP officials.

A further aspect is that the KMT has demonstrated before that it is happy to bypass the duly elected government to conduct “diplomacy” with China. ... But overall, there are genuine security issues and particular sensitivities with Hong Kong–and Ma would presumably have been aware of this when putting in his application.
The whole thing was a clever set up: Ma wins either way. If they let him go, he sucks up to China and disparages Tsai and Taiwan. If they don't let him go, they whine and and say Tsai hurt Taiwan's democracy. As they actually did...
Ma’s office expressed regret over the decision. A spokeswoman said it showed “not only disrespect to the former leader, but damages Taiwan’s democratic image in the world”.

KMT vice-chairman Hau Lung-bin said the decision showed “a lack of self-confidence and goodwill” from Tsai.
Ma was his usual tone-deaf self when he appeared over the internet at the event. Even as a Hong Kong bookseller was back in Hong Kong describing his months of torture at Chinese hands, he laughed at the Tsai government's security concerns and said that Hong Kong was a safe place. Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong democracy leader, blasted him for the remarks. J Michael Cole, now editor of the News Lens, pointed out that Ma blew an opportunity to support embattled publishing and journalism in Taiwan. Naturally....

AND THE INTERNET LAFFED OUT LOUD II: Another one of those ZOMG TAIWAN IS TENZ! PLS NERF! articles came out last week in the National Interest to general laughter. It was straight out of 2006:
Even though President Tsai espouses a more moderate approach to cross-Strait relations than her DPP predecessor, her policies and especially the actions of her party threaten cross-Strait relations. For example, after her swearing in last month, President Tsai established a mechanism to resolve maritime disputes with Japan. ROC Premier Lin Chuan also dropped charges against anti-Beijing protesters and described his newly appointed representative to the United States as an “ambassador,” suggesting that Taiwan is a sovereign country with all the attendant diplomatic privileges. While not constituting a regime shift in government policy, moves such as these undermine Beijing’s confidence in its ability to work with the newly elected government. Both sides enjoyed closer relations during the previous KMT administration of President Ma Ying-jeou from 2008 to 2016, and the PRC will do what it can to precipitate a return to KMT rule. There is some indication that Beijing will aggressively pressure the new president and explore how far it can go in imposing its own terms on the relationship. It has already begun to limit cross-Strait travel and renewed diplomatic relations with Gambia, ending a tacit truce against further diminishing the ROC’s small list of diplomatic partners.
Oh noes! Tsai established a mechanism to resolve maritime disputes with Japan! Do you think Beijing will invade immediately, or will they just blockade us? You know you've gone round the bend when you think Taipei and Tokyo agreeing on a dispute mechanism is "provocative". The writer is a grad student in the Elliot School at GWU, where I am sad to say I graduated from, and which was made of sterner stuff in my day (yes, you know you're old when you can use the phrase "in my day"). Michal Thim and I wrote a response, which I hope the National Interest runs...
______________
Daily Links:
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Holiday Riding in Hsinchu and Miaoli

DSC02139
Been super busy, so still catching up on a wild week... But last week Drew and I went up to visit Shangtianhu, but never made it. Instead, we rode out to the Zhangxueliang house. Our ride began, as many have, with a quick run up to the Hsinchu HSR in Zhubei. The mountains east of Hsinchu are actually quite accessible from that HSR. Click on READ MORE....

Monday, June 13, 2016

1957 Vid: Formosa's Miracle Highway (Taroko Gorge and up)


Original video link. h/t to Chris N.
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!