Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Well... at least they're honest...

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Monday, August 29, 2016

City Forums

Jack Anderson, WaPo, Aug 9, 1979. ROC officials considered sending letter bombs to people whose politics they didn't like in the US, but the idea was scotched by Chiang Ching-guo, according to a Senate report.

At New Bloom Brian H writes on Ko Wen-je and the Shanghai forum controversy. Ko agreed to welcome a CCP official as a stand-in for the Mayor of Shanghai. The hooha among the Greens, including very stupid accusations that about Ko's politics (of course he is Green, stop it with the purity tests) is a good example of the short-sightedness of so many in the Green camp. Ko was criticized for hosting a CCP flunky instead of the mayor of Shanghai -- as if the mayor of Shanghai were an independent elected official and not a CCP flunky.

Greens need to take the long view on this -- Ko is still electable and as a non-DPPer can garner a portion of the Blue vote, making him strong for the mayoralty in the next election. Taiwanese like to give a second chance after providing a warning -- so I expect he will win but with a smaller winning margin (like Ma for his second presidential term) -- and in any case, at the moment it appears the KMT nomination is likely to go to Alex Tsai, a blithering mainlander ideologue, instead of some deserving practiced politician. Another four years of Ko would be very good for the DPP, as Ko may be able to make progress cleaning up the cronyism that infests the city government after years of Blue control, and he will take the political hit for doing that (not the DPP). Moreover, another Ko term will demonstrate that the earth will spin placidly on even if the mayor of Taipei isn't Deep Blue, as well as create momentum for alternative parties, which the DPP needs to foster if it wants to prevent the KMT from rising again. After that the DPP can give Ko's presidential ambitions a quiet smile, and show him the door.

By contrast, Kaohsiung has no answer yet for its city forum from any of the five cities invited (FocusTw)...
Kaohsiung sent out invitations to Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Fuzhou in June for the Global Harbor Cities Forum it initiated and will host Sept. 6-8, but the five cities have neither confirmed nor rejected it, Hsu told reporters at the city's press conference held for the forum.
What does this mean? Well, if China had a policy, then they would execute it. But dithering like this over a minor international exchange is a strong signal that China has no idea what it is doing.
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News and Events of Local Interest: Reforms to attract foreigners in pipeline, Daniel Pearl Day Concert


From the Facebook group Foreigners for Taiwan... a list of the Exec Yuan proposals for reforms aimed at attracting foreigners to work here....

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blast from the Past: 1984: China and Taiwan: A Web of Unofficial Contacts

Full text is available online from the NYTimes site. With the China "cut off" of "official" communications, it is important to remember the web of unofficial communications that have existed between Taiwan and China for decades.

In the ICRT podcast below we discussed the forums through which Taiwan cities host Chinese cities. These represent useful unofficial channels, one of many. Note that Chen Chu has invited Chinese reps to her upcoming shindig, and they haven't responded. As I said in the podcast, if China had a policy, it would already have responded. It seems to me that Beijing does not know how to handle a pro-Taiwan administration in power...
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Friday, August 26, 2016

ICRT Again


On ICRT again.... tonight at 8:15 local time

Podcast link
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

A few links for Thurs...

Jan 10, 1983.

A few links...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ROFLMAO at Tourism numbers

Village on Lanyu

Lets get those numbers from the Tourism Bureau, MOTC. Clicking on the .XLS links for June 2016 and July 2016, we find...

June 2016
HKK/Macao 143,276
China 271,478

July 2016
Hkk/Macao 149,361
China 299,642

As my readers can see, Beijing once again slashed tourism arrivals in an upward direction, resulting in a total negative deficit of roughly 28,000 for China.

Or, as normal people might put it: tourism from China rose from June to July, by 34,000 for China + HKK/Macao, and roughly 28,000 for China. The total for HKK/Macao/China is nearly as high as it was in May...

May 2016
HKK/Macao 125,302
China 327,254

April 2016
HKK/Macao 110,716
China 375,567

The Feb and March totals for both places exceeded 500K. But we are just 30,000 under the April total for both. Tourism overall also rose, from 817K to 848K.

Can't wait to read more brilliant media analysis like this...
That, in turn, has hurt large hotels, mid-level restaurants and tour bus operators, said Kuo Tzu-yi, director of the Pingtung Tourism Assn. in southern Taiwan. His association covers Kenting National Park, a strip of beaches popular with mainland Chinese tourists. Crowds there had visibly thinned by mid-July.
...yes, I can easily see how those crowds thinned with the addition of 28,000 more tourists. I mean, they were probably thin compared to the well-fed Taiwanese...
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Blast from the Past: The first opening in the late 1970s

My son dragged down some boxes from upstairs yesterday and I spent some time sorting through them. I finally found some old newspaper clippings I've been looking for on China's first opening to Taiwan in 1981, which included the first trickle of visitors to China via Hong Kong in the late 1970s, and was built on regular smuggling operations that had been going on throughout the 1970s. I have another clipping on PVC smuggling which said that in 1980 (recalling from memory) so much PVC was smuggled from Taiwan it accounted for a year of Chinese demand. The investment surge of the 1990s was thus built on regular contacts that had been ongoing since at least the mid-1970s.

I have more clippings elsewhere, which I will put up as I find them. Click directly on the images to go to the Flickr page where you can view from in large size.

Note that trade was duty free -- tariffs were imposed later but I don't know when. Hence the current situation in which Taiwan is negotiating with China to reduce tariffs is another artificial situation created by Beijing to generate leverage for itself. Click on read more to view two more images below...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Hit Pieces on the Tsai Administration

We were heartbroken to lose our beautiful lab/retriever mix to kidney failure a couple of months ago. Then yesterday I was in the street in front of our house parking my scooter when this dog, a neighbor's, ran over to say hello. He is super friendly, and of course I greeted him. I remarked to our neighbor on how gorgeous he was and joked that I wished he were mine. My neighbor laughed and said I could have him, because he was her daughter's and neither mom nor daughter wanted him. Next thing I knew, we'd adopted him. So wonderful!

First, the good news. AP has made a quantum leap in quality in The Formula:
China claims Taiwan is its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Tsai's election upended Beijing's strategy of using economic inducements to convince Taiwanese that political unification is not only inevitable but also in their best interests.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party holds a strong legislative majority and favors Taiwan's formal independence from China, although she has taken no steps toward that goal.

Despite that, her refusal to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation prompted Beijing to suspend the liaison contacts days after her inauguration, in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on her.

Although China says Taiwan has been part of its territory since ancient times, the two sides have only been unified for four of the past 120 years, splitting most recently amid the Chinese civil war in 1949. Taiwan does not acknowledge Beijing's claim of authority over it, while surveys show an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese favor maintaining their current state of de-facto independence.
Depending on what you mean by "unified" AP is wrong to say for those four years Taiwan was "unified" -- the ROC occupied it on behalf of the wartime Allies and it was not (and is not) part of China. But note the care that AP takes to present the Taiwan side in this, and also to correctly define the 1992 Consensus (not even mentioned!!!) as what it is: the demand that Tsai say Taiwan is part of China. This is a thing lovely to see. Mega kudos and beers on me, if I ever meet this writer.

Aside: My observant friend pointed out to me another fascinating aspect of Tsai's apology to the aborigines: her apology re-orients all groups on the state as a neutral arbitrator with all citizens having a state-based citizenship, rather than the KMT vision of a ethnic-colonial state with a Han ruling elite redefining and then playing off local ethnic groups against each other to maintain power (a classic imperial ruling mode). Creating a neutral and Taiwan-centered State is a key yet little noted aspect of the post colonial transition Tsai must manage.

Sadly, the last week saw two hit pieces on the Tsai Administration, President Tsai Ing-wen ‘losing control’ of Taiwan’s pro-independence camp from Lawrence Chung in SCMP, whose pro-China/KMT political stance is obvious, the other from Ralph Jennings in the LA Times, Taiwan's ties with China slip as new president fumbles for a formula. Both hit pieces open with headlines that emphasize the President is losing control and directionless.

The Chung piece, despite its political views (even quoting those unnamed analysts) was actually more balanced: it gave views from the Green camp in last two paragraphs (placed where they could be most easily cut by the editor, but still...). The Jennings piece contains little of such balance and worse, is studded with erroneous claims and KMT propaganda attacks. Let's look at that headline:
Taiwan's ties with China slip as new president fumbles for a formula  
The direction of the attack is obvious from the beginning...

Onward:
It demanded stronger safety measures for its travelers on the island. Chinese state media warned that tourists might stop going to Taiwan
Note the sequence in Jennings’ piece: China reacts to the crash, innocent victim style.  Reality: China is being opportunistic, using "safety" as pretext for already-planned tourism cut (Jennings notes that planned cut elsewhere). Unlike previous crashes with clear causes, this one was murky and perhaps a murder-suicide. All that context was just removed, because it complicates the simple-minded anti-Tsai narrative that Tsai disrupts relations.
But since Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, took office in May, China has grown surlier and no one is sure how much further it will go. And the abrasiveness cuts both ways: Despite the pledge to help families in the tour bus disaster, Tsai is considerably less conciliatory to China than her predecessor.
Kudos for the first sentence -- so rare in the international media to see agency forthrightly assigned to China. But then comes the false equivalence between aggressor and victim: “abrasiveness cuts both ways”. Apparently resisting annexation is “abrasive”.  And of course the global media double standard: Baltic Republics resisting Russian expansion? Plucky heroic democracies. Tibet and Xinjiang? How sad. Taiwan resisting Chinese expansion? Abrasive!

Please concretely identify an "abrasive" comment from Tsai Ing-wen on China since becoming President.

Also Ma was not "conciliatory". His party was actively allied with the CCP in annexing Taiwan to China. But none of that ever appears in the western media. Jennings even quotes the MAC:
“We need to know people’s views and keep listening to other people’s voices,” said Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for Taiwan’s China policymaking body, the Mainland Affairs Council. “With so much flexibility and goodwill, we think China should show support and understanding.”
Very conciliatory language. But apparently it's "abrasive".

Jennings...
“President Tsai is still trying to find a solution,” said Liu Yi-jiun, public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. “She’s entering … the tunnel and she’s still far away from the end. ... She needs to say something not to discourage the Chinese leaders.”
Liu Yi-jiun’s web page at the university is here. In fact if you search the name, the vast majority of hits are from… Ralph Jennings’ articles.  Despite the large number of observant, heavyweight journalists, academics, commentators, and political players in the capital, Jennings draws quotes monotonously from an academic at a second-tier university in the hills outside Taipei.

Apparently it never occurs to these commentators or writers that Tsai might know what she was doing and it is they who are clueless. But then "Tsai is smarter than us" wouldn't make good copy...
Beijing wants Tsai’s administration to enter a dialogue in which each side casts itself as part of a single entity known as China, though subject to different interpretations — a bit like China’s “one country, two systems” approach to Hong Kong. 
This is just a plain error: Beijing has NEVER accepted the “two interpretations” codicil. That that claim is KMT propaganda. Beijing does not want Tsai to "enter into a dialogue". It wants Tsai to say that Taiwan is part of China.

Progress: in several of the last few articles I have seen, the bogus term 1992 Consensus has entirely disappeared. Apparently even editors in newsrooms far away have realized it is bullshit and are now searching for formulas to represent it.

Jennings continues:
Complicating matters are the China-related mishaps, including the bus fire, that have mounted quickly under Tsai’s watch.
That and the errant missile are the only China-related mishaps. The others named below it either have nada to do with China, or were caused by China. Such problems occur at the same rate as during other presidencies (remember the falling crane, the train derailment on Alishan, the Suhua Highway Bus Crash, or the 2015 Transasia airplane crash? All killed Chinese tourists), but if that were said, Jennings' "mounted quickly" narrative would disappear. In fact tourism is dangerous and Chinese (and all other!) tourists are regularly involved in deadly incidents of all kind all over the world, but why provide context? Too rational, that...

Jennings:
In July, Beijing’s top Taiwan policy advisor predicted a “severe” effect on relations after the island’s navy misfired a supersonic antiship missile. 
This scene will be familiar to readers: western media forwards Chinese propaganda with neither further investigation nor caveats. Note that no “severe” effect on relations has occurred since -- it is nearly September. Jennings does not bother to mention that, of course. Stenography like this is how the media creates the appearance of tensions: since no one will bother to report that nothing happened, readers abroad will naturally assume that something serious has subsequently occurred.

Never mind that if something "severe" occurs, it will not because of some errant missile, but because China was simple waiting for some incident it could blame for its change of policy.

Jennings:
This month, Kenya deported five  Taiwanese citizens to China, drawing a “strong protest” from the Foreign Ministry in Taipei.  Beijing persuaded Kenya to hand over the Taiwanese, who will probably be charged with fraud, on the premise that they all belong under one flag, that of China.
No other news article makes the claim that Beijing wanted the men because they were “Chinese”. AFAIK Beijing has never asked for the men for that reason. Instead, the Chinese asked for the fraud suspects over a year ago in Jan of 2015 on the (internationally valid) grounds that the crimes had been committed against Chinese, Beijing’s consistent position throughout and with deportations elsewhere. This claim of Jennings’ appears to be a very serious error. Happy to correct if  anyone can supply documentation.
But the absence of talks since Tsai’s inauguration has meant the freezing of any new economic deals.
Talks are not “absent”. They were cut off by Beijing. You can be sure that if Taipei had cut off relations, the international media would be having kittens. But Beijing’s actions are always made to vanish via passive framing. Let’s rewrite that so it is clear...
“But Beijing’s decision to cut off official communication since Tsai’s inauguration has meant the freezing of any new economic deals.”
Jennings continues:
China hoped Tsai would offer an extension of the upbeat relations of the previous eight years, when Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to see the two sides as part of one China. That allowed the governments to build trust and sign 23 deals related to trade, transit and investment.
This is just rank nonsense. Ma did not “agree” to see Taiwan as part of China, as if that had ever been in doubt, he has always believed that. Rather, the “trust” occurred because both sides wanted to use economic deals to put Taiwan in China’s orbit, because both espouse the same brand of Han Chinese nationalistic expansionism. At least Jennings observes that Ma was seen as too close to China.

Jennings:
Taiwan should make “concrete efforts for the resumption of cross-strait communication,” China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman, Ma Xiaoguang, said this month, according to the official New China News Agency.
Again, stenographer for Chinese propaganda, reported without analytical comment.  Above it does note that China cut off semi-official communications – but that caveat should be here.

Jennings:
Tsai’s government has discussed no specific proposals to improve ties with China, saying it needs a clearer idea of Taiwanese public opinion before making any moves. But it’s now reviewing existing regulations on Taiwan-China interaction with a view toward improving them, a government official said.
This is what Tsai has always said: the Administration’s policies will be rooted in the people’s desires and the Constitution. Tsai’s characteristic move is to let her opponents talk. She is following that strategy.

Thus, Jennings inverts reality: Tsai knows what she is doing and has a legal basis for her policy, it is Beijing that is confused and uncertain about how to handle a pro-Taiwan government in power in Taipei.  But none of that will be presented in a western media piece, and Beijing’s bombastic quotes will be reproduced without analytical comment by the writer.

Even more urgently: the claim that “Tsai should clarify her China policy” is not a neutral political observation by analysts. It was, throughout the presidential election campaign, a constant refrain of the KMT’s candidates that the DPP should clarify its China policy. No sensitivity is shown to that in this article. Instead, this charge is presented as if it has no history as a KMT propaganda attack (ex: April 2015May 2015Dec 2015 review in the Diplomat).

Indeed, the attacks in this piece from Jennings are simply an expanded version of KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu's attacks on Tsai:
Hung said she has misgivings about the incoming DPP government’s ability to handle cross-strait problems, adding that the relationship would return to the same state as eight years ago, with economic exchanges dwindling, the number of Chinese tourists dropping, military matters becoming more tense and the diplomatic truce ending."
Withal, this LA Times article is little more than a KMT political attack on the Tsai Administration. It is absolutely shameful.

Let's end with a quote of Jennings quoting:
“The question that arises is whether Beijing can tolerate an indefinite stagnation of relations,” said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu.
I love this quote: it presents relations as a thing not controlled by Beijing – poor put upon Beijing, facing stagnant relations! – readers of course know that Beijing imposed “stagnation” on relations. Just another case of a Western commentator framing situations created by Beijing in the passive, as if they somehow sprung into existence without human action. "There we were talking, and suddenly, relations just stagnated... man, that was bad. Dunno what happened..."

Let’s rewrite this to communicate reality properly:
“The question that arises is how Beijing will handle Taiwan, now that it has cut off communications.”
That's the interesting question the media should be exploring and reporting on. Instead, we get unbalanced error-studded garbage reproducing KMT-inspired attacks on Tsai.

Sucks. Think I'll go hug my dog now.
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Taiwan Rep in Kenya all but confirms fate of deportees decided early on...

Cats in cages...

The Taiwan rep to Kenya had a piece in one of the Kenya papers today in which he accused Kenya of not being democratic yada yada yada about the deportations of alleged scammers to China. It was mostly just a pile of selective, judgmental emoting. But among its claims was this observation:
It seems plausible that Kenya decided long ago what the outcome of this deportation case would be and that in trying to sustain good relations with China, it has traded the order of law for assistance from China. Kenya has sacrificed these five individuals’ rights for political expediency and advantageous gain from Beijing.
As I wrote in The Diplomat earlier this year:
China became involved immediately. In December 2014, a police team arrived from China to help investigate the case, and in January 2015, the Chinese government formally requested that Kenya send the suspects to China. China wanted to try the suspects on fraud charges, while the Kenya government tried them only on telecoms equipment and business violations. This withholding of the fraud charges suggests that the two governments agreed on how to handle the case over a year before Tsai Ing-wen was elected. It is thus highly unlikely that the Chinese government was planning to signal the incoming DPP administration on cross-strait sovereignty issues.
Yup. It was all decided long before Tsai came to power...
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Son and Sun in Lanyu

ZebLanyu_DSC02701
This was her only smile during what was obviously a difficult trip for her. But she and the sea and Lanyu were all beautiful...

Another August, another trip out to Lanyu. My son, my man Drew of Taiwan in Cycles, and my bother in spirit Domenic Alonge headed out to experience the beauty of Lanyu (slogan: "A free goat with every pic!"). Pics below the READ MORE line if you can stand more of my favorite island...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Hiatus Time

Some of this would be nice...

Well, I am crash-dieting on beer and fatty pork this weekend, to experience the restorative powers of the food of the gods. So I won't be blogging until Monday the 22nd. Enjoy a few links to tide you over...
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Blast from the Past: Competing in the 1960 Olympics under the name "Formosa"

Protesting at the 1960 Olympics (Getty). Wiki has another image.

A 1960 Taiwan Review/Today article notes:
The World-Telegram and Sun on September 1 also editorialized that sport and politics were mixed when the athletes from the Re­public of China were "forced" to represent only the island of Taiwan in the current Olympic Games in Rome.

In a comment entitled "Sports and Politics," the Scripps-Howard paper criticized the conduct of Avery Brundage, the newly re-elected President of the International Olympic Committee.

"Avery Brundage likes to say, as head of the International Olympic Committee, that 'sports and politics do not mix'. Yet he was the center of a furor last year over the admission of the Republic of China to the 1960 Olympic Games only as representative of Taiwan (Formosa)—thereby implying that the Communist regime is the legitimate government of China.

"The Brundage viewpoint prevailed and Nationalist China did send a team to Rome as representative of Taiwan. But on the opening day when the athletes circled the stadium, a Chinese marcher held aloft a placard that said: 'Under Protest.' It drew widespread cheers.

"A few days ago Mr. Brundage was reelected unanimously as president of the IOC. That came about, according to sports writers on the scene, because Soviet opposition to him was withdrawn. Some observers pointed out, according to John P. Carmichael, Chicago Daily News sports editor, that 'the USSR surrendered on Brundage, after the IOC agreed to insist that the Republic of China athletes be forced to represent only the island of Formosa.
This book available on Google books observed that in the "key political fight" of the Olympics, ROC officials had called the US embassy in Rome to try to get them to have Avery Brundage let them compete as China. The athletes of the ROC delegation did not want to march, but the IOC officials wanted them to. When the march came, not only did the ROC group carry the placard, but they wore jackets with the Nationalist Chinese insignia on them. However, according to the author, the US embassy officials observed "glumly" that the protest went largely unnoticed by the crowd.

Maybe we should petition to use the name Formosa again, since we used it once already...
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Global Taiwan Institute Established!

Russel Hsiao sent this around:

I am very pleased to provide this update to my last e-mail about the forthcoming establishment of the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI; www.globaltaiwan.org) in Washington, DC.

If you have not already done so, please subscribe to receive GTI's updates for upcoming programs and events at http://globaltaiwan.org/?page_id=1436. I promise not to spam you!

More importantly, the purpose of this e-mail is to share some news about our exciting programs, which will launch at the end of September.

As some of you may remember, I was the Editor of China Brief at the Jamestown Foundation from 07' - 11'. China Brief was and remains an excellent forum for China analysis, but the scope of that publication is necessarily broad.

Against the backdrop of an ever changing landscape in the Taiwan Strait, there is a need and a demand for more diverse as well as robust Taiwan and cross-Strait analysis. Therefore, a pillar of GTI's programs is a weekly publication focused on analyzing policy relevant developments in Taiwan, China-Taiwan, and U.S.-Taiwan relations.

I am looking for authors to write for this publication and contribute short analytical pieces of around 1,000 words. The articles should serve as a bridge between current events and policy analysis. If you or anyone you know might be interested in contributing to the publication, please contact me at globaltaiwan2016@gmail.com and I'll be happy to discuss details.

In any case, don't forget to sign up to receive GTI's updates at http://globaltaiwan.org/?page_id=1436 and stay tuned for more major announcements!

Best regards,
Russell
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Links

Enjoy a few links...
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