Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The New Power Party Speaks

Missing the mountains of Pingtung.

UPDATE: Solidaritytw has the translation of Freddy Lim's candidacy announcement. Thinking Taiwan has Hung's here. Thanks to anon below!

On Sunday afternoon I dropped by the Taichung Thinkers Corner to listen to Freddy Lim and Hung Tz-yung, sister of the Corporal Hung whose death at the hands of his military masters provoked massive protests in Taipei, speak about their new political party, the New Power (時代力量) Party. Freddy Lim is best known as the leader of the metal band Chthonic, but he is also a passionate advocate of things Taiwan.

Lim did most of the talking, discussing how getting into politics necessitated overcoming of the fear of politics. How no one talks about politics for fear of being criticized. He said he had to persuade Hung to enter politics, but really, in a way when he presented his arguments to her, he was persuading himself.

Of the two I was more impressed with Hung. Lim is a seasoned performer and comfortable with people and crowds. Hung is an obvious novice, yet see she did very well. She spoke without hesitation or backtracking, sharp and very strong and articulate. She seemed an authentic Taiwan woman, strong and purposeful, radicalized by the brutality of the State that killed her brother and then punished only the underlings for it. She was dressed in a very down-home Taiwanese way, a dull pink sweater top that was just a shade younger than something old Auntie might wear.

Lim said that the plan to focus on international relations and Taiwan's space, military law, and indigenous rights, among others. Also culture and education.

They are a good example of some of the changes that are sweeping across Taiwan, which hopefully several of us will be writing more on in the coming weeks. Things are percolating rapidly here...

Below READ MORE are images of the handouts they presented at the meeting, with bios and pics of the party's total of four candidates and the party manifesto, all in Chinese.

Annual Review of Capitulationist Raccoon Boost

A been in my yard loaded with morning glory pollen.

Every once in a while I review the awesome figures generated by the arrival of the Annexationist Herbivores at the Taipei Zoo. Last year I scribed:
Heh. It was four years ago this month that the Annexation Lardbombs exploded at the Taipei Zoo. They were delivered on Dec 23, 2008, and went on display a month later, to a brief flurry of absolute madness. Profoundly political and not the least bit a demonstration of goodwill, they were handled as a "domestic transfer" under CITES, one of the many quiet ways that the Ma government has capitulated to Beijing, as my round-up post above notes. They were named "Reunification" in Chinese. The Zoo's annual budget for them was over a million US$, and it wasted $10 million US on the enclosure for them, according to AP.
It's now been over five years. Meanwhile, let's once again review those promises from the heady days of late 2008.
Zoo officials expect the two giant pandas to attract more than 6 million visitors in the first year, saying they will issue numbered slips to visitors at the panda hall to prevent them from waiting in long lines.(TT)
Here's the data, through 2013. I can't find the 2014 visitor data on the zoo website in any language -- the 2013 data didn't come out until Dec of 2014 in English. Obviously, the visitor level is roughly what it was prior to the panda arrival, which means that these lolling lardbombs have done nada for overall zoo attendance. Indeed, attendance actually fell from 2009 levels over the next three years, bouncing back only in 2013. The Zoo is nowhere near the levels it was in the early 2000s, despite the tourism boosts. Just too much competition for the leisure dollar, I expect. But where are the 6 million visitors for the pandas? Somewhere back in the 1990s, perhaps...

UPDATE: Someone found the numbers for me. Looks like we got a 2014 kick for the baby lardbomb. Still nowhere near 6 million.

1999   4981102
2000   5794384
2001   5473487
2002   4147406
2003   2836936
2004   3054593
2005   3106296
2006   3460300
2007   3370091
2008   3284443
2009   3673564
2010   2808110
2011   2710720
2012   2722042
2013   3222668
2014   4,222,083
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Musings on the Strange Pro-China Left

A wedding dress shop in Sandimen.

SCMP reports on a PRC general who threatened Taiwan while kvetching about Hong Kong.
Sun had been discussing the important role of competition in Sino-US ties and maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China seas, when he touched on the risk China faced in terms of subversion campaigns by foreign states.

"Hostile forces have always attempted to make Hong Kong the bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating mainland China," Sun said. "The illegal Occupy Central activities in 2014 came as minority radical groups in Hong Kong, under the instigation and support of external forces … orchestrated a Hong Kong version of a colour revolution."

He said the central government had shown firm support for the Hong Kong government in dealing with the protests, and that Beijing's defence of "one country, two systems" should also serve as a warning to Taiwan's pro-independence forces.
It is an article of Chinese propaganda that the Hong Kong protests were controlled by foreign forces (read: The US). This has been picked up by weirdo pro-China left as an article of faith. Indeed, there's a fellow on Facebook whom I religiously follow because he reliably forwards the pro-China propaganda line, which helps me separate out the propaganda from the reality.

David Lindorff, a progressive writer with experience in East Asia, has addressed this in an excellent piece at Counterpunch last year.
A number of progressive and left-leaning writers in the US have jumped on a report by Wikileaks that the neo-con dominated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and various other US-government linked organizations with a history of subversion and sowing discord abroad are operating in Hong Kong and on that basis are making the leap of “logic” that the democracy protests in Hong Kong must therefore be a creation of US policy-makers.

As a progressive, Chinese-fluent journalist who has spent years working in China and especially Hong Kong, and who has spent decades exposing the secret workings of US agencies and their network of fake NGOs in support of US empire, as well as their anti-democratic activities here in the US, I can understand why people might be suspicious, but I want to explain that Hong Kong is not Ukraine or even Venezuela or Brazil.

...

To suggest, for example, that long-tested leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement like Martin Lee Chu Ming, Emily Lau, or labor and democracy activist Lee Cheuk Yan, are “in bed with” the NED because they might have attended some NED event or that 17-year-old student protest leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung is working for the US because he and his father allegedly once visited the US Consulate in Hong Kong, is both nonsense, and the height of imperial-minded arrogance. Lee, Lau and Lee are virtually the MLK, Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez of the Hong Kong freedom struggle and worked at great personal sacrifice to win more freedom and local control from the British long before China was in charge of the territory! And Wong, despite his tender years, clearly has courage and a mind of his own. Visiting the US Consulate is a commonplace event in Hong Kong, and that action signifies nothing. (By the way, what are the odds the NED or CIA would opt to go with a 17-year-old kid to organize this massive protest? Seriously? That’s about as likely as that the International Muslim Conspiracy to Create a Sharia Law America would have selected a young Kenyan-born black child as their vehicle to become their Manchurian-candidate president and then subvert the US. The truth is this kid, who won his organizing spurs at 14 opposing a politically-guided Hong Kong history curriculum, has won his current surprising position of influence through conviction, intellect, guts and charisma.)
If/when China occupies Taiwan, that the anti-China protests are US-organized will be the China propaganda line. If you spend time among the fifty-centers in online forums, you can already hear that Taiwan independence is a US plot, a rather comic complaint considering the long history of US opposition to Taiwan independence.

Resistance in Hong Kong to China's suppression of local identities and substitution of its constructed "Chineseness" takes many forms. The same thing is happening in Taiwan (see the recent flap over KMT propaganda history in the textbooks), but because the faux "Chinese" identity is offered in a democracy, resistance is formalized and more powerful. We must not forget that inside China, where outsiders do not see very well, these same processes of obliteration of local identities are going on -- they are occasionally reported on in the foreign media as articles on how China is bringing Mandarin to everywhere in China, where the reporter is either unable or not permitted to see/report on what is going on. What's actually happening is that it is crushing local ethnic groups, which we outsiders have trouble seeing as ethnic groups because the rubric of Chineseness is so deliberately protean and obscuring, meant to hide these colonial processes. Beijing operates an empire that is desperately struggling to become a state, and part of that process is the elimination of local identities. Hence Hong Kong...

Note that the general in the SCMP piece again refers to 1C2S. That line exists for domestic consumption only, to raise resentment among the Chinese against Hong Kong and someday, Taiwan. "Look how well we are treating them (better than we treat you)." Since Chinese do not hate Taiwan, resentment is the next best approach to getting them to acquiesce to an invasion of Taiwan. The "two systems" doesn't mean anything more than the "autonomous" in Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The Left's obverse of the pro-China left is the anti-Japanese militarism left, which is almost completely delusional. For example, John Feffer at FPIF just produced a wonderfully droll piece entitled Is Japan's Prime Minister the Next Putin? Yes, China is building fake islands in the South China Sea (what could be more Putin than that?), stealing islands from the Philippines, creating illegal ADIZs over Japanese territory, and threatening to murder Taiwanese wholesale and plunge the region into war. But respond to that? You're Putin!

The complaints about the treatment of Okinawa are totally on point, as are the complaints about the burgeoning security apparatus in Japan. I would be more accepting of them, however, if there were complaints about China's similar trashing of Xinjiang with military bases, and similar complaints about China's far more pervasive security apparatus. But the Left is a desert on China...
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Monday, March 02, 2015

Links for Catching Up

No smoking in our community.

What could be better than a month that opens with a trip to Lanyu and closes with a visit to Laochijia? Now it is time to catch up...

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Biking to Laochijia Slate Village

Deep into the mountain heart of Pingtung we rode on Friday, to visit the Paiwan village of Laochijia (老七佳), a slate house village which, our guide told us, Taiwan was trying to get listed as a world heritage site. Click on READ MORE....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Case No. 59213: China Specialists Don't Get Taiwan

A ladybug predating.

I often complain about how China specialists just don't get Taiwan. Here is another example of it. taiwansecurity.org published an interview with longtime, well-known China specialist Andrew Nathan last week about Beijing and Taiwan. He replied to one question on the Sunflowers.
I think that they had already learned that to settle what they call “the Taiwan problem” peacefully, which is their goal, they are going to have to win over public opinion in Taiwan—the people, the voters. They knew that. But to me, the lesson of the Sunflower Movement is—but I don’t know if Beijing understands the lesson the way I do—is that you can’t win over public opinion strictly with economic benefits. I think Beijing’s strategy had been that we will take care of the Taiwan economy by opening up our markets, by giving privileges to Taiwanese investors and others, and sending tourists, and so forth, and the Taiwan people will understand that their economic interest is in the same basket with us. It turns out that the Taiwan people are instead resentful of growing economic dependence on the mainland. They’re not very trusting of how that economic influence will be used by Beijing. The Chinese leaders are still in some ways Marxist, they still believe in economic materialism, the idea that people will respond to economic incentives. They seem to have a hard time getting a grip on the idea of identity and self-dignity as an important factor that people sometimes fight for.
We just had this problem with Denny Roy, which I commented on below. Once again we see the false idea that Beijing offers those generous economic incentives. But everyone in Taiwan can see that (1) Beijing is not offering generous terms (2) it is only doing econ agreements because it wants to hollow out Taiwan's economy because of (3) it wants to bind Taiwan to China and annex it while destroying the economic basis for Taiwan's independence. The result of the China engagement has not been positive economic benefits for Taiwan, but stagnating wages, reduced democracy, increased smuggling and gang activity, and so on.

China specialists need to face this fact squarely: there are no generous economic benefits from Taiwan's economic involvement with China. That golden age passed in 2008, six years ago. Instead, the people of Taiwan experience assaults on their independence and democracy on one side and the hollowing out of their economy on the other, along with China's continued interference in FTAs and other international agreements. They know that the benefits of the trade relations go to a few big businessmen. They know the tourism profits are taken by a handful of Hong Kong-based tour agencies, while the locals get low paying service jobs while Chinese tourist facilities destroy local lands and the tourists themselves overrun whatever place they go into, driving away locals. As Ian Rowen has trenchantly observed, tourism is a territorial strategy of China in Taiwan. They know that China has special zones on its coast to poach Taiwan's agricultural technology. The public here is well aware that everything the public was told about China by the Ma Administration has turned out to be a lie. You'd think the message would have gotten out by now to the China specialists who study this stuff... no wait, why do I think that?

The whole idea of "generous economic benefits" is Chinese propaganda. Stop forwarding it, scholarly folks.

As a friend of mine commented so much better than I could on Nathan's remarks about China's authoritarian government and Taiwan's shifting democracy:
LOL. Poor China. they must be having fits according to Nathan because of that protean democratic process. They don't know who's in charge in Taiwan; or for that matter, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Canada...
Nathan also answers the question about what if China became democratic.
If Beijing became a democracy in some authentic sense, I believe that the problem of Taiwan’s relationship to the PRC would then be much easier to resolve peacefully. And I guess I gave in my earlier remarks already the logic of why I think so. The Taiwan people do have an economic advantage in close relations with China, but they don’t want to make that into a political relationship because they don’t trust the authoritarian regime. But if China had a truly democratic regime—I’m not saying a U.S.-type regime or any particular format, but something that was really democratic with political freedom and political security—then I think the Taiwan people would gradually grow to trust the government in Beijing and they would understand that this mainland China political entity has a security interest in an arrangement where both their own and Taiwan’s security will be guaranteed, and we need to provide that to them, and it’s not going to be a threat to us. That kind of a thought would grow in Taiwan.

And then I think on the Chinese side, they would also be willing to negotiate with the Taiwanese for their interests in more autonomy and they could—over the years, many different formulas have been vetted about confederation, and so on—they could probably solve the problem.
There's already poll data on this. As Emerson Niu's survey
Q4. If only small political, economic, and social disparity exists between Mainland China and Taiwan, do you favor or not favor Taiwan unifying with China?

Not Favor: 56.4% 
Favor: 36.4%
NA: 7.2%
...and that data is years out of date. Things are even stronger now. Why do people in Taiwan reject being annexed to China? The reason is simple: they have their own identity, the Taiwan identity. China has a different identity (see Don Rogers' work on the young). Authoritarianism is an issue, but even if China became democratic, the identity issues that separate the two sides would remain (see Scotland, Catalonia, Slovakia, etc). Taiwanese would see a democratic, non-threatening China as "at last! we can be free!" and that the peaceful resolution would result in an independent Taiwan, which most everyone here wants to see.

In any case no one in Taiwan would imagine that a democratic China would keep its word in some kind of security treaty. The Taiwanese would much rather be security linked to Japan and the US, two nations that don't want to annex the island. Nothing in the basic equation of the Taiwan-China-Japan-US quadrilateral would change.

I'm just curious about people who think that China will be less willing to use force if it is democratic. The history of the western democracies does not make one sanguine in this regard....

Finally, Nathan remarks...
And then I think on the Chinese side, they would also be willing to negotiate with the Taiwanese for their interests in more autonomy and they could—over the years, many different formulas have been vetted about confederation, and so on—they could probably solve the problem.
How kind of Beijing to grant us the status of an autonomous satrapy and refrain from murdering us wholesale! Never mind that Taiwan would be negotiating for less autonomy than it has now (and why would it do that?). This remark: "they could probably solve the problem" elides so much. The problem is not between Taiwan and China as something that could "be resolved" by the two sides sliding closer to each other. Taiwan is not the cause of the problem, and thus, nothing it can do will resolve it, save surrender.

The problem is Beijing's desire to annex Taiwan. Only Beijing can resolve that problem.

UPDATE: Some good comments below.
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Nine Jump from Taiwanese fishing boat in the Falklands

From here. Cindy Sui's good 2014 piece on working conditions in the Taiwan fishing boat industry.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Some links

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Presidential speculations for 2016

Aphids cluster among raindrops.

Latest rumor, speculation, and media frenzy on 2016, now less than a year away.

This week the focus was on Wang Jin-pyng, the Speaker of the Legislature and the man most hated by Ma Ying-jeou, who has been trying to get him kicked out of the KMT for the last couple of years. Wang has been touted by the media as a possibility. He's over 70, popular with the Taiwanese KMT and often identified as their leader, but also in with the mainlander elites. Recall that in the infamous KMT Chairmanship election of a decade ago, Wang was supported by the mainlander elites, Ma, by the rank and file.

I'm not going into the many problems with Wang. Just going to mention that the story is Eric Chu will kiss and make up with the wily, also 70+ James Soong to run a Wang-Soong ticket for 2016 and unite the blues. Soong is a very interesting figure -- at key junctures he has made moves that made it possible for the pro-Taiwan side to emerge victorious. In the conflict between the reactionaries and the mainstream KMT under Lee Teng-hui, he supported Lee, enabling him to get a grip on the presidency. In 2000 he ran as a pan-Blue independent and split the KMT vote, enabling Chen Shui-bian to win the presidency. His PFP party flared bright for a couple of elections, then was reincorporated by the KMT. Soong himself has become a marginal figure. But a Wang-Soong ticket would be unpredictable and interesting.

Another story running around. A prominent Taoist temple picked a text to help soothsayers predict the coming year, and they picked a text related to Empress Wu of the Tang. This was seen as an omen favorable to the DPP's Tsai.

RTI: When asked about Wang Jin-pyng for President, Tsai Ing-wen said it would be inappropriate to comment, while Su Tseng-chang called him a respected opponent....

Wu Den-yi, the widely despised vice president, was in the news saying he hadn't made up his mind about running for president. All I have to say about that is "Please please please."

The KMT has tough choices ahead. The public wants Eric Chu, but doesn't seem to think he can win. If Chu, the KMT Chairman, runs, he has to give up his position in New Taipei City as mayor, a position he won by 1% of the vote. There is a good chance the DPP will win a by-election there, since the KMT lacks politicians to run for the spot. If he loses the presidency and New Taipei City, the KMT will have no major executive positions, just a few small counties. If he doesn't run, then there is no similar figure who can step up.

Meanwhile, everyone in the DPP has rejected the idea of running as Tsai Ing-wen's running mate. Stay tuned, the next few months are going to be fraught with speculation and rumor.
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Hegemonic Warfare Watch: Denny Roy on the Collision Course between US and China

Image from here.

Longtime Taiwan watcher Denny Roy has a piece in The National Interest on the coming collision between China and the US over Taiwan. While his central point -- that we are headed for war out here over Taiwan or whatever -- is spot on, the lead up to it is fraught with strange errors. For example:
For several years, some Chinese analysts have worried that Taiwan intended to take advantage of the generous economic terms offered by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) while putting off political negotiations indefinitely. Their skepticism was justified. Economic integration and increased movement of people across the Strait will not necessarily lead to political integration. Taiwanese people may not prioritize an improved material standard of living over maintaining their civil liberties. Even if the sole concern is economic benefit, Taiwan arguably has an interest in delaying unification so as to wait for a point in time where China takes an economic loss and Taiwan profits disproportionately from their bilateral trade. Chinese magnanimity would likely decline after unification.
"generous economic terms". ROFL. Taiwan has been screwed by China's ruthless attempts to poach its technology, steal its industries, marginalize it in international trade negotiations, and hire away its best workers. The trade deals are meant to facilitate this hollowing out of Taiwan, because the foundation of Taiwan's independence is an independent economy. They do not offer generous terms, one reason that the service pact was so decisively rejected by the public (English analysis). Thus, this dichotomy between "standard of living" and "civil liberties" is completely false, because closeness to China has not fostered a higher standard of living in Taiwan. Instead, it has brought lower wages, low quality service jobs, stagnating incomes, and reduced living standards, not to mention damage to the island's media environment and democratic liberties.

Hence, the way that Roy has formulated this paragraph is completely bass-ackward. It should acknowledge that the interaction with China has brought wealth only to a few large businessmen with close China connections, and has worsened living quality on the island in every way. In this way it has increased desire for independence. Not mentioned here is the way in which Taiwanese go to China and become even more independence-oriented, but perhaps it should be...

Further down Roy scribes:
The likelihood of Taiwan voluntarily choosing unification with China is waning. Opinion polls show that Taiwan’s sense of a separate national identity from mainland China is increasing. While a great majority have long favored the status quo of de facto independence over immediate unification, a majority now oppose even eventual unification.
This is a more subtle misrepresentation. Roy is too honest an analyst to give the KMT version of the status quo preference, in which the status quo is presented as opposed to independence. Instead, he correctly identifies the status quo as preferred precisely because it is a weak form of independence. But "a majority now oppose eventual" annexation is plainly false -- annexation to China has always been opposed by the majority in credible polls. It is not something that has become true in the "now." All polls show the same thing -- Taiwanese identify as Taiwanese when forced to choose between Chinese and Taiwanese as identities, and a substantial majority would prefer independence. Annexation to China has little support, and its been that way for years. For example, check out this MAC poll from 2000. The government divides up the numbers to make it difficult to see, but once you do the math, support for annexation is 21%. Not a majority. There never was...

The thing that has changed is not the Taiwanese, who never supported annexation to China. Rather, it is the military calculus in the China-Taiwan-US triangle, as Roy notes. China is now much stronger than it was a decade ago. At some point soon some policy entrepreneur within the Chinese government is going to acquire the authority and position to make a convincing case that China can now defeat the US and Japan combined (the actual military numbers matter only to the extent that some domestic political calculus makes use of them) and then crush the democracy movement on Taiwan. As Hong Kong shows, the second part will in its own way be just as difficult as the first...
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

CFP for papers Assessing the Administration of Ma Ying-jeou

Blossom time in Taiwan

Call for Papers:
Journal on Current Chinese Affairs (Taiwan Edition)
(ISSN 1868-4874)

The Journal of Current Chinese Affairs (JCCA), in cooperation with the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (CCKF-ERCCT), is inviting contributions for a new Taiwan edition on the topic:

Assessing the Administration of President Ma Ying-jeou

guest edited by Sabrina Habich & Stefan Fleischauer (ERCCT Tübingen)

When Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008 public support for the Kuomintang (KMT) was strong, largely because many Taiwanese were hugely dissatisfied with the administration of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and former president Chen Shui-bian. Chen’s entanglement in corruption scandals and alleged mismanagement of Taiwan’s economy and external relations allowed Ma Ying-jeou to run a successful campaign which was based on reviving the economy, engaging China, and combatting corruption. Over the past seven years the Ma administration has in many regards left an imprint on Taiwan.

This topical issue shall focus on a retrospective evaluation of the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016), with a particular emphasis on the following issues:

The political economy of Cross-Strait Relations, including cross-strait economic integration, cross-strait (labor) migration, and cross-Strait social and academic interaction
Domestic politics with a focus on China policy-making
Socio-economic change, pinpointing civil society, social cleavages, immigration policies and social welfare development
Taiwan in the international community, including Taiwan’s “international space”, national security and U.S.-Taiwan relations, territorial conflicts, and Taiwan’s soft power
Taiwan in East Asian economic integration

The Journal of Current Chinese Affairs is an internationally refereed academic journal published by the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies, Hamburg. It is simultaneously published online as an Open Access journal and as a printed version. Ranked 7th by the Google Scholar impact ranking system for Chinese Studies journals it is one of the world’s most widely read and influential periodicals on Asian affairs.

Interested scholars are invited to submit an outline of their contributions until 1st April, 2015 to:
Sabrina Habich (sabrina.habich@uni-tuebingen.de)

European Asso­ci­a­tion of Taiwan Stud­ies (EATS)
info@eats-taiwan.eu
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Year of the Indeterminate Ungulate: Links

An abandoned railway bridge.

Happy New Year! May you survive this year in one piece. Some links to enjoy while your local relatives watch TV:
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ECFA = Negative Benefits

Gravel operation moonscape on the Dajia River.

I love that phrase, negative benefits. Farmers groups complaining about what everyone knows -- food smuggling from China is rampant (Taipei Times):
The associations highlighted statistics released by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) showing that smuggled produce confiscated during the Lunar New Year holiday — when smuggling operations peak — dropped 80 percent last year compared to 2013 and stood at just 0.6 percent of the 2008 level.

The farmers said that there is still a huge quantity of smuggled produce on the market, and accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of colluding with smugglers working with Chinese.

Statistics released by the coast guard show that the volume of illegal agricultural products smuggled from China fell from 6,632 tonnes in 2008 to 57 tonnes in 2011, before dropping further to 41 tonnes last year.
Everything about the article suggests serious collusion to destroy local Taiwan producers. For example, take tea leaves:
No Chinese tea leaves have been confiscated since 2011, when authorities discovered two tonnes of contraband.

Taiwan Tea Farmers Self-help Group chief executive officer Chen Chien-nung (陳鑑農) said the coast guard had failed to intercept smuggled Chinese tea leaves over the past three years.

“You can find as many Chinese tea leaves as you want in the marketplace,” Chen said, adding that if the Ma administration requires proof, he could immediately provide evidence.

He said that most tea circulating in distribution channels is brewed from Chinese tea leaves, which leads him to believe that at least two freight containers, or 36 tonnes, of Chinese tea leaves disguised as being from other countries are being smuggled into the nation on a daily basis.
"No Chinese tea leaves have been confiscated since 2011..."

One of the reasons the services pact is so unpopular is widespread awareness of these issues. In order to secure even limited public support for ECFA, the Ma Administration had to put Chinese agricultural products on a banned list. The Administration's answer to this problem appears to be to serve Beijing by turning a blind eye to smuggling. Taiwan importers use third party routes, which the government must surely be aware of. For example...
The smuggled tea leaves were first shipped to a third country, such as Thailand and Singapore, before being transported to Taiwan, where they were mixed with locally produced tea leaves and then processed into oolong tea, green tea and jasmine tea before being sold to unsuspecting customers.

An investigation found the unscrupulous business people had carried out 50 smuggling trips, shipping around 1,000 to 2,000 metric tons of cheap Chinese tea to the island, prosecutors said.
Moreover, this is not a new problem. I stumbled across this piece about the 1980s:
It appears that smuggling tea in from the mainland is causing major difficulties for established processors. Those who respect the law and don't deal in mainland tea are at a major disadvantage. Processors and retailers have been urging the government to reconsider the current ban and legalize mainland imports. It is significant that, of the legal imports of 565 tons in 1985, 95% was fermented and semi-fermented tea and only 5% green tea. By 1989, of the total 1,333 tons imported, 29 % was green tea. It is highly likely that this tea originated from the mainland.
Given the massive jump in smuggling from ECFA, coupled with the amazing fall in enforcement of smuggling laws, it should be obvious what the consequence of the Ma Administration's proposed Free Economic Zones will be. Those clunkers out of the 1960s would permit Chinese agro-materials to be processed in zones with little oversight, once again spurring massive increases in smuggling. The government's policy called for a formal lifting of the ban on the over 800 agricultural goods currently not permitted to enter Taiwan (TT) so that they could be processed in the zones -- with the government laughably claiming that goods made with materials on the forbidden list wouldn't be permitted to enter Taiwan. As if the government could or would stop them...

This knowledge is one reason Taiwanese rejected the CSSTA pact. They know perfectly well that letting in China in X amounts means that in reality X + SMUGGLING will enter. Hence any statistical claims about the effects of the agreements are meaningless since they never take the illegal trade into account.

One reason I find westerners who are boosters of ECFA so detestable is precisely their simpleminded, deliberate neglect of this destructive issue, their refusal to face what increased trade with China has meant for Taiwan and the health of its people and its economy. Such boosters, as in the Drysdale piece I linked to below, invariably neglect the military and political threat as well, as if trade with China were like trade with Canada or Thailand. As the TT article above notes, prices of tea buds in Taiwan have plummeted. This forces local tea farmers who would rather not to use Chinese teas if they want to stay in business and remain cost-competitive, while at the same time destroying the made-in-taiwan brand value. It is hard for me to see that outcome, easily predictable since adulterating Taiwan teas with cheap Chinese crap teas is a habit that dates back to the 19th century, as something other than a deliberate policy. A policy that extends to many areas of the economy...
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Then and Now: Imourod on Lanyu

Was trawling the East Asia Image Forum for Lanyu pics when I came across this picture of the people of Lanyu launching boats, from the first half of the 1930s. Got to wondering what beach this was. Did I have this view?

Yep, sure did. It's the beach that now hosts the village of Imourod, Hongtou (red head) in Chinese. I've placed them next to each other for comparison.
The angle is the same but my pic was taken from farther away. Erosion and vegetation have blurred the shapes....
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Event: Third “Young Scholars Workshop” at the CCKF-ERCCT Summer 2015

Taitung Train Station

Announcement

Third “Young Scholars Workshop” at the CCKF-ERCCT Summer 2015

「 歐洲當代臺灣研究中心 - 蔣經 國 基金會 海外 中心 」 舉辦的 「 青年精英學者 工作 坊 」 于 2015 年夏天

The European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen will hold a workshop for emerging young scholars from June 21st to June 28th, 2015. This year’s workshop will place a particular emphasis on the subject:

“Gaining Space: Taiwan in the International Community”  [CLICK READ MORE]