Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Chu goes there?

To some, those red polka dot balls are "art." I must be getting old...

Well well. The meeting of Eric Chu, KMT Chairman, and Xi Jin-ping, President of China was on May 4th, a day fraught with symbolism in Chinese history. Yeah, remember when Chu denied May 4 was the meeting day?

Since nothing important happened or was agreed on (Cole at Thinking Taiwan) at this utterly routine meeting, one more in roughly two decades of contact between the two longtime anti-democracy foes, the big news was the spat between Eric Chu, the KMT, and the CCP on one side, and poor AP on the other. Chu had said
...which means that both sides belong to one China. This is boilerplate. The Taipei Times then reported on the ensuing storm, which was as artificial as snow at a California ski resort:
Chu also said the KMT has “expressed a stern protest against and demanded the retraction of” a report by The Associated Press (AP) that said Chu “reaffirmed the party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland” when meeting Xi.

In the article, which AP ran under the headline: “In China, Taiwan party leader calls for more global access,” Chu was reported to have “affirmed his party’s support for eventual unification with the mainland,” according to the KMT.
WantWant described:
Describing the report on Chu's comments as non-factual and fabricated, Lin Yi-hua, head of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee, said Chu did not broach the topic of unification with China during his recent visit to China.
AP of course retracted. The reason AP retracted is simple: the writer of the piece was Chris Bodeen and Bodeen is based in Beijing. Moreover, unlike a long line of Beijing-based reporters I could name, Bodeen seems to dedicated to getting things right on Taiwan, which surely must have pissed off two anti-democracy parties I'm familiar with. Since Beijing had leverage -- goodbye, Bodeen's visa -- AP had no choice but to take it down.

One takeaway: Taiwanese are so anti-annexation that Chu's apparent affirmation of it had to be swiftly obfuscated clarified lest it hurt the KMT's (and perhaps Chu's) election prospects any further. Chu even got the nice bonus of playing the victim. Ben Goren of the Letters from Taiwan and I were chatting that evening before about the cataract of clarifications the KMT was going to issue on the morrow, and Ben neatly nailed the actual text of the "clarification" the KMT. It was all very predictable. Too bad AP got blindsided.

Hau Lung-bin, the former mayor of Taipei who is now in charge of much of the day-to-day running of the KMT, did his kow-tow to Beijing quietly in April. This means that both the major mainlander princes have now given fealty to the Emperor and received his blessings.

China again promised political talks with Taiwan as an equal, provided the One China principle was accepted. Typical.

 NYTimes' Austin Ramzy, in otherwise excellent piece on the Chu-Xi lovefest, says:
Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party has been critical of the consensus and denies the two sides reached any such understanding.
Su Chi, the KMT heavyweight publicly stated that there was no 1992 Consensus (in 2006, almost a decade ago), and so has Lee Teng-hui, who was president at the time and who ought to know. As the Wiki page notes, which I had forgotten, so has AIT head Burghardt. Indeed, on this topic, 1992 Ma Ying-jeou says 2015 Ma Ying-jeou is wrong. The 1992 Consensus as we know it today was coinage of later date as a cage for future DPP cross-strait policy-making, legitimated by casting it back into the past, like Chinese claims to South Sea Islands (here's a google search on the term in English for 1993-1999: no hits). A key point is that China has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that Taiwan politicians do so. Frozen Garlic harrumphed on the 1992 Consensus today:
I’m pretty fed up with claims that the 92 Consensus is historically based and claims that it is a fiction invented a decade later. Personally, I think the important point is that the KMT and CCP have found an idea they can agree on; whether or not it is based on something that happened in 1992 is not that critical. They could call it the “Super Awesome Neato Arrangement Sponsored by Samsung and Coca-Cola” for all I care. Diplomatic-speak makes me yearn for the relatively straightforward and honest rhetoric of election campaigns.
Froze's idea of "the important point" is incomplete. The KMT and CCP do not need an idea they can agree on to talk, they can talk any time they like and do. It's not like Chu and Xi sit down and an aged cleric walks out with a copy of the Lun Yu and then Xi and Chu both take an oath on it to adhere to the 1992 Consensus before they talk. Neither gives a flying f@ck in a rolling donut about the 1992 Consensus. Like all legal ideas put forth by Leninist authority organizations like the KMT or CCP, the rules cage others; they don't apply to the Party itself. It's always important to keep in mind when thinking about the KMT that it is not a political party but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. Hence, the key point from the KMT-CCP view is that it is a cage that both Chinese parties can use to imprison the DPP's policy makers, since each insist the DPP must adhere to it if it wants to talk to China. Wiki has a review of the history.

And yes, each time it is mentioned, I will note that it never occurred and that its importance lies in the way it is used to cage the DPP.

At Forbes Ralph Jennings correctly identifies one real goal of the talk -- Chu is probably seeking some practical help against the pro-Taiwan side, which looks like it is going to do well in the 2016 election.

Kerry Brown's magnificent tweet boner.... a reminder of another media problem: inability of the media to use "Chinese" when referring to the KMT. Not to pick on anyone, since the problem is widespread, but in this UPI piece, for example, the fact that the party regards itself as Chinese and that its ideology of Chineseness is a driver of its goal of annexing Taiwan to China, simply vanishes. Instead, Chu is the head of Taiwanese party.

More ominous than the entirely predictable moves of Chu was the Chinese decision to punish a Taiwan scholar for taking a stance Beijing didn't like. reports and translates:
Today’s edition of Hong Kong’s China Review 中評社 contained a column called “Talking with Beijing” in which the author stated that several scholars in Taiwan are coming out to help the Democratic Progressive Party by libeling KMT chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 and labeling him red, and these scholars provide “seemingly objective and neutral” analysis that misreads policy and misleads the electorate, said the author.

More directly, the author called out National Chengchi University Professor Tung Chen-yuan 童振源, saying that because of his twisted words, mainland China has stopped him from leading a delegation to visit there.
"Looks like the DPP's strongest election opponent this cycle will be the Communist Party," he concludes.

And watch out for the self-[CENSORED].
Daily Links:
  • Newsweek piece on CFR report calling for new China policy. A bonus: this is the first time I've seen a major mainstream article refer to the pro-China crowd in the State Department, which all sides in the Taiwan debate assures me is a major problem for Taiwan. The CFR report also said that the US needs to fix its economy. It can do that very simply: (1) raise minimum wage to $20 to help restore US consumption so we can help out our friends by importing their goods -- of course they seek other markets since our elites have destroyed our middle class; (2) institute universal health insurance; and (3) terminate our stupid, wasteful, fossil fuel driven wars in the Middle East. But none of that will happen....
  • Taiwan This Week podcast from ICRT featuring central Taiwan's Courtney Donovan Smith and Jane Rickards, who writes on Taiwan for the Economist.
  • Ben on how Ma poisoned the well
  • Taiwan government urged to investigate when it is discovered that Taiwanese backpackers on work holidays in Australia are treated just like foreign laborers in Taiwan.
  • Two scholars from Soochow U say that if young people in Taiwan don't have culture, Taiwan will become like the Philippines. Yes, you can really say stuff that stupid in public in Taiwan. 
  • Central bank intervening to slow the Taiwan dollar's rise.
  • Lessons for the Gulf states from... Taiwan.
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, May 05, 2015

Nelson Report: Taiwan Bid to join AIIB = TPP leverage?

An abandoned strongpoint keeps watch over the coast.

Two interesting items here. First, the Nelson Report, the Washington Insider report, observes that the KMT may be attempting to use AIIB entry as leverage to enter the TPP. At the bottom, a reporter tries to get the State Department to comment on the 1992 Consensus, claiming absurdly that the 1992 Consensus was the basis for the CCP-KMT lovefest. China loves that 1992 Consensus and insists Taiwanese politicians hew to it even though Beijing itself has never accepted it. The US State Department is generally considered pro-China by many observers on all sides of the debates (wow to Newsweek). Thus, it is interesting that the State Department didn't make a statement saying Taiwan should adhere to the 1992 Consensus, which was invented in the 2000s to form a cage for the DPP's future cross-strait policies. Kudos to them. Instead, the State Department said that was something for the participants to worry about...
TAIWAN PLAYING THE AIIB CARD? Taiwan clearly wants to join the next round of TPP negotiations, if/when they get going, and while that obviously would require Taipei finally undertaking ag policy and other reforms its long been aware of and unwilling politically to do...from today's State Dept. brief it would appear that the KMT may think it can dangle possible AIIB membership in front of US policy-makers as a form of "incentive":

QUESTION: The secretary general of the Chinese communist party, Xi Jinping, just had a meeting with Kuomintang's chairman, Chu Li-luan. I'm just curious about the reaction of the U.S. Government to this highest-levels talks between cross-strait political parties.

MR RATHKE: Well, we welcome steps on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to reduce tensions and improve cross-strait relations. We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to continue their constructive dialogue which we believe has led to significant improvements in the cross-strait relationship. And of course, as to the content and the pace and the scope of those interactions, that should be - it should be acceptable to people on both sides of the strait, but we'll leave those details to the people participating in those talks...

...QUESTION: Yeah. Also Chu Li-luan said he hoped Taiwan can take part in the AIIB, and Xi Jinping welcomes that. So will the U.S. support Taiwan's bid to join AIIB?

MR RATHKE: Well, I don't have any comment about the decisions of anyone to participate in the AIIB. The U.S. view on the AIIB has been made quite clear. We consider it important that high standards of transparency be part of the AIIB's approach. I think the President also commented on this just last week, so I don't have anything to add to that...

...QUESTION: And Xi Jinping also mentioned that he has seen some new and important point in cross-strait, and which has impacted Chinese nation and the country's future. I just wonder: Does U.S. have the same point of view?

MR RATHKE: Well, again, we welcome improved cross-strait relations. I'm not going to get into kind of characterizing them further than that. We've seen progress and we welcome that and we encourage continued dialogue.

QUESTION: Thank you, Jeff. The '92 Consensus seemed to be the basis for the two sides to actually make the meeting possible. Would the United States think that this may serve as a point of reference for Taiwan's opposition party, the DPP, so that it would be able to open its own dialogue with the mainland some way, particularly when the DPP chair is about to visit the United States? Thank you.

MR RATHKE: Well, I'm not going to comment about how internally these issues are approached. Again, I think our support for improved cross-strait relations is clear.
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!

Monday, May 04, 2015

The Superior Rationality of the Rational Party

Longshanks: If we can't get them out, we'll breed them out.
The Rational Party was displaying its rationality at a gathering for KMT Chairperson Eric Chu and the Taiwanese business community in China. The video is here, it's been making the rounds in Taiwan. A Taiwan scholar summarized on Facebook:
I must say not all Taiwanese business owners in China are like this woman...

She said the most important political agenda right now is "KMT-CCP cooperation," and if the government pays attention to the desire of the 23 million people in Taiwan, then cross-strait interest will never "progress". She then moved on to say that her son married a Chinese woman in China, and if, statistically, each intermarried couple has two children, then they would produce more than one million votes, and that's how KMT-CCP cooperation can succeed.
Meanwhile, Eric Chu met President Xi of China, reaffirming the party's commitment to annexing Taiwan to China. AP report on the doings of the Rational Party.

Looking outside, I see the Rational Party's drought policies have at last borne fruit: it's raining.

UPDATE: Taipei Times report here.

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, May 03, 2015

A Conflagration of Commentary

Ruined farmhouse in Miaoli.

Lots of commentary out this week. First, the good.

Jon Sullivan of the U of Nottingham has an impressive review of the 2016 election in the National Interest. Much of it parallels things that have been said on this blog and elsewhere...
If Tsai’s moderate rhetoric is sufficient to convince the electorate (and opinion polls suggest it is) that the DPP’s China policy won’t be a dangerous liability, the KMT has nothing left to fight with. Outside of championing the “1992 Consensus,” the KMT is bereft of ideas.

While President Ma delivered ECFA and a number of other practical, mainly economic agreements, the hopes that the CCP put in him to bring Taiwan and China closer together face a substantial setback. Suspicion of the KMT’s quick embrace of China and the failure of promised dividends coincides with surveys showing record (and increasing) levels of self-identification as Taiwanese and support for preserving Taiwan’s autonomy and continued separation from China.

Ma’s presidency has not only poisoned the well for the KMT, it has poisoned it for China’s integration-unification project (not that there has ever been a clamour for unification in Taiwan). No wonder the CCP is eager for a face-to-face meeting with KMT Chairman Eric Chu—the only man who has a chance to dig the KMT out of the hole it is in. Having retained his position as mayor of Taiwan’s largest metropolitan area, Xinbei City, by the skin of his teeth, during the carnage of local elections last November, Chu is the only KMT candidate with at least a chance of beating Tsai to the presidency. He is the only candidate with sufficiently broad support in both his party and the electorate. To date, Chu has been steadfast in his refusal to run.
Sullivan recognizes that the KMT's last card is the China card, and the failure of ECFA and tourism and other policies to deliver economic growth has trashed its claim to competence in economic matters. However, Sullivan sees the KMT's downturn as cyclical. A number of us see it as the beginning of the long end of the KMT, as I've observed elsewhere. Anything could happen, but I can't recall a time since I've been involved with this island when things were this bad for the KMT.

Michael Danielsen, a Danish commentator and Taiwan observer, had a piece in the Taipei Times today that was a nifty follow-on to Sullivan's commentary. Danielsen is well aware that international media, which always hypes this stuff, is wildly out of touch:
No matter how significant it might appear in the international media, the meeting between New Taipei City Mayor and KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in China tomorrow is a meeting of the past.

The cross-strait bubble burst more than a year ago with the Sunflower movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber, and any attempts to go back to the good old days are destined to fail due to a new reality.
The sure-handed competence of Sullivan's piece was offered a glaring contrast by the Australian scholar Kerry Brown, who simply riffed on Establishment nonsense in The Diplomat about the "historic" meeting between Chu and Xi Who Must Be Obeyed.
The fact that President Ma himself will not be traveling north means this meeting has attracted less attention than it deserves.[It doesn't deserve much attentionDespite Chu’s lower protocol level, this is a major historic moment. [It's a routine meeting that reflects a vast framework of ongoing contacts between the KMT and CCP] It marks the culmination of almost a decade of gradual cross strait détente [Not a culmination but a routine continuation. Not detente but an alliance between two parties dedicated to annexing Taiwan to China, in which the KMT's only chip to play is Taiwan itself. Moreover, the two parties have been talking since the late 1990s openly, and before that in secret, it is rumored. The DPP instituted the mini Three Links in 2001. That's more like two decades. But why talk about history when a meeting is historic?]. And it also heralds in a time when Taiwan and China have started thinking about their relationship with each other in a very different way.[No, the trends were clear two decades ago, the Taiwanese don't think about China in a different way. Taiwanese want economic benefits but do not want to be part of China, and its been that way for the last twenty-five years. Since no benefits have materialized, they are rejecting the KMT's China policy in droves. Its the KMT that is attempting to leverage China to stay in power in Taiwan, and hence thinking about China in a different way.]

While Xi will be the person hosting Chu in Beijing, the very fact the visiting dignitary will be there at all is due to efforts initiated by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.[
and to the DPP and to other actors who encouraged and pushed for cross strait interaction but they don't exist here.] Hu’s star seems to fade by the day, and he runs the risk of being consigned to the same forgotten nook of elite politics as Hua Guofeng, Mao Zedong’s chosen successor three decades before and someone who enjoys scant historic influence and recognition today. Like Hua, Hu is perhaps being dealt with a bit unjustly.[Yes, it is terrible that a mass murderer, expansionist, and general authoritarian shit whose government repeatedly threatened to murder Taiwanese and steal their island, is dealt with unjustly. I feel for the man]. The space he opened up to speak to Taiwan, to negotiate the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010, and to mandate on the Chinese side direct air and postal links, securing opportunities for more Chinese to visit Taiwan, wholly changed the fractious relationship that prevailed before [The space was also opened up by the DPP, which negotiated numerous agreements with China. Beijing stopped talking to the DPP, and later the KMT picked up the low hanging fruit. No mention of that here, of course. The fractious relationship that prevailed before, and still prevails today, is wholly the result of Chinese decisions and China's desire to annex Taiwan]. Ma Ying-jeou showed plenty of courage in pushing forward these closer links with the mainland, but Hu provided the reciprocating chances.[Ma pushed forward because he thinks he is Chinese and wants to serve Chinese history by annexing Taiwan to China, and because his big business backers want greater access to that market, not because he has political courage. Is Brown really that naive?]
Brown's presentation simply ignores the pro-Taiwan side, and all the negative elements of the KMT-CCP kiss-and-make up -- like the fact that it could only take place over the dead body of Taiwan democracy and independence. Indeed, the CCP-KMT forums are a blatant end run around democratic procedure and government-to-government relations, as anti-democracy a system as they come. I'd look at everything in Brown's piece but it is a complete waste of time to fisk it. To cap it off, Brown even tweeted about the historic visit of the nationalist party Chairman...

Er... what nationalist party is that?

You can contrast Brown's paean to the greatness of two authoritarian parties with the sturdy reading of the pro-KMT China Post:
Chu has repeatedly stressed that he will not run for president in 2016. The chance of his presidential bid seemed even less likely last week when the Chu-Xi meet schedule was confirmed. Announcing his candidacy after the meeting would make it seem that he was seeking the Chinese leader's blessings. (here).
...which is what he was doing, of course. He was probably asking for a bailout as well: China's intervention in the 2016 elections in the KMT's favor. The two parties will coordinate strategy, and it won't be for "historic" reasons of "detente" but for naked territorial expansion on one side and desperate need to stay in power on the other. Or vice versa.

 Lee Teng-hui, a father of Taiwan's democracy, put Chu's "historic" visit neatly in perspective:
Asked how he views the visit by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) to Beijing and Chu’s scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) tomorrow, Lee said Chu went to China “to represent the KMT, [so] it has nothing to do with me nor with Taiwanese; it’s the KMT’s own business.”
Lee also said there was no such thing as the 1992 Consensus, and that Ma should stop talking about it. The KMT's constant talk of it is designed to create a box that the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen can be shut up in, to prevent her from crafting an independent cross-strait policy by insisting she adhere to the non-existent Consensus. Sullivan put it well in his piece above when he said she sounded more confident and secure in her presentation of her status quo position. Gerrit van der Wees has a great commentary in the Taipei Times about it, including how it is driven by domestic changes:
This new “status quo” is also characterized by a strong sense of participatory democracy. Transparency, democratic procedures and adequate checks-and-balances are key concepts. Input from citizens will be loud and clear, and it will not be possible anymore for a government to push key decisions through the legislature without ample debate.
..echoing Danielsen's points above. Indeed, my friend Drew, a potent observer of local politics, remarked tonight over beers that the rising Taiwan identity is also in many respects a social class identity that is wiping out the KMT identity, one reason that so many of us think the end of the KMT is now in sight.

Vice President Wu Den-yih for the first time said he wasn't running for the Presidency, destroying my fantasy KMT ticket. Meanwhile former President Lee Teng-hui puckishly said that Wang Jin-pyng has the qualities one would expect in a leader when Wang showed up at a conference where Lee was present. Lee's endorsement may be the kiss of death in Deep Blue KMTer land.
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, May 01, 2015

Wang Jin-pyng Positions Himself for a Presidential Run

One reason I've always liked Taiwan is that you can take your dog to shops and restaurants. Very sensible.

Wang Jin-pyng, KMT heavyweight, Speaker of the Legislature, former faction politiciam whom President Ma Ying-jeou attempted to have removed from the party two years ago, is clearly positioning himself for a run at the Presidency. He stated yesterday...

You can't say I am a Chinese, but you cannot deny I am of Chinese ethnicity
Wang is dipping a toe in the perilous waters of Taiwanese identity politics. Recall that he is a Taiwanese faction politician from down south. Unlike Chiang Ching-kuo and Ma Ying-jeou, both of whom proclaimed themselves to be Taiwanese for political purposes, Wang does not have to make noises about being Taiwanese, he is already accepted as one. Rather, Wang has to find a position that makes him palatable to the mainlander elites who run the KMT, some of whom have already publicly stated he is an unacceptable candidate, but at the same time makes him electable to the population at large, an ever growing number of whom are designating themselves as Taiwanese. It may prove impossible to square that circle.

Meanwhile James Soong, once KMT heavyweight and member of that mainlander core that runs the KMT, now head of the People's First Party (PFP), was asked for his thoughts at an event today.
He also said he clearly understands that his extremely good friends, the KMT, will soon make a decision. “If they make a good decision, and select a candidate very correctly, we can work together as one. After they make their decision, we will make ours.”
Hard to say what he means, typical meaningless politician talk. Soong is still seeing what deals are out there. The KMT candidate won't be known til June...

The China Post also ran an editorial this week that said KMT Chairman Eric Chu is the only hope:
Tsai isn't unbeatable, however. The DPP won a landslide in the Nov. 29 elections because hard-core KMT supporters refused to go to the polls to vent their frustration over President Ma's failure to keep his campaign promises, including the one to conclude a peace accord between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The opposition party won 47.66 percent of all the votes cast, only 6.85 percent ahead of the KMT's 40.7 percent. It isn't a disastrous rout, as far as voting shares are concerned.

While Tsai's presidential campaign is getting underway, the KMT has yet to start a party primary. One hopeful is Hung Hsiu-chu, vice president of the Legislative Yuan. She insists on opening political dialogue across the strait and signing the peace accord President Ma has renounced.
Doubling down on Chineseness, Hung Hsiu-chu is unelectable. Perhaps she is campaigning for Veep. More importantly, this editorial is essentially correct, Chu has a better chance of beating Tsai than any current KMT candidate, and Tsai is more beatable than many people think. Remember, a campaign has to actually be run...

Frozen Garlic picked up a story on Chu's China views, which are no different from Ma's, apparently. This was an important find, for Chu may simply have decided that his views, once widely disseminated, will hurt his chances to beat Tsai. Scroll down for Froze's delightful posts on KMT internal politics, but note that Sean Lien's attack dog in the Taipei Mayoral election, Lo Shu-lei, is taking a beating from the KMT central, as Froze posts.

If Chu doesn't run, as the recent victory of Ko in Taipei shows, there's a large population of disaffected blues who are willing to consider other candidates. In the 2000-2004 period, the People's First Party skimmed hundreds of thousands of votes from the KMT, which the KMT eventually hauled back in. It will be very interesting to watch this group in the 2016 election.
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!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rounding Up the KMT Again

You just never know where you'll end up biking in Taiwan...

Rounding up a bunch of news this week. Solidarity blogs on a TISR poll on cross strait relations and party favorability. Read whole thing, but as he points out, the people don't seem to see a whole lot of difference between Ma's cross-strait stance of 3 Noes and Tsai's Status Quo stance. Solidarity observed on Twitter that the Chinese Communist Party and the KMT have exactly the same unfavorable rating, 59.9%. The DPP meanwhile clocks in at 49.3% favorable.

Speaking of polls, a recent poll from the deep Green Taiwan Brain Trust replicated the findings of an earlier TISR poll in which Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng drew stronger support than KMT Chairman and putative savior Eric Chu among the voting public but was weaker than Chu against Tsai. Neither beats her. Taiwan Brain Trust observed in its recent newsletter:
On the other hand, disapproval of the DPP's performance increased markedly from 35.4% in December and 43.1% in January to 51.4% in March. Approval fell correspondingly during the same period from 46.3% to 37.8%. This decline in popularity is apparently related to the scandals over some local council speaker elections at the end of 2014. More recently, rifts have emerged within the DPP as party members fiercely compete to win nominations for the 2016 legislative elections. As a result, approval of the DPP within the pan-Green camp declined markedly from 67.4% in January to 54.8% in March. The DPP should take this apparent shift from high expectations to disappointment among its sympathizers as a warning sign.

Party preference remains largely unchanged. However, the share of those who most favor the DPP declined from 33.9% in January to 25.7% in March. At the same time, the share of those who do not favor any particular political party increased from 15.9% to 21.1% during the same period. Although the DPP remains the most popular party, clearly a shift in public opinion is under way that translates into heightened expectations toward third force political forces. In the eyes of more than 40 percent of the public,the KMT is still the most unpopular party. However, while 45.5% identified the KMT as the least liked party in January, that figure fell to 41.7% in March. In contrast, the share of those who least favored the DPP climbed from 15.6% to 16.9% during the same period. Obviously, the DPP has not shown its best recently, while the KMT has been able to prevent further erosion of public support.
The DPP is quite dull these days, which is good. The KMT is where all the fun is. This week Wang Jin-pyng, the Legislative Speaker and KMT heavyweight, began positioning for his Presidential (or perhaps Veep) run with some very interesting remarks.
“When one day the political systems of the two sides are compatible, the GDP per capita comparable, the social and public values similar, and religious freedom guaranteed, the heart of the two sides of the Strait could be melded together and nothing would be nonnegotiable then,” the speaker said.
Taiwanese reject annexation to China irrespective of China' political system. Wang isn't talking to Taiwanese, but rather his recapitulation of the "same culture" propaganda, as well as Ma's position that China must democratize before Taiwan can annex itself to Beijing, caters to mainlanders in the KMT ruling clique who despise him and will object if he is chosen as the candidate. Interestingly, if Wang is positioning himself for the Presidency, he must know that Chu isn't going to run... (More analysis from Ben)

Also fun this week was William Lai, an up-n-coming heavyweight in the DPP who will likely contest for the 2020 presidential election. Lai, who is tremendously popular, twitted Eric Chu...
“I have not yet decided [whether to run for New Taipei City mayor],” Lai said. “It seems like someone [intentionally] spread the rumor to hold Chu back from giving up his position and running for president... I do not want to spoil the effect of the rumor by giving a specific statement.
Lai basically bragged that if he ran in New Taipei City, he'd win, which is likely true. If Chu runs for President, there will be a by-election. Lai will come north and contest New Taipei City, and the DPP can run a new guy in Tainan where he is sure to win. Win-win for the DPP, so to speak.

Meanwhile KMT legislators, horrified at the prospect of someone other than Chu running, have paid his entry fee and continue to try to draft him, chuckled on Twitter today.

Comment of the day from Ben Goren on Twitter:  
The '1992 Consensus' was just a vehicle to facilitate dom & int acceptance of public face of KMT-CCP united front during Ma admin.
REFS: Recent Posts on KMT, Reform, and Chairman Chu
KMT Roundup -- Things you should be reading today -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Taiwan Excerpt from Briefing on US-Japan meet up

QUESTION: Thank you, Evan. John Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan again.


QUESTION: Will Taiwan be mentioned at all in these talks, particularly when you discuss the defense guidelines? Secondly, the KMT chair is going to Beijing to meet with Xi Jinping right after the President and the prime ministers meeting.


QUESTION: What do you think of the event? Thank you.

MR MEDEIROS: It’s an interesting question, John. I don’t anticipate Taiwan coming up. It’s not something that would normally or naturally come up between the U.S. and Japan in this kind of meeting. But what I would say is I think that there is a strong, abiding interest on the part of the United States in ensuring cross-strait stability and security. We’re very firm in our commitments to these issues and these principles in our relationship with Taiwan.

On the question that you raise about the KMT chairman’s visit to China, I mean, our approach has always been very consistent, which is we support any and all cross-strait interactions that are done at a pace and in a manner acceptable to both sides and in a way that ensures continued cross-strait stability. In that context, I thought it was interesting that about a month ago, Zhang Zhijun had an editorial in – I believe it was People’s Daily in which he talked about being open to interactions and conversations with all aspects of Taiwan society. We think that’s an important, constructive step as Taiwan enters into its election period.

As you know, as a democracy, we’ll be in touch with all sides about their position and their approach. I follow very closely what Dr. Tsai has to say about cross-strait issues. I thought her recent comments were quite interesting and quite constructive, and we look forward to hearing more from her about what her approach is all about.

Thank you. We’ll stop there.
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!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Things you should be reading today

A woman collects oysters in a nearly dry riverbed.

Some great stuff out this weekend from some of my favorite people in Taiwan. First, my friend Courtney Donovan Smith publishes at China Policy Institute on the Taishang and the absentee ballot: explaining why the KMT supports the youth vote:
There are a few things wrong with this picture. First, the pan-greens have gone all out to get the youth to vote. After all, they voted overwhelming in their favor in the 9-in-1 election and usually do very well in this demographic. Conversely, the KMT does poorly with the young at the best of times. So why is the KMT trying to get younger voters into the voter booths, and to help them vote from anywhere? Why is the DPP against something that is common practice in democracies around the world? Why is there no open debate on this issue?

The one plausible answer is the Taishang, or China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and workers...
Then: Solidarity rocks. Just rocks. He's become the best blog on Taiwan stuff, with great articles and insight. First, his commentary on Eric Chu's suggestion that the KMT run the widely respected Central Bank Head...
Here’s the Taipei Times summary of yesterday’s big story. Short summary, with a couple details they left out: A high-level KMT insider told UDN that Eric Chu 朱立倫 has met chief central banker Perng Fai-nan 彭淮南 several times to push him to run for president. Perng then yesterday told the press central banker will be his last job and he won’t get involved in things he doesn’t understand, like politics. Chu didn’t directly answer questions about whether the report was true, instead praising Perng, pointing out everyone respects him, he has a great international representation, and his support crosses blue and green.

If the report is true, it says a lot about both Perng’s character and Chu’s desperation. First I’ll comment, then I’ll show you Storm Media’s and UDN’s commentaries as well as blue legislators’ increasingly loud warnings to Chu...
after you read that excellent piece in its entirety, don't miss his tart comments on the suggestion that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou run for President under the KMT banner.

There's very little one can add to this. The various suggestions that an outsider run as the KMT candidate show that the insiders, as Solidarity notes, have access to internal polls which are telling them that they aren't going to win. The KMT is in desperation mode. Eventually they will dangle an offer in front of someone like James Soong, a mainlander and once a member of the ruling core. Wang Jin-pyng as candidate would split the party, but as Veep candidate he'd be a good choice. The PFP is looking to ally with a party, and its choices are robust at the moment.

Of course, don't miss his droll post on all the splittism in the KMT. Key points: the growing clout of the PFP, the emergence of a KMT-allied party in Hsinchu, and the growing acceptance of the DPP among the aborigines. Read it all.

Finally, Ben Goren deleted an excellent post from the other day about the role of the grand justices. Recall that if Ma has these four appointees confirmed, then all 15 justices will have been appointed by him. Ben found two other powers of the court: it can impeach the President, and it can dissolve political parties that violate the Constitution. Scary, eh?
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!

Paper on Parade: Yes, Chinese tourism is screwing over Taiwan

A major river in Miaoli, bone dry after three years of drought.

In case you were wondering about the effect of Chinese tourism on Taiwan, wonder no more. This edition of our regularly irregular feature, Paper on Parade, takes a look at The Economic, Carbon Emission, and Water Impacts of Chinese Visitors to Taiwan: Eco-efficiency and Impact Evaluation (Ya-Yen Sun  and Stephen Pratt, Journal of Travel Research 2014 53: 733). There are some findings that were pleasantly counterintuitive, but on the whole this paper justifies everything that I've been saying about the pernicious effects of Chinese tourism on Taiwan.

After some opening remarks on the growth of tourism in the region, the authors report:
The development of this Chinese market in Taiwan is highly significant; it accounts for the largest inbound visitor numbers in 2012, with rapid growth of an 86% annual rate from 2008 to 2012 for leisure visitors, and contributes high spending per person per trip (Taiwan Tourism Bureau 2012a). While expanding the Chinese inbound market is the long-term goal for Taiwan tourism, environmental resource requirements need to be considered alongside the economic impacts of international tourism receipts
This paper uses government figures for the spending of Chinese tourists. As you read the discussion, keep in mind that an AP report several years ago compared the receipts of travel agencies to the government claims, and called bullshit:
The government estimates that Chinese tourists spent an average of $246 a day on the island in 2010. That's made up of $142 for shopping and $104 for the services that are provided by tour package operators hotels, meals, local transportation, venue admission and incidentals.

But an examination of tour package prices shows they are much lower than the goverment's estimate and tour operators say that, at best, they get half of the money Chinese tourists pay to mainland tour agencies for these tours. That amounts to at least a $700 million hole in the government figure.

On top of that, it is likely that some of the money Chinese tourists spend on shopping is ending up in Hong Kong, where the owners of some of the major Taiwanese shopping outlets are based.

And at least until recently, a ruse involving special credit card readers that disguised the true location of purchases meant the government was cheated out of sales tax from Chinese tourists. Taiwanese authorities are now investigating this practice.
According to the 2013 Tourism Bureau numbers (download .doc file), Chinese tourists spend nearly as much as Japanese, and significantly outspend tourists from the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, all of which are wealthier. Strange, eh? It may be because business visitors tend to get taken out by locals more, and more Americans are here on business...

Back to the Sun and Pratt study above...
The purpose of this study is to provide an evaluation of the economic impacts, the carbon footprint, and the water footprint of Chinese tourism consumption in Taiwan. Two objectives are proposed here. First, the eco-efficiency of Chinese visitors is compared against four other major source markets for Taiwan: Japan, Hong Kong/Macao, United States, and Malaysia. Eco-efficiency is measured via the per dollar CO2 emission and per dollar water consumption.
After a detailed discussion of tourism growth and Chinese tourism numbers in Taiwan, the authors point out two salient facts: first, tourism is less efficient carbon-wise than most other sectors of a given national economy, and second, a major culprit in the high CO2 footprint of tourism is air travel.

The idea of water footprint is relatively new in the literature, but has grown. I suspect it will become ever more important as the inevitable effects of human warming of the earth impact our water supply. They note:
In Gössling et al.’s (2012) extensive review of tourism and water usages across major countries, they concluded that the direct water usage per tourist per day ranges between 80 and 2,000 liters (L), and the indirect water consumption per day was tripped to 5,500 L. The tremendous indirect water requirement is mainly a result of the production process for food and fuel, each, on average, contributing more than 2,000 L per tourist per day. For food consumption, a greater amount of water is embedded in agricultural irrigation, which accounts for more than 70% of the total water withdrawn and 90% of water consumed (Bates et al. 2008).
The key point here is that tourism drives demand for foods, which drives increased agricultural water usage. As they note in the paper, Chinese delight in purchasing food souvenirs, which drives up their overall water demand.

Sun and Pratt then move on to present the methodology of the study. Overall emissions and water use are calculated via a generally accepted model, while travel emissions are calculated using airline route distance and number of seats.

The meat of the paper is of course the results of the calculations. The authors first introduce the background information. I've grabbed their table below:
Among five inbound source markets, Chinese visitors are one of the top spenders in Taiwan, averaging around US$260 (not including international airfare) per person per day or US$2050 per trip, only after the U.S. segment (Table 1). In terms of spending patterns, Chinese visitors report a greater proportion of their budget on shopping (57%), much higher than visitors from Malaysia (32%), Hong Kong/Macao (28%), and Japan (22%). This shopping spree phenomenon is consistent with observations from Chinese visits to Australia (Wang and Davidson 2010), United States (Jang, Yu, and Pearson 2003), and Hong Kong (Huang and Hsu 2005). Within the shopping component, Chinese visitors spent around 15% of the overall trip expenditure on “featured food, special products and tea” and 10% on “jewelry or jade.” In comparison, U.S. visitors spent two-thirds of their expenses on the lodging (65%) but were quite limited in other categories. This is in part due to a very high proportion of U.S. business and VFR tourists in Taiwan, so their itinerary either involves more with business activities or their local expenses have been covered by friends and relatives (Taiwan Tourism Bureau 2012b).

The authors conclude:
The eco-efficiency of Chinese visitors on both CO2 and water use in Taiwan is superior to the other four major markets, except for total water use intensity (Table 3). For direct and total CO2 intensity per dollar, Chinese visitors are around 21% and 10% more efficient than the second-best performing market. For the direct water use intensity, Chinese visitors also ranked number 1, 32% more efficient than their counterparts. However, after taking into account the indirect water use, Chinese visitors become water-intensive users, requiring 8.26 L of water per dollar, the worst among all five inbound markets.
Recall that the Tourism Bureau numbers for what Chinese tourists spend are probably inflated, meaning that if more realistic numbers were used, the effect of Chinese tourists would only worsen. Since that water is used in the form of foods taken out of Taiwan, our supplies take a  hit, especially groundwater, which is not so easily replenished. In the long-run it returns to the ocean, of course, and comes back. How long?

Based on the inflated Tourism Bureau numbers, the authors then calculate the raw economic effects:
The results from the CGE analysis show that an increase in Chinese visitors to Taiwan is overall beneficial to the economy: the Taiwanese household’s welfare would increase by US$145.1 million (0.06%); the Taiwanese household’s consumption would increase by US$160.7 million (0.07%), and their investment would increase by US$64.0 million (0.07%) (Table 5). Output is estimated to increase by US$8,706.8 million or 0.8% from 2011 to 2016 as a result of the increase in Chinese visitors with corresponding CO2 emissions estimated to increase by 6 million tons, or an additional 2.7% over 2011 figures. The Chinese visitors are estimated to use an additional 591 million tons of water (3.0%).
For a family with a household income of NT50,000 a month, that welfare increase is a couple of bus rides. Overall output increase is less than 1% over the five year estimated period of the study, again using the Tourism Bureau numbers. Never mind that the gains go to a small number of actors, and are not spread out across all the families of Taiwan. Most Taiwanese experience only the negatives of Chinese tourism, from crowding at desirable tourist sites to insults and threats from the sprinkling of idiots that populate those tours. Morever, that Chinese tourist "output" has other, extremely pernicious effects.

As the authors note, when tourists come in, they pull capital and resources from other sectors into tourism, and they drive up the exchange rate because they demand local currency. In Taiwan this pushes up the value of the NT dollar, which causes sales of local exports to fall since their products become more expensive on international markets.
The increase in tourism demand leads to an appreciation in the exchange rate, which leads to import substitution and the contraction of the traditional export sectors. Not surprisingly, the increase in tourism demand expands the tourism-oriented sectors as the increases in prices attract resources (capital and labor) to these sectors. The accommodation services sector (+40%) and the education and entertainment articles sector (+33%) as well as the industries supplying souvenirs such as the textile mill products (+15%), wearing apparel and clothing accessories (+13%), and cleaning preparations and cosmetics (+7%) experience increases in output and hence GHG emissions and water usage. Further,the sectors that will experience the largest growth due to an increase in tourists are not the most resource intensive.
Lucky, eh? Nope...
An interesting finding occurs with the computers, electronics, and optical products sector. Taiwan exports more than 70% of its production in this sector. In considering the economic impact of each visitor segment, this sector is expected to expand. For example, for the increase in VFR visitors, output is expected to increase by 17% in this sector as tourists and tourism-related businesses demand more computers and electronic goods. This increase in demand falls to 13% for both the business and FIT tourists segments and to 6% for the PT tourists segment. However, in estimating the total impact of 12,000 additional visitors per day in 2016, the large increase in visitor arrivals in this scenario results in this sector being “crowded out” by increases in other sectors. This, coupled with an expected appreciation in the Taiwanese dollar, means that Taiwanese computers and electrical goods become more expensive on the world market. The overall effect is a contraction of this sector with a high export component. This nonlinear nature of CGE models is able to take into account supply constraints and factor in the competition for limited resources.
The authors remark further down that the growth in total foreign tourist dollars, 16.8% between 2008 and 2011, has helped the economy in time of need (US$5.9 billion in 2008 to US$11.1 billion in 2011, accord to their citation of Tourism Bureau numbers).

Let's take a moment to take stock of the full effects here. First, the NT dollar is buoyed by inbound tourists from China buying NT dollars, driving up its value. This is not good for local exporters, but local consumers like it because it keeps the price of foreign goods down. It also makes the central bank governor's job easier, because it is easier to keep the currency stable if flows are reliable and predictable.

This means that it will not be easy to turn off the tap of Chinese tourist inflows because the central bank will correctly point out that the NT dollar will both weaken and become less stable. That will inhibit action by any future pro-Taiwan president. That effect will be independent of the way the KMT has managed the inflows to create new dependencies in local areas that support it.

Chinese tourism is, as I have claimed, hurting Taiwan by reducing its living standards while providing a false promise of economic growth. That is what this paper documents. The economic gains for local families simply don't exist, while tourism does nothing to increase their skills or raise local living standards. At the same time, it also reduces the electronics export sector, the one sector that does raise Taiwan's living standards.

Never mind the effects on territoriality and life quality for those of us who have to live with the traffic, construction messes, and general deterioration in living standards in areas where Chinese tourists appear in great numbers, as well as expanding the effect of Taiwan's parasitic construction-industrial state on local governments and on the national political economy.

The future? Not good. Sun and Pratt note:
Looking to the future, the current environmentally efficient characteristics of the Chinese tourists are expected to wane because of product diversification and repositioning as the propensity to consume luxury goods and services will increase while their average length of stay will shorten. With an intended policy to develop Chinese FIT, medical tourists, and business travelers while shrinking the market of discounted package tours, the share of high-end services, taxi, and car rental is expected to rise in their spending profiles. This type of tourism generally consumes more energy per unit (Becken, Frampton, and Simmons 2001), and the abovementioned transportation types are 25% to 75% more energy intensive per person-kilometer than coach (Huang 2011). Further, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau intends to encourage high-quality package tour itineraries which stay at star-credited hotels, involve fewer mandatory shopping stops, and offer diversified dining and recreational opportunities. In sum, Taiwan’s policy is gradually directing visitors to purchase a basket of goods and services that is more energy intensive in the future.
Taiwan is committed to reducing its global warming emissions, though it is not a signatory to any of the international protocols. Rising Chinese tourism, the authors note, could conflict with this goal.

This paper represents a first pass at the problem, as the authors observe, but nevertheless it is highly indicative. As in all other aspects of economic interaction with China in Taiwan, the claimed economic effects simply aren't there. This will not stop the international media from continuing to spread Chinese propaganda on that topic, but at least my readers will know what is really going on.
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, April 25, 2015

China's South China Sea Records are Fakes

The Taitung plain from above...

I linked to this a few days ago when Bonnet alerted me to this, but it is important enough to deserve its own notice. Francis-Xavier Bonnet, the scholar of South China Sea claims, has demonstrated that the early Chinese claims are all fake (direct download link). The abstract to whet your appetite:
Several authors writing about the Chinese claim to the Paracel Islands have dated the first official Chinese expedition to these islands to 1902. However, none of these writers have been able to show any records of this expedition taking place. In fact, Chinese records show that the expedition never happened. Instead, a secret expedition took place decades later to plant false archaeological evidence on the islands in order to bolster China’s territorial claim. The same strategy has been applied in the Spratly islands: the sovereignty markers of 1946 had been placed, in fact, ten years later, in 1956.
Go thou, and read!
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!

KMT round up

The entrance to the Baonon bikeway. This is the old Japanese coastal highway. As I recall, there's no information anywhere along this road that gives this fact. One of the key effects, and probably, key functions, of the new tourism infrastructure in Taiwan is eliminating history by turning it into homogenized and identical leisure facilities with no location in time and no relation to the past. That is just as true of the so-called Old Streets. 

The Miaoli county government, long a KMT redoubt, isn't going to get a bailout from the central government:
The Finance Ministry (財政部) yesterday denied the Miaoli County Government's appeal for help with a NT$64.8 billion debt

Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) has appealed to the Ministry of Finance for financial support, saying his administration is in dire financial straits partly due to the central government's unfair allocation of tax revenues.

The public debt stands at approximately NT$64.8 billion and the county is behind on payments to government personnel and project contractors, Hsu said.
"...partly due..." That claim is correct -- we in central and southern Taiwan subsidize the lavish lifestyle of Taipei. A Miaoli resident remarked on Facebook that the government plans to eliminate many contract workers and reduce outlays for worker perks. Previous reports said that work on many larger projects may stop or slow. You'd think the KMT administration would be going all-out to save one of the few places where it still has strong control of the local government... translated an Apple Daily piece on the previous KMT county chief:
Wu criticized former county magistrate Liu Cheng-hung 劉政鴻 (KMT) for squandering NT$1.2 billion (US$38m) at the very beginning of his term to renovate the county government building, planning a special High Speed Rail zone, and expropriating land for new development in large quantities. During Liu’s 8 years, it spent NT$218 million (US$7.0m) on fireworks and concerts, more than double the NT$100 million (US$3.2m) it spends annually on nutritious school lunches. Liu tripled the county’s debt while paying off NT$70 million (US$2.2m). He created wealth for himself while leaving debt for Miaoli’s future generations.

DPP Miaoli County Chapter Chairman Lee Kui-fu 李貴富 stated that when current magistrate Hsu Yao-chang 徐耀昌 (KMT) took office, he said he would lay off 443 staff from city hall, but to date he has only laid off 3. From January to April, the government has put out NT$850 million (US$27.2m) in new contractors, including NT$50 million (US$1.6m) for media buys and road greening and beautification. Lee said that changing potted plants every month for greening and beautification is an unnecessary waste and a case of Liu setting the example and Hsu following it.
Don't miss the Liberty Times piece on Liu's debts that Solidarity translated below. Miraculously, he paid off his massive debts in just a couple of years.

This will negatively impact the KMT's fortunes in Miaoli. Note also that Miaoli has many Hakkas, long a strongly pro-KMT group, driven by the KMT's ethnic politics ("OMG, if you don't vote KMT, the Hoklos will persecute you!"). Hakka problems in Miaoli may well reverberate beyond Miaoli.

The media announced that a meet up between KMT Chairman Eric Chu and Beijing President Xi Jin-ping was set for May 4, a claim that Chu tartly denied. Chu is off to perform the ritual KMT kowtow in early May, as AP and WSJ report.  The AP report, from Beijing gives an outsider's view but it is quite good -- while importantly, the WSJ article reports the DPP position (kudos for that):
The DPP’s presidential nominee, Tsai Ing-wen, has criticized the annual cross-party forum, saying cross-Strait affairs should be handled on a government-to-government, not a party-to-party, level.
Tsai's position that this KMT-CCP reconciliation (not Taiwan-China) is a kind of cronyism is important information, for while the outside world sees "growing reconciliation" or some such tripe, the locals don't have a positive view and correctly perceive it as an end-run around the legal and diplomatic framework. It is also indicative of how the KMT continues to view Taiwan as something it can dispose of at will, a bargaining chip for negotiations with the CCP. and how it views the government as an appendage of the KMT. The party-state mentality is not dead, sadly.

Mega-Kudos to AP for including this:
Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary, although it ruled the island for just four of the past 110 years.
What's the support level for Chu? TVBS, the pro-Blue station, has a poll which posted:
1. Do you support KMT Chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 leading a delegation to Shanghai to participate in a KMT-CPC cross-strait economic and trade forum there?
Yes: 38% (12% Strongly, 26% Somewhat)
No: 19% (10% Somewhat, 9% Strongly)
No Opinion: 42%

2. If he had the opportunity, would you support KMT Chair Eric Chu meeting with mainland Chinese national chairman Xi Jinping 習近平?
Yes: 50% (17% Strongly, 33% Somewhat)
No: 27% (15% Somewhat, 12% Strongly)
No Opinion: 24%
Support for Chu's move is lukewarm at best, as Solidarity points out. If there is a Chu-Xi meet up in public, gleeful netizens will photoshop the heck out of it and in the end, it will be a negative for a Chu run for president.

Meanwhile, for President Ma, it's business as usual. Ma is nominating four justices to be grand justices, including one who found him innocent on corruption charges....
“Due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) boycott of the four nominees made by the previous president, Ma was able to nominate 11 grand justices in 2008,” Cheng said. “If he nominates four more, all 15 of them would be Ma’s nominees.”


Citizens’ Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) urged legislators to reject the four nominees: lawyer Huang Horng-shya (黃虹霞), Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶), National Taiwan University law professor Tsai Ming-cheng (蔡明誠) and Shilin District Court President Lin Jyun-yi (林俊益).

Aside from the constitutional issue, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned Ma’s choice of Lin, a former Supreme Court judge who acquitted Ma of corruption charges in connection with the use of his special allowance during his stint as Taipei mayor.

“It is obvious that Ma is trying to pay Lin back by nominating him as a grand justice,” Huang said.
Ma has been under attack for corruption in recent months, though nothing seems to have stuck. But if he is tried for any of several potential crimes, including abuse of power in the Wang case, he'll have a friendly court of grand justices.

More importantly, a totally pro-KMT court will also act as a final redoubt of pro-China power if the KMT loses the legislature and the DPP puts forward a pro-Taiwan policy program. If any of Tsai Ing-wen's policies come up for review of the court...
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!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Links

Cattle crossing.

Tough day. Too tired to post. Enjoy some 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!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Leaving Taitung city for Chenggong on Sunday.

Man. It's been months since I've done back to back days of 100 kms. I was terrified I'd never be able to ride like that again. I'm still among the walking wounded, but at least I was able to ride a couple of easy 100 km days across southern Taiwan. What a joy! As always, click READ MORE...

Monday, April 20, 2015

KMTitanic 8: Eric Chu = Monkey Wrench

Land reclaiming on the east coast
Tommy Ryan: If this is the direction the rats are going that's fine with me!
Well. As I was busy riding on the east coast this weekend, Eric Chu, Chairman of the KMT and the one person everyone in that party wants to run announced that he wasn't going to run and would explain why later...
New Taipei City Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday said he would explain why he is not running for president after the period for aspirants to sign up ends on May 16.
Thing is, he sounds serious. In fact, for months the famous political prognosticator who inhabits the body of my wife has been saying there's no way he'll run, because he doesn't want to face losing. And several of my friends. And FormosaNation on Twitter, who has been right a lot lately.

But I just can't give it up. I can't believe he is not going to run. He's their best shot. On the other hand, this is the party that ran Lien Chan for President. Twice.

Solidarity as always with a great translation of a UDN piece that gives a picture of the likely disarray the party faces...
A legislator who supports Chu said he’s heard from his district that if the KMT nominates Wang Jin-pyng 王金平 for president, not only will northern grassroots blue voters be unable to vote for him, they may even campaign against him in protest; the KMT would basically be raising the white flag before the battle even begins.

This legislator worries that these emotions could infect the legislative election. Looking at New Taipei, he said that while the party would hold Zhonghe, Yonghe, and Xindian (New Taipei 8, 9, and 11), it could lose at least 5 of the other 7 districts it holds in the city, including Banqiao.

He asked: If Chu doesn’t run, will the legislators defend their caucus? They will absolutely have to go home to look after their districts and will lose cohesiveness. Over the next year, it will thus be difficult to do legislative and governmental work.

He continued: Financial consortia have already gone directly to Wang Jin-pyng to stop Chu’s current highest legislative priority, the bills to raise salaries. If Chu is unable to mobilize legislators, how can he contend with Wang in the Legislature? “Even I am going to have trouble protecting my seat. How will others be able to sacrifice their lives for Chu?”
As many observers have noted, a strong candidate is needed to pull out votes for KMT legislators. The UDN piece points out an issue I noted before, the fact that losing elections causes Chairmen to resign, as Ma did after the November defeat. The way I see it, if Chu doesn't run, and the KMT loses badly, the losing legislators aren't going to say: "Well, we would have lost anyway." They are going to blame Chu and demand he resign. To be replaced, most likely, by Hau. Chu could find himself with nothing but his position as mayor of the nation's biggest municipality.

Frozen Garlic analyzed this as only he can. Read the whole post because it's great, but I excerpt this crucial bit:
A side note while I’m on the topic of the KMT presidential nomination. Yesterday the KMT announced that of its 350,000 members, only 90,000 or so are eligible to vote in the party primary. There are two large blocs in this 90,000: Huang Fu-hsing (military) system members and people over 75 years old. (Longtime members over 75 are exempt from paying party dues.) This means that while President Ma has very little support in the society at large, he and his faction will be very powerful in any vote of party members.

Currently, the presidential nomination is to be decided by 70% polls and 30% party member votes. Wang and Chu both favor changing this to 100% polls. I think they want to cut Ma out of the process. Wang’s only chance of winning is to draw on his support in the general electorate. If Chu runs, he is favored to win no matter what the process is. However, with 100% polls he wouldn’t have to go to Ma and ask for support. There are always costs to things like that.

One of the downsides to the KMT’s culture of waiting for the rest of the party to beg you to take the crown rather than actively and overtly pursuing it is that no one has prepared for the party vote. Since no one is officially a candidate, no one has done the dirty work of making sure that their supporters within the party bothered to pay dues. As a result, the KMT expression of “party will” will reflect the preferences of old soldiers and older geriatrics.
In the Chairmanship election when Wang Jin-pyng and Ma Ying-jeou squared off, Ma won the popular vote. If that vote in the presidential primary is composed of the deepest of deep blues, Wang has little chance as a Taiwanese no matter what he has done for the party. As Froze put it so well:
If Wang gets the KMT nomination, the best case scenario is that Ma and Huang Fu-hsing will smile politely and stay seated. At worst, they might decide to go down swinging and back a minor party candidate representing the “true spirit of Sun Yat-sen.” There is no chance that they will thoroughly mobilize to elect Wang.
Wu Den-yi? Lo Shu-lei, who led the ridiculous attack on Ko Wen-je for corruption in the Taipei Mayoral election, said that Wu Den-yi would make a great choice for President for the KMT.

The KMT news organ offered this tidbit:
According to the KMT's Presidential nomination rules, if only one candidate registered in the race, but the candidate did not receive at least a 30% support rating in opinion polls in the primary, he or she would not be nominated in the end. In that case, the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting would directly draft a candidate, with the approval of the National Party Congress, held annually.
Currently AFAIK only Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu has formally declared. Since she is unelectable, she might not pass 30% support. If Chu does not register, he can still be drafted in the party congress. Is this the political theatre he is hoping for?

REFS: Recent Posts on KMT, Reform, and Chairman Chu
KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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!