Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Rounding up the Student Protests

Small roads through the tea farms in Nantou: a pleasure.

The big confrontation occurred yesterday afternoon. TT reported:
Talks between Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) and students over the curriculum controversy fell apart yesterday, with students storming out of a Ministry of Education (MOE)-sponsored forum in tears.

“What in the world are these talks supposed to be?” Northern Taiwan Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance convener Chu Chen (朱震) said. “What I see is a failure of education and a policy that has gradually moved away from the masses.
The KMT had been split on whether to hold special legislative session on curriculum guidelines, but then voted unanimously not to hold a special session. Chairman Chu, always positioning himself as a moderate, said he'd have to respect the will of the KMT. Note that Hung is on the side that doesn't want a session, and affirms control of executive over education. One can only imagine what her educational changes are going to look like. Solidarity wrote of the "unanimous vote":
Do the math. KMT legislators do not actually unanimously support this bold decision. The KMT caucus has 64 members (usually 65 but Chi Kuo-tung 紀國棟 was expelled for criticizing the party and his replacement hasn’t arrived yet). One of these 64 has openly called for abolishing the new curriculum. Another, the speaker, used political capital to try to get this session called. The party chairman himself wants such a session to be held, but with other bills included. The 15+ sitting legislators who absented themselves from this meeting (a quarter of the caucus) did so intentionally, having seen what was coming. I’d bet they are Wang, the representatives in swing districts, and the rest of Wang Jin-pyng’s 王金平 Taiwanese faction. Anyway, this goes to show that Ma and his acolyte Hung are running this party now.
Solidarity pointed out on Twitter that the KMT legislators leading the "no special session" push are from deep Blue districts. His excellent piece at Ketagalan, which summarized the protester-Minister Wu dialogue, observed:
From the beginning, this felt like the Taiwanese reincarnation of the dialogue between the Umbrella Movement students and the pro-Beijing government of Hong Kong. The fundamental problem with both discussions was that the government negotiators had no authority to compromise, and they couldn’t admit it. For Chinese nationalists like President Ma, this round of textbook revisions is a matter of long-term political life and death, as they believe the Taiwan-centered history taught since President Lee’s time is the root cause of the strong opposition the current generation of youth have against them. They feel they can’t afford to give in. In a way, the Sunflowers had it easier: They just had to block something that hadn’t happened yet, but these high schoolers need an actual reversal, and one that would lose the KMT face and quite possibly the votes of their strongest supporters.
That's basically it. The function of the Ministers, as Solidarity observed, is to hand down Party decisions. Recall that the KMT regards the government as both an extension of itself, and subordinate to itself. Since the Party is always right, the rules are for governing others. Hence the Minister's repeated bizarre claim that the process is not important since the outcome is acceptable (to the Party). For people raised on democratic ideas of rule of law and democratic process, like these students, such claims are incredible.

Indeed, the KMT news organ carried the KMT Chairman Eric Chu's assertion that the Executive was a higher power than the Legislature:
In response, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) stated yesterday that the power to adjust textbook guidelines belonged to the executive branch rather than legislative branch, so any extraordinary Legislative session should not solely deal with the textbook revisions, adding that bread and butter bills should also be discussed. KMT Presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-Chu (洪秀柱) pointed out that she supported the KMT caucus's decision. The Presidential Office and the Cabinet reiterated the support for Minister Wu's decision, adding that the bottomline was that the legislative power should not be higher than executive power.
The KMT Chairman pronounces, then everyone follows suit. The Word actually came down from Ma, but it is interesting that the leader who pronounces is not the Executive, but a Party head, who has nothing to with the balance of powers in the government.

Brian Hoie of New Bloom, who was with the students in the Occupation, wrote a summary of Day Five:
During the press conference students did not press that one of their demands had been for Wu to resign but Wu, for his part, stressed that textbook revisions were legal even if perhaps flawed. Wu has become an object of popularly mockery on the Internet since the meeting, however, because of a piece of footage from the meeting in which rolled his eyes in response to being questioned by a teacher, then attempting to quickly mask this through quickly smiling. We might also note that Wu was unwilling to reveal the names of those who were in the textbook revision committee. Nevertheless, the meeting ultimately came to nothing.
Minister Wu's eye-rolling quickly went viral; he said he was exercising his eyes because they were tired (h/t Solidarity). View the gif here.

The KMT attacks on the students basically involve claiming that they are DPP tools. When your ideology says you are the Party of Right, all opposition can only stem from a conspiracy of Satan, AKA the DPP. Frozen Garlic, the cynical political scientist at Academia Sinica, rebuts:
[This] charge can be dismissed relatively straightforwardly. After all, almost all accounts of Taiwan’s current student movement (except for those coming from the KMT) indicate that the students are acting on their own initiative. This has been true of all the recent protest movements, from the Wild Strawberries to the Dapu protests to the Sunflower movement. In all cases, the youth have been thoroughly disappointed by the tepid DPP opposition and have sought to take matters into their own hands. The DPP has generally voiced support more in an effort to avoid appearing totally out of touch with activists’ concerns than in an effort to guide them in any particular direction. The notion that the DPP is the guiding hand behind the students is simply at odds with almost all accounts of the factual events.
Dai Lin, whose suicide riveted the nation and inspired the young activists, is portrayed in KMT propaganda as troubled and depressed, and his suicide is explained as having nothing to do with the protests. If you can stomach it, see this CNN iReport on the Student Protests, with KMT-slanted reporting. It's vile.

These protesting students have grown up entirely within the curriculum changes since the post Lee Teng-hui era. Liu and Hung (2002) describe the changes of that era:
In the 1993 Social Studies syllabus, the historical content was outlined in a concentric pattern: Taiwan-China-world. The scope of ‘the native place’ (xiangtu) was confined to county, town, and city. Taiwan itself was no longer defined as a mere ‘local community’. The affiliated islands, Kinmen and Matsu, were also included in the textbooks. The coverage of Taiwanese history was expanded to a whole book. Chinese identity and Taiwanese identity coexisted in the curriculum, and the distinction between the two was made clearer than it had previously been. For example, the title ‘the Chinese living environment’ was replaced by ‘the living environment in Mainland China’, thus distinguishing political China from geographical China—or ‘mainland China’ from Taiwan.

In addition, as already mentioned, the rise of Taiwanese identity has led to the establishment of two new subjects. One is ‘Native Place Teaching Activities’ for Grade 3, and the other is ‘Understanding Taiwan’ (Renshi Taiwan) for junior high level, both subjects focusing on the history, geography, and society of Taiwan. The goals of ‘Understanding Taiwan—Society’ are defined as ‘reinforcing the understanding of the social environment of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu’, ‘cultivating the sentiment of love for the community and the nation,’ and ‘developing a consciousness of the ‘living community’ (sheng ming gong tong ti).’3 The goals of ‘Understanding Taiwan—History’ include ‘understanding the history of the ancestors of each of the ethnic groups in Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu’, although the teaching materials studiously avoid references to past conflicts between Han settlers and aboriginal tribes, instead painting a highly misleading picture of harmonious and peaceful co-existence. In the appendix to the syllabus, the significance of this new subject is emphasized: this is the first time that Taiwanese history has ever been taught as a formal subject at junior high school level.
Note that the rise of the Taiwanese identity was already in place prior to the new curriculum. As an acquaintance observed, when he returned to Taiwan in 1991 there were already bookstores dedicated to Taiwanese history and culture. When I was studying Chinese that same year in Taipei, I purchased the old Shifan University texts, which still used phrases like "communist bandits" and "retake the mainland". But I bought them off the junk pile for 10 NT each; new texts more locally centered were already taking their place.

Chris Hughes tabulated some of the changes that took place as the Chen Administration assumed power in 2000 (link):
The appointment of Professor Tu Cheng-sheng (Du Zhengsheng), an LSE alumnus as head of the National Palace Museum in May 2000, has been even more controversial. Tu had in fact been singled out as one of the chief architects of ‘de-sinification’ well before the Chen administration came to power because he had been influential in steering a re-orientation of the school curriculum and teaching materials to learning more about Taiwan and less about China in the late 1990s.6 Having stewardship over the museum that was once used by the KMT as a kind of cultural umbilical chord linking Taiwan to China’s grand tradition, Tu incurred the wrath of many critics when he proceeded to label the Chinese artefacts as ‘Chinese’ and established a gallery devoted to Taiwanese culture.

The reorientation of education that Tu had begun under Lee Teng-hui also continued under the Chen administration. Already in March 2001 the Ministry of Education had produced a policy on ‘Nativisation of Education’ (bentu hua jiaoyu), according to which junior and middle school pupils have to select to learn a ‘native language’ (xiangtu yuyan) from Hokkien, Hakka and an aboriginal language. The controversial Know Taiwan (renshi Taiwan) textbooks became teaching material for history, geography and social studies from the academic year beginning in August. A Native Education committee (bentu jiaoyu weiyuan hui) began to revise the Know Taiwan curriculum in 2002 and the following year published a draft outline for a new high school history curriculum in which Chinese history since the mid-Ming Dynasty became part of ‘World History’. An increasing emphasis on native culture can also be seen in the way that the Ministry of Education has actively promoted and funded the establishment of departments of Taiwan Literature in national universities since 2000. When Tu Cheng-sheng was appointed Minister of Education at the start of Chen’s second term in May 2004, accusations of ‘de-sinification’ reached a new height of intensity.
The "Getting to know Taiwan" of the Lee era was removed from the curriculum under the Chen Administration, which instead spread Taiwan across the entire curriculum (link). Hughes also notes that the Chen Shui-bian Administration put a halt to the military indoctrination of young males in KMT ideology, an important source of KMT control. Taiwanese history was added to the civil service exam, and the government made great efforts to push Taiwan Studies at home and abroad. Chen's changes drew protests from Beijing.

Another change in the educational system is that there are now new outlets and new ways for people to enter college, getting around the old testing system. The function of the old testing system was powerfully authoritarian. By creating intense competition for coveted places, it prevented the students from building bridges to each other (and if they did, the Party maintained political officers in the schools to monitor the students' political beliefs). The massive homework loads reduce time for young people to learn and act on politics, while the parents reinforced the System's control by forcing the kids to do the home and shoving them in cram schools seven days a week. All of this is slowly changing...

The Chen Administration made subtle but powerful changes in Taiwanese life that have shaped the way these students rooted their identity in Taiwan. It vastly expanded cultural programs and also focused on the environment in its sloganeering, fostering a sense of shared place and culture. It also engaged in "Branding Taiwan" (link):
Believing that culture is economically beneficial, the CCA joined forces with the Industrial Development Bureau (Ministry of Economic Affairs) to encourage the development of creative industries, funding modern designs to present Taiwanese culture. In a speech about future CCA policy, then chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou openly asserted that “using branding techniques to build and introduce an image of contemporary Taiwan to the world, cultural and creative industries will be the most important force.
Don't laugh; people identify with brands, sometimes very strongly. The branding created an awareness of Taiwan as distinct that made a foothold in minds abroad, which was also reflected back to Taiwan as validation by outsiders, a virtuous cycle of Taiwan identity building.

DPP policy thus was a multifront attack on the monolithic, faux, totalizing, authoritarian version of Chinese culture offered by the KMT and CCP. It was highly successful.

The new leisure culture, made possible by shrinking the work/school week from 6 days to 5, has also helped grow Taiwaneseness. "Being Taiwanese" for the 45 and under generation now includes the physical actions of climbing Jade Mountain, swimming Sun Moon Lake, and biking around the island. This involves inscribing oneself physically on the terrain while immersed in it: grounding local identity in a relationship to the land. Many of these kids will go on to do all these things.

They are the most active, socially aware, and involved generation in Taiwan, ever. I bless them every day.

2002. M. Liu, L C. Hung. "Identity issues in Taiwan’s history curriculum". Int. J. Educ. Res. 37 (2002) 567–586
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Monday, August 03, 2015

FAPA Statement on the Curriculum Protests

For Immediate Release
Washington D C - July 31st 2015
Contact: (202) 547-3686
FAPA statement on heavy-handed handling of the student protests against history textbook amendments by the Ma administration

Climbing through the weekend

Aboriginal inhabitants? What aboriginal inhabitants? Han-centric history is just one aspect of Taiwan's Han-centric thinking.

This week did some wonderful rides out of my Taichung base, stretching my injured legs a bit. Felt good. Thursday went the length of Baguashan and down Fengbai Road into Ershui. Saturday did the awesome ride through the Nantou tea areas on the 149, 212, and 151 to the 162A with its spectacular descent. Sunday went back to an old favorite of mine, Pinglin Road. Come below the break to enjoy...

A few candidate posters....

A candidate in Fengyuan in Taichung has large, professional looking posters. Click read more to see more....

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Student Protests Rivet Nation

Via New Bloom: video history of student protest at MoE

Keeping up: New Bloom's facebook page is constantly updated. They put together and posted the video above. There's a live feed here. Note that New Bloom has posted that there is a water cannon vehicle present, presumably because it will be used.

Rocked first by the suicide of Dai Lin, Taiwan was then shocked by the open letter from his mother. Solidarity has the translation, which you should read. I can't read it without crying at the naked realization at the end...
The one who’s sick is this society. It’s the adults. It’s the parents who were brainwashed, like me. You were a little prince who always had pure thoughts. You completed your mission. You made public opinion boil over all right. You’ve made us brainwashed adults rethink things.
She's saying what so many of us have been saying for ages: the over 45 group is the most timid, brainwashed, strawberry generation of them all. It's not a coincidence that support for KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu is strongest in that group. She also wrote an open letter angrily denying KMT claims that the DPP was operating the students. Remember, in the KMT ideological bubble, only conspiracy by the evil enemies of Chineseness can explain anti-KMT stances, because the KMT is always right.

The convener of the curriculum committee that made the changes was on a political talk show. See why the changes were made (Taipei Times):
Asked what kind of impact the curriculum adjustments had on the KMT’s campaign for next year’s presidential and legislative elections, Wang said they had created a strong cohesive force among pan-blue supporters.

“A lack of ‘national goals’ is a critical problem facing the KMT. The party requires more convincing rhetoric to persuade the public and that was exactly what we aimed to achieve through the curriculum changes,” Wang said in the article.
Were the changes made for educational purposes, or to bring the curriculum in line with the Constitution, as KMT presidential candidate Hung has claimed? Nope: according to the leader of the changes, they were purely political and overtly pro-KMT. What's scary is that these people are so deep in their bubble that they thought asserting that the capital was Nanjing was "convincing rhetoric."

My man maddog was having a good laugh on Twitter about the changes, putting up this image:
Don Rodgers put his finger directly on the fundamental issue at Thinking Taiwan:
The Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) government is once again facing off against a group of young protesters who oppose the government’s policies and procedures. The current protest is directed at the government’s efforts to change the content of history textbooks. This is another in a long series of protests that addressed a wide range of issues including property rights, freedom of the press, labor rights, environmental issues, and most famously opposition to the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) that led to the Sunflower occupation of Taiwan’s legislature last year.

The young protesters in Taiwan are frequently described as being “anti-China” and driven by their strong sense of Taiwanese identity. This is partially accurate. The young people in Taiwan are definitely strongly Taiwanese identified, but they are not necessarily “anti-China.” To understand these protests it is essential to understand that the young are strongly democratic. They were born into and fully believe in democracy in their country. Thus, it is not surprising that one thing that the protests have in common is anger over the government’s lack of transparency and respect for democratic procedure. It is therefore more accurate to describe the students as “pro-democracy” or “anti-authoritarian” than “anti-China.” It is also important to note that a significant percentage of the population in Taiwan supports the student protesters.

Since Ma took office in 2008, his administration has demonstrated neither a strong interest nor any level of competence in managing domestic politics. Ma’s government has been insular and arrogant, frequently responding to criticisms with a condescending attitude. Decisions are made behind closed doors with little if any effort to consider the preferences of the voters. The decisions are then foisted upon the people with the message that the government knows best and the people must agree.

It is not surprising, then, that the young protesters have consistently criticized the government for its “black box” decision-making procedures. For example, in an April 2014 interview, Wei Yang (魏揚), a leader of the Sunflower movement stated, “The government and the civil society had no communication. There were no comprehensive impact assessments. There were no deliberations about the trade pact. We called it a black-box operation, and this is outrageous to the people.”
I've written several times about how the Taiwanese have incorporated democracy into their identity, and among the young, this incorporation is a fusion. This generation, I would always add, is also the first in the modern era to grow up with poorer economic prospects than the previous one. These ideas of democracy are butting up against a school system designed for authoritarian control from start to finish.This protest is only the beginning of the long struggle against it, one in which many parents are engaged as well, attempting to find or construct democratic, human-centered alternatives.

Wuer Kaixi, the Tiananmen dissident who is now running for office in Taichung, published a great piece at Thinking Taiwan this week saying that it is time for Taiwanese to take things into their own hands. It observes:
Actively changing the constitution and the laws to recognize the PRC will come at a small price and will also give a voice to the people, challenging China and the West to release Taiwan from its shackles, while also fundamentally changing the way we think about cross-strait policy. Compromise is not the way forward, and patience is simply a delay tactic. Only by taking the initiative can the people of Taiwan take control of their fate.
It seems that, that when the KMT die-hards hype the pro-China changes to the curriculum as "according to the Constitution", they are just setting up "the Constitution" as the target for the next great youth movement.

This is only the beginning...
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Hung Campaign Blues + Links

A roadside shrine.

The campaign of Hung Hsiu-chu found a campaign manager this week (KMT news organ):
KMT Presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱)’s campaign headquarters have begun to gear up. According to informed sources, Yiin Chii-ming, a former Economics Minister and president of National Policy Foundation, the KMT think tank, would be Hung’s campaign manager. Hung’s campaign office has also announced new spokespersons this morning.

Yesterday, Yu Tzu-hsiang (游梓翔), Hung's campaign office spokesperson, said that Yiin had participated in discussions of Hung’s policy planks. As Hung has been visiting Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung recently, Yu added, the Hung office would announce the lineup of her cadres in her campaign team when she came back to Taipei.

Yu plans to resign as Hung’s spokesperson in August and return to his teaching position. The Hung campaign office announced two new spokespersons to replace him today. They are Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅), a former Taipei City Councilwoman and former Deputy Minister of the Overseas Community Affairs Council, and Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介), Tainan City Councilman and head of the KMT Tainan chapter.
The National Policy Foundation is the KMT's internal think tank. Yiin has had several posts in government economics positions (English Wiki). He was educated at Chiaotung U and ChengChih U. He's 63, married, and ideologically reliable. He'd make an ideal veep candidate for Hung.

And... wait for it... it appears he's never run in an election (University CV is here). That's right, Hung's campaign is being managed by a man with little electoral experience (Yin was interviewed here several years ago on economic issues).

Because this is out of the National Policy Foundation, this looks like the actual "management" of Hung's campaign is going to be... keeping Hung under control.
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Hegemonic Warfare Watch: Fun Fun Fun over the Senkakus

A lonely road somewhere in Chiayi.

A piece in The Diplomat observes that China's bogus ADIZ over the East China Sea was used to turn back a Lao Airlines flight...
A little-noticed report published earlier this week in Air Transport World showcases one such case. Although considerably ambiguity continues to surround this incident, according to that report, a Lao Airlines flight flying from South Korea’s Gimehae International Airport to Laos was asked to turn back by Chinese air traffic controllers and complied. The report notes that the Chinese air traffic controllers told the aircraft that it did not have adequate approval to pass through China’s airspace. According to the report, the flight (No. QV916), an Airbus A320, was an hour into its scheduled flight path, “which would have put the aircraft over disputed areas of the China Sea,” before it turned back. Starting last year, Chinese air traffic authorities began to require that all civilian flights flying through the East China Sea ADIZ file pre-flight plans, transponder details, and other technical details ahead of their flights, according to the Air Transport World report. The incident involving QV916 is the first instance of a commercial flight being turned back due to a failure to comply with Chinese air traffic authority requirements, but at least 55 airlines worldwide are complying with the terms of China’s ADIZ.
Laos is very tight with China economically, so they didn't complain. I had been wondering if Beijing had arranged with Laos to do this to increase the legitimacy of their ADIZ, but that's because I am paranoid.

Over at Thinking-Taiwan, J Michael Cole observed that the KMT was far more interested in the ROC claim to the Senkakus than the public at large:
Perhaps even more importantly, though far less acknowledged, is the fact that unlike Chinese and Japanese nationalists, most Taiwanese couldn’t care less about the islets. Segments of the Taiwanese public paid attention when the dispute with Japan prevented Taiwanese fishermen from making a living, but the fisheries agreementsigned in April 2013 by Taipei and Tokyo, after 16 long years of stalled efforts, resolved that matter. In other words, whatever interest most Taiwanese paid to the issue stemmed from practical rather than ideological considerations.

But this is not the picture you will get if you listen to the official rhetoric in Taipei or to members of President Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), both of which emphasize Taiwan’s (or the Republic of China’s) sovereignty claims over the islets. A most recent example of this was the Presidential Office’s reaction to remarks made by former president Lee Teng-hui during a visit to Tokyo, in which he stated that, in his view, the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islets are part of Japanese territory. Although Mr. Lee had made similar comments in the past, this time around the response was much more indignant.
In a way, in the die-hard KMT mind, the ROC exists because it makes claims. In the Ma Administration's practical foreign policy, whose goal is to isolate Taiwan from its neighbors, the Senkakus are a useful issue for irritating relations with Japan.
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Taitung: Miramar Expanding Ring of Destruction Halted

Location of the Miramar (lower left) and new development (center to right)(from Taitung Protest)

The Miramar hotel development (background) has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with development on the east coast, which is rapidly being wrecked by developers. Today Taitung Protest posted on Facebook:
You’ve heard about Mei Li Wan, now they are trying to build Mei Li Two (then 3, 4, and so on, ‘until there’s no more room up there’) in the foothills of Dulan Mountain, just 100 metres north of Miramar.

A delegation of local environmental activists, led by leaders of the aboriginal communities surrounding the proposed development site for Shanyuan Palms Holiday Villas, protested on the steps of the EPA offices ahead of a meeting set for July 29.

The good news is that the EPA meeting ruled that all development must cease pending the institution of the new Coastal Protection Law!

That's great. And so it bloody well should.

If you thought Mei Li Wan (Miramar) was big, then get a load of this new monstrosity.
550 rooms – that’s up to 1000 people a day! Or 365 000 tour bus tourists per year (and their turds)

It will cover a total of 26 hectares! That’s roughly the size of 26 football fields and more than four times bigger than Miramar.

But get this; it’s proposed to be built on a hill known to be prone to landslides! It’s a disaster so obviously waiting to happen that it would border on wilful negligence if it was passed by the authorities.

So why the unseemly rush by the local Taidong council to do so? Coz a new, central government coastal protection law is on the books and set to be passed this year. This law overrides grubby local council deals and will flat-out prohibit such enormous, ecologically destructive developments.

And now, this July 29 EPA Ruling, which stops Shanyuan Palms Holiday Villas from proceeding, is, to my very pleasant surprise, a common sense decision that looks like it’s gonna nip this idiotic development in the bud.

Is the wheel finally turning?
Let's hope so. A pile of new hotels have been approved, and if you've been in downtown Taitung city, they sprout like mushrooms.
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Student history curriculum protester commits suicide

Taiwan was rocked yesterday with the news that a student protester, facing likely prosecution, committed suicide, allegedly after an abusive, pressuring visit from the principal of his school and zero support for his actions from his parents. In traditional style, he killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning by burning charcoal, a favorite suicide method in Asia since it does not mar the body and is supposed to be painless (2007 post). Just the souls of those who learn of these senseless tragedies.

The dead student had intended his suicide to drive action, and sure enough, protesters reached new heights of fury, and they stormed the MOE last night. Cole writes:
The occupation—one of several direct actions in the past two years—occurs after months of snowballing protests over efforts by the government to make “minor” changes to curriculum guidelines. Critics say the process lacked transparency and that the new Sino-centric content imposed by the guidelines distorts history and whitewashes the authoritarian period in the nation’s history. The dissidents also maintain that members of the 10-person committee in charge of the “minor” adjustments, set up by then-minister of education Chiang Wei-ling in January 2014, are not suited to handle the matter. Chief among them is convener Wang Hsiao-po, a vice chairman of the Alliance for the Reunification of China.
Occupation is probably a good idea for now, but come the fall the students will have to stage walkouts and sit-ins, and teach-ins. Cole points out that this social activist movement, like preceding ones, is not being orchestrated by the DPP. The KMT accuses the DPP of being behind all these movements, a charge that is completely hilarious to anyone who has ever dealt with DPP Administration. It seems sometimes that they can barely orchestrate coffee for the staff, never mind a major social protest. Instead, the students use social media to organize themselves. The LINE messages of the dead student were posted online, in fact, showing not only that he likely meant to make a statement, but that LINE is a major medium for this kind of communication. Back to Cole...
Lin, who had dropped out of a trade school in June, told a TV talk show that school officials visited his home, pressured his parents, and warned him that if he didn’t cease and desist, his criminal record risked compromising his future job prospects. School officials pointed out that Lin had been a troubled student and that the visit to his home had nothing to do with his suicide.
UDN posted a video of a parent trying to take his kid home and being refused (Solidarity with the description). Such scenes were commonplace during the Sunflower movement. The generation of people in their 40s and 50s is timid and fearful, the true Strawberries of Taiwan.

Although the Ministry of Education has said the students are engaged in illegal activities, ironic since back in February the Taipei Court ruled against the changes...
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights challenged the changes in court. Although the Taipei High Administrative Court in February ruled against the ministry’s decision to implement the adjustments, the ministry went ahead with them.
To get the changes in, the Ministry has promised that questions about the material will not be on the exam, and also threatened textbook publishers, implicitly, with revocation of permits if the new material is not included.

The curriculum revisions also take place against other sources of student anger: the revised 12 year curriculum is widely despised by students... (Brookings)
Nine-year compulsory education was implemented in Taiwan in 1968. As society and the economy have changed, a 12-year compulsory curriculum was developed and in 2010 the Ministry of Education announced that its development was completed and ready to implement. In 2011, the “Project of the Implementation of 12-year Basic Education [十二年國民基本教育實施計畫]” was audited and set to commence in 2014 – though as noted above the new curriculum itself is not yet being taught. The new curriculum aims to lead instruction in schools, give directions to students, clarify values, and prescribe certain actions (馮朝霖 et al., 2011). A reform of national curriculum concerns must not only attempt to envision the future, but also involves a dialogue on varieties of educational values and the choices amongst them (范信賢, 2010). In other words, a common understanding among a wide range of stakeholders is necessary.
...and the terrible job market that students are graduating into. The history curriculum with its pro-China changes is an easily identified and obviously abusive "reform", but there's an underlying anger here that student activists could probably find a way to harness.

The KMT of course blamed the DPP for the student's death. *sigh* The KMT news organ reported on Presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu's determination to amend the history curriculum once she is in power:
The controversy surrounding adjustments to the high school history textbook guidelines continues to heat up. Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), Deputy Legislative Speaker and the KMT’s 2016 Presidential candidate, yesterday said on a TVBS political talkshow that if she should be elected President, she would definitely amend the textbook guidelines in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of China.

Hung stressed that when the DPP came to power in 2000, the Chen Shui-bian administration had altered, to a great degree, the history textbook guidelines based on a Taiwan-independence movement perspective, and what the Education Ministry was currently doing was to re-adjust the existing history textbook guidelines to conform to the ROC Constitution.

Hung went on to remind the opposition parties that they should not incite young people to violate the law by breaking into government buildings just because the opposition had obtained political gains from last year’s student movement, during which student protesters broke into the Legislative Yuan compound to occupy the legislative chamber for nearly a month in a show of opposition to the cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement.
One of the little successes of the protesters is to compel Hung to constantly re-affirm her far-right Chineseness in public. This will be important in creating her image among local voters.
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Student Invasion of the Ministry of Education becomes major political issue. Good. + Links

Where does it go? Somewhere deep into Nantou...

Noah Buchan commented in an excellent editorial in the Taipei Times:
A culture war is raging in Taiwan, and it has been going on for decades. It is a time when Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) statues still cast shadows in public parks; when denials of Han privilege course through the media; when the Ministry of Education (MOE) snubs its nose at the courts and pushes through China-centric adjustments to curriculum guidelines — ones that euphemize the Japanese colonial period; and when the nation’s largest political party believes that it still controls, or should control, land it has not controlled for close to 70 years, at the expense of land it has controlled for most of that time. From this perspective, it is hard not to imagine that a culture war is precisely what is being witnessed, even if it has not been framed as such.
The culture war is being played out in this election, with a KMT diehard running for the Presidency. The latest battleground is the updates to the high school textbooks by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which the students are rightfully protesting. Solidarity has a translation of the adjustments and changes. The Ministry has not formally released the names of those on the revisions committee, but the names leaked are mostly ultra Chinese nationalists. FocusTaiwan gives a rundown in a long article on the fracas over the textbooks:
On Friday, police detained 24 students and 33 other people, including three reporters and six members of the public, after they entered the MOE building. Nine of the 24 students were from middle schools and 15 from colleges.

Vice Education Minister Chen Te-hua (陳德華) said Sunday the MOE's decision to prosecute the law-breaking students remained unchanged, but he called on school administrators not to discipline those involved in the protests.

As to the three journalists who had been released without bail, Chen said the MOE will drop the charges against them if they could prove that they were doing their job as reporters and not leading or participating in the protest.
The awesome Mayor Ko of Taipei has already apologized for the arrests, since the journalists were merely doing their jobs. The students were arrested after the third protest at the MOE. The DPP has asked the MOE not to prosecute the students and pointed out that the curriculum changes were illegal.

KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu has seized on the affair to abuse DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen about her stance on the affair.
Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), on July 24, visited TianHou Temple (天后宮) in Changhua County and said that the students who broke into the Education Ministry building had the right to make mistakes, but they still needed to abide by the law because it was prohibited to break into the Ministry. Hung went on to say that society would collapse without the rule of law.

On July 26, Hung stated that the adjustments to the textbook guidelines were intended to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and she questioned why Tsai opposed the new textbook guidelines made to align the historical record with the Constitution of the Republic of China.

Hung pointed out that the so-called “democratic progress” meant that everyone should respect and tolerate different ideas and resolve differences in a civilized and rational manner. Hung added, “If I disagree with you, I can do whatever I want” is the meaning of democracy for the DPP, is her party qualified to be called the “Democratic Progressive Party”?
"Rule of law." Here's video of Hung Hsiu-chu attacking a policeman. Of course, this is the same Hung Hsiu-chu who publicized the home phone numbers of government officials in Nov of 2005 when the DPP gov't revealed that TVBS was 100% Chinese-owned (maddog has collection of "rule of law" KMT violence).

Hung has dismissed the changes as "minor" and challenged Tsai. Her "challenge" is sooo 1990s:
The adjustments to the textbook guidelines have caused a controversy. On July 26, Hung stated that the adjustments to the textbook guidelines were made to align the historical record with the Constitution of the Republic of China, so if Tsai disagreed with the framework of the Constitution, she asked Tsai to honestly admit that she supported Taiwan independence. Hung went on to say that if Tsai should be elected President, logically she should fight for her beliefs and author a new constitution as well as push for a plebiscite on Taiwan independence.
Hung thinks of herself as 100% ROC Chinese, the kind of mind that imagines that being pro-independence is unspeakably bad. Whereas for most people it is their position, and for the minority who are not pro-independence, they are used to it in the people they deal with. Everyone already knows Tsai is pro-independence. Hung can't win this way...

The current DPP strategy is to let Hung talk, which seems to be working well. So far, she has said very little on domestic policy, except to reiterate her support for nuclear power and accuse KMTers who have come out against it as giving in to populism.

We're waiting now for PFP leader James Soong to publicly announce whether he will run for President, thereby splitting the KMT vote. There will be no Wang-Soong ticket; all indications are that Wang Jin-pyng, rival of Ma Ying-jeou and leader of the Taiwanese KMTers, is going to remain in the KMT.

REFS: Student activist details curriculum concerns (Taipei Times)
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Hegemonic Warfare Watch: The Case of Charles Glaser Worried

Planting rice north of Taichung.
I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up Somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use.
*sigh* Charles Glaser really loves to imagine himself as a Great Decider, determining the fate of millions with Grand Bargains. This latest installment of his patented point of view, "sell Taiwan to China for better relations" is A U.S.-China Grand Bargain? The Hard Choice between Military Competition and Accommodation (International Security, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Spring 2015), pp. 49–90). Glaser appears to have learned little from his Foreign Affairs disaster of several years ago.

The "analysis" concedes that it is merely an amoral, unreal fantasy right at the outset of his main argument, where he states: "Analytically, the desirability and political feasibility of U.S. security policy can often be productively separated." Actually, they can't, because politics is about values and the conduct of international affairs (i.e. human affairs) is not value-free. This pretense of value-freeness is created by Glaser here in order to legitimate selling out Taiwan as the "objective" and therefore superior choice. The subtext is: "if you can't see it my way, you're too subjective". The reality is that handing over Taiwan to China is a question of values; the reason it is politically disvalued (i.e. unfeasible) is because it is morally vile and politically stoopid.

EJInsight recently commented on China's lack of soft power. The problem with the kind of analysis that EJInsight presents is that it doesn't recognize the truly key elements of China's soft power. Living in Taiwan and watching the media for years has made many of us acutely conscious of China's actual soft power. The TIME interview with DPP Chairman and Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen shows one aspect of that soft power -- the way western commentators accept Chinese expansionist propaganda and anti-Taiwan propaganda (and propagandists) as conventional wisdom, and use it to frame their writing about China-related issues. Glaser's piece is another example of how this works: it shows the willingness of commentators in democratic countries to feed the beast. Sadly, this sort of testosterone-fueled control fantasy disguised as "analysis" has become commonplace (Hugh White, for example).

Glaser lays out his thesis on p50:
Specifically, the United States should negotiate a grand bargain that ends its commitment to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. In return, China would peacefully resolve its maritime and land disputes in the South China and East China Seas, and officially accept the United States’ longterm military security role in East Asia.
After discussion of the international situation, he expands thusly:
The grand bargain I propose is designed to capture the benefits of U.S. accommodation with China, while reducing its risks. China’s concessions on its territorial and maritime disputes would communicate information to the United States about the limited extent of its aims, thereby reducing Washington’s concern that its own concessions would encourage China to push the United States out of East Asia. In addition, resolution of these disputes would eliminate flash points that fuel regional military competition and crises that could draw the United States into a war.
Much this paper is larded with the soft power problem I note above: presentation of pro-China propaganda frames as actual descriptions of China. Note how Glaser adopts Beijing's propaganda line to explain China's desire to annex Taiwan:
From China’s perspective, control of Taiwan is a security objective because China considers Taiwan part of its homeland.45 In contrast, given the United States’ understanding of the status quo, China’s determination to control Taiwan reflects greedy motives.
From the perspective of elites in Beijing, of course annexing Taiwan is pure expansion; the idea that Taiwan is a "lost territory" is strictly for the consumption of their own public and for foreigners who can be successfully propagandized. Like Glaser, for example.

(Of course, there is no Taiwan perspective in this paper. Taiwan doesn't get a vote, because this is a Grand Bargain, the kind Grand Men make over brandy and cigars. You peasants operating out of your own subjectivity don't get it, 'k? Now go fetch my slippers.)

Consider his process for implementing the Grand Bargain:
For example, stages could include resolution of how to divide maritime resources without resolution of the sovereignty issues; agreement to defer sovereignty issues; arms control agreements that limit China’s conventional ability to threaten Taiwan and Japan and the operation of U.S. forces near China’s shores; and the reduction and eventual termination of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Beijing will never agree to any of this in good faith (Nor does Glaser explain why Beijing should trust the US). Moreover, China is trapped; it cannot reduce its conventional forces precisely because it has so many territorial demands on its neighbors, and because it would mean compelling the People's Liberation Army to accept a reduced role in domestic politics. Good luck with that.

Glaser and others who write from this bubbleverse accept the existence of these territorial disputes without inquiring into their origins. The reason they invariably refrain from doing so is because if they did, it would immediately become obvious that China is engaging in territorial expansion, since Taiwan, the South China Sea islands, and the Senkakus were never historically Chinese areas. Instead, they were claims manufactured after the fall of the Manchu Qing dynasty, when China was redefined in order to expand it out to the borders of the Qing. Hence any reading of these territorial demands as "China's need for security" or some such silliness is Beijing propaganda, plain and simple.

This is crucial because if you read Glaser's paper carefully, there is a yawning gap that totally destroys his thesis. He mentions Taiwan, of course, but he also mentions the Senkakus many times.

Yet, he never mentions that Taiwan and the Senkakus (and Okinawa) are all connected in Chinese territorial demands (the ROC fantasy here, the Xinhua rewrite of history here). Chinese claim that the Senkakus were administered from Taiwan and are part of Taiwan. They cannot be separated into unrelated dispute bubbles the way Glaser treats them.

Thus, this current paper, just like his previous one, creates a bubble world in which there is no connection between China's expansionist claims in the South and East China Seas, and Taiwan. Indeed, the only way you can make the argument that Taiwan should be kissed off is if you pretend that Taiwan is not related to any other goal of Chinese expansionism. Which is rank nonsense.

In the real world, though, Chinese expansionists having been claiming for decades that the Senkakus were administered by the Qing from Taiwan, which makes them Chinese and part of the Taiwan claim. More importantly, it means that the "dispute" over Taiwan cannot be resolved by handing Taiwan over to China because that will simply bring the war over the Senkakus (and Okinawa) that much closer. Glaser learned nothing from criticism of his 2011 piece -- my comments still apply:
Thus, Glaser's position is contradictory: he argues that the US can avoid war by handing 23 million Taiwanese to Beijing and then beefing up its remaining alliance commitments to show we're still serious -- but in the case of Japan, that alliance is committed to defending territories Beijing covets. Not much point in selling out Taiwan to avoid war if you signal you are willing to go to war over the Senkakus and then beef up your forces in order to do just that. And having burned 23 million pro-American allies along with their armed forces, who would believe you are willing to nuke Beijing for a few rocks in the ocean?
It's not just the Senkakus, though. You'd never know from reading Glaser that the ROC government on Taiwan controls Pratas and Taiping Islands in the South China Sea. The Spratlys are mentioned once -- in a footnote to emphasize how small they are (!). The ROC-held islands in the SCS are not mentioned at all.

At present, you cannot hand over Taiwan to China without disposing of these islands, yet China will never accept any disposition of those islands in which it does not get them. Moreover, once you betray the Taiwanese, in addition to betraying Tokyo, you also betray Manila: Chinese expansionists have made noises about Batan Island and Beijing recently conducted exercises in the Bashi Channel. This means that your brilliant war-avoiding strategy brings China into greater conflict with both Philippines and Japan, two nations the US is bound by treaty obligations to defend in wartime.

Oh, and you increase Chinese power in the SCS by handing over key islands to it, making things worse for Vietnam and Malaysia, increasing the chance of war and giving Beijing a better position to wage it from. Oh, and let's not forget, you invite China to think of new expansionist claims, like to Yoniguni and Ishigaki, not far from Taiwan.

And this brilliant argument -- I laugh to use this word -- is from a "realist".

Far from reducing the chance of a clash between Beijing and Washington, the sell-out crowd ensures that there will be one, with China in a far better position, having gotten Taiwan for nothing, while Washington has given up a powerful asset of 23 million people and their armed forces arrayed against Chinese expansionism, for no gain at all.

But hey, I can think of two authoritarian parties that will be happy to send Charles Glaser on junkets to the Far East, if he keeps writing like this.
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Hegemonic Warfare Watch: Potential Drilling in the Senkakus

She sits... and watches.

The Nelson Report (no link, have to subscribe) reports:
SUMMARY: the long-simmering Japan-China contest over maritime sovereignty and resources in the Senkakus (Daiyou in Beijing and Taipei) reached a new crisis point today with China denying the informally presumed "median line" and saying it had the right to go after oil and natural gas anywhere it wants.

In short, that per the controversial "9-Dash Line" declarations which are seen by much of Asia as China's way of claiming control over virtually the entire East and South China Seas resources, Beijing today seems to be claiming rights to everything up to the Okinawa Trough.

The specific cause of outrage from Tokyo, and concern in the US and elsewhere, is a Chinese oil rig under construction since 2013, but carefully placed on the "Chinese side" of the median line, presumably to align with the 2008 joint development agreement with Japan.

Unfortunately, as the Japanese are correct in pointing out, China has since then repeatedly refused to agree to implementation of the deal...this one isn't on Tokyo, experts agree.

So now the concern is that "next" will be China taking the risk of placing a drill on the "Japan side" of the line, with the customary "escort" of armed PLA Coast Guard et al, and a consequent crisis-inducing decision if Abe feels he must try and stop it.

That the PM has been worried about precisely this sort of war-risk decision is clear from his two private complaints to President Xi Jingping, last November in Beijing, and this year in Jakarta, sources note. And to emphasize Abe's concerns, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga "went public" on July 6...obviously to no avail.

Loyal Reader experts speculate that Suga was turned loose for several reasons: first, and most obviously, Japan is really angry; second, China's actions were and are seen as boosting Abe's case with the public and the Diet for amending Japan's security policy and legislation; third, possibly to deflect from the lack of an "apology" to China in the PM's upcoming WW2 70th Anniversary statement.
Anyone who imagines that China will keep a "grand bargain" under which Taiwan can be annexed to China in return for something is on crack.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

A short coast ride: so much has changed

It seemed like just another gorgeous day in Hualien. Started off the right way... click on read more to read more...

Students Invade MOE over textbooks + links

A DPP candidate in Changhua.

News from today: high school students invaded the MOE over the textbook issue. Apparently 30 were arrested and taken away for interrogation. This is unlikely to cure their militancy. The police declared the area a crime scene and then detained several journalists who attempted to enter, hauling them off for interrogation.
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*Sigh* Oh the confusion

Working in the fields.

FLYING TIGERS (House of Representatives - July 21, 2015)
[Pages H5302-H5303] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] FLYING TIGERS (Mr. CHABOT asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.) Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, as we look back some 70 years in commemoration of the end of World War II, it is a good time to reflect upon one group of unsung heroes who went above and [[Page H5303]] beyond their service to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. The Flying Tigers aircraft was easily recognizable because it had the face of a shark painted on the nose of the plane and its menacing teeth served as a warning to their enemies wherever they flew. During World War II, when Taiwan was brutally attacked by the Japanese, its leader called upon the world community for help. A group of American volunteers answered the call and joined up with Taiwan's Air Force to become one of the most important elements in the ultimate defeat of the Japanese invaders. It is fitting that we recognize the role of the Flying Tigers and Taiwan's Air Force in holding off the onslaught that U.S. military forces eventually rolled back. Mr. Speaker, the Flying Tigers held the fort until our Nation was able to gather our strength. For this, we are eternally grateful. We remember. We are grateful. We salute you.
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