Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Links and Links

A pony attracts attention on a road in Taichung.
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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, November 24, 2014

vlogger Mordeth13 has crippling accident, Needs Your Help

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The well known vlogger Mordeth13 has suffered a crippling accident..

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Hey guys, M13 here.

I won't be uploading videos for a while. The March tour is most likely cancelled. So if you're booked for the March tour check with me or wait for an email confirming that it will be pushed to the next tour. I actually have someone younger cooller and better looking than me to take over my tours. So they are still happening.YouTube Search : M13 Taiwan Tours....  Click read more

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taishang not coming home to vote....

A billboard promoting KMT candidates Sean Lien and Jason Hu. In Shanghai (source)

Over at China Policy Institute Gunter Schubert has a piece on the Taishang, the Taiwan businessmen in China. arguing gently that they are not the Trojan horses the pro-independence side in Taiwan's politics makes them out to be. Schubert has made a career out of researching the Taishang; his excellent 2010 paper on them is publicly available in PDF format. Sadly, the Taishang are most definitely a kind of Trojan Horse, as Schubert's own work shows, they simply regurgitate a gumbo of KMT and China propaganda draped in the usual neoliberal cloaking, the kind of stuff that we've grown used to hearing over the years from KMTers in Taiwan and abroad. You know it: China is inevitable, we must come to some kind of accommodation (never concretely specified), we must ship all our industries to China, it will hurt but in the long run we'll grow again, the free market will solve all the political problems between the two sides. It's a rhetoric in many ways long since divorced from reality. The political function of this discourse is obvious.

Interestingly none of the Taishang whose words Schubert placed in the paper expressed hatred or dislike of the Chinese. That's very significant, unless he heard such talk but chose not to include it.

They are also assuming all the characteristics of a typical long-term expat population: nostalgia for the Taiwan they knew, clustering in locations, establishing their own schools, keeping to themselves, eating familiar foods, and not mixing much with the locals. The latter evolution is much more interesting; their economic and political ideas are stale, parochial, and not very imaginative or insightful. Indeed, much of their economic and political thinking appears to be more akin to the kind of elaborate rationalizations that expats develop when they choose to live long-term in another country, an apologetic apparatus rather than a serious critique. Read in that light, their words actually make more sense. For example, no one actually observing reality can seriously believe that Taiwan becomes more competitive when its businessmen leave to build factories elsewhere or that the free market will create a political solution acceptable to both sides. Those statements read better as rationalizations for re-locating to China.

One thing the Taishang verbiage suggests, which doesn't get much exploration: given China's ultimate goals, is a robust Taiwan China policy even possible? The pro-Taiwan side cannot formulate a policy because China is obdurate; may as well try to form a policy to stop the fall of night. Similarly, the KMT's policy is to keep political talks as far down the road as possible while hollowing out the economy to the extent possible. There's no policy there either. And in both parties individual politicians are operating on an every-man-for-himself policy. That hurts the DPP much more than the KMT...

Taishang come in pro-Taiwan and pro-China flavors, just like politics back home in Taiwan. Many might argue that they will be more pro-China than the local population, but in fact, in this election, they just aren't coming home... Rabidly pro-China WantWant China Times complains about it:
When compared to the 250,000 to 300,000 Taiwanese who returned from China to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential and legislative elections, bookings of plane tickets reveal that only some 50,000 will be doing so for this year's elections.
Meanwhile tons of images of the massive rallies and walks this weekend in Taipei for Sean Lien and Ko Wen-je. Ko's also had people of all ages with a huge leavening of young people, while the Sean Lien rally was predominantly geriatric. That is not as bad as it seems for this election -- the old often vote, the young often do not. If you want images, the excellent photographer Dans is pro-KMT and has images of the Lien rally. Apple Daily has Ko with 150K people participating and images here. If you're on Facebook, the feed of redoubtable Taiwan expert J Michael Cole also has a pile of photos from the Ko events.
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DAILY LINKS:
EVENT: Taiwan Brain Trust 2014 International Conference on New Asian Dynamics and the Role of Taiwan
Saturday December 6, 2014
The Westin Taipei
Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan Brain Trust, Taiwan
Project 2049 Institute, US (Click read more for speakers)

Taipei: Sean Lien follies continue

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The government gives a comprehensive list of warnings for the Dajia River.

Sean Lien continues to spout nonsense, to the great amusement of all. Among many lowlights of his campaign include a proposal to solve the stray dog problem by dumping the city's stray dogs down in Chiayi -- a very revealing moment showing how the KMT ruling core views Taiwan outside of Taipei -- it is simply a place to dump their waste, the funeral home fiasco, and the claim that he had visited all 600 precincts of Taipei, when the city only has 400 or so. Local netizens have been mourning the Nov 29 arrival of the election, saying that it is too soon. They want more time so as to enjoy Lien's flow of silliness to its fullest.

Lien's latest eye-roller was his suggestion to rename Shifu Road, City Hall Road, after former President Chiang Ching-kuo, made the other day at a rally. The city government's household registration office quickly came out to point out just how silly that was: there's a process for renaming roads, which Lien appears not to have considered. Imagine that.... Apple Daily posted a Liberty Times report:
今日出版的《自由時報》報導,北市民政局戶籍行政科長洪進達表示,市府路上有門牌1號的台北市政府及45號的101大樓,總共14戶。若要改動路名需先由5分之1住戶向戶政事務所提案,進行問卷調查,取得4分之3住戶同意後提報市府,市府審議通過再送市議會,獲得過半數議員同意,才能改路名,不是說改就改。(方翊倩/綜合報導)
The statement says that Shifu Road runs from #1 (City Hall) to #45 (Taipei 101!!), for a total of 14 registered addresses. According to the statement, a fifth of the households along the road have to apply for the change (change comes from within, in fine Buddhist fashion). Then a survey has to be performed, and 3/4 of the households must agree. The name change must then be submitted to the City Council for majority approval.

It almost looks as if the ghost of Chen Shui-bian is haunting the KMT again, for Ketagalan Blvd in front of the Presidential Palace was named Chieh-shou Road (=Long Live Chiang Kai-shek) before Chen changed it. Seems some KMTers want to get in some retaliation...

On a more serious note, this process is why the local city governments run by the DPP have never changed the colonialist road names in their cities: few households and businesses would want to go through the trouble of changing their addresses, getting new namecards and IDs, and so on, so name changes are difficult.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ko Wiretap case takes ominous turn

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Poster for Taichung mayoral candidate Hu and a local candidate in an aboriginal area.

The wiretap case in Taipei took a turn for the ugly:
On November 4, Ko aides said they found signs of wiretaps at his policy center, with wires having been installed in a telephone exchange which would have made it possible to tap two phones inside the policy center. The incident led to a war of words between the Ko camp and the campaign of his Kuomintang opponent, Sean Lien, accusing each other of being behind the bugging of phones.

The case took a new turn Friday evening, when prosecutors questioned two private detectives from Yilan County. The two, Wu Te-yi and Lin Chun-hung, had been found to have left prints on the telephone box inside the building, reports said.

After questioning them, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office requested their detention, but the court ruled early Saturday morning that there was not sufficient ground to hold them and ordered them set free without bail instead. Prosecutors said they would look at the court ruling before deciding whether or not to appeal against the two men’s release.
One of Ko's aides, surnamed Peng, knew one of the detectives. The police arrested and jailed Peng but the two detectives were released even though -- yep -- they had fingerprint evidence. They also had video from outside the building showing the two men entering, according to Apple Daily, in the company of a staffer from the Ko campaign. The inference the judicial system wants the public to make appears to be that Ko staged this himself, with Peng as the go-between and the detectives planting the wires.

Yeah, right.

Peng refuses to pay bail, since he is innocent, he says. Meaning that Peng is locked up and can't directly challenge anything said about him -- so now you know maybe why he was locked up and the detectives are free to disappear until after the election, as Maddog pointed out on Twitter yesterday.

As many observers have pointed out, detective agencies are untrustworthy and often do things to drum up business. Like fake wiretaps, for instance.
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At Last: Back on the Bike + links

I haven't done a mountain ride in over two months, but today my friend Merican Teachr and I cut through the haze to climb up to Guguan. Pics below the Daily Links, click on READ MORE...
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Daily Links:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Then and Now

Paul Barclay, who runs the East Asia Image Collection at Lafayette College is traveling in Taiwan at the moment. If you get the chance, go listen to him talk, he's wonderful. A friend traveling with him in central Taiwan posted this Japanese era pic captioned A Bamboo Bridge in Savage District  (original link). This picture was taken facing more or less east along the river.

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Just for fun, I dug up a modern image I took of it on a ride several years ago. It is now the location of the Jiji Weir (my pic faces north). The old Japanese era road follows what is now the 152 on the north bank of the river, parallel to but above the 16, along the train to Jiji and Shuili, I believe. Corrections welcome.

Jonathan Burke, a friend on Facebook, posted this pic. He wrote:
Eighty years of history in two photos; the first was taken in 1935, the second was taken in 2014. The photos show a house belonging to the Paiwan people (one of Taiwan's indigenous tribes); the shot was taken in the era of Japanese occupation and the house was preserved as a historical site. After decades of neglect it has been renovated. Both photos feature the same person; first as a boy in 1935, then as a 92 year old man in the second photo.
Way cool.
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Blogfestin'

Watering a local garden.

Thinking Taiwan is rocking the intertubes as the election approaches with a bouquet of great stuff. On an obscure candidate for mayor in Taipei:
To run for mayor of Taipei, a candidate must pay a NT$2 million (roughly US$66,000) deposit. And if said candidate doesn’t receive more than 10% of the vote, the money will not be returned. Uncle Chao Yan-ching is definitely not getting his NT$2 million back. So the question on everyone’s mind is: “Why is he running?”
The awesome Wen-ti Sung on campaign ads (same post at CPI blog):
After the televised debate between Lien and Ko, this week the campaign finally entered Act 3, the “get-out-the-vote positive reinforcement ads” phase. Lien posted his presumably final campaign ad. Titled “One World,” it is a 2 minute-long music video featuring young breakdancers busting their moves to an upbeat tune. Towards the end a caption appears to defend Lien’s privileged upbringing: “Dancing is about technique and focus — one’s ‘background’ has nothing to do with it!”
J Michael on the KMT's latest absurd campaign tactics -- claiming Ko Wen-je murdered people for their organs:
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has said it would investigate the matter, as if government agencies under the current administration hadn’t launched enough investigations already against Ko and his supporters, a tactic oddly reminiscent of those used against DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during the 2012 elections. Ko’s camp has said it would take legal action against the accusers.
...and its link collection, the Taiwan Insider. There are many good pieces from earlier this month, like Michal Thim's piece on the military.

The China Policy Institute blog is also having a blogfest in honor of the upcoming elections. Tons of great stuff! My man Michal Thim is also on the spot with a piece on the 9 in 1 elections on the 29th:
Thirdly, the 9-in-1 elections are the first ballots following the turbulent events of the Sunflower Movement (and similar student protests in Hong Kong). They give voters their first opportunity to express their opinion other than to responding to pollsters’ questions. Like elsewhere, mid-term elections present an opportunity to express displeasure with the government by giving the ruling party a hard time, even if it is at the local level. Will the immensely unpopular administration of President Ma Ying-jeou sink the KMT’s election prospects?
Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley has a good one on film and public memory:
When Japan surrendered in 1945, Li Xianglan had a dramatic escape from prosecution for treason by the Chinese Nationalists. She was saved in time when the birth document which proves Li’s identity as Japanese, not Chinese, was finally smuggled into the country inside a doll. After being sent back to Japan in 1946, Li reassumed her birth name and continued to pursue an acting career with Akira Kurosawa and Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema. She later married a diplomat in the US, became a television journalist in the 1960s and was then elected to the Japanese Diet in 1974 where she served for 18 years. In 2005, she publicly requested Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi not to visit Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Thereafter the media in mainland China described her as someone who ‘transformed herself from an abettor in Japan’s aggression towards China to a messenger of peace’.
On the cross-strait investment situation:
After the KMT returned to the Presidential office in May 2008, Taiwan embarked on numerous economic negotiations with China over the following two years. The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) resumed negotiations in June 2008; three direct links – postal, transportation and trade – officially opened on December 15, 2008. Furthermore, in terms of economic cooperation, in June 2009, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs lifted restrictions on mainland investment in Taiwan. Up to June 2012, there were 408 cases of Chinese investment in Taiwan, of which 204 were in manufacturing; 161 cases in the service sector; 43 cases in public construction. Chinese investment in Taiwan totalled 350 million USD.
On the soft power of local elections:
Democracy is certainly Taiwan’s pride. And Taiwan’s presidential elections indeed make quite an impact on the feelings of many mainland Chinese (netizen). Just read for instance, the 2012 article in the Hong Kong Cheng Ming Monthly (no. 441) entitled “The presidential election in Taiwan evokes the mainland’s yearning for democracy” – a yearning, which sometimes makes use of sarcastic expressions, like in the online comment by one Chinese fellow shortly before Taiwan’s 2012 presidential elections: “For mainland Chinese to see the presidential election in Taiwan and particularly the TV debate between presidential candidates, is just like watching a eunuch looking at an erotic picture: they are excited but helpless to do anything.”
In the Diplomat, Cole on the attack of the KMT dinosaurs:
Besides the fact that ethnic politics have nothing to do with governance of the city, the most striking aspects of the remarks made by the trio (and a few others in the Lien camp who joined them) are their lack of sensitivity, their divisive nature, and the fact that such language is oddly reminiscent of the things we hear across the Taiwan Strait in Beijing — in other words, anti-Japan screeds and the other side of the same coin, Han chauvinism. The acid brimmed over: Ko was a “traitor” to the Han race, someone who couldn’t be allowed to govern “the capital of China” (confronted with this, the speaker claims he misspoke). Even Ko’s ancestors were targeted, with Lien Chan claiming (wrongly) that one of his grandfathers was a willing official in the Japanese colonial government (Taiwan was part of Japan between 1895 until 1945). Hau Pei-tsun also weighed in with an even wider net to include those who’d had a privileged status under the Japanese system. By association, anyone who supports Ko’s run for mayor is a brainwashed Japanese colonial subject, which Hau maintains includes former president Lee Teng-hui, a man who ironically gave senior jobs in government to both Lien and Hau Srs.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taipei Mayoral Election Roundup: last call for polls

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A tiny hunting spider waits on a flower. Since I haven't been riding much this last month, you'll just have to put up with bug pics.

UPDATE: UDN has nifty poll tracking page.

I was discussing the likely outcome of the elections with Courtney Donovan Smith, the central Taiwan ICRT guy who runs the incredibly useful Taiwan News in English group on Facebook. The group is having its first get-together Nov 24 (venue to be announced) and we're all going to talk about the elections and then get really drunk and discuss the Sean Lien campaign and laugh til we puke. Because, as Frozen Garlic notes in another stupendously excellent and minutely detailed analysis of the Taipei race, the Sean Lien campaign is like the worst campaign in human history. This post from Froze was uber informative and perceptive and hilarious, read it all:
...That’s an impressive list of incompetency and clueless blunders, but Sean Lien’s effort beats them all. His braintrust has consistently failed to understand one of the most basic concepts in campaigning: framing. Every graduate student (and many undergraduates) in political science for the last quarter century has read News That Matters, a study in which scholars used fake news clips to show that people responded differently when different topics were presented. Heck, you don’t even have to read a book to understand this – most people know it instinctively. You will do better if voters are thinking about issues that they think you are better on than if they are thinking about issues that they think your opponent is better on. The Lien campaign has pigheadedly insisted on repeatedly forcing us to think about Lien’s privileged birth, his wealth, corruption, honesty, personal achievements, and character. The stupidest instance of this was a couple of weeks ago when the Pingtung County government was found to have leaked documents about a surprise inspection for a cooking oil factory. Up to that point, the DPP had completely owned the cooking oil issue. However, this was a perfect opportunity for the KMT to scream that the DPP was actually the one at fault and blur responsibility. Lien should have shut up and let this story dominate the media for a week. Instead, he changed the topic by telling reporters that the Buddha had come from a rich family. How could the media resist such an invitation? Ko responded with a sarcastic “a-mi-to-fo,” a monk came forward claiming that he had advised Lien but that Lien had completely missed his point, talk show hosts had another round of debates about whether a fortunate birth should disqualify someone from public service, and no one talked about cooking oil for a few days...
For weeks I have been having the same problem Froze has been having: when you look at the numbers, it is impossible to imagine Lien losing. And yet, the polls and the slapstick silliness of his campaign seem to suggest that he is going to burn his own house down and then wonder where all the ashes came from... or perhaps not even notice that the house burnt down, and start preparing for his 2016 Presidential run. O Lord, if you ever loved your people, send us Sean Lien in 2016.

Ben Goren also checked in with great stuff at the China Policy Institute blog. Describing watching the debate between Ko and Lien, he writes:
As I watched Ko face questioning about his “hatred” of the Republic of China and Lien try to explain how his policies would be beneficial, the smartphone of the Taiwanese voter at my side exploded in a storm of social media notifications, mostly along the lines of “OMG!”, and “Not fair”. When Ko was asked to convince the public he wasn’t guilty of fraud and graft at NTU Hospital, and Lien was asked how he could be so brave as to risk his life to serve the public, said smartphone almost melted in an tsunami of “LOL!” and, a perennial favourite where Lien’s campaign is concerned, “WTF?” It might not be the most elegant or detailed form of opinion sharing, but it is nevertheless instant feedback. Almost immediately Ko won the debate, just for being a victim to a sly trick. When the Lien camp later shrugged and said that that particular rule wasn’t discussed beforehand, it gave the public a glimpse of the dark win-at-all-costs underbelly of the party. For a candidate seeking to convince the public to trust him, letting this happen was a serious error in leadership. The public were then justified in asking, “If Lien couldn’t even lead his campaign team, and make wise decisions, how could he be trusted as Mayor?” Following this slow motion car crash, Lien had a lot of work to do just to sound plausible again, and to his credit he performed fairly adequately in the second part of the debate. Then he mentioned Chen.
The whole thing is great, of course.

The awfulness of Lien is hiding another issue that needs to be brought out into the light. Lien ran in the KMT primary against Ting Shou-chung. Ting is exactly the kind of politician any party would want, a hard working devotee of the party with many years toiling in its ranks, competent, respected, and policy oriented. He deserves a shot at stardom. But the KMT is an ethnic ruling party and Ting is not of the caste that is considered the ruling caste. He can't rise to Taipei mayor because the KMT sees the mayoralty as the fief for the children of members of the mainlander ruling caste, to carry on control of the KMT's colonial capital and the continuation of the ruling caste's power. Hence Ma, the son of a general; Hau, the son of longtime heavyweight Hau Pei-tsun, and now Sean Lien, the son of honorary chairman Lien Chan, parachuted into Taipei to win by right of caste inheritance. This caste-based perception of who should rule may come back to haunt KMT New Taipei Mayor candidate Eric Chu, who will likely beat the hapless DPP ideologue and former premier Yu Shyi-kun in New Taipei city (which, in case you've forgotten, is more populous than Taipei) when Chu attempts to run for President in 2016 under the KMT banner.

A lawyer on the campaign team of Kaohsiung KMT candidate Yang Chiu-hsing called on Ma to step down. Will Ma step down as Chairman if the KMT is blown out in the election? I don't see that as very likely. No one immediately jumps to mind as a possible successor to Ma if he steps down, except perhaps the aforementioned Chu. Readers may recall that Ma has appointed a passel of KMT heavyweights as vice-chairman, insuring a nasty succession struggle between the many vice-chairman. Hence he may be permitted to stay on simply to prevent that struggle from rending the KMT to bits. After he steps down as President, though, all these problems may quickly come to a head... Ma's vicious, lame performance in office has not only harmed Taiwan, he's badly damaged the KMT as well.

Because the KMT is a caste-based party at its heart which has traditionally ruled by preventing local factions and politicians from operating on a regional and national scale and challenging its power, it can't bring in new talent from the hinterlands to regenerate the party like the US parties can. It can only continue its caste-based ruling system by having caste members give birth to new caste members. But so many of that caste have kids who are citizens of foreign countries, a class privilege marker... and one that has reduced the number of the next generation available and willing to carry on the KMT caste system...

Getting back to Ting, not running Ting in Taipei was just stupid. Not only would Ting have won handily, since he is a credible human being in many ways, but had they run Ting, the DPP probably would have been forced to run a credible candidate of its own and expend vital party resources in a losing cause. Instead, Ko Wen-je ran on a shoestring, has ceased taking new donations, and run an increasingly competent and low key campaign that is actually looking like it is on the verge of a historic victory. And it has cost the DPP very little.

A piece by Anonymous at Thinking Taiwan argues that a fundamental re-arrangement is occurring with the Ko campaign.

Meanwhile, there was another set of truly insensitive and silly remarks today from Sean Lien. He's a totally creative candidate, constantly unveiling new facets of blithering ignorance and blundering offensiveness from angles you never would have imagined. The man has depths.

Premier Hau, just 96 years old but came of age in the 14th century, once again called down the curses of the KMT gods on Ko Wen-je, saying that Ko is Japanese (more or less). Jason Hu in Taichung never says anything that colossally stupid in public, which is probably why his poll numbers are much better than Sean Lien's. O Lord, if you have ever loved your people, give us Sean Lien in 2016 with 99 year old Hau as his attack dog.

Today was the last day polls could be published. The KMT news organ rounded up a bunch.
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Daily Links:
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Sad News: Nat Bellocchi (1926-2014) passes

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News from a friend:

We are saddened to let you know that former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi passed away in his sleep in Sunday morning, 16 November 2014. Below is a brief summary of his life, and we pray for his family and for his soul.

We will dearly miss him, as he was a strong supporter of freedom and democracy for Taiwan, and didn’t hesitate to speak out for Taiwan.

His two most recent commentaries were on President Obama’s trip to Beijing:
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2014/11/05/2003603695
and on the protests in Hong Kong:
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2014/09/10/2003599385
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Taipei Mayoral Election: Lien Chan is all kinds of awesome

Spider guarding her young.

Election junkies: China Policy Institute blog run by Jon Sullivan will be hosting a special issue on Taiwan and the elections. The line-up looks fabulous. And trawl through the previous posts of Frozen Garlic, there's some great stuff there.

Lien Chan, Honorary KMT Chairman for Life, father of Sean Lien, current KMT candidate for Mayor of Taipei, has spoken (in Chinese)(Taipei Times) on the election, attacking Ko in no uncertain terms. He's so wonderful. He should really speak at KMT campaign events across the nation. Not for nothing did a sharp friend of mine describe the Lien clan as Lee Teng-hui's gift to the DPP....

The elder Lien delivered us his undying wisdom....
“Ever since the KMT lost power in 2000, [then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration] started implementing a series of ‘de-Sinicization’ policies, forcing children at the age of 11 or 12 to receive non-Sinicized education,” Lien Chan said in his speech.

“We were saddened to see Chinese ethics, traditional morality and history being twisted to such an extent. As for those children who grew up being fed erroneous ideas, they are now in their 20s or 30s and may have different occupations, such as in the media or Internet sectors,” he added. “As you can all see, we [myself and my son] have fallen victim to distorted comments online and in the media that have unnerved our society.”
De-Sinicization is KMT code for Chen Shui-bian's policies of removing markers of KMT colonialism in Taiwan. Whenever you see it used to describe Chen or Lee Teng-hui, you know you're looking at KMT propaganda. Lien is especially classic in attributing the internet and media comments to de-Sinicization. That is a significant advance over the usual complaints about de-Sinicization. 

He went on to deliver a couple of more blasts at his son's opponent, Ko Wen-je:
He then took aim at Ko, saying that as the third-generation descendant of a man who served the Japanese colonial government, Ko had received “imperialization” education and therefore dismisses everything pertaining to “Zhonghua culture” (中華文化), including its values and history.
At another venue he added:
“I absolutely cannot stand the thought of having someone whose grandfather changed his surname to a Japanese one during the Japanese colonial era as mayor of Taipei. He [Ko] calls himself a commoner and us the privileged few, but I call him a ‘bastard,’” he said.
Labeling Ko anti-China, under control of the pro-independence forces, and Japanese, is the KMT way of trying to get the deep Blue pro-KMT crowd to come out. I doubt it will work; when your candidate's nickname is "God pig" after the pigs fattened for religious sacrifice in local religious traditions, it's going to be uphill sledding.

Lien also took a slap at the Sunflower Movement:
“Because of the poorly revised textbooks, these students think they can publicly declare that they are not Chinese. They have the entire day to do nothing except surf the Internet and form something akin to an online army that propagates malicious rumors,” Lien Chan said. “It was all their [the Sunflower participants’] doing.”
Not a word of this needed to be said, a not a word of it will impress outside of the deep Blue voters. It wouldn't be surprising if this cost Sean Lien votes, especially from a public that is hungry to hear about bread and butter issues and which reveres the Sunflowers. Indeed, if they had treated Sean Lien as a traditional candidate who would spread around construction money, serve the public, and so on, they might have been better off...

Today's TVBS poll had Ko up by 13 over Lien. The KMT and its deep Blue supporters are feeling deeply threatened, not only by the short-term possibilities of the election, but also by the long-term trends. The young in Taiwan are completely unmoved by the KMT's faux Chinese identity and are busily working out their own Taiwan identity. That is why current KMT mayor Hau's elder father, former Premier Hau Pei-tsun, came out the other day to (hilariously) declare that Ko's election would mean the end of the ROC. They feel in their bones the turning of a page of history, and are reacting accordingly....

Ko update: On the Facebook of Ko's wife, a highly perceptive and educated woman, people are warning her and her husband to watch out. She posted a pic of the thank-you card the Liens had sent Ko after he had operated on Sean Lien, and said that they had given him a bottle of liquor which cost $400 but which they had purchased on sale at $160....

UPDATE: A commenter below observes:
She did so only after Sean Lien's mother claimed at a rally one day earlier (Nov 15) that Ko was not among the four doctors who treated Sean Lien for his gunshot wound, implying Ko was lying about having treated Lien.
Thanks, I didn't know who had said it. The other comments are good too, don't miss them.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Taichung election, Sunday Linkfest, and Comments

Updated map of Taipei metro with opening of new Songshan Line. Note that the lines are now numbered. This was done "for the foreigners". Nobody asked us if we wanted that, it is totally unnecessary. h/t to David Reid. 

Practically giddy I am: Frozen Garlic actually mentioned me in a post the other day:
It seems like this will be a lost year for Frozen Garlic. I have lots of things that I would like to write about, but I just don’t seem to be able to find any free blocks of time when I have the energy to write. I don’t know how other bloggers find the time and energy to write regularly while still balancing full-time jobs, family, and other considerations. Let’s just say that I’m no Michael Turton.
Actually, I just decided to give up sleep. My productivity has risen sharply, and the little purple elves that dance around the edges of my vision are very entertaining.

The post is, in the best Frozen Garlic fashion, a great analysis of the Taichung election (and don't miss the excellent comments), really informed. First Froze discusses the decision to implement the BRT, a bus line with a dedicated lane after the city had been promised a metro system. The BRT is really a sensible plan and lots of us sensible observers who are pro-Green nevertheless thought it a great idea. Nobody wanted to see a repeat of the crater in the budget that is the Kaohsiung metro. Informed observers tell me that Hu's policy people really are wonks and that they saw the BRT as a way to determine where the popular lines are, after which they may think about an MRT, but above all, they would avoid the Kaohsiung MRT fail. Froze observes....
Traffic is one of the most important responsibilities of local government, and failing to effectively deal with traffic could significantly damage a mayor’s reputation. However, the BRT case is not simply a matter of traffic. There a broader narrative that Taichung has been stagnating under Jason Hu for the past 13 years. The 2010 election was critical in crystallizing this argument. At the beginning of 2010, Hu was widely thought to be a wonderful mayor. By the end of the campaign, the DPP had effectively demolished that reputation, and Hu squeaked into a third term by a razor-thin margin. The DPP’s attacks were most effective in the realm of pubic security, where several high-profile violent incidents and a renewed focus on crime in Taichung created the impression that Hu was either uninterested in fighting organized crime or outright collaborating with them. In 2001, Jason Hu came to Taichung as a KMT superstar, a widely liked former Foreign Minister with presidential aspirations and untainted by the dirtiness of local, factional politics. By 2010, he was transformed into just another KMT politician, deeply embedded in local faction networks, sullied by contact with organized crime, surviving by spreading around city money to politically useful projects rather than on public policy merit. Why did the Taichung City government need to scrimp on the transportation system when Kaohsiung did not? It might be because Hu has been spending money on other projects designed to keep the local factions happy. Unfortunately, he hasn’t finished enough of these or convinced normal voters that they are that important. For example, the newly opened Taichung Opera House took far longer than planned, entailed large cost overruns, and DPP figures suggest that it still isn’t completely ready but Hu is opening it before the election anyway.
Hu had two problems, really -- his plan for the city was grandiose and requires lots of time and money, and the local KMT's longtime connections to local organized crime. A wise friend noted that Hu wanted another term in part so all his plans would come to fruition under his own aegis, because you know Lin Jia-lung will ruthlessly claim credit for them if he wins (and recent polls show Lin ahead by less than five).

The crazy thing is that Lin's campaign amounts to either doubling down on Hu's wackier policies (did you know the city government gives massive subsidies for false teeth, which Lin says he'll double?) or simply running on CHANGE. Because CHANGE is good. His campaign amounts to saying "Hu has been in there too long, it's someone else's turn", a sort of upscaled appeal to the Taiwanese cultural preference for outcome fairness in social situations. Several times I've run into people who know I am pro-Green and who have asked in despair if I can give them a reason to vote for Lin, since he hasn't given them one himself.

Sound trucks everywhere, the candidates are saturating the neighborhoods. We're also getting lots of pamphlets and materials from pan-Green candidates in our isolated neighborhood....

Enough for this post, I have two more I want to get done today. On to the links....
  • Taiwan in Cycles: The Sun Moon Lake bike trail is a trail for non-cyclists. It is boring, stupid, and dangerous.
  • Taiwan in Cycles: the Takata Hill Climb. Awesome. Great pics as always.
  • Frozen Garlic looks at the island's powerful political families. Froze contends 
    There is a difference in the nature of KMT and DPP family politicians. The percentage of incumbent KMT candidates with family ties is roughly twice as high as for incumbent DPP candidates. However, the DPP has a much higher percentage of legacy candidates among newcomers. Over a quarter of DPP newcomers have family ties. For some reason, the DPP has embraced family politics in this election cycle.
    This shows how the KMT is actually run for the benefit of a few powerful families. While Froze's observations that the list he provides from the 翻轉選舉運動 lacks "balance" are basically correct -- "non-partisan" pan-Green stuff often discredits itself because it is so obviously pro-Green -- it might have been good had he note the other major difference between the DPP and KMT family politicians: few, if any of the DPP politicians come from families that made their mark and their family fortunes serving the murderous authoritarian state.  
  • ETRC group looks at elections. Here is third post in the series.
  • GOOD STUFF: Longtime Taiwan scholar Don Rogers on how Ma still runs an imperial presidency despite being deeply unpopular.
  • Taiwan Insider's link collection.
  • Julia F on US-Taiwan relations after the midterm elections.
  • Bleach used to 'cure' bean sprouts. Bleach is sometimes used by vendors in night markets to spiffy up their fruit. *sigh* And another huge company admits using animal feed oil for human consumption in 2012.
  • Critique of U-bike. This is my experience as well. The government added the program to Taipei, essentially adding thousands of vehicles to the streets without adding the requisite physical and regulatory infrastructure.
  • Touring Taiwan by bike for a month. Great pics
  • Scotch whisky makers scoring big in Taiwan
  • Police shut down gay website for obscenity. Meanwhile porn sites for straights are going full blast.
  • SecState Kerry meets former Veep Vincent Siew, then calls for "market reforms" so that it can join the TPP, which is a giveaway to US multinationals in the guise of a trade agreement. I could have told you, Vincent, the world was always meant for one as dutiful as you. 
  • Min of Education moves capital to Nanjing. LOL.
  • Kerry Brown argues for an Aussie relationship with China that is independent of Washington's
  • ECONOMIC FANTASIES: SCMP: Sends around another piece on the fantasy of Taiwan makers in China returning to Taiwan to set up businesses. Businesses come and go, with its selective emphasis on businesses returning, both the Chen and Ma Administrations hoped to create the impression that more are coming than going. Nope. A more interesting piece might be done on the foreigners who have left China because they constantly get ripped off to come here and open businesses because Taiwanese are more honest and trustworthy than Chinese.
  • ECONOMIC FANTASIES: Ketagalan: Korea-China deal sends shockwaves throughout Taiwan. Well, through the big government subsidized companies and the media who serve them. In the best shock doctrine style, some big firms immediately demanded that the minimum wage be lowered so they can make even more money off government-regulation wage suppression on one side and government direct and tax subsidies on the other. Wage earners get it coming and going, since they pay the subsidies. You can see what the actual political function of the OMG KOREA! discourse is: to drive acceptance of wage discipline, subsidy farming, and tax avoidance by big firms. It has nothing to do with the reality of Korea-Taiwan competition... there's other good stuff there, don't miss it. 
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Taiwan Sovereignty Moments in the media: AP and BBC

Let sleeping dogs...

BBC with another one of those stupid travel pieces that the government uses to push its propaganda. There's just plain bad writing....
Not one to take on a gruelling one-day cycling challenge with more than 100km of elevation myself –
She means that it is over 100 kms of climbing, but writes as if Wuling were 100 kms high. Sometimes it does feel that way... The government wants to push Sun Moon Lake, so travel writers are always taken there. As my man Drew from Taiwan in Cycles: The Sun Moon Lake bike trail is a trail for non-cyclists. It is boring, stupid, and dangerous...

More seriously, the writer urks up some KMT propaganda:
Reopened in 2008 as a cycling path, the former railway was used between 1924 and 1945, during the time that Japan occupied the island nation. Before, Taiwan was governed by China, which regained control in 1945 and has regarded Taiwan as a Chinese autonomous territory ever since.
The KMT wants people to use the term "occupy" because it wants to establish the idea that Japan's control was not legit (it was legitimated by treaties between power and never seen as "occupied" by outsiders) and that it was merely a regrettable interlude in an unbroken chain of "Chinese" control stretching no doubt back to the paleolithic era. Thus the use of the term "regained control" -- which implies that China resumed rule over Taiwan, but of course as readers of this blog know -- and sometimes they seem like the only people in the world who do -- the status of Taiwan remains undetermined under international law. The ROC merely administrates the island.

Kudos to the writer for using "island nation". But observe that the BBC piece takes the patently pro-China position of telling the reader what China thinks, but not equally noting that Taiwan doesn't want to be part of China. Why even mention what China's position is? What does that have to do with bike travel in Taiwan?

The question of why reporters don't look this stuff up -- why it isn't in style handbooks and so forth -- acquired a particular urgency this week as AP screwed up the US position again, reporting that the US says Taiwan is part of China, when in fact it does not say that. I blogged on that below.

AP responded by waiting a couple of days (the last time it took hours) and then correcting it. I cannot find the article on the AP website so it looks like it has been taken down completely. It is no longer hosted at some on-line venues, though it must be in print editions (argh). Instead, online, both the AP site and some other sites host this retraction. I quote from WaPo:
Under these declarations and law, the United States has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled. The U.S. acknowledges China’s view that Taiwan is part of its territory but it does not explicitly recognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.
Oddly, the Congressional Research Service report on US-Taiwan policy I sent them says:
Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
AP repeats the unsettled grammatical style of "has considered Taiwan's status as unsettled" (why not just "considers"?). At least AP picked a reliable source to borrow from; Kan and Morrison do great work.

Unfortunately the AP response was too slow. As many of us feared, President Ma, never one to miss a chance to mislead the unwary on US policy, jumped right on it, muddying the waters. Next time, faster, AP....
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Announcements: Paul Barclay[loc updated] lecture on Colonial period, AIT visiting Taichung

Old buildings in Xiluo.

Below the READ MORE border: a lecture from Paul Barclay on photography, the primitive, and Japanese colonialism. If you can, attend, he's bound to be wonderful. Below that, notification of AIT visiting Taichung Dec 12...

AP Screws up US Taiwan Policy Again

Taichung bike show was last week. An orgy of gear=pure heaven. 

Several years ago AP screwed up US Taiwan policy and I got it swiftly corrected. Unfortunately the competent persons who handled that are no longer with AP. Might be a while before we get it corrected... Meanwhile here they are again making the same error in a piece on the Obama-Xi meetup:
In another nod to China's sovereignty, Obama reaffirmed his support for a "one China" policy that regards Taiwan as part of China.
US one China policy recognizes PRC as ruler of one China but DOES NOT include Taiwan in that China. US Taiwan policy is that the status of Taiwan is awaiting final determination. If you have any questions see page 4 of this Congressional Research Service report. It's amazing that the editors involved -- at minimum, three reporters plus two editors -- have no notes available on this.

Actually, it's not amazing. *sigh*

Write them: info@ap.org
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