Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mayor Hau And Taipei City Government blow emergency funds on pro-annexation propaganda

In case you thought that display of 1600 pandas in front of the CKS Memorial/Democracy Square wasn't about politics, it was all about annexation propaganda. The Taipei government created the revolting propaganda set of stickers for LINE above back in Feb. They show a Formosan Black Bear and a panda cavorting together:
The local government’s Department of Information and Tourism squandered taxpayers’ “life savings” after it used money from the city’s emergency secondary reserve fund, which is earmarked for emergency relief, to release a set of eight LINE stickers featuring panda cub Yuan Zai (圓仔), Taipei City Councilor Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) of the Democratic Progressive Party said on Tuesday.


The city government has taken about NT$3.33 million from the reserve fund to promote the pandas, NT$1.6 million of which went toward the sticker pack and NT$1.73 million for a 10-day outdoor art exhibition featuring 1,600 papier-mache giant pandas made by French artist Paulo Grangeon, the sources said.
The stickers are for the popular communications app LINE. A set of stickers put out by the city promoting love between the Formosan Black Bear (=Taiwan) and a panda (=bombastic expansionist power) are clearly intended as political propaganda.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

BREAKING: Su, Hsieh, drop out of DPP Chairmanship race + stuff

Me at the historic Ta-an train station outside Houli on Fumei Road. The station and area are being developed as tourism area.

Today both Su Tseng-cheng and Frank Hsieh announced that they would not run for the DPP Chairmanship position. This leaves it open for Tsai Ing-wen. I hope, against hope, that the DPP has had an attack of sense and will appoint one person to run the party while another runs as its Presidential candidate.

Yesterday this very frustrating interview of Taiwan expert Shelley Rigger by Jeffery Wasserstrom appeared in Dissent Quarterly. Her heart is in the right place, judging from her comments on neoliberalism and its discontents, but much of her commentary on Taiwan and the services pact consists of KMT talking points presented as actual analysis. Not much point in critiquing neoliberalism if you are just going to turn around and forward the propaganda. Ben Goren rakes it over the coals here.

In addition to Rigger's issues, the other thing that peeved me about this piece is that there are many credentialed academics who have been down at the protests such as Ketty Chen, Stephane Corcuff, Frank Muyard, Ian Rowen (actually inside the LY), Kerim Friedman,and several others plus a bunch of local academics who would have been happy to talk, and a raft of experienced and savvy journalists, including people like J Michael Cole, Jenny Hsu, Michael Fahey, who writes from time to time for the SCMP and who is an extremely sharp observer of Taiwan politics, Martin Williams, who is incredibly knowledgeable and witty as hell, and Dennis Engbarth, who writes for IPS and was present in the Executive Yuan when the police attacked the protesters there, and whose knowledge of Taiwan politics runs deeper than anyone I know, scholar or no. But who gets the interview? Rigger, who is 12,000 kilometers from the action and is clearly out of touch.

And people wonder why I bike 200 kms a week. It stems off the madness from contemplating the workings of our universe.

The Friday night mess: the police withdrew the protest permit for the ART on Friday, in the usual manner of institutions wreaking vengeance on perceived opponents. The Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan, which anyone who has gone down to the legislature or Foreign Ministry has seen on the corner of Chinan and Chungshan, had their longtime permit to protest revoked, for helping out in the recent student protest. This sparked a small protest of about 1,000 appearing in front of the police station there on Friday night. The protesters, droll to the core, said they didn't need a permit to be there since they were just "passing by," echoing the city's refusal to press charges against alleged gangster Chang An-lo for his "counterprotest" because he was just "passing by." There were a few tussles on Friday night, but nothing too serious.
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Taiwan wants Modi in the election, according to the Economic Times, from whence this came.
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Weekend in the hills: the Miaoli 54-1 and Dongchi Road

On the 54-1 above the tombs.

Two days of excellent sunny weather. I decided to see what the Miaoli 54-1 is like and have a long-anticipated meet up with Scott E. Click on READ MORE as always...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Call For Papers: Tainan Area Studies: Society and Daily Life in the Tainan Region

Still taking a couple of days off, but I thought I'd forward this.

Dear Colleagues,

This message is a call for papers for the 4th International Conference on Tainan Area Studies, entitled "Society and Daily Life in the Tainan Region," co-organized by the Nanying International Center for Tainan Area Humanities and Social Sciences Research and the National Museum of Taiwan History, based in Tainan.

The conference will be held October 18-19, 2014. Abstracts should be send before April 30, 2014. The deadline for sending the final papers is September 30, 2014.

More information is in the attached document. Click READ MORE

Friday, April 11, 2014

Call for Papers on Youth Politics

I'm going to take a couple of days off to bike. Emotionally drained and burned out from the events of the last few weeks. But here's an important call for papers.

Lilies, Strawberries, and Sunflowers: In search of papers on Taiwan youth politics” CALL FOR PAPERS

I am organizing a panel on youth politics in Taiwan for the American Association for Chinese Studies annual conference, and I need a couple more papers. Given what’s going on in Taiwan these days, there must be people who want to write on this topic. If you are working in this field, or know of colleagues or students who are (or could be inspired to do so), please let send me names and contact information so I can reach out to them. A graduate student could start working now and have a great paper in hand in time for the conference, which will take place October 10-12 in Washington, DC (at George Washington University). There is travel money available for grad students to attend the conference.

Cheers – Shelley
Shelley Rigger
Brown Professor and Chair of Political Science and Chair of Chinese Studies
Davidson College
PO Box 7018
Davidson, NC 28035-7018
704-894-2881 (fax)

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coming thick and fast: more Links-n-Stuff

Things are happening so fast, stuff is shooting out over the internet like kernels exploding from a popcorn popper someone forgot to cover. I've rounded up some more stuff for your amusement and edification.

First, today's big news: Ma "Saruman" Ying-jeou is refiling the lawsuit against Wang Jin-pyng to get him dropped from the KMT. Note that Ma, instead of trying to look more statesmanlike than Wang, something he could do very easily since he has the advantage of actually being the President, ups the viciousness ante. This also means that he will never rest until the protest leaders are behind bars. This viciousness is also extended to the simple matter of paying for the alleged damage to the LY, where the government is trying to restrict who can pay (many people have offered to pay on the kids' behalf) and to try and make donations illegal. As many have noted, nothing happened to the Red Shirts for collecting donations. If only for the sake of those kids, we need a DPP President in 2016.

Ma took another blow when the US representative office in Taiwan, AIT, said that the TPP and the services pact are not related and failure to sign the latter won't affect the former. And all along he's been saying that Taiwan will be locked out of other agreements if it doesn't get this one.

Ben has the latest poll from the pro-KMT TVBS. The details are in his post, but basically the people tell Ma he can go pound sand.

Taiwanese songs and language in the protests from CPI blog.

William Pesek rocks Bloomberg with another hard-hitting piece noting how little Taiwan has for cozying up to China. The idea that Taiwan is doomed without the services pact is ridiculous.

International academics with an open letter on the Sunflower Movement.

J Michael contends the Sunflower Movement has sparked a necessary debate on democracy

Tkacik at Chinafile: Why the protesters stuck it out.

BBC reports on the the bamboo industry's recovery.

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Another in the continuing run of ECFA successes

Lost a toy on the roof...

ECFA struck again in March, delivering massive gains in exports to China. Hahaha, no, slowly declining trade with China. Of course! ECFA missed the golden age, which was during the Chen years, and now as China upgrades manufacturing technology, it is starting to render Taiwan producers either irrelevant or vulnerable.
Exports to Southeast Asia—Taiwan's second-largest overseas market after China and accounting for about a fifth of all exports—gained 5.7% after a 4.8% growth in February.


However, China stood out as a weak spot. Last month, Taiwan's exports to China fell 3.7% from a year earlier, after a 11.3% increase in February. It was largely due to China's increasing reliance on locally-produced raw materials and components, Taiwan's government said Monday. Taiwanese TV panels, once a major export to China, are also losing out to the Chinese who have more advanced technology, the government added.
The real area of gain for Taiwan is South and Southeast Asia, and that's where the national effort should be focused. The long-term trend for China isn't good. And if Taiwan could fix its South China Sea policy, it might have an advantage over China. But the current administration....

As for the yammering punditocracy that argues for the inevitability of China's annexation of Taiwan via trade, perhaps the trend here might have an effect. But I'm not holding out any hope.....

Anyone who looks at the promises from ECFA will see the same ones as for the services pact....
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Student Leaders could get years

Pic from the SET TV link below.

SET TV reported last night....the government wants years in jail for Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting. J Michael gives the sobering description.
Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), two of the main leaders in the Sunflower Movement that has occupied the Legislative Yuan since March 18, could be prosecuted on five and six counts respectively, with the most serious offense resulting in imprisonment up to seven years for Chen.

In all, the Ministry of Justice has listed 34 defendants in the case. The charges against Lin and Chen include “Offenses Against Personal Liberty” (妨害自由), “Offenses of Interference with Public Functions” (妨害公務), “intimidation” (恐嚇) and “malfeasance” (瀆職).
Of course, openly operating gangsters can come and go as they please, assault police, and even get citizenship despite a serious criminal record....
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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ma Looks Down from Orthanc: Winners and Losers Edition

On the remains of the rail line out to Dongshih in Taichung.
     A shadow passed over Saruman's face; then it went deathly white. Before he could conceal it, they saw through the mask the anguish of a mind in doubt, loathing to stay and dreading to leave its refuge. For a second, he hesitated, and no one breathed. Then he spoke, and his voice was shrill and cold. Pride and hate were conquering him.
     "Will I come down?" he mocked. "Does an unarmed man come down to speak with robbers out of doors? I can hear you well enough here."
Well, the students are leaving on Thursday. After the student presser Ma held a press conference and basically repeated all the points he's been making since Day 1, which basically consist of:
Against the power of Mordor there can be no victory. We must join with Him, Gandalf. We must join with Sauron.
Sorry! Don't know how that slipped in there. I mean, he made the usual (1) we're in competition with Korea and we'll be weeded out and (2) it will hurt Taiwan's chances to join other treaties. The KMT rejected Wang's proposed compromises.

(You can see how the pork thing is going to play out. At present Taiwan is blocking imports of US ractopork to protect its own pork producers. This will disrupt talks with the TPP and TIFA agreements with the US. Ma will then blame the students.)

LOSER: Ma Ying Jeou. Wow has Ma taken a beating. Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's decision to talk to the students on Sunday was a decisive blow against Ma. Ma is looking shrill, isolated, inept, and blundering (don't worry Mr President, I'm sure Banyan at the Economist will produce another fawning piece to help shore up any decline in ego). His lack of people skills shone -- Lee Teng-hui would have gone down to talk to the students, Chiang Ching-kuo would have gone down to talk to the students (yeah, and then have had them all locked up after having gangsters break their heads). Ma is now isolated within his own party. Only his position as KMT chair is sustaining him. The Old Guard remains silent -- Old Guard children Hau Long-bin and Sean Lien may be Presidential and Taipei Mayor candidates, respectively, as my man Ben pointed out to me -- and so their parents have said nothing in public. But the disgust with Ma in the KMT is widespread.

That said, recall that Ma's real audience is in Beijing. Those are his real allies. And they will be quite pleased at the simple outcome -- the services pact will be approved, there will be no review, Ma and his KMT allies have rejected a review.

But overall, Ma has defeated Taiwan. Let's list all the things that have (not) happened. ECFA passed. Services pact will pass without review or alteration. No real capital gains tax. No increase in land tax. No slowing of the construction-industrial state's project of concreting over the entire island. No reduction in local corruption and local factions -- it's still divide-and-rule down there. Organized crime remains a powerful political and social force. When you peel back the pro-Taiwan furor and feeling, the truth is that Ma's program of 1% dominance has won. Ma has taken a beating where he can afford it, in the court of public opinion. His 1% backers must be well satisfied with their creature.

LOSER: Premier Jiang Yi-hwa. I'll let Ben over at LFT carry the ball from his excellent post on this:
What is interesting here is how Premier Jiang, who many have suggested is Ma’s pick for party candidate in the 2016 Presidential elections, has now completely transformed from so-called ‘liberal academic’ to ‘scholar Premier’ to ‘Party Premier’ and now ‘President’s Protegee’. Unfortunately, Jiang’s clumsy and puppy loyal observance and parroting of President Ma’s positions over the CSSTA and Sunflower protests will likely have cost him any chance of either being selected as candidate for, or winning, such an election.
Jiang will probably never be elected president. He's now too closely tied to Ma.

WINNER: Speaker of the legislature Wang Jin-pyng. Wang is positioning himself to take over as KMT Chairman if/when the Party takes a beating in the 2014 elections. Perhaps Ma will step down, but my attitude is that he won't. The moment he steps down as Chair, he becomes totally marginalized as does his right-hand man, "the Little Knife", King Pu-tsun, who came rushing back to comfort and support Ma a couple of weeks ago.

However, there's been some speculation that Wang, often seen as the informal leader of the Taiwanese KMT legislators from central and southern Taiwan, will lead some kind of internal putsch against Ma. Let's face it, for the Taiwanese legislators, the KMT = CHOAM. They are not in it because they have a pro-China social identity like the mainlander core nor does the KMT proffer any moral position that anyone with moral backbone could serve. They are just in it for the money, and as long as the money comes down to their patronage networks, they will grumble but not do anything. Building a revolt on them would be like trying to build walls on a foundation of pudding. Hence, unlike some, I see the chances of Ma being pushed out as slim. They only way there will be a putsch is if the mainlander core backs Wang and joins with the Taiwanese KMTers.

Moreover, even if the 2014 election is blown, he may not step down -- I believe he is that disconnected from reality. Instead he might argue that it wasn't a defeat -- he's constantly turning black into white in any situation -- or that only he can "save" the KMT. Recall that this is a man who takes on the trappings of the Emperor of China when he participates in Confucian ritual. I read that as Ma conceiving of himself as having a superior moral right to lead the KMT and the ROC. And while he talks about Chiang Ching-kuo just to please the masses, he is a child of the 60s and 70s, and his real model of leadership appears to be the vicious, aloof, and inept Chiang Kai-shek.

Which brings me to my last point. If Ma stays on into 2015, don't be shocked if he starts pushing Jiang Yi-hwa as his handpicked presidential candidate. 2015 promises to be a very interesting year on this blog, if I am still blogging.

LOSER: The KMT. This event shows how any little bit of pressure can reveal the deep fissures in the party between its various factions. It is obvious that only Ma's iron control on party resources is preventing defections from the party line.

WINNER: The student movement. The long series of protests has matured them, and they handled this one well. A nation came out in support of them. The government's quick removal of the protesters from the Executive Yuan meant that the LY students would be the only protest and the movement would not bifurcate. Will they all be arrested? The prosecutors have their info, but no summons have been issued and no arrests have occurred. Chen is already under indictment for protesting in Miaoli. What many of us are quietly worrying about is "suicide" or "auto accidents" (happened to two activists). Before you dismiss this as paranoia, recall that one of the Dapu resisters was found dead in a ditch.

WINNER: Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting, the student leaders. Everyone is looking forward to their next move.

WINNER: J Michael Cole. Cole's reportage has owned this affray. His initial piece at The Diplomat has 8200 shares at this point and he churned out excellent piece after excellent piece. Awesome work, Michael.

WINNER: Taiwan. Oh hell yeah. Are the young going to wake up and grab their future? Will they vote in the elections later this year? Will the DPP get its act together, embrace the social justice movements and get down and dirty at the local level?

What a year this will be.....
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House Passes Taiwan legislation

The US House passed legislation that is important for Taiwan (here). Rep. Royce's announcement:
Today, the House of Representatives passed with overwhelming bipartisan support H.R. 3470, the Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2014, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The legislation reaffirms U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and strengthens ties with key U.S. security partners by transferring ships that meet shared maritime security requirements. Specifically, the legislation authorizes the transfer by sale of four Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates to Taiwan.
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Monday, April 07, 2014

BREAKING: LY Occupation to end on Thurs at 6 pm =UPDATED=

Students are holding presser at the moment. LY occupation to end on Thursday at 6 pm.

Ian Rowen sent this around Facebook:

BREAKING: Chen Wei-Ting announces that the Sunflower Movement has achieved significant progress in the pursuit of its goals. The world has heard the news. Students are already forming a new organization to hold legislators to their promises to the people. The occupation of the Legislative Yuan will end this Thursday at 6pm. All are welcome to gather before the end. Lin Feifan answers question, explains that students will clean up after themselves, should support each other through possible political persecution, and are open to future reflection.

Taiwan Voice explained:

At a press conference Monday night at 8:00 p.m., the student leaders announced that their student movement has evolved to a state of becoming a citizens' movement. They also asserted that the occupation of the Legislative Yuan was one of many actions they are ready to take. The Sunflower Movement has most definitely not stopped.

More, they have satisfied the following demands:

(1) Regulations for cross strait agreement monitoring: The Citizen's version of the cross strait agreement monitoring draft bill has been sent into the Legislative Yuan. The Executive Yuan has also sent their version.

(2) Pass the cross strait agreement monitoring act before passing the trade pact: Wang Jing-Pyng promised to not hold any negotiation between the KMT and the opposition parties.

(3) Hold a citizen's constitutional meeting: Students and citizens group already held Grassroot Citizen Constitutional Forum on April 6, and used the decisions made during the meeting to hold a forum inside the Legislative Yuan on April 8th. The movement has already provided the results of the citizen's constitutional meeting to society.

(4) Retract the Trade Pact: According to the meeting on March 24 in the the Legislative Yuan, the Legislators have agreed to request the Executive Yuan to retract the trade pact and re-initiate negotiation. The Legislative Yuan will continue dealing with this issue.

Students also added that the whole of Taiwanese society has become a legislative chamber. The students will face all legal ramifications for their actions as they stand resolutely behind them.

Photo taken on the scene outside of the Legislative Yuan as protesters watch Lin Fei-fan's announcement.

UPDATE: South China Morning Post reports.

UPDATE: FocusTaiwan short report

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Taiwan Voice Twofer + links

House near Jiaxian.

Taiwan Voice has been rocking the protests with a great flow of information. For those of you who aren't connected to Taiwan Voice via Facebook, here are two from today below the READ MORE link, one from a former Grand Justice (=Supreme Court) about the rightness of the Sunflower Movement and one from Liberty Times on the hollow cross-strait oversight bill the Executive Yuan is pushing, which basically strips out the role of the Legislative Yuan in overseeing agreements.
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The political role of "There is no consensus"

Waiting for people to hang out.

Was reading up on some notes of the presentation of Taiwan Defense Minister Andrew Hsia at one of the conferences on the 35th anniversary of the TRA. Hsia said the government recognizes three security threats:
1. unconventional threats - climate change, natural disasters.
2. "problems with Japan over the Diaoyutai," issue with the Philippines
3. biggest threat still the other side with its increasing defense budget since 1985.
I thought it was cool that global warming was the number one threat, and thought it was really stupid that the second one was Japan and the Senkakus/Diaoyutai (and Manila. LOL). I doubt many ordinary people see Japan as a threat. It really shows the insanity of the ROC position on the Senkakus, and also their important function as an irritant in Japan-Taiwan relations, cooling and complicating Japanese support for Taiwan.

The notes observed that Hsia's next point was that the government wants a prosperous and stable Taiwan without being coerced by China, based on the 1992 consensus. But interestingly, Hsia then said that due to the lack of mutual trust and Taiwan being a democracy, there is no consensus on how to handle China. Hsia then went on to claim that the KMT move toward Beijing was apolitical and pragmatic (how they love that word!).

You can see the political function of the constant claim about how there is no consensus from the KMT side right in Hsia's comments. The reason they keep reiterating that is (1) to cover the fact that there is indeed a consensus and (2) it permits them to do whatever they want -- they're not defying the consensus, right? -- and claim that since there is no consensus, they aren't being "political."
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This is just sick: CTI Host Wants to "serve" student protester.

Making the rounds and causing a furor in Taiwan is this video from CTI (Taipei Times). You don't need to hear a translation to grasp that this CTI host is disgusting beyond belief. It will give you some idea of the low standards of Taiwanese talk shows and television as well as the mindset of the pro-Blue side; this station is rabidly pro-Blue. The young lady in the video, Andrew of Taiwan in Cycles informs me, is the daughter of a Blue city councilor who is a community worker, philanthropist, and single mother.

The whole 12 minutes of this garbage is here. The host also tries to claim other protesters are having sex right in the LY, in each case the reality is nothing like that. Unable to present a convincing case for the services trade pact or show how the students are wrong, the KMT can only launch garbage attacks like this one.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, forgot this one. KMT legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan presented doctored photos to make it seem like the students in the LY are sexually misbehaving. The shot of the women is not from the protest.
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