Tuesday, May 03, 2016

DPP: 2 steps forward, 1.9 steps backward Redux

When you absolutely, positively, have to cross that river.
Many DPP leaders linked the goal of democratization directly to the issue of Taiwanese identity and the principle of self-determination (Hu and Chu 1992). Because this subethnic cleavage transcended socioeconomic strata, the DPP consider it an effective counterstrategy to the KMT's broadly based socioeconomic development program. It was also an issue that could unite tangwai members of different social and economic interests under a common cause. -- Bruce Dickson
Some of the cleavages within the DPP are starting to appear as the May 20 handover approaches... Tsai has done a wonderful job holding the party together, but...

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen finally had to tell her incoming cabinet members to shut up this week after a couple of embarrassing incidents....
President-elect Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday warned her prospective government members against wasting the team’s credit by making careless remarks.

She made the statement in an address to a “consensus camp” in Taipei City’s Yangmingshan area of her Premier-designate Lin Chuan with about 40 of the ministers and Cabinet members who will be sworn in on May 20.

Remarks by at least three of the members had to be countered by the prospective Cabinet leadership after they caused public unease.
Nothing demonstrated this necessity more than remarks of Chang Ching-sen, a Minister without Portfolio, on social activists and urban renewal. He had caused an uproar:
The controversy stemmed from a Facebook post by Chang on Monday about an ad advertising the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) that in 2012 met resistance from the Wang (王) family who had refused to be relocated for the renewal and sparked a protest that was joined by scores of activists and students.

“[It was] the most kuso [a term in Taiwanese subculture meaning memed or parodied, but has evolved to indicate something nonsensically funny] activism in history. The Wang family that seemed to have been persecuted by the construction company and the government had a house that was 56.06 ping [185.2m2], but now has been distributed five apartments that total 175.02 ping with a value of more than NT$100 million [US$3.1 million],” Chang wrote.

“Fuck! How pathetic,” he wrote. “I meant those highbrow young people who howled for justice and staged candlelight vigils for the family.”

Chang soon deleted the Facebook post after it attracted a barrage of criticism.

However, Chang wrote another post saying he had no intention of making fun of the Wang family and the activists,” and added: “If the Wang family is still not satisfied with the five apartments they got, I can only say that they are unhappy billionaires. The [2012] protest, in my opinion, has stigmatized urban renewal and halted the city’s renewal projects.”
As an aside, it seems a widespread dodge among people who take things here in Taiwan that taking is ok, if something equal or greater than the thing taken is "returned." Recall that Ma Ying-jeou, when on trial for downloading government funds into private accounts, said that he had made donations greater than the amount of funds he took.

Chang's technocratic contempt for the activists was shown in his "standing firm" despite an apology for his words. The cabinet is made up largely of men and technocrats, and apparently its average age is just over 60. I expect that the social justice wing of the DPP and its supporters is going to become increasingly disenchanted with it over time. Though a commenter on my blog aptly termed it a suicide squad, here to take it on the chin for a period before it is replaced. [ADDED: Taiwan Law Blog just tweeted: Undeterred that the cabinet is only 10% women, Lin Chuan picks 6 more men to be deputy ministers (storm article)].

Ma Ying-jeou's last little vicious gift to Beijing, a fishing dispute with Japan, received a boost this week when the government sent patrol boats to Japan's claimed EEZ off Okinotori Atoll (contrary to media reports the Coast Guard said that the garrison on Taiping Island/Itu Aba was not increased). This is a small headache, fortunately, since Japan realizes that Ma too will pass. But Tsai will inherit this headache, which will put her at odds with the fishing lobby.

The incoming transportation minister also opined that maybe the new rail link to the east coast wasn't the best idea, a public statement that will likely cause the new administration further headaches. Transportation is THE issue for the east coast, whose residents have trouble getting train tickets because of the tourist crowds and the lack of trains. The east coast elected DPP legislators this year... it might not if the DPP does not give it the transportation infrastructure it demands. Because the DPP has been patiently cultivating the east coast -- Hsiao Bi-khim has done amazing work -- this decision could be even more important than the fight with the fishing and pork lobbies.

A larger headache is the looming fight over American pork. A legislative committee passed a motion demanding that imports of ractopork from the US be banned. Ractopork would cause large losses in the local pork industry, according to the article....
In a report to the committee, the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said that allowing imports of US pork containing the feed additive ractopamine would cause about NT$14.3 billion (US$442.99 million) in losses a year to pork-related industries.

“There are about 5.5 million pigs bred by more than 8,000 farmers in Taiwan. Pork ranks No. 1 among all agricultural products,” COA Deputy Minister Huang Kwo-ching (黃國青) said. “The nation’s pork self-sufficiency rate is 91.1 percent, with an estimated total economic output of NT$71.74 billion per year.”
US pork is heavily subsidized by the US government. There is no way Taiwan can compete with that, and the ractopomine controversy exists simply to keep that subsidized pork out. Good. But the pork farming and fisherman are important lobbies... recognizing this, Changhua County Chief Wei Ming-ku, a DPP politician, has already come out in support of a ban on ractopork.

MEDIA FAIL: O be serious. WSJ says in an awful piece arguing that cross-strait relations are getting worse in the run up to the May 20 handover to Tsai (no, they are not, but it is sexier to maintain they are):
Perhaps like Richard Nixon, the only leader who can put relations on a new and more stable basis is a former firebrand like Ms. Tsai.
"A former firebrand?" 180 degrees wrong! Tsai is famous for not being a firebrand. What a total distortion of reality, and a disservice to the incoming President. But it doesn't end there....
...Kenyan judges acquitted the suspects, but China asserts it has jurisdiction and wants the suspects tried where the victims were affected. That Beijing offered Kenya some $600 million in loans one week prior to the deportation likely helped.
(1) Kenyan judges didn't acquit the suspects (8 were convicted of document forgery and did a year in jail). They were acquitted for charges relating to illegal telecom equipment and illegal business organization, but not tried on the fraud charges. Since China sought to try them on fraud charges, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was a deal China and Kenya had arranged long before, meaning that... (2) the $600 million in loans was probably not a driver of the affair; Chinese police had been asking for the suspects since Dec of 2014 and Kenya had probably agreed long before the loans (see #1 above). The loans are more likely to be related to China's long-term purchasing of influence in competition with the US -- Kenya used to be a major US ally in the region.

This editorial is like a stroll through the greatest hits of China-Taiwan myths:
Departing President Ma Ying-jeou established closer ties with China, including a free-trade agreement, by accepting the slogan of “one China, separate interpretations” as the basis for talks.
ECFA was not a free-trade agreement, but a managed trade agreement designed to let Chinese goods flow into Taiwan and gut Taiwan's industries. There was no 1992 Consensus of "one China, separate interpretations" and Beijing does not accept that formulation. The basis for CCP-KMT cooperation is China's desire to annex Taiwan. Everything else is noise.

WSJ also forwards the myth of China giving Taiwan "economic carrots." The stats don't lie: ECFA has been bad for Taiwan no matter how you slice it. It is, at this point, sheer stubborn laziness to keep writing sentences like this:
Despite the economic carrots offered by the mainland, Taiwan’s separate identity grew stronger during his eight-year term.
Substitute "BECAUSE OF" for "DESPITE" and you might be a bit closer to the truth. The purpose of ECFA was to tie Taiwan's economy to China's gut its industries, reduce its trade surplus (fallen every year since ECFA was inked), and pave the way for further agreements. Once the public experienced ECFA (which never had majority support) it promptly rejected the subsequent services pact. D'oh.

Why is it so hard to get people to stop writing as if they were taking psychic dictation from the Spirit of Inertia?

PS: WSJ, stop writing "the mainland." You're thinking of Hainan Island. This is Taiwan we're talking about. Just write "China".
Daily Links:
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The UN makes Taiwan Disappear Again

The UN *sigh*. The UN World Tourism Organization created this graphic, which was duly sent around by China Power at CSIS. Based on 2014 data, it is totally wrong -- the number 1 destination for Chinese tourists isn't even shown on this map, because in 2014 it was Taiwan, as J Michael Cole pointed out on Facebook (his latest post at NewsLens). Somebody at CSIS should have noticed...
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ma Ying-jeou's last little vicious gift to Beijing: roiling relations with Japan

Dear reader: my apologies. After I saw this structure, my brain malfunctioned for several hours. I am completely unable to explain anything about this image.

Ma has spent the last couple of months trying to help Beijing by stirring up trouble in the South China Sea. This is a deliberate strategy, as I have noted for several years now, of irritating relations with Taiwan's key neighbors to the south and southeast, to help impede the formation of an anti-Beijing front -- even though Taiwan faces the same threat of expansion that they do. This is Ma doing what he can for China.

But China's expansion into the Senkakus and beyond to Okinawa, coupled with Taiwan's restless fishermen, offer countless possibilities for roiling relations with Japan. This week, in a word, Okinotori (Wiki). A few rocks that were rapidly eroding when Japan grabbed them, Wiki notes:
The waters around the reefs are potentially rich in oil and other resources and it lies in an area of potential military significance. At high tide, one area of the reefs is 1.58 square meters (17.0 square feet), roughly the size of a twin bed, and pokes just 7.4 centimetres (2.9 inches) out of the ocean. The other is 7.86 square meters (84.6 square feet), the size of a small bedroom, and rises 16 centimetres (6.3 inches), about twice as high. The entire reef consists of approximately 7.8 square kilometers (3.0 sq mi), most of which is submerged even at low tide.
According to UNCLOS these rocks, which cannot sustain human life or habitation on their own, cannot form an EEZ, although Japan has declared one based on these rocks. In 2004 China objected to the EEZ, and in the early 2000s it occasionally sent ships in to annoy the Japanese.

In case you missed that, Japan's position on Okinotori's ability to generate an EEZ is exactly the same as China's in the South China Sea, something that Chinese apologists frequently point out (of course, there's one tiny difference: Okinotori isn't someone else's territory). In fact, if you see a piece that begins by saying that China is behaving like everyone else, you're in all likelihood reading an apologetic for China.

This week Japan detained a Taiwanese fishing boat in the alleged EEZ...
Japan’s coast guard detained the captain and nine crew members aboard the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16 and towed the fishing boat to Iwo Jima. The captain and crew were released Monday afternoon once the vessel’s owner paid a $54,400 security deposit with the Taiwanese government’s help.
...and the Ma government pounced. Ma himself has a lifelong interest in island claims; his thesis is on China's claim to the Senkakus. The Ma government summoned the Japanese representative in Taiwan, and a few fishermen organized a pro forma protest outside the Japanese representative office in Taipei. The incident allowed Ma to pose as the protector of Taiwan's sovereignty, except that nobody in Taiwan cares about Ma. Tsai Ing-wen made the right noises in response. The China Times connected the incident with the banning of potentially radioactive food from Japan....
Japan is pressuring us to lift food import restrictions. Behind this pressure lies hidden weakness. Therefore we must drive a harder bargain to achieve the best results. Providing the government can stand the pressure, Japan will makes the final concession. Therefore the new government must be decisive and resolute.

The Dong Sheng Ji 16 incident is an opportunity to discuss lifting the ban on agricultural and marine products from the nuclear disaster area, and aggressively fight for Taiwan's fishing rights in the relevant waters. Regarding the Chong Zi Niao Reef EEZ, the new government must firmly reject the Japanese government's spurious claims. It must dispatch ships to protect our fishing vessels. Only that will provide us with the necessary bargaining chips.
Sure enough, the Ma Administration promised that Taiwan patrol boats will protect Taiwanese fishing boats in the area.
A coast guard vessel and a ship belonging to the Council of Agriculture will depart Sunday for waters near Okinotori atoll after a Taiwanese fishing boat operating some 150 nautical miles from the atoll was seized Monday by the Japanese coast guard.
The Japanese should have ignored the fishing boat, but instead, gave the Ma Administration the excuse to go all-out in irritating relations with Tokyo. Fortunately as the LA Times piece observed, Japan is merely waiting patiently for the Tsai Administration come onboard.

Meanwhile, Ma cranked up the rhetoric, doing absolutely everything to roil the waters...
President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated yesterday that “Okinotori is a reef,” so “the ROC government opposes Japan’s illegal expansion of jurisdiction in violation of international law.” Ma also announced that the ROC government would safeguard the freedom of its fishermen operating on the high seas in an effective way, and added that he had asked the Coast Guard Administration to send cutters to protect Taiwan fishing boats, saying “this is our fundamental right and we will not budge an inch.”
Compare that to Ma's studied silence on the illegality of China's illegal structures in the South China Sea. Like this last-minute dust up with Tokyo, that too is a vicious little gift to Beijing.

MEDIA NOTE: Kudos to Ralph Jennings for actually balancing China's desire to annex Taiwan with information on how Taiwanese feel about that:
Ma was elected in 2008 and must step down in May due to term limits. He made a name in office mostly for strengthening relations with China, expanding trade and tourism ties, but that effort met a public opinion backlash starting in 2014. China still hopes to unify with Taiwan despite opinion surveys in Taiwan that show a majority of people oppose that idea.
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My annual lacewing larva image

As always, a lacewing larva. It glues debris to its body to disguise itself.
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Friday, April 29, 2016

藤坪溪Bridge: Then and Now

This famous bridge was completed in 1907 and carried trains across a valley in Miaoli until destroyed in the great 1935 earthquake.

Today it is the famous Longteng Broken Bridge, a tourist trap on one of the area's many pretty roads. Don't miss the ride there if you're biking in Miaoli.
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

High Mountain Tea Plantations destroyed by government...

High mountain tea on the flank of Alishan.

UPDATE: Eco-Cha's response to this piece. And Taiwan Law Blog's.

Clarissa Wei (@dearclarissa) is emerging as a strong voice on environmental and social issues in Taiwan. Her latest piece discusses how the government is destroying high mountain oolong tea farms above 2500 meters in an environmentally-oriented move...
High mountain agriculture can be quite destructive; it erodes the landscape and causes harmful pesticides and fertilizers to contaminate water sources and the land. The additives also strip the soil of moisture, rendering it completely useless in a matter of decades. It’s a toxic industry; for every one pound of tea, roughly $9 USD is spent on pesticides and fertilizers. To discourage high mountain farming, in 2014, Taiwan tea researchers engineered a low-altitude tea—known as Taiwan Tea Number 22—that replicates high mountain tea aromas.

In response to the environmental lobbyists and influenced by voter interests, the government set off to reforest high-elevation tea farms and restore them to their pre-agricultural state. Most farmland was seized and reclaimed.

“It’s a very black-and-white matter to the government,” Limei says. “They see high mountain tea trees and they want to cut it down. What about high mountain cabbage farms and hotels? Those are more destructive than tea. We didn’t even use pesticides.”
The demand for high mountain tea of course leads to the perennial problem of imports repackaged as local teas:
I think about the slew of tea shops in Taipei City alone. High mountain oolong tea is on every tea menu in town. Annual domestic production of tea in Taiwan adds up to 15,000 tons, while demand is about 45,000 tons. The math doesn’t add up.

“A lot of it is imported now from Vietnam, India, and Thailand, and then branded as Taiwan tea,” Tsay says. He says that in a load of commercially marketed Taiwanese oolong tea leaves, only 70 percent of that is real Taiwan oolong. The rest is imported and then mixed in with the batch.
Yes, that's right. Illegal planting of betel nut and even more urgently, bamboo, all over Taiwan's mountains, but what's really concerning is... tea. Although I have to admit I experienced a strong moment of skepticism at the "we don't even use pesticides" remark.

There's a lot going on here. The last few years has seen much government activity in restructuring and renewing mountain lands. I was delighted to find, a couple of years ago, that the government had gone in and demolished the scrum of illegal restaurants and hostels at Tayuling below Wuling. It has taken many years to get this far -- in the early 2000s, for example, when the government handed out subsidies for reforestation, farmers would obtain a plot of land, whack down all its trees, and replant trees to collect subsidies. Strangely, the nation cut its production of grains and let grain producing land lie fallow since it had agreed to import grain from the US... while ignoring slopeland development. Finally, hovering in the background of clarifying who owns what is the increasing assertiveness of aborigines towards lands they once owned and the bitter struggle between the Han government and the aborigines over land (examples: 2001, 2015).

MORE ON THE CLOSURE OF THINKING TAIWAN: The pro-KMT China Times says that Tsai Ing-wen's foundation couldn't decide how Thinking Taiwan should handle criticism of the Tsai Administration. As a very sharp observer of Taiwan sharply observed: they had all that time to think about it, and didn't come up with a policy?
Daily Links:
  • Interview with Shawna Yang Ryan, writer of Green Island
  • Eurasia Review:India-Taiwan Relationship: Need To Emerge From The Chinese Shadow – Analysis. I've been saying this in print since the late 1990s, and it is really wonderful to see it finally take place.
  • Prague is expelling CCP goons who attacked pro-democracy and pro-Tibet protesters in Czech during Xi's visit.
  • Pig farmers protest in front of AIT. This lead by the TSU. Welcome to being the party in power, DPP....
  • Because there is just not enough stupid in the world: hilarity ensued this week when a group of businessmen suffering from low-altitude oxygen deprivation erected a statue of Chinese premier Wen Jia-bao as a "Taiwan hero"... the statue was replaced overnight by a tree. 
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Hall of Barbarous Tribes

This is from the 1916 Taiwan Exhibition in Taipei, Japan (source). Serendipitous hits while searching: Japan Focus has an excellent review of the experiences of aboriginal tour groups in Japan during the colonial era. The amazing Paul Barclay's PHD thesis on ethnographic mapping of Taiwan under Japan is available online. Some good pics and excellent discussion of development and art in the Japanese era in Modernity in Agony. Below is a shot of the midway from that exhibition.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This: We need more pro-Taiwan writers

I was going to write a blogpost on this, but friend Michael C got there already. The awesome J Michael Cole tweeted that he is looking for work since Thinking Taiwan is shuttering its doors on May 20. Taiwan Communique has ceased. I know privately we are going to lose another important pro-Taiwan site this summer. We can never have enough pro-Taiwan voices out there, shaping the discourse and offering alternatives.

As for Thinking Taiwan, I'd be happy to run the place (or a similar site) for nothing if someone can find stable money to pay the writers. Its eclectic, well-written posts are too important to lose.
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Commentary Galore

Nets at Shiti Fishing Port

Elizabeth Economy writes on Taiwan and China for the CFR....
Beijing began the year by reversing its eight-year tacit understanding to not establish diplomatic relations with countries that recognize Taiwan (thereby giving the island nation a semblance of sovereign international status) and resuming ties with Gambia. Next, it successfully pressured Kenya to deport as many as forty-five Taiwanese (the number is in dispute) to the mainland as part of a larger set of arrests of suspects in a telecom fraud ring.
Economy has this history all wrong. The Chinese police were asking for the (alleged) Kenya scammers in December of 2014, long before Gambia switched sides. China has been waiting a year to collect the Taiwanese men. Obviously it is not about sovereignty or putting pressure on Tsai Ing-wen, yet that has become the dominant story in the international media and punditocracy. Beijing is signaling Taiwan on its lazy approach to crime, not because it elected Tsai Ing-wen.

Nevertheless, this is a Council on Foreign Relations piece, and the ending is wonderful: she rebuts the idiot brigade that wants to sell out Taiwan:
Finally, after falling off the American radar screen over the past eight years, Taiwan is quickly edging its way back on. The next administration needs to keep its eye on the final objective—“that cross-Strait differences be resolved peacefully and according to the wishes of the people on both sides of the Strait.” This means we don’t help stir the pot on Taiwan and we don’t sell-out Taiwan for some ephemeral grand bargain with Beijing. Taiwan may be small but it is not a small matter. At stake is not only our relationship with Beijing but also American values and principles, which are exemplified by Taiwan’s vibrant and determined democracy.
Excellent ending, another signal of the shift in the discourse over the last year or so toward a position which acknowledges that Beijing is a problem, and Taiwan, its victim. Hopefully Washington will come to view Tsai as an opportunity.

Interestingly, Bonnie Glaser wrote on what might happen between Taiwan and China for CSIS. Here are her recommendations:
*U.S. officials should make clear that while both sides have responsibility for avoiding disruption of the prevailing cross-Strait stability, in current circumstances Beijing needs to exhibit greater creativity and flexibility toward Taiwan, specifically to demand less clarity from Tsai and tolerate more ambiguity.

*Washington should encourage China to pay attention not only to Tsai Ing-wen's words but also to her actions.

*The United States should warn Beijing against taking actions that are harmful to Taiwan's economy and its participation in the international community. U.S. officials should emphasize that such actions would be counterproductive to China's goals of winning the hearts and minds of the people of Taiwan and its ultimate goal of reunification.

*U.S. officials should encourage Tsai Ing-wen to continue to exercise restraint, to avoid taking actions that could further incite Beijing's suspicions of her intentions, and to seek ways to provide additional reassurances that she does not plan to seek independence during her term in office.
The last one is boilerplate, but the first three are quite interesting. They all ask the US to ensure that Beijing gives Taiwan some space, and as sharp observer Aaron Wytze (@aaronwytze on Twitter) noted, none calls for Tsai Ing-wen to kow-tow to the fake 1992 Consensus.

John Bolton, neocon and Taiwan supporter (recall that many neocons began life as Asianists), wrote in FoxNews that ZOMG TENSIONS ARE RISING, which they are not (the impression I get is that Beijing does not know what to do and is searching for a policy) so THANKS OBAMA:
In January 2017, America’s new president will face Beijing’s ongoing efforts to run its own extortion campaign against Taiwan. If the Obama administration fails to support Taiwan in responding appropriately to China’s assertive, nearly belligerent actions on deportations and many other issues, the new president will have even graver problems to solve. This is not a case where America should simply tote up its investments in Taiwan and on the mainland and go with the bigger number. This is a matter of resisting Chinese efforts at establishing hegemony in East and Southeast Asia not only at the expense of its near neighbors, but of the United States as well
Bolton also accepts the Kenya case as a shot at Tsai Ing-wen, though it wasn't. *sigh*

Finally, no deluge of commentary is complete without Shelly Rigger checking in on surviving the long transition between the two presidents. It's her usual mix of solid observations and KMT propaganda. This part is quite solid and interesting:
Two statements made by PRC officials during the lame duck period are especially intriguing. PRC President Xi Jinping recently told delegates to China’s National People’s Congress, “If the historical fact of the ’92 consensus is recognized and if its core connotation is acknowledged, then the two sides of the Strait will have a common political basis and positive interaction can be preserved.” At a speech in Washington, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned the “current constitution of Taiwan” as the basis of both the one-China claim and Tsai’s presidency.

Of course, when Xi mentions the “core connotation” of the ’92 consensus, he is referring to the part of the formula that states there is only one China, and Taiwan is part of it. This “core connotation” is far from Tsai’s position. Indeed, even Ma Ying-jeou has kept his distance from that connotation, preferring to emphasize the second element of the ’92 consensus, the two sides’ differing interpretations of “one China.” Nonetheless, Xi’s demand that Tsai must recognize the historical fact of the ’92 consensus (as opposed to endorsing it by name) may give Tsai more to work with.
But then she inverts reality:
[1] The ’92 Consensus was coined as a label for a tacit agreement made by Taipei and Beijing’s semi-official representatives at a meeting in Hong Kong in 1992. The representatives acknowledged that both sides believed Taiwan to be part of China, but they left unspecified exactly what they meant by “China.” This allowed the PRC to move forward with negotiations on the grounds that the Taiwanese were in line with Beijing’s one-China principle, and it allowed Taiwan to continue to define “China” as the Republic of China (the state on Taiwan). Beijing typically stresses the “one China” component of the consensus, while Taipei emphasizes the unspecified nature of “China,” by articulating the consensus as “One China, with each side having its own interpretation.” For the DPP, this whole concept is problematic, both because many in the DPP reject the idea that Taiwan is part of China in any sense, and because they believe the label “’92 Consensus” is a post hoc exaggeration of what actually happened at the ’92 meeting. For this reason, Tsai Ing-wen has avoided endorsing the phrase itself, although she has acknowledged the value and utility of the ’92 meeting.
In Riggerverse, unelected reps from the PRC met with unelected reps from the ROC and they reached a consensus. In this universe, they did not reach a consensus -- nothing was agreed on at the meeting except to be nice to each other. That ought to be obvious by now. The 1992 Consensus was invented in the run-up to the 2000 election as a cage to imprison a non-KMT president. Even the Wiki page has Su Chi's 2006 admission that the 1992 Consensus was made up. Why don't scholars?

The 1992 Consensus didn't "allow the PRC to move forward". LOL. As always, the basis for KMT-CCP cooperation isn't the 1992C but the desire of China to annex Taiwan. That is why Beijing has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, but insists that Taiwan politicians do.

It's the DPP position, not the KMT position, that corresponds to reality.

Rigger correctly observes that Ma's South China Sea gambit is his last vicious little gift to Beijing, creating new headaches for the incoming Tsai Administration. I thought it was wonderful that the Kenya mess blew up during the week he brought three foreign scholars to validate his position on Taiping Island. It totally vaporized their visit in the media.

Finally: tourism. Rigger takes the (absurdly wrong) conventional position that reduction of tourists = punishment, like Elizabeth Economy and many other commentators:
According to Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications, Beijing has cut the number of travel permits it is issuing to Taiwan-bound tourists, which may lead to a double-digit decline in the number of visitors. Taiwan has invested heavily in infrastructure for mainland tourists, so closing the spigot will be costly.
No, "closing the spigot" will be a net winner for Taiwan because tourism is a net money-loser (see my detailed discussion based on a recent paper). Chinese tourism is widely detested in Taiwan and most of us will be happy to see the tourists go so we can return to many wonderful tourist sites. Tourism also does not drive the development of human capital to increase living standards. Nope, we are better off without the endless lines of Chinese tourist buses crawling over the east coast like beetles on a rotting log.

If Beijing cuts tourism, it will only hurt Beijing. The tourism drive has resulted in the construction of new patronage and influence networks in local areas that are oriented on China and on the KMT. These will suffer. Moreover -- track this -- the new tourist infrastructure is often quietly financed by Chinese money brought in through offshore tax havens, which are key sources of FDI in Taiwan. China suffers again! Please, please cut tourism -- it is an important territorial strategy of Beijing, and Beijing will suffer the most.

Meanwhile, tourists from other countries are flowing in to replace these losses. They spend more too.

Many observers still have not caught on to this point: Beijing's expressed goal of annexing Taiwan peacefully requires that China interact with Taiwan. Beijing also seeks to plunder Taiwan's tech base so it can destroy the basis of Taiwan independence, our robust economy. Reduction in interactions between the Chinese empire and Taiwan correspondingly reduces Beijing's chances of accomplishing these goals.

Me? I'm looking forward to biking in areas free of obnoxious, stingy, Chinese tourist groups. Reclaiming Taiwan, as it were, from the invaders.
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Monday, April 25, 2016

KMT to bash DPP with pork

This is what Taiwan needs: more recycling bikes

The KMT has found the first major issue it can use to bash the DPP with, with the Veep warning the DPP that permitting US pork imports would land it in hot water:
Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday denounced President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for not caring about citizens’ health. Wu noted that when Tsai was Deputy Premier, she failed to impose a ban on US beef when an outbreak of mad cow disease occurred in the US. According to Wu, it is now even more challenging for Tsai to lift the ban on US pork imports containing ractopamine residue as “people will hold her accountable.”

In response, the DPP retorted that when Wu was Premier, he was the one who allowed US beef to be imported from areas where mad cow disease had occurred without regard for the safety and health of people in Taiwan.
Pork and beef are contentious not because the government cares about the health of Taiwanese, but because both KMT and DPP patronage networks in farming communities are filled with pork farmers. Taiwan produces little beef, but under WTO regulations, if it imports beef with ractopamine, it must import all products containing that drug. Hence, if it imports US beef, it must accept US pork (before the beef mess began years ago, Taiwan took about one-eighth of US beef exports). However, if it takes in heavily subsidized US pork, local producers will scream (as will I, I hate rubbery US pork and prefer the fatty local stuff). Those producers will then blame whichever party lets in the pork.

The situation is even more complicated because the NPP is now bashing the DPP from the left on the pork issue even as the KMT bashes it from the right.

Note also that the KMT assigned this bashing to Wu Den-yi, a classic move -- it allows the Big Man (Ma Ying-jeou) to remain benevolent and distant while the right-hand man says what he really thinks. Moreover, Wu is a Taiwanese and presumably speaks to Taiwanese as one of their own...

Only the first of many such issues...
Daily Links
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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Links for a lazy Sunday

Feeling lazy today. Enjoy some links....
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Those "Chinese" Taiwanese

An old farmer removes snails from his irrigation ditches.

A friend writes me...
"[my wife] has had her DNA analyzed. It is really interesting. Each haplogroup is atypical for Taiwan and Fujianese. The Maternal marker is probably ethnic Yue. The paternal marker is probably Pazeh or Hoanya. [Wife]'s paternal grandmother is very closely related to indigenous Cambodians (Hmong). Possibly ethnic She people who were Hakkacized in Fujian, or from Sundaland.
Fujian people and Taiwanese people mixed with Austronesian peoples from all over SE Asia. I can't wait for the first real accessible history of the great Austronesian people in English.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Hung digs in her reactionary heels

The Rift Valley

Is new KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu bringing in young talent, technocrats, and practical politicians who can make the KMT powerful again? Is she going to Taiwanize the KMT? So far, things look grim if you're pro-China, and sweet if you're pro-Taiwan. This week she made far-right ideologue Alex Tsai head of the KMT's central policy committee (TT)....
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) was yesterday appointed director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee, becoming the first non-lawmaker to take up the key role of coordinator between the party’s central headquarters and its legislative caucus.

Tsai’s appointment was approved by the KMT Central Standing Committee at a closed-door meeting yesterday afternoon presided over by KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who said her decision to choose Tsai for the post was made in accordance with the needs of the party.

Traditionally, the director of the Central Policy Committee also doubles as the KMT’s caucus whip, to ensure that the stance of the caucus is aligned with that of the party leadership.

However, this will not be the case for Tsai, after the KMT caucus reached a consensus earlier this month to separate the two roles to increase the autonomy of the legislative caucus.
Tsai, readers may recall, ran the comical campaign of KMT princeling Sean Lien for mayor of Taipei. Lien was crushed by current Mayor Ko Wen-je. Solidarity's description of Tsai is dead on:
KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has chosen the most contentious candidate possible, oft-discredited sinophile troll Alex Tsai (蔡正元), as director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee. With Tsai the putative chief strategist for the legislative and council caucuses and local governments alike, the party could become both more contentious and narrower in appeal.
No sooner had Tsai taken his new seat then he was on the warpath spewing nonsensical Chen Shui-bian era KMT propaganda:
An interview yesterday with POP Radio, Tsai accused the DPP of trying to launch “green terror,” saying the DPP’s draft transitional justice promotion act was part of its efforts to exert control over both the administrative and legislative branches of the government.

“The DPP is attempting to turn itself into a ‘constitutional monster,’ so it can conduct a political purge against the KMT. This is standard ‘green terror,’” Tsai said in the interview.

The draft act calls for the establishment of a transitional justice promotion committee under the Executive Yuan responsible for making political documents available to the public, removal of authoritarian symbols, redressing judicial injustice and management of the KMT’s ill-gotten party assets.

Turning to the DPP’s proposed bill on monitoring cross-strait agreements, Tsai said prominent Sunflower movement activist Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) only verbally protested the proposed bill, which clings to the idea of “one country, two areas.”

“Lin should have occupied the Legislative Yuan… His failure to do so only underscores the fact that the ‘sunflower’ has withered,” Tsai said, adding that the ideals of the Sunflower movement could not withstand the test of time.
The "green terror" is a reference to the "white terror" period of martial law, in which thousands of people who ran afoul of the KMT were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed by the KMT government. There is a deep, visceral fear among many older Blues that someday they are going to be called to account for their crimes. Thus, this code language is brought out by Deep Blues like Tsai whenever their colonial symbols or powers are threatened. Tsai also took a swat at the Sunflowers, which was good, because if they KMT had any sense they'd be cultivating the Sunflowers as a possible weapon against the DPP, or at least, leaving them alone. But thanks for reminding them, Alex, where the KMT really stands.

The key point is actually in the last two paragraphs I've excerpted there: the greater "autonomy" of KMT legislators implies that they are distancing themselves from the center of the party, which is likely to continue on its reactionary course with Hung in charge. Because so many of the chairmanship voters are reactionary deep Blue voters, Hung is likely to get a five year term late next summer just before the Jan 2018 9-in-1 elections. She might be forced to resign then if the KMT is blown out. But until then, to keep their seats, KMT legislators might be forced into public disagreements with Chairman Hung because they are practical politicians engaged in assuring the flow of resources to their patronage networks, while Hung has other, more grandiose plans. Clearly they are struggling to wriggle out from under her control, clearly she will struggle to keep them under her thumb.

Watching the legislators of both major parties struggle against central control is going to be a major source of entertainment and frustration for Taiwan political junkies of all stripes...

Solidarity translated a UDN report that emphasized this point by noting Hung's desire to bring everything under control of the center.
Although Hung has stated she supports the caucus’s autonomy, party figures reveal that she has already privately approached experienced legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) and current de facto caucus whip Lin Teh-fu (林德福) about running for the new convener position. Fai politely declined Hung’s invitation, and Lin has fallen into deep thought after losing the big battle over approval of the transitional justice bill Tuesday.

Regarding Hung’s personnel appointments, an experienced legislator stated frankly that Hung’s method is to create a “Leninist party” by wiping out the remnants of “internal reconstruction” (內造化, a cause celebre of the Taiwanese faction) and implementing total “party leadership of the government.” In the future, the Central Policy Committee director will be like “the party secretary hanging over the head of the mayor” in communist countries. The committee director will be the true warlord, as can be inferred from the clues in Tsai’s remarks yesterday, the legislator said.

A KMT legislator said that the party is too far separated from public opinion, and in the future “each will choose his own path.” Even if the party mobilizes legislators through the caucus leadership in the future, party legislators will still keep the pros and cons in terms of managing their own districts in mind when making decisions on what to support.
The KMT, if it wants to come back into power, desperately needs to bring in Taiwanese and move them into positions of authority. Yet, there is Hung, still fighting to ensure that the non-mainstream (deep Blue reactionary) KMT wins over the mainstream (Taiwanese) KMT and fighting to impose top-down, centralized control on the Party.

One thing Ma Ying-jeou did to reduce the possibility of party elites quietly arraying themselves against him was to set up parallel internal KMT bodies like the Zhongshan Council which operated directly under him, and to reduce the authority of the central standing committee. When Eric Chu became Chair, he eliminated the Zhongshan Council and returned the central standing committee to power. Expect similar moves by either/both of (1) Hung in attempting to suppress elite opposition to her authority; (2) rival groups of bigwigs out to fight her authority; and (3) individual KMT heavyweights who are seeking to become Chairman and need some kind of quasi-institutional veneer for gathering support from the party ranks.
Daily Links
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

China: Don't Date Foreigners

Lots of people forwarding this "anti-foreigner" stuff from Beijing. Foreigners are spies! Don't date them! A complete English translation can be found here.

I just want to note this: most of you are getting these posters all wrong. Its way worse than don't date foreigners. These are not warnings against dating foreigners (that may call to mind xenophobic campaigns of old). These are warnings that the women who date foreigners will be regarded as security risks.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kenya Mess: What's the next step?

Mountain roads of Taiwan. 

Nobody does irony like the KMT. Yesterday KMT legislators warned that....
“We must not let Taiwan descend into a haven for fraudsters, nor see it become a major export of swindlers to the world,” she said.

“The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party have been shouting empty slogans about human rights and jurisdiction, but in the end, it is our society that pays a huge price,” she said.
Yes, we must not let Taiwan become a haven for fraudsters, like it was for those guys connected to the old Green Gang in 1949. As a friend noted, it's a pity that the KMT didn't control the legislature for the last sixty years, so they could do nothing about Taiwan being a haven for scammers...

With Malaysia preparing to hand over the remaining 32 suspects after arrangements are made (like evidence, I hope), it is important to ask what needs to be done. In addition to cleaning up the judicial system (haha) and changing some of the laws, my man DK suggested that President Tsai Ing-wen should probably think about some political and propagada ju-jitsu. Put China on the defensive by offering increased cooperation in crime and emphasizing this as a non-political area of cross-strait relations. This would help disarm the attacks from commentators and the media that the DPP is anti-China. It would also limit robust cross-strait cooperation to definable and controllable areas. When China balks, Tsai can then criticize China when they start yak-yakking about the faux "1992 Consensus" being the basis for cross-strait cooperation even in crime -- "What? You place the 1992C ahead of the security of your people?"

UPDATE: Last week another batch of Taiwanese arrested in Kenya doing the same place in the district of Nairobi. By the time all the processes are finished, MOFA will be Tsai Ing-wen's MOFA. Let's see what happens....
Daily Links:
  • MUST READ: The DPP's cross-strait oversight bill is a problem. Already it has stirred up the napping student movement by adopting the KMT legislative style and language. Further, Tsai's cabinet is full of technocrats often with Blue backgrounds. It would have been great if she had been more people-oriented. Don't be surprised when the student movement finally opens its guns on the DPP...
  • Solidarity: Taiwan reps forced out of int'l steel meeting by PRC, Belgian reps. Since China is major steel dumping nation, and Taiwan reps were always welcomed by China before, this may have been China's way of stalling the meeting and preventing it from reaching agreement, as the media announced today. Cole argues it is China turning the screws on Taiwan.
  • Obvious pro-China commentary on incoming Tsai Ing-wen administration. But it does have one interesting observation: China will be watching education system decisions to determine stance of Tsai Administration. Tsai is being urged to delineate her curriculum changes even as the pro-KMT curriculum issue simmers.
  • Pro-PRC commentator at The Diplomat also says that deportations from Kenya not about sovereignty, places them in context of China's ongoing campaign against scammers in the region, just as I said. Fortunately the nationalist frenzy is receding as some realize Taiwan is not exactly blameless, while others work to slot this into the conventional Blue-Green framework of Taiwan politics. *Sigh*
  • Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je accuses President Ma of protecting Farglory behind the scenes.
  • NOT TAIWAN: just discovered Einojuhani Rautavaara today. I love Youtube. Without it, I'd never know Raff, Wetz, Sgiambotti, or Melartin, or a hundred others. 
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