Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday, November 11, Taiwan Blog Round Up


Friday is in sight again, so let's take aim at Taiwan's multitude of quality bloggers:

+++++++++++++++++

The TVBS controversy once again heads the list of Taiwan blogging. From the KMRT scandal that spawned it to the TVBS mess, this affair has been one long DPP roast, with the DPP looking weak, divided, and ineffective. Maddog leads a crop of posts with a fantastic review of the real issues:

Another not-so-funny thing that happened on the way to the "Chinese Bank" was that threats were made against the lives of both Government Information Office (GIO) Minister, Pasuya Yao, and Premier Frank Hsieh (both DPP) -- as well as their families -- multiple times in recent days, in fact, after KMT lawmakers Hung Hsiu-chu and Kuo Su-chun publicized Yao's and Hsieh's home and office telephone numbers as retribution for the charges made against TVBS. In both cases, suspects were apprehended.

It's easy to see who the authoritarians are. They are the ones who live by threatening the lives of others. Whatever you may say about the TVBS scandal, the pan-Greens have not threatened the lives of any of the pro-China politicians over it. The Blues simply cannot live in a world with freedom and without violence. One could pity them, for surely their lives must be an inner hell, were it not for the pain they impose on others. Tim points out that the DPP's failure to crack down on this behavior is having negative consequences for Taiwan's democracy:

To me, this sure looks like the DPP is doing nothing to even discourage such nonsense. I wouldn't mind seeing the UDN claiming a DPP "dictatorship" and "White Terror" if the DPP were actually clamping down on pan-blue politicians, media, and followers, but it's absolutely untrue.

I'm not suggesting that the pan-greens make "blacklists" like the ones the KMT used during Taiwan's real "White Terror" period -- you know, the kind of list you could get placed on if your kid spoke Taiwanese in school and which could result in the police taking you away in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. I'm simply talking about applying the law equally [UPDATE LINK 2*] and actually prosecuting real crimes. Libel isn't good for society, especially when its goal is to destroy Taiwan and its people.

Please go back and read my "A LAUNDRY LIST OF PAN-BLUE VIOLENCE" if you have any doubts about how serious I am.

Lots of people don't get it: the Blues want to destroy democracy on the island, because they know in the long run that it will lead to an independent Taiwan in which a coterie of mainlanders and their cronies, hangers-on, lapdogs, and camp followers will have no influence. The pan-Blues are also nursing grandiose dreams of influencing China's future as well. It's not hard to guess what all this violence is about.

the leaky pen wrote on the poet Tu who threatened Hsieh, agreeing with Tim:

This afternoon Premier Hsieh appeared on the news to say he would not sue Du because, he said, this was a matter of "personal gratefulness or resent" (個人的恩怨). I disagree, actually, and think that Hsieh should sue the man in order to dissuade others from repeating the process in order to glean fame or notoriety for a cause via "terroristic" methods. Indeed, as Confucius teaches us, examples are the strongest means of education.

Another aspect of this affair is the tremendous amount of sheer unmitigated hate it reveals on the pan-Blue side. There are those who deny that hate between the two sides is a problem. They are wrong. There is a vast reservoir of vicious hatred, especially among the over-35s, that crops out in public only in events like these.

ESWN has been blogging on this, relying on polls from the anti-Taiwan Apple Daily for his poll data. He does have a couple of informative posts on the problems for us bloggers:

It has been said that the strength of a blog such as this one is the dogged determination to follow through a specific event through collating multiple sources written in Chinese. On the matter of TVBS in Taiwan, I admit defeat as far too much is happening. On just today, the Taiwan media dumped dozens more new leads, most of which were probably spin or outright lies. As illustration, I will list some translated headlines from Yahoo! News and Apple Daily for the day of November 5:
  • CNA: GIO MInister Pasuya Yao forgives senior citizen for threatening phone call
  • CNA: Former President's Secretary Chen Che-nan's nephew-in-law denies that he is "Deep Throat" nor has he separated from his wife
  • TVBS: Who is "Deep Throat"? A gangster named Huang named four people
  • TVBS: President complains that there are too many "Deep throats"
  • ETToday: Independent legislator communicates with "Deep throat" via code and/or fax about KRTC scandal
  • UDN: Huang says "Deep throat" is a military school graduate and not a gangster
  • TVBS: Individual named Liu denies having provided casino photo
  • China Times: DPP legislator said "Liu showed me the photo"
  • ETToday: Government audit department says NT$10 billion missing in KRTC
  • ETToday: Vice-President Annette Lu asks the corrupt people to turn themselves in so as not to damage the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan
  • FTV: President: Unificationists and media combined to debase Taiwan
  • FTV: Chen Che-nan promises to mail his medals back to the President's Office
  • UDN: GIO Minister Pasuya Yao is certain that TVBS broke the law
  • Taiwan Daily: GIO Minister Pasuya Yao denies making call to ET Today about coverage
  • ETToday: Shut up TVBS! Don't bring up freedom of speech every time!
  • Apple Daily: Chen Che-nan's assets grew by NT$10 million per year
  • UDN: What did Chen Che-nan do under the watch of Chen Shui-bian?
  • UDN: Chen Che-nan used the President's accountant to play the stock market
  • Apple Daily: Insider trading from the President's Office; accountant was in tears when interrogated by the prosecutor

There's just way too much info, and not much of it is reliable. I had wanted to blog on it all last week, but when the Taipei Times ran three feature stories on Monday alone, well, my heart sank. I admire people like Tim and ESWN who take the time to sort through all the BS to find the diamonds beneath.

The scandal was completed as KMT hacks trotted out attack lines claiming anti-KMT bias in the English press that the pro-KMT blog Taiwan's Other Side had tested a couple of weeks ago and I refuted easily then with a simple web search. Perhaps TOS should have warned his friends that they'd get burnt if they pulled that crap.

Citing one example, Su said the Taipei Times failed to cover the news of the arrest of Tu Shi-san (杜十三). The news ran on page 3 of yesterday's paper.

This allegation was incomprehensible. Why would the Taipei Times refuse to cover something that reflected negatively on the pan-Blues if their object was to smear the Blues? Su put a letter to the editor in the Taipei Times today, which, as the paper laughingly pointed out, neglected to address the real issue. Ironically, Su's claim that the English-language papers were supressing the KMRT scandal was made two days after the Taipei Times ran not one, but three features articles on the same day on the scandal. Wandering to Tamshui abused Su mercilessly:

And in a completely unrelated piece of legislative idiocy, KMT lawmaker Su Qi once more made a complete ass out of himself by announcing to the world that he had discovered that the Taipei Times is actually a pan-green newspaper! (Sweet Joseph and Doggy-style Mary!!!! Where will it all end????), and that after seconds of intensive investigation of the newspaper found that it has not once carried stories about the High Speed Rail Scandal, the TVBS controversy, or the hot, sexy and violent lives of lesbian NFL cheerleaders!

One thing I'd like to highlight is Su's reversal of reality:

"Speaking from my own long-term reading experience, the reason that the international community knows so little about Taiwan is because they obtain their information from the three local English-language newspapers," KMT Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) said. "As far as I know, the Chen administration controls at least two of them."

Speaking from my own long-term reading experience in the reality-based community, foreign analysts largely have their thinking shaped by the barrage of pro-KMT propaganda they encounter from the island's elites, which are largely mainlander. One thinks of the large number of articles that have appeared recently in the international media that are essentially pro-KMT in their outlook, most recently represented by erroneous writing from Justin Logan, and Simon Tisdale in the Guardian, who actually told me in a private email about the article that he was doing Taiwan a favor. Save us the favors, Simon! I had a letter in the Taipei Times a while back explaining why well-meaning foreigners like Tisdale are wrong and playing right into KMT hands.

+++++++++++++++++

Taiwan's idiotic Bullet Train has been a recent topic of discussion. Taiwan's Other Side gives this stupid project a well-deserved hack:

A quick comparison of the different transportation methods to Kaohsiung shows storm clouds ahead for the already shaky service, first approved by KMT saboteur and Japanophile 李登輝, Lee Tung-Hui during better economic times.

Airplane: NT$2000 for a 60 minute ride
Expected THSR fare: NT$1200 for a 81 minute ride
Current local train fare: NT$800 for a 4 hour ride

Such a small country doesn't need an expensive, imported rail system that sucks further dollars out of Taiwan. The rail system is incompatible with current rail lines, and is completely separate from the current infrastructure. The entire project has been designed and built in Japan, then transferred to Taiwan where Japanese and European engineers and suppliers squabble over implementation. All this contributes nothing to local economies or Taiwan.

TOS links to Wandering to Tamshui's old post on corruption in the project. He also links to the discussion at Japundit (don't miss the comments). TOS's last paragraph was particularly good:

Last month's bailout, which used a loophole to circumvent a standing legislative resolution against investing further funds, was inexplicably financed by the Aviation Development Fund, the owner of China Airlines, Taiwan's national carrier. The DPP was so desperate to keep the pet project going, it essentially got the national airline to finance its own competitor. No conflict of interest there at all, really. And let's not forget that the capital city of Taipei STILL doesn't have anything other than a bus link to the national airport.

That's right. You can take a mag-lev from Pudong airport to Shanghai, but from Chiang Kai-Shek airport to Taipei the only thing available are taxis and buses. This comparison has been explicitly made by lawmakers in the bungled high speed rail project to link Sung Shan Airport and Chiang Kai-shek airport:

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it's studying alternatives to building a direct train line to the international airport, but lawmakers yesterday said that the stalled project is the latest example of how Taiwan is falling behind rival China.

After six years of negotiations, last week the ministry dropped a plan to have Evertransit International Development Corp (長生國際開發) build the 36.9km transit line between Chiang Kai-shek International Airport and Taipei.

The deal fell through after Evertransit failed to secure a syndicated loan of NT$55 billion from banks by the Dec. 31 deadline, as required by the ministry contract.


The minister claimed the problem was democracy. You see, authoritarianism makes the trains run on time:

In response, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) argued that China's authoritarian system allows officials to complete projects faster -- unlike democratic Taiwan, where officials must listen to differing opinions.

"If I were the transportation minister of China, the Shanghai maglev train would have been completed in one year," Lin said. "This is the price of democracy," he added.

Although Taiwanese are proud of their democracy, many also lament the nation's fierce political squabbling, lingering corruption and the long amount of time needed to build a consensus on major projects.


I don't think the issue is really democracy. I suspect that the failure of the high speed rail link between Taipei and Chiang Kai-Shek Airport is really my fault. I did some of the translation work for the specs back in the 1990s........

....Seriously, people forget how the previous authoritarian government dragged its feet on large infrastructure projects as well. In fact, the switch from previous infrastructure systems to the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) system was driven by the KMT's percieved incompetence in bringing home other projects:

Over the past year and a half, the BOT model has been promoted by the government as the best route to take for big-ticket infrastructure projects in Taiwan. The concept gives the private sector the opportunity to help build and operate these public works. In the early stages, this represents profit potential for the private firms and reduced outlays for the government. Under this design, the systems are transferred wholly to the government after a designated period of operation. However, disputes have flared repeatedly since the BOT concept was unveiled in October 1996 as a formula for the north-south high-speed railway.

That article, dated 1998, shows the problems inherent in the system. The BOT concept was chosen for the Bullet Train back in 1996. It is almost a decade later and there are still no trains running. The issue is the habitual corruption and incompetence in public contracting nurtured under the KMT. Institutionalized habits are difficult to break, and I do not ever expect that Taiwan will reach the smoothly operating public corruption of the Republican-run US Congress, where a single legislator can wrangle a Bridge to Nowhere worth hundreds of millions, and a single large transportation bill can be larded with more than 6,000 pork projects.

In addition to the problems with financing, there are the problems with the stops as well.

According to a survey conducted by the ministry, the biggest concerns regarding the high-speed rail are accessibility and safety. The stations in Taipei are to be accessible from the MRT system, as they will be in Taichung and Tsoying (左營) -- the terminal stop in Kaohsiung. Other stations, however, will be outside the city centers.

The station in Taichung, which I drive past every day, is in a place where a bird wouldn't shit or die, as the locals say, far from anything. Nothing would suprise me less than to see this project fail completely. Although whatever government inherits it will blame it all on the one before.

Getting back to the Chiang Kai-shek Airport-Taipei rail link, none of the major media have suggested that the link is not being built because it would hurt the cab drivers and bus companies if it were. Yet that is exactly the explanation I have been given for why there is almost no city bus service in Taichung. The route to the airport is lucrative, and at least one bus company I can name is owned by gangsters....

+++++++++++++++++

David at jujuflop analyzes Taiwan's overseas aid program:

1. The money that is given to Taiwan's allies is shrouded in secrecy. At the best of times, overseas aid often has problems reaching the people who actually need it (usually diverted into the bank accounts of various politicians and administrators along the way). Taiwan's 'under the table' deals mean that you can almost guarantee that the majority of it ends up in various officials pockets.

2. Taiwan's allies provide very little in return. Apart from giving China an opportunity to throw its weight around each year when one of Taiwan's allies nervously mentions that letting Taiwan join the UN would be nice, there seems to be no payback for Taiwan. From this perspective, all the aid is a huge waste of money.

David goes on to outline a very interesting policy for Taiwan's aid programs. Unfortunately I doubt, in the long run, that Taiwan's "allies" will remain on our side. They have too much to gain from switching sides.

+++++++++++++++++


The Gentle Rant poked fun at problems with condoms:

First of all you want to be careful buying condoms in a gas station vending machine, and if you need to read the instructions you probably shouldn't be buying them at all. Besides, I thought the instructions were usually in diagram form. Regardless, always be careful of condom instructions in a foreign language.
+++++++++++++++++

Erick Heroux blogs on the problems of guest workers:

I would like to remind those same authorities that I too am a guest worker, and that when they come for me, that I have more access to media channels and lawyers and other forms of struggle that one shouldn't mention in a public forum.

Erick is more right than he thinks; the new visa regs that came out a while back made all the foreigners working here, both skilled labor and unskilled, subject to the same regs, much to the indignation of the former.

+++++++++++++++++

Wandering to Tamshui gives full props to DeeAnn Kuo for ripping Ma Ying-jeou over his distortions of history.

Badass mofo taidu agitator DeeAnn Kuo sticks it to feckless KMT Chairman Ma in today's Taipei Times for distorting her grandfather, tangwai activist Kuo Yu-hsin's position on Taiwan independence. Ma made the questionable assertion that Kuo was never a supporter of TI and many other outright lies in this Oct. 25 op-ed piece commemorating Taiwan's unbreakable bond with China on the anniversary of the KMT's arrival in Taiwan in the Taiwan-based China Times.
+++++++++++++++++

Pinyin News blogs on the new street signs in Taichung, noting how the issue of Pinyin is heavily politicized. To the point of a ridiculous ten-year program to develop YET ANOTHER romanization for Chinese that is now in use around the island.

Today's Taipei Times has a photo displaying a sample of a new address plate for buildings. The new-style plates are larger and feature romanization. The choice of Hanyu Pinyin, however, might change if the KMT fails to hold the mayorship of Taizhong (usually spelled Taichung, following bastardized Wade-Giles), as the choice of romanization systems has become partisanized, to the dismay even of many within the DPP who would prefer a more practical approach to the issue.

Hear, hear. I can't wait until there's one system, in use everywhere in the Chinese-speaking world.

+++++++++++++++++

Freedom Slopes pens an thoughtful essay on globalization and Taiwan:

Taiwan is consistently held up by laissez-faire promoters of globalisation as a fine example of a country which has benefited from global capitalism. Through the 80's and then into the 90's as an "Asian Tiger" Taiwan flourished. Taiwan's economy grew and as the country developed economically the government reformed from a one party state into a democratic society. As a model of export-based growth (remarkable for a country with few, if practically no natural resources) and a country that made a smooth transition to democratic rule Taiwan was the envy of many countries of the world. Taiwan had distinguished itself on the world stage.

It must be pointed out however that Taiwan flourished under a global capitalist system which for the most part had yet to fully integrate the huge market that China offers as well as having developed under a regime that received preferential treatment from its former main export market, the US, and strong protectionist measures and subsidies for key industries.

I think perhaps the same point could be made about the global capitalist system in general. Had China been integrated into the System in the 1960s, US incomes would have been a lot lower, Japan a lot poorer, and the Taiwan miracle would never had occurred. The recovery from the effects of two world wars was made possible because China was excluded from the system, and that vast pool of labor did not compete with Americans, Japanese, and Europeans.

+++++++++++++++++

The Taipei Kid and others blogged on that ridiculous publicity stunt by Durex condoms. The Kid notes:

According to the results of this survey, the Taiwanese have the highest rate of vibrator use in the world (that explains all the Passion Stores). Their rate of actually getting laid, however, is pretty low (eighth from last).

Absurd. Peking Duck roasted this one properly:

The most partners last year...the least satisfied this year...the most faithful lovers two years ago... Maybe the Durex sex survey is nothing but an inflated publicity stunt? Like that funny guy they dress up as a huge Durex condom who walks all through Lan Kwai Fong. (Do they still do that?)
+++++++++++++++++

Fred Shannon describes theories of language acquisition, an important topic for English-crazy Taiwan.

Over the last thirty years, researchers have generated a number of theories in order to better understand and explain human behavior. Scholars working in disciplines such as sociology, psychology, linguistics and education have made great contributions in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) research. SLA theoretical perspectives, like those in other social sciences, are dynamic in that hypotheses are constantly evolving as new information about language is produced.

The article describes Krashen's theories and their fallout. I personally think that Krashen is totally wrong and that his work is simply an example of poor, ethnocentric science, and I think the experience of Chinese language learners is a good source of examples why. Perhaps I'll blog on that someday.

+++++++++++++++++

Cold Goat Eyes talks about how great his job is:

I write this post not because I am a self-satisfied smug prick, but (a) because it is Thursday and I am in a good mood (b) I wanted to be a little more positive after my last post and (c) I wanted to address the balance of cyberscript concerning working in Taiwan. In the weeks prior to leaving the UK, I spent a lot of time surfing the net, looking for the opinions and experiences of Westerners here, especially on message boards such as Forumosa, and found them to be full of pious arseholes who are unhappy with their miserable lives here and use such methods as a way to vent their spleens.

If you are thinking about coming to Taiwan, and you have stumbled upon this weblog, looking for information as I was 12 months ago, then come. It's great.

An American in Taiwan blogged similarly:

Having said that, it is pretty easy to make decent money here. I work approximately 30 hours a week at my school. That is where my bread is buttered, so to speak. The school sponsors me for my work visa, and my health insurance comes through them. A few weeks ago, I began working at a kindergarten four days a week, for two hours in the morning. This pays well, and I get a free lunch out of the deal. The kids are adorable, and it is really easy to teach. I pretty much figured out that if I can make them laugh a little, then I've got their attention for maybe ten minutes. After that, it's just a cycle. Make them laugh, teach for ten minutes. They really don't even mind if I use the same material each time. Kids are a bad comic's perfect audience.

+++++++++++++++++

One of Taiwan's most urgent problems is the vexing lack of taste among its females, particularly outside of Taipei. The Lost Spaceman describes the problem:

I've always found fashion choices by Taiwanese women to be utterly baffling. Mind boggling, even. Not a week goes by when I don't stand at the window of a local boutique, brow furrowed at the green and yellow sweater/short combination with "matching" knee socks and gold shoes. Invariably, i turn to Iris and wonder aloud: "who in there right mind would think THAT is a good idea? It looks like woven barf."

C'mon, Spaceman. You're too kind. My wife and I often fantasize about a new fashion magazine called DON'T, taking off from Glamour's famous page, which is nothing but pics of these women.

+++++++++++++++++

Taiwananonymous remarks on a common and amusing phenomenon in Taiwan, one that I often indulge in myself:

In business settings, and especially at hi-tech businesses, you rarely hear "pure" Chinese. There are many English words that do not have a commonly used Chinese translation, and there are many words that are said in English for no apparent reason. Some of the English words that are common in Chinese conversation are very local to the business environment, while some are universal. In my opinion, the funniest example of mixing English into Chinese sentences is when English verbs are used with Chinese verb complements.

Hi-tech creole emerge-chu-lai in Taiwan....

+++++++++++++++++

MeiZhongTai points to the US commission on China and security and its new report on Taiwan.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission yesterday submitted its annual report to Congress. Recent blogroll addition East Asia Watch has the synopsis.

The commission was created by Congress in order to:
monitor and investigate and report to Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

Previous reports by the commission can be found here.

The report called for the US to give Taiwan AEGIS warships and generally upgrade the island's weapons. I hope that it will stimulate the US to reconsider the current arms package, which I do not think provides useful weaponry for the island. The Taipei Times also has an article:

In answer to a question about the special arms budget bill stalled in the Legislative Yuan, Robinson said that the imbalance of force in the Strait in favor of China "has increased so markedly since that arms package was initially configured, we probably have to be thinking about the next echelon of equipment and technology transfers from the United States."

Asked whether that meant the AEGIS, Robinson said at first that he did not want to "speculate too much" about it, but added, "I would only take note of the fact that with 700 ballistic missiles trained against Taiwan, and increasing at the rate of about 150 a year now, it would seem to me that that kind of AEGIS air defense capability is relevant and becoming more relevant over time."

Robinson's estimate of 150 missiles added annually is much higher than earlier estimates and higher than the figure used in the commission's report. A Pentagon report on China's military this summer said China is adding 100 missiles a year, while the commission report put it at 75-120 a year.


+++++++++++++++++

Like MZT the impressive blog East Asia Watch made it onto my blogroll this week. There's several good articles on Taiwan-related issues there already, among them this view of the health system:

Hsiao argues that the lack of public participation is what has caused the leaks in the boat. Of course, it could never have had anything to do with the fact that these sorts of systems are simply unsustainable in the long-run without serious, debilitating financial crises. And apparently, politicians are wary of invoking voters' wrath by supporting premium hikes. Who would have thought?

I do not share EAW's pessimism about government health care. No one in their right mind could say that the US system of private health care is a success, especially given new research that came out a couple of weeks ago showing how Americans get the worst service and pay the most. The US just wasted $300 billion to murder 100,000 Iraqis and wreck its military, image, and moral ascendancy; it can certainly afford to spend like amounts on health care. It is high time we switched over to the better system used throughout the civilized world.

My experiences with the system here in Taiwan have all been positive. We go to the local teaching hospital, the China Medical College, where we get excellent service from US-speaking docs, most of the time.

As EAW correctly notes, the system is under severe financial stress because the initial co-pay is set fantastically low. Last month my son had a filling done for NT$150, or about US$6. I had a mouthpiece made so I wouldn't grind my teeth for the same price. My wife has had serious dental surgery for equally inane prices. The same problem has happened in many other aspects of Taiwanese life, such as low water and electricity prices, the lack of food and safety regulation, and so on. The populace needs to be educated in the simple mathematics of $150 copayments. An additional problem not covered in EAW's piece is the rampant corruption due to -- who would have imagined it? -- the lack of oversight in the system.

+++++++++++++++++

Among a series of good posts this week, Rank drools at the thought of the incoming hordes of Chinese tourists:

In the wake of a just-completed trip to Taiwan by a Chinese tourism official (who was, officially at least, visiting in his private capacity), it now seems increasingly likely that Taiwan will be hosting increased numbers of Chinese visitors in coming years. And if this comes to pass -- doesn't your heart thrill with anticipation when you contemplate the myriad ways in which pro-independence forces will deliver messages of defiance and, it may be hoped, raw obscenity, to their, ahem, mainland compatriots?
+++++++++++++++++

Sun Bin also has a bunch of good stuff this week, including some discussion of why China has the advantage over Japan in the gas field race. Sun! Of course Japan will get that gas out of there. We're talking about a nation that built a whole airport on stilts. Cost is no object! Sun Bin also has useful information on the various contested islands in the South China Sea, another potential flashpoint for a war.

China's claim on South China Sea is based on its claim on the coral islands Sisha (Paracel, controlled by China, disputed by Vietnam), Dongsha (Pratas, undisputed, controlled by ROC), Zhongsha (Macclesfield, claimed by China and Philippines, unoccupied but controlled by Philippines), and Nansha (Spratly).

Spratly, the most contested islands group, was inhabited by Chinese fishermen and has been controlled by ROC navy before the 1949 revolution.

Solid posts that point to a serious problem the independence crowd keeps whistling past: Taiwan's claims on areas that don't belong to it. Not only will independence bring us into conflict with the Chinese, but even if acheived, Taiwan's mad claims on areas it has no historical or cultural link to will only be cause for trouble. In the event of independence these islands will have to be given up by Taiwan.

+++++++++++++++++

Taipei Nights discusses the military budgets of China and the US:

I was talking politics with an American friend the other day. We got onto the topic of a potential invasion by Mainland China, and began trading scenarios. He was of the firm belief that America would step up to the plate to defend Taiwan, and that once America's mighty army becomes involved in a conflict the outcome is determined. His argument was that American military spending eclipses China's (their closest rival) by a factor of over 5. This chart may help you visualize the differences. While this is true, at least approximately enough as PLA expenditures and profits (they have numerous business interests) are hazy at best, I exhorted him to recall that a billion dollars goes much further in China than it does in the U.S.A. This is often forgotten by individuals throwing around military expenditure figures. I've no idea what an average American soldier's salary is, but if we attribute it a value of the U.S. GDP/Capita ($44 000) and multiply this by the number of active troops (1 427 000) we get the princely sum of around $63 billion. In China's case the GDP/Capita is about $5600 (I doubt soldiers make anything close to this amount) and the number of active troops is 2 250 000, which puts their sloppily estimated payroll at about $12.6 billion.
+++++++++++++++++

SHORTS: Scott Sommers collects his posts on the history of English in Taiwan. Poagao describes Blues Bash 2. Mutant Frog uploads pics from a trip to the Penghu. Jerome Keating expresses the frustration that many of us who love Taiwan feel with a parable about Taiwan. Broken Bulbs blogs on design in Taiwan again. For those of you thinking of a mail-order bride, asiapundit discovers that ordering a Vietnamese girl has never been easier -- just add to cart. ApplePea talks at length about traveling in Tamshui. Lots of comments on the many positive outcomes in the US elections this week, although Texas regrettably remains the realm of bigotry in which people are proud to hate. BrianMathes warns on local ATMs. Kaohsiung Diary posts some great fotos of eco-touring in Tainan. Don't miss the podcasting at Getting a Leg Up, The Bluesman's Killing Floor, Misadventures in Taiwan, and Ugly Expat. As always, great photos at 35togo, Unplugged, the forgetful's photo gallery, the forgetful's photo gallery, amateur commune, andres, Clarke vs Matt, Cat Piano, T_C at Fotolog, battphotos, Fotologging Taiwan, Photoactionboy, leftmind, MaMaHuHu, Everything Visible is Empty, Roger in Taiwan, Love Songs (Are for Losers), Photoblogging Taiwan, a better tomorrow, Eight Diagrams, Tagging Taichung, and This Life.

Pat Golemon offered his hilarious image:



And in celebration of the great victory in Dover, PA, in which the Forces of Darkness got eight of their butts kicked:



+++++++++++++++++

New Blogs on the roll this week:

  • East Asia Watch
  • Love Can Stop Fear Blog of one of my former students.
  • Everyone is a Foreigner
  • Little Fish's Space
  • Oh Sh_t, It's Mario!
  • Touch of Feminism
  • Kaohsiung Diary
  • oriental princess
  • etahdee's private room
  • The Garbage Bin
  • The Maverick's Hideout
  • Tagging Taichung Taichung Graffiti Photo Blog
  • My Diagnosis
  • In Hell There are No Nitelights
  • BattPhotos


  • 14 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    I once met Su Chi (蘇起) at a conference in where he was an invited speaker. Speaking as representative of the KMT (he said this), he described in his amazing English how "...the KMT is committed to deepening democracy in Taiwan." -- he really said this.

    I guess that's why they keep killing every piece of legislation the DPP proposes.

    By the way, I learned about all the news that Dr. Su referred to by reading the English newspapers, most particularly the Taipei Times. Even after reading his explanation in today's Taipei Times, I'm not really sure what he was getting at.

    Scott Sommers.

    Hunter said...

    wow, that's what I call a round-up.

    Red A said...

    Just curious about how much of Taiwan's problem with speed in implementing HSR or what not is due to land problems whereas maybe China can simply appropriate what it needs. Just a thought.

    Vibrator use: There is a reason that phones with long battery life sell well to women. Actually, I once was in a sex shop looking for "foreign" condoms, and the lady running it said many couples came to buy vibrators. There sure are a lot of those shops.

    Congratulations on another tour de force!

    Sun Bin said...

    The list Taiwan needs to give up if declaring independence
    1. kinmen and matsu
    2. maybe taiping in spratly
    3. maybe dongsha (this one is negotiable) since it is also close to kaohsiung
    4. all the treasure in the Palace Museum
    5. some 40 shiploads of gold KMT embezzled in 1949 + interests

    OTOH, all these would be allowed to stay if it negotiate for a unification/federation. in addition, mainland would even help taiwan to get more of spratly and share the oil $, and diaoyu (oil as well) for the fishermen in keelung and yilan.
    -- mainland has agreed to be 'non-aggressive', but taiwan has nothing to lose diplomatically, it can use its navy to get these islands. buy more destroyers and battleships :)

    Sun Bin said...

    TVBS, that is a load of biased view:)

    I am only going to comment on one thing. It is unambigeous that satellite broadcast law clearly allows for indirect foreign ownership, by stating the limit on DIRECT foriegn ownership. (and also wirting unambigeuosly that indirect foreign ownerhship is limited for Cable TV).

    There will be a lawsuit. Pasuya and Hsieh will be in deep deep sh1t. Maybe that is what CSB wanted to see.
    DPP gained nothing on this issue, since NCC will call in legal expert and reverse the verdict soon.

    Michael Turton said...


    I am only going to comment on one thing. It is unambigeous that satellite broadcast law clearly allows for indirect foreign ownership, by stating the limit on DIRECT foriegn ownership. (and also wirting unambigeuosly that indirect foreign ownerhship is limited for Cable TV).


    Perhaps, but the papers filed for TVBS are clearly bogus. TVBS is not indirectly owned, it is directly owned through dummy companies, and in total violation of the law. As the Taipei Times pointed out (11/9)

    TVB in Hong Kong has used Bermuda TVB Investment Co to set up a sister company, Countless Entertainment (Taiwan) Co, in Taiwan. Countless Entertainment holds a 53 percent stake in TVBS, and the Hong Kong-based Bermuda TVB holds the remaining 47 percent. Although the amount of shares that TVB holds in TVBS through Countless Entertainment exceeds 50 percent, that stake is indirectly held, and this would seem to avoid prohibition against a foreign company directly holding a majority of shares.

    A careful look, however, reveals that the shareholders in Countless Entertainment are the same as those in Bermuda TVB Investment, and that both companies are registered at the same address. Although TVBS says that Bermuda TVB Investment owns shares in TVBS indirectly through Countless Entertainment, the fact is that the Hong Kong-based shareholders in Bermuda TVB Investment own 100 percent of TVBS.


    TVBS ownership is a scam, and no ethical person should be defending it, Sun Bin.

    Michael

    Sun Bin said...

    Taipei Times is nut. it is written by a big idiot trying to confuse people who do not have legal knowledge.

    Just ask ANY lawyer.

    by definition
    Direct = what it shows on the company registration
    Indirect = you can use a shadow company in the middle.

    TVBS is INDIRECTLY 100% owned, by TBV(HK), via Bermuda/ ireland/ taiwan entities. but it is DIRECTLY 49% owned by foreign.

    ---
    it was NOT a loophole, as Lin Cho-Tsui alleged. It was a guesture of openness for WTO by Taiwan.
    Because, the definition was very clearly written on Cable TV, where indirectly ownership was limited explicitly.

    Ask yourself this question. If what you and TT's definitio of 'direct' holds, WHAT DOES INDIRECT MEAN?

    ---
    anyway, no use arguing legal issue if you want to bring politics on top. we will just wait to see the lawsuit.
    CSB claearly understood the issue, he was either using pasuya to paly the idiot, or was happy to get rid of pasuya/hsieh.

    Michael Turton said...

    I don't know what indirect means, Sun Bin, and it is sad that the law isn't clear. Taiwan law frequently operates that way -- definitions are unclear and contradictory, and everyone interprets them their own way. But you know, nothing stopped the shareholders of TVBS from requesting clarification of the law prior to their end run around it -- and nobody forced them to file bogus paperwork with the government.

    There is simply no question that any way you slice it, TVBS is 100% foreign owned by citizens of a nation bent on destroying Taiwan, and against the spirit of the law, as well as common sense about the security of Taiwan. That second paragraph there explains it clearly:

    A careful look, however, reveals that the shareholders in Countless Entertainment are the same as those in Bermuda TVB Investment, and that both companies are registered at the same address. Although TVBS says that Bermuda TVB Investment owns shares in TVBS indirectly through Countless Entertainment, the fact is that the Hong Kong-based shareholders in Bermuda TVB Investment own 100 percent of TVBS.

    There's no way to defend this, ethically (note that my last post says "ethically" not "legally" -- well paid lawyers can get anything made legal). Lost in the flap over the stupidity and venality of Pasuya Yao is this more important issue, which the KMT is doing its best to muddy.

    Michael

    Michael Turton said...

    I mean, do you really think that the writers of the law intended that foreigners could own 100% of a local media outlet by setting up a dummy corporation for the express purpose of doing that?

    Dont' think so.

    Michael

    Michael Turton said...

    I once met Su Chi (蘇起) at a conference in where he was an invited speaker. Speaking as representative of the KMT (he said this), he described in his amazing English how "...the KMT is committed to deepening democracy in Taiwan." -- he really said this.

    LOL. Did anyone call him on that? I think by "deepening" he probably meant 'cast it into the abyss.'

    Sun Bin said...

    "it is sad that the law isn't clear."

    No, it is extremely clear. direct and indirect, in any language. as long as we stick on legal terms.

    ---
    "do you really think that the writers of the law intended that foreigners could own 100% of a local media outlet by setting up a dummy corporation for the express purpose of doing that? "

    yes, i really think so. again, it is extremely clear.
    forcing foreign ownership to be indirect serve some purpose, e.g. you can trace the liability and fund flow much better if you force them to set up a 100% domestic entity.

    there is also good rationale.
    1) terrestial TV (broadcast TV): very tight, no foreign control, because they r the msot influential
    2) cable: foreign indirect+direct restricted to 49%.
    3) satellite TV: well you have NHK and Phoenix and even CCTV which covers Taiwan anyway! what difference does it make by restricting TVBS?

    In case of emergency, eg during war, to control CCTV you just have to ask teh cable TV operator to stop carrying the signals. and suddenly only those who have their own dish can have access to it. and they have access to all satellite TV is this world anyway.

    ---
    what pasuya did was PERSECUTION and RETRIBUTION. no doubt about it.
    he may justify it by ethic, but not by anyone who respect the rule of law.

    Taiwan's Other Side said...

    "I refuted easily then with a simple web search."

    Please, oh wise one, share with us the search string you used to prove that the English media is not overwhelmingly pro-green. Or is it locked up with all of Chen-Shui Bian's 'evidence'?

    Michael Turton said...

    Simple as pie, Sun. As I recall, TOS's claim was that the Taipei Times hadn't reported on the KMRT scandal. All you had to do is search Taipei Times' site and find the articles. TOS didn't do that. Dunno why.

    Michael

    Taiwan's Other Side said...

    You recall incorrectly, I've never claimed that.

    Get your facts straight before you stoop to belittling your opponents.