Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foreign Snacks

Gerrit van Der Wees of FAPA had an Op-ed the other day in the Taipei Times that called for Ma to achieve a consensus on his foreign policy toward China. Note that it was China-focused; basically, because of the diplomatic truce, our "foreign policy" has ground to a halt. Gerrit's major point was not consensus, but the "irrational exuberance" that so many observers have expressed in watching the KMT shove Taiwan into China's orbit. Essentially Ma has made a dessert of Taiwan's sovereignty, and called it peace.... and everyone has bought into it.

On Saturday Mike Fonte, a longtime worker for Taiwan in Washington DC, who works closely with the pro-democracy side in Taiwan's politics, spoke at the meet up. He pointed out that the previous week, when Richard Bush was here at the Brookings Seminar, the really key points were his call on Ma to not go too far on sovereignty, and to forge a domestic consensus on policy.

It is easy to fall back on how completely impossible that is, but in fact, as Fonte observed, the way around the sovereignty problem is to emphasize human rights in forging links to the other side in Taiwan's politics. The Wild Strawberry students, also there speaking, said that they had not taken a Green or Blue position, but had instead focused on human rights. Most of the students in the protest, one of the girls said, were light blues. But nevertheless the KMT had tried to discredit them by claiming they were Green tools. That might be an indicator of how difficult it will be to begin a dialog on rights, when rights have become a "Green" issue rather than a "human" issue.

Fonte also noted that the Obama foreign policy team will have a number of individuals in key policy positions who know Taiwan and understand the issues. Of course, there are many issues that will have to be juggled in the new Administration. Still, Fonte is optimistic, and expects quite a bit of improvement over the previous Administration.

Lots of stuff this week on China's global reach. From Japan Focus comes an article on its energy needs and foreign policy, a discussion that stretches from past to future, from Africa to Japan....

It is revealing that when seven Chinese activists shook off Japanese coast guard vessels and landed on one of the islands in March 2004, the Chinese government did nothing to stop these protesters setting sail from a Chinese port. When they were taken into custody by Japanese police and coast guards, the Chinese foreign ministry made official protests. After the seven finally returned to Shanghai from Okinawa, they were hailed as national heroes. As one Hong Kong reporter noticed, what's new this time was the marked change in Beijing's attitude toward the actions of the protesters. Until two years ago, police and state-security departments repeatedly prevented Diaoyu activists from setting sail for the archipelago, or even protesting outside Japanese diplomatic missions in China.

According to the reporter, the changing position was due to the petroleum imperative, evident in the statement of a leader of the group: they were risking their lives 'for the sake of our children and grandchildren … the room for existence for the Chinese race will be bigger' if Beijing could reassume sovereignty over the Diaoyus and exploit their mineral riches. [46]

Both China and Japan are net oil importers, with Japan importing as much as 80% of its oil needs and China catching up quickly. In addition to the territorial disputes, the relations between the two countries have been troubled by political and military competitions. China has opposed a Japanese permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and protested a Japanese history textbook, which is perceived as whitewashing Japanese WWII atrocities in China, and the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including war criminals. Japan has talked about cutting its overseas development assistance to China in the presence of China's improving standard of living, high growth levels and confrontational relations with Japan. These two countries' quest for energy security has enflamed these tensions. In response to a rising China-Japan struggle for scarce oil and other natural resources and China's voracious quest for energy, the Center for Safety and Security Research (CSSR), a research institute under Japan's Education, Science and Technology Ministry, released a report in June 2005, suggesting two crisis scenarios that China's actions regarding energy would impact Japan. The first scenario assumes that if China reinforces its procurement of energy without taking cost-efficiency into consideration, the world will be plunged into a situation in which each country competes for oil by ignoring international market mechanisms. As a result, political tension between the two countries over resources in the East China Sea will mount. The second scenario assumes that if China succeeds in concluding free trade agreements with Southeast Asian countries, their reliance on China will increase, leading to the isolation of Japan. Both scenarios portray shocking futures for Japan. [47]
Well worth a gander. Speaking of Japan, Harsh Pant, writing in the Japan Times, looks at the situation of Emerging strategic ties in Asia in response to China's growing power and its aggressive expansionist posture, with a close look at Japan and India. Taiwan vs China in Latin America was the theme of this piece from the end of last month.

Finally, last week also brought us the interesting call from KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung ask for Taiwan and Japan to cooperate on developing the resources of the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands.

The uninhabited islands, thought to lie near oil and gas reserves in an area also rich with fish, have long been a source of friction between Taiwan, Japan and China and the dispute has flared up this year.

Taiwan claims them as Tiaoyutai, Beijing as Diaoyu islands, and Japan, which controls the islands, as the Senkaku isles.

"We hope that Taiwan and Japan can set aside disputes over sovereignty and jointly cooperate with each other to develop resources around Tiaoyutai," Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung told a news conference.

Note who the call came from: the Chairman of the KMT. Not the President of the ROC, Ma Ying-jeou. Not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the head of the Japan desk at MOFA, or the Ambassador to Japan. Not a member of the government, but a private citizen who happens to head the political party in power. Another indicator of how the KMT views its relationship to the State, and how the party elites view themselves in relation to Ma Ying-jeou.


Anonymous said...

I think in many areas the DPP has caused more harm than good by forcing itself upon certain movements and politicizing them for party gain and thus turned issues that should be universal issues with voters into simple a simple Green vs. Blue dichotomy. This has served to automatically turn off potential supporters who may otherwise support an issue. I can't describe how many times I have heard people rail against their own interests because, "that's DPP and I hate the DPP".

Dixteel said...

I think Anon might be correct in this observation. But isn't it weird that it has ended up this way?

Political parties are supposed to take stands on various issues, either support or against a policies. Would people like to see political parties discussing no issues and support nothing? Then what's the point of the political party then?

Why would people stop supporting something just because DPP start to support it? Isn't it illogical? Again Taiwanese really have to grow up and stop being like kids. If they don't want to support something because of a logical reason, even if not a solid reason, then don't support it. But if they don't support it just because they hate a party, that's really weird. Also, thinking this way is really stupid because everytime somebody want to counter your argument, all they have to say is that's green. And since you hate green so much the defense of your argument would become very weak because now you have to argue that it's not green and that's always difficult.

I would suggest to you anon, to try to discuss and reason with those that say such things. Because their hatred has blinded their eyes, and someone has to hit them on their heads to open their eyes again. Just tell them, "so what if it's green, who cares, if you want to support it then support it, if you don't, then you don't. Don't just try to be 'cool', because you aren't."

As for DPP, I guess for now maybe if they really want to support something, then don't support it. And if they don't want to support something, support it. So I think DPP should sacrifice itself and start supporting immidiate unification with China. It's a political suicide but it will ensure Taiwan's indepedence for generations to come. That's the only way to treat a bunch of irrational kids.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue might be how the DPP "supports" something.

They have a tendency to either:

A: Love something to death...i.e. get so close and involved that they saturate it with partisanship and seek to absorb the issue/movement into the party by attempting to fill leadership roles with big party "names" and use it as a quasi-campaign event.


B: Use the issue for short term political grandstanding before abandoning it when it can no longer be used as a useful wedge issue.

Anonymous said...

Haha..the suggestion from Dixtell is interesting and that puts the last bullet to the heads of all greens. Hopefully, we will see a phoenix arising from the fire. I suggest DPP only to do this suicide when it again loses the election next year.

Dixteel said...

If my suggestion can actually work I suggest they do it right now.

But again my main point is not about DPP. It's how hatred control people's thoughts. It's good that the recent wild strawberry movement tried very hard to block themselves from political parties, but again look what happened. Haven't they been firmly labeled as puppet of DPP by the media? What can they do but have faith in people's wisdom to see through media accusation? But if people are all blinded by the hatred of DPP, can they actually see what the movement is about at all? Do the students need to join the KMT and have a KMT symbol tattoo on their asses to prove that they are not from DPP?

And to be fair, comparing to KMT, which has their hands in almost everything, from school to the military, DPP's control is much less. Of course DPP still needs a lot of changes, but KMT I would say is practically hopeless.

If only there is another original Taiwanese party, maybe called RPP (Republican Progressive Party) to replace KMT, Taiwan would be much much better.