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.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.
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
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.