Friday, October 31, 2008

Daily Links, Oct 31, 2008

What's being taken out of the bag on the blogs today?

  • Diogenes blogs on the promotion of Taipei as a place to find hot girls.

  • A-gu blogs on a key change in local media markets: Apple owner Jimmy Lai is buying the pro-KMT China Times and its cable news organization CTI. The media market is vicious here, and mergers and bankruptcies are probably inevitable.

  • Tumbling tumbles out to Sanxia with some gorgeous pictures.

  • The elegantly titled Memoirs of the Past Tense blogs on the 10/25 march with many pics.

  • Steve Crook on Yimin Temple, the Temple of the Dog.

  • Maddog rounds up the latest list of melamine contaminations.

  • David blogs on the hunger strike to get the referendum law changed.

  • Lief on Pu Du with lovely pics and prose.

  • Hiking around Taipei with Pashan.

  • Islaformosa on Taiwanese food.

  • Moshang on Taichung's hosting of a record large saxophone ensemble.

  • Fili goes to Heping Island, one of Taiwan's best-kept secrets.

  • Scott blogs on the latest webcast from Clyde Warden's China marketing podcasts, Talk of Asian Marketing.

  • Jerome asks what the heck does Ma mean, there will be no war?

  • The Bushman on the blogtoberfest

  • MEDIA: Former Vice Premier Chiou I-jen was arrested, another DPPer swept up in a "corruption" probe. Police bust a factory that had been faking $50 coins for a decade. As everyone knows, China negotiator Chen Yun-lin is on his way and will meet with Taipei mayor Hau over the pandas. In an apparent sop to China, the government took just nine days to indict the politician who challenged PRC hack Zhang Mingqing in Tainan. The DPP complained. Blackfaced Spoonbill season has begun. Former KMT Chairman and two-time Presidential loser Lien Chan was named envoy to APEC. China, Taiwan, set to begin talks on letting Chinese banks and other financial investments take place here. Taiwan eyes robotics market. Another excellent piece in the Asia Times Online by Cindy Sui, this one on Ma going too far, too fast. Looks like Ting-yi Tsai has a worthy successor.

    DEFENSE: First, I don't have a link, but Janes Defense Weekly is reporting that China is getting 14 Su-33s [not -35s!] for training naval pilots and will apparently be purchasing these fighters. Second, the Jamestown brief has an article on the China's anti-aircraft capabilities and how they are changing things. Wendell Minnick's blog has two good pieces, one from Rupert Hammond-Chambers on the recent arms sale, and the other an article on the Bush Administration's refusal to sell Taiwan the parts it needs to make cruise missiles. Apparently the Bush Administration still hasn't got a lock on the difference between appeasement and abasement.

    UPDATE: HIGHWAY 11 latest issue is out! Also:
    Hello to you all. This is Brandon Shimoda, Director of Marketing at Wave Books in Seattle, USA, writing to let you know that Taiwanese poet, CHEN LI is being featured today (Tuesday, October 28th) on PoetryPolitic: A Blog in 50 Days --- ( --- a blog running from September 15th through November 4th, 2008, presenting news from the intersection between poetry and politics. Chen Li has published seven books of poetry, as well as works of prose and translation. His poems have been translated into English, French, Dutch, Japanese and other languages.

    Visit PoetryPolitic here:

    PoetryPolitic is brought to you by Wave Books, an independent poetry press in Seattle, Washington, USA. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Wave at

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Worrisome Trends in Politicizing Law Enforcement?

    Taipei Times editorial cartoon.

    Taiwan News and other news organizations are commenting on the seeming abuse of detention by the Ma Administration to go after Green officials.... the opening sentence is brilliant:
    Since the right-wing Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) under President Ma Ying-jeou took office May 20, virtually all aspects of Taiwan's economic and society has lost vitality and energy with the exceptions of actions tilting toward China and a purge of officials of the former Democratic Progressive Party government.

    Besides the family and close associates of former president Chen Shui-bian and the search by prosectors of three major financial holding companies, prosecutors have placed several current and former DPP officials under "preventative detention" for interrogation, including former interior minister Yu Cheng-hsien, Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen and former Hsinchu Science-Based Industrial Park chief administrator Lee Chieh-mu.

    Under the Code of Criminal Procedures, prosecutors can apply for "investigative" or "pretrial" detention of an unindicted suspect for two months with a two month extension only in cases in which there is reasonable concern that the suspect will flee Taiwan, collude with other suspects or destroy material evidence.

    However, in these cases, as well as in the cases of the "investigative detention" of two former aides of president Chen, prosecutors have supplied scant indication of having concrete evidence, even though the airwaves have been filled with speculative stories on the "scandals" complemented with sensationalist commentary from "famous mouths."

    Taiwan News notes of the Chiayi case:

    In the case of DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen, who is rated as one of the best mayors in Taiwan, the Chiayi District Court decided Tuesday to reverse its previous decision and order Chen's detention incommunicado under suspicion of "seeking illegal gains" by divulging information on a public contract for a sewage system to a particular company in May 2007.

    After a year and a half long investigation, prosecutors have been unable to provide an estimate of the alleged "illegal profits" that Chen was supposed to have gained or show how Chen could meaningfully "collude" with other defendants to alter county government documents.

    The court's decision to accept these flawed arguments and give prosecutors up to four months to sweat a confession out of the DPP mayor is sufficient to lead observers to worry that judicial standards in Taiwan have gone back two decades or more in time.

    Moreover, given the obvious political implications of Chen's possible removal in the run-up to critical mayoral elections next December, the timing of this action fuels suspicion that the goal is the liquidation of all DPP persons of influence regardless of innocence or guilt.

    A month or so ago eight prosecutors held a press conference to announce that if they did not solve the Chen Shui-bian case, they would step down, a clear indicator of the politicization of the prosecutor's office. It also indicated that the prosecutors have no serious evidence of wrongdoing on Chen's part, or else they would have announced or leaked the evidence by now. Ominously, prosecutors are investigating an accusation against Chen that he took classified documents with him when he left office.

    Taiwan presents many instances of parallel formal/gray market systems existing side by side, for example, the public schools and the cram schools. The Taipei Times points out the flip side of politicization of law enforcement (the formal side): gangster enforcers....

    Following reports last week that Wang allegedly instigated an incident in which China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) fell over, media outlets reported on Monday that Wang’s life had been threatened by a suspected gangster who demanded that he offer an apology to Zhang.

    Cable Channel CTI filmed as Huang Ju-yi (黃如意) sat next to Wang on a sofa and described to him how to present his apology, pounding him on the chest twice.


    If the threat against Wang is real, it should not be viewed as an isolated case. Wang would not be the only victim.

    One of the benefits of this democracy is the right to free speech.

    People can voice their ideas without having to live in fear of the consequences. Is Taiwan to return to a time when critics are taken away by KGB-like secret agents or gangsters?

    The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) record of close relations with organized crime has been well documented, and many of these gangs are closely tied to China.

    The man who hit Wang on television was questioned and released on bail. He had been picked up in Kinmen trying to cross over to....China.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Those Controversial Taiwan Businessmen...

    Remember the Dems and their Chinese money scandal? It's back again, this time with the McCain campaign. The Chicago Tribune via the LA Times...a teaser:

    A Taiwanese firm with a nearly identical name as Hao's new California company, Asian American Entertainment Ltd., is also headed by a Shi Sheng Hao. That firm has been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle in Las Vegas over a soured partnership in an application for a casino license in Macau, the former Portuguese colony now part of the People's Republic of China.

    A court filing in that case described Hao's firm as a business affiliate of the China Industrial Development Bank, a finance arm of the Taiwanese government. Hao is listed as a resident of Taiwan in corporate papers filed in the case.

    It's unclear whether the Shi Sheng Hao in the lawsuit and the California ventures is the same Shi Sheng Hao using the Roselle address. But public records point to numerous coincidences, including corporations with similar names and an overlap of investors. Some political donations from the Roselle address also refer to Hao by a nickname, Marshall, the same nickname given for Hao in the Las Vegas court action.

    Federal records indicate a pattern of large and coordinated donations from Hao, relatives and associates. Collectively, eight of them gave a total of $130,000 to the RNC in late September and early October of 2007.

    Enjoy those mysterious Taiwanese businessmen...

    Economic Shorts

    Media outlets are now reporting that Taiwan will produce 300 cruise missiles at the order of President Ma. Perhaps it is for defense, but certainly for an economic stimulus as the local economy appears headed for a recession.

    Taiwan's leading economic indicators are pointing to a recession as the total indicator monitoring score fell to 12 points, a level not seen since December 2001, according to a report released Monday by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).
    With economic indicators falling, the CEPD does not believe we will be out of this hole until the second half of next year, assuming this is an ordinary recession with a 12-15 month lifespan. The recession is affecting many Taiwanese industries. For example, our machine tool industry, one of those key industries you never hear about, is suffering from Korean competition as the won has plummetted, making Korean machines cheaper for overseas buyers, and leaving Korean buyers without the cash to buy Taiwan machines. The industry is considering moving into higher-end machines to compete with Japan. Think the financial mess in Iceland, where the currency's collapse has devastated the economy, won't affect Taiwan? The Iceland deluge has smacked 16 Taiwan firms. It's amazing to think that on May 20, 2008, the local stock market index spiked at over 9000, while today it was around 4400, levels not seen since the recession of 2001-2....

    In the wake of an actual apology from China, the melamine scandal continues to ramify as Pingtung bakeries are dying off. There had already been a wave of closings among bakeries around the island after the flour price rises last year, but the melamine scandal hit both milk powder and then chemicals used to make flour rise, driving customers away from local bakeries. The DoH banned all protein imports from China.

    Speaking of economics, the recent death of widely revered tycoon Wang Yung-ching has invariably been presented as a rags to riches morality play in the media. It makes a nifty narrative, but the reality is that Wang got his start like so many greatly wealthy people: subsidies and connections. Wang was a US AID baby, one of a group of local entreprenuers selected from among local businessmen under a US policy to encourage capitalism and locally-driven economic growth in Taiwan. Wang (who had seen the potential in plastics) and his mainlander partner T.T. Chao were basically handed a polyvinyl chloride plant by the US mission and told to run with it. And the rest was history, as they say, from which the US role has vanished.

    But don't worry, the economy is going to be OK as Taiwanese entreprenuers are always inventive in finding new markets. For example, more than half the convenience stores tested by a consumer foundation sell cigarettes to minors....

    Dem election return parties

    The Obama team announces where the election returns can be watched.....


    Come watch the 2008 US Election Returns with your fellow Obama supporters! We've made arrangements for places in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung with giant screen TVs that'll be great for watching those electoral votes add up. This is a historic election - what better way to celebrate it than to watch it live with all of us!

    Lunchtime, Wed. Nov. 5th at:

    Taipei: Brass Monkey Bar and Restaurant, No. 166 Fuxing North Road (just north of the Nanjing East Road MRT station). Please RSVP to or to

    Taichung: The Early Bird Diner, Chung Ming Nan Rd near the corner of Kungyi Rd. The Diner opens at 7:00 and serves breakfast and lunch. The number there is 09 1139 3694. Please RSVP to Paul Batt at

    Kaohsiung: JOIN-US bar at Jian Guo 3rd Road, No. 169, B1 (2 min. walk from the Kaohsiung main train station) check out the website at


    I'll be at the Early Bird Diner a couple of hours before to take in the returns. Hope to see you there. Republicans, please send me your election return watching information so I can post it.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008


    Big changes!

    Things may be a little unsettled for the next few days as I work out the look and feel of the blog. I had to upgrade to Blogger's new Layouts or else it wouldn't let me import the posts to another system, so I figured I may as well go whole hog. Unfortunately Blogger's clunky format won't let me do what I want; I had more freedom under the old format even if the HTML was harder to monkey with. At some point I'm switching over to Wordpress.

    To make this format, I downloaded a three-column format from here and then tinkered with the HTML. Lots and lots of tinkering.

    Hope you like it! Comments are welcome...


    Some good stuff out there on the opinion pages recently....

    Taiwan News has a great editorial in the wake of the giant march on Saturday.

    Besides ignoring Tsai's pointed question about whether the KMT government or party has entered into a secret agreement with the PRC and rejecting the possibility of a "debate" on the sovereignty question, Presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi stated yesterday that "cross-strait policy was a major focus of the debates in the presidential election campaign" and claimed that "the people made a clear decision on the cross-strait problem on voting day March 22."

    Unfortunately, the presidential spokesman, and possibly Ma himself, suffer from confusion as to what the majority of voters actually decided when they elected Ma as the "president" of the "Republic of China." It is essential to note that an electoral mandate does not give a president of a democratic state a blank check to do whatever he and his party desire but merely authorizes them to implement their campaign commitments within the bounds of the government's powers in the Constitution and its explicit and implicit principles.


    What is decisive in the ROC Constitution and the regular democratic elections implemented under its framework is the sovereignty of a political community of 23 million people, not a territorial myth. If the political community formed by the 23 million people on Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu do not constitute a democratic independent state, just who elected Ma "president" and of what? The majority of Taiwan voters did make a "clear choice"' to authorize Ma and a KMT government, in cooperation with the national legislature, to implement his "633" economic program for six percent growth, to improve cross-strait relations with the PRC and provide "clean and competent governance" and to fulfill his own public vow to respect the principle that "Taiwan's future must be decided by the Taiwan people alone."

    However, Ma, the KMT government and party or the Legislative Yuan did not thereby receive authorization to unilaterally change the nature of Taiwan's sovereignty or the boundaries of the "actually existing" ROC constitutional order or body politic in the course of implementing these policies without receiving explicit consent from the people.

    Indeed, there is "reasonable suspicion" that Ma and his government have wilfully transgressed the bounds of their mandate by concessions or even negations of Taiwan's sovereignty through unilateral actions such as agreeing to Beijing's "one China principle" contained in the so-called and mythical "Consensus of 1992," and agreeing to consider Taiwan merely an "area" and not a "state."

    KMT officials have claimed that sovereignty is an empty question, but as the Taiwan News notes, it is a central question. Ma was not elected to give Taiwan to China -- indeed, in his election, he repeatedly promised not to do that. In other words, the fact that Ma had to promise not to sell out Taiwan in order to be elected is proof positive that he has no mandate to do so. Voters were very clear -- they were voting against Chen Shui-bian, and for Ma's promises of economic advancement.

    Also on tap is another good commentary from J Michael Cole in the Taipei Times today, in which Cole argues that Taiwan's youth need to take to the barricades...

    So what’s going on with Taiwan? Why does it not fit the model of violent youth and peaceful, or at least milder, elderly? Why are pictures of political demonstrations filled with old people who should probably be watching the rallies from the comfort of their home, while young people are conspicuous by their absence?

    The reason is well beyond Taiwan’s alarmingly low birth rate or aging population. Rather, it is a direct consequence of Taiwanese youth being altogether — and dangerously — apolitical. Part of the problem lies in the fact that they were born around the time Taiwan was undergoing its “economic miracle,” which in a matter of a decade or two propelled the developing country into a regional powerhouse. As a result, a majority of Taiwanese youth today, the so-called “strawberry generation” born between 1981 and 1991, never knew hardship or hard physical labor.


    At a political level, Taiwanese youths’ ostensible indifference to matters of sovereignty sends a dangerous signal to Beijing, which is that Taiwanese are unwilling to fight for their identity as a people, or for the survival of the democracy that came at the price of blood and tears in their parents’ and grandparents’ time. A nation that fails to light a “fire in the belly” of its richest resource — its youth — and that is unable to appeal to a sense of nationalism to inspire the level of aggressiveness and violence that are required to defend it is strongly handicapped in the game of survival the Chinese Community Party is engaged in, especially on the question of Taiwan. In fact, without an active youth with a modicum of anger and aggressiveness in their heart, Taiwan represents an attractive target for bullying by China, one that, in its eyes, is ripe for capitulation.

    This aggressiveness need not translate into acts of “violence” against the likes of Zhang, however undesirable his presence in Taiwan may have been. Channeled properly, it can inflame the imagination and compel a nation’s youth to be steadfast, creative and thunderous in the defense of their ideals. Only when Taiwan’s youth has awakened will Beijing listen and think twice before it tries something foolish.

    The lack of political fire among the young here is astounding to me. In fact the only violence I have ever met from them is violent rejection of the idea that they should be involved in politics.

    500,000 Turn Out in Taipei

    Saturday was a day for big turnouts. Bushman's Blogtoberfest had a pretty big turn out, with more than 30 showing up in Hukou outside of Hsinchu to eat Thai food, drink, sing loudly, and chat the night away. Pix here. Several of us in the 'Chung are mulling a spring blogger bash encompassing the entire island, but the venue is a problem.

    The big news, though, was the outstanding turnout in Taipei for the DPP's anti-China, anti-Ma march. We'll let Ralph Jennings of Reuters carry the ball....

    Close to half a million people marched in Taiwan on Saturday to protest against the government's growing ties with China, where a tainted milk powder scandal has fueled fresh distrust toward Beijing among island citizens.

    In the strongest display of opposition yet to President Ma Ying-jeou, demonstrators flooded central Taipei demanding that Ma step down over his friendly approach to Chinese officials.

    China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own and has threatened to use force, if necessary, to bring the island under its rule.

    "If the government continues what it's doing now, we feel it's closing possibilities for the future of Taiwan," said main opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen.

    The protests, organized by the party, come ahead of a first-ever visit by Chen Yunlin, Beijing's top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, on November 3 and could continue into next month to get the official's attention.

    China has claimed Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT fled to the island. But the two sides have held historic talks and established new trade and transit links since Ma took office in May, following decades of hostility.

    After a first wave of activists camped overnight outside the presidential office, protesters marched along five routes waving strongly worded banners urging Ma and his premier to step down. They urged the government to pull back from China.

    Half a million was the number pretty much everyone agreed on. Apple Daily said 600,000, Taiwan News had 500,000. The Financial Times also had 600,000. Taiwan News reported:

    Placards and banners carried by protesters featured slogans such as "Area Chief Ma Should Immediately Step Down!," "Three Strikes and Liu's Out!," "I am not a f**king Chinese" and "Down with the Traitorous Horse (Ma's surname!)"

    Students carried giant black student graduation caps emblazoned with the five red stars of the PRC flag and banners charging Ma with "selling out the future of Taiwan children."

    Despite receiving a death threat with a bullet Thursday, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), wearing a green and white "U.N. for Taiwan" sweatshirt, marched in the First Column of the march under the slogan of "Oppose Chinese Toxic Goods" from the Tinghao Shopping Center in eastern Taipei.

    Many protesters called "Go Abian!" or other slogans of encouragement to the former president along the route, but Chen did not make any statements himself.

    Interestingly, TVBS, despite its well-known rabid anti-DPP biases, said 500,000 attended as well. AP, however, was reliably demure, saying "thousands rallied." Thousands could mean as few as two or three thousand. Why not "tens of thousands" or "hundreds of thousands" which would be more accurate? Nope. Mere thousands.

    Entertainment, though, was provided by the well-known anti-Green blog ESWN, the widely read tabloid blog out of Hong Kong. Not wanting to put the local Taiwan papers in, because a selection would have quickly shown that 500,000 showed up in Taipei, ESWN grandly called it 'reporting by outside newspapers' and turned to Chinese language papers nowhere near Taiwan that parroted the Xinhua line, which according to the Ming Pao report ESWN cited was....

    The Beijing official Xinhua Agency did not mention the number of marchers in its relevant news release from Taipei. The Xinhua report cited Taiwan opinion that even though this appeared to be an "anti-China, anti-Ma" march, it was actually an internecine struggle within the Democratic Progressive Party.
    Xinhua's claim was that the March was a power struggle between DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen and former President Chen Shui-bian. That's right, the Blue team is still completely obsessed with Chen (despite all that has happened in Taiwan, ESWN has basically blogged only on Ma's falling popularity and whatever is happening with Chen Shui-bian) and wants to claim that the 500,000 people on the streets on Saturday were just there to struggle with each other over Tsai and Chen. ESWN even translated the reporting of "rumors" by Southern Metropolis Daily...
    ... The DPP march yesterday was a fight between Chen Shui-bian and Tsai Ing-wen. The Party Central and the Bian faction competed for bodies from southern Taiwan, including bidding for buses. Some "green" legislators complained that the Bian faction offered "cut-throat rates" that affected their ability to mobilize people. It was even rumored that the Party Central and the legislators had to require participants pay several hundred NT dollars for transportation while the Chen faction charged nothing. Thus, more than 100 buses carrying more than 4,000 people went from Kaohsiung to support Bian.
    Wow! 4000 people out of....500,000. Ming Pao also tried to claim only 200,000 was the police figure, although the Taipei Times said no official police figure was given. UPDATE: As Thomas points out below, ESWN had to choose his papers carefully. The South China Morning Post also had 500,000.

    The great thing about the Blues' obsession with Chen is that it is managing to do what Chen himself would otherwise be unable to accomplish: turn Chen Shui-bian into a folk hero by giving every appearance of persecuting him.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Paper On Parade: Cultural Brokerage, Japanese Subalterns, Aborigine Wives

    Paul Barclay was kind enough to lead me to a copy of his fascinating article Cultural Brokerage and Interethnic Marriage in Colonial Taiwan: Japanese Subalterns and Their Aborigine Wives, 1895–1930 (The Journal of Asian Studies 64, no. 2 (May 2005):323–360). This long, informative, and well-written article tells the story of Qing and Japanese policy toward intermarriage between their own people and the aboriginal peoples, the role of such couples as brokers and buffers between the colonialist and the colonized, and the stories of the individuals who acted in these roles.

    Barclay places the relations between the various players in Taiwan into the framework of world systems theory....

    Hall’s definition of a frontier as “a region or zone where two or more distinct cultures, societies, ethnic groups, or modes of production come into contact” will be used to describe Taiwan’s so-called savage border (2000, 241). Hall defines three ideal types of frontier based on relative degrees of incorporation into a world system, which will be used as analytical tools to make general claims about the emergence, vicissitudes, and disappearance of cultural brokerage in Taiwan. They are the “contact periphery,” that is, a frontier with little or no sustained connection to a core after initial contact; the “marginal periphery,” which participates in an intersocietal division of labor while retaining a separate corporate existence; and the “dependent periphery,” whose economy requires sustained involvement in (unequal) exchange relations with the core. Through trade dependency and/or political conquest, dependent peripheries are incorporated into the world system to which they had once been external or marginal (241–43). The Han-dominated side of the frontier is herein considered the “core” because it contains the linkages to other cores beyond Taiwan’s shores (Fuzhou, Beijing, Tokyo, Nagasaki, or London). Moreover, Aborigine societies have historically been incorporated into Han- or Japanese-centered political economies, while movement in the other direction has been infrequently observed.
    In this framework, cultural brokers, who broker exchanges between different parts of the periphery, can trade profitably but with little political clout in contact peripheries, but become useless in the dependent periphery, where brokerage is not necessary and direct control by the core system is exercised. Hence their most profitable and powerful role is astride the marginal periphery.

    Under the Dutch and Qing a system of roles later collectively called tongshi arose to handle relations between the aborigines and the Chinese. Barclay quotes Yu Yonghe's account of his journey in Taiwan (see Macabe Keliher's excellent 2004 book Out of China for more on Yu):
    In each administrative district a wealthy person is made responsible for the village revenues. These men are called “village tax-farmers” [sheshang]. The village tax-farmer in turn appoints interpreters (tongshi) and foremen (huozhang) who are sent to live in the villages, and who record and check up on... the barbarians (fan).... But these [interpreters and foremen] take advantage of the simple-mindedness of the barbarians and never tire of fleecing them.... Moreover, they take the barbarian women (fanfu) as their wives and concubines (qiqie). (Thompson 1964, 195–96;
    A key point is that the tongshi had both knowledge of aboriginal languages and married into the local tribal structures, giving them access to both sides of the Han-aborigine divide.

    Of course, there was considerable variation in the influence and power of the tongshi, who operated in conjunction with local bullies to oppress the aborigines. In the south they terrorized the lowland aborigines who had taken on some "civilized" ways -- the so-called "cooked" aborigines of the plains, but in the north they had less success, and against the "raw" aborigines of the mountainous interior they had no political clout at all, merely engaging in "taxation" which was actually trade. David Faure, in one of his excellent pieces on aborigines in the Qing period, (see In Search of the Hunters and Their Tribes), observes that the tongshi also engaged in political activity, though on an ambassadorial basis. For example, after the massive revolt in 1721, the plains tribes near Tainan were recruited into the effort to capture the rebels, and tongshi were ordered into the mountains to obtain the assistance of the aboriginals.

    As Qing power expanded in the first half of the 1700s, as settlement expanded, the State actively suppressed the tongshi, and put aborigines in Qing schools, and the aborigines themselves learned Han languages and how to do business, Han style. The tongshi system was on the ropes, but rebellions in 1731 and 1740 changed Qing strategy.

    During the Qianlong period (1736-95), reports Barclay, the Qing changed their strategy. They halted the expansion of Han settlement and attempted to reconcile two competing objectives, increasing farmed land, and reducing incidents of frontier violence. They thus divided the frontier into three separate sections, subdividing the world system into Han, cooked aborigine, and raw aborigine spheres, fixing the boundaries of what had been a flexible and intermixed border. The cooked aborigines acted as a buffer between Han on one side and the raw aborigines on the other, with a system of military camps and outposts (in Taichung where I live, the long straight roads on the far side of the Han River, Jungong Rd and some of the parallel roads, represent the Qing era military roads used to shuttle troops north-south along the frontier. "Jungong" of course stands for military success). The result was that with the permanent establishment of a sphere for "raw" aborigines, the tongshi once again had a place in the system as brokers between the mountains and the plains.

    As in so many frontier societies, the key to acquisition of land and trade opportunities was intermarriage into the native societies. Hence as early as the 1720s, according to Barclay, Qing officials became concerned about intermarriage, and banned it altogether in 1737. However, as Barclay notes:

    Since such unions produced the tongshi necessary for keeping tabs on the population beyond the passes, however, they were secretly tolerated by local officials. Examples of men who violated the prohibition to become prominent in the annals of rural administration and reclamation included Wu Sha, who married into Sandiao Village near Taipei in the late eighteenth century, and Huang Qiying, who married into a Saisiyat village in Nanzhuang during the 1810s (Ino¯ 1903, 1016–19) (see maps 2 and 3, fig. 2).
    Barclay then moves on to discuss the females, who as many Western observers noted in the second half of the 19th century, had become the key actors in these brokerage relationships. It is important to keep in mind that while Westerners often seeing the Other as mysterious, passive recipient of the relationship with the core, when in fact they were dynamically reworking these relations of symbol, trade, and political power. Just as the men were legitimated in the native societies by their marriages to the females, so the women gained access to the colonial societies by their marriages to its males....
    Western visitors to Taiwan in the treaty-port era observed that Aborigine women were central to cultural brokerage in the marginal periphery. In 1857 future British consul Robert Swinhoe wrote: "I had the pleasure of seeing a few [Aborigine] women, who were married to Chinese at...[Hengchun]... [A] Chinaman named Bancheang, of large landed property, traded with the Kalees [Paiwan] of the hills...He was constantly at variance with the Chinese authorities who had outlawed him, but could not touch him, as he was so well defended by his numerous Chinese dependants, and the large body of Aborigines at his beck. This man was wedded to a Kalee..." (2001, 66).

    A few years later, William Pickering, a well-known interpreter in his own right, described the chief of one village as a "T’ong-su" (tongshi), the “headman of the tribe, responsible to the Chinese government.” Pickering wrote that the “women had some knowledge of the Celestial tongue, from being employed as go-betweens in their bartering with the Chinese... This old woman [our interpreter], named Pu-li-sang, was no novice to the ways of civilization, as she had, years ago, been married to a Chinese, and also had lived from some time with the [shengfan] Bangas..." (1898/ 1993, 143). On the eve of the Japanese invasion in 1874, American naturalist Joseph Steere confirmed the role of Aborigine women as mediators in commerce between mountain and plain: "The Kale-whan [Paiwan], in times of scarcity, frequently sell their daughters to the Chinese and Pepo-whans [Peipoban/Pingpufan], who take them as supplementary wives and make them useful as interpreters in thus bartering with the savages. While we were among the Kale-whan the chief offered to sell us three girls of the tribe at twenty dollars each" (1874/2002, 314).
    When the Japanese arrived they first plugged into this system of Chinese tongshi and aboriginal wives in their dealings with the aboriginal peoples. The Japanese then spurned the use of male cooked aborigines and Han husbands, on the grounds that they would not be respected by the mountain peoples, and instead turned to the women. Success in southern Taiwan, for example, was due to the efforts of a Beinan woman...

    The Beinan interpreter variously referred to by Japanese as “Dada,” “Xi Lu Niu,” and “Tata Rara” played a pivotal role in this enterprise. Tata was born in 1864 to a paramount chief named Ansheng. During the Charles LeGendre and Saigo¯ Tsugumichi expeditions of 1872 through 1874 (see Eskildsen 2002; Yen 1965), Ansheng collaborated closely with Americans and Japanese (LeGendre 1874, 3:408–9; Nihon shiseki kyo¯kai 1933, 2:351;5 Hara 1900; Ino¯ 1918/1995, 1:157–58). Tata married a Chinese man named Zhang, who appears in documents as both an interpreter and prosperous merchant—one source calls him Yichun, the other Xinzhang (Ino¯ 1918/ 1995, 1:157; Sagara 1896). Tata spoke Minnan as well as the Beinan, Paiwanese, and Amis languages. She earned a salary of six yuan per month as a Qing tongshi (Ino¯1918/1995, 1:157).
    Shades of Pocahontas and Sacajawea! In 1901 she received a commendation from the governor-general's office as well as a lump sum of 40 yen.

    Barclay then narrates how the Japanese came to view the abuses of the tongshi with the same distaste that Qing officials did. The problem was that local interpreters were absolutely necessary -- the clunky system of official intercourse meant that Japanese officials needed Official Translators who translated into the local Han languages to local Han interpreters who in turn spoke to the aborigines. It became apparent that Japanese officialdom was at the mercy of various cultural brokers who abused their control over relations with the aborigines and exploited the latter mercilessly.

    The Japanese had moved quickly to establish Japanese language schools among the Paiwan in the south by 1896, says Barclay, but in the turbulent north matters took a different turn, and the Japanese were forced to engage in the complexities of local marriage politics. Barclay's paragraph describing is a microcosm of the misunderstandings and power politics on both sides:
    Puli subprefect Hiyama Tetsusaburo was the first prominent Japanese official to marry into an Aborigine polity. In early 1896, Hiyama wed the daughter of a paramount Wushe (Musha) chief named Bihau Sabo.7 To seal the alliance with Bihau, Hiyama slaughtered two oxen and numerous pigs in addition to distributing jars of liquor and blankets at the wedding feast. Ignorant of the local languages and oblivious to Wushe’s historical enmity with Toda, another cluster of villages to the east of Wushe, Hiyama admitted several non-Wushe guests to enjoy the largesse. After the celebration, Wushe warriors ambushed the returning Toda men and took their wedding gifts away, upset that Hiyama would treat visitors from afar with the same generosity shown to the tribe that provided his bride. Hiyama later distributed an ox and a jar of liquor to neighboring Toda, Perugawan, and Truku to display his impartiality, which only brought Bihau back to fire off his matchlock at Hiyama’s gate for assuming the paramount chief’s prerogative of distributing gifts among the subsidiary tribes (Hochi shinbun, April 5, 1896; Iriye 1896a, 29; Araki 1976, 2:79; Deng 2001, 164).8
    In later racial and social discourses on Japanese-aborigine racial relations these marriages would disappear, but they were "commonplace" in the first decades of Japanese rule, according to Barclay. By 1899, a short 4 years into Japanese rule, Japanese officials, like the Qing literati before them, were expressing the opinion that such relationships were causing problems...

    In 1899 Sanjiaoyong district officer Satomi Yoshimasa complained to Taipei governor Murakami Yoshio that Japanese-banpu unions were causing undue friction with local males. Satomi suggested that Japanese civilians be forced to apply for permits before taking banpu as wives. Murakami then proposed a system of punishments for Japanese men who abandoned banpu mates. In addition, Murakami recommended state support for the abandoned women, whose local marriage prospects had been ruined by public association with foreigners.
    These marriages took place against a background of debate in Japanese society over marriage and modernity: could a modern state tolerate a system of second wives and concubinage? Where did these women fit in? Were their children legitimate? If so, how? In 1880 the government abolished the legitimacy of second wives/concubines, but the practice remained, of course, well into the Showa period.

    Despite Japanese individuals who treated their aborigines wives as "wives" the majority appeared to treat them as concubines, causing severe problems for relations with the aborigines, especially among peoples such as the Atayal who practiced strict monogamy and severely punished adulterers. The result was violence toward Japanese who violated these morals, and, according to the Japanese, at least two revolts could be traced to aboriginal unhappiness with the treatment of their women by the Japanese. Tellingly, despite the many Japanese-aboriginal marriages, not one is recorded in the Colonial registries, though mixed marriages of every description involving non-Japanese were meticulously recorded.

    One reason for these officially sanctioned marriages was that state expansion in Taiwan happened so rapidly that Japanese could not train their policemen and soldiers in Austronesian languages fast enough. Hence the police burean chief argued in 1907:
    I need not mention that success in managing the Aborigines hinges upon the ability of our translators. . . . The quickest route to cultivating translators would be to give occasional financial assistance to the appropriate men and have them officially marry banpu.

    Barclay relates the tale of the Kondo brothers:

    In January 1909, the brothers Kondo were married to Obin Nukan and Diwas Ludao, in a government-sponsored feast that saw the slaughter of six oxen and the distribution of twenty oil cans of distilled spirits. Soon after the formalization of the alliance, Kondo Katsusaburo led some 654 Wushe warriors in the general attack on Toda and Truku in late February, which was successfully concluded by March 1909 (Taiwan nichinichi shinpo, February 5, 1931; Aui 1985, 180).

    The paper tells the individual stories of several of the men and women involved in these marriages, some at the orders of their superiors in both societies, riveting tales of temporary access and ultimate failure, terminating in the great revolt of the Seediq in 1930 now known as the famous Wushe Incident. It is a fascinating look into a world now lost to discourses of racial purity and the incoming KMT, which repudiated aboriginal links to the Japanese and re-0riented them on the idealized Chinese state of the Kuomintang. With its many examples, anecdotes, and links to similar activities in other cultures, this paper will well repay the time spent reading it with a deeper understanding of colonial relationships, trade, marriage, politics, and gender in Taiwan's history.

    Finally, Barclay's paper speaks to myself and to many of my friends, foreign males married to Taiwanese females, poor man's tongshi operating in the margins of globalization, acting as a broker between the core and Taiwan, and as a buffer between Taiwan and the core, and scratching out a living flipping back and forth across the economic and social relations between these two world systems. It is not too much of a stretch to see in my own life the successes and failures of those Han and Japanese colonialists who married aborigines and gained access to a world which otherwise would have been opaque to them.

    (Link to the paper is at the top)

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    DPA Strikes Again

    I've been watching DPA for some time now, and the way it presents the news regrettably has not changed....

    ....the latest piece refers to Taiwan independence activists as separatists and attempts to blame them for the fall in the stock market (no, I kid you not).
    Taiwan stocks shed more than 3 per cent over political uncertainty

    Taiwan stocks shed more than 3 per cent Thursday, over possible Taipei-Beijing tension arising from upcoming anti-China demonstrations. The TAIEX index fell 150.89 points, or 3.19 per cent, to close at 4,579.62.

    Analysts attributed the fall to the plunge of major Asian stock markets - with South Korean shares dipping more than 9 per cent and Japanese shares down more than 7 per cent in mid-morning trading - and possible cross-strait tension arising from anti-China protests planned Saturday by Taiwan separatists.
    Since Taiwan was never part of China, independence supporters here are not "separatists." Only Beijing uses that term for the democracy and independence side in Taiwan's politics. Sad to see it here. But more on that....

    On the stock market, the DPA's title unblushingly attributes the stock fall to political uncertainty. What political uncertainty? There is no "uncertainty" here! The government is stable, the opposition party peaceful, and the public is hardly in a riotous mood. The DPA has created instability where none exists! Sorry folks, but a large peaceful rally does not display "uncertainty". Quite the opposite! It shows the stability and order of the political system here.

    Note that the "analysts" are unnamed. Who were they? A-chen the taxi driver? The KMT central standing committee? And also observe DPA's bizarre logic on the market. Based on the information given in the text, we can see that....
    ...the Taiwan market fell 3%
    ...the Japan market fell 7%
    ...the South Korea market fell 9%
    In other words, the fall in the Taiwan market was less than half that of the other markets. So why didn't the headline read Taiwan separatists buoy stock market, prevent large fall? After all, that's what the DPA's evidence says. The claim by unnamed "analysts" that political rallies occurring two days in the future cause the stock market to fall is ridiculous, and appears to be little more than a reported smear with no balancing information.

    But those "separatists" are also smeared in another, uglier way. Look at the last sentence:

    The separatists are opposed to President Ma Ying-jeou's seeking peace with China, accusing him of sacrificing Taiwan's sovereignty to improve ties with China, which they said would eventually lead to Taiwan's unification with the mainland as a Chinese province.
    How about that opening phrase, where "separatists" are portrayed as opposed to "peace." It's good that an explanation follows, but it practically accuses the "separatists" of supporting a situation of non-peace -- inviting the reader to envision the "separatists" as terrorists, if not warmongers. The reality is that it is China, not Taiwan independence supporters, that wants war and threatens it repeatedly.

    DPA's home page is here. It says....
    Virtually every newspaper in Germany is a customer of dpa and all the country’s national television stations which broadcast national news take the main German language service “dpa-Basisdienst”. Almost all the regional radio stations in the country take this service too.
    Ugh. For the editorial board at HQ, write There is another email,, but if you carefully look at the email, there appears to be a mistake, a [p] left off the address. UPDATE: and do not appear to work. appears to have gone through.

    UPDATE: J Michael Cole complains about the same thing.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Daily links, Oct 23, 2008

    What waits on the blogs today?
  • Mark F. goes to the Taichung Jazz Festival

  • The Melamine from China mess goes on and on. Now it is rising agents in local breads. Japan and Korea discovered it in processed egg products from China as well. Key point: don't buy Chinese if you want a long healthy life. The Taiwan Dream Foundation covers the melamine issue in an excellent post.

  • Zhang Mingquing incident from Brian Dunn who says it can be an excuse for invading Taiwan. And this Singapore analyst thinks it will hurt the stock market. Get a grip, folks. B@Taiwan turns a skeptical eye on the media. Fili talks about our fellow NCKU student who protested Zhang.

  • Notes from the decline of civilization: An interview from the producer of Taiwan's first slasher film, and Burger King poised for growth here.

  • Guam to be caught up in Taiwan war?

  • Boy Scouts and ham radio in Taiwan way back when.

  • Lao Ren Cha on voting absentee in Virginia from Taiwan, "province of China".

  • The Wild East on the bicycling boom.

  • Barking Deer with useful information on hiking maps.

  • Islaformosa on the bloggerfest on the 19th.

  • Mark Harrison on the Australian Taiwan Studies network.

  • Are linguists irrelevant to society? Johan appears to think so.

  • Stocks and politics takes stock of the first five months of the Ma mess

  • MEDIA: Ma announces there will be no war for the next four years. Remember, Ma has that weaseling legal training...there might be a "police action" or "suppression of rebellion" but there won't be a war. After all, war can only happen between sovereign states. Yes, there's a Florida State University football player named Taiwan. Taiwan fighter jet crash results in grounding of all jets for a couple of days -- and a helicopter goes down too. In case you missed it, here is the new CRS report on Taiwan-US relations. Richard Bush and the Chinese Ambassador speak at Oklahoma University on Taiwan. 7 Chinese tour operators cancel their visit to Taiwan over Zhang incident. A Chinese dissident warns Taiwan that China wants to reel it in. Taiwan to get 180 JAVELIN missiles from US. Taipei can plead in French court over struggle over consulate in French Polynesia between Beijing and Taipei. Another piece on the Yonaguni Islands and Taiwan. DPP's Tsai says China has no right to discipline Taiwan official. The CFR has a piece on China's food and drug safety, saying that production may have outpaced its ability to police industry. Earth to CFR: it's always been that way.

    MEDIA NONSENSE: The Financial Times completely blew it on the incident in Tainan.
    China’s second-highest ranking negotiator on Taiwanese issues was pushed to the ground and punched by protesters in Taiwan on Tuesday, just weeks before a historic meeting between the two sides was expected to take place.
    It is arguable whether he was pushed, but there is no question: he wasn't punched.

    MEDIA GREATNESS: The Financial Times completely scored on the incident in Tainan.
    Mr Ma has sought to buttress Taiwan's position as a self-governing state, while avoiding moves towards formal independence and improving relations with Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the island even though it has never been ruled by China.
    What? Referring to the status of Taiwan using the true state of affairs as a descriptor? How did that ever happen!

    EVENTS: Two big ones, and both on the 25th. First, the March in Taipei. Routes and meeting points are here:

    For a large version of this map, click here.

    Second, Michael K alias The Bushman is having Blogtoberfest in Hukuo on the 25th. Directions and details on his blog. I'll probably attend both the march and the Bushman's party, look forward to seeing you there.

    Mirror, Mirror Redux

    "It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men."

    Last year, while returning home from Tainan, I suffered a strange transporter accident that deposited me in an alternate universe. Today, as I was reading the Financial Times, my computer overloaded and a blast of radiation overwhelmed me.

    I woke up to find myself in an alternate universe where everyone had a goatee, the food was spicy, and the woman muscular. Not knowing how much time I had before my counterpart in my universe yanked me back home, I quickly went to the nearest subetheric communicator. Using my knowledge of the ubiquitous Linux operating system, I scanned the nets for any news about Taiwan. Sure enough, I found another priceless historical artifact on the Zhang Mingqing affair, which I was able to smuggle back in my shoe. I post it here for posterity's sake:


    (Times of Finance: Taipei) Pro-independence protesters yesterday accosted China's number two man at the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), the organization charged with negotiating the annexation of Taiwan and other Taiwan-China matters as they may arise. The incident occurred as he was visiting Tainan, in southern Taiwan, a hotbed of Taiwanese nationalism, just weeks before a major visit to Taiwan from the head of ARATS.

    Zhang Mingqing, the second highest official at ARATs, was visiting Tainan as part of an academic symposium. Led by Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the protesters surrounded Mr. Zhang while he was sightseeing at a local Confucian Temple. During the fracas, Mr. Zhang fell or was pushed. No other violence was offered to Mr. Zhang, and he was immediately helped to his feet by one of the protesters. As he attempted to leave, a man whose connection to the pro-independence protesters was unclear, jumped on his car, damaging the roof. The current ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has long been accused of using gangsters to commit violence at pro-democracy rallies to discredit the opposition.

    Officials of Taiwan's pro-China KMT government also condemned the protesters' behavior but said it would not interfere in ongoing negotiations between the KMT and Beijing. Beijing condemned the attack as an act by "extremists" that had "seriously harmed" Mr. Zhang's "personal safety and dignity". "We express our strong indignation and stern condemnation of this barbaric violence and call for the severe punishment of the perpetrators," China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement. China has frequently been the site of violent anti-foreign protests in recent years.

    Mr. Wang denied pushing Mr Zhang, saying that Mr. Zhang had tripped. Videos clearly show that Mr. Zhang fell backwards as protesters shouted and pressed upon him, though they are not clear on why he fell.

    Mr. Zhang has a history of making inflammatory, violent statements against Taiwan, including promises to "smash the separatist schemes of the Taiwanese independence movement at all costs.” The morning of the incident he had once again inflamed independence supporters by saying that if there was no independence, there would be no war, an apparent threat to local lives and property. Local citizens have also been upset over the melamine scandal and China's refusal to apologize or provide compensation.

    The People's Republic of China (PRC) has claimed Taiwan since 1949, when the KMT retreated to the island after it lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists. However, postwar treaties make no mention of the final recipient of the island's sovereignty, and legal experts consider China's claims doubtful at best.

    Saying he was "unwell, " Mr. Zhang returned to China the following day after filing charges in connection with the incident. “I believe those who behaved violently do not represent Tainan residents or the 23 million people of Taiwan,” he said.
    Just as I finished downloading, I felt a burst of energy and found myself back in front of my computer. It was a relief to be back in my own universe after experiencing the biased reporting in that alternate universe.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Scamming my father in law

    A few weeks ago I wrote on my in-laws, victims of scammers again and again....
    Like many Taiwanese their age, they were ripped off in the numerous Ponzi and pyramid schemes that proliferated in Taiwan during the bubble era of the late 1980s. In their case it was a 'friend' who ripped off their life savings for investment in the famous H scam (I'm not naming it publicly), served a brief prison sentence, and is now enjoying my in-laws' hard-earned cash. They used to go stand in front of his house periodically for years afterwards, silently begging him to return the cash...

    ...the H officials -- it was an established company -- recently met with the victims. They are unable to compensate them, but they did offer them spaces in the linguta, repositories where the ashes of the dead are kept (columbaria, I think they are called).

    Immediately the scammers moved in. After all, the list of H victims is basically a list of people with proven ability to be scammed. For just NT$50K, they promised that they would sell the linguta spaces. My father in law immediately went for it, and another $50K vanished from his accounts. Finally my wife intervened and told him she would sell them on the internet. And sure enough, if you get on Yahoo and search for linguta spaces, you'll find the children of these victims selling the spaces so that 'their parents will have the peace of providing for their children' when they die. For the elderly burned in this and numerous other scams, the humiliation is double: not merely being victimized, but leaving nothing to the next generation as they are supposed to.
    The scammers returned yesterday. This morning my father in law calls my wife and explains that a new company had contacted him, asking if he linguta spaces. When he replied that he did but another company was selling them, they responded by tut-tutting: if he had only had them in hand, they would have bought them instantly. Veterans of scams will recognize the high pressure sales tactic to dislocate the mark. They then went on to diss my father's current representative selling the linguta, saying that they were corrupt and untrustworthy. My father bought that line completely. My wife had to argue with him on the phone -- how did they know who you were and how many spaces you had? Of course, she pointed out, it is all the same people posing as three different firms, calling every couple of months, sucking another wan or two out of him.... the worst part is not that the elderly are so often easy marks, but that once scammed, it is so difficult to get them to give up on the scam and to instill skepticism in them.

    The crowning irony is that my brother in law, who sinks all his money into property and is a pretty smart buyer, viewed the linguta certificates and pronounced them probable fakes. The whole thing appears to be one big scam from start to finish. It's heartbreaking that these things happen, and the authorities do so little about them.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Taiwanese protesters rough up Chinese envoy -UPDATED- Maybe not

    Spot the large bug in here I saw hiking today? I'll show it in a moment. Lots of people walking by on the path were unable to see it.

    UPDATE: See below. After finally finding video of the event, it is clear that "push" is highly suspect and instead the DPP story that he tripped over a tree root or something similar appears to be more likely. I'm tentatively concluding that the "push" is a media construction, unless someone can show me video of an actual push. Thanks to maddog for alerting me to this problem. Suspect everything, trust nothing.

    Max Hirsch of Kyodo reports on the "violence" directed at the ARATs representative visiting Tainan, the center of Taiwanese nationalism, in his capacity as a Dean in Xiamen...

    Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), was mobbed while visiting a Confucian temple in the southern city of Tainan, with a crowd of livid protesters pushing him down and smashing his car, local media said.

    Local TV footage showed the envoy, his hair and clothes disheveled, struggling to get back on his feet and grasp for his eyeglasses, which had fallen off his face amid the kerfuffle.

    At one point, a protester climbed onto Zhang's car and stomped on the roof and hood, while a short elderly woman swang feebly at the vehicle with her yellowed crutch. Security personnel appeared in short supply, and sometimes completely absent, as the mob encircled Zhang several times.

    The envoy was not injured.

    ARATS oversees contact and negotiations with Taipei for Beijing.

    The violence came as Beijing gears up for historic talks in Taipei, with ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin slated to lead a big delegation to the island.

    Although Chang is visiting in his capacity as a dean at Xiamen University, the private visit is widely seen as a litmus test for how Chen and his entourage would be received and protected here.

    "This kind of violence comes as a blow to Taiwan's democratic society and will negatively affect cross-strait exchanges," warned the Straits Exchange Foundation, ARATS' counterpart in Taiwan, in a statement.

    Let's see...the official representative of a nation that threatens to murder Taiwanese by the thousand in order to annex their nation arrives and he's only pushed to the ground? [UPDATE: Maybe not even that]. I'd say the response was quite restrained -- when you consider SARS, and melamine, and pesticides, and the Taiwanese jailed in China, and the wholesale murder of a boatload of Taiwanese tourists a while back, and the suppression of Taiwan's international space, the attacks on Taiwanese and their symbols at sporting events overseas....

    UPDATE 1
    : ESWN has more here, though you have to filter out his pro-Blue bias. For example, ESWN slyly claims that there were no tree roots around (the DPP fellow said that he tripped on a tree root), a glance at this video shows that indeed there were large trees all over the place. There's video of the student protest here, and here, juxtaposed with protesters outside here, and a version of The Push here (another here but camera is blocked at the crucial moment). In this version you can see that he does indeed appear to trip as he is backing away. Around :57 the DPP guy enters the video, and you can clearly see that when Zhang falls the DPP is facing the other way and he does appear to fall backward suddenly, not as if pushed, but as if tripping. No one around him, nor Zhang himself, appears to be prepared for this fall -- no one is bracing or reacting to a pusher. Further the DPP guys picks him up right away. Does anyone have video clearly showing "the push?" All the videos on Youtube have the same angle and come from Blue sources... UPDATE 2: this one here reports that he fell down in the midst of the chaos without calling it a push. UPDATE 3: If Zhang was pushed in front of numerous witnesses, how come no one present jumped on the pusher, detained the pusher, or in any way pointed to or identified the pusher after the fact? UPDATE 4: AP has better video. Right into the video someone appears to put his hands on Zhang but does not appear to push him. UPDATE 5: The Taipei Times has a list of Zhang's many threats toward Taiwan in an editorial today. If you threaten to murder people, you can hardly fault them for reacting.... On May 24, 2004, he said: “We will smash the separatist schemes of the Taiwanese independence movement at all costs.” UPDATE 8: Feiren left me a comment to say:

    One small update. The Liberty Times and Central News Agency are reporting that the guy who jumping on the car was Lin Jin-xun (林進勳). Lin has been a DPP party member since 1986 and apparently is well-known in Tainan for his confrontational activism.

    Lin apologized to the DPP and Taiwanese society for his actions but refused to apologize to Zhang Mingqing, who Lin says is an "enemy." Lin asked the party to discipline him but said that he would fight for Taiwan's sovereignty and called on the people of Taiwan to stand up against the KMT's alliance with the CCP to sell out Taiwan.

    Can you see him better now?

    CNN reported:
    Pictures from Taiwan TV stations showed about a dozen protesters surrounding Zhang at a Tainan temple commemorating Confucius, then toppling him to the ground while shouting anti-communist and pro-independence slogans.

    "Taiwan does not belong to China," protesters shouted.

    Zhang was helped to his feet by an escort and rushed to a waiting vehicle. A middle-aged man stomped and banged on the vehicle but did not attempt to prevent it from leaving the scene.

    The attack on Zhang comes several weeks before a planned visit by Chen Yun-lin, Zhang's boss and the point man in pushing for unity across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.
    UPDATE: CNN is wrong. As the video clearly shows, he was helped to his feet by the DPP's Wang. Immediately.

    The article goes on to point out that Ma has promised not to discuss the issue of annexing Taiwan to China during his presidency. I think he will keep his promise, since other KMT officials like Chairman Wu and Hon. Chairman Lien Chan are busy doing it for him. Once again I must marvel at the international media's failure to place the backchannel negotiations and Ma's (meaningless) promises in perspective. The Taipei Times reports that one of the protesters was from my university, NCKU (hooray!):

    The graduate student from National Cheng Kung University said he was born in the US to Taiwanese parents and came back eight years ago to learn Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) and Taiwanese culture.

    “There are many people around the world who have deep respect for Taiwan,” he said in Hoklo. “I don’t want to see Taiwan bullied.”

    Chang said he and the other protesters hid the banners in their bags to pass through the security check. Security personnel reluctantly let them in after they failed to show identification cards.

    Outside the venue, protesters demanded that Zhang apologize to Taiwanese for China’s export to Taiwan of dairy products and food ingredients that were tainted with the toxic industrial chemical melamine.

    They demanded that Zhang either meet them to apologize and hear the voices of Taiwanese or cancel all his activities in Taiwan.

    “If our demands are not met, we’ll follow him and protest wherever he goes during his stay in Taiwan,” the activists said

    In response, university staff said that Zhang was attending the symposium in his capacity as dean of Xiamen University’s School of Journalism and Communication and the seminar was an academic gathering that had nothing to do with politics.
    "....had nothing to do with politics." Although the media reported that it is a test run for Taiwanese responses to Chinese envoys here to negotiate the annexation of the island -- nevertheless, it had nothing to do with politics. Good thing that's settled, eh?

    Here's one angle on this marvelous creature's camo....

    Hirsch has had several good articles recently on the domestic opposition to the KMT reapproachment with China. One points out that China is worried about the domestic opposition to annexation...with an excellent quote from Derek Mitchell...
    China, rattled by protest plans in Taiwan, is wary of locking in dates for what officials say will be a landmark summit in Taipei between the two sides in just weeks, officials and experts say.

    "China got what it wanted with a KMT government, but now it doesn't know what to do with what it got," says Derek Mitchell, a security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think tank.
    Another article points out the political fallout from the melamine in the milk scandal, which, as several news agencies reported this week, has spread to rising agents used in local breakfast snacks and other foods. Melamine has also appeared in baked goods from China. The KMT has not helped itself by its great reluctance to press China on the issue, and the appearance that it is sacrificing the health and interests of its own people to serve Beijing, a perception only hardened by Beijing's categorical refusal to give anything to Taiwan except in areas where the DPP had already broken ground. However you slice it, Ma's celebrated "peace" drive has obtained less from the Chinese than the DPP did.

    Low light conditions meant poor shooting, but you can get an idea of the perfection of his camouflage from this shot of his head.

    One longtime observer of local politics I spoke to in Washington DC last week compared China's policy to how he fished for frogs in rice paddies when he was young. "Just keeping putting the bait higher, and eventually the frog will come out and then you catch him." The point was that China has no incentive to help the KMT, so the KMT will be forced to offer more and more concessions to get anything out of them. Since Ma and the KMT, unlike Chen and the DPP, do not draw the line at sovereignty, where is the limit on what the Blues will be willing to concede?

    It's good to see the Taiwanese out there protesting and giving the Chinese representative a hard time, and good to see that the Chinese are worried about Taiwan's raucous domestic politics. If there is one thing that can enable the Taiwanese to keep Taiwan, it is standing up, speaking out, and not going gentle into that good night. Even the US foreign policy establishment, lost in dreams that they will one day wake up and find that either China or the ocean has swallowed Taiwan, would have to pay attention to that.

    UPDATE 4: Zhang left Taiwan the next day after complaining that civilized people don't behave that way.

    The delicate colors of a dragonfly....

    MEDIA NOTES: Both articles use the "split in 1949 mid civil war" terminology. *sigh* The CNN article notes:

    He has promised not to discuss the issue of unity with the mainland during his presidency

    Subtle point, but that's unity not reunification. Kudos for not assuming we're part of China. Although they do call it the mainland. Folks, the entire Asian mainland is not trying to annex us, just China. And if they had written unity with China it would have been one word, and many characters, shorter....

    State Department Replies to Congressional Inquiry on New Taiwan Guidelines

    A few weeks ago there was a kerfuffle about the new State Department guidelines for its relations with Taiwan (blogged on here). I discussed the guidelines and the text is there for readers to peruse themselves. Above is the State Department's reply to an inquiry from a member of Congress on the issue (click to go its Flickr page and see it bigger). There was much new language added to the cable, which simply appears to codify what was already US policy, for the most part.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Sunday Odds & Ends

    This was my favorite sign in the US. The world's most winning pizza brand in the aviation industry! I mean, how many companies specializing in selling pizza in airports can there be?

    As I returned from the US to eat vegetables again, I found this in my mailbox. From the Ta Kung Pao, author is professor and PhD.


    TKP Urges PRC To Punish US On Financial Crisis In Retaliation For Arms Sales
    Wang Dao, ‘Yi ya huan ya huiying Meiguo dui Tai shou wu” (A tooth for a tooth is the way to answer U.S. arms sales to Taiwan), Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong), October 11, 2008, at

    The United States has decided to sell $6.5 billion worth of advanced weapons to Taiwan. China's first reaction was to offer a strong verbal response while reserving the right to respond further. It looks like it is time for China and the United States to bring an end to this long-running matter. Now is the best time for China to take a tougher approach toward resolving the issue. Since its establishment of diplomatic relations with China, the United States has not stopped selling weapons to Taiwan. This in and of itself is a violation of the three official diplomatic documents signed by China and the United States when they established diplomatic relations. For this reason, it is also a violation of international law. Some people in the United States invoke the country's adoption of the Taiwan Relations Act as an excuse to continue selling weapons to Taiwan in an effort to obstruct the mainland's reunification with Taiwan by force. This practice of using domestic law to resist international law is impermissible in the international community. Wouldn't the world be thrown into turmoil if China (or some other country) were to sell weapons to a region in a certain country through the adoption of a law governing relations with that country in an effort to obstruct the latter's reunification? The United States assumes the pose of an "international gendarme," meddles in other ! count ries' affairs without regard to the principles of international law and justice, and has committed so many misdeeds that they cannot be listed one by one. The most notorious offense is its invasion of Iraq after circumventing the United Nations.

    We Should Not "Repay Ingratitude With Kindness" Despite its violations of the law, the United States does not allow other sovereign countries to sell weapons lawfully. The reasons are none other than its concerns that 1) they will compete with it for business; 2) they will encroach upon its regional interests (which is euphemistically described as "affecting the balance of regional military power"); and 3) they will jeopardize its security. The United States is the world's largest military power! and arms-producing and exporting country. It accounts for more than half of the global arms market. Even as it makes a fortune out of war-related business, it does not allow other countries to conduct normal arms transactions. This is a case of "giving officials complete license to commit arson while forbidding ordinary citizens to even light their lamps." As the United States insists upon selling weapons to Taiwan, China should stop "repaying ingratitude with kindness" and showing too much forbearance. It should respond appropriately and adopt a tit-for-tat and measure-for-measure approach rather than merely continue with such "vague and fuzzy" work as lodging verbal protests and cancelling some military exchanges. At a minimum, it may adopt the following measures:

    1. Strong reaction: Selling advanced offensive weapons, including missiles, submarines, and warplanes, to anti-US South American countries in the "backyard of the United States," such as Venezuela and Cuba.

    2. Moderate reaction: Indefinitely deferring participation in negotiations on the Korea and Iran nuclear issues. If the United States does not respond in good faith, China may consider strengthening its nuclear energy cooperation with the DPRK and Iran, including training DPRK and Iranian nuclear technicians and exporting nuclear technology.

    3. Muted reaction: Expanding sales of conventional weapons, including ordinary weapons, ammunition, small rockets, shoulder-mounted antiaircraft weapons, and radar, to anti-US regions. In a "tit-for-tat" approach toward arms sales, China may sell weapons to anti-US regions, matching the quantities and grades to the grades of weapons sold to Taiwan by the United States. Since the United States is so keen on making money, China should not treat money as if it stinks. It should compete in the arms market and practice "gunboat diplomacy." To move from a "one-ocean strategy" (the Pacific Ocean strategy) to a "two-ocean strategy" that would also include the Indian Ocean, it is inevitable that China has to build a modern military. The American people have had the wisdom to foster a virtuous circle of selling weapons and using the proceeds to maintain its military and to accelerate national defense modernization in the course of increasing arms sales. The Chinese people should not be too polite and should boldly borrow this practice. The United States is now being hit by a "once-in-a-century" huge financial tsunami. The $700 billion rescue plan passed by Congres s is like a drop in the bucket, and whether it will work is very much in doubt. The United States is asking China, which has $1.8 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, to help it out. International opinion also believes that the effectiveness of the US rescue plan for the financial crisis will ultimately depend on how China acts. Under these circumstances, the Americans are taking a "backstabbing two-faced approach." On the one hand, they are asking China to help out; on the other hand, they are stabbing China in the back, grossly interfering in China's interna! l aff airs, and hurting China's core values with their arms sales to Taiwan. If this can be tolerated, what else cannot? Teach the United States a Lesson China should no longer be sympathetic and kind toward the United States at this rare moment in a century; it should seize the opportunity to teach the United States a lesson. There are quite many options available to it on the economic front:

    1. The middle course: Stand by and watch and refrain from buying more bad assets from the United States and helping it out of its plight.

    2. Self-preservation: Wait for an appropriate opening at an appropriate time to sell off some of the bonds in US dollars, so as to avert continuing losses due to a renewed decline in their value.

    3. Seeking selfish gain: Seize the current opportunity to stir up trouble, exacerbate the crisis in the United States, and slow down the pace of recovery in the United States. China can move faster to overtake the United States as a powerful country in the world only if the world's sole superpower is brought down.

    4. A clever tactic: Trade economic interests for other benefits with the United States, for example, asking the United States to sell new and high technology to China. Another example would be to ask the United States to compromise in principle on the Taiwan issue or even to negotiate a price whereby the United States will stop meddling on the Taiwan issue and allow Taiwan to truly return to China. The US financial crisis will surely lead to a great economic depression in the United States. This is already the consensus of farsighted people around the world. For China, this is both a time of "danger" and "opportunity." China should firmly seize the opportunity on such issues as economics, military affairs, the Taiwan issue, and foreign affairs; put its national interests first; and teach the United States a good lesson. At the very least, the United States should be made to suffer a little bit more, so that it will learn to be more modest and prudent in the future and treat other countries as equals. As Western politicians say, "In international politics, nations have no permanent friends or permanent enemies; there are only permanent national interests." The Chinese people should draw upon this wisdom and seek maximum benefits in order to make their country strong and prosperous.


    A Chinese man plays a traditional string instrument at the Farragut North metro stop.

    Also on tap is this CNN report on the ROC National Day celebration; don't miss the commenter from NPR who seems to think that the KMT had the police state action going hard out of fear of the DPP. Because you know how the DPP is always doing stuff like rioting when they lose elections and crashing trucks into goverment buildings.....possible Obama cabinet members here.

    A vendor. All of them appear to sell the same stuff. Are they owned by the same company?

    The Taiwan obsession with scorekeeping verges on the ridiculous when it comes to the island's ports. A friend in Hong Kong pointed me to this piece on how Taiwan's ports are doing a booming business....

    Despite the global economic downturn, Keelung and Taichung ports have shown double-digit growth in transshipment container volume in the first nine months of this year, rising 16.47 percent and 12.68 percent respectively against the same period last year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced.

    However, Kaohsiung Port could fall out of the top 10 ranking of international seaports this year, as the total cargo containers handled from January to August already trails Ningbo Port in Zhejiang Province and Guangzhou Port in the Guangdong Province.
    Sorry, but China has about 65 times our population. At some point they are going to have all of the busiest ports in the world. Instead of being delighted at the great growth, though, the MOTC has to warn everyone that Taiwan could fall in the global rankings.

    A panorama of northern Washington DC as seen from an apartment building in Ballston. All the trees are wonderful.

    Defense News' main editorial this week is on the Taiwan arms sale, warning that people in Washington fear all that delicious technology is going to fall into China's hands if they sell it to Taiwan. The editorial also says that Chinese spies in Taiwan once tried to ship a whole F-16 engine to China. But don't worry -- engagement will make them love us, just as detente was successful in making the USSR into a peaceful democratic state allied to the US.

    The China people at USC have made a documentary on the Obama/McCain China issue. China has been remarkable for its absence in the US election this time around... The documentary, hosted by Mike Chinoy (I can feel your winces) is online at the Institute's Youtube channel.

    I hope Ryan at Highway 11 finds it in his heart to forgive me -- but I forgot to add that the October issue is out in my last daily links.