Saturday, February 28, 2009

Those KMT media frames...

The Straits Times, not exactly a bastion of objectivity on Taiwan issues, shows how China and the KMT are playing opposition to the CECA "FTA" agreement as "ideology vs pragmatism":
The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), as the pact is officially known, was part of Mr Ma's campaign platform. It was originally believed that it would not be signed till Mr Ma's second term, should he win re-election in 2012. The Taiwanese, however, have decided to bring forward negotiation for the pact - to address the current economic downturn as well as the possible economic marginalisation of Taiwan as a result of the free trade agreement (FTA) between China and Asean.

There has been little attempt on the part of the government to explain to the public what the pact is about or assuage their fears that it would make Taiwan over-reliant on China. This has allowed the pro-independence camp to attack the pact as an infringement of Taiwan's sovereignty, particularly if it is signed on the basis of the 'one China' principle, as Chinese President Hu Jintao suggested last year.

One economist likened Ceca to a 'morphine drip' that would temporarily relieve Taiwan's financial woes without curing the ailment. Another economist suggested that Taiwan's haste to sign a pact would put it in a weak position and China could stop its attempts to sign FTAs with other countries. One senior DPP legislator went so far as to suggest that Taiwan join Asean so as to protect its economic autonomy and political sovereignty.

Such utterances suggest either a lack of vision or a clouding of vision by ideology
The frame is the old I'm-OK-you're-ideological nonsense, but it is being pushed across the pro-China media sphere.

There are two problems. First, it disingenuous, verging on unethical, to write as if the KMT had no ideology of its own or as if the CECA decision is not driven by the KMT's pro-annexation ideology. Second, the truth is that sovereignty is only one aspect of the pan-Green criticisms. The pan-Green critique is also driven by pragmatic pro-Taiwan economic considerations. In her commentary in the China Times the other day, DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen hit hard on the economic effects of an FTA with China:

-- Taiwan's economic growth has been poor due to over-reliance on China
-- in January Taiwan's exports dropped 44.1%, while Taiwan's exports to China decreased 58.6%, yet's China's exports only dropped 17.5%.
--The drop off included components and parts that Taiwanese firms once made but are now increasingly being made in China.
--CECA will make it much easier for Taiwanese firms to move production to China
-- the products made in China will eat into markets for locally made products
--Chinese workers will arrive in Taiwan
--because CECA is signed under One China condition, Taiwan cannot impose equalization duties or anti-dumping duties on China. Taiwan will thus function as little more than a dumping ground for low-price goods.
--the agricultural sector and SMEs will suffer the worst from such an outcome.

Of course, such DPP economic critiques will never make it into the Straits Times.

Tsai also observed that the Ma Administration had not released any details of CECA, instead simply announcing that it was a done deal and would be signed when the CCP sent their mouthpiece to collect the tribute from the KMT. Public opinion was never consulted or considered.

If it isn't plain that the KMT regards Taiwan as little more than a bargaining chip in its quest to carve out a position in China, it should be....

6 comments:

Arthur Dent said...

'Amen' on your last point there.

reeb said...

(maybe slightly off-topic)

Last week an article appeared in the Taipei Times that perhaps gives us a clue as to why the KMT is trying to get the CECA approved of quickly:

Regulator approval would be required if Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were to sell off assets of its subsidiary ABN AMRO Bank in Taiwan to Chinese buyers, a Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) official said yesterday.

Such an approval, however, may not be possible before Taiwan inks a memorandum of understanding with China to facilitate the entry of Chinese banks in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Some contrary notes....

--Taiwan's economic growth has been poor due to over-reliance on China

Sure, subtract China...uhhhhh, hmmmm, since everyone else buys and sells to China, where does that leave Taiwan? Its not 1975 when China can be ignored.

-- in January Taiwan's exports dropped 44.1%, while Taiwan's exports to China decreased 58.6%, yet's China's exports only dropped 17.5%.

Wow. Not every export of China is dependent on Taiwanese components. I am amazed. I thought every plastic toy, shoe, and t-shirt required Taiwanese parts. And to imagine that high end products get hit harder than staples items, too...

--The drop off included components and parts that Taiwanese firms once made but are now increasingly being made in China.

American parts manufacturers in the 60's and 70's would like to have a word with you....

--CECA will make it much easier for Taiwanese firms to move production to China.

Seriously? Do people in Taiwan still believe they can stop this? As if everyone except Chen Shui Bien never heard of British Virgin Islands OBU?

-- the products made in China will eat into markets for locally made products

OH NO. Consumers will have the choice to buy cheaper Chinese products or keep buying high-quality Taiwanese made products. THAT'S JUST EVIL. Let's ban the Chinese products, the Vietnamese products. Hey, uh, the European and American wouldn't do the same to Taiwanese products would they?

--Chinese workers will arrive in Taiwan.

Yes, because ethnic Chinese people coming to Formosa has always been a big problem for Taiwanese people. See the 17th century when they decided to all go back to Fujian province.

--because CECA is signed under One China condition, Taiwan cannot impose equalization duties or anti-dumping duties on China. Taiwan will thus function as little more than a dumping ground for low-price goods.

Here, you have one point - Taiwan sovereignty.

--the agricultural sector and SMEs will suffer the worst from such an outcome.

yes, let's punish consumers instead. because we know that farmers make up 50%+ of Taiwan's population.

Anonymous said...

China's troubles in Tibet have been inflamed by Western forces seeking to divide and weaken the emerging power and distract voters from their own economic woes, the country's top official newspaper said on Monday.

Beijing faces a volatile month of anniversaries in restive Tibet, where 12 months ago monk-led protests against Chinese rule in the regional capital, Lhasa, gave way to bloody street riots that killed 19 people and ignited protests across many ethnic Tibetan areas.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/03/01/world/international-us-chna-tibet-paper.html?_r=1

lets cold war start!!!

Michael Turton said...

--Taiwan's economic growth has been poor due to over-reliance on China

Sure, subtract China...uhhhhh, hmmmm, since everyone else buys and sells to China, where does that leave Taiwan? Its not 1975 when China can be ignored.


Who said "subtract China?" Diversification is what is advocated here. Stop constructing strawmen.

-- in January Taiwan's exports dropped 44.1%, while Taiwan's exports to China decreased 58.6%, yet's China's exports only dropped 17.5%.

Wow. Not every export of China is dependent on Taiwanese components. I am amazed. I thought every plastic toy, shoe, and t-shirt required Taiwanese parts. And to imagine that high end products get hit harder than staples items, too...


You're weird. And you don't even understand the point -- China's exports fell far less than Taiwan's, indicating that Taiwan is strongly dependent on a very narrow band of products produced in China. That is the overreliance that the DPP is talking about.

--The drop off included components and parts that Taiwanese firms once made but are now increasingly being made in China.

American parts manufacturers in the 60's and 70's would like to have a word with you....


Yes, and now look at our gutted manufacturing base.

--CECA will make it much easier for Taiwanese firms to move production to China.

Seriously? Do people in Taiwan still believe they can stop this? As if everyone except Chen Shui Bien never heard of British Virgin Islands OBU?


Strawman again.

-- the products made in China will eat into markets for locally made products

OH NO. Consumers will have the choice to buy cheaper Chinese products or keep buying high-quality Taiwanese made products. THAT'S JUST EVIL. Let's ban the Chinese products, the Vietnamese products. Hey, uh, the European and American wouldn't do the same to Taiwanese products would they?


Consumers need jobs to purchase things. Apparently that elementary lesson hasn't penetrated many heads. Here we don't have cheap credit bubbles and housing bubbles to drive an economy which no longer manufactures things....

--Chinese workers will arrive in Taiwan.

Yes, because ethnic Chinese people coming to Formosa has always been a big problem for Taiwanese people. See the 17th century when they decided to all go back to Fujian province.


ROFL. What does this have to do with today?

--the agricultural sector and SMEs will suffer the worst from such an outcome.

yes, let's punish consumers instead. because we know that farmers make up 50%+ of Taiwan's population.


Again, consumers are not being "punished". They can't consume without income. Someday market fundamentalists will all grow up and we'll stop seeing this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

OH NO. Consumers will have the choice to buy cheaper Chinese products or keep buying high-quality Taiwanese made products.--

hahahaha.. at first chinese will drop all the cheap and then all with some acseptable quality. and then you will just be happy to have money for "1-dollar shop".. because chinese firms do not play games on the stock exchage. they do collect money like triads and play comunist party games like economical invaders.