Friday, April 10, 2009

Daily Links, April 10, 2009

The waiting area for the bus at Linkou Changgung Hospital

Teaching in the spring? It's like officiating at a funeral: you're facing a crowd, talking, and everyone in front of you is sniffling. Luckily the blogs offer the perfect antidote:
  • Lawyerly comments at the Volokh Conspiracy on the court case on US sovereignty over Taiwan.

  • That's Impossible on the Hong Kong forum's claim that Taiwan is more corrupt than China. Move along folks, no self serving conclusions to see there....

  • 20% tax rate for foreigners in Taiwan? Thoth has the answer.

  • The secret tea language of triads.

  • Clyde's Chinese Consumer Connection Podcast #47 on steak

  • Enjoy this Obama PC from Taiwan!

  • Carrie interviews Josambro.

  • While Ma was honoring the Yellow Emperor in Taiwan, Lien Chan was at home in China doing the same

  • Fili lists the most beautiful Taiwanese girls. What is Rainie doing on that list?

  • Taiwan representative to US called "ambassador" in Chinese

  • Todd with an awesome panorama.

  • David has great links for monday
  • MEDIA: Texas legislator says Chinese names too hard to pronounce. Shih.... Taiwan unveils $1 billion promotion project to bring in foreign tourists. India Defense Review on China-India maritime rivalry -- and another media article on it. Hokkaido beats pandas by giving cranes. Of course, the way our construction industry is these days, we don't need any more cranes... A renowned US botanist advises Taiwan to protect its biodiversity. Jeez, guys, we'd love to, but we're investing in pandas this year... Taiwan's Ag and Food Agency says that claims that 30% of Taiwan's garlic comes from China are a rural legend and there is no garlic smuggling from China to Taiwan. Immigration agency under fire for asking nosy, suggestive questions to foreign spouses. MISLEADING HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: Police make large haul of ketamine. Man, I was wondering who was making all that ketamine.... Peace Agreement with China is next step in KMT program, says former Taiwan envoy to US. Chinese drywall problem now crops up in post-Katrina New Orleans.

    EVENTS: In recognition of Earth Day on April 19 Earth Passengers and the Permaculture Practitioners group, along with the National Taiwan Museum, Environmental Information Association, and the Forestry Dept. under the Council of Agriculture, is organizing a one-day series of workshops and presentations on sustainable living and food production technologies for urban environments. Talks and demonstrations will be given on cultivating edible landscapes in urban areas, making seed balls, composting, and rainwater harvesting. Tour of a nearby rooftop eco-garden is also scheduled for 2 pm, but advanced registration is required. Look for info on the Museum website.

    SPECIAL: I have a piece in the Asian Wall Street Journal. Many thanks for the incredibly helpful comments and suggestions in formulating this from the Yunnan Biker Man and the Latin Lover -- I couldn't have done it without you. AWSJ was totally cooperative and it was a very pleasant experience that I hope is the first of many such publications. UPDATE: It was discussed briefly on the Talking Show last night, says maddog. "If y'all missed Talking Show, it is up on youtube (link to video) Look for something like "09-04/10 大話新聞 (DaHwa News) 13/12" or "09-04/10 大話新聞 (DaHwa News) 13/13" (parts 12 and/or 13 of 13 parts), or watch the 12:55 AM rebroadcast -- Michael's part will start around 2:45 - 2:50 AM, if you're up that late." Note that he incorrectly says I am prof at NCKU, I am only PHD student. A Chinese translation was posted to Social Force.

    Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


    Anonymous said...

    The "too hard to pronounce" bit sort of ignores the American history where Italian last names were often truncated (and Irish sometimes too). Also many Eastern European names. There was a time in the US when Italian and Irish were looked down on and many hid their heritage by changing their last names. People even thought Italian and Irish were racially inferior with lower IQs!

    But now, there is none of that controversy, and the cool thing to do is to pronounce Italian, Spanish, Irish, Russian last names in their original pronunciation. It's very peculiar to be singling out Chinese names.

    Anonymous said...

    A reasonable debut but I think you have overplayed the significance of President Ma Ying-jeou's participation in the ceremony. Ma is not the Machiavellian schemer that you believe him to be. He is simply a man who is having the time of his life being leader of the Republic of China. Ma enjoys playing the game and making his presence felt in all sphere's of life on the island -- it really is that simple. Now Lien Chan on the other hand ...

    Michael Turton said...

    Thanks, anon, for the thought provoking view of Ma. I will retire to ponder it.


    Readin said...

    Congratulations on getting the WSJ opinion published! It's great to see a non-Chinese-colonialist point of view about Taiwan in a major newspaper!

    However, I'm one of those people who always see the spot on the otherwise perfect. So in the spirit of constructive criticism and hope that you'll have other opportunities to write for major newspapers:

    I thought the article needed more introduction to Taiwan and its history. The readers of your blog are generally well-acquainted with Taiwan. The readers of the WSJ are not. The very first sentence assumes the reader is familiar with the distinction between "Chinese" and "Han Chinese". Within the first paragraph, only three sentences long, already assumes that the reader understands the cultural complexity to Taiwan-China tensions. The first paragraph should be attention grabbing, but I fear that for most readers the reaction will be "So what?"

    Some background information that would seem critical includes:
    * Ma is from the KMT, the party that came from China and ruled authoritarianly.
    * Taiwan was part of Japan for 50 years prior to WWII, and that China never solidly controlled the whole island (important info related to your statements about the KMT embracing "Chinese-ness")
    *That while Ma was elected promising closer ties with China, he was also elected promising to maintain Taiwan's sovereignty.

    With most English-reading people, you unfortunately have to start with the basics. You can't say everything you want to or explore all the details because you have to spend some time on basic background information.

    But all nattering nabob of negativity aside, thanks for being heard!

    Anonymous said...

    MA is probably having the time of his life. As a devotee of Sun Yat-sen ideology he sees nothing wrong with his actions. To him, Chinese nationalist culturalism is the greatest development in Asian politics. He hopes to use it to elevate degraded peoples under the superior guidance of the advanced "yellow race". He can not see the negatives.

    Readin said...

    Ma is not the Machiavellian schemer that you believe him to be. He is simply a man who is having the time of his life being leader of the Republic of China.

    You may be right, but even without the scheming Ma is making the choices for a reason: he considers himself and the country to be Chinese. His choices reflect that belief, and as president those reflections tend to reinforce and support that belief, and so the damage is done whether intentional or not.

    Anonymous said...

    "Ma is not the Machiavellian schemer that you believe him to be. He is simply a man who is having the time of his life being leader of the Republic of China"

    Haha, that's a nice propagandistic picture you paint of Ma... well, first of all, Ma seems a little better now, but all last year, he looked like a panda with bags around his eyes and came out so little the press labeled him otaku. My guess is he was under a huge amount of stress and was extremely disappointed by his low approval ratings (which continue to be so). But let's say I'm wrong--at the very least, he's definitely not "having the time of his life".

    In terms of scheming... there is a full court press going on right now to bring back the heroization of Chiang Ching-Kuo. This is being conducted across pan-Blue media, both the private media cheerleaders but also by government publications, like Central News Agency and Radio Taiwan International (which by the way, were purged recently of Greenies even though the DPP kept a lot of Blues on the roles during their time in office). Further, it looks like the next step after heroifying Chiang is to draw parallels between Chiang and Ma.

    While this whole heroification process pisses me off for so many reasons, my point here is this appears to be highly coordinated, is consistent in message, and is being done with the full participation of Ma.

    The Ma administration has also very systematically gone through all references to Taiwan in official publications and changed them all to Republic of China, changed all references to 繁體字 (complex characters) to 正體字 (proper/orthodox characters, and yes, this does carry connotations of simplified as being wrong or improper). He's changed Taiwan Post back to Chunghwa Post, even though Taiwan Post really was the original name from the Japanese period!

    Remember that Ma criticized the DPP for changing names as being ideological and wasting money. Then he goes out and does the same thing. This guy is very sensitive about certain things, and he has serious bones to pick about what most people in Taiwan consider very minor issues.

    Recall also that Ma worked as a snitch for the KMT to spy on Taiwanese students in the US participating in the democracy and Taiwanese independence movements. Machiavellian sorta has a more specific definition based on the book, so I'm not sure he's exactly that, but for sure, Ma is a schemer who will use underhanded ways to enact his Chinese nationalist agenda.

    Anyways, this is long-winded, but I hope you can get a flavor of the overall picture of Ma's personality. He ain't laid back, he ain't just having fun, and if he is anything, he is ideological to the core. He's very aware of the media, very aware of culture, and how ideas of history and identity can influence politics, and he is working his damnest to insure that he whips those forward along with the government machinery ox so that he can enact his agenda.

    Ma knows what he needs to do to win, and those who care about Taiwan, those who care about democracy and liberalism, and respect for complex identities and cultures--you better know too.

    STOP Ma said...

    "He is simply a man who is having the time of his life being leader of the Republic of China."

    Well, pretending to be leader anyhow.

    Congrats on the article, Michael! I think anon has made a good point, but I think the main thesis in your article is strong. This KMT administration is determined to a colonial-like effort to replace "Taiwan" culture with "Chinese" culture -- despite the will of the people.

    Anonymous said...

    You made Da Hwa News, haha!

    Did mistakenly introduce you as a professor at Cheng Kung, but it looks like someone translated your editorial into Chinese.

    Anonymous said...

    Ouch! Perhaps your next insightful article should be written from this perspective so as to avoid the one-trick pony label.

    comprock said...

    Good picture of Linkou hospital waiting room, I see that same site monthly. My new place isn't too far from there.

    Thanks again for keeping us up to date on the latest happening in Taiwan.

    In the world of farming and small balcony gardening, I should be planting four boxes later today or tomorrow and it looks like two weeks again in Italy working on an organic farm.

    Oh yes, the missus has declared Linkou not natureful enough, guess I better get a car and find another plot of land to build a place.


    Marc said...

    Re the garlic: I'm told that there's no way to replicate TRUE Taiwan garlic in China, so "caveat emptor."

    Taiwan garlic, when tasted, has a real kick to it, whereas the China-grown garlic is comparatively bland.

    Same goes for the lianwu, BTW. Taiwan's are sweet and succulent; China's are practically tasteless.

    When I shop at my local traditonal market, I always taste before I buy.

    Marc said...

    Michael, that Texas link appears to be a dead end.

    Michael Turton said...

    comprock, the lack of nature is reason i'm not moving my family up.

    The Foreigner said...

    Forgot to congratulate you on the AWSJ piece. Probably not a lot of outsiders are aware of the drip-by-drip cultural realignment the KMT is attempting to pull off here.

    Dixteel said...

    all I can say about the WSJ article is: Very nice, Michael.

    Klaus said...

    Congrats on the article, Michael. Though I agree it could be a bit more Taiwan-Newbie-Accessible.

    Reading the first three comments over at it's frightening to see what kind of brain-washed morons are creeping our from under their rocks now.

    As I do not plan to enter a paid subscription with WSJ jut to leave a comment, could someone else please go over there and put things into perpective?

    Dixteel said...

    About the idolization of Chiang Ching-Kuo, Anon has some very good observations. The KMT and its media now has a full frontal propaganda assault with a dead man leading the charge...hmm...sounds like a Zombies army from classic horror fiction.

    I wonder if the head of GIO, 蘇俊賓, has anything to do with this...Shortly after he got into GIO they start all this CCK craps. A lot of people think 蘇俊賓 is just a moderate KMT, but I don't think so. I think he might be a master propaganda producer, from my observation of his past speeches etc.