Thursday, April 16, 2009

Daily Links, April 16, 2009

Lots of stuff to harvest out there on the blogs this week....
  • A Chinese delegation arrives tomorrow, says A-gu.

  • Taiwan hands out biggest ever fine for trademark infringement.

  • Former CATO defense policy type says US should abandon Taiwan. Because Cato prizes no one's liberty but its own. I'm looking forward to this analyst's next piece, where he argues that we should stop provoking the Somali pirates. The awesome Mad Minerva flipped me Brian Dunn's response. Don Feder talks about why defending Taiwan is necessary.

  • Neil Wade shoots Keelung

  • World's smallest robot is Taiwanese.

  • David with excellent post on energy debate in Taiwan. Taiwan News also editorializes excellently on nuclear power and the construction-industrial state.

  • Economic freefall and identity politics in the Other China, where 98% of the people are Han Chinese. *sigh* Can we stop saying "the Other China" already? And lose the 98% are Han nonsense too?

  • Portnoy at Global Voices does great work on losing one's job in Taiwan

  • Letters from Taiwan dreams the perennial dream that someday, those southern legislators are going to break off from the KMT.

  • The Shorty method with EFL games.

  • Singapore economy in deep trouble.

  • Battlepanda writes on why smart girls are unattractive. Wrong! Smart girls are totally hot.

  • Hanjie offers fabulous tool: Google map with cheap/free places to stay in Taiwan.

  • David on Australia-Taiwan conference at NCCU

  • The Foreigner notes that Chinese baby powder is contaminated with asbestos. Moral of the story: don't buy Chinese

  • MEDIA: S&P cut Taiwan's credit outlook to negative. Subsidies for solar power generation. President Ma really is going to teleconference. Move along folks, it's only a violation of the One China policy when Chen Shui-bian does it. Minister of Defense says son not involved in arms sales. SEF head says son involved in China business but didn't benefit from connections. US marines may be posted to AIT in Taipei. Green groups protest for renewable energy. Legislature pressures government to let chip industry suffer without rescue. My piece in the Asian WSJ attracts responses from professional pro-China troll types. Taiwan man sentenced for selling cursed house. Grand Justices say switch of judges in Chen Shui-bian case was unconstitutional, KMT legislator says judges shouldn't go against public opinion. Capitulationist raccoons to get 1,000,000th visitor -- averaging less than 10,000 a day. Media freedom weakening, say speakers at media forum in Taiwan.

    Don't miss: David's links from Monday

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    12 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    "Grand Justices say switch of judges in Chen Shui-bian case was unconstitutional, KMT legislator says judges shouldn't go against public opinion."

    Mob rule never hurt anybody.

    Anonymous said...

    The Grand Justices from the stuff that makes the news make principled rulings... but they have no backbone and no power.

    NCC, the idiots that are banning an ad for having a large-breasted girl bounce up and down (fully clothed mind you), was declared unconstitutional a long time ago. But the Legislative Yuan completely defied the courts and ignored the ruling.

    Readin said...

    Regarding the letters to the WSJ:

    The first is definitely the more even-handed of the two, although whether that was intentional is unclear. In an attempt to highlight the similar ancestry of both countries the writer lets slip that most Taiwanese families came to Taiwan 300 years ago (making them more distant than most immigration to the U.S. and Canada).

    On the other hand, the writer repeats the half-truth about "60 years of separate rule across the Taiwan Strait since 1949" when it should really say "110 years ... since 1895". Is the writer actually aware of the true history? I wonder. Perhaps he's just read too many CNN articles.

    Anonymous said...

    "Mob rule never hurt anybody."

    "Mob rule" is a derogatory term foreigners apply to Taiwanese notions of justice. In Taiwan, people care about punishing wrongdoers, period. In fact, Tawianese have as derogatory a view of foreign legal systems, which they think overemphasize procedural nicities and allows criminals to "get away", as foreigners have of the Taiwan system.

    This is why it is more important in Taiwan to obtain a conviction in the court of public opinion rather than in a court of law.

    Anonymous said...

    Taiwan's credit rating getting cut is a pretty big deal. Ma has been very fiscally irresponsible even though he and the KMT excoriated the DPP for raising govt debt as a percentage of GDP to 40-something %. S&P is a third-party respected source just confirming what has been dismissed previously as just ideologically motivated attacks.

    I think from now on, to see what Ma is going to do next, just go back to his old speeches and campaign promises, and take the negative and you get what his real policy is going to be.

    Colllin Spears said...

    "Economic freefall and identity politics in the Other China, where 98% of the people are Han Chinese. *sigh* Can we stop saying "the Other China" already? And lose the 98% are Han nonsense too?"

    Well thanks for linking to my article even if you do not agree with my depiction. I contacted you a couple of years ago about my old blog, Postnational Monitor.

    My personal belief is that in this case Taiwanese should have the right to self determination; that is what my heart says, anyway. My brain tells me this is unrealistic and the best Taiwan can hope for is a better deal than Hong Kong got or more independence than Puerto Rico Rico enjoys. I have very rational reasons for believing this to be the likely future, but you never know. Who would have guessed Kosovo would be a country???

    As far as my stats. I see most Taiwanese (besides real native Aborginals) to be "hua ren" this does not mean to me they are zhongguo ren. As I explained at the bottom of my article, being "Han" and being "Chinese by nationality" are different. Most people in Singapore are Han, but they are not zhongguo ren. This is the distinction I make and the distinction my Taiwanese friends seem to accept. Most of my friends though are bensheng ren, who would like independence from China but don't see it as practical so they just want the status quo indefinitely...from my reading that is the typical attitude on the island.

    I'm not sure how long a people have to be separated before they can be considered a separate people, it seems in some areas Austrians and Germans are considered quite separate although culturally not so much (same as Dutch and Flemish) in other areas some folks don't really believe that Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Russians are really a separate people and in Japan some folks think Okinawans are not really Japanese and should be separate (a small minority but still...

    What I do know is that the majority of Taiwanese alive today had ancestors on the Mainland 400 years ago and they still speak Chinese dialects today (Mandarin, Minnan or Taiyu, etc). I've been to Taiwan twice and to me they just seemed like a more polite more sophisticated version of folks I knew living in Shanghai. They seemed to have more in common to each other than they did to Japanese and Koreans (places I've been or lived). I find it a stretch to not at least say they are all hua ren. Hell, I've met Chinese Filipinos and Chinese Vietnamese in the states who call themselves Chinese and they have been in those places as long or longer than most of the Han on Taiwan.

    Then again Canadians, Aussies, and American Anglos don't refer to themselves as Englishman for the most part anymore, although they are found of hyphenating Irish, Italian, etc. :-) This gets tricky indeed.

    Collin Spears said...

    To add to my last post. I'm sure you know the story of Koxinga (Guo Xiang ye)...I'm guessing, as often in Chinese history, this is going to be a repeat. Koxinga was Jiang Jieshi and his son's successor, so son carried on the fight, somewhat, but in a more sober way, giving up on ever really retaking the Mainland. Then finally Zheng Keshuang abdicated to the Qing Emperor. There are ridiculous parallels here.

    Anonymous said...

    @Collin:This is a battle that gets old, but what you describe as dialects are really mutually unintelligible languages. They are from the same language family, but no one calls French and Spanish dialects of Latin, and no one says because they speak languages from the same language family, the two should forcibly unify.

    Identifying as Han when what people are sharing in common in actuality is very little is exactly the criticism of Han. It's just an idea that people identify as and is often used for nationalistic purposes.

    Thomas said...

    "They seemed to have more in common to each other than they did to Japanese and Koreans (places I've been or lived). I find it a stretch to not at least say they are all hua ren. Hell, I've met Chinese Filipinos and Chinese Vietnamese in the states who call themselves Chinese and they have been in those places as long or longer than most of the Han on Taiwan."

    You have waded well into the identity minefield.

    1) Mine 1: The Han were a much more cohesive unit in the past than they are now. I am sure it was once possible to describe a "Han" identity. But Hans have been so mixed into China's ethnic melting pot for so long that I think you would be at great pains to arrive at a definition of what the Han ethnic identity currently is. Believe it or not, ethnicities don't remain static.

    This being the case, why shouldn't someone take you to task for claiming that most Taiwanese are Han?

    Mine 2: You bring up an unrelated example of "Chinese" in other countries. You say yourself that you know that Chinese is a nationality and not an ethnicity, yet you seem to have no problem with those of Chinese origins in other countries referring to their ethnicity as Chinese. And you seem to imply that people in Taiwan should not have a problem distinguishing themselves as Han as a result. There is no connection here. Maybe you have just not explained yourself clearly.

    Your bridge over the minefield: Look, if you want to say that most people in Taiwan have origins in the country that is currently known as China and bear many cultural similarities to people on the other side of the strait, I don't think you will find many people to contradict you. But how can you say that most Taiwanese belong to an ethnicity that is so poorly definable in modern times as "Han", which refers specifically to the cultural group that occupied the limited geographic areas of the Ming, but which became significantly diluted after the Qing built their international empire hundreds of years ago? Han is currently used as a convenient term to describe the dominant ethnicity of the PRC. But the clear definers of "Han" culture have long since been blurred. If you know them, please tell us.

    Collin Spears said...

    Thomas:

    Not exactly.

    The problem is that when speaking in English we don't usually differentiate between Han, huaren, zhonguo minzu, zhonguo ren. We simply say Chinese. The only time we do not say "Chinese" is when there is some ethnic group known to be separate from Han, like Tibetans or even Koreans (Chaoxian), but in the end they all have Chinese passports if they live in China.

    So overseas Chinese come here (America) from places like Vietnam or the Philippines and call themselves "Chinese". Singaporeans often do as well, but I know (due to my knowledge of them as people and their cultural understanding) they are not saying they are citizens of China or should hold a Chinese passport and the government in Beijing thinks the same.

    I have had friends from China and Hong Kong, they all consider themselves Chinese citizens, but Hong Kongers also say they are Hong Kongers and make that clear. Guangdong people are quite proud to speak Cantonese and often call themselves Tongyan (similar to Hong Kong people) means Tang Ren (or people from Tang Dynasty), they don't usually say they are "Han" (people from Han Dynasty) but this does not mean they are not "Chinese" in some sense...(I'm sure it varies by person).

    My point is that there is no clear line and it gets quite confusing.

    The idea of "Han" has always been fuzzy. I'm sorry but the idea of Huaren comes from the Huaxia tribes, those who shared a similar mythological culture and origin.

    As we know, as those people spread out away from the Yellow River they out-married (mostly men marrying "barbarian women", this happened in Taiwan quite a bit as well as most of the Han that went there from Fujian were males). Historic records make clear, China acculturated many Tungustic, Korean, Turkic, Proto-Mongol, Austronesian tribes, etc. Even the Qin (of the Qin Dynasty) were partially "barbaric" in origin, so since before 200BC, Han have always been "mixed"...but there is no "pure" ethnicity anywhere in the world is there?

    Today, "Han" is basically anyone who has a Han father or has long been part of a group considered Han, who usually speaks a Chinese dialect.

    I think your argument is not very meaningful as these things are "fuzzy" and really depend on what people are forced to think (usually be violence) or what the majority happens to think at a given time.

    200 years ago there was no "Germany" but there was a "Volk"...those people stretched from Russia all the way to modern France, Southern Denmark, and South to Switzerland...etc. Technically, Germanic languages include a much wider range than that, but by the late 1800's most of those others (English, Dutch, Flemish the Germanic people who were acculturated into the upper classes of most of Western Europe) no longer considered themselves "Volk". Many of the Germanic languages of the Volk were not mutually intelligible and Prussian became the standard. At the time there were "Volk" who felt they wanted to be part of a united German state in Switzerland and Austria, but due to politics this did not happen (although most Austrians fairly voted to join Germany later but it was rejected after WWII).

    So now Germans are one people. Austrians have a very similar (but not identical culture) and speak a semi-intelligible dialect of German, despite the fact they all learn standard High German in school (just like many in Switzerland, Lichtenstein, etc).

    So who is really "German"? Dutch is closer to High German than Swiss German and Austrian and even Bavarian...but Dutch will tell you clearly they are not German although their very name means "Dutch" means "Deutsch". LOL Dutch will also say they aren't flemish but the main difference is one is protestant and one is Catholic.

    I think you get my point that this is all arbitrary lines drawn for political reasons, mainly, to try to make rational sense of it in a quantitative way always will break down into nonsense.

    To my knowledge, looking at polls that I have seen most Taiwanese consider themselves Han. This is not shocking, as most all Taiwanese (but for some very old people) speak Mandarin and live in a place called the 'Republic of China'. I know they had no choice in the matter, but most Germans had no choice to be German either. Actually "choosing a nationality or ethnicity" is rarely a choice for anyone, it is forced on them or given to them by parents, etc. I'm not making a moral argument, I'm strictly stating reality.

    Has anyone seen a poll that shows most Taiwanese not considering themselves Han?

    By your definition there is also no such thing as an American, a German, an Italian, an Indian, a Japanese, a Canadian, a Ukrainian...I could go on and on.

    I think there is a better way to approach these issues other than nihilism.

    Every would be or successful revolution has a "creation myth" a reason the "new people" are either "old" or somehow exceptional, that is obviously psychologically necessary. Question is...are you winning the battle for the hearts and minds?

    Anonymous said...

    Collin, just make an effort to synthesize all the tidbits you bring up, and you'll see what your problems are. Hint: they aren't all in support of your position ;-).

    Just one example: so English has no word for Han, huaren, tangren, etc. Great! So calling Taiwanese Chinese based on the fact that they may identify as Han (and leaving aside what Han means to Taiwanese) won't work because as you've pointed out, it's not equivalent!

    Thomas said...

    "since before 200BC, Han have always been "mixed"...but there is no "pure" ethnicity anywhere in the world is there?

    Today, "Han" is basically anyone who has a Han father or has long been part of a group considered Han, who usually speaks a Chinese dialect."

    There you go again. First of all, you are not telling me anything about the situation I don't know. My point is that you are defining Taiwanese as Han based on connections to an ethnicity that is not distinct itself, by your own admission. Nobody said that Taiwanese don't have origins from that part of China.



    "
    By your definition there is also no such thing as an American, a German, an Italian, an Indian, a Japanese, a Canadian, a Ukrainian...I could go on and on.
    "

    Actually, American national, yes. Ethnically American, no. German national, yes. Ethnically German, no. Etc.

    Chinese national yes, ethnically Chinese, no.