I don't know what's come over Agence France Presse (AFP), but several of us have been marveling at the far more balanced and in-depth reporting that's been coming out of AFP in the last week or so. Another good piece today from them on the international angst over the Chen verdict, citing Murray Rubenstein, and Jerome Cohen....
But Cohen argued that the way the court handled the case was open to criticism, citing a "disturbing" mid-trial switch to a judge often accused of being biased against the former president.Cohen's criticism is extremely subtle, but powerful. Kudos to him. William Lowther in the Taipei Times had a good piece on US suspicions about the Chen verdict, but the Taipei Times is pro-Taiwan, so it is easier to dismiss its (excellent) reporting. But a thorough piece like this one in the international media is harder to discredit.
In a letter to Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou early this year, nearly 30 international scholars warned the "the erosion of the judicial system" could jeopardise Chen's right to a fair trial.
"Taiwan's judicial system must be not only above suspicion but even above the appearance of suspicion, of partiality and political bias," the letter said.
Under Taiwanese law, a sentence of life in jail is automatically appealed, and the new trial will be a chance for the legal system to make up for its shortcomings so far, observers said.
"One hopes the second-instance trial... will redo the case in a way that will lead people to believe that evil has been punished in a fair and proper way," said Cohen.
Legal experts have called for Chen's release from detention so he can prepare his defence in a more unhindered manner than has been the case so far.
"The High Court should give Chen a fair chance to defend himself when he appeals the ruling but this will be very difficult if he is still in custody," said Lin, of the Judicial Reform Commission.
..and check out this excellent piece on the woes Taiwan's small manufacturers can expect once the KMT and CCP ink the ECFA 2011 Hu-Ma Nobel Prize Lovefest Sellout Tour agreement....
It's rare to read any criticism of ECFA in the international media. Great work, guys.
Wang is among a growing number of small entrepreneurs on the island fearing what will happen to their businesses once the Beijing-friendly government signs an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA, with China.
Critics fear that the ECFA, a scaled-down trade pact, will open the floodgates for a deluge of cheap Chinese imports, wiping out low-tech industries such as Wang's.
China's competitive labour is often cited as key, but there are other factors behind the mainland's export juggernaut.
One example: Taiwan's tile makers are required to use natural gas, a relatively clean energy source, to meet strict environmental laws, but their Chinese rivals use coal, which is more polluting but six times cheaper.
There are around 50 ceramic plants in Taiwan, and few are safe if the ECFA becomes a reality.
This piece on the Frankfurt Book Exhibition displays one of the worst examples of crawling on your belly in front of China I have ever had the misfortune to read.
The climax of the piece is the organizer apologizing because the local mayor had talked about democracy, and so the delegation had walked out. The backstory is that Bei Ling was going to give a talk on the politics and censorship and its effects in the publishing industry in China. Totally factual, so naturally Beijing couldn't have that. A second key fact is that China is now a huge market for books and a huge supplier of printing services and paper. The irony of the exhibition's title is painful....
The symposium, entitled "China and the world - perception and reality," was initially intended to clear up prejudices about the guest country - China - ahead of the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair, which begins in mid-October.
The event had been intended as a promotional preamble but soon became a PR nightmare when China made it clear that if the organizers persisted in including dissident writers, it would pull out of the symposium altogether.
The fair's organizers bowed to Chinese pressure and Bei Ling, Dai Qing and several other dissident authors found that their invitations had been revoked.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam, bloggers and journalists critical of China are being detained, thanks to China's growing economic clout and position as lender of last resort to Vietnam.
Finally, don't miss this interesting article from the Jamestown Foundation China Brief on The Geopolitics of Cross-Strait disaster Relief with some fascinating glimpses of lost history:
....The provision of sanctioned disaster relief between Mainland China and Taiwan has been a regular occurrence since the mid-1980s, while the KMT’s efforts to influence mainlanders through propaganda-laden relief efforts extend further back in time. In May 1950, the semi-official Free China Relief Association, which was established that year by the KMT to provide aid to refugees from China, conducted air drops of 70,000 tons of Taiwanese rice along with propaganda texts over much of eastern China, labeling their bags, “mainland disaster famine [relief], from Taiwan compatriots.” In February 1961, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry floated balloons carrying food and clothes in a humanitarian gesture from Quemoy Island to the mainland in response to reports of famine following the disastrous Great Leap Forward campaign. In 1976 following the earthquake that leveled Tangshan, the Free China Relief Association floated 170,000 balloons with relief supplies across the Strait when Taiwan’s offers of aid were officially rejected by Beijing.There's also discussion of CCP vs. KMT disaster relief in other countries, rather like the old SPY VS SPY in Mad Magazine.....
- Future herpes pin-up girl from Taiwan plans to kiss 100 men in Paris, write book. Would it work for me?
- Bruce Jacobs with a moving discussion of the investigations into White Terror killings, and his own involvement.
- Jacobs again on Morakot and the its implications for Ma's presidency.
- Portnoy collects responses to Chen verdict on local blogs.
[Taiwan] 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 forum