Sunday, September 13, 2009

AFP Awesomeness, Chinese Childishness

Jerome Cohen speaks on the Chen case.

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.

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.
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.

..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....

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.

It's rare to read any criticism of ECFA in the international media. Great work, guys.

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 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.

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....

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.....
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25 comments:

Robert R. said...

Would kissing 100 Parisian men work for you? I'm not sure I have the appropriate knowledge to answer that.

Anonymous said...

Big news: Another judge, the Shilin Criminal District Court head judge, has spoken out against the Chen judgment as unconstitutional.

http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/2009/new/sep/12/today-specialreport3-5.htm

Dixteel said...

The old man is right.

What is really needed is a fair trial.

Anonymous said...

About the book fair in Frankfurt:
Deutsche Welle (DW) started to write in a very balanced way about Taiwan and China (at least after some very angry letters from their readers). As a result, now you can the news about the problem of blackmailing (regarding the "discussion" at the book fair). Even on german radion station now they start to talk about this problem.

SY said...

Le Monde printed a piece in its 13-14 Sept edition (URL: see below*).

It was yet another hearsay-by-remote "report" dispatched from Pekin (Peking) by Bruno Philip. Can you imagine someone sitting in London reporting about a big event in Dublin without setting foot on Ireland?

The paper did (twice) fairly refer to Chen Shui-Bian as "L’ancien chef de l’Etat" (the ex-head of state), a title the NY Times has long refused to use to refer to Taiwan's elected "leader".

However, what irks me immensely in that piece is the following part:

Durant son double mandat, Chen Shui-bian était devenu le chantre des partisans de l'affirmation d'une identité taïwanaise dont les plus radicaux souhaiteraient que l'île rebelle se déclare formellement indépendante de la Chine, un casus belli pour Pékin.

L'actuel président Ma, au contraire, est en faveur du statu quo qui permet à Taïwan de jouir de sa souveraineté tout en reconnaissant le principe d'une Chine unique, comme l'exige la Chine populaire.


There, Bruno Philip subjectively referred to those who favor the affirmation of a Taiwanese identity as "les plus radicaux" (the most radical [people/elements]). He also misrepresents Ma's position as one fovoring the "status quo." As a journalist, Philip has the duty of investigating what Ma is up to (e.g. the devil in the details of the secretive handling of ECFA). I wouldn't think that Le Monde meant to pay Philip to dump this kind of hearsays (in fact, BS) in its paper.

Between the affirmation of a Taiwanese identity (a right all people on earth take for granted) and the French massive nuclear pollution to the South Pacific, which one would you say is "le plus radical"?

And, they (including Le Monde) wonder why printed media are getting financially less and less sustainable? Who wants to pay for hearsays!

(Michael, I agree with you that the democratization of journalism via the Internet will in the long run mean the demise of arrogant, "entitled" and yet lazy establishment media.)


*Le Monde article link: http://www.lemonde.fr/asie-pacifique/article/2009/09/12/l-ex-chef-de-l-etat-taiwanais-condamne-a-la-prison-a-vie-pour-des-delits-financiers_1239522_3216.html

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, this time I think I'll agree with your take on the AFP pieces. I didn't see a single mendacious mention of "the thing that did not happen in 1949" anywhere to be found in either of them.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

For all the criticism of the trial, sentence and so forth, you do need to remember that if Chen and his cronies didn't steal, launder and accept bribes, he'd have never been on trial in the first place.

readin said...

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.

In this case, the Taipei Times article suffers the same problems as many of the pro-KMT/CPC articles you complain about. Most of the article consists of quotes from one person, FAPA's Bob Yang. He is identified as a heading an advocacy group, but the article fails to mention that it is a pro-independence group whose positions are far closer to the DPP than to the KMT.

The article attempts to confuse by quoting Yang, then quoting a CSIS scholar, then going back to Yang in such a way that the reader isn't likely to notice. And even if the reader does notice, he has already read a paragraph of text while assuming it was the scholar's words before seeing the "Yang said" tacked on at the end.

This isn't one of the Taipei Times's better articles.

Anonymous said...

PLANS? She is NOT going to write a book at all. This is just pure dpa BLOG blather. APPLE DAILY had story yesterday too. The girl is cute, she wants sex. so what?

But there is NO BOOK coming.

"Yang *plans* to write a book on her kissing project which will contain photos of her 100 smooches. ANYBODY CAN PLAN soemthing.....Taipei Times had a story today too on page 2 on this., also dpa story

Yang is still looking for a book publisher. OF COURSE STILL LOOKINg. this is a NON story, why even dignify it with a blog mention????????

Michael Turton said...

if Chen and his cronies didn't steal, launder and accept bribes, he'd have never been on trial in the first place.

LOL.

Tim Maddog said...

@9:06 AM anonymous: According to your logic, there's no need to even have a trial -- a mere accusation is enough. Why do you hate justice?

Let's see if there's any evidence of crimes worthy of a life sentence hidden among "clouds of suspicion" (remember "Bulletgate"?) in that 1,200 - 1,500-page verdict.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

@Tim Maddog : Not sure I follow. If he didn't commit the crimes in the first place, he'd never have been indicted, arrested, detained and tried because there'd have been no reason to investigate him.

I didn't say anything about accusation being enough for guilt. Stop smoking whatever it is you're smoking and learn to read.

Anonymous said...

Could somebody please point me to:

1) The law which defines what Chen was found guilty of and explains the scope of the crime.

2) The rules of criminal procedure.

3) The sentencing guidelines for the crime Chen was found guilty of.

I would like to examine these as I am still unsure as to how it was proven beyond a doubt that Chen did what he was accused of doing and how his sentence is the result of justice being achieved.

a) How did they prove the money was stolen or at least prove it was obtained illegally?

b) What is the test to define money laundering?

c) How did they prove Chen's intent or knowledge of the deposits?

d) How does Chen's sentence compare to other sentences for similar crimes?

e) Under the current system what is "Justice"?

f) Were the rules of criminal procedure followed in Chen's case to ensure justice was done?

I think these are all questions we need to think about to better protect ourselves from the state.

Anonymous said...

SOME NEWS on that MLLE Yang woman in Paris, she has a yotube video here on her music days in Paris, she is studying piano there, at the Conservaotire della Musica della Parigi here --

Hello! My name is Ya-Ching!
I study music in Paris~!
J'apprends la musique à Paris~!
My Blog in chinese:
http://www.wretch.cc/album/...
Age: 27

readin said...

Not sure I follow. If he didn't commit the crimes in the first place, he'd never have been indicted, arrested, detained and tried because there'd have been no reason to investigate him.

So then by the same logic, Ma is also guilty of corruption - the proof being that he was investigated for corruption. Is that what you're trying to say.

Since merely being investigated is proof of guilt, we could save ourselves a lot of time and money by skipping the trials.

janice said...

Anonymous at 12:22 PM - English translations of many Taiwanese laws can be found here, including the Anti-Corruption Statute, the Money Laundering Control Act, and part of the Code of Criminal Procedure. However the Criminal Code is not available, which is unfortunate because the Money Laundering Control Act simply purports to set out procedures for enforcing certain categories of crimes defined in the Criminal Code. (Incidentally there are also translations of lots of laws and regulations on the English version of the MOJ website , although I don’t see any on there that are relevant to this particular inquiry.)

In the same vein, are there any synopses or analyses of the Chen verdict that someone can point me to? I just keep hearing that it’s 1200-1500 pages long, but absolutely nothing about the substantive content. The only quotes I’ve seen so far have contained little more than moralistic platitudes and scoldings from the judge (highlighted in the 王景弘 James Wang op-ed in today’s Taipei Times).

My own sense is that the standards of proof for these crimes are probably not well developed, especially relative to what western-trained lawyers and jurists might be used to seeing. If you look at the texts (see, e.g., Articles 4-6 of the Anti-Corruption Statute) you will find that the definitions are in fact quite vague or circular. Remember also that in many criminal justice systems the factual questions, such as “Did the defendant corruptly demand, solicit, receive, accept or agree to receive or accept bribes or other unjust enrichment in return for being influenced in the performance of official acts?“, would be submitted to a lay jury, which would make that determination based on whether they found the prosecution’s evidence to be convincing beyond reasonable doubt or whatever the applicable standard of proof. Where a judicial panel is the finder of fact, this extra layer of protection does not exist. Furthermore, as far as I understand Taiwanese courts are not technically required to adhere to established precedents, giving judges in individual cases even greater breadth of discretionary authority.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Janice!

You're right. The definitions are quite vague and seem largely up to the personal interpretations of the judge.

It isn't difficult to imagine how one may have a difficult time discerning if their actions are in fact legal. Or it might be more accurate to say, one may have a difficult time discerning on which day of the week their actions may be legal as defined by any particular judge.

It is not beyond the imagination to see how the discovery process could be tainted by political bias and the rights of the accused impinged upon by an eager prosecution bound only by loose definitions. Clearly there is a structural bias against the rights of the accused and in favor of the prosecution.

In Taiwan we have seen other cases where the political objective for a conviction that satisfies a party or public anger outweighs the rights of the accused for a fair trial. The case of the Hsi-chih Trio case is a great example of this, where the severity of the crime called for a conviction at the expense of procedure that would guarantee a fair trial. This type of system that does not bind police, prosecutors and judges to a clear code of procedure puts everyone at risk of unjust prosecution. Although under such a system it may be "legal" it is not justice. I think this is where the Chen case falls.

Anonymous said...

readin, I think you need to learn how to do what your name suggests.

As I said earlier, first you are investigated. Then arrested/indicted, detained if necessary and tried. Then found guilty or not-guilty. What's so difficult to understand?

Of course MYJ was guilty. He just had better lawyers and excuses to get out of it. The rest of the KMT are probably guilty of the same thing. CSB tried to play the KMT's game, failed and lost.

If CSB had have remained clean, if he hadn't hidden money in Swiss accounts etc, there would have been no evidence. It never would have gotten past investigation if it even got that far. Certainly there'd have been no detention, no trial and he'd be a free man today. He only has himself to blame.

Klaus said...

Actually, the Frankfurt Book Fair organizer apologized to the Chinese not for the mayor's speech or for the fact that the two Chinese dissident authors attended the symposium. He apologized for the fact that he did not inform the Chinese (this year's guests of honour at the book fair) in advance that Bei Ling an Dai Qing would enter the podium to address the audience.

Still far from brillant, but not as bad as you make it sound.

Robert R. said...

As I said earlier, first you are investigated. Then arrested/indicted, detained if necessary and tried. Then found guilty or not-guilty. What's so difficult to understand?

Of course MYJ was guilty. He just had better lawyers and excuses to get out of it. The rest of the KMT are probably guilty of the same thing. CSB tried to play the KMT's game, failed and lost.

If CSB had have remained clean, if he hadn't hidden money in Swiss accounts etc, there would have been no evidence. It never would have gotten past investigation if it even got that far. Certainly there'd have been no detention, no trial and he'd be a free man today. He only has himself to blame.


So, you posit that it is impossible with the current judiciary and political climate for someone to be wrongfully indicted and brought to trial?

And it seems that the evidence of CSB's knowledge of the money movement is tenuous at best. Why should he be tried for the [supposed] crimes of others?

And even if his guilt was proven, his sentence is disproportionate with the evidence, the law, and judicial precedent.

Michael Turton said...

Really? That's not the story that was sent to me.

Klaus said...

Michael, you can hear the original (German) statement with the apology here:
http://www.dw-world.de/popups/popup_single_mediaplayer/0,,4680919_type_audio_struct_1534_contentId_4680606,00.html

I remember you know some German speakers, so 加油

Gerd said...

Klaus is right. The article on Deutsche Welle you linked was probably updated since you last read it. It describes quite well, what actually happened, why the Chinese left and on what the organizer apologized. I also saw it on TV on that day. Extreeeeemely embarrassing..........

dan said...

Michael,

After reading about this woman's story here a while back, I found her email in Paris and emailed her back and forth for an interview that's now on Trista DiGenova's blog.

http://www.thewildeast.net/news/?p=410

As you reported above, The Taipei Times ran a brief story about her from the local office of
the Germany-based Deutsche Press Agentur news agency on September 12

When I asked her what was the initial inspiration for her kissing adventures
in Paris -- perhaps a movie or a book or a song -- Yang said that
there was no specific event or inspiration that set her off on her
seemingly quixotic quest.

"So many people have asked me this question, about what inspired me to
do this, but I really couldn't tell you
the exact answer," Yang told me. "The idea flashed in my mind about three
years ago, for no apparent reason, it just came to me, and I didn not
act on it then, but I flashed again in my mind this year for no reason
either. I felt that since the idea would not go away, and that is came
back to me again ths year, maybe it was time to do something about it.
So I did."


When I asked her how her mother and father in Taicung were reacting to the
news about their "kissing daughter" -- both in the local newspapers in
Taiwan and in many newspapers around the world as well -- Yang said
she her parents were completey supportive.

"My parents always taught me, and instilled in me, that I should
always be true to myself and follow my own inclinations, independently
of how others look at me, although without going overboard of course,"
she said. "So I felt very positive about this kissing idea, and I knew
it was a good thing for me to do. My parents knew about what I was
doing, and they completely supported me, stood behind me on this, from
the very beginning of the media glare that my blog created. They also
anticipated the pressure that Taiwanese society might put upon them,
but they are bearing it well. In fact, my parents' positive reactions
and support have touched me deeply in the way that they have shown
unconditional love for me on this. They are great people and wonderful
parents. A daughter couldn't ask for better parents."
."

dan said...

contd.....

With the photos and posts on her blog getting worldwide attention, not
to mention more than a million hits from Internet surfers in Taiwan,
Yang has toyed with the idea of putting her project on paper in the
form of a picture book. She said that some publishers in Taiwan have
already contacted her about turning her blog into a book, although she
hasn't decided yet what the title will be.

"The book will most likely be a pictorial edition with an accompanying
text, and we will try to connect the words with the photographs," Yang
said. "I haven't decided who the publisher in Taipei will be yet. I'm
planning to be back in Taiwan soon, in the future, and I have some job
interviews already lined up in the next few months. I've enjoyed my
life and studies in France, but I am definitely going back to Taiwan.
Taiwan is my home. The book will be published there, first. If there
are any foreign editions later, that will be great, too."

Her book might be titled "A Hundred Kisses", or "One Hundred Messages
From a Kiss", Yang said, adding that she would love to hear from
readers of her blog what titles they might suggest, too.

When asked what a kiss meant to her growing up in Taiwan, and what
kisses mean to her now as an adult, Yang grew philosophical.

"The meaning, the message, from a kiss is beyond words, beyond my
imagination," Yang said. "Even just a light brief kiss on the lip has
its meaning, and each person, I believe, has their own unique style of
kissing. For example, there's the tender kisser with his rather soft
and tender kiss, and then there's the naughty kisser with his -- how
shall I say it? -- exiciting and 'fun' kiss. So, in fact, every kiss
is very special and individualistic, in my experience of things."

"In Taiwan, where I grew up, a kiss was something different from what
I have seen here in Paris," Yang added. "Back home, a kiss was
regarded as a kind of promise, to stay together for a long time, maybe
forever, since most people are more conservative about kissing than
here in France. I can now imagine, yes, kissing my Mr. Right someday.
I haven't found him yet."

Kisses, especially kisses in public, did not come easily to Yang at
first, she said.

"My parents didn't kiss in front of me, never, and when I watched
kissing scenes in movies as a child and teenager in Taiwan, I was very
shy about looking at the TV or movie screen," she explained. "It
wasn't until I went to college, when I entered university, that I
became more comfortable watching those kinds of movies."

"And of course, coming to Paris two years to study classical piano,
being in this very romantic city really opened my eyes and my heart to
understand what kissing is really all about," she added. "Now I feel
it is very romantic to watch kissing screnes in a movie, and to me,
now, a kiss seems like an amazing exchange of very interesting
'energy' for both the people kissing each other. That's what I've
learned."

"A kiss is a way of passing on an intriguing kind of energy with
another person, and it's very
different from verbal communication," Yang said. "A kiss is very
subtle, very delicate, there is a lot to learn from all this."

When asked if she considers herself a shy or extroverted woman, Yang
said: "You kno,w sometimes I am shy, and sometimes I am very
out-going. People often tell me I appear to be a very calm and logical
person."

Last question: how old was she when she got her first kiss?

"Nineteen. My first boyfriend, in Taiwan."