Monday, December 14, 2009

Daily Links, Dec 15, 2009

What's scantily clad on the blogs today?
This weekend offered two of the year's clearest days. The weather was incredible. Michael C blogged on the Sunday ride here.

NATIONAL DISASTER: Yes, the Yankees have released Wang Chien-ming. All Taiwan holds its breath.

Peaks tumbling away from Rte 136 between Taichung and Puli.

MEDIA: NYTimes blogpost on race in China, with discussion from four relatively liberal ethnic Chinese. Is Taiwan helping Iran acquire nukes? AFP reports that a quarter of Taiwanese kids are fat or obese. China charges democracy activist. Taiwan scholar warns that China should not control Taiwan history. Taiwan News with a good piece that the contrasts new Secretaries-General for the KMT and DPP, and their expected role in the upcoming elections. Taiwan too faces trouble from rising sea levels. Taichung braces for rising KMT-Beijing talk levels. I have to admit I'm kinda giddy with excitement -- a real event actually occurring in our backwater city of a million. Taichung is best known to expats as the subject of the common expression: "Yeah, I'll have to visit there sometime." Miami Herald with great piece on Taiwan as "canary in the coal mine" about global warming. The government's pious claims are absurd, given the continued construction of coal-fired power plants, and the continued support of the outdated industrialization concept of dirty industries running on government subsidies. Mullet catch also declining due to warming and the Three Gorges Dam. New book on Taiwan for Chinese is big hit in China. China airlines faces turbulent future. Taiwan, Japan, ink air travel pact. Kaohsiung to get new national park.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: The good: Leslie Hook's interview of Ma Ying-jeou in the WSJ. Except for another revival of the zombie claim that Ma was a "Harvard-educated lawyer" it's a pretty good report of an interview of Ma -- unlike many interviewers Hook supplies some data, such as trade data, and restrictions on tourism, that gently disputes with Ma's attempts to bend reality to his needs. There's the usual rush of Ma's patented nonsense: "In our case there is an urgency in the sense that when the Asean-mainland China [free trade agreement] comes into existence [in January] it will affect some of our exports to the mainland". But as anyone who has been following the ECFA debates knows, Ma and many others have indicated that ECFA is more of an agreement about making agreements, and that its effects will take years to be felt (remember how the financial MOUs put off many aspects of financial exchange for years to come?). The urgency for Ma is to get ECFA passed so he can please his allies in Beijing in time for the 100th anniversary of the ROC's founding in 2011. This is just "shock doctrine" politics, leveraging voter panic to gain approval of the project. Should also be noted that Beijing has basically indicated that FTAs for Taiwan will be ruled out, since they require independent sovereignty. Good work, Leslie, and many thanks (but Taiwanese is a language, not a dialect).

The bad: At RealClearWorld, Kaohsiung Fullbright scholar Kevin Slaten simply parrots the KMT line on ECFA to argue that Taiwan should not buy US weapons. Although the piece completely fails to display any depth in dealing with the topic, it does show that the logical conclusion of selling out Taiwan to China is not buying weapons from the US. Hence we can probably expect a stall from Ma/KMT on weapons sales. Recall that Ma as party Chair once promised to help the US with the weapons sales years ago, but those promises never materialized; instead, we got years of stalling. One likely scenario is the familiar one from his days of party Chairman, where "legislative intransigence" prevents the arms bill from being considered, while Ma wrings his hands in sympathy for poor, put upon America. It is interesting to juxtapose the Hook interview with the Slaten piece: in the interview, Ma notes that Taiwan will depend on "soft power" and expresses indifference to the fact that weapons from the US will take years to arrive. For bonus rip of this piece, the Dignified Rant has it.

The Ugly: The big step forward by the DPP in the recent election is obviously disconcerting for the corporate "we're making the big bucks off China" crowd in the US. Responses from Ralph Cossa at CSIS and Eric Anderson at Huffington Post both indicate a strong need to sterilize the results of the election lest people infer reality from them, by downplaying the outcome. Don't bother with Cossa's piece as it is mere boilerplate attacks on the DPP, but interestingly Anderson accuses local international media of making up the results of the election. "Suffice it to say Ma's critics are looking for any opportunity to derail his agenda and Western press sources appear to be abetting their efforts." Ugh.
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1 comment:

Thomas said...

As you have been over at RCW, I trust you have seen this policy brief from CNAS. It is entitled "Taiwan's Gamble" and is basically a rehashing of KMT propaganda.

The piece actually implies that the US should help Ma get reelected. It also portrays him as a capable steward, completely glossing over his unpopularity and the reasons behind it. The US must stand behind Ma as he pursues rapprochement, which will somehow maintain Taiwan's autonomy.

Therefore, to your "the good, the bad, the ugly" tags, I wish to add a fourth: "the clueless".