Friday, December 11, 2009

Rounding Up the News

The Daily Yomiuri reports on the Taiwanese firms that have scuppered an FTC investigation into LCD price fixing...
The Fair Trade Commission has decided not to issue cease-and-desist orders to about 20 domestic and foreign firms suspected of forming an international cartel involving the sale of liquid crystal display panels for such products as TVs and cell phones, it has been learned.

Ultimately, the FTC could not discover the whole truth behind its suspicions as Taiwan companies believed to be at the center of the cartel refused to cooperate with the FTC's investigation. It will officially end its probe when the statute of limitations expires in the middle of this month.

As of August, the U.S. Justice Department had identified Osaka-based Sharp Corp.; Hitachi Displays Ltd., based in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo; and South Korea's LG Display Co. as members of this international price cartel and levied fines totalling 640 million dollars.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, also identified this as a cartel of firms from South Korea, Taiwan and other countries in July and is planning to impose huge monetary sanctions soon.
Taiwan's exclusion from the heroism-or-suicide climate talks was the subject of a sympathetic piece, also in a Japanese paper, as a well as a nifty commentary in the Taipei Times today from Danish Taiwanese supporter Michael Danielson. The Japan Times notes:
Not only is Taiwan victim to the severe effects of climate change, it is also one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters. Home to a mere 23 million people, it nevertheless accounts for 1 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, according to Shen.

Taiwan cannot participate in the Copenhagen conference as a national delegation because the U.N. does not recognize its sovereignty, mainly due to pressure from the People's Republic of China. So it is being represented by four NGOs who are attending as observers, with the Environmental Protection Administration's deputy minister acting as adviser.

For those interested, the most recent SCAR report, 500+ pages, on the rapidly melting antarctic ice sheets, is here. The good news is that the ozone over the south pole is recovering. The bad news is that ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas, meaning that the ice is now melting faster than IPCC predictions. The situation can probably still be stabilized, but Copenhagen is looking a lot like that famous opening monologue...
Their leaders talked and talked and talked
but nothing could stem the avalanche.
Their world crumbled...'s the kind of thing that just makes me want to sit around listening to Mahler's Second over and over again.... Russians fear China? China Reform Monitor observes:
Russia's Gazeta has published a scathing critique of China's political system and military. “China is becoming stronger than Russia, and it covets our resources [and] every Chinese knows that all of southern Siberia and Russia's Far East constitute ‘primordial Chinese territory. China is preparing for war with Russia.” The Chinese military's most recent maneuvers combined units of land forces and have been staged close to Russian borders, the article notes. “China's military-technical cooperation with Russia is being wound down at a very rapid pace, and Beijing's technological dependence on Russia's defense industries is already almost a thing of the past.” The article also recalls China's provision of nuclear technologies and highly enriched uranium to Pakistan and claims that “Russia and the United States are seeking agreement on the demilitarization and denuclearization of space while Beijing is pursuing the opposite policy.”
Speaking of weapons, our on-again, off-again arms sales to Taiwan are apparently on, according to a Reuters exclusive:
The Obama administration is moving toward possible new arms sales to Taiwan, including design work on diesel-electric submarines, a State Department official told Reuters on Wednesday.

China strongly opposes arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province, as interference in its domestic affairs. New submarines could help challenge any Chinese seaborne assault on the self-governing island, which Beijing reserves the right to take by force.

Also progressing toward notification to the U.S. Congress is the sale to Taiwan of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, said Robert Kovac, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for defense trade.

In addition, the Obama administration is weighing more sales to Taiwan of Patriot "Advanced Capability" missiles known as PAC-3 as well as an operations deal for the "Po Sheng" (Broad Victory) command and control program, Kovac said.
The Command and Control stuff is urgently needed as China modernizes. So are the choppers. F-16s? They aren't mentioned. But the submarines? Diesel electric subs are great, quieter and cheaper than nukes, but Taiwan does not need them, especially at those prices, 3X the going world rate, and not arriving for more than a decade from now. We'd be much better off investing in '000s of cruise missiles for striking Chinese bases. We need a Taiwan that bristles with missiles.

Finally, a lighter turn: an American-born Taiwanese roundball player at Harvard was featured on ESPN:
Jeremy is not the product of some Marv Marinovich in high-tops, desperate to cultivate the perfect basketball player, but rather a 5-foot-6 immigrant who long ago fell in love with a game and realized that in that game, his own children could gain entry into mainstream America.

Gie-Ming Lin was born in Taiwan, where academics were stressed and athletics ignored. He caught an occasional glimpse of basketball and, for reasons he can't explain, was immediately smitten with the game.

He dreamed of coming to the United States for two reasons: to complete his Ph.D. and "to watch the NBA."
This illustrates a common thread in many sports stars' lives: obsessive parental intervention -- the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods are other good examples.

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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!


les said...

Maybe an end to Russian military cooperation with China would open the door for Taiwan to purchase from Russia? I'm sure that process would go a lot faster than comparable purchases from the US.

Thoth Harris said...

That's a great point, Les. I really think America burnt its bridges in a huge way after the fall of Communism in the 1990s, as well. Instead of encouraging democracy with financial/moral/etc. support, Western countries, and the U.S., in particular, be it under Repubs or Dems just reaped the benefits of the "shock therapies" and sudden demand for Levis and such. I wonder if we can ever live that down.

Anonymous said...

We'd be much better off investing in '000s of cruise missiles for striking Chinese bases. We need a Taiwan that bristles with missiles."

Amen. There is certain military equipment that is very big bang for the buck, and cruise missiles and missiles in general are absolutely at the top of the list. Defensive anti-missile missiles on the other hand are just stupid. They cost much more than attack missiles and will drive you to bankruptcy, especially against someone like China with such a huge budget.

One addition to the big bang for your buck list--Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). UAVs totally change the air superiority equation; even if Taiwan lost control of the skies, UAVs would continue to totally wreck havoc on the Taiwan Strait and in invasion staging areas on the coast of China. Taiwan definitely has the electronics competence to build them itself, and they, like cruise missiles, are cheap, cheap, cheap!

Raj said...

Submarines actually would be useful for Taiwan. China has never had a very good ASW capability and they could fulfill a number of tasks - attacks against an invasion fleet, punching a hole through a blockade (either by force or as a detterent), attacks on supply ships, etc.

The fact it will take some time for Taiwan to get them is irrelevant because eventually those Taiwanese subs will come out of service. You have to think long-term, not just short-term. It's not like the Taiwan problem will definitely be solved in the next decade - it may well go on for several decades or start again because some Chinese or Taiwanese politician decides it would be useful for his/her career.

Michael Turton said...

I'm not opposed to Taiwan having subs, in fact I'd love to have a whole fleet of 'em, and even better if we could build and sell them. But for the amount of money spent, we'd be better off letting the Americans do the submarining for us, especialyl since Taiwan has no great naval sub tradition, and focusing on building zillions of missiles. Eight subs aren;'t going to have any effect on the strategic equation in the Strait, the Chinese will take their losses and then wipe out the sub bases, which is Taiwan's weak point, and then proceed with their invasion. What are we going to do? Waste torpedoes on fishing craft?


Raj said...

Michael you can't just think in terms of all out, end-of-the-world war. You have to think about stuff in between. China would find it hard to launch an invasion of Taiwan without causing US intervention and/or sanctions from a large number of countries.

On the other hand a limited operation, like a blockade, would be the horrible halfway house of squeezing Taiwan whilst not going so far as to automatically force the hand of foreign powers. Subs would be a great counter to that with the P-3C Orions chasing off Chinese submarines from around the east coast of Taiwan.

Anyway the US isn't going to sell Taiwan so many parts that it can build thousands of cruise missiles. And before anyone says otherwise these are things that Taiwan can't make itself.

Anonymous said...

Comment about the ozone remarks you made: if you open the link that you actually provide us you will read pretty quickly:


Michael Turton said...

Ozone: yes, and then it goes on to say that the return of the ozone is bad news and is/will accelerate ice melting in antarctica.

What's your point?


Richard said...

Interesting point about taking thousands of missiles over a 10-year out diesel-electric submarine program. Although you have to think about "stuff in between," the problem is the submarines aren't even in development. Committing that kind of budget to something that far out when a lot of things could change in the development phase is potentially very risky for Taiwan. With both sides playing a cat and mouse game over arms procurement, I think it'd be best to aim for the best "bang for buck," at this time. And IMO, I think there's a high possibility of the Taiwan Strait Issue being resolved within the next decade (or at least a significant development). So you say nay, I say yay. But we all know, time is ticking for both sides, as the longer Taiwan retains its de-facto independence, the harder it will be for China to get what it wants.

Anonymous said...

"Taiwan cannot participate in the Copenhagen conference as a national delegation because the U.N. does not recognize its sovereignty, mainly due to pressure from the People's Republic of China. So it is being represented by four NGOs who are attending as observers, with the Environmental Protection Administration's deputy minister acting as adviser."

Nonsense. Taiwan can participate in the UNFCCC as an observer but has never applied to do so. Ignore MOFA's song and dance about Taiwan being excluded from the convention. The bottom line is that Ma only made his mind up to apply after the Aug. 7 deadline had passed, meaning that it was impossible for Taiwan to participate at a level above NGO. To be declined UNFCCC observer status, one third of the signatory parties must vote against an applicant's submission. No vote has ever been held on a submission made by Taiwan. All of the fake video conferences, ministerial trips to Europe and outrage surrounding the UNFCCC and ITRI's representation under the name "China" were fluff to distract the public from the real issue: Ma and the MOFA blew it big time.

Anonymous said...

Great comment, anon. I have heard similar stuff privately.

Anonymous said...

ah, whatever, I propose just have both subs and cruise missiles. That would have everything covered. Better yet, subs "with" cruise missiles.

But where can we get such budget without going into national bankruptcy? hmm............