Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BREAKING: Chinese, ROC military officials to meet in Hawaii

Reuters reports that Chinese and ROC military officials are meeting in Hawaii later this year:
Senior Chinese and Taiwanese military officers will meet for the first time since the end of a civil war in 1949 at a forum in Hawaii this summer, state media said on Tuesday, in a further sign of improving ties between the political rivals.

Officials from both sides will attend August's Transnational Security Cooperation forum organized by the U.S. Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, an institute under the U.S. Department of Defense, the official China Daily said.

The newspaper said senior military officials in Beijing had confirmed that military personnel from the two sides would meet at the forum.

"Another military source in Beijing also suggested that some cross-Straits military exchanges may take place before August, but declined to reveal more details as yet," the report added.

A Taiwan defense spokesman said on Monday that military officials may meet in August.
Anschluss will be in the air this summer. Some have speculated that KMT heavyweights are aiming for formal annexation to take place in 2011, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ROC. Things are certainly proceeding fast enough.... and we're certain to see another round of "warming relations between Taiwan and China" in the international media, when what are warming are CCP-KMT relations....

UPDATE: Here's another way I put it in the comments below:
In relationships where there are symmetrical threats -- USSR-US, Israel-Egypt, India-China, arguably mil-mil contacts help reduce tensions. In the China-Taiwan relationship the threat is all one-sided -- anyone genuinely interested in reducing tensions would focus on the problem of Chinese aggression. Taiwan is not a military threat to China in any way.

Arguing that mil-mil contacts between Taiwan and China -- carried out by picked pro-China mainlander officers on our side, without a doubt -- will reduce tension is like arguing that Wehrmacht-Czech contacts in 1938 would reduce tension.
At best, mil-mil contacts will simply enable China to obtain information, dull responses, and sow dissension; at worst, they provide a medium for active collusion between the pro-China portion of the mainlander officer corps and the Chinese military. In this case "trust building" simply facilitates Chinese dominance over Taiwan. Remember, Lawrence Eyton pointed out several years ago that over 3,000 retired military officers from Taiwan are currently living in China. What does that tell you about the ROC military?

Mil-mil contacts can genuinely reduce tension only when (1) officials on both sides are acting in good faith on behalf of their respective countries, and (2) the threat is symmetrical between them. I submit that we have good reasons to suspect (1) and that (2) does not apply at all.

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Mark Harrison sent around this wonderful advertisement for the stamina of the Dead Dictator! Click on it to be taken to its Flickr page to see it in greater size.

Just a quick reminder -- the conficker virus version C is expected to explode tomorrow, April 1. It would be a good idea to update your anti-virus software and malware software, and go to Microsoft if you run Windows, and download their malware removal tool, the Malicious Software Removal Tool.

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!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Economic Round Up

I was just finishing Jon Adam's article at Global Post on the use of a GPS chip in the Matsu statue so believers could locate and follow the annual Matsu procession as it snakes its way around Taiwan, when my friend Mu flipped me the China Post piece on our MOEA head who says our economy will grow if only we have ECFA:
Yiin Chii-ming, minister of economic affairs, said yesterday the economy will grow next year if an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) is signed between Taiwan and China. Without the ECFA, Yiin warned, the economy will shrink.

He told a seminar on regional economic integration and economic cooperation across the Taiwan Strait that the gross domestic product will increase by 1.374 percent in 2010 when the ECFA goes into force.

“If not,” Yiin predicted, “our GDP will shrink by at least one percent.”

The rise or fall in GDP depends on whether the ECFA is in effect on January 1, when the ASEAN-plus-One free trade zone is formed. Ten member states of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the People's Republic of China form the zone, which will include Japan and South Korea by 2015.
It always must be pointed out: the government insists we sign ECFA to "save" our economy now even though it won't come into force until deep into 2010. Of course, it refuses to give any clues about what ECFA contains. We just have to trust that the KMT will guard our interests....

Mu observed sardonically in the email that the same people who utterly failed to predict our current economic catastrophe nevertheless feel confident in assuring us hoi polloi that the economy will be spurred by ECFA. I had to laugh; Yiin's calculation is exactly 1.374% -- not 1.373% or 1.375%, but 1.374 exactly. With precision like that, how can he possibly be wrong? Taiwan's 2007 GDP was US$371 billion at the official exchange rate, so .oo4% works out to something like US$1.5 million, I think. The Taipei Times report on this added that Yiin was amenable to a mechanism for leaving ECFA, should it turn out not to be beneficial for Taiwan.

Kyodo ran a piece on the entry of Next Media into the Taiwan market. Recall that Jimmy Lai, the driven, energetic Hong Kong-based owner of Apple Daily had claimed that too many media outlets were coddling China here in Taiwan, and he was going to shake things up. He then appointed King Pu-tsung to head up the operation. Who is King?
King Pu-tsung, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's ''most trusted confidant'' and CEO of Next Media's two planned TV channels on the island, will give the company the credibility it needs -- especially with Ma's ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) -- for market inroads, Lai said.


With King, 53, on board, ''the KMT will perceive us as more legitimate, more credible and they will be more receptive,'' Lai said. ''In the media, your reputation -- how people perceive you -- is very important, especially in terms of advertising.''
Well, Lai might be in with the KMT, but it is hard to imagine how having Ma's right-hand man run the media business will make his media group a more credible news source -- or a less pro-China one. Still, Lai has a reputation for being critical of Beijing:
''I'm sure some people, especially in China, don't want me...to become the biggest media group in Taiwan,'' he said, adding, ''What the trend will be is Taiwanese businesspeople in China going back to Taiwan to buy media -- like Want Want -- to get good standing with the Chinese government or better status in China.''

Undeterred, Lai made public in February plans to launch two TV cable news channels in Taiwan -- one for general news and one for financial news. But this time Lai, 61, came armed with cash and King, renowned for his political savvy and closeness to Ma.

King served as Taipei's vice mayor under Ma 2004-2006, the last two years of Ma's eight-year mayoral stint. King later managed Ma's presidential campaign but shrugged off a Cabinet post last year, preferring instead to serve as a visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he cemented ties with Lai.

Ma took office May 20, while King, who holds a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, began his half-year stint in Hong Kong in July.

''[King and I] were always together talking and I mentioned to him, 'If you're not going back into the government, maybe there's something we can do together because we're starting a TV station,''' Lai said.

Lai plans to spend roughly US$200 million to kick-start the channels, which -- with King's help -- could be launched from scratch or more likely remade from existing channels.

''We haven't talked seriously with any channel yet; we're still in the process of setting up a studio, hiring and training people and creating content,'' Lai said. Still, he hopes to launch both channels ''in the first quarter of 2010.''

But while King's connections may give Next Media ''a better reception'' -- vital to launching the channels by early next year -- Lai said King will not actively seek benefits from those connections.

''I think it would be a drawback if we had any dealings with the government,'' Lai said, adding, ''You can't hide anything because (King's) so exposed -- if he gets some advantages for us, everybody will know it.''

For his part, King has vowed journalistic fairness as CEO of the future channels, according to a report last month in the Taiwan edition of Apple Daily, the island's best-selling daily.

And already, some of Lai's toughest and most influential critics -- many of whom are friendly to China -- are warming to his plans for Taiwan's TV market.

Among them is Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, a former Foreign Minister and KMT heavyweight whose wife was photographed by an Apple Daily reporter in 2006 after a traffic accident that nearly killed her. The next day, the daily ran on its front page a large photo of Hu's blood-soaked wife -- an editorial move that sparked protests from privacy advocates at the newspaper's Taipei headquarters.

''I still have my reservations about Jimmy Lai...but [King] is no puppet; I have the utmost confidence in King,'' Hu told Kyodo News in an interview last month.

Typically a bellwether for KMT sentiment, Hu's remarks bode well for Next Media, whose habit of confronting Chinese leadership has scared off much potential advertising business in recent years for the Hong Kong editions of Apple Daily and Next Magazine, said a Next Media employee.
Taiwan's 24 hour cable news market is completely saturated, so it appears that a bitter war for audience eye time may well be in the making.

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!

China calms Taiwan with Buddhism?

Reuters came out with an article on China's use of Buddhism to "calm" Taiwan (corrected link). The weirdly-titled article contains, after a discussion of Tibet, and some fine quotes from the (CCP tool) Panchen Lama, a few remarks about Master Hsing Yun, who runs Fo Guang Shan in southern Taiwan, one of the island's most important Buddhist temples:
But there was a note of conciliation in the presence of Abbot Hsing Yun, one of Taiwan's most influential monks and an advocate for improved relations between the Dalai Lama and China.

"All the exiled Tibetans should support China; the Communist Party should welcome them back," Hsing Yun told reporters on Friday. He noted the "positive merits" of the monk Beijing demonizes as a separatist.

Cooperating on the forum could help strengthen ties between China and self-ruled Taiwan, which have been warming since the Nationalists, or Kuomintang party, regained the presidency last year. Over 1,000 delegates fly directly to Taiwan on Monday, a trip that would have been impossible a few years ago.

"I hope for increased exchanges, back and forth. The more exchanges there are, the more people can't distinguish between the two, and that will lead to unity," Hsing Yun said.
I don't understand religious leaders like Hsing Yun who advocate colonialism; I just steer clear of them. But it is interesting to note the key context that is entirely missing in the Reuters piece. It is correct to say that Hsing Yun is one of the island's most influential monks, but the Reuters piece should have mentioned that he was born in China, fled to Taiwan, and has served the KMT and Chinese nationalism ever since, advocating the annexation of Taiwan to China. He's not advocating annexation of Tibet and Taiwan to China out of some weird Buddhist commitment. [UPDATE 2: Hsing Yun, as this excellent overview of his political activities mentions, is a former KMT Central Standing Committee member.]

It's also strange that the Reuters piece said it would have been impossible "a few years ago" for such a forum to occur. Strangely, a few years ago, the impossible occurred in 2006: China hosted the First World Buddhist Forum, with the same slate of attendees, including Hsing Yun from Taiwan. It might have been impossible in the 1990s, but after the Chen Administration negotiated on charter flights, it was easy.

UPDATE: Hahaha. The Taipei Times reported this morning, the day after I posted this, that Hsing Yun basically outed himself as a brainless tool of Beijing:
During a press conference at the forum on Friday in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, Hsing Yun said that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family. There are no Taiwanese in Taiwan and Taiwanese are all Chinese.”

“Which Taiwanese is not Chinese?” he asked. “They are Chinese just like you are. We are all brothers and sisters.”

Hsing Yun also said that opening the forum in China and closing it in Taiwan was especially meaningful because it would enhance cross-strait exchanges and help the unification of the two sides, the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported on Saturday.

“The more [cross-strait] exchange we have, the more mixed we will be. Then we won’t be able to distinguish who’s Mainland [Chinese] and who’s Taiwanese — and we will naturally become unified,” Hsing Yun was quoted as saying.
Hey Hsing Yun! If we are all brothers and sisters, why are they threatening to kill us with bombs and missiles? The forum moved to Taiwan this week -- a clear indicator of its pro-annexation purposes, also identified in the Taipei Times piece:
Although organizers said the forum was purely a religious event, political remarks were heard throughout the meeting, drawing criticism from some Buddhists.

Daphne Young (楊馥華), a Taiwanese Buddhist and a member of the support group Taiwan Friends of Tibet, said the forum was a good example of political meddling in religion.

“The forum opens in China and closes in Taiwan — it’s obvious that they’re trying to create the impression that Taiwan is part of China,” Young said. “From what Taiwanese Buddhist leaders said at the forum, it’s also obvious that they are politically motivated.”

Young said it was ironic that China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs chief Ye Xiaowen (葉小文) attended the forum.

“Ye is the main person behind the new law regulating reincarnation of monks in Tibetan Buddhism, which destroys a core tradition in Tibetan Buddhism,” she said.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that spiritual leaders return through reincarnation. A set of procedures exists to identify reincarnated spiritual leaders. However, China adopted a law last year that stipulates that all reincarnations have to receive state approval.

“If [the Buddhist leaders] are benevolent enough, they should pay some attention to Tibetan Buddhists in Tibet who are repressed by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] regime,” Young said.

Another senior Taiwanese Buddhist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been invited to both last year’s and this year’s World Buddhist Forum, but rejected the invitation “because I don’t want to become a CCP tool in its unification war.”
I wish the Reuters piece had more clearly identified the forum as a propaganda tool for Beijing.

UPDATE 3: Satirist Johnny Neihu ripped both Hsing Yun for essentially advocating ethnic cleansing by assimilation and the DPP for its display of wussiness against facism when it comes wrapped in the robes of religion:
For me, the most interesting aspect of this saga is not Hsing Yun’s tryst with the Chicoms but the response of those who ought to be aggrieved by all of this. According to the Neihu News Network (NNN) on Thursday, a few independence supporters spoke out, as did the ever-reliable Presbyterian Church, with the Reverend William Luo (羅榮光) accusing Hsing Yun of being prejudiced against Taiwanese and joining China’s United Front.

Hsing Yun responded to this by claiming he had said nothing remarkable and that attacks on him were worse than what used to happen in the “autocratic era,” NNN reported.

Yes, he really said that, too.

When a powerful Buddhist figure comes out with words advocating a form of cultural eugenics and stoking ethnic divisions — by denying the existence, or the entitlement to exist, of a group — it is the main opposition party that must lead the way.

Instead, the DPP responded to this venerable vilification with almost complete silence — apart from the whooshing sound of its legislators ducking for cover.

Forget consecutive election losses and quarreling over primaries. No greater illustration of the weakness and vulnerability of the DPP can be found than its utter helplessness over this incident.

You can advocate the total obliteration of Taiwanese by assimilation while denying that Taiwanese exist, but if people point out that you're a pro-China buffoon, they must be "autocratic."

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!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Upcoming events

Tomorrow, Monday the 30th, is a forum on Ethnic issues in Taiwan hosted by the DPP Shadow government headed by Frank Hsieh, over at NTU Alumni Hall. The awesome and amazing Claudia Jean has all the details on her blog, In Claudia Jean's Eyes.

The Bushman, who plays and sings with the local Thai band Blue Sky, says: "....there is a show in which we've been asked to participate, on Sunday, April 12 at Taoyuan Stadium, in downtown Taoyuan City. We played there last year and it was a blast. Sokran (as the holiday is called in Thai) is a water festival and the local fire department arranges to use a fire hose to spray the crowd directly in front of the stage. Of course you can avoid this if you like." I have some pics from Thai New Year at Taoyuan Stadium last year. Several of us bloggers plan to be in attendance.

Don't put it on your calendar yet, but me and the Bushman are currently trying to put together a Central Taiwan blogger bash, probably using The Early Bird in Taichung as caterer for burgers, salad, and other goodies, and probably in late May or June. If anyone has brilliant ideas or suggestions, especially on places to stay for bloggers + families, let me know.

CEFC Taipei & EFEO Taipei Seminar
Friday 10 April 2009, 2:30 pm
The French Center for Research on Contemporary China, Taipei Office,
and the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO), Taipei Office,
have the pleasure to invite you to attend the following seminar:

" Dutch Formosa in Perspective "
(in English)

by Prof. Ann Heylen
Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature
National Taiwan Normal University
On Friday 10 April 2009, 2:30pm
Venue: Room B-202,
Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences,
Academia Sinica, Taipei

Since the 1990s, Taiwan has experienced a resurgence of interest in 17th Century Dutch Formosa. In particular, the two successive Chen administrations sponsored between 2000 and 2008 a series of cultural and public policies promoting exhibitions, commemorations and historical research aimed at setting this historical experience in a contemporary perspective. My presentation is a discussion of how we can understand public interest in the historical revisitation of 17th century Dutch presence and rule in Taiwan. First, I will give a brief overview of the history of Dutch Formosa (1624-1662) from its initial colonization by the Dutch to its ‘liberation’ by the mythical Chinese ‘freedom fighter’ Koxinga (Cheng Ch’eng-kung). We will then focus on the place of Dutch Formosa in Taiwan’s political ideologies. What are its distinctive characteristics? What has made it appealing to particular images of ‘Taiwaneseness’? Finally, I will conclude with some speculations on what the Dutch legacy means for the current administration of President Ma Ying-jeou.

The seminar will be held in English. The session will be chaired by Frank Muyard, director of CEFC Taipei Office and Luca Gabbiani, director of EFEO Taipei Office.
-- Snacks and drinks will be served after the talk --
Contact : cefc@gate.sinica.edu.tw - efeotpe@asihp.net
French Centre for Research on Contemporary China - Taipei Office
Centre d'Etudes Français sur la Chine contemporaine (CEFC) - Antenne de Taipei
Room B110, RCHSS, Academia Sinica,
128 Yanjiuyuan Road, Sec. 2, Nankang, Taipei
Tel : (886-2) 2789-0873 - Fax : (886-2) 2789-0874
Information and map: http://www.cefc.com.hk/rubrique.php?id=78

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!

KMT Wins in Da-an

The KMT won in the by-election in Da-an district in Taipei. The pro-Green Taipei Times notes:
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) breathed a sigh of relief after its candidate, Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛), defeated Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) in the legislative by-election for Taipei's Da-an District (大安) yesterday.

Chiang received 46,065 votes (49 percent) over Chou's 36,465 (39 percent), winning by less than 10,000 votes in a district that is traditionally a KMT stronghold.

In the legislative election last year, the KMT captured 66 percent of the vote for the seat to the DPP's 32 percent.

Independent candidate Yao Li-ming (姚立明), who has the backing of the New Party, failed to split the pan-blue vote and garnered only 9,868 ballots.

The Green Party's Calvin Wen (溫炳原) captured 1,058 votes. Independent candidates Liu Yih-jiun (劉義均), Chao Yan-ching (趙衍慶) and Chen Yuan-chi (陳源奇) received 645 votes, 46 votes and 39 votes respectively.

Voter turnout was a low 39.12 percent.
Coupled with the defeat in the Miaoli by-election a few weeks ago, the KMT appears to have been given a warning by the voters, said many observers in both the Taipei Times report, and the China Post. Both elections were characterized by low turnout, so it is hard to get a sense of where the electorate lies. Still, in solidly KMT Da-an district, the DPP did well. Another China Post article on the DPP response noted:
[DPP Chairman] Tsai said she was very glad to see the rise in the ratio of votes captured in the by-election, which she attributed partly to Chou as the best candidate of the party and partly to concerted efforts by all the party members.

This is the first time for the KMT's vote-capturing rate to fall under 50 percent, indicating that the KMT's dominance isn't unshakable on one hand, and the DPP's efforts to seek reforms have been recognized by the public on the other hand.

Tsai said she's sure that the DPP will stand up in the short time to live up to people's expectations, adding that her party will work harder to solicit more supporters in the year-end elections of county magistrates and city mayors.

For his part, Chou said that the election result is quite an encouraging development to the DPP, indicating that the DPP can still tap into the KMT's political stronghold in the Daan District as long as it works harder and harder.

Chou said excitedly that three vote-casting stations in the only borough headed by a DPP member all witnessed his votes outnumbered his rival Chiang Nai-hsin of the Kuomintang. “This has never happened before,” Chou stressed.
The KMT's control of local-level governments was made use of in this election, as local government employees were allegedly busted campaigning for the KMT while in uniform, as maddog reported (with video!).

The legislature meanwhile was busy passing "a general amnesty for corrupt KMT officials" as the China Post reported, with the headline saying that the sunshine law was aimed at Chen Shui-bian, whose trial started this week, though the text did not mention the ex-president. Said the pro-KMT paper of new language added to the bill that targeted officials and their families and forced them to account for their possessions and cash holdings:
“Both paragraphs which will be added to the act as amended won't be retroactive,” [Justice Minister] Wang told the judicial committee meeting.

The remarks hit the hornet nest.

Lawmaker Tsai huang-liang, DPP legislative caucus deputy whip, fired a broadside at Wang for “getting at the opposition party” and “shielding the Kuomintang.”

“Those who need to be required to explain are former Kuomintang officials,” Tsai said. By making the law non-retroactive, he added, none of them could be prosecuted.

Tsai asked Wang why Lien Chan, a former vice president and premier, couldn't be required to explain how he has come into a vast fortune, most of which probably was doubtfully acquired by his father, who was a minister of the interior.

“I don't know,” Wang replied. “I am sorry.”

Lee Chun-yi, another DPP legislative caucus deputy whip, charged that all those Kuomintang government officials who have unlawfully acquired assets in the past are now let to go scot-free.

“It's a general amnesty for those corrupt Kuomintang officials,” Lee pointed out. “The people can't accept the amendment,” he added.
The whole point of the charade, the DPP charged, was to make it look like the KMT-controlled legislature was actually doing something -- just in time for the by-election taking place in Da-an District.

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!

Vast (Chinese) CyberSpy System

The NYTimes reports on a vast cyberspying system that appears to be based in China and connected to the Chinese government:
A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.
Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you.....

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grade Quotas

From time to time I blog on the use of informal quota and rotation systems in grading and other "merit" driven aspects of the universities, a practice that appears to be widespread. For example, a couple of years ago I remarked to a colleague at a university graduation ceremony that it was notable that our department had won all the student awards that year, things like valedictorian, and was told that the award was rotated between departments. No merit involved. Today's piece in the Taipei Times on an article defending Kuo Kuan-ying gave a good example of these informal quotas at work:
The rebuttal, using Pan's byline, was titled “My Colleague Kuo Kuan-ying.” It dismissed criticism of Kuo Kuan-ying and explained why Kuo Kuan-ying received a “B” in his performance appraisal during his time at the GIO's Department of Motion Pictures.

The article said that as one of Kuo Kuan-ying's superiors responsible for evaluating his performance, he thought Kuo Kuan-ying should have received an “A.”

But Kuo Kuan-ying was willing to receive a “B” because of GIO conventions that limited the quota of “A” marks, which were usually given to younger colleagues, the author said.
In other words, the total number of A ratings is determined by an informal quota based on seniority.

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William Stanton for AIT?

The Taipei Times reports that the replacement for current AIT director Stephen Young, who has done an excellent job, will be William Stanton:
Other sources said that Stanton would be a controversial choice because he has a history of strong support for Beijing’s policies and had impeded internal reports critical of the Chinese regime.

One source said that Stanton’s name was at the top of a shortlist for the Taiwan posting but that no decision had been made.

Because of the delicate nature of the information, the sources talked on condition that their names not be used.

But one source provided the Taipei Times with a copy of a report that was submitted to the State Department in the mid-1990s that claimed Stanton was excessively pro-China.

It is not clear what, if any, action was taken by the State Department as a result of complaints against Stanton while he was posted in Beijing.

The source said that Stanton, while stationed in Beijing in the mid-1990s, had impeded a series of cables critical of the Chinese government from being sent to the State Department in Washington.

The source said: “The common thread in all [of the cables] is criticism of one sort or another of the Chinese government.”

The source said that in 1995, following the much-celebrated Women’s Conference in Beijing Washington asked for a report on the impact of the conference on Chinese attitudes.

Stanton would not allow the report to be sent because it included details of Chinese press reports that attacked the conference, the source said.

“A pattern soon emerged where drafts critical of the Chinese government or leadership were regularly blocked from transmission,” said the report that was viewed by the Taipei Times.

Also in the report is an allegation that Stanton prevented Washington from receiving information from a Third World diplomat about Chinese military plans “with regard to Taiwan prior to presidential elections there.”

The 1996 presidential elections were preceded by the firing of Chinese missiles that landed in waters near Kaohsiung and Keelung.

It was further alleged that Stanton would not allow Washington to be told of the way Chinese officials were forcibly repatriating North Korean refugees.

The report also said that during a Fourth of July celebration at Washington’s embassy in Beijing, Stanton “ordered the papier mache construction of the Statue of Liberty to be placed in the backyard of the Chancery, away from the street, so as not to offend the sensitivities of the Chinese leadership, since apparently it might serve as a reminder for them of the Goddess of Democracy statue torn down in Tiananmen Square.”

A former senior US official said it would have been impossible for Stanton to block cables. Throughout Stanton’s career as a diplomat, he had made friends and, of course, enemies too, added the former official, who declined to be identified.
The Liberty Times actually had Stanton reported as formally appointed to the post the other day.

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Pentagon's China Military Report

Last week I blogged on how the Process of moving closer to China has become the New Status Quo, with this choice quote from AIT Director Raymond Burghardt, who said:
"There is often an assumption of a geo-strategic character to American policy toward Taiwan, which isn't really there," Burghardt said. "I have never heard in a policy discussion, I have never seen in a policy document on Taiwan, any of those great chestnuts of Asian geo-strategy: 'unsinkable aircraft carrier,' 'first island chain'...It just ain't there."
At the time I wondered Burghardt could possibly be thinking, because such commentary is quite common. For example, the recent Pentagon report on China's military noted on p18:

Figure 3. The First and Second Island Chains. PRC military theorists conceive of two island “chains” as forming a geographic basis for China’s maritime defensive perimeter.

The same point of "first and second island chains" is made in the figure on p23 (there's a paragraph of discussion on page 28). It is curious that Burghardt actually uses the phrase "first island chain" as if he knows it is a common term -- and, as someone alluded to at the Brookings conference I went to last year, the de facto containment strategy of the US is also based on the same assumptions of "first island chain" (Google "first island chain" and see all the different documents that turn up). Disturbingly, the PLA's "island chain" idea also harbors a ghost of the old Imperial Japanese Navy strategy of a defensive perimeter of islands.

However, perhaps Burghardt was discussing only classified policy documents that come into his purview as a ranking American official.

The Taipei Times had a front page feature on the report, with a graphic showing the gap in weapons between Taiwan and China. It observed:
"Beijing might use a variety of disruptive, punitive or lethal military actions in a limited campaign against Taiwan, likely in conjunction with overt and clandestine economic and political activities," the report says.

"Such a campaign could include computer network or limited kinetic attacks against Taiwan's political, military and economic infrastructure to induce fear on Taiwan and degrade the populace's confidence in the Taiwan leadership. Similarly, PLA special operations forces that have infiltrated Taiwan could conduct attacks against infrastructure or leadership targets," it says.

The report says that limited short range missile strikes and precision strikes against air-defense systems, including air bases, radar sites, missiles, space assets and communications facilities, could support a campaign to degrade Taiwan's defenses, neutralize Taiwan's military and political leadership, and possibly break the Taiwan people's will to fight.
The way things are going in both Taipei and Washington, no invasion will be necessary. China has powerful capabilities in its own territory, and is seeking to expand its ability to project power beyond. What does that tell you? Remember that second island chain....

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Senatorial Letter to Obama on Taiwan

Thirty Senators recently sent a letter on the TRA and Taiwan to President Obama. Note that the language of the letter stresses the positive relationship with The Beautiful Island, and that it mentions human rights. Signatories include Republicans and Democrats: Inhofe, Johnson, Wyden, Brownback, Fester, Dorgan, Kyl, Coburn, Lieberman, Isakson, Collins, Hatch, Brown, Chambliss, Graham, Martinez, Sessions, Vitter, Risch, Menendez, Johannes, Roberts, Bunning, Wicker, Spector, Murkowski, Cochran, Rockefeller, Cardin, and Snowe. According to what I heard, a major force behind this was Sherrod Brown. Kudos to all the hardworking Taiwan organizations that made this happen, and to the Senators who signed this letter.

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Handicrafts Institute and Lukang

Wednesday my good friend Joel Haas, artist and confirmed Taiwanophile, met up with me in Taichung for a trip out to the wilds of Changhua to enjoy the Central Taiwan Handicrafts Research Institute, and then over to Lukang to visit some of the city's tourists sites.

Our first stop was Tsaotun, an entirely forgettable place between Changhua and Taichung, to visit the handicraft institute. Here in Tsaotun is a house of worship.

The grounds of the institute overlook Nantou city.

Joel and Lya, who works at the handicraft store in downtown Taichung, and who spoke perfect English and proved to be enjoyable and informative.

The institute is located on the former grounds of a vo-tech high school. It is funded by the Council for Cultural Affairs.

Our first stop was the bamboo workshop. Like the other workshops, on weekends it hosts classes. There is also a market on the street in front of the institute.

My son tries out the rubber band gun.

One of work areas. On the wall in the back hang flat panels of bamboo....

...to practice one's carving skills on.

A tray of teacups.

Give a boy a rubber band gun, and you merely have acts of transient vandalism. Teach a boy to make his own rubber band gun, and you create a juvenile delinquent.

Next stop was the sumptuous lacquerware work area.

Where dyes and varnishes were set up for the artist and teacher.

A shot of the grounds.

Another important handicraft in Taiwan is indigo dyeing. Indigo from locally-grown indigo plants was a major export in the 19th century.

Here my wife talks with one of the dyers.

The metalshop, which we only spent a few minutes in, was followed by the glass area.

Musicians, in glass.

One of the instructors showed us how to make a glass bead. Here she preheats sticks of glass.

Next she melts them in a strong flame.

Constantly turning, several colors of glass are added.

The bead takes shape.

Next we visited the potter's workshop, where the potter was hard at work on a Buddha statue.

The fruits of hard labor.

Our visit ended with a visit to the exhibition of Thai and Taiwan commercial products inspired by handicraft designs.

We grabbed lunch on Rd. 14 over through Changhua, which may have the most betel nut girls per kilometer of any road on the island. Yes, as the pic shows, it is election time again.

In Lukang we visit the Wen Wu Temple, which I have about 10,000 images of, and then drove over to the Tien Hou Gong, the city's magnificent Matsu Temple. Outside the temple, there apparently being a regulation that requires an unceasing night market near the gate of every major tourist site, were sold numerous items of dubious pedigree and uncertain usefulness, such as this suit of traditional raingear.

Traditional Lukang specialties.

Not traditional, but not uncommon.

One of the vendors outside the temple. As Joel remarked, it was good to know that we had something to use against werewolves in case it became necessary.

At the temple a procession was being prepared.

A line of men passed the statues of deities bucket brigade style....

....to the waiting coach.

The deities then paraded in front of the temple door.

Video: Parading in front of the temple.

Video: marching off....

After the Matsu temple we went over to one of the most beautiful and venerable temples on the island, the Lungshan Temple in Lukang.

The temple still has many old fittings, and has not been redone in a bright, kitschy color scheme even though it was damaged in 9/21. The result is a building that has an easygoing, contented austerity.

One of the statues near the main entrance.

Many of the old paintings and other decorations are still visible.

The placards behind the chatting people show how the temple was renovated.

"Why couldn't we have a Dad who was into sports instead of old temples?"

After Lukang, we returned to Taichung and enjoyed an hour at the Science Museum before heading over to Little India. A most satisfying day.....

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!