Monday, January 11, 2010

A Yen for ECFA

The last couple of weeks have been crowded with stuff, but I couldn't let this gem of a story pass unnoticed. On Jan 5 local papers carried the tale that Yen Ching-piao, the from Taichung County, had been appointed the local spokesman for ECFA at the suggestion of KMT legislators. The China Post has the call:
Independent legislator Yen Ching-piao has agreed to help the government with its efforts to convince the public of the necessity of its planned signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China and outline the negative impact on Taiwan if the pact is not signed.

Yen agreed to take up the role as an ECFA spokesman following a meeting with Economic Affairs Minister Shih Yen-shiang, Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Huang Chih-peng and Industrial Development Bureau Director General Woody T.J. Duh yesterday.

Yen proclaimed that he accepted the job not for the sake of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) “but for Taiwan's future generations.”

Yen will appear in TV commercials designed to sell the proposed economic deal with China to the mass population in a bid to defuse the negative campaign mounted by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party that accuses the government of President Ma Ying-jeou of attempting to sell out Taiwan via the ECFA.

Yen will use straightforward language that will enable citizens to understand why the deal is so important to Taiwan, Huang said.
The China Post leaves out Yen's illustrious career as a hardened criminal, revolving between public office and a private cell. Yen, who came up through the KMT following the gravel firm owner to county councilor to legislator career path, eventually had to leave and join the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU), a sort of catch-all party for local faction politicians. He's independent of the KMT in the sense that the Byelorussian SSR was independent of the USSR. It boogles the imagination to understand what language Yen is expected to use that will suddenly swing everyone over to support of ECFA.

More important, though, is the role that the China Post briefly mentions at the end of the article:
But he also serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Chenlang-gong (Wave-Suppressing Palace) at Tajia, Taiwan's most popular temple dedicated to Matsu, the Goddess of the Seas.
It's Yen who presides over the annual Matsu pilgrimage, one of the largest religious processions in the world. The connections between local factions, religion, and cross-strait relations suddenly loom...readers may recall that Yen associate Cheng Ming-kun, head of the Taiwan Matsu Association, was in Beijing in July meeting Chen Yunlin, the PRC negotiator who then came to Taichung in December. Chen Yunlin returned the favor by visiting the Chenlan (Matsu) Temple in Dajia during his trip to Taiwan (my post). None of this interplay between the CCP and "local factions" made the international media (goes without saying!) but an obvious inference is that Yen's control of Matsu, a goddess venerated on both sides of the Strait, may well be used in promoting ECFA, and more generally, cross-strait closeness. Religion is deeply intertwined with politics in Taiwan....

...I'm sure the alert reader can work out who the likely beneficiaries of cross-strait closeness are, as far as organized crime is concerned. Sooner or later the dawning realization is going to sweep across Taiwan's local faction politicians that they are going to be muscled out of the shiny new China future by their big bad counterparts from across the Strait. Local KMT politicians are already publicly complaining that the new closeness to China isn't bringing their districts the money that was promised....KMT internal tensions can only grow over time.

The Taipei Times also identified another issue with Yen: the subtle class-based slam of Taiwanese as low class, betel-nut chewing goobers. To wit:
Yen, a convicted criminal with a large grassroots support base, is known for his affability, and there’s no doubt he would speak the language of the “ordinary person” while chewing betel nut and mingling with the public.

Underneath the praise heaped on him by government officials, however, is a disturbing message: If you support an ECFA, you will graduate from “local” to “high-class.”

It appears the government has continued with the illusion that people opposed to an ECFA are those with little education or low social status.

This disturbing attitude brings back the unpleasant memory of two comic strip characters that the ministry created last year that were both offensive and derogatory.

This government just never learns. Or could it be that it is so arrogant that it is unaware its actions fuel perceptions of social superiority?

Many will recall the furor over the comic strip introduced in July to promote an ECFA. The cartoon featured two stereotypical characters, Yi-ge (一哥), a middle-aged ethnic Taiwanese man who speaks “Taiwanese Mandarin” and opposes the ECFA, and Fa-sao (發嫂), a sharp-minded Hakka career woman with a dashing educational background who supports the deal.
As the Taipei Times notes in its editorial, the problem is not that the government hasn't communicated well with the public, but that no one knows what ECFA is. Without substance, communication is basically useless. Although I have to admit that the use of a convicted criminal as a spokesman for ECFA contains a deep, unintentional truth about the nature of the agreement....
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jerome in vals said...

Today’s post 恐るべき「中国人観光客」の政治任務 (01/11) in Hideki Nagayama’s blog 台湾は日本の生命線!made me belatedly aware of the following.

On Novenber 21, 2009, exiled Chinese jurist and activist Yuan Hongbing (袁紅冰) published his 365 page book, titled “Taiwan Disaster” (Chinese: 台灣大劫難:2012不戰而勝台灣.)

China to push Taiwan into unification in 2012, says dissident ...
Hermia Lin - Taiwan News, Staff Reporter - Page 1 - 2009-11-23 12:00 AM

“Yuan urges Taiwanese to defend democracy and freedom….Chinese scholar Yuan Hongbing speaks during an event held yesterday in Taipei to launch his new book 'Taiwan Disaster'.”

New Book Says Chinese Regime Plans to Take Over Taiwan by 2012...
New Tang Dynasty TV - 2009-12-2 11:34328

“Yuan says much of his book is based on classified information. His book cites a 2008 document issued by the Central Government. It says that reunification “should be achieved by comprehensive unification efforts in political, economic, cultural and social areas. [The reunification] will completely smash the conspiracy of domestic and foreign enemies to overthrow socialist China through the utilization of Taiwan’s so-called democratic experiences.”

Another document Yuan obtained was the transcript of a June 2008 speech by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. It was given at a highly secretive meeting of the Politburo of the Communist Party’s Central Committee.

According to Yuan, that meeting was primarily focused on plotting the strategy behind the Taiwan unification plan. The book says Wen Jiabao stated at the meeting that, “Economic integration is by nature, economic unification. Taiwan benefits from it economically, and we [the CCP] fulfill our political goal by doing it.”

Beijing's Strategies to Control Taiwan by 2012
Wu Tsen-his - Epoch Times Staff - Created: Nov 28, 2009 Last Updated: Nov 29, 2009

“…In his presentation at National Taiwan University on November 17, Yuan said that a lot of documents quoted in the book were provided by regime insiders—insiders who risked their own lives to reveal the truth..”

New Book Triggers Taiwan Lawmakers’ Attention ...
Wu Tsen-His - Epoch Times Staff - Created: Nov 26, 2009 Last Updated: Nov 28, 2009

“…Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chen Ting-fei also spoke at the press conference. “Why is it that Professor Yuan can have so much information and our National Security Council and National Security Bureau cannot? We are meeting with China’s high-ranking officials such as President Hu Jintao and Chen Yunlin [chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits], yet we have none of this information at hand,” Chen said.

Chen asked that Su Chi, the National Security Council Secretary General, explain the source of the Council’s information and stop negotiating with the Chinese regime. “Before the Council can gather and confirm its own information and explain it to the legislators, it should stop meeting with Chen Yunlin and halt all negotiations with China,” Chen said….”

If this is not a conspiration, What is ? If you, Michael, or anyone else in the Taiwan-centered English language blogosphere has not yet picked up on that issue, please read on and raise hell.

Anonymous said...

Hsiao Bikhim is running for legislator in Hualien. Wish her the absolute best. If there is anything I can do to help, I will do it.

Anonymous said...

Re Jerome in vals links: I think it would be more useful to see a greater variety of second sources than just Falun Gong's media.

It's near impossible to corroborate anything reported on New Tang Dynasty TV and in the Epoch Times.

Although these media may accurately portray the bloody-minded politcal climate of China, they are not known for their objective investigative journalism standards, and I don't believe what I read in them any more than I believe Xinhua.

HeiShouDang 黑手黨 said...

Why do you offer help, are you good at performing miracles?

Anonymous said...


Hsiao Bikhim starts down in the polls, but no matter what, she will inject a lot of sophistication and green and progressive thinking into the dialogue in Hualien. That will change Hualien for the better, even if she doesn't win.

Fu Kunchi has already proved once that the people of Hualien are not loyal to the KMT, even if he is a corrupt bastard.

There's an angle I think that is a little bit humorous, but really does make an impact. Hsiao's is "mixed"--her father is Taiwanese from Tainan and her mother is white American. The result is she actually looks very aboriginal. Hualien is 1/3 Minnan, 1/3 Aboriginal, and 1/3 Hakka. The Hakka will have less hate towards her as she's not just some Minnan and while there's no real shot at getting a majority, she has a good chance at a lot of the Aboriginal vote too.

With Fu Kunchi putting his man into the race too, there is just enough of an opening that someone really fresh and new like Hsiao Bikhim has a shot. If anyone DPP has a shot in Hualien--it's Hsiao. Jiayo!

jerome in vals said...

To 9O4AM 阿non who barfed... Re Jerome in vals links: I think it would be more useful to see a greater variety of second sources than just Falun Gong's media.

阿non dear, since you took the pain to comment on my post, I’ll try treating you like the human I believe you to be. (my version a famous Ma quote you shan’t blame me for.)

Regarding your selective critic of the links I forwarded to the readership of a blog I highly value for its effort on behalf of the real Taiwan I know about, I will sum up pointing out to you the 3 first links mentioned in my post, including my cue, i.e. Hideki Nagayama’s post. Anything there related to Falunggong?

Before you venture any further on Taiwanese turf, I humbly suggest Your Highfalutin Hollowness to give some thought to learning Japanese. For I still believe from experience that mastery of the Japanese language will be the shortcut to many Taiwanese’s hearts across the many ethnicities this island is made of.

Keep a low profile while you go figure, ばかやろう, and we’ll share a cup of warm 濁酒 in convivial ( 台北(タイホク) when you get over your 中華-centered hang-over and get back to me in Japanese.

Anonymous said...

To Jerome in vals: I'd thought better of you before, but after your needless ad hominem attack, I cannot really take you seriously anymore. No one likes a snob.

Yes, regretfully I'm not such a showy polyglot as you and cannot read Japanese. Tant pis!

Since you ask, the second link to the Wikipedia on Yuan provides direct links to New Tang Dynasty TV. Only one of your links is not directly or indirectly Falungong. The Japanese blog is not a link. I was referring to the LINKS.

I stand by by comments: The Falungong media is an unreliable source, no matter whatever sources they cobble together to justify their biases.

jerome in vals said...

Anon1021am (formerly 1226pm), with rueful acknowledgment of your point, I stand guilty as corrected.

I’ll give it to you, my last two paragraphs were snotty, uncalled for and a waist of typing space.

My gratitude to you for a level-headed remark devoid of the vile language I used above.