Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Ma Calls for China to Remove Missiles

President Ma this week once again called on China to remove its missiles facing Taiwan. This occurred during a videoconference at Harvard, a repetition of the very common pattern in which Ma announces outside Taiwan that China should remove its missiles (or makes some other important policy statement to outsiders -- like telling a Mexican newspaper that Taiwan was a region). Remember when, in 2006, he announced in London that China should remove its missiles before any talks could be held, and then he was forced to backtrack? The China Post reports on the latest missilectomy call:
President Ma Ying-jeou renewed Tuesday his call for China "to remove or actually dismantle" its missiles targeting Taiwan as a prerequisite for talks on a cross-Taiwan Strait peace accord.

Ma also reaffirmed his policy of maintaining the status quo across the strait, saying the conditions are not yet ripe for unification.

He made the remarks in response to questions on cross-strait relations, during a video conference linking Taipei with Harvard University faculty and students.

According to Ma, Taiwan is well aware of China's ambition to annex Taiwan, but it has to face up to the reality, try to temper cross-strait tensions and prevent China from using force against Taiwan.

"We also demand that the mainland should remove or actually dismantle all the missiles that are targeted against Taiwan.

Otherwise we won't be interested in making further step to negotiate a peace agreement with them," the president said.
It's actually a good example of Ma/KMT cynicism: talks are underway to annex the island through financial and economic integration, as well as the arrival of Chinese workers (see Taiwan News today, and more in Taipei Times tomorrow). So a "peace agreement" is basically superfluous to the reality of creeping annexation; it is a mere diversion. As always, one must watch what elites here are doing, not what they say. This is merely words aimed at placating foreign audiences. If there are real negotiations on missiles, they don't have anything to do with Ma's words here.

Kudos to the CNA for putting "annex" into their article, which was picked up by the pro-annexation China Post for this article. Haha.

Reuters also reports, and they have a good precis of The Formula describing the cross-strait situation.
Taiwan officials say China has aimed from 1,000 to 1,500 short- and mid-range missiles at the self-ruled island, which Beijing has claimed as its own since the Chinese Civil war of the 1940s.
Nicely nuanced "...since the Chinese Civil War of the 1940s." Apparently it is possible to describe the situation pithily without the historically inaccurate "split in 1949" formulation so beloved of AP and AFP. Reuters says it is possible that trade might be harmed by Ma's call for missiles to be removed, although trade rose steadily under the DPP despite their much more pro-Taiwan cross-strait policy.

Ma's remarks on online complete at Isria. Search for them and then log-in for free seven day access.

This event also sheds light on Beijing's strategy to isolate Chen Shui-bian and paint him as a radical. Anybody recall in May of 2007 when Beijing whined and peed on the floor because a sitting Taiwan President, Chen Shui-bian, appeared at the National Press Club in teleconference? And the kerfluffle that accompanied his appearance? Now President Ma does the exact same thing at Harvard, and what comes out of Beijing but .... silence. The idea that Chen is some radical is a idea fostered by Beijing, to serve its interests. Nothing else.
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41 comments:

Ben Goren said...

No doubt you also saw Ma's appeal for people on both sides of the strait "to think under the Chinese culture" what the final solution of the cross-strait problem might be ...

Last week Ma tells Taiwanese that they should be proud of their Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics whilst this week he asks them to only consider options to the cross-strait annexation threat that fall within a Chinese perspective. Your WSJ article becomes more pertinent and actualized every day - that's why its a reference in my thesis.

Anonymous said...

Oriental yeti discovered in China

Anonymous said...

"Anybody recall in May of 2007 when Beijing whined and peed on the floor because a sitting Taiwan President, Chen Shui-bian, appeared at the National Press Club in teleconference?"

You could be talking about Martian politics and that would be funny.

Red A

Anonymous said...

A few "devil's advocate" points on the threat of white collar workers flooding Taiwan...

1) Can similar Taiwanese white collar types already work in China? Are they already doing so? If so, it seems a little churlish to refuse reciprocity, no?

2) Are wages in Shanghai really so low for such professionals that they will drive down salaries here? Or will they move to Taipei just for the cheaper land prices...(that's a joke, BTW...)

3) Architects...that's an international business anyways for major projects. Accounting...that can be outsourced to China for the back office anyways...same with finance. Is this going on yet in Taiwan? If it has not already been done via outsourcing, why will importing the workers work better?

4) Wages are not everything - quality is important too. There is a reason Taiwanese employees in China make MORE than a local does.

I do think the whole idea of China moving wholesale to Taiwan is pretty scary to contemplate, just due to the numbers. I doubt it will ever be implemented.

Leftie said...

Ma's damned either way. Call for the missiles to be removed, he cops criticism from you guys. Don't call for them, he cops criticism.

Anonymous said...

The missiles are mobile, meaning that merely moving them out of range wouldn't do much. China would simply move them back in whenever it wished.



The missiles need to be dismantled and destroyed - with Taiwanese inspection oversight, kind of like UN weapons inspectors in Iraq in the 1990s.

Michael Turton said...

Ma's damned either way. Call for the missiles to be removed, he cops criticism from you guys. Don't call for them, he cops criticism.

The issue is not whether he is calling for them to be removed, but the context of the call. It is the insincerity and hypocrisy of the KMT's position that we react to.

Anonymous said...

Re: Oriental yeti discovered in China

"Local animal experts now plan to shipped the mystery beast to scientists in Beijing who will perform DNA tests on the beast."

And then sauté it with onions and mushrooms in a nice spicy sauce.

Anonymous said...

Re: devil's advocate

1) Taiwanese work in China as employees of multinational corporations,or own their own businesses. Or work there somewhat legally through personal connections.

2) Chinese will choose to move here because of the quality of life, not necessarily for the wage issue. You better believe all those tourists were impressed with the cleaner environment and great food!

3) Architects don't need to move anywhere to work in other countries. They get int'l contracts. I can speak from knowledge that the large multinational CPA firms are already offering jobs to young Twn accountants, tho whether they want to go is another matter (see #2). There is already reciprocation in some tech sectors, and engineering, I believe.

4) Taiwanese make more $ in China for the same reason most foreigners do in Taiwan - they don't benefit from retirement funds, pensions or other citizen benefits. Or they work for the multinational firms.

Anonymous said...

He has actually repeatedly said the same thing to the Taiwanese media.
But surely that is beside the point. Asking China to remove its missiles in front of the international media is surely more effective than simply doing it to the Taiwanese media. Stories in the international media get much wider coverage and increase the pressure on Beijing. They will also be widely reported within Taiwan, look at the number of Chinese language stories about Ma's Harvard Conference. I'm not sure quite what your point is - more criticism for the sake of it?

Leftie said...

The issue is not whether he is calling for them to be removed, but the context of the call. It is the insincerity and hypocrisy of the KMT's position that we react to.

Calling for it on the international stage is a lot more likely to produce results than doing it domestically.

Anonymous said...

Just about the damn reciprocity arguement because its so damn idiotic. Beijing assumes, that allowing Taiwanese Money and Worforce inflow will assist it in achieving its goals, the opposite is not true for Taiwan, thus Taiwan should not reciprocate.

Michael Turton said...

Both of you are missing the point. Ma's calls, international or domestic, are fraudulent because of the ongoing context of negotiations on annexation -- it is like Hitler calling for peace with Poland while unleashing war on it, or the US demanding that Iraq's Hussein bring forth WMDs it knew he did not possess. Or else part of something that the CCP and KMT are orchestrating which may involve a cosmetic reduction in missiles.

I highlighted the international stage aspect of it because it is part of a longstanding pattern of Ma making foreign policy announcements far from home. The fact that he occasionally does so at home does not refute the existence of this pattern. Note that KMT officials in meetings with their CCP allies in public do not ask that the missiles be removed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am cynical here, but does China really have any interest in signing a peace agreement with Taiwan? Last time I checked, China still wants to annex Taiwan by any mean necessary, including by force, and is actively doing so, while figuring out the least costly method (international condemnation, loss to trade, etc.) Militarily, China really has no incentive to having a peace agreement with Taiwan, with the progressively shifting balance of power, unless we are to believe China to be as "peace loving" as it claims to be. Ma's speech is either dangerously naive or totally phony.

Anonymous said...

I'd liken trying to sign a China-Taiwan peace agreement with telling an armed robber pointing a gun to your head to leave peacefully without taking anything or harming anyone. It's a false option and it will not happen unless the robber is satisfied with what you are willing to give up - Taiwanese sovereignty.

Michael Turton said...

Ma's speech is either dangerously naive or totally phony.

Exactly. And Ma is not dangerously naive.

Anonymous said...

Ma's calls, international or domestic, are fraudulent because of the ongoing context of negotiations on annexation

Michael - there are no "ongoing negotiations on annexation".

SY said...

I can see Michael's point:

Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall and shouted to the East: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall".

Ma sat teleconferencing with people in the US and claimed to the group of on-looking academics: "(....cultural and economic exchanges...help,) but on the other hand, we also demand that Mainland should remove, or..acutally dismantle all the missles that ..."(from 1:25 onwards)

Which of them really meant what he said?

Ma has many chances to send the message directly to China to make the "demand".

If I wanted to demand someone to pay me back, I'd be making that demand to him directly. I would not be constantly guaranteeing to bystanders that I had made such a demand while never directly speaking to the debtor about it. If I really wanted the money back, that is.

Michael Turton said...

,
Michael - there are no "ongoing negotiations on annexation".


Anon, whatever do you think ECFA and the financial MOU are about?

Anonymous said...

Anon, whatever do you think ECFA and the financial MOU are about?

Whatever they are, they are clearly not negotiations on annexation. Annexation would involve ROC territory becoming part of the PRC. There is nothing of this sort in either ECFA or the MOU.

Michael Turton said...

I see. And the Warsaw Pact was just mutual defense treaty. It had no political context whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I see. And the Warsaw Pact was just mutual defense treaty. It had no political context whatsoever.

Yes, obviously there is political context. But that does not make the ECFA talks into "ongoing negotiations on annexation". Tell me, when do you think this "annexation" will happen. Will we say PRC tanks in Taiwan when the "Taipei spring" comes?
The respective positions of the former Eastern bloc and Taiwan are really quite different. Firstly, ECFA is an agreement on economic cooperation, not a mutual defence treaty. Second, the Soviet Union's Eastern European allies were clearly behind the "iron curtain" and within the Soviet sphere of influence. The position of Taiwan is much less clear, as it remains close to the United States. This makes it much harder for China to dictate terms.

Robert R. said...


...Tell me, when do you think this "annexation" will happen....
...The position of Taiwan is much less clear, as it remains close to the United States. This makes it much harder for China to dictate terms.


It would be difficult for China to dictate terms if their Taiwanese counterparts were working in the interest of Taiwan. Sadly, less than true.

The "great" thing about the ECFA, is that no tanks are needed for annexation. First they increase reliance of Taiwan's economy on China while simultaneously increasing their ability to steal our more high-tech technologies & know-how.

After that it'll be "assimilate or else we'll tank your economy even more."

Michael Turton said...


Yes, obviously there is political context. But that does not make the ECFA talks into "ongoing negotiations on annexation". Tell me, when do you think this "annexation" will happen.


I have no clue when Taiwan will wake up and realize that it has been absorbed. That is the whole point of ECFA -- to ensure that the transition has no identifiable moment when Taiwan has fallen under China's power, so that the formidable powers of resistance of the locals are not awakened.

When the KMT sends its people out to talk to China about ECFA, they are really discussing how Taiwan is to be hollowed out and delivered up. That reality won't change no matter how denial you engage in, anon.

Anonymous said...

When the KMT sends its people out to talk to China about ECFA, they are really discussing how Taiwan is to be hollowed out and delivered up. That reality won't change no matter how denial you engage in, anon.

The thing is, you don't have any evidence for this accusation, and no one (with the exception of a few radical TI supporters) believes it. I have spoken privately to a couple of senior DPP figures during the Chen administration and they are most certainly not thinking along these lines. I don't know any foreign scholars who believe it. Many ordinary Taiwanese have doubts about ECFA, but I haven't met anyone who thinks the negotiations are about "annexation". What makes you right and everyone else wrong?

Michael Turton said...

The thing is, you don't have any evidence for this accusation, and no one (with the exception of a few radical TI supporters) believes it. I have spoken privately to a couple of senior DPP figures during the Chen administration and they are most certainly not thinking along these lines. I don't know any foreign scholars who believe it. Many ordinary Taiwanese have doubts about ECFA, but I haven't met anyone who thinks the negotiations are about "annexation". What makes you right and everyone else wrong?

Ok then, so your position is that ECFA will have no effect on Taiwan's sovereignty or autonomy, and China does not intend that it will, and this is backed by senior DPP officials and foreign scholars.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Anon, i will address your question in a post. It's a fair to ask why I think the way I do.

Anonymous said...

Ok then, so your position is that ECFA will have no effect on Taiwan's sovereignty or autonomy, and China does not intend that it will, and this is backed by senior DPP officials and foreign scholars.

That is not exactly my position...
I think I stated my position quite clearly.
Especially on the final point- It is quite possible to oppose ECFA without believing that it involves on "annexation".

Anon, i will address your question in a post. It's a fair to ask why I think the way I do.

Thanks. I look forward to reading it.

Michael Turton said...

I'm sorry, now your position is even less clear, since you answer is evasive. Are you claiming that ECFA will have no effect on sovereignty or autonomy, and that China does not intend that it will?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, now your position is even less clear, since you answer is evasive. Are you claiming that ECFA will have no effect on sovereignty or autonomy, and that China does not intend that it will?

Can you explain what you mean by that? If you are thinking of a plot to "hollow out" Taiwan so it can be annexed by China, then the answer is a clear no. Of course, I do not deny that there are political consequences. Economic agreements always have political dimensions.

I believe that China's intention is to try and win public support for reunification by increasing economic interdependence and offering concrete benefits to Taiwan from closer economic relations.
In that sense, it is part of a long term plan for reunification, but not in the way that you see it.
I don't think it will be successful. All the evidence suggests that more contact with China has led to a greater sense of Taiwanese identity. Many Taiwanese have said to me they only became aware of their separate identity when they travelled to China (or abroad) and noted the differences with their counterparts across the Strait.
Anyway we will see. One thing is for sure, Taiwan cannot reject China. But there is also the natural fear of being swallowed up by China.
Looking forward to your post!

Michael Turton said...

Anon -- I view your proposed strategy as a possible branch on their strategy tree, but not the main line. I think they have come to the same conclusions you and I have about whether Taiwanese will come around in time -- they are no dumber than we are. Hence they are thinking that would be nice if it happens but it isn't what Beijing's main strategy is.

Anonymous said...

Michael - That would make the two strategies contradictory. China can't be both trying to hollow out the Taiwanese economy so it can be annexed more easily, and offering economic benefits to Taiwan to persuade Taiwanese of the case for reunification at the same time.

Michael Turton said...

You've got to be kidding me.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding me.

Not at all. How will Taiwanese be persuaded of the case for reunification if ECFA brings economic devastation to the island (as you imply it will)? If ECFA damages Taiwan's economy, then anti-China sentiment will only increase.

Robert R. said...

"If ECFA damages Taiwan's economy, then anti-China sentiment will only increase."

Only if people think it's because of the ECFA and/or China.
China is savvy enough to have it such that Taiwan's economy just doesn't grow as well as the rest of the world, all the meanwhile digging under the foundations, so at the first crack, Taiwan will have problems. We'll have "no choice" at that time but to move even closer.

As Michael said, it's a gradual process, similar to the death by 10000 cuts being used in the political & international arena. (i.e. the surrender pandas)

D said...

"China is savvy enough to have it such that Taiwan's economy just doesn't grow as well as the rest of the world" (Robert R)

Ha ha ha.... I am beginning to think "fair and balanced" should be added to the subtitle of this blog.

Seriously, this is an interesting discussion, but I really find Michael's (not to mention others'...) viewpoints rather alarmist. China is not a monolith. They're sewn into a "reunification" policy because backing down would make them look weak, but that doesn't mean everyone in the government, to say nothing of the general population, really wants to pursue it actively. There are all sorts of solutions that maintain the de facto independence of Taiwan/ROC, first and foremost the continuation of the political status quo (note: economic policy _has to be_ more flexible than political policy) until the Chinese Communist Party either breathes its last breath or transforms into something quite different and, yes, more benign.

That's an optimist's view. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning if I thought like Michael, and I simply don't believe anyone's going to sign away Taiwan's independence a la Czechoslovakia or Poland in WWII. Uncle Sam isn't going to be pushed around by Chairman Mao.

I eagerly await Michael's post in response to "Anonymous". Hopefully the missiles won't start hitting before that. :)

Anonymous said...

Only if people think it's because of the ECFA and/or China.
China is savvy enough to have it such that Taiwan's economy just doesn't grow as well as the rest of the world, all the meanwhile digging under the foundations, so at the first crack, Taiwan will have problems. We'll have "no choice" at that time but to move even closer.

As Michael said, it's a gradual process, similar to the death by 10000 cuts being used in the political & international arena. (i.e. the surrender pandas)

How gloomy! I don't think it will play out like that. That kind of reading is very much the minority view. Michael is going to write a post soon saying why he supports such a minority position.
If the economy goes wrong after ECFA, the DPP will get back in. This is exactly what Beijing wants to avoid.

Michael Turton said...

Ha! Could be a couple of more days. My wife is still in the hospital recovering from surgery -- blogging on that later too.

Michael

Thoth Harris said...

ECFA allows Taiwan to be defaced and effaced gradually via the concessions of said agreement. It makes little sense to me to be a Liberal and to be pro-Taiwan. That is why I am...well, not one. Michael has this fake-optimist or idealist thing going on which involves shaking each member of the supposed enemy (be they anonymous trolls, pro-China friends met-in-person or Facebook acquired) until they get the right answer.
The real solution is to demand that Taiwan's government not agree to anything and that the United States and other Taiwan allies not support any such agreement until Taiwan is able to make agreements/contracts, whatever from a position of strength. While haters of Reagan might argue (and possibly, with some justification) that the U.S. is making free-trade agreements with countries like Chile, etc. and such South American countries don't have an equal hand in the partnership, you can't feasibly argue that the situation is the same. Also, the US supposedly supports such countries (and not, say, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.) when they kinda rogue out. Chile is not in danger of actual or virtual annexation, and certainly not in light of the fact that nobody, not even the kookiest mental patient in the US is trying to claim that Chile is not a real country.
It is time to set up troops for the big battles and not try to take down little guys in the war of attrition.

Scott said...

Yes, an interesting discussion.

But I wanted to make a couple of points-- First: l am surprised to see people still bringing up the U.S. influence in this debate. I'm sorry, but where have you been for the last decade??

For better or worse, the U.S. no longer has any influence on issues regarding China and Taiwan, and is no longer willing to take any firm position that would sour the U.S.-China relationship. Nothing that any president in the last decade has said or done suggests otherwise. A use of force or a blockade may result in quite a bit of talking and admonishment scripted to appear stern, along with a few vague warnings of unspecified repercussions, but that's about as far as it will go.

Second: any agreement that the KMT is able to push through and sign --whether it is EFCA, or any other agreement regarding economic, political or military integration with China-- can ONLY be a one-way development. That is, China will allow the relationship to develop in one direction only.

Any developments in the direction of integration will always be considered the "status quo." Any attempt to back out of (or re-negotiate) a deal (like EFCA, if it becomes unpopular) will be considered a threat to the status quo. If EFCA is implemented, and later is damaging to the economy, and a referendum is able to be held, or if a future president wants to reinterpret something, those would all be considered a grave threat to the status quo. And hurt the feelings of a bilion or so Chinese.

But in the end, it is all about perceptions. If the KMT was able to convince a majority to believe that further economic integration with China was the only answer to economic problems, then even if EFCA DOES result in damaging Taiwan's economy, I am certain that the KMT will STILL be able to convince the SAME people that they need EVEN MORE of the same medicine.

Thoth Harris said...

Ah, Scott, looking at your profile it makes sense now...you're one of these self-proclaimed progressives/radicals/lefties. Howard Zinn is like a God to you.
Well, I am a moderate conservative (with libertarian tendencies) atheist. Your God is no god, and is just as bad as many of the gods out there, right up with the 2000+ year old papacy,
No wonder you think that the employment of U.S. influence is like something out of science fiction. You actually make me feel all misty for Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Obama is giving the store away, unfortunately, even when HIllary Clinton wanted to be proactive (incidentally or accidentally) with regard to China.