Man, am I heartily sick of this rainy rainy summer. My new bike sandals are covered with mold, unable to dry out....
Lots of things happening. Spoke to a friend doing business with the Taichung city government, who told me that he heard from insiders that KMT internal polls have Hu up only 52-48. The DPP's Su is running a very effective campaign, and his popularity is evident from the fact that his picture is found with many of the local candidates for the new municipal council. Although I have traveled all over Taiwan during this election season, I have seen no pictures of local candidates with Ma Ying-jeou. Speaking of polls, the NCCU prediction market has the New Taipei City and Taipei City races neck and neck. In Taichung Hu's lead is narrowing.
Chen Che-nan -- remember him? One of Chen Shui-bian's inner circle. He had been a KMTer introduced by Shih Ming-te, the former DPP chairman who switched sides in 1999 or 2000 and then led the faux protests against Chen Shui-bian in 2005. Chen Che-nan was convicted of accepting bribes and was given nine years. Well, this week the panel of judges reduced his sentence to....seven months.
In addition, in the re-trial, a different panel of judges of the Taiwan High Court concluded that although Chen’s behavior had seriously damaged the image of the justice system, the High Court took into consideration Chen’s old age, poor health, and the fact that Chen had returned the bribe money to businessman Liang Po-hsun in full, and sentenced Chen to a prison term of one year and two months, or 14 months, reducing it to 7 months.The logic of it is rather bizarre -- it is ok to take bribes if you give the money back. Should I read this as a rebuke of the prosecutors?
Anatomy of a smear: the KMT papers were pushing the case of Chen Shui-bian's son, now running for office in Kaohsiung....KMT news says:
Now let's think about this for a second. It is illegal to record someone without their permission in Taiwan. From where did that transcript of audio recordings come from? Do you think Next Magazine was tapping Chen's phone lines? Think hard...who was tapping the phone lines? C'mon, think -- who was tapping the Chen family's lines? Figure it out yet? Ok, now then who leaked that transcript, and why? Should be obvious, and it is far more serious than a politician visiting a prostitute. But you know what the papers will be focusing on.
The latest issue of Next Magazine disclosed yesterday the transcripts of audio-recordings of the mobile phone calls in which Chen Chih-chung, son of detained former President Chen Shui-bian, allegedly made appointments for prostitution services from February to July 20 this year. The report pointed out that the voice of the person making the appointments strongly resembled Chen Chih-chung. In response, a spokesman for Chen Chih-chung’s election campaign office said that the weekly magazine had not published any conclusive evidence, adding that Chen’s campaign headquarters would consult their lawyer as to whether they should take further legal action.
Yesterday’s story in Next Magazine did not include any direct evidence or pictures of Chen Chih-chung with a prostitute. Instead, the article compared the times when the telephone calls were made in the tape-recordings with Chen’s daily schedule and found that the young Chen’s itinerary “almost” matched the schedule of the “prostitute’s client.” Likewise, after Next Magazine exposed the story a week ago, Chen’s camp did not provide any evidence strong enough to rebut the allegations, such as video recording covering the entrance of Chen’s residence in Kaohsiung. Consequently, at this stage, the allegations in the story are a case of “he said, she said.”
By the way, I've heard that this appears to have raised Chen's popularity in the election.
Speaking of popularity, the fire at the sixth naptha cracker is slowly snowballing into a massive political issue. Protesters visited the government yesterday to toss dead fish at it. Could we be seeing the first hints of evolution in the Taiwanese perception of Taiwan's development needs? This week a major investor pulled out of the proposed Kuokuang petrochemical complex in Changhua, blaming the environment as an issue. Well, it makes a convenient whipping boy. Unfortunately I can't find any recent poll data on the environment and the naptha crackers.
On the international front, China Reform Monitor reports:
China and India’s dispute over the issuance of visas to residents of the Indian controlled areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir continues. The Times of India reports that for the last couple of years, China had been stapling a visa in a separate sheet in applicants passports, a policy the Indian government refused to recognize. In response, Beijing is now denying visas to those from areas it also claims. For the people of all other Indian states it pastes the visa in the passport, as is common practice.Same tactics they use with Taiwan.
John Pomfret, who turns out first rate stuff on China, has a review of the Obama administration's new policy in response to China's upgrade of its claims to thousands of islands in the South China Sea. Two excerpts sum it up:
The strategy has won rare acclaim in Washington among the generally fractious community of China watchers. James Mulvenon, director of Defense Group Inc.'s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, called it "a masterful piece of diplomacy" in dealing with China, which, he said, "continues to be this paradoxical combination of bluster, swagger and intense insecurity and caution."and the Chinese blustering, as always:
"China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that's just a fact," he said, staring directly at Singapore's foreign minister, George Yeo, according to several participants at the meeting.China insists on bilateral negotiations, which means smaller littoral states face mighty China, with the obvious advantage to Beijing. Note also that Beijing is following the identical strategy with the South China Sea that it is following with Taiwan: insist on bilateral frameworks and prevent the problem from being internationalized. From that it is easy to see how the KMT's bilateral negotiations with China have defeated one of the goals of democracy activists and politicians in Taiwan: internationalizing the Taiwan issue. China has been exploiting this weakness of the KMT policy: the PRC has been making overtures to the Taiwan military, saying that talks on the missiles can be conducted -- so long as they are under Beijing's one-China principle.
On Monday, Yang issued a statement on the Foreign Ministry's Web site saying that there was no need to internationalize the issue, that China was still intent on solving all of the disputes bilaterally and that China's view represented the interests of "fellow Asians."
"Fellow Asians". Yes folks, you are hearing that echo of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. I often speculate on the correct historical analogy for US-China relations. Spain of Philip III vs England and France? Rising Germany against the UK c. 1900? But sometimes China of 2010 is looking a lot like Japan c. 1930.
Oh yeah, as if to supply much-needed comic relief, the ROC re-affirmed its sovereignty over the island groups. Right.
- Video of Chinese dissident Wuerkaixi criticizing the Ma government for not giving Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer a visa.
- "A Secret the size of a country"
- Boeing to build Harpoon missiles for Taiwan.
- Asia Times on China/Taiwan military mistrust.
- I posted on the South China Sea dispute at DailyKos, with a couple of nifty maps.
- Fer gawd's sake, can we stop already? US-Taiwan beef row still far from being resolved.
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