部分媒體指稱民進黨昨天發動遊行人數高達15萬人。國民黨文傳會主委蘇俊賓今天表示，部分媒體大幅以民進黨所宣稱的數字報導遊行人數，淪為民進黨的政治宣傳工具，令人遺憾。This is apparently a reference to Apple Daily passing around the absurd DPP claim that there were 150,000 people at the rally on Saturday. As the friend who sent the article along remarked: the KMT complaining about the media being tools? "That's rich."
The Economist turned in a remarkably balanced, informed, and conservative piece on the ECFA signing. Kudos to whoever wrote it.
Fear that it brings Chinese sovereignty closer has made the ECFA bitterly divisive in Taiwan itself. Its critics point out that China has never ruled out the use of force to bring about unification, nor stopped adding to its battery of coastal missiles menacing the island. They regard the ECFA as war by another means; a Trojan horse that Taiwan should have shunned.I don't think that ECFA's impact on domestic politics will be limited, as he says in point (2) -- it will likely cost Ma his job if it doesn't show results, and may keep him in it if he can convince voters they are better off. Ma's swerve toward China is a factor in the KMT's recent electoral defeats. Point (3) is quite an interesting take on the uses of ECFA.
These critics are right about China’s intentions—to win support in Taiwan. But there are still at least three good reasons why Taiwan (and the West) should welcome the deal.
First, it is, as befits a sop to public opinion, a good one for Taiwan’s export-oriented economy (see article). It not only opens up the Chinese market further; it also reduces the risk that Taiwan, the world’s 17th-biggest exporter, will be left isolated, by the “noodle-bowl” of bilateral trade agreements, in which its regional competitors are entangling their economies.
Second, its impact on Taiwan’s domestic politics will be limited. Voters there understand China’s intentions very well and are unlikely to be swayed by a few tariff cuts. A tiny minority favours imminent unification. A slightly larger minority would like the island to declare formal independence soon. But, since a declaration of independence might provoke a Chinese invasion, the vast majority would like to prolong Taiwan’s current, peculiar status of de facto independence. Politics in Taiwan looks like a battle between pro-independence and pro-unification camps. In fact it is about how best to preserve the status quo.
Since the alternative might mean a war, possibly even with America, Chinese moderates also have an interest in that status quo. That is the third advantage of the ECFA. In China it can be used to show hardliners that, slowly, progress is being made towards unification. China’s bellicose approach to Taiwan as it embraced democracy in the 1990s achieved the opposite: its sabre-rattling boosted support for Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition.
The Economist piece is top-notch and should be read in its entirety.
AFP with a very strange article on ECFA. On one hand, it carefully documents Taiwanese fear of being politically eaten by China. It cites a wide range of individuals, and shows good understanding of the Taiwan identity. Consider:
On the other hand, it somehow manages to refer to locals' fear of being annexed without ever mentioning that China has made it clear the pact is the first step in annexation. Really weird.
China often buys political gains with economic concessions, but may have misunderstood the mood in Taiwan, said Zhang Baohui, an expert on China-Taiwan ties at Hong Kong's Lingnan University.
"They underestimate the identity issue. In the past 10 years, the people on the island have shifted towards a Taiwan identity. Fewer and fewer think of themselves as Chinese. No economic benefit will reverse that trend," he said.
Voters in the small, vibrant democracy could voice their anger over pressure from Beijing in presidential elections in 2012, analysts argued.
China should therefore mute talk about political ties, said Liou To-hai, a political scientist at Taipei's National Chengchi University.
"What China should avoid doing is press Taiwan to talk about political or security matters for two or three years or at least not before Taiwan's next presidential election," he said.
Taiwan News criticized Ma for being dishonest about ECFA, but the President admitted yesterday that the pact was about annexation for the PRC. The President's position is that Taiwan can take the benefits of ECFA while avoiding being swallowed.
The Taipei Times hosted a piece from a researcher at Chunghua Institution for Economic Research, with close connections to the KMT, that discusses the benefits of ECFA. He notes:
Taiwan’s early harvest list will allow 539 export items, with an estimated export volume of US$13.8 billion per year, to receive zero tariff treatment in China. This is already far more than we have achieved by signing FTAs with other nations. However, if we look at the more than 8,000 products Taiwan exports, we can see that only 6 percent of these were included on the early harvest list and it is therefore no wonder that manufacturers of items not on the list have been complaining.The CIER researcher says that contrary to opposition claims, ECFA will be good for small businesses, who will see tariff reductions that will enable them to remain in Taiwan. Let us hope so.
A review of this 6 percent of products shows that half of them are items produced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and traditional industries, such as automobile components, bicycle components, tires, water heaters, filters, household appliances, hand tools, clothing and accessories, underwear, shoes, socks, bags, boxes, orchids and bananas. This shows the high level of importance the government places on SMEs, traditional industries and agriculture.
In the past, SMEs like these faced several problems. Because they were small in scale, as production prices increased they were unable to reduce costs through economies of scale. In addition, as the Chinese market had many tariff barriers, they were unable to take advantage of business opportunities in China. They were therefore forced to move their manufacturing base or follow their customers.
- Taiwan Matters! hosts two DPP adds about ECFA. And reviews Beijing's annexation strategy, an excellent post I missed.
- The academics in Taiwan who hacked on Foxconn got a brutal smackdown in the Taipei Times from Lin Cho-shui.
- Dan Bloom reminds that peace is guaranteed by force of arms.
- Nixon warned on Global Warming. In fact the warnings on warming go back to the 1880s. What does it take to get our political elites to do what must be done?
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