Sunday, May 01, 2011

What Political Party does Ma Ying-jeou belong to? and more on Tsai

WSJ column asks: Bad Tidings in Election for Taiwan-China ties? Naturally since it is written by someone who has a good understanding of what is going on, it doesn't fall into the simplistic nonsense of Tsai = bad, Ma = good. For example:
Ms. Glaser predicted that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a trade pact Beijing and Taipei signed last summer, would take years to implement and that Mr. Ma’s efforts to dampen expectations for substantive discussions of political issues would probably cause problems with China. “Ma has not turned out to be the leader they want him to be,” she said. “Ma’s strongest beliefs [are] in the Republic of China (Taiwan) I’m sure, so I think regardless of whether Ma or a DPP candidate is elected, we’re going to have changes in cross-strait relationship.”

President of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, also said he foresaw difficulties in China-Taiwan relations ahead regardless of the trade pact and argued the best way to fend against those difficulties would be strong U.S. military support for Taiwan, which he feared was waning.

“ECFA is worthy of support and Ma and the Chinese are worth praising for their willingness to undertake this, [but it’s] a red herring in respect to the overall arc of China-Taiwan relations,” he said, calling the trade agreement “low-hanging fruit” because China and Taiwan have both long had an interest in closer economic ties.

If Mr. Ma can’t continue to improve relations with Beijing, “we are going to see tensions in the strait spike up again,” Mr. Hammond-Chambers said.
Glaser's reading of Ma is probably correct, but note how the piece, like so many in this vein, focuses on Tsai + her party....
"Ms. Tsai has called for trade links with China to be developed in balance with its links to the rest of the world, but her party is formally pro-independence and she will face a tough challenge appealing to moderate independent voters while also appeasing some of the more outspoken independence advocates within the party"
....but Ma is presented in isolation from his own party, which is never mentioned. This is a serious problem common in the foreign media (example and example). What are the tensions in Ma's party? What are the problems Ma faces in handling it? In many areas around Taiwan, there are fears that Chinese investors are muscling in on local action. Tsai might have to balance the fierce independencistas in her party, but Ma's KMT holds its grip on local factions by dint of patronage networks down which money is sent, and Chinese investment, real or imagined, will be stressing these. We also do not hear anything of KMT heavyweights and their relations with Beijing and China's economy, nor about organized crime and the KMT, which is nonexistent as far as the foreign media is concerned. It's as if Ma doesn't even belong to a party.

More interesting will be to watch whether Beijing does something to aid Ma in the waning days of the election, such as symbolically "withdrawing" the missiles pointed at Taiwan.

Finally, one can only agree with this thought from the writer:
Polls put the two in a dead heat, setting the stage for eight months of scandals, accusations, and (hopefully) constructive policy debate before Taiwanese voters head to the polls.
Michael Fahey, the Taipei based political commentator, also turned in an excellent piece on Tsai which is not behind SCMP's paywall and which offers additional information not found in the other pieces on Tsai:
Tsai resembles Ma in many ways. Like Ma, she is a graduate of National Taiwan University's school of law. Like Ma, she holds a PhD from a prestigious foreign institution and speaks fluent English. And both served at the Mainland Affairs Council and are versed in the art of dancing with mainland China.


Tsai's nomination represents the beginning of a generational shift that is renewing the DPP. She is the first DPP leader who did not rise to prominence in the crucible of the 1979 Kaohsiung demonstrations that sparked Taiwan's democracy movement. Under her quiet but firm leadership, the party recovered from the ethically deficient leadership of former president Chen Shui-bian, who is now in jail for corruption. Tsai convinced the public to give the DPP a second chance; for that feat alone, she deserved the nomination.
Fahey is also more realistic about Ma's strengths and weaknesses than any of the business publications.

Finally, for amusement purposes only, don't miss this bizarre "China Post-McClatchy-Tribune Information Services" commentary (?) on Tsai. Given that the China Post is ardently pro-KMT....
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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...no one is talking about the urgent problem of our coal-fired power plants, which also must be immediately retired. "

C'mon Michael! Please mention those carcinogen spewing chimneys in Rende Tainan!

There are even rice and vegetables grown besides the highway there mixing with those black fumes and chicken shit odor!

You have strong influence on the DPP so please tell Mayor Lai about this!

Richa

@taiwanews said...

The "China Post-McClatchy-Tribune Information Services" piece is in fact bizarre since it was only picked up by a spammy looking news aggregator TMC.. Comments were good though

Adam Wise said...

Hi Michael - I've been following your blog for a while. I just wanted to thank you for your insightful posts on Taiwanese politics. You really help me understand the intricacies involved and seem to have an understanding that most media covering Taiwanese politics either don't have or have but only want to push their own agenda.

waltzing Jaloma said...

Xiao Ying, my darling little frog, the broth is heating up.
湯加热。小英, 乖乖的的小蛙蛙。
汁が熱くなる。小英、我が可愛カエル。

Readin said...

Despite the dangers it seems hard to deny that nuclear energy is a necessary component to the environment problems of energy production. We need to find ways to make nuclear plants safer as Fukushina showed us, but requiring a magnitude 8 earthquake followed by a 30 meter tsunami to cause a massive enough accident that nobody was killed by radiation also shows that we've come a long way in making nuclear power plants pretty safe. How many casualties would there have been if that same earthquake and tsunami had hit a coal mine? How much environmental distruction had they hit a refinery or an oil tanker in port?



Of course culture also plays a role. I do worry about the nuclear plant in Taiwan simply because of the culture of jerry-rigging I see so much of in Taiwanese people.

Anonymous said...

RE The "China Post-McClatchy-Tribune Information Services" ...you perfessionak bloggers cannot even read straight...that was NOT a McClatchy wire story, it was pennwed by 90 year senile Dr William Fang is Taipei, unpaid writer for the China Pest....rea the byline you guys....and yes in fact bizarre since it was only picked up by a spammy looking news aggregator TMC ....****, By William Fang,Special to The China Post*** meaning unpaid old KMT geezer....Dr Fang, stupid man...re
Ambiguity marks Tsai's campaign
Now the dust has settled regarding the candidates in the 2012 presidential election in Taiwan.

The China Pest pretends it is a McClatchy wire story because in fact the China Pest now gets news from the ANN Asia News Network and as part of their coop deal, the Pest also sends the ANN their "stories" and faux columns or distrubtion in Asia only by the ANN......notice the Pest also prints ANN articles directly from the CCP mouthpiece CHINA DAILY and this is against the law in fact, to print propaganda from China Daily in taiwan, but GIO looks the other way...

just saying

Trevor in Cornwall UK
keeping watch on you guys there and gals, jenna...

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I dont' know if you have seen this yet from the Economist - a positive article on Tsai! http://www.economist.com/node/18621569?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/ar/justaskthepublic

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Trevor.

FOARP said...

In as much as I've got a vote in Taiwan (which is: not at all) Tsai's got it. Not that I back her nuclear policies.

Michael Turton said...

I wouldn't worry FOARP> those plants aren't going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

@Readin: You ARE aware what a contaminated zone of 80 kilometers in radius would mean for a small and overpopulated place like Taiwan?

The problem of nuclear energy is not the immediate danger, it's that IF you fuck up, you have to wait hundreds of years until you get another try.