Here's a headline you'll see more of: Gates to Reassure Asian Allies. As all our pomp of yesterday becomes one with Ninevah and Tyre, expect to see more headlines down the years in the generic form (HIGH RANKING PERSON) to reassure (NERVOUS ALLIES) until at last we reach Sec of Defense reassures Mayor of Honolulu....
Meanwhile Adm Willard, the US Navy's chief in the Asia-Pacific region, expresses concern about Chinese territorial expansion in the South China Sea. Not only is Taiwan linked to that increasingly tense issue by its direct claims on the area, but it also has a large military base on an important island in the South China Sea. This shows that you can't advocate quietly handing off Taiwan to China without (1) strengthening China's claims to the South China Sea via eliminating a rival claimant whose claims it now takes over and (2) handing Beijing a major military installation in the area. Beijing's territorial claims are both intertwined and self-reinforcing. What will Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi say when Chinese jets operate out of Taiwan's former base on Dongsha Island in the Spratlys?
Local politics: As we slouch toward the January election to be rebooted, KMT Vice President Siew will not seek re-election. Siew suffered a slew of health problems during his term. This leaves Ma and the KMT free to pick someone young and energetic and Taiwanese. Tell me who you think he should pick in the comments below.
Collin Spears asks whether ECFA will be the end of Ma if the Taiwanese don't choose right..... in this piece which links to me (and therefore is totally awesome, thanks Collin!) he writes:
The landmark agreement is not helping Ma in Taiwan as much as some Western critics tend to think. Ma’s Taiwanese critics contend that the economic data he flaunts as proof of the ECFAs success are not coming from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), but China, therefore they are bias. Further, they argue that Ma’s policies do nothing but to further hollow-out the island’s industrial base, which only benefit the wealthy while taking Taiwan from a industrial economy to a service economy which is ever increasingly dependent on the Mainland. At the same time, Taiwan, due to Beijing’s objections, is unable to make independent trade deals with many of its neighbors (such as the ASEAN states), due to China’s diplomatic objections, which it uses as blackmail for “good behavior”. In fact, opponents point to Tung Chen-yuan, a professor at Taipei’s National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies, who claims that the ECFA has not been responsible for an increase in exports to China, because no increases occured:The Ma Administration dug its own grave -- had they not attempted to gain public support by constantly conjuring up new, urgent, mortal threats that Taiwan could only dealing with by signing ECFA now now now, the public would not now be expecting that ECFA would bring them two chickens in every pot of san bei ji. Imagine an alternate universe where ECFA had been put forward in a low key and rationale manner, instead of being presented as a panacea for the island's economic problems.
Off to town to drink tonight at a couple of expat happy hours. Hope to see you there!
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