So deepest apologies for the light blogging this week. So much going on....
First, Randy Schriver has a great piece in the Washington Times on the US policy of sacrificing all else to maintain a mil-mil relationship with China, a policy which, he says, is Bound to Fail:
As a previous senior director for policy toward the People's Republic of China (PRC) at the Pentagon, I once had responsibilities for managing U.S.-China military relations on behalf of two secretaries of defense. Through work at the Pentagon and subsequent work both in and out of government, I have watched closely as the military relationship with China has developed. To say the results from our efforts have been disappointing would be a gross understatement.Schriver is making points which I have made again and again on this blog -- it's nice to see them in print in Washington. Not much else you can about an article that is comprehensively right, except you should read it all.
The United States is correct to want greater transparency from the PLA; to enhance the safety of operations in the Pacific; to demonstrate intentions and capabilities for deterrent effect against potential PRC provocations; to reduce the chance of miscalculation through candid dialogue; to seek cooperative approaches to challenges in the global commons; and to influence a younger generation of PLA officers. Yet we now have ample evidence gleaned from 30 years of data that we are further from, not closer to, these goals. Moreover, three decades of attempted engagement have conditioned Beijing to advance its own objectives by leveraging the continuing pursuits of the ardent suitor found in Washington.
President Ma was interviewed in WSJ this week.... note the description of Ma....
Mr. Ma, 61 years old, took office in May 2008 after winning the island's fourth direct election for president. He received a doctorate in law of the sea and international economic law from Harvard Law School in 1981, before he returned to Taiwan and started as the English interpreter for then-president Chiang Ching-kuo. He rose to minister of justice and then mayor of the capital, Taipei, before winning the presidency amid widespread corruption accusations against his opponent's party and outgoing President Chen Shui-bian.There was some grumbling among the pro-Taiwan crowd of the short description of Tsai Ing-wen as a "former law professor" but the article was really about Ma, and isn't meant to compare the two, so I don't see any bias there (though I have no doubt where WSJ's heart will be during the election). I'll call bias on WSJ when I see a pattern of omitting Tsai's qualifications -- sorry, but one sentence doth not a pattern make.
In any case, the serious omission here isn't Tsai's own policy background, Phd, and much better degree than Ma, but the report of his advancement without mentioning that it was made possible because he emerged like Athena from the head of the old KMT Party-State. I'd bet that we go the next six months of the run-up to the election without any major media pieces on Ma's longtime service to the anti-democracy side in Taiwan's politics, but considering that there were only two in the previous election, I doubt anyone will cover that bet.
The article says that Ma said the purchase of F-16s is getting harder and harder. Yeah -- when Ma was Chairman of the KMT during the Chen Administration, his party blocked the question of the purchase from appearing on the floor of the legislature repeatedly. He doesn't want them.
Fun this week with the revelation that Chinese independent travelers aren't flooding Taiwan with their itinerary-free, money laden presence. AFP reported:
Taiwan’s travel operators said Thursday they were "shocked" that fewer than 600 solo Chinese tourists had visited the island since a ban on such travel was lifted a month ago.What could you expect when the government set it up so that the travel agency is punished if the independent tourist goes missing? Why would they promote such travel, given the risks? The Taipei Times also pointed out that Chinese youths are busy taking exams so numbers will be low, while the FT column Beyond Brics said Chinese tourists were cramming into Taiwan -- in tour groups, to be sure. Expect these independent traveler figures to rise. I can't wait to run into some of these people on my bike.
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