Factoid of the week, nature: Between 1970 and 1999, Taiwan supplied 384 Mt yr of suspended sediment to the ocean. This represents 1.9% of estimated global suspended sediment discharge and yet is derived from only 0.024% of Earth’s subaerial surface."(source)
Factoid of the week, politics: The presiding judge in the Lee Teng-hui trial is none other than Chou Chan-chun (source). You may recall he was the judge who was swapped out of the Chen Shui-bian case after he ruled in a way the KMT didn't like.
Factoid of the week, military: I'll bet you didn't know Taiwan has an aircraft designated the F-CK-1.
Today both India and the US reported massive cyberbreaches originating in China [UPDATED: worldwide, greatest cyberattack in history, multiple media reporting. Guys, this is a declaration of war]. Yet nothing is done about this behavior, which must be Beijing-government sanctioned. It's time for the US to take action. But apparently the only way that one can provoke the Obama Administration into acting is to either be a small Muslim country or a US government whistle-blower.
The Taiwan Link, who posts sparingly but always magnificently, has a great long piece on the Obama Administration's failing Taiwan policy (Recall Schriver last week as well). I too was optimistic in Jan of 2009 that the dangerous drift of America's East Asia policy under the Bush Administration would be abated:
One had high hopes for the Obama team as it entered office in January 2009. The administration’s Asia team members included seasoned, strategically-minded veterans, such as Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of Defense LTG (ret) Chip Gregson, and Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Mitchell. The two latter focused much of their time on Central Asia issues, despite having significant “boots on the ground” time in Taiwan. Chip Gregson has departed, and Derek Mitchell has been nominated to serve as Special Representative to Burma. Replacements have yet to be confirmed, including nomination of Mark Lippert as Chip Gregson’s replacement.The entire piece must be read, it nicely stitches together all the pieces of Obama's failing Taiwan policy and its continuity with Bush's similar failed policies. For example, The Taiwan Link observes that the issue is not limited to F-16s but takes place across all areas of Taiwan policy...
Sharp, seasoned Pentagon staffers with years of China/Taiwan policy experience within the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) include retired Navy Captain Joe Skinner and Principal Director Dave Helvey. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with direct oversight of Taiwan policy is long time Dianne Feinstein staffer Mike Schiffer. Most likely focused on Korea, Japan, and China military-to-military issues, Schiffer has made few public statements indicating strong support for Taiwan’s position. His former boss, Senator Feinstein, has been a leading proponent of China and advocate of U.S.-China relations. At the same time, she has questioned U.S. security assistance to Taiwan (see below).
Highly sensitive to how Taiwan arms sales could affect the U.S.-China military relationship, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Under Secretary of Defense Michelle Flournoy have been less vocal than their predecessors on Taiwan issues. In fact, Secretary Gates was quite sensitive to Chinese concerns regarding arms sales, without much apparent concern for Taiwan. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, who served as a senior Raytheon executive for seven years, appears to have recused himself on Taiwan issues. Lynn has announced his departure later this summer or Fall, and a replacement has yet to be named.
The Obama administration also has deferred resumption of trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) talks. Taiwan’s restrictions on market access for U.S. beef have been cited as one rationale for freezing TIFA talks for the past four years. Unlike Taiwan, the U.S. Trade Representative has included the beef issue in trade negotiations with South Korean counterparts. Other Taiwan-related negotiations, including visa waiver and extradition initiatives, appear stalled. In the meantime, the director of China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Wang Yi visited Washington in late July 2011 to lobby senior US officials against arms sales.These are all things I've complained about on this blog. The Taiwan Link appears optimistic only in his view that Congress can balance the Executive. Despite the letter circulated this week from 181 Congressmen on the F-16 sale, Congress isn't going to take independent action on this issue. Note that the US consulting with China on arms sales to Taiwan violates both the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances that Reagan gave. What Status Quo?
The Diplomat hosted a piece this week on whether the US and China are doomed to clash (answer = d'oh). With clashes more or less inevitable, shouldn't we be seeing a major effort to shore up our East Asian allies? Yet the upcoming round of defense cuts will likely produce more retrenchment in Asia, rather than the rational and intelligent choice of pull outs from our stupidity in Iraq and Afghanistan and our illegal Libya intervention to focus on the world's most important region. Future historians will be driven to drink attempting to understand how a great nation could drive itself into the ground so rapidly and invest so long in projects so completely inimical to the health and welfare of its own future.
- The limits to India-US cooperation
- Excellent commentary on why the absurd abortion stats for Taiwan are so misleading.
- New Taipei city to turn dog shit into gold. In Taiwanese slang "gold" is slang for dog shit. Clever....
- Typhoon closing in on Taiwan, rainfall in the north starting thursday and over the whole island friday and saturday.
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