Tuesday, October 04, 2011

China Relations in the News

Yvonne Su, a freelancer based in Beijing, flouted all convention for Beijing-based journalists in turning in an article at Asia Times that evinced an excellent and balanced understanding of events out here. Poor Ms. Su, she'll never get hired at a mainstream media outlet producing material like this....
According to China-based diplomats, as part of Beijing's efforts to intervene in Taiwan's presidential election, Chinese officials and academics have been smearing Tsai as irrational by connecting her with former DPP President Chen Shui-bian's confrontational polities. Washington-based analysts have also suggested China's Taiwan affairs officials have privately expressed hope for intervention by the Obama administration to help boost Ma's popularity.
As I've always said, Beijing's goal is to paint Taiwan's pro-Taiwan candidates as "radical" and "provocative." This is one of the clearest statements in the media of that policy, as well as the unspoken tactical alliance against pro-democracy politicians between Beijing and regressive elements in Washington. Su also shows the failure of China's  economic "generosity" and properly contextualizes it, showing that it is an outgrowth of the CCP's desire to annex Taiwan:
Beijing saw the KMT's return to power in 2008 as a crucial chance to promote unification. In 2009 and 2010 alone, Beijing sent 1.7 million Chinese tourists and 13 senior provincial officials on high-profile visits to Taiwan, hoping to help boost the island's lackluster economy. In May 2010, Fujian provincial governor Huang Xiaojing led a 3,000-member delegation to Taiwan, claiming he had procured $24 billion Taiwan dollars (US$783 million) worth of orders from Taiwanese companies, shortly after Shanghai mayor Han Zeng led a delegation that granted $1.8 billion Taiwan dollars in businesses to Taiwan.

But statistics show Taiwan's contributions to China's economy might have been more significant. By the end of August, Taiwan had approved US$163 million investments from China, compared with Taiwan's $107 billion total investment to China, according to Taiwan's Investment Commission. From 2009 to the end of April 2011, the total number of Chinese tourist visiting Taiwan reached 2.2 million, while 11.2 million Taiwanese tourists visited China in the same period of time.

China's rapprochement policies also haven't won much praise from the Taiwanese people, and Beijing has called off high-profile visits by senior officials this year. Some analysts in Beijing acknowledge that China's approach has been too superficial.
It's not often you run into a Beijing-based journalist who has such a good grip on Taiwan. Her piece also shows that CCP analysts in Beijing have a moderate understanding of Taiwan -- they know they have failed to sway Taiwanese -- but a poor understanding of tactics, except at the most basic level of don't screw things up for Ma Ying-jeou. The interesting/scary question is what will Beijing do when it feels it can't come up with policies to bring Taiwan in without a war?

The Taipei Times turned in a report today on the effects of ECFA on the island's agriculture.
While the government is touting the benefits the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to the agricultural sector, academics doubt the claims are grounded in reality.

The trade deficit with China in the agricultural sector is continuing to grow and more than half of the products on the ECFA’s “early harvest” list did not even total NT$1 million (US$33,000) in export profits, they said.

There were no sales of frozen fresh squid, while sales of bananas could have dropped by as much as 50 percent compared with last year’s sales, they said.


In its promotions for the ECFA, the government said Taiwan’s agricultural exports to China have grown 2.6 times, but according to the Council of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Statistics Query System, Taiwan’s exports to China totaled US$428 million, or growth of 28 percent compared with the same period last year.

However, the system also shows that imports totaled US$520 million, or growth of 25 percent from the same period last year, while the trade deficit rose from US$82 million last year to US$92 million, an increase of 12 percent.

Sources said six agricultural items from the early harvest list failed to reach NT$1 million in export value and the total shipment was less than 4 tonnes, with squid not being sold at all.
Less than 1 tonne of lemons and less than 2 tonnes of both honeydew melons and dragon fruit were sold, they said.

The export value and volume of oranges and bananas were only 50 and 20 percent respectively, compared with last year, sources said.

Sources also alleged that an advertisement’s claims that export growth of frozen mackerel pike rose nine times, turtle eggs 23 percent and tea leaves 89 percent were false, saying that exports of frozen mackerel pike last year were 35 percent more than this year, while export volume was also 2.5 times more than this year.

Turtle eggs and tea leaves export volumes were also higher last year, and their export rates were also on a par with this year, sources said.
This was easily predictable. For those of us who actually live and work on the island, the daily struggle to avoid ingesting toxic China products is only growing more difficult, for as the Taipei Times noted:
With trade deficits across the strait on the rise, government efforts to crack down on smuggled Chinese agricultural goods into Taiwan are insufficient, Yang said, adding that the 67 tonnes seized by officials last year was only 1 percent of what was discovered in 2008.
Hahahahaha. Essentially, the government appears to have ceased its anti-smuggling efforts; one way to flood the market with cheap Chinese goods that don't show up in the trade numbers. Of course, this was all very predictable. For example, I wrote more than a year ago on one of those rosy neoliberal fantasies about ECFA that their analysis didn't include all sorts of things, such as....
2. ...any attempt to measure the economic and social effects of smuggling of everything from food to auto parts, which has been disastrous for nations signing FTAs with China. For example, the fact that I have to worry about inferior, poisonous Chinese food items in the local market is a cost I pay, aside from their direct deleterious effects. A cost that Wang and Rosen want everyone to pay, but why should they give a shit? They don't live here, and if it isn't in the model, it doesn't exist.
The cost is real, and measured in declining agricultural incomes, loss of productive fields, and so on. And certainly there must be other industries suffering from smuggling as well.

Yeah, and we still don't have those FTAs ECFA was going to shower us with. Not a single one.

UPDATE: Jens Kastner also publishes on China's theft of Taiwan's agricultural technology:
The mainland Chinese authorities have reportedly established 25 "Taiwan Farmers Pioneer Parks", whose sole purpose it is to steal Taiwanese agricultural know-how. Despite Taiwan's farming industry constituting only 1.5% of gross domestic product, or US$11.8 billion, the cross-strait transfer of farming secrets is considered a threat to the 540,000 Taiwanese employed in the sector.


Seeds and shoots are smuggled, and Taiwanese R&D personnel as well as farmers are headhunted only to end up in one of the Taiwan Farmers Pioneer Parks. There, land is provided, tax incentives and assistance are given, and joint ventures are encouraged. About 70% to 80% of the products to be found in the parks are believed to have systematically been imported from Taiwan.
The problem appears to be -- once again -- the government's lax attitude toward China's hollowing out of Taiwan's industrial and innovation base. Not only did the negotiations over agriculture leave important items unprotected, but Kastner's informants point out that Taiwanese civil servants take Taiwan varieties with them when they change sides. Former Council of Agricultural head Paul Sun is now working as a consultant1 in one of the Chinese innovation theft farms...
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

Will the DPP use any of this in the presidential campaign? No!

Readin said...

"on one of those rosy neoliberal fantasies about ECFA "

Since when is not trusting an oppressive government "neoliberal"? Since when is it "neoliberal" to recognize that a government that heavily interferes in capitalism (as in China) is a government that can't be trust to follow the rule of law?

The only thing you said that could be construed as "liberal" is your recognition that the government has a role to play in food safety - but even most conservatives recognize that. Calling it "liberal" is like calling the end of alcohol prohibition in the US "conservative" - it reduced the scope of government (one of the few times ever since 1776), but even liberals recognized it was a good thing.

Michael Turton said...

Readin, do you know the difference between "liberal" and "neoliberal"?

Neoliberals are people like Rosen et al, the 'free traders' who are actually corporate tools.

Anonymous said...

And the dumbasses in Taiwan keep voting in the KMTards. They only have themselves to blame when Taiwan becomes the 23rd province.

Great analysis MT. Keep up the good work. Check out this article when you have time: China 10.7 trillion yuan of debt going bad

Readin said...

"Readin, do you know the difference between "liberal" and "neoliberal"?"

No, I just figured it either meant "new liberal", or it meant "liberal that I don't like" in the way that "neoconservative" eventually became used as a slur against conservatives who were disliked.

So what is the "liberal" position on FTAs? On one hand, Obama made a big speech to both houses of Congress in which he said that Congress needs to pass 3 FTAs "tomorrow", but on the other hand he still hasn't sent them to Congress.