Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some links Cuz I love ya

Stuff recycled from around the web.....

Report: Flag removal "hurt Taiwanese feelings" says Ma. *wince!* sounding like Beijing. Ma also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look into it. That will be effective! Ma's governing philosophy appears to be: this too shall pass.

Huawei routers: hackers all but flat out announce they have back doors. Why on earth anyone would consider purchasing Huawei is beyond me.

Tokyo says defense has bigger role in Japan-China relations, military being beefed up. War in Asia looms like the glow of a distant forest fire on the horizon.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-31/taiwan-economy-unexpectedly-shrinks-as-europe-hurts-exports-1-.html. The economy is shrinking and food prices are going through the roof here in Taiwan. Watermelons are priced like jewelry; if you have to ask what the price is, you can't afford it. If this typhoon is as bad as it looks, food prices next week are going to be amazing. And note that ECFA has not "saved" the economy. With the mismanagement in Europe and the US likely to continue for years to come, don't expect us to pull out of this any time soon.

English site devoted to Taiwan's metal rock scene.
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Arms Control Wonk: Nuclear Pact Renewal for Taiwan (and other nuke stuff)

Arms Control Wonk had an excellent post last week on the US effort to get Taiwan to sign onto the non-proliferation treaty....
A few people in Washington are pumping up the forthcoming renewal of the U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with Taiwan as an impending shot in the arm for the no-enrichment/no-reprocessing “gold standard” they want to see implemented by the U.S. in all future 123 agreements following the conclusion of the U.S.-UAE agreement in 2009.

Nowhere in the world does the U.S. government have as much leverage over a foreign country’s  nuclear activities as it does in Taiwan. Taiwan therefore does not serve as a model for global application of the “gold standard,” regardless of what some pundits had to say in this piece that Elaine Grossman published a couple of days ago. I saw the article just after returning to Europe from Chicago yesterday. (By coincidence, it would appear that Elaine reported it out while I was grocery-shopping and dining here in Elaine’s hometown of Cleveland last week.)
If the U.S.-Taiwan agreement isn’t renewed, it will expire in 2014. I’m highly confident, however, that it will be renewed, and that Taiwan will continue to embrace a policy of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without enriching uranium or reprocessing its not-insignificant inventory of spent power-reactor fuel.
But Taiwan’s resolve not to enrich or reprocess has nothing to do with the “gold standard” and nearly everything to do with U.S. leverage over Taiwan’s security arrangements (a somewhat watered-down argument might also be made for the UAE).
The bottom line is that any forthcoming decision by Taiwan and the U.S. to adopt the language of the UAE 123 agreement on reprocessing or enrichment in a new 123 agreement will more or less reiterate a very firm bilateral understanding reached long ago by Taiwan and the U.S. that Taiwan will not enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel. For over 40 years, the U.S. has been rigorously enforcing that understanding.
Taiwan’s current 123 agreement–as the U.S. government e-mail traffic referred to in Elaine’s article correctly suggests–does not categorically exclude reprocessing and enrichment by Taiwan. Since the 1970s, the U.S. has been party to a bilateral 123 agreement with Taiwan (which says the U.S. has prior consent rights over the “alteration” of nuclear material by Taiwan), to a trilateral safeguards agreement with Taiwan and the IAEA (Infcirc/158), and to a bilateral safeguards agreement. This 1980 U.S. government non-paper spells out that U.S. rights over Taiwan’s nuclear activities are indeed so extensive that the U.S. could instruct the German government that any nuclear items supplied to Taiwan by a German exporter would be subject to U.S. “control rights,” which included U.S. “fallback safeguards rights” if deemed necessary.  Beyond this, I’m told that there is a bilateral understanding–which may not be public–that enrichment and reprocessing by Taiwan are categorically off the table.
During the 1970s, the U.S. confirmed that Taiwan had been involved on several occasions in undeclared and unreported nuclear R and D activities. Whenever that happened–the last case I know about was in the mid-1990s, when Taiwan processed some uranium- and thorium-bearing sands–officials from U.S. DOE and State arrived quickly on the scene and were rubbernecking around installations on Taiwan, including locations which Taiwan never declared to the IAEA under Taiwan’s IAEA safeguards agreements. The impression I have from people who have been close to U.S. “safeguards visits” in Taiwan on such occasions is that the U.S. has access to Taiwan’s nuclear program close to what UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors had in Iraq beginning in 1991. From the perspective of routine international nuclear diplomacy, U.S.-Taiwan relations in this area are clearly not routine.
Taiwan’s civilian nuclear program was launched decades ago by the KMT leadership under circumstances which, to put it mildly, didn’t exactly encourage political participation by Taiwan’s indigenous population. Since 2000, when the DPP won a national election and took power for the first time, the KMT’s legacy has threatened Taiwan’s nuclear power program and, in the wake of Fukushima, might ultimately prove fatal to it. The DPP has adopted an antinuclear plank in its platform, and since the accident in Japan, DPP politicians have been fanning the flames. So it isn’t a surprise that right now, Taiwan government officials want to quickly and without fanfare close on the terms of a new 123 agreement with the U.S. Given Taiwan’s historical dependence upon technology, equipment, and nuclear fuel from the U.S., the absence of a new bilateral agreement in 2014 w0uld halt Taiwan’s nuclear program in its tracks.
This post discusses how the US killed the KMT's nuke weapon program in the 1970s.

Also, this appeared in my inbox last week....
Staunch Public Opposition Won’t Drive Taiwan from its Nuclear Path

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 24 July 2012 - Despite facing hostility from the public and figures within its own government, Taiwan will continue plans to increase its nuclear power capacity over the next few years, says a new report by energy experts GlobalData.

According to the report*, Taiwan is set to boost its nuclear capacity from 5,190 Megawatts (MW) in 2011 to 7,790 MW by the end of 2015, following the introduction of the controversial Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant located in the north of the country. Units 1 and 2 are set to be operational by 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The plant’s planned construction has been met with discord from a large section of the country’s population and has already been delayed for political reasons. There have also been several public protests, the most recent of which occurred two weeks ago at the Ho-Hai-Yan Gongliao Rock Festival – only three kilometres from the provocative site.

Despite such adverse sentiment across the country, a growing demand for electricity and a need to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets has prompted the Taiwanese government to push on with the Lungmen plant construction.

Power consumption in Taiwan is expected to increase at an Annual Average Growth Rate (AAGR) of 2.3% from 2012 to 2025, and as a massive 99% of the country’s energy requirements are met by imports, an increase in nuclear power can reduced national energy expenditure.

In 2005, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) expressed its plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 170m metric tons annually by 2025, and as about 62% of Taiwan’s carbon dioxide emissions are a result of energy production, switching to more environmentally friendly methods of power generation such as nuclear power could help the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The total installed capacity of Taiwan is 48,092 MW, generating around 245 billion kWh of electricity per year as of 2010.
Finally, Daren Township in Taitung was officially declared one of two candidate locations for a nuke waste dump. Because no place is so beautiful that it can't use some nuclear waste! Daren has less than 4,000 inhabitants..... below is pic of document.... the other site is in Kinmen. Daren is located south of Taitung city, where Hwys 9 and 26 split.
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Most Awesome Video Ever

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Flag Flap!

Occupy Regent Street! This photo has been making the rounds... Since the private organization that hung the flags of the various nations on Regent Street in London kowtowed to Beijing (why?) and yanked down the ROC flag, replacing it with the Chinese Taipei rag, there's been a huge response in Taiwan. Good. But even better, the international media has quietly responded, with EPSN, BBC, and other media orgs using the ROC flag rather than the Chinese Taipei rag to represent Taiwan in their Olympic reports, plus some play in the international media for Taiwan's plight (FocusTaiwan: government regrets... Lord Faulkner of Worcester rips the organization that bent over for Beijing). (Old post: China's foreign policy in sport)

Issues that highlight Taiwan's lack of international space galvanize locals. In a culture obsessed with rank and scores, nonexistence is the unkindest cut of all. Taiwanese crave recognition. Cursed as I am, I can't help observing, though, that this flag affair shows how thoroughly the KMT has gotten locals to incorporate its symbols into their hearts. Perhaps someday it will also show how locals have reconfigured the meanings of such symbols and made them their own: everyone says its Taiwan's flag.
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Daily Links, Mon, July 30, 2012

They mean, if the TOILET is more than 1/3 full of water, use the wet flush button. Otherwise use the dry flush. Unintentionally hilarious mistranslation.

Good stuff out there, don't flush it!


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Pray I Don't Alter it Any Further: WantWant Rejects NCC Conditions

"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Well...well... It seems WantWant Corporation, which was aiming to become the biggest player in Taiwan's frenetic media market, is rejecting the conditions of the deal. It doesn't want to sell CTI television nor will it alter the status of CTV. Will the NCC hang tough and make WantWant take its ball and go home? Or are the princess and the Wookie going to be put on Vader's ship? Stay tuned for the next installment of the WantWant empire strikes back!...
The National Communications Commission (NCC) two days ago approved, with three conditions for terminating the license and 25 further stipulations, the acquisition bid by Want Want China Broadband (旺中寬頻), which is affiliated with the Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團), to buy up the China Network Service (CNS/中嘉網路), the country’s second-largest multiple-system operator, which owns eleven cable TV service providers.

However, the prospects for the deal going forward made an abrupt U-turn after just one night. Chao Yu-pei (趙育培), special assistant to the chairman of Want Want China Broadband, yesterday said that the Want Want China Times Group could not accept the NCC’s conditions, saying that “The company will not sell CTI Television Inc. (中天電視台) or alter the operating status of China Television Co. (CTV, 中視).” He went on to stress that “The NCC does not have any legal authority to demand that we delink the Want Want China Times Group and CTI, or change CTV’s operating status. The deal still has some variables.”

Nonetheless, NCC chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) had already clearly expressed the NCC’s stance two days ago that if the Want Want China Times Group could not accept conditions they had set, the NCC would not approve the acquisition.

Su said that she believed that the three conditions for terminating the license were important measures to assuage concerns that the acquisition would limit speech and lead to a media monopoly.....
The NCC has staked out its position, which on the surface is correct -- it is preventing media monopoly. Is it going to hang tough? Will it fold in the face of corporate opposition to its announced public-oriented policy? Or is this prearranged political theatre that will result in WantWant getting what it wants, which is what the NCC intended all along? Only time will tell....

If you want a glimpse of the kind of world WantWant seeks to build, the Taipei Times has food for thought this week:
On Friday, the Chinese-language China Times, China Times Weekly and local news channel CTiTV — all members of Want Want Group — ran stories with pictures showing student protesters taking money after a rally outside the National Communications Commission (NCC) building.

Although the media outlets provided no evidence to back up their claims, the three outlets reported that Academia Sinica research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) may have been involved in paying the students.

Huang had organized a separate demonstration at the same time as the student rally in front of the NCC building because the commission was reviewing the merger at that time. However, reports from the China Times, China Times Weekly and CTiTV did not differentiate between the two demonstrations.

Although Huang organized a press conference denying that he had any connection with the student protest, the media group continued to accuse him of “not wanting to clarify the incident,” while saying he was “not willing to disclose the truth.”

Yesterday, several media outlets, including the Chinese-language Apple Daily, claimed to have discovered the identity of a woman who handed out money to students on Wednesday.

The woman, identified as Liang Li-hui (梁麗惠), is an accountant at Chinsen Communications Co.

While reporters were unable to contact her, Liang’s colleagues said that although they did not know who had hired the company to recruit students, they were certain it was not Huang.

Netizens are increasingly voicing suspicions that Want Want Group may be behind the incident and using it as a way to stigmatize opponents of the takeover.
Scary, eh?
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taiwan Property Transactions Hit Nine-Year Low

Bought a 10X magnifying filter (NT$550) for my 18-55mm kit lens. Mwahahahaha

It seems to be island-wide....(CNA)
Property transactions in Taiwan for the first half of this year fell to an almost nine-year low, reflecting the implementation of the luxury tax which aims to curb market speculation, according to the government statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior Saturday. According to the statistics, transactions of residential and commercial properties on the island in the past six months fell 20.9 percent to about 159,000 units. The luxury tax, which took effect in June 2011, imposes a 15 percent sales tax on second homes sold within one year of purchase and a 10 percent sales tax on properties sold between one and two years after they were purchased.
Taiwan's property market has been so inflated that a 20% drop in six months represents a nine-year low. Ouch. Is it really due to the tax, or to the slowdown in the world's economies affecting would-be buyers?
Daily Links:
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

News we don't hear: factory strike at Hualon, Miaoli

The silent struggle goes on all around us....
Three hundred textile workers in the Hualon Corporation’s factory in Miaoli County, Taiwan declared indefinite strike more than a month ago on 6 June. Since then they have occupied the factory for one month. They are fighting for money owed on their wages and pensions going back over a decade.

On 25 June, the 300 workers went to Taipei, the capital, to protest against the government for not intervening, but received no response. On 26 June, workers went to blockade the villa-home of the boss, who has claimed bankruptcy, but still lives in a luxurious house and has an expensive European sports car. Workers were brutally repressed by the police outside the villa, and some supporting students were also wounded. Workers are still occupying the factory to stop the machines from being moved out.

In the past 15 years, the bloody attacks from the owners of Hualon have never stopped. Since 1997 the company stopped making any increases in wages due to “bad management”. In 1999, the company stopped paying annual bonuses to the workers. Then in October 2001, the management started to cut wages. Workers then tried to organize, but were finally betrayed by scabs. A female worker and leader then committed suicide as a result of the pressure from the management. The suicide incident was a serious setback to the labor movement in local factories. “…after Chiu’s [worker leader] forced death, no one dared to stand out and fight back…” says a female textile worker.

It was not until the workers recently retook control of the union that they dared to fight. Three years later, in 2004, the company again cut wages by 30%. In 2008, the management attacked again, wanting the workers to increase production 130% in order to get the 100% wage. It turned out that 50% of workers could not reach the level of the minimum wage, which is their legal right....
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Keelung Musings

Spent this week hanging out in Keelung. Had two good days of sun, one of which I wasn't carrying a camera with me. Missed a lot of good photos that day, but did walk around in the evening and at night on wednesday. Here is a shot of one of the ships in the harbor....

Keelung is a very photogenic city. It also has another singular quality: it lives in a time warp, feeling more like Taiwan 30 years ago than any other city on the island, even Chiayi, which appears to have more foreign restaurants. Sorry Tainan lovers, but as Tainan has become a major tourist destination, the city has upscaled and changed, its tourist sites becoming more kitsch and its "traditional" foods converging on each other and on mass market styles and flavors. In Keelung, the tourist sites are undiscovered -- everyone just goes to the Miaokou Night Market, a snoozefest, to eat. But Keelung is packed with history...... its restaurants have not been taken over by the penchant for "innovation" which, as my friend Jeff Miller pointed out the other day, is slowly destroying Taiwan's traditional food flavors.

On the wooden platform facing the harbor you can take lovely pictures and watch H. sapiens at play. Near here I visited a couple of local clinics where the doctor, in his 60s, had taken over the practice from his father, who had been educated at NTU when it was an imperial Japanese university. It's Keelung.

Waiting for the man that never showed?

We had some lovely puffy blue skies this week. The harbor is always a site for great pics.

Incredibly, these junior high and high school kids were all waiting in a long line for... coffee at Starbucks.

Unfortunately some of the streets are already being done up in the faux "Old Street" style that is crushing the individuality out of Taiwan's old towns.

Lots of good food, especially seafood.

Come to Keelung, and play.
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DPP's Establishment of Dept of China Affairs Media Q&A

Keelung evening.

Media Q and A with DPP Chair Su Tseng-chang on the Department of China Affairs
July 25, 2012

Q: You mention that creating the Department of China Affairs is a first step, but creating the department with the name of "China" instead of "cross Strait", is that a sort of discount to its credibility?

A: The DPP highly values China by creating the Department of China Affairs, and this is showing, as well as a first step, towards goodwill intentions. Using "China" is a neutral term, China calls itself China, and the whole world knows it as China. The DPP already made a resolution to call it by this name.

Q: Has the name of "China Committee"(the future higher ranking one) been finalized?

A: The name is not the most important issue here. We can call it China Affairs Committee or by another name, and this is a decision that I will fully respect. This is something that we can all discuss. The main objective of a Committee is to be able to invite important members of our party as well as civic organizations and members of the academia to give their opinions, gathering different perspectives on the term for China.

The Committee will serve as a platform for everyone's perspectives and to strengthen communications in order to integrate the different views and form a large consensus for the party. Then we must go through the party mechanisms to make a lasting resolution.

The most important issues here is to be consistent for Taiwan's benefit, meeting the people's interests and expectations - all in line with the fundamental values of the DPP. We wish for this Committee to remain wide open instead of boxed in from the beginning. In addition to the current resolutions already in place for the DPP, and facing with the different circumstances in China, there is certainly room for discussion.

The role of the chair is to integrate the Committee into a platform and to formulate at the end, the best policy solution. In my view, the DPP has its own stand, viewpoints and values, but towards China's transformation, the DPP's attitude, method and strategic solutions do not have limitations. The DPP has chosen to express goodwill, showing an active and confident position towards engagement with China. In regards to how China will respond, the DPP will not make any forecasts, but we hope for a mutual relationship, not just unilateral. The DPP makes this type of goodwill hoping that both sides can achieve better developments.

Q: Will he DPP go to the other side(China) to establish a fortified point?

At this stage, the DPP does not have any plans to do that, and I am afraid that the current conditions are not so simple. After all, this is a matter for both sides to discuss. The DPP is a responsible political party, and the DPP must conduct its affairs step by step once it senses there is a mature atmosphere for these kinds of planning.

Q: If any DPP public official wishes to visit China, do they need the approval of the DPP Headquarters? For China, the DPP must abandon its independent stance in order to carry out exchanges. Do you wish, after showing goodwill, that China makes any concessions?

A: There are already regulations in place for DPP public officials making visits to China. In regards to the DPP persistence in its basic standpoints, China has in the past made such demands, but China has also changed its position. The DPP has its own stands and viewpoints, which are namely to build stability for national interests and for sovereignty. However, what is different now is that the DPP in the past did not carry out any exchanges with China, but now we have gradually made more interactions, and this is a good start.
(Chinese translation below, click READ MORE)
Daily Links:

WantWant Creates Pro-China Media Monster

Hitting the seafood restaurants near the red light district in Keelung

Huge news as pro-China tycoon Robert Tsai of the WantWant Group seems set to dominate Taiwan's media markets:

The KMT news organ:
The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approved, with a record large number of conditions, an acquisition bid by Want Want China Broadband (旺中寬頻), which is affiliated with the Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團), to buy up eleven cable TV service providers owned by the China Network Service (CNS/中嘉網路), the country’s second-largest multiple-system operator, after 18 months of delays. The Want Want China Group is expected to pay NT$ 76 billion to CNS to become the largest media group in Taiwan.


Yesterday, NCC chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) and three NCC members held a press conference to explain the NCC’s decision. Some scholars and cable services providers voiced their opposition out of concern that the acquisition would limit speech and lead to a media monopoly, so they cast doubts on whether or not the affixed conditions would be able to restrict the Want Want China Times Group from becoming a media hegemon. NCC chairperson Su repeated twice, “These conditions can prevent that.”
AP has a longer report:
The decision comes as other cable stations on the island weigh the advantages of silencing anti-China commentators to help them sell Chinese language programming to the lucrative China market. In one potentially far reaching move, an outlet normally known for its pro-independence, anti-China sentiment recently pulled the plug on a popular talk show with a reputation for unrestrained China bashing. Critics said the decision reflected the outlet’s bid to try to sell Chinese-language soap operas on the mainland for many times the revenue it earned on the talk show.

With six round-the-clock cable TV news stations and three brashly partisan national newspapers — one owned by the China Times Group — media independence is a big issue on this island of 23 million people, particularly as it seeks to maintain its de facto political independence in the face of an unstinting Chinese bid to bring it under its control 63 years after the sides split in a civil war. Critics say the battle is already being lost, though Wednesday’s NCC decision suggests that such a conclusion may be premature.
AP's report has some really good reporting at the end of the story, on page 2, on how local TV stations are going soft on China reporting to in order to sell their own products in China. But then AP goes soft itself -- FT had the courage to call Tsai "pro-China" in its headline, while AP says he is "China-friendly" but then terms an opposition TV show "anti-China." It's a small point, but telling... FT's report was good and had a quote from Ketty Chen, one of my favorite analysts of local politics.
“People are extremely uncomfortable to the point of being angry at him, knowing that he has a pro-China stance and that he has publicly advocated that Taiwan be part of China,” said Ketty Chen, a political scientist at National Taiwan University. “That’s the main reason why people don’t want him to become the Rupert Murdoch of Taiwan.”
The AP's bog-standard Establishment view really came through in its comments about the National Communications Commission (NCC). To wit:
By putting strict conditions on CTG’s China Network systems acquisition, the NCC appeared to acknowledge these criticisms, while trying to forestall the emergence of a single dominant media group in Taiwan.

But the NCC can only do so much to maintain the independence of Taiwan’s media.
AP here treats the NCC as if it were a real regulatory body which is really trying to protect media freedom and the market. But of course, that is nonsense. The NCC was created in 2006 by the KMT-controlled legislature with the express purpose of getting around the DPP's control of media oversight and keep media organs reined in within KMT-established boundaries. It is difficult for me to regard the NCC as anything but a KMT tool. From an old post on the topic from a moment when the NCC showed a tiny bit of independence that the Ma Administration then moved to curb:
The irony of the move against the NCC is that the NCC was created under the Chen Administration in 2006 by the KMT controlled legislature to bring mass media under the control of the government. The Executive Branch, then controlled by the DPP, argued that it should have the authority to appoint NCC commission members, but the legislature clearly intended that it would have the last word on who the commission members were. Since the legislature was controlled by the KMT and its allies, the intent of the law was obvious: it was a legislative end-run around the DPP controlled executive branch intended to restore KMT control over the media and chill pro-Taiwan speech by centralizing control of the media oversight in KMT hands.
The NCC commissioner make-up reflects party share of the legislature -- with the KMT dominant in the legislature, the NCC is dominated by the KMT. For a taste of the NCC and other media issue, see this article from last year on claims that the NCC was being pressured to approve the merger, this one on PTS, and this one on the NextMedia case and the NCC.

The Taipei Times gave a taste of that in its article on the merger:
Lin said the party condemned the commission’s opaque, closed-door review of the merger application and demanded full disclosure of all records and video recordings of the meeting.

While the deal was neither legitimate nor urgent, it was hastily approved with one week left before the terms of the four remaining NCC commissioners ended, he said.
Recall that two Decembers ago Next Media mogul Jimmy Lai applied for new cable TV licenses in Taiwan.  Lai is disliked by Beijing. In a piece in WSJ he criticized the Administration and the NCC, observing:
We are not the only media company affected; the government of President Ma Ying-jeou has undertaken several initiatives to restrain the previously vibrant Taiwanese press. As the majority owner of Next Media, I have a strong vested interest in this particular case. However, I believe that anyone who values the free flow of information—not to mention the future of a free Taiwan—should be concerned.

In delivering its decision, Taiwan's National Communications Commission cited concerns that we might not be able to satisfy various regulations, and that we might try to circumvent existing program-rating restrictions. Most ominously of all, the NCC said it could not be sure that Next Media would "fulfill its social responsibilies as a mass media operator." These are all shockingly subjective rationales. Instead of dealing with the facts and merits of our application, the NCC is punishing us on the basis of what we might do.


Here it helps to remember that though the NCC is an ostensibly "neutral" body, its members are nonetheless nominated in proportion to the number of seats of political parties held in the legislature. Today the KMT has an overwhelming majority in Taiwan's legislature and holds the presidency. So one has to wonder whether the quality of reporting in Taiwan is really the driving concern here. The NCC would not undertake actions that endanger press freedom and the reputation of Taiwan if President Ma and the ruling KMT did not back their actions.
Lai attemped to purchase the China Times group, which was eventually sold to....Robert Tsai and the WantWant Group.

As I always say, the closer we get to China, the farther Taiwan moves from democracy. Growing dominance of the media by a rabidly pro-China billionaire won't be good for any aspect of Taiwan's public life.
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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taiwan videos from the 40s-60s

Huge site of videos from the past, with many videos from Taiwan of the 40s, 50s and 60s.


Thanks to the commenter who left this. Wonderful stuff!
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.

BREAKING: Legislature Allows Ractobeef

AP reports:
Taiwan’s legislature has passed a bill to lift a ban on U.S. beef that contains small amounts of a growth additive.

The bill was passed Wednesday. It will allow Taiwanese to import U.S. beef containing minimal traces of ractopamine, a feed additive for creating lean meat.

Lifting the ban will remove a major irritant in Taiwan-U.S relations. Despite shifting its recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, the U.S. remains Taiwan’s most important foreign partner. It has been pushing for a removal of the ractopamine ban as a precondition for progress on trade talks.
The President has been successful in getting the legislature to accept the onus of permitting US ractobeef.

The Codex Commission undercut the position of the island's politicians when it determined that small amounts of ractopamine would be permissible, meaning that they could not cite the UN to say that no ractopamine was permitted in denying the US on the issue. Let's see what issue the KMT cooks up next to keep a burr under the saddle of US-Taiwan relations.

The US has won. Let us see how magnanimous it can be in victory. We can haz trade dealz now? But the US did not mention any trade deal in its response.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympic Flag goes AWOL

Images like this are flying around the net. Apparently Beijing has been able to make the ROC flag disappear from the line-up of Olympic flags in London.
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.

Revisiting the Past + Links

Too busy to write seriously tonight, but I thought I'd dredge up this....an acquaintance mentioned the Waldron-Freeman debate on Taiwan at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) from 2000, "If Taiwan Declares Independence and China Reacts With Force, On Whom Should the U.S. Lean Harder, China or Taiwan?"

Many things are striking about it. Readers will recall that Charles Freeman nearly became NIC Chair, so his views on China and Taiwan would have been highly influential. Freeman appears to be more hardline than Beijing, reproducing a number of its propaganda lines as analysis, to the point of coming out with nonsense statements like....
 Just as in the 17th century there were 11 attempts, the first 10 defeats, before the then Ch’ing forces succeeded in taking Taiwan and re-incorporating it into Fujian province.
...except that Taiwan had never before been incorporated into Fujian province. He comes out with a line he took in several other venues....
Reunification on terms like those proposed by Beijing would threaten no American or allied interest. It would not entail a presence of the People’s Liberation Army in Taiwan. There would be no change in north-east Asian strategic alliance or balance. It would not alter Taiwan’s ability, the ability of the voters in Taiwan, to elect their own leadership and govern themselves. It would not affect Taiwan’s economy or way of life. It would not deprive Americans of any of the human ties we enjoy with people on the island. It would, however, eliminate the only conceivable cause and venue of armed conflict between the United States and China. And it would maximize the influence of the values Taiwan exemplifies on the mainland.
Both the assertions in the last two sentences are wrong, and have been overtaken by events -- China and the US now enjoy flashpoints in the Senkakus via the treaty with Japan, and in the South China Sea. As the debate makes clear, Freeman repeatedly blames Taiwan for being a victim of Chinese expansionism, while Waldron correctly notes that the source of the problem is Chinese expansionism, not Taiwan's desire to be a free and independent state.

Heh. Since China's ramping up of South China Sea tensions and Senkaku tensions, the Sellout Crowd has fallen silent. What will Foreign Affairs stuff its pages with now if its contributors can't argue that selling out Taiwan will create peace?

One also has to love his claim that President Bush's decision to sell Taiwan F-16s in 1992 was the cause of the militarization of the Taiwan issue, as if there were no rising Chinese threat -- one official rationale was, after all, the Russian sale of Su-27s to China inked the previous year.
In the Reagan-Deng agreement to which I referred, during which the United States agreed to reduce arms sales to Taiwan, was the moment at which the with-drawl of forces from Fujian began. They were present in the region in force before that. In 1992, in August 1992, out of apparent concern for the voters of Texas’ opinion of his stewardship, President Bush authorized the largest single sale in U.S. history of weapons, which was 150 F-16s to Taiwan. In no way was that consistent with the bargain. In fact, it was that, it is that, military dynamic, the replacement of a dynamic which from August ’82 to August ’92 that steadily reduced tensions, military installations and produced dialogue across the Strait.
...FAS has an extremely useful CRS report that contains the agreement on arms sales. The agreement clearly hinges on the PRC's pursuit of a policy of peaceful annexation......it was obvious to smart observers what the expansion of China's military would mean.... it also goes without saying that Beijing constantly blames US military sales for militarizing the Strait, a position reproduced by Freeman above. Sad.

Waldron is fond of pointing out that selling out Taiwan, invariably presented as a great new idea that can solve many problems, is in reality a tired old Cold War solution repeatedly recycled, a turd that won't flush constantly re-presented as bold new fertilizer for a new US-China relationship.
Daily Links:
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Veep Wu Den-yih Prez Hopes Toast? Discuss....

Here's a question for you addicts of Taiwan politics out there: With Wu threatening to sue media outlets, is Vice President Wu Den-yih's potential run for President in 2016 already over? Can he survive the Lin-Yi-shih scandal?

Another question: with Wu out, who is the 2016 favorite? Chu Li-lun (Eric Chu), the New Taipei City Mayor? Or will longtime KMT heavyweight and Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jyn-ping's time have come at last?

Discuss amongst yourselves.
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.

Daily Links, Mon, July 23, 2012

My friend Klaus B passed me this picture of weirdly pro-PRC geezers from an ROC protection league protesting against the Falungong in Taiwan.

Lots of stuff happening while I was out riding this weekend.....


The Rift Valley is endlessly beautiful. Spend some time there this summer.

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.

Big Skies in the Big Rift

This weekend did a lovely ride on Saturday and Sunday with my partner in climb Jeff Miller (blog). Rode from Taitung city on 197 to Luye, then to Guanshan for lunch, then took the 20 to the 20甲, then followed Wanchao Rd straight to Yuli, then took the 193 to Rueisuei. Highly recommend this route -- from the turn onto the 20甲 to Rueisuei is about 50kms of downhill incline. Absolutely gorgeous day of puffy blue clouds in the Rift Valley. Bonus: as I was leaving Taitung, I saw myself on TV in the breakfast shop. A map of the route on Saturday.

It was rainy on the opening section of 197, so I didn't get many pictures.

Foggy too. In the distance the mouth of the gorge can be seen.

Farms along a river.

Clouds and fog above Luye town.

A shrine by the side of the road.

Jeff crosses the bridge into Luye.

The 9 before Guanshan. The 9 is a detestable, truck-ridden wasteland. Avoid like plague.

Still, even on the crappy 9, there are good views across the Rift. The rice was just going in so farmers were out working....

We went into Guanshan for lunch. As we arrived, the skies cleared on the west side of the Rift Valley. A gorgeous clear day began.

The cloud formations were fantastic.

From Guanshan we turned onto the 20, the southern cross-island highway.

The 20 -- the line of trees on the left -- climbs gently up to 340 meters, with excellent views down the rift to the south before it disappears into the river gorge.

Approaching the big bridge that marks the turn onto the 20甲.

Jeff crosses the bridge at the beginning of the 20甲.

From the bridge there are gorgeous views north up the river gorge that the 20 follows...

...and southeast across the rift valley.

After crossing the bridge, we went a short distance and turned north onto Wanchao Rd, which quickly became Nanxing Rd. The opening is a long downhill.....

This road goes more or less straight to Yuli, gently downhill the whole way. There are a couple of short inclines but no serious uphills. On this day it was wonderful, for the air was clean and cool -- on a hot August day it might be painful, because for most of it there is no cover.

Jeff enjoys himself.

The weather on the west side of the Rift Valley was gorgeous.....

...but on the east side of the valley it was pouring.

We stopped in one of the many farming villages that line this road for drinks. Here some local Vietnamese wives pose for a photo after exchanging pleasantries with us. One of them narrated the tale of how her sister married an American. "I could have done that, but I was already engaged to a Taiwanese." "Why didn't you just break the engagement?" one of her counterparts asked her, incredulous. "You could have gone to America!" "Those words 'break the engagement' never occurred to me," she replied mournfully.

Big skies in the big rift.

Rain in the Rift. Ominously, we were headed over to that side.

The lovely ride finished at Yuli. We headed through town, got on the 30, and crossed the big bridge to the other side of the Rift. We stopped, as always, at the 7-11 before the entrance to the 193. Here dogs wait for scraps.

From Yuli to Rueisuei is another gentle downward incline. Lovely ride....

....and the rain switched sides and left us alone.

Beautiful views along both sides of the valley.

Rain over our destination.

Pulling into Rueisuei across the bridge from the south; the river here is the one they use for rafting. We found a great old-style hotel. On the phone the proprieter told us single rooms were $600, but when he met us and found that we were cyclists, they became $500.

Sunday morning it was pouring when we got up, so we hit the train station.....

....and found that the skies cleared. We got off in Guangfu and rode the remaining 45 kms on the 9 into Hualien town, hopped the train, and were back home for dinner. A great ride, a great weekend. Wish you had been with me!
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.