Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vader Sends Clone Army to Occupy Taipei

Pic shamelessly stolen from link below, some other great pics there.

It's like something out of science fiction, reverberating around Facebook with knowing sneers from weapons fans: our new clone army, ready for the next set of Star Wars movies.

What a coincidence. Wu Po-hsiung, the former KMT heavyweight and KMT chairman, as well as one of the first KMT politicians to visit China over a decade ago in his position as head of a large Hakka federation, was out front and center this week saying that political talks are probably inevitable...
Political issues may be unavoidable for Taiwan and China as the two sides conduct economic exchanges, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday, stressing that Taiwan should address political issues according to the public’s needs.
Wu was speaking to a Chinese audience, while at home the President was once again saying that the Time is Not Right For Political Talks with China. The Taipei Times argues that the President is actually moving toward political talks. My attitude is that whatever they say they are not doing, or accuse the other team of doing, is what they are indeed doing.

Meanwhile, stirring as those masks may look, they'd last about ten seconds in the face of shrapnel, high caliber bullets, explosives, and other nasties of a modern battlefield. But they sure look like they'd be useful against demonstrators armed with rocks, don't they? Perfect for those post-political talks riots...
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Sunday, October 27, 2013


Betel nut stand. Courtesy of Cary Broder.

Swamped. It will be two more days, so until then, puzzle over this strange betel nut stand my man Cary Broder photographed somewhere in the wilds of Taiwan.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SOAS Taiwan Studies News

SOAS Taiwan Studies News

New Deputy Director, Film Screening Programme, New Cooperation Agreement with Council for Indigenous Affairs, New Taiwan Studies Library Resource Centre, and Term 1 Seminar Series

Dear All,

We have some exciting new developments at the SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies.

Firstly, from this week Dr Chang Bi-yu will be joining us as a Senior Teaching Fellow in Taiwan Studies and the new Deputy Director of the Centre of Taiwan Studies. Please see the news item for details: http://www.soas.ac.uk/news/newsitem88002.html

Secondly, we will start a new film screening programme under the title Understanding Taiwan Through Film and Documentaries. This is sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture under the Spotlight Taiwan project. The first screenings will be on November 14 and 15 with Q&As with the documentary maker Lin Leh-chyun.

For details on the project see: http://www.soas.ac.uk/taiwanstudies/taiwan-film-screening/

Screening of Madame Chiang Kai-shek:


Screening of Lee Teng-hui:


The Centre of Taiwan Studies has also signed a new cooperation agreement with Taiwan’s Council for Indigenous Affairs. For more details see: http://www.soas.ac.uk/news/newsitem87993.html

On November 4 the Taiwan Resource Centre for Chinese Studies will open at the SOAS Library. This is a project supported by Taiwan’s National Central Library. The initial book, audio-visual and database donations are designed to support the SOAS Taiwan Studies teaching Programme

Lastly, we have a full list of confirmed Centre of Taiwan Studies Seminars for this term:


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Econ Round Up

The Ministry of Economic Affairs put out the numbers on FDI. From Digitimes:
Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) approved 2,308 foreign direct investment projects (except from China) totaling US$3.596 billion in January-September 2013, respectively increasing 20.40% and decreasing 8.59% on year.
In January-September, MOEA approved 103 investment projects proposed by China-based firms with total value of US$331.28 million. There were 310 approved projects of direct investment in China proposed by Taiwan-based companies or individuals with a total amount of US$6.354 billion, decreasing 8.28% and 21.02% respectively on year.
Looking at the numbers above, note how much "foreign" direct investment is coming from Caribbean islands. I bet a lot of that is recycling Taiwanese or Chinese money, not foreign at all, taking advantage of tax breaks and other incentives. Ditto for Samoa which comes in at number 5.

Also note that the number one foreign destination is Vietnam. Even as Ma pushes China Taiwanese are slowly shifting elsewhere. Investment in China from Taiwan declined according to the piece. Moreover, note how investment in China still dwarfs investment from China: $6.3 billion versus $0.33 billion. Remember how China was going to save Taiwan's economy and we had to have ECFA right now!!! It would be a colossal joke, if so many jobs had not been lost... ECFA was also supposed to boost FDI, but the last few years Taiwan's FDI performance has been grim...

The legislature is set to pass the NZ-Taiwan trade pact. Perhaps it will stimulate the permanently faltering economy...
Neither Taiwan's top economic planner, stung by a projection made in February that went badly wrong, or the chief of the country's statistics bureau were able to say on Monday if Taiwan's economy will grow by at least 2 percent this year.


She said more time was needed to assess whether the economy will be able to grow 2 percent this year given the weakness in the country's exports in the third quarter, which totaled US$76.20 billion, short of the DGBAS's projection of US$78.04 billion.

The Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) on Oct.15 cut its forecast for Taiwan's economic growth this year to 2.01 percent, from the 2.28 percent it estimated in July, citing lower-than-expected economic momentum in the second half of the year.

At his hearing, Kuan was given a hard time for his confident projection in February that Taiwan would see a "golden cross," with growth exceeding 4 percent and the jobless rate falling below 4 percent.
The Golden Cross comment was roasted in the Taipei Times this week as well:
During the January-to-last month period, the unemployment rate only went down 0.05 percentage points to 4.18 percent. That makes Taiwan’s job market the weakest among its Asian counterparts including Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Hong Kong’s jobless rate held pat in June and has stayed at 3.3 percent for four months, according to statistics provided by DGBAS. Japan and South Korea’s unemployment rates stood at 4.1 percent and 3.1 percent respectively in August, latest figures showed.
Kuan said that the remarks were a goal and indeed, that is what he actually said. The opening forecast of the year pegged growth at 3.5%, a figure which has fallen steadily over time.
Daily Links:
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On the Road with FTV: Wuling and Hehuanshan cycling

The other reason I haven't been blogging, aside from the massive workload, is another shoot with FTV, this time atop Wuling and Hehuanshan at the top of Taiwan. The image above was taken Tuesday morning, the weather was glorious, cool and clear. That's the ski lodge there atop Hehuanshan. Enjoy a few pictures by clicking on READ MORE below...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Northern Taiwan Tour: Two Days of Fun-n-Sun!

Corey Sanderson fortifies himself for the Suao Mackerel Festival

Saturday and Sunday, courtesy of the fine folks at the China Productivity Center, I took a great trip across northern Taiwan to Pingxi, Suao, and Neiwan where a diverse and interesting group visited a variety of tourist sites, including local museums and old streets, and participated in some of the local activities, including the lantern in Pingxi, which I had never done before. Come below the READ MORE divide for some great Taiwan fun with people who really made it worthwhile.

Journal of American-East Asian Relations Website

Cold springs, Suao.

I've been out for the last week running madly about Taiwan on various trips. Apologies for the blogging lack... Next few days posts will pile up. First this announcement via H-Asia... some of my readers in schools abroad should think about this:

October 21, 2013

Journal of American-East Asian Relations new website
From: James Matray

The Journal of American-East Asian Relations has a new website located at http://www.brill.com/journal-american-east-asian-relations. The previous electronic listing with Interworld-Pacific is now defunct. I am eager to receive submissions, especially from advance graduate students and tenure-track professors, and promise a prompt decision. Please visit our new website with Brill where you will find a link to a PDF providing instructions for contributors.

James I. Matray
Journal of American-East Asian Relations
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Gorgeous Taitung

Seven minutes of pure heaven.
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Silly Comments from Academic make headlines

The Taipei Times gave this fellow front page headlines:
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) statement that cross-strait relations are “not international relations” during his Double Ten National Day speech has further weakened Taiwan’s sovereignty and was meant as a hint for the US and Japan not to interfere in cross-strait issues, a local academic said.

“If by including such words in the National Day address Ma intends to make the cross-strait issue an internal matter and not open to international interference, it would cause serious repercussions in the days to come,” said Wong Ming-hsien (翁明賢), director of Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.

Pointing to the fact that Taiwan is not a part of the UN, and the Ma administration’s inclination to make the cross-strait issue an internal issue rather than international, Wong said that in the event of a military conflict over the Taiwan Strait, neither Japan nor the US would have grounds to intervene.
Actually, no. The glory and the hell of the Taiwan Relations Act is that Taiwan has no role in the decision to defend Taiwan. China already defines Taiwan as an "internal matter". Any decision to not defend Taiwan will be entirely the result of a political calculus that occurs in Washington (and Tokyo). If Washington so desires, it will intervene no matter what Ma or anyone else says. It's bad enough that these irresponsible words are said in a public forum, but let's not add to the silliness by giving them front page status.

The scholar also said that the stall in arms shows the US is holding back and observing, implying it is because of Ma. Alas, the stall predates Ma...
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Joint Letter on the Wiretapping, Ma-Wang Mess

The Taipei Times printed the text:

As international SCHOLARS and writers who applauded the transition to democracy, that began in the late 1980s, we are deeply concerned about the backsliding of freedom, democracy and human rights under the current administration in Taiwan.

While an erosion of democracy and justice has been ongoing since this administration assumed office in 2008, recent events constitute a fundamental breach of the basic principles of separation of powers and checks and balances in a democracy.

We refer in particular to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) use of the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, set up in 2007 to deal with major corruption cases involving government officials, against his political opponents, to his interference in the judicial system for political purposes and to his attempt to remove Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平)...

Finish it at the TT
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Taiwan = ROC? Yes, but not the way you might think

Rare clear night here in Taichung. So happy with this picture.

TISR published a very interesting poll this week picked up by the Taipei Times:
The survey, conducted by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research (TISR), showed that 69.7 percent believe that Taiwan and China are “two countries with separate development,” 9.6 percent think that both sides belong to “a divided ROC” and 2.4 percent see the two as belonging to “a divided People’s Republic of China [PRC].” A further 18.2 percent had no opinion, the survey showed.

Given a choice of how they would like the international media to refer to the country, “Taiwan” ranked first at 78.9 percent, followed by the ROC at 72.5 percent, “Chinese Taipei” at 25.8 percent and “Taiwan, China” at 6.5 percent; 3.7 percent had no answer.
This is the first poll I've come across that really hints at the way Taiwanese have taken "ROC" to stand for Taiwan. This is the opposite of the goal that the KMT had, which was to subsume Taiwan into the ROC. Instead, the Taiwanese have hollowed out the ROC -- they are happy to use that name but are cold to its outlandish territorial claims. They have also appropriated the ROC flag as their own, as a flag representing Taiwan (but not China). The public even appears to feel that there is no need to change the name of the country if China recognizes the ROC (a weird question, that).

TISR is the former Global Views, which allegedly shut down its political polling after pressure from the KMT during the 2012 Presidential campaign since it was finding Tsai ahead of Ma (story). The poll is online here.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

MaWangMess: Fallout landing downwind edition =UPDATED=

A 1939 stamp of the Republic of China, showing that Taiwan and the Senkakus have always been part of China whose return China was demanding. O wait....

The KMT's refusal to appeal the decision in the Wang case to the Supreme Court means that Ma and Wang must co-exist. It is hard to read that as anything but a defeat, but smart observers assure me that it ain't over yet.

Meanwhile the fallout from Ma's entirely self-generated implosion is landing on -- who else? -- Prosecutor-General Huang, who brought the Wang case to Ma's attention, and other prosecutors within the SID. Today the papers were full of the SID's droll claim that it had tapped a legislative phone number by mistake. The Taipei Times wrote:
Huang and Yang, SID’s chief prosecutor, will be referred to the committee for supervisory negligence, while Cheng, the prosecutor overseeing the wiretap assignment, will be held accountable for administrative errors, according to the panel’s report.

The SID has said that it mistakenly assumed that the telephone number 0972-630-235 belonged to a legislative assistant and that nothing was recorded on the 21 compact discs it obtained from the Investigation Bureau from the wiretap.

The ministry’s ad hoc panel, established on Sept. 29, supported the SID’s stance, but said that the error could have been avoided.

Telephone records for that number in the six months before the SID began its wiretap showed that the number averaged about 364 calls a day during that time, which prosecutors should have realized meant that it might not be the number of an individual, Chen said.
Actually, despite much skepticism around the intertubes about the SID's explanation, anyone with experience working in Taiwanese institutions can easily see how this could have occurred initially by mistake; administrative errors in Taiwan's institutions are common because in Taiwan it is the lower-level (so often female) people who actually do all the productive work, the credit for their work flowing upwards towards concentrations of patriarchal power. They are typically massively overworked. Moreover, for procedures that are implemented less frequently, often no one is really sure what the correct procedure actually is. Hence everything is kicked upstairs until at last it reaches someone who is compelled to make a decision. Far from the front, he signs off, praying that nothing was wrong with the list of things he just handed on.

Meanwhile back at the farm the front line employees eventually discover that an error was made. This of course means that they say nothing about the error, since their superiors will almost certainly punish them. Hence the processes themselves have a kind of golem-like autonomy independent of the people who set them in motion, and like a golem, will stumble around, arms flailing, until someone gets hurt. That such processes are rational in other countries does not mean they will be rational in Taiwan.

UPDATE: Haha. Sunday's Taipei Times offers this tidbit as KMT legislators go after Prosecutor-General Huang:
According to the report, there had been 13 cases of three other telephone numbers, also used by the legislature as its switchboard lines, being tapped during 2007 and 2009, when prosecutors investigated into various suspected cases related to vote-buying and corruption.
13 other cases?? Hahaha.

In addition to being the subject of several investigations for possibly violating laws and rules in reporting the Wang tape results to President Ma, P-G Huang is also the subject of a record number of lawsuits, reports the Taipei Times:
As of Thursday, the prosecutors’ office has received 86 motions against Huang, which have been assigned to 14 prosecutors. Reportedly, a common friendly greeting among prosecutors in the past weeks is: “Are you now handling a case on the prosecutor-general?”
Affairs like this are carnivorous, apt to turn on their progenitors. After all, someone must be punished. It seems to me that since Wang is wearing mithril armor under his cloak, Prosecutor-General Huang is likely to be the sacrifice demanded. UPDATE: Yep.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Links

Riding tomorrow at last. Three weeks of minimal biking has made me fat and surly. That may well be indistinguishable from the normal me, come to think of it.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Double Ten Day: Ma's speech =UPDATED=

UPDATED: Jon Sullivan has a great analysis of this speech

Quote from the snoozefest of speakery today:
"My fellow citizens: The people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all Chinese by ethnicity. Cross-strait relations are not international relations."
This is the same language that Ma used in his 2008 inaugural address where he not only brought out the ethnic links but also said sovereignty was not important in cross-strait issues. As I noted:
...the English text says "our common Chinese heritage" but the Chinese is explicit -- the people on the two sides of the Strait both belong to the Chinese race" (兩岸人民同屬中華民族).The second translation issue is even more interesting. Entirely dropped from the English text is the very next sentence, which says 中華民族智慧之高 which translates "the great intelligence/wisdom" of the Chinese race." 
It seems impossible to me that there could be anyone following events here who sees Ma as other than the ideologue he truly is, but humanity's capacity for self-delusion does seem rather infinite.

Far more interesting than Ma's ideological fantasies is his review of the New Economic Order:
In addition, the free economic pilot zones (FEPZs) have already entered the launch phase. The Executive Yuan has relaxed 12 regulations to dramatically streamline customs procedures applying to pilot zone firms when they outsource processing operations, so that new operating models based on smart logistics can be gradually established in these zones. The Shanghai Free Trade Zone officially opened recently, giving us yet another competitor. Therefore, we must step up efforts to open up our market. The Executive Yuan is actively deliberating on whether to allow other industrial activities in the FEPZs, such as the financial sector’s wealth and asset management services. This is the right direction. We should expand the scope of liberalization for both domestic and international financial and economic activities. This will help Taiwan to advance more quickly toward the goal of becoming a “free economic island.” We hope these liberalization measures, along with other industrial development plans, will generate at least NT$300 billion worth of private-sector investment and create more than 45,000 jobs in the next two years.
The bolded sentence is worth considering. Ma is essentially arguing that the financial industry come under the same rules and regs regarding taxation and labor as manufacturing firms in these 1960s style labor intensive industrial zones. As I have noted innumerable times, Ma was put into office with the backing of the financial industry (anyone noticed the housing bubble? Verily, the purpose of housing bubbles is to skim off middle class wealth) and I'm feeling a payback moment here in the President's assertion that such firms should have special exemptions from regulations....
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Places to Go, Things to Do: Night Owl and Becoming.com.tw

Will Grazecki, who operates the wonderful Early Bird Diner in Taichung (62 Chung Ming South Road 忠明南路62號,04 2320 2608 -- Facebook), has opened the Night Owl next door. Both are great places to hang. Go thou and enjoy!

I just found about Becoming (http://becoming.com.tw), a creative exchange project run by some of the most beautiful and talented people you will ever meet. I am taking their Flash Fiction writing workshop on Tuesdays, run by my friend Marc Anthony. Just went to first meeting. Hope you can find something useful....
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Little Burma in Taipei

Double Ten. Holiday, but I spent it working in the morning and evening. But in the afternoon my student Liting, who is from Burma, took me down to the Nanshijiao metro to visit Little Burma on Huaxin Street... sadly, it was spur of the moment, so I didn't have a decent camera with me. So forgive me for the cellphone shots.

Take Exit 4 from the Nanshijiao Metro.

Our first stop was a little eatery where we had this Burmese tea leaf salad, which Liting told me was a staple. Delicious. Peanuts, tea leaves, garlic, tomatoes, lettuce...

The area is also filled with shops selling a huge variety of spices and as this one does, Indian food.

This popular eatery serves up a buffet that Liting says is the street's best.

Go on a busy day, so you can get the full effect of everyone sitting around in the outdoor cafes, sipping tea, eating desserts, and chatting up a storm.

This guy made real SE Asian style tea, thick with evaporated milk and sugar.

Liting took me to this excellent dessert place, where we drank the tea above and snacked on coconut, sticky rice, and tapioca desserts.

Mangosteen drink. w00t!

Really an excellent way to escape from Taiwan for a few hours, yet never leave the island.
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Monday, October 07, 2013

AP: Pressure Mounts on Ma.... Really?

In a temple procession, a ji tong possessed by the spirit of the god talks to a young man.

AP reports on President Xi of China's remarks that the political issues between China and Taiwan must be resolved and talks could not be indefinitely put off:
Xi’s comments Sunday on the sidelines of the APEC summit meeting in Bali, Indonesia. represented his strongest statement so far on the Taiwan unification issue, which remains a fundamental cause of instability in the western Pacific. China insists that the democratic island be brought under its control, and has threatened force to achieve that goal. The two sides split after a civil war in 1949.
 AP read this as increased pressure on Ma. I don't. Unless it is accompanied by concrete measures, it's just the usual noise that Chinese officials are always making. It sucks that AP reported this as "pressure mounts". So much of the swirling perceptions of China's desire to annex Taiwan are shaped by the media's (selective) hyping and studious neglect. As Jonathon Sullivan of the U of Nottingham pointed out a couple of years ago in a paper on Chen Shui-bian's speeches, Chen basically said all things to all audiences like any seasoned politician, but the international media focused only on a narrow slice of his words. Can we wait and see whether Xi's rhetoric is accompanied by concrete gestures or a sustained campaign of rhetoric before we decide whether the pressure is really mounting?

Meanwhile in both international and local news reports Ma is seen to have been weakened by his astounding attack on the Speaker of his own Party. The KMT did not file an appeal to continue its case against Speaker Wang, as if they knew they would lose again. But many people I know are saying privately: the MaWangMess ain't over yet.
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Saturday, October 05, 2013

KMT no appeal in Wang case

KMT announces it will not appeal in Wang case (UDN). A friend with much legal experience here observes:
....the High Court did not dismiss the KMT's appeal. It heard the appeal and issued a decision upholding the District Court's injunction. Had it dismissed, there would have been no hearing or written judgment. Looks like the KMT has wisely decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court. That means hearings in Wang lawsuit will begin in a month or so. The case will take at least a couple years to wind through the courts, so it look like Wang will survive to complete his term.
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Rainy Saturday Links

A wasp captures a spider by stinging it.

How many times since the summer began have I put up rainy day links? I can't remember a year wetter than this one. On to the links before they get soaked....
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MaWangMess: Weeklong Blowback Edition

Hengchun gate.

What a week for President Ma "Blowback" Ying-jeou. It opened on Monday with the KMT losing its second court case. The High Court affirmed the district court's decision to reinstate Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in the Party and in his position. The KMT then declared it would appeal to the Supremes. No matter how well Wang sings "Where did our love go?"  I have some trouble believing that Wang will win there.

I was saying last night how for years I was reading how totally out of touch Ma was said to be but never really believed it. But now... I believe. The revelations of dubiously legal wiretapping, the complete lack of political sense in attacking Wang the declarations of guilt without trial or evidence... surely someone could have foreseen this? Could everyone be so out of touch? I had always thought that even though Ma had been groomed for this position as head of KMT, President, and bearer of its return-to-ZionChina torch, that he had a modicum of flexibility and good political sense, or at least his handlers did --that POV was seriously shaken by his narcissistic behavior during the Morakot disaster three years ago. But looking at his take-no-prisoners, with-me-or-against-me position, I'm seriously wondering if his rise is due in part to his simply being more rigid, more inflexible Chinese bargainer* than everyone else.

And the week ended with the President called to testify. Yes, the Taipei District prosecutors office opened a case against Prosecutor-General Huang for leaking details of the investigation of Wang's alleged influence-peddling. They are processing all the testimony now:
The district prosecutors’ office summoned the four after several lawyers and citizens filed lawsuits against Huang, accusing him of leaking secrets in the Special Investigation Division’s (SID) probe when he briefed Ma on information gathered through wiretapping involving Wang and Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

The prosecutors summoned Ma to clarify the details of meetings he had with Huang on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, five days before Huang called a press conference to accuse Wang of misconduct.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said Ma was given plenty of time to answer prosecutors’ questions. After the questioning, which was conducted from 8pm to 9:30pm, Ma spent more than 10 minutes reading his testimony before signing it, the office said.
The KMT news organ was reporting that all the testimonies of Ma et al were consistent.

The indignity of the President having to testify on the matter was surely compounded by the fact that there is at the moment no similar humiliation being inflicted on Wang. There is little wiggle room here -- if Wang calling the Justice Minister to get the prosecutors to forego an appeal in a friend's case is influence peddling, then so is the President's listening to improperly leaked information and then acting on it, apparently while acting in concert with the prosecutor's office.

More urgently, Wang's influence peddling -- for which there is no good evidence -- is trivial compared to the democracy-threatening use of prosecutors to eliminate the President's political enemies within his own party. For it is hard to imagine why the prosecutor would come to the President and offer him information like this unless he expected him to use it. Logically, that implies that such an expectation could be formed only if Prosecutor Huang either (1) had never done so before but understood Ma well enough to risk presenting this information or (2) he and the President had danced together before. Readers will have to decide.....

The wiretapping issue isn't dying either. The Control Yuan is opening a long probe of it.

It should also be noted that this affair and its ever-ramifying effect on Ma's presidency was exactly the wrong move if Ma wanted to speed the passage of the destructive services agreement through the legislature. Now everyone is angry, his public support has taken a beating, and any public review of the legislation will be carried through in a thoroughly poisoned atmosphere in which many will be eager to punish the President. Great work, that.

As always in sprawling affairs of this nature, there were light moments this week. UDN, the fanatically pro-KMT paper, scribbled an editorial which hilariously wondered why everyone was focusing on the wiretapping and Ma's behavior when the real issue was Wang's alleged influence peddling. Ma Ying-jeou's sister sent around a nasty text message attacking KMT legislators for not publicly supporting President Ma and excoriating Wang Jin-pyng:
Ma Yi-nan said she wanted the seven to talk to other KMT lawmakers and ask them to come out in support of Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, in his relentless fight for “matters of principle” in this case.

“I haven’t seen any KMT lawmaker express support [for Ma Ying-jeou] in front of the media, but I honestly believe that we can judge right from wrong in our hearts. The president cannot back out now,” Ma Yi-nan said.
On the serious side, this shows how little support there is for this move outside the Presidential office.  Legislators have to distance themselves from Ma with local elections coming up next year; their supporters at home may feel the impact of the President's ineptitude. I predict that few local political signs will have the President's image on them come next year.

So much more to write..... lots of people are comparing the government shutdown by the Republican Party lawmakers in the house to Ma's obdurate and insensitive behavior, but there is no comparison. Ma hasn't killed anyone and the government here is open for business and people are getting necessary services.

*Win-win bargaining, Chinese definition: "This way I win, and that way I win, and either way, you're an idiot."
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Bank Blues

Out filming with the FTV crew again this weekend.

Bloomberg has an interesting article on the difficulty US financial firms are having with using Taiwan banks to enter the China market and the low value of Taiwan banks...
"Taiwanese banks were attractive to the PE firms because they were seen as having a better chance of expanding into the mainland than international rivals,” Chuang Piyen, a Taipei-based banking analyst at Mega Securities Co., said by telephone on Sept. 30. “Unhealthy banks were targeted because they could be turned around and sold at a good price.”

Carlyle and a partner bought a stake in the Taiwanese lender, which had posted a NT$5 billion loss for 2006 on bad-loan provisions, for $650 million at the end of the next year. The buyout firm holds about 24 percent of Ta Chong, according to the Taipei-based lender’s 2012 annual report.

Since then, Ta Chong has slipped to No. 23 among 39 domestic banks ranked by assets, from No. 21 in 2007.

“We believe the likely M+A within domestic Taiwan in the near future will be at small banks owned by private equity, which are seeking exit strategies,” Jemmy S. Huang, an analyst for JPMorgan Chase + Co. in Taipei, wrote in a note to clients in May. “Pricing will be key.”
The article is quite informative and should be read in its entirety. I hope to have increased coverage of this sector soon...
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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Taiwan the Complicated -- Wrong

Vendors near Mingchuan Station.

This week on Facebook, for some reason people were passing around this completely wrong presentation of Taiwan' status over at Ilha Formosa called Taiwan the Complicated. It's actually a totally pro-KMT view and is a good way to see how people on the pro-China team create a propaganda construct and call it history. Note the opening:
So first thing first, is Taiwan part of China?

That would actually depend on which “China” you are referring to.

Taiwan was occupied by the Dutch (1624-1662) and Spanish (1626-1642) in the 17th century. The Dutch drove the Spanish out of the island in 1642, yet was defeated in 1662 by Koxinga, a remaining general of Ming Dynasty after it was overthrown by the Qing Dynasty. In 1683, the Qing Dynasty defeated the army in rebellion in Taiwan and formally annexed Taiwan in 1684 into the Qing Empire as part of the Fujian province 福建省. Taiwan was upgraded to the status of province in 1885.
There's a minor error; Taiwan became a province of the Qing in 1886, not 1885. The major problem is the answer --actually, it doesn't depend on which China you are referring to; it doesn't belong to either the ROC or the PRC (red text is mine, not Ilha's).

Now look at his next couple of paragraphs:
In 1895, the Qing Empire lost the First Sino-Japanese War and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ceded Taiwan, the Pescadores, and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to the Japanese Empire.
In 1912, the Nationalists overthrew the Qing Dynasty and established theRepublic of China 中華民國 (ROC) with its capital in Nanjing (but moved to Beijing within one year of establishment, and back to Nanjing in 1928). Taiwan and the Pescadores were still colonies of the Japanese Empire at that time.(emphasis Ilha's).
Take a careful look.... what's missing... think... think... yes, that's right. In 1895, after the Manchus ceded Taiwan but before Japan had invaded, the government of Taiwan declared independence. This was a sham declaration but that is not important here. It is almost always left out of pro-China versions of Taiwan history, because one of the claims/arguments of the pro-China crowd is that Taiwan, since it was liberated from Japan, should revert to its former status. Of course, the last status it had was that of an independent state, which was crushed by the Japanese army (Chen and Reisman argue in Who Owns Taiwan: the Search for an International Title that the independence declaration probably impairs any Chinese claim of chain of ownership). Also, of course, even the mere idea of independence is a bad example, the pro-China side thinks. Best not to mention it.

But moving on, we come to bog-standard claims of the pro-China crowd, tell-tale fingerprints of Chinese propaganda, deliberate distortions of the facts of history. Here are the next four paragraphs as they currently stand:
In the Cairo Conference in 1943 held during WWII, one of the three main clauses of the Cairo Declaration was that “all the territories Japan has stolen from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”
On October 25th, 1945, when the commander-in-chief of Japanese forces on the island signed an instrument of surrender to the Allies in Taipei, the clause was accepted by the Japanese, and Taiwan and its nearby islands were returned under the rule of the ROC.
In 1949, when the Nationalists lost the civil war and retreated to Taiwan, the Communists established the People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國 (PRC) with its capital in Beijing.
Beginning January 1st, 2013, the Republic of China 中華民國, now on the islands of Taiwan 臺灣, the Penghu islands 澎湖, Kinmen 金門, and Matsu 馬祖, is now officially in its 102nd year of establishment (1912-1945 occupying mainland China, 1945-1949 occupying both mainland China and Taiwan, 1949-present occupying Taiwan).  The people of Taiwan now enjoy a life of prosperity, democracy, and freedom (emphasis Ilha's).
Anytime you read that the Cairo Declaration justifies ROC control of Taiwan, you are reading propaganda. It does not. I explain why in detail here, but the reasons are simple:
  1. Cairo was a wartime agreement between powers, a temporary expedient about what they might do later, subject to change. It has no force in international law.
  2. Even by the standards of the day, territory cannot be handed from one nation to another without the consent of its people. 
  3. None of the powers who drafted Cairo owned Taiwan. Therefore none of them can dispose of the island. And see 2 again.
The US position on Cairo is quite clear and is given in that post above, Cairo was a temporary non-binding agreement subject to revisions in the postwar treaty negotiations. And that is exactly what happened when everyone sat down to talk about who was going to get what in 1951.

If you read Ilha Formosa's presentation you soon note that he claims that...
...the clause was accepted by the Japanese, and Taiwan and its nearby islands were returned under the rule of the ROC.
Both these claims are nonsensical. Japan did not accept the Cairo clause and anyone who has studied the matter knows that Japan retained formal sovereignty until 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect. The ROC occupied Taiwan as the occupying power under the authority of the wartime allies. It was not getting territory "returned" since it had never owned Taiwan and it did not receive Taiwan from Japan. ROC politicians knew this perfectly well. Consider that after the ROC reps signed the Treaty of Taipei, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Kung-ch'ao Yeh (葉公超) reported to the Legislative Yuan thus:
"The delicate international situation makes it that they [Taiwan and Penghu] do not belong to us. Under present circumstances, Japan has no right to transfer [Taiwan] to us; nor can we accept such a transfer from Japan even if she so wishes." 
Anyone who claims that Japan "returned" Taiwan to the ROC in 1945 is either lying or hasn't done his homework. It's really that simple.

But there is worse yet to come. Go back and see that the presentation jumps immediate from 1949 to the present. As always, the trick is seeing what isn't there.... the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the postwar treaty that determined who got what. Yup, Ilha simply omits it. Neither government of China was permitted to attend. Japan gave up sovereignty over Taiwan, but no recipient was named. Hence, the US position is that the status of Taiwan is undetermined, as readers of this blog are aware, and that is the position of Japan and many other nations. The Treaty of Taipei, which is the peace treaty between Japan and the ROC, is subordinate to the SF Peace Treaty and also does not name the ROC as the recipient of Taiwan's sovereignty. No document with force under international law assigns the sovereignty of Taiwan to the ROC or the PRC.

It's really simple: If you discuss the status of Taiwan and don't discuss the San Francisco Peace Treaty, you're writing propaganda. Further, the claim that Japan returned Taiwan to China is a lie of ROC propagandists, which for whatever reason Ilha Formosa repeats.

There are many other problems with Ilha Formosa's presentation and with the ROC claims in general, but for the sake of space I'll omit them and direct the reader to the Wiki page where they are listed at the bottom. Reader takeaway: if you see the claim that ROC has sovereignty over Taiwan because of Cairo, then you are reading pro-China propaganda. The island of Taiwan belongs to the people of Taiwan, who should have the say about who has sovereignty. Period.
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Taiwan Bike Federation won't let champ ride in Beijing race

Outside Dongshih, Taichung.

Silly -- a chance to display Taiwan as a producer of bikes and cyclists and destination for cycling... instead:
Champion System has been forced to change its planned line up for the Tour of Beijing, which starts on October 11th, after Taiwanese champion Kai Feng has been barred from taking part by his national federation. The five-day Chinese race, which will once again be the closing event of the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour, is one of the biggest events of the year for the Chinese-registered Professional Continental team, and general manager Ed Beamon is clearly angry at having to leave one of his star riders at home for political reasons.

"We were looking forward to having Kai Feng wear his new Taiwan national champion jersey for the first time in Beijing, but the Taiwan Federation has banned his participation and threatened to bar him from any future national team competitions if he joins the team in China's premier event," Beamon said. "I am both saddened and sickened by the provincial pettiness the Taiwan Cycling Federation has displayed.
People often claim that China's desire to annex Taiwan is an esoteric political confrontation that has no real effect on the lives of Taiwanese. I beg to differ.
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