Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catch Up Links Fest

Wrecks rest on the east coast.

Apologies for the lack of posts. Just too damned busy. Have a huge list of stuff I want to post on.... but first to catch up.

Well, the great wave of anti-sunflower movement propaganda begins. The government claimed today that all FTA talks with other countries have been shelved over the student occupation of the LY (China Post)...
All free trade negotiations with Taiwan planned for this year have been shelved by “other countries” because of unrest over the services pact with China, Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said Monday, though he refused to name any specific countries.
Chang told the Legislature's Economics Committee that many countries have grown hesitant and indefinitely postponed scheduled talks after the weeks of protest and ongoing controversy over the service trade pact that have gripped the country and, at one point, ground the Legislature to a halt.

Accused by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) of making threats to scare the public, Chang said that he and his ministry are not at liberty to reveal the names of countries interested in talks with Taiwan.
The idea that other countries have shelved their FTA talks over the student occupation felt palpably absurd. US officials have said that US trade deals have nothing to do with the services pact, just as former official William Stanton said further down in that article  (indeed a minor deal between TAITRA and the US FCS was inked while the students were occupying the legislature). AIT quickly distanced itself.

A KMT spokesman delivered the propaganda barrage last week in The Diplomat, doing exactly as I had predicted. He was arguing against Michal Thim's earlier piece, and his piece is important in that it shows how the KMT's anti-student propaganda will work: just as in the piece above. The students are going to take the blame for the KMT government's own decisions. The KMT has used this approach before, when it blamed environmentalists for what appeared likely to be its own decision to shutter the proposed naptha cracker in Changhua. Thim's response was classic.

The Diplomat's coverage of the Sunflower Movement has been excellent, but among the most interesting pieces was this one from a Chinese writer on democracy.
Regarding the Taiwanese students’ occupation of the Legislative Yuan, comments from Chinese scholars have been different from the comments made by the Western and Taiwan scholars. The Western scholars are mostly discussing the facts on the ground. From the beginning, the Taiwanese scholars discussed whether or not Taiwan needs the service trade agreement, and whether Ma Ying-jeou’s actions complied with the democratic process. But mainland Chinese scholars, whether for or against the protest, all carried a strong strain of idealism. They tried to analyze the issue using the theory of democracy, seeking a strategically advantageous position. They have one concern only: democracy.
Democracy be damned: prosecutors began questioning students this week.

Ben Goren has had some great stuff lately. This piece in the CPI blog covers an important paper which demonstrates what many of us have been trying to point out for the last six years: that the Taiwan-China make up is really a deal between the CCP in China and the KMT in Taiwan. The paper goes into detail into the institutional arrangements the two parties have made to keep advancing Taiwan into China's arms even if the pro-democracy side takes the presidency again in 2016.

Longtime Taiwan scholar Mark Harrison reviews the Sunflower movement:
The strength of the political response to the trade agreement from activists and the Taiwanese public suggest that both positions are expressing deep fissures in Taiwanese society. In the simplistic arguments of both proponents and detractors of the CSSTA is a shared anxiety (and scepticism) over the viability of a distinctive Taiwanese polity and identity. For the KMT, in a position that is little changed from the martial law era, the Taiwanese will ultimately accept Chinese investment and act in their narrow financial interests rather than over political or cultural ideals. For the opponents of the CSSTA, in a fear that also echoes the martial law period, Taiwanese identity will dissolve in a media, cultural and educational environment gradually dominated by the Chinese identity politics that will come with mainland investment.
Finally, one important change: the police are being investigated for their violent behavior. Taiwan Voice on Facebook notes:
A step in the right direction: The courts have approved a case against the police and requested that all evidence be preserved regarding possible police brutality during the eviction at the Executive Yuan. This is unprecedented for a case brought about by citizens trying to hold the police accountable for their actions.
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