Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rounding Up the KMT Again

You just never know where you'll end up biking in Taiwan...

Rounding up a bunch of news this week. Solidarity blogs on a TISR poll on cross strait relations and party favorability. Read whole thing, but as he points out, the people don't seem to see a whole lot of difference between Ma's cross-strait stance of 3 Noes and Tsai's Status Quo stance. Solidarity observed on Twitter that the Chinese Communist Party and the KMT have exactly the same unfavorable rating, 59.9%. The DPP meanwhile clocks in at 49.3% favorable.

Speaking of polls, a recent poll from the deep Green Taiwan Brain Trust replicated the findings of an earlier TISR poll in which Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng drew stronger support than KMT Chairman and putative savior Eric Chu among the voting public but was weaker than Chu against Tsai. Neither beats her. Taiwan Brain Trust observed in its recent newsletter:
On the other hand, disapproval of the DPP's performance increased markedly from 35.4% in December and 43.1% in January to 51.4% in March. Approval fell correspondingly during the same period from 46.3% to 37.8%. This decline in popularity is apparently related to the scandals over some local council speaker elections at the end of 2014. More recently, rifts have emerged within the DPP as party members fiercely compete to win nominations for the 2016 legislative elections. As a result, approval of the DPP within the pan-Green camp declined markedly from 67.4% in January to 54.8% in March. The DPP should take this apparent shift from high expectations to disappointment among its sympathizers as a warning sign.

Party preference remains largely unchanged. However, the share of those who most favor the DPP declined from 33.9% in January to 25.7% in March. At the same time, the share of those who do not favor any particular political party increased from 15.9% to 21.1% during the same period. Although the DPP remains the most popular party, clearly a shift in public opinion is under way that translates into heightened expectations toward third force political forces. In the eyes of more than 40 percent of the public,the KMT is still the most unpopular party. However, while 45.5% identified the KMT as the least liked party in January, that figure fell to 41.7% in March. In contrast, the share of those who least favored the DPP climbed from 15.6% to 16.9% during the same period. Obviously, the DPP has not shown its best recently, while the KMT has been able to prevent further erosion of public support.
The DPP is quite dull these days, which is good. The KMT is where all the fun is. This week Wang Jin-pyng, the Legislative Speaker and KMT heavyweight, began positioning for his Presidential (or perhaps Veep) run with some very interesting remarks.
“When one day the political systems of the two sides are compatible, the GDP per capita comparable, the social and public values similar, and religious freedom guaranteed, the heart of the two sides of the Strait could be melded together and nothing would be nonnegotiable then,” the speaker said.
Taiwanese reject annexation to China irrespective of China' political system. Wang isn't talking to Taiwanese, but rather his recapitulation of the "same culture" propaganda, as well as Ma's position that China must democratize before Taiwan can annex itself to Beijing, caters to mainlanders in the KMT ruling clique who despise him and will object if he is chosen as the candidate. Interestingly, if Wang is positioning himself for the Presidency, he must know that Chu isn't going to run... (More analysis from Ben)

Also fun this week was William Lai, an up-n-coming heavyweight in the DPP who will likely contest for the 2020 presidential election. Lai, who is tremendously popular, twitted Eric Chu...
“I have not yet decided [whether to run for New Taipei City mayor],” Lai said. “It seems like someone [intentionally] spread the rumor to hold Chu back from giving up his position and running for president... I do not want to spoil the effect of the rumor by giving a specific statement.
Lai basically bragged that if he ran in New Taipei City, he'd win, which is likely true. If Chu runs for President, there will be a by-election. Lai will come north and contest New Taipei City, and the DPP can run a new guy in Tainan where he is sure to win. Win-win for the DPP, so to speak.

Meanwhile KMT legislators, horrified at the prospect of someone other than Chu running, have paid his entry fee and continue to try to draft him, chuckled on Twitter today.

Comment of the day from Ben Goren on Twitter:  
The '1992 Consensus' was just a vehicle to facilitate dom & int acceptance of public face of KMT-CCP united front during Ma admin.
REFS: Recent Posts on KMT, Reform, and Chairman Chu
KMT Roundup -- Things you should be reading today -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Taiwan Excerpt from Briefing on US-Japan meet up

QUESTION: Thank you, Evan. John Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan again.


QUESTION: Will Taiwan be mentioned at all in these talks, particularly when you discuss the defense guidelines? Secondly, the KMT chair is going to Beijing to meet with Xi Jinping right after the President and the prime ministers meeting.


QUESTION: What do you think of the event? Thank you.

MR MEDEIROS: It’s an interesting question, John. I don’t anticipate Taiwan coming up. It’s not something that would normally or naturally come up between the U.S. and Japan in this kind of meeting. But what I would say is I think that there is a strong, abiding interest on the part of the United States in ensuring cross-strait stability and security. We’re very firm in our commitments to these issues and these principles in our relationship with Taiwan.

On the question that you raise about the KMT chairman’s visit to China, I mean, our approach has always been very consistent, which is we support any and all cross-strait interactions that are done at a pace and in a manner acceptable to both sides and in a way that ensures continued cross-strait stability. In that context, I thought it was interesting that about a month ago, Zhang Zhijun had an editorial in – I believe it was People’s Daily in which he talked about being open to interactions and conversations with all aspects of Taiwan society. We think that’s an important, constructive step as Taiwan enters into its election period.

As you know, as a democracy, we’ll be in touch with all sides about their position and their approach. I follow very closely what Dr. Tsai has to say about cross-strait issues. I thought her recent comments were quite interesting and quite constructive, and we look forward to hearing more from her about what her approach is all about.

Thank you. We’ll stop there.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Things you should be reading today

A woman collects oysters in a nearly dry riverbed.

Some great stuff out this weekend from some of my favorite people in Taiwan. First, my friend Courtney Donovan Smith publishes at China Policy Institute on the Taishang and the absentee ballot: explaining why the KMT supports the youth vote:
There are a few things wrong with this picture. First, the pan-greens have gone all out to get the youth to vote. After all, they voted overwhelming in their favor in the 9-in-1 election and usually do very well in this demographic. Conversely, the KMT does poorly with the young at the best of times. So why is the KMT trying to get younger voters into the voter booths, and to help them vote from anywhere? Why is the DPP against something that is common practice in democracies around the world? Why is there no open debate on this issue?

The one plausible answer is the Taishang, or China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and workers...
Then: Solidarity rocks. Just rocks. He's become the best blog on Taiwan stuff, with great articles and insight. First, his commentary on Eric Chu's suggestion that the KMT run the widely respected Central Bank Head...
Here’s the Taipei Times summary of yesterday’s big story. Short summary, with a couple details they left out: A high-level KMT insider told UDN that Eric Chu 朱立倫 has met chief central banker Perng Fai-nan 彭淮南 several times to push him to run for president. Perng then yesterday told the press central banker will be his last job and he won’t get involved in things he doesn’t understand, like politics. Chu didn’t directly answer questions about whether the report was true, instead praising Perng, pointing out everyone respects him, he has a great international representation, and his support crosses blue and green.

If the report is true, it says a lot about both Perng’s character and Chu’s desperation. First I’ll comment, then I’ll show you Storm Media’s and UDN’s commentaries as well as blue legislators’ increasingly loud warnings to Chu...
after you read that excellent piece in its entirety, don't miss his tart comments on the suggestion that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou run for President under the KMT banner.

There's very little one can add to this. The various suggestions that an outsider run as the KMT candidate show that the insiders, as Solidarity notes, have access to internal polls which are telling them that they aren't going to win. The KMT is in desperation mode. Eventually they will dangle an offer in front of someone like James Soong, a mainlander and once a member of the ruling core. Wang Jin-pyng as candidate would split the party, but as Veep candidate he'd be a good choice. The PFP is looking to ally with a party, and its choices are robust at the moment.

Of course, don't miss his droll post on all the splittism in the KMT. Key points: the growing clout of the PFP, the emergence of a KMT-allied party in Hsinchu, and the growing acceptance of the DPP among the aborigines. Read it all.

Finally, Ben Goren deleted an excellent post from the other day about the role of the grand justices. Recall that if Ma has these four appointees confirmed, then all 15 justices will have been appointed by him. Ben found two other powers of the court: it can impeach the President, and it can dissolve political parties that violate the Constitution. Scary, eh?
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Paper on Parade: Yes, Chinese tourism is screwing over Taiwan

A major river in Miaoli, bone dry after three years of drought.

In case you were wondering about the effect of Chinese tourism on Taiwan, wonder no more. This edition of our regularly irregular feature, Paper on Parade, takes a look at The Economic, Carbon Emission, and Water Impacts of Chinese Visitors to Taiwan: Eco-efficiency and Impact Evaluation (Ya-Yen Sun  and Stephen Pratt, Journal of Travel Research 2014 53: 733). There are some findings that were pleasantly counterintuitive, but on the whole this paper justifies everything that I've been saying about the pernicious effects of Chinese tourism on Taiwan.

After some opening remarks on the growth of tourism in the region, the authors report:
The development of this Chinese market in Taiwan is highly significant; it accounts for the largest inbound visitor numbers in 2012, with rapid growth of an 86% annual rate from 2008 to 2012 for leisure visitors, and contributes high spending per person per trip (Taiwan Tourism Bureau 2012a). While expanding the Chinese inbound market is the long-term goal for Taiwan tourism, environmental resource requirements need to be considered alongside the economic impacts of international tourism receipts
This paper uses government figures for the spending of Chinese tourists. As you read the discussion, keep in mind that an AP report several years ago compared the receipts of travel agencies to the government claims, and called bullshit:
The government estimates that Chinese tourists spent an average of $246 a day on the island in 2010. That's made up of $142 for shopping and $104 for the services that are provided by tour package operators hotels, meals, local transportation, venue admission and incidentals.

But an examination of tour package prices shows they are much lower than the goverment's estimate and tour operators say that, at best, they get half of the money Chinese tourists pay to mainland tour agencies for these tours. That amounts to at least a $700 million hole in the government figure.

On top of that, it is likely that some of the money Chinese tourists spend on shopping is ending up in Hong Kong, where the owners of some of the major Taiwanese shopping outlets are based.

And at least until recently, a ruse involving special credit card readers that disguised the true location of purchases meant the government was cheated out of sales tax from Chinese tourists. Taiwanese authorities are now investigating this practice.
According to the 2013 Tourism Bureau numbers (download .doc file), Chinese tourists spend nearly as much as Japanese, and significantly outspend tourists from the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, all of which are wealthier. Strange, eh? It may be because business visitors tend to get taken out by locals more, and more Americans are here on business...

Back to the Sun and Pratt study above...
The purpose of this study is to provide an evaluation of the economic impacts, the carbon footprint, and the water footprint of Chinese tourism consumption in Taiwan. Two objectives are proposed here. First, the eco-efficiency of Chinese visitors is compared against four other major source markets for Taiwan: Japan, Hong Kong/Macao, United States, and Malaysia. Eco-efficiency is measured via the per dollar CO2 emission and per dollar water consumption.
After a detailed discussion of tourism growth and Chinese tourism numbers in Taiwan, the authors point out two salient facts: first, tourism is less efficient carbon-wise than most other sectors of a given national economy, and second, a major culprit in the high CO2 footprint of tourism is air travel.

The idea of water footprint is relatively new in the literature, but has grown. I suspect it will become ever more important as the inevitable effects of human warming of the earth impact our water supply. They note:
In Gössling et al.’s (2012) extensive review of tourism and water usages across major countries, they concluded that the direct water usage per tourist per day ranges between 80 and 2,000 liters (L), and the indirect water consumption per day was tripped to 5,500 L. The tremendous indirect water requirement is mainly a result of the production process for food and fuel, each, on average, contributing more than 2,000 L per tourist per day. For food consumption, a greater amount of water is embedded in agricultural irrigation, which accounts for more than 70% of the total water withdrawn and 90% of water consumed (Bates et al. 2008).
The key point here is that tourism drives demand for foods, which drives increased agricultural water usage. As they note in the paper, Chinese delight in purchasing food souvenirs, which drives up their overall water demand.

Sun and Pratt then move on to present the methodology of the study. Overall emissions and water use are calculated via a generally accepted model, while travel emissions are calculated using airline route distance and number of seats.

The meat of the paper is of course the results of the calculations. The authors first introduce the background information. I've grabbed their table below:
Among five inbound source markets, Chinese visitors are one of the top spenders in Taiwan, averaging around US$260 (not including international airfare) per person per day or US$2050 per trip, only after the U.S. segment (Table 1). In terms of spending patterns, Chinese visitors report a greater proportion of their budget on shopping (57%), much higher than visitors from Malaysia (32%), Hong Kong/Macao (28%), and Japan (22%). This shopping spree phenomenon is consistent with observations from Chinese visits to Australia (Wang and Davidson 2010), United States (Jang, Yu, and Pearson 2003), and Hong Kong (Huang and Hsu 2005). Within the shopping component, Chinese visitors spent around 15% of the overall trip expenditure on “featured food, special products and tea” and 10% on “jewelry or jade.” In comparison, U.S. visitors spent two-thirds of their expenses on the lodging (65%) but were quite limited in other categories. This is in part due to a very high proportion of U.S. business and VFR tourists in Taiwan, so their itinerary either involves more with business activities or their local expenses have been covered by friends and relatives (Taiwan Tourism Bureau 2012b).

The authors conclude:
The eco-efficiency of Chinese visitors on both CO2 and water use in Taiwan is superior to the other four major markets, except for total water use intensity (Table 3). For direct and total CO2 intensity per dollar, Chinese visitors are around 21% and 10% more efficient than the second-best performing market. For the direct water use intensity, Chinese visitors also ranked number 1, 32% more efficient than their counterparts. However, after taking into account the indirect water use, Chinese visitors become water-intensive users, requiring 8.26 L of water per dollar, the worst among all five inbound markets.
Recall that the Tourism Bureau numbers for what Chinese tourists spend are probably inflated, meaning that if more realistic numbers were used, the effect of Chinese tourists would only worsen. Since that water is used in the form of foods taken out of Taiwan, our supplies take a  hit, especially groundwater, which is not so easily replenished. In the long-run it returns to the ocean, of course, and comes back. How long?

Based on the inflated Tourism Bureau numbers, the authors then calculate the raw economic effects:
The results from the CGE analysis show that an increase in Chinese visitors to Taiwan is overall beneficial to the economy: the Taiwanese household’s welfare would increase by US$145.1 million (0.06%); the Taiwanese household’s consumption would increase by US$160.7 million (0.07%), and their investment would increase by US$64.0 million (0.07%) (Table 5). Output is estimated to increase by US$8,706.8 million or 0.8% from 2011 to 2016 as a result of the increase in Chinese visitors with corresponding CO2 emissions estimated to increase by 6 million tons, or an additional 2.7% over 2011 figures. The Chinese visitors are estimated to use an additional 591 million tons of water (3.0%).
For a family with a household income of NT50,000 a month, that welfare increase is a couple of bus rides. Overall output increase is less than 1% over the five year estimated period of the study, again using the Tourism Bureau numbers. Never mind that the gains go to a small number of actors, and are not spread out across all the families of Taiwan. Most Taiwanese experience only the negatives of Chinese tourism, from crowding at desirable tourist sites to insults and threats from the sprinkling of idiots that populate those tours. Morever, that Chinese tourist "output" has other, extremely pernicious effects.

As the authors note, when tourists come in, they pull capital and resources from other sectors into tourism, and they drive up the exchange rate because they demand local currency. In Taiwan this pushes up the value of the NT dollar, which causes sales of local exports to fall since their products become more expensive on international markets.
The increase in tourism demand leads to an appreciation in the exchange rate, which leads to import substitution and the contraction of the traditional export sectors. Not surprisingly, the increase in tourism demand expands the tourism-oriented sectors as the increases in prices attract resources (capital and labor) to these sectors. The accommodation services sector (+40%) and the education and entertainment articles sector (+33%) as well as the industries supplying souvenirs such as the textile mill products (+15%), wearing apparel and clothing accessories (+13%), and cleaning preparations and cosmetics (+7%) experience increases in output and hence GHG emissions and water usage. Further,the sectors that will experience the largest growth due to an increase in tourists are not the most resource intensive.
Lucky, eh? Nope...
An interesting finding occurs with the computers, electronics, and optical products sector. Taiwan exports more than 70% of its production in this sector. In considering the economic impact of each visitor segment, this sector is expected to expand. For example, for the increase in VFR visitors, output is expected to increase by 17% in this sector as tourists and tourism-related businesses demand more computers and electronic goods. This increase in demand falls to 13% for both the business and FIT tourists segments and to 6% for the PT tourists segment. However, in estimating the total impact of 12,000 additional visitors per day in 2016, the large increase in visitor arrivals in this scenario results in this sector being “crowded out” by increases in other sectors. This, coupled with an expected appreciation in the Taiwanese dollar, means that Taiwanese computers and electrical goods become more expensive on the world market. The overall effect is a contraction of this sector with a high export component. This nonlinear nature of CGE models is able to take into account supply constraints and factor in the competition for limited resources.
The authors remark further down that the growth in total foreign tourist dollars, 16.8% between 2008 and 2011, has helped the economy in time of need (US$5.9 billion in 2008 to US$11.1 billion in 2011, accord to their citation of Tourism Bureau numbers).

Let's take a moment to take stock of the full effects here. First, the NT dollar is buoyed by inbound tourists from China buying NT dollars, driving up its value. This is not good for local exporters, but local consumers like it because it keeps the price of foreign goods down. It also makes the central bank governor's job easier, because it is easier to keep the currency stable if flows are reliable and predictable.

This means that it will not be easy to turn off the tap of Chinese tourist inflows because the central bank will correctly point out that the NT dollar will both weaken and become less stable. That will inhibit action by any future pro-Taiwan president. That effect will be independent of the way the KMT has managed the inflows to create new dependencies in local areas that support it.

Chinese tourism is, as I have claimed, hurting Taiwan by reducing its living standards while providing a false promise of economic growth. That is what this paper documents. The economic gains for local families simply don't exist, while tourism does nothing to increase their skills or raise local living standards. At the same time, it also reduces the electronics export sector, the one sector that does raise Taiwan's living standards.

Never mind the effects on territoriality and life quality for those of us who have to live with the traffic, construction messes, and general deterioration in living standards in areas where Chinese tourists appear in great numbers, as well as expanding the effect of Taiwan's parasitic construction-industrial state on local governments and on the national political economy.

The future? Not good. Sun and Pratt note:
Looking to the future, the current environmentally efficient characteristics of the Chinese tourists are expected to wane because of product diversification and repositioning as the propensity to consume luxury goods and services will increase while their average length of stay will shorten. With an intended policy to develop Chinese FIT, medical tourists, and business travelers while shrinking the market of discounted package tours, the share of high-end services, taxi, and car rental is expected to rise in their spending profiles. This type of tourism generally consumes more energy per unit (Becken, Frampton, and Simmons 2001), and the abovementioned transportation types are 25% to 75% more energy intensive per person-kilometer than coach (Huang 2011). Further, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau intends to encourage high-quality package tour itineraries which stay at star-credited hotels, involve fewer mandatory shopping stops, and offer diversified dining and recreational opportunities. In sum, Taiwan’s policy is gradually directing visitors to purchase a basket of goods and services that is more energy intensive in the future.
Taiwan is committed to reducing its global warming emissions, though it is not a signatory to any of the international protocols. Rising Chinese tourism, the authors note, could conflict with this goal.

This paper represents a first pass at the problem, as the authors observe, but nevertheless it is highly indicative. As in all other aspects of economic interaction with China in Taiwan, the claimed economic effects simply aren't there. This will not stop the international media from continuing to spread Chinese propaganda on that topic, but at least my readers will know what is really going on.
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

China's South China Sea Records are Fakes

The Taitung plain from above...

I linked to this a few days ago when Bonnet alerted me to this, but it is important enough to deserve its own notice. Francis-Xavier Bonnet, the scholar of South China Sea claims, has demonstrated that the early Chinese claims are all fake (direct download link). The abstract to whet your appetite:
Several authors writing about the Chinese claim to the Paracel Islands have dated the first official Chinese expedition to these islands to 1902. However, none of these writers have been able to show any records of this expedition taking place. In fact, Chinese records show that the expedition never happened. Instead, a secret expedition took place decades later to plant false archaeological evidence on the islands in order to bolster China’s territorial claim. The same strategy has been applied in the Spratly islands: the sovereignty markers of 1946 had been placed, in fact, ten years later, in 1956.
Go thou, and read!
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KMT round up

The entrance to the Baonon bikeway. This is the old Japanese coastal highway. As I recall, there's no information anywhere along this road that gives this fact. One of the key effects, and probably, key functions, of the new tourism infrastructure in Taiwan is eliminating history by turning it into homogenized and identical leisure facilities with no location in time and no relation to the past. That is just as true of the so-called Old Streets. 

The Miaoli county government, long a KMT redoubt, isn't going to get a bailout from the central government:
The Finance Ministry (財政部) yesterday denied the Miaoli County Government's appeal for help with a NT$64.8 billion debt

Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) has appealed to the Ministry of Finance for financial support, saying his administration is in dire financial straits partly due to the central government's unfair allocation of tax revenues.

The public debt stands at approximately NT$64.8 billion and the county is behind on payments to government personnel and project contractors, Hsu said.
"...partly due..." That claim is correct -- we in central and southern Taiwan subsidize the lavish lifestyle of Taipei. A Miaoli resident remarked on Facebook that the government plans to eliminate many contract workers and reduce outlays for worker perks. Previous reports said that work on many larger projects may stop or slow. You'd think the KMT administration would be going all-out to save one of the few places where it still has strong control of the local government... translated an Apple Daily piece on the previous KMT county chief:
Wu criticized former county magistrate Liu Cheng-hung 劉政鴻 (KMT) for squandering NT$1.2 billion (US$38m) at the very beginning of his term to renovate the county government building, planning a special High Speed Rail zone, and expropriating land for new development in large quantities. During Liu’s 8 years, it spent NT$218 million (US$7.0m) on fireworks and concerts, more than double the NT$100 million (US$3.2m) it spends annually on nutritious school lunches. Liu tripled the county’s debt while paying off NT$70 million (US$2.2m). He created wealth for himself while leaving debt for Miaoli’s future generations.

DPP Miaoli County Chapter Chairman Lee Kui-fu 李貴富 stated that when current magistrate Hsu Yao-chang 徐耀昌 (KMT) took office, he said he would lay off 443 staff from city hall, but to date he has only laid off 3. From January to April, the government has put out NT$850 million (US$27.2m) in new contractors, including NT$50 million (US$1.6m) for media buys and road greening and beautification. Lee said that changing potted plants every month for greening and beautification is an unnecessary waste and a case of Liu setting the example and Hsu following it.
Don't miss the Liberty Times piece on Liu's debts that Solidarity translated below. Miraculously, he paid off his massive debts in just a couple of years.

This will negatively impact the KMT's fortunes in Miaoli. Note also that Miaoli has many Hakkas, long a strongly pro-KMT group, driven by the KMT's ethnic politics ("OMG, if you don't vote KMT, the Hoklos will persecute you!"). Hakka problems in Miaoli may well reverberate beyond Miaoli.

The media announced that a meet up between KMT Chairman Eric Chu and Beijing President Xi Jin-ping was set for May 4, a claim that Chu tartly denied. Chu is off to perform the ritual KMT kowtow in early May, as AP and WSJ report.  The AP report, from Beijing gives an outsider's view but it is quite good -- while importantly, the WSJ article reports the DPP position (kudos for that):
The DPP’s presidential nominee, Tsai Ing-wen, has criticized the annual cross-party forum, saying cross-Strait affairs should be handled on a government-to-government, not a party-to-party, level.
Tsai's position that this KMT-CCP reconciliation (not Taiwan-China) is a kind of cronyism is important information, for while the outside world sees "growing reconciliation" or some such tripe, the locals don't have a positive view and correctly perceive it as an end-run around the legal and diplomatic framework. It is also indicative of how the KMT continues to view Taiwan as something it can dispose of at will, a bargaining chip for negotiations with the CCP. and how it views the government as an appendage of the KMT. The party-state mentality is not dead, sadly.

Mega-Kudos to AP for including this:
Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary, although it ruled the island for just four of the past 110 years.
What's the support level for Chu? TVBS, the pro-Blue station, has a poll which posted:
1. Do you support KMT Chair Eric Chu 朱立倫 leading a delegation to Shanghai to participate in a KMT-CPC cross-strait economic and trade forum there?
Yes: 38% (12% Strongly, 26% Somewhat)
No: 19% (10% Somewhat, 9% Strongly)
No Opinion: 42%

2. If he had the opportunity, would you support KMT Chair Eric Chu meeting with mainland Chinese national chairman Xi Jinping 習近平?
Yes: 50% (17% Strongly, 33% Somewhat)
No: 27% (15% Somewhat, 12% Strongly)
No Opinion: 24%
Support for Chu's move is lukewarm at best, as Solidarity points out. If there is a Chu-Xi meet up in public, gleeful netizens will photoshop the heck out of it and in the end, it will be a negative for a Chu run for president.

Meanwhile, for President Ma, it's business as usual. Ma is nominating four justices to be grand justices, including one who found him innocent on corruption charges....
“Due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) boycott of the four nominees made by the previous president, Ma was able to nominate 11 grand justices in 2008,” Cheng said. “If he nominates four more, all 15 of them would be Ma’s nominees.”


Citizens’ Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) urged legislators to reject the four nominees: lawyer Huang Horng-shya (黃虹霞), Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶), National Taiwan University law professor Tsai Ming-cheng (蔡明誠) and Shilin District Court President Lin Jyun-yi (林俊益).

Aside from the constitutional issue, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned Ma’s choice of Lin, a former Supreme Court judge who acquitted Ma of corruption charges in connection with the use of his special allowance during his stint as Taipei mayor.

“It is obvious that Ma is trying to pay Lin back by nominating him as a grand justice,” Huang said.
Ma has been under attack for corruption in recent months, though nothing seems to have stuck. But if he is tried for any of several potential crimes, including abuse of power in the Wang case, he'll have a friendly court of grand justices.

More importantly, a totally pro-KMT court will also act as a final redoubt of pro-China power if the KMT loses the legislature and the DPP puts forward a pro-Taiwan policy program. If any of Tsai Ing-wen's policies come up for review of the court...
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Links

Cattle crossing.

Tough day. Too tired to post. Enjoy some links...
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Leaving Taitung city for Chenggong on Sunday.

Man. It's been months since I've done back to back days of 100 kms. I was terrified I'd never be able to ride like that again. I'm still among the walking wounded, but at least I was able to ride a couple of easy 100 km days across southern Taiwan. What a joy! As always, click READ MORE...

Monday, April 20, 2015

KMTitanic 8: Eric Chu = Monkey Wrench

Land reclaiming on the east coast
Tommy Ryan: If this is the direction the rats are going that's fine with me!
Well. As I was busy riding on the east coast this weekend, Eric Chu, Chairman of the KMT and the one person everyone in that party wants to run announced that he wasn't going to run and would explain why later...
New Taipei City Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday said he would explain why he is not running for president after the period for aspirants to sign up ends on May 16.
Thing is, he sounds serious. In fact, for months the famous political prognosticator who inhabits the body of my wife has been saying there's no way he'll run, because he doesn't want to face losing. And several of my friends. And FormosaNation on Twitter, who has been right a lot lately.

But I just can't give it up. I can't believe he is not going to run. He's their best shot. On the other hand, this is the party that ran Lien Chan for President. Twice.

Solidarity as always with a great translation of a UDN piece that gives a picture of the likely disarray the party faces...
A legislator who supports Chu said he’s heard from his district that if the KMT nominates Wang Jin-pyng 王金平 for president, not only will northern grassroots blue voters be unable to vote for him, they may even campaign against him in protest; the KMT would basically be raising the white flag before the battle even begins.

This legislator worries that these emotions could infect the legislative election. Looking at New Taipei, he said that while the party would hold Zhonghe, Yonghe, and Xindian (New Taipei 8, 9, and 11), it could lose at least 5 of the other 7 districts it holds in the city, including Banqiao.

He asked: If Chu doesn’t run, will the legislators defend their caucus? They will absolutely have to go home to look after their districts and will lose cohesiveness. Over the next year, it will thus be difficult to do legislative and governmental work.

He continued: Financial consortia have already gone directly to Wang Jin-pyng to stop Chu’s current highest legislative priority, the bills to raise salaries. If Chu is unable to mobilize legislators, how can he contend with Wang in the Legislature? “Even I am going to have trouble protecting my seat. How will others be able to sacrifice their lives for Chu?”
As many observers have noted, a strong candidate is needed to pull out votes for KMT legislators. The UDN piece points out an issue I noted before, the fact that losing elections causes Chairmen to resign, as Ma did after the November defeat. The way I see it, if Chu doesn't run, and the KMT loses badly, the losing legislators aren't going to say: "Well, we would have lost anyway." They are going to blame Chu and demand he resign. To be replaced, most likely, by Hau. Chu could find himself with nothing but his position as mayor of the nation's biggest municipality.

Frozen Garlic analyzed this as only he can. Read the whole post because it's great, but I excerpt this crucial bit:
A side note while I’m on the topic of the KMT presidential nomination. Yesterday the KMT announced that of its 350,000 members, only 90,000 or so are eligible to vote in the party primary. There are two large blocs in this 90,000: Huang Fu-hsing (military) system members and people over 75 years old. (Longtime members over 75 are exempt from paying party dues.) This means that while President Ma has very little support in the society at large, he and his faction will be very powerful in any vote of party members.

Currently, the presidential nomination is to be decided by 70% polls and 30% party member votes. Wang and Chu both favor changing this to 100% polls. I think they want to cut Ma out of the process. Wang’s only chance of winning is to draw on his support in the general electorate. If Chu runs, he is favored to win no matter what the process is. However, with 100% polls he wouldn’t have to go to Ma and ask for support. There are always costs to things like that.

One of the downsides to the KMT’s culture of waiting for the rest of the party to beg you to take the crown rather than actively and overtly pursuing it is that no one has prepared for the party vote. Since no one is officially a candidate, no one has done the dirty work of making sure that their supporters within the party bothered to pay dues. As a result, the KMT expression of “party will” will reflect the preferences of old soldiers and older geriatrics.
In the Chairmanship election when Wang Jin-pyng and Ma Ying-jeou squared off, Ma won the popular vote. If that vote in the presidential primary is composed of the deepest of deep blues, Wang has little chance as a Taiwanese no matter what he has done for the party. As Froze put it so well:
If Wang gets the KMT nomination, the best case scenario is that Ma and Huang Fu-hsing will smile politely and stay seated. At worst, they might decide to go down swinging and back a minor party candidate representing the “true spirit of Sun Yat-sen.” There is no chance that they will thoroughly mobilize to elect Wang.
Wu Den-yi? Lo Shu-lei, who led the ridiculous attack on Ko Wen-je for corruption in the Taipei Mayoral election, said that Wu Den-yi would make a great choice for President for the KMT.

The KMT news organ offered this tidbit:
According to the KMT's Presidential nomination rules, if only one candidate registered in the race, but the candidate did not receive at least a 30% support rating in opinion polls in the primary, he or she would not be nominated in the end. In that case, the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting would directly draft a candidate, with the approval of the National Party Congress, held annually.
Currently AFAIK only Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu has formally declared. Since she is unelectable, she might not pass 30% support. If Chu does not register, he can still be drafted in the party congress. Is this the political theatre he is hoping for?

REFS: Recent Posts on KMT, Reform, and Chairman Chu
KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Hugh White in Straits Times issues primer on how not to write about the Taiwan Issue

Indonesian maids with their charges

I'm off biking for a few days this weekend. So expect light blogging....

Hugh White in the Straits Times gives a primer in how not to write about the Taiwan issue. Usually when someone flatpeters like this in the international media, I serve it up John-the-Baptist style, as with Bruce Gilley or Charles Glaser. Its tiresome to keep ripping stuff for the same transcendentally obvious mistakes, as naive as if the writer has just discovered that Taiwan exists. But what else can one do? Onward!

Problem 1: Decontextualizing Taiwan
A common approach to wrongly analyzing the Taiwan problem is ripping Taiwan from its larger context of current Chinese expansionism. Observe how, in White's essay, no other nation but China, the US, and Taiwan appear. The closest White gets to mentioning another state is a vague comment about Taiwan seeking support from regional countries (except that it is not, of course, the Ma Administration has not built closer links to any regional power. It's an utter failure in that regard). There's no mention of Japan, for example, though as anyone who actually knows how to think about the problem knows, Japan is intimately related to Taiwan's problems with Chinese expansionism. Hence White's essay only "succeeds" because it proposes a timeless bubble universe that doesn't exist in reality.

The truth is that if geography is the mother of strategy, then Hugh White is an orphan sitting in the street with a begging bowl and a mewling whine. Taiwan in its ROC identity is part of the South China Sea claims. The ROC also claims the Senkakus, which are actually owned by Japan. Eventually China will begin claiming Okinawa, though it is usually silent on this dream (truly fanatical ROCers also speak wistfully about Chinese ownership of Okinawa). The key point is that in Chinese minds the claims to the Senkakus, Taiwan, and Okinawa are all interconnected. Should Taiwan actually sell out to China, this will only increase the pressure on Japan while giving China a far more advantageous position. No doubt China will begin eyeing Yoniguni and Ishigaki to the east of Taiwan, and islands off Philippines as well. And of course, China will pick up Dongsha and Taiping Island. What will that do for stability in the South China Sea?

Thus, as I always point out, selling Taiwan to China won't solve the problem, because the problem is Chinese expansionism, which Taiwan has no control over. Indeed, it will increase the chance of war between China and the US and Japan. Never mind what it would do to the Philippines, which also faces territorial threats from China. The US is committed by treaty to defending Philippines and Japan, it can't hide behind ambiguity. Annexing Taiwan to China thus simply pushes the sellout or fight choice back one level, to the Senkakus and Okinawa on the north and to Philippines on the south. If White seeks to avoid a general war between China and the US, he is going about it precisely the wrong way.

Anyone who looked at a map could figure this out. Why couldn't White?

Problem 2: Patronizing Taiwan
That is why Taiwan and its friends and admirers everywhere have to think very carefully about how to handle the dangerous period that lies ahead and to consider what is ultimately in the best interest of the Taiwanese people, as well as the rest of us. The conclusions will be uncomfortable, but inescapable.
One hears this silliness from time to time: advice to us poor foolish denizens of Taiwan to think carefully. Think! Because god knows we've never thought about the China problem before.

Gosh, thanks Hugh! Without this sage advice, we might never have realized there is a China threat which could result in a general war.

Problem 3: Directly incorporating Chinese propaganda tropes
In the 1990s, after Taiwan became a vigorous democracy, presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian started to push the boundaries of this status quo, seeking a more normal place for Taiwan in the international community. This infuriated Beijing and escalated tensions between China and America.
Two interrelated tropes -- Taiwan provokes China and it escalates tensions. As I've remarked countless times, tensions are caused by China, which manipulates tensions as a foreign policy tool to influence Washington's foreign policymaking and to transfer tension from the Beijing-DC relationship to the Taipei-DC relationship. Understanding this is basic to understanding the deployment of "tensions" in the Taiwan Strait. Or elsewhere.

What's disappearing? Oh yeah, China "pushing the boundaries of this status quo" via a military buildup and forging links with the pro-China parties in Taiwan. Lee and Chen were pushing back against this move, against China's attempts to reduce Taiwan's international space.
 President Xi Jinping seems increasingly impatient to resolve what it sees as the last vestige of China's centuries of humiliation 
No shit. White seems to think China has endured absolute centuries of humiliation. Even the PRC claims only a modest century of humiliation, which as we all know, is an expansionist reconstruction of history (here). The whole idea of "humiliation" in its modern form is Chinese propaganda. Writers should stop regurgitating it.

More subtle is the common pro-China trope in which the writer speaks for Beijing and informs us that Beijing's motivation is avenging humiliation, as if China and its leaders were unaware it is engaging in a naked territorial grab. Beijing knows perfectly well what it is doing. The common people, deluded by decades of propaganda, may understand things that way, but elites know they are engaging in territorial expansion.
And China was happy to replace sticks with carrots in dealing with Taipei, apparently expecting that economic integration would eventually pave the way to political reunification
would lead inexorably to precisely the political reunification that Beijing so clearly wants and expects.
But of course, what is happening is not reunification but annexation. "Reunification" is pro-Beijing propaganda.

Academics should adopt more neutral language -- which even the international media has done. "Reunification" seldom appears in the international media now, "unification" is more typical. I don't expect him to use an accurate description of the actual state of affairs such as "annexation". I suppose it's too much to hope that poli sci and strategy types speak truth. Otherwise, how could they find employment in the government?

Problem 4: Seduced by the allure of the "hard" choice
No one visiting Taipei can fail to be impressed by what the Taiwanese have achieved in recent decades, not just economically but also politically, socially and culturally. But the harsh reality is that no country is going to sacrifice its relations with China in order to help Taiwan preserve the status quo. 
Pieces like White's which advocate that Taiwan sell out to China are often presented with a kind of wistful this-hurts-me-more-than-you regret. The writer presents himself (always a male, of course, females seem to be less afflicted with such testosterone delusions) as making the tough choice, the manly choice, the hard choice. Because, as we all know, the greatness of a realpolitik policy is measured by the number of one's friends its betrays.

The "hard" choice appeals to one's sense of one's own toughness. "Hey, I can make the tough call! Look how manly I am! I can betray millions of my own friends and allies!" The reality is that the sell-out is the easy choice. The hard choice is the quiet, long-term effort at alliance building, at awareness raising, at humble day-to-day slogging on behalf of a worthy ally. At changing the world, one mind at a time, one policy at a time, one administration at a time.

Resistance is the real hard choice, Hugh.

Problem 5: Errors of fact and interpretation
But the stark reality is that these days, there is not much the US can realistically do to help Taipei stand up to serious pressure from Beijing.

Back in 1996 when they last went toe-to-toe over Taiwan, the US could simply send a couple of aircraft carriers into the area to force China to back off. Today the balance of power is vastly different: China can sink the carriers, and their economies are so intertwined that trade sanctions of the kind the US used against Russia recently are simply unthinkable.
Writers producing this frequently resort to rhetorical tropes like "harsh" and "stark" to describe reality and choices. They present the writer as one able to make tough choices, unlike those squishy-soft Taiwanese (you know, the ones who, unlike White, resist rather than accommodate Chinese expansionism, require all their sons to enter the military, and occupy legislatures when they are pissed off). This acts as a petri dish for breeding false dichotomies, which of course is its rhetorical function.

Note that White says that there is little the US could do. LOL. There are many things the US can do short of the military intervention he actually presents (which was not toe-to-toe in any case, the carriers loitered far from the island, just a gentle reminder). It's not only a choice between military intervention and not intervening in support of Taiwan, except in the case of a hot war.

If "serious pressure" -- whatever that is -- is put on Taiwan, the US can respond by upgrading weapons sales and military contacts. By arranging the sale of Japanese subs to Taiwan. By upgrading its treaty and legal situation with respect to Taiwan. By moving military assets closer to the island. By sending cabinet officials to visit. By making loans and other commercial engagements. By organizing support from and for other regional actors. By a wide range of gestures both symbolic and real. Even by landing two F-18s in Tainan...

The US may or may not choose to do such things. But it always has the ability to.

Rhetorical constructions above and below are examples of how White's essay creates a bubble universe with no relation to reality.
In the past few years, [Taiwan] has slipped quietly into the background as tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea have posed more urgent threats to regional peace and stability. 
White has failed to connect all the dots with this opening comment -- an outcome of his relentless construction of a bubble world. Taiwan is intimately connected to both these areas (d'oh!). One reason the Senkakus and the South China Sea have become more urgent in recent years is that the election of Ma Ying-jeou has enabled Beijing to reduce its tension-mongering with Taiwan and ramp up tensions elsewhere. Tensions have not fallen, they have merely shifted, and increased.
In the 1990s, after Taiwan became a vigorous democracy, presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian started to push the boundaries of this status quo, seeking a more normal place for Taiwan in the international community. This infuriated Beijing and escalated tensions between China and America.

These tensions eased when, in 2003, then US President George W. Bush made it clear that the US would not support any Taiwanese push to change the status quo.
Hahaha. This is simply wrong, more of the same bubble universe that views tension through the lens of what Washington is doing. Here, I'll quote the awesome Mark Harrison in 2005:
The months since the re-election of Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian have seen a rise in tensions across the Taiwan Straits. The softer line which the Chinese government had adopted during Chen’s previous term has been seen to fail with the election result, and there has been a noticible shift in policy and much stronger rhetoric coming out of China.
Anyone could find this out using Google or searching tension on my blog.
This reality does not yet seem to have been understood in Taiwan. The overwhelming desire on the island is to preserve its democracy and avoid reunification by preserving the status quo.
Read the piece carefully: White's essay contains many claims, not a single one which is sourced, evidenced, or given concrete information. What is his source for "this reality does not seem to have been understood in Taiwan?" It's rather strange to think that the military and economic balance between China and the US is not "understood" by millions of people who live inside it everyday, and in a society where every male has to serve in the Army and hundreds of thousands work in China and export to the US. This may come as a shock for White, but perhaps the people who live this problem every day might actually know something about it.

What is the "overwhelming desire" of Taiwanese? It's for independence and international recognition, as poll after poll shows. People support the status quo precisely because it is a watered-down form of independence. They are not avoiding "reunification" but "annexation". White's claim is not wrong on its face, but it certainly requires explanation.

Problem 6: It's Taiwan's fault.
But now old questions about Taiwan's longer-term future are re-emerging, and so are old fears that differences over Taiwan could rupture United States-China relations and drive Asia into a major crisis.
Taiwan could rupture US-China relations? Taiwan is one actor -- this may seem incredible, you might want to sit down for this: all the actors in these relationships have their own agency. Poor put-upon Beijing is not the helpless victim of Taiwan's desire to remain free and independent. If relations between China and the US rupture, it is because Beijing or Washington has chosen for them to rupture. Taiwan is not the cause of the problem, because the problem is Chinese expansionism, not Taiwanese resistance. Note that this observation totally vanishes from White's piece. This is another example how people like White who assign agency to China in all other areas of its territorial expansion (for example) take a totally different view of Chinese expansionism when it concerns Taiwan. This attitude hinders both understanding and policy-making.

There's not much more one can say except: see ya on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Michal Thim continues the roasting of White
ALSO: Hugh White rebutted by J Michael Cole in the National Interest
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tsai Formally Announces =UPDATED= x4

Tsai Ying-wen announces. In Chinese

I'll be updating this throughout the day. Most recent updates at the top.

UPDATE 4: Daily Boom on Tsai recaps the major points of her candidacy as it currently stands

UPDATE 3: Reuters reports on the Chinese reaction.
"If (the DPP) upholds the Taiwan independence splittist position of 'one country on either side of the strait', then it will be hard to find a way out for cross-strait relations," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told a regular news briefing.

"This is not a new talking point - this is what happened between 2000 and 2008. One need not look far for a lesson," he added.

Ma would not comment directly on the presidential election.

Speaking in Taipei, Tsai said the development of cross-strait relations had to be subject to the will of Taiwan's people and could not be undertaken as party-to-party negotiations.
It's good see that one of the DPP lines is a blunt attack on the KMT's unilateral sell-out policy.

UPDATE 2: Jenny Hsu in WSJ:
The pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party on Wednesday formally nominated Ms. Tsai, a 58-year-old legal scholar and party chairwoman, for the presidential election slated for Jan. 16, 2016. It will be her second bid for the island’s top position, after losing to incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou in 2012.

At a news conference in Taipei, Ms. Tsai reiterated that maintaining the “status quo” with China—no mutual recognition and no unilateral change of status—is the basic principle of the DPP’s China policy.

“When the DPP resumes power, [the party] will conduct all cross-strait exchanges on a democratic ground firmly based on people’s will,” said Ms. Tsai, who would be Taiwan’s first female president if elected. Taiwan must maintain peaceful and harmonious external relationships with all players, she said.

Within an hour of Ms. Tsai’s nomination, Beijing responded by urging the DPP to “distance itself from independence movement.
The bolded red text is Hsu's own, according to some comments from DPP people I overheard. The DPP does not offer a "no mutual recognition" clause because that claim as conventionally understood accepts that Taiwan is part of China. In fact that DPP would be happy to recognize China if China recognized Taiwan as an independent country.

Chu is still saying he isn't going to run and will serve out his mayor position, but the rumors are strong that KMT insiders are saying his announcement is a matter of time.

Taipei Times report on Tsai's announcement here.

Ralph Jennings in LA Times here.

UPDATE 1:1 Here is the text of her acceptance speech in English, from the DPP (link)(Chinese):

DPP Nominates Chair Tsai Ing-wen as 2016 Presidential Candidate

April 15, 2015 - The Democratic Progressive Party's Central Executive Committee today formally approved the nomination of DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen to represent the party in the January 2016 presidential election. Dr. Tsai made the following remarks upon accepting the party's nomination:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A question for my readers about Chu

Above is the latest SETV poll, which shows that Wang does better than Chu against Tsai. UPDATE: Link

Let's unpack all the stuff I've been chatting about all day.

Eric Chu, KMT Chairman is going to meet President Xi of China in May, says everyone. I haven't talked to anyone who thinks that will be good for his election prospects. Can Chu really kowtow before Xi, then return to Taiwan and within a month tell everyone he is Taiwanese? Because even Ma Ying-jeou was able to say he was Taiwanese (started in July of 2011 and he managed to grit his teeth on that one for six months). The election is in January of 2016...

So you tell me what this means. Is Chu really going to run? Is the meeting with Xi a signal that he isn't going to run? Chu is really nice, and well liked, but hardly charismatic, and no one has ever mentioned that he is particularly brilliant or particularly cunning or particularly ruthless. So chatting with several friends about this meeting, and everyone is basically in same position: either Chu has a brilliant plan we don't understand, or else Chu hasn't foreseen how much damage meeting Xi might do him because he can't look that far ahead/lacks political sense, or else he isn't going to run and the Xi meeting relates to KMT internal politics. Even Ma had the common sense to stay away from a meeting with the president of China...

All those KMT legislators clamoring for Chu are clamoring for him because they need a strong candidate to keep their seats, a friend pointed out. Last time we chatted he pointed out that if Soong seriously runs for president, he'll act as a sink for pan-Blue protest votes. This will be especially true if the KMT runs Wang Jin-pyng, who is Taiwanese. Lots of Deep Blues don't like him, and neither does President Ma Ying-jeou (I hope they run Wang just to watch Ma eat crow and appear on a platform with him). Soong will give all those votes a Deep Blue mainlander option...

And lo and behold, the DPP has given Soong an incentive to run. Solidarity translates/reports on the DPP plan to reserve 13 seats for non-DPP politicians, including PFPers, from Soong's party:
Translation of an April 9 Liberty Times report by Chen Hui-ping and Su Fang-wo. See also this Taipei Times story, which alas leaves out information of great interest: firstly, that the DPP is running at least 1 indigenous candidate (unlike in ‘08 and ‘12), and secondly, that it seems to be planning to let Huang Shan-shan 黃珊珊 of the PFP run unopposed by the greens in Taipei 4. That could in turn indicate an unprecedented DPP-PFP legislative alliance is on the table, one that crosses green and blue and would make the KMT’s job of holding the Legislature even harder. (The other possibility is they’re just sick of crazy people running in Taipei 4 and would rather have a sane person there that they can work with.) Another district where there’s been talk of the DPP stepping aside for a PFP candidate is Keelung, but it’s not listed here.
Of course, there is always the possibility the KMT will run a Soong-Wang/Wang-Soong unity ticket... it's wide open if Chu chooses not to run. Commentator James Wang in the Taipei Times on the 13 set-asides...

In a previous post on Chu, I posted some graphics on how New Taipei City residents don't want Chu to run. Note that he does not have to resign. A dear friend pointed out to me that Chu is in a basically unprecedented position -- he holds a meaningful high government position. When Lien and Soong ran in '04, they had no public position. Nor did Ma in '08. Nothing says Chu has to resign his position, but it is hard to see how he can do justice to the KMT, a presidential bid, and running the nation's biggest municipality at the same time...
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Nuclear Wasted + links

Worlds within worlds

The government announced this week that it may have to shut down a nuclear power generator ahead of schedule because of the waste problem...
(Taipower, 台電) warned Sunday that the No. 1 generator at the country's first nuclear power plant may have to go offline sooner than expected because of limited storage space for spent nuclear fuel.

On Feb. 17, Taipower issued an invitation for foreign companies to tender for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from Taiwan's first and second nuclear power plants but withdrew the request on April 2 amid a budget controversy.

Taipower had allocated NT$11.257 billion (US$360 million) for the overseas reprocessing of 1,200 clusters of spent fuel rods, 300 of which were to be shipped out by the end of the year.

But lawmakers failed to approve the budget in March, saying that Taipower and the Ministry of Economic Affairs were trying to initiate a bidding process with foreign companies without legislative oversight and were accessing the nation's nuclear back-end management fund before the establishment of legal guidelines for its use.
These same problems exist at the second nuke plant. Yes, that's right, the KMT government built four nuke plants with no plan for handling high level waste. That's because the KMT is the rational party, see?

This might also be a vapor announcement meant to put pressure on the public to accept that the fourth nuke plant has to be completed, or the lives of the current ones have to be extended. However, both Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP and Eric Chu of the KMT have said they want an end to nukes, Chu by 2025. Chu began talking about that a couple of years ago when it became apparent that the public had turned against nukes, especially in New Taipei City where there had been a non-binding local referendum almost two decades ago that decisively rejected the plant.

The whole nation could easily be run on a robust combination of renewables. A rational policy by the rational party would have had the nation collecting two things on every rooftop, sunlight and water. But we wasted billions on the fourth nuclear power plant instead...
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Retired PLA General responds to J Michael Cole

J Michael Cole's recent essay on Taiwan defense brought out the worst in a retired PRC general who, irate, called Cole elementary school playground names and then outlined how the PRC would assault Taiwan. Missile strikes on the west coast, subs blockading its ports, missile attacks from ships on the big air force base in Hualien (Google satellite image)(h/t to Solidaritytw).

UPDATE: The awesome Michal Thim observed that this general also went ballistic over a piece last year. He's their designated shitter?

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!