Monday, October 05, 2015

Good and Good in the media

Oil wells in Miaoli? We do have oil around there somewhere.

Food. Again. This time from the son of Prince Charles' paramour in Esquire. The politics is excellent, rare in this kind of promotional piece:
Under Chiang Kai-shek’s party, the KMT, martial law was declared between 1948 and 1987, the longest period in world history. That meant no right to free speech or to assemble or protest, and the Taiwan Garrison Command could arrest and detain anyone. The KMT governed Taiwan until 15 years ago. “Now, we have democracy and free speech and freedom. And the majority want to be independent, and see themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese,” Enshen says.

All these influences and invaders and conflicting ideas of sovereignty might muddy the pools of national identity. But it certainly makes for a thrilling food culture. “Taiwanese food, like its history, is a mixture of Chinese and Japanese,” says Enshen, “with some fried stuff, and lots of seasonings, soy sauce, chilli peppers, fermented black beans, pickled greens, sesame oil, coriander and endless herbs.” We sit down in the large dining room, expensively air-conditioned but glaringly lit. “Standards are high, and the quality of ingredient carefully regulated. Unlike China.” He lived in Shanghai and Beijing for a while. “Taiwan is a huge food tourism destination. With the technology companies all gone, it’s now a place for cultural tourism from the mainland. Food is the culture that everyone in Asia understands. It’s the first thing on their mind when they come here.”
It's the usual Taipei promotional piece, unusual only in the excellent prose and good knowledge of history. Sure wish the government would let them discover Taiwan outside Taipei. Food promotion is highly political -- it enables the government to promote Taiwan without promoting its history, and thus, creating a recognized local identity (history = identity). Kudos to the food writer for getting around that.

Very different is this piece from Stratfor for which argues that the DPP may make a sea change in the South China Sea claims:
Beijing worries that a DPP administration will be much less committed to preserving the One China Principle. This is with good reason: DPP policymakers have called for outright abandonment of Taiwan's South China Sea claims in the past. While the Taiwan-held offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu off the coast of China's Fujian province have permanent civilian populations that would protest if island's legal status were altered, Taiping has no civilian constituency. Furthermore, many Taiwanese perceive Taiping to be of marginal economic value, with its few mineral resources and its distance from Taiwan, which makes it more or less inaccessible to fishermen.

A less dramatic option for a prospective DPP government would be to reinterpret or relinquish the eleven-dashed line instead of abandoning the islands of Taiping and Pratas outright. Even this would cause problems for Beijing. Because the Republic of China originated both Taiwan's claim and that of the mainland, Taiwan reneging would give ammunition to rival claimant countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. China would also no longer be able count on implicit backing if Taiwan drops its shared claim. And in the near term, Beijing may face supply problems for its installations in the Spratly Islands, which receive at least part of their water supply from the Taiwanese forces on Taiping. Without a common purpose, Taiwan would have no incentive to continue sending water.
DPP Candidate and Chairman Tsai Ing-wen has already made the pro forma announcement that these islands belong to the ROC. But any lessening of Taiwan's commitment to the Chinese cause would be a welcome relief.

Taiwan cannot give up its claim for several reasons. The KMT, at heart expansionist, would contend that the Constitution prohibits giving up "national territory" -- a domain which remains undefined. It might provoke some kind of Constitutional crisis -- unless the DPP controls the legislature absolutely. Another issue might be managing the handover to someone else -- determining who gets it. It obviously should go to Vietnam but everyone will protest, and the ROC die-harders would like to give to China, no doubt. That will again provoke domestic political issues President Tsai will not need, with so much more important stuff that needs to get done.

Likely it will be downplayed, but President Tsai, at least in the first term, won't do anything very strenuous.
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!


Brian Castle said...

It's the usual Taipei promotional piece, unusual only in the excellent prose and good knowledge of history.
Are you sure he got this history right? I thought this was off:
It started with the aboriginal people, as it usually does. Then came the Chinese immigrants, mainly from Fujian province. Followed by the Dutch, who spotted the island’s strategic importance.
I was under the impression that the Dutch showed up first and kickstarted the immigration because they needed labor. And then:
But the Chinese immigrants had little time for colonial rule and booted them out.
Was it the immigrants who were already there (as is implied) who booted them out or was it refugees from the Ching conquest?

Otherwise I thought it was a very good piece. The beginning in particular was respectful of Taiwan's identity.

Seamus said...

WTF?!? So the Taiwan armed forces are literally watering Chinese expansionism? Absurd.

Seamus said...

WTF?!? So the Taiwanese armed forces are literally watering Chinese expansionism? Absurd.

TaiwanJunkie said...

What?!!! We are actually supplying water for the PLA's island building adventure? You've got to be kidding me?!

Anonymous said...

That would be Koxinga, descendant of Chinese and Japanese pirates, and self proclaimed Ming loyalist.
According to James W. Davidson, First there were aboriginal from north east, they were killed by aboriginals from Malays. Then Japanese pirates and then Chinese pirates set up camp and formed a sort of pirates government. Then Dutch tried to take Pescadores, kidnapped Chinese for forced labor, and were driven off by the Chinese, who directed the Dutch to Taiwan. The Japanese pirates couldn't stand the Dutch and withdrew. Then Spaniards took Kelung. Then the Dutch killed the Spaniards. Then Koxinga, son of the Formosan Pirate Lord, drove off the Portuguese and the Dutch.