Thursday, November 05, 2015

馬習團 Morning Media Round Up

Apple Daily Poll out this morning has 53.1% against, 38% for the meeting.

China Post: Details emerge on the meeting
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As more details emerge about the upcoming meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore this Saturday, the government spent yesterday justifying the timing, legitimacy and reasoning behind the most historic development in cross-strait relations since 1949. Chinese officials confirmed that Ma and Xi will address each other as "mister" and that both were participating in their capacity as "leaders" of Taiwan and mainland China respectively.

Rebutting arguments from the opposition that the historic meeting comes abruptly and coincidentally months before Taiwan's presidential election, which finds the ruling party lagging in popularity, the Presidential Office stated yesterday that laying the groundwork for a high-level meeting had been underway for two years.

Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) stated that Ma's intention was to "consolidate peace and maintain the status quo," which was in line with his administration's seven-year track record for creating new inroads to solve practical issues in cross-strait ties

Ma will be joined by Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), Deputy Secretary-General Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑), National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), NSC advisor Chiu Kun-Shuan (邱坤玄), Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Andrew Hsia (夏立言) and MAC Deputy Chairwoman Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅).
Jon Sullivan of U of Nottingham, whose commentaries are consistently the most robust in the mainstream media, in the National Interest (read the whole thing, it's excellent):
Ma needed concessions from China several years ago, when he was still positioned to make a positive case for closer relations. Today, the majority of Taiwanese are disillusioned by the failure of Ma’s economic integration policies, and many are suspicious of his motives. I do not subscribe to the widely held idea that Ma is hell-bent on “selling Taiwan out,” but the strength of Ma’s emphasis on Chinese culture and the Chinese nation, to the exclusion of Taiwanese culture and the Taiwanese nation, has been remarkable and is quite of out of sync with mainstream public attitudes.

Ma is also symptomatic of a major problem in the upper levels of the ruling party, where powerful gerontocrats and their princelings hold sway. Their business interests in China make their preferences vastly different to regular people. This is a 1-percent problem, multiplied by the China factor: being a president and party associated with the 1 percent and unification is not the way to win over Taiwanese voters.
DPP Statement from Chairman and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen. This part is excellent:
However, since last night we have been hearing the voicing of many doubts and skepticism. The people’s voice is something President Ma Ying-jeou needs to face. The people have lost confidence in the government’s ability to facilitate cross-strait relations in recent years, and they will not wish to see yet another black-box decision. I will also point out that President Ma is near the end of his term. The people will never accept that an outgoing president bargains away Taiwan’s future to maximize his personal political legacy, or makes promises he cannot be responsible for. In addition, with elections approaching in Taiwan, choosing to hold a meeting between President Ma and President Xi under such sensitive timing is bound to invoke serious doubts from society, raising questions about whether the meeting was intentionally arranged to influence electoral outcomes. If the KMT always utilizes cross-strait issues as a tool of political manipulation during election time, it in fact negatively affects the cross-strait relationship in the long run, and it will not gain the consensus of the Taiwanese people.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ma’s policy of engagement with Beijing has contributed to the ruling Kuomintang’s sinking popularity among Taiwanese, and while the meeting gives Mr. Ma political prominence in his final months as president, it could sink his party further in January elections.
“There are very good economic relations between China and Taiwan, but we cannot expect any breakthrough on politics,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University. “If they had met two years ago it would have been quite important politically, but now I don’t think this can produce any substantial political impact.
Gerrit van der Wees (FAPA) in Taipei Times:
A third reason is that Ma wants to nail Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) down on cross-strait relations. Ma has been trumpeting that cross-strait “stability” cannot be guaranteed unless Tsai agrees to embrace the so-called “1992 consensus.”

He wants to reinforce this point by meeting with Xi and thus restrict Tsai’s room for maneuver once she becomes president. However, for Tsai and the DPP, the “1992 consensus” is a slippery slope toward unification, and she wants to keep all options open for Taiwan, providing Taiwanese the opportunity to choose their future freely in an open and democratic process.

Contrary to popular perception, the present “peace and stability” is only artificial, as it is predicated on the fact that Ma has given China the impression that Taiwan is inexorably drifting in its direction. As is very clear from opinion polls, that is simply not the case: Taiwanese prefer their democracy and freedom.


A truly fruitful and productive meeting between the leaders from the two sides can only be held in due time, after Taiwan itself has reached a broad consensus on future cross-strait relations in a transparent and open political process. What Ma is doing now is playing poker with the future of the country.
Taipei Times: KMT Caucus Upbeat on Ma Xi Meeting:
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday said it has a positive view of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), adding that China has made a concession by agreeing to meet Ma in a third country.

KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said there is no chance that Taiwan will be belittled at the meeting, as it is to take place in Singapore, rather than in Taiwan or China.

“Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had hoped to meet with [the Chinese leader] during his term and so did former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). That Ma could now meet with the Chinese president is actually a breakthrough in the cross-strait relationship,” Lai said. “That the meeting is to take place in a third country rules out possible controversies and ensures mutual respect will be upheld.”
Taipei Times: Ma's Sly Effort to Slip into history
Under normal circumstances, there would be nothing wrong with the nation’s president meeting the leader of China; it could reasonably be construed as the extension of an olive branch. However, it is a different matter when the design of the meeting has been carried out in an underhand manner, with decisions taken behind closed doors, in open defiance of the legislature and the public.

The Ma-Xi meeting directly contradicts a promise Ma made during his re-election campaign. In case he needs a reminder, on Nov. 18, 2011, Ma said: “I absolutely will not meet with the Chinese leader if I am re-elected.”

Ma also promised that a meeting between him and Xi would only occur “when the nation needs it, the public supports it and the legislature supervises the process.”

Therefore, it must be asked: Has he won the consent of Taiwanese for this meeting with Xi? That is to say nothing of Ma’s pledge to gain legislative supervision: Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he only learned about the meeting on Tuesday evening when he received calls from media outlets requesting a response.

The nation is in a dire economic situation, with soaring housing prices, a deteriorating labor market, weakening household incomes and plunging exports. Ministry of Labor statistics show the number of furloughed workers last month was at its highest level since February last year, and Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics data show that the unemployment rate climbed from 3.82 percent in July to 3.9 percent in August.

Central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) on Monday said it would be hard for the nation to record GDP growth of more than 1 percent this year.

Rather than finding remedies to tackle the sluggish economy and declining competitiveness, Ma is focusing on fulfilling his desire to leave a legacy — by having a chance to shake hands with Xi.
Taipei Times: [Potential Legal] Cases prompted meeting:
One legal adviser said that upon leaving office, Ma would likely face some major lawsuits.

These include litigation related to last year’s conviction of then-prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) for illegally leaking confidential information to Ma and then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) during a judicial probe in 2013 on alleged use of improper influence by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
WaPo with good quotes from J Michael Cole, who is now being widely quoted in the international media. The report erroneously states that the US sent carriers through the Taiwan Strait in the missile crisis in the 1990s. We didn't go near the Strait.
Ma, who steps down as Taiwan’s president next year, has made improving relations with China one of his top policies, with his signing landmark investment and tourism deals. But the expected economic benefits from his pro-China stance have largely failed to arrive, experts said, with wages and growth stagnant in Taiwan.

Now his KMT faces a stinging defeat in the elections at the hands of the DPP, opinion polls show. That has not gone down well in Beijing: The DPP has traditionally been much less favorable toward Communist China.
Vox with a surprisingly thorough review.
In many ways, what makes this such a big deal is the fact that it's extremely politically difficult for either leader to meet with the other. Both are risking real backlashes at home — Xi, because he risks appearing to legitimize Taiwan's government, which Beijing considers a bunch of illegitimate rebels; and Ma, because this is so unpopular among Taiwan's voters and has really hurt his party's political support.

Tellingly, according to the New York Times, Ma has been requesting a meeting with Xi for some time, and was at first told no. "Mr. Xi must be looking to do Mr. Ma a favor, he has been asking for this for a long time," an unnamed Asian diplomat told the Times. So maybe it's possible that this is about Xi rewarding Ma for his pro-China policies.
Richard Bush, longtime US Taiwan expert, at Brookings:
The Xi-Ma encounter will have three parts: a private meeting, separate press conferences, and a dinner. For the purposes of this meeting, Ma and Xi are referred to as the “leader of the Mainland and the leader of Taiwan.” This is good for Ma, because it creates some equivalence between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The nomenclature is also artful because it avoids the fraught issue of the political and legal status of Taiwan and its government.

It appears that the meeting itself will be the event’s principal achievement. Expectations for any other breakthroughs are being set very low. A senior PRC official said that Ma and Xi will “exchange views on promoting peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, discuss major issues on deepening cross-Strait relations in various areas and improving the people’s welfare.” The ROC government has declared that the meeting will result in no agreements and no joint declaration, and that no political talks will occur. This is appropriate since the work of concluding agreements between the two sides has ground to a halt, not least because of politics in Taiwan.
Tea Leaf Nation: the always excellent Chieh-Ting Yeh: The Meeting Between Ma and Xi: Just What the World Doesn’t Need
Since then, President Ma has attempted to fashion himself as a statesman working on one of the most serious geopolitical conundrums in the world today. This can be seen from what he touts as his achievements in office: concluding a long list of agreements with Beijing, most notably including the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), signed in 2010; opening up Taiwan for Chinese tourists and exchange students from China; and direct flights between the two sides over the Taiwan Strait. President Ma sees only one piece missing from his presidential legacy: a meeting with the leader of the People’s Republic.

Alas for Ma, the moment for him and his party has already passed. Now, the meeting with Xi will only further weaken an already reeling KMT and polarize Taiwanese society even more. Precisely because Ma followed through on his promise to bring Taiwan closer to China — but did so ways widely seen as dodging needed public scrutiny and oversight — he is now a deeply unpopular president, with approval ratings that in October registered at an anemic 16.3 percent. Ma will soon be termed out, but his party has only about two months until the next national election, where it is almost certain to lose the presidency, and quite possibly its legislative majority .
Radio France International on the meeting, with Dr. Ketty Chen, J Michael Cole, and Dr Jean-Pierre Cabestan, all good people (audio).

SPECULATION: SETV was saying/speculating that Ma would hand over Taiping Island in the Spratlys to the PRC. I hope so, it would cause a massive backlash both from within the KMT and across Taiwan society. The US just warned Eric Chu about going there, perhaps there's a connection.

MOREEric Chu calls on DPP not to oppose meeting. Third force parties rally against it. Government defends Ma-Xi meetup. Ma-Xi to split dinner bill: "one bill, two interpretations" a witty friend remarked.

There's an article in FT. I won't link to it -- it cites two pro-KMT people without saying they are pro-KMT, while identifying Gerrit van der Wees as pro-independence when they quote him. Why O Why can't we have a better media?

This is for the morning, I'll do another one tonight if I have time. Remember for Xi a side benefit is that this diverts the international media exposure from the truly important historical event of the US challenge to Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, to this vapid meeting of two leaders of Leninist, authoritarian parties that slaughtered millions of Chinese.
Daily Links:
PUBLICATION: Taiwan Communique Issue 152 is hot off the press
To: Taiwanese friends in the USA, Europe and Taiwan
From: Formosan Association for Public Affairs

We are pleased to let you know that the new issue of Taiwan Communiqué is hot off the press (attached). This issue starts with an overview of the Kuomintang’s Comic Opera that took place in the past few weeks, with KMT Chairman Eric Chu suddenly replacing presidential candidate Ms. Hung Hsiu-chu, who was rather unceremoniously ditched...

We then present the Election campaign in the final stretch from the DPP perspective, with a summary of Dr. Tsai Ing-wen’s September 22nd 2015 foreign policy speech, a brief account of her trip to Japan, and opening of her campaign headquarters in Taipei.

This is followed by an account of the Double Ten National Day celebrations , this year attended by Dr. Tsai Ing-wen. We also touch on President Ma Ying-jeou’s Double Ten speech, which was rather seriously out of touch.

We then have a bit of an analysis of the Taiwanization of the Chinese Kuomintang. Many observers are noting the implosion of the old “Chinese” Kuomintang, and ask whether the rather spectacular downward trend will lead to self-destruction or whether a more Taiwan-centric party will rise from the ashes.

In our Report from Washington we present the text of an the resolution introduced in Congress by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as the cornerstone of US-Taiwan relations.

We then have a Book Review on a new book published in Taiwan: From Taiwan to the World and Back; the memoir of ambassador Lo Fu-chen, who worked for many decades as a United Nations regional development specialist, and in 2000 was appointed Taiwan’s ambassador to Japan.

Below you find the table of contents. The electronic version will be uploaded to our websites and The hardcopy will be sent out to those who are on our mailing list next week.

Best regards,
Gerrit van der Wees
Editor, Taiwan Communiqué
Formosan Association for Public Affairs

CONTENTS Taiwan Communiqué no 153

November / December 2015

The Kuomintang's comic opera
The ruling party ditches Ms. Hung Hsiu-chu ....... 1

Eric Chu becomes the candidate ................... 3

Mr. Eric Chu is on the wrong track

by Gerrit van der Wees ............. 5

Election campaign in the final stretch
Tsai Ing-wen maintains a strong lead ............. 7

Tsai Ing-wen's foreign policy speech ............. 7

Successful visit to Japan ....................... 10

Opening of the DPP campaign headquarters ........ 10

National Day celebrations
A controversial "Double Ten" heritage ........... 11

Tsai Ing-wen attends and builds bridges ......... 12

President Ma Ying-jeou's speech: out of touch ... 13

The "Taiwanization" of the Chinese KMT
Ma Ying-jeou: the last of the Mohicans .......... 15
How Ms. Hung hastened the demise of the old KMT . 16
What will the new KMT look like? ................ 17

Report from Washington
Steve Chabot's Six Assurances resolution ........ 19

Book Review

From Taiwan to the world and back

a Memoir of Ambassador Lo Fu-chen, By Chen Rou-jin

reviewed by Gerrit van der Wees..... 21

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!


Wayne Pajunen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You might get a kick out of this.

It refers to Chiang Kai-shek as the "leader of Taiwan" and "Taiwan's Nationalist founder" - and to Mao as the "leader of China."

While referring to an event that occurred in 1945.

It might be the single weirdest media distortion of Chinese history that I've ever seen.

John Scott said...

I think the Ma-Xi meeting is a sure sign that even the KMT and the PRC have acknowledged that the KMT candidate will surely lose the election.

If they thought the KMT candidate still had decent chances of winning, then they would never have arranged such a meeting-- for fear that it would hurt the KMT's prospects.

As it is, the KMT has nothing to lose by making some 11th hour agreements with China.

After the meetings, they'll probably announce a "2015 Consensus", which will be some kind of "1992 Consensus" with deadlines and timetables.

STOP Ma said...

Why do I have a bad bad feeling about this?

Even though it's PandaMa, I can't accept that this is sheer stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I can also fathom this meeting precluding a series of orchestrated attacks on president Tsai during her term in office that will be designed to demonstrate how her "anti-China" sentiments and her "unwillingness" to cooperate with Beijing on political/economic issues that are detrimental to Taiwan "has led to an unfavorable economic atmosphere" that has "hurt the positive relations Ma made with China".

They are trying to box the presumed future president into a false precedent arranged by the KMT and the CCP to make any moves China disapproves of, which will be many, as provocative.

an angry taiwanese said...

Looks like Ma and Xi are now willing to put aside their minor disagreement and reach a long term common vision.
That is to Ma physicalize China's nine-dash line by terroterrize Taiwan proper.

I wonder if it is masterminded by Henry Kissinger?

Wayne Pajunen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The textbook that the Chinese professor used in my university in the states, Cambridge Illustrated History of China, does not have a chapter on ROC, it listed Warlord period between Qing and PROC instead, and made only passing mention of ROC twice in the entire book. It is probably normal for college educated journalist to not know about the role CKS played in China and wwii nowadays.

,,, said...

Jeez Ma, don't cha know.... NEVER GO FULL KMTard.

I wonder if White Wolf will carry his bags.

Actually, my guess is Xi will make a statement about removing the missiles. Me thinks there is a power struggle going on behind the scenes in China, Xi vs PLA. Xi has to deal with the bank problems in China and does not want to rock the boat with Taiwan issues right now.

John Scott said...

to Anonymous History Student above:

Obviously, anybody taking even an introductory Chinese history course should of course also be learning about the recent history of China's interactions with neighboring governments, as well as gaining a balanced understanding of social and political movements and trends in Taiwan. If that's not the case, then the professor is incompetent.

If people at universities outside of China are not getting this understanding, then the first step would be to immediately remove the Confucius Institute from that university, along with all of its influence on books, materials, curriculum and related university activities, and to replace all faculty recruited or paid for by the CI.