Tuesday, May 03, 2016

DPP: 2 steps forward, 1.9 steps backward Redux

When you absolutely, positively, have to cross that river.
Many DPP leaders linked the goal of democratization directly to the issue of Taiwanese identity and the principle of self-determination (Hu and Chu 1992). Because this subethnic cleavage transcended socioeconomic strata, the DPP consider it an effective counterstrategy to the KMT's broadly based socioeconomic development program. It was also an issue that could unite tangwai members of different social and economic interests under a common cause. -- Bruce Dickson
Some of the cleavages within the DPP are starting to appear as the May 20 handover approaches... Tsai has done a wonderful job holding the party together, but...

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen finally had to tell her incoming cabinet members to shut up this week after a couple of embarrassing incidents....
President-elect Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday warned her prospective government members against wasting the team’s credit by making careless remarks.

She made the statement in an address to a “consensus camp” in Taipei City’s Yangmingshan area of her Premier-designate Lin Chuan with about 40 of the ministers and Cabinet members who will be sworn in on May 20.

Remarks by at least three of the members had to be countered by the prospective Cabinet leadership after they caused public unease.
Nothing demonstrated this necessity more than remarks of Chang Ching-sen, a Minister without Portfolio, on social activists and urban renewal. He had caused an uproar:
The controversy stemmed from a Facebook post by Chang on Monday about an ad advertising the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) that in 2012 met resistance from the Wang (王) family who had refused to be relocated for the renewal and sparked a protest that was joined by scores of activists and students.

“[It was] the most kuso [a term in Taiwanese subculture meaning memed or parodied, but has evolved to indicate something nonsensically funny] activism in history. The Wang family that seemed to have been persecuted by the construction company and the government had a house that was 56.06 ping [185.2m2], but now has been distributed five apartments that total 175.02 ping with a value of more than NT$100 million [US$3.1 million],” Chang wrote.

“Fuck! How pathetic,” he wrote. “I meant those highbrow young people who howled for justice and staged candlelight vigils for the family.”

Chang soon deleted the Facebook post after it attracted a barrage of criticism.

However, Chang wrote another post saying he had no intention of making fun of the Wang family and the activists,” and added: “If the Wang family is still not satisfied with the five apartments they got, I can only say that they are unhappy billionaires. The [2012] protest, in my opinion, has stigmatized urban renewal and halted the city’s renewal projects.”
As an aside, it seems a widespread dodge among people who take things here in Taiwan that taking is ok, if something equal or greater than the thing taken is "returned." Recall that Ma Ying-jeou, when on trial for downloading government funds into private accounts, said that he had made donations greater than the amount of funds he took.

Chang's technocratic contempt for the activists was shown in his "standing firm" despite an apology for his words. The cabinet is made up largely of men and technocrats, and apparently its average age is just over 60. I expect that the social justice wing of the DPP and its supporters is going to become increasingly disenchanted with it over time. Though a commenter on my blog aptly termed it a suicide squad, here to take it on the chin for a period before it is replaced. [ADDED: Taiwan Law Blog just tweeted: Undeterred that the cabinet is only 10% women, Lin Chuan picks 6 more men to be deputy ministers (storm article)].

Ma Ying-jeou's last little vicious gift to Beijing, a fishing dispute with Japan, received a boost this week when the government sent patrol boats to Japan's claimed EEZ off Okinotori Atoll (contrary to media reports the Coast Guard said that the garrison on Taiping Island/Itu Aba was not increased). This is a small headache, fortunately, since Japan realizes that Ma too will pass. But Tsai will inherit this headache, which will put her at odds with the fishing lobby.

The incoming transportation minister also opined that maybe the new rail link to the east coast wasn't the best idea, a public statement that will likely cause the new administration further headaches. Transportation is THE issue for the east coast, whose residents have trouble getting train tickets because of the tourist crowds and the lack of trains. The east coast elected DPP legislators this year... it might not if the DPP does not give it the transportation infrastructure it demands. Because the DPP has been patiently cultivating the east coast -- Hsiao Bi-khim has done amazing work -- this decision could be even more important than the fight with the fishing and pork lobbies.

A larger headache is the looming fight over American pork. A legislative committee passed a motion demanding that imports of ractopork from the US be banned. Ractopork would cause large losses in the local pork industry, according to the article....
In a report to the committee, the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said that allowing imports of US pork containing the feed additive ractopamine would cause about NT$14.3 billion (US$442.99 million) in losses a year to pork-related industries.

“There are about 5.5 million pigs bred by more than 8,000 farmers in Taiwan. Pork ranks No. 1 among all agricultural products,” COA Deputy Minister Huang Kwo-ching (黃國青) said. “The nation’s pork self-sufficiency rate is 91.1 percent, with an estimated total economic output of NT$71.74 billion per year.”
US pork is heavily subsidized by the US government. There is no way Taiwan can compete with that, and the ractopomine controversy exists simply to keep that subsidized pork out. Good. But the pork farming and fisherman are important lobbies... recognizing this, Changhua County Chief Wei Ming-ku, a DPP politician, has already come out in support of a ban on ractopork.

MEDIA FAIL: O be serious. WSJ says in an awful piece arguing that cross-strait relations are getting worse in the run up to the May 20 handover to Tsai (no, they are not, but it is sexier to maintain they are):
Perhaps like Richard Nixon, the only leader who can put relations on a new and more stable basis is a former firebrand like Ms. Tsai.
"A former firebrand?" 180 degrees wrong! Tsai is famous for not being a firebrand. What a total distortion of reality, and a disservice to the incoming President. But it doesn't end there....
...Kenyan judges acquitted the suspects, but China asserts it has jurisdiction and wants the suspects tried where the victims were affected. That Beijing offered Kenya some $600 million in loans one week prior to the deportation likely helped.
(1) Kenyan judges didn't acquit the suspects (8 were convicted of document forgery and did a year in jail). They were acquitted for charges relating to illegal telecom equipment and illegal business organization, but not tried on the fraud charges. Since China sought to try them on fraud charges, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was a deal China and Kenya had arranged long before, meaning that... (2) the $600 million in loans was probably not a driver of the affair; Chinese police had been asking for the suspects since Dec of 2014 and Kenya had probably agreed long before the loans (see #1 above). The loans are more likely to be related to China's long-term purchasing of influence in competition with the US -- Kenya used to be a major US ally in the region.

This editorial is like a stroll through the greatest hits of China-Taiwan myths:
Departing President Ma Ying-jeou established closer ties with China, including a free-trade agreement, by accepting the slogan of “one China, separate interpretations” as the basis for talks.
ECFA was not a free-trade agreement, but a managed trade agreement designed to let Chinese goods flow into Taiwan and gut Taiwan's industries. There was no 1992 Consensus of "one China, separate interpretations" and Beijing does not accept that formulation. The basis for CCP-KMT cooperation is China's desire to annex Taiwan. Everything else is noise.

WSJ also forwards the myth of China giving Taiwan "economic carrots." The stats don't lie: ECFA has been bad for Taiwan no matter how you slice it. It is, at this point, sheer stubborn laziness to keep writing sentences like this:
Despite the economic carrots offered by the mainland, Taiwan’s separate identity grew stronger during his eight-year term.
Substitute "BECAUSE OF" for "DESPITE" and you might be a bit closer to the truth. The purpose of ECFA was to tie Taiwan's economy to China's gut its industries, reduce its trade surplus (fallen every year since ECFA was inked), and pave the way for further agreements. Once the public experienced ECFA (which never had majority support) it promptly rejected the subsequent services pact. D'oh.

Why is it so hard to get people to stop writing as if they were taking psychic dictation from the Spirit of Inertia?

PS: WSJ, stop writing "the mainland." You're thinking of Hainan Island. This is Taiwan we're talking about. Just write "China".
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Anonymous said...

It is reported in China Time(Taiwan) that Missouri State University Dr. Dennis Hickey wrote an article for www.chinadaily.com.cn that Tsai should accept 1992 consensus.

I was not able to find the article in China Daily

Unknown said...

I want to see a showdown between the DPP and Fu Kun-chi. He is currently the most disgusting magistrate and trying to have road after road built to support all the cement factories in Hualien. They planned and started widening the 193 without an environmental assessment, and cut down numerous trees before it being halted. Built a house above the legal limit in Hualien for a personal residence and I'm still confused as to why he isn't in jail yet for stock manipulation. I've lived in Hualien 8 years and am praying for a DPP government.