Wednesday, August 31, 2016

China Tourists are so down that they are up over the first six months of 2015

The sturdy mag Commonwealth has a piece in Chinese on China tourism in Taiwan. It observes that Chinese tourists are actually up in the first six months of 2016, something which I had not bothered to check...

Jan 15 321,458
Feb 15 406,239
Mar 15 279,703
Apr 15 358,798
May 15 372,766
Jun 15 308,087
Total: 2,047,051

Jan  16 366,409
Feb 16 405,307
Mar 16 363,878
Apr 16 375,567
May 16 327,254
Jun 16 271,478
Total: 2,109,893

Adding the numbers from Jul...

Jul 15 352,625
Jul 16 299,642

First 7 months of 2015: 2,399,676
First 7 months of 2016: 2,409,535

Tourists from China up slightly still. No great slash appearing in the numbers... but you know what the pundits will say!
Daily Links
  • Ralph Jennings has two awful pieces in Forbes this week, one error-ridden piece on the Tsai Administration, another a trollish listicle in which Ralph discovers that China is better than Taiwan because it is more Chinese and then in point 3 goes on to praise the Chengguan of China.
  • Taiwan and the Catholic Church from CPI. Good stuff...
  • I must be getting suspicious and paranoid in my old age. In the midst of a government push to give Taiwan a makeover as a good place for expats to live, suddenly a survey pops up showing Taiwan is the number 1 place for expats to live. Not that I disagree, but my experience with the epistemology of coincidence tells me something is decaying near Copenhagen...
  • Asia Sentinel piece on the KMT assets quotes John Copper, the longtime pro-KMT "scholar", ranting about the English language world which overwhelmingly supports a democratic and independent Taiwan -- and hilariously claiming they are paid by the DPP to do so. What a sad waste... 
  • A Washington-based pro-KMT think tank has a piece in The Diplomat warning of tsunamis, the end of civilization, and global war if Tsai does not adhere to the One China policy of Beijing. Watch out for more from this crowd...
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Well... at least they're honest...

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Monday, August 29, 2016

City Forums

Jack Anderson, WaPo, Aug 9, 1979. ROC officials considered sending letter bombs to people whose politics they didn't like in the US, but the idea was scotched by Chiang Ching-guo, according to a Senate report.

At New Bloom Brian H writes on Ko Wen-je and the Shanghai forum controversy. Ko agreed to welcome a CCP official as a stand-in for the Mayor of Shanghai. The hooha among the Greens, including very stupid accusations that about Ko's politics (of course he is Green, stop it with the purity tests) is a good example of the short-sightedness of so many in the Green camp. Ko was criticized for hosting a CCP flunky instead of the mayor of Shanghai -- as if the mayor of Shanghai were an independent elected official and not a CCP flunky.

Greens need to take the long view on this -- Ko is still electable and as a non-DPPer can garner a portion of the Blue vote, making him strong for the mayoralty in the next election. Taiwanese like to give a second chance after providing a warning -- so I expect he will win but with a smaller winning margin (like Ma for his second presidential term) -- and in any case, at the moment it appears the KMT nomination is likely to go to Alex Tsai, a blithering mainlander ideologue, instead of some deserving practiced politician. Another four years of Ko would be very good for the DPP, as Ko may be able to make progress cleaning up the cronyism that infests the city government after years of Blue control, and he will take the political hit for doing that (not the DPP). Moreover, another Ko term will demonstrate that the earth will spin placidly on even if the mayor of Taipei isn't Deep Blue, as well as create momentum for alternative parties, which the DPP needs to foster if it wants to prevent the KMT from rising again. After that the DPP can give Ko's presidential ambitions a quiet smile, and show him the door.

By contrast, Kaohsiung has no answer yet for its city forum from any of the five cities invited (FocusTw)...
Kaohsiung sent out invitations to Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Fuzhou in June for the Global Harbor Cities Forum it initiated and will host Sept. 6-8, but the five cities have neither confirmed nor rejected it, Hsu told reporters at the city's press conference held for the forum.
What does this mean? Well, if China had a policy, then they would execute it. But dithering like this over a minor international exchange is a strong signal that China has no idea what it is doing.
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News and Events of Local Interest: Reforms to attract foreigners in pipeline, Daniel Pearl Day Concert

From the Facebook group Foreigners for Taiwan... a list of the Exec Yuan proposals for reforms aimed at attracting foreigners to work here....

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blast from the Past: 1984: China and Taiwan: A Web of Unofficial Contacts

Full text is available online from the NYTimes site. With the China "cut off" of "official" communications, it is important to remember the web of unofficial communications that have existed between Taiwan and China for decades.

In the ICRT podcast below we discussed the forums through which Taiwan cities host Chinese cities. These represent useful unofficial channels, one of many. Note that Chen Chu has invited Chinese reps to her upcoming shindig, and they haven't responded. As I said in the podcast, if China had a policy, it would already have responded. It seems to me that Beijing does not know how to handle a pro-Taiwan administration in power...
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Friday, August 26, 2016

ICRT Again

On ICRT again.... tonight at 8:15 local time

Podcast link
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

A few links for Thurs...

Jan 10, 1983.

A few links...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ROFLMAO at Tourism numbers

Village on Lanyu

Lets get those numbers from the Tourism Bureau, MOTC. Clicking on the .XLS links for June 2016 and July 2016, we find...

June 2016
HKK/Macao 143,276
China 271,478

July 2016
Hkk/Macao 149,361
China 299,642

As my readers can see, Beijing once again slashed tourism arrivals in an upward direction, resulting in a total negative deficit of roughly 28,000 for China.

Or, as normal people might put it: tourism from China rose from June to July, by 34,000 for China + HKK/Macao, and roughly 28,000 for China. The total for HKK/Macao/China is nearly as high as it was in May...

May 2016
HKK/Macao 125,302
China 327,254

April 2016
HKK/Macao 110,716
China 375,567

The Feb and March totals for both places exceeded 500K. But we are just 30,000 under the April total for both. Tourism overall also rose, from 817K to 848K.

Can't wait to read more brilliant media analysis like this...
That, in turn, has hurt large hotels, mid-level restaurants and tour bus operators, said Kuo Tzu-yi, director of the Pingtung Tourism Assn. in southern Taiwan. His association covers Kenting National Park, a strip of beaches popular with mainland Chinese tourists. Crowds there had visibly thinned by mid-July.
...yes, I can easily see how those crowds thinned with the addition of 28,000 more tourists. I mean, they were probably thin compared to the well-fed Taiwanese...
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Blast from the Past: The first opening in the late 1970s

My son dragged down some boxes from upstairs yesterday and I spent some time sorting through them. I finally found some old newspaper clippings I've been looking for on China's first opening to Taiwan in 1981, which included the first trickle of visitors to China via Hong Kong in the late 1970s, and was built on regular smuggling operations that had been going on throughout the 1970s. I have another clipping on PVC smuggling which said that in 1980 (recalling from memory) so much PVC was smuggled from Taiwan it accounted for a year of Chinese demand. The investment surge of the 1990s was thus built on regular contacts that had been ongoing since at least the mid-1970s.

I have more clippings elsewhere, which I will put up as I find them. Click directly on the images to go to the Flickr page where you can view from in large size.

Note that trade was duty free -- tariffs were imposed later but I don't know when. Hence the current situation in which Taiwan is negotiating with China to reduce tariffs is another artificial situation created by Beijing to generate leverage for itself. Click on read more to view two more images below...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Hit Pieces on the Tsai Administration

We were heartbroken to lose our beautiful lab/retriever mix to kidney failure a couple of months ago. Then yesterday I was in the street in front of our house parking my scooter when this dog, a neighbor's, ran over to say hello. He is super friendly, and of course I greeted him. I remarked to our neighbor on how gorgeous he was and joked that I wished he were mine. My neighbor laughed and said I could have him, because he was her daughter's and neither mom nor daughter wanted him. Next thing I knew, we'd adopted him. So wonderful!

First, the good news. AP has made a quantum leap in quality in The Formula:
China claims Taiwan is its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Tsai's election upended Beijing's strategy of using economic inducements to convince Taiwanese that political unification is not only inevitable but also in their best interests.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party holds a strong legislative majority and favors Taiwan's formal independence from China, although she has taken no steps toward that goal.

Despite that, her refusal to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation prompted Beijing to suspend the liaison contacts days after her inauguration, in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on her.

Although China says Taiwan has been part of its territory since ancient times, the two sides have only been unified for four of the past 120 years, splitting most recently amid the Chinese civil war in 1949. Taiwan does not acknowledge Beijing's claim of authority over it, while surveys show an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese favor maintaining their current state of de-facto independence.
Depending on what you mean by "unified" AP is wrong to say for those four years Taiwan was "unified" -- the ROC occupied it on behalf of the wartime Allies and it was not (and is not) part of China. But note the care that AP takes to present the Taiwan side in this, and also to correctly define the 1992 Consensus (not even mentioned!!!) as what it is: the demand that Tsai say Taiwan is part of China. This is a thing lovely to see. Mega kudos and beers on me, if I ever meet this writer.

Aside: My observant friend pointed out to me another fascinating aspect of Tsai's apology to the aborigines: her apology re-orients all groups on the state as a neutral arbitrator with all citizens having a state-based citizenship, rather than the KMT vision of a ethnic-colonial state with a Han ruling elite redefining and then playing off local ethnic groups against each other to maintain power (a classic imperial ruling mode). Creating a neutral and Taiwan-centered State is a key yet little noted aspect of the post colonial transition Tsai must manage.

Sadly, the last week saw two hit pieces on the Tsai Administration, President Tsai Ing-wen ‘losing control’ of Taiwan’s pro-independence camp from Lawrence Chung in SCMP, whose pro-China/KMT political stance is obvious, the other from Ralph Jennings in the LA Times, Taiwan's ties with China slip as new president fumbles for a formula. Both hit pieces open with headlines that emphasize the President is losing control and directionless.

The Chung piece, despite its political views (even quoting those unnamed analysts) was actually more balanced: it gave views from the Green camp in last two paragraphs (placed where they could be most easily cut by the editor, but still...). The Jennings piece contains little of such balance and worse, is studded with erroneous claims and KMT propaganda attacks. Let's look at that headline:
Taiwan's ties with China slip as new president fumbles for a formula  
The direction of the attack is obvious from the beginning...

It demanded stronger safety measures for its travelers on the island. Chinese state media warned that tourists might stop going to Taiwan
Note the sequence in Jennings’ piece: China reacts to the crash, innocent victim style.  Reality: China is being opportunistic, using "safety" as pretext for already-planned tourism cut (Jennings notes that planned cut elsewhere). Unlike previous crashes with clear causes, this one was murky and perhaps a murder-suicide. All that context was just removed, because it complicates the simple-minded anti-Tsai narrative that Tsai disrupts relations.
But since Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, took office in May, China has grown surlier and no one is sure how much further it will go. And the abrasiveness cuts both ways: Despite the pledge to help families in the tour bus disaster, Tsai is considerably less conciliatory to China than her predecessor.
Kudos for the first sentence -- so rare in the international media to see agency forthrightly assigned to China. But then comes the false equivalence between aggressor and victim: “abrasiveness cuts both ways”. Apparently resisting annexation is “abrasive”.  And of course the global media double standard: Baltic Republics resisting Russian expansion? Plucky heroic democracies. Tibet and Xinjiang? How sad. Taiwan resisting Chinese expansion? Abrasive!

Please concretely identify an "abrasive" comment from Tsai Ing-wen on China since becoming President.

Also Ma was not "conciliatory". His party was actively allied with the CCP in annexing Taiwan to China. But none of that ever appears in the western media. Jennings even quotes the MAC:
“We need to know people’s views and keep listening to other people’s voices,” said Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for Taiwan’s China policymaking body, the Mainland Affairs Council. “With so much flexibility and goodwill, we think China should show support and understanding.”
Very conciliatory language. But apparently it's "abrasive".

“President Tsai is still trying to find a solution,” said Liu Yi-jiun, public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. “She’s entering … the tunnel and she’s still far away from the end. ... She needs to say something not to discourage the Chinese leaders.”
Liu Yi-jiun’s web page at the university is here. In fact if you search the name, the vast majority of hits are from… Ralph Jennings’ articles.  Despite the large number of observant, heavyweight journalists, academics, commentators, and political players in the capital, Jennings draws quotes monotonously from an academic at a second-tier university in the hills outside Taipei.

Apparently it never occurs to these commentators or writers that Tsai might know what she was doing and it is they who are clueless. But then "Tsai is smarter than us" wouldn't make good copy...
Beijing wants Tsai’s administration to enter a dialogue in which each side casts itself as part of a single entity known as China, though subject to different interpretations — a bit like China’s “one country, two systems” approach to Hong Kong. 
This is just a plain error: Beijing has NEVER accepted the “two interpretations” codicil. That that claim is KMT propaganda. Beijing does not want Tsai to "enter into a dialogue". It wants Tsai to say that Taiwan is part of China.

Progress: in several of the last few articles I have seen, the bogus term 1992 Consensus has entirely disappeared. Apparently even editors in newsrooms far away have realized it is bullshit and are now searching for formulas to represent it.

Jennings continues:
Complicating matters are the China-related mishaps, including the bus fire, that have mounted quickly under Tsai’s watch.
That and the errant missile are the only China-related mishaps. The others named below it either have nada to do with China, or were caused by China. Such problems occur at the same rate as during other presidencies (remember the falling crane, the train derailment on Alishan, the Suhua Highway Bus Crash, or the 2015 Transasia airplane crash? All killed Chinese tourists), but if that were said, Jennings' "mounted quickly" narrative would disappear. In fact tourism is dangerous and Chinese (and all other!) tourists are regularly involved in deadly incidents of all kind all over the world, but why provide context? Too rational, that...

In July, Beijing’s top Taiwan policy advisor predicted a “severe” effect on relations after the island’s navy misfired a supersonic antiship missile. 
This scene will be familiar to readers: western media forwards Chinese propaganda with neither further investigation nor caveats. Note that no “severe” effect on relations has occurred since -- it is nearly September. Jennings does not bother to mention that, of course. Stenography like this is how the media creates the appearance of tensions: since no one will bother to report that nothing happened, readers abroad will naturally assume that something serious has subsequently occurred.

Never mind that if something "severe" occurs, it will not because of some errant missile, but because China was simple waiting for some incident it could blame for its change of policy.

This month, Kenya deported five  Taiwanese citizens to China, drawing a “strong protest” from the Foreign Ministry in Taipei.  Beijing persuaded Kenya to hand over the Taiwanese, who will probably be charged with fraud, on the premise that they all belong under one flag, that of China.
No other news article makes the claim that Beijing wanted the men because they were “Chinese”. AFAIK Beijing has never asked for the men for that reason. Instead, the Chinese asked for the fraud suspects over a year ago in Jan of 2015 on the (internationally valid) grounds that the crimes had been committed against Chinese, Beijing’s consistent position throughout and with deportations elsewhere. This claim of Jennings’ appears to be a very serious error. Happy to correct if  anyone can supply documentation.
But the absence of talks since Tsai’s inauguration has meant the freezing of any new economic deals.
Talks are not “absent”. They were cut off by Beijing. You can be sure that if Taipei had cut off relations, the international media would be having kittens. But Beijing’s actions are always made to vanish via passive framing. Let’s rewrite that so it is clear...
“But Beijing’s decision to cut off official communication since Tsai’s inauguration has meant the freezing of any new economic deals.”
Jennings continues:
China hoped Tsai would offer an extension of the upbeat relations of the previous eight years, when Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to see the two sides as part of one China. That allowed the governments to build trust and sign 23 deals related to trade, transit and investment.
This is just rank nonsense. Ma did not “agree” to see Taiwan as part of China, as if that had ever been in doubt, he has always believed that. Rather, the “trust” occurred because both sides wanted to use economic deals to put Taiwan in China’s orbit, because both espouse the same brand of Han Chinese nationalistic expansionism. At least Jennings observes that Ma was seen as too close to China.

Taiwan should make “concrete efforts for the resumption of cross-strait communication,” China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman, Ma Xiaoguang, said this month, according to the official New China News Agency.
Again, stenographer for Chinese propaganda, reported without analytical comment.  Above it does note that China cut off semi-official communications – but that caveat should be here.

Tsai’s government has discussed no specific proposals to improve ties with China, saying it needs a clearer idea of Taiwanese public opinion before making any moves. But it’s now reviewing existing regulations on Taiwan-China interaction with a view toward improving them, a government official said.
This is what Tsai has always said: the Administration’s policies will be rooted in the people’s desires and the Constitution. Tsai’s characteristic move is to let her opponents talk. She is following that strategy.

Thus, Jennings inverts reality: Tsai knows what she is doing and has a legal basis for her policy, it is Beijing that is confused and uncertain about how to handle a pro-Taiwan government in power in Taipei.  But none of that will be presented in a western media piece, and Beijing’s bombastic quotes will be reproduced without analytical comment by the writer.

Even more urgently: the claim that “Tsai should clarify her China policy” is not a neutral political observation by analysts. It was, throughout the presidential election campaign, a constant refrain of the KMT’s candidates that the DPP should clarify its China policy. No sensitivity is shown to that in this article. Instead, this charge is presented as if it has no history as a KMT propaganda attack (ex: April 2015May 2015Dec 2015 review in the Diplomat).

Indeed, the attacks in this piece from Jennings are simply an expanded version of KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu's attacks on Tsai:
Hung said she has misgivings about the incoming DPP government’s ability to handle cross-strait problems, adding that the relationship would return to the same state as eight years ago, with economic exchanges dwindling, the number of Chinese tourists dropping, military matters becoming more tense and the diplomatic truce ending."
Withal, this LA Times article is little more than a KMT political attack on the Tsai Administration. It is absolutely shameful.

Sucks. Think I'll go hug my dog now.

UPDATE: I removed a section. My deepest apologies to Denny Roy.
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Taiwan Rep in Kenya all but confirms fate of deportees decided early on...

Cats in cages...

The Taiwan rep to Kenya had a piece in one of the Kenya papers today in which he accused Kenya of not being democratic yada yada yada about the deportations of alleged scammers to China. It was mostly just a pile of selective, judgmental emoting. But among its claims was this observation:
It seems plausible that Kenya decided long ago what the outcome of this deportation case would be and that in trying to sustain good relations with China, it has traded the order of law for assistance from China. Kenya has sacrificed these five individuals’ rights for political expediency and advantageous gain from Beijing.
As I wrote in The Diplomat earlier this year:
China became involved immediately. In December 2014, a police team arrived from China to help investigate the case, and in January 2015, the Chinese government formally requested that Kenya send the suspects to China. China wanted to try the suspects on fraud charges, while the Kenya government tried them only on telecoms equipment and business violations. This withholding of the fraud charges suggests that the two governments agreed on how to handle the case over a year before Tsai Ing-wen was elected. It is thus highly unlikely that the Chinese government was planning to signal the incoming DPP administration on cross-strait sovereignty issues.
Yup. It was all decided long before Tsai came to power...
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Son and Sun in Lanyu

This was her only smile during what was obviously a difficult trip for her. But she and the sea and Lanyu were all beautiful...

Another August, another trip out to Lanyu. My son, my man Drew of Taiwan in Cycles, and my bother in spirit Domenic Alonge headed out to experience the beauty of Lanyu (slogan: "A free goat with every pic!"). Pics below the READ MORE line if you can stand more of my favorite island...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Hiatus Time

Some of this would be nice...

Well, I am crash-dieting on beer and fatty pork this weekend, to experience the restorative powers of the food of the gods. So I won't be blogging until Monday the 22nd. Enjoy a few links to tide you over...
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Blast from the Past: Competing in the 1960 Olympics under the name "Formosa"

Protesting at the 1960 Olympics (Getty). Wiki has another image.

A 1960 Taiwan Review/Today article notes:
The World-Telegram and Sun on September 1 also editorialized that sport and politics were mixed when the athletes from the Re­public of China were "forced" to represent only the island of Taiwan in the current Olympic Games in Rome.

In a comment entitled "Sports and Politics," the Scripps-Howard paper criticized the conduct of Avery Brundage, the newly re-elected President of the International Olympic Committee.

"Avery Brundage likes to say, as head of the International Olympic Committee, that 'sports and politics do not mix'. Yet he was the center of a furor last year over the admission of the Republic of China to the 1960 Olympic Games only as representative of Taiwan (Formosa)—thereby implying that the Communist regime is the legitimate government of China.

"The Brundage viewpoint prevailed and Nationalist China did send a team to Rome as representative of Taiwan. But on the opening day when the athletes circled the stadium, a Chinese marcher held aloft a placard that said: 'Under Protest.' It drew widespread cheers.

"A few days ago Mr. Brundage was reelected unanimously as president of the IOC. That came about, according to sports writers on the scene, because Soviet opposition to him was withdrawn. Some observers pointed out, according to John P. Carmichael, Chicago Daily News sports editor, that 'the USSR surrendered on Brundage, after the IOC agreed to insist that the Republic of China athletes be forced to represent only the island of Formosa.
This book available on Google books observed that in the "key political fight" of the Olympics, ROC officials had called the US embassy in Rome to try to get them to have Avery Brundage let them compete as China. The athletes of the ROC delegation did not want to march, but the IOC officials wanted them to. When the march came, not only did the ROC group carry the placard, but they wore jackets with the Nationalist Chinese insignia on them. However, according to the author, the US embassy officials observed "glumly" that the protest went largely unnoticed by the crowd.

Maybe we should petition to use the name Formosa again, since we used it once already...
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Global Taiwan Institute Established!

Russel Hsiao sent this around:

I am very pleased to provide this update to my last e-mail about the forthcoming establishment of the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI; in Washington, DC.

If you have not already done so, please subscribe to receive GTI's updates for upcoming programs and events at I promise not to spam you!

More importantly, the purpose of this e-mail is to share some news about our exciting programs, which will launch at the end of September.

As some of you may remember, I was the Editor of China Brief at the Jamestown Foundation from 07' - 11'. China Brief was and remains an excellent forum for China analysis, but the scope of that publication is necessarily broad.

Against the backdrop of an ever changing landscape in the Taiwan Strait, there is a need and a demand for more diverse as well as robust Taiwan and cross-Strait analysis. Therefore, a pillar of GTI's programs is a weekly publication focused on analyzing policy relevant developments in Taiwan, China-Taiwan, and U.S.-Taiwan relations.

I am looking for authors to write for this publication and contribute short analytical pieces of around 1,000 words. The articles should serve as a bridge between current events and policy analysis. If you or anyone you know might be interested in contributing to the publication, please contact me at and I'll be happy to discuss details.

In any case, don't forget to sign up to receive GTI's updates at and stay tuned for more major announcements!

Best regards,
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Links

Enjoy a few links...
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Book Review: Taiwan's China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan's Cross Strait Economic Policy

Taiwan's China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy
Syaru Shirley Lin
Stanford University Press
304 pages

One of the joys of operating this blog is the privilege of meeting incredible people, listening to them talk, and then reading their incredible books. Few have merited these encomiums more than Shirley Lin.

She arranged a meeting with me in Taipei to give me a copy of the book, and then talked at me nonstop, ideas, insights, histories, stories, more ideas, more insights, pouring out of her, an Amazon at full flood. I think it took me until about 40 minutes in to complete my first sentence.

A former partner at Goldman Sachs, Lin teaches part of the year in Hong Kong, and the part in Virginia. She was born in Taiwan and comes from humble stock: one of her grandmothers sold gong wan in the Yuanhuan Market on Nanjing W road for decades. Few people have her breadth of experience in both the financial and academic worlds, as well as her deep Taiwan roots, making her uniquely qualified to write this work.

The major idea of this work is that "Identity is treated as an integral part of a more comprehensive understanding of how the Taiwanese have dealt with their China dilemma." Following Alexander Wendt, she argues that values, such as identity, are how economic interests are chosen. Lin supports her argument with a (1) comprehensive historical review of the debates over the economic approach to China and the rise of the modern Taiwan identity that is (2) not pro-China or pro-KMT but well balanced and inclusive and (3) buttressed by charts and graphs of every type and kind. In addition to placing identity at the heart of the cross-strait decision-making process, Lin also uses the distributive effects of the economic engagement with China on Taiwan, effects that have strong explanatory power for the choices the Taiwanese have made over the last 15 years. Up to date, she observes that Taiwan's identity is rooted in shared democratic values. She also puts her finger on the recent changes in identity as class and socio-economic cleavages created by interaction with China. In short, this is a meaty and informative work that demonstrates a deep grasp of the topic at hand.

Lin's framework for understanding the debates is eclectic, and she has little patience with the propagandistic pro-China mutterings of the kind of Blue scholar who regards Taiwanese rejection of economic ties with China as a form of irrationality, dismissing them as facile:
"Because of the shortcomings of these perspectives, a highly influential line of analysis attributes the otherwise inexplicable to the role of identity in Taiwan's domestic society. One approach views identity as artificially constructed by opportunistic politicians engaged in "identity politics," appealing to groups to adopt or sustain a certain identity in order to mobilize support for particular political leaders or public policies on that basis. According to this approach, such identity politics has led Taiwanese voters to act emotionally or even irrationally when considering Taiwan's economic policy towards China (K. Chen 2004). National identity has no intrinsic value in this kind of analysis; it is simply an outcome of political contestation, in which entrepreneurs are manipulating identity for political gain. But even though "identity politics" can be an easy way of explaining behavior that departs from rationalist predictions (L. Cheng and Keng 2009; S. C. Hsu 2007), this perspective can overlook the fact that Taiwan's unique history and values have created a deep sense of national identity that should not be dismissed simply as false consciousness created by a small group of extremists"(p19).
Historically, the book focuses on the period between the missile crises in the 1990s and the run-up to the signing of ECFA under the Ma Administration in 2008-2010, and carries the history through to the Sunflowers, chronicling the shifts back and forth under successive Administrations. Under the Lee Administration the debates over how to engage China were forthrightly painted by both sides in terms of identity, with the diehard KMTers throwing language at the Taiwan side that will be familiar to anyone who has followed the debates over ECFA and the services pact. Little has changed in that regard.

The Lee era gave way to Chen Shui-bian and the debate over the opening to China, which resulted in an economic boom in Taiwan. Lin uses the semiconductor industry as a case study for understanding the cross-currents of economic decision-making and identity. That industry is the perfect choice: in 2008, when the DPP was fielding Frank Hsieh for the presidency, I sat down with a friend of his to chat about the election, and the semiconductor industry was the topic of conversation, and not very happily either.

Lin's up-to-date understanding shines in her discussion of the Sunflowers and the Ma Administration. Unlike so many authors who assigned Sunflower objections to the services pact to identity politics, Lin's analysis recognizes that their objections were rooted in practical and informed understandings of the effect of the pact on the Taiwan economy.

I can't recommend this book enough. Detailed, packed with information and statistics, and very conservatively argued, this work should be on the shelf of everyone interested in the debates over Taiwan's economic future.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wed Short Shorts: Please stop, Kerry Brown

Taiwan: you're never far from this

Interesting news for the KMT today. First, the political warfare military instructors are going to be phased out of educational institutions across the nation by 2020. In the old days they were responsible for following and reporting on the political views of students, and also for school discipline and punishment. Students viewed them with terror. Generally they were pro-KMT and enforced party ideologies and historical theology. Remnants of that attitude remain, as this video from Feb shows. But on the whole they have changed with democratization. Getting rid of the KMT's political presence in the government is one thing; rooting out its institutional presence is another, and more difficult. It will be another generation before that is gone...

Bigger news for the KMT is that the local factions are signalling they want evolution, if not revolution: they want local chapter heads to be elected by local chapters, not appointed by the Party center. This is a direct threat to the mainlander elites who really run things, since they've been accustomed to managing the patronage networks from above... from the KMT news organ:
According to Yao Chiang-lin (姚江臨), a member of KMT’s Central Standing Committee, former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was concurrently KMT chairman, had included direct election of local chapter directors as one of his party chairmanship election campaign planks. However, he did not fulfill his promise, nor did the following chairpersons, Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), Eric Chu (朱立倫), and Hung Hsiu-chu.
As everyone has noted since the 1970s, if the KMT wants to survive, it will have to Taiwanize. This would be an important first step. Hung, backed by the mainlander old soldiers, is temporizing. Readers may recall back in February then Chairman Eric Chu appointed a bunch of retreads and old men to the Party Chapter Chair positions, signaling that there would be no "reform" on his watch.

A friend of mine put it:
More noise..... I wonder if this will be like the time the party majorly reformed following its big election losses in 2000, 2004, 2014....
Turning to the outside world...

Like far too many China scholars who seem unable to approach Taiwan except through a China frame, UK scholar and uber-commentator Kerry Brown expends billions of pixels trying to subsume Taiwan into China, and thus, utterly failing to understand Taiwan. His latest so-does-not-get-it effort in the Diplomat is how Tsai’s Apology Strengthens Taiwan’s Place at Front of Chinese Modernity...
This issue is a huge one. Han Chinese treatment of smaller ethnic communities in modern Chinese history has been one of the darkest and most taboo issues. Mongolians in the Inner Mongolian region during the Cultural Revolution, starting in 1966, endured terrible treatment, with official figures released a decade later admitting that over 20,000 had died. Chinese Muslims were forced to eat pork, and Tibetan monasteries were closed down, with many destroyed. Up to today, similar patterns of exclusion and poverty exist in China’s 55 recognized ethnic minority groups. Attempts to hold the government to account on these issues run the risk of being painted as politically motivated, separatist attacks. The idea of Beijing issuing an apology along the lines that Tsai has for its ethnic communities and the treatment they have received in the last decades, let alone centuries, is currently unimaginable.

Tsai’s apology will no doubt not be widely reported across the Strait. But it does stand as a major historic movement with relevance for all Chinese, not just those in Taiwan. It shows how a Han Chinese-dominated community can start to look at its behavior and record in relations between ethnic groups over the decades and admit to some hard truths. In this, Tsai has possibly been inspired by the actions of leaders like Kevin Rudd in Australia. Rudd’s groundbreaking decision when elected prime minister in 2008 to issue a formal apology to the country’s aborigines was a courageous act, and ranks as perhaps his most important achievement in power.
The framework for understanding Tsai's action is not "Chinese modernity". It can never be "Chinese modernity" because modernity in China is a Han-chauvinist, colonialist, and imperialist modernity, a modernity imposed on China by Han elites, a modernity stamping out local differences and local cultures and languages as fast as possible and replacing them with Han language, history, and values, because China is an empire that is attempting to cover itself with the hard candy shell of a state. Thus, the use of "ethnic groups" in the media and academia to describe Tibetans or Uighurs is a good example of China's soft power at work -- its deployment as a descriptor obscures the imperial nature of Chinese rule. China is an empire, its variegated peoples are occupied peoples, not "ethnic groups" as if they somehow were serendipitously found to be living in China (gosh, how did that happen?) and were not the subjects of imperial conquest.

When the PLA comes over, the destruction of Taiwan's culture and political independence will be just another example of Chinese colonialist modernity at work. Just as it was the first time the KMT imposed Chinese modernity on Taiwan in 1945...

Tsai's apology was not "Chinese" but Taiwanese. Her actions, as I noted in the long post below, are not a further development of "Chinese modernity" but the offering of an inclusive Taiwanese democratic alternative that is based on resistance to Han-centered Chinese modernity. Her apology was made possible by a Taiwan-centered modernity with Taiwan independence at its core, and itself is an act furthering independence.

Even Brown himself recognizes that no Han in China could apologize to those "ethnic groups". Hmmm, wonder why...

Note to KBrown: the people in Taiwan are Taiwanese, not Chinese. I am pretty sure you don't regard Kevin Rudd's apology as a beacon to British people everywhere. Tsai's apology to Taiwan's aborigines is similarly not a beacon to Chinese people everywhere. If Chinese people choose to be inspired by it, that would be awesome, but I don't hold out much hope...
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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Struggle over another round of Kenya Deportations + Links =UPDATED=

On a ride above Chiayi, running into a birthday celebration at the overlook. They insisted we have something to eat, of course. 

UPDATE: 5 suspects went out at midnight to China (DailyMail).

Taiwan and China are tussling over Taiwanese suspects in Kenya found not guilty in a recent trial (Taiwan News)
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Saturday that it has conveyed Taiwan's position on the matter to Chinese authorities through various bilateral liaison channels.

The MAC said it has urged Beijing not to take the Taiwanese to China before the two sides can reach an agreement on how to handle cross-border fraud involving people from Taiwan and China.
Since misreporting by Taiwan-based commentators has been so common in these affairs, I always check the Kenyan papers. The Kenyan Daily Nation reported:
“I now conclude that after examining all the evidence on record, I find that the prosecution has totally failed to prove its case against the accused persons, the defence was credible and convincing and I now acquit all of them,” Magistrate Gandani said.

The 40 had been charged with running a telecommunication system without a license, conspiring to commit a felony and engaging in an organised criminal activity.

They had denied the charges when they were arraigned in court in December 2014 and were not released on bond.

They had been arrested after another group of 37 Chinese nationals were caught and charged with similar offenses.

A fire in a residential house in Nairobi’s Runda estate had led to their arrest as well as the death of one unidentified Chinese.
There are several differences between the current set of deportees and the previous. First, the Taiwan government had been slow in acting on the previous case. In the current one, the Taiwan rep is already negotiating with Kenya authorities. Second, in the previous case, though it was widely reported that the Taiwanese had been found innocent of all charges, that was false in two ways: they hadn't been charged with fraud (signaling to me that China and Kenya had made a deal), and 8 were indeed found guilty of having false documents and jailed for a year. In this case it looks as though the charges were different and at least included "organized crime", whatever that means

Interestingly, both this group and the previous group were busted in the same set of actions after a fire exposed the equipment (Jan 2015 report). It is hard for this writer to believe that the evidence wasn't up to snuff. From the BBC report of December 2014:
"Preliminary findings show the fire was caused by one of the servers they were illegally operating," the director of Kenya's Criminal Investigations Department, Ndegwa Muhoro, told the privately owned Standard newspaper.

Numerous telephone headsets, computers linked to high-speed internet and monitors were found.


The charges against the 77 so far include "being in the country illegally and operating radio equipment" without the necessary permits, AFP quotes an unnamed source as saying.

The suspects had been living in "military-style dormitories", and Chinese officials were shocked by the revelations, the Standard reports.

The group had been preparing to "raid the country's communication systems" and had equipment capable of infiltrating bank accounts, Kenya's M-Pesa mobile banking system and ATM machines, according to Kenya's privately owned Daily Nation newspaper.
Once again, I am thinking that a deal is in place and they were found innocent so they could be sent on to China to be charged with fraud -- a charge notably absent from the list above -- and jailed there as a signal to the massive complex of telecom fraudsters across Asia and Africa that China will not tolerate this behavior.

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Understanding Tsai's Apology to Aborigines as a Pro-independence move

A vegetable seller breaks for a chat at a local temple.

One of the sharpest observers of Taiwan and its aborigines I know articulated a key issue with Tsai's apology in a comment on the post below this one about the apology:
The real key issue is that Tsai's apology shifts the official view of Taiwan from the primordialist standpoint of Chinese sovereignty as outlined in the two Chinese nationalist programs (ROC and PRC, to one of coloniality, and therein robbing the ROC and PRC of their territorial claims, which seek sovereignty in the integration of a Han racial nation. Tsai has effectively moved the goalposts and repositioned Taiwan outside of the Chinese nationalist paradigm.
KMT Chairman Hung, who understood this intuitively, attacked the apology:
Hung questioned whether or not Tsai was making use of aboriginal perspective of history to eliminate Han Chinese People’s perspective of history, or even engaging in desinicization to create a new perspective of history. “It is inevitable that people will question the DPP’s real motives,” added Hung.
Remember, in the KMT political lexicon, desinicization is a code term for removing markers of KMT colonialism in Taiwan -- which is exactly what Tsai was doing.

In the discourse of Chinese expansionism, which seeks to expand China out to the old Qing borders, the Qing (and other governments of China) were not imperialists or colonialists, but were Chinese and their lands China. Hence, the current wave of expansion is "rectification of the borders" and the variegated peoples in China are Chinese.

That means that in the Chinese expansionist view, Taiwan can never be a colonial holding, but is China, and colonialism cannot occur there, just as Tibet and Mongolia and Xinjiang can never be the objects of Han/Chinese imperialism, and the peoples of China are not peoples subjugated and assimilated by the dominant Han majority via the familiar processes of ethnic chauvinism and colonial expansion, but non-Han minorities who just happen to live in China (and whaddya know, how'd they get there?).

Tsai's apology drove a truck through this formula by acknowledging that the Han project in Taiwan is a colonial project. If it is a colonial project, then Taiwan is not a part of China, but a colony separate and different from it, where Han people do not belong, but have entered from the outside. Tsai implicitly recognized some kind of aboriginal claim to Taiwan. She also identified the aborigines as specific and diverse groups some of which she named, against China's presentation of all aboriginal groups as a single minority "mountain people", a minority that just happens to live in China (and whaddya know, how'd they get there? Because they weren't colonized or anything). Further, by presenting the apology as a form of transitional justice, she also aligned it with the movement for transitional justice in Taiwan against KMT colonial power, and with the Taiwan identity that is slowly obliterating the "ethnic" differences long exploited by the KMT. A shrewd political move.

The apology also recognizes that there can be no transitional justice without transitional justice for the aborigines. Otherwise transitional justice would be little more than a negotiation between privileged Han groups...

MEDIA: A sharp new PHD alerted me to the fact that AP caught some of this as well:
Tsai was elected by a landslide in January elections that have thrown a shadow over the island's relations with China, which claims Taiwan as a part of its territory from ancient times. Her view of Taiwan as a colonial society clashes with Beijing's claim that the island has always been an inherent part of China, which must eventually be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Kudos to whoever wrote that.

UPDATED: The Granite Studio takes note.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

President Tsai Ing-wen apologizes to the Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan

Tea near Shijhuo

Austin Ramzy reports in NYT reported on Tsai's history-making apology to the Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan:
Taiwan’s earliest known residents are believed to have come to the island 6,000 years ago or earlier from Southeast Asia and are part of the Austronesian peoples who range from Madagascar to Polynesia. When Han settlers from mainland China began arriving in the 17th century, indigenous peoples, particularly those on Taiwan’s western plains, faced assimilation, loss of land and outright violence.

Today, indigenous groups face high levels of unemployment, low wages and less access to education and other services.

“Another group of people arrived on these shores, and in the course of history, took everything from the first inhabitants who, on the land they have known most intimately, became displaced, foreign, non-mainstream and marginalized,” Ms. Tsai said.
This apology was preceded by demonstrations, chronicled by Brian Hoie at New Bloom.
In particular, indigenous demonstrators were demanding concrete action on the economic inequality and unequal distribution of resources faced by indigenous. As a result of economic inequality, the average life expectancy of indigenous are 8 to 9 years less than their Han counterparts in Taiwan, for example. Moreover, apart from that traditional ways of life continuing to be threatened, indigenous communities face the threat of land seizures and appropriations, it also is that the Indigenous Basic Law is sometimes not enforced except at a local level, and even then, the Indigenous Basic Law has its own flaws which remain to be rectified.
After the speech, there were more demonstrations, but several knowledgeable individuals present said that the demonstrators were different from the ones who had been there the evening before the speech, and appeared to be fakes aimed at the cameras.

My friend Drew at the nuclear waste dump on Lanyu in 2014

There were many high points. Among them, Tsai mentioned the obnoxious nuclear waste dump on Orchid Island...
I will also direct relevant agencies to present an investigative report on the decision-making process of nuclear waste storage on Orchid Island. Before finding a permanent solution for the nuclear waste, we will provide the Yami tribe appropriate compensation.
...a perfect metaphor for the way the Han treated the Aborigines historically. The dump needs to be moved, and the Aboriginals compensated. The Lanyu people complained that Tsai's words contained nothing concrete and did not specifically mention removal.

Another highly welcomed note was the recognition of the Pingpu (lowland) aborigines as a formal group:
At the same time, under the principle of respecting the Pingpu ethnic group's self-identity, and recognizing their identity, we will examine relevant laws before September 30 of this year, so that Pingpu ethnic group identity will receive the rights and status it deserves.
The Pingpu were shapers of the Taiwan identity and the culture of the Han colonizers in ways that are little understood, just as the European encounter with the peoples of eastern North America had a huge impact on the subsequent American culture.

Tsai also addressed the ongoing sore point of aboriginal hunters arrested for legally hunting on designated lands.

These were all things that were welcomed by many listeners who were not aborigines, but they did not go far enough for many aboriginal groups. For example:
“The problem is that [Tsai] has chosen not to return to [former president] Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) New Partnership quasi-state relationship, not even mentioning it in her remarks,” said Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policy president Yapasuyongu Akuyana, who is a Tsou.

Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in 2002 signed a New Partnership Accord promising autonomy and partnership through state-to-state relationships with Aborigines, but the accord was ignored by the government of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Aboriginal desire for a return to the quasi-state relationship had actually been mentioned in news reports of the previous day. KMT aboriginal legislators stayed away, another demonstration of the way the KMT remains out of touch. Taiwan Law Blog observed that Tsai did not mention any of the international laws and agreements on aboriginal peoples.

Words are nice, but now, we need to see action.

UPDATE: KMT Chairman Hung's hilarious words from the KMT News Organ:
Hung questioned whether or not Tsai was making use of aboriginal perspective of history to eliminate Han Chinese People’s perspective of history, or even engaging in desinicization to create a new perspective of history. “It is inevitable that people will question the DPP’s real motives,” added Hung.

REF: Apology in English translation (original Chinese)
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MediaFail: Where is Beijing's anger?

Not enough kitsch in your life? Just drive here. 

From the very widely-reproduced AFP article:
The test of the U.S.-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system will be launched at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in early July, a defense ministry source told AFP, in a move likely to irk Beijing even though it was arranged before Tsai took the helm.
Reports said Taiwan would test-fire its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC3) missile system for the first time in New Mexico in July, which military experts said would surely infuriate China.
From The Diplomat:
In July, Taiwan will test-fire its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at a U.S. missile range. The test, though scheduled under Taiwan’s previous Kuomintang government, stands to raise tensions between Taiwan and China.
Of these, by far the most common was the AFP report, which was picked up by SCMP, the Japan Times,, and others. AFP is very effective at what it does, as I've complained many times.

Many of us have noted over the years the way the media writes "X is happening soon! China will surely be angered!" which maintains the idea that Taiwan is the cause of tension. AFP's nonsense here is a good example. The missile test passed a couple of weeks ago.

Where is the anger?

But you won't see any of these media sites issuing a clarification or acknowledging and correcting the "error"...
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Way Cool: Cache of Japanese Military Maps of Asia

Yup: Yuanli's town slogan is "A vision of the future."

A friend passed this around Facebook: a trove of Japanese military maps made prior to WWII with incredible detail and information. A teaser...
These maps were captured in the waning days of World War II as the U.S. Army took control of Japan. American soldiers confiscated thousands of secret Japanese military maps and the plates used to print them, then shipped them to the United States for safekeeping.


Not surprisingly, the Japanese surveyors weren’t always welcomed in other countries. In 1895, angry locals in Korea killed several assistants on a Japanese survey team, Kobayashi writes. (Japan annexed Korea in 1910 and held it until the end of World War II.) Two decades later, Japan sent secret survey teams into China. These men disguised themselves as traveling merchants and made their maps equipped only with a compass and by counting their steps to mark distance.

In the age-old tradition of cartographic copying, the Japanese often built on maps they’d captured from their foes, adding their own notes and details on top of the original. Cyrillic script is visible in the Japanese map above of Vladivostok, Russia, for example. Naturally, their enemies did the same thing. The formerly classified U.S. Army map of Okinawa below, printed in 1945, is based on a captured Japanese map.
Stanford is currently putting the maps online. There is a topical index here and many maps of Taiwan -- here is one collection, the red not yet digitized, the green are accessible. Here is a Keelung map, and here is a Taichung map at 1:50,000. Click somewhere inside the viewing frame to see the map, it sometimes doesn't appear unless you click in that frame. Sometimes you have to grab and move the map around in the viewer to actually see it, they digitized a lot of unnecessary area around the map, so the first thing you see sometimes is a lot of useless gray area (on some maps click on the upper right corner of the map box for full screen and move the image around til you see the map). The maps are fully zoomable. Way cool.
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