Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ma Ying-jeou's last little vicious gift to Beijing: roiling relations with Japan

Dear reader: my apologies. After I saw this structure, my brain malfunctioned for several hours. I am completely unable to explain anything about this image.

Ma has spent the last couple of months trying to help Beijing by stirring up trouble in the South China Sea. This is a deliberate strategy, as I have noted for several years now, of irritating relations with Taiwan's key neighbors to the south and southeast, to help impede the formation of an anti-Beijing front -- even though Taiwan faces the same threat of expansion that they do. This is Ma doing what he can for China.

But China's expansion into the Senkakus and beyond to Okinawa, coupled with Taiwan's restless fishermen, offer countless possibilities for roiling relations with Japan. This week, in a word, Okinotori (Wiki). A few rocks that were rapidly eroding when Japan grabbed them, Wiki notes:
The waters around the reefs are potentially rich in oil and other resources and it lies in an area of potential military significance. At high tide, one area of the reefs is 1.58 square meters (17.0 square feet), roughly the size of a twin bed, and pokes just 7.4 centimetres (2.9 inches) out of the ocean. The other is 7.86 square meters (84.6 square feet), the size of a small bedroom, and rises 16 centimetres (6.3 inches), about twice as high. The entire reef consists of approximately 7.8 square kilometers (3.0 sq mi), most of which is submerged even at low tide.
According to UNCLOS these rocks, which cannot sustain human life or habitation on their own, cannot form an EEZ, although Japan has declared one based on these rocks. In 2004 China objected to the EEZ, and in the early 2000s it occasionally sent ships in to annoy the Japanese.

In case you missed that, Japan's position on Okinotori's ability to generate an EEZ is exactly the same as China's in the South China Sea, something that Chinese apologists frequently point out (of course, there's one tiny difference: Okinotori isn't someone else's territory). In fact, if you see a piece that begins by saying that China is behaving like everyone else, you're in all likelihood reading an apologetic for China.

This week Japan detained a Taiwanese fishing boat in the alleged EEZ...
Japan’s coast guard detained the captain and nine crew members aboard the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16 and towed the fishing boat to Iwo Jima. The captain and crew were released Monday afternoon once the vessel’s owner paid a $54,400 security deposit with the Taiwanese government’s help.
...and the Ma government pounced. Ma himself has a lifelong interest in island claims; his thesis is on China's claim to the Senkakus. The Ma government summoned the Japanese representative in Taiwan, and a few fishermen organized a pro forma protest outside the Japanese representative office in Taipei. The incident allowed Ma to pose as the protector of Taiwan's sovereignty, except that nobody in Taiwan cares about Ma. Tsai Ing-wen made the right noises in response. The China Times connected the incident with the banning of potentially radioactive food from Japan....
Japan is pressuring us to lift food import restrictions. Behind this pressure lies hidden weakness. Therefore we must drive a harder bargain to achieve the best results. Providing the government can stand the pressure, Japan will makes the final concession. Therefore the new government must be decisive and resolute.

The Dong Sheng Ji 16 incident is an opportunity to discuss lifting the ban on agricultural and marine products from the nuclear disaster area, and aggressively fight for Taiwan's fishing rights in the relevant waters. Regarding the Chong Zi Niao Reef EEZ, the new government must firmly reject the Japanese government's spurious claims. It must dispatch ships to protect our fishing vessels. Only that will provide us with the necessary bargaining chips.
Sure enough, the Ma Administration promised that Taiwan patrol boats will protect Taiwanese fishing boats in the area.
A coast guard vessel and a ship belonging to the Council of Agriculture will depart Sunday for waters near Okinotori atoll after a Taiwanese fishing boat operating some 150 nautical miles from the atoll was seized Monday by the Japanese coast guard.
The Japanese should have ignored the fishing boat, but instead, gave the Ma Administration the excuse to go all-out in irritating relations with Tokyo. Fortunately as the LA Times piece observed, Japan is merely waiting patiently for the Tsai Administration come onboard.

Meanwhile, Ma cranked up the rhetoric, doing absolutely everything to roil the waters...
President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated yesterday that “Okinotori is a reef,” so “the ROC government opposes Japan’s illegal expansion of jurisdiction in violation of international law.” Ma also announced that the ROC government would safeguard the freedom of its fishermen operating on the high seas in an effective way, and added that he had asked the Coast Guard Administration to send cutters to protect Taiwan fishing boats, saying “this is our fundamental right and we will not budge an inch.”
Compare that to Ma's studied silence on the illegality of China's illegal structures in the South China Sea. Like this last-minute dust up with Tokyo, that too is a vicious little gift to Beijing.

MEDIA NOTE: Kudos to Ralph Jennings for actually balancing China's desire to annex Taiwan with information on how Taiwanese feel about that:
Ma was elected in 2008 and must step down in May due to term limits. He made a name in office mostly for strengthening relations with China, expanding trade and tourism ties, but that effort met a public opinion backlash starting in 2014. China still hopes to unify with Taiwan despite opinion surveys in Taiwan that show a majority of people oppose that idea.
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My annual lacewing larva image

As always, a lacewing larva. It glues debris to its body to disguise itself.
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Friday, April 29, 2016

藤坪溪Bridge: Then and Now

This famous bridge was completed in 1907 and carried trains across a valley in Miaoli until destroyed in the great 1935 earthquake.

Today it is the famous Longteng Broken Bridge, a tourist trap on one of the area's many pretty roads. Don't miss the ride there if you're biking in Miaoli.
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

High Mountain Tea Plantations destroyed by government...

High mountain tea on the flank of Alishan.

UPDATE: Eco-Cha's response to this piece. And Taiwan Law Blog's.

Clarissa Wei (@dearclarissa) is emerging as a strong voice on environmental and social issues in Taiwan. Her latest piece discusses how the government is destroying high mountain oolong tea farms above 2500 meters in an environmentally-oriented move...
High mountain agriculture can be quite destructive; it erodes the landscape and causes harmful pesticides and fertilizers to contaminate water sources and the land. The additives also strip the soil of moisture, rendering it completely useless in a matter of decades. It’s a toxic industry; for every one pound of tea, roughly $9 USD is spent on pesticides and fertilizers. To discourage high mountain farming, in 2014, Taiwan tea researchers engineered a low-altitude tea—known as Taiwan Tea Number 22—that replicates high mountain tea aromas.

In response to the environmental lobbyists and influenced by voter interests, the government set off to reforest high-elevation tea farms and restore them to their pre-agricultural state. Most farmland was seized and reclaimed.

“It’s a very black-and-white matter to the government,” Limei says. “They see high mountain tea trees and they want to cut it down. What about high mountain cabbage farms and hotels? Those are more destructive than tea. We didn’t even use pesticides.”
The demand for high mountain tea of course leads to the perennial problem of imports repackaged as local teas:
I think about the slew of tea shops in Taipei City alone. High mountain oolong tea is on every tea menu in town. Annual domestic production of tea in Taiwan adds up to 15,000 tons, while demand is about 45,000 tons. The math doesn’t add up.

“A lot of it is imported now from Vietnam, India, and Thailand, and then branded as Taiwan tea,” Tsay says. He says that in a load of commercially marketed Taiwanese oolong tea leaves, only 70 percent of that is real Taiwan oolong. The rest is imported and then mixed in with the batch.
Yes, that's right. Illegal planting of betel nut and even more urgently, bamboo, all over Taiwan's mountains, but what's really concerning is... tea. Although I have to admit I experienced a strong moment of skepticism at the "we don't even use pesticides" remark.

There's a lot going on here. The last few years has seen much government activity in restructuring and renewing mountain lands. I was delighted to find, a couple of years ago, that the government had gone in and demolished the scrum of illegal restaurants and hostels at Tayuling below Wuling. It has taken many years to get this far -- in the early 2000s, for example, when the government handed out subsidies for reforestation, farmers would obtain a plot of land, whack down all its trees, and replant trees to collect subsidies. Strangely, the nation cut its production of grains and let grain producing land lie fallow since it had agreed to import grain from the US... while ignoring slopeland development. Finally, hovering in the background of clarifying who owns what is the increasing assertiveness of aborigines towards lands they once owned and the bitter struggle between the Han government and the aborigines over land (examples: 2001, 2015).

MORE ON THE CLOSURE OF THINKING TAIWAN: The pro-KMT China Times says that Tsai Ing-wen's foundation couldn't decide how Thinking Taiwan should handle criticism of the Tsai Administration. As a very sharp observer of Taiwan sharply observed: they had all that time to think about it, and didn't come up with a policy?
Daily Links:
  • Interview with Shawna Yang Ryan, writer of Green Island
  • Eurasia Review:India-Taiwan Relationship: Need To Emerge From The Chinese Shadow – Analysis. I've been saying this in print since the late 1990s, and it is really wonderful to see it finally take place.
  • Prague is expelling CCP goons who attacked pro-democracy and pro-Tibet protesters in Czech during Xi's visit.
  • Pig farmers protest in front of AIT. This lead by the TSU. Welcome to being the party in power, DPP....
  • Because there is just not enough stupid in the world: hilarity ensued this week when a group of businessmen suffering from low-altitude oxygen deprivation erected a statue of Chinese premier Wen Jia-bao as a "Taiwan hero"... the statue was replaced overnight by a tree. 
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Hall of Barbarous Tribes

This is from the 1916 Taiwan Exhibition in Taipei, Japan (source). Serendipitous hits while searching: Japan Focus has an excellent review of the experiences of aboriginal tour groups in Japan during the colonial era. The amazing Paul Barclay's PHD thesis on ethnographic mapping of Taiwan under Japan is available online. Some good pics and excellent discussion of development and art in the Japanese era in Modernity in Agony. Below is a shot of the midway from that exhibition.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This: We need more pro-Taiwan writers

I was going to write a blogpost on this, but friend Michael C got there already. The awesome J Michael Cole tweeted that he is looking for work since Thinking Taiwan is shuttering its doors on May 20. Taiwan Communique has ceased. I know privately we are going to lose another important pro-Taiwan site this summer. We can never have enough pro-Taiwan voices out there, shaping the discourse and offering alternatives.

As for Thinking Taiwan, I'd be happy to run the place (or a similar site) for nothing if someone can find stable money to pay the writers. Its eclectic, well-written posts are too important to lose.
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Commentary Galore

Nets at Shiti Fishing Port

Elizabeth Economy writes on Taiwan and China for the CFR....
Beijing began the year by reversing its eight-year tacit understanding to not establish diplomatic relations with countries that recognize Taiwan (thereby giving the island nation a semblance of sovereign international status) and resuming ties with Gambia. Next, it successfully pressured Kenya to deport as many as forty-five Taiwanese (the number is in dispute) to the mainland as part of a larger set of arrests of suspects in a telecom fraud ring.
Economy has this history all wrong. The Chinese police were asking for the (alleged) Kenya scammers in December of 2014, long before Gambia switched sides. China has been waiting a year to collect the Taiwanese men. Obviously it is not about sovereignty or putting pressure on Tsai Ing-wen, yet that has become the dominant story in the international media and punditocracy. Beijing is signaling Taiwan on its lazy approach to crime, not because it elected Tsai Ing-wen.

Nevertheless, this is a Council on Foreign Relations piece, and the ending is wonderful: she rebuts the idiot brigade that wants to sell out Taiwan:
Finally, after falling off the American radar screen over the past eight years, Taiwan is quickly edging its way back on. The next administration needs to keep its eye on the final objective—“that cross-Strait differences be resolved peacefully and according to the wishes of the people on both sides of the Strait.” This means we don’t help stir the pot on Taiwan and we don’t sell-out Taiwan for some ephemeral grand bargain with Beijing. Taiwan may be small but it is not a small matter. At stake is not only our relationship with Beijing but also American values and principles, which are exemplified by Taiwan’s vibrant and determined democracy.
Excellent ending, another signal of the shift in the discourse over the last year or so toward a position which acknowledges that Beijing is a problem, and Taiwan, its victim. Hopefully Washington will come to view Tsai as an opportunity.

Interestingly, Bonnie Glaser wrote on what might happen between Taiwan and China for CSIS. Here are her recommendations:
*U.S. officials should make clear that while both sides have responsibility for avoiding disruption of the prevailing cross-Strait stability, in current circumstances Beijing needs to exhibit greater creativity and flexibility toward Taiwan, specifically to demand less clarity from Tsai and tolerate more ambiguity.

*Washington should encourage China to pay attention not only to Tsai Ing-wen's words but also to her actions.

*The United States should warn Beijing against taking actions that are harmful to Taiwan's economy and its participation in the international community. U.S. officials should emphasize that such actions would be counterproductive to China's goals of winning the hearts and minds of the people of Taiwan and its ultimate goal of reunification.

*U.S. officials should encourage Tsai Ing-wen to continue to exercise restraint, to avoid taking actions that could further incite Beijing's suspicions of her intentions, and to seek ways to provide additional reassurances that she does not plan to seek independence during her term in office.
The last one is boilerplate, but the first three are quite interesting. They all ask the US to ensure that Beijing gives Taiwan some space, and as sharp observer Aaron Wytze (@aaronwytze on Twitter) noted, none calls for Tsai Ing-wen to kow-tow to the fake 1992 Consensus.

John Bolton, neocon and Taiwan supporter (recall that many neocons began life as Asianists), wrote in FoxNews that ZOMG TENSIONS ARE RISING, which they are not (the impression I get is that Beijing does not know what to do and is searching for a policy) so THANKS OBAMA:
In January 2017, America’s new president will face Beijing’s ongoing efforts to run its own extortion campaign against Taiwan. If the Obama administration fails to support Taiwan in responding appropriately to China’s assertive, nearly belligerent actions on deportations and many other issues, the new president will have even graver problems to solve. This is not a case where America should simply tote up its investments in Taiwan and on the mainland and go with the bigger number. This is a matter of resisting Chinese efforts at establishing hegemony in East and Southeast Asia not only at the expense of its near neighbors, but of the United States as well
Bolton also accepts the Kenya case as a shot at Tsai Ing-wen, though it wasn't. *sigh*

Finally, no deluge of commentary is complete without Shelly Rigger checking in on surviving the long transition between the two presidents. It's her usual mix of solid observations and KMT propaganda. This part is quite solid and interesting:
Two statements made by PRC officials during the lame duck period are especially intriguing. PRC President Xi Jinping recently told delegates to China’s National People’s Congress, “If the historical fact of the ’92 consensus is recognized and if its core connotation is acknowledged, then the two sides of the Strait will have a common political basis and positive interaction can be preserved.” At a speech in Washington, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned the “current constitution of Taiwan” as the basis of both the one-China claim and Tsai’s presidency.

Of course, when Xi mentions the “core connotation” of the ’92 consensus, he is referring to the part of the formula that states there is only one China, and Taiwan is part of it. This “core connotation” is far from Tsai’s position. Indeed, even Ma Ying-jeou has kept his distance from that connotation, preferring to emphasize the second element of the ’92 consensus, the two sides’ differing interpretations of “one China.” Nonetheless, Xi’s demand that Tsai must recognize the historical fact of the ’92 consensus (as opposed to endorsing it by name) may give Tsai more to work with.
But then she inverts reality:
[1] The ’92 Consensus was coined as a label for a tacit agreement made by Taipei and Beijing’s semi-official representatives at a meeting in Hong Kong in 1992. The representatives acknowledged that both sides believed Taiwan to be part of China, but they left unspecified exactly what they meant by “China.” This allowed the PRC to move forward with negotiations on the grounds that the Taiwanese were in line with Beijing’s one-China principle, and it allowed Taiwan to continue to define “China” as the Republic of China (the state on Taiwan). Beijing typically stresses the “one China” component of the consensus, while Taipei emphasizes the unspecified nature of “China,” by articulating the consensus as “One China, with each side having its own interpretation.” For the DPP, this whole concept is problematic, both because many in the DPP reject the idea that Taiwan is part of China in any sense, and because they believe the label “’92 Consensus” is a post hoc exaggeration of what actually happened at the ’92 meeting. For this reason, Tsai Ing-wen has avoided endorsing the phrase itself, although she has acknowledged the value and utility of the ’92 meeting.
In Riggerverse, unelected reps from the PRC met with unelected reps from the ROC and they reached a consensus. In this universe, they did not reach a consensus -- nothing was agreed on at the meeting except to be nice to each other. That ought to be obvious by now. The 1992 Consensus was invented in the run-up to the 2000 election as a cage to imprison a non-KMT president. Even the Wiki page has Su Chi's 2006 admission that the 1992 Consensus was made up. Why don't scholars?

The 1992 Consensus didn't "allow the PRC to move forward". LOL. As always, the basis for KMT-CCP cooperation isn't the 1992C but the desire of China to annex Taiwan. That is why Beijing has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, but insists that Taiwan politicians do.

It's the DPP position, not the KMT position, that corresponds to reality.

Rigger correctly observes that Ma's South China Sea gambit is his last vicious little gift to Beijing, creating new headaches for the incoming Tsai Administration. I thought it was wonderful that the Kenya mess blew up during the week he brought three foreign scholars to validate his position on Taiping Island. It totally vaporized their visit in the media.

Finally: tourism. Rigger takes the (absurdly wrong) conventional position that reduction of tourists = punishment, like Elizabeth Economy and many other commentators:
According to Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications, Beijing has cut the number of travel permits it is issuing to Taiwan-bound tourists, which may lead to a double-digit decline in the number of visitors. Taiwan has invested heavily in infrastructure for mainland tourists, so closing the spigot will be costly.
No, "closing the spigot" will be a net winner for Taiwan because tourism is a net money-loser (see my detailed discussion based on a recent paper). Chinese tourism is widely detested in Taiwan and most of us will be happy to see the tourists go so we can return to many wonderful tourist sites. Tourism also does not drive the development of human capital to increase living standards. Nope, we are better off without the endless lines of Chinese tourist buses crawling over the east coast like beetles on a rotting log.

If Beijing cuts tourism, it will only hurt Beijing. The tourism drive has resulted in the construction of new patronage and influence networks in local areas that are oriented on China and on the KMT. These will suffer. Moreover -- track this -- the new tourist infrastructure is often quietly financed by Chinese money brought in through offshore tax havens, which are key sources of FDI in Taiwan. China suffers again! Please, please cut tourism -- it is an important territorial strategy of Beijing, and Beijing will suffer the most.

Meanwhile, tourists from other countries are flowing in to replace these losses. They spend more too.

Many observers still have not caught on to this point: Beijing's expressed goal of annexing Taiwan peacefully requires that China interact with Taiwan. Beijing also seeks to plunder Taiwan's tech base so it can destroy the basis of Taiwan independence, our robust economy. Reduction in interactions between the Chinese empire and Taiwan correspondingly reduces Beijing's chances of accomplishing these goals.

Me? I'm looking forward to biking in areas free of obnoxious, stingy, Chinese tourist groups. Reclaiming Taiwan, as it were, from the invaders.
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Monday, April 25, 2016

KMT to bash DPP with pork

This is what Taiwan needs: more recycling bikes

The KMT has found the first major issue it can use to bash the DPP with, with the Veep warning the DPP that permitting US pork imports would land it in hot water:
Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday denounced President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for not caring about citizens’ health. Wu noted that when Tsai was Deputy Premier, she failed to impose a ban on US beef when an outbreak of mad cow disease occurred in the US. According to Wu, it is now even more challenging for Tsai to lift the ban on US pork imports containing ractopamine residue as “people will hold her accountable.”

In response, the DPP retorted that when Wu was Premier, he was the one who allowed US beef to be imported from areas where mad cow disease had occurred without regard for the safety and health of people in Taiwan.
Pork and beef are contentious not because the government cares about the health of Taiwanese, but because both KMT and DPP patronage networks in farming communities are filled with pork farmers. Taiwan produces little beef, but under WTO regulations, if it imports beef with ractopamine, it must import all products containing that drug. Hence, if it imports US beef, it must accept US pork (before the beef mess began years ago, Taiwan took about one-eighth of US beef exports). However, if it takes in heavily subsidized US pork, local producers will scream (as will I, I hate rubbery US pork and prefer the fatty local stuff). Those producers will then blame whichever party lets in the pork.

The situation is even more complicated because the NPP is now bashing the DPP from the left on the pork issue even as the KMT bashes it from the right.

Note also that the KMT assigned this bashing to Wu Den-yi, a classic move -- it allows the Big Man (Ma Ying-jeou) to remain benevolent and distant while the right-hand man says what he really thinks. Moreover, Wu is a Taiwanese and presumably speaks to Taiwanese as one of their own...

Only the first of many such issues...
Daily Links
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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Links for a lazy Sunday

Feeling lazy today. Enjoy some links....
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Those "Chinese" Taiwanese

An old farmer removes snails from his irrigation ditches.

A friend writes me...
"[my wife] has had her DNA analyzed. It is really interesting. Each haplogroup is atypical for Taiwan and Fujianese. The Maternal marker is probably ethnic Yue. The paternal marker is probably Pazeh or Hoanya. [Wife]'s paternal grandmother is very closely related to indigenous Cambodians (Hmong). Possibly ethnic She people who were Hakkacized in Fujian, or from Sundaland.
Fujian people and Taiwanese people mixed with Austronesian peoples from all over SE Asia. I can't wait for the first real accessible history of the great Austronesian people in English.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Hung digs in her reactionary heels

The Rift Valley

Is new KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu bringing in young talent, technocrats, and practical politicians who can make the KMT powerful again? Is she going to Taiwanize the KMT? So far, things look grim if you're pro-China, and sweet if you're pro-Taiwan. This week she made far-right ideologue Alex Tsai head of the KMT's central policy committee (TT)....
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) was yesterday appointed director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee, becoming the first non-lawmaker to take up the key role of coordinator between the party’s central headquarters and its legislative caucus.

Tsai’s appointment was approved by the KMT Central Standing Committee at a closed-door meeting yesterday afternoon presided over by KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who said her decision to choose Tsai for the post was made in accordance with the needs of the party.

Traditionally, the director of the Central Policy Committee also doubles as the KMT’s caucus whip, to ensure that the stance of the caucus is aligned with that of the party leadership.

However, this will not be the case for Tsai, after the KMT caucus reached a consensus earlier this month to separate the two roles to increase the autonomy of the legislative caucus.
Tsai, readers may recall, ran the comical campaign of KMT princeling Sean Lien for mayor of Taipei. Lien was crushed by current Mayor Ko Wen-je. Solidarity's description of Tsai is dead on:
KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has chosen the most contentious candidate possible, oft-discredited sinophile troll Alex Tsai (蔡正元), as director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee. With Tsai the putative chief strategist for the legislative and council caucuses and local governments alike, the party could become both more contentious and narrower in appeal.
No sooner had Tsai taken his new seat then he was on the warpath spewing nonsensical Chen Shui-bian era KMT propaganda:
An interview yesterday with POP Radio, Tsai accused the DPP of trying to launch “green terror,” saying the DPP’s draft transitional justice promotion act was part of its efforts to exert control over both the administrative and legislative branches of the government.

“The DPP is attempting to turn itself into a ‘constitutional monster,’ so it can conduct a political purge against the KMT. This is standard ‘green terror,’” Tsai said in the interview.

The draft act calls for the establishment of a transitional justice promotion committee under the Executive Yuan responsible for making political documents available to the public, removal of authoritarian symbols, redressing judicial injustice and management of the KMT’s ill-gotten party assets.

Turning to the DPP’s proposed bill on monitoring cross-strait agreements, Tsai said prominent Sunflower movement activist Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) only verbally protested the proposed bill, which clings to the idea of “one country, two areas.”

“Lin should have occupied the Legislative Yuan… His failure to do so only underscores the fact that the ‘sunflower’ has withered,” Tsai said, adding that the ideals of the Sunflower movement could not withstand the test of time.
The "green terror" is a reference to the "white terror" period of martial law, in which thousands of people who ran afoul of the KMT were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed by the KMT government. There is a deep, visceral fear among many older Blues that someday they are going to be called to account for their crimes. Thus, this code language is brought out by Deep Blues like Tsai whenever their colonial symbols or powers are threatened. Tsai also took a swat at the Sunflowers, which was good, because if they KMT had any sense they'd be cultivating the Sunflowers as a possible weapon against the DPP, or at least, leaving them alone. But thanks for reminding them, Alex, where the KMT really stands.

The key point is actually in the last two paragraphs I've excerpted there: the greater "autonomy" of KMT legislators implies that they are distancing themselves from the center of the party, which is likely to continue on its reactionary course with Hung in charge. Because so many of the chairmanship voters are reactionary deep Blue voters, Hung is likely to get a five year term late next summer just before the Jan 2018 9-in-1 elections. She might be forced to resign then if the KMT is blown out. But until then, to keep their seats, KMT legislators might be forced into public disagreements with Chairman Hung because they are practical politicians engaged in assuring the flow of resources to their patronage networks, while Hung has other, more grandiose plans. Clearly they are struggling to wriggle out from under her control, clearly she will struggle to keep them under her thumb.

Watching the legislators of both major parties struggle against central control is going to be a major source of entertainment and frustration for Taiwan political junkies of all stripes...

Solidarity translated a UDN report that emphasized this point by noting Hung's desire to bring everything under control of the center.
Although Hung has stated she supports the caucus’s autonomy, party figures reveal that she has already privately approached experienced legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) and current de facto caucus whip Lin Teh-fu (林德福) about running for the new convener position. Fai politely declined Hung’s invitation, and Lin has fallen into deep thought after losing the big battle over approval of the transitional justice bill Tuesday.

Regarding Hung’s personnel appointments, an experienced legislator stated frankly that Hung’s method is to create a “Leninist party” by wiping out the remnants of “internal reconstruction” (內造化, a cause celebre of the Taiwanese faction) and implementing total “party leadership of the government.” In the future, the Central Policy Committee director will be like “the party secretary hanging over the head of the mayor” in communist countries. The committee director will be the true warlord, as can be inferred from the clues in Tsai’s remarks yesterday, the legislator said.

A KMT legislator said that the party is too far separated from public opinion, and in the future “each will choose his own path.” Even if the party mobilizes legislators through the caucus leadership in the future, party legislators will still keep the pros and cons in terms of managing their own districts in mind when making decisions on what to support.
The KMT, if it wants to come back into power, desperately needs to bring in Taiwanese and move them into positions of authority. Yet, there is Hung, still fighting to ensure that the non-mainstream (deep Blue reactionary) KMT wins over the mainstream (Taiwanese) KMT and fighting to impose top-down, centralized control on the Party.

One thing Ma Ying-jeou did to reduce the possibility of party elites quietly arraying themselves against him was to set up parallel internal KMT bodies like the Zhongshan Council which operated directly under him, and to reduce the authority of the central standing committee. When Eric Chu became Chair, he eliminated the Zhongshan Council and returned the central standing committee to power. Expect similar moves by either/both of (1) Hung in attempting to suppress elite opposition to her authority; (2) rival groups of bigwigs out to fight her authority; and (3) individual KMT heavyweights who are seeking to become Chairman and need some kind of quasi-institutional veneer for gathering support from the party ranks.
Daily Links
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

China: Don't Date Foreigners

Lots of people forwarding this "anti-foreigner" stuff from Beijing. Foreigners are spies! Don't date them! A complete English translation can be found here.

I just want to note this: most of you are getting these posters all wrong. Its way worse than don't date foreigners. These are not warnings against dating foreigners (that may call to mind xenophobic campaigns of old). These are warnings that the women who date foreigners will be regarded as security risks.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kenya Mess: What's the next step?

Mountain roads of Taiwan. 

Nobody does irony like the KMT. Yesterday KMT legislators warned that....
“We must not let Taiwan descend into a haven for fraudsters, nor see it become a major export of swindlers to the world,” she said.

“The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party have been shouting empty slogans about human rights and jurisdiction, but in the end, it is our society that pays a huge price,” she said.
Yes, we must not let Taiwan become a haven for fraudsters, like it was for those guys connected to the old Green Gang in 1949. As a friend noted, it's a pity that the KMT didn't control the legislature for the last sixty years, so they could do nothing about Taiwan being a haven for scammers...

With Malaysia preparing to hand over the remaining 32 suspects after arrangements are made (like evidence, I hope), it is important to ask what needs to be done. In addition to cleaning up the judicial system (haha) and changing some of the laws, my man DK suggested that President Tsai Ing-wen should probably think about some political and propagada ju-jitsu. Put China on the defensive by offering increased cooperation in crime and emphasizing this as a non-political area of cross-strait relations. This would help disarm the attacks from commentators and the media that the DPP is anti-China. It would also limit robust cross-strait cooperation to definable and controllable areas. When China balks, Tsai can then criticize China when they start yak-yakking about the faux "1992 Consensus" being the basis for cross-strait cooperation even in crime -- "What? You place the 1992C ahead of the security of your people?"

UPDATE: Last week another batch of Taiwanese arrested in Kenya doing the same place in the district of Nairobi. By the time all the processes are finished, MOFA will be Tsai Ing-wen's MOFA. Let's see what happens....
Daily Links:
  • MUST READ: The DPP's cross-strait oversight bill is a problem. Already it has stirred up the napping student movement by adopting the KMT legislative style and language. Further, Tsai's cabinet is full of technocrats often with Blue backgrounds. It would have been great if she had been more people-oriented. Don't be surprised when the student movement finally opens its guns on the DPP...
  • Solidarity: Taiwan reps forced out of int'l steel meeting by PRC, Belgian reps. Since China is major steel dumping nation, and Taiwan reps were always welcomed by China before, this may have been China's way of stalling the meeting and preventing it from reaching agreement, as the media announced today. Cole argues it is China turning the screws on Taiwan.
  • Obvious pro-China commentary on incoming Tsai Ing-wen administration. But it does have one interesting observation: China will be watching education system decisions to determine stance of Tsai Administration. Tsai is being urged to delineate her curriculum changes even as the pro-KMT curriculum issue simmers.
  • Pro-PRC commentator at The Diplomat also says that deportations from Kenya not about sovereignty, places them in context of China's ongoing campaign against scammers in the region, just as I said. Fortunately the nationalist frenzy is receding as some realize Taiwan is not exactly blameless, while others work to slot this into the conventional Blue-Green framework of Taiwan politics. *Sigh*
  • Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je accuses President Ma of protecting Farglory behind the scenes.
  • NOT TAIWAN: just discovered Einojuhani Rautavaara today. I love Youtube. Without it, I'd never know Raff, Wetz, Sgiambotti, or Melartin, or a hundred others. 
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!

Monday, April 18, 2016

As the legal system grapples with overseas gangster crimes, the Minister of Justice produces unprofessional KMT screed

Stop in. Have a drink.

CLARITY UPDATE: Need to make clear. The 45 Taiwanese entered Kenya illegally and thus, based on its own laws, Kenya can deport them back to their point of origin, which was China. Kenyan government officials made this clear. Article 43 of Kenya's immigration law specifies that the default option is to return them to point of origin, and also specifies that once a person is found to have entered Kenya illegally, then they can be deported at the Cabinet Secretary's whim. This was not an abduction/kidnapping. This is a deportation back to port of embarkation. That is why China got them. It did not need to make a formal request, because someone probably explained to the China police, who had been there since Dec 2014, that if they waited, the prisoners would be deported back to China.

The Taipei Times reported on the bizarre and revealing complaint of Minister of Justice, which she acknowledged, had been written largely by herself....
A statement issued by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) late on Saturday has further fueled conflict between lawmakers and Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), with netizens accusing Luo of treating the ministry’s Web site as her personal Facebook page.
The netizens were quite right, in their way, but then so was Luo.
“As you all know, cross-strait ties are complicated. It is not like the other side [of the Taiwan Strait] will agree to whatever we say. Just like in Taiwan, not all students listen to their professors,” the statement said.

Under the 2009 Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), everything ranging from exchanging criminal intelligence resources and launching joint investigations to handing over evidence can only be carried out following cross-strait negotiations, the statement said.

“The ministry is not entitled to make any unilateral decisions,” it added.

The statement went on to blast lawmakers, saying they were shifting blame onto the ministry over the release of 20 Taiwanese fraud suspects deported to Taiwan from Malaysia on Friday last week due to a lack of evidence, which is still in China’s hands and has yet to be referred to Taiwanese authorities.

“These lawmakers act as if China is at the ministry’s beck and call, and have no regard for the time needed for bilateral negotiations. They denounce China, on one hand for the sake of sowing hatred and social divisions, and on the other hand, they ask the ministry to obtain relevant evidence from China,” the statement said.

Such manipulation of populism is likely to have a disastrous effect on Taiwan. Please, lawmakers, if you truly love Taiwan, stop now before going too far. Give Taiwan a break,” it said.
It's high comedy to listen to KMTers plead to pro-Taiwan types to "give Taiwan a break" but however unprofessional this screed was, Luo was right: there isn't anything that the Ministry of Justice can do. This was a screw-up by MOFA that dates back over a year, with deep roots that go back to wrongs like the KMT's refusal to create an independent Taiwan and the vicious Han Chauvinism at the heart of the KMT identity, which regards brown people as not worthy of relations.

One interesting thing in this mess is the reference to inciting "social divisions" (= saying out loud that Taiwanese are not Chinese) and "populism". These are classic KMT propaganda tropes. Last year then-presidential candidate (now KMT Chair) Hung Hsiu-chu gave us a  stellar example of this.
Governing the country through populism: The final, most extreme example of this is obviously the Nazis. The Nazis ceaselessly created enemies within the country to control the entire society. Think about it: Although Taiwan isn’t that extreme, isn’t our situation like that? It’s like that classic saying: “When the Nazis were killing the Communist Party, I wasn’t in the Communist Party, so I said nothing. When Nazis killed the Jews, I wasn’t a Jew, so I said nothing. When the Nazis killed the Catholics, I was a Protestant, so I said nothing. When the Nazis arrested me, there was no one there to speak for me.” Isn’t this kind of scene a little familiar to us?

When soldiers are bullied by populism, we aren’t soldiers, so we don’t speak. When teachers are bullied by populism, we’re not teachers, so we don’t speak for them, either. When civil servants are bullied by populism, we aren’t civil servants, so we don’t speak for them, either. But don’t you worry that on the day when you’re bullied, there will be no one to speak for you?

There’s no shortcut to resisting populism. The people in society who are willing to listen to reason can only choose to stop being a silent majority...
The strike at "populism" reflects, as I noted them, the colonialist fear of majority rule, supported by reference to three strong supporters of the KMT, the military, the educational bureaucracy, and the civil service. ADDED: Ben Goren pointed out on Twitter that the "students-professors" remark was a slap at the Sunflowers.

The China Post ran a good article outlining some of the problems with Taiwan's organized crime against China. In my opinion the Kenya case was not a signal to the incoming Tsai Ing-wen Administration, but a signal to Taiwan that China is fed up with being targeted by Taiwan scammers, about which the government does nothing. The article observes...
According to police statistics recently released by the Chinese-language United Daily News, Taiwan authorities have brought back more than 6,000 nationals involved in fraud charges from overseas since 2005.

Another statistic shows that cross-border fraud rings involving Taiwanese citizens made 4.7 billion phone calls to potential victims in mainland China from January to June 2015 alone.

As noted by China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), Taiwanese cross-border scams have conned billions of renminbi out of Chinese citizens every year, which is one of the main reasons Beijing would forcibly send the Taiwanese who were believed to be responsible for fraud schemes to China despite Taiwan's strong protest.


Another reason for rampant phone fraud in Taiwan, as pointed out by Taiwanese lawmakers, is that the local court treats scammers "too leniently."

Taiwan's Criminal Code stipulates that those convicted of fraud through the use of telephones or other communication equipment will face imprisonment of not more than five years.

For instance, in June 2011, in a joint effort with Indonesian police, Taiwan managed to have 100-plus Taiwanese fraud suspects operating in the East Asian country returned to Taiwan.

However, a court later gave 26 of these 100-plus suspects lenient sentences: 17 were given suspended sentences, eight were offered the option to pay fines in exchange for jail terms, and only one was sentenced to a year in prison.
In fact, the China Post commentary admits, many citizens support China in this because they want to see the alleged scammers punished, which Taiwan is not doing (a fact which few commenting on this case are mentioning). Almost everyone in Taiwan has a friend or family member who has been victimized by scammers. I can name 3 people in my family, and several of my neighbors. China, the commentary observes, gives such people ten year sentences.

The fraud rings have evolved, moving out of Taiwan and further across the Indo-Pacific region, to get out of the reach of China, as I was noting a few days back....
The CIB said that cross-country fraud rings have migrated from Taiwan to China, and now to countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.

From 2004 to 2008, annual fraud cases passed the 40,000 mark, though after the Cross-strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement came into effect in 2009, cases have fallen to 30,000.

Fraud rings have since moved their operations and platforms to third countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines after 2010, the CIB stated.
According to the media, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is finally bestirring itself. In 2014 40 Taiwanese were arrested in Egypt for phone scams. They were subsequently sentenced to a year in prison and now MOFA is assuring us that when the sentences are finished they will be repatriated to Taiwan. Unlike the Kenya case...

Meanwhile the legislature is attempting to come to grips with the problem. Hung Tz-yung, my own legislator, made a few proposals...
Meanwhile, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) of the New Power Party is promoting an amendment to Article 7 of the Criminal Code to remove a provision that limits the application of the law in the event that the offenses are committed outside the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Currently, for offenses committed outside R.O.C. territory, the Criminal Code only applies if they are serious crimes punishable by at least three years in prison, according to the provision.

Hung said due to this restriction, Taiwan nationals arrested overseas for operating cross-border telecommunications fraud scams cannot be charged according to the Criminal Code after they are deported back to Taiwan, because the offense carries a sentence of merely one to seven years.

In many cases, she said, those involved in cross-border fraud scams were only given light sentences and were even acquitted, inviting criticism that Taiwan is a “haven for fraudsters.”
She's absolutely right. The incoming Justice Minister said there is no need to revise the law...
Taiwan's Criminal Code stipulates that those convicted of fraud through the use of telephones or other communication equipment will face imprisonment of not more than five years, Chiu said in a radio interview.

In 2004, however, the nature of the penalties for fraud offenses was revised to "one offense, one penalty," Chiu said, explaining that this means that the court can build up sentences based on the number of victims.

If moves are made to revise the code, "all (the relevant) sentences will be aggravated, and Taiwan will as a result become a country that has adopted heavy penalties," he said.

As it stands today, a defendant convicted of multiple fraud charges can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, depending on the severity of the crime and the judges' discretion, the minister-designate said.

Sure, judges have discretion, but they use it to avoid punishing the criminals. For example, in the 2011 case of the 14 scammers which Manila had sent to China, after they were returned they were tried, and all were permitted to pay fine. None served time.

KMT Chair Hung Hsiu-chu said something had to be done, because exporting fraud rings is very embarrassing.

Indeed, it is embarrassing. In fact, it is costing Taiwan the moral high ground in the international media, and permitting the PRC to completely play the government. As Solidarity noted in an email this morning, the suspects repatriated from Malaysia were immediately released. The Taiwan government claimed that the PRC had not provided the evidence against them, so it had to release them. Solidarity pointed out that the PRC may have withheld the evidence deliberately to provoke this outcome, so it could criticize Taiwan.

But news reports indicate that Taiwan did indeed have some evidence: transcripts of the police interrogations from Malaysia. No doubt the prosecutors could have found a reason to hold the men, had they really wanted to. Once again, the KMT government fumbled the ball -- it didn't even go through the motions of making sure the men were held for a few days until China delivered the evidence. It didn't even bother to save face by claiming that the men had been released "by mistake" -- "well dang, we tried to notify them to hold them men, but our message arrived to late." It simply handed China another PR opportunity, as the international media are reporting.

UPDATE: Ah, internet surfing. This from the 2011 case in which Phils sent 14 accused to China instead of to Taiwan, causing an uproar:
Some academics said the case had less to do now with Manila than Beijing, mostly because of imprecise language in the cross-strait agreements, including the Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime-Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance.

“There was nothing wrong with the decision by the Philippines,” said Yang Yun-hua (楊雲驊), an assistant professor of law at National Chengchi University, in terms of jurisdiction and the location where the crimes were committed.

While under Taiwan’s criminal law, crimes committed in China are treated as if they occurred in Taiwan
— the result of an antiquated Republic of China Constitution — this clause is not fully understood by other countries, he said.

UPDATE: The pro-KMT China Times lays down some smack on all the noise-makers:
But one cannot ignore the importance of the principle of international cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal justice. We must not level groundless accusations against Kenya and the Mainland. The law is the law. The Ministry of Justice has explained. The Mainland demanded that the suspect be prosecuted or tried on the Mainland. The request was in accordance with the rules of the principle of international cooperation in mutual assistance in criminal justice. Kenya repatriated the suspects to the Mainland, based on the principle of top priority in criminal jurisdiction by the country where the crime is committed. Kenya accepted that the Mainland requested China; hence it transferred the suspects to Mainland China. That is political reality. All Taiwan can do is ask the Mainland to handle it in accordance with pertinent cross-Strait agreements. Taiwan is in no position to level groundless accusations.

UPDATE: Good comments below, guys. Thanks!
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!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hey Robert Ross, How's that fading independence movement treating ya?

It's Laiji, one of my favorite places in Taiwan.

Hey, Taiwan history buffs, today (Apr 17) is the anniversary of what important document in Taiwan history?

Several years ago I put a note in Google Calendar to remind myself that this month is the 10th anniversary of one of most vapidly pro-KMT, endlessly clueless articles ever published on Taiwan, Robert Ross' immortal Taiwan's Fading Independence Movement. It was published in Foreign Affairs, which would publish a hamster writing on international relations in Urdu, provided it was sufficiently anti-Taiwan. Reflect for a moment on the fearsome ignorance of its first two sentences.
Political developments in Taiwan over the past year have effectively ended the independence movement there. What had been a major source of regional instability -- and the most likely source of a great-power war anywhere in the world -- has become increasingly irrelevant.
My old post on it is still as relevant as ever. I just thought I'd post on this as I contemplate a populace which, in the under-45 demographic, is post-independence: it has already embraced independence and has moved on to other things.

So Robert Ross, how is that fading independence movement treating ya?

Yeah, I thought so.

Meanwhile, it is scary to realize this blog is old enough to refer to stuff posted on it more than a decade ago. I need to get a life...
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!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kenya Deportations: Complicity, due process, Tsai Ing-wen....

Campgrounds springing up everywhere nowadays wherever land owners can clear flat space.

“If you know it is a scam ring, do not participate in it. Do not make the world 
think that Taiwanese are all involved in these kinds of [shady] businesses,” he said.

Vox had a nifty piece on the Kenya deportation mess which tried to explain what is going on. Unlike most of the pieces in the media, this once actually referred, if sketchily, to the cross-strait organized crime nexus.
These Taiwanese have attracted such interest from Beijing because they are allegedly members of Chinese and Taiwanese criminal gangs who frequently work together, Richard Bush, director of the East Asia Policy Center at the Brookings Institution, explained to me.
Kudos to someone for actually pointing that out.

Let's explore this for a second. There's a massive outpouring of indignant nationalist feeling, coupled with government protests and legislative posturing, right now in Taiwan, directed at China.

What's China? It's that wonderland where scores of Taiwanese criminals from local gangsters to corporate embezzlers, people largely connected to A Certain Political Party, have fled while on bail. There they reside in perfect safety, unmolested by either the Chinese or Taiwanese governments. The Taiwan government has obstinately refused to close this loophole despite long-simmering public anger about it. No complicity there!

But let's also remember, as I am fond of pointing out, that one of the chief beneficiaries of the cross-strait rapproachment and business investment over the last two decades is cross-strait organized crime, which operates banks, stolen art networks, and movement of individuals for escape from the law, sex work, and ordinary labor. Neither government disturbs these extensive networks. Indeed there are places where spouses of major criminal figures involved in these cross-strait criminal networks have run for public office under the umbrella of A Certain Political Party. It's these networks that facilitate the escape of wanted individuals from Taiwan to China. It's these networks, as China correctly if hypocritically notes, that operate globally, and move as pressure on them shifts.

You'll forgive me if, looking at this Kenya case, I've come to the cynical conclusion that the Taiwan government is only worried about its criminals going to China if there is some possibility that they might actually be prosecuted.

Two other things need to be pointed out. First, was this move in Kenya directed at the incoming DPP Administration? Don't make me laugh. It had nothing to do with that. It was, as I said yesterday, part of China's campaign against phone scammers around the Indo-Pacific rim. China itself said this over a year ago.

Here is a report from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation (ah, does that bring back memories) dated Jan 15, 2015 (and CS Monitor but The Nation report is better). Please note that this was a year ago:
The Chinese Government has formally asked Kenya to hand over 76 of its citizens who are facing cyber-crime charges in Nairobi.

The suspects arrested in Nairobi had stolen close to Sh1.5 billion from their victims in China through electronic fraud, Chinese authorities revealed, as they pushed Kenya to have them extradited.


According to the police in Nairobi, the 76 Chinese and one Thai national were arrested in the upmarket Runda Estate for operating an illegal telecommunications system.


China’s argument has been that the suspects are part of a global syndicate targeting China and that other groups had been arrested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Egypt over the last two years.

In December, a Chinese police team came to Nairobi to, according to the embassy, “jointly investigate” the case with their Kenyan counterparts. However, the group is said to have pressed for a handover of the suspects.
So... anyone want to argue that the PRC government, 16 months ago, presciently arranged to have 8 of the Taiwanese suspects sent to jail for a year on bogus document charges (oh yeah -- acquitted on "all charges"? Bullshit!) so that the group could be bundled onto a plane right on time for it to be a message to the newly-elected Tsai Ing-wen Administration? Be serious.

But let's yak for a minute about "due process". Suddenly lots of people talking about due process. Well, the report from a year ago clearly indicates that China was asking about this well over a year ago. Taiwan had over a year to publicize the case and to secure due process, if it cared to.

Due process? Two cases this week -- a bunch of alleged Taiwanese scammers were repatriated from Indonesia. No noise from Beijing, as I noted in the post below. Another crew deported from Malaysia as well. China had reportedly asked about them, but from the media reports it wasn't clear whether Kuala Lumpur had decided to check with Beijing, or whether Beijing had acted on its own.

What happened to the crowd from Malaysia? As soon as they arrived in Taiwan, they were released, due to a "lack of evidence." An NPP legislator was out today complaining the whole thing was a setup. Indeed a KMT politician  admitted yesterday that light sentences for criminals returned to Taiwan were a problem.
When asked how the KMT caucus would respond to speculation that the Kenya incident was a warning from Beijing against the new government, Lin said: “We have to face reality as well; we had given light sentences to the fraudsters after they were extradited back to Taiwan, which had resulted in certain consequences.”
Note that the question asked whether Beijing was warning the new Administration. A KMT politician, instead of running with this softball question and lambasting the incoming Administration, refocused the incident on a real complaint: the kid gloves Taiwan gangsters get, not the sexy cross-strait framework that sells papers and enables international media workers and commenters to avoid cognitively demanding tasks like searching Kenyan newspapers on Google. My god! Beer please.

More seriously, the KMT politician essentially said what everyone knows: the government is complicit. Period.

Complicit. So if you talk to me about due process, I'm going to talk to you about complicity. Why on earth would any government send accused Taiwanese back to Taiwan? You are entitled to ask about due process only when you engage in it. Of course China very rationally grabbed those Taiwanese alleged scammers. The bad guys were going to get away, and China had been pursuing them for ages.

That release of accused scammers from Malaysia was exactly what China had complained about: when prisoners get sent back to Taiwan, they are immediately released. The KMT government goes right ahead and validates the Chinese complaint in the most clueless, arrogant manner possible: right in the middle of this hoo-ha, it releases a batch of returned accused criminals. It did this even though 32 accused remain in Malaysia, almost as if it were goading China to apply more pressure. It couldn't have at least gone through the motions of keeping them in custody for a few days?

Luckily for all concerned, the government took a strong stance:
In a statement issued Saturday, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said Premier Simon Chang (張善政) made it clear that the government will not condone any criminal acts involving its nationals, during a meeting held on related issues Friday.
It will, however, release them as soon as they get to Taiwanese soil.

I guess due process applies only to Taiwanese gangsters in Kenya. Once they are in Taiwan, foreign governments don't get any "due process" to work up a case against them and the victims lose all their "due process". Never mind that the alleged criminals are free to go back to their alleged work, defrauding victims both local and international, who aren't important anyway because they are victims, sheep born to be sheared, in the due process of things as they are. Poo-tee-weet.

Meanwhile the legislature was screaming that China really ought to show the evidence against the deportees. LOL. Despite overwrought claims that cross-strait agreements on crime were dead, the Taiwan government is sending a large delegation to China to handle the case on Monday.

So what is all this nationalistic noise about? Seems like there was some serious la-de-da in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in getting these people back to Taiwan -- if that is what was wanted. Maybe all this noise is to conceal the fact that MOFA simply screwed up or really just didn't give a damn about the fate of a bunch of alleged vicious low-lives -- or worse, tossed China a bone by permitting the suspects to be deported there, then pretended to be upset about it.

It's not a coincidence that outpourings of puerile nationalism occurred when the alleged illegal fisherman was killed in Phils a couple of years ago, and again when some alleged gangsters are sent off to China. Like I said two days ago, all this static is just white noise concealing a basic fact nobody wants to talk about: from tuna poachers to phone scammers, one of Taiwan's chief exports is organized crime.

UPDATE: I was wrong. The Thai national was returned to Thailand.
Daily Links:
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Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Links

A True Jesus Church in Hualien
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!

What? China didn't ask for those Taiwan fraudsters in Indonesia?

Chiayi hills.

FocusTaiwan yesterday reported on a case of alleged Taiwanese fraudsters in Indonesia being arrested.
A Taiwanese official based in Indonesia said there have been many cases of Taiwanese and Chinese nationals entering Indonesia to engage in telecom fraud.

Unlike the recent incident in Kenya, however, there have been no reports of Taiwanese suspects being deported to China, the official said.

The official was referring to Kenya's recent controversial decision to hand over to China a total of 45 Taiwanese nationals who allegedly were members of various Kenya-based telecom fraud rings targeting Chinese victims.

In cooperation with Taiwanese and Chinese police, Indonesian law enforcement officers last August busted an international fraud ring based in Indonesia, arresting 82 Taiwanese suspects and seizing IDR$10 billion
The Kenya incident is not about Tsai Ing-wen or Ma Ying-jeou. It does not signal a new normal. It is not related to the Hong Kong booksellers. It appears to be related to the ongoing pattern of Chinese investigation of international telephone fraud against its own citizens, something the Chinese state has a right and a duty to do. I might add that it helps Taiwanese, since they are also victims of these fraudsters.

However, if China's actions continue being misrepresented, they just might conclude there is no point in not being a$$holes in the future.
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!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

=UPDATEDX5= Kenya Deportations: Taiwan drinks the heady gaoliang of febrile nationalism

Our bikes in Fenchihu on Sunday. We stopped to snack, parked by the motorbikes by the roadside. "You can't park them there," a vendor warned us. "The cops will give tickets to people who park in the street because people walk there. Better park them on the sidewalk." 

'Sovereign, like love, means anything you want it to mean; 
it's a word in dictionary between sober and sozzled.' -- R. Heinlein

(Updates at bottom)

So much going on in this crazy case of deportation of alleged Taiwanese fraudsters from Kenya to China. Haven't seen such a display of dysfunctional, febrile nationalism like this since Philippines coast guard evil Philippines coast guard shot murdered tuna poachers totally innocent Taiwan fishermen in Philippines waters Taiwanese waters (old post). The collective IQ of Taiwan's chattering classes has just gone kerplunk! somewhere into the Indian Ocean east of Mombasa. *sigh*

Lost in the tumescent twaddlenoise over this case is an opportunity for Taiwan. It also shows once again how the international media functions as a soft power tool for Beijing. I hope to work up a fuller treatment of that for something like CPI or Ketagalan out at the end of the week, but we can shed some light on it using this case...

Let's grab a couple of news reports first: from Reuters in the Kenyan Star Newspaper (how that brings back memories for me!):
The Kenyan government said the people were in Kenya illegally and were being sent back to where they had come from.

Kenya does not have official relations with Taiwan and considers the island part of China, in line with Beijing's position.

Taiwan's Foreign ministry said one of the Taiwanese sent to China was also a US national. The US State Department said it was aware of that report but was not able to discuss it at the moment "due to privacy considerations."


The Taiwanese government was incensed that Kenyan authorities used force , including tear gas, to get deportees out of a police station and into a plane on Tuesday. It has accused China of kidnapping eight of its nationals.

"They came from China and we took them to China. Usually when you go to another country illegally, you are taken back to your last port of departure," said Kenyan Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka.

He could not say which city in China they were being returned to, but Kenya Airways and China Southern both fly to Guangzhou.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed said Taipei had not contacted Nairobi about the matter. The protests came via a media briefing in Taiwan.

"We don't have official relations with Taiwan. We believe in the 'One China' policy. We have diplomatic relations with China. We haven't seen the official protest, we are actually hearing it from the media," Mohamed told Reuters.

A group of eight left on Friday and a second group of 37 Taiwanese nationals were in the process of leaving on Tuesday, Taiwan's Foreign ministry said.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing approved of Kenya's upholding the 'one China' principle. He declined to elaborate.
Now yesterday from the Taipei Times the Ministry of Justice said that the deportations were legal and China had every right...
However, they said that Beijing acted in conformity with the principles on legal jurisdiction in having them deported to China, where the targets of the fraud schemes reside.

Tai Tung-li (戴東麗), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs, told a news conference in Taipei that the government had asked Beijing to deal with the eight Taiwanese in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), and that they be released and sent back to Taiwan.

“Chinese government officials said they are investigating the Taiwanese suspects for fraud involving phone scams. As these cases took place in China, they were asserting their legal jurisdiction in having the Taiwanese suspects forcibly taken to China,” she said.

Tai said that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security had informed Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau that the eight were held in custody in Beijing on Monday, and promised to handle the case in accordance with the cross-strait legal agreement.

The government will send a delegation to China to negotiate the case, Tai added.
According to information released by Chinese authorities, the victims of the phone scams originating in Kenya were all Chinese citizens — not Taiwanese — so the suspects were deported to China for investigation, Tai said.

“The telecommunication facilities used to make the telephone calls were based in Kenya, so the fraud schemes took place outside of our country, so Taiwan does not have jurisdiction [over the case],” Tai said. “Therefore, China’s handling of the case conforms to principles of international criminal jurisdiction.”

As for reports that the Kenyan court had acquitted the eight, Tai said: “They were found not guilty on three of the charges, which were operating a telecommunications enterprise without a license, operating radio communications without a license and organized crime. The ruling did not involve the fraud charges. From an objective point of view, China made the deportation request to investigate the fraud charges.
Today, thanks to the sudden wave of insensate nationalism sweeping the nation, the Ministry attempted to appear to reverse its position. Read what they said closely: same as yesterday, just different words.

Ibtimes report here observes:
The repatriated group's lawyer Steve Isinta said that police had told the group held at the police station to get ready because they would be leaving soon. He later received a message from one of his Taiwanese clients saying: "It's not our people coming for us," referring to the fact that Chinese officials had arrived at the police station instead of Taiwan representatives. Isinta said he did not hear from them after that.

Isinta told Quartz: "It was illegal for them to be deported. To be deported you have to have broken the law. It's because of pressure from China."

Isinta said that most Kenyans do not understand the controversy behind the deportation, nor do they care. Isinta has filed a motion to take the country's attorney general and the police chief to court over the detention and deportation of his clients following their acquittal.
Indeed, that last claim about Kenyans not caring seems quite true. I looked at a couple of papers, and the Kenyan papers seem to be relying on outside media services for their reports, like this AFP story on it in the Daily Nation.

The Daily Nation also featured another piece from AFP, which observed:
Asked to comment on the row Monday, China's foreign ministry said it needed to check on the details but "the One China policy should be upheld".
Check this Xinhua report (link) on the Public Security Ministry's comments on the case in Chinese. It focuses entirely on the criminal aspects, which are extensive. China says these and similar frauds have been raping Chinese citizens and all the victims are Chinese in this case. According to Xinhua, the gang set up in "dens of fraud" in Nairobi, and made internet calls to Beijing, Jiangsu, Hunan, Sichuan and nine other provinces and municipalities posing as Chinese public security authorities to commit fraud with initial estimates of millions of dollars. Old people, students, savings, -- all gone. The piece also complains that Taiwan just lets people go once they've been sent back here. China is not exactly blameless (can we have back all the criminals from Taiwan who have taken refuge there?) but they do make some strong points. It even refers to cooperation with Taiwan over similar fraud cases in SE Asia.

What's not in the report? Not even a boilerplate reiteration of sovereignty.

The foreign ministry spokesman just thanked Kenya for upholding the 'One China' policy and the foreign ministry backed that, but to my knowledge no official word concretely connected this case with the cross-strait sovereignty. No one has said "We deported them to China because they are all Chinese." The 'One China' mentions were boilerplate, trotted out on all diplomatic occasions. The same automated, unconscious words would have been uttered if Kenyan officials had hosted a tea party for Chinese diplomats.

This did not prevent BBC, always ready to screw Taiwan, from cleverly interpolating this boilerplate into its report (4th sentence) to make it look like the extraditions were related to the One China policy. Nice work, whoever did that.

Taiwan and all of its commentators here and abroad were presented with a golden opportunity NOT to make this thing about sovereignty, but instead to treat the case as a normal event between normal countries. To normalize relations between China and Taiwan. To say offhandedly "We hope that Chinese authorities will adjudicate the case in accordance with established international procedures and China-Taiwan agreements, and we are closely monitoring it. Now, moving on to the issue of falling exports and tax revenues..." That common sense move is exactly what our Ministry of Justice tried to do two days ago. Kudos to them.

Of course, Taiwan also had a chance to decouple an issue from the simpleminded sovereignty discussions in the international media. Tired of the international media's ignorant, interminable focus on Cross-Strait sovereignty issues? Stop playing that game. Instead we got total mediafail by our commentariat. The NYTimes report by the refreshingly competent Austin Ramzy was quite restrained, basically focusing on the diplomat spat, indeed, it was way more restrained than our own media. That's what we on the pro-Taiwan side should have encouraged all across the media, domestic and abroad.

Great job, guys.

Taiwan spokesman extraordinaire J Michael Cole is in CNN today on the issue, clearly identified as part of a Tsai Ing-wen funded organization (if Cole had China links, they probably would not have been so clearly identified). Sadly, Cole decided to run with the sovereignty issue and argue for other, more dubious links to odious Chinese behavior, when it could have been downplayed...
Besides the fact that the individuals were cleared of all crimes by a Kenyan court, their extradition to China, ostensibly due to pressure from Chinese officials, raises essential questions about the future implications of the "one China" policy in a time of greater Chinese assertiveness.
It didn't have to raise any "essential questions". It could have been kept as a simple issue of crime under international law. Sometimes a cigar should be permitted to be only a cigar: Cole should have moved to dampen the flames, not pour oil on them. I also can't resist pointing out that the individuals were not "cleared of all crimes" by the Kenyan court. They were cleared off all the crimes the Kenyan authorities brought to the court -- the fraud charges were withheld as the Taiwan Ministry of Justice said, probably because China wanted to prosecute those (that may have been why the Kenya authorities cleared them, so there would be no tussle about where they serve their prison sentences). China appears to have wanted to send a message, not about sovereignty, but about international crime (read the Xinhua report again. Note emphasis on tawdry fraud crime). It's been doing that for years, btw.

It doesn't raise any essential questions also because it has happened before, as I noted yesterday when I observed that everyone was barking up the wrong tree. In 2011 Philippines sent a bunch of alleged fraudsters back to China. Please enumerate the repercussions of that... O yeah, there weren't any. Well, there were -- all that assiduous pursuit of fraudsters in SE Asia by China over the last few years was probably a factor that sent them off to Kenya in the first place, where things are congenial for financial criminals.

Cole (and many others) have placed the extradition of alleged gangsters accused of being engaged in fraud in the context of the kidnapping innocent booksellers in Hong Kong (see this Reuters piece, for example). Turning fraudsters into heroes of dissent is a leap into an abyss where nobody should be going. Once again, the opportunity to normalize this behavior and separate it from the vile kidnapping of the booksellers by emphasizing the differences in the case was thrown away -- instead the abnormality and evil of the kidnapping of booksellers is blurred, denigrated.

Not only that, but the Hong Kong booksellers aren't even the right context -- the 2011 Philippines deportees are, and China's campaign against fraud in SE Asia. This is not a political crime issue, but a gangster crime issue.

Even the use of the term "kidnapping" is ill-advised. I do not know what the correct legal term should be, either deportation or extradition, but these men weren't "kidnapped". They were acquitted and given a fixed time to leave the country, then bundled off to the place they came from (you can't fly directly to Nairobi from Taipei, and the cheapest flights go through China. Hence Kenya seems to be correct). That's how the system works. People get deported to countries they are not citizens of all the time. That could have been invoked in this case -- instead of focusing on "China as China" the commentary could have stressed "China as a foreign country". You know, normalizing its distance from Taiwan.

It's quite true that China rushed to get them -- because once they got back to Taiwan, they would be out of Beijing's reach.

Cole claims that the 2009 crime-fighting agreement is a "dead instrument." Two days ago the Ministry of Justice said that China had notified Taiwan that the case will be handled in accordance with that. Let's wait and see on that, shall we?

Taiwan really ought to be going to bat for international law and its cross-strait agreements on crime, as the Ministry of Justice initially attempted to do. International law is one of the things that helps keep Taiwan out of Beijing's clutches -- heck, we could even have leveraged Chinese victimhood to support international law, in this case. Maybe we could have used this to get some of our own criminals there sent back...

Another lesson here is how, if you don't suppress the media's urge to make everything about the sovereignty issue, it will go right ahead and keep pointing that out, thus helping Beijing enforce its claims and make them known to the world.

Not only that, but once you claim that this is Beijing making trouble for Tsai, you've made trouble for Tsai that you didn't have to make.

Great work all around, folks.

It will, of course, have a temporary impact on Taiwan's attitudes toward China, but since they were largely negative anyway...

Finally, just as in the Philippines case, all this noise about "kidnapping", sovereignty, and the China threat may be out there to obscure an important truth that no one in Taiwan wants to face: one of Taiwan's chief exports is organized crime.

UPDATE: Julian Ku, the international law professor who tried to claim it was perfectly legal for China to maim and murder Taiwanese and annex their island (his political allegiance should be obvious if you find some of his stuff, so filter whatever he says hard), is cited in this NYTimes piece. NYTimes observes:
Deporting suspects to third countries is not illegal under international law, said Julian Ku, a professor of international law at Hofstra University.

China also has the right under international law to prosecute people suspected of committing crimes directed at Chinese territory, Mr. Ku said. “China makes a lot of bad arguments, but this one is pretty good,” he said.

But, complicating matters, China and Taiwan have abided since 2009 by their Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, which formalized criminal-justice cooperation and established a procedure for each side to return the other’s citizens in legal cases. In a 2011 fraud case, 14 Taiwanese suspects who had been deported from the Philippines to China were sent back to Taiwan under the agreement.

Some experts suspect that China’s change in strategy is a deliberate warning to Taiwan’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-wen, who will take office in May and has advocated an approach to cross-strait relations that is more cautious than her predecessor’s.

“The Chinese are definitely trying to send a message,” Mr. Ku said. “Before this case, the Taiwanese were used to being consulted by China. The level of trust that made the agreement work seems to have broken down.”
Recall that in the 2011 case, it took months of negotiations to get back the Taiwanese Manila sent to China. They didn't just send them back right away as NYT could be read to imply. Same thing will happen here.

Again, there's a context missing: if all those Taiwanese criminals residing in China who haven't been sent back are not a message to Ma Ying-jeou (and Chen Shui-bian) how is it that this one case is a message to Tsai Ing-wen? The Kenyan investigation long predates Tsai Ing-wen's election. The timing is a coincidence, unless you want to argue that Beijing arranged it with Nairobi (feel free). Because the negotiations will drag out for months, it is way too early to say how and whether China is cooperating.

UPDATE 2: Taiwan Law Blog summarizes the three positions of Taiwan, China, and Kenya.

UPDATE 3: Here is the Kenya Star Jan 2015 report of the original arrest of the Kenya 8, originally in Dec of 2014. You want to claim this is about Tsai Ing-wen, go right ahead. I'll laugh at you. Note that the list of charges is consistent with that offered by the Ministry of Justice in its original statement.
The eight were arrested at Ngong Avenue, Ngong, in December.

Their arrest came after 77 Chinese were arrested following a fire outbreak at their Runda, Nairobi, residence.

The 77 have denied the charges of illegally running a telecommunication system, conspiring to commit a felony and engaging in organised criminal activity.

Police suspect the foreigners may have been involved in bank fraud, money laundering and other serious financial crimes in other countries using the telecommunication equipment seized.
Here is what the Ministry of Justice said:
As for reports that the Kenyan court had acquitted the eight, Tai said: “They were found not guilty on three of the charges, which were operating a telecommunications enterprise without a license, operating radio communications without a license and organized crime. The ruling did not involve the fraud charges. From an objective point of view, China made the deportation request to investigate the fraud charges.”
The Ministry of Justice's initial statement that fraud charges were not pursued appears to be correct.

Now here is the follow up Jan 27 report from The Star. Note that the timing of the case was fixed back in Jan, when the men began serving a one-year term.

Here is another report of Taiwanese operating an illegal radio station (?) but I don't know if these are the same guys sent to China this week. This appears to be a related report from Dec of 2014. Tentatively, the 8 and 37 Taiwanese all appear to have been discovered in the same fire, but were handled separately.

UPDATE 4: Commenter observes:
According to today's China Post here is what happened to the Taiwanese that were eventually sent back from the PI five years ago.

"Two were found not guilty, while the rest were handed sentences ranging from one year and four months to three years and eight months under combined violations.

However, no one was jailed as the case allowed them to convert imprisonment into fines, Sun stated."

It confirms what China has been complaining about, and why they went to prosecute these people themselves.
UPDATE 5: Ministry of Justice testifies about Kenya case:
However, Chen stated that the preliminary investigation showed that the international fraud ring only targeted Mainland Chinese, and that there were no Taiwanese victims. “In spite of this, we will still send people to the Mainland to learn more about the case. In the past, Taiwanese suspects in similar cases were repatriated to Taiwan, but were later released because we had no jurisdiction. Therefore, this time we should be more cautious in dealing with the case,” stressed Chen.
UPDATE 6: The Nation newspaper of Kenya reported in Jan 2015 that China was asking for the prisoners. Taiwan has had a whole year to act on this. Either the diplomatic corps didn't care, or it was incompetent. It didn't move until it became a nationalist issue in Taiwan, and the government had to stoke cross-strait emotions to cover up the fact that it had dilly-dallied for a year, done nothing, and then been blindsided. Taiwan had a whole year to secure "due process".  Posted on it several posts above this one.

REF: The 2011 Phils case and China power.
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