Sunday, July 31, 2005

Opposition pans U.S. scholar over arms purchase comments

Tawan News reports: Opposition pans U.S. scholar over arms purchase comments:

Opposition lawmakers yesterday dismissed criticism by a U.S. scholar who recently argued that the White House and the U.S. Congress should cut ties with what he called pro-China opposition parties if they persisted in blocking the arms package.

John Tkacik, a research fellow in Asian Studies at The Heritage Foundation, recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that "pro-China politicians" in Taiwan have been stalling the purchase of military weapons from the U.S. for selfish reasons.

The retired diplomat argued that the Bush administration and the Congress should quit contacts with pan-blue figures who, he noted, have falsely accused Washington of wanting to profit from the arms deal.

Tkacik, who maintains close ties with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, further urged Taiwan's Legislature to promptly approve the NT$480 billion military procurement, saying the country spends too little on national defense.
Tkacik, who works for the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, has produced a number of papers on China-Taiwan affairs.

The mainlander parties are determined to prevent the island from functioning properly, and another excellent example of their anti-social attitude was reported in the Taipei Times today. Apparently petitions from the public are piling up in the Control Yuan:

More than 9,000 petitions are sitting in the offices of the Control Yuan, the nation's highest watchdog body, which has not functioned since Feb. 1 because opposition legislators have refused to endorse President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominees for Control Yuan members.


Chen first submitted the names of nominees in January for the previous legislature's approval, but opposition legislators refused to approve them, maintaining that most of them were not up to public expectations. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party, which as an alliance retained a majority in the new legislature, asked Chen to submit a new list of nominees on the grounds that his original list for the previous legislature was invalid.

Chen then resubmitted the same list, which opposition legislators are refusing to approve.

China and the US....flag amendment?

This essay at Common Dreams discussed the upcoming effort on the part of right-wingers in the US to implement a US flag-burning amendment, but there was an interesting little blurb at the beginning:

Long time readers of this column will recall that this subject was last visited in 1999. Ng Kung Siu and Lee Kin Yun had been convicted by the Magistrate of Hong Kong of violating the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance and the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance. Those ordinances criminalize desecration of the national and regional flags and the question presented to the court was whether that criminalization was inconsistent with the guarantee of the freedom of expression that Chinese citizens, like U.S. citizens, enjoy. The magistrate found it was not and imposed a deferred sentence. Hong Kong's court of appeals, following the lead of the United States Supreme Court that had ruled in 1989 that defacing the flag was protected as a form of free expression, reversed the conviction. In a 21-page opinion, however, the Court of Final Appeal reversed the lower court saying that Hong Kong "is at the early stage of the new order following resumption of the exercise of sovereignty by the People's Republic of China. The implementation of the principle of 'one country, two systems' is a matter of fundamental importance, as is the reinforcement of national unity and territorial integrity. Protection of the national flag and the regional flag from desecration. . . will play an important part in the attainment of these goals. In these circumstances, there are strong grounds for concluding that the criminalization of flag desecration is a justifiable restriction on the guaranteed right to the freedom of expression."
America, and American values, clearly have a profound effect on the world. The grevious harm done by the Bush Administration and its authoritarian lackeys to our global moral authority reverberates in ways that we know not.

Taiwan's Travel Restrictions on China to Ease

The International Herald Tribune was one of a number of sources reporting that Taiwan will open up to more Chinese visitors. The Paper notes:

The Taiwan government has cautiously welcomed Beijing's offer, saying the island could accommodate 1,000 Chinese tourists a day and might allow the tourists to stay for up to 10 days.

Chinese tourists have proved to be a potent economic force. In the year or so since Beijing relaxed rules on travel to Hong Kong, a tourism boom has bolstered retail sales and been an important factor in its economic recovery.
Several years ago, as the Taiwan government development ambitious plans to expand tourism, this was foreseen as the only option. By comparison to the other Asian competition, Taiwan has little to offer in the way of ruins, clean beaches, ancient history, mountain climbing, skiing, hiking, and other activities. There's been quite a bit of development of such resources in the last 10 years, but the obvious source of tourists for Taiwan was always China. Wonder what they'll say about the island when they come here?

UPDATE: Is this our future? ESWN looks at a survey of China tourists about Hong Kong. The shine has worn off, the luster has dimmed....

Gangsters and Onions Redux

Taiwan's underworld, never one to miss an opportunity, attempted to turn the recent onion crisis to its own advantage as police arrest underworld leader for manipulating vegetable prices

Alleged underworld leader "Smart" Kuo and three of his accomplices were arrested, yesterday, in connection with a bid to push up the price of scallion in Yilan County.

According to the police, Kuo ordered his subordinates to store large quantities of scallion and then raised prices for the vegetable after Typhoon Haitang. Due to a lack of scallion in other counties, its price in Yilan Country eventually rose to NT$320 per kilogram.

Kuo then blocked off roads and forced vegetable vendors to sell their scallion supplies to him, police said.
I had blogged on this before. Many traditional vegetable markets, and vegetable marketing, are gangster controlled.

Taiwan Security in the News

Yesterday Taiwan News announced that....

Active duty U.S. military personnel to work for AIT

Serving U.S. military officers will staff the American representative office in Taiwan for the first time since the United States switched its diplomatic recognition to rival China 26 years ago, an American official said yesterday.

Nadine Saik of the American Institute in Taiwan said at least one officer - a colonel - will arrive in August to take up the post of liaison affairs officer.

The liaison affairs officer is the equivalent of the military attache in a conventional United States Embassy.

Saik said the officer will take over from retired U.S. military personnel who had been acting on a contractual basis.

The decision to send active duty military personnel to AIT was first reported in the London-based military journal Jane's Defence Weekly several months ago, but this appears to be the first time an American official has confirmed it.

This is indeed good news from several points of view, from an upgraded US presence to improved military cooperation in event of conflict in the Straits.

U.S. congressman aims to boost Taiwan security

U.S. Congressman Robert Andrews (Democrat, New Jersey) submitted a concurrent resolution Thursday, calling for enhanced security for Taiwan.

The Andrews resolution, which was referred to the House of Representatives Thursday, proposed that it was the wish of Congress that the United States should abolish all restrictions on visits by U.S. military high-level officials to Taiwan and should sell the Aegis system to Taiwan to help the island defend itself against China's threat of missile attacks.

The resolution encourages U.S. President George W. Bush to abolish all restrictions on visits by United States generals and flag officers to Taiwan to help safeguard the U.S' security interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

The resolution includes references to grave concerns concerning the continued deployment by the People's Republic of China of hundreds of ballistic missiles directed toward Taiwan, which threaten the security and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The full text of the resolution follows:

Whereas for over half a century a close relationship has existed between the United States and Taiwan which has been of enormous economic, cultural, and strategic advantage to both countries;

Whereas Taiwan today is a full-fledged democracy with a vibrant economy and a vigorous multi-party political system that respects human rights and the rule of law and is an ally of the United States;

Whereas the security of the 23 million people in Taiwan is threatened by the deployment by the People's Republic of China of over 700 short-range ballistic missiles targeted at Taiwan, and the purchase by China of advanced weaponry systems, including Su-27 and Su-30 fighter planes, Kilo submarines, and Sovremenny destroyers;

Whereas in a July 19, 2005 report, the Department of Defense stated that "the cross-Strait balance of power is shifting towards Beijing... Chinese air, naval and missile force modernization is increasing demands on Taiwan to develop countermeasures that would enable it to avoid being quickly overwhelmed";

Whereas this report stated that military objectives of the People's Republic of China include building counters to third-parties, including potential United States intervention in cross-Strait crises, and that Chinese preparations come against the background of a policy toward Taiwan that espouses "peaceful" reunification;

Whereas Taiwan was threatened by missile exercises conducted by the People's Republic of China in August 1995 and again in March 1996 when Taiwan was conducting its first free and direct presidential elections;

Whereas section 2(b)(4) of the Taiwan Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 3301(b)(4)) considers "any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States";

Whereas section 2(b)(6) of the Taiwan Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 3301(b)(6)) requires the United States "to maintain the capacity... to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan";

Whereas United States generals and flag officers are not allowed to visit Taiwan and meet their Taiwanese counterparts regularly on a self-imposed prohibition by the Government of the United States and this lack of high-level regular military contacts will compromise an effective contingency plan when the United States responds to a potential cross-Strait crisis; and

Whereas the July 14, 2005, comments by General Zhu Chenghu of the People's Republic of China advocating the use of nuclear weapons against the United States are both damaging to relations between the United States and China and a violation of China's commitment to resolve its differences with Taiwan peacefully.

This is another positive development, though it would have been nice to have been a binding resolution.

Taiwan void felt at security forum

ASEAN met without Taiwan:

Asia's main security gathering, which convened in Laos yesterday, has a gaping hole because it does not include Taiwan, one of the region's most worrying flashpoints, analysts said.

The 25-member ASEAN Regional Forum covers virtually every country in East Asia, including North Korea and Myanmar, but even Asia's pariah states have what Taiwan lacks - a level of regional diplomatic recognition.

The fact that none of the 25 participants in the ARF consider Taiwan an independent country means membership for the island is "just not going to happen," according to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

"The ASEAN Regional Forum is where nations, sovereign governments get together so Taiwan obviously wouldn't qualify," Downer said Friday.

Of course that shit Downer had to make sure to slip in a put-down of Taiwan, like Peter Pettigrew sucking up to Lord Voldemort.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

10 Planet, bigger than Pluto

Look here!

The new world is about 97 astronomical units from the Sun. An astronomical unit is the distance between the Sun and Earth. It becomes the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects.

It was found using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory.

Backyard astronomers with large telescopes may be able to spot the planet No. 10.

"It will be visible over the next six months and is currently almost directly overhead in the early-morning eastern sky, in the constellation Cetus," says Brown, who made the discovery with colleagues Chad Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz, of Yale University, on Jan. 8.

The team had hoped to analyze the data further before announcing the planet but were forced to do so Friday evening because word had leaked out, Brown said.

"Somebody hacked our website," he said, and "they were planning to make [the data] public."

Brown and Trujillo first photographed the new planet with the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope on Oct. 31, 2003. However, the object was so far away that its motion was not detected until they reanalyzed the data in January of this year. In the last seven months, the scientists have been studying the planet to better estimate its size and its motions.

Get that checkup!

I went down to China Medical College Hospital in Taichung on Wednesday for a checkup. The government hands them out free every three years to people over 40. There's no excuse for not going.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday, July 29 Blog Roundup

It's Friday again, and there's nothing to be done about it.

Betelnutblogger kicked off the week with this post on Taiwan's Jack Problem.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I thought these ubiquitous concrete structures lining the coasts, shaped like jacks, were to deter the impending invasion of the island. H.L. Mencken's account of a train ride through Pennsylvania came to mind: such aesthetic destruction of that which is by default beautiful can only be ascribed to a willful inclination toward that which is unsightly and dispiriting - "a libido for the ugly."

It's called pork. When the smoke cleared after a shower of pork barrel funds landed on the Penghu, the islands had more ports than the main island of Taiwan. Taiwan basically runs on outflows of funding for construction, similar to Japan's construction-industrial state, which means essentially outflows of funding for concrete.

Betelnutblogger also has the skinny on Wendell Wilkie, Soong Meiling, and a girl's love of power:

An interesting review of a book on Wendell Willkie in the New York Times. It sounds like a book well worth the read, but what I was looking for was a reference to this incident treated at length in Jonathan Fenby's Chiang Kai-shek bio. Chiang's wife had clearly married him for power, but the limits of Chiang's usefulness were becoming apparent in 1940, and she was clearly looking to move on an even more central stage . Willkie's loss to Roosevelt was clearly a tremendous disappointment to her. It is often said of the three Soong sisters that one loved money, one loved China, and one loved power. Meiling certainly played her part. In New York, later that year, Meiling met with Willkie's man Cowles again:

I looooovvveeee gossip.

Kerim had some amusing and insightful maunderings on the history of the Oompa-loompas:

After spending some time worrying about the exploitation of Oompa-Loompa labor, I was happy to learn about efforts on their behalf. These incldue: PETOL (People for the Ethical Treatment of Oompa Loompas), and the Chocolate Manifesto. It is from the latter that I learned to appreciate the counter-hegemonic nature of the Oompa-Loompa songs.

Kerim observes that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a parody of the chocolate factories that destroyed the mom-and-pop confectioners Roald Dahl knew as a kid. That seems true of the book, but in the original movie, the object being parodied is Christianity, with the factory as Heaven, and Wonka as God.

The Taiwan Troll had a very rational letter in the Taipei Times.

I was angered by what I perceive as a lack of respect for real teachers. I studied to become a teacher, as opposed to taking a four to six week TESOL course. The notion that just anyone can do what I do is upsetting to me. And so I felt the need to write.

More power to ya! But the lack of respect is country-wide. Since anybody does teach English, the idea has grown up that anyone can -- so nobody respects English teachers. Go get your PHD and work in a college! Then you can earn the same amount of disrespect on far fewer hours.

Mutant Frog, who ranges over topics Asian with a sure hand, offers this tie-in to a thread on Starbucks rip-offs.

Seeing this Boingboing post on international Starbucks knockoffs prompted me to post the photos I took at the famous Taiwanese Starbucks knockoff, 'Starbugs.'

But do they serve coffee? Read and find out.

The Gentle Rant writes on escape:

Here we are for now, the New Taiwanese; simply the latest wave of escape artists to find this island, escaping political oppression, and correctness, high taxes, cold weather, or poverty. We should be safe until the next wave of change sweeps through here. Resistance is futile.

Now I am trying to escape off the island....

Jason Wright fisks China's claims to Taiwan:

Just in time for the beginning of the final stretch of the baseball season, Xinhua lobs a nice big juicy one over the plate:

"'Taiwan is part of China' backed by international law"

Hehehe. Poor Xinhua. Don't miss this chilling post on a father who hid his daughter, a coma victim who had revived, so he could collect payments on her from the government.

Pinyin News blogs Ma's victory in the KMT elections as a victory for Pinyin, and gives a little background.

Most advocates of Tongyong Pinyin, which Taiwan's central government has adopted but not made mandatory throughout the country, like to tout the made-in-Taiwan aspect of their system. This is simply another way to oppose China. And perhaps the KMT of today, with its relatively cozy good relations with Beijing, would indeed generally favor Hanyu Pinyin. But it's important to remember that the KMT in the past opposed Hanyu Pinyin.....

I always enjoy blogs with dedication to a single topic, because they are so informative.

Cameraeye blogs on phone scams.

Phone scams are very common here. I'm not sure how people fall for the trap anymore, since everyone knows about them. In fact, I've had several Taiwanese people freak out on me because they thought I was a telephone scam artist.

And don't miss the great pics.

MeiZhongTai and I a while back had discussed a potential Taiwan-China conflict, and I had commented on the high level of control exercised over drills in Taiwan society. On Thursday MZT blogged on the scripting of drills among Taiwan's armed forces.

Some have argued that the event should be called the Han Kuang Demonstration because much of the exercise is scripted or at least partially planned in advance. The ROC military, however, would counter that the event is not scripted but rather based on the 'most probable course of action' by Communist forces. What that means is that other smaller exercises are less scripted, such as the Joint (San-Jun) Exercise, but these larger joint exercises are designed to represent one specific technique that the PLA might use.

Scary. It recalls the famous incident in which the Japanese gamed the attack on Midway during the planning stages. They lost several carriers. The umpire declared that impossible and refloated them. Alas, real life was not so kind to them. Naruwan Formosa, inspired by news reports of Chen's criticism of the KMT over the weapons purchases, logs on the topic of Taiwan's military readiness as well.

David at jujuflop once again critiques the KMT's clumsy party organization:

So, the ~1 million KMT members vote for party delegates who vote for the Central Committee members who then vote for the Standing Committee, who then try to agree with the chairman (separately voted for by the KMT members) on policy which they pass on to KMT legislators (voted for in national elections) and try and convince them to implement it. Does this sound like an efficient process, or a hangover from one-party rule?

I'll take door number 2 on that one, David. It's a good illustration of how so many of Taiwan's procedural and organizational arrangements are holdovers from the authoritarian days, and still in need of cleaning up.

Shorts: Scott Sommers is looking for volunteer teachers for aboriginal summer camp. I missed Mesheel's post full of awesome pics of storm damage from the typhoon. Popcorn & Green Tea celebrate the first issue of their new newspaper about Hualien. Go Ryan & Iris! Several of us have read the latest installment of the Harry Potter saga, and Brian reviews it here. A great book that I enjoyed very much.

Have a great weekend!

Juan Cole on Iran-Iraq on

Don't miss Juan Cole's article on

The Iraq war is over, and the winner is... Iran

Iraq's new government has been trumpeted by the Bush administration as a close friend and a model for democracy in the region. In contrast, Bush calls Iran part of an axis of evil and dismisses its elections and government as illegitimate. So the Bush administration cannot have been filled with joy when Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and eight high-powered cabinet ministers paid an extremely friendly visit to Tehran this week.

The two governments went into a tizzy of wheeling and dealing of a sort not seen since Texas oil millionaires found out about Saudi Arabia. Oil pipelines, port access, pilgrimage, trade, security, military assistance, were all on the table in Tehran. All the sorts of contracts and deals that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had imagined for Halliburton, and that the Pentagon neoconservatives had hoped for Israel, were heading instead due east.....

Skin Whiteners and Racism

Counterpunch offers a view of skin whitening agents.....

The 'ethnic' skin-whitening market around the world is decentralized as well being covert. This is because many of the skin-whitening products which target poor women, particularly black women, including women of colour living in North America and Europe, are relatively cheap but often contain highly toxic chemical agents such as mercury, hydroquinone and corticosteroids.


Partly because of the covert nature of the trafficking and informal circulation of toxic skin-whitening commodities, it is hard to gain accurate estimates of the market share of the 'low end' but highly toxic skin-whitening market. Similarly, because the 'high end' and, presumably less toxic skin-whitening commodities targeted to whites are promoted under the purview of 'anti-aging therapy,' it is as difficult to gain an accurate or even a generally reliable estimate of the North America and European market shares of skin-whitening products targeted to white women. However, in Asia, where the skin-whitening market outside of Europe and North America is anchored, in 2001, in Japan alone, the skin-whitening market was estimated to be worth $ 5.6. billion. According to the same report, the fastest growing skin-whitening market in Asia is China. In 2001, China's skin-whitening market was estimated to be over $ 1.3 billion.

Chna's skin whitening market must be like the Holy Grail for cosmetics firms.

Many of these advertisements which are directed mainly to Asian women use images and narratives with implicit references to the aesthetic 'inferiority' of 'dark' and 'yellow' skin tones of Asian women. In these ads, this implied is often reinforced with illustrations of the pathological nature of 'dark' and 'yellow' skin tones of 'Asian-looking' models.

Yes, but these ads reflect the values of Asians themselves. They are not import of colonialist attitudes from abroad. Hence her paragraph here....

It is in this specific context of the continuum of the western practice of global racism and the economic practice of commodity racism that the social, political and cultural implications of skin-whitening must be located and resisted. just bog-standard leftist bullshit that does not seem very sensitive to the actual practices of Asian society that predate western colonialism.

China retains lobbying firm to pep up image in US

China has retained the services of a lobbying firm:

Seeking to build political influence in Washington, the Chinese embassy has retained Patton Boggs to lobby on a wide range of issues before Congress, according to a lobbying registration statement filed last week with the US Department of Justice.

The enlistment of Patton Boggs which has also represented such countries as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan highlights China's efforts to respond to the rising wave of anti-Chinese sentiment in Congress. Beyond trade, the ill-feeling is also driven by Chinese threats towards Taiwan and China's rapid military expansion which was highlighted this month by a special Pentagon report mandated by Congress.

I see Patton Boggs specializes in anti-democracy countries. I guess I will never be able to understand how anyone can knowingly serve evil like this (the firm's website here). China already has a diplomatic corps in Washington to suck up to Congress. Helping them is just plain wrong.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hiroshima time again....

We're coming around to August again, and the yearly outpouring of Japanese rightist propaganda from the mouths of the American Left. Speaking as a bit of a lefty, there is no topic that has descredited the Left more than its essentially anti-American position on the atomic bombing.

Several years ago I wrote these up on the end of the war for the Infidels forum.

Ma, Su face internal rivals in race to 2008

The Taipei Times reported last week on new KMT chairman Ma and his DPP counterpart Su:

In a bid to cement their role as leading contenders for the 2008 presidential elections, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) chairman-elect, and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will have to go all out to ensure their parties emerge victorious in the year-end elections. For both men, those polls will be a war that they cannot afford to lose.

What's Soong going to do? That will be crucial for Ma. As the TT pointed out the other day, Ma did well in the KMT elections in the southern towns of Taliao and Fengyuan. The TT was right in noting that those are mainlander strongholds. However, during the 2000 election, they went heavily for Soong, which says that Ma's support in the south may depend in part on Soong's attitude during the 2008 election.

Exhibition about Betel Nut girls

Taiwan's gov't will host an exhibition on betel nut babes.

The National Taiwan Arts Education Institute in Taipei will hold an art exhibition titled "Taiwan's Betel Nut" at its premises in Taipei August 19-September 13, featuring dozens of installations created by artist Wu Chiung-hua over the past decade. All of the works in this retrospective show are on the theme of "Binlang Xishi" or "betel nut beauties" -- young women scantily clad to attract male customers to their roadside betel nut vending kiosks in locales across the island.


In preparation for her creative work on the theme of binlang beauties, the artist spent two years interviewing and photographing more than 100 of them, also collecting samples of their clothing and ornaments. Her motivation, she has explained, was not to make any narrowly positive or negative overall judgment. Rather, she has attempted to faithfully portray this social phenomenon from different angles to help reveal its multiple psychological and social dimensions and, more importantly, to provide a touchstone for her audience to better understand themselves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yuan Changes Seen Forcing Taiwan investors to Relocate

Facing rising costs for the last decade, some Taiwan investors may relocate to other countries:

According to Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce Chairman Huang Mao-hsiung, China's 2 percent revaluation of its currency, which puts the renminbi at 8.11 to the U.S. dollar, will cause an impact on export-oriented Taiwan companies operating in China, and the extent of follow-up consequences will depend on business scale and management capacities.

Although Huang acknowledged that the pickup in the value of the renminbi is not expected to slow the investment pace or long-term market deployment by Taiwan businesses in China, he said that some Taiwan enterprises that set up operations both in China and countries in Southeast Asia are mulling the possibility of relocating to other countries.

Operating costs in China have been mounting since about 10 years ago, and the further strengthening of the renminbi is set to slash Taiwan businesses' profit margin, a situation that has led many Taiwan companies to consider relocations, a Taiwan investor said.

If this becomes a trend, how will it affect Cross-Strait tensions? The Taipei Times reports that China will probably gradually let the Yuan rise 10-15%. Just a 2% rise in the Yuan triggered shifts in Taiwan investment....

DPP taps three for important posts in the north

Taiwan News reports that the DPP has selected three veterans to run for key posts in northern Taiwan:

Speaking with reporters after a scheduled meeting of the governing party's central standing committee, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced that the committee had agreed to draft Taiwan Provincial governor and former Hsinchu County Commissioner Lin Kuang-hua (林光華) to run for his former post, DPP Legislator Wang To to run for the Keelung City mayoral post and Miaoli City Mayor Chiu Ping-kun (邱炳坤) to run for the Miaoli County commissioner slot.

The article also notes:

Cheng also stated that Su had expressed gratitude to Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) for their efforts to attempt to dissuade incumbent Nantou County Commissioner Lin Tsung-nan (林宗南) from running as an independent after the DPP nominated former DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) to run for the Nantou County executive post.

One of Taiwan's most frustrating political problems is factionalization -- brilliantly displayed in the 2000 election, when the two major parties, the DPP and the KMT, each spun off disgruntled party leaders who then ran for President on their own. Because Taiwan's electoral politics are so resolutely local, local leaders are always tempted to either jump ship or run as independents, since their power base is not dependent on the national party.

A mainlander pro-independence "party"

Taiwan News reports that some activists in Nantou want to start their own pro-independence party:

A group of pro-independence activists has announced its plan to set up a Taiwanese Nationalist Party (Taiwanese Kuomintang) in Nantou County in central Taiwan on the coming weekend to promote Taiwan's economy and Taiwanese identity.

Hsu Teng-kun, a party founder, says the group aims to serve as a check and balance to the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party,) which he said has placed Taiwan in a difficult situation because of its pro-China stance.

The last paragraph is the most interesting:

Born in 1951, Hsu has served as chairman of the Mainlanders Association for Taiwan Independence for many years. He was nominated by the Taiwan Independence Party to run in last December's legislative elections in Taipei County, but he only received 153 votes, far less than the minimum 35,000 votes required for election in his district.

The article is also full of interesting facts about political parties in Taiwan (110!).

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Window on China

Yesterday we took a family trip to Window on China, the badly-named theme park outside of Lungtan in northern Taiwan (should be Window on the World now). The park consists of one site containing rides catering largely to children (no serious roller coasters), and another site containing scale models of famous buildings in Taiwan and China.

The entrance.

The kids had a pretty good time and I recommend a trip to the park for anyone with kids in the 6-12 bracket. The scale models of buildings were nice, but the park had been built thirty years ago, so landmarks outside of Taipei were scarce. However, they did offer architectural remarks in English, Japanese, and Chinese, which was good. For me it was very much a Dad day, holding bags, watching the kids, and standing around waiting while they had fun, marred only by a bad case of sunstroke that left me too dizzy and nauseous to go on any of the rides.

Taichung Port project

Window on China is not only interesting as an amusement park, but also as a window into the mindset of Taiwan 30 years ago. As far as Taiwan goes, the park has many items from the Ten Great Construction projects -- the freeway, the port of Taichung, the airport in Taoyuan, but also has some of the prime landmarks of KMT Taipei, especially the hideous memorial to that revolting butcher, Chiang Kai-shek. The many historical sites of Tainan, that bastion of Taiwanese nationalism, are almost ignored. The Taiwan models have a focus on successful large development projects, a strong political and economic theme of that era, a theme practically gone from national political discourse today. What does that tell us about how Taiwan regards itself?

The water slide.

BBC: Chen Berates World for Double Standards on Chinese Arms

The Beeb reports:

While welcoming the efforts by the US and Japan to support Taiwan, he pointed out that six-party talks are going on in Beijing to try to resolve the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons while at the same time some European countries are trying to lift the embargo on selling arms to China.

In view of the fact that China has more than 700 missiles pointing at Taiwan, with 100 more being added each year, Mr Chen said that would indicate double standards.

And he added that the absence of any external threat to China should cause democratic nations to question Beijing's motives for the military build-up.
It's interesting to contrast Chen's remarks with an essay from Counterpunch, which bare mentions Taiwan. In The Pentagon's China Hypocrisy Brian Cloughley argues that:

There is a fascinating document called the "Base Structure Report" that lists some -- just some -- of the Pentagon's power projection springboards around the world. The Pentagon admits to having 770 military bases in 39 countries from Antigua to the UK, but doesn't catalog any of the new strongholds in Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan (smack up against the Chinese border), nor -- and this is sidesplitting stuff -- does it mention Afghanistan or Iraq where gigantic military fortresses and strike airfields have been and are being built, thanks to Cheney's Halliburton.

There is no mention of installations in the Balkans, and not a word in this "comprehensive listing of installations and sites owned and used by the Department" (which includes leasings) about Qatar, for example, where the vast airfield and Command headquarters cost $1.5 billion. The Pentagon's global inventory of property is as deceitful a document as we might expect from an outfit that has Rumsfeld trying to run it.

But something Rumsfeld's Pentagon will never mention is that China doesn't have any foreign bases.

Washington has 7088 nuclear weapons. China has, perhaps, five hundred, of which about a score are intercontinental. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes that "China currently has the capability to strike US cities with a force of approximately 20 long-range Dong Feng-5 missiles, each armed with a single 4- to 5-megaton warhead," and the Institute for Strategic Studies says it has about thirty ICBMs.
Cloughley attempts to show that the Pentagon is completely hypocritical on China. He makes some good points, but one can't help feeling that Taiwan (and Tibet) make a mockery of his central theme. Tibet is not even mentioned; Taiwan mentioned only in passing. It is high time that progressives stop ignoring Taiwan.

UPDATE: MeiZhongTai points out that Cloughley's claims are bullshit; China in fact has several foreign bases and is expanding. Whatever the sins of the Pentagon, they do not excuse China.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Say it ain't so! Good-bye Guanghwa Computer Market

Wolf Reinhold, who moved to Taiwan sometime during early Ching Dynasty, had a wonderful article over at POTS on the closing of the Guanghwa Market. For those of you who do not know this amazing Taipei landmark, a symbol of the island's freewheeling economy and rapid growth, that market was Taipei's major computer market. Reinhold writes:

Long a fixture for locals and foreigners alike, the market offers an eclectic mix of everything computer and peripherals on one floor to used books and magazines, music CDs and movies on another.

One of the largest computer trade shows in the world - Computex 2005 - on its Web site calls Guanghua "an important shopping spot, which you can never miss...."

Well, this year's Computex buyers, estimated to be around 27,000, were to be the last foreign crowd to shop at the venerable and important bazaar.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, calling the place and eyesore and unsafe, announced that the market will be demolished. Ma further announced that an alternate location will be provided by 2007. He also previously said that a temporary site would be found for the shops before the current site was pulled down.

Pulled down! That's hearbreaking! Reinhold goes on to point out the very similar situation that arose with the Shihlin Night Market, another incredible and beloved Taipei market that Mayor Ma destroyed. Ma promised to rebuild the place even better than before:
All that is interesting since anyone at the market today visiting the site of the former food court will see a large, flattened space surrounded by corrugated steel walls containing exactly nothing. It's not that the construction is just behind schedule - absolutely nothing has been done; not an ounce of concrete has been poured or a single nail driven. If Ma's promise is to be kept, five months from now a high-rise building ready-made for the vendors and the hungry public will have risen from the now-vacant lot.
I can't tell what Ma's drive to destroy the old informal Taiwan stems from. A friend of mine who does research on wet markets talks about how middle and upper class locals remark that traditional markets are dirty, and seem to consider them as dying remnants of yesterday's lifestyles, when in fact traditional markets remain a vital part of the island's economy, much bigger than supermarkets or volume retailers like Costco. Perhaps Ma's policy is simply an expression of upscaling. But such markets are very traditional and very Taiwanese, and Ma's move to destroy it may also reflect the widespread contempt among mainlanders for things Taiwanese -- "a market language" was how twice-defeated Presidential candidate Lien Chan's son recently described the Taiwanese language.

Either way, it is very sad to hear that another Taipei small business collective is passing. Are the beef noodle places near the train station still there?

Annual Conference of Int'l Assoc. for Media and Comm. Research in Taipei this week

This email went around several of the local bloggers.

The annual conference of IAMCR (International Association for Media and Communication Research) will be in Taipei this week, some media activists will be there, too. Some of them would like to meet bloggers in Taiwan, such as members from, and Buy Nothing Day Japan ( The meeting will be in in Thursday night, more information can be obtained from here:
Go here

I guess some of you guys might be interested in it. :)

The Arms Package for Taiwan: Protection Money?

Budding Sinologist over at MeiZhongTai just posted this comment on the previous post in response to my cynical comments on the arms package the Pentagon is pushing. While I completely agree that China is a threat, I disagree that this package is useful to Taiwan. It is being sold primarily to fertilize and water the soil of the US-Taiwan alliance.
What in the Pentagon report encouraged the "sale of militarily useless but politically necessary weapons to Taiwan"? I assume you mean the report somehow encouraged Taiwan to buy the weaponry that has been under debate recently. Even if that was the case, what makes the weapons militarily useless? Most first (and second) rate militaries the world over have found submarines to be an important weapon. An island threatened by a neighbor who threatens to place an embargo on your island (and is pursuing the capability) would seem to make such weaponry even more important. In light of that neighbor's growing underwater warfare capability, some ASW capability) might be helpful too (EP-3s and subs both fit this category). At what point does this become militarily useless? I worry that you have bought into the argument that the only reason for Taiwan to buy the weapons is to please America.
The weapons package was first announced in 2001. Here is it as originally announced, from Jane's.
  1. Four Kidd-class destroyers (currently mothballed). Further details of the Kidd-class destroyer are available here.
  2. Eight diesel-electric patrol submarines
  3. 12 P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft
  4. Paladin self-propelled howitzers
  5. MH-53E minesweeping helicopters
  6. AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles
  7. Avenger surface-to-air missiles
  8. Submarine- and surface-launched torpedoes
Some discussion of the original package is here. The package has mutated over the years, and has now become:

The arms package provides for the purchase of six PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems, eight conventional submarines and a fleet of submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft from the United States over a 15-year period beginning 2005.

Despite the other weapons offered, that is all the government is considering purchasing at the moment. Some of the weapons systems in that package have already been delivered.

Denny Roy notes:

The Bush administration's April 2001 arms sale offer was noteworthy for both its quantity and its quality. It was unusually large, including eight diesel-electric submarines, four Kidd-class guided missile destroyers, and twelve P-3C patrol and anti-submarine aircraft, along with 155 mm howitzers, minesweeping helicopters, torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and amphibious assault vehicles. Particularly significant was the lifting of the ban on submarines, which many observers saw as a gesture of increased U.S. support for Taiwan. Since the April 2001 offer, U.S. officials have encouraged Taiwan to buy additional systems, including the Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile system, advanced ground-based and satellite-based radars, and a C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) network that would allow Taiwan's different armed services to share real-time data.

Budding Sinologist's analysis of the subs as anti-submarine weapons is interesting in light of the fact that for years the US has refused to sell subs to Taiwan because they are so obviously anti-shipping weapons that are unnecessary for the defense of Taiwan -- Taiwan has been asking for subs since 1982.

Since I've mentioned subs, let's point out a couple of salient facts. First, the subs do not actually exist. US shipyards do not have the capability to build them, and those nations that can, the Netherlands and Germany, will not sell them to Taiwan. Hence there has been some talk of building them in Taiwan, though Taiwan does not have the capability to build them completely.

Counting hardware and its applications is insufficient; the socio-technical context of weapon deployment must also be considered. The fact is that Taiwan currently has four submarines, two dating from WWII, and has no real experience in anti-submarine work with subsmarines. The weapons are deliverable over the next 15 years, not immediately from extant inventories, and it will be many years before they become operational and appropriate training is in place and absorbed. Surely $12 billion can be spent more effectively elsewhere -- on advanced aircraft, spare parts, command and control systems, hardening airfields and command and control sites, patrol craft and small attack craft, and so on.

The US has asked $12 billion for the submarines, or over $1 billion each. As the Roy piece above points out, critics in Taiwan have noted that similar subs generally market for about a third of that. The island had originally budgeted just $4.4 billion. Roy again with the call:
Cost has been a major sticking point. In November 2003, a Taiwan defense official argued that the price the United States was quoting for the eight submarines, now more than $12 billion, was "outrageously high." In contrast, South Korea, Pakistan and India reportedly built submarines based on a German design for $367 million, $317 million and $323 million apiece, respectively. Based on international market prices such as these, Taiwan's government in 2003 had allocated a budget of only $4.4 billion for the submarines.

Roy adds:

Analyst John J. Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation wrote in December 2003 that the "exorbitant" asking price also reflects the U.S. Navy's desire to squelch the deal. The Navy, says Tkacik, prefers nuclear to diesel submarines, and fears that reviving an American capability to build diesel submarines would lead to Congress demanding that the U.S. Navy purchase them as well.

The submarines, as offensive weapons, have to be looked at in the larger context of the US-Japan-Taiwan alliance to contain China. As Wendel Minnick note, a strong submarine force would make Taiwan an attractive strategic partner to Japan and the United States. Taiwan's acquisition of submarines would give it political and military bargaining power in the future. One is reminded of the argument over artillery in Lawrence of Arabia: "If you give them artillery, you'll be giving them a country." Something similar is at work with the submarines.

The Kidd-class destroyers are also a frank rip-off. Wendell Minnick, who writes on Asian defense affairs, discusses the purchase in a generally pro-purchase article for AmCham in Taiwan:

Considerable debate preceded Taiwan's decision to purchase the Kidds. Most of the controversy centered on the size of the ships. At 9,574-tonnes loaded with a 10-meter draught, the Kidds are twice as big as any other ship in Taiwan's fleet. There was genuine concern over where to berth the giants. Only Suao and Kaohsiung are deep enough to handle them. An additional argument was that the Kidds' massive size would serve as a disadvantage in the narrow and shallow waters of the Taiwan Straits, or even make them easier targets to hit.
Many within the Taiwan navy wanted to go straight to the acquisition of Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, eliminating the problem of trying to maintain four large Kidds and four additional Arleigh Burkes. However, the U.S. Navy insisted that the Kidds were a prerequisite to the Aegis. Basically, no Kidds, no possibility of moving up to Aegis.
The Kidds also do not make sense in light of other needs. Roy notes:

Some Taiwan naval planners, including former Taiwan Navy chief and Minister of Defense Wu Shih-wen, prefer a defense strategy based on smaller, faster missile-armed ships of 200 tons or less. The arguments in favor of small missile boats are that they carry nearly as much firepower as destroyers while being faster and more agile, cheaper to operate and less manpower-intensive. The Kidds are built for long ocean voyages, an unnecessary capability for Taiwan, and their size makes it difficult for Taiwan’s existing military ports to accommodate them.

In 2001 a PFP legislator announced that all of the Navy chiefs were against purchasing the Kidds.

On paper the P-3C anti-submarine aircraft look like a great idea. Taiwan needs them to replace their Bronze Age S-2 Trackers. Minnick explains some of the problems observed back in 2001:
The 12 P-3C Orion maritime-patrol aircraft included in the U.S. arms-sale offer are desperately needed by the Taiwan Navy to replace its aging fleet of Grumman S-2 Tracker maritime-patrol planes. The problem is that Lockheed Martin has not built new P-3s since 1990, and reopening the assembly line is not a serious option considering the exorbitant costs. The alternative involves acquiring refurbished P-3s, which would bring the price in line with Taiwan's budget. Such a deal would be similar to the proposed sale to South Korea of nine P-3B aircraft for an estimated US$66 million per unit.

[The P-3Cs are considered war-reserve aircraft, so the U.S. Congress must first declare them in excess before they can be available to FMS customers. Congress recently declared some P-3C aircraft to be excess, but most of the planes are not available.]
Minnick writes on the Patriot missiles:

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile system is critical for the defense of the military's facilities, especially air bases. China's Second Artillery Corps has about 600 Dong Feng 11 (M-11) and DF-15 (M-9) tactical ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. At present, Taiwan has only three Patriot-2 (PAC-2 Plus) units, with an inventory of 200 missiles, defending Taipei through installations at Linkou, Wanli, and Nankang. There is no coverage of central and southern Taiwan. This leaves most of Taiwan's air bases and ports vulnerable to multi-wave and multi-saturation missile attacks. Once the air bases and radar bases are destroyed, China could begin fighter and bomber aircraft sorties against remaining targets.

They probably are a good idea, but Taiwan needs several times what the current US offer is. The number of Patriot missiles being offered is 388. Against modified Scuds the previous version of the Patriot had a kill rate of 50%. While the PAC-III is probably better, assuming a 75% success rate, it knocks out about 300 incoming missiles, leaving the Chinese with 400. Not nearly enough. Taiwan needs at least 25 batteries of such missiles.

The minesweeping helicopters are a good idea too. The Chinese People's Daily makes the call:

Currently, Taiwan's annual foreign ocean shipping volume approaches 200 million tons, the majority of which are undertaken by several important ports in Kaohsiung, Keelung, Hualien and Su'ao, so whether sea-routes are smooth or not is vitally important to Taiwan. The depth of water in Taiwan's surrounding sea areas ranges mostly between 50-60 meters, this makes it easy for the large-scale deployment of mines. Hualien and Su'ao ports in the eastern part of Taiwan, in particular, because they face the vast Pacific Ocean, it is fairly hard to impose blockade by forces, it is more possible for blockade by dense mine formation.

Mine sweeping capabilities are absolutely crucial in the coming conflict. The agreement calls for the US to supply 12 of these units to Taiwan. Unfortunately the current reduced proposal does not appear to include these vital systems.

The Paladin howitzers are a fine idea and Taiwan has already begun to receive them. The deal is for 140 of the 155mm self-propelled guns, said to be the most advanced in the world. Mobile artillery will be vital for repelling landings, especially if the air is filled with missiles and enemy aircraft.

The AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles were a colossal waste of money. The idea of Taiwan carrying out amphibious operations during a serious conflict with China is absurd.

On the balance, the proposal's major units, the submarines and the Kidd-class destroyers, are a waste of money. Taiwan would be better off spending $12 billion to acquire advanced aircraft. At $50 million each, it could obtain 600 more aircraft for its defenses, which would help it far more than 8 submarines spread over 15 years. The smaller items are potentially useful, though, except for the amphibious units.

Hence, overall, I support the purchase because the US must be placated and Taiwan needs the US. It is a shame, however, that the deal does not address Taiwan's real defense needs.

I would just like to thank Budding Sinologist for the stimulus, for I have learned much from researching these items. For those interested, Global Security discusses Taiwan's defense budget trends here.

UPDATE: MeiZhongTai rebuts my post here.

China, Taiwan in the News this week.

The fallout from the recent Pentago report, which appears at least in part to promote the sale of militarily useless but politically necessary weapons to Taiwan, is still being felt. The Taipei Times headlined an article yesterday saying that analysts believe a peaceful solution to the Taiwan Straits crisis is not possible. Hey, no shit. I've only been saying that for a decade now, and so have many others. The Taiwan-China problem is a circle that cannot be squared, unless China suddenly becomes a beacon of enlightenment.
The recent US report on China's military power and the growing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait is aimed at shattering the idea that the cross-strait impasse can be solved peacefully, analysts said yesterday.

The analysts came to this conclusion after interpreting the US report's message and the Chinese government's reactions to it, adding that the report might dampen unificationist elements within Taiwan.

The paper also noted Hu's congratulations to his local lapdog James Soong on his victory in the election for PFP chairman. The election, which featured Soong getting some 99% of the vote as the only candidate, was truly one whose spirit Communist China could empathize with.

The paper also reported that China has refused to work with Taiwan authorities on internet crime, and featured another article on Chinese criminals and spies entering Taiwan.

China's strategy for expanding its influence in the world.

As the Bush Administration continues to torture the US and Iraq with its failed imperialist war in Iraq, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission held hearings last week on China's growing global influence. The Bush Administration's obsession with the Middle East has let US policy in the rest of the world drift, and China is crafting policies that will threaten America's power and position in areas where it has been the leader since the end of WWII. The latest hearings were held on July 21st:

Hearing on China's Growing Global Influence: Objectives and Strategies

China eases travel restrictions on Taiwanese

The China Post reports that China has eased travel restrictions for Taiwanese.

Effective Monday, Taiwan residents can be granted multiple entry and exit permits, valid for one to five years, and forego obtaining separate residence permits, China Central Television cited the Public Security Ministry as saying.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Bashed Tooth puts a damper on the weekend

Friday we headed down to the National Museum of Fine Arts on the other side of Taichung. The Museum is one exception to Taichung's culture-free living. As you can see, it was a stunning day, and a few clean molecules of air still hovered from the typhoon last week.

Advancing on the Museum

I feared the kids would be bored, but they loved it, especially the electronic arts exhibition that put a premium on interactivity. They liked the abstract art, even the hopeless stuff that looked like someone exploded a firecracker inside a tomato and then smeared the result across a canvas. Art that teaches, engages, tells, or protests I love; art for art's sake I enjoy, but art for other artists is just me listening in on someone else's conversation, intrusive, boring, and ultimately uninspiring.

The electronc arts exhibits. Lots of good stuff for kids.

The electronics art exhibit, in addition to being fun, expanded their definition of what constitutes art. "Was that really art?" asked my daughter. You bet! And best of all, at the moment entrance is free. So hurry on over and bring the kids.

The swim center in Beitou.

I had hoped for a full Sunday, with visits to the pool in Beitou where we like to go, a hike in Ta-Ken, and a visit to new night market near our house, but everything was scotched....

We went down to Beitou to visit the swim facility and hopped in the warm water. My kids went off to play while I pretended to do laps. After a few token laps my wife and hit the spa. We were sitting there chatting away when my daughter comes over, bleeding from the lip. Her tooth had been loosened. While she and my son were playing in the wading pool some idiot had decided to give his daughter a trip down the slide, despite the fact that it was a wading pool for children. He came barreling down the slide at top speed and slammed into my daughter, who had wandered in front of the opening as she and Zeb played. Instead of offering us some kind of compensation and guidance to the nearby hospital, he apologized perfunctorily and then his wife took over, attempting to blame my kids -- shouldn't have been playing in front of the slide -- and the pool -- should have had a sign there indicating children shouldn't play in front of the slide. There's no way you can communicate with people like that, so we just left in disgust. I was livid with rage but the key thing was to get my daughter to a doctor, so I couldn't pick a fight with the idiots. At the time I really admired my wife's cool, but then I found out later he had first told her that his daughter had done it. The sad part was that this couple had kids, so their finer qualities will be transmitted to the next generation.

Dan-dan catches some rays.

Fortunately the damage, while painful, appears to be temporary, Dan-dan got a brace she has to wear for the next two weeks and a painful lesson in adult stupidity. The dentist said there's no evidence of root fracture so the nerve appears to be OK. So in a couple of months her mouth should be back to normal.

So today, we're resting.

Jim Leach

I was reminded by this article on the vote on an early Iraq pullout in the House of the wisdom of a longtime supporter of Taiwan, Jim Leach. Leach quietly voted against a measure opposing an early withdrawal, saying:

"America is in a strategic pickle and Americans are in a judgmental quandary."

"Does, for instance, overwhelming military might protect us from terrorism or, if used unwisely, increase our vulnerability to terrorism?

"Likewise, does overwhelming economic power ensure loyalty or buy friendship even from the countries most indebted to the US?

"In other words, can military and economic might ever become a substitute for sensible and sensitive foreign policy?

"And given the dilemma of Iraq, could it indeed be that the most important 'multi-billion' problem America faces is not deficits measured in dollars, fiscal or trade, but the antagonism of billions of people around the world who object to our current foreign policy?"

He noted "Many are not convinced by our words; many are appalled by our actions" and concluded the speech saying: "The lesson of the past year is clear: America does better as a mediator and multi-party peace maker than as a unilateral interventionist."
Long before there was a Taiwan caucus with about a third of the House as members, when Taiwan was "Free China" and martial law ruled The Beautiful Island, in the 80s and early 90s Jim Leach, a Republican from Iowa, was part of a small group of Congresspeople, including Steven Solarz and Claiborne Pell, who supported the democracy movement and change in Taiwan. A tip o'the hat to you, Mr. Leach. Here's hoping you are as successful on Iraq, and with much greater speed! Bring our people home.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

From the Department of the Absolutely Terrifying

Buzzflash linked to this blog discussing a recent article in the American Conservative (not online):

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

FAPA Update on Taiwan-related US legislative activity

http://www.FAPA.orgFormosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA)
552 7th St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
TEL: (202) 547-3686 FAX:(202) 543-7891 Email:

On July 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY 2006 and 2007, with several Taiwan related amendments in it with 351 against 78 votes. (

Amendment #1 supports high-level visits by Taiwan's elected leaders.

Amendment #2 disavows Chinese General Zhu's recent comments threatening to use nuclear force against the United States and urges China to renounce the use of force against Taiwan

Amendment #3 authorizes funding for a new AIT building in Taipei.

FAPA Press Releases


Alerted by FAPA members that AMTRAK and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) erroneously list Taiwan as being a part of China, FAPA President Ming-Chi Wu recently wrote to both institutions urging them to remedy the mistakes.

In the AMTRAK letter, Wu writes: "I write to you today to express my serious concern with Amtrak's online billing address form, which erroneously lists Taiwan as a province of China. [...] I urge you to correct this grave error by revising your listing of the country of Taiwan to simply: "Taiwan" and strike any reference to China. [...]"

In the ISO letter, Wu writes: "I write to you today to express my serious concern about the ISO 3166-1standard which lists Taiwan as a province of China. This issue has caused strong feelings on the part of Taiwanese around the world. I therefore urge you strongly to correct this factual error. [...]"

Full text of both letters

Amtrak Letter


In a press release dated July 14, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) demanded an immediate apology and unequivocal repudiation of Major General Zhu Chenghu's nuclear threat against the United States.

The Congressman states: "If China continues to walk down this destructive path, I believe that the United States may be forced to revisit the decision to establish diplomatic ties with your country in the first place." He concludes: "If there were ever a question of whether China's bid to take over Unocal would pass American review, it's clear they've nuked that opportunity now."

For full text of press release, go here.


Two more Representatives joined the ever growing Congressional Taiwan Caucus during the month of July: reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

Most updated list of CTC members

Friday, July 22, 2005

Articles on US-China-Taiwan military issues

I just found these on this site:

America's Response to the China-Taiwan Talks
Can the Dragon Swim? The Naval Balance in the Taiwan Strait
Chen could be Taiwan's Nixon
China's Closing Window of Opportunity
China's Democratic Triangle
China's Taiwan Dilemma
Cross-Strait Economic Ties: Agent of Change, or a Trojan Horse?
Cross-strait Scramble for Africa: A Hidden Agenda in China-Africa Cooperation Forum
Defending Taiwan, and Why It Matters
Deterring a Chinese attack against Taiwan: 16 steps
The Divided China Problem: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution
East Asia and Bumpy Sino-Taiwanese Relations
Federation Could be Win-win for China, Taiwan
How China Might Invade Taiwan
Japan Dips its Toe in the Taiwan Strait
Liberating Taiwan: Peaceful Offensive or Armed Might
Managing Taiwan Operations in the Twenty-first Century: Issues & Options
Military Matchups : PRC vs. ROC
Our Stake in Taiwan
The 'State-to-State' Flap: Tentative Conclusions About Risk & Restraint in Diplomacy
Across the Taiwan Straits Taiwan Nukes, North Korean Nukes
The Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996: Strategic Implications for the United States Navy
Trouble in Taiwan
The United States of China
When All Else Fails: Beijing's Conservative Stance on Taiwan
The Year to Fear for Taiwan: 2006

The last article is excellent and imaginative:
An airborne assault directly on Taipei by China's 15th Airborne Corps (Changchun), with three divisions (43rd, 44th, 45th) would be the first phase of the assault, with additional paratroopers being dropped in Linkou, Taoyuan and Ilian, to tie up Taiwan's four divisions assigned to the 6th Army (North). A Chinese airborne division contains 11,000 men with light tanks and self-propelled artillery. Some intelligence reports have indicated that China was able to airlift one airborne division to Tibet in less than 48 hours in 1988. Today, China's ability to transport troops has greatly improved. China is expected to be able to deliver twice that number - 22,000 - in two days......

Taiwan, China, Athens, Sparta

My thanks to Those Who Dare for a link to this article on China vs. Taiwan from the Navy war college. The opening section of the article is interesting as comparative history but superficial, but as it passes into an analysis of local politics, in several places it spews forth a bizarre line of arrogant, almost ethnocentric thinking common among US commentators, that the ruling DPP is composed of madmen with no connection to reality.
Taiwan's apparent overconfidence in the ability and willingness of the United States to defend it during a cross-Strait conflict suggests that Taipei harbors similar hope. Some observers have warned that Taipei's behavior in the past few years, especially following President George W. Bush's 2001 pledge to do "whatever it [takes] to help Taiwan defend herself," reflects a misguided calculation that Washington's support is and will remain unconditional.28 President Chen's provocative referendum bid prior to the most recent presidential elections seemed to confirm his faith in the United States.29 In other words, Chen, encouraged by Bush's words, may have concluded that he holds a blank check from Washington to push his agenda, regardless of how Beijing reacts.
It is hard to imagine that anyone could seriously believe that Chen Shui-bian sits in his Presidential Office with no knowledge of history or international politics, and no one to advise him on these issues, nurturing a perfect faith in the commitment of the United States to Taiwan's defense. Chen is not a stupid man -- he has beaten the preferred candidate of the US twice -- and his foreign minister, Mark Chen, is not a stupid man. Nor is the National Security Council of Taiwan staffed with stupid people, nor are Taiwan's defense experts stupid. So please let's stop with asinine accusations like this.

And let's also quit adopting the language of the pro-China crowd. Chen did not "provoke" China by staging a referendum -- by carrying out a democratic process in a democracy. China grew angered -- actually, probably pretended to be angry -- at Chen's expansion of democracy in Taiwan.

Far from being chastened by President Bush's rebuke over the referendum issue or Chen's setback in the December 2004 legislative elections, independence-minded leaders in Taiwan have continued to goad China.30 The logjam in the Legislative Yuan over the U.S. arms package provides further evidence of a belief among Taiwanese leaders that Washington's defense commitments are absolute. In a stunning display of naivete', one opposition member reportedly argued that since Taiwan could not possibly defend itself, even with new weaponry, the island should simply hope for American intervention.31 Another, responding to American pleas to approve the arms package, likened the United States to a "mafia leader" demanding "protection money."3

This paragraph shows an unbelievable confusion. First the writer discusses "independence-minded" leaders and then mentions the "logjam in the Legislative Yuan" over the defense spending package. The naive reader could be forgiven for assuming that the leaders in the first sentence there are the same as in the second. But that is not actually the case. The arms package is opposed by the anti-independence crowd; Chen supports it. Nowhere do the writers make this clear, as it would profoundly contradict the idea that Chen is some kind of wild man who thinks the US has given him a blank check. DPP pursuit of the arms package demonstrates that party's commitment to the defense of the island and the US alliance. Isn't it time the US reciprocated by ceasing to insult Chen's intelligence and ability with such ridiculous comments?

The rest of the paragraph offers some stupidities by the opposition, three parties who hate Chen, and whom Chen has nothing to do with. How does the stupidty of the KMT and its brethren mean anything for Chen's view of US intervention? Further, the last comment is not an act of naivete but a very apt description of the US attitude toward the arms package, which does not appear to help Taiwan very much. It would probably be better if the money were spent on another 400-600 fighter aircraft, air-to-air missiles, airfield suppression weaponry, command and control systems, mutual training programs, permanent military liaisons, and other things Taiwan desperately needs. And the Aegis destroyers the author mentions will be so many expensive targets in a real war. But that is by-the-by.

In any case, the presentation here conflates two entirely different parties and positions, and misleads the reader. However, the writers do appear to be aware that Taiwan's parties are "deeply-divided." Yes, into one set that wants to sell the island to Beijing, and another that wants to make it independent. That's about as deep a divide as it comes.

Insulting, ethnocentric, colonialist crap like this needs to cease appearing in documents from US strategists:
At the same time, the United States should remain vigilant about Taiwanese actions that could trigger a Chinese military response. In their discussions with Taiwanese leaders, U.S. leaders should attempt to inject a measure of realism into Taipei's strategic thinking.
Comments like this are almost comical coming from the Naval War College of a nation that invaded Iraq and savaged its economy and position in the world for no good reason at reality, the leadership in need of realism sits in the White House. I note, once again, that Chen has beaten the wealthiest political party in the world, backed by both China and the US, twice. You don't get to the Presidential Palace in Taipei by being stupid and unrealistic, especially when you represent the democracy forces. And I note, once again, that it is Chen's party that supports the arms deal. And I note once again, it was the US President who issued a very public and very blank check to Taiwan -- "whatever it takes" -- that had no connection to reality, a comment for which there is no evidence the Taiwan President actually believes. I hope their next article presents a fairer picture of Taiwan politics, and of President Chen. And takes a more balanced view of the behavior of the US.