Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Protests, Weapons, Armaments, Lies...

Incredible weekend! Big protest for the arms purchases in Taipei. (Taipei Times, Taiwan News). Decent turnout, too. Sadly I was too busy to go. I hope some of you Taiwan bloggers out there captured the event. The Taipei Times said:

A 53-year-old clothing factory owner, who only gave his family name, Lin (), attended the march with his wife. He said he hasn't missed a pro-independence activity in 20 years, and that he was happy to see more people than ever having a clear national identification as well as the courage to speak out.

Lin said that although the turnout yesterday seemed rather light, "I think most Taiwanese agreed that we need adequate arms to resist China and protect ourselves."

A 25-year-old man surnamed Chang () and his girlfriend, surnamed Kang (), were among a few younger marchers. Chang, who makes music for TV programs, said they attended the march because they don't want the nation to be unified with China, a country that has persistently been hostile to Taiwan.

"I support Taiwan's independence and I think Taiwan will be independent in the long run. But first and foremost, Taiwan has to have the power to protect itself," said Chang, who has taken part in pro-independence activities since college.

Was KMT legislative leader Wang Jin-pyng' remark that the legislature should debate the bill in a free and rational way ...

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the long-stalled arms procurement package deserves free and rational discussion in the legislature.

.....a signal that the Pan-Blues can come around on this? I think "free" debate is possible, but "rational" might be asking a bit much of the hockey players who inhabit our legislature.

Ma Ying-jyeou, the first invertebrate ever elected to public office in Taiwan, was down south campaigning for local KMT candidates. Never one to miss a moment to serve his masters in Beijing, our hero from Hong Kong claimed that the DPP paid no heed to the arms deal.

Ma, on the campaign trail in the southernmost county of Pingtung with a KMT group, rebutted Chen's accusations in Central America and the Caribbean over the past several days that Taiwan's opposition parties have been opposing the arms procurement project because they want to curry favor with Beijing.

Discounting Chen's remarks, Ma said that the U.S. agreed in 2001 to sell the three weaponry items to Taiwan, but the DPP government did not submit a bill in this regard until three years later. This, Ma claimed, indicates that Chen and the DPP did not pay major heed to the matter (emphasis mine).

This kind of statement is what is commonly known in English as a "lie." Lien Chan tried this one already this summer in a letter to the US Congress. The Taipei Times published the comprehensive refutation:

However, given the lengthy bureaucratic process for submitting weapons purchase requests -- an average of 22 months -- it is unlikely that the MND could have submitted a budget request any earlier than mid-2003. In order to expedite the procurement of systems that were deemed vital to national defense, the president ordered the MND in July 2003 to submit a special request for the three weapons systems included in the budget.

As it was not until 2003 that a special budget was first proposed, it is not clear what Lien is referring to when he cites "a figure of NT$280 billion" offered in 2002.

Finally, a former senior Pentagon official said that Taiwan "did not decide to pursue the PAC-3 until spring of 2003, after discussions with senior US officials," while it was impossible for the Taiwanese navy to submit a budget request for submarines until 2003, as the US navy did not even release its independent cost estimate for the subs until December 2002.

Lien then claims in his letter that "the `explanations' of the [MND] have been no more than a few sporadic brief pages and slides."

Yet according to media reports and the MND, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) has personally met with every legislator in the Legislative Yuan, and has also briefed each legislative caucus on the issue at least once.

The MND was also responsible for printing brochures and charts regarding the special arms budget, which were distributed to the public, and has even erected billboards outside of military facilities explaining its position on the special arms budget.

Despite this high-profile offensive by the MND, the KMT legislative caucus has successfully blocked the special budget 26 times since it was first submitted. Each time, the obstruction occurred in the Procedure Committee, not the Defense Committee, which would normally be responsible for carrying out a debate about the bill's pros and cons.

Ma's willingness to repeat this bilge goes a long way to expose just what kind person he is. My wife and I learned this back in the 1990s when we were living in Neihu. During the Chen Shui-bian administration, the brothels in our neighborhood were closed. After Ma became mayor, they all quietly reopened. We knew how hollow the heart under that facade of integrity really was.

In a bit of related news, Janes reports that two of Taiwan's subs are to be armed with Harpoon missiles that can be used against land facilities.

Taiwan plans to equip its two Dutch-built submarines with Harpoon anti-ship missiles that could be used to attack key Chinese naval bases, Jane's Defense Weekly said.

If all goes smoothly, the two Sea Dragon diesel electric submarines would be armed with UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the defense weekly said in an article to be published Wednesday.

It said the U.S. navy had awarded McDonnell Douglas Corp, a Boeing subsidiary, a contract to coordinate and execute an on-site survey of the submarines for this purpose.

Submarine-launched Harpoons are pre-loaded into a capsule and launched from a torpedo tube. The capsule rises to the surface and launches the missile.

"If Taiwan procures the Block 2 Harpoons with coastal target suppression, Taiwan's submarines will have the capability of attacking coastal, in-harbor and land targets," Jane's said.

"This will place China's key naval bases of Shantou, Xiamen, Sandu, Xiazhen, Shanghai and Zhoushan in Taiwan's crosshairs," it said

The Harpoon missile deal, following Russia's sale of Kh-41 anti-ship missiles to China, was part of a 2001 U.S. arms package.

The construction of this is interesting, noting that the missiles can attack China itself. Subs are inherently offensive weapons, which is why for years Washington routinely denied Taipei's requests for them. It appears that the US may well be resurrecting the old view of Taiwan as a proxy army it can use against China. "Be nice! Or I'll unleash Chen Shui-bian!" Washington does not have Taiwan's interests at heart and those of us here would do well to keep that in mind. People often complain that the mad DPP is going to embroil us in war with China, but neither Washington nor Beijing has revealed any especially gift for rationality. As the alleged old Chinese saying goes, when two elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.....



Unknown said...

Re-opening brothels shows how bad Ma is?
Usually you're close, but come on...

Closing the brothels in the first place was a silly law-and-order move that was fairly unpopular. It took a legalized, safe industry and threw it back to the gangsters. Hookers are people too. Be careful with those western standards...

Unknown said...

Actually, to clarify, Ma just extended the closing deadline. They're all closed now, thanks to CSB, and have gone illegal.