Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bradsher's NYT Article on the Faux Protests in Taipei

Keith Bradsher, the New York Times reporter, had an important article on the Shih Ming-teh protests the other day in the New York Times. This article represents a significant improvement over recent articles in other major publications, including the Washington Post (discussed here) and the Economist (The Economist Misses a Chance).

While Bradsher teases the reader with the by-now familiar theme of Shih coming in the political wilderness to rescue the nation from the horrors of the Chen Presidency, he actually managed to get Shih to acknowledge in an interview the reality that the protests are almost completely partisan:

But Mr. Shih, a man sometimes described as the Nelson Mandela of Taiwan, is now leading a movement that, as he acknowledged in an interview, is heavily composed of Nationalists, his longtime enemies who once ran the country under martial law.

The importance of this acknowledgement should not be underestimated. I was recently posting on H-Asia, the academic news list, where, after I pointed out all the overwhelming evidence that the protests were composed largely of Blues, even Deep Blues, I attracted some flak from the pro-Blue crowd. That was no big deal, but I also attracted an entirely different kind of flak, one much scarier. One misguided academic wrote:

This is an excellent opportunity to examine a mass protest in the long and tumultuous history of Chinese democratization. I am sure that Mr. Turton is more aware of the complexities than he has let on so far and will be returning with more valuable information, as will others.

I fear that in the future similarly misguided academics will write earnest articles about the "mass movement" in 2006 in Taipei, that places the faux protests in a false historical context of "people's movements" rather than the true one of pro-Blue, anti-Chen made-for-media psuedoprotests. A number of Taiwan academics have pointed out too that placing Taiwan's democratization in the context of "Chinese" democratization is simply another of the many ways in which academics have subsumed things Taiwan into things China (see Murray and Hong's controversial Taiwanese Culture, Taiwanese Society) to the denigration of Taiwan. Because of this, there can simply never be too much evidence that the "protests" are bogus. Thanks, Mr. Bradsher.

Bradsher also notes the association of the color red the protesters are wearing with China, though he fails to tease out any of the other China connections swirling around Shih, such as his connections to a notorious embezzler now living in China, or the appearance at the rallies of the violent thug Lin Cheng-chieh, who beat upa pro-democracy commentator on a TV talk show, and has business connections in China. In common with every single other foreign reporter on this topic, Bradsher utterly failed to discover the very public fact that Shih belongs to a pro-Blue think tank in concert with other DPP turncoats. Thus, he totally misunderstands Shih. Note how in the paragraph below Bradsher writes as if Shih is a DPP supporter disappointed with Chen, rather than an ally of the Blues as he actually is.

Mr. Shih said that it would be better for the Democratic Progressive Party if President Chen stepped down instead of serving the 20 months remaining in his second term. With the president’s approval ratings below 20 percent in opinion polls, his continued stay in office could help the Nationalists win the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections this December, legislative elections in December next year and the presidential election in March 2008, Mr. Shih suggested.

Shih is being disingenous -- if he was concerned about the DPP winning at the polls, he wouldn't have run against it in two different elections, one in Kaohsiung and one in Taipei. Sadly, the wily Shih has simply pulled the wool over Mr. Bradsher's eyes.

Bradsher does mention that Shih is connected to the embezzler, Chen Yu-hao....:

The party has hit back at Mr. Shih by releasing photographs of his recent meeting in Bangkok with a financier who is on Taiwan’s list of the 10 most-wanted fugitives for deals that have left Taiwanese banks facing large losses. But Mr. Shih said the entire sit-in effort, including a stage, a large-screen television and other supplies, had been paid for with donations of $3 apiece by a million citizens from across Taiwan.

...but fails to mention that Shih boasts of the connection....

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday said that his campaign calling on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to step down had nothing to do with fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪).

Shih made the remarks at a press conference in Taipei, where he displayed photos he had taken with Chen Yu-hao during a visit to Thailand last year.

He said that "Chen [Yu-hao] and I are definitely good friends."

and that Chen Yu-hao hates President Chen and tried to destroy him in a previous election. Because it leaves out Shih's nuttier moments, like boasting that he's friends with a prominent embezzler, this article, in keeping with the practice of other foreign reporters, thus makes Shih look more reasonable than he actually is. For whatever reason, Bradsher does not mention Shih's claims that the DPP was trying to have him assassinated, that the DPP was worse than the Communist party of China, that it had less legitimacy than Chiang Kai-shek's KMT, and so on. Bradsher also repeats the factoid that Chen's approval ratings are below 20%, missing the fact that those numbers are from the pro-Blue media. He also does not challenge Shih's claim that the whole thing is paid for by donations. Has anyone seen the books of the campaign?

Bradsher does give a good thumbnail of Shih's fall from grace. I suspect he's seen Linda Arrigo's piece on Shih:

Mr. Shih, who will turn 66 in January, is a leader of a generation of tough, street-wise demonstrators who fought Chiang Kai-shek’s police and languished in his jails. But charismatic lawyers like President Chen, 55, a graduate of National Taiwan University’s law school, pushed Mr. Shih’s generation of activists aside at a Democratic Progressive Party leadership conclave in 2000.

Mr. Shih practically disappeared from politics afterward, refusing even to accept a senior presidential appointment, and he has managed to return to the center of the political stage with his unusual campaign only in recent weeks.

He also notes that Shih has been absenting himself in the evenings, and ends with a remark that is full of Shih's lively wit:

Mr. Shih himself has a well-coiffed mane of dark hair and has not been lying in the street every night with his followers. Mentioning his long years in prison, he said, “If I look young, it’s because I was frozen for 25 years.”

Not a bad piece, with a much greater level of nuance than some of the other trash that has appeared in the foreign press.

(hat tip to Jason and others)

China already warns Abe

The Japan Times reports that incoming Japanese Prime Minister Abe has already been warned by China not to get too close to Taiwan.

China has warned Japan's new government over its Taiwan policy, reiterating its opposition to including the island in the scope of the Japan-U.S. security alliance and urging Tokyo to act with caution over Taipei's invitation for former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to pay a visit.

If the Japan-U.S. security alliance "exceeds the bilateral scope, it will trigger neighboring countries' worries and become a factor for instability and complexity in the regional security situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday at a news conference.

"We firmly oppose including China and China's Taiwan in the scope of the Japan-U.S. security arrangement, either directly or indirectly, as it would constitute the infringement of China's sovereignty," Qin said, speaking after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe named his first Cabinet on Tuesday.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and says it would attack if the self-ruled island formally declares its independence and permanent separation from the mainland.

Qin also opposed Taiwan's invitation for Koizumi to visit for the opening of a high-speed train service involving Japanese technology, saying Beijing is against "separatist activities by the Taiwan authorities under any excuse."

Fascinating that the thugs in Beijing regard opening a train line as a "separatist activity." Koizumi's visit is welcome news; I wish we could get a former US president over here to speak in favor of Taiwan's democracy. Or even in favor of a train line. One thing China's new pre-emptive verbal strike shows is how much Tokyo's drift toward Taiwan is riling Beijing. US policymakers might be able to talk themselves out of defending Taiwan if America is the only nation involved in the island's defense, but if Japan is intent on defending Taiwan as well, it will become very hard for US policymakers to squirm out of their political and moral commitments.

(hat tip to Kaminoge Jim just down the road apiece. Stop by sometime!)

Daily Links, Sept 30, 2006

For you WWII buffs out there, this week saw the passing of Tokyo Rose...and plenty going on around the blogs...
  • Global Voices Online has a collection of Chinese-language bloggers writing on the pan-Blue marches around the country (today Shih Ming-teh brings his made for media show to Taichung). Good stuff
  • Mutantfrog fantasizes about the Beast of Ketegalen.
  • Parts three and four of Dueling Laowai, on pinyin tone marks, are up: Mark responds to Prince Roy in part 3 and Prince Roy responds to Mark.
  • Jon Benda comments on Freshman Chinese, in response to Kerim's remarking on the problems his students have in Chinese writing.
  • David blogs on Taiwan’s amazing temples
  • MEDIA: this article by Bradsher on the madness in Taipei notes that Shih admits his supporters are mostly nationalists. I hope it lays to rest any stupid ideas that something really amazing is going on here. I'll be blogging on it in more detail soon.
  • Got students who want to study overseas? Jen reports on the recent foreign MBA fair.

  • Friday, September 29, 2006

    Why Does Everyone Want to Be a Politician?

    Why is there a "corruption" problem in Taiwan? Well, probably because corruption is perfectly legal. Recently, Chiu Yi and other Blues have been attacking President Chen, alleging that he has pocketed expenditures from a special slush fund erected for national intelligence purposes. Chen's response was that he only had to provide receipts for half the slush fund.

    In response to the attacks on Chen, a group of DPP city councilors in Taipei have been flinging accusations against Ma Ying-jeou. Ma's defense, however, was that wiring money from the taxpayers into his own personal accounts is perfectly legal. First, the criticisms:

    The mayor's bank account has increased by more than NT$1.06 million (US$30,000) over the past seven years because he funneled half his monthly special allowance fund into his personal account, the councilors claimed.

    Ma receives a special allowance of NT$340,000 per month.

    Ma's defense was the classic (1) it's perfectly legal; and (2) everybody does it.

    Ma responded to the criticism by pointing out that he was subject to the same regulations that governed the special allowances allotted to the country's more than 6,000 top government officials -- which allowed officials to wire the money directly into personal accounts and only required them to provide receipts for half the expenditures.

    "Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) receives his fund in the same way, too ? The issue is the regulations and that is not my problem," Ma said.

    Officials can place the special funds in their accounts and then not provide receipts for half of them? Six thousand top officials have their own special accounts with the legal right to do that? The public trough is more like a pig wallow! On the other hand, the good thing is that being an official in the Taiwan government means never having a conflict of interest:

    While Ma insisted that most of his fund money goes to public or charity events, Hsu questioned donations that Ma's wife's made to two foundations -- the Dwen An Social Welfare Foundation and New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation.

    Both foundations were founded by the mayor.

    "You used Taipei residents' money to make donations to your own foundations. Does that make any sense?" Hsu said.

    No, it doesn't make any sense. But it is perfectly legal.

    tongyong pinyin haters: you are all colonialist shits

    Any foreigner who has been in Taiwan any length of time has surely noticed Taiwan's insanity-inducing mix of systems for romanizing Chinese. In response to this mess, the government decided to spend ten years inventing yet another romanization system, tongyong pinyin, even though there are a number of extant systems that are perfectly acceptable. Again, as everyone knows, the tongyong pinyin system met with widespread derision from long-term expats, most of whom would prefer that the government adopt hanyu pinyin, the system used in China, which is more or less the international standard.

    Well, over at Taiwan Journal, Mark Caltonhill has arrived to set us all straight: we tongyong haters are a bunch of colonialist shits:

    HP supporters, through, often argue that using tongyong pinyin would be no more useful an expression of national identity than requiring people to wear their underwear on the outside of their clothing. Difference for its own sake makes Taiwan look petty and ridiculous. Taiwan does not benefit from looking ridiculous.

    It is hard to see this concern for Taiwan as genuine. More likely it belongs in the same category as the we-know-what's-best-for-you mentality of Christian missionaries proselytizing their religion, and "English teachers" qualified with nothing more than a white face telling Taiwanese they need native-speaker pronunciation.

    This kind of thing is just shake-your-head stupid. I don't think there is any need on my part to comment further. Wiki actually has an entry on this fellow, who is apparently a long-time resident of the island and has written a large number of articles in local magazines and newspapers.

    (hat tip to Jason at Wandering to Tamshui, currently on vacation)

    Why everybody hates politics

    Those citizens operating in a "plague on both houses" mode were offered plenty of ammo this week as the Blues launched another attack on the Presidency, which isn't going to be successful, after which they promised to destroy the government by bringing down the premier, and Persident Chen Shui-bian responded to his critics by calling for constitutional change, entry into the UN, and the return of the KMT's stolen assets, three things that aren't going to happen. It's good to know that politicians on the Beautiful Isle are focused on concrete policies that are important in the daily lives of its denizens...

    First, Chen's announcement, made at the 20th anniversary ceremony for the DPP's founding:

    In particular, Chen stated that Taiwan needed to cope with "three major mistakes" left over from the KMT authoritarian period. First is the so-called "constitutional legitimacy" issue in which the KMT located the legitimacy of Taiwan's constitution in its claim to be the legitimate government of "China," he said. The second is the question of Taiwan's entry into the United Nations, and the third the DPP's referendum to repossess the "ill-gotten party assets" worth "hundreds of billions" in New Taiwan dollars acquired by the KMT through its party-state during the authoritarian period.

    Chen's recent calls for desperately-needed Constitutional reform sparked a mini-flap last week when the US said it wasn't happy about it, while China, like Woundwort watching Bigwig float away in the rain, had its usual snit fit:

    China criticized Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian Wednesday for a plan to change the constitution and rename the island.

    We are paying close attention to 'constitutional reforms' in Taiwan and are keeping careful watch over the situation, a Chinese government spokesman said, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

    Turning from authoritarians abroad to their pals at home, the Blues promised to bring down the government...

    Pan-blue lawmakers yesterday vowed to bring down the government through a no-confidence vote in Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) should the second recall motion against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), scheduled to be put to a vote next month, fail.

    People First Party (PFP) Spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) made the threat.

    "The rationale behind toppling the Cabinet is that this would enable us to form a new legislature so that we could introduce another recall motion to depose Chen Shui-bian," Lee said.

    The Blues' obsession with taking out Chen has now led them to propose that, if they fail to bring down Chen, they will bring down the government so they can form a new they can bring down Chen. There's no clearer statement of the radicalism of the Blues, who are willing to destroy governance on the island so that they can bring down a President who now has less than 18 months left in his tenure. The Blues are not a stability party; they are radical reactionaries, and they will cheerfully sacrifice the interests of Taiwan, Japan, the US, and the region to achieve their goals. I hope policymakers in Washington are following this closely. You've picked the wrong side, guys, and the Blues are going to betray you in the end.

    Meanwhile more than a dozen major bills remained stalled in the Legislature. The Control Yuan appointtees have not been approved and the backlog is something like 20,000 cases. There is no chief prosecutor for the nation. The Examination Yuan is operating on a minimal budget. The Presidency has been completely hamstrung. The Premiership is going to fall, which may engender a serious Constitutional crisis.... all because the Blue-controlled legislature has decided that it is going to obstruct the Chen Administration in all things and at whatever cost. Who has failed Taiwan? The Blues, not the Greens. Seems to me the DPP should be pointing this out, constantly, with everyone on message, 24-7....

    Night over Taichung

    I've been experimenting with the C-770s superior night photo capabilities. Here are a few shots of Taichung I took from the university.

    By night...

    ...and by day.

    Looking west, with Tatu Mountain in the upper right. At upper left, the string of lights is the new highway.

    A detail from the previous shot.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Notes from a PHD Campaign

    Meanwhile, now in the second week of getting a PHD down south, I've compiled a few observations:

    1. My back hurts from riding scooters.

    2. I have no trouble with the Chinese in human resource management or international marketing management. But put in me in statistics and I'm the dog in the Far Side cartoon: yak yak yak Rover yak yak yak. In my case it's yak yak yak lambda yak yak lagrange yak yak covariance yak yak.........

    3. My back hurts from sitting on the train.

    4. Is there a woman in Tainan who is not a babe? If so, inform me, I wish to photograph that rara avis.

    5. My back hurts from sitting all day.

    6. I used to love train rides, until I had to take them three times a week, two hours one-way.

    7. My back hurts because I'm too old for this.

    8. After sitting on scooters morning, noon, and night, I can confidently report that Taiwan's fertility slide is due to the large number of people who ride scooters. It's fortunate that I already have children...

    9. Telepathy is necessary to function at a Taiwan university. Mystery seminar: should I be there? Nobody knows. The signs don't have any useful information. The office doesn't know. Where has that class been moved? Siberia, apparently.

    10. Great to be a Green in a Green city.

    11. Tainan has a wonderful old Taiwan feel. Not just the history, but the large number of temples, the cramped streets with the three story buildings, the crowds, the vast number of small businesses....

    12. Is the men's bathroom behind the train station there the rankest on the island? If the Chinese ever take Tainan they'll give it back immediately when they smell that.

    13. My fellow students have been completely wonderful. I can't wait to get to know them better.

    Taiwan Malaise

    Richard at Peking Duck comments on the widespread perceptions of Taiwan's decline among locals.

    And yet, talk to anyone here and there is a tone of resignation and reticence. Taiwan's glory days are over. The only place to be is China. Taiwan's markets can only contract, including its job market. And yet, even in the face of downsizing and all kinds of pressures brought on by increased globalization, most of the multinationals here are doing quite well. No, not as spectacularly as some are doing in the PRC, but not so poorly as to merit swallowing the hemlock. This is still an exceptionally vibrant economy, unvexed by inflation or rampant corruption. (No, I'm not saying there's no corruption in the government, only that the corruption that there is doesn't drasticaly affect people's lives and pocketbooks as in places like China and Indonesia and the Philippines.)

    Hell yes. I often encounter this among locals. Taiwan is doing very well. Many visitors enjoy it and stay. Almost every aspect of Taiwanese life is improving. But....

    Media Fun for the Day

    Gosh, I'd sure like to blog about something other than politics, but it seems the papers are full of that...a reader sent me this link to the Taiwan News report of the China Times' apology for barefaced lying misconstruing DPP Chairman Yu's comments on the faux protests in Taipei:

    One day after governing Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Yu Shyi-kun declared legal war against the China Times editor in chief and two reporters, the Chinese-language paper published an apology to Yu and its readers in yesterday's issue, admitting that it had made a mistake.

    "Although DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun has recently made certain remarks that sparked public concern of escalating ethnic tensions, including that 'the depose Chen movement was Chinese people bullying Taiwanese people,' the paper has verified that Yu did not use the term "Chinese pigs" as was reported in our front page story on September 25. We therefore offer an apology to Chairman Yu and our readers," the statement read.

    The story in question stated that Yu's "provocative use of the term "Chinese pigs" to refer to anti-Chen protesters had given rise to criticism from within his own party. Yu, who was in Taichung yesterday, did not make any immediate comments in response to the China Times' apology. However, one of his aides, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), said that the chairman would discuss the matter with his lawyers before making a decision on whether to withdraw the lawsuit against the China Times.

    Yu, who twice denied making the comment, filed a libel suit Monday against the two China Times reporters whose bylines appeared on the story and the paper's editor in chief Wang Chien-chuang.

    "I will sue them no matter what happens!" any angry Yu declared at DPP news conference Monday morning. "The China Times has gone too far! It has lost its journalistic ethics."

    In the lawsuit, Yu demanded that the mass circulation daily publish a written apology on its front page, the same page on which it ran the report under a banner headline Monday.

    After the furor erupted, cable station TVBS-N reviewed its tapes of Yu's public remarks over the past two weeks and was able to determine that Yu did not use the term "Chinese pigs" as was reported.

    Meanwhile, I've taken a look at another awful piece on the protests in the foreign media, this one in the Economist, over at Taiwan Matters. Taiwan News also has a good editorial on the feckless Ma Ying-jeou:

    When former Taitung County commissioner Wu Chun-li removed from office due to conviction on bribery charges and his "divorced" wife Kuang Li-chen represented him to run for the subsequent by-election for the same post, Ma declared that Wu's spouse "should not bear the crime of her husband."

    But when first lady Wu Shu-jen was alleged to have received vouchers from the SOGO Department Store and her son-in-law was charged with insides trading, Ma insisted that President Chen was "morally" responsible and should resign regardless of whether he was directly implicated in any wrongdoing.

    Good old Ma. You know, Su's going to beat him in 2008....buried in the business news is this tidbit:

    Taiwan's shares rose slightly Wednesday, led by construction and property firms after the Taipei city government decided to open up more land for development.

    The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange rose 44.52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,946.27.

    "The city government's move will increase land supply and reduce costs for developers," said Daiwa Securities SMBC-Cathay trader David Li.

    The construction sector rose 2.8 percent, outperforming other subindexes.

    James Soong, Chairman of the PFP, and possible candidate for mayor of Taipei, has been running around promising to open up more land to development in Taipei if elected. Has someone pre-empted him?

    World Economic Forum Rankings Fun

    The World Economic Rankings by the Davos Forum are out again in the form of its Global Competitiveness Report, and Taiwan has fallen. Don't worry, we're still ahead of New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, and Korea. I'd be curious to see how many savvy Taiwanese businessmen rate their nation ahead of those four. Here's the top 25; you be the judge....

    Switzerland 1
    Finland 2
    Sweden 3
    Denmark 4
    Singapore 5
    United States 6
    Japan 7
    Germany 8
    Netherlands 9
    United Kingdom 10
    Hong Kong SAR 11
    Norway 12
    Taiwan 13
    Iceland 14
    Israel 15
    Canada 16
    Austria 17
    France 18
    Australia 19
    Belgium 20
    Ireland 21
    Luxembourg 22
    New Zealand 23
    Korea, Rep. 24
    Estonia 25

    China weighed in at 54, plunging six places. The US also fell, thanks to our President, who empties our coffers while filling our coffins. Why is Taiwan so high?

    "Taiwan continues to operate at a high level of efficiency but it has dropped below last year's "top-ten" status. It is an innovation powerhouse, with levels of patents registration per capita exceeded only by the United States and Japan (see the case study on the development of the ICT sector in Taiwan in the 2006 Global Information Technology Report). It continues to excel in terms of indicators of higher education and training (ranked 7th overall), but, like Korea, its overall rank is weighed down by weaknesses in the institutional infrastructure, as captured by the GCI's first pillar."

    You can see the problem -- the report counts patent registrations per capita, which naturally benefits a patent powerhouse like Taiwan, with lots of patents but a small population. A better measure would be patents per total dollar of R&D funding, or patents per capita of scientific personnel. The report also places too much emphasis on the quantity of education and not enough on its quality.

    I can't find a good list of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, which might be a good crude measure of competitiveness -- a country with a competitive economy attracts investment. Just look at Intel, Ireland's largest industrial employer, whereas in Taiwan it is merely the equivalent of a medium-sized company.

    Pratas Islands National Park -- Strategy for Sovereignty?

    A friend of mine called to tell me that he was going to the Pratas (Tungsha) Islands for a week to make a documentary on the establishment of an Oceanic National Park there by the government of Taiwan.

    First proposed several years ago, the park is there to preserve the marine life of the area:

    Though they do not look like much at first glance, the Pratas Islands have much to offer. Migratory waterfowl pass over the islands during their annual travels, and the surrounding undersea areas are believed to be rich in natural-gas resources. They are excellent fishing grounds, attracting fishing boats from Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam. Unfortunately, the use of dynamite, acid and cyanide fishing, as well as other injurious practices, have destroyed between 70 percent and 80 percent of Pratas coral and thinned out the fish population.

    Such a national park may well have another function. The Pratas are disputed between several neighboring nations, including both China and Taiwan. By establishing a national park there, the government can generate more publicity for its claim, and perhaps some international support.

    Journal of Chinese Overseas CFP

    H-Asia sent this around, looks like some very interesting articles there:


    September 26, 2006

    Call for papers: _Journal of Chinese Overseas_ and Table of Contents of
    the journal's Volume 2, numbers 1 and 2

    From: JournalChineseOverseas

    The Journal of Chinese Overseas is an internationally-refereed journal produced by the Chinese Heritage Centre in Singapore under the auspices of the International Society for the study of Chinese Overseas. The journal publishes academic articles on Chinese overseas worldwide, as well as articles on places in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan where emigrant communities originate, and articles on people of non-Han origins in diaspora who can trace their ancestry to China. The editors of the journal are seeking submissions for future issues. Enquiries should be sent to Prof. Tan Chee-Beng in Hong Kong ( or Dr. Kwan Siu Hing in Singapore (

    Volume 2 No.2 will appear in Nov 2006 and is available as part of a new subscription, or separately for US$ 25 plus postage. The journal is now available online in Project Muse (an electronic database for journals in the humanities and social sciences). For more detail, visit or email

    The contents of Vol.2 No.1 (May 2006) and Vol.2 No.2 are as follows:

    Journal of Chinese Overseas Vol.2 No.1


    Virtual Communities and Chinese National Identity

    "You Can Never Go Home Again": Cultural Memory and Identity Formation in the Writing of Southeast Asian Chinese

    Transnational Homeland Concerns and Participation in US Politics: A Comparison among Immigrants from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong

    Entanglement of Business and Politics in the Chinese Diaspora: Interrogating the Wartime Patriotism of Aw Boon Haw

    Chinese in Papua New Guinea: Strategic Practices in Sojourning


    Gender and Migration Networks; New Approaches to Research on Chinese Migration to France and Europe

    Book Reviews

    Qiaowu yu waijiao guanxi yanjiu: Zhongguo fangqi "shuangchong guoji" de huigu yu fansi (Overseas Chinese Affairs and Diplomatic Relations: Retrospect on China's Abandoning of its Policy of "Dual Nationality")
    by Cheng Xi
    Reviewed by NING ZHANG

    The Chinese Diaspora: Space, Place, Mobility, and Idendity edited by Laurence J.C. Ma, and Carolyn Cartier
    Reviewed by LIU HAIMING

    East by South: China in the Australasian Imagination edited by Charles Ferrall, Paul Millar, and Keren Smith
    Reviewed by JOHN FITZGERALD

    Ethnic Relations and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia. The Case of the Ethnic Chinese
    edited by Leo Suryadinata
    Reviewed by AMY L. FREEDMAN

    Vol.2 No.2


    Why China Historians Should Study the Chinese Diaspora, and Vice-versa

    Transnationalism as a New Mode of Immigrant Labor Market Incorporation: Preliminary Evidence from Chinese Transnational Migrants

    Migrant Transnationality and Its Evolving Nature: A Case Study of Mainland Chinese Migrants in Australia

    Expanding thge Cantonese Diaspora: Sojourners and Settlers in the West River Basin

    Extinction and Adventures on the Chinese Diaspora Frontier

    The Trading Culture of Jade Stones Among the Yunnanese in Burma and Thailand, 1962-88


    Haigui: A New Area in China's Policy toward the Chinese Diaspora?

    Book Reviews

    Anti-Japanese or Pro-Japanese: Overseas Chinese, the Chinese Nationalist Government and the Wang Regime
    by Lee Ying-hui
    Reviewed by WANG CANGBAI

    Chinese Indonesians: Remembering, Distorting, Forgetting edited by Tim Lindsey and Helen Pausacker
    Reviewed by DEDE OETOMO

    Our history Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese Generals in the Cuban Revolution
    by Amando Choy, Gustavo Chui and Sio Wong
    Reviewed by LI ANSHAN

    Chinese St. Louis: From Enclave to Cultural Community
    by Huping Ling
    Reviewed by CHENG HONG

    Dutch colonial Education: The Chinese Experience in Indonesia, 1900-1942
    by Ming Govaars, trans. Lorre Lynn Trytten
    Revieweed by SAI SIEW MIN

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Thai Situation in FEER

    For those interested in comparing Taiwan and Thailand, the Far Eastern Economic Review hosts an in-depth review of things on its website, which does not require a subscription to access, written prior to the coup, concluding::

    As such, the current impasse represents an opportunity to usher in a period of more transparent democracy, while providing a timely chance for a review of the relationship between democratic institutions and the palace. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, all sides must be genuinely willing to learn from this experience and embrace meaningful change. Any “Thai style” solution that allows for face-saving opportunities for the prime minister or the palace would only postpone the inevitable changes that are needed. The result would be an unsatisfactory resolution to the crisis that simply removes the symptom of the problem—Mr. Thaksin—without addressing the underlying challenges facing Thailand.

    Shih Ming-teh to die?

    Rumor has it that Shih Ming-teh is dying of (liver) cancer, and wants to go out with a bang. Shih has several times hinted that this would be his last great fling with fame, seeming to imply that he would die at its termination.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    Daily Links, Sept 24, 2006

    A Tainan street.

    Tried the new Flock Browser today. Lotsa fun with the cool photo uploading options...

    ....onto the links...

    My life: early morning in the train station

    Paogao gives a pro-Blue slant on the protests, and even mounts a defense of James Soong (why?). If you get a chance, check out his Flickr account; it has some great pictures.

    Dog and Man at Tai Chi

    Doubting to Shuo opens its first Laowai on Laowai debate. Prince Roy fires the return salvo.

    Experimenting with photos of Taichung at night. Still haven't got it right.

    Kerim gives a thoughtful point of view on the coup in Thailand...

    Man contemplating a river in Taichung.

    The Gentle Rant goes to Turtle Island. Great account of a trip, previously published.

    My life: early morning in the train station.

    Pro-Blue blogger ESWN totally lost it the other day:

    The Tainan Videos (09/21/2006) In Comment 200609#062, I was talking about how it was only a matter of time before the videos of the assault on the lady in the red car would appear on YouTube for the whole world to see. Here are two televised clips forwarded by Sun Bin. The current media slogan is: "The whole world is watching." In these videos, you can watch how green supporters assaulted a female anti-Chen Shui-bian protestor in a red car. This is the sort of thing that you will find that Taipei Times and the green bloggers have little or nothing to say about, even though this is on CNN.

    Fortunately, refuting ESWN is like shooting whales in a swimming pool: there were at least three articles in the Taipei Times, found in about a one minute search: Demerits given to Tainan, Kaohsiung police officials, Clashes again, Appeals for calm. Probably there were more, but I just don't have the time to waste on his pro-Blue fantasy world.

    Turning to the light, and the profoundly moving: The Foreigner pointed to these Jedi Squirrels: if you strike them down, they grow stronger....and my man Jason welcomes newborn Alec. This will mean less blogging, though. Hmmm.....

    Anti-Corruption Drive Claims First Corrupt Politicians...and coup?

    The comedy that is the anti-corruption drive managed to focus the limelight on Mayor Ma of Taipei and alleged misuse of municipal funds and bring down one of its own leaders yesterday. First Ma, also Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), acknowledged there were some shenanigans with the receipts:

    Ma said he adopted the dog during a stray-dog-adoption event organized by the Taipei City Government in 1999. Ma Hsiao-jeou then stayed in the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health for quarantine and physical examinations for a month before the mayor's wife took him home.

    Ma said the bill for adoption and examination fees was sent to his office, and that the city's Budget, Accounting and Statistics Department drew money from the fund to pay the bill because the dog was adopted during a municipal event.

    "I thought my wife paid for it, and didn't know the money was from the fund until recently ? Although the budget, accounting and statistics department said the procedure is legal, I was uneasy and paid the money back," he said.

    The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman insisted that his situation could not be compared with that of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family, who have been accused of pocketing public funds.

    "I adopted the dog at a public welfare event, and so paying the fee with money from the fund is legal. Besides, I didn't take false receipts to seek reimbursement. My situation is not the same as President Chen," he said.

    Puh-lease. There's no evidence that Chen has taken any false receipts, and what Ma has done does not deserve a public hu-ha. Stuff like this is pathetic, especially when Ma already has a very corrupt and vulnerable side: his work as a student spy during his days as a student in the US. Somebody needs to hang him high with that. Dog receipts are a joke.

    Meanwhile, in true blowback fashion, one of the anti-Chen campaign's leaders had to step down yesterday when she turned out to be corrupt:

    One of the key organizers of the campaign to oust the president for alleged graft resigned yesterday in disgrace after it emerged that her political party kicked her out because she was convicted on bribery charges 12 years ago.

    Wang Li-ping (王麗萍), one of the camp's decision-makers, yesterday announced that she was leaving her post with Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) campaign to oust the president after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) revoked her party membership because of her involvement in the bribery case.

    Wang said that she would continue to be associated with the anti-corruption campaign as a volunteer.

    Wang was convicted of bribery during the Yunlin County Council speaker election in 1994. She received a seven-month jail sentence, and a two-year suspended sentence.

    Not, of course, that the campaign is about corruption. It's about the Blues' obsessive hatred of Chen Shui-bian. As Taiwan News asked the other day, if it was really about corruption....

    We believe that it is high time for the leadership of the "Depose Chen" movement, especially those who formerly were part of Taiwan's democratic movement, to reconsider their current path and redirect their energies in a positive direction, namely toward structural reform to establish a stronger legal and political framework for more responsive, effective and clean governance.

    If the "One Million Citizen Movement Against Corruption" is seriously opposed to corruption, it should also be at least equally explicitly opposed to the continuation of corruption in the former ruling Kuomintang in the form of its ownership and gain from ill-gotten party assets.

    If Shih's movement is genuinely opposed to corruption, it should have long ago criticized the KMT and its allied People First Party for their six years of boycotts against the "Sunshine" bills submitted by the DPP-led Executive branch, including the draft bill for an autonomous anti-corruption agency, the draft lobbying law, the draft political party law and the draft bill to deal with ill-gotten party assets.

    If Shih's movement was serious about opposing corruption, we should have heard the former DPP chairman criticize the KMT and PFP legislative caucuses for wrecking clean governance institutions by refusing to carry out their constitutional obligation to review the president's nominations for the watchdog Control Yuan and refuse to approve the nomination of Hsieh Wen-ting as the supreme public prosecutor.

    Why have we not heard Shih discuss such matters with PFP Chairman James Soong and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou during their encounters at the "Depose Chen" rallies? Inquiring minds do indeed want to know.

    The failure of Shih's campaign to raise issues of corruption in the KMT or PFP or push for the legislation of "Sunshine" bills and other structural political reforms unless Chen first resigns exposes the character of the campaign as concerned foremost with removing an individual from power at all costs, regardless of negative consequences to Taiwan's long-term welfare.

    Where is the protest's positive plan for the future? They don't have one. It's all about getting Chen, and nothing else.

    The real question I have of this campaign is not its goals but its termination. Will it go out with a whimper or a bang? I had hoped whimper, but the coup in Thailand has sparked speculation among many here that our Chen hating military may take matters into its own hands, citing the "social disorder" caused by the protests as an excuse for the coup. Those of you with long memories may recall that when Lee Teng-hui came to power, diehard mainlanders in the military and government threatened to stage a coup to prevent it, and only the intervention of James Soong stopped the coup. In 2000 disgruntled senior officers expressed resentment at the election of Chen, and in 2004 , according to the testimony of Lee Jye, the defense minister at the time, senior officers approached him with a plan to feign illness so as to destabilize the government. However, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has pooh-poohed the possibility:

    Army Commander-in-Chief General Hu Chen-pu (胡鎮埔) yesterday said that the military would never carry out a military coup like the one in Thailand, and that safeguards were in place to prevent individual commanders from taking control of combat units.

    "The military does not support either the pan-blue or the pan-green camp specifically. Soldiers obey their country's leader. The military's only color is camouflage," Hu said.

    He made his remarks when he was approached by reporters for comments in response to concerns that a military coup might be a possiblity in Taiwan as well.

    Hu said that the government was based on the Constitution.

    The National Defense Act (國防法) puts the Minister of National Defense, not the service chiefs, in charge of the military. The minister reports directly to -- and can be replaced by -- the president.

    A military coup has never been carried out in Taiwan, and would not occur in the future, he said.

    Hu said that it would be impossible for an individual army commander to have the authorization to arm and deploy combat units. For instance, Hu said, a single officer could not deploy a fully armed tank.

    He said that to order a tank to move from point A to point B would require authorization from the unit's commander, but that arming the tank would require authorization from the commander of a seperate unit.

    In addition, all military vehicles -- including logistics and combat vehicles -- can only be armed with live rounds following authorization from the Minister of National Defense, even during an exercise.

    Bo Tedards, an extremely perspicacious local commentator (write more often, Bo!) writing in the Taipei Times, discussed some of the issues:

    Surely they would be even more satisfied if a nice upstanding general would take power? Indeed so. Having visited the demonstrations several times on varying days and times, it is apparent that a majority of them are the very same people who used to support the New Party.

    This group, which emerged from the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) "non-mainstream" faction, was strongly pro- military, and to this day its successors have many deep ties with the armed forces.

    The good news is that the demonstrators represent just a small minority of Taiwanese society beyond the New Party's support base plus a smattering of related groups in Taipei. So far, there is no sign of a genuine, broad-based national movement emerging. This is why a more serious degeneration of the situation is still not the most likely outcome.

    Nevertheless, we still need to ask, under what circumstances could a coup occur? The most obvious one would be if widespread riots broke out that the police were unable to control. Sadly, again, the evidence before us suggests that serious riots are not only possible, but rather likely. Any one of the minor incidents that are now happening almost daily around the country could, with a little bad luck, flare up into something more dangerous.

    Moreover, the frustration levels among the demonstrators, in particular, are certain to rise steadily, as it becomes ever more clear that their campaign to oust the president has no chance of succeeding.

    It is that moment that scares me -- that moment when the demonstrators realize it has all been for nothing, and less than nothing. Then they will be capable of anything. Recall that the papers reported two weeks ago that the Taipei gangs were already out in force covering the protests. Tedards points to one of the major problems advocates of constitutional government face in Taiwan:

    This brings us to some comments by Yang Du (楊渡), a senior editor of the Chinese-language China Times. On his blog on Sept. 6, even before the protests officially started, he laid out the whole scenario. Peaceful protests won't work, he wrote, so "the only way" to get Chen to step down is for the anti-Chen people to get "radical" and generate enough chaos so that the US would give the signal to Taiwan's army to take over and restore order.

    This tract demonstrates once again that the irresponsibility of Taiwan's media is a key factor raising the risk of disaster.

    Taiwan faces a situation much like the Weimar government did in the late 1920s, when key groups on the Center and Right opposed the democratic government and ensured that it would fall either by active opposition or by inaction, especially the military. Hitler did not kill German democracy; he was a consequence of its death. It was his predecessors, who, by invoking Article 48 (the act that gave the President emergency powers) and conspiring with the military -- that had always wanted to bury German democracy) and the German Right, finished German democracy. In Taiwan there are similar groups, and the officer corps is similarly opposed to democratic rule, which to them means Taiwanese rule. Many locals are quite disappointed with democracy, and there are widespread remarks that democracy has made things more corrupt (probably true in a way, as more diffuse authority means that more people need to be bought off). Furthermore, the broadcast media is profoundly anti-Chen and pro-Blue, a situation that means that there would be a media apparatus ready, willing, and able to sell a right-wing Blue coup to the public.

    There are, of course, many differences. Unlike Weimar, Taiwan's identity politics guarantee a certain level of commitment to independent governance, since any pro-Blue, mainlander-led coup would automatically provke a Taiwanese reaction. Unlike Weimar Germany, Taiwan has a powerful protector in the form of the US. A Blue coup would naturally be a pro-China coup. What would the US do in the face of such a foreign policy disaster? I sure hope the US has sent some quiet messages over to the radical Blues Another wild card would be the government figurehead. Ma Ying-jeou would probably not participate, since he both lacks spine, and cultivates a democratic image. No, the obvious candidate to head the new government would be James Soong.....

    ....and of course, the longer the protest is out there, and the more radical it gets, the more it will make clear to the public at large that the Blues are radicals who are willing to put the future of the entire island at risk to achieve their very narrow political ends. Even a public constantly inundated with pro-Blue media nonsense may eventually percieve that.

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    China 2011: Shock and Awe against Taiwan

    A poster at Forumosa pointed me to this paper on Shock and Awe in the Chinese invasion of 2011. A fictionalized analysis of Chinese and American fighting methodologies. The abstract:

    Abstract : This paper evaluates Shock and Awe through a futuristic lens. In 2011 China conducts asymmetric attacks against the United States and conventional war against Taiwan. Shortly after China occupies Taiwan the President of the United States commissions a working group to evaluate the concept of shock and awe. The working group out-brief report provides an orientation examination and evaluation of shock and awe. The report begins with a review of the 1996 National Defense University book Shock and Awe. Next the report examines and evaluates the historical examples used in the 1996 publication and identifies alternative historical lessons for shock and awe. Lastly the working group conducts a selective comparison between Shock and Awe and China's seminal 9and controversial) treatise, Unrestricted Warfare. Based on the analysis the working group determined that Shock and Awe maximized conventional warfare capabilities but failed to address the asymmetric and unconventional threats posed by China. Recommendations (1) Shock and awe needs to cast a wider conceptual net (2) The U.S. approach to operational art needs to be expanded and refined. (3) More integration and jointness between military and non-military centers of power is required for future war. (4) Warfighting needs to be treated as both an art and a science. (5) Ends ways and means need to be mutually suppolting; balancing fl%e human organisational and technical aspects of conflict are essential for success in future war.

    Italy urges end to arms embargo on China

    No time for extensive blogging today, but did want to note this BBC report that Italy is urging an end to the arms embargo on China.

    Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi says Italy favours lifting the EU's 17-year-old ban on arms sales to China.

    On a visit to Beijing, Mr Prodi said Italy "leans to lifting the embargo" as soon as possible.

    China has described the ban, imposed after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, as a "relic of the cold war".

    Washinton Times Editorial Leadership Redux

    I blogged earlier on reports that the right-wing moonie-owned Washington Times, a consistent supporter of Taiwan, may undergo editorial upheaval. The Nation has a great article on the racist nuts who run the Times, and possible replacements.

    Cross-cultural Moments at the Uni

    On Thursday when I was at the PHD school, I went up to the international students office to get my dorm assignment.

    "You've been moved to another room," the very cute secretary told me. "This foreigner requested an American roommate." Arrgh! What a bizarre request, and one that doesn't reflect well on us Yankees at all. I hadn't plan to use the room much, but immediately I decided to move in, tack up a poster of Osama, and bow to Mecca five times a day... "You didn't say no muslim-americans, did you?".... Apparently it didn't occur to them to ask whether I'd want to be roomies with someone who requested only Americans for a roomie.

    Later that day I found out who the man was. He was N., someone I have known for a couple of years, and whom I know to be humanistic and broadminded. It seemed highly unlikely that he'd make such a request. The clincher was that N. was Canadian, and no self-respecting Canadian would ever ask for a random American roommate. That just wouldn't happen. So I figured, since N. and I knew each other, that this was his clever plan to get me as his roommate. In a flash I went from cursing his alleged ethnocentricity, to congratulating him for his genius in tweaking the system to get us together, me being the only other American in the program at the moment.

    Turns out, when I finally phoned him, that the real story was altogether different. N. had been given a real jerk of a roommate, who happened to be Taiwanese, and he and the other roomie there had pushed and pushed the dorm admins to get the fellow out. Under the Iron Law of Foreigner Behavioral Interpretation, found around the world, Whatever The Foreigner Does is an Absolute of His Behavior. In this case, the dorm admins had read N.'s behavior of This Person is a Jerk Please Relieve Me of Him to be N. Dislikes All Non-Americans. It was they who had actually made that request and defined it that way. And so poor N.'s rep was dissed all over the university....

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Hille of beans

    Kathrin Hille is back with a new hit piece for the Financial Times:

    As night fell yesterday, tens of thousands of protesters holding glowing sticks began circling the presidential office and residence to demand the resignation of Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president, over corruption allegations.

    Although observers agree the "siege" is unlikely to force Mr Chen out, the protests and an embezzlement probe are once again paralysing the government and delaying economic reforms. Moreover, drastic moves from a president fighting for political survival could disturb ties with rival China and unsettle the US.

    Actually, reforms are being delayed by the intransigent Blue legislature that refuses to work with the President. The protests are delaying nothing. Note that once again she warns about the bogeyman Mad Chen ("drastic moves" that might upset China). That is strictly a theme of anti-Chen forces. It is absurd to imagine that Chen can do anything when he has no support from the legislature. She then follows a strict Blue line again:

    Two months ago, the cabinet planned to replace a cap on Taiwanese investments in China with a more flexible control mechanism, a step that would have removed one of the biggest psychological obstacles to Taiwan's economic growth.

    It is pure Blue propaganda to say that the controls on China investment are a limit on Taiwan's growth. She could have simply said "remove what many claim are...." and not made a personal judgment. In fact many people support the controls and do not see them as an obstacle to growth. Financial Times readers are being poorly served by the one-sided, judgmental Ms. Hille.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    MOFA Greets ABE with Enthusiasm

    Taiwan News reports that Japanese PM Abe is felt by the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be a friend of Taiwan....

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed the hope Thursday that Taiwan's relations with Japan will further develop under the leadership of incoming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    MOFA deputy spokesman Wang Chien-yeh noted that Abe, currently chief Cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, has maintained good interactions with Taiwan over the past years.

    For example, Abe has exerted his influence to facilitate visits to Japan by former ROC President Lee Teng-hui and the granting of visa-free treatment to Taiwan tourists, Wang said.

    Abe was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party Wednesday and is expected to be elected the next prime minister Sept.

    Abe has said before that he would like to "normalize" visits between the two countries.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Stalking the Wild PHD

    See that activity to the left? I'm bidding it good-bye for a while.

    I'm doing a PHD down in Tainan, commuting a couple of days a week. Hence on Monday I rose at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am, drove madly to train station on my new scooter, got on the train at 6:00, got to Tainan at 8:30, and found myself sitting in a class on e-commerce. Whoa! In the afternoon I attended my seminar class, which will bring in experts to speak on topics of interest, and then hopped back on the train, zoomed back to Taichung, hopped on my scooter, and zipped down to Chaoyang for a night class. Whew! I sure hope the physics guys get the quantum teleportation thing going soon....sitting on a scooter for an hour is worse than riding camels in India.

    My PHD courses are all in Chinese, although for some reason I had developed the impression that they would be in Anglais (Ministry reform policy, for example?). I personally have no trouble with the lectures, though sometimes there is a bit of technical vocabulary that I don't know the English equivalent of, but apparently none of the other international students except a couple of overseas Chinese have anything more than a rudimentary ability in Chinese. There is even a Japanese guy who has almost no English, and only halting Chinese. I have no idea how he is going to survive. Only two courses, risk management and questionnaire construction, are in English.

    On the other hand, the university means well and is obviously trying hard to accommodate us. Taiwanese bureaucracies are like elderly men -- always willing, but of limited flexibility. The other PHD students have been warm and welcoming and I look forward to getting to know them. The campus is gorgeous. old university and has real old uni feel. Beautiful and well-stocked library. Lots of old trees and even a little grass, and filling with a milling, moving, masss of students out practicing martial arts, drawing, walking hand in hand, and exchanging joyful greetings.

    Ah. campus life. Anybody know a good text in English on multivariate analysis?

    Chen corrupt = Coup?

    Yikes. The Thai army just removed Thaksin today. I'm sure you all have seen the news. Apparently he was massively corrupt. Our own army here in Taiwan threatened a coup when Lee Teng-hui came to power back in the late 1980s. Things are different now? Remember the soft coup trial and the Defense Minister:

    Defense Minister Lee Jye (李傑) told the Legislature on Tuesday that just after the 2004 presidential elections, he was asked in private to "feign sickness in order to achieve public disquiet," a disclosure that suggested President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) allegation of a "soft coup d'etat" attempt by the opposition was not groundless.

    Lee, then head of the Bureau of General Staff for Intelligence in the Ministry of National Defense in 2004, said on Tuesday that on March 24, 2004 -- four days after Chen was reelected -- he "was visited by two retired military officials who were obviously from the opposition pan-blue alliance," said Lee.

    "They asked me to claim to be sick, as (former Defense Minister) Tang Yiau-ming (湯曜明) had done," said Lee said, recalling that Tang, then minister of defense, was at the time hospitalized with an eye disease.

    But, Lee said, the two officials did not say they were representing the pan-blue presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) and his running mate James Soong (宋楚瑜). Lee refused to go into any further details on the grounds that the case is now in court, but his statement supported Tuesday's front page story in the pro-independence Liberty Times, which gave details of the episode as recounted in written testimony prepared by the MND for the Taiwan High Court.

    The court began a second trial Monday in a defamation suit filed by Lien and Soong against Chen over the president's remark that there had been a "soft coup" attempt after the 2004 presidential election.

    The newspaper report said that a strategic adviser visited Lee on March 24, 2004 to ask him to "fake sickness so as to be admitted to a hospital," at a time when then-Defense Minister Tang was hospitalized with an eye disease.

    The move was reportedly aimed at putting pressure on Chen's administration, as a group of "pan-blue" supporters staged massive demonstrations in Taipei against what they called an unfair election, and demanded a recount.

    The purpose of the military-Blue cooperation was to negate the legitimacy of the Chen election. Now we have Blue mobs in the streets demanding that the President step down because he is "corrupt." A set up? Last time we had Blue mobs in the streets, we apparently had Blue offiicers cooperating with them. Hopefully the Thais won't give the radical Blues in the military any bright ideas this time around.

    Peter Huston's Asian Skeptic Site

    I've been conversing with Peter Huston on H-Asia, and found that he has a really cool skeptic page on things Asian, including articles on Chinese chi theories, crime gangs, messianic cults, and other interesting stuff.

    China threat: Overblown

    Columnist Tom Plate discusses the China threat:

    But there's enough to worry about right now without them, said Wu. Due to their goose-stepping military-modernization and arms buildup, the Chinese are scaring just about everyone in Asia. Even the powerful Japanese are frightened by the Chinese buildup -- "I could clearly sense their nervousness," he said -- and even the otherwise amiable Australians are frightened too, he claimed.

    And we Americans had better not fall asleep at the switch, either: "The Chinese will have a long range military capability," he warned. "China will become a future power that the U.S. will have to deal with."

    In truth, if you shave 25 percent of the blather off Wu's alarmist lather, China does have the potential to become a threat. It would take a fool not to understand that. Rising nations always proceed apace militarily. It's what such countries do.

    Taiwan faces an immense military threat from the mainland, make no mistake about that. And let us not doubt that Beijing would take military action against Taiwan in the event the mainland ever came to believe that the island's independence was irreversible. If China did invade, what would be Taiwan's response? "We would try to hang on as long as possible until the U.S. comes to our aid," Wu told me after the briefing.

    Plate's solution?

    Chairman Wu did a good job in making the extreme case for maximum worry about China's resurgence. But the answer for comparatively tiny Taiwan, it seems to me, is not to try to match the mainland missile for missile -- that's just not feasible. The answer is to launch a killer peace offensive that makes Beijing's military buildup seem like a foolish -- even childish -- waste of resources.

    Ca we have some examples of successful application of this amazing strategy? Historical appears to indicate that for a small power facing a large, hungry power, the correct solution is alliance with another power that is willing to protect it for reasons of its own. The proper strategy for Taiwan is to anchor itself in an alliance system founded on one side by Japan and on the other by the US, as well as to build relations with Korea, India, Mongolia, Russia, and Vietnam, and countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines in whose waters China has been making unfounded territorial claims. The real tragedy of Taiwanese diplomacy isn't the ups-and-downs of the relationship with the US, but the numbing stupidity of pissing off needed neighbors like the Philippines by claiming islands in the South Seas, which also commits it to the strategic nightmare of defending them, or the political nightmare of giving them up once claimed.

    Japan Effectively Upgrades Links With Taiwan

    Jim in Japan points out this report in the Daily Yomiuri:

    An internal Foreign Ministry rule that only allows government officials ranking below division-chief level to visit Taiwan in an official capacity, has been reduced to a mere formality since Senior Vice Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi visited Taiwan in mid-August.

    The rule, which has been revised several times, now effectively allows bureau-chief level officials to visit Taiwan if they have the requisite skills and expertise to carry out missions that the private sector cannot accomplish.

    As such, many bureau-chief level officials have already visited Taiwan.

    Since Miyakoshi visited Taiwan and met President Chen Sui-bian and other government officials "privately," some government officials have said the internal rule has been rendered meaningless.

    When Japan normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1972, it also severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan based on the Japan-China joint statement, which stipulates that Japan understands and respects Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China.

    In 1980, the Foreign Ministry mapped out a rule forbidding certain ranks of officials from visiting Taiwan.

    With Taiwan becoming a member of the World Trade Organization in 2002 and an increasing number of international conventions being held in the country, a senior ministry official said Japan had been overtaken by France, Germany, and other countries, which had already sent cabinet members and vice ministers to Taiwan.

    Yet another indication of the way Tokyo and Taipei are drifting closer. Taiwan was once a Japanese colony and many older Taiwanese remember the Japanese with great respect. With a native Taiwanese administration in place, the ideological barriers to upgraded links with Japan have been lowered. And of course, China's bid to become a regional military power, and its manufacturing of claims to areas around it, is bound to bring the countries on its borders together. Look for further slow upgrade of relations between Taiwan and Japan.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Congrats to Wandering to Tamshui!

    Congrats to Jason at Wandering to Tamshui, whose nine-month family expansion plan resulted in a 50% growth in family size, in the form of son Alec, born appropriately on Sept 16, a pro-Green demonstration day! Good luck with the new baby!


    All Shih, all the time

    My apologies for all the politics -- the rain and a busy schedule has cut into my ability to get out and visit things and bring back lots of nice pics. Instead, it's been all Shih, all the time, here at the View. But normal life resumes tomorrow -- my job at the university resumes (met my new advisees today, a great bunch of adult students), and I am beginning a PHD program down south as well. More fodder for the blog!


    ESWN on Taiwan Marches

    ESWN comments on the protests:

    For the 9/15 march in Taipei, the issue was reduced to anti-corruption in Taiwan, which is embodied by the current president Chen Shui-bian. While Chen and his wife have been implicated but not yet convicted of any specific crimes of corruption, many people around him (such as his Deputy Secretary Chen Chi-nan, his son-in-law Chao Chien-ming, his daughter's father-in-law and others) are embroiled in corruption cases that are now in the legal phase. This is straightforward. You can ask anyone why they were out there, and the answer is terse and direct: "Oppose corruption. Depose Ah-Bian." The issue is sharply focused.

    ESWN makes a strong point here -- the anti-Chen crowd had a clear message that was easy to memorize. The march had nothing to do with opposing corruption, given that at its head say James Soong and other corrupt members of the Blue establishment. But it does show the ability of the Blues to get their people on-message, and keep them there. Of course, when your message is an utterance of blatant, simpleminded hypocrisy, it is easy to get people on message.

    The problem arises when ESWN attempts to interpret the pro-democracy, pro-Chen protests.

    For the 9/16 march in Taipei, the issue is more confused. Some participants want this to be a defense of their beloved president Chen Shui-bian, who is being smeared for corruption for which he has not even been charged on anything. There are other participants who would rather make this a case for the defense of democracy in Taiwan and severe it from the personal fate of the controversial individual known as Chen Shui-bian. The confusing messages creates antagonism within the alliance.The most egregious case is deep green media personality Wang Benhu (汪笨湖) who said (ETtoday via Yahoo): "The happiest person on the evening of September 15 is vice-president Annette Lu. She must have slept really well because she is getting ready to become president. At this moment, Annette Lu ought to be standing alongside President Chen Shui-bian." This is about as off-message as one can get. At this point, nobody wants to hear about internal power struggles within the Democratic Progressive Party.

    The pro-Blue march has a simple program -- their goals are entirely negative, always the easiest to focus on, message-wise. None of the Blues has any positive policy program to offer, and none of them have the slightest interest in getting rid of corruption, else their respective parties would have to close up shop.

    Where ESWN errs is in assuming that the plethora of DPP messages is a negative thing -- what it really shows is that the democracy side has a robust set of issues -- ranging from protection of democracy and rule of law to support of the Presidency as an institution and the man in it. The democracy side is a diversity that people have many reasons for supporting. People whose understanding of democracy is undeveloped look at that diversity and see anarchy. Sad.

    What this diversity really shows is that unlike the Blues, the democracy side has a positive policy program. The anti-democracy side simply wants to bring down a Taiwanese President and will use any excuse to go after him -- the pattern of threats of impeachment followed by faux protests dates back to Chen's days as mayor of Taipei. That the Blues have nothing positive to offer the island is starkly depicted by the protests themselves -- the best the Blue side can do is extralegal partisan protests.

    I especially love the way ESWN constructed that paragraph so the reader is left with a negative thought about the democracy side -- ESWN never misses a chance to hack on our democracy here. It is true that there's been lots of loose talk about how Lu secretly set Shih upon Chen so she could be President, which Lu, in her usual "can you believe how stupid these people are?" style, has joked around with. No thinking person takes such nonsense seriously. Bent on one-sided construction, ESWN ignores, of course, similar splits in the anti-Chen camp, such as the China Times telling Shih he ought to keep his mouth shut, or the fight that broke out over the gimmicks that the campaign would use. Of course, nothing about differing views really says anything about either camp; it is perfectly natural that in large political events there will be differing views among the leadership and followers.

    ESWN adds:

    Contrast this with what Democratic Progressive Party chairman Yu Shyi-kun allegedly said in public in Washington DC (reported in China Times).

    Shih Ming-teh had already collected NT$100 million in August, but why did he wait until September 9 to ask people to join the sit-in wearing red clothing? Yu said: September 9th is the 30th anniversary of the death of Mao Zedong and red represents the Communists. Therefore, Shih Ming-teh did this purposefully.

    Calling the people out in the street "Communist stooges" is not going to persuade them to go home. It is only going to make them angrier. Besides, this is quite absurd in itself. Even the Chinese Communists are not interested in Chairman Mao anymore, so why would Shih Ming-teh's Communist 'handlers' insist on him paying respect to the departed man?

    For the current issue in Taiwan, the proper strategy is to say: The people have the right to go into the streets to express their feelings. However, we have fought so hard to achieve a democracy and we cannot afford street demonstrations to subvert the constitutional process. If you have any issues, please go follow the constitutional process or else everything that we have accomplished so far goes to ruins. Please: DO NOT INVOKE MAO ZEDONG AND THE RED GUARDS!!!

    ESWN says: for the current issue in Taiwan, the proper strategy is to say: the demonstrations are extralegal and a threat to democracy. Hey no shit, Roland. That's what they've been saying now for over a month (where have you been?). Yu was not trying to persuade the protesters to go home; they won't regardless of what he says. Rather, the DPP of course cannot resist hacking on Shih and the Blues for their cooperation with and close links to China, and reminding the public whose interests Shih and the Blues actually serve.

    New blogs on the roll

    I've been slowly updating my blogroll. Added a number of blogs, including Chez Wang, a great blog on things Taiwan.

    Winners, Losers, huge crowds turn out for Chen

    Huge crowds turned out for the pro-government demonstration yesterday.

    An estimated 150,000 people crowded into Ketegalan Boulevard and Chungshan South Road to "stand up for Taiwan" yesterday afternoon in a "Love, Hope and Formosa Sunrise" rally sponsored by the pro-independence Taiwan Society and backed by the governing Democratic Progressive Party.

    Taiwan Society Secretary-General Yang Wen-chia (楊文嘉) was greeted with thunderous applause when he announced at the end of the rally at 6:00 p.m. that 150,000 persons had taken part in the event.

    The pro-Green Taipei Times reported the claim of the march organizers that 200,000 showed up. Organizers had originally expected 40,000, while this writer is forced to eat his words because I didn't think they'd have more than 10,000. While it is clear that 200,000 is too high, it is also clear that attendance vastly exceeded expectations. There are a lot of people angry at the pro-Blue demonstrators for -- once again -- threatening national stability and attacking Taiwan's democracy. And I have to eat my words twice, for I didn't think the counter-demonstration was a good idea. It appears to have been highly successful.

    There were a few sporadic outbreaks of violence. Green demonstrators attacked reporters from a local news station that is pro-China and pro-Blue:

    Supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday broke the peace of the "Formosa Sunrise" rally by sabotaging one TV station's coverage of the event.

    According to a witness, supporters of DPP lawmaker Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) jumped onto CTI station's stage and unplugged the network wire, causing the live coverage to be disconnected. Supporters then proceeded in trying to tear down the stage.

    Wang's supporters also hurled insults at CIT's anchor and discouraged Wang from going through with an interview. The anchor was forced off the stage by protesters and sought refuge in a nearby police station for his safety, a witness said.

    CTI called the incident the "the darkest day for the media."

    ETV, another news station which DPP supporters consider China-friendly, evacuated their anchors and reporters to avoid any confrontation.

    Lots of people are sick of the partisan pro-Blue slant of the broadcast media. The Taipei Times also reported attacks on pro-democracy demonstrators by anti-Chen demonstrators at the train station. But in the main no large-scale outbreaks of violence have occurred. Yet. The last time around, when the KMT hijacked the prostitute protests when Chen was mayor, they kept up the protests for 18 months. It will hard -- and expensive -- to keep crowds going that long. Will the anti-Chen protest go out with a whimper or a bang?

    So far the winner has to be Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Ma's lack of backbone and prior negative experience with involvement in protests has kept him from deep involvement in the anti-Chen campaign despite its pro-Blue origins, and the fact that they have stayed peaceful will be perceived as reflecting well on his administration's ability to keep a lid on things, and thus, reflecting well on him. He must be on tenterhooks, however, since Shih's grandstanding and increasingly wild statements -- the other day he compared the DPP to Mussolini and Hitler, and said that DPP supporters were soulless -- must give him the leaping heebie-jeebies.

    Another winner is the DPP. The huge rally yesterday must have been a big and very pleasant surprise, even after taking into account the fact that some protesters were bused in. I haven't had a chance to talk to my own students yet, but I'm getting signals that locals are realizing that the extralegal activities of the Blues are hurting the stability of the island and threatening its democracy. The stock market hasn't taken a huge hit yet, though, but the general strike that Shih and his supporters have been floating trial balloons about isn't going to make any businessmen happy. People who think the Blues are pro-business or a stability party need to examine their assumptions -- time and again the Blues have opted for extralegal methods of pursuing their goals that impact the island's economy and stability. The KMT and its allies serve a radical pro-China ideology, whatever their personal beliefs (or lack of them) may be. The result is that the KMT is always willing to hack on the island's political stability for partisan gains.

    James Soong? The wily Chairman of the PFP, self-appointed guardian of the Chiang family legacy, maybe-candidate for Taipei mayor....kept a low profile but appeared next to Shih. I can't see how this hurts him directly, so I'm chalking him up as a winner for the moment.

    And Chen Shui-bian? Big winner. Prior to Shih's rally it was possible to claim that he had little or no support. Thanks to the counter-demonstration Shih provoked, it is clear that there is a deep vein of support for Taiwan's democracy, the Presidency and maybe even Chen himself. Thank you, Shih Ming-teh. Even in betrayal, you can still serve Taiwan. The large turnout yesterday will also give Chen all the more reason not to resign.

    The big loser? Shih Ming-teh. His 15 minutes are just about finished. There is still plenty of grandiose mendacity left in him, and perhaps another neat-o stunt or two. But after his new friends are done with him and the women and money run out, what then?

    UPDATE: Indiac has some links and comments on the protests:

    My wife relates that an anchor on ETTV described the people at the rally as being comprised mostly of betel nut chewers, people with foul mouths, and others who came because they were paid or for free boxed lunches. (I should remind readers of the free massages said to be available at Shih Ming-teh's "sit-in.")

    There's a reason why the partisan media gets its sorry ass kicked by pro-Green demonstrators....