Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Media: China Peeved, Taiwan Debates

Predictably, China was peeved at AIT Chairman Steve Young's smackdown of its junior partners in the KMT and PFP...

The Chinese spokesman retorted with a warning for Washington, condemning proposed U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, the self-governed island that Beijing fears will move toward full independence and frustrate Chinese plans for reunification.

Last Thursday, the top U.S. government representative in Taiwan, Stephen Young, urged the island to approve a budget to buy new weapons, including U.S. arms, to counter China's growing military build-up.

In April 2001 President Bush approved Taiwan's request for submarines, anti-submarine warfare aircraft, four destroyers and Patriot anti-missile systems. But most of the deals have been blocked in Taiwan's opposition-controlled legislature.

Liu said the proposed sales contravened Washington's promises to Beijing.

"U.S. sales of arms to Taiwan violate the solemn, grave promises made by the U.S. government," he said. "They threaten China's national security and its great endeavour of peaceful reunification."

China had formally protested over Young's comments, Liu added, warning Washington "not to send any wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces."


Frustrating China's plans for "re-unification"? The UPI had a short article consisting largely of Blue citations, here from the Washington Times:

The United States may have actually delayed approval of a budget with the deal included by giving Taiwan what lawmakers see as an ultimatum, the report said. Stephen Young, director of the American Taiwan Institute, urged passage, and an anonymous U.S. official told the Central News Agency in an interview that failure to approve the purchase threatens relations between the two countries.

"Young's remarks have made the passage of the bill uncertain. It's inappropriate to let it through at this moment, as a media survey had found that 65 percent of the public disapproves of Young," Tseng Yung-chuan of the Kuomintang told the Taipei Times.

Some Taiwanese officials believe the United States is trying to palm off outdated weapons systems on their country. Others argue that Taiwan cannot simply depend on U.S. support to maintain its independence without arming itself.

It's a shame UPI chose to present Blue propaganda that "Young's remarks will delay passage of the bill" without contextualizing them properly -- without noting that (1) the Blues have blocked the bill almost 70 times and delayed it more than two years already (2) the Blues are problem, not "Taiwan."

The more serious issue, and one I wish Steve Young would address directly and strongly, is the claim of "outdated weapons." If I had nickel for every time I heard that, I'd be in court for a major tax evasion fine. I hope everyone reading this will point out to the locals that:
(1) the eight submarines do not exist. How can they be outdated or second-hand? They have not even been designed. When delivered, they will be the newest conventional subs in the world.
(2) the Patriot missiles are currently in use by the US itself
(3) the P-3C Orions are also used by the US. They do not exist either; the US is not producing them, and they will have to be built new, either in the US or Japan. Hence, they are not secondhand either.
What I am hearing from people out here is a kind of plaintive indignant questioning of the US that could easily be allayed with some reassuring, honest explanation of the fine points by a credible US face. Steve Young needs to put his wonderful Mandarin to use and get out there, on a popular talk show, and lay some smack down on the spreading lies. Young cannot leave the largely pro-Blue media to re-interpret his remarks -- the Blue noise machine has gone into overdrive on Young's remarks -- I have had a number of adult students tell me that Young was laying down the law for Chen Shui-bian! Orders without explanation won't do -- the people need to hear that the weapons will be new when delivered, not used. They need to hear that it was the KMT who originally asked for these weapons -- my adult students asked why the US keeps pushing Taiwan to buy them, as if buying subs were a US idea, not a local initiative. And they need to hear it from Steve Young in a venue where the Blue noise machine won't be able to shout him down. This is not an issue where Young can emerge from his lair momentarily, growl at the island, and then go back to his cave and hibernate until the next crisis. That is conceding the ground to the Blues. The solution here is not to concede that ground -- it is not less interaction, but more. Not a lowering of pressure, but a continuation of it. Put them on the defensive with a charm offensive aimed at reassuring and explaining. The truth will always win out, but first it has to be communicated properly.

8 comments:

STOP Ma said...

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Here! Here, Michael!

Isn't the Taiwanese military pleading to have this legilation passed, as well?

Maybe Mr. Young could team up with a retired Taiwan general or two on the talk show circuit. It would look mighty ridiculous for the pan-blues to be spreading their lies in this situation.
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bingsan said...

Michael,

B-52 bombers were used during the Viet Nam war. The jets are considered to be very old because they were built forty years ago but the bombers are still able to demonstrate enormous air power in modern wars.

It totally depends on how well you know the equipments and how capable you are to renovate the equipments instead of how new the weapons are.

That’s why I feel so frustrated on the ignorant and complacent of our own compatriots.

Tim Maddog said...

Media lies, China lies, Taiwan suffers
I've already heard this BS multiple times:
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"Young's remarks will delay passage of the bill"
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Yeah, right. We forgot about the first 61 times. (This is "only" the 62nd time they've blocked the bill, by the way.) Lame excuse!

KMT-boy propagandized in the Washington Times and at least 5 other English-language papers:
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"... a media survey had found that 65 percent of the public disapproves of Young"
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Gee, I wonder why he doesn't say who did that survey. Could it be 2 out of 3 China Times subscribers who "disapprove"? If somebody knows the source of this survey, please post a link here. I've read nearly 10 Chinese-language articles so far quoting either this figure or 66 percent, and none of them identify the source.

If that were even close to the truth, you or I would probably have trouble walking down the street anywhere in Taiwan (not just like Richard's problem in front of AIT the other day), wouldn't you think? And that's obviously not the case.

And then there's this trick:
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Some Taiwanese officials believe the United States is trying to palm off outdated weapons systems
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Nothing about who those officials might be or what the facts are, eh? That would ruin the whole illusion.

Michael reported directly:
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I have had a number of adult students tell me that Young was laying down the law for Chen Shui-bian!
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That's 'cuz it's exactly what the pan-blue/pro-China media told them. I hope you gave 'em the facts.

Tim Maddog

Raj said...

Hey, Michael, have you heard about the main defence budget, which has about US$1 billion for this year's tranche-payment? Well the PAC-3 batteries were suspended (probably be on from next year, due to the referendum being far enough behind), but the submarines and Orions are in. It's now gone to a plenary session before a vote in the legislative.

Things are looking a bit up, though I won't be holding my breath. Typically the PFP is royally pissed! :D

Scott said...

I hope you have a way of putting this kind of argument directly to the AIT, because they need to see it.

It was encouraging last week to finally here an AIT director making sense in public. One of the main reason for the over-reaction here, I think, is because it happens so seldom. People are not used to hearing anything but vauge statements, carefully-worded to avoid upsetting anybody. I agree-- maybe if he did it more often and more openly, it would eventually no longer come as such a shock. They should have a weekly press conference, and take questions from the public. The message has to be more direct, because anything he says is going to be twisted by the papers and TV programs that most people here rely on for news.

Certainly, more plain talk from the AIT (and a more-credible deterrent for Taiwan) makes sense to people who want to see peace and the continued development of democracy in Taiwan. In this situation, being as overly-cautious as they have been for so long is going to get them absolutely nowhere. They might as well pack up and go home now, if all they are going to do is spend the next few years quietly watching while the Blues succeed in sabotaging whatever remains of the unofficial relationship between Taiwan and the U.S.

My fear is that this may be exactly what certain U.S. leaders want to see happen. Some are certainly looking for a way out of the obligation to defend Taiwan, and the Blues are busy giving them just the sort of reasons the U.S. needs to justify wiggling out of (or re-interpreting to death) any obligations. Perhaps Secretary Rice sees it as inevitable that China will take over Taiwan, and feels that it might as well happen without automatically triggering a confrontation that would seriously damage U.S.-China relations.

As far as the arms being "outdated", I think the public here is confusing the issue of the recently-delivered refurbished crusiers with the issue of the proposed arms purchases that the Blues have been blocking for the last few years. And as always, the Blues and the pro-unification media are doing a wonderful job of exploiting such confusion.

Poseidon206 said...

What a wonderful post Michael. I totally agree with what you're saying about Steve Young giving Taiwanese people a chance to hear about these new weapons.

It's a pity I didn't get to record the news about Young's talk, but I clearly remembered pointing out the error in the subtitles in many TV stations. It would be a good idea that Young could speak openly and publicly in his well-spoken Mandarin in order to prevent any misinterpretation (in purpose?) from the blue/bruised/boozed media.

Taiwan Matters said...

Unfortunately I have no way of communicating with AIT. Anyway, I'm sure they are way ahead of me in understanding all this.

I wish Chen hadn't apologized to Lisa Murkowski, though. I wish he had told her bluntly what shits the Blues are. Hopefully he did so privately, or AIT briefed her. An AIT official told me that they do give quite detailed briefings to all the US Congresscritters who roll in here.

I'm optimistic that if Young can continue to communicate, the population can be swung over to the US side. It only takes a flow of communication, and hopefully, someone will clout the US navy over the head and get them to reduce the incredibly overpriced sub costs. Then we could have it all -- the latest weapons at a reasonable price with the support of the locals.

Wait! Was that a pig flying there outside my window?

Michael

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I have no way of communicating with AIT. Anyway, I'm sure they are way ahead of me in understanding all this.

I wish Chen hadn't apologized to Lisa Murkowski, though. I wish he had told her bluntly what shits the Blues are. Hopefully he did so privately, or AIT briefed her. An AIT official told me that they do give quite detailed briefings to all the US Congresscritters who roll in here.

I'm optimistic that if Young can continue to communicate, the population can be swung over to the US side. It only takes a flow of communication, and hopefully, someone will clout the US navy over the head and get them to reduce the incredibly overpriced sub costs. Then we could have it all -- the latest weapons at a reasonable price with the support of the locals.

Wait! Was that a pig flying there outside my window?

Michael