Saturday, June 30, 2007

Chen the Ratcheter

Last week in a piece in the CS Monitor, the writer observed:
It also matches a pattern whereby Chen has sought to ratchet up tensions with the mainland, rallying his political supporters, whenever he has found himself in domestic difficulties. Currently his wife is under indictment for corruption, as are two top aides and two cabinet ministers. Prosecutors say they have enough evidence to indict the president, too, but that he is protected from charges by presidential immunity.
Now, the claim that Chen ratchets up tensions with China when he has domestic trouble is a common canard of the KMT. One hears it all the time on talk shows here. It just so happens that it is an empirically testable canard.

If it were really true that Chen ratchets up tensions with the mainland when he is in trouble, then surely the period between Nov 3, 2006, when his wife was indicted and Dec 15th, 2006, when she went to trial, and after, should be a prime period for tension-ratcheting by the dastardly Chen. He could hardly be in more trouble than when facing a recall motion, having his wife indicted, facing possible indictments of his own, and in the middle of big local elections (held on the 9th of Dec).

To test this thesis, I gathered all the front page headlines from the local English paper, The China Post, between Nov 3, 2006 and Jan 14, 2007. I picked the China Post because it is the local pro-KMT rag, and can reasonably be expected to pick up any tensions created by Chen, and prominently display them on its front pages. I picked up only Taiwan and Taiwan/China related headlines, stuff about Iraq and Palestine etc I left out. Usually the Taiwan stuff is the first three or four headlines, where it is not, I have indicated that.

The headlines follow below. The reader is invited to inspect them. Note closely the headline on Jan 13, 2007. I saved the China Post's teaser for that one.


NOV 3 2006
First lady Wu indicted for corruption Chen calls for arms purchase legislation Lawmakers cut NT$100 mil. in funds for presidential trips Government reconsiders launching rail project

NOV 4 2006First lady Wu indicted for corruption DPP called to decide whether to back president Su says he will not pressure Chen TSU urges head of state to quit or face third recall DPP apologizes to public for first lady's indictment

NOV 5 2006KMT to initiate president's recall again Thousands demand end to corruption in Kaohsiung march Cabinet refutes report Su is ready to resign

NOV 6 2006President refuses to resign Former minister Chen Ding-nan dies Protesters demand Chen step down

NOV 7President's ex-aide released on bail TSU makes about-face in decision on support for recall PFP to topple Cabinet if recall stalled

NOV 8 2006DPP to expel dissidents: Ker Ma Ying-jeou vows to see recall motion through Su applying double standard: KMT

NOV 9 2006DPP rallies behind Chen, won't back recall motion High speed rail to stop offering free test rides, committee says

NOV 10 2006TSU expels Taipei mayoral candidate Interior official freed on NT$1 mil. bail Lee Yuan-tseh urges Chen to consider quitting

NOV 11 2006Chao may face jail term of nine years Vote on Chen recall motion set People to have longer holidays in 2007: CPA

NOV 12 2006DPP mulls appeal to Grand Justices No plans for a fourth recall motion against Chen, Ma says

NOV 13 2006Hsieh unveils new strategy in campaign Ex-top aide urges Chen to leave office Ma to be probed over special-fund use

NOV 14 2006DPP lawmakers quit before vote Ma to be questioned today on expenses

NOV 15 2006Ma aide admits faulty accounts Taiwan holds talks with APEC members

NOV 16 2006Yu slams Ma on expense account double standards Candidates draw lots for
numbers used in mayoral elections Japan issues tsunami warning after earthquake Taiwan men arrested in China on spy charges

NOV 17 200621 hurt in plane's near-miss Taiwan upsets Cuba 4-3 for baseball victory

NOV 18 2006Ma to donate NT$15 million APEC envoy Chang vows push on talks

NOV 19 2006Chang rubs shoulders with APEC leaders Expense account problems can be fixed easily: KMT

NOV 20 2006Ma angry his charity donation was revealed Jason Hu's wife remains in critical condition Mission accomplished at APEC summit, envoy Morris Chang says

NOV 21 2006Kuomintang assets bill not acted on Hu suspends meetings for two days

NOV 22 2006Three direct links essential: AIT chief Mayor Hu thanks all well-wishers

NOV 23 2006Prosecutors reject Koo's application CLA urged to rethink foreign labor
LSL plans

NOV 24 2006Ma questioned again over fund Prosecutors issue arrest warrant for Jeffrey Koo Jr. Lawmakers file 'account' suits against top officials

NOV 25 2006Koo Jr. quits Chinatrust post Pres. Chen survives third recall attempt THSRC to inaugurate rail on Dec. 7

NOV 26 2006Taipei mayor candidates present their platforms (3rd item, first two non-taiwan)

NOV 27 2006First TV deliberative democracy debate Kaohsiung candidates present platforms

NOV 28 2006ASE offer shows confidence: Chen Chen's latest dilemma: will he be a U.S. grandpa?

NOV 29 2006Minister: Investment cap harmful to firms Su wants expense account use clarified

NOV 30 2006Koo Jr. may be placed on wanted list today Underpass through Sungshan opens Justice Minister Shih: Special expenses are 'de facto stipends'

DEC 1 2006Foreign execs slam investment climate DPP suspends Chen's wife, 3 aides Taiwan opens baseball with win at Games over S. Korea Gates says U.S. must resist if China attacks Taiwan

DEC 2 2006Ex-minister Luo returns from U.S. First son, wife come back to Taipei late last night Universities seek tuition hike in 2007

DEC 3 2006Hau still far ahead of rivals

DEC 4 200621 killed in worst bus crash in 20 years Political leaders slug it out in Kaohsiung campaigns - Part 1 Political leaders slug it out in Kaohsiung campaigns - Part 2

DEC 5 2006DPP and TSU block easing of investments MOTC to review rules on tourist buses

DEC 6 2006CF: Gas stations a 'timebomb' MOTC speeds up rules on tour buses

DEC 7 2006463 poll rigging attempts probed Jason Hu's wife recovers significantly

DEC 8 2006Taiwan wins 1st Asiad baseball gold Taiwan should move for liberalization: ECCT chief

DEC 9 2006Taiwan's main rival parties split wins in mayoral elections Voters go to polls in Taipei, Kaohsiung

DEC 10 2006Blue sky over north; green field in south Soong bows out of politics after his defeat KMT snips DPP in Taipei, Kaohsiung council polls

DEC 11 2006Prosecutors seize all Kaohsiung ballot boxes Hau aims to open air link with China Chen Chu to promote global vision for Kaohsiung

DEC 12 2006Women's groups oppose abortion rules New rules governing tour buses still under debate

DEC 13 2006Prosecutors look for vote broker New rules to ban corporal punishment in schools CWB: Cold weather to start tomorrow

DEC 14 2006Chen Che-nan gets 12-year sentence Beijing announces charter flight plans DPP to ask for clarification on presidential immunity

DEC 15 2006First lady Wu to stand trial today (NOTE THIS!!!!)Groups protest radio crackdown CWB urges preparation for upcoming cold spell

DEC 16 2006First lady Wu faints at corruption trial Wu defense attorneys protest pre-trial photo opportunity 'Next' reporter arrested for extortion

DEC 17 2006First son's U.S. trip raises speculation Wu needs to be in hospital: NTUH Cold front causes temperatures to drop

DEC 18 2006DPP to kick off '2nd republic' Kenyan runners sweep Taipei marathon DPP to seek review of 18% interest for retirees

DEC 19 2006Seven entertainers test positive for drugs Court subpoenas first lady for trial Friday

DEC 20 2006Kuo faces discipline, Gao to be investigated Drug users urged to turn themselves in

DEC 21 2006No timetable for rail opening: MOTC Lee Teng-hui may support Frank Hsieh in 2008 election

DEC 22 2006Public urged to back 'hidden' police steps First lady may not appear in court today today Taiwan woman lucky N.Y. passenger

DEC 23 2006(2nd and 3rd story)Buckle up in the back seat Lawmakers OK new death penalty rules

DEC 24 2006THSRC denies new allegation on safety Drive to oust Keelung mayor hits snag

DEC 25 2006MOTC to issue bullet train license this week Battle against oil spill, slick off Suao coast continuing

DEC 26 2006Powerful quake strikes off southwestern Taiwan EPA prevents ship from leaving area Ex-NSC deputy chief indicted for Tainan scam Premier gives bullet train a thumbs-up after ride

DEC 27 2006(1st and 3rd story)One killed, 24 wounded in Hengchun's largest quake Ex-minister probed for alleged graft

DEC 28 2006First son-in-law sentenced Presidential Office refuses to hand over documents Chunghwa submarine cables severely damaged

DEC 29 2006 3 share record lotto prize Voice traffic to U.S., Japan restored: CHT Temperatures may fall under 10°C

DEC 30 2006Arms deal to be screened First lady's trial again entangled in arguments China's white paper lists Taiwan as top security challenge

DEC 31 2006(1st and 3rd stories)Lee against easing rules on China investments Chunghwa Telecom fixes major customer lines

JAN 1 2007(1st, 3rd, and 4th stories)Millions in Taiwan welcome New Year RMB won't be allowed to circulate in Taiwan: CBC Taiwan drums up world record for New Year celebrations

JAN 2 2007Chen criticizes premier in New Year's address Ma, Hsieh absent from flag-raising

JAN 3 2006China to blame if tensions rise: Wu The government's top China policy maker yesterday said China was to blame if relations between Taipei and Beijing became worse, following the president's New Year's day speech.

JAN 4 2007Premier Su 'laughs off ' bribery claims

JAN 5 2007Bullet train service officially launches Chen calls for KMT-DPP cooperation U.S., Japan to draft Taiwan crisis plan French guide: Don't talk about Taiwan in China

JAN 6 2007High-speed train service completes commercial run SC takes over two insolvent local banks

JAN 7 2007Depositors urged to halt run on bank FSC orders takeover of bank's bills finance firm Temperature to drop further for 3 days CLA to plan tougher action against irresponsible employers

JAN 8 2007Premier Su orders insolvency probed Panicked depositors withdraw cash Royal blasts China on human rights

JAN 9 2007Chinese Bank customers continue run President Chen leaves for Nicaragua

JAN 10 2007 Rebar Group founder and wife investigated Chen leaves U.S. for Nicaragua Foreigners allowed to serve as medical workers

JAN 11 2007 Rebar HQ, affiliates raided, execs quizzed Changhwa Bank seeking assets seizure

JAN 12 2007 Rebar founder's son, brother detained High-speed train billows smoke

JAN 13 2007 FSC chief steps down over recent bank runs Arrest warrant issued for Rebar founder Taiwan, Nicaragua sign cooperation agreement S.E. Asian leaders call for trade zone China-Taiwan tensions down: U.S. spy chief Tensions between China and Taiwan have diminished even as Beijing moves rapidly to modernize its military with ballistic missiles capable of striking U.S. naval forces, U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said on Thursday.

JAN 14 2007 Su given free hand to deal with Rebar Chen liable for Rebar storms: Ma


Where's the tension? What moves did Chen make during this period? What exactly did China do to respond?

As the US spy chief averred in his testimony before Congress, tensions had in fact diminished. Chen's habit of "ratcheting up tensions" is a complete canard with no basis in fact.


Anonymous said...

Chen doesn't have to ratchet anythin for his wife. All his wife has to do is pretending she is sick and never show up in court. I find it amazing that criminal cases in Taiwan cannot be tried in absentia. Btw, did she ever show up in court?

channing said...

Now if Chen Shui-bian were more consistent, life wouldn't be so entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Thansk for the great job on the headlines.

Michael Turton said...

You're welcome!

Channing, Chen maddens me sometimes. But hey, he's family, so it is OK. :0


Michael Turton said...

Arty, I don't honestly know. The media's interest in that case has waned with all the other stuff going on.

Anonymous said...

a great detail of first lady Wu's time table, everyone couls be on the court by now but not her. that's rally a magic. i wonder when I can see the picture of her sitting in front of the judge.