Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Taking Pet Back to the US

Someone passed me this question:

My wife and I are returning to America in December, and will be bringing our pets, a cat and a dog we adopted here. Both pets are spayed & up to date in rabies shots, and have pet passports. My veterinarian here in [Taiwan] says that prior to being allowed to board a plane we'll need to get some sort of checkup / paperwork done. Could you give me more information on this? I am assuming that we'll actually have to bring the pets there to do this, right (since we live in [XXXX] it'll be a bit of a trek; do you know how time consuming the process is? The optimum situation would be if we could go in the day before leaving Taiwan, do our paperwork, spend the night at friends with the pets, and then head to the airport the next day.)

Anyone out there actually done this?

TrippinTv Blogwatch

TrippinTV, which hopes to build itself into a social networking and media site for Taiwan, offers a feature called BlogWatch that looks at the local blogosphere.

Tim: Its my opinion that if you spend anytime on the Internet at all, live in Taiwan (or plan to live or visit here) you're bound to stumble upon some of the hundreds of blogs or sites like TrippinTV. If you're lucky enough to stumble upon this particular Internet jewel then you'll have a bit of a guide to the rest of the blogs and have some idea if you should waste your time reading them or trust their meandering ramblings because after reading TrippinTV's content you'll have realized you've found a trusted resource.

I also believe where there is creative endeavor there is always an undercurrent of competition. For example I was reading a blog just yesterday about some Taiwan bloggers having a "meet-up" where members of the Taiwan "Blogosphere" were hanging out together offline in real life (gasp!...) and boozing and bbq-ing... (see The Daily Bubble Tea , The View from Taiwan and My Several Worlds ... to name a few). Even among those folk apparently there was some discussion about who had the "best" blog... and to my mind... where there is a "best" it follows there should very likely also be a "worst"... and all of the levels in between. However it is admittedly a difficult thing to measure with a standardized instrument and since I've chosen vicious words or kind adulations as my tools I can see sometime how it might hurt a bit.

Plus I get a sick kick out of people getting all fussed about the fact that I've said their blog sucks... AND the Taiwan blogasphere needs some young turk to come in and stir things up.

Happy reading...

Taiwan-US relations stalled by who?

Who causes all the trouble in US-Taiwan relations? According Kathrin Hille of the Financial Times, whose reports on Taiwan have been colored by a strong anti-Chen streak (for example), it is our old pal Mad Chen© ("Watch out! He can start a war at any moment!"). First she briefs us on President Chen's pledge not to launch missiles at China without notifying the US first:

Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president, has pledged to consult the US before firing missiles at China in any potential future conflict, in an attempt to mollify the island's sole military ally following criticism of Mr Chen for ratcheting up tensions.

Note that the article, instead of writing "following accusations that Chen has been ratcheting up tensions..." it reports "...for ratcheting up tensions" as if it were an established fact that Chen ratchets up tensions. I've discussed that particular canard, Chen the Ratcheter, here. And let's point out again, for the umpteenth time, that 'tensions' are created by China's policy decisions to get upset at Taiwan's democracy in action. Needless to say, no hint of nuance shall ever cross these pages. Similarly, she follows:

Defence experts called Mr Chen's pledge a political rather than practical move but said it was a reflection of the current state of relations between Washington and Taipei. "He has clearly been under a lot of pressure from the US recently," said Wendell Minnick, Asia bureau chief of Defense News, a specialist publication.

US-Taiwan relations have soured in recent years, with Washington feeling Taipei was making insufficient effort to strengthen its defensive capability while the pro-independence Mr Chen and his government pushed a policy agenda that raised tensions with China.

Note that first, Hille fails to report that the US has been strangling relations since 2002. All of this context, noted by former AIT Therese Shaheen, is missing from Hille's report:

But the lack of interaction goes beyond one-off, questionable decisions such as that. Military officers at the one-star level or above, or the civilian equivalent, are not permitted to meet in Taiwan with their counterparts. While there is serious contingency planning at high levels on both sides, senior U.S. planners and decision makers do not interact with their Taiwan counterparts. The dialogue instead is conducted by proxy at lower levels of government. Even simple meetings are less frequent in recent years. As late as 2003, State and Defense Department officials--albeit at the mid-grade deputy assistant secretary level--were permitted to meet regularly with senior Taiwanese officials including the foreign minister outside of Washington, D.C. That contact no longer takes place. At the highest levels, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship would have to get much closer to even describe it as "arms-length." No cabinet-level officials have met their Taiwanese counterparts since the Clinton administration.

No US cabinet levels met their Taiwan counterparts since the Clinton administration! .... I've also discussed, numerous times, the uncooperative attitude on the arms purchase displayed by the US in refusing to give Taiwan any local production on the subs and so on. Clearly both sides are to blame here. But the media only report on the problems allegedly caused by the Taiwan side.


Meanwhile, Congress is, by and large, sounding positive notes on Taiwan issues. The Taipei Times reported the other day on a Congressional Panel's recommendation that the Bush Administration sell F-16s to Taiwan:

A copy of the commission's draft report was obtained by the Taipei Times. While the report was not yet final, any changes to the latest draft were expected to be only minor "tweaking" for grammar, usage and such, according to a commission source.

In another recommendation, the commission urged the administration to help Taiwan take part in the WHO and international bodies that do not require statehood.

But at the last minute it pulled back on recommendations in an earlier draft that asked the administration to consider Taiwan's request for a free-trade agreement and to encourage Taiwan and China to boost transportation and other cross-strait links.

"The Commission recommends that Congress encourage the administration to continue to work with Taiwan to modernize its military, enhance Taiwan's capabilities for operating jointly with US and allied forces, and make available to Taiwan the defensive weapons it needs for its military forces," the draft recommendation says.

The recommendation comes at a time when the Bush administration is balking at Taiwan's request for 66 advanced F-16 fighter aircraft. It echoes a resolution passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives earlier this month prodding the administration to stop blocking the sale.

Sales would be good for both sides, especially for the US economy and all those workers in the defense industry who vote Republican. You'd think it would be a no-brainer.....


Stephen Young, the head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), our officially unofficial representative body in Taiwan, once again said that the UN referendum was a bad thing.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young said yesterday the US government does not support Taiwan's UN membership bid.
"The US government's stance is clear," he said. "We do not support it because it is unnecessary."

Young made the remarks in Mandarin before attending a Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation event in Taipei yesterday morning.

Asked whether he supported the government's torch relay in support of the UN membership campaign using the name "Taiwan," Young skirted the question by saying he does not jog anymore because he has week knees and that he only climbs Taipei 101 during special events.

In response, Presidential Office spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said that joining the UN using the name "Taiwan" reflects public opinion and is the right of Taiwanese. Lee said the administration would continue to communicate with the US government through various channels to facilitate Washington's understanding of the initiative.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said he respected Young's view. "[Stephen Young] is a representative of a foreign country. We respect him," Hsieh said when asked for comment.

What Young said was "not news" because the US government has been saying the same thing for the past few months, Hsieh said.

"Young was just expressing the US position, though some may have played up his words, [perhaps] because they coincided with the torch relay," Hsieh said.

Hsieh said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had never respected Young, pointing to their reaction to his calling for the passage of a budget request for an arms procurement package from the US.

"Young urged us to pass the budget, but the KMT never listened to him. Now the KMT refer to Young's comments [yesterday] as an imperial edict. It's all about politics," Hsieh said.

Hsieh nicely deflected Young's statement into an attack on the KMT -- also pointing out for his American friends that the KMT has concretely failed to keep its promises to the US. Smart move. Not that many analysts will pay attention.....

Young's comment was actually quite milquetoast, all things considered. He condemned the referendum as "unnecessary" -- not as a violation of the status quo, or as a move toward independence, simply as superfluous. Further, he failed to register a public opinion on the use of the name "Taiwan." This is in keeping with recent official US comments on the referendum -- there have been few since the initial strongly negative reaction. Apparently the US has decided to maintain a studied silence and let China carry the ball -- and what did China do? We got Hu Jintao's surrender demand peace offer -- and no threats from the top (the flow of hate from lower down on the Chinese side continues, unabated, however). Note that China's leader at least attempted to appear conciliatory -- sort of like a chronic wife beater buying his wife a rose -- but the appearance was there. Meanwhile the flow of investment and people from Taiwan to China continues unabated..... there are some ominous things about the US position that I don't like -- having just finished anew Irving Stone's brilliant The Hidden History of the Korean War, a primer in how to read the media -- but go read it for yourself.


On the humorous side, casino owner and billionaire Steve Wynn stakes out his claim to the award for the World's Dumbest Commenter on Taiwan affairs. This report courtesy of AP in Businessweek:

Wynn also addressed China's relations with Taiwan, which broke away from the mainland after a civil war in 1949.

"Taiwan is like Maine, or Washington. It was theirs (China's). And it got taken away. It's like Hawaii. And they want it back. And most of the people in Taiwan want to go back."

Taiwan's elected president, Chen Shui-bian, has said he is against reunification with the mainland and has claimed China aims to take the island by force by 2015. China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory.

Wynn said his comments about Taiwan were prompted by his conversations with businesspeople who operate in both jurisdictions.

"Taiwan will join China ... on some terms yet to be defined," he told the conference. "There's an amateur opinion from a casino operator."

Actually, for a completely stupid and uninformed opinion, Wynn does hit on one point, quite unintentionally -- Taiwan is in a way like Hawaii, stolen by a powerful minority from another country who then attempted to annex it to their own country...

Investment Medley

Asia Times has a long study of India's growing strategic and financial engagement with East Asia. A highlight:

India needs to add as much as US$500 billion in investment into its infrastructure and Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have expressed interest in diversifying their investment beyond China. South Korea is India's ninth-largest source of foreign investment, with Korean companies such as Daewoo, Hyundai, Samsung and LG having a significant presence in India. POSCO is investing $12 billion to construct an integrated steel plant in Orissa in India's single-largest inward investment. Meanwhile, Singapore has emerged as India's seventh-largest source of foreign investment with Temasek Holdings making significant investments in India's financial, pharmaceutical, logistics and information technology sectors.

There have also been a number of Japanese investments in India, most notably in New Delhi's metro subway system and Maruti. The Japanese government and corporate sector will also provide one-third of the funding for the $100 billion, 1,500 kilometer Delhi-Mumbai freight and industrial corridor, which is to begin construction in 2008 and be completed by 2012. Discussions are also proceeding on reaching a bilateral currency swap agreement between India and Japan. India is already the leading recipient of Japanese aid, receiving over $1 billion in 2005.

Numerous infrastructure projects also serve to tie India closer to East Asia. India is participating in the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific initiatives for an Asian Highway Network and the Trans-Asian Railway Network. Discussions are also proceeding on reopening the World War II-era Stilwell Road linking India's Assam state with China's Yunnan province through Myanmar. This follows the reopening of a direct overland trade route along the Nathu La Pass on the border between Sikkim and Tibet in July 2006 after 44 years.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's diversification from China to Vietnam and elsewhere is continuing apace. The China Post notes:

E-United Group, one of Taiwan's leading conglomerates, is planning to build a town in Vietnam for one billion U.S. dollars that will include hospitals, schools, golf courses and business, the Economic Daily News reported Monday.

The group is targeting about 500 hectares of land (1,235 acres) near Hanoi for the investment which will use the company's experience deployed at a similar project in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, the report said.

The Kaohsing-based group, whose core business is steel making, also runs a university, a high school and an elementary school and manages property development businesses. Vietnamese authorities hold a positive attitude towards the planned investment, the report said.

Taiwan is Vietnam's largest foreign investor, according to a Taipei Times report from earlier this year:

Ke, who led institute officials to Vietnam for a fact-finding trip in January, said that Vietnam has witnessed ever-expanding economic growth over the past several years, averaging 7 percent to 8 percent annually.

He also cited International Telecommunications Union data that shows Vietnam registered the world's second-highest growth in the telecommunications industry in recent years, behind only China.

He attributed Vietnam's success mainly to the country's abundant human resources.

Taiwan, which remains the largest investor in Vietnam, will benefit by continuing to increase its investment, Ke said.

Pham said that Vietnam, a relative "newcomer" to high-tech manufacturing, hopes to strengthen exchanges with Taiwan in this regard.

As of the end of last November, Taiwanese firms had channeled US$8.13 billion into Vietnam, constituting 13.74 percent of all foreign investment in Vietnam, the institute's data showed.

Onward to India!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tancredo to Leave Congress

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R), longtime friend of Taiwan and its affairs, will not seek a sixth term:

Another House Republican is retiring.

A spokesman for Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo has confirmed he will not seek a sixth term.

Tancredo is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but the spokesman says the decision not to seek re-election is separate from that effort.

Tancredo has worked with Taiwan supporters in the US for a long time, so from that perspective, it is a great loss. From any perspective of a more positive future for my nation, however, this is a step forward....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

UN Torch Relay Times

Maddog flipped me this link to the UN Torch relay. The times above are from the official Torch Relay site. Tomorrow, the 29th, it is at the Ai He Concert Hall in Kaohsiung, on HeHsi Rd at 7:00, and then to Tainan, where it will be at the Chih Kan Lou (the on Min Tzu Rd) at 2:30. On the 30th it will be in Tainan and then in Chiayi. On the 31st it is in Yunlin, Nantou and Changhua, arriving in Taichung on Nov 1.

UN/Hu Offer Round up

The Yomiuri Shimbun published an article on the "peace offer" from Hu, written by a Japanese reporter, that totally follows the Chinese line. Although discussion of economic growth is thick, there is no mention of the military threats....

During the Congress, Hu revealed China's policy on Taiwan, which took a relatively soft line, as symbolized by his use of the phrase "peaceful development" during his speech. Hu did not repeat a phrase pertaining to China's possible use of military force against Taiwan used by then General Secretary Jiang Zemin in his speech at the Congress five years ago. Instead, Hu urged Taiwan "on the basis of the one-China principle" to join talks on "a formal end to the state of hostility" and "reach a peace agreement."

However, Hu's call was not directed at Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who flatly rejected China's one-China policy. Rather, Hu was eyeing Chen's successor, who will be elected in the coming presidential election in March 2008.

This is the usual uninformed and unimaginative interpretation of Beijing's offer. In case, if anyone was thinking that Hu's position indicated a softening of China's drive to annex the island, the week after the Party Congress the local Taiwan policy thinktank held a meeting to dispel any doubts, as reported by the China Daily, a Chinese media organ:

"The mainland will never allow anyone to make Taiwan secede from China in any name or by any means," said Zheng Lizhong, executive deputy director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee.

He said the Chinese mainland would continue to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and peaceful reunification.

"We will sincerely rally the Taiwan compatriots to strive together for the prosperity of the Chinese nation," he said.

Zheng made the remarks when attending the meeting held by the Cross-Straits Relations Research Center on studying Chinese President Hu Jintao's report to the 17th CPC National Congress.

More than 50 researchers on cross-Straits relations attended the symposium.

Chinese Presidents Hu Jintao said in the report that the forces for "Taiwan independence" were stepping up their secessionist activities, seriously jeopardizing the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

"The mainland side is ready to conduct exchanges, dialogue, consultations and negotiations with any political party in Taiwan on any issue as long as it recognizes that both sides of the Straits belong to one and the same China," he said.

He also proposed, on the basis of the one-China principle, to discuss with the Taiwan authorities on the formal ending to the state of hostility between the two sides, signing of a peace agreement and constructing a framework for peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

"We will make every effort to achieve anything that serves the interests of our Taiwan compatriots, contributes to the maintenance of peace in the Taiwan Straits region and facilitates peaceful national reunification," he said.

Note the claim -- "one and the same China." This appears to specifically exclude a two-China solution to the issue that might enable them to take advantage of the existence of the ROC to obtain wiggle room for concessions from both sides. Nope -- Hu's position is that the PRC and China are one and the same. This is exactly the same position China has come out with year after year, and will continue to come out with until they grow up on the Taiwan issue or end up killing a lot of innocent people. Further, what is Hu's comment against the regular flow of vitriolic hate of Taiwan from Chinese officials such as Jia Qinglin? Hu's remarks don't stand by themselves, but represent a pattern common in Chinese politics, where the Great Man offers beneficence and conciliation --while at the same time, the underlings make the vicious threats that represent the real position of the Great Man.

A Zogby poll commissioned by the GIO found levels of support for UN entry in Japan similar to those of the US (Zogby US results):

In response to a question about whether they would support the nation's entry into the UN under the name "Taiwan" if the campaign is supported via a referendum, the positive figure jumped to 81.2 percent, with 12.6 percent disapproving.

Asked whether Japan should respect a decision made by a majority of voters in a democratic way, 89.2 percent said yes, while 7.7 percent said no.

However, in response to a question that specifically mentioned China's opposition to Taiwan's UN membership, 63.5 percent of respondents said they were in favor of Japan helping Taiwan to gain UN membership, while 29.5 percent opposed such help from Japan.

EU top diplomant Solana once again expressed concern that maybe the Referendum would upset peace and prosperity in East Asia. Apparently military buildups don't have that effect, at least for diplomats in the EU. Xinhua gleefully reports:

Javier Solana, European Union top diplomat, expressed here on Thursday his concern over Taiwanese leaders' comments on the Chinese province's application for UN membership.

"I have noted with concern the comments made by Taiwan's leadership on October 24 concerning Taiwan's application for UN membership under the name of Taiwan," Solana said in a statement.

"The EU has a substantial interest in peace and stability in East Asia. It has a particular interest in the continued prosperity and security of Taiwan and in the maintenance of peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

The fundamental position of the EU is that the Taiwan question must be solved peacefully through cross-Strait negotiations between all concerned parties.

On the plus side, the Taipei Times reports on EU parlimentarians who support Taiwan:

In related news, 84 members of the European Parliament released a joint statement on Thursday to express their support for the nation's UN bid.

The members representing various political groups, who have gathered in Strasbourg, France, for the European Parliament's plenary session, said in their statement that Taiwan is a sovereign state that has never been governed by the People's Republic of China and that it is wrong and unfair for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to claim that Taiwan was part of China and deny the nation eligibility for membership.

They said that, in a report on China issued last September, the European Parliament had called for representation for Taiwan's 23 million people in international organizations, but that Taiwan still remained excluded from most of these organizations.

Calling Taiwan a full-fledged democracy with a highly developed economy that could make valuable contributions to the international community, the group urged the EU and other UN members to seriously consider Taiwan's application for UN membership.

The UN entry referendum proceeds apace, with the Central Election Commission assigning to the same day as the election...

National Police Administration, Local County Magistrate Scuffle over Promotions

Lots of fun in Taipei County....

Taipei county is one of the most politically important areas of the country, and both the KMT and the DPP have been courting it. The County was recently promoted to a higher administrative status in the ROC's administrative system:

Taipei County was upgraded to a quasi-special municipality at the beginning of this month, and thus is entitled to certain rights normallly reserved for special municipalities.

A special municipality is a city under direct Cabinet control with "a population of more than 1.5 million" and has "special needs in political, economic, cultural and urban development" according to the Municipal Self-Governance Act (直轄市自治法).

Taipei and Kaohsiung cities are the only two special administrative cities.

The China Post offers further comment:

Taiwan has only two special municipalities, whose rank is on a par with that of provinces. They are Taipei and Kaohsiung. The province of Taiwan still exists in name. It doesn't function.

If everything goes according to Chou's schedule, his county may become a special municipality at the beginning of next year.

The reason the mayoralties of Taipei and Kaohsiung are so important is because they are functionally the equivalent of governors, not mayors. They have a great deal of administrative independence, large budgets, and control over the local branches of central government functions, such as the police. Now Taipei county is going to join their ranks. Down here in Taichung there has been much grumbling over the years about Taichung's failure to ascend to these lofty heights.

The controversy arose when KMT magistrate Chou Hsi-wei declared himself the Great Decider of Taipei County. Let's let the China Post to carry the ball:

President Chen Shui-bian has made 43 generals so far this year.

He was very liberal, to say the least, to win support of the military, the traditional power base of the Kuomintang. The officers' corps used to swear loyalty to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who headed the Kuomintang.

Chou Hsi-wei, magistrate of Taipei county, is emulating the president. He wants to win support of the county police.

So Chou tried to outdo Chen by making 140 police colonels yesterday.

There's a difference, though.

Whereas the president has every right to make generals, the Kuomintang magistrate of Taiwan's most populous county could only provide a lame alibi.

Chou, who pinned one more star on every one of the new colonels in a promotion ceremony at his office in Panchiao in the morning, claimed he has the power to advance their career.

That power, he said, comes from the decision the Legislative Yuan made in the last summer to change the status of his county to that of "special municipality pro tem."

Chou's argument is that since Taipei County is on its way to being a special municipality, he has the authority to promote police officers. In Taiwan, where the police are run centrally rather than locally, the National Police Administration took a dim view of this usurpation of national authority.

However, the NPA issued a statement disputing Chou's claim, saying that promotions of police officers under local governments must be authorized by the agency.

The agency said that Taipei County's decision had jeopardized the nation's police promotion system and the Ministry of Civil Service would not raise the salaries of promoted officials announced by the Taipei County Government.

The agency said it would announce its "real" list of promotions of Taipei County police officers later this month.

Another report noted:

In a statement released in the afternoon, the NPA said the Taipei County Government does not possess the authority to make the promotions because it is not a "special municipality" but only a similar administration.

The highest authority governing the nation's police force remains at the MOI, the statement said.

The MOI consigned certain police work to local-level municipal and county governments through the NPA.

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) properly has jurisdiction over promotions. Even the normally pro-KMT China Post couldn't stomach this:

Chou retorted by claiming all those officers deserve promotion "right now and on the spot" for they have rendered "meritorious service" over the past year and a half. He was elected at the end of 2005.

They got the promotion in just a couple of years. Ordinarily, that promotion may come in a dozen years, according to the NPA career management system.

Elections are the reason why Chou gave the unprecedented mass promotion to the top police officers he nominally commands in his capacity as magistrate.

Though he himself is not running for any election, Chou has to electioneer for Kuomintang candidates. Voters will go to the polls to elect a new Legislative Yuan on Jan. 12 and a new president on March 22 next year.

Police should officially remain neutral. They may help candidates when they are not on duty, however.

More massive promotions will follow, Chou promised. "There will be a second batch and a third batch of promotionse shortly," he said.

Observers often note that over in China provincial and local authorities often declare themselves independent of Beijing. The same thing happens here, though not as obviously, because the law is administrative rather than normative, and has no ethical force for those underneath it. Last week the Taipei City government rightly pointed out that the DPP's UN Torch relay was illegal under the law since they hadn't applied for permission (too bad the city didn't take the same attitude toward Shih Ming-te's faux protests). President Chen then challenged the city government to arrest him. It's nice to defy authority....except when you are authority. Then you simply signal that that law is irrelevant if you have power. And that is the wrong signal to be sending in a democracy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nelson Report on China's 17th Party Congress

The Nelson Report, the Beltway insider report, had this to say on the recent Party Congress in China...

17th PARTY CONGRESS...think-tanks are scheduling dueling assessments of how well President Hu did, and what to think about his likely successors. Today's effort was at the Carnegie Endowment; next Tuesday we'll all troop next door to Brookings.

No doubt Heritage, AEI and others are also in the game, and we'll double check our emails for listings, and keep you posted.

For sure, no one from either Heritage or AEI was pre-registered for Carnegie today, and we'd say that probably was a good thing, in terms of preserving the blood pressure of analysts more given to focus on the dark side of China's problems and policies.

That's our way of saying that as tremendously useful and insightful as we found most of what was offered by defense specialist Mike Swaine, Amb. Stape Roy, and economist Bert Keidel, we weren't the only ones feeling the discussion presented a far more positive approach to most issues than might have been expected.

And for perhaps the only time in our professional career do we dare to note that Amb. Roy was flat wrong in his assertion that Hu's offer to negotiate with Taiwan was without precondition.

As Swaine gently commented, following Roy's departure, the "one China" precondition clearly was stated and remains the principle obstacle to having any DPP government join in talks, and could well give pause to the KMT, as presently defined.

What we liked about the discussion was it's calm look at the structural and rhetorical differences from the 16th Party Congress, and its suggestions on what they tell us about Hu, the Chinese Leadership generally, and on the Leadership's evolving approach to China's many, very great problems.

Roy, with Keidel filling-in economic details, showed how Hu's main theme of "Scientific Development" really is a new approach and way of thinking, one stressing accountability for success in working on key crisis points such as regional and personal income balance.

The make-up of the Leadership and the CCP as a whole is now increasingly "middle class" and the managers really are, on the whole, professional managers and technocrats, not ideologues (or military heroes).

Watch, for example, to see how the Leadership is using polls to monitor "scientific development" performance at the grass roots levels where social and economic unrest are created, due to leadership failures at those levels. This is real, and not PR (although it's not "democracy", either).

The new party line about "openness" is the antithesis of Marxism, and is "all about the middle class".

Keidel's presentation was perhaps the most vulnerable to charges by our hypothetical AEI/Heritage commentators, since he pushed right past most, if not all of the obvious criticisms, to describe in non-value laden terms what the Leadership is doing, and why.

Balanced rationalism is to be valued, at any time. But we make our comments because the debate about "China rising" is on the upswing, it will not be settled anytime soon, and if you favor a rational, unemotional approach to analysis, you have to be prepared to rebut those who prefer, as one Loyal Reader put it, "to see the glass as not always at least half-full".

Keidel's central analytic model is to see China "not as a's a corporate technocracy. The corporation equals the Communist Party of 50 million members, who elect a Board of Directors, the Central Committee, which selects the management at the top, the Politburo, and the Standing Committee (chaired by Hu).

All the new leaders are technocrats, and leadership is by consensus...there will likely never be even another Deng Xiaoping, much less another Mao.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hu Ignored in Taiwan

Commentator Ting-i Tsai has another good piece in the Asia Times on the Hu "peace offer"

Hu's olive branch, therefore, is consistent with Hu's previous practices, in the minds of some observers. At a summit with Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang on April 29, 2005, an agreement to sign a peace accord was among some of the points of consensus.

To some observers, Hu's remark might seem fresh and friendly, but others disagreed. "Hu's speech looks more like setting a framework. For the upcoming five years, a precondition [one China] would be required for political negotiation," said a former senior official at the Mainland Affairs Council, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, "Party-to-party negotiation would be the format. This is a regression [of China's friendliness]."

Former communist Ruan endorsed the former official's argument, and contended that "technically, the hostility is only between the CCP and KMT", suggesting Hu's proposal was for the KMT but would not be applicable to the governing Democratic Progressive Party.

Tsai also presented some local views of the issue, emphasizing its totally ho-hum nature to the locals. Massive, massive kudos for Tsai mentioning that the CCP and KMT are interwined like snakes mating in the spring. Why that pertinent fact fails to find mention in the international media is a mystery to me.

Even worse for Beijing, Ma Ying-jeou, the presidential candidate of Taiwan's opposition party Kuomintang (KMT), which has interacted closely with the CCP since 2005, rebuked Hu's remark by arguing that Taiwan's future should be determined by the island's people, and the decision is neither associated with CCP nor could the island tolerate any CCP interference.

The worst news for Hu was probably the reactions of people in Taiwan. Beijing has tried to win the hearts and minds of the island's residents, but few in Taiwan paid attention to China's political drama, and even fewer were aware of Hu's apparent olive branch to Taiwan.

In downtown Taipei, Amy Kuo, a 36-year-old office clerk, noted that she had not heard the term "17th National Congress" of the CCP.

Yeh Hung-yuan, a 34-year-old sales manager of a medical machinery company, had some understanding of the meaning of "17th CCP Congress" but was not aware of Hu's remarks. "It would be either threatening Taiwan independence or talking about an unrealistic 'peaceful unification'," he guessed.

Jesse Chuang, a 27-year-old doctorial program student, said he had no impression of Hu's remark. "I only remember that Jiang Zemin didn't clap his hands [after Hu's speech]," Chuang said.

I got curious about whether Tsai was right on the extent of the ignorance, so I started asking my night class students about Hu's offer (it would have been pointless to ask the day class of 18-22 yr old kids). Out of fifty or so adults in their twenties and early thirties, most -- hell, all but one -- had no clue that there was a Party Congress or that weighty words on the subject of Taiwan had been uttered by His Huness. It seems sometimes that "Taiwan consciousness" is not consciousness of Taiwan, but unconsciousness toward everything else....

Election Selection 2008

No posters allowed! Fortunately, for people who like their world cluttered with looming posters of political candidates that's not true of the Taiwan outside the metro. Here is a small selection of posters from the upcoming elections. More to come (a selection from the previous election cycle is online here)

Ma Ying-jeou and a local candidate look down on a Taichung street.

A protest scrawled on a wall in Dali.

A DPP candidate looks on as people drive into the wholesale market in Taichung.

A candidate watches a street in Changhua.

A DPP candidate stresses his environmental service to the community in Tanzi.

This legislator made a memorable image.

Hsieh, Su, and a local candidate face the Taichung Train Station.

Highway projects form the centerpiece of this KMT candidate's presentation.


Love the female KMT candidate on the right.

KMT and DPP candidates duke it out above a 7-11.

Pro-China legislators Attack Radio Taiwan International

Dancers practice in the morning on a college campus.

The Taipei Times reports on a sad affair: Radio Taiwan International's budget slashed...

The government's Radio Taiwan International (RTI) had two-thirds of its budget blocked by pan-blue legislators at the Education and Cultural Committee meeting yesterday. Some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers said they opposed the station's program Taiwan Perspective. KMT Lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) accused RTI of being politically biased and lacking journalistic ethics. RTI president Lin Feng-cheng (林峰正) said the radio station would not survive past next April or May if the legislators slash its budget. He said the station had always maintained high journalistic professionalism and accurately reflected the voice of the people.

I have a couple of friends who work there, but more importantly, RTI consistently does good stuff, offbeat stories, with a Taiwan focus, though not necessarily a Green one. Just shows the virulently anti-Taiwan stance of the KMT...the DPP needs to play up stuff like this to counter the fake localization strategies of the KMT.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Political Theatre 101: the Hsieh-Chen Split

In the comments section on the post on Robert Ross' pro-China piece in Forbes one commenter argued, after I pointed out that Hsieh and Chen are most probably engaging in political theatre, that..
In fact Hsieh and Chen took different stances on the issue not because they deliberately cooperate: Hsieh and Chen have had that disagreement for long.
The issue is not whether they actually disagree -- whether they bash each other with baseball bats when they get together, or whether they swap drinks cackling over how stupid the media is, is really quite irrelevant. No, the relevant fact in the "Chen-Hsieh" rivalry is the Hsieh-Su rivalry.

Whoa. The what?

Remember the primary campaign back in May of this year -- not six months ago? The bitter campaign with its bitter accusations of leaks, the media claims that Hsieh and Su disliked each other -- that Su especially was upset -- where did all that go?

Down the Rabbit Hole. In a brilliant display of party unity, the DPP put together a Presidential slate consisting of the two men who had just fought a bitter primary contest, and all the complaints and speculation disappeared. When was the last time you heard anything about the bitter primary battle between the two men? It may as well have taken place in an alternate universe. Clearly, when the DPP wants to make something become a media non-event, it can.

Maybe Hsieh and Chen hate each other. Maybe they don't. But the reality of the rivalry is irrelevant to its important political effects: it permits Hsieh to continue to appear moderate compared to Chen, while at the same time, it keeps Beijing and the KMT in rapt obsession with every action of the Source of All Evil, Mad Chen©, instead of with the real opponent, Frank Hsieh. Do you really think two experienced politicians as savvy as Chen and Hsieh are not aware of what they are doing and how they look?

Remember the good old days when Chen was moderate?

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth said Friday that Washington was impressed and encouraged by moderation expressed by Taiwan's President-elect Chen Shui-bian and his emphasis on cross-strait dialogue.(here)
American officials have described relations between Taiwan and the United States as better than at any time since the severance of formal diplomatic ties in 1978. The cordiality is due in part to US appreciation of Chen Shui-bian's moderate posture toward mainland China...(here)

What year did Beijing say this?

On Monday, the Chinese Army accused a "prominent figure" -- read Chen Shui-bian -- of pushing for independence and said it had put its troops on alert to crush such a move.

"Under no circumstances should we be fooled by his sweet talk," said the army's newspaper, Liberation Army Daily, in a front-page editorial. "One minute he is brazenly howling 'Long live Taiwan independence,' while the next he is using beautiful and pleasant words to lie that he wants 'good will, reconciliation, vigorous cooperation and everlasting peace' with the mainland."

That's right. NY Times, March 9, 2000 -- ten days before Chen was elected to his first term. Plus ca change... Beijing has been writing this script for years. Only now Chen has decided to direct it.....

UPDATE: A commenter below points to a piece by columnist Frank Ching on Hsieh that recapitulates the differences between Chen and Hsieh. There is a longer version of it in the Korea Times and the local Taiwan China Post.

UN for Taiwan Paraphenalia

Get this bandana....

....and this t-shirt, here with a front...

...and rear view. We bought them on Yahoo.
UN for Taiwan T-shirt
服務電話:0919159608 李小姐

Postiion Hakka/Ethnic Studies, Chiaotung U.

Positions: Ethnic Studies Hakka Studies, Taiwan Social History, etc., Rank
Open, National Chiao Tung University
From: H-Net Job Guide:

National Chiao Tung University - Assistant, Associate or Full Professor, Ethnic Studies

Location: Taiwan
Institution Type: College/University
Position Type: Assistant, Associate or Full Professor
Submitted: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
Main Category: Asian History or Studies
Secondary Categories: Sociology
Social and Cultural History
Area Studies/Ethnic Studies

The Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan is seeking candidates to fill several permanent positions available in August 2008. Those specialized in comparative ethnicity studies, Hakka studies, Austronesian Studies, Taiwan Social History, or related disciplines of humanities or social sciences are welcome to apply. Documents needed include
1. a cover letter indicating qualifications and research interests
2. a C.V.
3. a photocopy of Ph.D. diploma and transcripts
3. published articles (or a copy of the doctoral dissertation)
4. sample syllabi of proposed courses
5. 2~3 letters of reference

Please refer to this Department's website ( for curriculum details. The deadline for application is December 31, 2007.

Contact Info:
Search Committee
c/o Ms. Yaping Deng
Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
National Chiao Tung University
1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd.
Hsinchu 300

Phone: +886-3-5712121 ext. 58030
Fax: +886-3-5721486


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Opposite of Ross

Thanks to a hat tip from Ernesto, I found this commonsensical article on Taiwan -- common sense is so out of fashion, it sounds bizarre to hear it voiced (compare this article to the Ross piece three posts below). While this section is manifestly untrue:

According to historians, there is no record of Chinese presence in Taiwan prior to 1947. Before then, the island was likely inhabited by indigenous peoples, and was often largely self- governing, even under Chinese colonizers.

...who could disagree with these sensible ideas:

Uprisings over social inequality will not go away, neither will China get away with a repeat of 1989 and send in the tanks. The party's problems are only aided by its foolish refusal to release its white-knuckle grip on Taiwan. That is why Taipei wins and Beijing loses.

The mainland has backed itself into an unwinnable corner on Taiwan and it is time Beijing woke up to the fact that policy mistakes made decades ago need not poison its future.

Beijing needs to put away its jet fighters, cotton wool its rocket launchers, drop the nationalist, militarist line and get over Taiwan.

As I often say, Beijing needs to grow up. There's nothing Beijing can get from owning Taiwan that it can't get from peaceful trade -- except the feeling of domination. But that need for domination is powerful that Beijing is willing to risk the lives of its people and the stability of its economy to achieve it. The blogger whose page I was directed to observed:

A slightly desperate but serviceable excuse would be that it’s [the 1947 date] a typo – the ‘9’ should be a ‘6’, referring to the island’s occupation by Ming Dynasty loyalists fleeing Manchu invaders in the mid-17th Century, before coming under Qing rule a few decades later. That still wouldn’t be good enough for patriots, for whom Taiwan is a sacred and inseparable part of the Motherland, and has been overflowing with Han people for every minute of the 5,000 years of non-stop civilization. But most objective historians would agree with it. It would also probably have been fine by Mao Zedong, who in the 1930s put Taiwan in the same category as Korea – a place under Japanese colonial rule whose people deserved comrades’ sympathy but no active involvement.

As the column’s writer points out, China’s leaders have painted themselves into an impossible corner over the one province where Communist Party rule has never reached. Everyone in the Mainland under the age of 60 has been brought up to believe with extreme passion that Taiwan is theirs and must be returned to the fold whatever the cost, while everyone who visits the place cannot avoid noticing that it’s an independent country. If the Taiwan Government wants a bit of fun, it should open the island’s doors to tourists from across the Strait and let them see that their leaders lost the place ages ago. Meanwhile, I will discreetly turn The Standard’s Opinion page and pretend I never saw what I just read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ma Goes Long, DPP Legislator Brought Up Short

The China Post, the local pro-KMT English paper, offers up some breathless prose on KMT Presidential hopeful Ma Ying-jeou's "long stay" outside the north:

While Ma Ying-jeou is due to return to Taipei City on Oct. 26, after finishing his second "long stay," Chinese language media speculated yesterday that the opposition Kuomintang presidential candidate might not return home and instead continue to stay overnight at various people's places.

Since July, Ma has toured Taiwan intensively and tried to learn directly from the people of Taiwan. Throughout his travels, he has met with representatives from many local industries, including tea agriculture, pig farming, fruit agriculture, flower agriculture, fishing, and radio broadcasting. Each time, he stayed overnight with locals and engaged in long talks. At one point, he stayed at a university dormitory to share his thoughts with the students.

On the whole, Ma slept over at more than 50 different locations. Comparatively, he only spent one-third of his time at home. As soon as Ma comes back to the capital city he will, however, continue to stay over at various locations in the Taipei City and County, sources close to the presidential candidate said yesterday. Wan Hua district in Taipei City, could be his first stop over, since it was where Ma spent his childhood, they added.

The effusive tone of this non-news notwithstanding, it's underlying political assumptions should not be missed: Ma venturing outside of the north is essentially a foray into no-man's land. Nobody would write this way about Frank Hsieh, who has held public office in both Taipei and Kaohsiung, and who is hardly as separate from the people as Ma is. Indeed, the paper can write that he "stayed" down south, though in fact a third of the time he was sleeping at home.

Ma's attitude toward Taiwan outside the north was neatly summed up in an experience in Pingtung during his first "long stay" chronicled by A-gu:

Ma went out into the field, sweat a little bit, got yelled at for planting poorly, came out to recite a Tang dyanasty poem about how hard being a farmer is (had he memorized that a long time ago or just for this occasion?) and announced his plan to help the farmers, a "third stage of land reform" (a phrase chosen thanks to the success of earlier land reforms) that includes massive spending.

When reaching for a way to describe the island's farmers, our Son of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou brings forth....a poem from China. Surely of the many possible gestures he could have made.....


The Post also reports on the indictment of a DPP lawmaker for corruption:

Democratic Progressive Party Lawmaker Lawrence Gao, a close confidant of President Chen Shui-bian, was indicted for corruption at Nantou yesterday.

Nantou district prosecutors charged the DPP legislator with accepting a NT$500,000 bribe to arrange the sale of a government-owned land lot in Taichung.

They demanded a nine-year sentence of Gao, who is also the chairman of the ruling party's disciplinary committee.

In addition, the prosecution wanted Gao to be stripped of his civil rights for seven years and fined NT$2 million.

If convicted, Gao will be ousted from the Legislative Yuan. However, he might be forced to resign now, according to the DPP bylaw.

DPP pubic office holders must quit, if indicted for corruption. Moreover, the party has to expel them.

With party membership lost, Gao can't stay on as a lawmaker at-large. He has been named an at-large candidate. Voters will go to the polls on next January 12 to elect a new Legislative Yuan.
Gao was last seen in the news in an alleged orgy at a club connected to the case against the First Lady. He is a former member of the Central Standing Committee (see here, for example), and was first on the list for an at-large seat after the DPP finalized its slate of candidates for the elections for next year.