Thursday, July 31, 2008

Daily Links, July 31, 2008

One minute of the Self-Strengthening Train speeding across the southern Taiwan landscape on a gorgeous post-typhoon day. Meanwhile, what's speeding across the Taiwan blogscape?
  • J-hole at Ni Howdy blogs on strange things found in the China Post.

  • Sponge bear goes for a hike and finds lush pics and a great piece on Japanese nationalism.

  • Cross Strait Economics on Taiwan's plan to move 12 inch fabs to China. I'd like to move my 12 inch abs to China too....

  • A-gu notes that the DPP finds it absurd that the KMT is attending the Beijing Olympics while its allies' leaders are not allowed to.

  • The excellent My Several Worlds muses on typhoon day, while the Taiwan Chronicles lists what she did.

  • Save the Humpback Dolphin has a piece on river dust. Apparently is an important component of local haze.

  • Fast Eastern Sweet Potato blogs on Muslim terrorism in China.

  • Taiwan Photographers features Todd Alperovitz.

  • Peace Festival video on the Real Taiwan.

  • Chinese Whispers interview by Steven Crook.

  • Teaescapade on distinguishing authentic Yixing Teapots from Taiwan.

  • PETA calls on Sanchung city officials to take better care of their strays. Hey PETA -- send money, not emails.

  • The vivacious Michelle blogs on the opening of a famous old tunnel to bikers and hikers. Next time someone tells you Taiwan is getting worse, ask them how much stuff there was like this under the KMT.

  • Brian Dunn on why defending Taiwan is important.

  • MEDIA: DPA reports that Ma wants the Olympics to promote "peace" between Taiwan and China. I must have missed the war we were having. Nice formulation, though of the FORMULA: China considers Taiwan its breakaway province, but Taiwan, seat of the exiled Republic of China since 1949, regards itself as a sovereign state currently recognized by 23 countries. Better than a lot of the crap that's out there. Pajama's media carries Gordon C. Chang's piece Defending Taiwan is Defending America. Costa Rican police raid housing minister over allegations he diverted Taiwanese funds intended for housing for the poor, after Costa Rica switched to the PRC. Taiwan's airlines cut flights. Hsinchu mayor to review roads to facilitate biking. We're No 1: Taichung, despite improvements, still leads in crime. No doubt because in Taichung, you can get fined for burning a piano, but the illegal trash burning around here goes on serenely unmolested by the police. Sex ring smashed, 13 prostitutes arrested: welcome to Taiwan, girls, where it is illegal to be a prostitute, but OK to hire one. Reuters correspondents do 48 hours in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Yes, the rumors are true, there really are other cities in Taiwan besides Taipei. Taiwan LCD maker cutbacks hit Corning's LCD blank production here. Desperate cat hitchhikes in container from Taiwan to the UK, demands asylum because its master wants to have it spayed.

    Establishing Trust with the Chinese

    Longtime Washington and US government China policy analysts Richard C. Bush and Jeff Bader are out with an all-too Establishment piece that seems to live in its own dreamworld on US-China relations, calling on Obama and McCain to Tread Lightly On China:

    The Beijing Olympics coincide with our party conventions heralding the countdown to November's presidential election. With the world's media spotlight on China and the United States, both presidential candidates will undoubtedly be tested by unforeseen developments.

    Contenders Barack Obama and John McCain should avoid condemning China, and instead signal their intention to develop a personal relationship of trust with their Chinese counterpart soon after taking office. China's human rights are best advanced through discrete encouragement, not negative sound bites.

    In three election campaigns — in 1980, 1992 and 2000 — future U.S. presidents announced their intention to dramatically toughen national policy toward China. In each instance, the United States then endured months or years of costly fumbling. Bill Clinton, for instance, set conditions for approving Most Favored Nation status for China. But when China didn't show sufficient improvements in human rights, the new president abandoned his policy after damaging U.S. credibility and Sino-American trust.

    Since President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972, all subsequent chief executives have ultimately stayed the course with the People's Republic. The logic is simple: China has massive capacity to affect the world for better or worse. Cooperating with Beijing may challenge U.S. values, but the bond between nations improves global equanimity.

    Presidential candidates should signal China's leaders that they value a constructive and cooperative relationship with China. Personal relationships of trust are highly valued. The Chinese will react negatively if a new president throws difficult issues on the table before establishing such trust.

    Yes, it is 2008 and there really are American policy thinkers still asking that we treat China "like a Ming vase." Bush and Bader argue that when America gets tough with China, it results in policy failure, and instance the Clinton Administration failure on MFN. But the problem arises because China knows that because there are plenty of people working to undermine clear US policies on China, all it has to do is be patient and it can outlast any policy -- there is a whole class of American officials and analysts dedicated to explaining that it isn't China's fault and we should just understand China better -- just like this piece, whose position is that we should let Chinese reactions determine how we treat China -- in other words, hand off our China policy to the Chinese. The reality is that China does whatever it wants no matter how it is treated, and the only way to negotiate with Beijing is with a Really Big Stick. "Trust" in the China case cannot lie in personal relationships between leaders, but must be instantiated in routines of interaction between the two states.

    In a moment we'll discuss why these two officials are so important, but I think once again it is time to bring out The Kitty Hawk Paragraph, to which I have added a few new events, and show how China treats its good friends and those who trust it:

    Anyone who has observed China's relations with the outside world for any length of time has seen this pattern again and again. In the midst of negotiations with the Vatican, it consecrates two bishops for the state Church. In the midst of negotiations over the Olympic Torch coming to Taiwan, it denies a visa to the representative of the city of Kaohsiung to discuss the games to be held there in 2009. Arriving in India for negotiations, its ambassador announces a whole Indian state is part of China. Last year the Chinese government shut down an expat magazine in China that was widely considered the most sympathetic and supportive expat rag in that nation. After attending the ASEAN meeting in November where it has positive interactions with ASEAN members, it immediately goes out and holds war games in waters disputed by those nations, without informing them. With ally Ma Ying-jeou newly elected President of Taiwan and needing 3,000 tourists a day, what do they send him? 1,000. After many years of France helping China, emphasizing its 'special relationship' with China and demanding the Europe drop the post-Tiananmen ban on weapons sales to Beijing, who does China protest against during the Olympic Torch mess? France. And of course China gets the Olympics with promises to upgrade its rights situation, yet crackdowns on the internet and journalists intensify, while state security arrests double. Catch the pattern?

    Particularly apropo is that last sentence, because China once again this week showed how effective the policy of "discreet encouragement" is: the IOC was Kitty Hawked by Beijing. The original agreement between the International Olympic Committee stipulated that Beijing must reporters in Beijing unrestricted internet access. And the IOC trusted Beijing....

    The International Olympic Committee failed to press China to allow fully unfettered access to the Internet for the thousands of journalists arriving here to cover the Olympics, despite promising repeatedly that the foreign news media could “report freely” during the Games, Olympic officials acknowledged Wednesday.

    Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages — among them those that discuss Tibetan issues, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown on the protests in Tiananmen Square and the Web sites of Amnesty International, the BBC’s Chinese-language news, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

    The restrictions, which closely resemble the blocks that China places on the Internet for its citizens, undermine sweeping claims by Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, that China had agreed to provide full Web access for foreign news media during the Games. Mr. Rogge has long argued that one of the main benefits of awarding the Games to Beijing was that the event would make China more open.

    “For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet,” Mr. Rogge told Agence France-Presse just two weeks ago.[MT: Sucka!]


    Jonathan Watts, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the firewall that prevented Chinese citizens from fully using the Internet.

    “Obviously if reporters can’t access all the sites they want to see, they can’t do their jobs,” he said. “Unfortunately such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different.”

    As the NY Times report indicated, the fiasco was complete when US Senators, fresh from empowering the Bush Administration to spy on US citizens and curtail our liberties, introducing a resolution demanding that China not spy on its hotel guests even though those selfsame Senators have given the Bush Administration a green light on warrantless surveillance. There's a point where interaction with the stupidity, hypocrisy, and spinelessness of the US Congress transcends the bounds of ordinary human cognitive abilities and becomes almost like an ecstatic religious experience....

    And Bush and Bader say we should tread lightly with China and cultivate trust. Perhaps President Obama can include President Hu in his guanxi network and send him a red envelope now and then, but trust? By all means let us cultivate trust, but let us do it with a large Pacific navy and fat airbases brimming with late model fighter aircraft, and an alliance system that includes all the nations around China.

    The worst aspect of this letter is not that its advice is bad. It is that the letter writers, longtime Dems, are advisors to the Obama campaign. I have not condemned the Dems for their Taiwan and China stances because I have heard good things privately -- that new draft policy for the Dems calls for upgraded relations with Taiwan, and of course, as Randall Shriver said at his talk in Taipei earlier this month, both campaigns had asked the Bush Administration to unfreeze the arms sales to Taiwan. Those were hopeful signs. But an open and public call for policy like this is not a hopeful sign at all. It appears obvious, at least at this point, that US-China and US-Taiwan policy are going to be better off if McCain is elected. And that's sad, because the world needs Obama, and not McCain.

    A few years ago there was a controversy over facilitated communication, where the mother of the autistic child holds its hand as it types on a keyboard or writes. Subsequent studies went on to show that in fact the autistic child's writing skills were the product of the facilitator, and not the child. For the center of the US political Establishment, US policy on China has become little more than a case of facilitated communication.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Pratas Fracas

    The Pratas Islands, or Dongsha, one of the many islets in the South China Sea disputed between the nations around it, was in the news this week. First Max Hirsch of Kyodo News reported on the Pratas in the context of the new capitulation reduction of tensions between Taiwan and China:

    Smack-dab in the South China Sea, the atoll of Pratas Islands, with its azure waters and white, sandy beaches, was until recently a front-line military garrison. Also until recently, China reportedly considered taking the islets by force as a practice run for an all-out offensive against Taiwan proper.

    But recent moves to demilitarize the Pratas serve as one of the clearest signs yet that tensions in the strait have eased dramatically.

    ''As relations with China improve, this place has become more a national park than a military outpost,'' says Liu Kuo-lie, the Coast Guard commander of the Pratas, referring to the establishment last year of the Dongsha Marine National Park on the atoll.

    The interesting thing about this is that last year when the national park was set up, there was some suspicion that it was simply a way of Taiwan solidifying its claim over the islands. But AFP reports that those perfidious Chinese have staged an invasion of the national park anyway:

    Chinese fishermen have been accused of poaching in Taiwan’s first marine national park, where authorities say their destructive methods are endangering the area’s ecology. “Chinese fishing boats have been posing the gravest threat to the fragile ecological system here,” said Shaw I-pung (蕭一鵬) of the Marine National Park headquarters, speaking of the tiny coral atoll called Dongsha Island.

    “They have been using illegal methods like poisons, dynamite and electricity to exploit marine resources in the region,” he said.

    The scourge of boats scouring the seabed for food destined for Hong Kong restaurants is combining with global warming as a major cause of coral reef bleaching, he said.

    It is a good thing "tensions" are reduced and normal activities like fishing can go on.... Taiwan has been trying to develop the island for tourism, but a friend of mine who was out there a while back says facilities are decidedly lacking. For those interested, there's some background on the Pratas and other islands in the Taiwan Review from 2001.

    Olympics and Sovereignty in Crisis

    Ah, the world was different back in the 1960s, as Newsweek relates in a piece adapted from a new book on the 1960 Olympics:

    The context was different, but the central political question as the Rome Olympics neared was the same as it is now: how should the world deal with China? The issue was debated that year by Vice President Richard Nixon and Sen. John F. Kennedy during the presidential campaign, and Brundage and the IOC became embroiled in it as well. The United States did not recognize Mao's mainland government, Mao did not recognize Chiang's island government and the IOC had nothing but trouble with both. Not long after the People's Republic withdrew from the Olympics, the IOC ruled that Taiwan could no longer call itself the Republic of China at the Olympics because it did not represent the geographical entity of China. It could march in the opening ceremony only as Taiwan or the other name for the island, Formosa.

    Suddenly Brundage went from being called a tool of American foreign policy to being labeled a communist sympathizer. Right-wing groups in the United States mounted an intense letter-writing campaign denouncing him. The State Department, while claiming to be free from political involvement in the Olympics, began a lobbying effort to persuade the IOC to overturn the decision. The Taiwanese, in diplomatic cables with Washington, went so far as to suggest that perhaps they should introduce Brundage, a known philanderer, to some of the "fleshpots of Rome" to help the cause. When all else failed, the United States urged Taiwan to boycott the Olympics rather than accede to the change in nomenclature, which was taken as a symbolic victory for the Reds in the cold war.

    Taiwan might have boycotted, the writer says, but it had a great decathalete named CK Yang who had a pretty good shot at a medal. Eventually he took silver, outdone by his close friend Rafer Johnson.

    It seems a simpler time, the Cold War, when everything was so black and white, compared to today, when we just had to worry about global flash heating by nukes, instead of global warming by Hummers. But today's China Olympics offer all kinds of new wrinkles, as the Taiwan News notes in another of its hard-hitting editorials this week, pointing up the problem that the resolution of the China Taipei vs. Chinese Taipei mess implies for Taiwan's sovereignty:

    First, the flap was "settled" through secret negotiations conducted by KMT Spokesman Lee Chien-jung, a close associate of former KMT chairman Lien Chan, through the KMT-CCP "party-to-party dialogue" platform, evidently behind the backs of both National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Chairwoman Tai Hsia-ling and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan.

    Unless authorized in advance by the MAC, Lee's actions reflect the creeping domination of the functions of Taiwan's democratically elected government, including the management of external affairs, by the KMT itself.

    "Conflicts of interest"

    Even if Lee did receive secret authorization, the fact that the KMT and not the authorized Strait Exchange Foundation played the key role in the resolution of this flap reflects a dangerous and anti-democratic concession by the elected government and casts open the door to major "conflicts of interest" given the lack of political transparency and legislative regulation or oversight over KMT-CCP interactions.

    Second, the prominence of the KMT-CCP platform, as shown by the agreements reached by PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao and KMT Chairman Wo Po-hsiung in late May and Lee's resolution of the Olympic moniker flap, confirms that the party to party platform is now the genuine "Track One" in the cross-strait relationship.

    The KMT-CCP dialogue served as a "track two" mechanism when the KMT was in opposition, but since Ma and the KMT took power May 20 and agreed to accept the "Consensus of 1992," which Beijing has declared is equivalent to its "one China principle," there have been no political hindrances between the two governments.

    Therefore, the legally authorized and regulated channel between of Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait should be the sole platform for bilateral talks on all issues.

    However, Beijing's provision of "results" to the Hu-Wu talks and Lee's mission aim to show that the KMT-CCP party-to-party platform is the genuine "Track One" in cross-strait relations.

    In line with the current practice of the PRC and the past of the KMT party-state, the two parties will make the important policy decisions and the two governments, through the SEF and ARATS, will executive the details.

    The result will be the denigration of Taiwan's democratically elected government to a subordinate position under both the KMT and CCP parties.

    The negotiations are party-to-party, not state to state. Not authorized body to authorized body. As I observe when former TSU legislator Lai Shin-yuan was appointed to the MAC post, it did not mean that she would be able to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty or that Lee Teng-hui would have finger in this pie, as he does in some many others. It meant, in the final analysis, that the MAC would not be a major player in cross-strait policy formulation and negotiations. This has come true. Lai has been reduced simply to giving her opinion on events.

    In the Party-State politics of the KMT, the Party is the state, and the government is just one more apparatus in the Party's system of rule. In a real democracy political parties do not conduct negotiations on behalf of the nation, especially secret negotiations. Especially with counterpart Party-State systems, authoritarian in nature, and inimical to the future of democracy and independence on the island.

    Sovereignty. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks.

    Paper on Parade: Half Mountain – Half Sea

    After a short hiatus thanks to increased workload, Paper on Parade is back with a great article in the current issue of Intersections out of Australian National University on women in the Kaohsiung fishing communities entitled:
    Half Mountain – Half Sea: Women's Roles in the Fishing Communities of Post-War Kaohsiung, 1945–1975. The article was written by a man, Chen Da-yuan, which has certain implications....

    Initially, I had difficulties in interviewing the female relatives of fishers in these conservative and patriarchal fishing communities. However, with help from locals, I gradually earned their trust and successively built up a small social network. Even so, because I am an unmarried male and girls and women are considered the property of their husbands and fathers it was impossible for me to interview the female relatives of fishers alone. There was always at least one male member of the family present. Consequently, the questions I was able to ask the women were always influenced by the presence of these male relatives. Sometimes, however, the information I collected was incidental to the original purpose of the interview with one or other female relative interrupting and having her say to a question I had asked the male relative.

    Also, I need to make something clear here so as not to be accused of insensitivity. In Taiwan it is culturally prohibited for a young man to ask an old woman's name, especially before her husband. Hence, the names of the old fishers' wives remain unknown and throughout the paper I can, unfortunately, refer to them only as 'the wife of A' or 'the female relative of B'.
    I had no idea that it was culturally prohibited in Taiwan for a younger man to ask an older woman's name.

    The article contains a detailed discussion of what women did in this period, including the usual manual labor:

    In the early years, fishing nets and lines produced by factories were too expensive for many fishing families. To save on the expenditures of offshore fishing activities some women in the Cijin fishing communities traditionally made fishing nets or longlines for neighbouring villagers. The fishing nets they produced were small and could be used only for the coastal and offshore fisheries.[5] Traditionally, fishing nets and longlines were made from bark thread; some were also woven from cotton yarn.[6] People in the fishing villages had to buy bark at the local shop, and then manufacture nets or longlines on vacant lots in their village. My informant, the wife of Chen Shuteng, explained that making bark thread required two steps: first, the bark had to be soaked in water. After it turned soft it was torn into strips. Second, the strips needed to be exposed to the sun until they dried, after which the strips were twisted into strings. The whole process of making the thread and weaving a net was complicated and time-consuming, because the strings broke all the time.[7] Normally, women in the fishing communities took charge of this task, because it was not too physically demanding but it required patience, which, according to a female relative of Cai Bian, not many men possessed.[8]

    In the 1950s, fishing nets and longlines made from bark thread gradually were replaced by factory-made cotton fishing nets and longlines. Cotton-made nets and longlines were sold in fishing tackle shops at reasonable prices which every fishing family could afford. Hence, women in Taiwanese fishing communities were eventually liberated from the burden of making bark thread and nets.[9]

    Neither locally made nor factory-made fishing nets and longlines could be used for a long period of time. They easily rotted or tore in the salt water. To lengthen the use-by date of nets made from either bark or cotton, people in fishing communities had to spend a lot of time on the maintenance of these fishing nets and longlines. Some women were hired to do this arduous but important work; however, the money they earned was very little and never enough to help cover the overall family expenses.[10]

    Apart from darning fishing nets every day, women also had to clean and add a protective coating on the fishing nets and longlines at least once a week. The protection of the fibre in fishing nets and longlines was an extremely laborious job that required the cooperation of both sexes in the fishing communities. Women took charge of extracting the starch from red potatoes. They grated red potatoes on a wooden board embedded with nails, then they mixed the potato paste with some water, before immersing the fishing nets and longlines into the extracted starch mixture. The fishing nets and longlines were then hung out on racks and exposed to the sun until the starch was totally dry. During this period, the people in the fishing village also had to collect pigs' blood from the pig farms, dry it, and then grind it into a blood red powder. The women would mix the blood powder with some water and immerse the fishing nets and longlines once again—to provide yet another layer of protection from the sea water.[11]

    ...and something everyone will recognize: handling the money:

    Women in the fishing communities were in charge of the money matters for their families, although their social status was comparatively lower to that of men. In Gushan District, a large number of vessel owners' wives, daughters and even daughters-in-law worked as accountants in their fishing companies. There were two advantages in this practice: firstly, it was believed in this Taiwanese culture that women were very good at managing money matters, and secondly, vessel owners did not need to spend extra money hiring an accountant from outside. A well-known murder happened in the early 1960s, when the mistress of Lin M.Y., who served as the Head of Kaohsiung Fishermen's Association, was killed by a fisher after a violent quarrel in the company office simply because she took charge of the financial affairs of Lin's fishing company and the fisherman thought she was cheating him.[25] This practice of women taking charge of the financial affairs of fishing companies still widely exists nowadays. When I conducted my fieldwork in Kaohsiung in 2002, most accountants who worked in the fishing companies were vessel owners' wives, daughters or daughters-in-law.

    A fascinating look at a different time, the author is also well versed in the literature on other fishing communities, which shows up in the informative footnotes -- well worth perusing:

    Gushan was the cradle of Taiwan's distant water fishing industry. Cijin was a less developed area. Its major fishing activities were aquaculture, coastal and offshore fisheries. The Fishing Ports of Kaohsiung City, Taipei, Fisheries Agency, 2003, p. 9. The Cianjhen fishing port was completed in 1967, which encouraged numerous distant water fishing companies to shift their offices and fleets from Gushan to Cianjhen by the late 1960s. However, Cianjhen fishing port looks like an industrial area; it would be incorrect to regard Cianjhen as a bona fide fishing community.
    In addition to the useful text, the article also contains photographs and maps. A good read in a long tradition of work on women and their communities in Taiwan anthropology.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Sovereignty and Freezes

    Typhoon Fung wong is closing in, and here in Taichung, a steady rain is falling as of eight this morning, Taichung time. No wind at all yet. Schools and offices across the island have shut down in anticipation of a major load of rain.

    Yesterday the email lists were abuzz with the claim of Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, that the freeze could be lifted in August and that the bureaucratic wheels could spin in time to have everything wrapped up before December. The Taipei Times reported:

    Echoing comments over the past week by the incoming Taiwanese representative to Washington, Jason Yuan (袁健生), as well as council chairman and former US deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, Hammond-Chambers told the Taipei Times that his “optimistic expectation” was that the sales could start to move within weeks.

    With a key shortcut in the process and speedy work by the administration and Congress, the Letter of Offer and Acceptance could be signed by the end of December, capturing the budget allocations approved by the Legislative Yuan in December last year.

    Hammond-Chambers said that his prognostication was not based on personal assurances by the State Department, which has held back the deals, or congressional aides, but was his “speculation.”

    Hammond-Chambers pointed out that the comments from the US government are the same: the process is still under interagency review. Joseph Wu, the talented former "ambassador" to the US, observed:

    “That statement seems to be quite uniform,” Wu said. “That means if it’s in the process, the process is going to go through eventually.”

    Hopefully the freeze will end soon. If not, rebudgeting all those weapons systems and rewriting all the contracts will be a mess....

    This morning the Taipei Times reported on the ominous developments -- long prefigured on this blog, thank you -- in cross strait relations. What DPP Chairman labeled "a crisis" in Taiwan's sovereignty is revealed in Beijing's plans for using the KMT to control our weak willed President:

    The Chinese government plans to team up with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to force President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to push Taiwan closer to unification with China, a top Chinese official has said.

    In this month’s edition of the Chinese-language Hong Kong publication Xinbao Caijing Monthly, Ye Guohua (葉國華), honorary chairman of the board of the foreign affairs think tank China Foundation for International Studies and Academic Exchanges, said China wants to force Ma to adhere to the five point statement issued by former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2005. This would then set the framework for unification talks.

    Ye said Beijing looks at the talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) merely as “holding hands” and does not think the “small three links” represent true direct transportation.

    Ye said China will not enter into a compromise that easily and that “China will force Ma into implementing the KMT line,” adding that if this cannot be done, China may not be as lenient toward Ma.

    He said that to accomplish its goal, China will strengthen the KMT’s position and increase party to party talks to help the KMT control Ma and make him adhere to the Lien-Hu statement. Whether or not the ARATS chairman meets with Ma during his visit to Taiwan later this year would be a good indicator of China’s view of the situation.
    Lots of people write "Ma this" and "Ma that" as if Ma were in charge of the process. Nope. He is merely one player, and his position is outflanked by KMT elites who want annexation. The key is the party to party talks, which are headed toward annexation as this article makes clear. How long before the spineless and apparently incompetent Ma gets painted as a "radical" by the rhetoric out of Beijing? Will the US wake up before then? Stay tuned -- Film at 11.

    The Taipei Times pointed out all this in an editorial today. Discussing plans for a Hong Kong-like economic agreement between Taipei and Beijing, the Taipei Times observed:

    Placing the original common market into a new framework palatable to Beijing does not bode well for the nation’s sovereignty and is indeed just another ruse to force Taiwan into a “one country, two systems” framework. Chiang’s notion that negotiating an FTA with China will somehow magically make political problems disappear demonstrates the same hubris Siew exhibited in thinking that a common market could be negotiated with Beijing.

    This policy shift demonstrates a growing problem confronting President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in its negotiations with China: The number of campaign promises Ma made are forcing his administration into a corner and as a result, in negotiations it is giving up Taiwan’s sovereignty.

    The fact is, as I have pointed out many times here, and as the Taipei Times again points out in the above editorial, Ma's extensive promises to the electorate mean that Beijing holds all the cards in the cross-strait negotiations. A commentary yesterday in the Taipei Times pointed out the consequences:

    When the Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait resumed negotiations last month on administrative and functional matters, the Chinese representatives simply removed the issue of chartered cargo flights —which is unfavorable to China — from the agenda, as they knew the Taiwanese government had to carry out President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign promises of weekend chartered flights and opening up the nation to Chinese tourism by July 4.

    There is no boundary or limit on what Ma will concede and there is no need for him to act in the interests of Taiwan, unlike the DPP, which drew the line at sovereignty and which had a clear idea of where the island's interests lay. Even if he sincerely does not intend to sell out the island, he is not running the show, and the structure of the situation is such that each negotiation with Beijing threatens the island's sovereignty.

    The pan-green paper Liberty Times editorialized on Ma's weaknesses:

    Taiwan is an independent and sovereign nation and Ma was elected as president on this basis. During the campaign, Ma said he was competing for the presidency of a sovereign country. Once he was elected, however, especially since taking office, he has viewed Taiwan merely as a part of China. He believes the best name to use when Taiwan applies for membership in international organizations is “Chinese Taipei” (中華台北.) In order to please Beijing, Taiwan calls itself “Taiwan Region” on visas for Chinese tourists. Ma has also been content to be referred to as “Mr” instead of “President.”

    Again, Lai should say whether Taiwan’s name change to “Chinese Taipei” and “Taiwan Region” as well as the use of “Mr” to refer to the president represent an unprecedented crisis in terms of sovereignty.

    During Ma’s campaign, he adopted the mainstream view that the “status quo” must be maintained. Since the election, however, his intentions for unification have become evident.

    Judging from Ma’s inaugural speech and policy talks, we can conclude that he does not think Taiwan has any sovereignty at all and that Taiwan is just a geographical term in the “one China” context. In the past, the country on the other side of the Taiwan Strait was commonly referred to as China. Since Ma’s election, it has become “Mainland China” to emphasize that both China and Taiwan are parts of “one China.” These changes in terminology make one wonder if Ma’s statements that the 23 million people of Taiwan must decide its future may already be changing to “Taiwan’s future must be decided by the 1.3 billion people of China.”

    Not only are the references to Taiwan on the visas absurd, but the scuttlebutt circulating around the island is that Ma's desire to fly to the US on an ordinary commercial carrier is because he wants to show China that he is not really the President of an independent and sovereign nation. In both foreign policy and in economics, Ma appears to have reneged on all his promises. No shit, sherlock. How could anyone have expected things to be different?

    Finally, the wild card, Ma's domestic situation, is still a developing problem. Lin Cho-shui, the former DPP legislator, had a piece in today's Taipei Times arguing that Ma faces serious domestic problems thanks to the silly promises the KMT made during the election:

    Former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) needed six years to drive his popularity ratings below 40 percent. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) managed the feat in just two months. Public confidence in the government is now close to collapsing.

    Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) has said that Singaporean officials are envious because Taiwan’s inflation figures are much lower than theirs, and the second-best in Asia after Japan. Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) says economic fundamentals are good and that foreign investors are optimistic. The government blames its problems on rising global raw material costs. Even if all these claims are correct, they will do nothing to improve public confidence.

    The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) only has itself to blame for the public’s hopes being so high.

    At some point the creeping annexation process currently being carried out by KMT elites over Ma's head is going to become obvious even to the local public, and at that point the level of domestic support for Ma will become a crucial factor in the KMT's ability to bring the process to fruition. Can the KMT buy off the pro-DPP working class with a flood of infrastructure money? Can it make the economy go? With economic growth set to fall more than a point this year, the KMT faces serious problems on the home front, even as Beijing advances.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Michael Chang, Quintessential Chinese son

    Some of you might have dim memories of Michael Chang, who was briefly famous, the only Asian-American tennis star of his day. Chang was the child of an ROC diplomat's daughter and a mainlander who both grew up in Taiwan and later emigrated to the US. Slate has a long article by Huan Hsu called "Dear Michael Chang: You ruined my tennis career. Thanks for nothing." Humorous and informative, everyone will recognize the ultimate Chinese son:
    Before Chang, we were free to dream about becoming Boris Becker, that Teutonic badass who strutted around the baseline, blasting aces, or Edberg, the square-jawed Swede with a stylish attacking game and a hot blond girlfriend. Now we were stuck with the introverted, 5-foot-9 (on his best day) Chang, a devout Christian with a cream-puff serve who scrapped his way to the French Open title with borderline bush-league tricks (moonballing, crowding the service line on returns, the instantly legendary underhand serve). Worst of all, his dragon-lady mother once stuck her hand down his shorts after a practice to check if they were wet. At the Junior Davis Cup! In front of his friends! After Becker retired, he impregnated a woman in a restaurant's cleaning closet; when Chang hung up his sticks, he studied theology at Biola University.

    Chang didn't defy Chinese stereotypes; he simply ushered them into the arena. He was hardworking, intelligent, humble, forever prepubescent. His parents, Joe and Betty, were research chemists. His older brother, Carl, went to Berkeley. When the boys were young, Joe, in what seems to me to be classic Chinese cheapskate fashion, scrimped by taking notes during Carl's lessons so that he could replicate them for Michael afterward.


    When Chang stalled in the rankings, unable to get over the final hump, he attempted to transform himself from a grinder to a power player. To great fanfare, he had his racket company, Prince, design a stick that was one inch longer than the industry standard. It improved his serving angle but also reminded everyone that Chinese guys had to compensate for genetic shortcomings besides our height. Where did Prince add that inch of length? To the shaft, naturally.


    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Forward the economy....

    Lots of stuff out there today on Taiwan's economy. Reuters is reporting that Taiwan plans to open five sectors of its economy to Chinese investment:

    Taiwan is aiming to open five sectors of its economy to mainland Chinese by the end of the year, as part of a campaign by a new China-friendly administration to boost growth, media reported on Saturday.

    The five areas are the financial, economic, transport, human resources and land sectors, Taiwan's two Chinese language business dailies reported, citing Premier Liu Chao-shiuan.

    Not included was the real estate sector, the Economic Daily reported, although the two-month-old administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has said it would eventually like to open that sector to mainland investors as well.
    Not as fast as some would like. Wonder what they will do when the big bounce doesn't arrive -- when Chinese investors show themselves to be as cagey as all others in dealing with Taiwan. Ma save us!

    Several media outlets have been reporting on the visit by representatives of Canadian indigenous groups. Aborigines on both sides of the Pacific have long cultivated contacts, and Canadian papers are reporting that Taiwan wants Canadian aboriginal expertise in managing casinos.
    The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority has signed a deal to manage up to three Native casinos in Taiwan. SIGA will start with one casino for the Thao Tribe, one of Taiwan's indigenous groups. SIGA will take up to 30 percent of revenues from the facility. "This is a global industry," a consultant was quoted as saying. "This is expertise SIGA already possesses. We have all the trainers." The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations recently led a trade mission to Taiwan.
    The Thao tribe, of which less than 300 remain, live around Sun Moon Lake, near the village of De Hwa (the sign there says "Welcome to Ita Thao" without any explanation of what Ita Thao is.) Is this a sign that our first casinos are going in at Sun Moon Lake? Just another reason not to visit the island's most boring tourist spot. Can't even swim there.....

    The Cabinet today announced major energy policy initiatives. If carried out, they might have an effect. Of course, we are still build the two coal-fired power plants.

    Finally, from the folder of Honorary Darwin Awards comes this hilarious tale of an engineer who lost over US$400,000 in a paid sex scam:

    Looking for paid sex on the Internet is common in Taiwan, though illegal. The practice, called either yuan jiao, which means compensated dating, or enjo kosai, which means an exchange of sex for cash or gifts, originated in Japan but is now popular among adolescents in Taiwan.

    After Huang had transferred the money to Yuan Yuan's bank account, he received a phone call from a man claiming that Huang had used the wrong procedure to wire the money and caused the bank's computer system to break down. He demanded Huang transmit 2 million Taiwan dollars in damages or he would be killed, the radio report quoted police as saying.

    After the transaction, the man called again, accusing Huang of another system collapse, demanding more damages and claiming the bank accounts of several lawmakers had been destroyed and that would delay upcoming elections.

    So Huang took out a mortgage on his apartment and transferred more money, only to receive another call, saying he had to pay more damages because he caused another computer breakdown, leading to trouble on the stock markets in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Wall Street.

    Within one month, Huang had wired 13.86 million Taiwan dollars before he reported the fraud to police in Hsinchu City in western Taiwan.
    How did this fellow ever get an engineering degree?

    Two on China

    Presidential candidate McCain calls on China to release Tibetan prisoners (that would be everyone in Tibet, right?):

    After a 45-minute meeting with the Dalai Lama, McCain said the Beijing Olympic Games in August provide an opportunity for China to demonstrate it recognises human rights.

    He also said the Dalai Lama is merely seeking basic rights to preserve Tibetan culture, language and religion.

    "That's why I'm so disappointed by repeated statements by Chinese officials that ascribe to the Dalai Lama views and actions divorced from what he actually represents. Such rhetoric doesn't serve a cause of peaceful change and reconciliation," McCain said.

    Perhaps McCain's protests might carry more weight if we didn't have our own system of holding innocents at Guantanamo, in prison ships, and in illegal prisons all over Europe. The US cannot call for moral change in others until it cleans up its own house, a point apparently lost on the Right. But as the recent experience of Obama in Berlin showed, there is a vast audience waiting for the US to lead, if we carry out the housecleaning the nation needs so desperately.

    Meanwhile, in the Congo, it's China playing the role of King Leopold all over again. Surprisingly this long piece is in Bloomberg:

    In reality, Adon and his peers practice a chaotic form of capitalism, with little supervision from either the company or the state. The hand diggers aren't employees; they're freelancers who sell what they've dug and cleaned to brokers such as Patrick Nsumba.

    The middleman pays Adon to wash the copper ore, which the man sells to a smelter in Lubumbashi, Katanga's capital. The plant is run by a unit of Tongxiang, China-based Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co., which processes Katangan copper and cobalt. With wads of Congolese francs on hand, Zhejiang Huayou's representatives buy ore from people like 29-year-old Nsumba.

    "This is one of the worst forms of child labor," says Joost Kooijmans, a legal officer at the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. "If they're buying ore processed by children, they're involved in violating the rights of the children."
    The article correctly emphasizes that these practices that others condemn are in fact simply the first step in global supply chains that terminate with Western consumers. David Kilgour alludes to this in his recent talk at the Washington Rotary Club on engaging China more effectively.

    The Olympic Games and human rights movements worldwide share the same goals: respect, unity, dignity and equality among the entire human family. When these are violated by a host government, the Olympic ideal is dishonoured.

    As consumers, we might all begin to ask serious questions to the corporate sponsors of the Games, including Coca Cola, Manulife, Visa, Kodak, Samsung, Panasonic, Omega, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, General Electric and John Hancock. Silence from them and the many other business sponsors and partners to the Games--63 in all—implies acquiescence with what is going on across China.

    Kilgour's speech is well worth reading. It was he who helped bring the story of organ harvesting of Falun Gongers to the world's attention, and to make changes in organ tourism in China.

    Name Blame

    Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!

    There's a call for papers currently out for a conference on altered states of consciousness going on at Duke university. I must say that I thought about submitting a paper, since altered states are what we have been enjoying lately as China Beijing continues to subvert signed agreements on the use of China Taipei vs Chinese Taipei. That's Taiwan, the original altered state.

    First, our mutant President, born without a spine, didn't think anything was amiss with China violating its agreements:

    Saying that Beijing had already made a concession in referring to Taiwan’s Olympic team as Zhonghua Taibei (中華台北, “Chinese Taipei”) within the arena of Olympic activities, the Presidential Office yesterday argued that it was not worth protesting or condemning Chinese state media for using an alternative title, Zhongguo Taibei (中國台北, “Taipei, China”).

    China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games would abide by the 1989 agreement signed in Hong Kong that Taiwan would be referred to as Zhonghua Taibei within the context of the Olympics, while the media would continue to call Taiwan Zhongguo Taibei.

    It was not an attempt to denigrate Taiwan’s Olympic team, Beijing officials said, because it was a name commonly used by the media.

    It is most certainly a way to denigrate Taiwan, and the agreement between Taiwan and China, signed in 1989, specifically forbids the media from using the term. Here's the text from the post below:

    "The participation in sports events, meetings, or activities by sports teams and sports organizations from the Taiwan area shall abide by the pertinent provisions of the International Olympic Committee. In all documents, manuals, letters sent, name tugs made, as well as broadcasts produced by the host (namely, the organizing entity), in so far as a sports team and sports organization from the Taiwan area is referred to in the Chinese language, it shall be "zhong hua tai bei (Chinese Taipei)."

    In other words, the text agreement specifically names broadcasts. No weaseling out there! Ironically this agreement had to be inked because China would not abide by a previous agreement to use the proper phrase. China has now reneged on two agreements on this simple matter.

    But don't worry, the KMT can deal with China.

    As of yesterday things were continuing in this vein, with CCTV offering Chinese Taipei in one story and China Taipei in another. Makes me glad for once that I live in Taiwan Taichung so I can make fun of ya'll Chinese Taipeians -- most of the time when I tell people in Taipei I live in Taichung they look at me as if I have a disfiguring skin disease that they are too polite to tell me about -- or it's "You came up from Taichung?" as if I had just flown in from Brazzaville or something, or there's the inevitable ''Taichung? Yeah, I gotta get down there some time," uttered in the same tone that says "Someday I'll have to visit Machu Picchu." But I have my revenge: you all live in China now.

    Presidential Office Spokesman Wang was all over this one:

    Wang said Beijing’s response to Taipei’s goodwill would depend on individual interpretations.

    “We don’t think it is malice. Actually, we think it is a kind of goodwill,” Wang said. “I don’t think Beijing would feel good if we continue to gripe about this and complain about that, since they have changed their position from Zhongguo Taipei to Zhonghua Taipei within the context of the Olympics. I think that is an improvement.”

    Wang said the Taiwan Affairs Office had explained on Wednesday that the name Zhongguo Taibei had “historic roots” and that the name was not being used just for the Beijing Olympics.

    When asked whether the administration would lodge a protest or condemn the Chinese media’s use of Zhongguo Taibei, Wang said he did not see the necessity for such a response, adding that people had to understand the “historical background” of the title.

    As Taiwan is a democracy, people are free to express different opinions, but whenever China makes any official announcement, it is carefully crafted and meaningful, Wang said.

    Wang said he “felt the goodwill” extended by Beijing.

    With the surname Wang comprising something like 10% of the Chinese population, yes, it's true -- there's a Wang born every minute. Maybe they'll put up another 1000 missiles and really, really, extend that goodwill.

    Despite the goodwill flowing from Beijing like snake oil at a county fair, the government has considered pulling Taiwan's team from the Olympics if the name game isn't won by Taipei. Yeah, right. Meanwhile the DPP slammed the government:

    Cheng said that the government’s response to the issue was illogical.

    “Chinese Taipei has always been the bottom line for our name during international events. We are not happy about this, but we have to accept it. This is not something to be happy about,” Cheng said. “I do not understand why government officials are so delighted just because the Chinese government began calling us Chinese Taipei.”

    Cheng said that instead of relying on the Chinese government’s “so-called” goodwill, the government should come up with a plan to avoid the nation being humiliated again during the Olympics.

    “You cannot be careful enough about this,” Cheng said.

    DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said that Beijing calling Taiwan “Chinese Taipei” had nothing to do with being friendly to Taiwan.

    “They simply gave back what belonged to us. Why should we be happy about this?” Huang said.
    I've got an idea: why don't we call our team "Taiwan"? You know, a name that embraces the whole island......

    Total Solar Eclipse Aug 1

    From the department of the Way Cool: there is a solar eclipse on Aug 1; judging from the many maps and tables available on the NASA website, it appears that Taiwan will miss out on the fun, with the eclipse path ending in China.

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Nelson Report -- Still More on the Arms Freeze

    The Washington insider Nelson Report doesn't often have remark on Taiwan, and yet here are two in a row that have stuff on Taiwan. This one comments on Wolfowitz's remarks the other day. Pay attention to that first sentence -- does it herald change?:


    TAIWAN ARMS...we can confirm that the Administration is in deep consultation over whether to approve an $11-billion arms package for Taiwan, and if so, when.

    Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, now president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, predicted in Taipei yesterday that President Bush is "close" to deciding to release what PACOM Adm. Tim Keating perhaps inadvertently last week seemed to indicate was a freeze, due to larger US-China relations and issues.

    You can suspect that Wolfowitz was doing his job, and special pleading, and/or you can suspect that given his connections, he may know something the rest of us don't.

    Our guess is he was promoting, not reporting, and that while there are those who argue Bush will announce the deal, then hope to "make up for it" with his Beijing Olympics' visit with China's Hu Jintao...that strikes us as are being a little too clever, as per the observations of a directly concerned Loyal Reader who supports the package:

    "I think Hu is so concerned about domestic unrest and possible demos that any sign from Bush of bending Taipei's way would be more than Hu could handle.

    Many, including me, think Hu is under pressure to show that his policy of 'no unification now' toward Taipei is a good policy. Ma's mantra 'no unification, no independence, no arms race' doesn't sit very well in Beijing. Even more so was Ma's statement that he didn't foresee unification 'in his lifetime.

    This has Beijing nervous about giving any leeway to Taiwan for fear that the DPP might return, and that the DPP would pocket all concessions from China, and ask for more.

    I worry, by the way, in all this arms 'delay' and optimism over the dialogue that is underway between Taipei and Beijing, that any signs of a DPP resurrection would make Beijing very belligerent.

    That would risk the US being caught in a trap somewhat of its own making, ' troublemaker DPP/peacemaker KMT' - so you can't have that DPP be re-elected to power.'

    But, as noted at the top, anyone who says they know the outcome of the Administration debate is exaggerating, we suspect. As we await a decision (and not making any announcement may BE the decision) here are some useful considerations we hear from other concerned observers, about points raised in recent Nelson Reports:

    "I agree that the Bush Administration is not breaching the TRA. We are in a set of circumstances that the authors of the TRA did not contemplate. If the authors had been in this situation, they probably would be doing the same thing that the Administration is doing now. It's a bit more complicated than that, of course, but not as dire as some people are painting it."[MT: this Loyal Reader is wrong. The situation that the "authors of the TRA did not contemplate" -- the KMT-CCP lovefest -- is not the cause of the arms freeze. The arms freeze predates the current situation. The Bush Administration is full of it on this one. Whether the Bush administration is breaching the Taiwan Relations Act is a matter of one's values, but I don't think it is. It may be in violation of the spirit of the TRA, but the letter of the TRA clearly gives the President the right to do what he wants. Stupid to hand the executive so much power.]

    Finally, a security concern you almost never hear "in public", from a directly involved Loyal Reader:

    "It is curious that all the comments about accommodating China, Taiwanese politics, obligations under the TRA, etc. hardly mention one of the most important constraints on any arms transfers to Taiwan -- compromise of advanced systems/technologies. Leakage to China from Taiwan of US defense data is already evident.

    The KMT's return brings us back to a long-standing assumption about Taiwan's eventual fate -- accommodation with China involving some trade-off of sovereignty for autonomy. If you acknowledge that (whether or not you like it), you must also recognize that US military systems transferred to Taiwan will in effect become transfers to China...something that would surely give pause to any US administrations considering arms sales to Taiwan.

    This should not mean the end of US arms support for Taiwan, but it will certainly impact what gets transferred. Mature equipment like the F-16s and utility helicopters could and should be released. Speculation on Aegis systems should stop.

    The submarine project -- misconceived from the beginning and all but unimplementable in reality -- should be shelved. Some systems, like PAC-3, will be challenging re. legitimate Taiwan defense needs vs. tech security.

    These are the sort of issues on which policy makers and responsible Congressional attention must focus -- an approach to Taiwan's security that finds a sensible middle ground between the extreme swings that have characterized current administration actions."[MT: Actually, we hear this security concern all the time, most recently in the Manthorpe piece a few posts below.]


    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Nelson Report : More on arms freeze

    Once again, the Washington insider report The Nelson Report has another round of inside-the-Beltway analysis on the Arms Freeze.


    TAIWAN ARMS..."fallout" continues from PACOM Adm. Tim Keating's speech to the Heritage Foundation last week, covered in recent Nelson Reports, in which Keating informally confessed that the White House has put a "freeze" (press language, not his) on a big arms package for Taiwan.

    The consequence, observers report..."letters, resolutions, all kinds of things flying all over the place", given what appears to finally be a formal request from Taipei, for the bulk of the arms first offered by President Bush back in 2001. [MT: The presentation here isn't clear that there are seven-eight systems in the pipeline, some already funded by Taiwan. I am still working on getting a list of what has been funded. The Nelson Report also takes the view that the freeze is recent but clearly it goes back a couple of years.]

    Indications were clear, even before the controversial Keating speech, that Bush was reluctant to move on his offer at this time...given the current state of US-China relations, and the apparent thaw in China-Taiwan relations under a new KMT government.

    As we have been reporting, while it is obvious common sense that the US take into account both the bilateral and Cross Strait situation at the time of any arms sales, the letter of the law, the Taiwan Relations Act, requires that the only consideration is supposed to be an objective analysis of Taiwan's defense needs.

    That, of course, can be and usually IS loosely defined to include a strategic and political assessment of all kinds of things, current major examples including US-China relations, such as cooperation at the UN on Iran, and the 6 Party talks with N. Korea...the problem being that while you DO it, you aren't really supposed to SAY it.

    Enter Adm. Keating...

    Before reprinting the full text of a Republican staff letter seeking support for a Congressional Resolution by HFAC Ranking Member Ilena Ross-Lehtinen, it's important to consider that for most of the Bush Administration, the normally very vocal, mainly Republican Taiwan lobby on Capitol Hill has been forced to keep as calm as possible, so as to not upset China, and the China-Taiwan policies of the Republican White House incumbent.

    Not that support for Taiwan or arms sales ever disappeared, but events between China and Taiwan, and statements or actions by the White House, and senior State Department officials which, during the Clinton Administration, might have caused a furor on the Hill...didn't.

    You may remember, back in early 2002, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, at the peak of his powers, told an American Enterprise Institute audience that he planned to lead an attack on the "one China" policy which has underwritten US-China relations since the Nixon Administration.

    We don't know who made the call, but with Vice President Cheney's office clearly on record as supporting a professional cooperative relationship with China, nothing further was heard from Mr. DeLay about "one China".

    Increasingly, mainly Republican, pro-Taiwan inclinations, especially on the House side, were forced by their own rising, if grudging anger at the then-KMT government of President Chen, to join with the White House, State and DOD officials in warning Chen that he was failing to take vital US interests into account, perhaps even at risk of undermining the fundamental US defense commitment to Taiwan.[MT: the "KMT government of Chen"? LOL. Here is the Beltway mentality hard at work -- Chen wanted the weapons, the KMT-controlled legislature blocked them. Naturally, the US blamed Chen, instead of the actual culprits. So much of the US anger at Chen was totally unnecessary and Washington's own fault. The Bush Administration blew an eight-year long opportunity.]

    Republicans Warner, then-Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick, and then-Asia Subcommittee chair Jim Leach all, at various times, made statements which, even a few years before, would have been politically unthinkable.

    Administration and Congressional frustration also was fed by domestic Taiwan political squabbles which made it impossible for Taipei to respond until this year, to the big arms sale package which WAS offered during the summer of 2001, following, not coincidentally, the Hainan Island PC-3 crisis with China. [MT: this is apparently all wrong. A number of weapons systems were approved in the regular budget and supplied to Taiwan during this period, $4.1 billion worth in 2002-5 alone. The big package was not a creation of the US but of Taiwan policymakers who put some of the offered weapons in the regular budget, and other systems in a special budget, creating an inevitable mess. Far from "impossible to respond until this year" Taiwan requested F-16s back in 2006. The italicized letter Nelson includes has a better understanding of the issue.]

    We have argued for some time that the next president, whether McCain or Obama, is likely to encounter an increasingly active pro-Taiwan effort from Congress...for a variety of reasons.

    First, McCain himself is clearly more skeptical of the embrace of China which Bush has fostered; second, Obama, as a Democrat, is going to naturally face a more combative Republican minority, and it's not hard to predict that a revived effort on behalf of Taiwan will be an early and perhaps constant battleground.

    For the sake of further discussion, please note we sincerely stipulate China's escalation of "missile diplomacy" along the coast, and the openly stated plans and objectives of the PLA...armament and power projection which WILL take place, likely regardless of anything the US does or does not do.

    Of course these events and policies will affect McCain or Obama decisions on Taiwan arms, as was intended by the TRA back in 1979. The question, as in life, marriage, and all important things, is balance.

    Here's the text of a "staff dear colleague" which lays out the issue as seen by Republican staff, following last week's Heritage Foundation speech by Adm. Keating:

    "A long rumored freeze on United States weapons sales to Taiwan, a policy which has apparently been in force for all of 2008, was confirmed on July 16 by Admiral Timothy Keating, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. According to press accounts of his remarks at the Heritage Foundation, Keating observed that there have "been no significant arms sales from the United States to Taiwan in relatively recent times," and that the absence of arms transfers reflected "administration policy." Keating went on to suggest that he had in fact discussed the issue of Taiwan arms sales with leaders in Beijing, noting that "The Chinese have made clear to me their concern over any arms sales to Taiwan."

    According to press reports, the list of military hardware being held up includes eight diesel submarines, 66 F-16 Block 50/52 fighter aircraft, four Patriot PAC3 fire units (384 missiles), 30 Boeing-made AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and 60 UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters. These are all items that the Bush administration has approved in principle for export to Taiwan - and for which Taiwan's legislature has appropriated the funds or put down payments. Indeed, on July 12, 2008, new Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou made a public appeal for renewed arms transfers, saying that the island still needs to secure defensive weapons from the United States, despite a warming of relations with mainland China.

    As stated an editorial this week in Defense News, the freeze marks a complete reversal in the administration's policy toward Taiwan, which started in 2001 with a promise to furnish Taipei with new submarines, patrol planes and Patriot missiles. It is also in apparent contradiction with longstanding U.S. law and policy, including section 3(a) of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 ("the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability") and the Six Assurances of July 14, 1982 (including assurances that Washington had not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan nor to consult with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan).

    The TRA also specifies a congressional role in decision-making on security assistance for Taiwan. Section 3(b) stipulates that both the President and the Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services "based solely" upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan. Section 3(b) also says that "such determination of Taiwan's defense needs shall include review by United States military authorities in connection with recommendations to the President and the Congress." To date, however, the Administration has declined to brief the Congress on the legal justification and rationale for this stunning departure from a bipartisan, consensus approach toward Taiwan that has well-served every U.S. Administration for the last thirty years.

    The judicious sale of defensive weapons system to Taiwan has been an essential element in United States support for a secure, stable and democratic Taiwan, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. In that context, please consider cosponsoring the attached legislation which, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, would require the Administration to consult with Congress in the development and execution of its arms transfer policy toward Taiwan. The Ranking Member hopes to introduce the resolution this week. If you would like to be an original cosponsor, please contact [her office...]."

    Everyone in Washington is saying the same thing: that no matter who wins, Taiwan is likely to rise in importance. And the next president, whether McCain or Obama, will have a much-improved Taiwan policy over the current disastrous presidency.

    Flood of Money

    More construction funds to local areas means increased sales for betel nut stands.

    The Taipei Times reported yesterday that DPP and KMT legislators had a falling out over a diversion of government funds for flood control projects.

    The Executive Yuan yesterday insisted on diverting part of the funds to flood prevention despite DPP lawmakers’ reservations about the legality of the budget appropriation.

    The legislature last week approved the Cabinet’s budget request of NT$130 billion (US$4.3 billion) tagged for spurring economic expansion, NT$58.35 billion of which would be allocated to 25 local governments for construction projects.

    Following the recent flooding in central and southern Taiwan caused by Tropical Storm Kalmaegi, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) decided in a Cabinet meeting on Monday night that NT$41.364 billion, or 70 percent of the NT$58.349 billion, would be used for projects related to flood prevention.

    The plan drew criticism from the DPP caucus, which said the Executive Yuan should either refer a motion to the legislature to reconsider the passed budget or seek a declaration of a state of emergency from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) before appropriating the funds.
    The legislature is looking pretty bad since flooding occurred in many areas that had not been flooded before, a new pattern of events over the last few years, I've noticed. For example, I got a call the other day from a close friend who lamented that his house flooded, the first time in the two decades he's been living in it. The constant construction, legal and illegal, must make it difficult for water management authorities to handle the dynamics of local flood control.

    The Executive Yuan later stated that the funding would come out of the massive flood prevention program passed in 2006:

    Later yesterday, Shih tried to play down the controversy surrounding the issue, saying that money needed for flood prevention projects would first be drawn from the “eight-year, NT$116 billion flood prevention and water management plan.”

    The legislature approved the NT$116 billion budget in 2006 for the government to launch an eight-year, three-stage program to help prevent flooding in high-risk areas that included 1,150km² in central and southern Taiwan.

    The Water Resource Agency said the first stage of the plan would be 90 percent completed by the end of this year, the second stage — budgeted at NT$44.5 billion — was scheduled for completion between this year and 2010, and the third stage would take place between 2011 and 2013.
    Several reports carried the DPP criticism that the flood control projects are nothing but pork (Taiwan News):

    The move also proves the so-called domestic demand-boosting projects are nothing but pork barrel projects, he said.

    Lin Shu-fen, another DPP legislator, said it is inconceivable that the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) is now blaming the former DPP administration for failing to improve the country's flood prevention facilities, when it was the KMT that delayed an eight-year flood prevention package put forth by the DPP administration.

    Because the budget for the package was only passed in 2006, after being proposed by the DPP administration in mid-2005, many flood prevention projects financed by the package were still in their initial stages as of June 2008, Lin said.
    Recall that the KMT had delayed or failed to pass funding for infrastructure projects during the DPP years. Since the economy at the local level ran on funding for public construction sent down from the central government, this hurt incomes all over the island, lending credence to the KMT talking point that the economy was bad and only Ma and the KMT's expertise could save it (Ma save us!). Philip Liu had a wonderful review of construction industry issues in AmCham's Topics two years ago, observing in one of its many informative paragraphs:

    According to PCC figures, spending on government-invested construction projects dropped to NT$450 billion (US$13.6 billion) for the central government last year and NT$150 billion (US$4.5 billion) for local governments; the former was only half the pre-1999 level. The scale is likely to further shrink considerably in the coming several years, following the recent completion of a number of major public projects. These include the NT$300 billion (US$9.1 billion) high-speed rail and the NT$90 billion (US$2.7 billion) Taipei-Ilan freeway, which included NT$20 billion (US$606 million) spent on the 12.9-kilometer Hsuehshan (Snow Mountain) tunnel, the fifth longest highway tunnel in the world.

    Like so many public policy issues everywhere, public interest is stimulated only when things go wrong, and then, only temporarily. Last year, during the runup to the arrival of Sepat, there was similar wrangling:

    Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) yesterday blamed the government for the serious flooding in the south, criticizing it for not making good use of the budget earmarked for a flood-control plan.

    When inspecting the flooding in Kaohsiung County on Wednesday, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said the previous boycott of the NT$80 billion flood-control plan had prevented the government from dredging the Meinong River (美濃溪).

    The river's flooding in the wake of torrential rain caused severe damage.

    Hsu dismissed Chang's accusation, saying the budget for dredging the river had been included in the government's annual budget instead of the eight-year flood-control plan.

    In response, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) said Hsu was trying to shirk the pan-blue camp's responsibility for delaying the plan in the legislature.

    "The plan was drawn up in May 2005, but its budget didn't clear the legislature until June last year because of the pan-blue lawmakers boycott of the review," Wang said.

    It's unreasonable to put all the blame on central government as it needs local governments' cooperation to carry out flood-prevention plans such as land expropriation, he said.

    ....and next time around, we'll see more of the same...

    Many commentators have noted the obvious pork barrel aspects of the KMT government's increased expenditures on infrastructure, typically the lifeblood of the party's local networks. A by-product of increased local incomes will be the buying off of working class objections to Ma's putting Taiwan into China's arms. Observe too that the construction industry actually suffered a labor shortage even in these reduced times, according to the Liu article I cited above. The obvious conclusion of expanded public construction + tight labor markets is an increase in the need for foreign labor to hold down rising wages in the construction industry. And right there across the Strait are 100 million unemployed warm bodies....

    Daily Links, July 24, 2008

    A couple of days ago I went up to Sun Moon Lake with some friends....what are my friends talking about on the blogs?

  • Frog in the Well with a great post on pre-2-28 Taiwan pamphlet on "What is democracy?" -- in Japanese.

  • Sponge Bear goes to Ta-ken and finds lots of storm-damaged trails.

  • J Michael at the Far Eastern Sweet Potato has a detailed write up of Paul Wolfowitz's talk in Taipei this week.

  • Taiwan matters! on the Ma intervew on CNN.

  • Erik on the arrival of Chinese web marketer Alibaba in Taiwan.

  • David On Formosa, soon leaving for Oz for a month, comments on the nutcase "patriot" who attacked Chen Shui-bian.

  • Fili blogs on a survey of international students at NCKU.

  • The big Ugly Brown Building in Tainan.

  • My Several Worlds goes to the Penghu.

  • Jerome on Taiwan's Black Hole and Chinese cultural imperialism.

  • Rank with the continuing series in great Taiwan bike rides: the Northern Cross island highway.

  • Kitesurfing in Taiwan.

  • Sean Reilly finds some funny stuff over at The Gentle Rant.

  • My friend and fellow NCKU student Olga and her in-laws, went with me to the lake. Here she poses on Route 136 in Nantou. Despite her awesome good looks, it is almost impossible to get a good picture of her, but here I think I got close.

    NEW BLOGS ON THE ROLL: Stocks and Politics, Hitech Taipei, Taiwanese Identity, Taipei Personality, Strait Talk, A Man in Tainan, Pangolin Scales, The Dutch Lady.

    A landslide. Mud and trees had been hastily pushed off the road all along the road that winds around the lake.

    MEDIA: Did we have a quake last night? I could have sworn....USGS says a small one, far away. Wolfowitz says Bush Administration will eventually OK arms deal. Taiwan's aviation consortium, AIDC, urges that upgrades to Taiwan's indigenous IDF fighter be carried out. Nursing homes becoming more popular here. Taiwanese factories have discovered Bangladesh. Don Isenberg has an excellent review of the whole Taiwan arms freeze mess at Asia Times. Taiwan's export orders finally fell for the first time since 2003. Ma save us! I'm so glad our economy took off after Ma's election. Radio Australia reports that -- Ma save us! -- the new Administration's popularity is plummeting as AFP reports our unemployment rate pushes 4%. Don't miss: Kanwa's Andrei Chang with a great piece (as always) on Taiwan's deteriorating defense situation.

    Here you can see how a landslide gashed the forest and filled the road with mud. Road crews have moved the mud off to the side, pushing it over the concrete embankments. Clearly, if you want perpetual employment, road crew at Sun Moon Lake is a good choice.

    Life on the lake went on. A farmer tends his flowers...

    As the sun was setting, we left....