Friday, July 11, 2008

Daily Links, July 11, 2008

Crowded media outlets today....

The Robert Scheer fog continues to spread across Left publications, now appearing at Alternet. It's been fascinating to track its movement. Ironically, it is a good example of how progressives never discuss Taiwan, except as a Cold War stalking horse for the third world war. You'd never know from reading progressive media that Taiwan even had a democracy....fortunately a few of us have decided to leave comments where it appears. Maybe some of the damage can be ameliorated.....the Only Redhead talks about the piece here.

The NYTimes has a long study of the Taiwan spy case that came down the pike last year. Speaking of overseas affairs, Taiwan News has an excellent interview with the new director of overseas Chinese affairs. And Munnin has an interesting blogpost on anti-Korean sentiment in Taiwan. Taiwan has rejected China's move to change its Olympic name. China's top negotiator says sea links between China and Taiwan will be discussed in the fall.

A pan of the foothills around my house. At right is northern Taichung, with the Tz Chi hospital abuildin.' At the other end are the ridges that extend into eastern Fengyuan city.

Closer to home, another university professor is apparently in trouble over political activities (and some of you wonder why I left my university). The prof, Ho De-fen, is apparently the same Ho De-fen who was one of Shih Ming-te's faux protest dupes, who acted as a spokesman for the campaign. She is threatening to sue Nanhua University of Foguangshan. The article doesn't give the real reason Ho is being canned, but it stinks of politics -- if Taiwan universities fired profs who didn't publish, three-fourths of the professors of the technology institutes would be out of a job. Scott Sommers summarizes the issues on his education-focused blog.

Ma has been in the news a recently, yesterday and today. Yesterday it was calling on the public to be patient as the island holds a collective wake for its stock market wealth (more and more Taiwan is looking just like another typical stock market pundit pump and dump) as stocks slumped below 7000 to a 20 month low. Ma said, in apparent contradiction to the KMT's campaign theme that the economy stunk and only the KMT could fix it, that the island's fundamentals were sound and that "we Taiwanese" should not be intimidated by hardships. When Ma says "we Taiwanese" he means "we Chinese" and when he talks about economic issues, there's only one cure: more PRC. Sure enough, in today's Taipei Times, there's Ma saying we ought to move our high tech chip fabs to China -- because the US has moved some of that there. Not only is Ma making completely illogical emotional appeals, note again the clear KMT pattern -- economic distress produces calls from the KMT to move more resources to China. Pardon my skepticism, but if moving $200 billion in Taiwan's seed corn to China has not produced 8% annual growth here, why should moving our chip fabs there do that? And why stop there? Let's move all our industry to China -- then we can grow 15% annually!

Speaking of growth, the Academia Sinica has upped its estimate of our annual growth here to 4.55%. Taiwan sizzled at 6% in 1Q 2008, but is expected to grow 4.53 percent in the second quarter, 4.03 percent in the third quarter, and 3.71 percent in the fourth quarter. Thank god the KMT saved us from the perils of 6% growth. As many of us noted before the election, the KMT's economic thinking remains mired in solutions 40 years out of date -- and worse, the party appears to be floundering in response to the many problems it faces. The DPP has largely been keeping a low profile, apparently on the assumption that if given rope, the KMT will hang itself.

Taiwan's flag carrier, China Airlines, has a new chairman. The airline is losing money as costs rise and the Chairman hinted in a letter to his employees that the airline's survival is threatened. Speaking of flights, we lost another set of Chinese tourists, three femmes who vanished in Banciao. You can hardly blame them for wanting to flee Banciao...

Poagao has a great piece on photography on his blog. I do a lot of street photos and have the same problem -- I hesitate to take pictures of humans. And worse, when I do, they are often stereotyped shots that I just hate. Poagao is a wonderful photographer, BTW, don't forget to check out the photo links on his blog.

A-gu, always a font of information, notes that China may be wooing Taiwan's Blue commentators. As if they needed to.... Jerome has a very useful summary of the media meetup with DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen. Most everyone who has interacted with her has said she'd make a great Chairman. Sponge Bear has a good reading of Johnny Neihu's piece on the Senkakus.

Islaformosa raises the issue of whether "inferior" manufacture in China is really just a cover story for poor design by western firms. Great insight. Talking Taiwanese on language abandonment.


skiingkow said...

"...note again the clear KMT pattern -- economic distress produces calls from the KMT to move more resources to China."

This reminds me very much of Naomi Klein's "disaster capitalism" thesis in her book, "The Shock Doctrine". The notion that shock -- in this case, economic -- is a ripe environment where the right-wing ideologues can implement their strategies of greed and exploitation. A lot of times, this is done at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve. 9/11 and the gutting of the American constitution along with no-bid contracts to private contractors that have close ties to the Bush regime is the most obvious example recently.

The KMT's strategy is hardly any different. The pragmatism of the Taiwanese culture will continue to be exploited by this economic shock 'therapy'.

Tommy said...

"You can hardly blame them for wanting to flee Banciao..."

I spent my whole time in Taipei trying to do everything I could to never go into Zhonghe or Banqiao. The women would impress me more had they gone first to Yangmingshan and fled from there.

Regarding Taiwan companies that make high-tech goods, such as chips, my personal opinion is that they would not heed Ma's calls to go to China regardless of the darling president's wishes.

In my previous job, I wrote B2B ads for export manufacturers across Taiwan and China. One thing was clear for the Taiwan manufacturers. Those doing anything low-tech had already moved out the low-tech stuff. Even makers of high-tech goods had already moved out the lower-tech parts of production. As for the high-tech goodies, nobody WANTED to move them to China. The view was that the Taiwanese made them better and that the trade secrets would be best kept if the sensitive aspects of production were completed in Taiwan.

Of course manufacturers could make their products cheaper by, say, moving chip manufacturing to China. But the costs to the business would probably be much greater in the long run. I think Taiwanese big businessmen, despite leaning blue, understand this and would resist giving up the hen that lays the golden eggs, don't you?

Korean companies are the same in this respect. Those that have factories in China, and almost all of the biggest brands do, would not be caught dead moving over the technologically advanced stages of production of their products.

It was hard enough in my previous job getting these companies to even talk about how they made their chips, for example.

Mark said...

Oh! I hadn't realized that you had left your university. Are you a full time student now, then?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, mark, I am a full time student. When we next meet in person I;ll give you the lowdown.

Richard said...

From the SeattlePI article on Taiwan rejecting name change by China:
"Most Taiwanese oppose a formal declaration of independence, something they made clear in March when they rejected the candidate of a pro-independence party in presidential elections..."

Oh how misinformed they are. True that a lot of Taiwanese don't want a formal declaration, just the status quo, but to say that's the reason why the DPP lost? Not.

Anonymous said...

two very interesting articles by the economist.

Anonymous said...

On the "decision to change Taiwan's name"... that's one of the biggest poppycocks in recent memory.

The Beijing IOC + government have both come out and affirmed that only Zhonghua Taipei will be used in any official Olympics venue + related material.

But they also have said they will not be able to force other organizations + media from referring to Taiwan with any other title.

End of story.

Mark said...

Sounds good. A pack of us were at Jolly's last night, and I'm sure it was an evening you would have approved of.

Anonymous said...

That's right, T.B., we all know that in a free and open society like China's, there is very little the government can do to stop people and organizations from using "Zhongguo Taipei"!

Anonymous said...

A few of links regarding Chinese banks and the upcoming US GSEs bailout:

Chinese gov top foreign holder and follow-ups from Mish and Minyanville

Makes you wonder if Paulson/Bush didn't sign some type of sellout deal with the PRC - In exchange for taking a major hit on mortgage bonds, the US will not get involved with any PRC maneuvering on Taiwan. (sign a non-aggression pact?)

Tommy said...

"But they also have said they will not be able to force other organizations + media from referring to Taiwan with any other title."

Aren't these the guys who publish lists of how to refer to every hot-button topic in the news? Not able my ass.

TC said...

Thanks for the compliments and the link. I tried to leave a message earlier but couldn't get though.