Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Some quickies for Tuesday -- UPDATED --

Ma Save Us! -- The CNA reports that tourists from China are averaging a mind-numbing 174 a day.
The total number of mainland Chinese tourists to Taiwan reached 5,389 over the past month since the government opened up the visits of Chinese tourists to the island on July 4, due mainly to the stringent stance of the Chinese authorities in screening applications by Chinese people for such visits, especially on the eve of the Olympics Games.

The number, averaging 174 daily, is a far cry from local tourism industry`s original expectations and constitutes only a small portion of the government`s maximum daily quota of 3,000 for Chinese tourists.

Industry insiders predict that the situation will not be improved substantially until the advent of travel peak season in October when there will be long holidays in China.

An official of the Tourism Bureau, under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, ascribed the disappointing outcome to the complicated procedures of the Chinese authorities in screening the applications by Chinese people to visit Taiwan, a problem aggravated by the stringent policy of Chinese authorities towards such applications on the eve of the Olympic Games. Such applications, for instance, must be presented three weeks in advance. In addition, up to now the Chinese authorities only allow 33 travel agencies in 13 provinces to undertake touring business for Taiwan.

Moreover, the Chinese government forbids local officials and executives of state enterprises to leave their posts before the Olympic Games, virtually eliminating the business for visiting professional groups, which used to account for half of Chinese visitors to the island.
Hopefully things will pick up after the Olympics. Meanwhile the housing market seems to be on its way to an implosion adjustment, as Taoyuan Nights posts some terrifying interesting data on what to expect when the sky falls in in the housing market in the future.

Broadcasted: why does local cable suck? Thomas Crampton has the answer:

Why do Taiwan cable companies invest so little in digital TV?
No incentive. The national government restricts Taiwan cable operators to subscription fees of roughly NT$500 (US$18) per month. Local officials further influence pricing, with the Taipei mayor recently making lower cable fees part of his election platform.

Faced with dismal returns, Taiwan’s cable companies invested an annual average of US$68 per household, compared with US$230 in Hong Kong, US$281 in Singapore and US$605 in the United States, according to CASBAA.

The whole post is fascinating. Maybe there's a pile of money to made in that market.

Nazi.org has the KMT on the sidebar (scroll down, look left). Dunno what it means. Highway 11 mag is out for August.

Way cool: Check out a bit of history with this long article on U2 recon aircraft flown by ROC pilots.

UPDATE: Reeb has some scary comments in post below this one:
tw, a major event just happened in the USA regarding Chinese economic blackmail. The recent US$800B+ forced buyout (nationalization) of the GSE's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was done expediently by Paulson last week because he was economically threaten by the PRC. I've been contemplating this for about a week, but now others have posted about it:

Now we know there was a threat

Fannie's Mudd Soothed Asian Investors as Bonds Rose

US Blackmailed By China?

This is definitely [**NOT**] a good sign for Free Taiwan.


Thomas Crampton said...


Do you use cable (seems like you are in Taichung)?

I am not convinced the technology is ready for the service I describe, but always interested to hear what is out there in the market!


Michael Turton said...

Yes, I am in Taichung, and no, I do not use cable. Many years ago, when cable was illegal, it was fantastic. Service was excellent, selection was great -- free porn, many sports channels (watched US football in Japanese), tons of movies. As it became formalized, it started to suck.

We decided to forego TV entirely so that my kids would become readers.

Are you also in Taichung? I think the service you describe is a bit too technological for the average household here, especially outside of Taipei.


Anonymous said...

By the by, I heard that there will be a demonstration this Saturday against how Ma's policies are leaning towards China. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Last time I was in Taiwan I remember the cable service was pretty good, at least as far as the number and variety of channels available. In the U.S. that $18 will get you a few local channels and maybe two "superstations" like WGN and TBS. The cable service I saw in Taiwan had CNN, BBC, Disney, tons of stuff in many languages.

Of course in the US we have a different problem - the government tried to solve the problem of getting cable to homes by giving monopolies to the cable companies in each area. They can charge you more, and they do. You want anything more than the local channels? The next pricing is $60. They only offer the one package below $18 because they're required to by law. And no, that $60 won't get you hi-def.

Anonymous said...

In a bear market, even Chinese IPOs have lost their attraction for U.S. investors.


and a little off topic:

Spain to hear Tibetan lawsuit against Chinese leaders


Thomas Crampton said...

Wow, wide variety of topics. I will stick only to cable today.

No, I am not in Taichung. I am based out of Hong Kong.

I agree, the service is highly technical and probably too much so for average households.

Have you seen the MOD service yet? I hear it is not bad, apart from the lack of content. (And content is the whole reason you are willing to pay for cable!)

Anonymous said...

The ramifications of China holding so much in US treasury bonds is a terribly complex topic for me to fully understand.

One thing I heard is that if China threatens to sell the bonds, the US could retaliate by unleashing protectionist policies and close off China's biggest market.

As I understand it, both countries are so inextricably tied economically that any extreme actions on either side will cause both economies to collapse (and then the ensuing domino effect worldwide).

Any economics experts out there who could elucidate us on this?

Anonymous said...

In Taichung the local cable operators haphazardly and illegally insert cheap local commercials over the slick foreign commercial, usually chopping off segments of shows to do it. Viacom complained and the government agreed to act...and act it did. It told the local operators, "No! Bad!" and the practice continues.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cable... Man, fiber here is the bomb! I get 8M/8M (symmetric) for 800 NT per month. So nerdy I know, but who doesn't watch Youtube now?

Anonymous said...

BTW, on the housing market, anyone have a graph on the Taiwan housing market? I would believe in a problem with a deviation from historical ratios, but Taiwanese income seems very difficult to measure accurately and in any official measure is almost definitely underestimated by a lot.

All the cash and under-the-table stuff, "cases" (contract work), and plus all the small-medium businesses.