Saturday, February 28, 2009

Those KMT media frames...

The Straits Times, not exactly a bastion of objectivity on Taiwan issues, shows how China and the KMT are playing opposition to the CECA "FTA" agreement as "ideology vs pragmatism":
The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), as the pact is officially known, was part of Mr Ma's campaign platform. It was originally believed that it would not be signed till Mr Ma's second term, should he win re-election in 2012. The Taiwanese, however, have decided to bring forward negotiation for the pact - to address the current economic downturn as well as the possible economic marginalisation of Taiwan as a result of the free trade agreement (FTA) between China and Asean.

There has been little attempt on the part of the government to explain to the public what the pact is about or assuage their fears that it would make Taiwan over-reliant on China. This has allowed the pro-independence camp to attack the pact as an infringement of Taiwan's sovereignty, particularly if it is signed on the basis of the 'one China' principle, as Chinese President Hu Jintao suggested last year.

One economist likened Ceca to a 'morphine drip' that would temporarily relieve Taiwan's financial woes without curing the ailment. Another economist suggested that Taiwan's haste to sign a pact would put it in a weak position and China could stop its attempts to sign FTAs with other countries. One senior DPP legislator went so far as to suggest that Taiwan join Asean so as to protect its economic autonomy and political sovereignty.

Such utterances suggest either a lack of vision or a clouding of vision by ideology
The frame is the old I'm-OK-you're-ideological nonsense, but it is being pushed across the pro-China media sphere.

There are two problems. First, it disingenuous, verging on unethical, to write as if the KMT had no ideology of its own or as if the CECA decision is not driven by the KMT's pro-annexation ideology. Second, the truth is that sovereignty is only one aspect of the pan-Green criticisms. The pan-Green critique is also driven by pragmatic pro-Taiwan economic considerations. In her commentary in the China Times the other day, DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen hit hard on the economic effects of an FTA with China:

-- Taiwan's economic growth has been poor due to over-reliance on China
-- in January Taiwan's exports dropped 44.1%, while Taiwan's exports to China decreased 58.6%, yet's China's exports only dropped 17.5%.
--The drop off included components and parts that Taiwanese firms once made but are now increasingly being made in China.
--CECA will make it much easier for Taiwanese firms to move production to China
-- the products made in China will eat into markets for locally made products
--Chinese workers will arrive in Taiwan
--because CECA is signed under One China condition, Taiwan cannot impose equalization duties or anti-dumping duties on China. Taiwan will thus function as little more than a dumping ground for low-price goods.
--the agricultural sector and SMEs will suffer the worst from such an outcome.

Of course, such DPP economic critiques will never make it into the Straits Times.

Tsai also observed that the Ma Administration had not released any details of CECA, instead simply announcing that it was a done deal and would be signed when the CCP sent their mouthpiece to collect the tribute from the KMT. Public opinion was never consulted or considered.

If it isn't plain that the KMT regards Taiwan as little more than a bargaining chip in its quest to carve out a position in China, it should be....

Green Party Candidate Climbs Tree to Stop Tree Cutting

Calvin Wen in the tree.

Our developmentalist state scored a double whammy with the big new BOT project at the site of the Songshan Tobacco Factory, not only killing rare plants and animals but also plowing under another Taipei historic site. As of this morning, Calvin Wen, the Green Party candidate for Da-an, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of weeks ago, is still ensconced in a camphor tree on the site to prevent it from being cut down:
The Songshan Tobacco Factory was established under Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s. In 2006, the Taipei City Government signed a contract with the Farglory Group to build a 429,000m² dome complex at the site in a build-operate-transfer project with a budget of more than NT$23 billion (US$695.9 million).

The complex, to be completed next year, will include a 40,000-seat indoor multi-function sports stadium, a department store with restaurants and movie theaters, a luxury hotel with a business center and an office building.
This project is important because, with our booming economy, there simply aren't enough luxury hotels, restaurants, and department stores in Taiwan. Especially in Taipei.

The article goes on to note:
After the factory was closed in 1998, thick vegetation has grown at the site and it has become a habitat for many rare species. As the contractor yesterday went to remove the last tree on the construction site, Green Party Taiwan members and local residents rushed in to save it.

Green Party Taiwan secretary-general Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), party member Robin Winkler (文魯彬) and Parents’ Association chairman Yu Yi (游藝) from Guangfu Elementary School were arrested for trespassing and disturbing the peace.

However, Calvin Wen (溫炳原), the Green Party Taiwan candidate for the Da-an District legislative by-election, stopped workers from removing the tree after he climbed the 15m camphor tree.

“I’ll get down as soon my demands are met,” Wen told dozens of police officers, firefighters and construction workers.

“You should wait for the court rulings and the results of the second environmental impact assessment to come out. You should respect the legal process,” Wen said at the site.

Although the construction project has already passed an environmental impact assessment, a second assessment is required, as Farglory made some changes to the project.

The Executive Secretary of the Complex said that it was not illegal for construction to continue with the changes. Note that environmental impact assessments have never stopped a project in Taiwan, and lack enforcement and monitoring teeth.

Winkler said in a morning email that Wen was still up the tree after 20 hours, and that he was not arrested, but merely removed from the premises.

REFER TO: BOT projects in Taiwan, Environmental Impact Assessments in Taiwan

Friday, February 27, 2009

Daily Links, Feb 27, 2009

Taiwan: always a great cafe title just around the corner...there's some absolutely excellent blogging going on out there, which is good, because so much is going on here.
  • Taiwan Democracy Movement on things you can do for 2-28

  • Taiwan Defense Command has a 1973 Report on Taiwan, covering stores, restaurants, and health precautions.

  • Rock Mountain Trail by bike

  • National Geographic: NG = No Good, says maddog. I'll have a follow up post up soon.

  • Arthur has weather data on our Year Without a Winter

  • 7-11s are marveled at in this post.

  • Taiwan Google map to 1944 with US Mil information -- way cool.

  • Someone else finds out Taiwan's health insurance system is awesome.

  • Taiwan Austronesian Dictionary

  • An outsiders view of Chinese medicine in Taiwan's NHI system, with some interesting facts.

  • The Future of Foreign English Teachers in Taiwan from Scott.

  • Language Log on Austronesian Linguistic Phylogeny (say it three times fast).

  • Taiwanoymous on blogger profits in Taiwan.

  • Arthur Dent on the KMT's disdain for its public

  • Echo Taiwan on NCC's punishment of the pro-Green media

  • Neil Wade with photography tips

  • Conservation Groups push Government on Dolphins

  • That's Impossible with an excellent post on the slow death of Hoklo language

  • Echo on the re-introduction of military brainwashing in elementary school.

  • Lief with lovely pictures of the Yenshui Fireworks festival
  • MA GAY SEX STORY: Letters from Taiwan. EastWindUp Chronicle here. But I think the best comment was from a friend in Tainan, who observed.. "Can you imagine if Chen had been allegedly in a gay porn video? The media would have gone nuts! But instead they are following his daughter to New York."

    CECA BLOGGING: Interview Me on CECA and Sovereignty. That's Impossible looks at some CECA posts in the local blogosphere. Global Voices Online on CECA from various local blogs.

    WAY COOL: Formosa Neijia will represent the US in the 2009 World Games. Orz Orz Orz.

    MEDIA: Number of foreign workers falls. Taiwan accounts for 25% of Intel's revenues in 2008. Taiwan Journal on longer trails in Taiwan, by Steve Crook. Chinese IT firm spying for Chinese government...who could have imagined it? Gay activists to vote en bloc for gay-friendly candidate in Da-an. Jobless rate hits highest rate in six years. Taiwan Stocks hit two-week closing high. Real earnings in Taiwan sustained worst fall in 29 years in 2008. The Heritage Foundation on the Spratlys. State Department rights report on Taiwan, a document rich in hypocrisy. Shut down Guantanamo and stop our human trafficking and quit murdering Iraqis, and maybe we can regain a bit of credibility. Our National Palace Museum director owns property in China. The KMT's leadership is busy selling out the island, and someone is worried that an art museum director might own something in China? Good to know our media is has its priorities right.

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Formosa Calling: Shackleton's Account of 2-28

    Saturday is 2-28. While most of you have probably read Formosa Betrayed, there is another eyewitness account of the killings in English that is less well-known. His son tells the story:


    My father, Allan James Shackleton, wrote "Formosa Calling" in 1948, immediately after his return to New Zealand. He was strongly motivated by "interests of peace, justice and humanity" and the need for the conditions in Formosa to be more widely known.

    For fifty years "Formosa Calling" has lain unpublished among our family’s memorabilia. Brief extracts were however included in George H Kerr’s book "Formosa Betrayed" which was first published in Great Britain in 1966.

    As a result of these references, and as part of their fiftieth commemoration of what had become known as the "February 28th incident", the New Zealand branch of the Taiwanese Association traced our family’s whereabouts, and convinced us that we should publish his manuscript.

    My father was an extremely moral man in the old-fashioned and Christian mold. Presbyterian by upbringing and later a Quaker with strong pacifist convictions, his surprise and abhorrence of what he considered to be immoral activities in Taiwan in 1947 can be clearly seen throughout the text. The corruption of the Nationalist regime, the abject poverty to which they reduced the Taiwanese population, and the violent behaviour of the Nationalist soldiers and the bloodbath they created are clearly outside the moral limits he set for himself and others. Being a Westerner of the old school, he had a different perception of how a society should conduct itself even in times of upheaval. He himself fought in a war that was so "civilised" (if that may be said of armed conflict) that the two sides agreed to stop for Christmas and had to be goaded by their officers into starting again! Given this background, his disgust and sadness for what he saw in Taiwan in 1947 is understandable.

    On his way home from Formosa on the 15th of December, 1947, he made a shortwave broadcast from Sydney, Australia, in which he gave an account of conditions in Taiwan under Wei Tao-ming’s "reform government". George H Kerr wrote, "the broadcast was a strong indictment and was heard on Formosa where it provoked a furious reaction. Stanway Cheng’s propagandists took the line that the British and American Imperialists had the same ambitions which had fired the Nazis and the Japanese, but were more clever about it; America and Britain brought UNNRA supplies as deceptive gifts and offered ‘aid to China’ as a decoy while plotting to annex, exploit and ‘enslave’ Formosa".

    "Formosa Calling" is not an official report of events in Taiwan in 1947. Nor was it written by a professional writer, or with the help of a professional editor or shadow-writer, as such accounts are often written today. Instead, this work was written by a professional engineer, teacher, and one-time soldier.

    My father made several attempts to publish "Formosa Calling" after its completion in 1948 but was unsuccessful. Rather than accept that the market for his work was limited, he became convinced that no publisher would publish anything so critical of our "Chinese Nationalist allies".

    He himself acknowledges that is difficult to classify "Formosa Calling" into any one category. At once it is a personal account, a description of the comparative conditions under the Japanese and Nationalist Chinese, and a political commentary. In its role as a personal account, we see many of my father’s personal interests evidencing themselves. For example, there is much discussion of railways, factories and bridges, schools and universities, and a chapter on Christianity in Taiwan, all of which were dear to his heart.

    As a comparison of the Japanese and Nationalist Chinese government of Taiwan, a clear preference on my father’s part for the Japanese is evident. Incongruous though this may seem, given the Allies’ recent war with them and the Japanese atrocities that were ultimately revealed, his focus for the comparison was twofold - the industrial and agricultural development which Japan gave to the country, and the relative levels of human rights under each regime. Though the Japanese regime was strict, it is clear that he considered that Japanese rule was fair and acceptable by comparison with the sheer violence and corruption which he saw in Taiwan in 1947.

    From his position as a UN officer in the field in Taiwan, he was more concerned with the welfare of the Taiwanese people than he was with the global strategic situation, and hence some of his political assessments must be seen against the background of the situation in which he found himself. For example, his prediction that Soviet communism would envelop Chinese communism has been proved false by history. Nevertheless, my father has written an honest account of the atrocities which took place in Taiwan in 1947, and his interpretation of their causes and implications for world history.

    Colin James Shackleton.
    Wellington, New Zealand.
    15 January, 1998.

    An Eyewitness Account of
    the February 28th , 1947 Incident
    Complete Text Adobe Acrobat PDF

    Chen: Engage brain before.....

    You know, I was going to write on Chen Shui-bian's ridiculous outburst in court yesterday, but go read about it yourself. Chen should have confined himself to a few pertinent and brief remarks about the judiciary, Taiwan independence, etc. Instead he attacked Lee Teng-hui and the DPP-allied TSU, and spread a scurrilous story about Ma Ying-jeou's sex life, which is nobody's business but Ma's (apparently there is a DVD). That the story is widely believed is no excuse. High time the former President learned to STFU and let the KMT make a martyr out of him, which they seem almost desperately eager to do.

    Meanwhile, in the case, Chen's lawyers have begun their rebuttal:
    Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyers yesterday rebutted Chen’s testimony as well as the testimonies of all 17 witnesses during the second day of a three-day hearing on money laundering and corruption charges.

    Chen’s lawyers, Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) and Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳), began their defense by questioning the accuracy of witness testimonies gathered since the beginning of the investigation.

    In addition to refuting witness testimonies, Cheng also rejected the foreign bank statements used as evidence to prove alleged money laundering by the former first family.

    “These testimonies are unreliable because of missing sections on the recordings, and they were made under duress by witnesses who feared the threat of detention. In addition, the confessions are based on ‘rumors’ with no substantiating evidence so they should not be admissible as evidence,” Cheng said. “As for the bank statements, to qualify and be admissible as evidence, they should be in Chinese, not English.”
    The lawyers had been arguing that the recordings of the witness testimony contained gaps and in some cases no sound at all, and were therefore invalid.

    Jimmy Lai to Establish New Cable News Channel

    Hong Kong's Jimmy Lai, the media mogul who owns Apple Daily, is establishing TWO new cable TV news channels in Taiwan, reports Ting-yi Tsai in WSJ:

    The chairman of Hong Kong's Next Media Ltd., which publishes the Apple Daily and Next Weekly in Taiwan, said in an interview Wednesday that he will invest more than six billion New Taiwan dollars, or about US$200 million, in the stations. They will carry general news, financial news, documentaries, talk shows, entertainment news, and some entertainment programs.


    Taiwan is one of the most crowded television markets in the world. The island of 23 million people has more than 100 channels and eight 24-hours news channels.

    But Mr. Lai said he has a good chance to succeed because people want credible sources of news with an international perspective. "The problem with TV here is it looks so provincial," he said.


    Mr. Lai emphasized that his TV channels would counter what he called a pro-China trend that has developed among Taiwan media.

    "Once you become the mouthpiece of China, the Taiwanese people will desert you," he said. "They are not stupid."
    Lai had originally wanted to purchase the China Times for its CTI cable news network, but decided instead to start his own when a rival bidder beat him to the purchase.

    It sounds wonderful that Lai says he is planning to counter the mouthpieces of China. But before you break out the champagne, take a gander at the sad reality in the last paragraph....
    Mr. Lai earlier this month appointed King Pu-tsung, a former Taiwan journalism professor and campaign manager of President Ma Ying-jeou, as the chief executive of the new TV stations.
    Hmmm.... appointing the campaign manager of our pro-China president to run a station whose stated goal is to oppose the local pro-China media? Sure, that'll work.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    CECA revealed

    From Today's Liberty Times, a sardonic comment on the government's insistence that CECA is "just an FTA." The speaker is saying "CECA is really an FTA."

    Taiwan loses a friend

    Just heard the sad news: longtime friend of Taiwan and former US Ambassador Harvey Feldman has passed away.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    The Brewing Conflict over CECA

    There's so many things going on in Taiwan now, but what are the top 10 stories on the Kuomintang News Network (KNN) website as I am writing this post? Take a gander:

    Chen Starts Eating after Wu’s Visit
    Chen’s Lawyers Accuse Prosecutors of Str...
    Ma Absent from the Opposition Conference
    What a Former President!
    Chen Cheng-hui Pleads Guilty, May Impact...
    Wu Shu-jen Visits Chen Shui-bian
    Former President Chen Shui-Bian Stages H...
    Huang’s NT$ 100 Million Check May Belong...
    TPHC Rejects Chen Shui-bian’s Interlocut...
    DPP Lawmakers Block Premier’s Repo

    Yes, that's right -- eight of the top ten stories are about the Chen case, showing the KMT's uncontained obsession with the former president. This is often the case, and I like to dip in now and then to confirm their idea of what "news" is.

    The KMT's use of the Chen case as a media instrument is also on display, as the stories have been use to divert the public from other important issues, such as the growing controversy in Taiwan over the CECA agreement, an alleged free trade agreement between Taiwan and China (previous post). Taiwan News discussed some of the issues in a recent editorial:

    Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan dismissed such concerns by stressing that an "integrated economic cooperation agreement" would be negotiated under the framework of the World Trade Organization and would only be an "economic" agreement and did not impinge on Taiwan's sovereignty and thus did not require ratification by national citizen referendum, a process that she claimed would turn an "economic" issue into an "ideological" conflict.

    However, Lai undoubtedly knows that trade talks do not have to directly deal with political issues to be "political" or "ideological" or to involve "sovereignty."

    Such is the case in the proposed CECA because the PRC refuses to recognize Taiwan's independent sovereignty (even under the "Republic of China" name) and is openly committed to its annexation under the rubric of "unification" and since PRC State Chairman Hu Jintao explicitly indicated in his New Year's Eve "six point" speech that any such agreement would be signed only under Beijing's "one China principle," which posits that Taiwan is part of the PRC.

    Lai's claim that a CECA would not impinge on the sovereignty of Taiwan is not shared by the international community, as shown by news reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post last weekend that describe the possible signing of a CECA as "an important step toward unification."

    This consensus in the world community that Taiwan's agreement to such terms would be a "step toward unification" with the "one China" of the PRC will not be overturned by Lai's unilateral claim or by Ma's unreal self-delusion that "no matter what (Hu) thinks, we think 'one China' refers to the Republic of China."

    Moreover, nowhere in any statements by Hu or any other PRC trade negotiator is there the slightest hint that a CECA or IECA would be negotiated under the WTO, even though both the PRC and Taiwan are full members.

    Indeed, the PRC has fiercely warned nations not to sign free trade or regional trade agreements with Taiwan precisely to force Taiwan into negotiating a CECA first and thus denigrate our status to that equivalent to the PRC's own Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
    The KMT Administration's position is the classic "shock doctrine" position:

    1. Hurry! The rest of Asia, including China, is forming a free trade region!
    2. We'll be locked out of this if we don't get on board now!
    3. Our economy is in the tank! We must do something now!
    4. Claims that opponents' objections are "ideological"

    The idea that CECA's opponents are driven by "ideology" but CECA proponents themselves are ideology-free pragmatists is found in both MAC Chairman Lai's comments above, and this recent China Times editorial, whose final paragraph sums up the Chain of Fear:
    "....East Asian regional economic integration is just around the corner. The global financial crisis has yet to subside. Taiwan's economy, dependent upon the growth of exports, remains besieged on all sides. Signing CECA is merely one way to break through this siege. Besides, all cases involving tariff agreements must be approved by the Legislative Yuan. At that time all concerns will be addressed. If after all we have endured over the past eight years, we still cannot get past ideological struggles, that will be the real tragedy."
    Similarly the Vice Premier today said that the agreement was only economic:

    Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) denied accusations that signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) with China would trade away Taiwan’s sovereignty and bring unification with China one step closer, adding that the government’s intention to sign a CECA with China was purely an economic decision.

    Chiu said the plan, initiated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, was aimed mainly at enabling Taiwan to meet the challenges that would arise from the ASEAN Plus One (China) agreement set to take effect next year.
    Several business groups have been arguing for the agreement, as the Taipei Times reported, based on the same two arguments: unrestricted market access will favor Taiwan, and we have to get it now because of the ASEAN free trade agreement coming online next year.

    A recent Washington Post piece displayed the hollowness of KMT position, for China sees CECA exactly the way the DPP does: as another step toward annexing the island:
    The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement would allow the free flow of goods, services and capital across the Taiwan Strait at a time when the economies of the mainland and the democratic self-ruled island are increasingly interdependent. While Taiwanese groups have tried to play down the political implications of the economic pact, those on the mainland are already talking about the eventual union of the two.

    Li Fei, deputy director of the Taiwan Studies Center at Xiamen University on the mainland, said the agreement would be a significant milestone in gradually warming relations between the antagonists. "It's a start toward full cross-strait economic integration and a necessary condition for marching forward toward final unification," Li said.
    What is driving CECA is not economic need, but political ideology -- specifically, KMT and CCP "One China" political ideology. The need to hurry is an ideological decision by KMT elites who want to see the island in China's grip ASAP. (UPDATE: KNN says that Li Fei denies having ever said this -- since it caused a controversy here.)DPP TSU Chairman Huang Kun-hui even threatened to impeach recall Ma over CECA although the legislature is controlled by the KMT (Taiwan News has coverage here)

    Despite the claim that opposition to CECA is driven by ideology, in fact, as an upcoming commentary in English from DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen notes, the DPP's problem is that the economic assumptions underlying the idea of "free trade" with China are all wrong. (The Chinese version was published a few days ago by the China Times). The DPP has always maintained that the China trade must be carefully handled to avoid destroying the local industrial and economic base. The KMT -- not so much.

    It should be noted that the pattern of KMT agreeements with China is that they benefit China disproportionately. I find it difficult to imagine that a CECA agreement negotiated with China by the KMT is going to be comprehensively beneficial to the island's industries.

    CECA is certain to be treated as a domestic agreement by China, which refuses to submit it to the WTO framework though both Taiwan and China are members, and by local business as a legal lever they can use to get around the cap on China investment, weak as it is, to move still more production across the water. "Exports" are merely the pretense for continued hollowing out of the economy. Note that while ASEAN arranges an FTA among its members, and FTAs proliferate in Asia, Taiwan, excluded from international bodies by China's fierce opposition to its independent existence, has only China it can turn to.

    Readers may gain some insight into what a "free trade" agreement really means (read: managed trade) and how China has been treated by ASEAN from this 2007 article on India's experience with the ASEAN FTA regime. China's previous FTAs are reviewed in this 2006 article. This small article is a piece of a much larger discussion on East Asian FTAs; links are on their sidebar.

    Taiwan needs to step back and catch its breath. The ASEAN + China FTA will not remove all barriers overnight, but will phase them out over time, and many industries will still be protected. There's no need to do CECA right away -- what drives the urgency is not economics, but ideology.

    Pro-China ideology.

    Locke for Commerce?

    The Seattle Times reports that Gary Locke (Wiki) is being considered for the Commerce position.
    President Barack Obama's likely third pick for Commerce secretary is former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, a senior administration official said Monday.

    Locke, a Democrat, was the nation's first Chinese-American governor when he served two terms in the Washington statehouse from 1997 to 2005.
    Note the quote at the bottom of the article:
    Since leaving office he's been working for the Seattle-based law firm Davis Wright Tremaine on issues involving China, energy and governmental relations. He argues that global engagement is a way to improve China's human rights record and deal with piracy of intellectual property.
    As I am sure my readers know, the idea that "global engagement is a way to improve China's human rights record" is panda-hugging bullshit for "I don't give a damn how many people China locks up, how many neighbors it threatens and invades, and how inimical China is to the interests of the US and its allies, I just want to cash in." Davis Wright Tremaine does a rousing business in and about China, so Locke will be one of many Obama Administration officials who come out such backgrounds. Locke is married to a woman of Chinese extraction, and visited China a few years back, where he was feted as a "lost brother" etc etc.


    UPDATE: My friend Andrew writes:

    I usually vote Democrat and I voted for Locke two times, but I feel at this time I must make a written appeal against him as a nominee for Secretary of Commerce.

    First, I would like to commend Mr. Locke on the fine work he has done in reaching out to the Asian American communities of the Pacific Northwest and for his dedicated service to the State of Washington.

    Regardless, as a leader of Seattle's Taiwanese American community between 2004 and 2006, I deeply regret that Mr. Locke never took the time to answer our repeated concerns regarding his business and political dealings with China. I personally sent Mr. Locke and his firm three letters on behalf of our community and Mr. Locke simply chose not to acknowledge us. This behavior was in sharp contrast to that of Governor Christine Gregoire, who offered her assurances and acknowledgement of our position.

    In our letters we sought to voice caution to Mr. Locke's dealings with the PRC. We understood his commitment to fostering improved economic relations between Washington State and the People's Republic of China (PRC), but we felt it would be irresponsible for our state representatives to blindly pursue business relationships without addressing the threat the PRC poses to peace and stability in the Pacific rim, through its rapid militarization, which is aimed, not just at democratic Taiwan, but beyond.

    In recent years, the PRC has leveraged its growing economic clout against foreign nations to buy complacency over its aggressive acquisition of advanced military hardware aimed at keeping the people of Taiwan from expressing their desire to be recognized internationally as members of a free and independent Taiwanese nation. President Hu Jintao's "One China Policy", and the continued threat of military action against Taiwan, is not merely a danger to the Taiwanese people, but it is also a danger to Washington State's vitally important Asia-Pacific trade as the PRC attempts to project power deep into the Pacific. Under the rule of Mr. Locke's friend President Hu, the PRC has increased its arsenal of offensive weapons, including warships, submarines, aircraft carriers, advanced tactical fighter jets, and over 1200 medium range ballistic missiles, all of which are to be deployed as terror weapons in an attempt to suppress Taiwan's burgeoning national identity. Recently, a military general from the PRC boasted of deploying nuclear weapons against the United States should the US attempt to abide by its legal obligation to defend Taiwan against a PRC attack.

    Furthermore, China continues to resist efforts to recognize the universal human rights of all people. This is evident through its violent campaigns against religious groups, Tibetan autonomy and overall political dissent. Locke and other US leaders have maintained a policy which assumes a "superiority" over the Chinese and therefore, the policy follows, "if we can make them more like us then they will improve". This is delusional neocolonial thinking that assumes there is a superior and inferior way of doing things and therefore the superior will naturally win. The truth of the matter is, those with power over others do not relinquish that power voluntarily. China's ills will not change with increased trade, those with power will only amass more wealth and more power.

    It was our hope that Mr. Locke would have had the moral courage, in the interest of Washington State, and in our shared values of human rights, dignity and peace for all people, to impart on President Hu the importance of human rights, an unconditional peace in the Pacific and in the need for a reduction in the PRC's outlandish military spending.

    At no time has Mr. Locke ever take the opportunity to raise these issues with his Chinese friends and we feel he will lead the United States blindly toward an even greater reliance on China, to a position in which we, as Americans, will not be able to hold our heads high with the knowledge that we value our own ideals and the creed of our nation enough to stand up against universal injustice and stand for the basic rights of all people.

    Please write to your representatives and voice your concerns regarding this appointment.

    Thank You!

    Andrew D. Kerslake
    UPDATE 2: Locke lays out his philosophy of engagement in this short interview. A highlight:
    Q: How would you deal with the problem of Internet censorship in China?

    A: It really requires cooperation and agreements among governments around the world on basic protocols and basic standards in the flow of information. Our definition of pornography is tougher than the definition in Europe. Things we absolutely do not allow are legal in Europe. Things that are illegal in Europe are legal in the United States. Things legal all over the world are illegal in the Middle East.

    It puts international companies in an untenable position responding to different standards by each separate government. What we really need to be pursuing is having China and the U.S. participate in creating those standards.

    Formosa Foundation 2009 Ambassador Program Now Taking Applications

    The Formosa Foundation passed around its 2009 Ambassador Program info:


    The Formosa Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2009 Ambassador Program, to be held in Washington D.C. from June 15 through 26. Go here for more details.

    Application forms can be downloaded at the bottom of the web page. Deadline to apply is March 15, 2009.

    The Ambassador Program is recruiting up to 30 American and Taiwanese college/graduate students (or recently graduated) who want to learn about ways they can support and advocate for Taiwan's democracy and human rights, and meet face to face with members of the United States to tell them why the US should support Taiwan.

    Please post inquiries to

    In 2003, the Formosa Foundation created the Ambassador Program to connect college students and young professionals with experts, practitioners, and policy-makers to influence United States foreign and domestic policy that affect their lives. The Ambassador Program provides "hands on" experience that prepares students for responsible leadership and understanding of the American democratic process by providing guidance, training and experience in theory and in practice of determining public policy.

    For two weeks in June, undergraduate and graduate students meet in Washington D.C. and undergo an intense curriculum on topics ranging from the history of U.S.-Taiwan relations, Taiwan’s democratic evolution, the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy and its impact on ordinary people. The students also receive training on effective communication skills, political relevance, framing skills, networking and grassroots campaign strategy, as well as public speaking, and the skills necessary to initiate direct action and become agents of change. During the last four days of the Program the participants apply their newly acquired skills when they visit members of Congress and/or their staff to discuss American policy on Taiwan and other related concerns.

    Since its inception, the Program has used a variety of activities to build, encourage, and strengthen those life assets and character traits that will help college and graduate students become involved and responsible adults who are decent and respectable citizens. The Program instills in motivated young people the values of representative democracy, clarifies the democratic process and encourages them to play a responsible role in their government and community.

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    In back of Houli

    Another day, another ride through the farm-n-factory back country of Taiwan.

    Sunday Jim (of Sponge Bear fame) and your trusty writer sped out to the hill country behind Houli to spy out the lay of the land. Here we stopped to view the reconstruction of a large bridge that was destroyed a couple of months ago in a storm.

    As workers shift bales of recycled cardboard, a factory turns them back into something useful.

    Our first stop was this interesting and usual looking Buddhist temple, not far from the bike paths and horse ranch east of Houli.

    Completely unlike a stereotypical Chinese temple, it featured a garden in front, and extensive forested grounds with walking paths.

    A worker informed us that the temple had been constructed in 1928 by a daughter of the famous Lin family of Wufeng, who had married out here and raised her own brood of girls.

    The plain ceiling brought to mind a bank rather than a temple.

    Obviously it was getting ready to hold an event.

    Outside, as everywhere on the island, the unseasonably sunny weather -- we've had no winter this year, really -- brought out pretty girls in droves to be photographed.

    There were other interesting buildings on the grounds.

    We strolled through the paths behind the temple....

    ...where a music club was having a meet-up....

    ..along a path lined with lovely little scenes....

    ...and returned to the temple.

    We returned the way we'd come, through plantations of pineapples in the hills.... the bike rental places near the horse ranch and the bike paths.

    We hooked back into the hills. Despite the haze and the lazy gray sky, the views were excellent.

    Jim guided me to another hiking path whose goal was a pavilion on a distant peak.

    Along the way we ran into many old friends...

    ..and climbed many a stair.

    The views to the west over northern Taichung county were stunning.

    Past the nearby graveyard the government was installing another science park.

    The hills sprouted small farms.

    Another old friend was hanging out by the trail.

    It was stairs most of the way up the hillside. I deny that I gave vent to unhealthy opinions of the stairs in pungent, earthy language.

    But the peak offered some fantastic glimpses. Obviously on a clear day the sea would be visible...

    Along with distant views we also encountered bugs....

    ....up close and personal.

    We reached the pavilion at the top, where the tea shop owner apologized for closing early and gave us two free cups of tea.

    A view across a local bridge, to the highway, to the HSR, and to another highway in the distance.

    Of course I panned the place....

    The place was set up for karaoke and snacks, because no peak is too remote to host a karaoke bar.

    Jim outlines our next move.

    We descended from the peak through small farms. The far off mountains made a lovely frame for the gravel-covered riverbeds.

    In several places viewing towers had been constructed.

    Along the river is this building. A temple? The control center for the dam?

    We strolled back through the small farms.

    In the February heat -- February heat? -- everyone was resting.

    New fruit was coming online everywhere.

    We stopped by another temple....

    ...empty of people, but rich.... offerings.

    Driving home we had to stop to get a shot of these animals, rare in Taiwan.

    We traveled home on roads crowded with bike clubs both powered and not.