Wednesday, September 30, 2009

KMT Administration set to ease restrictions on hi-tech investment in PRC

AFP has the call on this one:
The long-standing controls on investment in China are now under government review and could be relaxed before the end of 2009, Shih Yen-hsiang told parliament.

"The discussions will not take a long time. We expect there will be a conclusion before year's end," he said in response to a question from a lawmaker.

The lifting of restrictions referred to by Shih would apply to high-tech industries in particular, said Huang Hsien-lin, an economics ministry official.

The Commercial Times earlier on Tuesday reported plans by the ministry to allow Chinese investors to buy stakes in Taiwanese flat panel and microchip makers.


Local businesses are among the biggest foreign players on the mainland, with at least 80 billion dollars invested, but Taipei has imposed limits on high-tech firms fearing it could give China a technological advantage.

President Ma said in June his administration had been considering allowing Taiwan's semiconductor companies to set up plants on the mainland, introducing state-of-the-art technology.

The proposal was welcomed by local microchip makers, who have been pushing for a relaxation of controls under which they are permitted to invest only in mainland plants producing low-end, eight-inch microchips.
The article I've linked to below gives more information on one of the major hidden issues: State ownership of industry in China, and more importantly, a State strategy to retain and expand state control of industry and industrialization. Before readers wonder how successful this can be, the article points out that State-controlled firms are competitive with private enterprises. O brave new world....

We have already seen this state-business nexus in other forms, in Korean chaebol and Japanese kereitsu, and of course, the numerous Party-State businesses in Taiwan. I would argue that these are not positions on a spectrum but evolutionary variants that appear(ed) in different political-economic contexts. The CCP will not permit the Development State to be outcompeted by the private sector, when it can simply swallow any competition, or swamp it. State control of key industry is a hallmark of Confucian thinking on how the economy works (anyone remember that classic, Discourses on Salt and Iron?). Moreover, as the article below points out, this Development State functions to keep foreign firms in subordinate positions. And as everyone knows, China covets foreign technology.

The Ma Administration's position is that this state-run juggernaut really ought to be permitted to invest in Taiwan's technology firms, both in its telecom sector, and in its crown jewels. Perhaps such investment might be welcomed, if it could be shown that the there would be significant transfer of technology, capital, and management expertise from China to Taiwan, as has been the case in the past with US and Japanese investment in Taiwan. But quite obviously the flow is going to be in the other direction. And quite obviously, China wants to hollow out our industrial base, since it is the foundation of Taiwanese freedom.

The AFP report mentions Korea and Japan. It is not difficult to see what has happened to Korea even with its more limited investment, as this report from 2006 is already saying:
"A recent KOTRA survey of South Korean firms operating in China showed that half
believe they have lost their comparative advantage in technology."
One constantly hears from "centrist" KMT apologists that "other nations are investing in China" and "the KMT has a plan." I'm curious to understand how, if China is negatively impacting Korea's large and powerful technology sector, how sending even more of our hi-tech industry to China will enable Taiwan to raise incomes and productivity so living standards can rise further. If sending our industry to China will make us wealthier, let's send all our industry to China -- then we'll grow 15% a year! That's the KMT "plan" that I am always hearing about -- if Taiwan permits its hi-tech firms to move to China, the island's economy will expand.


I'm going outside to build my runway now, waiting for those Chinese planes to land and discharge plenty of cargo.
Daily Links
As mentioned above, Mucha Man over at pointed me to this excellent paper that argues that:
Contrary to many other analysts, we do not view the dominant role of the state in China's industry (and, more generally, in China's economy) as a possibly necessary - albeit wasteful - evil, which will be superseded once the transition from a centrally-planned to a fully capitalist modern economy will be completed. We rather see it as a primitive, embryonic, ever-evolving but permanent form of strategic planning aimed at fostering industrial development, and as a key distinctive, structural, and pioneering characteristic of market socialism.
Will economic growth bring democracy in China? When the State owns all important industrial concerns one way or another? People have grown so used to Taiwan's freewheeling freemarket ways that they have forgotten that the KMT attempted to do much the same thing in Taiwan. In many ways, with the intimate connections between the Party-State and business, it did. Remember when cable TV was illegal and the bus companies were state-owned and private bus firms illegal? The Establishment Carnegie Endowment for Int'l Peace points out that Chinese savings are part of this strategy (also a feature of Taiwan's Miracle days). Kadeer plans to sue Taiwan's gov't. High court continues Chen's detention. BBC rings up another one: telling how Taiwan feels about 60th anniversary of PRC entirely from KMT POV. No mention that some people here might not have any connection to that.
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UPDATED=Ten Conditions of Love Screening in Taipei Wed and Thursday

Just got this:

They will be held tonight (Wed) and tomorrow night (Thurs), starting at 7:30 both times, at the Taipei City Council building (Renai Rd. Sec. 4, No. 507 -- just next to the SYS Memorial park's Renai entrance, nearest MRT is also SYS Memorial Hall station). Seating is first come, first served, and although the room is large, there might be a lot of people coming.....

Nope! Below:
"Ten Conditions of Love" will be screened in Daan park tomorrow nigh (Thursday, Oct. 1) at 7pm to coincide with China's 60th National Day. A recent documentary about Tibet "Leaving Fear Behind" will also be shown. The film's director Dhondup Wangchen has been jailed since March in China on charges of inciting separatism. The films will be shown at the outdoor theater. To access the outside theater, enter the park on the east side of Xinsheng S. Road across from Jinhua St. Here is a map. The nearest MRT station is Guting Station, about a 20 minute walk. Entrance begins at 6:30pm and is free althoiugh donations will be accepted.

There will also be screenings tomorrow evening in Taichung, Tainan, Kaoshiung, and Pingtung at the following locations:

Taichung: Taichung Broadcast Station (放送局) No. 1 Diantai St.
Tainan: Tainan Theological College and Seminary
Kaohsiung: Central Park
Pingtung: Pingtung County Cultural Center

There will be also showings tonight (Wed.) and Thursday , starting at 7:30 both times, at the Taipei City Council building. located at No. 507 Renai Rd. Sec. 4. That's just next to the SYS Memorial park's Renai entrance. The nearest MRT is also SYS Memorial Hall station.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WSJ Double Plus Good Today

Some good blog love going to to Ting-yi Tsai at WSJ today, who went where lesser media organs feared to tread. Earlier this week I highlighted an unforgivably awful BBC report that appeared to be little more than stenography from Xinhua, which repeated the standard "Beijing says Kadeer is a terrorist" claim, and then wondered aloud why news organs never point out that no evidence has been offered to support that widely disseminated claim. Today Tsai wrote in WSJ (its a shorter version of the article):
The Taiwan government on Friday said it would not allow Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer to visit in December, in another sign of China's increasing clout over the island. Kadeer, the U.S.-based leader of the World Uyghur Congress, had accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan and applied for a visa. But the government said Kadeer's visit would hurt Taiwan's national interests, citing terrorist links that have been claimed by Beijing but not accepted by most western countries or independent analysts.
Progress! One day I hope to see the forthright declaration that Beijing has never submitted any evidence for its claims. Great work. The full-length article goes into some detail discussing the KMT claims and the pro-Taiwan sides' rebuttals, along with the fear that, as I have noted many times, the closer we get to China, the farther we get from democracy.

Also on the Kadeer affair, WSJ offered an excellent editorial today that looks at the problems for the island nation's democracy that result from the Ma Administration's kow-tow to Beijing.
Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou was elected last year largely to improve the island's economy through closer links with China. His government is misinterpreting that mandate to include closer ties with China's authoritarian politics, too.

There's no other way to interpret Taipei's decision to refuse an entry visa to Rebiya Kadeer. The Uighur activist was invited by a local rock star Wednesday to visit the island in December. The Ma government shut that idea down fast. Interior minister Chiang Yi-hua told parliamentarians Friday that Ms. Kadeer's World Uighur Congress "is related to terrorist groups" and thus couldn't visit the island. Premier Wu Den-yih added the decision was "in the best interests of Taiwan and its people."
The article notes, as every observer has, that other nations have had no trouble admitting Ms. Kadeer, and that Taipei does not have the Uighurs on any list of terrorists. It then points out the paternalism of the government's response:
As for the claim that it's in citizens' "best interests" not to listen to Ms. Kadeer, surely that's a decision for the individual, not for the government, to make—a choice made possible in a democracy. Taiwan is home to a variety of pro- and anti-China groups, both of whose views are covered extensively in the island's lively media. Why not let Mrs. Kadeer present her evidence of China's brutal campaign against the Uighurs and then let citizens decide what they think?
The government has repeatedly permitted individuals who have made threats to kill Taiwanese, such as this fellow, to move about freely in Taiwan. Kadeer, on the other hand, threatens no one. WSJ continues:
By refusing Ms.Kadeer a visa—before she even applied, no less—the Ma government is appeasing China. Shortly after Ms. Kadeer's trip was announced, Chinese state-run media threatened to pull Beijing's support for Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization and to halt cross-Strait economic liberalization. Beijing raised a similar fuss when Taipei let the Dalai Lama visit the island earlier this month to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.
It is easy to see how China's dribble of concessions on the WHO is being used here. It can be revoked any time, since it exists solely at the pleasure of Beijing, and thus, represents a hold over the Ma Administration. As WSJ observes, the kowtow here means that the Ma Administration is losing its leverage, since Beijing can constrain its freedom of action by threatening to withdraw any of the tiny drabs of benevolence it has dropped on Ma's head. The DPP had the right idea -- no compromises, bargain for concrete gains only. That is the only way to deal with China.

For a couple of years, long before the election, it's been clear that Ma has staked the future of his administration on the willingness of China to cooperate. What this means is that China's control is absolute -- since China has no incentive to help KMT, the KMT will be forced to offer more and more concessions to get anything out of Beijing. Since Ma and the KMT, unlike the DPP, do not draw the line at sovereignty, where is the limit on what the Blues will be willing to concede? We got a little taste today, when Taipei completely capitulated to Beijing, and echoed the line that an old woman who is a millionaire businessman is a terrorist.

And let's not forget that some of those far right Nationalist nutcases within the KMT still think that Xinjiang is rightfully China's, just like Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan, and heaven knows what else. There is more at work here than mere kowtowing in the hope of getting Beijing to keep the benefit taps flowing.

It will be interesting to see whether voters punish the KMT for its accelerating acceptance of Beijing-centered politics.

It will also be interesting to watch the "centrist" apologists for the KMT come out in droves over the next few days. Kadeer was a stunt that threatened Taiwan's economic livelihood! they will screech, invoking the hidden, and false, dichotomy between democracy and economic growth. Hogwash -- not a single businessman in China has been threatened, not a single export halted at customs, not a single traveler molested. Beijing almost never takes concrete action, only symbolic action (as in the delayed arrival of minor negotiators over the Dalai Lama visit) aimed at the media, to enable them to gush reports of "tension" like 16 year olds swooning over Elvis.

Nope: the Kadeer invitation was a scalpel that exposed the burgeoning pro-Beijing cancer at the heart of Taiwan politics.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

10 Conditions of Love Director & Producer Open Letter to Chen Chu

From the producer and director of 10 Conditions of Love



Dear Mayor Chen Chu,


As the producer and director of “The 10 Conditions of Love”, we thank you sincerely for the courageous and principled decision of the Kaohsiung City government to permit further screenings of our documentary at the Kaohsiung Film Festival (KIFF), in addition to the screenings last week. As filmmakers, we are doubly blessed.


We hope these additional screenings, forming as they do the original intention of the KFF, will reassure those who may have wavered in their faith in your long-standing struggle and adherence to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Taiwan and Asia, in particular in Tibet and Xinjiang, and in the world generally.


We appreciate the immense pressure brought to bear on your administration by the PRC over the programming of the documentary in the Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF).


We believe the symbolism of your decision to permit further screenings will be welcomed and acclaimed by commentators and film-goers around the globe and will permanently establish Kaohsiung as one of the region’s most important and serious film festivals with an international reputation for integrity under pressure.


Kaohsiung Film Festival will further establish its position as a leading cultural force in Taiwan by its plan to organise advance screenings of “The 10 Conditions of Love” throughout Taiwan. We have had numerous approaches by some parties in Taiwan claiming to have acquired rights to screenings, but we wish to confirm that only Kaohsiung Film Festival can authorize screenings.


Kaohsiung City government and KFF have worked hard under great political duress to achieve this outcome. We hope organizations who wish to screen the film will contact KFF. It is important that these screenings are conducted legally because the rule of law is the first step towards the guarantee of human rights.


China must be resisted powerfully in its attempt to tell democracies what they may or may not see. It has attempted in past months to do this in Australia and again in New Zealand. In each case, its efforts were rebuffed firmly.


Compromise does not work with the Chinese in the matter of the Uyghurs and Rebiya Kadeer. Nor with Tibet.

請讓我們引用Taiwan News的社論其中的一句話,「言論自由絕對不能退讓。─不論在台灣,或任何一個地方。」

We refer to a recent editorial in Taiwan News this week which said that there can be no retreat on free speech. - not in Taiwan, not anywhere.


Once again, we express our gratitude and admiration for your actions in this matter.

John Lewis Jeff Daniels
Producer製片 Director導演

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Daily Links, Sept 28, 2009

Checking for swine flu at public gatherings.

I was going to get such a lot of work done today. And then I stupidly started reading The Historian. Meanwhile, you can take the temperature of Taiwan on the blogs today....
MEDIA: Penghu gambling victory in Reuters. China's investment boom: great leap into the unknown. Taiwan News on victories in Penghu, Yunlin. Death Penalty in Asia, including Taiwan. Taiwan commits to US wheat purchases for 2010 and 2011. Stable wheat prices are a necessity for so many small family run bakeries and noodle shops. Seismic testing off Taiwan stresses marine life. Taiwan military in Washington pressing for F-16s. Everyone says KMT gets wake up call in election. Too soon to tell, folks. Taiwan has 279 yards to lead E. Washington past Sacramento State. "Few could have predicted" (HSR from AFP) is on my top ten things I never want to hear again. Lots of people thought the HSR wasn't a winning proposition (like this from 2003) as did all of the private investors who ran the numbers and pulled out. The only people who didn't know were the public. Ex-independence activist goes to China, then forms pro-China party. Replay: Taiwan fishing captain says Japanese ship rammed his boat. The Central Bank leaves interest rates at record low 1.25%. US academics criticize treatment of Chen. Legal experts question ruling in Chen case. Morakot washed down 980,000 tons of driftwood. Remittances by Taiwan firms in China are on the rise. Kaohsiung Film Festival will screen Kadeer documentary. Taiwan helps Panama with endangered orchids. TSU: ECFA will cause crisis, with bonus former HSR chief saying industries moving to China killed HSR. Ma ideology watch: another unprecedented Ma Ying-jeou association with Confucius worship.

SPECIAL: Taiwan is one model for educational reform in US. I think it is time for a post debunking Taiwan's amazing math claims. As many observers have pointed out, the article does not even mention CRAM SCHOOLS. Hello, does anyone actually know anything on the other side of the pond!

SUPER DUPER UBER PROUD DAD SPECIAL: New rock stars blossom in Taiwan.

UNTAIWAN: Awesome collection of recent editorial cartoons at DKOS.

MODELS: This cool paper compares economic forecasting models in predicting the current economic crisis. This model shows that the 1970s Viking lander just missed finding water on Mars. And new climate models show that when it comes to Planet Earth, our elites are following a variant of the Nike strategy: just doom it.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Michael Kau Indictment

Lost in the shuffle of events this month was the indictment of former deputy foreign minister Michael Kau. The China Post wrote:
His National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen and deputy minister of foreign affairs Michael Kau were also formally charged with misappropriating NT$500,000 in the conduct of Operation An-Ya, a diplomatic venture. Part of the money is believed to go to the ex-president's private coffer.
These indictments were part of a new set of indictments of Chen Shui-bian that were handed down after he was given a life sentence. The CNA said:
Prosecutors have accused Chen of embezzling the money under the pretext of conducting secret diplomatic work, according to Chen Yun-nan, chief of the Special Investigation Division under the Supreme Prosecutors Office, who spoke to reporters at a news conference that same day.

The prosecutor said the ex-president was allocated US$100,000 by the Foreign Ministry on each of 11 official visits he made overseas between August 2000 and September 2006.

Instead of returning the unused funds back to the Foreign Ministry as he was supposed to have done, the prosecutor said, Chen withheld US$30,000 each time and wired it overseas to pay the tuition and other expenses of his son Chen Chih-chung when he was studying in the United States.

Also indicted in the case were former secretary-general of the National Security Council Chiou I-jen, who has been accused of taking US$500,000 in funds for secret diplomatic missions, and former Vice Foreign Minister Michael Kau, who stands accused of helping Chiou to get the money.

Both men, who served during Chen's presidency, have denied the charges.

The Taipei Times account is here.

According to the grapevine, the "corruption" charge is related to the flow of money through his hands, as he is widely regarded as passionately pro-Taiwan and of high integrity. Apparently prosecutors lack evidence that he took any money and essentially he is being charged with improper accounting, as I understand it. Readers will have to decide themselves whether they see more than mere political retaliation here.

The hoo-ha over the large sums of money that Chen allegedly pillaged from the secret diplomatic funds should not blind observers to the fact that in the investigation of Chen, the government is essentially focusing on two things: who gave money to the DPP, and what the Chen Administration's secret diplomacy was.
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Ethnographic Film Festival

Linda Arrigo passed this around about the upcoming Ethnographic Film Festival in at the Academia Sinica. It runs from Fri Oct 2 to Tues Oct 6.


Dear Friends,

This year the annual ethnographic film festival organized by Hu Taili at the Academia Sinica got announced rather late, and she asked me to help put out the word.

Most of the films are international; some are about/by Taiwan indigenous. The general theme this year is shamans and medical anthropology, including experiences with modern medicine and hospitals. Also death rituals, etc.

The website is (English Film list and other links)

with both Chinese and English sections.

The location is downtown in Shimending, and each session is NT$130 (NT$100 for advance purchase), or you can buy a pass for the whole thing. They say the theatre is quite large, and you don't have to worry about not being able to get into any particular film showing.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Epic Riding in Taichung and Nantou

Another great ride today, this time over 21 to Guosing and then back over The Fence to Taichung....

The day began at the traffic circle in Taiping, where I met my friend Drew. We first climbed up to Hsinshe up the Spiral there at the end of Dongshan road, a popular route with local biking enthusiasts. It is a 350 meter climb that for us served as a warm up to the bigger things to come. From Hsinshe we headed south on 93 through the mushroom farms that have made the area famous, then dropped down to the Dachia river north of Dongshih to pick up 21 through the mountains. Here I panned the river looking south toward Dongshih town.

93 is actually a very enjoyable little ride, with farms and orchards, and good views out over Taichung on one side and the mountains on the other. Here a miniature resort is tucked at the foot of a ridge.

Another view of the river, just before you start climbing on 21.

The tiny figure in orange is Drew. This is the opening part of 21, lined by a creek and much greenery. Beautiful. There were plenty of other cyclists out that day, too.

21 turned out to be an absolutely awesome ride. The road is wide and empty of vehicles even on a Saturday. Traffic is all locals, save for the yammerheads on huge, wasteful, inefficient, environmentally unsound motorcycles blasting noisily up the slope at high speeds. Thank you, WTO and GATT.

As you climb, the road is lined with orchards and vineyards. Here is a shot back toward the river over a field of grape vines.

In addition to being empty, the grade is quite low and it is an easy climb, despite the fact that it rises some 500 meters to over 800 meters at its highest point.

A winding, beautiful road....

The views are stunning, of course.

A pan of one of the areas seen from the road.

Feeling great, we approached the highest point on 21, there in the distance.

Right at the top is a little shop selling drinks and local goodies, including bee liquor. Please give me credit for manfully resisting making any bad puns about bee liquor.

A group of bikers who had more or less paced us stop for coffee nearby.

On the other side of the ridge are lovely views looking south toward Sun Moon Lake.

We dropped rapidly down to Guosing township. I'd like to show you more pretty pics, but I was having too much fun going way too fast down the hill. Here we stopped to take a couple of pictures where the road washed out.

Guosing Township.

On our way into Central Guosing we rested on a bridge over one of the area's innumerable rivers.

There we noted this sign for a Nantou political candidate in which he is supported by none other than the once great James Soong.

We passed through Guosing and reached Hwy 14 between Puli and Changhua. There we turned west, heading for 136. But not before I snapped this picture of no less than four candidates looking benignly down from their perches along the highway. And not before a flying squirrel glided across the road between us as we pushed on toward 14.

We then rode briefly down 14, a major truck route, ugly, dirty, and uncomfortable. The less said about it, the better. From there we turned onto 136.

I've blogged on 136 before, it's a gorgeous road, with great views, greenery, and the feeling of being walled in by towering peaks. Our original intention was to climb up a little ways to find a side road that would take us into Taichung city, clearly marked on the map, not so clear in reality. We never did find it, and we finally decided just to go over 136, which both of us had been saving for another day.

Probably not a good decision, having already done two big climbs. 136 is made to break a cyclist's heart. It rises up to 750 meters, and is much steeper than anything I usually ride, a sustained steepness that never relents. I had long quailed at the thought of it, for on the Taichung side it is not only steep, but becomes steeper as you climb. Local bikers have nicknamed it The Fence for just that reason. It is not as bad from the Nantou side, but it is still hard, at least for a duffer like me. I climbed the last two kilometers on sheer willpower alone, too tired to even think about taking pictures.

A map of our route. I highly recommend 21, empty, lovely, and wide, an easy mountain ride. The only problem is getting back to Taichung.... where you have the choice of the very difficult 136, or the dirty, crowded, gravel truck wasteland of 14 back to Changhua and Taichung.

UPDATE: Drew snapped this excellent pic of me at the top of 21:
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DPP Set to Win in Yunlin, Penghu Voters Reject Referendum

w00t! Good news breaks out all over Taiwan today. Yesterday I blogged on the imminent arrival of gambling in the Penghu, which everyone was saying was a foregone conclusion. After all -- Penghu was a KMT stronghold, and the KMT strongly supported gambling. The KMT-controlled legislature had loosened the restrictions on referendum, relaxing the rule that 50% of eligible voters must vote, just to get it passed. There had been a media blitz, and the big money was waiting for the opportunity to "develop" the island as a gaming mecca. It looked like a sure thing.

Incredibly, the KMT could not even get the vote it wanted in the place that it controls. As the Liberty Times reported today:
...which is to say that the referendum to allow international standard hotels with gaming (gambling) was defeated 17,359 to 13,397, in an area of 73,651 eligible voters. 112 polling stations were erected. The referendum was defeated 56%-44%. Remember, Ma won the election 58-41 in a "landslide."

It is easy to see why the Ma Administration has been fighting so strongly to keep the ECFA economic agreement with the CCP China from being submitted to a public referendum.

My wife asked the $64,000 question -- "But do you think they will honor the outcome?"

Meanwhile, in the Yunlin legislative by-election, in the Second District of Yunlin County, the DPP candidate is apparently on the way to a crushing victory. Last I heard the vote was over 70K for the DPP, and less than 25K for either of the other two candidates. The by-election was held because KMT Legislator Chang Suo-wen was convicted of vote-buying by the Taiwan High court June 30 and the election was annulled. The Taiwan News said yesterday:
The poll is a three way race between 40-year-old social activist DPP Yunlin County Councilman Liu Chien-kuo, who was defeated by the vote-buying KMT candidate, the official KMT nominee Yunlin Technology University Professor Chang Keng-hui and Yunlin Water Conservancy Society President Chang Kui-yuan, the father of the errant ex-KMT lawmaker.

As Chang Keng-hui's campaign manager is none other than ex-KMT Yunlin County mayor and "boss" Chang Jung-wei, who recently served a prison term for vote buying himself, the campaign constitutes a direct face-off between two KMT candidates directly linked with convicted vote-buyers and a direct victim of "black and gold" money politics running for the DPP.
A glorious day.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Penghu Gambling Imminent

The OceanLala, Taiwan's entry in the "Dumbest Cruise Ship Name of All Time" sweepstakes.

I biked around Keelung city a bit last night, and took some night shots of the harbor and the town. Very photogenic place.

A photo of U in KEELUNG.

The city government has placed another massive KEELUNG sign on the waterfront, in case incoming tourists miss the giant white KEELUNG letters above the train station, or the two large signs that say KEELUNG on the local harbor administrative buildings. The waterfront has actually improved as the harbor is being slowly converted from a working shipbuilding and cargo port to a cruise ship port. One shudders to think how development will wreck the atmosphere of the town... See it now, before it sprouts kitsch dinosaurs everywhere....

Speaking of kitsch development, tomorrow the Penghu islanders vote on casinos. Taiwan News has another of its awesome editorials that lays out how the vote is constructed to achieve a certain outcome that will be beneficial to the construction-industrial state....
Voters in Yunlin and Penghu County will make choices Saturday that will reverberate beyond the boundaries of their home districts Saturday revolving on the common theme of the influence of money in Taiwan politics. The over-72,000 eligible voters in Penghu County will be asked to vote "yes" or "no" on the question of "Should Penghu host international-calibre hotels with gaming facilities?"

The question as posed is both prejudicial with its reference to "international-calibre" and deceptive in its avoidance of what is really at stake, which does not concern "hotels" but gambling casinos.

The proposal is backed by KMT administration, whose Tourism Bureau is already reviewing bids for the planning of so-called "integrated resorts." DPP, social welfare organizations, environmental groups, Taiwan-centric cultural activists and even Control Yuan President Wang Chien-hsien have called on residents to reject the scheme for the sake of the sustainable development of Penghu's unique cultural and ecological resources.
TN goes on to observe that the KMT built an impossibly high barrier to the passage of the referendum with the infamous "double majority" law that requires that the vote consist of a majority with at least 50% of voters having voted. What they did was cheat: in January the KMT rammed through a clause in the offshore gambling statute deleting the requirement that 50% of voters must vote in the referendum for it be valid. An article on it in Gambling Compliance describes:
But the amended law only requires that more than half of the voter turnout vote yea for the referendum to pass - a much lower threshold than that stipulated in Taiwan's Referendum Act. That law requires that at least half of all eligible voters participate in a plebiscite, with more than half of that turnout voting yea for it to pass.

Passage of Penghu's referendum, however, requires only approval from more than half of voter turnout, regardless of the turnout rate.

“In other words, three people could vote, and if two vote yea, this thing will pass,” said Yeh Chih-kuei, a professor of sports and leisure studies at National Dong Hwa University and a casino critic.

But besides the low referendum threshold, critics have also slammed the KMT-led government for an alleged lack of research into the “social costs” of casinos.

“There's been no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of casino gambling [by Taiwan] to date,” said Timothy Kelly, executive director of the U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission, a congressional research group that produced a 1999 report on the social and economic impacts of legalised gambling.
TN then describes the numbing claims....
Boosters have freely made outlandish claims that the casinos would "save" Penghu by bringing in over five million tourists to Penghu alone, compared to 1.8 million for all of Taiwan last year, and generate 25,000 jobs, even though all of Las Vegas has only 8,500 jobs directly related to gambling.
Nor has the debate mentioned the fact that once the casinos are in, they will run local politics, it says. The piece continues...
The KMT Penghu County government also took a hand by declining to invite casino referendum opponents to speak in many of the public debates held in villages and neighborhoods, while senior KMT government officials have moved to suppressing any dissent in official circles. For example, statements during public hearings of opposition by a prosecutor in Penghu to the gambling plan was slammed as "inappropriate" by Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng, who evidently feels it is proper for prosecutors to trample on judicial human rights by penning and acting in skits mocking defendants in active cases, but "improper" to speak out, after hours, against gambling casinos.

Coincidentally, young Penghu voters who want to return hope to cast "no" ballots report that all flights back to Penghu on Friday and Saturday have been fully booked.
The Ma government has been strongly supported by global finance and banking groups, and the casino industry is no exception. According to reports I have seen, gaming industry experts and insiders say that the president himself is a key supporter of gambling in the Penghu.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) has dragged its feet. The first MOTC tender was only worth US$150,000, and it was buried in an untranslated tender notice to discourage overseas bidders. MOTC says it does not have gaming expertise, and that the casino framework should be up and running after 2010.

David Reid of the well known blog David on Formosa blogged on his experiences with opposing the referendum, which is expected to pass with no trouble. David offers a first hand account of the pro-gambling stance of the government outlined in the Taiwan News piece:
The visit to Penghu was timed to coincide with the public hearing. This hearing was required as part of the referendum. Despite the name it wasn’t open to the public. Instead it was broadcast on television. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable. Professor Yeh, who was one of the speakers for the against side, said that in past public meetings he had been shouted down and a disproportionate amount of time was given to proponents of the casino. The public hearing this time allocated three speakers from each side ten minutes each to make their case. (If you search for “澎湖地方性公民投票案” on YouTube you can watch the speeches of all six people).

Some other issues of concern raised during the time on Penghu were the local media’s coverage of the casino issue. Both of Penghu’s newspapers have given a large amount of coverage to arguments in favor of the casino while arguments against have been ignored. The Anti-gambling Alliance had also been denied a permit to hold a rally on the eve of the referendum.
Just as an example of what's happening, AMZ Holdings, a property development firm, holds the largest single plot of land in the Penghu, a 27 acre property that it hopes to develop into a gaming resort. Their website about it is here. This discussion of the value of the firm notes that the land is worth $46 million even without the resort, and that the acreage was assembled by purchases from over 280 landowners over eight years. That's $46 million dollars of irresistible pressure on local governments... another news report says that Lawrence Ho, the son of Macau kingpin Stanley Ho, is looking to expand into the Penghu if the Beijing government gives the ok signal.

There's not much to say, except visit the Penghu now, because we can kiss everything that makes them wonderful good-bye within a few years....
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kadeer = No Visa

The BBC reports on the Ma Administration's refusal of a visa to Rebiya Kadeer. The report is...well, my comments are in [brackets].
Taiwan will not allow exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer to visit the island as she had planned, a government official has said.

Ms Kadeer, a Chinese Muslim from Xinjiang, had been invited by an entertainer close to the opposition.[1. which opposition, Uighur or DPP? 2. Why are we told that she is a Chinese Muslim? 3. The invitation was jointly from GUTS United (Chthonic's Freddy Lim) and from Paul Lin's Anti-Communist youth group, according to other reports.]

China has accused Ms Kadeer of orchestrating recent violence in Xinjiang - a charge she denies.[Who cares what China says! Why don't media groups demand evidence before they print Beijing smears? Wouldn't it have been better to add "although no evidence exists to support this charge" to properly contextualize it?]
In July about 200 people were killed in riots between Uighurs and Han Chinese in which mostly Han were killed.[...yet the BBC has no trouble adding the detail that more Hans were killed than Uighurs, a pro-Beijing claim.]
Taiwan is self-ruled after breaking away from China at the end of the civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the island part of its territory.[Taiwan "broke away" from China? Is this a media report from an alternate reality? Yes, and clearly a Beijing-centric one! Again, we are not told what Taiwan considers Beijing to be, only what Beijing thinks.]
"We have decided not to allow Kadeer entry considering that her visit could affect national interest and social order," Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah was quoted as saying to members of parliament.[No mention of any relations between KMT and CCP, or indeed, any political context at all.]

Despite opposition from China, a documentary about Ms Kadeer was screened this week in Taiwan's second city, Kaohsiung.["Despite opposition from China!" As if Taiwan should be kowtowing whenever China opposes! Why even mention that? "A documentary about Ms Kadeer was screened this week in Taiwan's second city, Kaohsiung." Could even add "where it was well-received." Nothing positive about Kadeer, Taiwan, or the documentary appears in this report. ]

Local tourism officials had spoken out against the move, Taiwanese media reported, fearing it would drive Chinese tourist numbers down.[Yet another negative item about the screening. Note that the BBC does not report that some tourism officials said the opposite, nor does it make any attempt to find out whether such a thing occurred.]
An incredible article. By my count 8 "paragraphs", six of which are completely Beijing-centric in their approach to the story. Shameful.

Speaking of shameful, how about that visa denial? About all you can say is, at least they didn't say outright that she was a terrorist.

UPDATE: Haha. Was I wrong, what I get for relying on the BBC to reliably report anything about this case. They DID say she was a terrorist, as the Taipei Times noted today.
Jiang said the World Uyghur Congress was related to a terrorist organization, while many countries had also been alerted to the congress’ general secretary.

“If Kadeer visits Taiwan, the purpose of her visit would have something to do with Xinjiang’s independence movement,” Jiang said.

“Like the precautionary measures we took during the nation’s previous two important [international] sports events [the World Games and the Deaflympics,] we are trying to prevent terrorism from overshadowing Taiwan. Therefore, we decided to give priority to our national interests,” he said.
Hmmm...I wonder which organization has racked up the greater number of Han Chinese killed, the World Uighur Congress, the CCP, or the KMT? But our fearless KMT Administration official has the stones to say that the WUC is connected to a terrorist organization. The director of GUTS United had some excellent criticisms of the government on the issue:
Liao Wei-cheng (廖偉程), executive director of Guts United Taiwan, however, criticized the government for making a decision before Kadeer had even filed a visa application.

“If the Chinese Nationalist Party government doesn’t even bother to wait to see Kadeer’s visa application or look at her reason for wanting to come to Taiwan before refusing her visit, I suspect that there’s a blacklist, and we seem to have returned to the White Terror era,” Liao told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview yesterday. “The government said they made the decision based on the interests of the country — of which country? Of China?”

He said that as a democracy with the rule of law, Taiwan should issue a visa to Kadeer if she follows the proper procedure.

“The refusal has damaged Taiwan’s image in the international community,” he said.

Liao said that if the Taiwanese government says Kadeer has connection to terrorists, “Are we accusing the US of harboring terrorists?”
Daily Links:
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Chen Shui-bian announces support of Hartzell/Lin

A collective wince rippled across the pro-Taiwan community today as the world heard the news that First Convict Chen Shui-bian embraced the mad ideas of Roger Lin and Dick Hartzell. Basically those two claim that the US is the occupying power of Taiwan (for reviews, see H/L lose on appeal, and this collection of information about the case) and thus has a kind of sovereignty over it. In my opinion it is a crank lawsuit, and the collection of individuals around the case behaves, as many who have interacted with them say, like a cult. This lawsuit is a waste of money that might have gone for the urgent needs of the pro-Taiwan community.

Apparently President Chen has embraced this case, according to media reports. Here is the Taipei Times account, which further down charitably says that maybe Chen is crazy like a fox....
The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that Chen was serious about asking US President Barack Obama to testify in court to clarify Taiwan’s status and that the suit had nothing to do with the former president being found guilty of corruption.

The office issued a statement saying that Chen supported a lawsuit that Roger Lin (林志昇), the founder of the Formosa Nation Legal Strategy Association, intends to file in the US because the former president hoped the case would help clarify Taiwan’s international status.

Chen also hopes the trial would reflect his position that the people of Taiwan should jettison the constitutional system of the Republic of China and make concerted efforts to build a new republic and write a new constitution, the statement said.
Bluntly put, this is a stupid idea on Chen's part. The doctrine that sovereignty over a particular territory is a political question for the legislative and executive branches to determine is settled law (see the appeal). Further, even if they were successful, the US would immediately hand over sovereignty to China. That's just a given, folks. If compelled to testify, State Department officials might even testify that Taiwan is part of China. Only the gods know what might happen, and none of it is good. Obama is just another center-right US politician owned by banking and corporate interests, all of whom are looking to China to pull their chestnuts out of the fire right now. He's not going to rock the boat with a concrete display of support for Taiwan.

Further, sympathy for the lawsuit is yet another symptom of the ongoing problem of Taiwanese "petitioning the Emperor" -- asking the intervention of a higher power to magically make the island independent and all their problems go away. Note how Chen invokes Obama, like Renfield appealing to the power of Dracula, as if merely speaking the name "Obama" harnessed some talismanic power. Sad.

Fact: there is one, and only one, group of people who can create Taiwan independence: the people of Taiwan. Go to it, folks.

Back story: despite Lin and Hartzell's apparent sympathy for the PRC, Lin has a long association with the independence movement. He was once had of a pro-Lee Teng-hui organization before Lee removed him, and a prominent Taiwan supporter said privately that when he went to visit Chen Shui-bian in jail, one other person was there at the same time visiting Chen: Roger Lin.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FORMOSA BETRAYED screening schedule + Sept 25th Conference

This schedule for Formosa Betrayed was sent around...can we get it out here BEFORE the election in December? Pretty please?


If you were hoping to see FORMOSA BETRAYED at the San Diego Film Festival on September 26th, we are now officially sold out! You can still get into this screening at SDFF by buying a Saturday Day Pass for $49. This would also get you into all the festivities and other films for the entire day! You can purchase them here:

This is going to be a great event followed by a Q&A with Producer/Writer/Actor Will Tiao, director Adam Kane, Costume Designer Karyn Wagner and actors James Van Der Beek, Leslie Hope and Adam Wang.


DC Asian Pacific American Festival tickets for our screening on October 3rd are now on sale! Purchase them here:

Tickets are on sale for $8 each or a discounted rate of $7 each if bought in a group of 5 or more. This screening is going to sell out fast, so please buy your tickets ASAP! Also, let us know if you're coming by RSVP-ing to this group event!


Philadelphia Asian Film Festival tickets for our screening on October 10th will be on sale soon! Keep checking their website:


Lastly, for those of you in SoCal that couldn't make it to the SD screening, have no fear! We are also showing at the prestigious Hollywood Film Festival taking place at the ArcLight theaters in Hollywood on October 24th! Tickets go on sale at the ArcLight Cinemas website on October 12th. Mark your calendars, because this screening is guaranteed to sell out FAST!

Thanks again for all your support at these festivals and please spread the word! We look forward to seeing you there! :)


In addition to the movie, September 25 there is a conference on truth and reconciliation in Taiwan:

The Formosa Foundation and Formosan Association for Public Affairs
Towards Truth and
Reconciliation in Taiwan
In cooperation with the
Chen Wen-cheng Memorial Foundation
and the Formosan Association for Human Rights
Friday, September 25, 2009
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
National Press Club
First Amendment Lounge
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

An all star lineup of speakers will talk on two topics: Taiwan's transition to democracy (Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Thomas P Hughes, Fulton Armstrong, and Gerrit Van Der Wees), and its implications for today (Ed Friedman, Terri Giles, Arthur Waldron, and Jerome Cohen).
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

WSJ: US Losing the Pacific?

Is the US losing the Pacific? Well, the trend isn't good, says WSJ in an excellent piece. OK, so we're still numero uno, but we are looking a lot like the UK circa 1920 or so....
Admiral Keating dismisses these worries as not "an accurate or valid prediction." He deftly punts the question of budget cuts: "There are decisions being made in the Department that could have longer-term implications for us in the Pacific community." When asked what he would do if he had more resources, he gives the stock answer: "more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance." As regards China, Adm. Keating wants to engage, engage, engage: "We would like to work more closely with their military. We would like to understand their strategy better than we do. We want to get a much better grasp for their intentions: short-, mid- and long range," he says.

Yet it's unclear what this stance has accomplished. Only a few months after taking his job, in May 2007, Adm. Keating held a news conference in Beijing and said if China chose to develop an aircraft carrier program, the U.S. would "help them to the degree that they seek and the degree that we're capable, in developing their programs." That offer was quickly shelved back in Washington. Earlier this month, he suggested the U.S., Australia and China should hold a joint exercise together—which also came as a surprise to many back in Washington. China still hasn't responded to the offer. Meanwhile the Chinese are aggressively defending their ever-more muscular naval stance: "The way to resolve China-U.S. maritime incidents is for the U.S. to change its surveillance and survey operations policies against China, decrease and eventually stop such operations," China's Defense Ministry declared last month. No nuanced talk of "engagement" there.

Admiral Keating himself has a hard time citing what has changed for the better vis-à-vis China in his two-and-a-half years at the PaCom helm, besides the resumption of military-to-military talks (which the Chinese unilaterally suspended in October 2008) and the fact that since 2007, "we haven't had a ship visit denied." The transparency of China's military intentions is "less than completely fulfilling." U.S. military exchanges with the Chinese are "very limited." The missiles Beijing has pointed at Taiwan are "not insignificant in terms of quantity." In sum, "there is no question that we are going to have to deal with a Chinese military that is increasing in quantity and in some areas, quality, over the Chinese military of 20 years ago," the admiral admits.
Imagine, doing all those things for China and getting nothing in return. That just never happens. The US Navy's relationship with China reminds me of one of those delusional mothers who repeatedly insist that their severely autistic child really is communicating with them.

Hello Washington! The future is out here, in Asia. Bring our boys home from our wasteful and criminal wars in the Middle East...

...why am I even talking like this? Our elites are never going to wise up (see this testimony from a CFR analyst, for example). A decade from now our generals will still be saying if they just get more troops for Korea Vietnam Iraq Afghanistan.... is that the light at the end of the tunnel I see? No, just the LED from the neuralyzer history keeps pointing at our leaders....
Daily Links
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Gov't to take over HSR

Big news this week has been the government's move to take over the Taiwan High Speed Rail corporation. Reuters reported today....
Current Chief Executive Ou Chin-der would take over immediately from Nita Ing as chairman, the company said, giving the government control over the popular 345-km (214-mile) north-south railway system, which opened in early 2007 as one of two bullet train routes in Asia after Japan's.

"The most important thing is to make sure the high-speed rail remains in operation," Taiwan Premier Wu Den-yih told reporters ahead of Ou's appointment.

The government would ultimately take over management of the company but had no plan to inject money or buy company, local media quoted Transport Minister Mao Chi-kuo as saying.
According to Reuters, the HSR Corp wants to turn a profit so it can list on the stock exchange. It has a combined debt of NT$380 billion in bank loans and European convertible bonds, and lost NT$25 billion last year, or $770 million in inflated US dollars.

Those are Reuters' facts. Now lets look at AFP's facts, which are sourced entirely from (where else?) The China Times. AFP says:
The company was 70.2 billion Taiwan dollars (2.14 billion US) in debt as of the end of June, compared with a capitalisation of 105.3 billion, the Times said.
AFP also notes the political aspect:
If confirmed, it would signal the failure of Taiwan's biggest build-operate-transfer project, under which the firm agreed to build the rail line and run it for 35 years before transferring ownership to the government.
The Taipei Times says:
The company has a paid-up capital of NT$105.3 billion (US$3.2 billion), but was reportedly NT$11 billion in the red last year, while its accumulated debts amount to NT$70.2 billion.
Taiwan News has the debt at a more precise NT$461 billion.

The China Post also has its facts in a pretty good piece detailing the ownership of the HSR:
As of the end of June this year, the THSRC had recorded total operating loss of NT$70.2 billion, equivalent to two-thirds of its paid-in capital of around NT$100 billion. The firm's outstanding debts have run up to over NT$450 billion, informed sources said.

The company is likely to be forced to go bankrupt within two years if the annual loss of around NT$25 billion lingers and if no additional fund is injected into the firm. But almost all the major shareholders declined to comment on the likely changeover of the firm's chairmanship and on whether to put fresh funding into the company.
According to the China Post, the project is owned by Continental Engineering (400 million shares), Fubon Financial Holding Co. (5.53%), Evergreen (4.05%), China Steel (5%+), and Taiwan Sugar (4%). All are apparently reluctant to dump more money into the project. Over 50,000 people are smaller shareholders, according to other articles.

The Post says that the HSR is supported by two syndicated loans, NT$279 billion from one banking consortium headed by the Mega Commercial Bank, and NT$65.5 billion from another consortium led by Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, the banking arm of the Fubon Financial Holdings.

The trouble became more acute when the major shareholders refused to dump more money into the project, in turn triggering the banks to refuse to extend it any more credit. The CNA said, citing Premier Wu:
Wu said THSRC's monthly revenues exceed its operating costs, so it runs a small operating profit.

"But the surplus has been more than offset by its heavy burden of interest payments, depreciation and amortization, " Wu said, adding that high interest payments and amorization have been the main cause of the company's heavy indebtedness.
It is easy to see where this is heading: the government's "supervisory role" will enable it to force banks to keep the credit taps open, as Wu said, taxpayer funds thus guaranteeing private wealth. The government says it merely plans to have a majority on the board, not to actively take over the company. Reuters said in another report, citing the China Times, that
the HSR could get a loan of about NT$390 billion ($12 billion) as early as November after the government moves to keep it afloat. If the government can force interest rates down, the project can probably run on life support, servicing its debt and keeping up maintenance, without ever repaying its capital costs.

No administration can afford to have the HSR fail on its watch (nor would an HSR failure here be good for HSRs elsewhere in the world), and it is interesting that the company was handed over to current CEP Ou Chin-der, a Ma Ying-jeou intimate. The CNA report also said that the banks which had refused to extend more credit to the HSR when the shareholders failed to pump in more cash, would be more forthcoming if Ou became head of the company.

The HSR was in its day the largest BOT project in the world, built to run 35 years by private interests, and then turned over to the government. The turnover has just occurred 33 years early, is all. It was a massive pork barrel in its day, a $15 billion project that had a total length of 345 kilometers, connected by long-span viaduct bridges and 48 tunnels (the longest of which is 7.5 kilometers long). Continental Engineering Corporation (CEC) and Fu Tsu Construction Company became Taiwan's two largest privately owned contractors after completing their portions of the HSR project. Having splattered money all over the west coast of Taiwan, it has done its real work. Forbes noted a couple of years ago:
An official quoted estimates from the Council of Economic Planning and Development that construction of the high-speed rail network has created 480,000 jobs and may contribute 1 percentage point to economic growth.
Why doesn't it make money? The original plan, first proposed way back in 1987, when Taiwan's economy was quite different, called for the stations to be located far from the cities (BBC talks about this). At that time the population flow was all to urban areas, so the HSR was looked at as a way to develop more desolate places outside cities, and erect something akin to the English New Town. The land around the stations was going to be rented and developed, enabling the project to generate revenues from restaurants, hotels, and so on. A quarter million passengers a day were projected (Taipei Times says 300K a day in 2000). Then, after it opened, 150,000 a day were hoped for (total capacity is about 300,000 a day). It now carries about 90,000 passengers a day, according to Taiwan Today in 2008 (and Reuters).

The project went ahead under these plans, but then the economy changed. It switched technology in mid-project, from European to Japanese systems, adding to the costs. Now, as every passenger knows, the stations are forlorn in remote areas, massive buildings sitting on empty lots. The system also has other costs, dealing a heavy blow to the island's ailing airlines, and putting dents in its intercity bus and train services as well -- services whose financial health is important to small towns all around the island.

REFERENCE: HSR project in a post on BOT in Taiwan from 2006, project timeline and introductory article
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Daily Links, Sept 22, 2009

Welcome to But Well company.

It's the first couple of weeks of classes and I've been on a whirlwind tour of the island every day. Apologies for the light blogging. Links!
MEDIA: Global Peace Index has US at 83rd, Taiwan a lot higher. Gavan McCormack on Okinawa's last 400 years. Carnegie Endowment says China's growth is for real. Local Paiwan people start a school for witchcraft in southern Taiwan. Singapore on the Chen case. DPP's Tsai on the ECFA pact. Taipei Times on admitting Chinese students to local universities. Taiwan's IT competitiveness falls due to its deteriorating R&D environment. Government to take over HSR as Chairman resigns -- essentially the HSR is now a failed project to run on subsidies. But yesterday government still denied this -- note that HSR chief position is going to Ma confidante Ou Chin-der. Taiwan wants to put 96 year old man in jail for squatting in government-owned housing, a double outrage, since many individuals illegally occupy government property but nothing is done. Sixty villages to be relocated after Morakot. New Econ minister says no change in local DRAM bailout. Sun Moon Lake swim draws record number of participants. No really? -- consumers foundation complains about a lack of info on tourist spots.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kaohsiung to Screen Uighur Leader Bioflick despite Chinese Pressure

In case you ever wondered where those up-to-date hair styles come from, check out the heads... a famous international journalist spotted this for me as we walked in a small town near Taichung.

Ah, AFP. It had a moment in the sun with several excellent and very balanced pieces recently -- causing much wondering email to flit between myself and others who watch the international media -- and now it has reverted to form. The AFP report on the decision of the Kaohsiung Film Festival to screen 10 Conditions of Love despite pressure from China and its servants in Taiwan...note how the AFP report consists entirely of Beijing-centric statements, except for a section lower down with remarks from Kaoshiung Mayor Chen Chu:
Taiwan's second-largest city on Sunday said it will show a controversial documentary about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer in the coming days despite objections by China.

Kaohsiung, a stronghold of the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was planning to screen the biopic at the Kaohsiung film festival in October but has moved the screening forward.

The China Times newspaper here quoted hotels in the southern city as saying they'd had thousands of cancellations from mainland tourists after Chinese authorities instructed tour operators to stay away temporarily from the city.

Beijing, which has labelled Kadeer a "criminal" and accused her of inciting ethnic violence in China's far-west Xinjiang region in July that led to nearly 200 deaths, warned the Kaohsiung authorities not to harm cross-strait relations.
Pro-Beijing media formulae abound....

**AFP cites the pro-KMT China Times without informing readers that it is pro-KMT, and then repeats what it says without caveats or alternate points of view. The Taipei Times, more balanced, posted both sides of the claim that the cancellations were the result of screening the film yesterday and again today, the other side saying:
According to Lin Kun-shan (林崑山), the chief of the city’s tourism bureau, however, the occupancy rate of hotels has dropped nationwide because of the recession and the devastation wrought by Typhoon Morakot.

“From January to August this year, the rate declined by 10 percent in Taipei City and Hualien County compared with the same period last year. In Kaoshiung City, it dropped by between 3 percent and 5 percent,” Lin said.
**We are told what Beijing thinks of Kadeer, but not what Kadeer thinks of Beijing. No bias there!

**"...independence from China":

Chen, a top official of the DPP, which favours formal independence from China, tried to play down the significance of the film about Kadeer, called "The 10 Conditions of Love".

The DPP favors independence, period. It doesn't believe Taiwan is part of China (it isn't).

**The Dalai Lama strains ties:
Ties between Taiwan and China, which have improved markedly since the Beijing-friendly government of President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year, looked fragile again as the Dalai Lama's visit strained the relationship.
Here the AFP reporter simply regurgitates the Beijing line that the DL was bad for "relations" between "Taiwan" and "China." Those of us here on the Beautiful Island know that Taiwan has no relations with China -- the KMT has relations with the CCP, and the DL's visit had no effect on those (as the KMT's eager service to Beijing on the Kadeer biopic shows). There were a few delays of visits by emissaries just for show, but the sell-out goes on apace, and really major stuff, the MOU that will permit Beijing to hollow out our financial industry like a gourd, is on track for October, with the ECFA a couple of months behind. The DL had zero effect on that.

Once again, the "tension" only happens in the media. In the real world there is no tension between the CCP and the KMT, just political theatre.

Really, why does AFP even bother to have media reps out here? I feel sorry for the good people of France having to read Xinhua twice every day....

The Foreigner had a good spot today on this topic, writing:
From Taiwan's China Post:

. . . ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Deputy Secretary-General Chang Jung-kung, who handles the party's ties with China, warned [the mayor of the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung] of the risks of screening [a film about Chinese Uigher leader, Rebiya Kadeer].

He said the mayor should give top priority to the public interest of her city, and should “think carefully” if the move affects Kaohsiung's [influx of Chinese tourists].

Mr. Deputy Secretary-General, free speech IS the public interest of Kaohsiung. And Taiwan too...
But as the Taipei Times pointed out, while the KMT itself might be leaping to do Beijing's bidding, the Executive Yuan commendably said the government would not interfere, as there is free speech in Taiwan.

UPDATE: Some excellent comments below. I think it is a good idea to move the screening -- we made our political point, and there is an election soon....
Daily Links:
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