Thursday, December 31, 2009

Three for New Years

Three articles on Taiwan in different places for once give a glimpse of something other than the Ma Administration's spin. AP in Businessweek writes about DPP criticisms of the Administration's China policy:
Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party said Tuesday the Taiwanese government has failed to attract large amount of Chinese investment to bolster the island's economy.

The DPP's criticism came as Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has been forging closer economic ties with China and working to redress the imbalance in the trade flow between the two sides.

However, Taiwanese Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said earlier Tuesday that Chinese enterprises, including airliners and software companies, have only invested NT$1.2 billion ($37.16 million) in Taiwan since the island opened up for mainland investment in July.

The amount is a pittance compared to more than $100 billion Taiwanese companies have invested in China since the late 1980s. The bilateral trade -- mostly Taiwanese exports -- now exceeds $110 billion annually.

"The amount of Chinese investment in Taiwan has been very little," DPP Spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim said. "It is disappointing that there is such a huge gap between the outcome and the government's promise to bolster Taiwan's economy with Chinese injection."
The KMT strategy is not to use Chinese inflows to stimulate the economy, but to use them to create pockets of China-dependent support around the island. For example, Chinese students flowing into our universities will make the university system dependent on China, while tourist flows are supposed to make those areas more agreeable to KMT policy by creating new dependencies on China (note that both involve the movement of people). Investment might be nice, but it is not necessary. How soon in the script will the Chinese labor come to "save" Taiwan's industry? Just wait.....

Speaking of tourism, the Japan Times discusses tourism in an excellent and very sympathetic article on the KMT's move to put the island in China's orbit through ECFA. In addition to its in-depth coverage of the issues, it also provides information that enables readers to identify the Green/Blue loyalty of the speakers -- unusual and very welcome:
Earlier this month, Masaki Saito, Japan's top envoy to Taiwan, resigned as director of the Interchange Association, Tokyo's de facto embassy in Taipei.

Saito stepped down after he angered the Ma administration in May by referring to Taiwan's international status as "unresolved." Ma blocked Saito from contacting him, the prime minister or the foreign minister, effectively making his job in Taiwan impossible.

"The way President Ma treated Ambassador Saito in such an unfriendly manner will definitely reinforce the image that he is a Chinese nationalist," Jaushieh Joseph Wu, research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in the National Chengchi University in Taipei, said earlier this month. Wu used to serve in the previous Democratic Progressive Party government.

Kuo Chen-lung, former deputy editor-in-chief of the China Times, a national daily in Taiwan, agreed that the government's response to Saito was "disproportional."

"It was very rude for a foreign representative to comment or even take a stand on domestic issues," he said, but added that Saito had only taken the same stance as the proindependence opposition party.

Saito's resignation is the latest incident that has threatened to sour Japan-Taiwan relations.

Shortly after Ma took office last year, Taiwan's then prime minister, Liu Chao-shiuan, threatened war with Japan over a collision between Taiwanese and Japanese vessels in disputed waters. Meanwhile, territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea continue to be claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

According to Wu, Ma displays a streak of anti-Japan nationalism that runs counter to the feelings of many Taiwanese, who see Japan as an ally against China.
It is interesting that there is public discussion of Ma's apparent anti-Japanese Chinese nationalism in the media, but there is nary a word about the vast contempt that mainlanders of Ma's persuasion feel about the US. He is "Harvard-educated", that is all ye know, and all ye need know.

Huffington Post, which usually has pretty awful stuff about Taiwan, finally had a decent post on tap from Gilbert Kaplan, which argues that Taiwan is the canary in the coal mine for US relations with China. The last paragraph:
In this sense Taiwan is becoming the canary of our own economic future. As their economy disinvests, and as their political culture becomes unable to combat the influence of China, ours will or already has. Coupled with the major "American" companies who make all their products in China or get almost everything from there--Apple, Dell, Intel (at least with respect to one large fab, built with Chinese government assistance) and Wal-Mart among them--the Chinese of course own a disproportionate amount of our debt, close to 10% overall and more than any other foreign creditor. And they provide major incentives to blue-ribbon U. S. companies to locate in China, as they have done for the Taiwanese. With over two trillion dollars in trade reserves they have an unlimited budget to do that with. So it is no surprise that when we have a battle with them in Copenhagen on the future of emissions policy no one wins. The dangerous moment will come when we have a battle with them, on a key world policy issue, and they win.
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!


Anonymous said...

"The amount of Chinese investment in Taiwan has been very little," DPP Spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim said.

Is she sad or very happy ?


Michael Turton said...

Neither, just exposing the lies.

Anonymous said...

Anon: What would be best is lots of long-term apolitical foreign investment in Taiwan. But since Ma's president and he wants Chinese investment, we can try to look at things from his perspective and we can show people that things don't add up, even when you look at the pro-China side of things. It's useful to point it out and show people that investment and tourists from China are a mirage and causing Taiwanese to continuously invest way too much in China-oriented ventures and give too much weight to so-called Chinese businessmen and tourists.

The DPP should spend more time articulating their vision though. What is their positive vision for a Taiwan that doesn't just rely completely on the Chinese economy?

Stefan said...

Being German this reminds me a bit of the propaganda which used to be around in East-Germany. The government there was always very keen to emphasize the similarity of the West-Germany / USA and East-Germany / Russia relationships.

Of course that similarity held to an extent militarily (both Russia and the US being superpowers) but not economically. While the US was a powerful economy, driving research and technology, Russia needed the eastern European countries to drag it along. On average scientific and economic benefit flowed eastward.

For Taiwan to expect China to invest in it's economy, is similarly absurd. Taiwan is way ahead in industrial development - so on balance jobs, technology and investment capital will be transferred from Taiwan to China. The only way Taiwan can benefit from a trade agreement is by improving access to the Chinese market. That the Taiwanese government chooses to instead emphasize Chinese tourism and Chinese investment is mind boggling ...