Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bovine Heard

Pan of Shihtiping Port, east coast of Taiwan. I have shot this lovely port many times, and never tired of it.

Hey, remember when Ma was running for President, and accused the DPP of screwing up relations with the US? Well, now he's vowing to repair them....after screwing them up. WSJ has the call:
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to try to repair ties with the U.S. Tuesday after lawmakers passed an amendment to resume a ban on certain U.S. beef imports.

Parliament's move to enact into law last week's proposal to reinstate the ban has prompted concerns in the U.S. and may stall the island's long-delayed trade talks with Washington. Mr. Ma said at a hastily convened news conference after the lawmakers' vote that the new restrictions would damage ties with the U.S. and hurt Taiwan's reputation.

Fairly or not, the DPP got a rep in Washington for screwing up relations with the US.

The Taipei Times had a long piece today that points to some of the loose ends that, tied up, show some of the issues....
The US Department of State yesterday expressed disappointment over Taiwan’s partial ban on US beef products but said Washington would not retaliate by holding back arms sales to Taiwan.

“We’re very disappointed with the Taiwan legislature’s decision to ban certain cuts of US beef in violation of our bilateral agreement signed just over two months ago,” Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of the department’s Bureau of Public Affairs, said at a briefing in Washington.

“We remain committed, however, to further developing our broad-ranging and positive relationship with the people of Taiwan,” he said.
Thankfully, the US remains committed to weapons sales, despite China's absurd protests (China can end the need for weapons sales simply by terminating the threat to maim and murder Taiwanese and annex their island) and threats of severe consequences. Note that the article says Taiwan is blocking beef imports from Canada as well. Further down the article observed:
Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday demanded that a senior official step down to shoulder responsibility over the beef turnaround.

The DPP named three people: Ma, National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) and Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良).

“One of these three people must resign to answer to an angry public,” DPP spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said, ­adding that a poll conducted by cable network TVBS found that 33 percent of respondents blamed Ma, 22 percent blamed Yaung and 10 percent blamed Su.
The beef ruckus is aimed at undermining Su Chi, the head of the National Security Council and Ma's alter ego/Rasputin. Many KMTers are unhappy with Su, while the pro-Taiwan side dislikes him intensely. The beef issue is driven in part by domestic politics, but if the KMT can use it to drive a wedge between Taiwan and the US, so much the better. Ma attempted to muddy the waters further, claiming that this was not a legislative/executive issue, but a "matter of public sentiment."
While Mr Ma admitted that his government had failed to communicate adequately its reasoning behind lifting the ban to the Taiwanese people, he dismissed the idea that KMT support for the amendment presented his administration with a political dilemma. “This is not a conflict between the executive and the legislative branches of the government. It is a matter of public sentiment,” he added.
It's a matter of domestic and international politics.

Ma also met with a former Japanese Defense Agency head to express a wish for closer security ties between the US, Taiwan, and Japan. Remember, with Ma, don't listen to what he says. Watch what he does. What concrete steps has Ma taken to move toward such a situation? That would be....none.
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Anonymous said...

You have an excellent blog. I come here often. I do think the relationship with the US is one that KMT is undermining, with much assistance from China.
Sadly DPP can't help themselves. And with taiwan having few friends in Obama administration, well, I think we will see Taiwan in China's arms before end of this new decade in every manner except a signed document.

jerome said...

Remember the fishing tackles and baits shop owner crumpled in his chair in front of his store in Shihting?

I followed the link to the Kyodo report on President Ma’s meeting with former Japanese Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono . Ma is pictured alone, his eyes glazed over. He seems to have lulled himself into a daze.

The meditating monk stunt helps Japanese men of power gauge the intent of the speaker. More often than not, they actually doze off. As it turned out, Ma’s empty words had failed keeping Ono focused.

Ono is present in name only. No input from him, not even a photo. Why?

Anonymous said...

I think there are a couple of problems with your analysis.

1) Although Su Chi has an important role in the current administration, he is not "Ma's alter ego/Rasputin", in fact Su Chi was very much Lee Teng-hui's man.

2) The agreement to relax the import of US beef was made by the KMT government. The opposition was led by the DPP, remember the rally they held to protest the ban. Sure many KMT figures also jumped on the bandwagon, but it's a real stretch to claim that it was a plot by the KMT to move Taiwan away from the United States. Surely agreeing to lift the ban was a way to get closer to the United States, and they were willing to suffer a political fallout to achieve this. They simply miscalculated how big that fallout would be.