Thursday, September 30, 2010

Short shorts for Thursday

Coming into Taipei yesterday, the cloud formations over Yangmingshan were stunning.

Some interesting stuff out there this week. This piece by a Japanese admiral points out some fundamental issues in the China-Japan relationship while calling for mil-mil CBMs:
My estimate is that Chinese Defense Budgets only include development costs, personnel, commodity, maintenance and administrative expenses. The weapon production and purchasing costs are counted as part of national fundamental construction costs. Defense research and weapons developments are counted as part of the education and science research budgets. The armed police administration costs are included in administrative management budgets. Draft and civil military support costs are counted as part of regional finances.

Foreign weapons purchases such as the Su-27 and Su-30 are counted as the foreign currencies foundations. Food and self-sustenance costs are counted as military production activities. The above two items are part of the non-military budgets.[18]

Why does China offer false Defense Budgets? This is consistent with China's deception practices, such as Deng Xiaoping's 24 Character Strategy, especially "Hide our capabilities and bide our time."[19] China wants to defeat the "China Threat Theory," project an image that it is a peaceful rising power and seeks advantages in information and psychological warfare. Chinese defense budgets have been increasing at a rate in the double digits since 1989 just when every country started enjoying peaceful dividends.

The piece contains some very interesting information, including some discussion of China's surveillance activities and use of fishing boats as a seagoing militia. As the admiral points out, the use of fishing boats by the military means that when they are strongly responded to, as in the recent tiff over the Senkakus, China can pretend to be the aggrieved party since its poor (civilian) fisherman were attacked, while if they are not dealt with, then they engage in spying and surveillance activities. This constant probing with seaborne militia is similar to the spy case last year in Taipei involving the Chinese man who left a tour group and somehow walked across Taipei to wind up in the place to take photos in the sensitive area where Taiwan's cyberops are overseen. If he is busted, he is just a tourist.....

Also this week, Congressman David Wu stupidly and unnecessarily announced that the Senkakus belong to China.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congressman David Wu will make a statement on the status of the Diaoyu Islands at 6:30 PM EDT at the main gate of Georgetown University (37th St NW and O St NW). Because of the recent fishing boat incident, Congressman Wu intends to make public his belief that the Diaoyu Islands have been a part of China since the Ming Dynasty.

Congressman Wu will state:

“Historically and geographically the Diaoyu Islands have been a part of China since the Ming Dynasty. Japanese sources have acknowledged Chinese ownership since the late 1700s. Japan laid claim to the islands after its war with China in 1895.

“It is in everyone’s interest, including the United States’, that the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands be resolved promptly and peacefully.”

Chinese advocates will be in attendance. Following his statement, Congressman Wu will be holding a town hall meeting at Georgetown University with foreign students from China.
Americans, stop feeding the PRC beast. It will only become more acquisitive. Yesterday I got another lecture from a Chinese nationalist who informed me that after the Senkakus comes Okinawa, which "was ours before." This kind of talk, which I have heard many times and which is not limited merely to pimply-faced man-boys commenting on the internet, shows how the stronger China becomes, the more belligerent it feels like becoming.

Another issue here is the double standard with which "China" is viewed, the construction of "China" that is widely and unquestioningly accepted in the media. In the eyes of people like Wu and Kristof, 18th century maps are probative on the issue of the Senkakus. Imagine if Germany or France tried to redraw its borders based on 18th century maps. Imagine if Turkey decided it wanted to redraw its own borders based on a map of the Ottoman Empire, which folded a few years after the Qing gave up the ghost. Everyone would object that such move would have no rational basis in law, and further, that Turkey is not the Ottoman Empire. When China rages about territory, we only make the first objection. We don't make the second. An important function of the constant invocation of "5,000 years of China" and "Chinese dynasties" is that they normalize territories as "Chinese." That is why they are made.

To see what China may lay claim to, fire up Google and start looking at maps of the Qing empire. Scary, especially when you start throwing in the claims they currently make, like to the whole of the South China Sea....

Speaking of history, Walter Russell Mead has a great piece on Beijing as the Kaiser:
But the old Wilhelm died and a new Wilhelm (Wilhelm II) brought a new generation of Germans into power. Firing the elderly and crotchety Bismarck, Wilhelm read Admiral Mahan’s Importance of Sea Power in History and dreamed of the blue water navy that would turn Germany into a true Weltmacht, world power. Moreover, ‘Willi’ was sick and tired of deferring to all the neighbors. Enough of this insipid “Dreikaiserbund“, the complicated three-way alliance between Russia, Germany and Austria! And enough of this being nice to France. The French were losers, has-beens. It was time they were made to feel it. Germany was the greatest power in Europe and it was high time people accepted this fact.
A very detailed comparison. Go and read.


New websites at Taiwan's English newspapers this week. Taiwan News has a website redesign. It comes complete with unnecessary Flash opening, dorky upbeat KTV super-reverb music, and a clickable hot chick whose image tastefully says "Touch me" after which she does a little dance. If you click on the multimedia news link she appears again, does another dance, and then announces that it is multimedia time. Did I mention that she clearly obtained her dress from the local night market cast-off store? The Taiwan News conception of multimedia is trapped in some horrible endless 1994 loop. The main news website, complete with music (because that's why people go to news websites, right?) is here; bookmark that to avoid another outbreak of the deadly Flash animation plague. I think that this will be a website everyone will visit once.

The Taipei Times website also had a redesign. This website looks great -- packs in the information but feels uncluttered, utterly sensible, and fast and useful. Totally professional. Kudos to the tech team that did that; great work. Some search functions are still undergoing upgrades, but overall I am looking forward to using this website.
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M said...

New Taipei Times website is great (and fast)!

Anonymous said...

That Taiwan News website is the lamest-assed thing I've ever seen!

mike said...

"An important function of the constant invocation of "5,000 years of China" and "Chinese dynasties" is that they normalize territories as "Chinese." That is why they are made."

That is exactly correct.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note in that article that not even CKS would be so bold as to appear through the Emperor Gate; but as for Mr. Ma...

Anonymous said...

The new Taipei Times website is horrible.

Now it looks like all the other ugly and useless Taiwan government websites. What on earth are they thinking?