Thursday, June 30, 2011

BREAKING: Prosecutors Go After Lee Teng-hui =UPDATED=

PLEA: All you academics on email lists discussing this -- it's time to stop discussing. The next open letter that comes around needs to have YOUR signature on it.

Back to the news...

Prosecutors announce that they will attempt to take out Lee Teng-hui for the crime of shepherding in Taiwan's democracy embezzling state funds.....AP reports
Former President Lee Teng-hui, one of the towering figures of modern Taiwanese politics, was indicted Thursday on charges of embezzling from a state fund, becoming the island's second ex-leader to run afoul of the judiciary.

Prosecutor Chen Hong-ta said Lee and top aide Liu Tai-ying had been charged with embezzling $7.79 million from a secret diplomatic fund.

In a statement, prosecutors said Lee embezzled the money from a National Security Bureau fund to set up a think tank meant to serve his private office after he left political life.

"Lee Teng-hui pocketed $7.79 million for his own personal use through money-laundering," the statement said. "In order to set up the Taiwan Research Institute, he consulted with his advisers and decided to get the money from a National Security Bureau project fund."

Prosecutors began looking into the case after Lee stepped down in 2000, and three years later charged the NSB's chief accountant with corruption. Those charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence.

Lee has repeatedly denied embezzling any NSB funds. His office had no immediate comment Thursday but said his lawyers would hold a news conference later in the day.
The strategy once again gives every appearance of being to smear the DPP's leaders with corruption charges to tarnish their legacy and reduce their influence. Smart. This will also enable a steady flow of negative news about the pro-democracy side during the upcoming election period. Lee must know where a lot of skeletons are in KMT closets, though.

Anyone remember the case of the missing documents?

Question on a listserv when this was posted: Who's next?

Whatever happens, this is likely to further exacerbate the split between the pro-China and pro-Taiwan sides in Taiwan politics and presages a brutal, bitter election season.

ADDED: A friend reminds that Tsai Ing-wen served on the National Security Council under Lee. She is likely the target by-proxy here. This will be accompanied by the usual nonsense accusations from the attack dogs of the other party.

ADDED: Another smart friend posits that the idea is to smear Tsai with dirty money allegations -- saying she was in on the establishment of the think tank that Lee allegedly embezzled the money for. This will harm her with people who like her clean image and reinforce the view that the KMT and DPP are the same anyway.

ADDED: Another friend points out that this may well be an attempt to rally the base.

LINKS: FocusTaiwan has some details of alleged money flows, etc.  BBC's report. WSJ's report is the best of the bunch by far.

MEDIA NOTE: AP writes:
Chen Shui-bian, who ended the Nationalists' 50-year monopoly on power when he succeeded Lee, is currently serving a 17-year jail term after being convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges.
Chen was not "convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges. He was cleared of embezzling state special funds (prosecutors lost that in court and then again twice on appeal) and so far has been convicted only of accepting bribes from the Koo clan -- a longtime KMT-connected family -- and in the Diana Chen case. Wouldn't it have been great if we lived in the alternate universe where AP reported that Chen had already been found innocent of the charges Lee is under indictment for? Instead we get served the formula "Ma the tension reducer and Chen the China provoker." Sad.

Note that the AP report does not locate the Lee indictment in the larger context of several other suspicious indictments of major opposition figures, actions that provoked international protest -- wouldn't it have been better to put that there instead of tired formulas about Ma and Chen? -- nor did it point out that the indictment comes as election looms -- the political context is entirely lacking.

Thanks for leaving out all that stuff, AP. When you do that, you force people to go read blogs to find out what's really going on.

ADDED: Some good comments below
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! Delenda est, baby.

Sad Destruction of the East Coast Continues

How small is an ant?
What is this ant doing with those tiny bugs? Are they aphids? Ant larva?

A Taipei Times commentary reports on yet another developer/local government nexus that is wrecking the environment, this one on the east coast:
Taiwan’s east coast has been subjected to a string of development projects that exploit the land and disregard environmental justice. Now, as the nation gets caught up in a rush to develop tourism, one more construction plan has been added to this sad list. On May 30, a meeting was called in Sansiantai Borough (三仙台) in Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), at which local residents were told that an environmental impact assessment for a building project in the area had been completed and that construction work would start after one week. Stunned by the sudden announcement, local residents demanded that the departments responsible for the project hold a second public meeting to better explain what impact the project would have. However, the departments in charge said that there was no reason to hold another meeting and that they were not duty-bound to do so because the required procedures had already been completed.

Serious problems are evident in several aspects of this case.

The project development site is located in the famous Sansiantai scenic area. Although the area is well-known, most people are probably not aware that the east coast’s last remaining intact coral reef is just nearby. This is the most beautiful diving spot on the east coast and it is an important haven for marine resources that are shared by Aborigines and fishermen. Studies by the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center of the Fisheries Research Institute and by members of Academia Sinica show that this small stretch of sea is home to 2.5 percent of the nation’s fish fry and fingerlings. They recommended that it be designated a marine conservation area. Unfortunately, the coral reef has already been degraded by mud and sand washed down from building sites on adjacent land and by overfishing. There is good reason to worry that the 12 hectare resort development project, in the course of its construction and future operation, will cause more damage to the coral reef and that the reef will be completely ruined.
Such projects are totally common throughout Taiwan. And things are only going to get worse, as the commentary notes:
Articles 10 to 12 of the version of the law favored by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which are to do with how land can be used, would give local governments the sole power to change the classification of usage for land and exempt them from the restrictions imposed by existing laws on land use. The proposed articles would also greatly reduce the time required for reviewing applications to change land-use designations to a maximum of one year. If these articles are approved, local residents, who are generally disadvantaged in their access to information, will be made even more vulnerable to procedural injustice than they already are.
Plans to wreck the east coast with "sustainable development" have been in the works since forever. Recently, with the advent of tourism from China, these plans have accelerated, becoming even bigge and more venal. See this post for more on the loosening of regulations. This week also revealed another nifty trick for getting around regulations -- call your land grab "a university expansion" and get the county government to carry it out.

Another project currently planned is to connect the ends of Route 26 through unspoiled terrain on Taiwan's east coast and thus complete the round the island road network the Ministry of Transport and Communications has dreamed of for years. Wild at Heart has more information.
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! Delenda est, baby.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chinese Free Independent Tourists Arrive

Independent tourism from China has begun here in Taiwan. This will be good for everyone. Unlike tour groups, which are detestable, I am looking forward to meeting independent Chinese tourists in Taiwan. Let's let the Kuomintang News Network have the call:
Lin Yuling, an individual Mainland tourist from Shanghai, said she was impressed with how courteous everyone in Taipei was, noting that compared with Shanghai, everyone here followed the rules. Lin explained that when she had studied in the US, she had hung out with Taiwanese classmates, so she got together with them last night at the Shida night market.

Zuo Liping, another tourist and the president of a lottery investment company in Beijing, visited the National Palace Museum yesterday afternoon and then enjoyed a Taiwanese feast at the Sheraton Hotel in Taipei. Yan Ying, another tourist from Beijing, had lunch in Hsinchu and enjoyed fried rice noodles and meatball soup (gongwantang) because of their fantastic reputation on the Internet. "The food all deserved its great reputation," Yan Ying added.  

Most individual Mainland tourists planned to visit places such as Sun Moon Lake, Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum, and local night markets. Moreover, two female managers, from Shanghai and Xiamen, underwent high-tech medical check-up at Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital after they arrived in Taiwan. They both stated that they were very impressed with Taiwan's medical services, adding that they would certainly visit Taiwan again.

Ye Suzhi and Ye Suzhen, two sisters, arrived in Taichung yesterday and stated in broken voices that they were in fact originally from Taiwan. However, the two sisters went on to say that after they had gone with their parents to visit their grandparents in Xiamen, Fujian Province, in 1949, they were unable to return to Taiwan because of the Chinese Civil War and had stayed in Xiamen for 62 years. The two sisters sighed, saying that the geographic distance between Xiamen and Taiwan was so short, but it had taken them "62 years to return home."
Basically, the tourists are there to help China advance its goal of annexing Taiwan, and for the KMT to show that its engagement with China is a success. The deal between Taipei and Beijing allows 500 individual travelers to enter Taiwan per day.
Daily Links:
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! Delenda est, baby.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Japanese Era Film of Taipei

Enjoy: 9 min Japanese era film of Taipei. Deepest thanks to the reader who sent me this!
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! Delenda est, baby.

Taichung Nightlife Shuttered

On Facebook today one of the denizens of the great city of Greater Taichung was complaining about the crackdown on bars: the local English newspapers haven't reported on it, but something like scores of bars and pubs have been closed down in a crackdown since the great pub fire a few months ago.

You may recall that a performer giving a show involving fire set the ceiling of a crowded pub on fire, resulting in the death of 9 and injury to 12. The pub was soon found to have the wrong kind of license for its operations, and the city instituted a crackdown. Since many restaurants and pubs had been operating with the wrong licenses while officialdom winked at them, they were all hurriedly closed. Over 300 apparently....
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! Delenda est, baby.

Taiwanese-Americans: Freedom House Needs Your Help

Taiwanese-Americans: Freedom House needs your help --

To make a donation, go to:

情義相挺 利己利人
請樂捐支持台灣最堅定的國際戰友「自由之家」(Freedom House)

在台灣爭取民主自由人權的漫漫長夜中,總部設在美國華府的「自由之家」(Freedom House)不棄不離不屈不撓﹐不斷為台灣在國際上發出正義之聲,讓台灣人民微弱的呼聲得以突破國民黨戒嚴體制的封鎖,實是台灣民主運動的最大支柱﹑最堅定的國際戰友。

最近隨著中國的快速崛起,國際上日益傾中,姑息的烈焰不但嚴重危及全人類文明社會公認的普世價值,更直接威脅台灣未來的獨立自主和民主自由。這是今天台灣面臨的最大危機。在這險峻的歷史關頭,「自由之家」除了每年出版世界各國自由度評鑒,繼續給中國等極權政府當頭棒喝以外,更在經費和人力非常有限的情況下(詳細請參見下附簡介)毅然決然站出來主動出擊,自去年底開始出版「中國媒體快報」( China Media Bulletin) 。用最快的速度讓最新的資訊公諸於世,以強化國際輿論對中國違反民主自由人權的關注,對抗見利忘義的國際逆流。


支票請寫Freedom House, 請寄Freedom House, 1301 Connecticut Ave NW, Floor 6, Washington, DC 20036。網路捐款請到。「自由之家」建議的捐款額是$100﹑$500﹑$1000﹑$5000或其他您力所能及的金額。企業﹑社團﹑個人都可捐款。「自由之家」為非營利組織,捐款可依法扣稅。



陳貞華(台灣團結聯盟美東主委)﹑蔡榮聰(北美洲台灣人醫師協會會長)﹑ 王政卿(前北美洲台灣人醫師協會會長)﹑賴弘典(紐約紐澤西台灣人社團聯合會會長)﹑ 蔡明峰(紐約台灣會館理事長)﹑林興隆(大紐約區台灣人筆會會長)﹑郭正昭(大紐約區台灣人筆會副會長)﹑林尚勝(大紐約區台灣同鄉會會長)﹑許伯丞(美東夏令會召集人)﹑林雅玲(前大紐約區台灣同鄉會會長)﹑林瑞葉(紐約台灣會館理事)﹑黃靜枝(前大紐約區台灣同鄉會會長)﹑邱瑞惠(台灣人公共事務協會紐約分會會長)﹑黃再添(紐約台灣研究所主任)

洽詢聯絡﹕ 黃再添 Tel: 718-381-5095 Fax: 718-381-5192 Email:

《敬附》「中國媒體快報」( China Media Bulletin)簡介

國際非政府組織「自由之家」( Freedom House) 是世界知名的民主人權研究機構,由美國羅斯福總統夫人愛蕾諾創始於1941年,至今已有70年的歷史。而其最受推崇的「民主自由度年度報告」、「世界各國新聞自由度年度報告」,評量全球196國家的政治、公民社會自由度及媒體環境,台灣朝野、國際社會、學術界皆相當重視。而在報告中,視台灣為主權獨立的國家、西藏為主權未定的領土,為此中國在聯合國中極盡刁難之能事,但「自由之家」仍堅守其立場。

為了因應中國的崛起、強調民主和新聞自由的重要性,「自由之家」自2010年11月推出「中國媒體快報」( China Media Bulletin),在短短幾個月,此週刊因公正報導中國言論自由的最新發展狀況,已受各界關注,讀者遍及世界各地,包括歐、美、中國各地的大使館、資訊業主管、學者、人權工作者,以及世界知名報社,如紐約時報、BBC新聞網、華爾街日報等駐中國特派記者。

而「中國媒體快報」相較於坊間學術刊物,其不同之處在於: 一、分類清楚,一目了然,而「海外新聞」中,追蹤許多中資傳媒及資訊企業在海外不為人知的發展消息,並解析全球華文媒體,其中包括新加坡和台灣等有關干涉新聞自由的議題。二、引用及翻譯多國媒體報導,包括歐美、台灣、中國官方及非官方等中英文新聞。且採用E-mail方式傳遞訊息,使無法自由瀏覽新聞網站的中國網民和外籍人士也可以順利得到最新消息。


您可能不知道「自由之家」在經費和人力上所面臨的巨大挑戰:「自由之家」的總部是在華府,但具有權威性與高知名度的「民主自由度」及「世界各國新聞自由度」等年度報告,是由位於紐約、僅有15位專員的研究部門,在極有限的經費下所完成。特別值得一提的是,目前負責「中國媒體快報」工作的是我們優秀的臺灣人第二代子弟。我們的支持也是對有理想的第二代最大的鼓舞。「自由之家」為一獨立的非營利機構,長期以來為推動民主自由不遺餘力,並時時發出正義之聲,曾經批評美國歐巴馬總統的人權政策即是一例,根據統計,全球不自由的人口約有二十二億,中 國即佔有60%,可見中國的民主化與否對於世界未來發展具有相當大的影響,而由「自由之家」所發行的「中國媒體快報」是一股積極正面的推動力量,為台灣及世界民主國家創造「多贏」的局面是我們努力的最終目標。

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! Delenda est, baby.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Does Washington get it?

A gaggle of motorcycle enthusiasts converges on 7-11 outside of Dahu.

Justin Logan writes in "Would China Really Just Shrug At US-Sponsored Taiwan Independence":
I didn’t want to get too far outside my lane at the event, but now that there’s a writeup in the public record, I wanted to comment on one suggestion that Joe Bosco made in his remarks: that the United States should make a formal commitment to defend Taiwan.

Bosco argued that Washington should do so and could simply wave off the PRC, informing them that “prudent choice for China” would be to “learn to get along with its neighbors and respect the international norm.” (It was not clear from his remarks whether there would be any limit to that commitment or whether Bosco would use the U.S. military to defend Taiwan even if conflict was precipitated by, say, a formal declaration of independence in Taipei.)
One hears this bogeyman again and again: Taiwan might declare formal independence. I am moved to wonder at the concrete mechanics of how such a thing could occur. Half the nation is pro-KMT; the military, police and bureaucratic officialdom are pro-KMT; the recent changes to the referendum and constitutional change laws make changes all but impossible; the legislature is run by the KMT and will be for the forseeable future; the President lacks the power, etc etc etc. Of the events likely to perturb things in the Taiwan Strait, a formal declaration of independence is the least likely. Does Washington really get that? Or does being a Taiwan expert mean only having to understand what other Beltway insiders think?

In addition to its impossible political mechanics, it is unlikely for another reason, and that is the Taiwanese consensus on the status of Taiwan: we're independent. The DPP has defined Taiwan as a sovereign independent state since the 1996 democratic elections. The KMT says Taiwan is the seat of an independent government. The public doesn't think about the legal niceties too clearly, it merely rests content with the idea that Taiwan is independent. Whatever that means.

Former AIT Chairman Richard Bush also raised this bogeyman, in another context, in a much discussed report (Bush's remarks are pored over like Sybilline Oracles; it must be hard for him to resist making jokes).
Regarding de jure independence, Bush said he has found that this choice for Taiwan’s future might possibly still exist, but it has been constrained.

“My conclusion is very simple: That 15 years after the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, China effectively deters Taiwan from making this choice — de jure independence. It builds up its military power in a significant way and is able when necessary to stimulate the United States to get involved in this issue,” he said.
China's military threat raises the issue of how a "declaration of independence" is defined. It is not difficult to imagine a situation where a DPP President simply reiterates the formulaic independence of an ROC-administered Taiwan and China using that as a pretext for an attack that was already long-planned. There's lots of wiggle room for interpretations about independence, and Washington is focusing on only the lowest probability outcome. Ultimately, it is Beijing that will decide whether Taiwan has declared independence.

Bush also said:
“I would like to say that political leaders need to work together to foster a better consensus on Taiwan’s core interests and how to protect them. As long as the political system remaines polarized and divided, that consensus cannot be built, and Taiwan cannot face the challenges of the cross-strait relations in an appropriate way,” Bush said.
The problem is the public's own view above: "we're independent" appears to me to be a major cause of the political divide. The Taiwan identity takes in the Blue-Green divide as part of itself; because people feel that they are somehow, hazily, independent, they feel safe voting for the pro-China party even when they are pro-independence, as most locals are. The real issue is getting Taiwanese to understand that the rest of the world does not share this breezy, undefined, not clearly explored assurance, something longtime Taiwan observer Robert Sutter noted in his most recent remarks on growing weakness of Taiwan relative to China, and the startling fact that the Taiwan public remains, at least on the surface, largely undisturbed by this phenomenon.

Other structural aspects interfere as well -- for some reason the public appears unable to connect its local voting with its international status -- KMT politicians get elected all the time in what should be pan-Green districts, and the legislature is abysmal, yet the public returns the same legislators to office year after year. Then it complains that the political system is paralyzed and outsiders complain no consensus is possible. The political system itself needs reform; the disastrous "reform" supported by the DPP several years ago has only made the problem worse.

Finally, there is the outside interference. If the US and observers like Bush want to see change, then it needs to stop. supporting. the. anti-consensus. side. The DPP and the pro-Taiwan side are the only team with an interest in consensus; division favors the KMT. And Beijing.

Longtime commentator Li Thian-hok outlined the nightmare scenario for the four month interregnum between a Ma defeat and a Tsai swearing-in:
Many Taiwanese who favor preserving Taiwan’s democracy and its de facto independence from China hang their hope on a victory by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January’s presidential election. A DPP victory is indispensable to Taiwan’s freedom, because a defeat would be regarded as an endorsement from a majority of voters of the KMT’s unification agenda. However, a victory by the DPP, while necessary, would not be sufficient to preserve the “status quo.” The KMT could still sign a peace accord with Beijing between January and May next year, thus formally surrendering to the PRC. If a victorious DPP refuses to honor the accord China could launch a military assault on Taiwan to coerce capitulation.
Brrrr..... this isn't very likely, but what would the US do? Especially if the DPP could be painted as disturbing the peace, changing the status quo (notice how that term has completely dropped out of cross-strait analysis since Ma came to power?) or declaring independence?
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! Delenda est, baby.

Daily Links, June 27, 2011

Rode up to Mingde Reservoir in Miaoli yesterday, an easy 130 km ride through the rolling hills of Miaoli on Rte 3. Lovely day with no real sun, cool and cloudy. Snapped this woman and the earth god shrine along the north side of the lake.

What's going on this week? Plenty.....

SPECIAL: The popular Shu Flies rocks the house this week with a great post on suits against bloggers and speech freedom in Taiwan


Lots of butterflies out on the flowers in the protected area around the reservoir.

TOTALLY NOT TAIWAN: PZ Myers with an interesting post w/video on an artist who makes casts of women's vulvas. Could be great comfort to those femmes out there who aren't sure whether they are normal because it shows the awesome variation in female private bits.
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! Delenda est, baby.

China digital times with leaked guide for internet posters?

China Digital Times posted a list of guidance for Chinese internet commentators, the infamous 50-center crowd. They all spur the usual sort of whining history-twisting we've come to know and love from that useless crowd, but the first one is the most important from our point of view:
(1) To the extent possible make America the target of criticism. Play down the existence of Taiwan.
If this leaked document is true, this first directive would tend to confirm what I've been saying -- that the CCP's strategy is to transfer tension between China and Taiwan caused by China's desire to annex Taiwan to the US-China and US-Taiwan relationship.
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! Delenda est, baby.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Water Woes in Taiwan -- in the Guardian

The Guardian hosted a piece on the island's water woes this week:
The per capita water consumption in Taiwan averages 271 liters (72 gallons) a day, higher than the average daily water usage of Europeans and even Americans. While agriculture continues to be Taiwan's most water-intensive industry, its semiconductor industry requires massive amounts of water and struggles to procure it.

One reason for the high consumption of water is the low rates paid by residents throughout the country – one-tenth the price paid in most of Europe. Citizens have reacted with scorn to calls for increased water rates, even though the proposed increase would mean that families would pay only about $0.27 (17 cents) more per 1000 liters of water. Meanwhile, Taiwan's high tech sector, which has a water recycling rate that varies between 65 and 85%, struggles to stay compliant with the government's water rationing policy.


While the attention paid to Taiwan's water troubles has focused on electronics companies, the agriculture industry consumes 70% of the island's water but contributes only 1.6% to its GDP. The government wants to boost its national food self-sufficiency rate from 32 to 40% , which would make Taiwanese farmers — who receive most of their water for free – an even more powerful political bloc.
This is a topic I've blogged on many times (most notably) and one near and dear to my heart. The Guardian piece is a good pass at the surface, but the hard choice isn't between agriculture and industry but between sustainable development and the construction-industrial state that dominates the nation's domestic political economy.
Daily Links:
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! Delenda est, baby.

Friday, June 24, 2011

=UPDATED= Tsai picks slogan: "Taiwan NEXT"

I sure hope the DPP's campaign slogan sounds better to second language listeners than native speakers. It's "Taiwan NEXT"....
“Taiwan NEXT” will be one of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) most prominent campaign slogans heading into next year’s elections, a party official said yesterday.

“These two words represent a lot to us,” spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) told the Taipei Times. “They represent something new and clear for the public. These two words will show the public exactly what values they are voting for.”
Fortunately, the KMT is vying with the DPP to see who can come with the most awkward, soporific Chinglish slogan. I think the KMT is winning that one, hands down:
The disclosure of Tsai’s election slogan follows President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) naming of his election campaign office as “Taiwan Cheers, Great.”
"Taiwan cheers, great". It may not be possible to write a more uneuphonious, arrhythmic slogan than that; it gives me heart palpitations just to hear it. UPDATED: I have now see the Chinese, it is in the comments. This is just the TT translation, and isn't very good. It actually says something like "Taiwan Go! Awesome!"  and contains a play on words that can't be translated. The slogan is not official in English.

This is just another example of the usual practice of not letting native speakers look at the English produced by institutions in Taiwan before it is made public. I feel like writing an open letter to the Tsai campaign:
Dear Dr. Tsai:

There are thousands of native speakers of English on this island, from many countries. Many have backgrounds in advertising, corporate communications, literature or the arts. Many of them are proud supporters of Taiwan. Why was this awkward campaign slogan, which sounds like an announcement of Beijing's expansion plans (Taiwan -- next!) permitted to see the light of day without thorough review by the pro-Taiwan English speaking community.

I sure hope this slogan sounds better to second language listeners.

Your strong supporter,

Michael Turton
Mad Blogger
.....except I'd have to send copies to all the museums and public buildings in Taiwan too.....

ADDED: Put your reactions and suggestions for slogans in the comments, please.

UPDATE: Apple Daily Poll has Tsai up by three points (here), 46-43. ERA TV also has Tsai up 3, 37-34 (here)

UPDATE II: A local media person just passed around the observation that "下一個台灣'' is the translation being used in the local Chinese language media.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indefensible Defense Declines =UPDATED=

I caught this couple near NCKU in Tainan doing wedding photographs in the food stalls across from the university. Way cool idea. 

WSJ was channeling me this week in a great editorial on what the US should do about Taiwan arms sales, arguing that US promises to provide Taiwan with the weapons it needs are "unkept" and that the US is letting Beijing's tantrums determine American foreign policy.
The Chinese will no doubt complain loudly about any proposed change to the TRA, just as they do when even modest arms sales to Taiwan are approved. Beijing has suspended military-to-military ties with the U.S. twice in the last three years over such sales. But it is the U.S. that encourages such histrionics by reinforcing the impression that it will eventually allow its abandonment of Taiwan to become a fait accompli.

A better strategy would be to set a long-term objective for returning Taiwan to a viable position of being able to defend itself, so that it could negotiate with the mainland from a position of strength. This would require reaching a bipartisan consensus on a program of future sales that would come into effect as long as China's offensive buildup continues. Future Administrations could then minimize the politicking by hewing to this program.

We suspect that once Beijing was conditioned to understand that its threats to hold the entire bilateral relationship hostage to this one issue were no longer working, the outbursts would subside. Perhaps then more constructive negotiations between China and Taiwan would proceed.
Someone remarked this week (Bonnie Glaser, I think) that it really doesn't matter if the US sells upgrades for Taiwan's existing F-16 or a new batch of 66 F-16 C/D versions, China is going to complain just the same. Since China is always going to complain, the US should just go ahead and do what's necessary.

Of course, the flip side of a US push for arms for Taiwan would be the Ma Administration forcefully promoting Taiwan's defense. Oops! For the Ma Administration has been slowly rolling back the defense budget, as the story went this week....
The Ministry of National Defense’s budget this year is NT$297.2 billion (US$9.2 billion), about 2.2 percent of GDP, despite a pledge by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to raise defense spending to 3 percent of GDP and calls from bipartisan -lawmakers to increase funding.


Some military officials are admitting that a delay in the 2015 deadline for an all-volunteer force is in the works because of financial difficulties.

“There are officials in the US who are questioning Taiwan’s own defense commitment. And an important indicator of that is the defense budget — a method to clearly show the US Taiwan’s determination,” Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan’s former representative to the US, told the conference in Taipei organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank. “America’s willingness to strengthen Taiwan security ties is related to our own [commitment].”

At stake in the reduced defense budget, which has gradually been rolled back to 2006 levels as both a percentage of government spending and the total sum since a high of NT$349.5 billion in 2008, are the continued sales of large arms packages from the US to Taiwan.
Yet another broken promise from Ma.

There was much speculation among pan-Greens that Ma is reducing the island's defenses in order to sell it out, but ofttimes such reductions have other, less nefarious bureaucratic and political origins.

Of course, the flip side of the Ma Administration actually getting serious about defense would be for officials and influential individuals in the US to develop a rational East Asian security policy, one that put the priority here in East Asia where the future is, and not in carrying out interminable, unwinnable wars in central Asia that are slowly breaking the US treasury and military while radicalizing an endless supply of recruits for the nation's enemies. Not to mention making new friends for Beijing while pacifying territories for the expansion of its influence. Brilliant moves...

This self-same week US and Japanese officials called for strong Asia-Pacific defense, as the Taipei Times reported:
Top US and Japanese defense and foreign affairs officials on Tuesday reaffirmed the US-Japan Alliance and called for peaceful resolution of disputes in the Taiwan Strait through dialogue, while admitting that plans to relocate US troops from a military base in Okinawa would miss their deadline.
From out here, the Obama Administration policy appears to be to gently shove Taiwan off into Beijing's arms, and then declaring that it will defend Japan -- presumably including the Senkakus, since the two nations have conducted military exercises there -- to the death.

In other words, US foreign policy at present appears to be to refuse to take seriously the defense of 23 million allies in a democracy that is a major trading nation, but to slaughter young men by the thousand over some uninhabited rocks in the desolate Pacific ocean.

This, Best Beloved, is what is known as a strong Asia-Pacific defense policy.

Meanwhile on that other flashpoint, the South China Sea, China once again warned the US to stay out of the South China Sea tussle, making veiled threats....
“Regarding the role of the United States in this, the United States is not a claimant state to the dispute,” the vice foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, told reporters on Wednesday. “So it is better for the United States to leave the dispute to be sorted out between the claimant states.”

Mr. Cui added, “I believe the individual countries are actually playing with fire, and I hope the fire will not be drawn to the United States.”
The NYTimes article pointed out that the US is committed by treaty to defending Philippines (the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty) which includes any attack "on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific". I wonder what the lawyers in the Obama Administration are going to say about the Philippines' claims in the South China Sea when it comes time to make a decision on "island territories under its jurisdiction."

As I have noted before, Taiwan is intertwined with all of China's territorial expansion: if Taiwan is annexed to China, its South China Sea claims will be annexed to China as well -- as will Taiwan's airbase in the area.

The US needs to rethink its Asia security plan, and it needs to start by supplying Taiwan with a robust assortment of weaponry, impressing on the Ma Administration the need for an upgraded commitment to defense, and upgrading mil-mil contacts with the Taiwan military.

UPDATE: Bill Geertz at the Washington Times' Inside the Ring reports:
A senior Republican senator plans to hold up the nomination of William J. Burns to be the deputy secretary of state because of the Obama administration’s delay in bolstering Taiwan’s defenses, Senate aides told Inside the Ring.

Sen. John Cornyn will use his authority to block a full Senate vote on the nomination of Mr. Burns, currently undersecretary of state for political affairs, until the administration approves new sales of F-16 jets to Taiwan. Specifically, the senator wants the State Department to inform Taiwan it will accept a formal letter of request from the Taiwan government to buy 66 new F-16s model C/Ds made by Lockheed Martin.

Additionally, the Texas Republican wants the Pentagon to turn over a long-delayed report to Congress that defense officials say highlights the growing air power imbalance between Taiwan’s air force and China’s military across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. The report was due to Congress 16 months ago.

According to defense officials, both the F-16 sale and the air-power report are being blocked by White House National Security Council staff aide Evan Medeiros, who is part of a group of administration officials opposing the F-16 sale because they believe it will upset U.S.-China military exchanges.
...."because they believe it will upset US-China military exchanges." You can't be serious.

REFDenny Roy on Asia's top security threats.
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Brookings Hosts Call for Taiwan to Enter Talks under One China rubric

This beautiful fellow stood, injured, on the floor of my building this morning.

Got momentarily confused between Brookings and Xinhua today as the think tank hosted a piece from a Chinese academic on Taiwan-China relations that offered some bizarre claims. Are their commentaries not fact-checked before being posted? *Sigh*
Therefore, the DPP would continue its basic line on Taiwan independence and opposition to anything related to Mainland China (feng zhong bi fan), including even welcoming pandas from Mainland China to zoos in Taiwan, now and in the future. The DPP and Pan-Green not only irrationally oppose Mainland China and anything related to Mainland China as their strategy, positions, and policies, they also insist on the confrontational, irrational, even violent approaches to carry out their strategies and policies, including physically beating the Mainland officials or former officials going to Taiwan for exchanging views and talks when those officials are on streets, visiting sites, or in buildings in Taiwan.
It is one thing to allow academics to state their opinions and provide analysis; it is quite another to permit sheer propaganda. It is shameful that someone was allowed to write this nonsense and have it posted under the Brookings imprimatur. No visiting Chinese officials have ever been "physically beaten" in Taiwan. Opposition to being annexed by the authoritarian PRC, where pro-democracy types are routinely incarcerated, is not "irrational."  Letting an academic from a state where dissent is crushed by violence make propaganda accusations that the pan-Greens are "violent" is unconscionable. Wanna see violence? Look up White Terror and martial law in Taiwan history....

On the other hand, perhaps it is good that everyone can see what supposedly serious academics from Beijing actually think.

However, despite the bizarre claims about the DPP, coming from the side that points missiles at Taiwan and promises to murder Taiwanese wholesale in order to annex their land, Chu did argue that the two sides should talk to each other, government to government....
And can one country have two equal-level of “central governments”? Normally, a state should not. But the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not a normal state, therefore they cannot have completely normal governmental relations. In such a circumstance, they should accept and recognize the other as a “central government” within the “one China.” They should accept and work with the facts that there are two equal level governments within the current framework, and should normally call each other as the normal leaders and officials of a normal government.
Chu also called for a framework to normalize relations between the two sides. If you squint, this might seem something like sanity, but in fact it is the usual pro forma invocation of Beijing's claims that Taiwan is part of China. The piece is simply a long argument calling for political talks on the basis that Taiwan and China are "split" and that the Taiwan side should recognize that it is part of China. The framework he proposes is really just a stealth annexation of Taiwan under Beijing's One China rubric.

While Chu tends to blame the pro-Taiwan side for any problems that might arise with this little annexation fantasy, the reality is that nobody in Taiwan wants to be yoked to the PRC and so the next Ma Administration may be no more supportive of open and formal political talks than the current incarnation, whatever the KMT and CCP might be saying to each other in private. However, the DPP and the pan-Greens do make a nice whipping boy for the complete failure of Beijing to convince Taiwanese that being annexed to China would really be a good thing.

Meanwhile, speculation runs rampant. Why would Brookings host such an obviously propabombastic piece as if it were a serious piece of analysis? Is it a signal of some kind?
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Landmark Free Speech Ruling

A court in -- where else? -- Taichung handed down a landmark ruling on free speech, sentencing a local blogger to 30 days and $7,000 US in compensation to the owner for giving a restaurant a negative review.....
After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams.

The restaurant’s owner, surnamed Yang (楊), learned about Liu’s blog post from a regular customer, and filed charges against her, accusing her of defamation.

The Taichung District Court ruled that Liu’s criticism of the restaurant exceeded reasonable bounds and sentenced her to 30 days in detention, a ruling that Liu appealed.
The High Court found that Liu’s criticism about cockroaches in the restaurant to be a narration of facts, not intentional slander.

However, the judge also ruled that Liu should not have criticized all the restaurant’s food as too salty because she only had one dish on her single visit.
This brilliant ruling will surely be cited by free speech advocates everywhere as the judges have done a wonderful job protecting free speech. This is the kind of ruling that should be trumpeted around the world, so the greatness of the Taiwan Court system is manifest for all nations to see. Truly this is a wise and humane judgement. I bow to the superior wisdom of these black-robed gods. Now that this judgment has been made, I will never again feel a chill in the air of freedom in Taiwan!

Additional foreign blogger commentary from the Writing Baron, Lao Ren Cha, Echo, and OzSoapbox. These benighted souls clearly lack the acuity to see the unabashed greatness of this key ruling, to grasp its unalloyed goodness, how it has made their lives freer and safer in every way. Go back to your Cheeto-clogged, pajama-strewn basements!

UPDATED: Longtime commenter M says she got 30 days, suspended.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daily Links, June 20, 2011

I love these beetles with the transparent body parts. The grid is the screen of a screen door.

What's transparent on the blogs this week?


NOT TAIWAN: A blog devoted to Famous Dead Mormons, like Alexander the Great and George Carlin.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

AFP on the youth of Taiwan, struggling to carve out an identity

AFP video report on the rudderless youth of Taiwan, whose identity exists only in context with China's, and who came of age in the 3 years of the Ma Administration: "As Taiwan's ties with China grow closer, the island's younger generation face tough choices -- and struggle to carve out their own identity."

Hard to talk about the issue of Taiwanese identity in just a couple of minutes, so give them some points for at least trying.
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South China Sea Round Up: China angles for Ma Admin Cooperation?

Map of the South China Sea claims

The current UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)(Wiki summary) began as a conference in in 1973 and was concluded in 1982. It replaces sets of treaties on the territories and their surrounding ocean control dating back to 1958, along with earlier customary and legal practices. Because it enables nations to claim the seabed and oceans surrounding what are essentially uninhabited and useless rocks in the sea, it has led to situations of overlapping claims and tension in several areas of the world as nations rush to grab previously undefined and unclaimed territory, and manufacture "historical" reasons to claim it.

It's been dominating the news lately....

Ian Storey, who writes frequently on China and its neighbors, was interviewed at NBR this week on the South China Sea. He was asked:
What are the chances of conflict breaking out as a result of the disputes?
I do not think there is any immediate danger of a full-blown conflict in the South China Sea, as this is in no country’s interests. What worries me is the increasing frequency of skirmishes at sea involving warships, vessels from maritime agencies, survey ships, and fishing boats, which raises the risk of an accidental clash at sea. Such a clash, which could easily escalate into something more serious, would raise tensions even further and fuel instability. Unfortunately, there are no conflict avoidance mechanisms in place between China and the countries of Southeast Asia. There is thus an urgent need to implement such mechanisms before tense stand-offs spiral out of control.
This position is a common one. James Manicom at The Diplomat argued that the row between Japan and China over the Senkakus, which led to an agreement to jointly exploit the Chunxiao Field nearby, shows that these conflicts need not result in war. But as Manicom notes, Japan has a substantial military and is backed by the US, whereas Vietnam is no match for China and the Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas is no threat either. In the South China Sea, things may not end in war simply because the side opposed to China is incapable of offering it. Unless the US decides to stick a hand in.....

The interesting news this week is that China let drop a hint it wants cooperation with Taiwan on the South China Sea. The Jamestown Brief has the call...
Press release No.186, issued by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 7, emphasized Taiwan’s support for the U.S. position on the principle of “freedom of navigation” (, June 7; Wen Wei Po [Hong Kong], June 8). On June 15, Yang Yi, spokesman for the Chinese State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, responded that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters, and that people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait have a shared responsibility to safeguard sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters (Xinhua News Agency, June 15). Yang’s statement has been interpreted by some Chinese media as Beijing’s desire to cooperate with Taiwan on managing maritime disputes in the region (Global Times, June 17).
Readers may recall that there was some talk of CCP-KMT cooperation on the Senkaku issue as well. China has a basic packet of behaviors it engages in irrespective of the territory it is currently targeting, and if Taiwan is involved, angling for cooperation from the KMT is one. Readers familiar with the Tibet situation will recall that KMT agents among Tibetan groups in India and elsewhere, while opposing the CCP, also attempt to block moves that support Tibet regaining its independence.

However, the Jamestown Brief notes that the Ma Administration's moves to beef up Taiwan's military presence in the area may separate it from China:
The Ma government’s emphasis on the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea is a subtle but significant departure from the administration’s low-key approach and could have important implications for cross-Strait relations. Coupled with the Taiwanese government’s plan to possibly deploy patrol vessels and additional military assets on the disputed islets may signal a rethink and a possible shift in the administration’s position on maritime disputes vis-à-vis China. Indeed, in spite of the growing tensions and conflict in the South China Sea, since President Ma came into office in 2008, Taiwan had been relatively quiet about the South China Sea. This led some observers to suspect that the Ma administration was leaning too much toward China (China Post, April 18). If, in fact, the Ma administration intends to draw a distinction between Taiwan’s and China’s interpretation of its territorial claim, it would demonstrate Taiwan as an independent claimant to the dispute. This will likely lead to more friction between Taiwan and China over competing maritime claims. Amid growing concerns about his administration’s increasing tilt toward China, Ma’s shift may be seen as a sign of reassurance by the current government to regional neighbors and the United States that it will maintain a balance while still pursuing cross-Strait rapprochement.
This move will also pay dividends domestically. The Chen Administration also milked military posturing in the South China Sea to make itself look tough at home.

Another common tactic China uses in its territorial expansion is to attempt to prevent internationalization of the issue. This week China took another verbal shot at nations attempt to bring in outsiders (the US, in other words). China's goal is to face down the smaller nations individually. Since the nations bordering the South China Sea have conflicting claims to the region, this may not be difficult.

Meanwhile, the news this week rolled. Absurdly, Philippines has begun calling the South China Sea "the West Philippine Sea", exampled in this report of Manila urging the UN to enforce the UNCLOS. For the third straight week protesters convened outside the China embassy in Hanoi, protesting Chinese moves against Vietnam in the area. Philippines also removed wooden border markers on what it considers its territory, but carefully refrained from speculating about whose they might be.

China's position on the South China Sea is also reviewed at In "Creeping Jurisdiction Must Stop" the authors argue:
China’s claims to those resources rest in part on historic claims illustrated in a map in which a series of nine dashed lines indicate some degree of jurisdiction over virtually all of the waters of the region (a similar claim has been made by Taiwan). With regard to U.S. naval operations, China has argued that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) prohibits foreign military operations within its EEZ, a contention found nowhere in the text of the convention itself. China has raised the stakes by stating that control of the South China Sea and its resources is a core national interest on par with its claims to Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang.

Yet Chinese claims are ambiguous. Does the nine-dash chart signify territorial claims to the South China Sea and the seafloor, or does it apply only to the rocks and their territorial sea within the marked zone? Are the claims really a “core interest,” or are they a starting point for negotiating the division of fishing and energy resources of the region?
I don't think the claims are a starting point for negotiation but a simple declaration which sooner or later China will have to back up by force. The fact that the dashed lines go through the EEZ of the Natuna Islands (Indonesia) suggests that it is the seafloor and economic resources China is claiming. Why else draw the line there?

Note that despite pious commentary from US officials on UNCLOS, the US has signed but never ratified that agreement, it merely says it will follow it. However, DoD officials are keenly aware of how this weakens the US position, and in the recent 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, argued that the US should accede to UNCLOS.
The effect of changing climate on the Department's operating environment is evident in the maritime commons of the Arctic. The opening of the Arctic waters in the decades ahead which will permit seasonal commerce and transit presents a unique opportunity to work collaboratively in multilateral forums to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region. In that effort, DoD must work with the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security to address gaps in Arctic communications, domain awareness, search and rescue, and environmental observation and forecasting capabilities to support both current and future planning and operations. To support cooperative engagement in the Arctic, DoD strongly supports accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
While DoD is discussing the Arctic, another flashpoint being heated up by the humans around it, this also applies to the South China Sea; it is ridiculous for Washington to accuse China of not following a convention that the US has never officially ratified.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen interviewed on BBC

I took this pic of Dr. Tsai several years ago in front of the Hall With Two Names in Taipei. That's David Reid's hand and camera there. 

Tsai Ing-wen interviewed by BBC. If you can get past the marginalizing, obnoxious and unprofessional opening introduction, you can see how articulate Dr. Tsai is: "China has to look at things from a new perspective."

Don't miss Jason Cox's analysis of the CCP's response to this interview.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think this article suggests that all bodes well for the Greens. First, Tsai picking her fight with the CCP position instead of the KMT's version of '92 could and should be the start of a brilliant campaign strategy. Second, repeated and explicit Chinese rejection of the One Side, One Country formula is exactly the sort of thing that would help bolster explicit support in Taiwan for that same formula (so don't expect to see much about it in the blue press).  And finally, maybe there's already hope that a Tsai win and rejection of One China wouldn't mean the end of finding a way to conduct dialogue.
Yes....if Tsai is elected, China will face a dilemma. The strategy of using economic integration to bring Taiwan into the fold depends.... on good relations with Taiwan. If Tsai is elected China will not be able to follow its strategy with the Chen Administration -- the policy of causing tension and then blaming Chen Shui-bian -- not without the source of tensions being obvious. Chen Shui-bian was president during the period when China was still the Peaceful Riser ©  and not the "increasingly assertive" state it is now. If Tsai wins out, China will have to figure how to negotiate with the DPP and Dr. Tsai.

As Jason points out, Tsai is subtly leveraging Beijing's One China position to attract votes in Taiwan. She is also putting the onus for tension on China by highlighting how intractable it has become.

I'm curious to see how the foreign media will handle Tsai Ing-wen and post-election tension-mongering by the CCP. Will Tsai suddenly morph into a Taiwan Independence Radical Who Provokes Beijing?
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Congressional Hearing

Defense News reports that US lawmakers on both sides of the US aisle are united in support of F-16 sales to The Beautiful Isle, putting more Congressional pressure on the Obama Administration to sell F-16s to Taiwan:
U.S. lawmakers across party lines have stepped up pressure on President Barack Obama to sell F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, with some accusing the administration of showing deference to China.

"With over 1,600 missiles pointed directly across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan needs the means to defend itself from the threats and intimidation," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Taiwan needs the next generation of F-16 fighter jets now in order to protect its skies," she said at a June 16 committee hearing.
These statements came at a hearing on Thursday on Why Taiwan Matters. Chairman Ross-Lehtinen's opening statement is online here. Randall Schriver, head of the Project 2049 Institute and longtime Taiwan supporter, testified at the Committee meeting (Testimony). Schriver makes two excellent points (1) arms sales have coincided with key moments in Taiwan-China relations and have not upset relations and (2) arguments for abandoning Taiwan are unsound but should be treated with respect because the people making them have gravitas. (I'm going to ask Schriver if he is willing to make an exception for bloggers on (2)).... anyway, he observes:
However, there have been few repercussions of arms sales for cross-Strait relations. We can document that cross-Strait breakthroughs often occur after U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are announced. Notably, the so-called ‘1992 Consensus’ occurred shortly after the largest U.S.-Taiwan arms deal up to that point in time was announced. More recently, the Congressional notification of $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan in January 2010 preceded the conclusion of ECFA by a mere few months. Furthermore, ECFA negotiations were not interrupted by the notification. These breakthroughs demonstrate that arms sales give Taiwan the confidence it needs to get to the negotiating table and engage in constructive talks with China. They demonstrate that the United States’ military partnership with Taiwan is paying dividends. Why then should policy change? The increasing economic and political cooperation between
China and Taiwan is a sign that the United States should remain committed to Taiwan’s military needs.

Nonetheless, some prominent former officials, former high ranking military officers, and scholars are now arguing in favor of revising the TRA and reducing (or eliminating) our arms sales to Taiwan. While these views do not represent the mainstream, the arguments are being made by serious, credible people – and we should therefore treat their views with equal seriousness, owing to their stature in the policy or academic community rather than the soundness of their arguments.
June Teufel Dreyer, an expert in things PRC and also a staunch supporter of Taiwan, also testified (testimony). She noted, apparently referring to Foreign Affairs:
To add to Taiwan’s anxiety over official waffling and misstatements, a U.S. journal typically described as influential has run articles advocating that the United States, by various means, abandon the island. The journal has published no articles articulating a different point of view, leaving Taiwanese to wonder if its parent organization, widely regarded as reflecting official thinking, is heralding a change of government policy or whether that organization is simply biased in favor of the PRC.
Testimony of Mr. Rupert J. Hammond-Chambers, head of the US-Taiwan Business Council, and Ms. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, an academic specialist in East Asia, is also available online.

This week former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi's piece in the Taipei Times reviewed the influence of Congress on US-Taiwan relations over the years:
This closer scrutiny is good. At pivotal moments in history, Congress has played a key role in shaping US policy toward Taiwan and its people. In early 1979, after the administration of then-US president Jimmy Carter had severed diplomatic relations with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Congress stepped in and drafted the TRA, which stipulates that peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and a peaceful resolution to Taiwan’s future are key elements of US policy.

A few years later, in the early and mid-1980s, Congress again played a key role: This time in Taiwan’s transition to democracy. Then-senators Ted Kennedy and Claiborne Pell, together with representatives Steven Solarz and Jim Leach, held frequent hearings and made statements urging the KMT to lift martial law and establish a multiparty political system.

This happened in 1986 and 1987, after which Taiwan made its momentous transition to a fully democratic political system. The first elections for all seats of the Legislative Yuan took place in 1992 and the first presidential elections by popular vote in 1996.

During the years of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Congress yet again played a key role, this time in convincing the administration of former US president Bill Clinton to allow Lee to visit his alma mater, Cornell University. As chairman of the board of the American Institute in Taiwan it was my honor to welcome Lee to Cornell.
Whether Congress can get the Administration to move is highly problematic. Much of the posturing is theatre (but a hearty round of applause for Steve Chabot's condemnation of the treatment of Chen Shui-bian) but it does send a symbolic message. Paul Mozur at WSJ reviews the hearing here, noting that nobody from the State Department showed up. Sad.

Disheartening, alas, is the reality that the two Administrations, Obama and Ma, appear to be coordinating policy so that the Ma Administration can keep asking for F-16s it really doesn't want, the Obama Administration can keep stalling, and the US Congress can keep posturing. Because the Ministry of National Defense slashed the 2012 acquisition budget for the F-16s from hundreds of millions of dollars to just $10 million, AP reported this week....
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Luo said his ministry can adjust the budget once Washington approves the deal without offering an exact number on the size of the budget reduction.

"As the U.S. still has not reached a decision on the sale, we will lower the budget next year so our limited defense budget can be used somewhere else," Luo said. "Our firm commitment to procure the weapons remains unaffected."

Taiwan's mass circulation Liberty Times reported Monday the budget for F-16s will shrink from hundreds of millions of dollars to $10 million in 2012.
Those F-16s are a public policy Zeno's Paradox: with each step we move half the previous step closer to obtaining the aircraft, but never actually reach them.

Of course, you could read this as Taiwan pushing the US: make the damn sale or we'll use the money elsewhere. But history suggests not.... gone down the memory hole: KMT prevents arms purchase, including F-16s, from reaching the floor of the Legislative Yuan over 60 times.

And remember these grand old days from 2006, when the Chairman of the KMT and the Speaker of the Legislature assured the US that the proposal would go forward?
They have assured the US several times going back almost a year, dating back to Richard Bush's meeting with Wang Jin-pyng back in December, that they have taken US demands into account. KMT Chair Ma Ying-jeou and Wang promised again back in May to move the arms proposal forward. Visits to Washington by both men brought promises. Over the summer and fall there were other apparent indications of Blue softening. Each time, however, Pharoh's heart was hardened, and the arms purchase was kept in bondage in the procedural committee.
It's Goundhog Day, with F-16s.
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