Thursday, June 02, 2011

Random Thoughts and Observations

Today in class I asked the students to write about three major problems for Taiwan's future. One student eventually mentioned bullying, which apparently haunts many students years into their future. Paul M Fussell once remarked that Americans spend adulthood getting revenge for what happened to them in high school, but Taiwan seems to be even worse. Do you think the Chinese leaders who bully Taiwan learned that in junior high?

Here's a headline you'll see more of: Gates to Reassure Asian Allies. As all our pomp of yesterday becomes one with Ninevah and Tyre, expect to see more headlines down the years in the generic form (HIGH RANKING PERSON) to reassure (NERVOUS ALLIES) until at last we reach Sec of Defense reassures Mayor of Honolulu....

Meanwhile Adm Willard, the US Navy's chief in the Asia-Pacific region, expresses concern about Chinese territorial expansion in the South China Sea. Not only is Taiwan linked to that increasingly tense issue by its direct claims on the area, but it also has a large military base on an important island in the South China Sea. This shows that you can't advocate quietly handing off Taiwan to China without (1) strengthening China's claims to the South China Sea via eliminating a rival claimant whose claims it now takes over and (2) handing Beijing a major military installation in the area. Beijing's territorial claims are both intertwined and self-reinforcing. What will Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi say when Chinese jets operate out of Taiwan's former base on Dongsha Island in the Spratlys?

Local politics: As we slouch toward the January election to be rebooted, KMT Vice President Siew will not seek re-election. Siew suffered a slew of health problems during his term. This leaves Ma and the KMT free to pick someone young and energetic and Taiwanese. Tell me who you think he should pick in the comments below.

Collin Spears asks whether ECFA will be the end of Ma if the Taiwanese don't choose right..... in this piece which links to me (and therefore is totally awesome, thanks Collin!) he writes:
The landmark agreement is not helping Ma in Taiwan as much as some Western critics tend to think.  Ma’s Taiwanese critics contend that the economic data he flaunts as proof of the  ECFAs success are not coming from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), but China, therefore they are bias.  Further, they argue that Ma’s policies do nothing but to further hollow-out the island’s industrial base, which only benefit the wealthy while taking Taiwan from a industrial economy to a service economy which is ever increasingly dependent on the Mainland.  At the same time, Taiwan, due to Beijing’s objections, is unable to make independent trade deals with many of its neighbors (such as the ASEAN states), due to China’s diplomatic objections, which it uses as blackmail for “good behavior”.  In fact, opponents point to Tung Chen-yuan, a professor at Taipei’s National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies, who claims that the ECFA has not been responsible for an increase in exports to China, because no increases occured:
The Ma Administration dug its own grave -- had they not attempted to gain public support by constantly conjuring up new, urgent, mortal threats that Taiwan could only dealing with by signing ECFA now now now, the public would not now be expecting that ECFA would bring them two chickens in every pot of san bei ji. Imagine an alternate universe where ECFA had been put forward in a low key and rationale manner, instead of being presented as a panacea for the island's economic problems.

Off to town to drink tonight at a couple of expat happy hours. Hope to see you there!
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.


Ben Goren said...

My gut says he might ask Wang jin-pyng for the southern votes but the two have a long running rivalry so I think that's unlikely. Premier Wu is one candidate though again the problem here is convincing anyone high up in the KMT to become Ma's wingman and then Veep, a position with almost no function or real power.
Eric Chiu is New North City Major which I don't think he'll give up so Ma might pick a young female tru-blue to counter Tsai's appeal.

David on Formosa said...

It seems almost certain that Ma will choose Premier Wu Den-yih as his running mate. However, if he wants to do something unpredictable he could choose one of the following:

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) - undoubtedly the conscience of the KMT

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Wang Ju-hsuan (王如玄) - another woman who would bring some freshness to the campaign

Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) - an indigenous person to make up for Ma's lack of understanding of indigenous people

FOARP said...

"KMT Vice President Siew will not seek re-election.

Wait, I thought he was supposed to stick around next year so he at the rest of the KMT hard-liners could welcome the PLA tanks landing at Danshui as part of the KMT's long-planned 2012 anschluss . . . or something.

Herman said...

Been faithfully reading your latest posts and others' comments. It's like a quicksand, really hard to get away once in.

Just checked out Google but found little info about Paul M Fussell. Is he a writer? Saw some Amazon book listing: "The Great War and Modern Memory", "Class: A Guide Through the American Status System", "Poetic Meter and Poetic Form". Is he the author of those books? That remark about effect of bullying on Americans suddenly gives me lots of ideas. I had no inkling of this at all before.

I look forward to reading more about what your students say about bullying and what they see as the problems for Taiwan's future. Meanwhile I come across a news item from Yahoo: pictures of Spelling Bee contestants.

I've always enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading the captions. If you show some pictures to students and have them come up with captions. Either Chinese or English. And translate those in Chinese into English. Would that be a fun learning activity for an English class? Just a diversion from all the serious problems.

Anonymous said...

The issue DPP will have to confront in regards to ECFA and cross-strait policy in general, is that while a majority are unhappy with Ma's performance on these issues (good for DPP), according to recent polls, they do in general agree with the direction he's going (good for KMT). The DPP can point to ECFA etc. problems to attract voters, but if they pull away from increased relations with China they'll alienate just as many. They need to propose a workable policy based on what the current govt have already put into motion if they're to have any success. Otherwise, they should steer well clear of the issue all together.

On the transition from industrial to service economy, that's usually seen as a sign of a mature and advanced economy, so it's not such a bad thing. Highlighting job losses etc in that sector is risky because it can easily be spun the other way to show an increase in higher paid service sector jobs.

Michael Turton said...

Is there an increase in higher paid service jobs? Much of that is also taking place in China, where Taiwanese are hired as good bargain for their skills and education.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious why your students didn't mention plasticizer in their daily foods and drinks.

EconP said...

Tsai is talking about the fundamental issues with jobs and industry in Taiwan in a globalizing world. Not rabble rousing, but super exciting from a rationalist's perspecive: