Friday, June 29, 2012

Beef: The Shut-out

An old rail line for shipping ore down to the processing facility in Jinguashi. It's a crying shame that this facility is simply rotting in the sun.

GONDORFF: He's gonna hit ya with 20 grand, Eddie. How much cash we got?
NILES: Not enough to cover a bet that big.
GONDORFF: Get a couple extra guys in the line, then. We'll give him the shut-out.

I'd say it's good to be back on the blog, but really, beef? Again. Argh.

A few posts ago, I squinted hard at The Beef Game:
The KMT doesn't want this resolved. If the President wanted a resolution he could just issue an executive order and be done with it. Rather, the party leadership wants this impasse. This is all theatre designed to distract and annoy. If the legislature isn't doing something, well, then it isn't doing anything about the two most important near-term items it should be looking at: the capital gains tax (when was the last time you heard anyone talking about that?) and the land value assessment that hasn't been raised since 1987 (totally vanished from the discourse). That latter item is crucial; it has made land into a tax shelter for the wealthy. Addressing these issues is critical for reversing the upward wealth redistribution in Taiwan. Now neither of these things are on the legislative agenda and more importantly, neither is appearing in the media, which, in its best Golden Retriever style, is focusing on beef pant beef pant beef pant beef pant. Woof!
The beef issue is generally credited with the US suspending the TIFA talks on a trade agreement with Taiwan in 2007. It's not apparent to me whether it is the reason for the suspension, or just an excuse. As I noted in that post, the beef issue has assumed a massive symbolic importance in US eyes.

Yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs averred that there was no timetable for a resolution of the beef issue:
Taiwan's government said Friday that it has never promised Washington it will resolve the long-running dispute over U.S. beef imports by a certain time, denying a report stating Taipei's intention to handle the issue after the presidential election in January.
I would bet money that Taipei said a few things that made the US think it had been promised something. Remember in the glorious spring of our youth years ago when Ma, then Chairman of the KMT, promised the US he'd get the arms deal done?

MOFA denies that there is a timetable but in reality there is a deadline. The Taipei Times reported today on a PFP legislator who said the public supports a ban on ractopamine, pointing out that....
“The UN’s Codex Alimentarius Commission is meeting next month and is probably not going to set a residual allowance level for ractopamine, which means ractopamine would not be allowed at all in food,” Lee said. “We should follow the Codex’s standards.”
Imagine that! Of course the Administration knows full well that the Codex Commission is looking at racto standards next month. It is hard to avoid concluding that the legislature has now done its job of stalling long enough so that the July UN Comission meeting, which as the PFP legislator observes, is likely to say nyet to ractopamine at any level, can provide the Administration with more excuses to stall or even piously say, "O so regretful, but we'd like to be in compliance with international standards and thus can't allow any ractobeef into Taiwan. And the public is overwhelmingly against letting it in." And the beef issue will remain to foul up Taiwan-US relations even as AIT officials announce that the relationship is great after the beef mess fades into the next big relationship problem....

I'd just like to point out that the beef issue between the US and Taiwan is mirrored by the Senkakus between Japan and the KMT Administration. From time to time Taipei "reminds" Tokyo that the Senkakus belong to the ROC and have since oil was announced there in 1968 for every picosecond of the last 5,000 years. Taiwan's quiet reiteration of its South China Sea claims serve to drive wedges between it and potential allies to the south. But I'm sure that the KMT Administration's intoning of these territorial claims cannot be meant to maintain irritants in the relationship and isolate Taiwan.
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.

No comments: