Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Links

Did 120 kms today to Guguan and back. Lovely skies and a strong tailwind made the ride a joy.

Too busy to blog today, so enjoy a few 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.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paper on Parade: The Diaoyutai Islands on Taiwan’s Official Maps: Pre- and Post-1971

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

I cracked open the mail this morning and found to my joy that longtime reader and friend FM had alerted me to this paper entitled The Diaoyutai Islands on Taiwan’s Official Maps: Pre- and Post-1971 (Asian Affairs: An American Review, 39:90–105, 2012) by Ko-hua Yap, Yu-wen Chen, and Ching-chi Huang. Many thanks, FM! (apologies to Scott Simon, still have to finish my post on his excellent paper on headhunting. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).

As I noted yesterday in the long post, and many times in the past, the Senkakus "dispute" dates from the announcement of oil there in 1968. What Yap et al do in this paper is go over in fine detail the same information that the blogs I've pointed to present for Taiwan, with some delicious discoveries. I will leave out their discussion of certain international cases that might bear on the Senkaku issue and move along to their map presentation. Onward!

Yap et al succinctly summarize the issues:
"This research report is the first to present irrefutable evidence of the ROC government’s change of position from excluding to including the Diaoyutai Islands in the ROC’s territory in the early 1970s. The evidence lies in cartographic information produced by the ROC government before the 1970s, which had always tacitly assumed that the Diaoyutai Islands were part of the Ryukyu Islands, not under the ROC’s sovereign control. Not until 1971 and 1972 did the Taiwanese government modify official maps—such as national atlases, military topographic maps, and maps in national textbooks—labelling the Diaoyutai Islands as part of Taiwan or using the “Taiwanese name” (i.e., Diaoyutai Islands, Tiaoyutai Islets) to identify these islands."
The first case they present is one of the things I mentioned yesterday: the Taiwan Statistical Abstract. From 1946 to 1971, they observe, this text identified the northernmost point of Taiwan as Pengjia Islet, one of the three small islands off the northeast coast of Taiwan. But on Dec 2, 1971 the Executive Yuan announced that the Senkakus/Diaoyutai belonged to China and were administrated by Yilan county. The 1972 abstract was then duly altered, and Kuba Jima and Taisho Jima in the Senkakus were presented as the northernmost and easternmost points of Taiwan, respectively, thus creating a great trivia question for stumping the locals.

They then move on to the official maps. First they present the National War College maps, which as I noted yesterday, between 1959 and 1972 identified the Senkakus as Japanese and even used their Japanese names for them, never noting any controversy. They write:
"Evidence of the ROC’s shift of stance on the Diaoyutai Islands is also displayed in the NWC productions. For instance, in the National Atlas of China Vol. 1, the theme of which is Taiwan Province, the Diaoyutai Islands were not included in the first (1959), second (1963), or even third (1967) editions. It was only in 1972, when the fourth edition of the National Atlas of China Vol. 1 was published, that the Diaoyutai Islands were shown as part of Taiwan’s territory."

The figure above shows the 1959 map (unchanged in 1963 and 1967) of Taiwan from the National Atlas of China Vol I. The 1972 map, shown below, has suddenly added the Senkakus as the territory of China in the new inset box on the left. Then they, note, something else new appeared on this map:
It is equally interesting to note that, on the copyright page of the revised version, a line states that “the delineation of boundaries on the maps must not be considered authoritative.” This line never appeared in the original edition or in any other volumes of the National Atlas of China or the Grand Atlas of the World.
Yap et al argue that (obviously) the line appeared there because the mapmakers knew perfectly well that they could not backdate their claim to the Senkakus because the previous maps undermined their claim. Further, they note, the revision was prepared in a rush and the proofreaders appeared to have missed that the index still referred to the Senkaku Gunto under the Ryukyus.

This map is from the world atlas in the pre-1972 edition and shows the Senkakus as part of the Ryukyus. Note that the Japanese names for the islands are used (color image) and that there is no warning that there is a controversy over the islands. After that, the Senkakus are referred to as the Diaoyutais and are identified as Chinese.

The next example Yap et al refer to is the national junior high school textbooks, which I also mentioned yesterday. As everyone knows, these were produced by the government. Again, until 1970, these showed the Senkakus as Japanese and used the Japanese names for them. Without mention of controversy. And again, in 1971, after the ROC reversed 60 years of placid acceptance of Japanese sovereignty over the Senkakus, the group of islands magically morphed into the Diaoyutai and were part of the ROC.

Military topographic maps are my favorite case in this study, producing a hilarious moment of unintentional insecurity about the map. Yap et al first put up a figure showing the 1962 topographic map set produced by the Combined Service Forces (CSF). That map has a set of dashed lines showing a boundary which put the Senkakus inside Japanese territory and noting that it derived from the Treaty of San Francisco. It did not, I should observe, note that there was any controversy. Then comes this flash of comic brilliance in the 1975 CSF map:

The dotted lines and warning about the SF Peace Treaty are gone, and some kindly bureaucrat has drawn a line to the Senkakus, in case the hapless reader missed the fact that they have always been Chinese, for every last second of the last 5,000 years.

Excellent work, Yap et al!
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.

Round up: One Third of Taiwan firms in China Kaput?

Taipei rush hour traffic insanity.

China Post posts:
Taiwan's intelligence chief yesterday warned that one in every three Taiwanese companies based in China are facing closure this year due to rapidly decreasing profits, a media reports said.

Another 30 percent of Taiwanese firms are also “struggling” in China, Tsai Der-sheng, head of the National Security Bureau, told a parliamentary session without giving details, the United Evening News reported.

“There is both risk and opportunity to invest in China. However, we can not deny the benefits of economic exchanges between Taiwan and China despite the growing risks,” he was quoted by Taiwanese news radio BCC as saying.
Several articles were also pointing out that as China's demand falls, so will world commodity prices (for example). At home labor is furious that the minimum wage was not raised while this week 100,000 teachers also carried out a variety of protests aimed at the government for not carrying out its promises. At least some overseas firms are reinvesting back home. Fortunately and surprisingly manufacturing seems to in a cyclical upswing, reports the government. With firms like Apple and Amazon rolling out new products, Taiwan's makers could remain solid for the rest of the year, pulling the economy up a little. The ban on sales of government land will remain in force except for case by case decisions. Meaning that sweetheart deals can still be available....
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, September 28, 2012

Senkakus Round Up... Again

Moon over Taipei, Tokyo, and the Senkakus last night.

UPDATE: Bruce Jacobs guts Han-yi Shaw, Feb 2013.

Lots of fun in the Senkakus this week! Mutual pissing contests! Media misreporting! Peripatetic right-wing cheerleader Niall Ferguson even weighed in, apparently undaunted by his total lack of knowledge about the issue...... long post follows.... UPDATED: Don't miss post above this one on how the ROC maps were altered to reflect new Senkakus claim

Japanese vessels spray pro-China vessels, click if the video above doesn't work.

Taipei Times has some barebones reporting on the latest stupidity (Reuters too):
Coast guard vessels from Taiwan and Japan dueled with water cannons yesterday as Taiwanese fishing boats sailed close to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) to assert Taiwanese sovereignty over the islets.

The fishing boats came as close as 3 nautical miles (5.5km) to the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan, but were thwarted from making a possible landing by Japanese coast guard vessels, which deterred the protesters from approaching any further.
The fishing boats, according to local media reports, had been paid for by the head of the WantWant group, the ardently pro-China Robert Tsai (蔡衍明), who has been in the news recently over his attempts to grab a chunk of Taiwan's media market. J Michael argues that the mess was driven by local fisherman's issues. Tsai, however, is not involved because he supports the good fishermen of northern Taiwan.

The Ma government probably should have never permitted this, especially with a Japanese envoy visiting Taiwan this week to discuss the Senkakus. Yet there it is: not only did Coast Guard vessels confront the Japanese, which must have been fun for everyone, but the Ma government also sortied fighter jets to monitor the situation, according to the Taipei Times. Unbelievable stupidity. Remember when Ma was "pragmatic"? Promised to be not a troublemaker but a peacemaker? All the Serious US analysts backed him and claimed that those of us shrill, small voices who correctly identified him as a weak, pro-China ideologue were wrong. LOL.

It should be noted that effectively, when the Ma government and the Beijing government tag-team Japan, the Ma government is working with China, whatever their denials.

As Ma dithers with these islands, Taiwan's economy continues to slide. Despite the constant reiteration of the word Taiwan in connection with the Senkakus, the public is not rallying to this cause, but appear rather to be wondering WTF Ma can be thinking. Polls bear this out -- Ma's disapproval ratings reached 71%, with only 16% approving in the last TISR poll, and 13% in the TVBS poll.

Something is up. As a smart observer of Taiwan's political affairs pointed out to me last night in a conversation in which both parties, astonishingly, were sober -- no state to be discussing politics in -- Ma has replaced the envoy to the US with King Pu-tsung, his longtime right-hand man. He has also replaced the head of the Mainland Affairs Council and the head of the Straits Exchange Foundation with people loyal to him. The envoy to Japan has been recalled. Something is in the air, he argues, probably after the leadership change in China and the Lunar New Year. Note also that China has scrambled its Taiwan affairs people.

The international media has once again predictably failed to accurately represent what is going on. Despite the harm false balance has done in so many areas, the media continually reaches for it. The result is that the international media legitimizes China's claims with every article, by treating them on par with Japanese sovereignty and by refusing to do any digging in the background of the "dispute". The "deeper" pieces attribute the current mess to current domestic political issues in both countries. This "dispute" has been simmering for the last two decades. There is always something going on domestically that can be blamed for its revival at any given time.....

Han-yi Shaw
The NYTimes took things a step further the other day with the publication of a right-wing Chinese propaganda screed from Han-yi Shaw, who has been writing on this topic for about 15 years, introduced by Nicholas Kristof (who has been claiming the Senkakus are Chinese for a while). Here is the image that the NYTimes published with the piece:
Here is what Shaw wrote near the bottom:
And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.
Heh. The Chinese text he highlights, presumably from the Chen Shouqi text on the right, actually says something like "the Diaoyu Island can hold 1000 large ships." Not ten, but a thousand. Is Shaw deliberately mistranslating, mistaken, or is it that the gazetteer he cites is not the one in the picture?

In 1999 the U of Maryland reprint series (take a moment to examine its editorial board and their output and you will know its politics) published his magnum opus on why Senkakus are Chinese. In it he also cites the Qing Gazetteers.

The Revised Gazetteer of Chen Shouqi published in 1871 is the document displayed in the photo above, according to the NYTimes caption. Shaw describes it...

Note that in this case he correctly translates this as "1000" ships. But, he says in the magnum opus, there is a 1722 gazetteer that has the "TEN" ships.....

I'm sure you've noticed the similarity in language, especially the Chinese. I can't find an image of that passage online, but this ROC Ministry of the Interior site scribes:
In volume 2, Military Defense 武備, Huang listed the patrol routes of the naval forces of Taiwan Prefecture, stating “in the seas north of Taiwan is an island Diaoyutai where a dozen large ships may be anchored.” Subsequently, Fan Cheng’s 范成Revised Gazetteer of Taiwan Prefecture 重修臺灣府志(1747) and Yu Wen-yi’s 余文儀Continued Gazetteer of Taiwan Prefecture 續修臺灣府志(1764) reiterated Huang’s references. In 1871, Chen Shuo-qi’s 陳壽祺Recompiled General Gazetteer of Fujian重纂福建通志further listed Diaoyutai Island under Kavalan Office (now Yilan County) of Taiwan in Volume 86: Coastal Defense and Strategically Important Places in all Districts《卷八十六.海防.各縣衝
Aha.... what we have is writer reproducing another in a downward transmission. A friend suggested that it is likely that the 1871 gazetteer isn't even thinking about the Diaoyutai Islands at all, because there is no harbor in the Diaoyutai capable of holding a thousand ships and the Diaoyutai were never under Gemelan administration (documents, please). The key is the phrase "north of the mountain" which signals that this prodigious harbor is north of Gemelan (Yi-lan) past the mountain. And sure enough, north of Yi-lan over the mountains on the northeast end of Taiwan is the fine natural harbor of Keelung. Were the writers of these gazetteers hazy on the geography and simply get confused over what harbor they were talking about? Check out a map and see where the Senkakus are relative to Taiwan.....

...but it appears that what Shaw did in the NYTimes article is select the first (text) and last (image) in a sequence of writers copying each other over 150 years, and presented that as authoritative. His quote is compiled of TWO different texts as if they each maintain the same thing, and he refers to the gazetteers using the plural.....
  1.  “...Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” (1722 text)
  2. under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan." (1871 text)
...but only the 1871 gazetteer makes the claim of Qing administration. AFAIK the others do not. Since Han settlement in the Yi-lan area dates from the beginning of the 19th century, the 18th century gazetteers most emphatically did not place the Senkakus under Gemalan/Kavalan administration, which did not exist. They merely note that the islands had a fine harbor that could hold ten ships. 

But there are a couple of deeper issues I'd like to point out. Han-yi Shaw's use of gazetteers written by is itself suggestive. Dear reader, ask yourself why Shaw simply doesn't show us the many maps produced by Qing authorities that show how the Senkakus belonged to the Qing/Taiwan throughout this period.

The answer is obvious, and this excellent post, much updated over the years, has it. Go and look at many maps listed there produced by during the Qing of Taiwan and make your own judgement. I've discussed Shaw's use of gazetteers in this old post. Further, most of my readers have some familiarity with the literature from foreigners on Taiwan -- does anyone know of anything written by a foreigner in the 19th century that identifies the islands as belonging to the Qing government or being under its Taiwan administration? Finally, had the islands been administrated from Taiwan prior to 1895, Japan probably would have made public note of that fact. Since it owned Taiwan after 1895, this might well have buttressed its claim. But perhaps not.....

The NYTimes piece leaves out a key piece of information that makes Shaw's position more rational than it really is, because if the paper's gentle readers saw it in print they would immediately realize an inconvenient truth: that Han-yi Shaw is a right-wing Chinese expansionist following a Chinese-invented Sinocentric form of sovereignty that hands all of Asia to China. Here is what he says in the long paper:
...Many Chinese scholars have argued that when evaluating the various historical evidence put forth by the Chinese side, one must not fail to recognize the important political realities of the time from which they originated, namely, an era characterized by the East Asian World Order (otherwise known as the Chinese World Order).

The underlying concern is the following: whether principles of modern international law, which has its origin in the European tradition of international order, can properly judge a territorial dispute involving countries historically belonging under the East Asian World Order with fundamentally different ordering principles from its European counterpart. First and foremost, it should be noted that the East Asian World Order was a system of international relations characterized as Sinocentric and hierarchical rather than one based on sovereign equality of nations. Under such a framework, relations between nations were not governed by principles of international law known to the West, but instead by what is know as the "tributary system" instituted by China.
It looks like Shaw claims that there are Chinese scholars arguing that if China says someone paid tribute to it at some point in history, China can determine the sovereignty in its favor. I doubt one can find many Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese scholars to support this. It is hard to imagine a mindset more self-serving and expansionist than this. Imagine if the NYTimes column had been fronted by this nonsense. Instead, Shaw cleverly frames it as an attack on Tokyo's position rather than an announcement of his own with copious evidence, maps, and charts.

One of the ways that westerners exoticize China is that we accept these completely laughable, simpleminded, and historically inaccurate and anachronistic claims, whereas if Italy demanded the Mediterranean and France based on Rome, or Ankara was claiming the entire North African seaboard, Bulgaria, and Saudi Arabia based on the Ottomans, or the Macedonians wanted a chunk of India because Alexander once battled there, everyone would immediately realize how fantastically archaic this kind of thinking is. There is no "East Asian World Order"; that is merely a modern Chinese fantasy retrojected into the past to bolster up modern Chinese expansionist claims. As I noted when I first saw this:
Another issue is the conception of 'China' that existed prior to the Qing. Emma Teng's magnificent book on Qing travel writing in Taiwan, Taiwan's Imagined Geography, is online on Google books. I suggest a careful reading of the introduction -- one of Teng's major points is that pre-Qing China saw itself as a land power only, and saw the sea as its boundary -- the island of Taiwan was considered a distant land across the water which, as Qing official and visitor Yu Yonghe noted in his diary, had never in history sent tribute to China. Shaw's analysis above, which drags up navigational and defense records from the Ming, simply ignores the evidence from maps and texts, as well as scholarly publications and analyses of this body of material, that shows that the Chinese never thought of the sea as a place to extend borders across. Thinking about a China that included islands over the water within its own boundaries was, as Teng notes, a Qing innovation. Teng observes:
"The deeply ingrained notion that the seas defined the natural limits of the Chinese realm underlay the reluctance to annex Taiwan. As the Kangxi emperor's advisors argued, 'Since antiquity, no oceanic islands have ever entered the imperial domain.'"
Thus, one of the most important functions of the constant iteration of “5,000 thousand years of history!” is that it creates in the minds of hearers an entirely fictive politico-historical continuity that China uses to buttress these very real and very dangerous territorial claims. 

But all this is really beside the point. As I've noted countless times before, between 1895 when Japan declared the Senkakus annexed, and the late 1960s, none of the Chinese governments protested this move. Indeed, in numerous published maps and texts, they stated that the Senkakus were Japanese and never hinted of any controversy.  The idea of a "dispute" is a purely post-1970s claim; prior to the discovery of oil there were no such claims made. 

Again, that excellent map post has many examples of maps issued by various institutions in Beijing and Taipei that include the Senkakus in Japanese territory and do not mention any controversy. For example, this 1958 map from the Beijing Map Publishing Company, and a 1959 map from the same outfit. Nor is the 1953 Renminerbao article I posted on before the only example of Beijing including the Senkakus with Okinawa in a text -- here is another from that post. Similarly, between 1946 and 1971 the Taiwan Provincial Statistics Guide repeatedly identifies Pengjia Islet as Taiwan's northernmost point. A 1970 junior high text issued by the government has the Senkakus as part of the Ryukyus and uses the Japanese name for them....National War College maps issued in Taipei between 1959 and 1972 show the Senkakus as Japanese and even use the Japanese name for them, not Diaoyutai. UPDATED: If you've come here via a direct link, don't miss this post two posts above this one on a recent academic paper that discusses these maps in detail). UPDATED: If the ROC really thought the Senkakus belonged to it, why didn't ROC representatives bring that up when they discussed territory when negotiating the Treaty of Taipei? But of course they never did. 

One could multiply such examples. 

This is why the Japanese government maintains "there is no dispute" since it knows perfectly well (who better?) that the controversy dates from the announcement of oil underneath the islands and did not exist prior to that time. 

What has really happened here is that the East Asian World Order as deployed in the service of Chinese expansion means that when China wants to expand, it will rummage through its history to find justification for said expansion. Thus, the real inconvenient truth is that the Senkakus are Japanese and the Chinese claim is simply naked expansionism. 

The even more inconvenient truth, as I have noted several times on this blog, is that many Chinese, especially on the right, argue that Okinawa is Chinese, "stolen territory" -- in Chinese minds, and on Chinese maps, the two are linked. WaPo had a piece on it a few months back....a taste:
In a fiery editorial this month, the Global Times newspaper urged Beijing to consider challenging Japan’s control over its southern prefecture of Okinawa, an island chain with a population of 1.4 million people that bristles with U.S. military bases.

“China should not be afraid of engaging with Japan in a mutual undermining of territorial integrity,” the Communist Party-run paper declared.

Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan, head of the strategy research institute at China’s National Defense University, went even further. He told state-run radio that limiting discussion to the Diaoyu was “too narrow,” saying Beijing should question ownership of the whole Ryukyu archipelago, which by some definitions extends beyond Okinawa.
Coming next in the script, when China feels powerful enough, is Okinawa, linked in Chinese minds to the Senkakus. The East Asian World Order is just a Chinese language version of that old tune, the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Cape-to-Cairo Railroad, Manifest Destiny, and Lebensraum. Hopefully, this time around it will not  be necessary to turn the globe into a killing ground to make people see how evil and dangerous such thinking is.

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, September 25, 2012

Inflation over time

A graphic from Apple Daily, Sept 24, reminds us why the Ma Administration is thrusting Taiwan into the Senkakus mess: because the gov't needs a good distraction. Inflation ticks along at a steady pace, normal but painful in a nation with stagnating salaries. The list shows the price changes in goods since 1998, including rent -- a 30 ping apt has risen from $15K to $22K a month, not one of the bigger rises. Ordinary people are being forced out to the Taipei burbs.... or farther. Masking the effects of price rises is the Taiwanese habit of living at home until marriage, meaning that many people are being subsidized by the wealth their parents accumulated a couple of decades ago in the waning days of the go-go era.

Not all of this is under government control, and it is notable that water and electricity remain cheap -- water is the same price it was 13 years ago. Where the government can intervene to keep prices low, it has -- yet low water and electricity costs keep Taiwan investing in heavily subsidized water and electricity hungry industry, instead of clean industries of the future.

Youth unemployment is rising, as the overall unemployment rate reached 4.4%, according to the government's figures. Monthly employee overall compensation actually fell marginally. The NT is on the rise, hurting exports too.....

ADDED: The Cabinet refused a raise to the minimum wage too...
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, September 24, 2012

Daily Links, Monday, Sept 24, 2012

What's out 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.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Wang Family Eviction

Linjiang St Night Market in Taipei

I've looked at student protests on this blog several times. The current generation of students is politically involved but in a way that is orthogonal to the Blue-Green divide: they tend to gather to protest in situations involving social justice issues that are not exclusively of one camp or the other.

The Wang family case is a recent case in which students are involved in protesting on behalf of a family who are being evicted from their home as their home is being destroyed to make way for a developer. Under the current Urban Renewal Act...
For instance, the value of property is currently estimated by real estate appraisers hired by the construction firm that initiates the renewal project; a property owner opposed to an urban renewal -project is given just one opportunity to object; and as long as two thirds of land or property owners in a certain area agree to the project, the properties of those who are opposed to it can be seized by force, regardless of their owners’ wishes.
This is basically a giveaway to big land developers, who can bring in the police to enforce their theft of smallholders' property, and can themselves determine the value of the land. Scary.

A net-friend involved in the protests has a write-up on Facebook:

... below is a report I wrote up in April 2012 for the forced eviction case that took place in Shilin earlier this year after meeting with one of the lawyers. Unfortunately, the case is still ongoing as is the typical fare of controversial issues in Taiwan society. I hope this gives English readers an update on the background of what is going on and now I am far more interested in gathering the right forces and strategize for English writers to put together something cohesive for the international sphere to then push back on the local media and apply pressure on the local government to step in and take action. (click on READ MORE below to continue). 

If we had elected Tsai....

If we had elected Tsai, would the government be sending boats to the Senkakus? Would the government be annoying Japan with Ma's stupid claims that the ROC owns the Senkakus and pointless military demonstrations? Would we be making the US nervous that Taiwan might work in concert with China? What would be the focus of the government's moves, getting the economy going, or this senseless shouting at Tokyo about the Senkakus?

Stupid questions, eh?

That's right, the Senkakus are a distraction for more than one nation ruled by a Chinese ruling party....
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.

Simaxianshan Attempt II

The morning offered spectacular views of the sheer walls of the gorge and the mountains behind. This area is easily accessible from Taichung.

Set out today with my partners in climb Domenic Alonge and Charles Tsai to ride up to Simaxianshan, circle it, and ride back to Taichung. This is the second time I've tried to do this, and the second time I've failed. It was a lovely day, however, and we did manage to get in 110 kms with about 1200 meters of climbing through the gorgeous terrain along the Da-an River. Click on READ MORE to see more...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday Night Lites

Pomelo peels drying. They will be mashed and mixed with sugar to make a base for pomelo tea.

Han Yi-shaw in the NYTimes has produced a total propaganda column on the Senkaku mess, with highly selective use of sources and what appears to be a deliberate mistranslation. I'll take a look at it tomorrow, no time tonight. But once again, I urge the reader to consult this awesome post in Chinese with maps and texts as well as Ampontan's post Coming Attractions. Han's piece is well beyond sad, sadder still that someone as well known as Kristoff gave it his imprimatur, in the nation's major paper of record too. The US has reiterated its position that the Senkakus are under its security umbrella. Hopefully the US is speaking to Beijing and Tokyo on this. Taiwan sends a ship just to peeve the Japanese too.

Local officials in cahoots with construction firms to rip off locals? Like a broken record. Low income households on the rise in Taiwan, though the number receiving assistance remains small relative to the total population. Commonwealth has a long piece on Taiwanese firms returning from China. Every year the number increases, but remains... tiny. The article is a string of anecdotes, because that's all there is. This is one of those pieces one reads every year....
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, September 21, 2012

Lukang of years gone by

Take a break from the Senkakus with some old pics. My mother in law sent my wife a book of photos taken in the 1950s by a resident of Lukang, my wife's hometown. A few selections..... my favorite is the last, where the Terrible Oxen of Death Lurks Beneath the Waters. The frequent use of children in his images is priceless. Each image has captions in Chinese, Japanese, and English. The name of the book is 街坊市井 -- Neighbourhood & Town Sight - Lu-Kang by 30 Years. Click on READ MORE to see more....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some Links Thursday

Wife + dog = afternoon stroll.

Spent the afternoon listening to Ivanovs, Melartin, and Noskowski. Made some links while I was listening....
  • Cindy Sui with excellent piece on Chinese students in Taiwan and how they are learning about democracy. Before you get all excited about the prospects, just make a mental list of all the elites the world over, including many here in A Certain Political Party, who were educated in democracies and then went on to participate enthusiastically in authoritarian politics. Yeah, a lot. 
  • Top China Affairs officials shuffled.
  • This one was flying around Facebook: community petitions that Filipino workers be made to leave. This is quite extreme for Taiwan -- makes me wonder if something else is going besides the obvious ethnic chauvinism -- the money quote in there denying that it is racism is awesome :
    “It has nothing to do with discrimination,” she said. “With 460 households and more than 1,000 residents, Rueilian is a peaceful community. They are merely worried that clashes could happen because of these foreign workers, with their different skin color and different culture, going in and out of the community.”
      Saddening...I've had so many great interactions with Filipino workers here. 
  • Under the Radar links from AsiaEye
  • Laowiseass with some observations on behavior in Taiwan and in China. Do the Taiwanese congratulate themselves too much that they aren't like China anymore?
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.

King Pu-tsung envoy to the US?

Ma appoints longtime hatchetman and political strategist King Pu-tsung as envoy to the US.  Say what? That's rather like Bush appointing Karl Rove as Ambassador to Russia.
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) will take over the position from Jason Yuan (袁健生), who will assume the post of secretary-general of the National Security Council, following the resignation of council head Hu Wei-chen (胡為真).
King, 57, has been one of Ma’s closest aides since joining his campaign team and helping him win the Taipei mayoral election in 1997. He promised not to take up any position in the Ma administration after helping Ma win the presidential election in 2008 and has only taken up different positions within the party. However, speculation that he will ultimately be trusted with a major position in the Ma administration has never subsided.
The Presidential Office and the KMT yesterday dismissed concern about King’s lack of experience in foreign affairs. Sources in the KMT said that as a top aide of Ma, King would be able to convey Ma’s policies more accurately and promote relations with the US more efficiently.
Who is King? Longtime right-hand man and a Ma man to the core. In the past Ma has used him to bring local KMT under control -- for example, in the South where many local KMT party organizations were grumbling under Ma.... I rounded up some stuff in 2009:
There has been much speculation about King in the media, where he was accused of being narcissistic, and also nicknamed "little dagger" for his role as Ma's hatchet man. Many KMTers not in the Ma faction lined up against King, while his supporters said that King is a man of integrity just like Ma....which should tell you something. Taiwan News noted:
The director of the party's Chiayi City department resigned as a protest against King's appointment, reports said yesterday. The official later told reporters he was leaving his post because he had completed his mission, the re-election of the city's KMT mayor in the election. Party officials said they would try to persuade him to stay on.

Media reported similar resignations of leading KMT officials in neighboring Chiayi County and in Yunlin County, allegedly as a reaction to King's appointment.

DPP lawmaker Lee Chun-yee said King was the wrong choice to head the party structure, because he would find it difficult to communicate with grassroots workers in Southern Taiwan.

Outspoken KMT lawmaker Chiu Yi described the new secretary-general as a "knife that is sharp, but not precise."

Li Keng Kuei-fang, a KMT member of the Taipei City Council, said King needed to work on his interpersonal relations.

Putting King in such a senior position in the party might bear risks, because if he failed, the failure would be associated with Ma, said KMT legislator Lee Ching-hua.
King was a "visiting scholar" at Brookings three years ago when he was plucked from there an elevated to KMT secretary general so is probably known to at least some in the US policy community. But Ma's appointment of a longtime insider and enforcer to a diplomatic post with Taiwan's most sensitive and important ally raises some pretty interesting questions. Does Ma feel that the ROC diplomatic corps, whose topmost people are almost all Deep Blue, is too independent of him? Does Ma feel that he needs more control over US relations? Does Ma want to put a political expert and intriguer at a distance? Is he rewarding a loyal subordinate with a plum post?

UPDATED: Smart comments below:
Are the coming years about the "peace accord" with China that Ma has promised and that the cabinet reshuffle was about yesterday? During the phase of smooth walk into "peace," will the US need to be "stalled" "charmed" and "satisfied" somehow by a political Tai-Chi veteran such as King?

Is it "all of above" as in the Chinese saying "a smart rabbit maintains three nests (i.e. just in case)"? 

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, September 18, 2012

Senkaku Mess Reaches Boiling Point?

There is nothing to say because there is so much to say spinning out of control? Or will two powerful nations spike this rush to stupidity? Read this. China with hundreds of fishing boats heading for Senkakus. Seaborne militia vessels already encroaching on Japanese waters. Japanese right-wingers land on Senkakus. Japan will not "sit idly by" -- strong language, a warning out of history.

Of course, tomorrow our government agencies here on The Beautiful Isle will announce they are monitoring it and on top of it, as my man Ben just pointed out to me. Spectators. Ma's policy of using the Senkakus to irritate relations between Japan and Taiwan and the US and Taiwan is now exposed, as is Taiwan's military and diplomatic weakness... What will Taipei dither do next?

The fishing boats are brilliant -- can Japan attack them and trigger the US defense treaty? Tricky situation.....
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, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

St Lucia and Taiwan

Cyclists on the Houfeng Bike Path

Another day spent hiking, biking, writing, and listening to Romantic composers of the second tier like Richard Wetz, who is really quite enjoyable (Symphony #2 is also 讚). Meanwhile in the Caribbean St Lucia is making ripples as it contemplates its ties with Beijing and Taipei. The Independent Online says:
The tiny island of St. Lucia has announced it will maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, surprising many who expected the new government to favor China.

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said in an address late Tuesday that he wants to explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation with Taiwan, but that he also wants to maintain fraternal relations with China.

The ruling Labor Party has always allied itself with China in the past, but Anthony said St. Lucia needs to stop acting like “a jack in the box jumping from one country to the other every few years.”

St. Lucia held relations with Taiwan from 1984 to 1997, with China from 1997 to 2006 and again with Taiwan since 2006.
However, the report says that PM Anthony accused the previous Taiwan ambassador of meddling in local politics, and warned the current one to play nice. Another report said:
St Lucia’s government has reportedly told Taiwanese Ambassador James Chang that the future of diplomatic relations between the two countries must be based on “respect for St Lucia’s laws, St Lucia’s traditions, culture and absolute non-interference in St Lucia’s domestic political affairs.”

Anthony also revealed that his government had initiated investigation into alleged payments made to members of the former government by Taiwan in 2007.

“We expressed the view that in our judgment, such payments and procedures, if made, breached both the law and acknowledged parliamentary practices in the authorization of the use of the funds,” Anthony said.
Apparently the opposition Labour Party felt the Taiwan ambassador had been tossing money around irresponsibly.... for example and this one too. In June of this year an article detailed the accusations:
The St Lucian leader hinted the probe will also cover what has become known as ‘Black Bay Scandal’, in which around 500 acres of land on the island’s southern tip was made available to a hotel developer in an investment that later failed, prompting the current government to buy back the land at a cost of 58 million EC dollars (21.4 million US dollars).

“There are some fundamental issues that face us, what occurred, for example, in respect of the Black Bay lands. This is a very serious matter.”

Since returning to office there has been much talk of building cross-party relationships but the traditional divisions between government and opposition are already resurfacing, particularly over St Lucia’s controversial relationship with Taiwan.

While in opposition, Dr. Anthony frequently complained about the method used by Taiwanese Ambassador Tom Chou to disburse funds to the UWP government and called for the money to go into the central government’s purse, the consolidated fund, instead of being funnelled directly into various municipalities to fund community projects.

The Taiwanese diplomat argued that once the funds were sent directly to the government in Castries, there was no guarantee that it would be used for their intended purpose.

But the SLP had often accused UWP ministers of having direct access to “Taiwanese largesse” and using it for their own purposes, including funding their re-election campaign.
The Prime Minister's complete address on the issue is online. He condemns not only the Taiwan Ambassador but also Chen Shui-bian for the "red envelope affair" in which Chen apparently tossed money all over the place during his visit to the island. One paragraph of the speech is a classic:
The clandestine manner in which diplomatic ties were established between Taiwan and Saint Lucia will be etched in all our minds for a long time. It remains one of the more sordid episodes in our political history. It has left many lingering questions for the state and for our citizens. For instance, it is an intriguing question as to why the late Sir John Compton, who was the architect of diplomatic relations with Taiwan during the period of the Cold War, was in fact willing to maintain diplomatic relations with mainland China; relations which were established by the Labour Administration in 1997. Furthermore, we are still unsure of what truly transpired in those fateful days and weeks of April 2007. Up to this day, this Government still cannot find any record of a formal agreement establishing bi-lateral relations with Taiwan, even though former Prime Minister Stephenson King makes mention of it in correspondence relating to the disbursement of Taiwanese funds.
The speech is not only a condemnation of Taiwn's foreign policy conduct during the Chen Administration, but a good explication of the issues small countries face in the Beijing vs Taipei tug-of-war. He observes.... "It would be both historic and helpful – indeed it would be perfect – if Saint Lucia could find a way to benefit from ties with both China and Taiwan, however defined. This is a dream many countries share and there has been no better time than now to engage China and Taiwan on this issue - as it relates to Saint Lucia - in the context of their increasing “cross straits” mutual cooperation and understanding."
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, September 14, 2012

Suggestions to Google Needed =UPDATEDX3=

Yes, that's right, if you type Taiwan is not a part of China, Google translates that into Chinese as "Taiwan is a part of China". It doesn't seem to do that for other countries. Probably need to send a letter to Google translation about this as well as a 'suggested translation'. Hat tip to Eric Pickett. For big size, go here.


Maddog types in "The Diaoyu Islands are not part of China" and Google not only says that they ARE part of China but adds the phrase "...and their associated islands..." to the text. Apparently Google has been totally pwned by the 50 cent Chinese nationalist loon brigade.

UPDATE 2: Try these three in English to Traditional Chinese:
The Diaoyu Islands are not a part of China
The Diaoyu Islands are not a part of Japan
The Diaoyu Islands are not a part of Taiwan
Yup, three different answers.

It renders phrases with Senkakus correctly. Have fun!

UPDATE 3: Sunday night: The mess with Taiwan is not a part of China seems to have been fixed. However, just typing in The Diaoyu Islands with no further words still returns 釣魚島及其附屬島嶼. This is clearly political.
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.

Taiwan's gov't publishes stimulus plans

Rte 130 west of Sanyi city. We climbed up from Sanyi past the museum, reaching the top at 450m. Lovely views, and a great descent that ends in a rush through lovely farmland. Recommended.

WSJ column has a discussion of it:
“We barely see any dishes that look appetizing on the table…it was just so hard to find something exciting,” said one senior trader, criticizing the plan for offering no immediate measures to address investors’ frustrations.

Trade-reliant Taiwan has watched exports decline for six straight months as the island’s main trading partners – China, the U.S. and Japan – have all battled slower-than-expected growth. Continuing trouble in Europe, combined with stagnant domestic consumption and investment, have only added to the pain.

Taiwan’s economy shrank unexpectedly in the second quarter this year as GDP declined 0.16% year-on-year — the first contraction the island has seen since third quarter of 2009.

During the press conference announcing the stimulus package, Premier Sean Chen, widely seen as an economic whiz, said Taiwan would not follow the footsteps of its competitors, such as South Korea and China, who have either cut taxes or slashed key interest rates to revive their own economies.

Instead, the former chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the Financial Supervisory Commission said, the government would consider other medium-term measures. Among them: easing restrictions on foreign laborers and white-collar professionals as well as providing more sweeteners for China-based Taiwanese operators to return to Taiwan.

Taiwan’s government, which has run a deficit budget since 2009, doesn’t have much room to cut taxes or hand out cash to boost domestic demand. Even so, the plan disappointed those who expected the government to go for more moderate actions, such as delaying scheduled hikes in fuel and electricity prices or issuing consumer vouchers as the government did during 2008 financial crisis.
The real and correct goal of the plan is to address the investment environment in the hope that it will stimulate growth. Meanwhile the US Fed's announcement of another slurry of funds sent the Taiwan dollar to huge gains. Global funds are also net purchasers of Taiwan's stocks, buying $1.5 billion more than they have sold this year -- the TAIEX might even reach 8,000 this year, or 2000 points below where it peaked during the Chen Administration.

WSJ's MarketWatch has other information. The government is also considering sweeteners for investment from China -- good luck with that one. It is also considering FTAs with other nations. As I've noted in the past, negotiations with Singapore and New Zealand for FTAs are ongoing, but Philippines, Indonesia, and India were also mentioned as possible FTA targets. Will China let Taiwan have such pacts? TIFA talks with the US seem to be restarting, and Premier Chen said that the FTA work will be aimed at joining the US led TransPacific Partnership....
Daily Links:

  • Times of India says Taiwan is good travel destination
  • EU Panel Discussion on Taiwan's future
  • New AIT director Christopher Marut arrives in Taiwan
  • Taiwan sends two ships to the Senkakus. You know, at some point, the humoring of this farcical behavior will probably stop and Taiwan will find itself punished. 
  • John F Copper argues Senkakus belong to China
  • Coral reef diversity falling
  • US Taiwan analyst Richard Bush, weirdly, says that the DPP should embrace the ROC because it would be better able to defend Taiwan's core interests. That would be comical if the issue were not so serious. Which "core interests" would be better off if the DPP embraced an ROC identity (never mind that the ROC identity is a one-party state run by the KMT)? Lessee... keeping China at distance? Nope. Deepening democracy? Nope. Retaining its industries and industrial edge? Nope. Maintaining good relations with neighboring powers? Nope. Maintaining good relations with the US? Nope. Developing a distinctive Taiwan identity that is marketable from a tourism and business standpoint? Nope. Reducing gangsterism and corruption in local government? Nope. Probably the only "core interest" that might be served by adopting a pro-China identity is that it might smooth some aspects of the relationship with China. American analysts are still stuck in 1950s solutions: if only we could persuade Taiwan to sell itself to China, we can solve the "Taiwan problem." Heh. Just wait 'til ya'll have to solve the "Okinawa Problem." You'll be yearning for the good old days of the Taiwan problem.....UPDATE: Heard that Bush says this is out of context and unnuanced. Good! 

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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

LTH = Senkaku Sanity Spark

This motorcycle jumped into hyperspace right in front of my camera.

Spent the day listening to lesser known Romantics like Raff and resting after several days of hard biking and traveling. Working on lectures for the new semester was respite from the idiotic Senkaku Islands dispute, which continues to stink up the news like the rotting corpse of a dead animal lodged beyond reach between the walls.

Comic relief this week was provided by the pro-China team, in the form of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recalling Taiwan's emissary to Japan after Japan's government decided to nationalize the islands by purchasing them from their Japanese owners. No doubt the Japanese government was delighted to see him go, since he won't be lecturing them in Tokyo as long as he is in Taiwan. The Japanese representative in Taiwan was also called in and a protest lodged. Completing the farce, far-right activists protested yesterday, right on cue.

There was a sudden intrusion of the salty water of sanity into the news cycle as former President Lee Teng-hui, on a trip visiting areas that were hit by the big quake thirteen years ago this month, said once again that the Senkakus are Japanese and that the important issue isn't ownership but fishing rights. TT reports:
Asked by reporters about Ma’s proposal to resolve the controversy in two stages — which calls for holding three sets of bilateral dialogues between Taiwan, Japan and China, before holding a three-party talk — Lee said “no one in the international community would buy into the initiative.”

The 89-year-old, who had publicly said that Japan has sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, sidestepped the question of sovereignty, saying that the Japanese government’s nationalization of the islets “was a business transaction between its government and citizens that has nothing to do with Taiwan.”

He urged the government to focus on finding a resolution to fishing rights, which he said was a more important task because it involved the livelihood of fishermen in Yilan County.

The Diaoyutais have been the fishing ground of Taiwanese fishermen since the Japanese colonial period, Lee said.

Since Taiwan and Japan have failed to reach a consensus after 16 consultative meetings on fishing rights over the years, Lee suggested having fishermen’s associations from both sides work out a solution on their own.
This is much too sensible. Lee's remarks reminded me of a conversation I had the other day with a longtime reporter on the island, who pointed out that Chen Shui-bian had also focused on the pragmatic issues of getting fishing access instead of making trouble like Ma Ying-jeou -- remember when Ma promised to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker? Chen not only kept his eye on the fishing ball, he also reduced tensions by reducing the military units in the three small northern islands off Taiwan and switching them for Coast Guard units, the reporter pointed out. Chen did repeat the bombastic claim that Taiwan owned the Diaoyutai, however, in his own high-profile visit (TT report from Aug 2005).

Meanwhile fishing talks are going nowhere...
The date of the negotiations will have to be decided by the two sides, but with the current dispute over the Tiaoyutai Islands, the attitude of Japan becomes the most important factor in determining the nature of the talks, Yang said at a press conference held to protest Japan's move to buy some of the disputed islets.

Earlier in the day, Yang summoned Japan's top envoy to Taiwan, Sumio Tarui, to protest Japan's move to buy three of the disputed islands.

He said Tarui has proposed to resolve fishery disputes between Taiwan and Japan through negotiations.

However, Yang told Tarui that Japan needs to "show more goodwill" and to give Taiwanese fisherman the right to operate in their traditional fishing grounds.

"We have not seen Japan showing true goodwill in the past 16 fishery negotiations," said the minister.
Yes, that's right, MOFA yells at the Japanese ambassador, blames Japan for the stalled negotiations, and then wants Japan to forget all that and hand them some fishing rights. Yeah, that'll work.
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.