Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meanwhile, back in Taiwan... Economy Still in Doldrums, in case you hadn't noticed.


The statistics bureau threw in the towel this week and sent the economic forecast below 2%...
The economy may grow by less than 2 percent for a second consecutive year after the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday cut its GDP growth forecast for this year to 1.74 percent.

The agency’s latest forecast is 0.57 percentage points lower than the forecast of 2.31 percent it made in August and is the lowest among domestic economic institutes.
Several trends -- less manufacturing here, more Chinese local production supplanting Taiwanese goods, lower exports to the US economy, whose elites have completely mismanaged it, and of course, the salary squeeze here in Taiwan means poor consumption growth. D'oh. The whole economy must suffer so a few wealthy people can accumulate far more than they can ever need or use.

Some observations on the state of Taiwan's manufacturing:
In October, the island's year-on-year exports declined for the second month, following a steep 7-percent drop in September .

Export orders, however, which are indicators of future demand, have risen for four consecutive months, including a better-than-expected 3.16-percent gain in October .

Orders from China, Taiwan's top export market, climbed 3.2 percent, while those from the United States registered a strong 9-percent gain on year-end holiday demand.

Taiwan's industrial output also gained over the past two months, despite having fallen in six months since the beginning of the year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
TIER offers a more pessimistic evaluation, however.
In October, Taiwan's exports totaled US$26.12 billion, down 1.5% from a year earlier, while its imports fell 1.3% year-on-year to US$22.6 billion.

TIER said that while Taiwan's manufacturing industrial production index — an indicator of real production output — and export orders for October picked up slightly, the positive leads were not strong enough to offset the impact from weak exports and imports.

In November, the pricing power sub-index — which measures the ability to profitably raise the market price of goods over marginal cost — rose 0.05 points and the demand sub-index rose 0.04 points, from a month earlier, while the business environment sub-index fell 0.72 points, the raw material investments sub-index fell 0.56 points and the costs sub-index 0.01 points, TIER said.
The President continues to flounder, having bet the farm on deeper economic relations with China, which have benefited only a few wealthy families and cross-strait organized crime. Next year are local elections....
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More on the ADIZ

My first half-decent photo of Venus.

Lots of stuff out there. This Volokh Conspiracy post has good links to other posts and resources and notes:
China’s assertion of an ADIZ, as Julian Ku says, is not per se impermissible. But the devil is in the details. China’s ADIZ raises two large questions of legality. First, the “not-impermissible” scope of an ADIZ, that which is accepted in widespread state practice, is a projection outwards from the coastline of a coastal state. One might argue as a matter of international law as evidenced by state practice that a ADIZ has to bear a reasonable relationship to that coastline and the protection of its sovereignty, in the sense of both national security and domestic regulation (e.g., air traffic management, anti-smuggling, etc.). Those requirements can be fluid, addressing the nature of technology and threats to sovereignty, while still being “reasonably” connected to the protection of the sovereign coastline from unlawful encroachment.

Whatever can reasonably be projected as an ADIZ related to the coastal state’s coastline, the legality of an ADIZ created in such a way as to allow China to assert a new legal claim regarding contested rocks far out at sea has to be considered at issue. It’s a “bootstrapping” claim, assuming its conclusion: China declares an ADIZ around a contested territory, and then uses that as a basis to control the airspace as though it were an ADIZ declared along its uncontested home coastline. But an ADIZ cannot create sovereign territory or vindicate a claim to it. Unfortunately, enforcing that fundamental point requires that other states ignore and denounce the ADIZ – in the teeth of a threat, implied or express, that whatever regulatory terms China has dictated (see below) will be enforced.

Whereas it seems clear that state practice is limited to uncontested home territory. No bootstrapping. The virtue of an ADIZ is that it can reduce risks of confrontation, mistake, and dangerous brinksmanship as aircraft come close to unquestionably sovereign, territorial airspace by regularizing the passage of civilian aircraft, especially, as either intending (in which case ADIZ procedures apply) or not intending to enter the sovereign’s airspace (in which case ADIZ procedures do not apply) is turned into a mechanism for contesting sovereignty, and becomes a pretext for confrontation.
It's so like China to follow the letter while subverting the spirit of the procedure. The whole post is excellent.

The ADIZ also shows how the US policy on the Senkakus has now impaired its own response. It can't take a strong position and point out that the Senkakus are sovereign Japanese territory because for years the US hasn't taken a position on the "dispute" (the US might even consider retaliating by recognizing Japan's sovereignty formally). D'oh! Once again, failure to do the right thing ramifies....

The BBC reports that the US has required its carriers to comply with the ADIZ. But when you read it closely...
But on Friday, the state department said the US government "generally expects that US carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with Notams [Notices to Airmen] issued by foreign countries".

It added: "Our expectation of operations by US carriers consistent with NOTAMs does not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China's requirements for operating in the newly declared ADIZ."
The US position is that its carriers should behave as they do in all other ADIZs and ignore Beijing's special reporting requirements. Nope, they are complying with Beijing's demands. The Volokh piece above gives other examples of how normal the US military response is. The BBC piece contains a little tidbit:
South Korea claims a submerged rock, known as Ieodo, also within the zone.
If China is "boostrapping" the ADIZ as a form of territorial claim.... no wonder the Koreans are suspicious.
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Hegemonic Conflict Watch: China's ADIZ roundup

Took the Motao out to Shihlin Night Market the other day.

So much commentary -- apparently China's new ADIZ woke the world up. We've arrived at one of those historical moments when even the densest dunderheads can see, a Panay moment, or a remilitarization of the Rhineland moment, when onlookers are beginning to realize the coming course of events....

...China has already scrambled planes in response to US and Japanese flights, Chinese media reports. Japan denies this.

Lots of good stuff out there. Corey Wallace over at China Policy Institute observes:
The Chinese government is increasingly perceived in Japan to be implementing a calculated and “staged” approach to undermining Japan’s claims to the Senkaku Islands, and using antipathy towards Japan as a justification for pursuing a more expansive military policy. For example, in September 2012, the PRC submitted to the United Nations the coordinates for demarcating the territorial seas around the islands. This was identified a precursor to maintaining a routine presence in and around the islands, and since this point incursions in the territorial waters around the islands have rapidly increased. Just two days prior to the ADIZ announcement, it was reported in Japan that Chinese maritime authorities had escalated the stakes again by boarding Chinese fishing vessels in the EEZ waters around the Senkaku Islands. It was confirmed by the JCG that this had happened three times since August, 2013. The ADIZ will therefore be interpreted as a signal of a Chinese intention to further implement its jurisdictional claim.

Indeed, Japanese media has been quick to explore the dangerous implications of the new ADIZs. For example, the Yomiuri labelled China’s action of declaring an ADIZ that includes airspace over islands under the administrative control of another nation to be of “an unusual nature in the international community.” The ADIZ move is seen as providing further evidence of Xi Jinping prioritising China’s “great power” ambitions, rather than steering China towards becoming a cooperative player in building a mutually beneficial East Asian regional framework. Xi’s advocacy for a “New Type of Great Power Relations” for managing future diplomacy, which excludes the interests of regional and global players other than the United States or the PRC, has also not gone unnoticed in Japan. The Japanese media has even reported that various Chinese diplomatic sources have admitted that hard line elements within the Chinese government and the PLA have settled on a strategy to challenge Japan on the Senkakus, to drive a wedge through the US-Japan alliance, and take a hard-line towards relations towards Japan in general. This strategy was apparently consolidated at the end of the recent third plenum, which saw China setting up a National Security Council, and Xi Jinping noting that China needed to directly face external and internal threats to China’s sovereign rights and national security. As such, the East China Sea ADIZ will be seen as setting the stage for a long-term exercising of military influence in the area, especially if the PRC goes on to announce a similar zone for the South China Sea. With the maiden South China Sea voyage of the Liaoning also being heavily reported in Japan, Japanese politicians and officials have quickly moved to discussing extending Japan’s own ADIZ eastwards to cover the Ogasawara islands in anticipation of future Chinese aerial activity on the back of its new ability to project aerial power.
Michal Thim at CPI similarly observes:
There is another important aspect to consider while analysing recent Chinese actions. Beijing may be motivated to take a stance in regards to its sovereignty claim and it is consistently pushing the envelope in this matter. However, it is also interested in testing the reactions of the U.S. and its allies to get a clearer picture for its actions in the future. The Taiwan Strait missile crisis in 1995/96 might have backfired and in the short term it was Beijing’s debacle but at the same time Chinese leaders tested U.S. reaction. In addition, the crisis provided critical stimulus for the development of Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) capability that nowadays represents significant challenge for any future deployment of carrier battle group near Chinese shores. More recently, during 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff with the Philippines, China has tested whether the U.S. would go beyond rhetorical support of its treaty ally when the subject of dispute is relatively insignificant elevation. Creation of ADIZ and increased number of naval and air incursions in the disputed area should be understood as part of broader strategy to change the status quo. Should the ADIZ face no strong reaction or should the extent of backlash be acceptable for Beijing, second ADIZ may come soon, this time over the South China Sea.
At the Diplomat, the really bizarre writing:
The islands, when referenced in Chinese historical documents, are generally considered to have been part of the administrative zone of Taiwan. In other words, if mainland China does gain control of the islands, it would effectively be administering part of Taiwan. Obviously, this give the dispute a deep symbolic meaning for Taiwan’s government.
The was never any administration of the Senkakus from Taiwan. That's a post-1971 lie. Where do people get this crap? -- especially since several of us have now published at The Diplomat showing that these are lies. Do they not consult their own stuff? The writer does make one good point, however:
In this context, Beijing’s ADIZ could have lasting ramification for cross-strait relations. The PRC seems not to have considered the potential backlash on Taiwan — particularly since the ADIZ roll-out occurred only days before an important visit to Taiwan by Chen Deming, the head of the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The timing of the announcement has marred Chen’s visit. The DPP and other critics have demanded that Ma lodge protests with Chen and even expel him from Taiwan if his response is seen as inadequate.

Beijing could easily have avoided this by holding off on the ADIZ for even a week, or even done Ma a political favor by informing him of the decision in advance. Instead, mainland officials missed an opportunity to ease the political shock in Taiwan. As a result, China’s aggressive move to solidify its claims over some uninhabited rocks might jeopardize its chances at a far larger prize — eventual unification with Taiwan.
Exactly -- the ADIZ not only screwed Korea, it also screwed Beijing's friend and ally, Ma Ying-jeou. The ROC government has announced that it will go along with the requirement of reporting its airlines movements in the ADIZ to Beijing, unlike Korea, Japan, and the US. Speaking of Korea, at The Diplomat resides a piece on the ADIZ and Korea:
The beauty of a unilateral move like an ADIZ is that the country imposing the zone gets to decide how the lines are drawn on the map. The Chinese decision to draw the ADIZ such that it was guaranteed to raise the ire of South Korea is odd. With South Korea, the PRC was fortunate enough to avoid the sorts of territorial rigmaroles it often finds itself in with Japan, Taiwan and various Southeast Asian states (over the South China Sea). South Korea and China had also found themselves converging over their common historical distaste for Japan along nationalist lines — a phenomenon abetted by the almost concomitant election of conservative Park Geun-hye in Korea and Shinzo Abe in Japan.

It’s perhaps too early to make a definitive determination about the impact the Chinese ADIZ will have on future relations between China and South Korea. South Korea’s restrained rhetorical response and China’s immediate attempts to set the record straight on Ieodo indicate that the ADIZ’s northeastern frontier, near Jeju-do, may have been an oversight on China’s part.


What should give South Korea pause over the ADIZ is the possible imposition of such zones in the future by China, something Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Yang Yujun claimed was in the pipes: “China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.” A future ADIZ off the Bohai Sea and into the Yellow Sea would have serious implications for South Korean security
For me the scariest article was a WaPo piece on it by Simon Denyer, which reads as if it softened something dictated by Xinhua propagandists:
It was designed as a forceful response to Japanese assertiveness. [Hahahaha - mt] But Beijing’s creation of an air defense zone may have backfired, experts said, eliciting a strong joint response from the United States and Japan.

In Chinese eyes, the standoff began in September 2012, [Why are we regurgitating Chinese propaganda? Who cares what Beijing wants outsiders to think? Don't we do our own research? - mt] when the Japanese government purchased three of the islands — known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China — from a private Japanese landowner. In response, Beijing stepped up its own claims to the rocky landmasses, increasing sea patrols and pressing Japan to accept that the territory is disputed.[Reality: the Japanese purchase was driven by China's escalating pressure. - mt]
This next bit is so comical it deserves to stand alone:
Beijing’s actions appear to fit a recent pattern, experts said. Reluctant to be seen as the provocateur, China tends to respond forcefully to what it sees as provocations from others and then advance its own claims even more strongly.
A totally Beijing-centric presentation. Ugly to see this in a US newspaper... but expect more in the future: the new normal is going to be US media presentations shaped by Beijing's power.

Finally, James Fallows has a good piece over at The Atlantic:
3) Is this likely to do China any good? The puzzling nature of Chinese foreign policy, especially its generally self-defeating "soft power" aspects, is a subject too vast for our purposes right now. In brief: the very steps that, from an internal Chinese-government perspective, are intended to make it seem confident, powerful, and attractive often have exactly the opposite effect on audiences outside China.

One famous illustration followed the world financial crisis of 2008. The Chinese economy recovered much more quickly than others; the U.S. looked like a house of cards; and the Chinese military made a number of expansionist-seeming moves in the South China Sea that quickly got the attention of neighboring countries. The result of this "over-reach" episode, as it is described now even in China, was to bring Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries into closer alignment with the U.S. than they had thought necessary before. By acting super-tough, the Chinese military made its real situation weaker.

This ADIZ case may become the next famous example. Whether it seems, either now or later, worthwhile from the Chinese leadership's perspective I have no idea. But at least in the short term, it appears to have alarmed the South Koreans, with whom Chinese relations had been steadily warming, plus introducing new friction into China's most important relationship, which is with the United States.
Great stuff. UPDATED: And don't miss this piece on the Chinese perspective from a Chinese PHD student in the China Policy Institute.

The Lew-Rockwell types are still off in some La-la land where all evils are due to the US and China is all rainbows and unicorns, but I noticed that over at the progressive website CommonDreams writer Gwynne Dyer actually thought the ADIZ was deliberately provocative. I'm remaining optimistic that the Left will come around on China...
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hegemonic Conflict Watch: US Responds to China's ADIZ =UPDATED=

Wow (Yahoo):
Two US B-52 bombers flew over a disputed area of the East China Sea without informing Beijing, US officials said Tuesday, challenging China's bid to create an expanded air defense zone.

The flight of the giant Stratofortress planes sent a clear signal that Washington would push back against what it considers an aggressive stance by Beijing in the region.

The move also represented a robust show of US support for Japan, which is locked in a mounting dispute with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The unarmed bombers took off from Guam on Monday on a scheduled flight, as part of what defense officials insisted was a routine exercise dubbed "Coral Lightning Global Power Training Sortie."
This was exactly the right move. China still nurses fantasies of splitting Japan from the US, while pursuing policies that are actually driving Tokyo closer to Washington. The time when Beijing could have wooed Tokyo passed several years ago, thanks to Beijing's belligerent attitude...

One function of this ADIZ declaration is thus to show Tokyo that Washington won't support it in the pinch. This move has precedent -- at least one motive for the Sino-Vietnamese War was for Beijing to demonstrate that the treaty between Hanoi and Moscow was simply a worthless piece of paper. There too China's ostensible motive was islands (Spratly Islands) and alleged mistreatment of ethnic Chinese minorities in Vietnam, eerie echoes of China's bogus claim to the Senkakus and its claim that Taiwan should be part of China because they are all one big happy culture.

Hence, Washington's move was exactly the right move -- giving the middle finger to Beijing, but not using something more aggressive, like a fighter sweep. Kudos to the White House and Pentagon for this move. Hopefully now with the beginning of serious negotiations with Iran, the Obama Administration can shift the US perspective away from its hopeless fixation on that sideshow of a sideshow in the Middle East to Asia, where the future is.

Good work, guys. Very happy to see this.

UPDATE: Probably be on this one all day as news flows in. The Diplomat with a great write-up which observes:
There has been some dispute among defense experts about whether China has the capability to actually enforce its conditions. Defense News quoted an unnamed U.S. defense industry source located in Asia as saying, “Let China run itself crazy trying to enforce this. I just can’t see how China will sustain the enforcement. Too much traffic goes through there. If no country recognizes it, [and] don’t respond to China’s IFF [identification friend or foe] interrogation or VID [visual identification], then this new ADIZ is meaningless.”

Notably, China’s announcement also won it the ire of South Korea, one of the few states in the region that Beijing had thus far avoided offending over sovereignty issues in the past few years. According to the Wall Street Journal, China’s new ADIZ overlaps with about 3,000 square kilometers of South Korea’s own ADIZ. It also encloses Ieodo (Suyan) Rock that South Korea administers but China also claims. Seoul and Beijing will discuss the issue an already scheduled vice defense ministerial-level strategic dialogue in the South Korean capital this week.
Way to go, Beijing! Totally unnecessarily peeving erstwhile friend. This is all about Beijing appealing to domestic audiences. Scary, because those right-wingers aren't going to be appeased until they and others are bleeding...

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Motao goes to Alishan

The Motao. Pure fun on wheels.

Swamped with work I did the only sane thing and ignored it to spend two lovely days biking over Alishan and nearby mountains. The Bike Gods rewarded my faith with prime weather. Even better, a friend who is introducing a new bike and motorcycle camera called the Motao to the market here sent me a free one to test on the trip. What fun I had! As you will see. Motao's Taiwan retailer is -- Tailung Hands. They have 11 stores in Taiwan from K-town to Taipei. You can find them in Breeze and Sogo. Unless I tell you a pic is from the Motao, it is from my Canon Powershot S95. Click on READ ME to enjoy the ride, videos, pictures... what a great time!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

China Cranks up pressure, sets events on war path

This map appeared in the Taipei Times.

I go off to Alishan for the weekend and whaddaya know... China declared a new air defense zone that includes the Senkakus, cranking up the pressure on Japan and essentially declaring that this conflict over the Senkakus will end in open war unless Japan backs down. The Taipei Times report offered some useful insights:
China’s ministry of Defense issued a statement on its Web site yesterday regarding the establishment of the zone.

The statement was accompanied by a map and a set of rules regarding the zone, which stated that all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or do not comply with orders from Beijing.


Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who also sits on the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, suggested that China’s move was aimed at Japan, as China did not include Taiwan’s Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) in its East China Sea air defense identification zone.

Li Fung, a Hong Kong-based Chinese military expert, said that China’s move can be regarded as an effort to bolster Beijing’s sovereignty claims over the islands.

It also showed the Chinese government is preparing for military conflict with Japan over the disputed islands, Li said.
WSJ adds:
"An ADIZ isn't defined in international law. Basically, each country draws up its own and operates on that basis. Therefore, setting up the ADIZ doesn't have any legal meaning for China or affect Japan's territorial rights. However, it is unclear to what extent they will enforce it. In general the situation is getting riskier," said Narushige Michishita of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.
The US has a defense treaty with Japan and has said on several occasions that the Senkakus fall under the purview of that treaty. This means that if China goes to war over the Senkakus then the US must come in on the side of China Japan! The US State Department issued a State-ment:
The United States is deeply concerned about China's announcement that they've established an "East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone." This unilateral action constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. Escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.

Freedom of overflight and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace are essential to prosperity, stability, and security in the Pacific. We don't support efforts by any State to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter its national airspace. The United States does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. national airspace. We urge China not to implement its threat to take action against aircraft that do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing.

We have urged China to exercise caution and restraint, and we are consulting with Japan and other affected parties, throughout the region. We remain steadfastly committed to our allies and partners, and hope to see a more collaborative and less confrontational future in the Pacific.
This is basically a signal of coming war. China has just reduced everyone's room for maneuver, especially if they attempt to enforce this zone.

And also consider that this is just a step. There is more cranking up of pressure coming in the future. At what point do the US and Japan had to intervene to show they mean business, and how? Do we wait for the next carefully calculated escalation? Or are the escalations meant to provoke a Japan-US response that China can plausibly claim as a pretext for war?
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Cole on the Aerotropolis in Taoyuan and Traditional Media failure in Taiwan

J Michael Cole, who is leaving the Taipei Times, writes of traditional news organizations in Taiwan and how they are utterly failing the nation and their readers:
If newspapers like the Taipei Times, which a good number of people in Washington, D.C., rely on almost exclusively for their information, were more serious about reporting news that matter, much greater effort would be made to plug the many gaps that exist in their reporting. Only then would we avoid situations where Taiwan “experts” cannot understand why a delegation led by Chen Deming (陳德銘), the new chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), plans to visit the Taoyuan Aerotropolis next week.

Had the Times and other publications like the Central News Agency been more responsible organizations, they would have reported a lot more on the build-up to the mega-project in Taoyuan, including the expedited hearings which did not meet the standard protocols set by the Executive Yuan for such projects (e.g., the number of public officials in attendance) and where self-help organizations were told that whatever the outcome of the hearings, if the government decided to demolish people’s homes for the project, they could do nothing about it.

The government wants all hearings to be completed by the end of the year, with bidding to start next year.

Responsible news outlets would also focus a lot more on the protests that are brewing over the issue, press releases by the Taiwan Rural Front and other groups, and the suicide earlier this month of a farmer who stood to be among the thousands of victims of the Aerotropolis project. They would also point out that former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), a native of Taoyuan and former county commissioner there, has been hired as a “consultant” for the project and is now seeking foreign investment.

Of the US$15 billion-plus, 4,700-hectare mega-project, more than 3,200 hectares will involve land expropriation, affecting as many as 12,000 households and several dozen schools, which will all be destroyed if the project is allowed to proceed. [Taoyuan's own promotional news site concedes residents are worried about compensation -- MT]

Responsible news organizations would have connected the dots earlier by reporting on the growing instances of government-sanctioned land grabs, the role of land developers and investors, and the manner in which the government has sided with those against the victims. They would have placed more emphasis on those developments, and they certainly would not have buried the few articles they had on the subject in the little-read inside pages, as the Times often does.

And lastly, news outlets worth their salt would have emphasized the fact that under regulations passed last year, China can now participate in infrastructure projects and act as contractors. As CommonWealth magazine reported in late 2012, “Chinese investors are zeroing in on four sectors [of Taiwan’s economy following the new regulation] – landmark infrastructure projects, the high-tech industry, commercial real estate, and logistics and transportation.”
An epic and deadly serious rant. Taiwan Journal had a piece on the aerotropolis back in 2008 that explained what a giveaway it is going to be, and the legislation as passed is online here. There's a PDF of a presentation on it here that gives the rah-rah point of view for it.

After some outcry on the proposal to eliminate laws favoring aboriginal employment, the legislation does stipulate that 3% of employees in the aerotropolis zone must be aboriginals. There was another side to the aerotropolis' threat to national security -- its threat to bring in Chinese under the laws eliminating many labor regulations. But service businesses in the area may not hire Chinese. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how many Chinese workers are slipped in when Chinese firms get the infrastructure bids.

I'm quite curious to see what will happen when Chinese firms actually start taking business from local construction firms. Will they be smart enough to integrate local firms into their operations and take over the KMT's patronage networks? My bet is that they will act with the same arrogant indifferent bullying clumsiness they do everywhere else, and in a couple of years, local construction firms are going to be very very unhappy with the KMT for selling them out to the Chinese.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Links: Enjoy'em

On the road to Guguan

Feeling lazy today....
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blast from the Past: The wreck of President Hoover: Life 10 Jan 1938

"The President Hoover, crack Dollar liner christened by Mrs. Herbert Hoover of  Newport News in 1930, was then the biggest ship ever built in an American yard. A vessel of 615 ft. and 21,536 tons, it cost $88,000,000..." It had been accidentally bombed by Chinese bombs on Aug 30 (killed one crewman) and did some damage. On Dec 10 it ran aground on Hoishoto (Green) Island on a Kobe to Manila run with over 800 passengers and crew, all of whom got off safely. Wiki notes:
After the Battle of Shanghai had broken out in August 1937, President Hoover was diverted from Hong Kong to evacuate US nationals from Shanghai.[3] She was moored in the Yangtze River, awaiting clearance to enter the Wusong River[3] to reach the Port of Shanghai when, despite a 30-foot (9.1 m)-long[2] US flag draped on her top deck abaft the bridge[3] to identify her to aircraft as a neutral US ship, the Republic of China Air Force mistook her for the Japanese troopship Asama Maru and bombed her.[3][10]

One bomb hit Hoover's top deck, killing a crewman from the mess hall.[3] Fragments from another bomb penetrated the main saloon, wounding six crew and two passengers.[3] One of Hoover's radio officers transmitted a distress call stating that Chinese aircraft were attacking her.[3] Both an IJN destroyer and a Royal Navy cruiser came in response, but in the event only medical help was needed.[3] Different sources date the incident as 14[10] or 30[11] August. Despite her casualties Hoover sustained only minor damage, but she aborted the rescue mission to Shanghai[3] and returned to San Francisco for repairs.[2]

Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China's National Military Commission, had known Robert Dollar and was reportedly furious that his aircraft had attacked his late friend's ship.[2] He threatened to have the officer responsible executed until he found that it was his chief air force advisor Claire Lee Chennault.[2] Chiang's wife Soong May-ling had hired Chennault only two months previously, and the Generalissimo relented and instead paid the Texan a $10,000 bonus soon afterwards.[2]
Wiki also has the story of her wreck. Members of the US public gave money to put up a lighthouse on Green Island, which was erected in 1938. The Takao Club, always a great website, has a very detailed account of the wreck.
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African Take on Gambia bolt

Definitely NSFW, if you're a beetle.

An analysis from Swaziland:
Prior to the country severing ties with Taiwan, it has been gathered that some multimillion dollar Mainland Chinese companies were issued with licenses to explore Gambia's potentials of drilling oil. Some couple of millions of dollars has already been deposited into a foreign bank account, in which Jammeh and his Secretary General and Presidential Affairs Minister Momodou Sabally are the co signatories to the offshore drilling bank account. In fact, they have started messing with that money.
This one made it into the Taipei Times as well. Gambia President's statements with some recent history of offshore oil exploration there are here. A US firm was given two blocks offshore last year. Taiwan-Gambia projects will go ahead as planned.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Su Beng Bio Crowdfunding Campaign: Please help!

A message from my friend Felicia Lin, Su Beng's (史明) Biographer:


On October 26 I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to complete the biography of Su Beng which I began working on in 2004. As Su Beng turns 95 or 96 as it would be counted in Taiwan, I have felt an increasing urgency to complete his biography.

Su Beng's life is the story of the struggle of the people of Taiwan, and, now more than ever before, I believe that telling his story will bring greater international awareness to the situation in Taiwan.

Su Beng is a nonagenarian Taiwan independence activist, former undercover Chinese Communist agent, would be assassin of Chiang Kai-shek, historian and author of the book, Taiwan’s 400 Years of History. This encyclopedic, 2000 page plus book, which took about 18 years to write, is the one of the first most comprehensive books on this topic. It has and still continues to influence generations of Taiwanese activists.

To learn more about my project to document the life of Su Beng VISIT:

Here's how you can help:

1) WATCH my crowdfunding video here:

2) SHARE and spread the word about this and CONNECT me with an organization/business/individual who will be able to contribute to my campaign

3) MAKE a personal contribution or in-kind donation

My goal is to raise $15,000 to cover the expenses for me to spend 3 months in Taipei 1) to do the additional research needed to complete the book and 2) to produce a short documentary about the life of Su Beng.

In-kind donations are welcome! I will need to cover the cost of a plane ticket to Taiwan, a place to stay during my 3 months in Taipei. The next major expense of the project is to digitize of the video footage of Su Beng that has been shot on mini-DVD tapes.

To make an in-kind donation contact me at: subeng.biographer [at]

PLEASE NOTE: *Making History: The Story of Su Beng crowdfunding campaign ENDS December 25, 2013*

Important links/contact information crowdfunding campaign:
Website about Su Beng:
YouTube channel:
To contact Felicia Lin directly, email her at subeng.biographer [at]
Felicia Lin
Su Beng's Biographer
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Friday, November 15, 2013

The Gambia Bolts

...and the bottom dropped out of the road.

I've been traveling in Sabah and was reminded of how wild things are down there by the sobering news of Taiwanese tourists killed on a small island off the lovely east coast. But that news was overshadowed by the big news that The Gambia has cut ties with the ROC. WSJ reports:
Taiwan said Friday that it felt "shock and regret" from the announcement, and believed Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh made the decision unilaterally without pressure from China.

"Right now it appears this was a personal decision made by Gambia's President Jammeh," said Simon Ko, deputy foreign minister, at a news conference on Friday.

Mr. Jammeh had cited "strategic national interest" as the reason he cut ties on Thursday, according to media reports from Gambia.

Beijing said it was caught unawares by Gambia's decision. "We learned the news from foreign media reports. There was no contact between China and Gambia," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying.
This seems to be the idea in all the reports; China hasn't engineered this. Hard to tell, though. This will be a test of Ma's policy toward China -- will they let The Gambia drift? Or sweep it into their maw? Almost certainly the latter, as China has been busy building business and development ties with Africa while the US bombs the crap out of things there and in the Middle East.

Everyone always expresses worry that Taiwan will be cut off and fall into Beijing's maw like a ripe plum. I was wondering: Those "diplomatic allies" of the ROC "Taiwan" as the ROC and the rightful government of China. In other words they recognize a Taiwan-China connection. Once you lop off Taiwan's links to those states, aren't you in effect making an isolated but independent Taiwan? I wonder if Beijing sees those connections differently because it is more sensitive to the way they reinforce Taiwan-China connections. In which case, it might want to shrink the number, but still preserve a few. Comments?

Comment below observes:
What about the possible influence of mainland Chinese businessman on the entire saga? The ROC government and news media remained quite clueless on this issue for several hours yesterday while the SCMP had a long report already in June on how mainlanders get HK residency under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) via permanent residency in Gambia first. HK has strict quota on CIES directly from mainland,so rich mainlanders buy Gambian residencies in China for HKD 80,000 per person without even going to the Gambia. Gambian residencies account for the largest group of CIES applications (17,746 earlier this year) with only 309 Chinese actually living in Gambia. It might be less a traditional diplomatic conflict rather than network diplomacy in full swing...
Link to SCMP article. A relevant portion:
Since the beginning of the Hong Kong immigration scheme, 9,050 successful CIES entrants from the mainland have cited permanent residency in The Gambia. The figures, provided by the Immigration Department this month, are as of March 31, the latest available numbers.Gambian residencies make up nearly 60 per cent of mainland applicants and 50 per cent of all 17,746 people who have received Hong Kong visas under the scheme. [1]The Gambia ranks No 1 among residency countries cited by CIES applicants. Guinea-Bissau falls second with 2,931 approved applications, Canada third with 1,207, and the Philippines fourth with 559.“An individual permanent residency in The Gambia costs 80,000 yuan [HK$101,240], a family application costs 100,000 yuan,” said Chen Yunjun, a Shenzhen-based agent with Qiaoshen Emigration Consulting. “One hundred per cent get approved.”“We started [selling] Gambian permanent residencies in Shenzhen in 2011,” she said. “Altogether, we have handled dozens so far.”Huaien Business Consulting, in Kunming, Yunnan province, offers similar prices for a Gambian permanent residency.“It’s 80,000 yuan per person," said a sales agent who gave only her last name as Yu."We can also get you a passport from Guinea-Bissau, we don’t do Gambian passports,” she said. “That would be 250,000 yuan.”Hong Kong agencies are more expensive. Beng Seng Immigration Consultants charges US$25,000 for an individual application, according to its website. A family application, including one underage child, costs US$32,000. Every additional child costs US$1,000 more.Dozens of visa agencies advertise Gambian residency as a way of getting into Hong Kong through CIES.
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The more things change....

A friend of mine put this image of a tin of Formosa Oolong from John Andrews of Boston, probably from the 1880s, on Facebook (more info). It "commemorates" the Boston Tea Party. As I was searching for information on this brand, I stumbled across this droll Consular Report on the Amoy Tea Trade:


I can report much more activity in the tea market at this port than prevailed in the trade one year ago. Prices in New York are much more satisfactory.

Up to the 24th ultimo 1,314,286 pounds more of Formosa oolongs had been exported from Amoy to the United States than at the same date last year, and 162,294 pounds less of Amoy oolongs. Of new teas of the present season 8,120,821 pounds have been exported to the United States to date of September 24.

It is estimated that the season's crop of Amoy oolongs will be 40,000 half-chests less than that of last year, and it is ciurently anticipated that the present year's supply of Formosa oolongs will be from 15,000 to 20,000 half-chests short of the previous year's crop.

The quality of the Formosa crop is claimed to be a full average, while the grade of Amoy oolongs this year is said to be rather more vile than that of previous years, when it was quite bad enough.

Nothing can be said in commendation of Amoy oolong at any time. But little of it is exported elsewhere than to the United States, where, I surmise, it is largely mixed with teas of better quality, thereby toning the one down and the other up in quality, and so a tea that is too miserably bad to venture into the markets of the world is pushed into the United States and imposed upon consumers there in order to satisfy the greed of exporters here and of importers in the United States.

The statute against the importatioin of bad and adulterated teas into the United States is quite sufficient, and if carefully enforced at the ports of entry at home would justify the exclusion of a very considerable percentage of the Amoy oolongs which are annually imported into the United States and imposed upon American consumers. — Amoy, October 7

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's not in the news

Ferret Badger roadkill.

When human groups divide and become fragmented, during a period of malaise and conflicts, they may come to a point where they are reconciled again at the expense of a victim. Observers nowadays realize without difficulty, unless they belong to the persecuting group, that this victim is not really responsible for what he or she is accused of doing. The accusing group, however, views the victim as guilty, by virtue of a contagion similar to what we find in scapegoat rituals. The members of this group accuse their "scapegoat" with great fervor and sincerity. More often than not some incident, whether fantastic or trivial, has triggered a wave of opinion against this victim, a mild version of mimetic snowballing and the victim mechanism.

HEADLINE NEWS!!!! Taiwan gov't tipped off by Spain in 2009 could be something wrong with the oil! Or adulterated oil company executive appears in court and is unrepentant! Defense Ministry to seek compensation for suspect oils!

The oil scandal is so useful. The oil companies are scapegoated for all the food sins of Taiwanese firms, the meat packed with antibiotics, the fraudulent organic food, the pears from Dongshih sold as Lishan pears, the rice noodles that aren't rice...

...and when was the last time you read an article on the wiretapping issue? Gone from the news. Never mind the stagnant incomes, the capital gains tax, the land tax... modern Establishment media is so useful, if it didn't exist, it would have to be invented.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

SOAS Events and Facebook pages

Betel nut farms in eastern Taichung.

Just to let my readers know, SOAS has some great Taiwan events planned for this month. Don't miss 'em if you are in the UK.

They also have been assimilated to the Facebook Borg a Facebook page:

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

ECFA Double Strike is Total Success

Guinea pigs at a miniature recreational farm in Taichung near Shihgang.

A friend of mine remarks on the email on the latest Taiwan trade figures, putting numbers on what all of us said would happen with ECFA:

You have to combine that info with the latest figures for China trade to have the full picture: China's October exports rose 5.6% and its imports rose 7.6%. In Taiwan, all exports were down 1.5% and exports to China decreased 5.5%. So Chinese imports increase strongly when Taiwan exports to China decrease...

What's going on?

Of course many factors here, but it also means that ECFA is working exactly as predicted by real economists: Taiwan exports are declining as Taishang have relocated their whole food-chain in China, enabling them to feed Taiwan-, foreign-, and Chinese-owned companies end-products from within China rather than importing them from Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan imports from China keep on increasing, passing for the first time ever imports from Japan in the past two months...

Lower exports, higher imports with China: the ECFA double-strike is a total success. Expect the same and more if the service investment agreement is passed by the LY.

China trade figures:
Full Taiwan trade stat:
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Desert Chang, ROC flag, Chinese...

Gorgeous cool, breezy, sunny day on the Taichung 95 and small farm roads in the hills above Hsinshe. 60 kms in total, but over 1300 meters of climbing. Brutal, but rewarding.

Lately a number of observers have been commenting on how the ROC flag has been hollowed out by Taiwanese identification and has now become a symbol, not of ROC-ness, but of Taiwanese-ness. There is hardly a better example of this than the Affair of the Flag involving alternative singer Desert Chang and Chinese in the audience at a concert she gave in the UK. WSJ reports:
According to Ms. Chang’s account of the clash, which she posted on her Facebook page, during the concert she held up the flag, which a Taiwanese student had presented to her. When she told the audience that the red, white and blue flag represented her home, she was immediately cut off by the audience, with one fan screaming “no politics today” and “we just want to have fun” in English.
The ROC represents not China to modern Taiwanese, but Taiwan, and home.
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Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday links+ Event

Riding on the 128 to Tongluo last weekend.

Enjoy some links
ALSO: LSE Taiwan Corner 14 November (click on READ MORE for full program)

The LSE Taiwan Research Programme pleased to announce a Seminar and Roundtable with the organization “Taiwan Corner”, which will take place next Thursday (14 November) at the London School of Economics. Both events will be held in the Graham Wallas Room in the Old Building, please see full details below. Please note that the seminar will be at 2pm to 4pm, and the roundtable from 5pm-7pm.

All are very welcome to attend.

With best wishes

Dr Fang-Long Shih
Co-Director, LSE Taiwan Research Programme

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Central Bank Opposes Financial Free Trade in FTZ

Strongpoint overlooking Keelung.

The Ma government keeps looking for an end around Taiwan's conservative financial regulations, which have protected the island fairly well from the stupidity and criminality that goes on elsewhere. Financial integration is a key goal of putting the island into China's orbit. President Ma himself noted in his Double Ten Day speech last month that he hoped the "free economic zones", 1960s style development zones, would include financial services, effecting getting them out from under Central Bank and other regulation. He said...
In addition, the free economic pilot zones (FEPZs) have already entered the launch phase. The Executive Yuan has relaxed 12 regulations to dramatically streamline customs procedures applying to pilot zone firms when they outsource processing operations, so that new operating models based on smart logistics can be gradually established in these zones. The Shanghai Free Trade Zone officially opened recently, giving us yet another competitor. Therefore, we must step up efforts to open up our market. The Executive Yuan is actively deliberating on whether to allow other industrial activities in the FEPZs, such as the financial sector’s wealth and asset management services. This is the right direction. We should expand the scope of liberalization for both domestic and international financial and economic activities.
Not so fast, however, says the Central Bank. I seldom source from WantWant since it is so pro-China, but in this case I'll make an exception. This WantWant piece's fuming at the Central Bank shows how closely Ma's policies align with those of China.
The central bank said that if the Taiwan dollar were to be traded in the free trade zone, then Taiwan would have opened its gates wide to the world, which it is not prepared to allow.

But the dilemma also lies in the fact that Taiwan has long isolated itself from the world's financial markets and has become a desert for foreign capital. If the government is currently planning a free trade zone that is no different than the system currently in place, the project is doomed to failure.

The central bank has cited the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008 as reasons to lock the Taiwan dollar at home.

No doubt the memories of those financial disasters remain in Hong Kong and Singapore, but those two territories still consider it worthwhile to open their doors, judging the benefits to outweigh the potential risks.

Taiwan is urged to reconsider its policies regarding the international financial market and to take other countries in a similar position as examples. While other Asian financial heavyweights such as Hong Kong and Singapore compete to establish themselves as renminbi offshore financial centers, Taiwan talks the talk but remains petrified of taking the plunge.
It is hard to see how a system where all the financial transactions but those taking place in a certain zone are heavily regulated can ever function effectively. You can imagine that it would be laundering transactions from all over the world. Further, local banks would simply move transactions into the zone via paperwork to escape regulation. It would also make a nifty conduit by which PRC state banks could gut Taiwanese money policy simply by moving large sums in and out. The Central Bank's opposition is the correct move.

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The Diplomat: Constructing China's Claims to the Senkaku

Tongluo train station.

The Diplomat has a piece from me this week: Constructing China's Claims to the Senkaku.
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Monday, November 04, 2013

The Uses of Scandal: Edible oils

Model airplane fliers in southern Taichung city.

“Coincidence was a concept he did not entirely trust. As someone who had spent his life exploring the hidden interconnectivity of disparate emblems and ideologies, Langdon viewed the world as a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events. The connections may be invisible, he often preached to his symbology classes at Harvard, but they are always there, buried just beneath the surface.”

Wouldn't ya know it? Just as (1) the President's pet prosecutor is facing indictment for leaking secrets in a prosecution case to the President and (2) the President is trying to shove a major services agreement through the legislature and (3) the President is trying to wipe egg off his face after attempting but failing to destroy a political rival, a major food scandal breaks out. What a break for the President, eh?

FocusTaiwan presents the raw data:
Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co., a major edible oil supplier and subsidiary of the Ting Hsin International Group, was ordered Sunday to recall 21 of its oil products that used adulterated ingredients.

The Pingtung County Public Health Bureau ordered Ting Hsin Oil & Fat to recall 21 of its products that contained adulterated oils from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co., the company at the heart of an edible oil scandal that has shaken Taiwan.

The products were sold under the brand of Wei Chuan Foods Corp., another subsidiary of the Ting Hsin Group and one of Taiwan's oldest food companies. All Wei Chuan-brand edible oils are produced by the Ting Hsin unit in Pingtung.

Ting Hsin Oil and Fat said Chang Chi oils were also used in its handmade soaps and lighting oils, according to a list of products containing Chang Chi oils provided by the company.

The Pingtung Public Health Bureau will fine Ting Hsin Oil and Fat between NT$30,000 (US$1,020) and NT$3 million because the Pingtung County-based oil supplier failed to provide the list immediately when Pingtung health officials visited it on Oct. 27-28.

The company did admit at the time that it had purchased olive oils and grapeseed oils from Chang Chi in July and September, and health officials seized more than 200 192-kilogram barrels of those oils Ting Hsin Oil and Fat still had in stock.
Wei Chuan is a major major brand in Taiwan, with a strong reputation for quality. This is going to hurt. There are so many threads here that this scandal touches on: food security (all of Taiwan's cooking oils are imported), food regulation (what is that?), corporate impunity (punishment? What punishment?), corporate corruption (of course it is killing its customers, it's a large corporation, isn't it?), and food scandals as background noise (going back a long way -- Yu-cheng mass poisoning incident). Food scandals are a way of life here.

But it's always more fun to play the "what's missing from this equation?" puzzle game because the politics of reporting are known by what is omitted as well as what is reported. FocusTaiwan reported earlier:
Shiu confirmed that of the 7,619 tons of crude cottonseed oil imported into Taiwan since last year, Chang Chi had imported nearly 40 percent of it and the rest went to Flavor Full, which like Chang Chi is based in Changhua County.
If you keep trolling for cottonseed oil and Taiwan on the internet, you soon come to ETaiwan news' report (read it, fascinating discourse on how to adulterate food) which will tell you that the source of the oil was China. But if you look at FocusTaiwan's pieces on the scandal, as far as I can see China is not being reported as the source of the oil. I mean, it's oil from China. Is it really even cottonseed oil? By keeping China out, the story about the edible oil scandal does not become a story that is also about Taiwan's connections with China, which might affect the services industry pact, as well as highlight the island's rapidly expanding dependence on China for cheap food.
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David, with hernia

A hernia doctor improves upon a Michaelangelo.
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Sunday, November 03, 2013

APRC regulations and children of foreigners here

You never know where a Taiwan ride will take you.

A needlessly cruel law is the regulation that when minor children of foreigners here become twenty, they can no longer remain in Taiwan on their parents visa. This is a simple issue to fix, and one that affects a number of families. Ralph Jensen, whose daughter has become the face of this issue, writes:
My wife and I started a project to encourage the Taiwan government to relax APRC regulations for spouses and children of APRC holders.
There's an online petition at but our main focus is PR through Facebook, newspaper articles and TV interviews. (See links on petition site or Facebook page.)
A video of Ralph's daughter speaking on the topic.
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Kerry Brown in The Diplomat

Kerry Brown's piece in the The Diplomat argued that the PRC is Biggest Obstacle to Unification with Taiwan. He writes:
This second issue is where the hope lies. Taiwan’s political evolution remains a great inspiration for change on the Mainland, a political transition within a Chinese cultural polity which was stable. For this reason, while Xi’s comments might unsettle people in the short term, in the long term they just expose the great secret about modern cross-Strait relations: that the People’s Republic of China’s political system is the greatest barrier to reunification. A reformed polity in China that was more pluralistic, open, based on the rule of law and accountable, whether the Communist Party is at the heart of it or not, would pose much harder questions to opponents of unification in Taiwan.
The last line is rank nonsense. J Michael Cole observes of it:
This is the author’s assumption and, if I may be so blunt, it is an unproven one. Similarity of political systems, values, languages, culture certainly facilitate exchanges, but by no means do they guarantee willingness for any form of political union. Based on this premise, we would immediately conclude that if the U.S. democratized (I couldn’t help it; after all, as the great Canadian bard Leonard Cohen once said, democracy is coming to the U.S.A.), somehow Canada would agree to become part of it. Nationalism is a river than runs far deeper, and after more than 100 years-plus of separate existence, we simply don’t know whether Taiwanese would agree to become part of China. My informed bet is that they wouldn’t, for reasons similar to those that differentiate Americans from British, New Zealanders from Australians, or Belgians from French. Hell, the Czechs and Slovaks dissolved Czechoslovakia in 1993 after the country had once again become democratic!
Cole asks why not consult the polls? and points out that poll data show most Taiwanese favor independence, especially if you give them the choice between independence or annexation (pro-KMT TVBS' most recent poll!). But in fact there is credible poll data on this issue. Emerson Niou's paper on this topic observes:
Q4. If only small political, economic, and social disparity exists between Mainland China and Taiwan, do you favor or not favor Taiwan unifying with China?
Not Favor: 56.4%    Favor: 36.4%    NA: 7.2%
Less than 40% want to annex Taiwan to China even if disparities disappear. The only thing keeping Taiwanese even interested in the issue is the military threat from China. If China did not threaten to maim and murder and spark a regional war over its desire to annex Taiwan, no one in Taiwan would be talking about annexing Taiwan to China.

This raises the real issue, whether a democratic China would change its militant stance toward annexing Taiwan. My feeling is no (think a democratic China will give up Tibet or Xinjiang? How many in the UK wanted to give up the empire in the 20s and 30s?). Democracy doesn't make nations less belligerent (far from it; it appears to legitimate belligerence by giving it a widespread popular basis). The Chinese have been raised on the idea that Taiwan is "theirs" as are the territories of other nations. What is really needed is not democracy, but culture change, changing the way people in China think about what "China" is.

Brown makes another egregious move, reproducing the propaganda claim that Chen Shui-bian "provoked" China:
...As long as the leadership in Taiwan did not stray towards the dreaded territory of asserting its independence, anything else was tolerable. And with Ma’s election in 2008, the provocations from the Chen Shui-bian era at least stopped.
There were no provocations of the Chen Shui-bian era. What happened was that China made noises and complained whenever Chen did something, hoping to marginalize him and get him and the Taipei government treated as a bunch of radicals, especially in the international media. This strategy was effective in part because US officialdom cooperated, not the least because so many in the policy community have lucrative consulting and other work with Beijing (here, for example). The PRC chooses to be provoked, because being provoked is a policy choice that Beijing executes to manage its relations with Taiwan.

The state of international media discourse and diplomacy is such that if you imprison religious cultists and political dissidents, suppress speech, loot life, land, and labor from ordinary people, and otherwise run an intolerant, oppressive authoritarian state while threatening war with most of the nations on your border, you are not a provocative radical but statesmanlike and important, but if you host a referendum and carry out democratic politics, you're provocative and radical and making a victim of poor, put-upon China. Those of us on the pro-Taiwan side can't do anything about the moral fecklessness and worship of power of international editors, but we can at least refrain from catapulting Beijing's propaganda. Chen Shui-bian was a perfectly normal democratic politician operating in a completely mad media and political context, period. That needs to be said more often....
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