Thursday, July 31, 2014

KMT Splits?

Yep, there was still one larva on the leaf where I had first seen them. They had turned into this.

BREAKING: DPP Sec-Gen again summonsed by Special Prosecutors. Still named as "related person/ 關係人" not defendant or suspect. Thus technically no right to lawyer.

KMT Caucus Whip resigns over Control Yuan vote, scribes the Taipei Times. An interesting signal of what's going on inside the KMT...
Lin and the KMT caucus blamed outgoing Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) for the “surprising outcome” on Tuesday night, after it became clear that KMT lawmakers had failed to vote in line with the party’s wishes.

Not only was incoming Control Yuan president Chang Po-ya’s (張博雅) nomination confirmed by only a hair’s breadth, 11 of the 27 candidates for Control Yuan members were voted down by the legislature, despite Ma’s insistence on a “complete passage that leaves no one behind.”
The President, who is the Party Chairman, had insisted to his legislators that everyone pass. The KMT rejected the bulk of Control Yuan nominees. The President's clout in his own party does not appear great enough to get everyone to hold their nose and vote his way on Control Yuan officials. Ma is a lame duck in his own party.

Recall that the trigger for the occupation of the legislature was the KMT's decision to cut off the debate before it began, declare it completed, and then declare that the Services Pact had passed review and was now law -- without a vote in the legislature. It seems clear that the KMT lacks the power to compel its legislators to line up behind that dog of a service pact, if it can't even get them to vote for a routine bit of favor-swapping corruption like the Control Yuan nominees.

Hence the real problem with the delay in the Services Pact isn't the Sunflowers. They just make a convenient whipping boy. The real problem is that the KMT legislators don't want to pass it, and can't be made to.

I suspect they will just have to wait until after the election in November to move on the Services Pact.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Lazy Links

A wasp drags a paralyzed spider back to her lair to lay her eggs in its body.

Lovely day. Feeling lazy....
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Monday, July 28, 2014

....Simply Shows How Out of Touch Sean Lien Is

Bird and owner out for a cycle trip.

Sean Lien, the son of KMT Honorary Chairman for Life and KMT mayoral candidate for the KMT fiefdom of Taipei stunned the political universe this week by lunching with a bunch of foreigners. The event was widely mocked by netizens for its $500 NT lunchboxes (normal ones go for a fifth of that price), once again displaying the Lien clan's total lack of the common touch. The foreigners touched on various issues, Lien gave the KMT party line. Boring, and Lien dismissing claims that the FPEZ opposition is just pro-independence types, as longtime KMT observer Ketty Chen noted on Facebook, simply shows how out of touch Lien is.

In fact, you can simply follow any activity of Lien's with the phrase "...simply shows how out of touch Lien is."

More seriously, overheard on the internet: since Ko Wen-je in Taipei is an independent candidate, he cannot appoint election supervisors to count the ballots, according to the law independent candidates can't do that. Since the DPP and TSU have no candidate, neither can they appoint election supervisors. Hence, according to this longtime political observer, all election supervisors, responsible for assessing the validity of ballots, will be KMT.

Color me Sean Lien this week.

COMMENTER CORRECTS: "The NT$500 is inaccurate. Those boxes are afternoon tea set from hotel, NT$580+10%=NT$638 per head. Just because the sets are served in bento boxes so people mistaken them as bentos."
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Colonial Administration

A spider protects its hatchlings.

A while back I wrote on how the north of Taiwan is the center of a colonial state, whose periphery is essentially everything south of Hsinchu. The reflexive nature of this state is apparent even in the small stuff.

Let us recall that "independence" is in part a regional response to the way the north parasitizes the rest of the nation, sucking up its development money, exploiting its resources, impoverishing its governments, and eating up its promising young people. What people in the south want independence from is the colonial government in Taipei.

Thus, one of the DPP's most important policies is regional development balancing, and part of this are initiatives for moving government offices down to cities in central and southern Taiwan. Lin Jia-lung has even floated the idea of moving the legislature to Taichung (would save a lot of travel money, and think how easy it would be for legislators to keep up with their gangster contacts). A commentary in the Taipei Times yesterday recounted:
The administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) promoted more even allocation of resources, starting with the relocation of central government agencies south. Chen heralded the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency as the advance guard in this initiative.

When President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office, this policy was thrown into reverse and the agency began working on its return to Taipei, a process due to be completed by the end of this month.
The Chen Administration had sent the Fisheries Agency to the south. Immediately the Ma Administration, reflexively anxious to preserve and re-assert the coloniality of the north, recalled that Agency to Taipei (that's more of that famous pragmatism, no doubt, for which Ma was so touted by delusional media and experts prior to the 2008 election).

Hand-in-hand with the colonial structure of the government is the colonial attitude that southerns and Taiwanese are inferiors. That too was exampled this week as academics complained about the appointments to head the Museum of Taiwanese Literature -- two individuals with no expertise in that area.
Lung appointed the museum’s director and deputy director, but neither of them has a related academic background, nor authentic connections to Taiwanese literature studies, they said.

The move led prominent figures in the nation’s literary circles to charge that the museum’s mission statement has been abandoned to become a haven for political appointees and the museum has been turned into Lung’s “personal fiefdom.”
The move doesn't signal that Lung has made it her personal fiefdom. What it signals is that Lung hardly considers the positions to be serious and important.

UPDATE: Ben responds and adds
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Sony DSC RX100 Mk 2 is in the house!

Our dog is totally excited to be going on a walk with the new Sony DSC RX100 II. He scratched a huge hole in the skin on his head so we have to make him wear that til it heals. Annoying for all parties.

A couple of years ago I bought a Canon Powershot SX260 (post). I ended up scratching the lens and rendering it useless, so I returned to using my venerable old Canon Powershot S95, which is a fantastic camera that I still love. Perfect in conception, easy to use, that camera is a dream. But unfortunately it is old....


Taiwan consumer complaints from the Consumer Protection Agency of the Executive Yuan. Number 1 and number 2 [shakes head].
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2014 The International Conference on Formosan Indigenous Peoples: Contemporary Perspectives
Dates:15-17 September 2014
Venue:Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Academia Sinica

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Politics as Usual

The 193 north of Ruisui.

Ah, the KMT, still the world's richest political party. Ma had promised to sell off the Party's assets and put everything in trusts. LOL.

For weeks I've been wondering when the lack of professionalism of Ko Wen-je, the pan-Green candidate for Taipei mayor, would show itself. This week it was the Ko campaign's hiring of an alternative service military conscript as the campaign office's technical advisor that gave us a double whammy -- first, hiring in-service military people for political campaigns is probably technically legal, but not a bright thing to do. The man is technically a soldier. And second -- you mean the guy is running for mayor of the nation's most important city and his tech people aren't professionals with years of experience? Oy ve.

Can't help but note that with all the out and out gangsters involved in politics all over the nation, the fact that there is a media flap over this, however tiny, is ridiculous.

The KMT news organ was saying that Shen Fu-hisung is in despair over his low polling in the Taipei mayor race and will probably drop out in August. It will be interesting to see what happens in the polls, then.

I've been wondering what the KMT was thinking with Keelung -- was the whole thing with former KMT candidate, now likely independent candidate Huang Ching-tai, a setup to distance the KMT from an allegedly corrupt candidate? Nope, it's really a screw up. The KMT removed Huang from the party candidacy but had no one waiting in the wings to take up the cudgel on the Party's behalf. Rather embarrassing, that. Now they found someone who appears to be squeaky-clean and wants to run for the Keelung mayor position. In the past they've had some trouble producing candidates with both those qualifications (remember Hsu Tai-li?). Meanwhile the spurned Huang Ching-tai says he has the signatures to run as an independent. For the first time in years the DPP may actually have a shot at the Keelung mayoralty if Huang seriously pursues his candidacy and splits the KMT vote.

More seriously, Taipei Times reports that Taiwan is being flooded with tiny pro-annexation parties that coordinate their activities.
Taiwan Thinktank councilor Tung Li-wen (董立文) said that since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) assumed office in 2008, a total of 116 new political parties have been registered, and more than 80 percent of these have a manifesto based on “promoting cross-strait exchanges and cooperation; advocating unification with China.”

“The Chinese government is using these small parties to infiltrate Taiwanese politics to cultivate and propagate more pro-China organizations,” Tung said.

“During last month’s visit by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), these groups were mobilized for a show of force. Plans are now underway for more ‘drill training’ at the elections later this year. Their main aim is to ‘mobilize their troops to impact on the presidential election in 2016,” Tung said.

As of May 2008, there were 138 registered political parties, according to Ministry of the Interior figures, while as of last week there were 254, an increase of 85 percent.
The gangs here are largely pro-China. But it should also be recalled that political parties are excellent frameworks for money laundering, which may be what much of this activity is. The sheer number of them make excellent camouflage for moving Chinese money into Taiwan politics. But if you are bringing in Chinese money, why put pro-China noises in the party charter and call attention to this fact? And if you are only engaged in money laundering, why put pro-China noises in the party charter? Ideology trumps common sense again? Or what?

Note also the Chinese spouses...
“Another development is that Chinese women married to Taiwanese men have formed and registered several political parties. We estimate that by the 2016 presidential election, the Chinese spouses could have a voting bloc of between 120,000 to 240,000 ballots,” Tung said.

“China provides support to Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing parties which are also known as ‘loyalists.’ Through elections, Communist China’s political control of Hong Kong is assured. The experience there shows that it can be done. So China is copying that template and applying it for Taiwan,” he said.

This is because China has realized that by controlling only 3 to 5 percent of Taiwan’s electorate, it can sway the presidential election, and thus decide Taiwan’s future, Tung said.
Yep. Chinese spouses do not have to give up their Chinese citizenship, unlike the rest of us foreigners and can become citizens relatively quickly. There are well over 300,000 such spouses in Taiwan. Even a third of them might turn an election if they vote as a bloc -- recall that Chen Shui-bian's margin in 2004 was not even 30K votes.... and China's screaming and yelling across the Strait at Taipei to stop "discriminating" against Chinese spouses signals its awareness of the power of this bloc.
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Backyard Sanity break: Answering a question

Went to the backyard to take a sanity break today. Ordinarily I don't shoot leafhoppers, but this shot was so lovely I broke my rule.

Last month I shot these aliens in my backyard. Posting on Facebook, someone opined that they might be ladybug larva.

Sure enough, I caught one in mid-transformation today. Hard to tell, but I think it is turning into...

...something like this.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just to get the flavor of central Taiwan; Courtney Donovan Smith's Roundup of our news

Kenting, four years ago.

BREAKING: Fuxing Air plane crashed in Penghu. Reports still in, but apparently of the 54 on board, 6 were sent to the hospital. 48 didn't make it.


Courtney Donovan Smith of ICRT posted to Facebook:

My report this morning on ICRT was a laundry list of nepotism, corruption and criminal behaviour by politicians...and I only cover Taichung, Changhua and Nantou.

Son of Nantou County Assembly Speaker arrested
The son of the Nantou County’s legislative speaker has been arrested along with 8 subordinates. The 39-year-old reportedly had been running a violent racket targeting wealthy businesspeople and more frequently their rich offspring. Using his father’s name he would offer invitations, the kind you can’t refuse, for these princelings to gamble at his underground casino. The casino was rigged so the victims would always lose, which would lead to beatings, violent extortion from the rich parent--or frequently both--if the victim couldn’t pay. His father, KMT lawmaker and speaker of the Nantou County Assembly He Sheng-feng (何勝豐) distanced himself from his son, saying they were not frequently in contact. The lawmaker himself, who is currently out on bail on charges of shooting a man who was beating him up in a KTV, is suspected of also having run a violent extortion and gambling racket in the past.

Sticking with Nantou, Lee Chao-ching’s wife ends political speculation
Impeached Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching’s wife has ended speculation she would run in a legislative by-election, and launched her first campaign billboard in her run for county commissioner. The ad, prominently and somewhat oddly features the slogan ‘a new choice’. When her campaign was announced, her husband--currently out on bail pending corruption charges-- openly made clear she was running on his behalf, announcing his wife was going to carry out plans he conceived while he had had time to rest in jail. Failing to register in time to run in the KMT primary, she is running as an independent. In other similar news, the daughter of impeached lawmaker Yen Ching-piao, jailed previously on gun and corruption charges, is running for Taichung city council. Her brother is the current legislator for the area, having won his father’s seat. Like her father, she is running as an independent. She says her father has only given her one piece of advice: to lose 30 kg.

As if that weren’t enough
The cousin of the Changhua County Commissioner and a lawyer friend of his were sentenced to 1 year 8 months and 2 years respectively. The cousin was approached by the brother of the county commissioner in 2010 to use his name to purchase a property in Taipei. The cousin instead introduced him to a friend of his, a lawyer. Using money borrowed from the family and govt contractors, the property was purchased. The brother ran into a series of difficulties, including corruption allegations and receiving a nine-year sentence for stealing campaign funds from the 2012 Ma Ying-jeou presidential run. The lawyer then refused to return the property, keeping it for himself. By refusing to return it, he and the cousin received sentences for breach of trust. The county commissioner himself was not involved in the case.

Pan-green trouble in Changhua
Refusing to bow to ever-increasing pressure from the DPP and TSU, including a visit from Tsai Ying-wen and losing her TSU party membership, ex-TSU lawmaker Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) has reiterated her determination to see the race for Changhua County Commissioner through to the end. Though running as an independent, she is expected to take away votes from the DPP, and a recent opinion poll had her support and the DPP’s Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) support combined roughly even with that of the KMT’s Lin Cang-min (林滄敏). However, the pan-blues may have trouble of their own, with the camp of KMT primary loser Ke Cheng-fang (柯呈枋) refusing to rule out running in the race as an independent. Ke vehemently accused Lin of cheating in the primary.

Taichung transportation milestones
Last week saw the trial launch of Taichung’s iBike bicycle rental system. Though initially only 3 stations with 100 bikes, it is expected to hit 60 stations and over 1500 bikes within 2 years. It was also announced that Taichung’s iBike system will be mutually compatible with Changhua’s Youbike system. In related news the Bus Rapid Transit Blue Line is scheduled to begin semi-normal operations at completed stations starting this Sunday at noon. How many stations will be complete by Sunday is uncertain, but construction does appear to be accelerating. The bulk of the buses running along Taiwan Blvd are scheduled to be effectively turned into shuttle buses to the BRT, freeing up the slow lanes.

Bamboo Union shooting
A top Bamboo Union leader, by some reports the head of the triad in New Taipei City, was gunned down at close range on Monday. The so-called temple-master was attending a banquet at a temple in Changhua’s Erlin Township when he was shot seven times at close range, killing him instantly. The baseball-capped shooter then escaped in a waiting car. Police suspect the assassins followed the gangster’s car from the north, possibly for the entire trip.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Robert Sutter Rocks on China

Danger lurks behind every leaf.

Robert Sutter, the longtime US government Taiwan specialist, nails it in a brilliant piece saying, essentially, it's about time the US actually imposed some costs on China for its behavior. He then goes on to lay out some of the actions that the US can take. That the piece is at CSIS, a corporate establishment thinktank which usually advocates unicorns and rainbows for China, is even more impressive. The key point for us is the Taiwan part [emphasis mine]:
2)Taiwan is an area of acute sensitivity for China; one where the United States has several options to raise significant costs for China. As the United States seeks to check China’s recent coercion and intimidation of neighbors, it could devote more attention to Taiwan – which has faced unbridled Chinese military coercion and intimidation for almost two decades. One option is to complicate Chinese defense plans and overall strategy toward Taiwan by allowing the sale of the 66 F-16 fighter jet long sought by the Taiwan government. The cost to China of such action involves not just the planes themselves but the significance of the substantial US demonstration of support for Taiwan in the face of China’s pressure and threats. Another option would involve a more active US posture in support of Taiwanese free expression and identity represented by the so-called Sunflower Movement on the island. Beijing has shown no postive response to the rising importance of such demonstrations of Taiwan identity at odds with Chinese interests. The demonstrations tend to support Taiwan’s political opposition’s wariness on dealing with China. US support for such expressions of Taiwanese identity could further shift Taiwan politics in favor of the opposition against the unpopular government of President Ma Ying-jeou. China would face costly and difficult reevaluation of its reasonably successful policy toward Taiwan, should the opposition win the 2016 presidential election.
Hello! We out here have been advocating these two positions for a while now. Good to see someone in Washington catching up. As I pointed out in 2011:

In need of an update, but still relevant. I'll note once again, as I have so many times, that the constant call for a sell out of Taiwan simply moves the defense against China back to the Senkakus -- uninhabited rocks, without 23 million people who don't want to be part of China, armed forces, and a forward position. Taiwan is a massive inconsistency in US strategy. Not does the US not include it in this strategy, the US even supports the pro-China party in Taiwan. Should they survive our climate policies, future historians will scratch their heads in puzzlement....
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Just some links

Typhoon to make landfall on Wednesday. Typhoon track as of noon on Monday. Central Weather Bureau typhoon link.
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Northern Cross Sanity Break

Resting in Lower Baling with my good friends Kenji and Jeff.

Saturday and Sunday I ignored my currently enormous workload and rode one of favorite routes, the Northern Cross Island Highway from Yongning Metro to Yilan Train Station with my redoubtable friends Kenji and Jeff. Click on Read More to see more....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vacation daze....

Off to hit the mountains for a couple of days. No blogging until Monday. Enjoy a few links to tide you over the weekend.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

International Law = Taiwan's friend

The Zhoufu Industry Road in the Rift Valley.

My friend and fellow member of the Ohio Diaspora Brian Benedictus (his excellent blog) and I spanked Julian Ku hard in The Diplomat today: US Policy and International Law: Taiwan's Friend. Enjoy...
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taipei Mayoral Election polls

FormosaNation sent around these two images. He's bullish about the prospects of Ko Wen-je in Taipei against Lien Chan's son Lien Sheng-wen (Sean Lien) and has been twitting Ben Goren at Letters from Taiwan and I about our pessimism. The top image shows the China Times poll that has Ko at 38%, Lien at 30%, and Shen Fu-hsiung, a former DPPer, at 10% with the remainder at no opinion/undecided. The bottom poll is even more terrifying if you are a KMTer: Ko is on the left and even or winning in traditional KMT districts. FormosaNation pointed out to me that KMTers are wailing and gnashing their teeth, but Ben observed that complaining that things are hanging in the balance is a common KMT election tactic.

My own view remains that Shen Fu-hsiung's 10% means nothing. That figure is a protest vote against the KMT. In the end those people will go into the voting booth, stare at Shen's picture, and then mark their ballots for Sean Lien. James Soong, a far more recognizable candidate for KMT voters, took just 4% as the alternative in 2006. My thinking is that Shen will probably get 3-4% and Lien will collect the other 6%. This means that Ko and Lien are actually neck and neck.

That is no small feat when you recall that Hau crushed Frank Hsieh 53-40 in 2006 and then actually increased his proportion to 55-43 against Su Tseng-chang, who ran a much better campaign than Hsieh in 2010. That means that in Taipei 55% of the people are willing to vote Blue even when the alternative is one of the most personally attractive and competent politicians in Taiwan. So don't underestimate the slavish devotion of Taipei's KMT voters to their social identities.

In 2002 Ma Ying-jeou crushed Lee Ying-yuan 64-35, but Lee was a relatively unknown and uncompelling candidate, hence the election scores are anomalous. The vote counts for the other elections are:

KMT 692,085 (53.81)
DPP 525,869 (40.89)
Other 68,135 ( 5.30)

KMT 873102 (64.1)
DPP 488811 (35.9)

KMT 766377 (51.1)
DPP 688072 (45.9)

KMT 364618 (25.9)
DPP 615090 (43.7)
New 424905 (30.2)

It's easy to see that the DPP in a competitive election typically takes 40-45% of the vote, the KMT makes up the rest. The only way the DPP can ever win is if the KMT vote is split between two strong candidates, which is what happened in 1994, when the New Party outpolled the KMT.

Ko is a totally new factor in the last two decades, a strong and nominally independent candidate who is not a former KMT politician. However, his ceiling is probably still 45% of the vote -- and that figure was from 1998. For Ko to win, many light blues are going to have to decide to stay home or make protest votes. Shen Fu-hsiung is just going to have to collect that 10% of the vote. Or the earth god will have to intervene...
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Events+ John Garnaut on the PRC, White Wolf, Triads, Taiwan, and Hong Kong

The road up to Xitou, on the west side of the gorge.

John Garnaut has a trio on triads, the White Wolf, and PRC expansionism, annexation, and nationalism. From this one:
"White Wolf?" snaps one of Chang An-lo's assistants, a man with a huge forehead and pockmarked face, who eyes me suspiciously. "What White Wolf? "Whoever calls him that? You mean you are looking for President Chang!" It's only after I name-drop members of the Chinese Communist Party aristocracy that he ushers me into an inner office space, where he jots down my details and gives me an undertaking that my name will be passed on to the "President". In an adjacent room I notice a resplendent dragon, carved from a million-dollar slab of Burmese jade, suggesting that the business of pan-Chinese patriotism has some pay-offs. Last year another CUP branch office was raided by the police, who alleged that it was a front for one of Chang's Bamboo Union proteges to engage in organised crime, extortion, illegal ownership of guns and drugs, and rape.
There are two others, here and here (on Hong Kong).

EVENTS: sorry, wanted to post this: Jerome Keating's next meetup is Sunday the 20th of July:

Speaker: Brandon Thompson
Brandon is from Canada, entertains in 3 languages. Sings, plays instruments and acts. a consumate entertainer.
He trained with Second City Training Center, Toronto (nothing to do with Rob Ford)
Has participated in Taiwan's Spring Scream, Peacefest, and Canada Day.
Acts with Taipei Players and Taipei Improv.
One of the bands he is with is Adoga Band.

Topic: Ex-pats and the entertainment business in Taiwan; want to get in? what are some pitfalls to watch? What about visa issues and work permits?
Brandon has APRC by the way and has been around the Taiwan block.

The venue is the same as it has traditionally been. Time is 10 am.
The meeting location is the restaurant 婷婷翠玉 at 174 AnHe Road, Section Two. (rough translation of name is Tender, Pretty Green Jade.) You will be able to tell the restaurant by the lace curtains on the window--it was used in a TV commercial a while back. (We will have the downstairs room--breakfast cost will range between NT$100 and NT$150. Everyone buys their own)

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Ku Doubles Down and other stuff

Hoping Island, Keelung. If you haven't been here, it's much better than Yehliu.

Julian Ku's awful piece at The Diplomat got spanked by J Michael Cole yesterday and by Michal Thim today. Thim's is excellent and very polite, don't miss.

I ripped Ku two posts below this one yesterday. Incredibly, as if he had no access to Google in the intervening hours, today he doubled down on his errors:
I get that this is a complicated issue, but I don’t think I am “misreading” historical documents when I write that i) the US recognizes the PRC as the government of China and that the US accepts that Taiwan is part of China; 2) Japan recognizes the PRC as the government of China, and Japan accepts that Taiwan is a part of China. Sure, neither country recognizes that Taiwan is a part of the PRC, but both the US and Japan have made clear that China is a single legal entity that includes Taiwan, and that the PRC is the sole government in charge of this entity. We can futz around the details, but there is a reason why neither the US nor Japan (nor almost anyone else) have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Many of us who read this were wondering how Ku could have been unable to discover what US policy towards Taiwan is. There are a million people he could have asked overnight. And there's Google...

In case you can't remember, it's that Taiwan's status is undecided. The latest Congressional Research Service report lays it out on page 4, here is the formulation of it:
The United States has its own “one China” policy (vs. the PRC’s “one China” principle) and position on Taiwan’s status. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
How easy is that to find? If you ask Google, in the first five answers you get two State Dept sites (useless as State conceals this position, leading to endless problems and misunderstandings like Ku's) but you do get the Wiki page, which isn't very good, and the CRS report above, which is excellent.

The reason the US position is so important is that its position became the San Francisco Peace Treaty's construction of the Taiwan question. Recall that in the 1951 Treaty, the peace agreement that redistributed things from Japan, Taiwan is given up by Japan, but no recipient of sovereignty is named. Hence, the practice of not only the US, but also Japan, Canada, Australia, and other nations is as Cole correctly noted yesterday: they acknowledge that China wants to annex Taiwan, but they do not accept Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China, in any form. Those of us who've been studying this game for twenty-five years know every step of the Taiwan Status pavane. The question is why Ku didn't ask anyone what the situation is, not whether Ku is wrong. That latter question was settled in 1951.

Nor is this a mere paper policy. These were the very nations who, in 2007 when then-President Chen sent a letter to the UN asking for entry, reminded UN Sec-General Ban Ki-moon that his claim that Taiwan was part of China was not accepted by many UN members. The US State Department was unhappy about it, but it did go to bat on behalf of this policy.

As I noted yesterday, Taiwan is thus not part of China -- no treaty or similarly important and internationally accepted legal document anywhere recognizes that -- but a decolonized territory whose population awaits determination of its final status. Any invasion by China would be a totally illegal act of aggression. Thus, at every level, Ku's construction of, and understanding of, the issue of Taiwan's status is 100% wrong.

A Twitter acquaintance accused me yesterday of trying to shut down the discussion in my last paragraph yesterday. Hogwash. Some legal arguments are dead from the get-go and they are dead and should not be made because they are (1) factually inept; (2) legally indefensible; and (3) morally reprehensible. Ku's "argument" for the PRC's right to kill Taiwanese and annex their land fulfills all three of those conditions. It literally should not be made because -- especially because -- his position as a nominal expert on international law gives it a weight it should not have. Sadly, it made it onto RealClearWorld yesterday, let's hope none of the PRC nationalists spots it...
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Irritant Policy in the South China Sea

BREAKING: Minister of Education Chiang finally throws in the towel, quits over papers scandal (KMT news organ). Maddog had the last laugh on Twitter: how bout that "clean and capable" Ma Ying-jeou!

In the light of the US request that development of structures by claimants in the South China Sea be frozen at its 2002 level, the ROC reiterated its claims to the South China Sea. The KMT news organ reports:
In a reply to a press query, the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of China (ROC) yesterday reiterated that judging from perspectives of history, geography, and international law, various groups of islands, including the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands), the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands), the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands), and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands) and their surrounding waters were undoubtedly an inherent part of Republic of China territory.
The Australian reports:
Taiwan — previously a lower key player — announced that its plans to complete a pier on the largest of the Spratly Islands are ahead of schedule, while restating its claim of sovereignty over that and three other island groups in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, new military ­exercises were announced ­between Russia and India in the Sea of Japan.

And a senior US State Department official said that while “no claimant is solely responsible for the state of tensions … a pattern of provocative and unilateral behaviour by China has raised serious concerns about China’s intentions and willingness to adhere to international law and standards.”
Yeah, what's that sequence of events?
  1. The US asks everyone to calm down and lower tensions, and criticizes China. Asks for freeze on new construction.
  2. Taipei announces it is completing its infrastructure on Taiping island ahead of schedule (middle finger to freeze).
  3. Taipei reiterates ROC claim to whole of South China Sea (middle finger to calmness).
It is hard to resist the conclusion that the Ma government's South China Sea policy is designed to make it difficult for the US to work with Taipei on these issues, and to help Beijing by preventing the US from working with Taipei and forming a multilateral response to China's aggressive posture in the South China Sea.

Wouldn't it have been great if Washington had supported the party more willing to be quiet on these issues and more willing to work with Washington?

REF: For a critique of the Chinese position, see this post.
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Diplomat: Julian Ku argues PRC Murder of Taiwanese is Legal, US defense of Taiwan is not

The wreckage of Ku's arguments.

No one seems to know from what deliberations this declaration [Cairo] issued, it was apparently drafted, at the moment, by Harry Hopkins, after consultation only with the President and the Chinese visitors. Of all the acts of American statesman- ship in this unhappy chapter, the issuance of this declaration, which is so rarely criticized, seems to me to have been the most unfortunate in its consequences. The other direct results of this phase of American statesmanship have either been erased by subsequent events or seem to have produced, at least, no wholly calamitous after effects to date; but this thoughtless tossing to China of a heavily inhabited and strategically important island which had not belonged to it in recent decades, and particularly the taking of this step before we had any idea of what the future China was going to be like, and without any consultation of the wishes of the inhabitants of the island, produced a situation which today represents a major embarrassment to United States policy, and constitutes one of the great danger spots of the postwar world. G Kennan, Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin (cited in Chen and Reisman below).

Today brought Julian Ku's airy, inept piece on Why Japan Would Violate International Law If It Militarily Intervened to Defend Taiwan which appeared at The Diplomat and his blog. Because the only other post I had seen from Ku was an equally uninformed, pro-PRC piece on the Chinese ADIZ over the Senkaku Islands, like many I initially assumed Ku was some kind of bog-standard PRC shill, for which I apologize. I changed my mind after I read a number of his other posts. Onward, but sadly, not upward.

Ku scribes in a key paragraph of his case:
I think this could be right as a matter of Japanese constitutional law if an invasion of Taiwan could be plausibly construed as a threat to Japan, but there is a strange international law flaw to this argument. Under black-letter international law, Japan cannot use military force in Taiwan absent China’s consent, even if the Taiwan government requests its assistance. Why? Because the UN Charter’s Article 51 only authorizes an act of “collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, and to make matters worse from Taiwan’s perspective, Japan recognizes the government in Beijing as the rightful government of China, and Japan further recognizes that Taiwan is part of China.
There's a lot here to unpack. J Michael Cole was first with a rapid response over at Thinking Taiwan. He identifies the major error of Ku's in this passage: he doesn't know what Japanese policy is...
If we look closely, Tokyo’s position regarding Taiwan isn’t that Japan recognizes, as Wu claims, that Taiwan is part of China. Rather, it understands and respects this contention by Beijing, much like many governments worldwide, in constructs of superb diplomatic vagueness, “take note of” or “acknowledge” the PRC’s contention
Japanese policy is thus exactly the same as US policy: the status of Taiwan remains undetermined. Ku got that completely wrong. Cole then turns to a discussion of the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations:
Furthermore, Article 8 of the Potdsam Proclamation (raised in point 3 of the communiqué) clearly states that the terms of the Cairo Declaration (signed on November 27, 1943) shall be carried out, meaning that “All territories Japan has stolen from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.” Restored to the Republic of China (ROC), not the PRC, which at the time of the communiqué, issued July 26, 1945, and the Declaration simply did not exist (it wouldn’t until 1949). It is therefore easy to see why Ku’s argument that China would be using force against secessionists within its own territory if it attacked Taiwan (akin to Ukraine, he writes) defies logic, as Taiwan cannot secede from a body of which it never was part — in this case, the PRC. 
Of course, Cairo has no legal weight. As I noted ages ago, President Truman defined US policy on Cairo in 1950, twice. First, announcing intervention in Korea -- haha, wait til we get below on Korea:
[June] ....Accordingly I have ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The 7th Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.
On Dec 27, 1950, Truman articulated the formal US position, which has never varied from that moment.
The Cairo Declaration of 1943 stated the purpose to restore "Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores to the Republic of China." That Declaration, like other wartime declarations such as those of Yalta and Potsdam, was in the opinion of the United States Government subject to any final peace settlement where all relevant factors should be considered. The United States cannot accept the view, apparently put forward by the Soviet government, that the views of other Allies not represented at Cairo must be wholly ignored. Also, the United States believes that declarations such as that issued at Cairo must necessarily be considered in the light of the United Nations Charter, the obligations of which prevail over any other international agreement.
This is the position of the UK as well. Cairo doesn't mean anything, it was just noise some nations made in wartime and any realization would have to await the end of the war and the subsequent treaty arrangements. It can't overthrow international law or the UN Charter, which requires that populations whose territories are being transferred get a vote on the transfer. It even required that in 1943 when Cairo was drafted. It certainly requires that now. China can't simply invade because to do so is a violation of the Charter (more below) and many decades of international law and practice.

I can't resist pointing out that Article 6 of the Joint Communique that Ku and Cole refer to says that both parties must refrain from force or the threat of force against each other. LOL.

I also can't resist pointing out that the language of Cairo refers to an impossible fantasy: Taiwan could not be "restored" to the ROC or PRC since neither owned it in 1895. Nor was it "stolen." Cairo's statements are Chinese propaganda. But that's a minor nitpick...

Ku then goes on to argue that it would be perfectly legal if the PRC murdered Taiwanese wholesale and annexed their territory:
If Taiwan keeps the status quo and does not declare independence, and China still invades, the U.S. has signaled that it would come to Taiwan’s defense. But that would be one state (China) using force within its own territory to put down secessionists (a la Ukraine) and almost certainly legal.
Taiwan's status, as defined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, is undetermined. Period. It is a territory awaiting final determination of its status. Period. No internationally recognized treaty gives Taiwan to China (see Chen and Reisman for a full discussion of the innumerable problems with the Chinese claim). Hence the Taiwanese are not secessionists. Since Ku raised the UN issue, as a decolonized territory -- it was a Japanese colony, remember? -- what does the UN say about such territories? There's a declaration adopted in 1960... every article in it says any Chinese attack on Taiwan would be illegal, but the first will suffice:
1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
Note also that Article 73 of the Charter obligates UN members to assist territories in attaining self-government. Just a taste:
to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;
Invading and annexing Taiwan is hardly assisting it in getting self-government, which is what China in either its ROC (v1.0) or PRC (v2.0) is obligated to do under the UN Charter. Well, I suppose we will get our very own Beijing-approved satrap, like Hong Kong.

In fact, if you read the UN Charter itself, you will find that disturbances of the peace are a fundamental anathema to the UN. Start with Article 2, (3) and (4). Nowhere does the Charter say that the use of force is permissible against non-UN member states, as many commented. You don't get a mulligan if the state in question is not a UN member (the UN condemned the Indonesia attack on East Timor, for example and demanded Jakarta stop). An attack on an unincorporated territory is an breach of the peace whether the state in question is a UN member state or not; indeed the UN charter requires that states put every effort into peaceful solutions, which of course China has not done (the KMT-CCP negotiation represents talks between two versions of the same Chinese expansionism, much as Taiwanese land developers will have their employees purchase tiny plots of land or homes in an area they want to develop and join the homeowners association in negotiating with the company, so that such "negotiations" happen between the company and its agents. Basically the annexation of Taiwan is just a familiar Chinese construction company land grab, blown up to galactic scale).

In fact, as an acquaintance pointed out, the UN intervened in Korea in 1950 -- well, the US intervened and pulled the UN in as cover -- and neither Korea nor the PRC (which attacked the UN forces) were in the UN. What the Korean war shows is that the UN can legalize anything it can be cajoled or tricked into supporting. What it also shows is that even between non-UN states, war is a serious breach of the international regime and dealing with it is not illegal. In fact, it can be made legal by the magic wand of the UN. Hence Ku's whole argument is a non-starter from the beginning; whether such intervention is illegal will have to await the decision of the international community (but given China's clout in the UN....). Laudably, Ku says at the end it would be a good idea whether or not it is legal. Kind of him, eh?

Finally, I would like to point out how personal this kind of writing is. I had an exchange on Twitter with someone who just didn't get why this piece angered so many people. I'm not parachuting into Taiwan for a year with a MOFA fellowship (on my tax dollars!) like Ku is. I actually live here, and I actually have a son heading for the Army soon, as well as literally thousands of people I know and love here on this island filled with 23 million innocents, the vast majority of whom don't want to be annexed to China. The discussion of whether the PRC has the legal right to murder my children and annex their island is not a parlor game for those of us who live on this island. Pieces like Ku's are irresponsible at best, vile at worst, since not only are they likely to be cited by the PRC and its mouthpieces everywhere, but they are occurring at a time when the PRC is beginning to see what it can do with lawfare.

Please don't feed that monster.

UPDATED: Ku has reply hereStill ineptly and erroneously claims US and Japan think Taiwan is part of China. From CRS report below: "The United States has its own “one China” policy (vs. the PRC’s “one China” principle) and position on Taiwan’s status. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled." Ku is wrong in every particular.
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Taiwan's brewing academic scandals?

Turn out the lights, the party's over for Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling whose "I didn't know" excuses are crumbling in the widening scandal of the 60 papers retracted from a scientific journal... (TT)
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has ordered the Ministry of Science and Technology to look into an academic publishing scandal involving Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said yesterday.

The directive came in the wake of accusations that National Pingtung University associate professor Chen Chen-yuan (陳震遠) committed academic fraud after 60 articles submitted by Chen were withdrawn from the Journal of Vibration and Control over allegations of falsified peer reviews.
The MOE had these paper's listed for Chiang on its website.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If someone were to peel back the shiny linoleum of Taiwan academia and shine a light on the rot underneath, there are a lot of people in titled positions in a lot of colleges having their names put on papers they had nothing to do with. This unethical and unconscionable practice, stealing the hard work and credit of others, is yet another example of the way Taiwan's society is organized on the mafia principle where everyone kicks up to the Big Man at the top.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Pilot Zones: Does Ma government plan to destroy Taiwan agricultural products?

As you can see, the number of people identifying as "Taiwanese" is reaching record highs, just as the number of people identifying as Taiwanese-Chinese and Chinese is reaching record lows. This is from the former political warfare university, but my experience is that it is pretty close to reality. Among the young even more would identify as Taiwanese. 

The free economic zones are looking more and more like a plot to flood Taiwan with cheap China crap and destroy its agriculture. A few days ago, after noting that the government is attempting to focus the discussion on trivia, a piece in the Taipei Times observed that Taiwan's competitiveness lies in its ability to distinguish itself from other places:
The heart of Taiwan’s agricultural competitiveness lies in technology, management and certification, because this is what allows it to produce the high-quality agricultural products that make Made in Taiwan (MIT) products so popular overseas. It took many people many years of hard work to achieve these results, and it is the only thing that allows Taiwan to resist competition from cheaper agricultural products from other countries in face of ever-increasing market liberalization.
So what's the current KMT government proposal? To destroy all that has been carefully built up:
Under the proposed project, which is stalled in the legislature, 830 agricultural products from China banned from being imported to Taiwan would be allowed to enter the pilot zones to be processed as food products.

[Council of Agriculture head] Chen rejected the idea that food products made of agricultural materials imported from China should bear labels indicating the origin of the material to distinguish them from those made of Taiwan-grown agricultural ingredients.
Chen even said that "People should not view liberalization as a scheme to destroy the nation’s agricultural sector" which is basically a giant neon sign pointing out what the pilot zone scheme is.

I've talked before about how the Ma Administration deploys neoliberal rhetoric to advance the annexation of Taiwan to China politically and economically. Here is a good example. The government terms this policy of letting in Chinese agricultural products into the pilot zones and not labeling their origin "liberalization." But that "liberalization" is a policy that can only benefit China, not Taiwan. Taiwan's agricultural reputation comes from its ability to distinguish itself from its neighboring nations -- but this proposal obliterates that crucial competitive edge of Taiwan. The only reason for not clearly labeling the origin of ingredients is to obscure it and benefit China -- no other reason exists. Thus, in the rhetoric of the Ma Administration, subordination of Taiwan to China's interests = liberalization.

Let's hope the DPP can really run with this in November.

TT has run some good pieces on the pilot zones recently. Here's a comparative discussion of the mixed results from such zones.
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Short shorts for Wednesday

Parking as close as possible to the door. After all, no one else exists.

With the elections due in 4 months, the news is slowly trickling in and the KMT appears to be in fear... The KMT's candidate in Keelung, long a KMT fiefdom, was yanked from the election this week as corruption allegations swirl about him. Rather strange since Keelung has a long history of electing corrupt KMT candidates, but in this case he was also taking a beating in the polls.

More serious, in what has now become a kind of traditional prelude to any election season, the special investigations division (SID) sent summons to a whole slew of DPPers, including current Sec-Gen Joseph Wu. The Taipei Times observed:
“Wu was listed as an ‘interested party’ in a recent subpoena from the SID... on which no details of the case were listed. The division appears to have violated the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法),” DPP spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) told a press conference.

According to the code, the SID should have listed the origin of the case and the identity of the subpoenaed — be it a witness or a defendant, Huang said, adding that “interested party” was not an identity as regulated by the code, which means that the subpoena could be illegal.

The DPP also suspected that there is a hidden agenda behind the investigation and the subpoena because the SID “is notorious for its interference in several high-profile political cases in recent years,” the spokesperson said.
Wu had sent around an email the previous evening detailing that the SID had summonsed all the DPP secs-gen and their staff who had worked in the two Chen Administrations. Going back to himself -- he served in 2002-4. A knowledgeable observer noted that SID said that it would not inform Wu of the charges because they were protected by the State Secret Law -- but, the observer said, SID has no jurisdiction in cases involving State secrets.

The move is apparently political. It's difficult to interpret it in any other way. It would be great if someone in AIT said something publicly or privately, to the KMT about this apparent abuse of the judicial system.

And the timing, so soon after the Zhang visit, suggests...?

President Ma announced that there would be a comfort woman museum and events to commemorate the Marco Polo Bridge Incident next year, 2015 which was important to Taiwan, Ma claimed. The President also defiantly reiterated ROC sovereignty over the Senkakus. Down the memory hole -- anyone remember when Ma promised to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker? Anyone remember the heady days of 2007, when Ma was pragmatic? The media has moved on from that, son. No need to revisit that, heh heh heh.

Had some fun relaxation from politics yesterday. Taiwan Review sent around this piece on Lincoln in ROC history, which observed of a 1942 postage stamp:
During World War II, Lincoln’s image became a symbol of the presumed historic and political ties between the Unites States and the ROC as wartime allies. On July 7, 1942, the United States Post Office issued a stamp to commemorate the beginning of the fifth year of Chinese resistance to Japanese aggression. Personally approved by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945), the stamp was a potent reminder to ordinary Americans of the importance of their Chinese allies and supposed parallels between the two nations’ political systems. It was the first American stamp to contain either a picture of a foreign leader or Chinese characters, as it listed Sun’s Three Principles in Chinese alongside Lincoln’s democratic principles. The 5-cent denomination allowed for first-class service to China. The stamp was issued in Denver, Colorado, where Sun had just arrived in 1911 when he learned that the Xinhai Revolution had toppled the Qing dynasty.
Alas, it was not the first postage stamp to show a picture of a foreign leader. AFAIK that honor goes to the 1893 Columbian Issue, which hit a trifecta -- first commemorative US stamp set, first US stamp to show a female and first US stamp to show a foreign leader: Isabella of Spain, who helped launch Columbus into history. A 1937 stamp also depicted a statue of the great Hawaiian king Kamehameha I. Make what you will of Hollow Horn Bear, who was commemorated in 1923. Here's Wiki's list of people who have appeared on US postage stamps, obviously not complete since it doesn't contain Sun's 1942 appearance.

The more interesting Sun Yat Sen stamp was the 1961 issue which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the ROC. The US Postal Museum has a complete rundown on that stamp. An excerpt:
Norman Todhunter, artist for other U.S. postage stamps, created the stamp’s initial artwork. When the postal officials shared the design with the State Department and Chinese Embassy, demands for changes resulted. For accuracy, the twelve points of the sun symbol should not join the base. The Chinese violently opposed any wording referring to the Chinese revolution because it might be associated with the Communist revolution rather than the Nationalist revolution. As a result, the text at left changed from “50th Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution” to “1911 Anniversary Republic of China 1961.” They also insisted that Chinese characters be used on the stamp. Consequently, the dates at the top moved to the side text, and designers at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing added characters representing the Republic of China. Political objectives motivated all these changes with the State Department supporting all embassy requests.
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