Monday, June 29, 2015

Presidential election campaign round up

Old school style

Current KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu is interviewed in Commonwealth Magazine here. The interview is a complete nothing, sadly. But she gave us another week of Hung this week...

She met with the UK representative in Taiwan this week (Taipei Times)
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopeful Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), if elected, would base her policy on her “one China, same interpretation” proposal, despite it being left out of the party’s newly drafted policy platform, Hung’s spokesman Philip Yang (楊永明) said yesterday.

Yang made the remarks in response to media queries regarding the omission of Hung’s proposal from the policy platform, which is pending approval from the KMT national congress on July 19.

The “one China, same interpretation” proposal was described by Hung as an “advanced version” of the so-called “1992 consensus,” backed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

According to Hung’s interpretation, “one China” would be the Republic of China (ROC), not the People’s Republic of China.


Although Hung has praised the apparent cross-strait rapprochement that has taken place under Ma’s administration — which she attributes to his adherence to the “1992 consensus” — she questions whether Beijing has ever recognized the existence of the ROC.

She has said that her formula would make China “accept the fact that the ROC exists.”
Yes, that's right. Hung's foreign policy idea is totally different from her party's and is not in its platform. It's no wonder many people are viewing Hung as a provisional candidate, a sort of placeholding "Well..." in the presidential election process.

Her cross-strait policy is simply a KMT True Believer affirmation of the ROC. Note that we're talking about this because Hung has talked of little else -- her economic and social policies remain sketchy, but it appears she will differ little from the Ma Administration.

As I noted earlier, Hung's out-of-touch China policies undercut the KMT's ability to criticize DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. Sure enough, the DPP went after Hung this week (Taipei Times):
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday criticized Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of recklessness in her cross-strait policy proposals after Hung accused Tsai of hiding her support for Taiwan’s independence to cheat voters.

We should refrain from being reckless in cross-strait policies, as the public expects us to have platforms that are stable, predictable and in line with public opinion,” Tsai told reporters when asked to comment on Hung’s criticism of her cross-strait policies during a campaign event in Taichung. “These are the most fundamental principles that any policymaker should follow.”
Tsai has carefully located Hung out of the mainstream. Good work.

Frozen Garlic, the excellent local elections blog, came out with two big posts on the election. The first is on the KMT's second thoughts about Hung, saying that four things had happened to make him think that Hung's candidacy was not a certainty:
First, in this week’s KMT Central Standing Committee, Wang supporter Lin Jung-teh 林榮德 openly blasted Hung, saying, “She hit the USA with her left fist; she hit Wang Jin-pyng with her right fist; she tripped up Eric Chu; and she was ‘New Partyizing’ the KMT so that it might become a small party after next year’s election.” This is pretty open and hostile stuff coming in the KMT’s official forum. They should be producing statements about party harmony and unity, not publicly airing this sort of internal conflict. Still, we could overlook this as simply sour grapes from a bitter nomination fight.
That line I've highlighted above is pretty much what we've been saying since the November election -- the KMT die-hards are strangling the KMT, which must become a Taiwanese party if it wants to remain a viable political organization. The New Party was formed by the non-mainstream KMTers in the 1990s as a "purer" version of the KMT, which had become "contaminated" with Taiwaneseness under Lee Teng-hui. It's one of the many amusing aspects of Taiwan watching that we constantly hear about how fractious and rickety the DPP is, but it's the KMT that has spun off two major parties (and spun off some more this election).

Froze also points out that her degree isn't very good, which won't help her, and that some reporter asked her if she is speculating in real estate in Shanghai. There is no evidence for the latter, but if it turns out to have substance, it would destroy her. Froze takes the accusations and complaints as evidence of internal KMT struggle over Hung's candidacy. So stay tuned, she could well be replaced.

The other piece from Frozen Garlic is on the decline in the KMT's party ID. This analysis is strong, and it echoes stuff I and others have been writing about for a while (like this). Froze observes:
To put it bluntly, the KMT has suffered a massive decline in its party ID over the last four years, and party ID is one of the most important variables in all of political science. You can see this decline in data from TISR and the Election Study Center, NCCU, pictured below. From the late 1990s until 2012, party ID was fairly stable. The blue camp, mostly the KMT, had a consistent lead of about 5-10 points over the green camp, mostly the DPP. Not coincidentally, the blue camp consistently had about a 10% edge in most elections. In hindsight, the 2012 election might be both the most “typical” election result and also the last election of that party system.


What’s amazing to me about this plunge is how it happens in nearly every sub-population. Maybe you think young people are abandoning the KMT. They are, but not any faster than old people.
His remarks on the urban-rural class issues are excellent, and the whole analysis should be read in its entirety. Froze was speculating on the fall in KMT support among working class people back in November -- it was apparent from the results of the election, as was continued support among rural Hakka communities. That might be blunted this election -- the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen is a Hakka from Pingtung. The TISR numbers are here.

Most interesting of Froze's comments was this one:
Blue supporters are mostly ignoring last year’s elections. They don’t matter. They were local, not national elections. People just wanted to express dissatisfaction with President Ma, but they’ll come back to the KMT in national elections when it really matters. The KMT had lousy candidates. Whatever the reason, I keep talking to KMT true believers who think the KMT is in good shape for next year’s elections. They aren’t convinced that Hung Hsiu-chu can’t beat Tsai Ing-wen, to say nothing of the possibility that the KMT will lose the legislature.
One of the problems with living in Taipei where Froze's interlocutors live is that it is different from the rest of Taiwan. This echo chamber effect where the conventional wisdom is largely pan-Blue propaganda affects the judgments of foreigners who live there, but it also affects the locals...

Meanwhile Tsai Ing-wen was reassuring farmers in Taitung, who ship much fruit to China, that China will continue to purchase fruit from Taiwan even if she wins the election. The DPP struck back at comments from a local prof saying it might give up the ROC claim to the South China Sea -- but note that the prof unwittingly reveals that if the claim was adjudicated according to UNCLOS, China would have no claim....
Daily Links:
  • Massive fire at Water park during concert. 350+ injured, including six foreigners Video. Injury count now over 500, with over 180 seriously injured. AP story. The crowd was sprayed with a cornstarch based paint formula, creating a powder explosion. Although the management and organization were completely incompetent, the response was brilliant, with young people spontaneously jumping to help, the water park pouring resources into it, and first response teams on the scene right away. This tragedy, with many young people sustaining massive burns, brings to mind that stupid event years ago in Taichung in which 9 people were killed at a fire performance in a local club. Both exhibit a similar contempt for safety and ingrained lax local administration. Last year Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu refused to issue permit for a similar concert, citing safety concerns. Kudos to her.
  • Call for submissions, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Angkor Photo Exhibition
  • Ketagalan Media: The Rabbit Temple and Same-Sex marriage. Excellent and little known side of Taiwan
  • Thinking Taiwan with good piece on what Singapore and China blocked from the Taiwan music awards
  • Taiwan universities set up condom machines on campus.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Ah, CNN: "China's Taipei-based..."

h/t to tim maddog.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ECFA success #25904: Exports, Industrial Production Slump

Wish I could have gone to Tainan...

FocusTaiwan has the news:
Taiwan's industrial production index fell 3.18 percent to 106.71 in May from the previous year, ending 15 consecutive months of growth, according to data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.


In a breakdown of the production in the different sectors, the data showed that manufacturing dropped 2.57 percent year-on-year in May, mining and quarrying increased 4.71 percent, electricity and gas supply dropped 19.32 percent, water supply fell 4.21 percent, and buildings construction rose 2.45 percent.
Quarrying and mining -- essentially gravel digging in Taiwan -- and construction are two sectors tightly linked to local patronage networks that are critical supporters of the KMT. If these flows of money and work to that sector continue, it will help the KMT.

Meanwhile, ECFA continues to drive massive increases declines in exports to China. The Taipei Times reports:
The value of export orders dropped 5.9 percent annually and 4.1 percent monthly to US$35.79 billion last month, dragged down mainly by declining orders from China and Hong Kong, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

The value of orders from China and Hong Kong fell by US$1.17 billion from a year earlier to US$8.98 billion last month, accounting for 52.7 percent of the US$2.22 billion annual drop in overall export orders last month, the ministry said.
ECFA has had little positive effect. Our trade surplus with China is shrinking and will likely return to ~2007 levels this year. Of course, this is due in part to China's increasing ability to manufacture its own stuff, as the article notes.

UPDATE: A comment below notes:
This is a lot to drop in just a simple comment, but Taiwan will need to reckon with its longtime trade surplus eventually, not seek to achieve it across various trade relationships. Who does a cheap currency truly help? Exporters and the owners of those companies. Who's hurt? Regular households that are not employed by the export sector and being severely underpaid across decades. Taiwan's air, water, land, sweat, and blood have been sold too cheaply abroad for far too long. In the beginning, this was actually useful to develop nascent industries, but today's Taiwan is so far beyond that it is only an addiction that benefits the rich. It's madness that has to end, and if you are looking at China, what's important is that China has been copying the model of Taiwan and Japan before it, but now is being forced to reduce all surpluses and develop the domestic consumer market. Unfortunately, China is being forced to adjust prior to achieving the same level of wealth of Japan and Taiwan, but that's how it is, because the US consumer is out of money and can no longer get a poorly thought-out loan.

Taiwan would do well to prepare for a much appreciated TWD. One bright spot: there's a ton of domestic demand opportunity in infrastructure investment that the government could do, as in that regard, Taiwan's government has been relatively conservative in spending money versus other developed countries.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

KMTitanic 13: Hung over an Abyss

Taking a morning walk.
LOVETT: It still gets me every time... to see the sad ruin of the great ship sitting here, where she landed at 2:30 in the morning, April 15, 1912, after her long fall from the world above.
BODINE: You are so full of shit, boss.
I do not want to make this blog about Hung Hsiu-chu, but the Discovery of Hung is not only endlessly fascinating, but critically important for the KMT. So for the nonce there's going to be a lot of posts about her. Apologies.

Probably the most important bit of news yesterday was the KMT's insistence that Hung will be confirmed as the nominee:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesperson Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) yesterday said that it is “absolutely impossible” for any change to be made to the party’s decision to nominate Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) as its presidential candidate, after Next Magazine reported that Hung’s nomination might be at risk as her master’s degree has been called into question.
Nevertheless, numerous observers continue to speculate that the KMT will swap candidates. Everyone I talk to sooner or later offers some variation of the following two sentences:
"I can't believe they aren't going to change candidates."
"I admit, I kinda have a sneaking fondness for her."
...myself included. She's so authentically herself, many of us can't help but like her.

The commentary on Hung continues to grow -- and much of it negative. Like many other observers, my friend Brian Hioe notes that Hung is an existential threat to the KMT:
Where Hung is a thought of dangerous and unpredictable, it is because of the fiery nature of her rhetoric. When Hung states criticisms of the DPP and opposition to Taiwanese independence, she is not truly saying anything new, but Hung states it in terms that threaten flare-up sub-ethnic tensions in Taiwan. In an interesting contradiction, having joined the KMT despite being the child of a victim of the White Terror, Hung has acquired a reputation for anti-native Taiwanese chauvinism, for example, regarding cutting the budgets of Taiwanese language programs or even casually making fun of the enunciation of the Taiwanese language. Hung’s appeals seem primarily aimed towards deep blue KMT diehards, which has been a crucial factor in her past inability to capture larger Taiwanese demographic and may be a factor as to her future inability to do so.

Where we may speculate as to the internal dynamics of the KMT, if Hung’s support comes from KMT hardliners within the party, it may be that the past year’s defeats of the KMT have not made the KMT reevaluate its need for internal reform. Recent attempts to highlight young members of the party in cognizance of the disconnect of the KMT with younger Taiwanese notwithstanding, it seems that the solution arrived at by hardliners is if what they are doing now is not succeeding, they need to go back to the good, old days—as represented by Hung. This kind of behavior, too, is not entirely surprising where, for example, the Ma administration’s reaction to the large-scale popular resistance to attempts to sign free trade agreements with China in the past year as expressed in the Sunflower Movement and its aftermath has largely been to attempt to continue attempting to draw Taiwan economically closer to China.

With every issue in the past year that stirred the fear of Taiwanese that Taiwan was in danger of encroachment from China—whether regarding the CSSTA trade agreement that the Sunflower Movement was reacting to, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which also prompted protest, or flight route M503 which was seen as allowing Chinese airplanes to get dangerously close to Taiwanese airspace—Hung has taken the line that such fears were unfounded and attributed the outbreak of protest to the machinations of the DPP rather than any popular expression of the will of the Taiwanese people. Hung will almost certainly never connect with the Taiwanese public at large if she keeps this up and is unable to moderate herself.
Hioe's article is excellent and should be read in its entirety. He argues that Hung represents an opportunity to target the KMT in a way that another candidate would not. Her strident anti-Americanism may rupture the historical American support for the KMT, and her obdurate Nationalist views will surely chill voters, especially middle of the road voters.

Expert Jon Sullivan makes that argument in an excellent SCMP piece.
Hung is an advocate of faster economic integration leading to unification. In a long and undistinguished political career, she is best known for her strident ideological views. Until now a marginal character in the KMT, Hung has a reputation for pugnacity and a sketchy electoral record. She secured the deputy speaker position as a balance to the "local wing" speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, who prizes pragmatism in terms of future political solutions. Although her father was a victim of the KMT's White Terror, a political purge during the martial law era, Hung has shown strong commitment to the party. In a polity where pragmatism is the norm, at least at election time, Hung's commitment to old ideals and pursuit of unification with China is unusually steadfast.

This would not be a story if Hung's nomination were consistent with the trajectory of Taiwanese public opinion. But the attitude of the majority of the electorate is moving firmly in the opposite direction, both on China and "traditional" attitudes...

....If the KMT suffers a heavy loss, the party will face potential ruptures. Factional cleavages in the party are long-standing. Despite several splinter parties breaking off, the core party has held together because it has had superior resources and political capital. But if substantial losses in 2016 compound the loss of its control over local politics, the KMT will be weakened to the point that it may no longer be able to cover over the cracks in its ranks.
Yep. This piece is important for me in two ways. First, it shows that critiques of Hung as non-mainstream in Taiwan are acceptable in the international media. This means we will see more of them, and because the international media validates in Taiwan local politics, they will reverberate back here, helping Tsai.

The second reason is personal: Sullivan was on Twitter criticizing those of us who have been maintaining that this is an existential crisis for the KMT (long before Hung appeared on the scene), saying that the problems were merely cyclical. Welcome to the Dark Side, Jon. If you haven't read them, myself at The Diplomat and Courtney Donovan Smith at Sullivan's own (and excellent) China Policy Institute blog explain why the KMT is in the throes of an existential crisis. It may yet recover, but prospects look pretty grim right now...

Meanwhile, there's the Cross Strait policy mess (Taipei Times)....
KMT cross-strait policy is consistent with the Three Communiques signed by Washington and Beijing — the Shanghai Communique, the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Relations and the 817 Communique — as well as the Taiwan Relations Act, Hung said in the interview with Broadcasting Corp of China on Friday last week.

Hung said that the elements of the KMT’s policy” — the “one China” principle, the “1992 consensus” — a tacit understanding between the KMT and Beijing that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means — and a rejection of Taiwanese independence — are indicated in the communiques.
Hung is either lying (but not in a very slick way) or has zero grasp of this thicket of obfuscation, which has swallowed commentators far more versed in it than herself. The 1992 Consensus, which says that Taiwan is part of China, is not consistent with US policy, which says that Taiwan's status awaits final determination. Nor does the US "reject" Taiwan independence, it merely "does not support." Not that it matters, for US officials are unlikely to issue any clarifications for what is obviously a local matter. But her ineptitude will matter to them privately...

Also of note: her vapid comments on the US, Taiwan, and China relationships are totally undercutting the key KMT propaganda claim that Tsai needs to "clarify" her stance. How can they maintain that position when it is obvious that their candidate has no clue?

Indeed, the media had a good laugh this week when an anonymous KMT member compared Hung and her followers to the Boxers:
Saying that Hung has launched a full attack against the US, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Chu, the unnamed member compared Hung to militants of the Boxer Rebellion, who believed themselves to be invincible and started the uprising in China in the 19th century to annihilate Westerners.
As for the Taishang, the businessmen in China, some 200,000 would like to come home to vote, according to an association head. Yet, the Taishang are a typical expat population in many ways, spending their time in the new country, educating their kids there, and generally cutting ties with home. As time passes, these propensities grow. As Hung's prospects sink, the Taishang who are supposed to be super-KMT may well rethink spending the time, money, and hassle to come home to vote. Recall that the election is scheduled for Jan 16th, but the Lunar New Year is Feb 8. This means that many businessmen will face the unpalatable choice of coming home and then flying back immediately to be with their businesses during the critical lead up to New Year, then returning a couple of weeks later to do New Year, or staying away from the business for almost a month. And all that to vote for a candidate who likely isn't going to win.

Yet, they might come, to help save the legislature. As I've noted several times, Hung isn't going to help the KMT anywhere outside of the north. She could cost them the legislature.

What's missing? So far Hung has offered nothing on the economy, society -- except for doubling down on the unpopular pro-China changes to the curriculum -- or environment. The DPP's Tsai, by contrast, is maintaining a wait-and-see silence, deliberately letting Hung be hung. So the campaign at the moment is occupied by Hung's strident pro-China, anti-American views. Sweet.

We're weeks into her campaign and no competent English writer has cleaned up Hung's Legislative Bio. It's still studded with gems: "Her mother used to rag on her" that have no place in formal writing. Is there a Hung team competence issue here?

Finally, this week, which saw an approving interview in TIME of Tsai even if the rest of it was filled with KMT propaganda (my rip of it is now one of my top posts in terms of views), produced the dumbest "controversy" ever. TIME wrote:
Tsai gained a reputation for being wonky—the type who likes to debate protectionism over early-morning sips of black coffee or oolong tea.
KMTers immediately seized on that to proclaim that TIME had implied that she was "unreliable" which is another meaning of "wonky." No, seriously, the Hung camp really did that.

That's the level the Rational Party is working at, folks.

Recent sightings of the good ship KMTitanic
The Latest from Hung -- KMTitanic 12: Hung can see the Statue of Liberty -- The KMT rules -- It's Hung -- The rational party is Hung -- The Comic Genius of Hung Hsiu-chu -- Eric "Hamlet" Chu suffers the insolence of office -- KMTitanic 11: The Captain is no longer aboard -- Hung? Really? -- Comedy and ethnicity in The Rational Party -- KMTitanic 10: the ship is foundering -- Wang out -- Chu goes there? -- Rounding up the KMT again -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?

Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Latest From Hung

The top image is a manga of the scene from the end of the awful Tsai interview piece in TIME netizens sent around. The photo was a big hit with people in Taiwan. Incredibly, FocusTaiwan, the government news organization, posted the bottom image to its Facebook page.

If you can hack some Chinese, enjoy the riches of this April interview with Hung from a HKK media outfit. In it she claims that the M503 air route near the midline of the strait makes Taiwan safer, argues that Malaysia rejected Singapore because the Chinese are too hardworking, and many other wonderful observations. I haven't read it all yet because I'm afraid my IQ might implode.

All of us tracking this election are getting up every morning humming with anticipation at Hung's latest antics. Tonight the Straits Exchange Foundation was giving a banquet for Taiwanese businessmen in China, and Hung decided to go in the morning, then canceled in the afternoon (Storm media). All without informing the SEF.

Her campaign team is coalescing, and there's a good leavening of people  from the Sean Lien campaign in Taipei, which was crushed by Ko Wen-je in the Nov mayor's election. Naturally we are all very happy to hear that she has gathered such an experienced team around her.

Meanwhile the controversy over her visit to the US continues, with FocusTaiwan rounding up the latest news. KMT Chairman Eric Chu insists that she is going to visit the US after being confirmed as the candidate at the July 19th party congress, but she is still insisting that there isn't enough time, with only six months before the election.

I can't wait to see the leaked reports on her visit if she goes.
Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Then and Now: Shuishe Village at Sun Moon Lake

National Historic Monuments of Taiwan on Facebook sent around a pic of Shuishe village from Sun Moon Lake in the late 1920s or 1930s, it looks like. Shuishe is on the north side of the lake and is now occupied by big hotels, including the Lalu Sun Moon Lake, and a pier. Today it looks like this, from Streetview:
The hills are still visible on the right side, but of course the village is gone.

Interestingly, a friend pointed out to me, the Japanese English versions all refer to the aboriginal villages as "savage" villages in English, but the Japanese language uses the term used today in Chinese, buluo, which does not appear to have that connotation. Part of the Japanese project for Taiwan was emphasizing their own "civilizing" mission by heightening the difference between the Japanese and aborigines and reducing the status of the aborigines; this was particularly true of representations to outsiders.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tsai makes TIME

Got good news and bad news for you'ns. The good news is that DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen made the cover of TIME with an article on her that was highly positive. Considering all the crap published on DPP candidates in the last two elections, like this godawful turd from the NYTimes, that's progress. The Time piece is online in English and Chinese here.

The bad news is that no progress was made on the reporting. Aside from the parts about Tsai, the entire piece is a quagmire of Beijing/KMT propaganda claims, commonplace tropes, errors of fact, misinterpretations, and pro-China slant, the kind of zombie nonsense that could easily have been slain by anyone willing to use Google. I've been saying for years that Beijing-based reporters lack the knowledge, experience, and competence to report on Taiwan, a claim sadly once again confirmed. The truly terrifying part about the Tsai piece is that it shows the extent to which Beijing-based reporters incorporate Chinese propaganda claims into their thinking and reporting. Saddest of all, it goes without saying that there will be no acknowledgement or corrections of the errors by TIME.


The Nelson Report gave some background:
Profiling for the report was carried out through close-up observation over a 3-day period in mid-May by TIME's Beijing correspondent, Emily Rauhala, and award-winning photographer Adam Ferguson, with a final in-depth interview conducted by TIME's Asia editor, Zoher Abdoolcarim.
The piece credits Natalie Tso, a Taipei-based reporter whom I have some small acquaintance with. Given the way Beijing-think permeates the piece, it seems unlikely that she had much input. The opening section on Tsai is quite sympathetic and some of it is very good, though she has Tsai's view of the status of Taiwan completely wrong (below):
Now, as the early front runner in Taiwan’s January 2016 presidential election, her vision for the island is proudly, defiantly, Taiwan-centric. Tsai says she would maintain the political status quo across the strait with China—essentially, both Taipei and Beijing agreeing to disagree as to which represents the one, true China, leaving the question of the island’s fate to the future. But Tsai wants to put Taiwan’s economy, development and culture first. While Ma and his government have pushed for new trade and tourism pacts with Beijing—China accounts for some 40% of Taiwan’s exports—Tsai aims to lessen the island’s dependence on the mainland by building global ties and championing local brands. “Taiwan needs a new model,” she tells TIME.
Note first that almost all of the other comments in the piece are sourced from KMTers. Lung Ying-tai, the Deep Blue author and former culture minister in the Ma Administration, claims Taiwan's democracy as "Chinese" and its traditions as "Chinese".
“This election matters because it’s a window into democracy rooted in Chinese tradition,” says Lung Ying-tai, an author and social commentator who recently stepped down as Culture Minister. “Because of Taiwan, the world is able to envision a different China.”
The cover calls Taiwan "a Chinese democracy" but in fact it is a Taiwanese democracy, created in defiance of the KMT -- the party that Lung Ying-tai has steadfastly supported -- who asserted a Chinese identity for Taiwan, largely by self-identified Taiwanese . All of that vanishes from this piece. The term "Taiwanese" is used only once to identify certain supporters of Tsai. For TIME, Taiwan is not Taiwanese at all.

The piece then forwards Beijing's propaganda point of view. I'm heartily sick of people "explaining" Beijing's point of view by using Beijing agitprop:
Taiwan’s politics irritate and befuddle Beijing. To the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is the province that got away, a living, breathing, voting reminder of what could happen to China if the CCP loosens its grip on its periphery, from Tibet to Xinjiang to Hong Kong.
You all know this trope: Poor, put upon Beijing! Taiwan is not "the province that got away". That's merely propaganda for the masses. The elites in Zhongnanhai know perfectly well they are engaging in territorial expansion to annex a territory China does not own. I have this dream that reporters, well, someday will report instead of forward. 

The next non-Tsai speaker appears to be a Chinese political warfare specialist cum Taiwan "expert" who of course forwards Beijing propaganda re the DPP:
“A DPP government means uncertainty for cross-strait ties,” says Lin Gang, a Taiwan specialist at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
As we all know, tension and uncertainty are introduced into this relationship by Beijing and its desire to annex Taiwan. Beijing manipulates claims of "tension" and "provocation" to manipulate and control... well... people who report on cross-strait affairs, for example.

Then a common error:
To the U.S., which is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to come to the island’s aid if it’s attacked,
...the TRA binds the US to exactly nada; that has been explained to me by the people who helped draft and administer it. The text is on the internet, folks. Even Beijing-based reporters should be able to find it.

Next up, the famous "warier" trope.
Washington worries that Taiwan’s people, especially its youth, are growing warier of China, and that any conflict between the two might draw in the U.S.
I have this dream that reporters, well, someday will report. People here are not 'wary' of China, they don't want to be part of it and don't trust it. Why that simple fact is never reported simply and clearly is a mystery.

Then follows a comment from Shelly Rigger. Rigger is not a pro-Green commentator either, though (to be fair) judging from her Dissent interview in which she forwards KMT propaganda while putting forth progressive ethics, she views herself as a progressive. 3 for 3 in non-Green commenters so far. When was the last time Rigger was in Taiwan? Like six years ago?

Isn't this island chock full of experts on Taiwan? Why not call one of them? But instead of local people, we get a political warfare expert from China, and someone located in North Carolina. Nice.

Then comes a priceless quote from Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT's current candidate:
Hung, 67, would be a contrast to the more professorial Tsai should she get the KMT’s nod. “I don’t think [Tsai] is a strong opponent,” Hung tells TIME.
Yep. 4 for 4 on non-Green commentors. Nigh-on zero balance at all in this piece. Then another error:
Tsai grew up in a home on Taipei’s Zhongshan Road North, a street named after Taiwan’s symbolic father, Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese revolutionary who helped overthrow the Qing and co-founded the KMT
Sun Yat-sen is not Taiwan's father, he's the spiritual father of the ROC. The ROC does not equal Taiwan, it is US policy and international law that Taiwan is not the ROC or part of China. That is one reason the ROC formally describes itself as the "ROC on Taiwan". *sigh*

Then more Beijing agitprop:
If the archetypal DPP operative is a bare-knuckle street fighter,
Say what? There is no such archetype, and note the pejorative "operative". The article refers to the Kaohsiung incident, where the only bare-knuckle types were thugs apparently employed by the KMT to attack the protesters, as well as the police/troops themselves. The DPPers who rose to prominence in that incident include people like Su Tseng-chang, Frank Hsieh, and Chen Shui-bian, all lawyers, as well as Chen Chu and Shih Ming-te, and the Melidao crowd, who were mostly writers and intellectuals, and a group of intellectuals and activists from the Presbyterian Church already prominent and not for street fighting. Not a bare knuckle thug among them. OMG but that's stupid.

Finally, there are two quotes -- but only about Tsai -- from DPPers Hsiao Bi-khim and Jason Liu. Then a couple of very nice paragraphs. On the Sunflowers:
The movement was grounded in questions of social justice. Since coming to power in 2008, Ma has argued that cross-strait commerce is the key to the island’s fortunes, signing 21 trade deals. Yet young people in particular wonder if the deals benefit only Big Business on both sides of the strait. They say rapprochement with Beijing has left them none the richer, and agonize over the high cost of housing, flat wages and the possibility of local jobs going to China. A sign during a protest outside the Presidential Palace on March 30 last year captured the mood: “We don’t have another Taiwan to sell.”
Note that the writing ("young people... wonder if the deals benefit only Big Business") downplays the reality: the deals really only help big business. The RDEC commissioned a report on that a couple of years ago, and that may be regarded as a fact. I blogged on it.

We get another quote, from a high-ranking KMT official about KMT policy. Fair enough. Then comes rank nonsense:
That will be hard. The KMT has long argued that it, not the DPP, is best qualified to run the economy, which, corruption apart, did not do well under Chen.
This is utter trash propaganda. First, the economy did very well under Chen, especially in the second Administration when growth reached 6.0% annualized before Ma took over and the economy crashed in 2008. Moreover, the Chen Administration did better on almost all economic indicators than Ma has. There's scholarship on that which I review here, or the numbers can easily be located on the DGBAS website. See also my recent post on ECFA, which shows the post-ECFA debacle. It's completely shameful that this pre-2008 KMT election propaganda continues to be circulated as deathless zombie fact. Two minutes on Google could dispel it.

Moreover, the comment "corruption apart" is clinically insane. One of the Taiwan parties is the richest political party in the world, with a nearly-century long history of association with gangsters, political killings, authoritarian rule, and long time opposition to democracy. HINT TIME: It isn't the DPP. I'm not even going to get into all the problems of Chen's conviction, an obvious political prosecution.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the colossal failure of the Ma Administration to do anything for the economy has exploded the myth of KMT managerial superiority. TIME's reporters are trapped in a 2008 bubble.

At long last! A pro-Green writer, J Michael Cole, is cited on the KMT's propaganda claims. This is balanced immediately by Alan Romberg, whose political allegiance should be well-known to my longterm readers, forwarding once again the claim -- already made by the Chinese "Taiwan expert" -- that the DPP is bad news for cross-strait relations.
“Beijing is going to want to make a point through all sorts of channels, including Big Business, that cross-strait relations will not be as smooth if you vote a government into power that has not accepted the foundation that has underpinned developments of the last eight years,” says Alan Romberg, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Note the passive "cross strait relations will not be as smooth" which fails to assign agency. Let's rewrite that in direct, clear English:
"Beijing is going to make trouble for cross-strait relations if the DPP is elected."
There. See how easy that was?

Next up: the 1992 Consensus:
Cross-strait relations are managed according to the so-called 1992 Consensus reached by Beijing and Taipei (then also governed by the KMT), a formula the KMT’s Yang calls “a masterpiece of ambiguity.”
Did Beijing and Taipei reach a consensus? No, they didn't agree on anything in 1992. That's a clear error. In reality, the unelected KMT government in Taipei merely claimed that they had. Moreover, Beijing has never accepted the 1992 Consensus, it merely insists that the DPP should (rules are binding on others, see?). The 1992 Consensus is a propaganda cage to imprison the DPP, it lacks any basis in reality and democratic governance. It exists merely to give Beijing a fig leaf to cover action against Taiwan ("those provocative, tension-mongering ingrates in Taipei have violated the 1992 Consensus!"). As I noted a month ago:
The KMT and CCP do not need an idea they can agree on to talk, they can talk any time they like and do. It's not like Chu and Xi sit down and an aged cleric walks out with a copy of the Lun Yu and then Xi and Chu both take an oath on it to adhere to the 1992 Consensus before they talk. Neither gives a flying f@ck in a rolling donut about the 1992 Consensus. Like all legal ideas put forth by Leninist authority organizations like the KMT or CCP, the rules cage others; they don't apply to the Party itself. It's always important to keep in mind when thinking about the KMT that it is not a political party but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. Hence, the key point from the KMT-CCP view is that it is a cage that both Chinese parties can use to imprison the DPP's policy makers, since each insist the DPP must adhere to it if it wants to talk to China.
Thus, forwarding Yang's remark that "it's a masterpiece of ambiguity" is mere forwarding of KMT propaganda, compounded with the erroneous factual claims. Sad.

This discussion of the 1992 Consensus also shows that the remark up in the third paragraph:
Tsai says she would maintain the political status quo across the strait with China—essentially, both Taipei and Beijing agreeing to disagree as to which represents the one, true China, leaving the question of the island’s fate to the future. very obviously wrong, since Beijing does not agree with the 1992 Consensus, and Tsai has already aligned her idea of the Status Quo with the US concept. Again, sad.

After the 1992C error, the writer then slips deep into propaganda again.
This [independence] platform resonates with the DPP base but is increasingly untenable given China’s economic clout and growing power on the world stage. 
Almost every sentence in here is garbage. Independence is supported not just by the DPP base but by the vast majority of people in Taiwan, including a solid chunk of KMT voters. To say "it is increasingly untenable" is pro-China writing dignified with the appearance of "analysis", especially since "inevitability" is a KMT/China propaganda trope.

Note no KMT point is similarly deconstructed.

Then note another common trope: the mysterious tensions that arise mysteriously without cause:
While the first DPP presidency under Chen was hardly a break from the past, it did see a cooling with Beijing. Things warmed again under Ma.
Simple: Beijing cooled relations under Chen and warmed them again under Ma. Why not say facts? Then of course, we return to the pro-China "Taiwan expert"/political warfare specialist from China
Lin, the Taiwan expert at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, says Tsai is somewhere between Chen and Ma: “If she wins the election, she will not pursue Taiwan in dependence. But she will not promote the development of the cross-strait relationship as Ma Ying-jeou did.”
Yes, it is true she's very unlikely to place China's interests ahead of Taiwan's, as Ma apparently did. That is followed by -- Yes! -- another quote from the KMT:
Hung, Tsai’s potential KMT opponent, says the DPP flag bearer needs to clarify her stance on cross-strait relations. “People ask her, ‘What is the status quo?’ and she can’t say anything specific,” says Hung. The KMT’s Yang offers a metaphor: “Before you harvest, you have to plow the land, transplant the seedlings, fertilize; all the work … has been done by the KMT, and yet they are going to harvest the crop?”
Ah yes, the "clarify her stance" trope -- that is KMT/Beijing propaganda specifically crafted for this election, presented free of comment or clarification. Note again that the DPP's independence stance was instantly deconstructed as "increasingly untenable" while KMT propaganda is never so treated in this article: a total lack of balance. Reuters forwarded the "clarify" trope again this week by noting that Beijing has been "lambasting" Tsai with this.

Then the piece forwards Yang's claim that Tsai will harvest the crop without doing the work. More KMT bullshit, of the kind that google searching or asking a real expert could get answers for in two minutes. Reality is, of course, the opposite: the DPP under Chen laid down the structure for the gains of the Ma Administration, pursuing cross-strait flights, legalizing investment, and creating many structures for cross-strait exchanges in education, crime-fighting, and so forth. The KMT picked up that low hanging fruit. Cross-strait engagement has a history of over two decades going back to the Lee Administration. Another teachable moment blown up by TIME's forwarding of KMT propaganda without comment or context.

It ends on a great note, kudos to whoever thought to include it.
She puts a final piece of tuna on my plate. It’s from Pingtung County in the south, where she was born. “Go back to Beijing, ” says Tsai, “and tell them you were served by the next President of Taiwan.
Well done, that ending.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the writers of the TIME piece for writing up Tsai so prominently. And also thank them for their style of writing. As long as the media churns out rank crap like this, Taiwan experts, academics, government officials, media workers, and ordinary people will continue to make my blog, and other great blogs and websites like Thinking-Taiwan, Letters from Taiwan, and Solidaritytw necessary and popular websites for anyone interested in what is really going on. Thanks TIME! Without you, I wouldn't exist.

On a lighter note, the Wiki Wars have begun! WantWant reports:
In the four days since the primary polls confirmed Hung's eligibility for the KMT nomination on June 14, her page on Wikipedia's Chinese-language site has been edited over 150 times, suggesting an online battle between internet users supporting the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen and Hung supporters online. Her page on the English version of the site has also been significantly updated and improved; only one week ago, the content on the page had largely been lifted directly from her bio on the website of the Legislative Yuan that has been a rich source of amusement for local bloggers on account of its poorly rendered English, including claims that Hung is a "royal (sic) KMT member" and that she was "accidentally elected to the Legislature."
Of course, Tsai's Wiki page was edited to briefly state she is President of the Republic of Taiwan.

If only.
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KMTitanic 12: Hung Hsiu-chu can see the Statue of Liberty

The Taitung 5 just north of Guanshan

Fabrizio: I can see the Statue of Liberty already!... Very small, of course.

Deputy Speaker of the Legislature Hung Hsiu-chu, the putative candidate for the KMT, has clearly been sent by the Gods of China to flense the people of Taiwan in spiritual preparation for their annexation to the Motherland. Or so her attitude would suggest.

Or maybe just sent by the gods to provide us bloggers and commentators with an endless supply of material for our blogs, the gift that keeps on giving... In response to a question about the curriculum changes, Hung observed...
Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) yesterday weighed in on controversy over the Ministry of Education’s high-school curriculum adjustments, saying the changes were “too minor” and “far from enough.”


Hung claimed that if the ministry had asked a group of academics who have a different political leaning, such as those who favor Taiwanese independence, to sit on the committee, “there definitely would have been no problem at all,” because KMT supporters would not harass those academics or make a scene “thanks to a different political culture.”
The curriculum changes are currently being protested by high school students across the nation as they involve increasing China and reducing Taiwan in the curriculum. As a commenter on Twitter remarked, her basic strategy is to be more hardline than everyone else. That will go over well... Note that Hung is sticking to her claim that the curriculum protests were drummed up by the DPP and that the DPP is a party of violence. She lives deep, deep inside the KMT bubble world.

The best story of the week, though, was her reaction to an invitation from AIT, the officially unofficial US representative office in Taiwan, to visit the US. Most Taiwan politicians would sensibly jump at the chance to explain to US officials why they are the right choice. But Hung is more awesome than that (Solidarity translation of a Storm Media report):
Hung in an interview this morning with UFO Radio that once upon a time it was not necessary for presidential candidates to visit the United States, but in recent years it has become a custom—a custom she thinks is rather strange. This isn’t a regulation that everyone must comply with—it’s fine not to go, she said. Otherwise it’d be like you have to go there to take a test [yikes, she’s even repeating Chinese government rhetoric –]. “My feeling of repellence is very strong. How is this honorable? I don’t think our presidential candidates definitely have to go.”

Noting AIT’s invitation to her and promise she’s receive equal treatment to Tsai, she said, “I’ve been thinking, if I don’t get higher-status treatment than her, why go?” Since President Ma took office, “we’ve” had good relations with the US, so the US should feel very assured about the KMT, she said. But if it is worried, “I invite them to come over here and figure it out!” “I’ll wave to them and ask them to come over!”

Hung also said Chu and other comrades have encouraged her to take a trip to America to at least inspire the overseas community. But she believes that if someone [Tsai] took the test last time and failed, and is now retaking the test, she doesn’t have to go herself. Campaigning time is very tight, and every minute counts, Hung said. She then confidently said, “If I’m elected, I’ll have plenty of time after taking office, so why not go then?”
It's comments like this that likely explain why Legislative Speaker and Taiwanese KMT heavyweight Wang Jin-pyng refuses to join Hung's campaign team. Eric Chu, KMT Chairman, indicated this week that Wang would not be given a place on the Party List, the list of legislators who are appointed to positions in the legislature based on the party's success in the election. Wang will either have to run down in Kaohsiung, or find some other political niche to occupy.

Hung reiterated them the next day (Taipei Times report).

Hung is 67. She came of age under Chiang Kai-shek, who appears to be her political model. What would a Hung foreign policy look like? Just try and imagine what position Hung would take on issues like ROC claims in the South China Sea, Taiwan-Japan relations, Taiwan-China relations, cross-strait economic relations, Philippines-Taiwan relations, participation in UN and other international organizations, and relations with other SE Asian neighbors. Remember -- she is publicly to the right of Ma Ying-jeou, whose foreign policy has been very bad for Taiwan. If Ma's foreign policy is that the answer to all problems is More China, what will Hung's be?

The Cross Strait Policy Foundation sent around a Jun 18 poll on Tsai vs Hung. Storm media reported on it here. Tsai crushes Hung 50.2% to 29.3% in overall support. Support for Tsai's "status quo" policy, the kind of policy that's like porn ("I know it when I see it"), is at 63% (oppose, 22.4%), for Hung's "We're China" policy the respective numbers are 31.2%/51.7%. Tsai beats her 45.5 to 31.5 on leadership, 44.7 to 31.6 on protecting Taiwan's interests, 47 to 32 on trust, 48 to 28 on understanding public opinion, and international perspective, 58.9 to 18.6. They are close only on feasibility of policies, where Tsai is up 39-34. All numbers must be taken with large crystal of NaCl, but they are indicative of trends.

I don't see any of these numbers improving much over the next couple of months in any major poll, unless she completely reinvents herself as a moderate populist (haha). The Hung campaign is currently being run by KMT Sec-Gen Lee Si-chuan, who I have heard from those in the know is a Ma man but gets along well with Chu. Even if they get a professional manager in, s/he won't have much of a chance of pushing policies through that thicket of factions and ossified, obdurate personalities at the top of the KMT.

Recent sightings of the good ship KMTitanic
The KMT rules -- It's Hung -- The rational party is Hung -- The Comic Genius of Hung Hsiu-chu -- Eric "Hamlet" Chu suffers the insolence of office -- KMTitanic 11: The Captain is no longer aboard -- Hung? Really? -- Comedy and ethnicity in The Rational Party -- KMTitanic 10: the ship is foundering -- Wang out -- Chu goes there? -- Rounding up the KMT again -- KMTitanic 8: Chu = monkey wrench -- KMTitanic 7: Existential Crisis --  KMT Shorts -- Chu Notes -- KMTitanic 5: Struggling for the Northern Lifeboats -- Chu Political Theatre -- KMTitanic 4 -- KMTitanic 3 -- KMTitanic 2 -- KMTitanic 1 -- Chu's Revolutionary Reforms?
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The KMT Rules

I didn't know that if you water rattan, it grows.

James Hilton remarks in Lost Horizon that the Chinese manage to combine official rigidity with unofficial flexibility. I got a dose of that this morning, when I presented my standing ticket and asked if there was a seat on the train, which there always is.

The ticket seller, an older man with one of those flat, sincere faces, tapped a stubby finger on a notice posted on the window. "Can't make changes within one hour of the train leaving." 

I made a few tart comments that cast aspersions on the ancestry and good behavior of the idiots who thought up that rule. 

"Ok, ok. It's no problem," he relented. "I'll give you a seat." I thanked him profusely and soon I was the proud owner of seat 23, car 6, for the next two hours. "But don't do it again," he warned. "Rules are rules."

I was thinking about this in the context of Frozen Garlic's excellent post on Hung Hsiu-chu winning the primary. He remarked:
In retrospect, this battle was a victory for front room politics. All the people who thought that the game in the front room was meaningless and that the real decision would be hashed out in the smoke-filled back room were rudely surprised. I’m convinced that if they could do it again, Wang and Wu would have simply registered for the primary. Hopefully this year’s experience will convince aspirants in future races to jump in and participate in the regular procedures rather than hoping for an old-style coronation. If you want the candidate’s sash, you need to seek it openly and aggressively. (I wonder if the Sunflower students are happy at this victory over black box politics! J)
In fact, KMT Chairman Eric Chu had been battling for real rules in the primary process that had actual teeth, rather than backroom deals. Speaker of the Legislature Wang has been making running-if-my-party-needs-me noises, so I think there are still plenty of people still not convinced that backroom deals are dead. But what's interesting is that Wang and Wu didn't run because they figured, as always before, the KMT bigwigs would arrange events behind the scenes. The purpose of rules is to shaft lesser beings, not to apply to oneself...

The excellent writer Anon at Thinking-Taiwan reviews the Hung candidacy... he noted:
If such protest movements are an illegal and undesirable way to express public opinion, how about enacting change through the lead opposition party? That’s no good, either; Hung despises the DPP. She called it a troublemaker using populist tricks that will destroy the foundation for peace, close off the country, incite social hatred, and lead the people into destitution. A common trope of hers is that popular protests against KMT prerogatives are not manifestations of the will of the public; instead they are incited by the DPP and its ilk. For example, when asked about the high school history curriculum controversy yesterday, she said, “Don’t use the pure hearts of students to manufacture conflict.” 
Anon reviewed her positions and came to the same conclusion I did the other day: she's totally out of touch with the mainstream in most of her positions. Yesterday she remarked that Taiwan independence was unconstitutional. She then went on to describe the problem of Taiwan's people:
Hung said that what worries Taiwanese is the prospect of unification taking place on China’s terms, because China wishes to apply its “one country, two systems” formula in the unification of Taiwan, while Taiwan wants to see a unified China characterized by freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
Nope. What worries Taiwanese is annexation to China, period. Fullstop.

Even Ma, who prior to 2008 had taken the exact same position that Beijing did in saying that both sides of the strait should determine the future of Taiwan, shifted to the position that only Taiwan's people could determine its future. He reiterated that last year (WantWant finds three instances of that since Nov of 2008). Hung in fact is to the right of Ma's public statements (but note that Ma also paired that with the ROC Constitution in his Jun 2014 statement). Ma was able to grit his teeth and urk out that he was Taiwanese before each election and even leave Taipei for a "long stay" among hoi polloi outside Taipei. I'm very curious to see how Hung will handle that. Her comments about how the KMT has been forced to be quiet about its core beliefs (ThinkingTaiwan)...
Over these past years, we have lived as if we are inside the framework established by our opponents. When it comes to basic principles about the position of our country, and the core ideals of our party, we have fearfully forfeited the right to speak
.... suggest that she will go down with the ship, guns proudly spitting "I'm Chinese!" defiance in all directions. Solidarity had a good laugh on Twitter at her shock at being thought of Ma Ying-jeou v2.0.

Solidarity pointed me to a Storm media piece on early polls. TVBS offered a poll that showed Hung over the DPP's Tsai by 3. The NCCU prediction market responded with a poll showing Tsai over Hung 50-29, with Tsai over Hung/Soong 44-22-21. Soong hurts them equally apparently. So concerned is the KMT over her candidacy that the legislative KMTers derailed constitutional negotiations by attempting to have the legislative and presidential separated as part of the deal.

I warned on this each time I mention Hung: it ain't over yet. She still has to pass the Congress on Jul 19th. But nothing suggests that the July Congress will revoke this process and pick a candidate the old way.

Anon at Thinking-Taiwan noted that she's a regression to the mid-1990s KMT. I think to understand how the backroom dealers were content with Hung and what this "regression" context is, we need to return to the 1990s. I wrote on this before:
In fact, in January of 1988, when Chiang Ching-kuo died and Lee ascended to the Presidency, a hardline faction of mainlander officers threatened a coup. The intervention of James Soong, who mediated the crisis, enabled Lee to retain power. The early years of Lee's presidency were thus overshadowed by the conflict between Hau, point man for this faction (the "non-mainstream faction"), and Lee representing the Party Machine and the mainstream KMT factions, over the direction of the KMT, and the shape of the government. Lee moved Hau out of his position as Chief of the General Staff, into the post of Minister of Defense, and finally to the position of Premier in May of 1990. Hau was appointed to that position because of the continuing threat of hardliners who wanted to run Hau as an alternative Presidential candidate in the March 1990 election, and because the previous premier, Lee Huan, had sided with the hardline mainlanders against Lee Teng-hui (he was a close associate of Chiang Ching-kuo). In fact Hau would eventually run as the Veep on an alternative ticket with Lin Yang-kang in 1996.
This struggle between the more-Chinese-than-China, more-KMT-than-the-KMT faction led by Hau and the mainstream KMT led by Lee Teng-hui has now played out to its last bitter, pathetic end in the KMT: the non-mainstream faction has won the war and iced all mainstream candidates like Wang and even Chu (I suspect), but at the cost of the party itself. If there aren't major changes, and soon, their candidate, like the ancient impersonator of the Meso-American god Xipe Toltec, will be paraded around the nation like royalty for a year before being flayed alive.
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Monday, June 15, 2015

KMT is given rope, it's Hung =UPDATEDX3=

Another shot from our great weekend ride: Iris rockets through the rift.

Wow. Just wow.

Friday before the KMT's poll to determine whether Deputy Speaker of the Legislature Hung Hsiu-chu would win the KMT presidential primary in which she has no opposition, my wife laughingly asked me what she should say if the pollsters called her.

"I love Hung," I replied. "Unification now!"

It looks like we were hardly the only ones with that idea, as Hung passed the threshold easily (Taipei Times)...
Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) yesterday passed the 30 percent threshold in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) three presidential primary polls yesterday, with an average approval rating of 46.203 percent.

Hung, who was the only contender, can now be nominated by the KMT to run in the presidential election in January next year.
It's pretty widely conceded that Hung was boosted by the intervention of pan-Greens. Friday the KMT has a national party convention, at which she expects to be confirmed. On July 19 there's a KMT Party Congress. If she gets past both those hurdles -- nothing is finalized until after the Congress in July -- she's the candidate. WSJ noted that this would make an election between two female candidates. The gender politics of this election will be very interesting...

The Taipei Times also observed that KMT Chairman Eric Chu supports the outcome of the poll and that Ma has promised to support whoever the party picks. They also said that Hung wants someone with politics similar to hers -- reactionary KMT, I suppose. If none of the major figures wants to run as her veep, perhaps they will dust off some right-winger from the past, or else pick an ideologically impeccable academic., who monitors the media, noted that the Blue media are now pushing her. I take that to mean that the KMT leadership has sent down The Word: it's Hung.

DPP Chairman and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen reacted slyly to Hung's victory (FocusTaiwan):
"We bless her," Tsai said as asked by media reporters about Hung's passing the 30 percent presidential primary poll threshold with an average approval rating of 46.203 percent earlier in the day.
I bet they bless her. It might be Hung who is "married to the KMT" as she has said, but it's the KMT that is committing suttee here. Hung's speech revealed someone who either copies or is to the right of the deeply unpopular Ma Ying-jeou, and her comments since have all been in that vein. The smart move for her would be to run against Ma and his policies, promising change and listening to the public, but in a Storm media piece she said pointedly she wouldn't try to increase her votes by attacking Ma (although given that he is still powerful, she might be playing it safe). She also said that she advocates an EU-style union for China and Taiwan (!). As if there hadn't been massive, popular public protests against a mere sellout trade pact last year, and those protests hadn't led directly to the KMT's defeat in November! The public wants less China, and greater focus on the issues of its everyday lives... so far Hung has offered nothing but nationalist ideological certitude. UPDATE: Solidarity has a mess of her verbiage in translation. UPDATE: WantWant reviews her career. UPDATE: Anon at Thinking Taiwan points out she has no record of attracting voters with different ideological views.

Worse still for the KMT is the ongoing grumbling about her from outside the bubble universe of the KMT core (Taipei Times):
However, a KMT source in central Taiwan who wished to remain anonymous said that if Hung were nominated, the January presidential and legislative elections in central and southern Taiwan would be a disaster, citing Hung’s dedication to the pan-blue ideology and to unification with China on cross-strait policies as her weak points.

Since the KMT landslide defeat in the nine-in-one elections in November last year, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has gained a lot of influence nationwide and the KMT could ill afford to lose more neutral voters to the pan-green camp, the source said.

Pundits often attributed the KMT’s losses to the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s China policies.

“We are helpless in the current situation and can only hope for the best,” the source said.
She's going to chill voters south of Hsinchu with her strident ideological positioning, which will only drive neutrals even closer to the DPP. The latest TISR mood barometer from Thursday the 11th has Tsai ahead of Hung by ten points, leading in most demographics. Tellingly, Tsai is ahead 34-17 among middle of the road voters. Looking at age groups, Tsai's lead is greatest among the young, and tied in the over 70 group. That doesn't augur well for the KMT in future election cycles.

Some have been arguing that the KMT would give up on the Presidency and concentrate on winning the legislature. But if that's the strategy, why Hung? She negates such a strategy, which calls for someone like Wang Jin-pyng who has the legislators' support and wide popularity in Taiwan.

Then there's another group. Grant remarked at the Wilderness to a Union officer who thought Lee had them beat: "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time." A bunch of people who see the KMT that way: Hung is the leading edge of a brilliant, nefarious plot, which we dullards have yet to divine.

The answer is simple: there is no strategy. No plot. No brilliant turn and landing on both the DPP's flanks at the same time. The KMT is deeply split and strife-ridden. Its leadership is a mess, and everyone is feeling the cold wind of mene mene tekel upharsin. Indeed, the KMT's inability to stop the apparently suicidal Hung candidacy shows how weak and divided the party's leadership has become. The mainlander core has insisted that ethnicity and ideology are more important than victory...

Another group of people is predicting that the Southern KMTers may up and leave the Party. It's pleasant to imagine the KMT dissolving that way, but it's very unlikely. It would mean that the southern legislators, already in grim straits, would be running in the 2016 election for a new and not very wealthy party, against the DPP and in many places, against KMT candidates when rival factions put forward their people under the KMT banner. Nope, the legislators are wedded to the mainlander clique at the top of the KMT, which has betrayed their interests. They are all going onto the pyre together.

KMT Sec-Gen Lee Shih-chuan had a piece in The Diplomat a few days ago, with a forlorn call to Tsai to "clarify" her cross-strait stance. This pressure was predictable months ago, as the extent of the KMT's problems became clear: the cross-strait card is the only one the KMT can play. The drumbeat of the "Tsai must clarify" propaganda has been dulled by the obvious pleasure the US took in hosting Tsai on her recent trip to Washington. It's obvious she said all the right things, and the KMT can no longer appeal to the US government by invoking the demon China. Beijing has already caused the US to change its position; nobody has helped Tsai more than President Xi of China.

As for Hung, she's a party list legislator since 2008, which means she has come to the end of her two terms, according to the KMT rules, and can't be appointed to the party list again. She's 67, she'll be over 70 when the next legislative election rolls around. It seems to me that she is gunning for KMT Chairman as a consolation prize; indeed, she's already said that the party's candidate should be the Chairman, or perhaps the Veep slot if someone else is drafted. It is hard for me to imagine that the KMT would simply shove her out the door with nothing if they draft either Wang or the enormously unpopular Wu Den-yi as the candidate.

But you never know. The abyss yawns...
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