Sunday, May 29, 2016

Asian Silicon Valley = DPP Collision with Student Movement

Lovely but hot weather this weekend. Here a friend poses by the wreck of an old suspension bridge near Dongshih.

Well well. Last year, shortly after getting into office, the new Taoyuan mayor saw the construction-industrial state light, and did a 180 on the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project (which he had opposed as a candidate, causing the government to begin expropriating the land before the review was complete), a ridiculous construction-industrial state giveaway. I wrote at the time:
The Aerotropolis is the largest land expropriation in the democratic era. Cheng's turnaround, if it lasts, is likely due to central government pressure. The aerotropolis is a freeport that is a giveaway to land speculators and land developers, and with its suspension of many labor laws, is likely intended as a portal to let Chinese labor into Taiwan.

Stopping that aerotropolis is a key to the DPP's remaining a serious party in Taiwan. It can't just pretend to be the party of social justice and economic development for ordinary people. It actually has to be one. If Cheng flips on this, it will cost the DPP Taoyuan in 2018 and hurt its chances in the Presidential election.
J Michael Cole's wonderful rant in 2013 is well worth revisiting (also my post on his). As originally envisioned (the draft bill is here) the project was going to let Chinese infrastructure firms bid on it, which would have been a disaster, one of the many pro-China decisions that cost the KMT in 2014 and 2016. The project would also have been governed by the free trade zone rules proposed by the KMT, which would turn the zone administrators into dictators administering miniature Uzbekistans. Indeed, there was some speculation that casino gambling would be permitted within the Aerotropolis as a free trade zone unrestricted by the rules applied to the rest of Taiwan.

The DPP has apparently learned little, for the new government has chosen the Aerotropolis as the site for its Asian Silicon Valley...
Premier Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday vowed to reduce land expropriation and enhance communication with the public as the government pushes forward with the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, which is to be a key component of a larger “Asian Silicon Valley” project that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) proposed during her campaign [MT: 2015 article].


“Politically speaking, [the government] should reduce unnecessary land expropriation to avoid delays in the project’s progress due to protests by local residents,” Lin said in response to media queries for comments on the stalled project.

“The government should also do its best to communicate with the public. I believe that [Taoyuan Mayor] Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) would help negotiate and he should not only follow the rules and regulations, but also pay attention to things that have been overlooked.”


“Taipei and Hsinchu are the right and left hands of Taoyuan, with Taipei being an international metropolis and Hsinchu being an important research and development hub for the IT industry,” Lin said. “We have chosen Taoyuan as the base for the Asian Silicon Valley project to revive the economy in northern Taiwan.”
The Asian Silicon Valley is the island's industrial site for its internet-of-things operations, which everyone expects will be the Next Big Thing. China Post compares it to Ma's China-centric economic plans here, but in many ways it is just another in a long long long line of projects that are supposed to internationalize Taiwan's economy by linking airports and high-tech manufacturing and getting outsider firms to relocate here. Remember the chimerical APROC plan?

"To revive the economy in northern Taiwan". ROFL. The economy in northern Taiwan is just fine, thanks. It's the center and south that desperately need investment; occupancy rates in the southern science parks are below average. The real purpose of such announcements is to get local construction-industrial state patronage networks to re-orient on the DPP because it is now doling out construction dollars, expropriating land and handing it to developers, and keeping housing prices in Taoyuan up. Whatever happened to the DPP's commitment to spreading development from the north to other regions?

Note the presence of the strange phrase "unnecessary land expropriation". How can such a thing exist? Was land not in the project being expropriated? Isn't all expropriation "necessary expropriation"? Or what? "Unnecessary land expropriation" = {null}. Couple that with the "better communication" promise and you have full-blown Ma Ying-jeou Administration jive talkin' at its finest. This is the technocratic administration "communicating" and everyone should shut up and listen. Because the government's plans are never wrong, the problem can only be insufficient communication.

Now, recall that the land expropriations triggered protests before (student roughed up)

Recall that the student movement has promised to hold the DPP to account.

This seems, at some point, tailor-made for a collision between the students/Sunflowers and the DPP administration.
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