Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Round Up

Along came a spider...

KMT: The internal struggle for the KMT continues apace. This week Wu Den-yi and Hau Long-bin criticized KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu over the One China/Two interpretations of the 1992 Consensus....
Former ROC Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) attended the annual meeting of the Taiwan Benevolent Association of America (TBAA) in Boston on September 24. During the meeting, Hau stated that the 1992 Consensus must be connected with “one China/different interpretations.” Hau asked why we would abandon the one China/different interpretations formulation since it worked so well during the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration.
As the article notes, Wu and Hau have formed an alliance, and Wu will likely challenge Hung for the Chairmanship in the 2017 election. This will be a replay of this year's election when the Taiwanese candidate was backed by the party structure, and the ROC/mainlander ideologue was backed by the Old Soldiers, who form a large voting block that controls who wins. That same occurred a decade ago, when the Old Soldiers voted for Ma Ying-jeou as Chair while the Party elites supported Wang Jin-pyng. Enough of the Old Soldiers should still be around to ensure that Hung wins another term, just in time for the 2018 midterm elections.

NHI: Excellent interview in TT with NTU President Yang on the plight of doctors in the NHI system. The system holds costs down just like any other Taiwanese boss: it overworks its laborers, and underpays them, both doctors and nurses.

ICAO: The ICAO, the aviation safety body, blocked Taiwan's attendance with the usual displays of moral cowardice characteristic of the western democracies. Beijing is punishing Taiwan because Tsai will not say Taiwan is part of China, and took credit for it.

MEDIA: The only good thing about blogging on the media is that the supply of stoopid never dries out. This week J Michael Cole took Simon Tisdall to task for a demonstration of clueless, lazy, incompetent writing...
In reality, the 25 percent drop in support for President Tsai cannot, contrary to what the author argues, be “summed up in one word: China.” In fact, it can be summed up in not one but two words: not China. Like anywhere else, what contributed to President Tsai’s support levels are primarily domestic matters, from a stagnant economy to urban renewal, broken promises on same-sex marriage to lackluster Cabinet appointments, labor issues to the New Southbound Policy that increasingly doesn’t sound so new — in other words, the regular stuff of regular countries.
Tisdall got everything wrong of course, hilariously referring to the China tourist trade as "lucrative" when it is a pernicious money loser that is widely despised in Taiwan.

This problem also showed up last week at FPRI, where Thomas Shattuck, in an article describing the horrible summer of Tsai Ing-wen, completely misread my piece on the Kenya deportations...
In April, Kenya sent 45 Taiwanese nationals to China, and in August, it deported another five individuals. These deportations sparked outrage because the people and government of Taiwan viewed it as a slight to their nation and as another instance for China to assert its power over them. While some have argued that this deportation process is normal operating procedure—Kenya sent them back to the city that they departed from—Taiwan’s government lodged complaints saying that these deportation were nothing more than “extrajudicial abduction.” China argued that these people flew out of China and targeted Chinese citizens with these scams and that as citizens of Taiwan (which China views as a rogue province), they were under the jurisdiction of China. This issue did not just involve Kenya—Armenia recently deported over 70 individuals to China, Cambodia deported another 13, and Malaysia sent 32 suspects. After the latest round of deportations from Armenia, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, “We have repeatedly demanded the Chinese side not to deport our people to mainland China. The Chinese side’s action again disregarded our call … and further hurt the feelings of Taiwanese people.” Making these deportations such a large, international issue between China, Taiwan, and several other countries demonstrates Taiwan’s lack of options when pitted against China—not so strongly worded statements of condemnation. These countries chose to avoid challenging China instead of pleasing Taiwan.
No, I didn't argue it was SOP. Read what I wrote, Mr Shattuck. The key point of what I wrote is that the deportations weren't aimed at Tsai Ing-wen because the policy of deporting (alleged) Taiwanese scammers to China had been decided over a year before Tsai entered office. This policy HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TSAI ING-WEN. IT BEGAN UNDER MA YING-JEOU. 

How hard can that be to explain? But that's not as sexy as "Look what a tough summer Tsai is having!"

The deportations do not demonstrate Taiwan's "lack of options" against China. Instead they demonstrate that China was complying with international practice in having criminals who had committed crimes against its people deported back there, as Ma Ying-jeou's own officials admitted. The noises that the Taiwan gov't made about the unfairness of it all were just noises designed to placate its own voters, made by both the Ma and Tsai Administrations. They don't signify anything. No nation could have stopped China from deporting the alleged Taiwanese gangsters back to China, because China had every right to.

But why bother to explain anything like that? It's waaay more fun to write about how bad things are. Actually, they are pretty normal for the first 100 days of a presidency on The Beautiful Island.

Deportations back to Taiwan, as happened with Indonesia don't count for Tsai, aren't even mentioned, in fact. No selective use of facts here folks, move along now.

Shattuck also nattered about the tourists...
China’s self-assertion also involves pinching local Taiwanese citizens’ pocketbooks by preventing Mainlanders from travelling to the island. The normal deluge of Mainland tourists to Taiwan has slowed to a trickle over the summer in response to Tsai’s election and her refusal to meet Beijing’s demand of accepting the 1992 Consensus. Though Tsai has moved towards the center recently in this regard, Beijing’s “red line” is its acceptance for the continuation of cross-strait relations. In 2015, between May and July, over 1 million Mainlanders came to Taiwan; this year, during that same time period, under 900,000 made the trip—the lowest since 2013—for a difference of nearly 150,000 tourists.[2] While that number does not seem too significant at face value, there are now that many fewer people renting rooms, using tour buses, taking taxis, frequenting museums and restaurants, and buying souvenirs. Places once full of tourists are now empty thanks to this 30% decrease in Mainland visitors. Workers rallied in Taipei to protest their current situation, and the government has set up a NT$ 960 million fund to help ease the burden. It has gotten so bad that counties not run by the DPP have sent delegations to China in order to encourage tourism to specific cities and counties that have a more friendly view of China. These leaders hope to increase tourism again and create new markets to increase economic interactions.
The key issue is this: tourists are a tiny part of the Taiwan economy, and the missing group tours, the stingiest, lowest spending, crappiest tourists, are less than a third of Chinese tourists, and an even smaller fraction of all tourists. In other words, the missing fraction is a fraction of a fraction in Taiwan's ~$530 billion economy. The only people complaining are those idiots who invested in an obvious political bubble.

There are way more important sectors, so why are we talking about tourism from China? Quick -- what's the largest sector of Taiwan's economy? What happened to our manufacturing orders last month? What's the inflation rate? Those things are far more important than 150,000 sheep for the slaughter from China. The automatic reach for the Chinese tourists, along with the deportations, neither of which is important, is just another example of how the outside world continues to view Taiwan in terms of China, and how Beijing controls the narrative, dominating the minds of those who write about Taiwan. Sad.
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Unknown said...

Another great piece as always. The narrative issue is a deeply frustrating one, when even news media which seem partially sympathetic to Taiwan, either consciously or unconsciously, still end up regurgitating the Beijing line, it inspires nothing but exasperation. That's why it's great to have front-liners like you and Cole and others on the case to keep pushing for such nonsense to be deafened into silence.

Interesting series on Taiwanese History. Another one definetely worth watching (if you haven't already) is a fantastic YouTube channel called "Taiwan Bar", who's unique series (there's one on Philosophy and cakes, Hakka history, Colonial Taiwanese history and many others) are all doing a great job of showing the creative side of Taiwanese animation, humour and informative and entertaining storytelling. Fully worthy of support!

Michael Turton said...

I wish we could silence the nonsense. But it expands faster than we can get a handle on it.

Taiwan Bar seems great! But it is all in Chinese....

Anonymous said...

It would seem that the KMT is still releasing press releases to the media in the name of the government. How else to explain all this propaganda?