Tuesday, November 29, 2016

China Seizes Singapore Military Equipment on the way home from Taiwan

This image shows a growing yet largely unrecognized problem in Taiwan. Where newer buildings are built, they control all the space around them in an attempt to look clean and modern -- a telling signal of the way power and control underlie our conception of what is modern -- the sidewalks are blocked for scooter parking and street vendors, and the streets are redlined so there is no legal parking. If you attempt to park a scooter there, a security guard will soon appear to tell you to move it, perhaps to the sidewalks across the street, under the eaves of the traditional three story buildings. The old anarchy of Taiwan, which had a profoundly human and humane chaos, is slowly being eroded by cold, sterile, inhuman expressions of power over space like this.

Taiwan has long maintained military relations with Singapore (if you've been on vacation in Kenting you've been within a stone's throw of where Singapore troops stay in Taiwan). This week China struck at this relationship, seizing nine vehicles in transit through Hong Kong... (SCMP)
An armed forces team from Singapore was due in Hong Kong last night on a mission to establish why nine of their brand new military vehicles were seized and impounded by customs during their return from Taiwan.

Singapore’s top diplomat in Hong Kong has also become involved in what one military expert said could be a “strategic calculation’’ by Beijing which yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to any sovereign state having official or military ties what it regards as a renegade province.
Indeed, the intertubes are rife with speculation that this is aimed at SE Asia states that might be thinking of upgrading their bilateral or multilateral relations with Taipei. Recall that under the Ma Administration little was done about SE Asia, while the Tsai Administration has made the new Southbound Policy a cornerstone of the Administration's foreign policy. China is also said to be unhappy with Singapore over recent political disagreements.

A posting to a discussion group I am added something further (reposted with permission of author):


There is the angle of Taiwan-Singapore relations too, which China seems eager to further limit. Then there is the matter of whether this incident will restrict the Tsai administration’s efforts to reach out to Southeast Asia.

A little bit more background from what [the writer] have heard but am unable to independently verify at this point:

The shipper, APL, bought over the commercial shipping business of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) earlier this year. NOL was a commercial shipping firm owned by the Singapore government via Temasek Holdings. Underperformance and a tough market forced the sell. NOL also previously handled the shipping of equipment for the Singapore Armed Forces to places like Taiwan and also Australia. APL currently runs the following route--Kaohsiung - Xiamen- HK - Shenzhen- Port Klang- Singapore- Kaohsiung. It appears that APL cut the Kaohsiung-Singapore route to streamline its business. However, the Singapore Armed Forces or Singapore Ministry of Defence may not have updated its shipping contract to ensure direct shipping.

Then there is the issue of the APCs themselves. The vehicle involves proprietary technologies from the US and Europe, in particular the armor, which may be subject to export control regulations. These vehicles being in Chinese ports including Hong Kong, may be in violation of these regulations. Then there is the battlefield management system. It is unclear if the battlefield management system was shipped with the vehicles in the accompanying containers. There is a good chance this is the case. The battlefield management system enables the Terrex to coordinate fires and exchange tactical information with other platforms like the AH-64D Apaches, F-15s, F-16s, and naval vessels. There is a good chance that this means it is compatible with the US/NATO LINK digital datalink system. A system that not only US forces and NATO use, but also Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. An upgraded version of the Terrex is under consideration as a finalist for the US Marine Corps ACV program.

Information on the Terrex below (all open source).

China sure killed a lot of birds with this one stone....
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A note from the writer: Google has screwed up the Commenting Function. *sigh*

Dear readers, Google has once again "updated" one of its products. As always with a Google update, Blogger is now uglier, less functional, has a less useful and more crowded interface, and requires more clicks to get anything done.

The result for you is this: in old Blogger, when I opened up the page for my blog, unpublished comments were right there for me to moderate. Now when I open Blogger, I have to make additional clicks to get to the unpublished comments. This means I might forget I should even be looking for comments. I am quite absent-minded and keep forgetfulness at bay only with constant vigilant effort. So apologies in advance if your comments take extra time to go up.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday shorts and links....

Gay marriage a big issue in Taiwan, with just over 50% supporting...
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Way cool: There's a map app!!!!

This map app gives historical map overlays for Taiwan. It was developed by the Academia Sinica. Peter Dunstan of Taichung AmCham informed everyone on Facebook that if you don't have Taiwan Google, you can still get the map to work via this APK (with instructions on how to install)...
You'll need to enable installations from unknown sources, download the apk and install. Worked a treat for me. Install from unknown sources is under Security settings.
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Friday, November 25, 2016

In Taiwan News....

As news that Beijing has seized troop carriers from Singapore en route from Taiwan, because it wants to punish Singapore, I'd like to announce my new weekly commentary at Taiwan News. The first piece is now live. Many thanks to Keoni Everington and the whole Taiwan News team for giving me this opportunity!
Last week a neighbor comes over to give my wife some greens, and remarks on how bad the new train stations in Taichung are. After complaining about the Tanzih and Fengyuan stations, she turns to Taichung station: “It’s all Lin Chia-lung’s fault. He had the stations redesigned.” Although the claim is absurd, the underlying perception is not: Taiwanese voters tend to assign responsibility for events to whoever is in charge. If the DPP is not perceived to be working for the people, then discontented workers across the nation may well switch parties come 2018, or refuse to vote.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Go South Policy is already going...

Entrance to an aboriginal community in Taitung.

"Tai-shang (Taiwan Business) in Southeast Asia: Profile and Issues". Alan Hao Yang and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao. (In Y.-C. Kim (ed.), Chinese Global Production Networks in ASEAN, Understanding China. Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016)...
"The year of 2000 witnessed domestic regime change in Taiwan as KMT government was replaced by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). As President Chen Shui-bian came into power, strategic focus of “Go South Policy” had been directed to tackle with challenges of Taiwanese investment in Southeast Asia with special focus on ICT and textile mill industries. DPP government re-announced Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam as key countries for Taiwan’s investment. Clearly, the new waves of “Go South Policy” was designed to counterbalance Taiwanese increasing investment in China. By pushing China Steel, Formosa Plastics Group, Uni-President and Pou Chen Group to Vietnam, Taiwanese government desired to constructively engage Southeast Asian markets and governments. While KMT reclaimed power in 2008, Southeast Asia was still of strategic interest to Taiwan, with more focus on promoting ECA with regional counterparts. Since 2000, Tai-shang significantly modified its investment strategies; Vietnam became the most favored investment destination of Taiwan business, followed by Singapore and Thailand. Also, there are increasing investment projects in Indochinese countries, especially Myanmar."

AmCham noted in an April 2016 piece on Taiwan bank expansion into SE Asia...
Taiwan is now the number-four investor in Vietnam, after South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. In 2015, Taiwanese businesses invested US$674 million in Vietnam, an increase of 43.7% over the previous year. With that surge in investment came opportunity for Taiwanese banks, which last year opened 11 new branches in Vietnam. The country is now home to 31 branches of Taiwanese banks. Globally, only China has more with 43...

In February, a total of 13 banks, eight of them Taiwanese, applied for licenses to operate in Burma. Among the Taiwanese banks, only E. Sun Commercial Bank has received approval thus far. The new round of bank licensing began late last year with the objective of boosting foreign investment in the Southeast Asian country. Burma’s Central Bank has yet to say how many licenses will be granted....
TEEMA, the Taiwan electrical and electronic manufacturer's association, has invested in a large industrial park in Myanmar, which many savvy local friends have identified as the Next Big Thing.
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Wed lazy links...

Alishan Tea farms...

Yeah, links...

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Sent around my networks, this image asks: if Taiwanese can marry ghosts, why can't people of the same sex marry each other?
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Monday, November 21, 2016

China Still Not Getting It

Traditional washing stones, in use...

A delegation from China is arriving Monday and will visit only to Blue counties and ignored Green ones.... (Taiwan News)
The delegation, authorized by the Chinese government, came after the chiefs of the eight “blue” Taiwanese counties and cities visited China in September. According to media reports, the delegation plans to spend eight days and seven nights to complete the tour, viewing agricultural products and specialties of these selected areas and paving the way for a planned promotional tour organized by the KMT-ruled counties and cities to promote their agriculture as well as tourism in China, slated to take place at the end of December.
This is simply a variant of the tourism strategy: to use politically-motivated subsidies to create pockets of support for China and the KMT. The problems ought to be obvious. Even the recipients of the largesse know it is dependent on China's political needs and has nothing to do with economic and social conditions. Moreover, most Blue-held areas are underdeveloped and have small populations, with the exception of New Taipei City.

A smart policy would shower the heavily populated Green areas with benefits. But this strategy bypasses the population at large, and will have the same results as the group tourism strategy: increasing resentment without forming permanent links. Such policies will be perceived as insults.

This looks like a move aimed at domestic audiences in China, who want to see that their government is doing something. It shows how unimaginative China's Taiwan policies are, how China simply lacks a robust and coherent Taiwan policy, as well as a sophisticated understanding of Taiwan.

It may also augur ill for the future. The purpose of such policies, stupid though they appear to be, may well be so that China's leaders can at some point say to their people: "Well, we did all we could... so now we must fight..."
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coast sanity break

Why haven't I been posting? Had midterms to give and grade, and then took two days off to visit a friend in Chenggong. Love that ahhhh feeling when you head south out of Hualien and you know it is going to be a good day. A special bonus was the vast decline in tour buses. Saw them, but not in the insane numbers of before.

Interestingly, the wind was in my face the whole way. Usually it is at my back this time of year. El Nino?

More photos below...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nelson Report on Trump Advisors

The Nelson Report has some good observations. The good news is that the Asia team is composed of China warriors, not China accommodationists, and it is likely that whatever the final mix, tough on China types will predominate, at least as far as I can see. The bad news is Trump himself....

....but at present, it's all speculation. NaCl, etc.


SUMMARY: we'll leave interpretation of the Senior Gods to others, except to note that it's a measure of all the uncertainties the world now faces that it's seen as good news that Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, a dedicated deal-maker and ally of Speaker Ryan, will be Chief of Staff...and that the Freedom Caucus campaign to oust Ryan apparently has been called off in lieu of Trump's victory.

And unalloyed bad news that the "chief messenger" will be Campaign Manager Steve Bannon, who certainly gives the impression that 400 years ago, he'd be standing next to the stake laughing, while you shrieked your life away in the flames.

Trump Transition Asia foreign policy and defense players (and we assume other regional staff) officially start work today, and are making appointments around town in a concerted "reassurance tour"...some embassies have already confirmed the outreach.

So...that's both necessary and good, obviously, since the Donald Trump who "presented" during the campaign, and especially the debates, was often contradictory and thus confusing, a situation which contributed to the several "stop Trump" campaigns which may deprive the next Administration of a lot of otherwise logical, solid Asia staffing choices.

So...."names"..."inside word" today is that while Newt Gingrich is saying he doesn't want State, "you can't count him out", and that for Defense, we should think Steve Hadley and Sen. Jim Talent, "in that order". Not sure where Sen. Corker or Sen. Sessions fit into that speculation...stay tuned.

The irrepressible Loyal Reader and long-time China hand Mike Pillsbury is telling whomever asks that he is now leading the Asia policy transition team. Earlier in the year Mike said that the principal Asia advisors to the Campaign, channeling through Sen. Sessions, were, in order, Peter Navarro, UC Irvine, Bill Triplett, former Jesse Helms staff, and Mike himself.

You may recall we reported this a couple of months ago...

Naming names at this point can be the kiss of death, experiences teaches, so we will forbear mentioning non-principal names just in case, but from what we do know so far...it's encouraging, so stiff upper lip please.

Same reaction seems justified by Trump's personal outreach to S. Korean Pres. Park, as the president-elect wants to walk-back interpretations of his earlier statements questioning Asia regional alliances, and Trump has also tried to say he never actually said that nukes for Seoul and Tokyo might be OK as part of a "do your part to support the alliance".

Hummm....well...maybe reading back a transcript of what he did say and what he's saying now isn't important except for one critical factor, noted in an email this morning by Loyal Reader DM:

I guess we really have to view every statement from DJT as the opening gambit in a negotiation and never take anything literally, as we learned from the 60 Minutes interview last evening. Of course [the risk is] what happens to declaratory policy and other times when we need real strategic reassurance and strategic resolve in international affairs? Not everything can be a negotiation - especially if the other side is going to make moves based on interpretation of the Commander In Chief's intent by what he says. Seems like a recipe for misunderstanding and miscalculation.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Map of all the historical sites in Taiwan that have been burned down

What's this a map of? Historical sites in Taiwan that have burned down. The fire icon represents a fire, the laughing ghost total destruction, the ghost facing you, arson (the Wiki site it is based on is here).

The latest in mysterious fires to historical sites in Taiwan occurred last week when a 1920s era Japanese government building in Taichung burned. LTN documents.

In 2013, after yet another mysterious fire, this time at a historical site at NTU, the Taipei Times observed:
Despite a denial from NTU secretary-general Chang Pei-jen (張培仁), the blaze, reported at 12:24am, has raised some eyebrows amid rumors that developers have been eyeing the plot for a development project.

While police, who have not ruled out arson, investigate the cause of the fire, relevant government agencies should take a more active role to better preserve and care for the nation’s many old buildings and landmarks that are rich in Taiwanese culture and history.

The public has good reason to be worried, considering the slew of news reports that suggest cultural and historical sites are being pushed aside to make way for development.

Last month, New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yingge District (鶯歌) — known as the birthplace of the nation’s pottery and ceramics industry — saw a 90-year-old oval-shaped kiln and its smokestack knocked down by a construction company, which owns the site, as well as another square-shaped kiln and its brick-built chimney that had stood for more than 50 years. The area, once dotted with more than 300 high-rise kiln smokestacks, is now left with fewer than a score of them.

Reports of similar demolitions of buildings and houses with historical value have also shocked and saddened many local residents, historians and cultural preservationists, as in the case of demolitions of Japanese colonial era kilns carried out by the Miaoli County Government for urban development projects and in Taichung, where a 114-year-old house was torn down by excavators in the middle of the night.

Sporadic cases of historical houses consumed by fire have also occurred, the causes of which remain unsolved to this day.
These fires appear to be linked to developers, who either want to force the site to go up for sale, or to force occupants out. This paper notes:
According to the statistics of fire occurrence, 52 fire events happened in Taiwan’s cultural heritages and historical buildings from the 1970s to 2014. Among them, the highest proportion of fire causes is arson (33%) and the second largest is electrical fire (27%), as shown in Figure 1.
Another source puts the arson count at 41%. Recall that it is not difficult for a skilled arsonist to make a fire seem like an electrical fire. Not all arson cases are developer-related, some are simply madmen or personal. In a few cases it is not the fire that destroys the buildings, but the firemen -- many older wooden structures can't take the force of water from fire hoses. Such fires not only destroy the historical sites, but in Taipei's cramped residential areas, they often take nearby buildings as well. Indeed, the tiny winding lanes surrounding them make it nearly impossible to save smaller historic sites in case of fire.

One such case was the Aug 4, 2005 arson attack on a temple site in Taipei, the Xi Ben Yuan. After the site burned down for the first time in 1975 (also thought to be arson), it was occupied by squatters and the usual collection of shops and vendors, quickly becoming a living community. The Taipei city government offered the site for sale but no one wanted it, then they rezoned it under "urban renewal" laws and tried again, to no avail. Finally they decided to treat it as a park and plaza and began removing the squatters. During this process, it was discovered that parts of the old temple had survived, and preservationists moved in. The site quickly became the topic of urban legends -- it had been an execution ground in 2-28 rumored some, and in another, it was the home of a Japanese treasure stash. Neither was true, but a mining company applied for a permit to excavate the site.

It was eventually designated a historical site. As scholars and preservationists worked to reconstruct the site, on Aug 4, 2005, it was struck by arson. The fire burned the lecture hall. At that point, it was -- probably not coincidentally -- mooted that the historical site designation be removed. Fortunately, the lecture hall had a solid brick structure and could be rebuilt. Incredibly, when the building burnt in 1975, someone had carried off the old bell from the bell tower to preserve it, and 30 years later, it was returned.

Many of these fires never make the news....
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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Geopolitically, you can relax... for a while

As local indigenous villages discover the power of tourism, they are putting in colorful gates

The speculation over Taiwan and the new Trump Administration has included some very strange assertions, especially from the KMT, that Taiwan might well become some kind of bargaining chip.

Nope. Not gonna happen. In fact, Taiwan's position vis-a-vis* the US is almost certainly going to improve. For starters, the new Sec of the Navy might well be Randy Forbes. Forbes is a longtime supporter of Taiwan. Forbes' staffer Alexander Gray will be on the Asia team -- also likes Taiwan. Other names mentioned include Randy Schriver, very pro-Taiwan, and perhaps the very gracious Steve Yates (a quiet inspiration for this blogger), very pro-Taiwan. Richard Armitage, who has long worked on Taiwan issues, has also been mentioned.

Most of those names will be familiar, but others might not be. Just in Taiwan very recently was Ed Feulner (note this 2011 piece), obvious where his sympathies are. And then there is Peter Navarro, in the news here with strong statements: Trump Advisor indicates Taiwan stance? "China is behaving like a bullying thug against Taiwan" (video). John Bolton, a longtime Taiwan supporter, has been rumored to be a possibility for Sec of State. Most of these people worked in the Bush Administration as well.

All of these people, and any eventual Trump Administration, will likely take a much harder line than the Clinton Administration on China, or so some insiders have already declared. The Trump Administration is not going to have any of those "We will achieve a breakthrough!" delusions that afflicted the Clinton Administration, nor do any of its people come out of consulting firms doing business with China. And in the geopolitical calculus that governs the Strait, when the US moves away from China, it moves towards Taiwan. Indeed, suggestions that the Trump Administration represents a fresh start for US-Taiwan relations are already flying into mags where such pieces appear.

But for those of you making mental calculations about when war is going to break out here in Asia, you should probably advance your timetables. Xi is not going to become less hardline, and the US is becoming even more hardline. Just last week Chinese "coast guard" vessels once again tested the Senkaku waters. And David Feith argued in WSJ that Trump will increase the Nuke Crisis in Asia

Interesting times...

*It is important if you are going to be a political commentator that you use this phrase.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump and Taiwan Commentary Roundup

I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, frightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of horrors. Tacitus, The Histories, Book I
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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Some Features of Big Tree Worship in Taiwan

This large tree by an earth god temple near my house was severely damaged in a recent typhoon. It is composed of two trees, a mango tree and a longan tree, which grew up intertwined, and thus gives both fruits. Like many sacred trees, it is usually wrapped in a red ribbon, though not when this picture was taken.

From: Yaun Chang-rue. Big Tree Worship among Taiwan Folk Society. Proceedings of the International Conference on Anthropology and the Museum, Edited by Lin Tsong-yuan, Taiwan Museum, June, 1995....

"Generally, arbors constitute the major object regarded as important in big tree worship among Taiwan folk society. Examples are:

(1) Ficus Wightiana, Wall var. japonica Mig.
...People worship the banyan tree as an immortal because they are impressed with the symbolism of human reproduction evidenced by its intense coverage of leaves and branches and because of the numerous air roots that become trunks upon entering the ground. These many roots symbolize the many generations to come.

(2) Camphor Tree
...the camphor tree also is worshiped by the folk for its prosperous branches and leaves, being tall and huge. In practical aspects, the camphor tree is the source of camphor oil which is believed to be of medical effectiveness. In addition, camphor wood is the most familiar material for the sculptures of idols.

(3) Bischofia javanica Blume
...also known as the chungyang tree in Taiwan [MT: image]... Both leaves and fruit are edible. its leaves when dried can be used as an alternative to tea leaves.

Evergreen with branches usually showing the shape of a human being, Chungyang Mu also gives its medical effectiveness.

(4) Juniperus chinesis, L.
To common folk, juniper, being huge and long lasting, is the symbol of longevity and thus to be worshiped.

(5) Others
Trees growing edible fruits, such as lemon, longan, or hardwoods deemed significant, or bamboo, are worshiped.

Still, banyan, camphor, and chungyang trees are the most popular objects of worship in folk society. Other trees are rarely worshiped. But if they are worshiped, they usually have the following characteristics:

(1) They must be very old
These trees must be at least a hundred years old, a symbol of longevity, a goal for everyone in folk society.

(2) They must be huge


(3) They must be in some way fantastic

For instance, two trees may grow entangled with each other, or a human shape may grow out of the trunk. These trees are worshiped since they are unusual.

(4) They must be mysterious
These trees are immortal, and believed to have charms or a curse...

(5) They are usually evergreen*

(6) They heal

Bark or leaves or both growing from these trees are taken with therapeutic effects. The miracle is that usually they do have positive effects on certain keratitis or dermatitis.

Properties and functions of the Big Tree Worship
Big tree personification is also mentioned in folk usage as "shu kung", meaning grandfather. When in the same community there are two big trees worshiped at the same time, they are referred to as a couple, "kung" and "poh", i.e. grandfather and grandmother, thus giving a very intimate relationship of the immortal to the mortal..."

*The writer means trees with green leaves, not needles.
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Monday, November 07, 2016

Hong Kong Protest Coverage and Taiwan + Links

Wending our way through road construction...

The Hong Kong protests are a huge story in Taiwan right now -- people are following them closely. As if to emphasize the connection, Yau Wai-ching, who famously altered her swearing in oath and whom Beijing has attacked with its recent decision to interfere in the Hong Kong political process (here for BJ announcement), and who is an important focus of the pro-Hong Kong resistance and protest, was photo'd wearing an NTU shirt during an interview. Both the Hong Kong and Taiwan sides are very aware of their links and their common cause against Beijing's authoritarianism, expansion, and colonialism. As is Beijing...

With so many international media reps in Hong Kong, the demonstrations are being covered in minute detail. Hong Kong looms as a symbolic site of resistance to Beijing. It's interesting to contrast the sympathetic and detailed Hong Kong coverage with the colder, more pro-Beijing, and less detailed coverage of similar news from Taiwan. Hong Kong's importance is entirely symbolic, while Taiwan's resistance to Chinese expansionism has enormous implications for the region's economy and politics, and is connected to nearby states, such as Japan. Yet it is accounted less important in the media bubble world.

Let us hope the reporting on Taiwan shifts... in a Hong Kong direction.

Haha: NextMedia reinterprets the oath taking
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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Xi-Hung Meeting = Big Nada

Preparing for a neighborhood event...

Brian Hioe at New Bloom summed it up...
THE FACT THAT Hung Hsiu-Chu’s meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing has largely been a non-event in Taiwan probably attests to its futility. Given that Hung is already known for outlandishly extreme pro-unification views, Hung’s meeting with Xi probably does not really surprise the Taiwanese public, in the way that Eric Chu’s or Ma Ying-Jeou’s meetings with Xi Jinping in 2015 provoked stronger reactions. Hence the lack of any real public response. But does the Hung-Xi meeting indicate anything new?
Brian and I had a good laugh about the Xi-Hung meeting over drinks last night. The only people who really cared about the meeting were the international media.Beijing well understands how this ritual of the Beneficent Emperor presiding over a visit from an eager vassal looks to the media, which loves a good TAIWAN IS TENZ! story. Bloomberg's hilarious headline was China’s Xi, Taiwan opposition leader voice concern over tensions. Voice concern over tensions... they themselves caused, as a friend pointed out on Twitter.

Prior to the meeting J Michael Cole had wondered aloud over at CPI what agreements Hung might make with Xi. But Xi, meeting in his capacity as Party Chairman rather than Emperor of China, was never going to make any agreements with the isolated head of a fading, split party whose members he undoubtedly plans to use and then have shot when China comes over.

The issue highlighted what many of us have said for a while now, some for over a decade now, that China has no Taiwan strategy (Cole wrote on that this week as well). It is simply following the well-worn grooves of its reflexive actions of the part, supplying ceremonies to satisfy its domestic audience. AP reported that...
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Taiwan's opposition leader Tuesday, underscoring Beijing's message to the island's independence-leaning administration that it won't have access to the mainland's highest levels of power if it doesn't accept that Taiwan is part of China.
...but it could just as well written that Xi has no access to Taiwan's highest levels of power. Xi's refusal to deal with Tsai has not painted Tsai into a corner. Instead, it has forced the CCP to court a political party whose influence is fading, limiting the CCP's ability to affect Taiwan politics. Since it won't deal with DPP politicians it can't court, influence, or subvert them. It can't makes its case to pan-Green voters. As if to underscore that, the CCP even banned reporters from pro-Green papers from covering the meeting. This strategy could hardly be more self-defeating.

Fortunately the CCP is too ideologically blind to realize that. Indeed, the KMT once again reminded voters what its values are, which won't help it at the polls -- each kow-tow to the CCP reinforces the KMT's irrelevance for Taiwanese voters. As Brian H pointed out in his piece, even Ma Ying-jeou, whose China policy was one of the chief causes of the KMT's catastrophic 2014 and 2016 election losses, realizes this.

The pro-KMT China Post reported that the chief difference between Hung's trip was that the KMT itself is split....
Lawmakers banded together and called for assurances, revealing a divide between party headquarters and the KMT rank and file. The legislators called on Hung to be sensitive to the KMT's current image problem, pleading for her to make "certain statements" at "appropriate settings."

The internal strife was clear in reports that Hung and former President Ma Ying-jeou clashed over viewpoints on the "1992 Consensus."

Ma reportedly attempted to drive home the importance of its "different interpretations of one China" clause, while Hung showed a reluctance to be boxed in.

The ensuing public spats between Central Policy Committee Director Alex Tsai and the aides of former President Ma offered few reassurances that consensus within KMT existed before Hung left for China.

It was under these two sources of pressure that Hung promised a no-frills encounter with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. A perfunctory checklist would indicate that Hung did what was advised and has managed to stay out of trouble. Barring last-minute contingencies, her trip has not derailed the KMT in any dramatic fashion.
Behind closed doors, certain media reported Xi said Taiwan independence would destroy the CCP. Thanks for supplying another incentive for Taiwan independence.

The Cross-Strait Peace Agreement that Hung keeps touting is hugely vague on the details. It will never work -- if peace is institutionalized across the Strait Taiwan will move further towards independence -- only the CCP threat to murder Taiwanese keeps the island from declaring independence. Beijing understands this, which is why Xi was cold to the idea. Institutionalized peace institutionalizes Taiwan as a de facto independent state.

Surely the KMT must realize this. The Party is not pursuing it on behalf of Taiwan, but on behalf of the ROC, a virtual state which must, whether China comes over or Taiwan becomes independent, be swallowed up by history. Institutionalized peace institutionalizes the continued existence of the ROC and the KMT's umbilical connection to it -- it institutionalizes the possibility of a continued future for the KMT.
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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Good news: Gay marriage closer to realization in Taiwan

The old supports of an old railroad bridge, now a bike path, outside Shihgang. The supports were moved out and left in the river, and the new ones slid under to take their place.

It's kinda hard to believe, but Taiwan's embrace of LGBT issues, including appointing a transgendered person to digital minister, is going to lead the island to become Asia's first country in which gay marriage is legalized. WaPo reports:
In October, lawmakers from Taiwan's new ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party, introduced a bill that would eliminate gender from the national constitution's definition of marriage, opening it to any two people. Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, has vocally supported marriage equality in the past, and recent polls show that almost three-quarters of the Taiwanese people favor marriage equality.

The turning point, however, may have come by way of tragedy. On Oct. 16, a French professor who had lived in Taiwan for decades fell 10 stories to his death in what his friends said was probably a suicide. They said Jacques Picoux, who was 67, had fallen into a deep depression after cancer took the life of his partner of many years. Because of Taiwan's current laws, Picoux was not able to take part in crucial medical decisions during his partner's final moments and afterward could not legally claim the property the two had shared.
Taiwan Law Blog has observed that the Ministry of Justice wants some kind of weaker civil union. as the excerpt below notes, and the language of the law tends in that direction. The Executive Yuan came out this week in support of gay marriage:
There have been some delays and changes regarding the proposal of the same-sex civil partnership law on the Justice Ministry's part, Chen added, but it is expected that the ministry will expedite action on the matter as the Executive Yuan's Gender Equality Committee has made clear of their position on the subject.
Sabra Yen has a detailed piece on Taiwan's path to gay marriage at Ketagalan media.

While loud but toothless opposition from the 14th century continues, more importantly, DPP legislators from the central and south are said to be opposed to the measure. However, as one of the media pieces above reports, a majority supports it.

It will also be good for the Adminstration to realize one of its political promises...
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