Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Taichung Mayor Election Notes...

A great combo on this student's shirt...

The Taichung mayor election is shaping up to be interesting. KMT Legislator from Fengyuan Johnny Chaing is throwing his hat into the ring. Here is his announcement from his Facebook page. If you can't read it in Chinese, just click on the translation. The issues he names are pollution and transportation, two locally important issues.

Remember, this year Taichung has become Taiwan's second largest city. In the battleground of central Taiwan, Taichung may well become a stepping stone to the Presidency, especially if Taipei stays with Ko Wen-che so that no DPP politician is associated with Taipei, and the KMT runs or wins with an old-fashioned ideologue like Alex Tsai who is unelectable on a national level. A KMT politician who can do well or even win in Taichung has demonstrated he can appeal to the center on local issues. Presidential...

As we discussed, a longtime observer of local politics observed.....
Friend 1: I notice how he frames pollution, as a problem to be investigated. That sounds a lot like a page from climate change denialist rhetoric 101. If I am not mistaken, the KMT has routinely opposed clean energy and supported both nuclear and coal, no?

Michael Turton: yup

Longtime Taichung politics observer: It's shaping up at this point to be the "the" issue of the campaign. Lin hasn't been able to live up to his promises, in part from opposition from the central govt, but in part because he is caught between needing more and more power to support his big push to draw in more investment and industry here to create jobs (like the giant TSMC fab and Micron) and cutting power output from the Taichung Power Plant to reduce air pollution. He wants Taipower to foot the bill for a big shift to natural gas and away from coal, but he's got basically no support from the Tsai administration, and they've blocked the law he got through city council aiming to cut emissions from the top emitters (Taichung Power Plant, Dragon Steel) by 10% annually. He claims he's cut air pollution by about a third, but people have trouble believing it. His officials have said things like "we've cut pollution, but not visible pollution". Lots of suspicion on the govt statistics to put it mildly, and if a certain someone's blog is to be believed, there is a significant pollution spike in the middle of the night, most likely factories releasing pollutants on the sly. So, in spite of all their actions and behaviour in the past, the KMT locally is going to hit him hard on this... (Yes, I know you know most of this, this is kind of a primer for anyone interested).
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!

From the Archives: Videos of 1930s rail and B-29s bombing Takao, Formosa

Great video of push rail and country scenes.

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!

Tsai's Perpetually Slumping Approval Goes From 29.8% to 46.4%. Obviously Still Slumping.

Something is fishy here...

I can't believe I am writing this again...

One thing about Tsai's approval ratings: no matter what their actual behavior is, in any kind of commentary, they are always slumping. This latest one from the normally sturdy Sheryn Lee states:
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration is experiencing the mid-term blues. In July, support for Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fell to a meagre 23.9 per cent — only marginally higher than support for the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) at 22.5 per cent. A majority of Taiwanese voters were undecided on party identification. In the following month, Tsai’s personal approval rating dropped to 29.8 per cent, making her a less popular leader than US President Donald Trump in the same period. While Tsai’s approval recovered to 46.4 per cent by the end of September, the figures remain well below her May 2016 post-election popularity high of 70 per cent.
"Mid-term blues." Only in this strange alternate universe in which Tsai Ing-wen's popularity is always slumping can you write that a president whose popularity has risen from 29.8% to 46.4% -- according to your own figures! -- is suffering from "mid-term blues".

So many love to compare Tsai's 70% initial approval with her current approval, whatever that may be, to show how the mighty have fallen. It makes a great narrative, but it is utterly divorced from the Taiwan context.

Few presidents can sustain such high approval ratings, especially in Taiwan. The missing context: Tsai's approval hit the 30s in October of 2016 and has been around there ever since. No blues here, just normality and stability. Tsai's approval probably isn't going to move much, except for spikes like the one she got this fall from bringing in William Lai as premier (Taiwan Style Foundation has her at 49.6%). I expect that approval for Lai and Tsai will fall over time, especially as the 2018 election nears, and return to the 25-35% range as is normal.

Does no one search the net anymore? I wrote about the approval issue in Dec of 2016, nearly a year ago:
Humans like to explain things in terms of accessible narratives, not opaque structures. Because so many issues are swirling through the public arena at any given time, it is easy to construct a narrative that can explain dissatisfaction with Tsai. After all, the Administration has faced labor protests, the gay marriage controversy, withering criticism of its appointments to the civil law reform commission, the snafu with the appointment of a representative to Singapore, the KMT asset committee… a long list could be compiled. Similar lists could be made for the early months of the Ma Administration, from the Chen Shui-bian trial to falling export orders to another of the interminable food scandals (melamine milk, in that case) that have vexed every administration. Though many writers date the decline in Ma's popularity from his dreadful performance in Typhoon Morokot, in fact by September of 2008 Global Views Monthly had pegged his satisfaction at only 24.9%.
That's right -- it Ma just four months to hit 24.9%. Then he got re-elected with lower approval ratings than Tsai has now. The polls are meaningless noise. Indeed, you could use the numbers Lee cites to show that Tsai is running ahead of Ma at the same point in their respective first terms. But mentioning Trump is ever so much more interesting than discussing the local context...

....The comparison to Trump is absurd trolling that should have no place in a serious discussion of Tsai's performance, but it makes for great narrative, as we saw in the LA Times hit piece on Tsai.

Lee also shows how the endlessly repeated conventional understanding of Taiwanese attitudes towards the status quo are wrong:
As a consequence, both parties could face even tougher electoral battles in the future, and these will likely occur on two fronts. First, the parties must manage cross-Strait issues as both a foreign and a domestic policy issue. The majority of voters identify solely as ‘Taiwanese’ (as opposed to ‘Chinese’ or ‘both Taiwanese and Chinese’) but also support the cross-Strait status quo. This makes it extremely difficult for either party to balance demands from Beijing with the demands of a large bloc of voters who have no party affiliation but identify as Taiwanese and believe in the cross-Strait status quo.
This is just not getting it:
The majority of voters identify solely as ‘Taiwanese’ (as opposed to ‘Chinese’ or ‘both Taiwanese and Chinese’) but also support the cross-Strait status quo.
That should be AND not BUT. Because they are Taiwanese, they support the status quo. It is a weak form of independence, and the best that can be gotten at present. This means that it is the KMT that faces the more serious friction on the cross-strait policy front. Getting closer to China means getting farther from independence, which displeases voters, and is disruptive to Taiwan economically and socially, which also displeases voters.

Meanwhile Tsai's positions on distance from China have strong public support, as polls show that her refusal to say Taiwan is part of China ("acknowledge the 1992 Consensus") and her preservation of the status quo is popular (polls from 2016 and 2017). Tsai's Southbound Policy has consistent high public support, at least according to MOFA.

Preserving the status quo does not create problems for the DPP since it is the popular pro-independence position, but is a problem for the KMT, which seeks to destroy the status quo and annex Taiwan to China. In fact, in a survey that came out today, Tsai's cross-strait policy has 45% support, while Chairman Wu's of the KMT has merely 18% support.

The idea that "status quo" is different from "wants independence" is a construct of the old MAC and NCCU polls (lets not forget that NCCU is the old political warfare school and remains very blue institutionally) that cut the electorate up into tiny pieces, ostensibly to get a more fine-grained view of its views, but in reality to obscure the fact that the majority of the population supports any independence it can get. Hence you have scholars claiming that the "center" supports the status quo and not independence or annexation. Plain wrong: the center is pro-independence, which is why it supports the status quo.

The rest of the piece is solid and given the beginning, has a surprisingly positive tone toward Tsai. It could easily have started out that way...
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration is experiencing long-term stable poll numbers, reflecting her steady forward progress in a variety of areas. In September, support for Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rallied above 30 percent, higher than support for the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), after the cabinet reshuffle. A majority of Taiwanese voters were undecided on party identification, a normal situation between elections. That month, Tsai’s personal approval rating rose above 45%, showing that public disapproval of Tsai is more the result of transient impatience rather than public disillusionment. At this point in their respective terms, Tsai's approval is running ahead of previous President Ma Ying-jeou, giving her good prospects for re-election.
But why write sanely, when you can compare her to Trump?
Daily Links:

EVENTS: AmCham Taichung Happy Hour, Saturday, Nov. 11, 6-8 p.m, Taihu Brewing's Chuoyinshi bar  (click on read more)

Monday, October 30, 2017

The wonderful Hsinchu 37 out of Beipu

A horse passed us as we left Zhuzhong Station

I didn't ride Saturday since my bike was still en route from Taitung, but on Sunday a group of us met up at Zhuzhong Station in Hsinchu. We mapped the ride on the fly, and Drew suggested we do the Hsinchu 37 from Beipu to Nanzhuang. What a great route... take a look by clicking on READ MORE... (and click on Andrew K's lovely post on this ride)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Catching up comments and links...

Missing Taitung....

I was going to blog yesterday, but then my kids turned on Stranger Things 2. So much for Friday and Saturday....

GOOD NEWS FROM THE US: Longtime Taiwan expert Shirley Kan writes thoroughly and cogently on the President's transit through the US this weekend...
Since then, there has been a need to correct the misperception — part of China’s political warfare — that Lee “provoked” the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “respond” to a “surprise visit” with military exercises and missile launches in the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995 to 1996.

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military threat to Taiwan has been growing since the early 1990s, not just because of Lee’s visit.

PRC rulers had by 1993 already decided on a new Main Strategic Direction that built military capabilities to target Taiwan. In 1994, the PLA conducted a command post exercise that used the scenario of an invasion of Taiwan.
WOOHOO! Finally: Washington's Asia people are abuzz with the news that:
A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs nominated by @POTUS to be Assistant SecDef for Asia/Pacific.
Yep. longtime Taiwan supporter Randy Schriver will be working Dept of Defense [FIXED ERROR]. Congrats! Taiwan News reports further.

ENERGY: Taiwan's unstable and unreliable nuclear power plants are once again in the news. The New Lens observes, as I did in August...
The major reason for the drop in the power reserve is the unavailability of several of the nuclear power units. Taipower has 5,144MW of installed nuclear power in its system, some 12 percent of the total. But with three of six reactors currently offline for various reasons, nuclear now supplies only 2,845MWh, less than 9 percent of total generation. This past June 10, following the closure of the Jinshan power plant and prior to the restart of Kuosheng reactor-1, nuclear power fell to as low as 3 percent of Taiwan’s power generation when maintenance problems at the Maanshan plant took one of its reactors offline for weeks.
...and the Taipei Times had a good piece on the idiotic fourth nuclear power plant, a mess from the start, and as a special bonus, built in a tsunami and earthquake zone. It observed:
Besides, before the Longmen plant was mothballed, it had numerous incidents like fires, waterlogged equipment, bad workmanship and illegal alterations to its design, and even after it was mothballed, there was an incident involving overflowing pipes.

Considering all the malfunctions, the price to be paid if the plant is commissioned might not be just an economic problem, but a matter of health and safety; it could even constitute an existential threat to the nation.

Furthermore, 597 pieces of equipment from the plant’s No. 2 reactor have been permanently transferred to reactor No. 1, which was short of spare parts, and its fuel storage racks have been transferred to the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) to refurbish that plant’s spent fuel pool.
The plant cannot be opened, yet is still sucking down funds. The whole thing looks increasingly like a scam from beginning to end... and of course, the Cabinet chickened out again on desperately needed electricity price hikes. The lack of emphasis on conservation is appalling.

DON'T MISS: Paul Barclay's new book Outcasts of Empire: Japan’s Rule on Taiwan’s “Savage Border,” 1874–1945 is downloadable for free in e-book format. Can't wait to read it. Revisit his translations of Kondo among the Atayal and Sedeq peoples, 1896-1930 at the top of this blog.

MEDIA:  Reuters taking stenography reporting from Beijing on Beijing's whining about Tsai's stopovers in the US. How can Xinhua compete with this?
China suspects Tsai wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s democracy and security.
Note how the word "says" seems to confirm China's "suspicion". Well, that Tsai, she SAYS she wants peace, but she's a sly one! The action of "suspecting" is assigned to China (not "Xi" or "authorities in Beijing") but Taiwan's resolute defense of its democratic rights is assigned not to Taiwan but to Tsai, as is the action of "pushing for formal indepedendence". Let's put everyone at the same level...
China suspects Taiwan wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Beijing. Taiwan wants to maintain peace with China but will defend its democracy and security.
What if Reuters reported what is actually going on:
China seeks to annex Taiwan, but few in Taiwan want the nation to become part of China. Instead, the majority hope to make the island an independent state some day.
or, with some sympathy for an allied democracy, which would certainly be the case if we were talking about Estonian resistance to Russia's dreams of annexing it...
Taiwan suspects China's authoritarian government seeks to annex Taiwan by force. A democratic and independent state, Taiwan has stated it will defend its people resolutely.
May as well wish for unicorns and rainbows... Let's not even get into how the word "suspect" makes it seem as if Taiwan is doing something wrong. As always, the negative agency is assigned to Taiwan, never to China.
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!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Taitung 23/40 and the East Coast: Scott and Nicklas ride over Taiwan

A few months ago, these fine gentlemen from Australia, Scott on the left and Nicklas on the right, got in touch with me via email. Could I suggest some routes for a bike trip? You betcha. In fact, I told them I'd come along. Thus, for the first time in months, I did an overnight bike trip. I brought along my friend Edouard Roquette, some of whose images I have shamelessly stolen for this post, since they are way better than mine. Click on READ MORE for more....

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nelson Report on Xi and Taiwan

Duona in Pingtung

Three and a half hours... what did Xi say? Pretty much the usual noise... but note the last paragraph of R Bush's remarks at the bottom. I am off for my first bike vacation in months, so I won't be back til Tuesday...

THE TAIWAN QUESTION...came up in forceful sounding language from Pres. Xi during his "marathon" CPC keynote yesterday. A Senior Adult who must be granted ANON status shows why any perceived deviation from the mutually agreed-upon "catechism" on US-China-Taiwan relations risks immediate media heartburn in both Beijing and Taipei unless quickly "corrected" or "explained":


There is some head scratching about Xi saying "the historical fact of the 1992 consensus" in his speech, since Pres. Tsai has used "the historical fact" of the meeting in 1992:

"In 1992, the two institutions representing each side across the Strait (SEF & ARATS), through communication and negotiations, arrived at various joint acknowledgements and understandings. It was done in a spirit of mutual understanding and a political attitude of seeking common ground while setting aside differences. I respect this historical fact."

Is there some semi-echoing here? Tsai is always careful not to say "historical fact of the 1992 consensus", but rather she respects the historical fact of the meeting and its "various joint acknowledgements and understandings."

She skates close to the idea that there was some commitment to a consensus, but never flips over the edge, please note. So it's tempting to think maybe Xi made an echo and a bow to her? An olive branch?

And as our mutual friend Bonnie Glaser has noted, Xi linked Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in one sentence. Still, some tough language, of course, in Xi's speech:

We stand firm in safeguarding the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never allow the historical tragedy of national division to repeat itself. We have the resolve, confidence and ability to defeat separatist attempts for 'Taiwan independence' in any form. We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China.

But, I repeat, no deadlines....

Richard Bush's comments follow this...


China's Xi says can thwart Taiwan independence, Taiwan says democracy first

Benjamin Kang Lim, Jess Macy Yu

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - China has the resolve, confidence and ability to thwart any attempt by self-ruled Taiwan to declare independence, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, prompting Taipei to retort that only its people could decide their future. Taiwan is one of China's most important and sensitive issues. China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the possibility of using force to bring the island under its control.

Xi has set great store on trying to resolve differences, holding a landmark meeting with then-President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore in 2015. But relations have nosedived since Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections last year, with Beijing fearing she wants to push for Taiwan's formal independence, a red line for China.

"We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China," Xi told more than 2,000 delegates at the opening of a week-long Communist Party Congress, drawing the longest applause during his 3-1/2 hour speech. "We have the resolve, the confidence and the ability to defeat separatist attempts for Taiwan independence in any form," Xi told the audience, including some 300 from the People's Liberation Army.

Beijing has suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taipei established under Taiwan's previous, China-friendly government, and there has been a dramatic fall in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan under Tsai's administration. Tsai says she wants peace with China but will protect Taiwan's freedom and democracy

In Taipei, the cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council said it was "absolutely" the right of Taiwan's 23 million people to decide their future. "The Republic of China is a sovereign country," the council said, using Taiwan's formal name. The perpetuation of Taiwan's democratic system was a core value of Taiwan's, the council said in reaction to Xi's speech. Tsai and her government had been restrained and not provocative towards China, but had staunchly defended Taiwan's security and dignity.

Xi said that China respected Taiwan's "current social system and way of life". "Recognize the historical fact ... that the two sides both belong to one China, and then our two sides can conduct dialogue to address through discussion the concerns of the people of both sides, and no political party or group in Taiwan will have any difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland," he added.

Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd and Stella Qiu; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Nick Macfie

HUMMM....OK...to the uninitiated, tough language! To Your Editor...actually pretty much the standard "boilerplate", and not what some had feared, as noted by ANON above, no "deadline", and no "new formulations or demands". In fact, as ANON notes in a separate message, "basically a reiteration of the '92 Consensus several times, with emphasis, naturally, on 'One China'." [MT: The key observations are here.]

But, to repeat from ANON, maybe just maybe something of an "olive branch" embedded in the tough words?

LET us know what you think, please!!

We pulsed Loyal Reader and Major Adult Supervisor Richard Bush, former chief of AIT, and he today posted:

What Xi Jinping Said About Taiwan at the 19th Party Congress

On October 18th, Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), delivered a report to the assembled 19th Party Congress on the work of the party central committee that was selected five years ago. Xi spoke on all the policy issues facing the Chinese government and stated his vision for the country's future.

Reporters have been busily trying to interpret the import of what Xi said in the report on a range of policy issues. Observers in Taiwan have understandably been trying to divine the implications of his statements concerning Taiwan policy. The tendency is to cite this or that sentence and speculate on whether Xi will pursue a tougher policy or not.

In a recent post, I presented a framework for interpreting what Xi Jinping would say about Taiwan. The premise of that framework is that the general secretary's report is a document written by a committee that follows an institutionalized and iterative process. The committee circulates its drafts widely and then considers opinions and recommendations for possible inclusion.

[Excerpt: Two points of context need to be kept in mind.

First of all, Xi is not the author of either the entire report or the specific section on Taiwan. A writing committee drafts the document as part of an iterative process of composing, vetting, soliciting opinion, and revising. The ruling Politburo of the CCP-not just its general secretary-will give final formal approval. Xi himself will have a greater opportunity to shape the content of each and every section than any of his colleagues, but he will work within the parameters of an institutionalized political process, and one of those parameters is past statements of policy.

Second, Xi Jinping cannot be confident that all of his listeners believe that China's Taiwan policy has been a roaring success during the five years he has been general secretary. True, during the time that Ma Ying-jeou was Taiwan's president (2008-2016), relations across the Taiwan Strait were stabilized and normalized while economic relations deepened and broadened.

But Ma deflected Beijing's overtures to begin political talks, for the very practical reason that the Taiwan public was not ready to move to that stage. Indeed, the share of the Taiwan public who told pollsters that they were Taiwanese only, as opposed to Chinese or a hybrid of the two, increased while Ma was president, instead of decreasing as Beijing might have expected. Also, the public became increasingly worried that Taiwan was becoming too dependent economically on China, to the point that in spring 2014, political activists were able to block ratification of a cross-Strait service trade agreement.

But the biggest blow for Beijing was the election of Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the majority the party gained in legislative elections, for the first time since democratization on Taiwan. Beijing asserts that the goal of the DPP is separatism and the establishment of an independent Taiwan state that has no political or legal connection with the mainland. Therefore, it doesn't require too great a stretch of imagination that some in the CCP elite believe that past policy has failed in preventing this reality.]

In addition to considering current views on policy issues, including Taiwan, the drafting group also takes account what was said in reports to past congresses. As I noted in my recent post, when it comes to Taiwan policy, there has been striking continuity on nine policy elements in the reports to the 16th Party Congress in 2002; the 17th in 2007; and the 18th in 2012).

At the same time, Xi Jinping is in charge of the Chinese regime. He is general secretary of the CCP. Like his predecessors, he will have the opportunity to put his stamp on the policy formulations on every issue, including Taiwan.

In assessing the significance of Xi's report to the 19th Party Congress, analysts should look both at whether the nine Taiwan elements of past reports appear in Xi Jinping's report and at what kind of personal stamp he puts on future policy.

Here are the nine elements that have appeared in the last three reports by general secretaries:

The guiding principle (fangzhen) of peaceful reunification of Taiwan according to the "One Country, Two Systems" formula and the eight-point proposal enunciated by Jiang Zemin in 1995.
Adherence to the One China principle, the key point of which is that the territory of Taiwan is within the sovereign territory of China.

  • Strong opposition to separatism and Taiwan independence.
  • Willingness to have dialogue, exchanges, consultations, and negotiations with any political party that adheres to the One China principle.
  • Stress on the idea that the people on Taiwan and people on the mainland are "brothers and sisters of the same blood."
  • Establishing a connection between unification and the cause of "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."
  • Placing hopes on the Taiwan people as a force to help bring about unification.
  • A promise that progress toward unification, and unification itself, will bring material benefits to Taiwan.
  • An expression of "utmost sincerity" by Beijing toward the unification project.

Xi Jinping reaffirmed the first of these six principles but not the last three. Items #8 and #9 are probably not that important in the grand scheme of things. To not reiterate the commitment to "place hopes on the Taiwan people" could be more significant because past statements suggested that Beijing would take into account the views and sentiments of those people. Will popular opinion on Taiwan no longer be a basis for Taiwan policy? Also, it is possible that when Beijing said it would place its hope on the Taiwan people, the people it was taking about were the more conservative voters who supported the island's conservative parties, particularly the Kuomintang (KMT). Recently, some Chinese scholars have suggested that China should rely much more on its own power to achieve its unification objective and not on political forces within Taiwan.

For those interested in the ins and outs of Chinese elite politics, it's worth noting that in item #1 the three previous congress reports included Jiang Zemin's 1995 eight-point proposal as an important basis for policy. Xi Jinping made no reference to the proposal, which tracks with reports that he and Jiang are not on good terms.

Xi Jinping displayed the greatest toughness when talking about the threat of Taiwan independence. In four crisp yet strident sentences, each of which reportedly received applause, he laid down markers: "We will resolutely uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never tolerate a repeat of the historical tragedy of a divided country. All activities of splitting the motherland will be resolutely opposed by all the Chinese people. We have firm will, full confidence, and sufficient capability to defeat any form of Taiwan independence secession plot. We will never allow any person, any organization, or any political party to split any part of the Chinese territory from China at any time or in any form."

Some of these formulations are not new for Xi. He spoke in basically the same terms in November 2016 to Hung Hsiu-chu, then the chairperson of the Kuomintang. But two things are noteworthy. The first is that his language on Taiwan independence was tougher than what his predecessors said the last times that there was a DPP government in power. Second, the "at any time or in any form" formulation echoes the way China's anti-secession law, enacted in 2005, states the conditions for the use of "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures": "In the event that the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China."[1]

For his coda and to no-one's surprise, Xi shifted from stridency to his broad vision for China and folded his aspiration for a unified Taiwan into his broad narrative of the "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." To quote: "Achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the common dream of all Chinese people. We firmly believe that as long as all sons and daughters of China, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, conform to the great historical trend and share in the great cause of the nation, and firmly grasp hold of the destiny of the nation in our own hands, we will be able to joint create a beautiful future of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." For Xi and other Chinese, a China that remains divided cannot be a great China. Xi did not set an explicit deadline for unification, even though he has talked about the need to end delay. But clearly, Taiwan unification is one part of the highly ambitious agenda that Xi has set for himself as China's leader.

One final aspect of Xi's report is its apparent disconnect from Taiwan reality. Do Chinese leaders really believe that Taiwan independence is that danger that Xi's tougher language suggests? Surely they can see that President Tsai Ing-wen has been very cautious in her approach to cross-Strait relations and the great majority of Taiwan people oppose independence (just as they oppose unification). Do Chinese leaders understand that "one country, two systems" is probably less popular today than it was when Deng Xiaoping first proposed it almost forty years ago, and that recent events in Hong Kong make the model even less popular? Do they, in effect, understand that they have no choice but to put their hopes in the Taiwan people and give them significant reasons to believe that there is a basis for a positive relationship with China?

ALSO: Jessica Drun's piece on the CCP losing confidence in the KMT.
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, October 19, 2017

Renewables on the March

Geothermal area on Yangmingshan

Good news on the renewable energy front in Taiwan. Taiwan's wind sourcing to rise....
Taiwan has signalled plans to raise its 2025 offshore wind goal to 5.5GW from the 3GW previously targeted.

Economy minister Shen Rongjin said Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy (BOE) plans to announce the raised target as part of a “mixed tariff” strategy for development in the country, which has rapidly emerged as a key market in the offshore wind sector’s expansion beyond Europe.

Projects in the Taiwanese approvals system that score the highest under an assessment carried out by BOE will fall under the feed-in-tariff mechanism earmarked for the original 3GW of capacity, the minister indicated.

The remaining projects will have to compete to sell power at a lower price in a tender held by national utility Taipower for the extra 2.5GW.
.... and geothermal was in the news in a Taipei Times commentary this week...
In April, the Environmental Protection Administration announced that Taiwan’s first geothermal power plant would be built in the Lize Industrial Zone in Yilan County’s Wujie Township (五結). It is estimated that, after construction is completed in 2025, the plant’s electric power generation capacity could reach 11 megawatts (MW), so that it could supply 800 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually.

In so doing, it could bring about a reduction of 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year compared with a thermal power station generating the same amount of electricity.

According to the plan, 11 geothermal wells are to be drilled in the industrial zone. The plant will use advanced geothermal power generation technology that extracts heat without extracting water. That is to say that water is injected deep into the earth, where it is heated to a high temperature before being circulated through a boiler, heating water in the boiler pipes to produce water vapor that drives a turbine to generate electricity.
Taiwan's researchers performed an exploratory survey in the last few years. A researcher described its findings in 2016:
Recently, one of the National Science & Technology Program (NSTP) projects has been conducting research and reevaluating the island-wide deep geothermal energy. Four hot potential sites have been recognized. They are: (1) Tatun Volcano Group of northern Taiwan; (2) I-Lan Plain of NE Taiwan; (3) Lu-Shan area of Central Taiwan; and (4) Hua-Tung area of eastern Taiwan. We found that the geothermal resource in Taiwan may be as high as 160 GWe, with 33.6 GWe of exploitable geothermal energy.
To put that last number in perspective 1 GWe is about 3% of Taiwan's national gross power generation. Geothermal is available 24/7, as baseload. A paper from the geothermal energy research team notes:
A recently released planning report on the NSTP specifies that geothermal energy is an important type of renewable energy. It is expected that geothermal energy will eventually have an installed power capacity of 7.15 GWe, which is equivalent to 14.65% of the national installed capacity which currently amounts to 48.8 GWe.
Taiwan had a working plant in the Chingshui field in Yi-lan but it was shut down due to increasing inefficiency in 1993. It was re-opened with updated technology in 2012.

To encourage the development of geothermal, in September the government raised the feed-in tariff for it:
Taiwan's Bureau of Energy (BOE) has set tentative feed-in tariffs for renewable energy in 2018 increasing the rate for geothermal energy.

The feed-in tariff for geothermal will be 5.1956 NT$/kWh an increase of 5.11% on 2017 rates.
With rapid development of geothermal, backed by wind and solar, Taiwan could easily dispense with its fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. The latter are aging and must be shut down by 2025, a major headache for whoever is running the show after Tsai Ing-wen.
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!

A glimpse of education...

Heading back here this weekend. You should join.

Ever wonder why school rules and Ministry of Education policies and regulations are so incredibly rigid? From Liu and Yang Between­ Class Ability Grouping, Cram Schooling, and Student Academic Achievement in Taiwan (Sociology Study, May 2016, Vol. 6, No. 5, 335‐341)
The practice of between-class ability grouping was quite prevalent in junior high schools in the past. At present, most schools opt for mixed-ability classes because of educational policies. Except for a small amount of students with exceptional exam marks at the time they graduate from primary school, most students get to be placed in a good class through influence peddling. Taking an interviewed school as an example, 3,000 students out of a total of 4,500 students are involved in influence peddling
The reason for the tightly controlled class intakes at universities (for example) that are centrally determined is obvious: if something is handed off to local control, and it involves resources that are widely needed but only have limited distribution, that thing immediately becomes corrupt as people solicit and offer gifts to obtain what they need. Note also the enormous size of the school interviewed, a junior high with 4500 students -- Taiwanese widely perceive large schools, which have stricter discipline in part to manage their large student populations, as better schools.
On the other hand, group instruction’s effects on students’ academic study are limited when
ability grouping largely focuses on main subjects such as Chinese, English, Physics, and Chemistry. Given such a circumstance, students’ participation in group instruction and additional teaching sessions arranged by a school is falling. Because of this, the time students spend on cram schooling is increasing. Speaking of cram schooling, high school principals stressed that more than 80% of students have participated in cram schooling. Most students who do not participate in any cram schools have given up studying.
All of my students at my university, one of the top universities in the nation by the MOE's accounting methods, went to cram schools in junior high school and high school. Part of the reason that Taiwanese students perform so well in international assessments is that they are in school from 7 am to 10 pm...
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, October 16, 2017

Biking and Cole and Links....

Hidden in the hills around Taichung are many interesting places...

If you read one thing today, it should be Andrew Kerslake's piece on Stifled Paradise of Biking... Andrew writes:
I too often feel embarrassed for the people who have read my writing and taken the plunge to visit for a ride only to find their routes choked with pollution levels too dangerous to cycle without tempting asthma. I am embarrassed by glistening natural vistas marred by the industrial blight of smoke stacks, cement factories or the rotting concrete shell of a failed mega-resort. In Taiwan we almost get it right so often and we have a lot of potential, only to overdevelop our way into having all the charm of a shopping mall food court. I wrote about this issue back in 2015. I am writing about this issue today.
J Michael Cole came out with one of his weakest pieces in a long time: Double Ten and the Narcissism of Small Differences. It's the kind of thing that attempts to gain by force of rhetoric what it cannot take by force of argument:
While differences exist on a number of issues, both blues and greens agree on the fundamentals, on the ideology — which goes well beyond a chosen form of governance — that defines Taiwan (or the ROC) and that differentiates it from the increasingly authoritarian PRC. Thus, while crass attacks on one’s political opponents are an unavoidable, if lamentable, by-product of electoral politics, we need to separate those tactical punches from attacks (often made by politicians seeking attention with an eye to securing a position or their party’s nomination in an upcoming election) that, for short-term political gain, risk harming Taiwan at the strategic level: its institutions and the way of life that mainstream blues and greens alike have come to cherish. The actions of politicians who break that basic rule (and those happen far too often) should no longer be countenanced.

Rather than bicker over a flag or nomenclature, matters which like institutional reform can in due course be addressed by a process of evolution, Taiwanese from both sides of the aisle must find it within themselves to recognize and emphasize their shared interests. One can be a radical supporter of Taiwanese independence or conversely a proud waishengren citizen of the ROC and still both would agree on the values, mores, ideas and means of governance that define this place. If only they would sit down together and listen to each other rather than talk past each other or treat the Other as a perennial enemy. Much of those differences are artificial, kept alive and exploited by politicians and media outlets that thrive on division. Democratic systems by design create political camps that act in opposition to each other, rallying voters behind them. Such are the politics of contention. However, given the immense challenges it faces, Taiwan cannot afford to create divisions where they no longer exist, or to widen those that do exist to the extent that they begin to erode the very foundations of the state. At this juncture, reconciliation might very well be a matter of survival.
Yeah... except no. It would nice if reconciliation were so easy. But the ROCers and the Taiwan independence crowd disagree on fundamentals: on whether Taiwan is part of China, on the relationship between the government in Taipei and Kinmen, Matsu, the South China Sea Islands, and the Senkakus, all of which are part of the ROC but not part of Taiwan. On the legacy of the authoritarian era and how to handle it. On markers of KMT colonialism in Taiwan, and on whether the ROC is a colonial state. And on many other things...

...what Cole has done is confused Taipei class solidarity for general political solidarity. Middle and upper class people in Taipei agree widely on many things. This shared broad class solidarity is the foundation of a broad political consensus -- much of it somewhat liberal to very progressive, a spectrum Cole meets daily, fits into, and finds congenial, but things are very different when you get to working class greens who have risen from working to running small factories far from Taipei, or farmers, or central and southern Taiwanese in general. The shared ideology Cole refers to is really more or less the common view in the capital that the economic and political arrangements that make life in the capital so sweet really ought to continue.

But this is an agreement among elites... Recall, for example, that while the Taipei DPP is mostly in support of gay marriage, southern Taiwan DPPers are not. They have a completely different world view. Recall the bitter struggles over irrigation and fishing cooperative positions, the vast corruption of local governments, the interpenetration of organized crime and everyday life, the patronage-construction networks, the lack of super convenient public transportation, the easygoing nature of the police, the ominpresence of agriculture, the constant lawbreaking, the running of local areas by factions of powerful families... the world outside of Taipei is very different, and does not share its values.

For the rest of Taiwan, that middle/upper class in the Celestial Dragon City is a colonial ruling class that sucks resources from everywhere else on the island and brings them north to ensure its comfortable lifestyle. And the farther south you go, the less they like the ROC. This regional difference is a key driver of politics in Taiwan, and it is not a difference in nomenclature.

The difference between the ROC and Taiwan is not a difference in nomenclature obscuring shared ideologies, any more than the difference between British India and modern India is merely a difference in nomenclature obscuring shared ideologies.
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!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blast from the Past: Economist: The Future of Formosa 1949, p. 124

The Future of Formosa" in The Economist, July 16 1949, p. 124
"Nobody so far has paid any attention to the wishes of Formosa's inhabitants, but it is arguable that they should be considered. The agreements made with the Nationalist Government about the provisional postwar occupation of Formosa would lapse if recognition were at any time to be withdrawn from it, unless these agreements were specifically to be renewed in favour of a Communist China; meanwhile, ultimate authority would revert to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers as part of his responsibility for all Japanese territory. The Americans, if they wished to do so, could provide sufficient protection for a Uno Commission to hold a plebiscite of Formosans on their future. But there is so far no indication that Washington now contemplates any Far Eastern policy involving new activity. If there are any misgivings about Formosa, however, they may emerge in the expected State Department White Paper on the Far East."

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!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taiwan Nephrite and regional trade

Archaeologists have observed the spread of jade out of Taiwan for decades now. This paper from a decade ago shows the extent of the trading links. Text and map from Ancient jades map 3,000 years of prehistoric exchange in Southeast Asia. The abstract observes:
We have used electron probe microanalysis to examine Southeast Asian nephrite (jade) artifacts, many archeologically excavated, dating from 3000 B.C. through the first millennium A.D. The research has revealed the existence of one of the most extensive sea-based trade networks of a single geological material in the prehistoric world. Green nephrite from a source in eastern Taiwan was used to make two very specific forms of ear pendant that were distributed, between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D., through the Philippines, East Malaysia, southern Vietnam, and peninsular Thailand, forming a 3,000-km-diameter halo around the southern and eastern coastlines of the South China Sea. Other Taiwan nephrite artifacts, especially beads and bracelets, were distributed earlier during Neolithic times throughout Taiwan and from Taiwan into the Philippines.
the map above....
Fig. 3.
The distribution of Taiwan nephrite artifacts in Southeast Asia. The green zone represents the currently known distribution of Taiwan nephrite artifacts. The green triangle locates the Fengtian nephrite deposit. Yellow stars represent sites outside Taiwan with positively identified Fengtian nephrite artifacts (Taiwan itself has108 jade-bearing sites, and these cannot be shown individually). Blue stars represent sites with jade artifacts of possible Fengtian origin, based on visual examination but not yet demonstrated in terms of mineral chemistry. Black circles represent sites that have identified nephrite of non-Fengtian origin. Identified Fengtian and possibly Fengtian nephrites: WG. Liyushan, Wangan Islands; QM, Nangang, Qimei Islands, Penghu Archipelago; JXL, Jialulan, eastern Taiwan; LD, Yugang and Guanyindong, Ludao Islands; LY, Lanyu High School Site, Lanyu Islands; AN, Anaro, Itbayat Islands; SG, Sunget, Batan Islands; SD, Savidug, Sabtang Islands; NGS, Nagsabaran, Cagayan Valley; KD, Kay Daing, Batangas; EN, Leta-Leta and Ille Caves, El Nido, Palawan; TC, Tabon Caves, Palawan; NC, Niah Cave West Mouth, Sarawak; AB, An Bang; GM, Go Mun; DL, Dai Lanh; GMV, Go Ma Voi; BY, Binh Yen (these five sites in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam); GCV, Giong Ca Vo, Ho Chi Minh City; SS, Samrong Sen, Cambodia; UT, U-Thong, Suphanburi; BTDP, Ban Don Ta Phet, Kanchanaburi; KSK, Khao Sam Kaeo, Chumphon. Identified non-Fengtian nephrites: BTG, Uilang Bundok and Pila, Batangas; TK, Trang Kenh; YB, Yen Bac; MB, Man Bac; QC, Quy Chu; GB, Go Bong; XR, Xom Ren; GD, Go Dua; GL, Giong Lon. The red dashed lines enclose the major Austronesian language subgroups according to Blust (17) (SH/WNG, South Halmahera/West New Guinea).
In the modern age, nephrite mining in Taiwan died in the 1980s when it became too expensive.
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!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

ROC National Day Goes on "Amid Tensions"

ROC people visit local historical site amid tensions. I'm sorry that the tensions are obscuring the clarity of the photograph, but my hands were shaking from tensions.

President Tsai of the Republic of China spoke on ROC National Day. The official text of her speech is here. AP reported "Taiwan leader: Protect regional stability amid China tension". The opening paragraph said:
Taiwan’s independence-leaning government will defend the self-governing island’s freedoms and democratic system amid heightened tensions with rival China, President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday.
That's right. Ralph Jennings has simply added "tensions" much as a chef adds fat to make a dish tastier, not that this will surprise anyone who has read his stuff before. Tsai never referred to "heightened tensions" or "tensions" in her speech. The opening sentence is thus, at best, misleading. The speech is the usual boilerplate, with references to peace and stability, and a long section devoted to the new southbound policy. There is no reason that AP simply couldn't have reported positively on it: Tsai affirms commitment to peace, or Tsai emphasizes relations with neighbors. May as well wish for unicorns...

[UPDATE: Since I posted this, AP has re-organized the opening sentence to move "heightened tensions" and add Tsai's call for dialogue. It now reads:
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday said her government will defend the self-governing island’s freedoms and democratic system amid heightened tensions with rival China, and renewed calls for dialogue that Beijing suspended more than a year ago.
...now the "heightened tensions" might not be something she said.]

 One light moment in geography...
Tsai said Taiwan plans to open a greenhouse gas monitoring station in the Pratas Islands, another South China Sea chain. She also said Taiwan has started helping Southeast Asian countries fight dengue fever.
Pratas is an atoll consisting of three islets, not a chain. But I guess if you're inflating tensions, inflating islands is no problem.

Speaking of inflating tensions, Lawrence Chung, who seems determined to create some kind of incident, was out this week with his third piece on how the horrible independence beliefs of Premier Lai will create problems with China. No analysts in Taiwan are reporting this story, because there is no story. This is what I mean when I say the media helps create tensions.

Meanwhile, as we close in on the elections in 2018, the mayor races are starting to bubble. This week Yen Kuan-heng, the son of Yen Ching-piao, who is definitely not the biggest gangster in Taiwan, but is just a law abiding businessman, put out feelers for a Taichung mayoral run. In Taipei KMT veteran Chou Hsi-wei has already announced his candidacy, and former KMT Chair Hung Hsiu-chu has set up a school to field reactionary candidates for the KMT mayor candidacies in the major cities. Hung has made a few noises about running for Taipei, and so has Alex Tsai, who managed Sean Lien's busted campaign that put Ko Wen-je in power.

Since the beginning of summer I have been hearing mutterings from many corners that the Vatican is negotiating with Beijing on switching recognition to China. With the mutterings crescendoing, the Vatican put out a denial this week.

No doubt it occurred amid tensions.
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!

The dark, ugly side of Taiwanese life

In Taiwan there are many illegal factories, gravel mining operations, and stone quarries. They make money for the county governments and for their owners, but they make life hell for the ordinary people living next door to them. A net-friend of mine has been fighting a running battle with an illegal operation next door to him for a while now. In the latest round of reprisals for his complaints to the authorities about their pollution and general illegality, they dumped creosote over his house, as the images above show.

Fortunately, this last round of attacks on his property have brought out the media, which may result in changes, at least for as long as the media spotlight is on him. Along with a warning from the local precinct captain to be careful.

The reason that so many illegal operations exist is because of the exact situation my friend faces. For ages local administrators and police have ignored his complaints. In the face of clear illegality, the authorities do nothing -- indeed, they scold complainers. So Taiwanese do not complain.

But worse awaits. Aware that they can act with impunity, illegal operations engage in reprisals against those who might resist. This double whammy of government collusion and open reprisal is a major cause of environmental destruction and resource depletion in Taiwan. For those on its edges, it sucks.
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, October 07, 2017

Hong Kong tourism is helping to offset China fall? Nope.

Mysterious chicken. Because you'd rather action immediately than heart attracting.

So I downloaded the numbers from the tourism bureau.....

Hkk/Mac China Tot %Hkk/Mac
Jan 112043 255689 367732
Feb 106183 202287 308470
Mar 124044 201599 325643
Apr 190785 214196 404981
May 128522 201867 330389
Jun 147918 189078 336996
Jul 156823 237251 394074
Aug 177048 249999 427047
1143366 1751966 2895332 39.48
2016      1,614,803 3,511,734 5,126,537 31.49

...as you can see, last year arrivals from Hong Kong and Macao accounted for 31.49% of all arrivals from China. This year, such arrivals account for 39.48% of all arrivals from China. When I looked at this a while back, it seemed that China was loudly announcing cuts while using Hong Kong to silently buffer the cuts by increasing the Hong Kong share.

That's what I thought at first. But actually, Hong Kong's share is pretty steady. Consider: if Hong Kong continues at its average of 130-140K or so a month for the next four months (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec), it will reach a number higher, but still close, to the 2016 figure. The rising share of Hong Kong is an illusion caused by the fall in Chinese tour group tourists.

In other news, origin unstated arrivals are up year on year. So there's that, anyway.

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!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Review in the News Lens: Ian Easton's The Chinese Invasion Threat...

Easton's book is excellent. My review begins...
Despite the flurry of recent media accounts, Ian Easton's new book “The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan's Defense and American Strategy in Asia” makes no prediction of a 2020 invasion of Taiwan. Ignore the erroneous media hype: Easton offers a brilliant, thick description of China's invasion plans, Taiwan's plans to repel an invasion, potential invasion scenarios, and how the U.S. might respond. Throughout the incredible level of detail, and the vast number of plans, locations, weapons systems, operations and doctrines it presents, Easton's clarity of order and logical presentation keep everything firmly under control. As the father of a son soon to serve in the Taiwan army, I came away from this book with a renewed sense of optimism and pride in the abilities of the Taiwan to handle an invasion from China, and a much better appreciation of how difficult it would be to invade "The Beautiful Island." In short, do not buy the pessimism, but do buy this book.
....go thou and read the rest. Get it on Amazon!
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!

Anatomy of a Silliness

Anchoring ships in southern Taiwan

This week Ian Easton's new book The Chinese Invasion Threat was launched. Many news organizations followed Bill Geertz' report in the Washington Free Beacon without actually checking with Easton. In Taiwan the Taipei Times dutifully went with the Geertz report, saying that Easton's book says China plans 2020 invasion:
China has finalized a clandestine plan to invade Taiwan in 2020 by launching missile attacks, blocking the nation’s air and sea space, and carrying out amphibious landings, Washington-based think tank Project 2049 Institute research fellow Ian Easton said.
Taiwan News originally had this story. I alerted them, they then contacted Easton and changed their report. Liberty Times retracted their version of the Geertz piece. Why?

Because Easton never says this. Nowhere in the book. And none of the news organizations I googled below had the good sense to contact Easton and confirm, or get a copy of the book.
Report: China Has Secret Plans to Invade Taiwan by 2020www.popularmechanics.com/military/news/a28510/china-secret-plan-invade-taiwan/1 day ago - The Washington Free Beacon reports that China has a secret plan to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2020. While the existence of the plan does ...

China 'has drawn up secret plans to invade Taiwan by 2020' - Daily Mailwww.dailymail.co.uk/news/article.../China-drawn-secret-plans-invade-Taiwan-2020.html2 days ago - China is planning to invade Taiwan in 2020, US analyst claims in a new book; 'Secret documents' in the book reveals a plan by the Chinese ...

China's Secret Military Plan: Invade Taiwan by 2020 - Free Beaconfreebeacon.com/national-security/chinas-secret-military-plan-invade-taiwan-2020/3 days ago - China has drawn up secret military plans to take over the island of Taiwan by 2020, an action that would likely lead to a larger U.S.-China ...

China set to invade, retake Taiwan by 2020: Taipei | TODAYonlinewww.todayonline.com/chinaindia/china/china-set-invade-retake-taiwan-2020-taipeiOct 27, 2015 - TAIPEI — China has completed its planned build-up of joint forces for military engagement against Taiwan and is on its way to ensure victory in ...

China plans 2020 invasion: researcher - Taipei Timeswww.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2017/10/05/20036797441 day ago - China has finalized a clandestine plan to invade Taiwan in 2020 by launching missile attacks, blocking the nation's air and sea space, and ...

China's Secret Military Plan: Invade Taiwan by 2020 | RealClearDefensehttps://www.realcleardefense.com/.../chinarsquos_secret_military_plan_invade_taiwan...2 days ago - China has drawn up secret military plans to take over the island of Taiwan by 2020, an action that would likely lead to a larger U.S.-China ...
The whole thing is based on Easton's reference to a Reuters report of Taiwan's MND from 2013 and then a further discussion of noises from China about 2020, which Geertz for whatever reason runs the wrong way with...
Taiwan says China could launch successful invasion by 2020 - Reuters
Oct 9, 2013 - China will be able to fend off U.S. forces and successfully invade Taiwan by 2020, the island's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, the first ...
Easton's book forcefully makes quite the opposite point: Taiwan would be very hard to take, and there is no way China will be able to do it in 2020. In fact, after reading it, I was greatly cheered. Hopefully I will have a review up at News Lens today or tomorrow, but right now, I will only say that it is an excellent and exhaustively detailed book, well worth the money.
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!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Are there any lessons from Catalan Independence for Taiwan?

Politicians in Changhua with no formal sign of what party they belong to.... the woman has included Bopomofu by her name so voters know how to say its rare characters.

Lot of people commenting on this one.... from Brian H at New Bloom, who focuses intelligently on the global politics of referendums:
THOUGH THE the Kurdish referendum seems to be wholly undiscussed in Taiwan whereas the Catalan referendum is hotly discussed, the results of both the Catalan and Kurdish referendums showed that Catalans and Kurds desire independence from Spain and Iraq, with over 90% of Catalan voters voting in favor of independence and preliminary results showing that over 92% of Kurds support independence. As such, the two referendums succeeded in raising the international profile of both the Catalan and Kurdish independence movements. Nevertheless, what is also shared between both is the means by which state actors moved to try and shut down referendums, sought to arrest the political leaders who organized the referendum, and have vowed to use the means necessary in order to prevent would-be independence movements from succeeding. In particular, international attention has focused to a large extent on Catalonia, give the dramatic sight of riot police attacking peaceful civilians, injuring close to 900, even as Catalan firefighters and other individuals have sought to defend voters from assault from assault by police. This has resulted in the present call for a general strike in Catalan.
Brian's observation about the Kurds is spot on. The networks are full of coverage of the Catalan drama. Brian's observations about raising the profile of the Taiwan independence movement via a referendum are good, as is his comment that the US would probably oppose a Taiwan referendum, since its support for Taiwan is rational and limited. From my perspective, any independence referendum would have to take place in an international context when it could get support from both Japan and the US.

It would also have to include a majority of voters. The Catalan vote may have been 90% in favor of independence, but turnout was 42%. That level of turnout would leave the legitimacy of any independence referendum in question.

It would, however, be great to get a vote out there, since if there is anything I am tired of, it is the constant flow of idiot comments about how Taiwanese "don't care about independence" or "there is no evidence of support for independence" etc. Apparently zillions of polls, actual elections, anecdotes, whatever, none of that counts.

J Michael pores over the pragmatics of the Catalan vs Taiwan independence issue -- the whole piece is solid:
Taiwan, meanwhile, is already both a nation and a sovereign state. Unpalatable though the historical burden of its official appellation may be to many, it is nevertheless undeniable that Taiwan — or the Republic of China (ROC) — is and acts as a sovereign state. It has its own elected government, armed forces, currency, passport, has a designated territory, and is able to engage in relations with other states, to sign treaties and to join international institutions. The ongoing quest for self-determination in Taiwan is therefore evolutionary rather than revolutionary; already independent and meeting all the criteria for statehood, Taiwan (the ROC) need not break away or separate from anything in order to achieve the status of country. It should not be surprising, then, that the majority of Taiwanese, regardless of their party preference, do not feel the compulsion to take drastic action, such as holding a referendum, because the current situation already confers the benefits of statehood. Pragmatism, rather than emotion or preferences over nomenclature, is what guides the Taiwanese public on matters of sovereignty. (I would even argue that cleansing Taiwan of the impositions and legacies of the ROC, as members of the deep-green camp have long called for, is an evolutionary and not a revolutionary process.)
Cole also observes that the level of violence deployed against Catalonia is nothing compared to what Taiwan would face.

An additional issue to watch out for in comparisons is that Taiwan is not part of China under international law and in the eyes of many of the Powers. Catalonia is an internationally recognized part of Spain. The comparison can only be pushed so far.

Taiwan might take a cue from the Estonians: instead of treating a referendum as an "independence" vote, some other terminology might be adopted. The Estonians refer to gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as "Restoration" (explanation). Referendum on "ratification of Taiwan's current independence"?
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!