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!


Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

Great posts and links.

One correction re: the position that Randy Schriver is being nominated for. Apparently it's for the oversight of the Asia Pacific region at the US Defense Department, not the State Department. That is also consistent with your excerpt from twitter that "A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs nominated by @POTUS to be Assistant SecDef for Asia/Pacific." Note that "Assistant SecDef" here refers to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia / Pacific.

So. No need to ship Randy a case of Scotch for medicinal purposes. As far as I can tell, no sane and qualified professional would volunteer to work at State Department these days. Randy is eminently well qualified for the Asst Sec of State for East Asia & Pacific; but he is also sane. I'm pretty sure there is no way he would take that gig even if they wanted him to.

Defense, on the other hand, is interesting. Working under Mattis should be a much more coherent and well managed environment.

What I also find interesting is that there is still no nominee for the State Dept Asia Pacific position. If Randy could lean over and take the reins for State in Asia too in the interim, or simply displace State for representing US foreign policy in Asia since there is no senior State Asia person in place, that would be a fascinating twist.

It would be strange but it might not be impossible. Trump and Tillerson keep thundering on about cutting much of State Dept's bureaucracy. If they figure out a way to ask Randy to part-time as State EAP Asst Sec as well to get a two-fer, that would be a nice efficiency improvement too.

Anyway for reference there is more detail at the link below. The nomination will be made official next week, and then would be followed next by the Senate confirmation process.

Go Randy!


Trump announces the Pentagon’s top Asia, technology nominees

WASHINGTON – The White House late Friday announced its intent to nominate a pair of key Pentagon individuals, including the departments future technology head and its top Asia policy official.

... Also announced Friday was Randall Schriver to be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs. In that role, Schriver would lead the Pentagon’s outreach on issues in the Pacific. The announcement comes as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited South Korea, and just a few weeks before President Donald Trump will make his first trip to Asia.

Schriver served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2003 to 2005, and as chief of staff and senior policy adviser to Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, from 2001 to 2003. He followed Armitage into private consultancy.

In March, Defense News broke that Schriver, seen as an advocate for Taiwan, was in discussions to join the Pentagon in some role.

One former Pentagon official praised Schriver, calling him “very solid,” and saying “he is the last person to throw a temper tantrum, he has a very cool head and he thinks stuff through. He is an adult, he’s been through this process, he has worked for very senior folks at senior levels of government, and he knows how the place works.”

“In terms of intellectual background, in terms of career development, he’s just a great fit,” the former official added. “I think he would be a great pick.”

Both men were listed as individuals the White House intends to nominate, rather than formal nominations; those are likely to come next week.

Anonymous said...

Sooner or later China will have to pressure US and stop all high level visits unless they declare that no more Taiwan transits or visits will be allowed. This kind of pressure is necessary to make them fall in line.

Taiwan has been pursuing a salami slicing tactic of slowly changing the status quo. Xi jinping needs to push back hard.

Matt Stone said...

Netflix was struggling to stream properly yesterday... It seems everyone in the entire world is watching ST2. (Although whether Season 2 can live up to Season 1 remains to be seen.)

Interesting piece by Anthony Kao... He appears to be of Taiwanese extraction according to his LinkedIn profile. Perhaps another factor is that Korean cinema is just incredibly vibrant in general, and has got so much momentum in the region. Looking at the Asian streaming services (ones available here anyway), Korea seems to dominate with endless TV soaps, romances, horror movies, etc.

City of Sadness is very hard to track down here for some reason. I had to watch it on Youtube, divided up into 15 minute segments.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks! I fixed that. Argh.

Anonymous said...


Well, that Tsai, she SAYS she wants piece...

Anonymous said...


FYI following the nominations and confirmation processes of Randy Schriver and John Rood in the US Department of Defense: in last week's sign-off of the year-end senate session, Schriver was successfully confirmed (12/22/2017). Yay!

Meanwhile Rood was, I believe, unanimously held over for further consideration in the new year. His hold-over was a positive in contrast to the 139 other nominees were pushed back to the White House for resubmission from scratch; as far as I know, Rood was the only exception among the nominees who were not confirmed by year-end.

There is a helpful tracker set up by the Washington Post at and an additional reference to Rood's holdover status in contrast to the 139 pushbacks at