Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Great, the Good, and the ugly

Fisherman on the rocks at Sanxiantai.

Will you have the power of love or the love of power? The ugly stain of authoritarian Christianity has answered that it will have the latter, and impose it on everyone. Spreading out of the US to plague countries far from its borders with its insensate hatred, intolerance, and need for control, America's worthless, hideous analogue to the Chinese Communist Party's overseas influence campaign was in the news here this week. Now in Taiwan, it has suddenly metastasized from a hate-filled annoyance into a real menace to human rights. A friend put it well on Facebook:
Meanwhile, with the DPP in control of the executive and legislative branches for nearly two years, they've completely abandoned the campaign promises to legalize same sex marriage.

Now a tiny but politically connected group of bigots have captured the initiative, and look prepared to humiliate Taiwan after the country won plaudits worldwide less than a year ago for the Constitutional Court's ruling in favor of gay marriage
What's happened? Exploiting the new referendum law's low threshold for triggering a referendum, these groups are seeking to put same-sex marriage to a referendum. The Taipei Times reports:
The commission said that two referendum proposals from Alliance for the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance president Tseng Hsien-ying (曾獻瑩) and one from its convener, Yu Hsin-yi (游信義), were drafted in accordance with the law.

One of Tseng’s proposals asks people whether they think same-sex marriage is a right that should be granted by means other than amending the Civil Code — which governs marriage — while the other asks whether education about homosexuality at elementary and high schools mandated by the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法) should be abolished.

Yu asked people whether they support keeping the definition of marriage in the Civil Code as a union between a man and a woman.

“The Central Election Commission has made its darkest decision yet,” author Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明) said on Facebook.

“Having a public referendum on human rights is an insult to Taiwan’s democratic society, undercuts the Taiwanese values that we have long been so proud of and it is a slap in the face to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who has publicly said: ‘My name is Tsai Ing-wen and I support marriage equality,’” he said.
Readers may recall that the high court affirmed the right of same-sex was guaranteed by the Constitution's equality under the law sections. The court basically turned it over to the legislature to then enact the necessary laws.

The DPP controlled legislature has done nothing about it since, inaction which has permitted these bake sale authoritarians to attempt to use referendums to overturn a human right already recognized by the nation's highest court as inherent in the Constitution. Brian H tartly observed that the same civic and social groups that have argued that referendums can overturn judicial decisions in other cases have suddenly reversed their arguments in this case. J Michael Cole wrote last year on how Christian hate groups in the US are driving the current anti-gay Christian movements in Taiwan.

Next up: Christians in Taiwan argue that gay people are 3/5th of a person. O wait. That's what their caterwauling against same-sex marriage means, actually....

As my friend noted, this will certainly hurt Taiwan's image overseas. But more importantly, same-sex marriage advocates vote. And there is an election coming up in just seven months, a critical test of the DPP. There are going to be many close votes and candidates will need cash. Same-sex marriage advocates aren't going to pony up votes and cash if the DPP continues on its current course.

Someone, at the top, needs to put some spine into the DPP. The anti-gay referendums need to pass the second threshold of 280K signatures. Before that happens, something needs to be done. The signatures should be checked carefully as well....

But enough of the bad news, some good news. Tricky Taipei pulled off a minor miracle this week. First Tricky put together a great blog post on the inane Twitter account of the tourism bureau. This work of genius did something I have simply been too lazy and frustrated to do: take the bureau to task for its amateurish, stoopid, cringe-inducing tweets. Nothing but food food food and all of it in English I'd fail my college students for. I've been here two decades and talked to people there many times, always failing to get anyone to listen to how stupid they are at marketing Taiwan. Basically, I have given up trying to do anything.

So kudos to Tricky Taipei, because it is a success. Influential Taiwanese facebook posters picked up Tricky Taipei and also Apple Daily had a piece on that blog post. Maybe we will see some change -- like the hiring of an experienced foreigner with exhaustive firsthand knowledge of the island and long experience with social media to promote the island in social media. Hmmm.... do I know anyone like that?

That piece coincided with David Green's piece on giving Taiwan the digital face it deserves.

J Michael Cole rocked today with a great piece explaining how Beijing played the int'l media like violin....
The main reason why the Taiwanese are not panicking, and why much of the international media reporting on today’s military exercises completely misses the mark, is that they have gotten used to this kind of propaganda and therefore can easily shrug it off. Not only does this strategy fail to coerce the Taiwanese public or make them less supportive of the liberal-democratic way of life they cherish, it actually backfires, compounding their alienation from China. Moreover, the growing frequency of PLA live-fire exercises and passages near Taiwan — many of them in the West Pacific — in recent years, has, ironically, diluted the effectiveness of such propaganda efforts. Thus, if the aim is to spark a panic in Taiwan, Beijing is failing miserably.

It needs to be said, as well, that a sizeable share of recent PLA activity near Taiwan — transits in the Taiwan Strait, the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, and the Strait of Mikayo between Taiwan and Japan — has not been primarily aimed at Taiwan but is rather part of the natural progression of a military that is expanding its presence beyond the “first island chain.” This includes the East and South China Sea, as well as the West Pacific. Therefore, while propagandists may want to portray every military exercise as action targeting or “warning” Taiwan, the psychological impact is in reality collateral, secondary to the principal objectives of the said maneuvers.

As expected, this appears to be a routine artillery drill. According to Taiwanese and military media reports this morning, the Liaoning is still involved in exercises in the South China Sea and unlikely to be dispatched to the Taiwan Strait to take part in the drills off Fujian. Reports, citing military sources, also indicate that there has been no increase in the number of troops in the area, and that no warships or fighter aircraft have been mobilized for the exercise.
As I have been noting, Beijing and its voices have been growing ever more adept at manipulating the western media, which is eager to publish stories about tensions and threats in the Taiwan Strait. People overseas need to start applying discounts to the amount of tension they are being told exists in the media.

Finally, don't miss longtime US Taiwan expert Shirley Kan explaining the submarine tech licensing issues at GTI.
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Anonymous said...

You totally missed the point of these exercises. The goal of Beijing is to actually attain the expertise and capability to invade/bomb/blockade taiwan. The fact is in the past people in taiwan used to say chinese military is weak. They can't win. Then china started getting modern hardware. Then seperatists started saying they have the hardware but not training. Now that pla has started real modern training, they can't even rely on this excuse anymore.

The reality that taiwan can no longer win and that pla is modern and powerful is implicit in the mind of the Taiwanese now. They now know that slowly but surely they are going to lose. Its this realization that is important, not singular exercise publicity.

Michael Turton said...

LOL. The reality is that the Taiwanese will fight.

Anonymous said...

Thats the thinking now for the so called fighters when China is still weaker than US. How about 10-20 years from now when Chinese Military Budget will be bigger than US? China is still 4 times poorer than Taiwan. So, its potential to grow is 4 times higher.

What will the thinking be then? People of Taiwan are already mostly pessimistic about military victory. In the future they will laugh at anyone who says I will fight. No one in mexico says they will fight America and win. No one is that dumb. The same kind of thinking will come to taiwan too.