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Mar 31, 2009

Round up

An analysis of the results of the election in Da An (Taipei City-06). It demonstrates that concentration of wealth or Waishengren are primary factors for improved KMT performance in this district, at least this last election.

Update: Ko-hua was kind enough to correct me in comments, noting higher income negatively affected KMT numbers in this election.

Frightening news that the PLA and Taiwan armed forces are meeting very soon. Frightening in the sense that self-determination is steadily being removed as an option for Taiwan. I very much feel those of us on the side of Taiwan liberty and self-determination are running out of time and are on the losing side.

Civic groups slam ‘stricter’ Assembly and Parade Act, while Citizen Congress Watch tells legislators to behave.

“It’s been a year since the seventh legislature began, but instead of setting good examples for the public and focusing on work, our lawmakers often engage in misconduct that breaks the rules they themselves create,” CCW executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said, citing several incidents involving “inappropriate” remarks or behavior on the part of lawmakers.

In one incident in October, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Chia-chen (盧嘉辰) said a colleague needed a husband to stop her from complaining.
Finally, an editorial on ethnic reconciliation notes the difficult new DPP chair Tsai Ing-wen will have in changing the DPP's modus operandi and image.

18 comments:

Raj said...

Well the KMT have made it clear they're pro-unification. The public voted for them. If they were stupid enough to believe that they'd be consulted at every step of the way that's their fault.

But I don't see what's threatening about military meetings. Could you be more specific about why it's a problem other than relations are "improving" at a rate you're not comfortable with?

阿牛 said...

I'd note the KMT has continually rejected, both before and since the election, the idea that they're pro-unification; they continue to insist they are simply pro-status quo with more 'warming' and 'closer economic relations' and have no intent to give in on any political issue.

I don't see how anything good for Taiwan can come out of these military meetings; it is not in our interest to coordinate *anything* with the PLA, short of marking a line across the middle of the strait over which each military will not pass.

Raj said...

I'd note the KMT has continually rejected, both before and since the election, the idea that they're pro-unification

Pff, and people believed them? Ok, sometimes you should be able to trust politicians. But this is a key issue for Taiwan, so if the voters ignored all the evidence that suggested otherwise they have only themselves to blame if it does go wrong.

阿牛 said...

The conclusion you draw is far more obvious in retrospect than it was pre-election, at least to many middle of the road voters. With teh exception of the minority green media, most media played the whole unification-independence issue as a DPP manufactured false choice, and I think it's obvious from all opinion polls on the unification/independence question that if ANY serious percentage of the population had thought the KMT was pro-unification, they never could have won.

"Non-unification" is the very cornerstone of the official KMT cross-strait policy, and is completely contradictory to their step-by-step actions here. .

Raj said...

I will agree that the KMT wouldn't have won if the public thought unification would happen whether they liked it or not. But, again, the public have to be responsible for the way they vote.

As for military meetings, that you don't see the good in them doesn't mean they're bad. You can do all sorts of things like discuss setting up communications to ensure incidents don't lead to a wider engagement, rules about how air patrols will be conducted, demarking sectors of the Straits for operations - the list of possibilities is endless.

Thomas said...

I just wonder what is going to happen in the next few months. A-Gu is right that the KMT nominally sticks to a non-unification platform. But they don't seem to be following such an approach.

This military news is indeed very distressing because certain officials were saying as little as a month or two ago that no military or political cooperation was in the works. Then again, how many times have we heard that there would be actual consultations and explanations of an ECFA? There is a definite pattern of lying, and I don't see any big effort being made to conceal it.

My predictions: The Ma admim will accept observer status in the WHO under the name of Chinese Taipei and under an arrangement that pleases Beijing with a veneer of preserved autonomy that the KMT will vaunt. An ECFA will be signed that skirts the line of overdependence a bit too closely, but won't alarm the majority enough. Ma and the Old Guard will play these "successes" up at the year-end elections. If the DPP doesn't make a strong enough dent, the KMT will forge ahead with creating some kind of autonomy peace agreement. There may or may not be a referendum for this, but by that point, such a referendum will be a formality. If the DPP does make a dent, the KMT will simply proceed with more caution. In any event, enough damage is being done now that even if the DPP did win back the presidency in three years, certain pro-China gains would be irreversible.

The wild card: The economy. If there is an improvement by the end of the year, the KMT will have nothing to fear. If not, the DPP has a much better chance at picking up some local goverment positions.

Ko-Hua said...

"It demonstrates that concentration of wealth .... are primary factors for improved KMT performance"

It's not the case. The analysis shows the higher income per capita, the poor KMT performance in a community.

Raj said...

In any event, enough damage is being done now that even if the DPP did win back the presidency in three years, certain pro-China gains would be irreversible.

Care to elaborate? I often see vague comments like this, but they're rarely (if ever) substantiated.

Adam said...

I found that Taipei Times editorial a little suspect. As it was a 'mainlander' who has caused this uproar with his hate speech, why should it be the DPP's Tsai's policies that are the focus of criticism in the editorial?

Thomas said...

"Care to elaborate? I often see vague comments like this, but they're rarely (if ever) substantiated."

If you are asking for accurate figures that express some sort of exact damage calculus, that will just not happen. However, the trends are very disturbing. Just three of them:

All indicators point to the fact that the ECFA will be signed, despite the fact that the trade barriers in place primarily benefit Taiwan. China will not sign a deal under anything but under China's One China. Hu and Wen have said as much.

Ma is cutting the size of the military and the frequency of drills, and still has not approved any significant increases to the defense budget despite the fact that China still will not renounce the use of force. The military balance is increasing, not decreasing.

Repeated Great China positioning on the part of Ma and the Old Guard are indeed reinforcing the old discourse used to refer to Taiwan as part of the Chinese world. It is much harder to strike out in a new direction than to return to old habits.

I will stop here for more than one reason. 1) Any reason I give could be the subject of a whole article. Who has the time to write one? 2) More important, much of the difficulty of the cross-strait impasse lies in the ambiguity that all sides (except the PRC) rely on. How do you put your finger on the moment when a certain degree of sovereignty is lost when all parties (except for the CCP) are striving to maintain a certain degree of ambiguity? Even if I wrote an article for you to read with many examples, you would still not be convinced.

When you say you want substantiation, you must be aware that providing a black and white piece of evidence of a loss of sovereignty is almost impossible. This is precisely the fact that undergirds the China policies of Ma and the Old Guard. Slowly jettison sovereignty by daubing words and actions with a veneer of autonomy and who can truly say sovereignty is being lost? The only black and white evidence would be some kind of document that specifically places Taiwan in China's control. Yet the process leads to that culmination, not the reverse.

Finally, I am sure that you are aware that most political commentary is based on a certain degree of speculation, and that almost all of that speculation can be debunked by someone who chooses to speculate in a different way. Therefore, while I respect your devil's advocacy, I would have to say that your failure to find adequate substantiation in the past may have more to do with the impossible standards to which you hold substantiation by certain crowds. Moreover, if I were to turn the question around and ask you to substantiate the fact that there is no substantiation out there for comments such as the one I made, you would be hard pressed to find such substantiation. My proof would be your probability, or even your impossibility.

Thus is the limit of devil's advocacy.

阿牛 said...

I found that Taipei Times editorial a little suspect. As it was a 'mainlander' who has caused this uproar with his hate speech, why should it be the DPP's Tsai's policies that are the focus of criticism in the editorial?

While I agree in this case Kuo is the defiant instigator, I think that part of the problem is that even in discussing his comments, 'mainlander' gets thrown around a lot more than 'Taibazi' and other such phrases; the more we are discussing the problem, the more often commentators keep saying 'mainlander,' the more polarized the electorate gets and in fact, I think the more sympathy the 'mainlander' camp gets, which eventually amounts to KMT sympathy.

I know a number of Hoklo Taiwanese, blue-sympathetic voters who are no longer enthusiastic for the DPP in part because of a perception of Hoklo chauvinism. I think despite the fact that Kuo instigated the current spat, in the long run, the DPP suffers from the debate unless we take the kind of road Tsai is advocating.

Raj said...

China will not sign a deal under anything but under China's One China. Hu and Wen have said as much.

So? It's an economic agreement. It can't force unification on Taiwan.

The military balance is increasing, not decreasing.

Mostly down to China's budget, not Taiwan. What is Taiwan not buying that it could and would significantly address the imbalance?

Therefore, while I respect your devil's advocacy.

How is it devil's advocacy to ask someone to expand on a sweeping statement made in a single sentance?

And you're not just speculating, I haven't seen anything that is credibly going to make formal independence significantly harder. It's already virtually impossible because of the American position. As for unification, again what is going to force Taiwan to give up its rights? Where and how is Taiwan losing its sovereignty? These are important questions that need to be answered. If you can't answer them, don't make such sweeping statements that Taiwan is "doomed! DOOOOMED!"

Robert R. said...

China will not sign a deal under anything but under China's One China. Hu and Wen have said as much.
So? It's an economic agreement. It can't force unification on Taiwan.

If a political requirement such as the 1 China principle is a part of the EFCA, then you can't say it's solely an economic agreement.

The military balance is increasing, not decreasing.
Mostly down to China's budget, not Taiwan. What is Taiwan not buying that it could and would significantly address the imbalance?
F-16s? I think we've had other items on our shopping lists that various governments (here or in the US) have avoided.

I haven't seen anything that is credibly going to make formal independence significantly harder.
I think you misread the military discrepancy section.

It's already virtually impossible because of the American position.
True.

As for unification, again what is going to force Taiwan to give up its rights? Where and how is Taiwan losing its sovereignty?
As Taiwan's economy becomes even further dependent on the economy in China, they will begin to have a stranglehold over Taiwan.

Look at the rest of the world. A lot of countries are tweaking this policy and that, and avoiding contentious meetings (i.e. the D-Lama) because of their interest in China. Taiwan is much more invested in China, and they will be able to pull the rug out from under us. Who would step up to support us then?

Raj said...

If a political requirement such as the 1 China principle is a part of the EFCA, then you can't say it's solely an economic agreement.

Assuming there will be such a statement in the document, it wouldn't force a future administration to make it part of their position on China-Taiwan relations.

F-16s? I think we've had other items on our shopping lists that various governments (here or in the US) have avoided.

As far as I know, there remains money for the F-16s in the budget. The problem is the US, which doesn't want to sell them.

As Taiwan's economy becomes even further dependent on the economy in China, they will begin to have a stranglehold over Taiwan.

Taiwanese business wants to trade with China. Taiwan isn't able to sign FTAs with other countries (that count for anything). It's sad, but the DPP weren't able to change the growing trend on economic dependence on China despite their best attempts. It's not as if the KMT isn't trying to get trade agreements with other nations.

A lot of countries are tweaking this policy and that, and avoiding contentious meetings (i.e. the D-Lama) because of their interest in China. Taiwan is much more invested in China, and they will be able to pull the rug out from under us. Who would step up to support us then?

But China has that influence regardless of what Taiwan does. Not signing an economic agreement and not having military-to-military meetings will not change China's power on the world stage nor will it strengthen Taiwan's hand.

Taiwan's options are pretty limited, but they were always going to be after Chiang refused to accept a non-China position in the United Nations and China sorted itself out. There's nothing that can be done about that.

Thomas said...

"So? It's an economic agreement. It can't force unification on Taiwan."

You have no idea what is in the ECFA either. I am going on what China said its bottom line is. You are going on what the Ma admin has promised, and, as we have seen, his promises are flexible.

"Mostly down to China's budget, not Taiwan."

Remember that weapons package that the KMT dithered over for years and found every excuse to avoid passing, and finally did? I guess that that didn't have any effect on the imbalance or on the resolve of the US to sell weapons. Moreover, worries in the US that Taiwan may get too close to China DO have an effect on weapons purchases.

"How is it devil's advocacy to ask someone to expand on a sweeping statement made in a single sentance?"

I was referring to your comments throughout the thread to that point (You say military meetings are threatening? I say there is nothing threatening! You say that people should trust politicians? I say that Taiwanese have only themselves to blame! You say that it is becoming more difficult to turn back pro-China changes? I say that I have never seen anything that convinces me of that!) Taking a contrarian position is a big part of devil's advocacy, and you have indeed been contrarian with every single person you responded to.

"If you can't answer them, don't make such sweeping statements that Taiwan is "doomed! DOOOOMED!"

As I said, ambiguity is key with Taiwan. You keep on asking me to put my finger on things that people don't or can't put their finger on. Prove to me that the native Americans won't suddenly start breeding like rabbits and push out the rest of the population of North America in a hundred years. Nobody can prove that, but the probability is quite high that it won't happen.

I still don't see what is wrong with my positions. All you seem to have is an assurance that until the game clock has run down completely, anything can happen.

Raj said...

I am going on what China said its bottom line is. You are going on what the Ma admin has promised, and, as we have seen, his promises are flexible.

China can go on about its bottom line all it likes - it can't change basic international law. Please explain how an economic agreement can legally bind a future Taiwanese administration from expressing its own sovereignty.

America signed a deal with China to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan and that's had f*** all effect.

Remember that weapons package that the KMT dithered over for years and found every excuse to avoid passing, and finally did?

First off, that is an irrelevant comment because the comment I was replying to was complaining about Ma. It was not directed at the KMT.

Second, the DPP kept insisting it be paid for out of a special budget and refused to put it in the general budget. When it actually put the items into the defence budget proper things started to get passed. So the DPP is to blame also. It actually cut the defence budget right up until its last years in office.

Third, even if the P-3C Orions and PAC-3 missiles had been bought earlier it wouldn't have made that much of a difference.

Moreover, worries in the US that Taiwan may get too close to China DO have an effect on weapons purchases.

Then why did it refuse to sell any new fighters to Taiwan while Chen was president? Why did it refuse to sell submarines before 2001 and then stall on the process subsequently?

There are people who fearmonger about unification, but then again comments from people here and on other blogs would seem to vindicate their position to cut sales off.

But really it's down to other matters, like pressure from the US Navy not to help Taiwan get diesel submarines lest it be forced by Congress to use them and concern about annoying China too much.

All you seem to have is an assurance that until the game clock has run down completely, anything can happen.

Not really. I've said quite clearly that I don't think Taiwan has many options. Are you sure you're actually reading my comments?

Thomas said...

"Please explain how an economic agreement can legally bind a future Taiwanese administration from expressing its own sovereignty."

Please explain how a) you know that this agreement will have no political consequences - ie, increase pressure on foreign governments not to express sovereignty; b) you know the content of the so well as to know that in itself, it is purely an economic agreement (not signed under One China and not affecting the political climate within Taiwan or China).

"First off, that is an irrelevant comment because the comment I was replying to was complaining about Ma."

Actually, it is not irrelevant. Ma, as chairman of the KMT a few years ago, pledged to work for the passage of the weapons deal. We see how much he tried. Moreover, your original comment indicated that the reason the military balance was increasing was due mostly to China's increasing military budget and not to "Taiwan". My point was that Taiwan is indeed responsible for some of the scale of the military imbalance. I don't care who you were responding to. I am responding to what you said yourself.

"So the DPP is to blame also."

I won't argue this with you. I was not pointing fingers solely at the KMT. I was saying that the KMT was a big reason for the scale of the imbalance, and that the dithering in the legislature caused friction with the US.

"Then why did it refuse to sell any new fighters to Taiwan while Chen was president?"

You have taken my comment about a concern of those in US military circles and retroactively applied it to other situations. A parallel example: This year, Bob learned that eating ice cream with sprinkles on it causes cancer. If it is now the case that it dawned on Bob that eating ice cream with sprinkles on it causes cancer, then why did Bob eat his ice cream that way two years ago?

But all of this is beside the point. I said that pro-China changes were happening now that would be difficult to reverse. I simply cited the balance of power as an example (and, in fact, I admitted that you would find grounds to disagree). Many parties are responsible for the exacerbation of this problem, but it still does qualify as a change in China's favour that will be difficult to reverse even if the DPP is reelected in 2012.

"Not really. I've said quite clearly that I don't think Taiwan has many options. Are you sure you're actually reading my comments?"

Actually, yes I am. And I agree with you that Taiwan does not have many options. However, I still disagree that one needs to be able to point to clear-cut examples of, say, a loss of rights or sovereignty in order to see the possibility or reality of that loss. This is what I am referring to with the game-clock mentality:

It is the end of the fourth quarter, the opposing team has racked up points in its favour for the entire game, the morale of the onlookers favours the winning team, and there is a minute left on the clock. Strictly speaking, the losing team could still win, and each point racked up by the other team could be countered in that last minute. Nothing has sealed a loss. You have asked me to substantiate the statement that "points are being scored now that make it difficult for my team to win". I have provided a few examples, to which you have responded, "but you still have not told me how your team would be forced to lose."

Hence, my comment about political commentary and predictions. Often, while trends and events exist and happen, there is no substantiation that will please everyone. This does not automatically render speculation invalid.

Raj said...

Please explain....

Do not answer a question with a question. That is what sulky children and politicians do. You are neither. You made the assertion, so you back it up. I'm not saying it's impossible, I want to know HOW it is possible.

I don't care who you were responding to. I am responding to what you said yourself.

I'm sorry, I can't predict what people are going to say before they say it. If you want to follow up on a point made by someone else try to do it in a civil rather than sarcastic manner.

You have taken my comment about a concern of those in US military circles and retroactively applied it to other situations.

I was demonstrating that concerns about leaking technology to China are not the only/most important problem. Or, if they are, that it doesn't matter whether the KMT or DPP are in power.

However, I still disagree that one needs to be able to point to clear-cut examples of, say, a loss of rights or sovereignty in order to see the possibility or reality of that loss.

Look, if you want to convince other people that you're right you're going to have to try. If people are going to complain about military-to-military contacts and then when asked what the problem is say "I dunno, but it can't be good" Joe Public will say they need to see a good psychiatrist and work their paranoia out.

Perhaps such critics are actually right, but they won't carry anyone with them if they don't try to deal in something concrete. Similarly you're not going to convince other people with your current attitude.