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Aug 24, 2007

China's environmental issues

Great article in Foreign Affairs you can read on China's most serious environmental problems and their likely impact. Some of the facts from the article I found most fascinating:

AIR POLLUTION: "The country is home to 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities.... Particulates are responsible for respiratory problems among the population, and acid rain, which is caused by sulfur dioxide emissions, falls on one-quarter of China's territory and on one-third of its agricultural land, diminishing agricultural output and eroding buildings.... Levels of airborne particulates are now six times higher in Beijing than in New York City."

WASTING POWER: "Chinese buildings are not energy efficient -- in fact, they are roughly two and a half times less so than those in Germany. Furthermore, newly urbanized Chinese, who use air conditioners, televisions, and refrigerators, consume about three and a half times more energy than do their rural counterparts."

FOOD SAFETY: "Meanwhile, much of China's arable soil is contaminated, raising concerns about food safety. As much as ten percent of China's farmland is believed to be polluted, and every year 12 million tons of grain are contaminated with heavy metals absorbed from the soil."

(You think they throw 12 million tons of grain away? I don't think so. Someone's getting the short end of that stick.)

DESERTIFICATION: "The Gobi Desert, which now engulfs much of western and northern China, is spreading by about 1,900 square miles annually; some reports say that despite Beijing's aggressive reforestation efforts, one-quarter of the entire country is now desert."

WATER SHORTAGE: "... two-thirds of China's approximately 660 cities have less water than they need and 110 of them suffer severe shortages. According to Ma Jun, a leading Chinese water expert, several cities near Beijing and Tianjin, in the northeastern region of the country, could run out of water in five to seven years."

WATER WASTE: "The agricultural sector lays claim to 66 percent of the water China consumes, mostly for irrigation, and manages to waste more than half of that. Chinese industries are highly inefficient: they generally use 10-20 percent more water than do their counterparts in developed countries. Urban China is an especially huge squanderer: it loses up to 20 percent of the water it consumes through leaky pipes."

WATER POLLUTION: According to one report by the government-run Xinhua News Agency, the aquifers in 90 percent of Chinese cities are polluted. More than 75 percent of the river water flowing through China's urban areas is considered unsuitable for drinking or fishing, and ... 30 percent of the river water throughout the country to be unfit for use in agriculture or industry. As a result, nearly 700 million people drink water contaminated with animal and human waste."

SEWAGE DUMPING: "A 2005 survey of 509 cities revealed that only 23 percent of factories properly treated sewage before disposing of it. According to another report, today one-third of all industrial wastewater in China and two-thirds of household sewage are released untreated.... The Yangtze River, which stretches all the way from the Tibetan Plateau to Shanghai, receives 40 percent of the country's sewage, 80 percent of it untreated."

BIO-DIVERSITY: "In early 2007, Chinese officials announced that over one-third of the fish species native to the Yellow River had become extinct due to damming or pollution."

GLOBAL WARMING: "Chinese and international scientists now warn that due to rising sea levels, Shanghai could be submerged by 2050."

IT'S EXPENSIVE! "Several studies conducted both inside and outside China estimate that environmental degradation and pollution cost the Chinese economy between 8 percent and 12 percent of GDP annually."

CANCER: "a 19 percent rise in urban areas and a 23 percent rise in rural areas since 2005." Holy shit, that's a lot of cancer! People who die of respiratory diseases related to air pollution number between 400,000 and 750,000 a year.

POLITICAL IMPACT: "In the view of China's leaders, however, damage to the environment itself is a secondary problem. Of greater concern to them are its indirect effects: the threat it poses to the continuation of the Chinese economic miracle and to public health, social stability, and the country's international reputation. Taken together, these challenges could undermine the authority of the Communist Party."

PROTESTS: "... 51,000 pollution-related protests in 2005, which amounts to almost 1,000 protests each week..... in 2005, 30,000-40,000 villagers from Zhejiang Province swarmed 13 chemical plants, broke windows and overturned buses, attacked government officials, and torched police cars. The government sent in 10,000 members of the People's Armed Police in response."

And of course, underlying all these problems are local officials unwillingness to do much about pollution regardless of the central government's orders because of the race for economic development. If you're a Chinese (or international) manufacturer, do you build your plant in the city that requires treating water, or the one that winks and looks the other way?

In any case, China's gonna have to do a lot to deter a potentially total disaster.

Aug 22, 2007

China steps up military exercises

The Taipei Times reports thus:

Over the past six months, China has intensified its military exercises in the Taiwan Strait as a subtle threat to Taiwan in advance of next year's elections and plans for a referendum on UN membership, raising the prospects of heightened cross-strait military tensions through next spring, a leading Taiwan expert said in Washington on Monday.

"The next six months will be a critical period for cross-strait relations," Andrew Yang (楊念租), the secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei, told a seminar on cross-strait relations sponsored by the Atlantic Council.

"For the past six months or so, the military in Taipei has witnessed `unusual military exercises being conducted' in the coastal regions facing Taiwan," he said....

The military exercises, Yang said, "send a signal to Taipei that Beijing is intensifying its preparations, their readiness to use force ... and their will to use force" if they deem Taiwan to be moving toward independence.

The "tendency toward escalation" over the next six to eight months "could make the Taiwan Strait a potential flashpoint for both sides," Yang said....

He said the exercises detected by the Ministry of National Defense have included an increasing number of air sorties to the middle line of the Taiwan Strait and beyond that line, as well as "naval exercises symbolizing efforts to facilitate the use of force."

They have also involved drills with live fire, "which [the Taiwan military] considers unusual compared to the past."

In the exercises "there is an implicit threat to use force, and certainly to take some significant step if the referendum passes," he said.

"If the PRC [People's Republic of China] were to move in that direction, by actually using or threatening to use serious force, that contains within it the potential for serious consequences not only for the region but for US-PRC relations as well," he said.

Romberg, who recently returned from China, said that many in Beijing consider the referendum as "a substitute for a declaration of independence," or a "referendum on independence in disguise" with important political consequences, even though most people in Taiwan do not view the initiative as such.

Not exactly good news considering rhetoric from at least Taiwan is sure to escalate as the election nears. Escalation of military moves is obviously not comforting, but I think China will find an excuse to dismiss the referendum at the end of the day.

I'm a little surprised some people in Beijing had such strong words about the referendum, but then again, that's not official policy yet. I don't think Beijing will be willing to make a public declaration that this UN referendum = declaration of independence, because it forces their hand.

Aug 20, 2007

Taiwan National Congress wants 2 referendums

The Taipei Times reports it (here's the CNA article on it):

A new pro-independence coalition yesterday vowed to push referendums on changing the name of the country and repeal the Referendum Law (公投法) next year in conjunction with the presidential election.

The Taiwan National Congress (TNC) [台灣國民會議], formed by over 20 local and international pro-independence groups last Wednesday, said it hopes to push for a referendum on changing the country's official name from the Republic of China to Taiwan and another referendum on invalidating the Referendum Law, because "the high thresholds deprive Taiwanese of the ability to exercise their democratic rights." ...

TNC spokesman Ted Lau (劉重義) told a press conference yesterday that the congress would not follow the procedures stipulated in the Referendum Law to mount the two referendums and would declare its referendums successful if more than half of the voters agree.

It also plans to invite international experts to supervise the process and to ensure the referendums are conducted in a fair and transparent manner, Lau said.

Whether such referendums, carried out without reference to the legal mechanisms, would have any meaning if they were passed, Lau could not say but asked "is Taiwan a country governed by the rule of law?"

He said the group's intention was not to make Taiwan a lawless nation as the "Chinese Party [Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT]] have already done that."

While the KMT did write a really terrible referendum law, and I totally agree it needs to be amended, but it just doesn't make sense to unilaterally declare your own standard -- one in conflict with the law -- on whether your referendum was passed or not.

I do like the idea of using a referendum to express dissatisfaction with the way the referendum law is written.

Aug 16, 2007

Farmers Party rears its head

With the recent ractopamine related news :

TELLING PORKIES? : Health officials denied that the decision to drop a ban on pig feed additive had been influenced by a desire to smooth the way for US pork imports

The Council of Agriculture (COA) and the Department of Health (DOH) issued a joint statement yesterday announcing that the ban on the use of the pig feed additive ractopamine would soon be lifted....

DOH officials said a consensus was reached after a panel of 19 experts were consulted on the safety of ractopamine use....

However, Huang said the COA had not set a firm date for the lifting of the ban. The DOH, in turn, said it could not finalize the allowable residue limit for ractopamine while the ban is still in place.

Ractopamine, an additive used to promote the growth of lean meat, became an issue last month when two shipments of US pork were found to contain residues of less than 1ppb of the banned substance. Marketed under the trade name "Paylean" by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the additive is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Subsequent testing of domestic pork revealed the presence of ractopamine in three out of 43 samples, the Bureau of Food Sanitation (BFS) said....

BFS Director Cheng Huei-wen (鄭慧文) denied charges that pressure had been brought to bear by US interests to lift the ban on ractopamine in order to smooth the way for continued US pork imports.

Bearing that and Michael Turton's latest post which touches on the 1997 domestic pork market disaster, it's perhaps no surprise to hear the Taiwan Farmers Party is getting involved.

They've come out from the dark, sending a bill to the legislature today and asking all parties to support it. Essentially, the bill removes the power to make decisions like this from the executive and instead would put it in the hands of a panel of experts who then advise the Legislative Yuan, who would presumably set any standards. They also expressed disappointment with the DPP's policy on using the farmers land and said the party was acting too ineffeciently.

Aug 15, 2007

Green Peace Radio calls DPP

During the 3:00 hour, pretty close to 3:45, I heard them call in to talk to someone at DPP headquarters about Ma Ying-jeou. The guy in question wasn't there, and I could not understand much at all since the broadcast was in Holo Taiwanese, but I did find it entertaining that it was so easy for them to get a few people from the party on air with just a random phone call.

Aug 14, 2007

TSU/DPP cooperation falters; TSU nominates more candidates

I'll update the map with the details later.

More on Taiwanese characters

I made a post not so long ago on the Ministry of Education's latest efforts to standardize the Taiwanese system so that future students across the country are learning to read and write in the same way. It came on the heels of a(nother) unified romanization system.

Well, first of all, so far the efforts aren't finished -- the MOE merely made a suggestion list of 300 commonly used characters and put them out there for public consideration. They even provide a form on the Mandarin Promotion Council website for giving feedback on their suggestions. The next step is to consider revisions . You can view the full list here. At this time, several controversial characters have not been covered in the suggestion list.

But given the media's abysmal treatment of the suggestion list as absolutely trivial, I'd like to talk a little about the MOE's choices and why they picked certain characters that struck people as particularly odd.


lim (Mandarin readings lan1, lan2, lan4) v. to drink.
Most often represented in current KTV videos as 喝 or 飲. Although 啉 lim is not in common use and is not even listed in the online 國語辭典,there are historical and phonetic reasons for picking it. It's damn close to the Mandarin reading you might try on first glance, līn, and in second tone meant "to drink to completion." Most reporters, knowing nothing about this, simply asked people if they understood the character in isolation and used their blank stares as proof it was a terrible choice. That actually goes for all of these characters.

仝 kâng / kāng (Mandarin readings tong2, quan2) together (as in 仝款 kāng-khóan, "the same").
Often represented as 共. 仝 kâng is a historical varient of both 同 and 全.

佮 kah (Mandarin reading ge2) with/and (as in 我佮你, you and me). In Mandarin, this character is a varient of 合 he2, making this choice pretty good for both sound and ease of understanding just by looking. See the phrase 佮意 kah-ì, "interest" (有佮意 "interested [in]").

佇 tī (Mandarin reading zhu4) dwell or live at ;stay or wait at; be at
Historically meaning 久立, something like "to stand in one place for a long time." Chosen mostly because it's the most widely used candidate and there aren't many other good choices.

媠 súi (Mandarin readings tuo3, duo4) adj. beautiful
With the reading tuo3, this word did mean beautiful when in use in Mandarin; as duo4, it was a varient of 惰, lazy. At KTVs now, this character is most often represented with the unrelated 水 for sound or 美 for the meaning, but neither character is very well suited since they both have other Taiwanese pronunciations.

(亻因) in (No Mandarin reading, presumably also yin1 -- invented character) pron. them, their
The only character the MOE actually made up in the table. Since it doesn't really exist yet and you can't type it in, they suggested the alternate 怹 (Mandarin tan1) for now, and may decide to scrap (亻因) altogether.


Hope that was interesting!

Not Guilty!

Verdict: Not Guilty!

"no intention of breaking the law"


Ok, well that's the important's the IHT article. I'll just make my predictions about what comes later this week, virtually all of which seem to be no-brainers:

+ A poll will be conducted before the end of the week by Blue media showing Ma at around 65% support (It won't be UDN, since the poll they just finished today showed Ma-Su @ 40% and Hsieh-Su at 27%).

+ Tonight, TVBS and Talking Show will both be hopping mad -- Talking Show about the verdict, TVBS about DPP legislators' reaction to Ma's verdict.

+ Legislators will continue to hold press conferences all week acting really dumb.

+ A-bian will say jack shit (aha, I'm right so far! He didn't comment on the case but just said the DPP had to show solidarity for the 2008 election (Hsieh-Su reference). Annette Lu said she hasn't seen the judges reasoning, but as a rule she respects the judiciary).

+ We will move on since this verdict makes it pretty certain Hsieh, Su, Lu and Yu will all have no trouble with their own special affairs funds.

Taiwan's "red line" & "two countries, one system"

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday that if China really does push a resolution in the UN that solidifies a "One China policy" in which Taiwan is part of China, Taiwan could not idly sit by and let China set the framework and rules of the game. Huang said such a resolution would cross Taiwan's "red line" and that Beijing would "pay an extremely hefty price."

Setting various red lines is always a problem. It makes it easy for things to spiral out of control. I don't like where this is going.

Notice how flexible Beijing has had to be with their red line -- actions by Taiwan that were unimaginable 8 years ago and would have been thought to spark a war had little consequence. They've also refused to set the current UN referendum plans as a red line. It limits your options.

Meanwhile, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said while he was in Singapore that the cross strait situation should be "two countries, one system" -- a democratic system -- and not "one country, two systems." He also said the main threat to Asian Pacific security is the China military build up currently aimed at Taiwan. Fairly meaningless formulation, but China won't be thrilled and will probably be relatively inclined to ignore it for fear of the pro-democracy in China line.

Aug 13, 2007

My own take on the Nelson Report

Michael Turton at The View from Taiwan writes a post on the latest from the Nelson Report. I found these few paragraphs describing the report most interesting:

The big complaint of US-China/Taiwan watchers and players since Chen's election has been that too often his words and actions seem entirely predicated on domestic Taiwan political issues and concerns.
Obviously, Chen Shui-bian is the master of domestic politics -- he has single handedly set the scope and pace of virtually every major public debate since his election. But he has also altered the international situation in ways that would have been unimaginable in 2000. Could you have imagined ...
  • The president declaring that Taiwan is independent and sovereign, and that Taiwan and China are two countries -- so often that Lien Chan himself admitted as much in Dec. 2003? (Incidentally, Ma Ying-jeou is a throwback on this point, which can't help him.) And what did China do? Not much.
  • Taiwan passing a long-stalled referendum law and holding a referendum, ordered by the President, in response to the Chinese threat? With no real response from China?
  • The Chinese missile build up becoming an international concern, condemned by Europe and the US alike?
  • The KMT pushing a referendum on joining the UN and sitting along China?
Almost never did Chen show appreciation, in the sense of concern and consideration, of the Bush Administration's larger strategic approach to China and world affairs, nor how events on Taiwan could run afoul of US concerns...that was the constant refrain, sometimes on the record, more often "on background" over the past six or seven years.
This is harder to argue with. The DPP has really ingrained communication problems. The president doesn't always talk to his press secretary or premier, much less the State Department, and the cabinet can barely coordinate a message. Now that Hsieh's been nominated, Lu and Yu are holding press conferences or speaking in public to push their own agenda way too much. The DPP really must get its act together on this point and recognize the importance of telling the US what they'll do ahead of time.

More propaganda

Another example of the blue propaganda machine: The news that Hsieh wants Su Chen-chang to be his running mate is being read by unnamed blues that "Ma's probably innocent." As if that could possibly be related . . .

Ma's lawyers are again expressing optimism and Ma himself talked today about the farm land reform he will institute "after [he is] elected." That reform basically involves legalizing a tenant farmer system, providing subsidies and trying to industrialize farming.

Clarifying details on Ma

Last week, I mistakenly mentioned that if Ma is convicted tomorrow, and does not finish his prison term before the election registration deadline, he can't register.

I've talked to someone who knows more about this than me, and they indicated he's not officially convicted until his last appeal is finished, making it a more unlikely Ma will be outright disqualified.

Aug 10, 2007

Twist in First Lady's case

The Taipei District Court hearing First Lady Wu Shu-chen's (吳淑珍) fraud and embezzlement trial has decided that the interviews prosecutors had with President Chen can be entered as evidence. The decision was labeled as "unconstitutional" and unfair by the presidential family's lawyers.

Not sure what real impact it will have.

Propaganda machine, check!

Well, with Ma's verdict so close (next Tuesday), it's time for both sides to take the propaganda up a notch.

Taipei City councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) and DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) a press conference today showing old footage from city hall where Ma clearly agrees the special allowance fund is only for public expenditures, that he's never used it for private purposes. and that he'd quit politics if he was ever found to have done so. Of course, Ma's current legal argument is that he thought the money was a subsidy he could use for private expenses. This is damning footage that will very likely be made into a DPP ad if Ma is judged guilty and still wants to run.

Ma's lawyers expressed optimism for the coming verdict because, "it's clear Ma had no intention of breaking the law" when depositing the NT$11 million (US$333,000) into his personal bank account. Yeah.

A conspiracy theory is floating around in the KMT (or so says UDN) that the breach of faith charges that prosecutors added on the day of closing arguments was politically motivated. In particular, you only get one appeal for those charges (two judgements locks it in) instead of the two appeals (three judgements) for a corruption charge. The conspiracy theory is that the prosecutors are secretly plotting a way to make sure Ma goes to jail before the election. Yeah.

According to article 26, paragraph five of the President And Vice President Election and Recall Law,

A person who has any of the following circumstances shall not be registered as a candidate for the Presidency or Vice Presidency: ...

5. ... been convicted and sentenced to a fixed prison term which has not been or entirely been served or have been adjudicated reprieve.
In other words, the only way Ma can be guilty and still run at all is if he can finish the prison term before he has to be registered as a candidate.

The conspiracy theorists say that the breach of faith charges were added because even a one year sentence would disqualify Ma from running by default, "if the DPP can influence the legal system" (since we all know Ma's innocent, so the only way he is pronounced guilty is if the DPP forced the judgement).

Mad Chen at it again!

What a joke. I rearranged a few things from the website in that image just to make it smaller, but didn't add anything myself.

Remind me again who's really pointing missles at whom?


One of my favorite Taiwanese political forums,, has been successfully hacked. :(

The poem placed by Chinese hackers basically talks about conquering asia. Dream on, guys.

My other two favorite Taiwanese political forums are and

Presidential, legislative elections to be held separately

The CEC has set the dates: the legislative election will be held on Jan. 12 and the presidential election on Mar. 22.

That takes care of that, barring unforseen changes (unlikely, but of course, "That's Impossible" is the name of this blog).

Aug 9, 2007

Ma defends "One Taiwan, two interpretations"

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) insisted today that this "One Taiwan, two interpretations" formula was a practical way of solving the constant internal political debate on this topic.

Ma coined the formulation in a CNA interview a few days ago. He believes the DPP's position is that "Taiwan is already independent, but is just called the ROC right now," while the KMT position is that "The Republic of China has been independent since its founding in 1912."

Of course, The DPP stance is that Taiwan is independent -- from the People's Republic of China in particular. On the other hand, the KMT can't even say The People's Republic of China, so their statement about the ROC always being independent in no way addresses the real problem.

Is he serious? Doesn't he see how idiotic this is? It's an absolutely meaningless position that is just going to get him slammed if people even bother paying attention to it.

Only 5 days until the verdict in Ma's corruption case!

Update: great video from SET TV/South News.

John Chiang not a winner

KMT legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), illegitimate grandson of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), has lost his slander lawsuit against DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun (遊錫堃).

John Chiang had been infuriated by Yu's remarks that Chiang Kai-shek was ultimately responsible for the 228 massacre. He says he "cannot accept" the court's decision but is unsure if he'll appeal.

From Taipei Times a while back:

Nearly 61 percent of those polled in the Taiwan Thinktank survey conducted on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 said it was acceptable to place the blame for the massacre on Chiang, while about 28 percent did not.
Basically, John Chiang is the only person still willing to defend Chiang Kai-shek in any way, which is why he is critical on any TVBS show that discusses him. All other blue commentators simply brush over anything CKS did and focus on how the DPP should just leave sleeping dogs lie.

Aug 8, 2007

Ma calls for new fisherman subsidies

Ma's on "Long Stay 2: The Sequel," so he obviously is doing lots of Southern type things. So naturally, he also talked to some fishermen in Chiayi today.

And he came up with a brilliant plan: just as farmers here are given a subsidy when their fields lay fallow, Ma decided fisherman could use a subsidy too for when ... well, he's not sure when, but some "appropriate time period." I guess when its not fishing season. He also hoped he could pay for 28% of the gas/oil ships use (in addition to the 20% of the oil cost the state already subsidies the whole country with).

Now trying to buy off special interests is standard fare for any election, but I find Ma's call particularly hypocritical since less than two weeks ago he called providing subsidies for certain industries "pretty much lying to get votes."

And speaking of lying to get votes (騙選票), a favorite phrase used by politicians on both sides of the aisle here, I found an interesting trend when Google News searching the phrase. Blues accuse greens of lying for votes on policies the blues themselves hate -- a new constitution, changing Taiwan's official name, referendum issues. It seems amazingly counter-productive to say your opponent's policy is terrible, awful, disastrous and immediately turn around and say, "well, he doesn't mean it."

In contrast, the greens accuse blues of lying for votes when greens support the policy -- democratic reform, anti-corruption measures, or loving Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水).

Aug 7, 2007

My moving to Kaohsiung party

Who: Me, my lovely wife and anyone who wants to come!
What: Going away party
The former Shochu, now 十號酒店 (or 十號商店? I forget what the new name is)
Address: No. 10, Alley 420, Guangfu South Rd., Taipei City (台北市光復南路420巷10號)
When: Saturday, August 18, 2007 ~ starting around 9:15 pm
Why: We're moving to Kaohsiung at the end of the month, so we have to have a celebration!

Want more details, want to confirm, or want to call me in case you get lost on the way? Then call: 0930 730 821

Aug 6, 2007

Ma on status quo: one Taiwan, two interpretations

Wow. Now that's an inventive formulation.

(中央社記者陳亦偉台北六日電)國民黨總統參選人馬英九今天接受中央社專訪表示,台灣現狀是「一個台灣、各自表述」。民進黨認為台灣已經獨立,只是目前叫 中華民國,國民黨始終認為,中華民國是主權獨立國家,而中國大陸對「中華民國」也比對「台獨」較能容忍,現狀各自表述下,中華民國是各方最大公約數。

(CNA) KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou said in a CNA interview today that Taiwan's status quo is "One Taiwan, two interpretations." The Democratic Progressive Party states that Taiwan is already independent though it is called the Republic of China right now; The KMT has always believed that the ROC is a soverign and independent country and that the Chinese mainland can more easily tolerate a "Republic of China" than "Taiwanese independence." Given the two different interpretations of the status quo [held by the blues and greens], the title "Republic of China" is the common denominator.
Now notice though that the DPP position that Taiwan is indepent implies that Taiwan is independent from China. The KMT position that the ROC is independent implies no such thing.

We'll see how this plays out.

Follow up: Frank Hsieh has responded by saying there's only a one China or two China question. As he put it, "nobody talks about two Taiwans!"

Class politics

Taiwan never did have a strong labor movement, and leftist sympathizers who might have talked about protecting the working class or peasants would have been shot by the KMT in the past for being secret Communist agents. So it's not surprise that Taiwan does not currently have a traditional labor party either.

But things are shaping up in a surprising way this election. We've already discussed how the Taiwan Farmers Party was formed several weeks ago (ever since its opening meeting, it has disappeared off the radar completely). Now there's this news:

The Chunghwa Telecom Workers' Union (CTWU) may team up with other industrial unions nationwide to form a new political party and field their own candidates in the next legislative elections, union chairman Chang Hsu-chung (張緒中) said yesterday....

Workers groups have been dependent on other political parties to fight for their rights and interests, Chang said, but by organizing their own party, the workers would have a better means to advance their causes.

He said that NT$10 million (US$304,000) in funding had already been secured, enough for the proposed party to field 10 candidates in the Jan. 12 polls.

Chang said members of national federations of industries, as well as the CTWU and the Formosa Plastics Workers' Union met on July 19 for a preparatory meeting for the establishment of the new party, tentatively named the "Workers Solidarity Union." These representatives will meet again on Aug. 21, when the party could be formally established, he said..

He said the new party would campaign for a nationwide referendum on a workers' version of a pension policy, instead of an Executive Yuan's annuity policy; a referendum on banning dispatch workers and guarantees that would stabilize employment opportunities....

With 8.6 million workers in Taiwan, political analysts said the proposed party could turn into a force to be reckoned with if it wins the support of union members around the country.
And then today, these union people said they would not rule out "staying in contact" with the Farmers Party. A united front there would present a pretty solid labor-oriented party. Since their aspirations are reasonable (only running for at large seats), it's quite possible they could secure some measure of the vote.

The same article points out that union chairman Chang Hsu-chung (張緒中) just met with former president and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) spiritual leader Lee Teng-hui. That indicates Lee might try to secure cooperation too. I find it unlikely the TSU could just absorb a farmers party and a union party into its structure and keep everyone happy, but one could speculate on a certain degree of cooperation or integration.

I'm interested in seeing how this goes. Voter disgust is high right now, and I can imagine a party like this easily bringing in a fair number of at large votes even if they're mostly "protest votes." That is assuming they can present a comprehensive, unified face.

What's going to happen to Wang Jin-pyng?

Nobody seems to know.

Ma says he will certainly be the #1 legislator.

Some KMT legislators attacked his performance in the Legislative Yuan as speaker (he acted too weakly by allowing greens to disrupt proceedings without disciplining them), to which Wang himself said there should be internal discussion on this topic.

His supporters say he will naturally still leave the legislative caucus and be the first man (the safest seat) on the party's at large legislator list, the same place he was last election. They say anything else happens, it would hurt if not kill the party.

Wang says he never had any particular aspirations and will handle any situation calmly.

The party itself hasn't yet asked Wang to run, and didn't exactly say whether were going to.

Here comes the typhoon!

As early as 11 pm tonight, there could be a warning to stay off the choppy waters. Get ready for to be soaked ...

Aug 5, 2007

Some pro-Taiwan T-shirts

I thought I'd use my blog for a shameless self plug. I've created some T-shirts at Cafepress (my profit margin on all items is $1). The "Stop the KMT" shirt designed was originally made by Kenbo Liao in 1993. Used with his permission.

Aug 4, 2007

Shih Ming-teh to be charged with violating parade law

Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and 15 other leaders of the Oct. 10 siege on the Presidential Palace (天下圍攻) are being charged with violating the Assembly and Parade Law.

Shih and those others charged are saying the Assembly and Parade Law is a joke left over from an authoritarian time (true) that the DPP should have gotten rid of already (hard to do when you can't pass laws in a blue legislature, but still true) and expressed surprise the DPP government would now use it to charge him.

Shih said he would appear in court for the charges and not appeal any decision. Shih sarcastically noted he has been imprisoned by every previous president of Taiwan, had expected A-bian wouldn't put him in jail but it looked like the odds of going to jail were pretty good.

The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office wrapped up the preliminary investigation yesterday. The Executive is not directly involved. The prosecutor in this case said Shih knew he was acting illegally and had no regrets, an important reason he pressed charges.

Meanwhile, since it was then KMT chairman and Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou who violated all precedent and allowed these people their month long, 24 hour-a-day rally in the first place, some DPP people said Ma owes an apology (to the city? to Shih? I'm not sure). Using rhetoric that you may hear on a playground, Ma's response was that A-bian should say he's sorry since the whole parade was a result of A-bian's (unproven) corruption. Ma added that the KMT had already brought a bill to alter the Assembly and Parade Law, a decision made soon after Ma became chairman.

I can find information about the bill being proposed, and a DPP response that the KMT's propsoed changes were totally wreckless, as well as a personal favor to Shih more than anything else. It looks like the DPP held the proposed amendments up in committee.


DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh said "even a disgusting law is a law," apparently supporting the decision to prosecute.

Aug 3, 2007

China may present its own UN resolution

A Liberty Times article today suggested that China may be planning to introduce a new resolution to the UN related to Taiwan in retaliation for Taiwan's recent moves to be included in the UN. The resolution would probably more or less say "Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China."

Actually, it sounds like the best possible strategy for them. You sort of fight fire with fire, but without any fire. If you get what I mean.

DPP/TSU cooperation not going so well

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) , the two green parties in Taiwan, have not yet been able to find a way to coordinate their legislative nomination processes.

The DPP has decided to hold another telephone poll to gauge the popularity of any TSU candidates vs the DPP nominee. DPP legislators who have already secured the party nomination are frustrated, since they may yet be told they can't run for the party. The TSU isn't happy with the decision either, since they want to negotiate nominations with the DPP (since most TSU legislators can't win the opinion poll vs. a DPP legislator). Still, the TSU hasn't ruled out using the poll to decide on a nominee and will form a committee to study the plan.

In other words, not a lot of people are pleased with the decision (gasp! compromise!), but we're not sure what will really happen in the end.

Aug 2, 2007

Just an article link ...

Pretty great article (Chinese) from current affairs commentator Li Huaqiu of China Review News. Surprisingly balanced and well written. Will try to translate if I get time. Here's another that's surprisingly pro-democracy and understanding of Taiwan's position.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said that the Taiwan referendum on entering the UN is a serious threat to security in the Taiwan Strait. We'll see how far their official rhetoric goes. For now, most Chinese media are happy to copy or summarize United Daily News and China Times articles and editorials.

Aug 1, 2007

Hsieh: New constitution, name in 5 years | KMT: BS

Hsieh said in an interview last night on Talking Show at Taipei main station today that his goal if elected would be to complete a new constitution and altering the nation's name (presumably to Taiwan) within a five year period if elected. Since Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent country (a position Maddog notes that 88% of Taiwanese support), Hsieh said this would in now way alter the status quo.

Hsieh has recently promised the US there would be no independence referendum, arguing that since Taiwan is independent the only referendum needed would before unification.

Hsieh argued 5 years would be needed because it would probably take another legislative election where the DPP could get 3/4 of the seats in the legislature to pass a new constitution (like that's gonna happen).

The KMT called the campaign promise a lie meant to garner votes, and pointed out that Hsieh wouldn't promise to make the changes within four years (the KMT states Hsieh would violate his "no independence" promise to the US if he pushed for it to happen within four years).

Meanwhile, China has reported the development with surprising speed, though they state "Hsieh did not clearly explain how a new constitution and name would not change the status quo." So far, no comments have successfully been posted in that article's discussion section.

謝長廷:未改變獨立現狀 (CNA@UDN)
五年正名制憲?國民黨:謝長廷騙選票手法 (CNA@Yam)
谢首度抛出"正名制宪"时间表 称当选后5年完成 (People's Daily)


I personally think this sounds like a way for Hsieh to support a name change and a new constitution without having to push it because it's not a real practical possibility in the short term. The KMT might be right on that level.