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Dec 31, 2008

Are cross-strait shipping links domestic?

According to a Liberty Times article today, DPP legislators claim the cross straits shipping agreement paints the cross-strait shipments as domestic, not international, and that Taiwanese shippers are being denied permits by the Chinese authorities.

The government response is that as far as they know no Taiwanese shippers have applied yet, so nobody's been rejected and the allegations are empty; he asked the DPP to present evidence to the contrary.

Also see this post from Michael Turton.
Update in comments from Taiwan Echo:

More precise description of "no Taiwanese shippers have applied yet" is

"no Taiwanese shippers have submitted application to China yet"

which is not consistent with what I learned from the news -- that applications for entry were submitted to China but were denied.

Instead, Taiwanese ships were asked to get China's domestic permission.

Befre Chiang-Chen agreement effective on 12/15/08, Taiwanese ships didn't need to apply for China's domestic permission. Now they need to. That's how the agreement turns Taiwan into domestic part of China.

Non-punishment punishments

Diana Lee has left the KMT, though what this will mean practically is hard to say.

She'll likely retain her seat; pressure for an investigation will grow until prosecutors check out her citizenship status; she'll leave the office only if she's forced to, and the same goes for returning the years of salary she may well have illegally been collecting.

I can envision an inconclusive investigation and Diana rejoining the party before the next election.

Dec 29, 2008

KMT legislator Diana Lee: My US property proves nothing about my citizenship

Technically true, but hardly convincing.

Note: Taiwan Echo mentions in the comments that Diana is answering a non-issue:

DPP provides evidence that Diane Lee filed INCOME TAX this year, that's why she is illegible to receive the Economic Stimulus Payment (ESP).

Diane Lee replied with: "I filed for US PROPERTY TAX doesn't mean that I have US Citizenship."

huh ??

US IRS website clearly shows that only INCOME TAX counts for the ESP return.

KMT and the media

Must read from Claudia Jean's blog on the KMT's manipulation of all media, even Green-friendly media.

Dec 26, 2008

Ma Ying-jeou: Once the mainland lets us, we'll build the KMT again in China

Not that it would ever happen, but Jesus Christ ...

Note: I thought it seemed unlikely this comment slipped past me, and I'm increasingly thinking the whole article more or less a fabrication/major misunderstanding.

CCP peace agreement plans

I posted a little earlier this week on the KMT outline for reaching the peace agreement, but the CCP is of course thinking further ahead of that to unification.

Here's a fascinating, if late, catch of the CCP outline for progression of cross strait relations. The article is a summary of a bigger piece in the monthly China Review News (December edition not yet available online, but the article can be found here). The article was published by professor of international relations Huang Jiashu (黄嘉树), who works at Renmin University of China. Professor Huang professes to be revealing the CCP policy.

I posted this based on the summary, not the full article, and will try to do more on the full article later. The gist of the summary is thus:

Cross strait relations are currently at "low-level peace," which is to say there's no war.

The next step is to sign a peace agreement and thereby arrive at "mid-level peace," where war would be unthinkable and reconciliation would be the order of the day. China expects some regular mechanisms for military, party and leadership exchanges and cooperation (this is the most important step for the CCP; if the Taiwanese military works with the Chinese PLA instead of training to defend against it, weapons sales, defensive posturing, everything, could be drastically altered to the detriment of Taiwan's self-defensive capabilities).

And the third step would be "high-level peace," where economic and cultural relations would be fully normalized/systematized (presumably via common labor and goods markets) and the two sides could arrive at "unification on mutually agreed terms," (共议统一) which as far as I'm aware is the first time such "soft" language has been used in a publication like this, even in such an unofficial capacity.

The article notes that and as long as the forces of Taiwanese Independence "force" the Chinese to attack, the CCP will continue to work towards achieving peaceful unification and thereby "do everything in its power to prevent a cross-strait Chinese civil war."


... with this government, it just might work.

Dec 23, 2008

Cross-strait peace plan outline

As so kindly provided by the KMT's main think tank. Well, it's more of an argument for the necessity of a peace plan, and about the only outline in terms of a plan is Ma's "Three No's" policy (No Unification, No Independence, No war).

Chinese hackers take out DPP website

And replace it with a Chinese flag.

KMT: We'll end KMT-CCP forums after peace treaty

Which completely confirms Green complaints that the KMT is using party-to-party negotiations to create government policy which the KMT administration then unquestioningly adopts.

I think the peace treaty, which *would* be passed by the legislature, will establish conditions for peace that will include no Taiwanese independence. That would make the best DPP argument much harder to support (that Taiwan is already independent and that the only danger is eroding sovereignty and becoming a PRC province). It would politically kill the TI movement in the short term and who knows, it could even result in the criminalization of TI activities.

Judges in A-bian trial may be replaced

Probably due to completely unsubstantiated fears that two judges in A-bian's trial may be biased because he appointed them, the Taipei courts are considering changing the judges. The excuse being used is that the latest charges may be used in the original charges of misusing the state affairs fund, and the trials would be held together. Never mind how bad it looks.

Legislature completes check of lawmakers' US citizenship

And will hand the results out to each legislator as classified documents. Obviously, whether any legislators have broken the law on this front should not be made public. Sensitive information and all that.

Dec 22, 2008

Where we go from here

Do you remember the days when Taiwan's current VP was declaring Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country? Or when President Ma was saying that Taiwan was the same as the ROC? As long ago as that now seems, I do.

Those were the days just before the 2008 presidential election, when making such common sense statements was a necessary stretch for the KMT, meant to attract some more votes and dispel fears, all while more the party quietly held onto "one China (two interpretations)" and called for a One China market.

Now we are in different times, where Taiwan and China are "two regions" of the same country, and where Taiwan again takes the impossible position that the PRC does not exist, despite some rhetorical flair from our presidential office trying to spin things just a little more positively. The Third United Front, this time aimed at crushing formal Taiwanese Independence, is unfolding according to KMT-CCP plans.

What will ultimately happen? Who knows. Some things are certain: increased economic ties between Taiwan and China, as well as the precedents set by KMT-CCP dialogue that sidesteps the government, will increase Taiwan's economic dependence on China and may well alter the conditions under which election slogans and policies are developed. The DPP may be forced to alter its rhetorical approach while reinforcing its support of Taiwan's right to self-determination and holdin gout for the ultimate goal of establishing an internationally recognized country separate from the PRC.

Meanwhile, the KMT is unlikely to find a way to move beyond its current rhetorical emphasis on economics and pragmatism; how can they sell to the people any of the political concessions that the CCP will surely demand? If economics matters don't improve as the current leadership predicts, the KMT base and legislators will likely sour on the China-centric ideology and policy of the current administration. Internationally, we can expect Japanese and US support and interest in Taiwan to further decrease. The future does not exactly look bright, but this is not over.

It's the end game that matters. Unification is not just around the corner. The variables are too many. Despite the structural advantages the KMT enjoys at all election levels, and despite its media advantage (and pressure on public media), and despite the apparently politically motivated prosecution of DPP figures, the green camp is not crippled. Factionalism and debate is alive in well in both the KMT and the opposition. Green leaning papers and stations are financially healthy and functional, enjoying wide circulation and viewership. The public still has the right to initiate referenda and at the end of the day, Taiwan's future is still very much in the hands of the people, however the KMT tries to influence or control the likely direction Taiwan will go. And this power of referenda, however terribly flawed the current law is, is the most reassuring thing of all.

But aimless hope is not what we need. We need the DPP to develop an election plan that involves winning at all levels, not just the presidency. We need NGOs and the opposition to continue the fight against the rollback in human rights the KMT is initiating, and we need them to get some results, as difficult as that will be. We need a revised referendum law. We need targeted attacks on absurd KMT rhetoric and continued rejection of any "one China" framework. We need the green camp to develop a sales pitch that works and an alternative to KMT rule that is again attractive to the people.

DPP incompetence is potentially just as capable of damaging continued independence as a KMT sellout. We need measures to curb both of these dangers. Will we get them?

Of that, I am less hopeful.

What a depressing administration

::Sigh:: Between this bid to buy influence over Taiwan's biggest institutions and and the KMT's silence on CCP comments denouncing TI like this, I just don't know what to say. The battle is not over, of course, but it's going to be a much harder uphill struggle than I would have thought a year or two ago.


A number of things worth rounding up from the last few days. It's been a busy month at work so I don't have time for too many comments, but check these out:


The probe that warrants probing

Questions on why the police came to my home


COA criticized over response to H5N2

PRC touts US$19 billion financing for Taiwan firms (ruh roh!)

Ma repeats ‘region-to-region’ comment

ROC flag’s removal from NCKU forum sparks controversy

Dec 20, 2008

Five gov. officials at KMT-CCP conference in Shanghai

The Liberty Times believes it could be technically illegal, but even if it were there wouldn't be any action taken.

This is the problem with the KMT's strategy of doing everything with China no formally through regular channels, but semi-officially: nothing's official, unless it's unofficially official. Or officially unofficial.

Dec 19, 2008

Unilateral disarmament


Taiwan is scaling back its formerly annual live-fire military drills to once
every two years, in what some see as a further sign of warming relations
between the two sides of the Strait.

A defense official said the live-fire portion of the Han Kuang exercises will
skip 2009 and every second year thereafter.

Previous exercises have included live-fire displays and the landing of
fighter jets on a section of closed freeway.

Wendell Minnick, Asia bureau chief with Defense News is quoted as saying "I
assume they're just making friends with China," adding "they're doing this to
placate China."

Defense officials denied the decision had any connection to politics, saying
the purpose is to correct defects and mistakes.

One official said cutting back on the exercises would give the military more
time to fix problems in areas such as intelligence and support.

He said furthermore, a series of year-end air defense exercises and the
computer-simulated phase of Han Kuang would continue to take place annually.

What do pandas dislike?

So far I've confirmed they're not big fans of water or loud noise. Water gun + air horn, anybody?

Betel nuts are also probably a safe bet.

Dec 18, 2008

Thanks for your hard work, see you later

I don't really know if this is the right move, but I have an instinctual distaste for this kind of policy adjustment. Again, from ICRT:

The Council of Labor Affairs says that it will review its policies governing
the hiring of foreign workers in an effort to safeguard job opportunities for
Taiwanese nationals and to ensure protection of their rights during the
current economic environment.

In a prepared statement ... the C-L-A said that as its current policy on
foreign worker recruitment is based on the nation's unemployment rate - which
is rising - it could begin to give priority to pushing employers to hire
local workers rather than overseas nationals

The statement added that the C-L-A will review the number of foreign workers
recruited to Taiwan and their qualifications .. and will also begin enhancing
the monitoring of the proportion of national to foreign workers.

The C-L-A also reiterated that the current policy of admitting foreign
workers must not impact negatively on labor conditions and job opportunities
for Taiwan nationals.

According to the C-L-A, there were 365-thousand foreign workers in Taiwan as
of the end of March this year - representing 3.5-per cent of Taiwan's working
population. Among these 198-thousand were industrial workers and the rest
were caregivers.

Bird flu: We're &*^%#@!!!


Authorities in southern Taiwan are denying reports of an outbreak of the
H-5-N-2 strain of avian flu.

According to the Council of Agriculture ... a joint investigation by members
of its Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine and the
Centers for Disease Control has shown that poultry farms in Tainan and Nantou
counties are free of the disease, and that the sudden deaths of chickens at
farm in Gaoxiong in October is unrelated to the H-5-N-2 virus.

The statement follows media reports that the C-O-A attempted to cover-up a
series of outbreaks across southern Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters ... a C-O-A official said that an investigation into
the death of some 400 chickens in Gaoxiong County in late October and early
November showed that only around 3-per cent of the total number of chickens
had died - a fatality rate the C-O-A says is within the normal range for
poultry farms and far lower than the average mortality rate of the H-5-N-2

The C-O-A official added that although the dead birds did not show any signs
of respiratory disease, health officials decided to cull all the remaining
18-thousand chickens in an effort to prevent any negative consequences.

C-O-A officials are still checking agents obtained from the poultry farm in
order to determine the cause of the deaths and areas adjacent to the farm
are being closely monitored.

The official added that the C-O-A had never attempted to cover-up the
situation at the Gaoxiong farm and that a panel of experts has still not
completed an investigation into the deaths and that the delay in releasing
information about the possible outbreak was unrelated to the Ma
Administration's opening-up of more direct transport routes with China.

There have been claims that the C-O-A was forced to cover-up the outbreak in
order that not overshadow Monday's opening of direct maritime and air routes
to China.]

However .... Japan has announced that it will halt poultry imports from
Taiwan until results of the investigation are completed.

Unlike the H-5-N-1 strain of avian flu, there is no evidence that the H-5-N-2
virus can infect humans.

Dec 16, 2008

KMT will strip Chen of courteous treatment upon first guilty verdict

Assuming there is a guilty verdict, of course. I'll wait to see the draft law before saying which privileges would be stripped (they would likely include the allowances and possibly the security detail).

Proposed amendments to the Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法) are being put on hold for now. If passed would turn vote buying into a much more palatable experience for legislators, since they could drag out cases and appeals for much longer before being stripped of their seats. Guess the KMT is waiting for a better internal consensus (or a time when nobody is paying attention).

Premier: we need direct communications channel with DPP

What a revelation. So, will the DPP take some initiative, exhibit maturity and establish such a channel? Or will they continue the long tradition of stonewalling that so defines legislative politics in Taiwan?

Of note

Legislator Chiu Yi has hair-raising experience

DPP says launch of direct flights unconstitutional

Media: Xiamen will host next round of talks between Taiwan and China

Special Counsel decides to appeal Chen’s release / Judge has little time to argue Chen detention

Dec 11, 2008


Ministry of Defense: Our hypothetical enemy is the PRC, not China.

Thanks for clearing that up guys. But doesn't that contradict Ma's "One China" policy?

Meanwhile, Ma fantasizes that Taiwan's democracy has had a huge impact on the "mainland" while the KMT caucus seems to have come together behind the pro-vote buying and pro-corruption amendements to the election law. Let's see if they're actually shameless enough to ram it through.

Dec 10, 2008

Mounds of horse dodo

Stay classy, Legislative Yuan!

A proposal to amend the Public Officials Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) is on the agenda. The idea is to amend Article 127, which would annul an election after an unsuccessful second appeal instead of after an unsuccessful first appeal, as is the case now.

If the amendment were passed, it would allow elected officials suspected of vote-buying to serve out their terms as their cases drag on from one trial to another. The law as it stands is a thorn in the side of corrupt legislators, with its so-called “blitzkrieg clause” requiring that the verdict after the first appeal be final, and that the duration of each trial be limited to six months.

The effectiveness of the existing law can be seen from the fact that, among officials elected in 2005, 37 city and county councilors have been removed from their posts and replaced by runner-up candidates, while 14 city mayors, county commissioners and township mayors have been dismissed and replaced in by-elections.

If the law is not amended, the 18 legislators and defeated candidates who are facing criminal charges will see their cases move to an appeal. If their convictions are upheld, the unsuccessful candidates will go to prison immediately, while those elected will be removed from their seats and then go to jail.

If the Act is changed so that cases limited to two trials are allowed one more appeal, the example of former Taichung City Council speaker Kuo Yen-sheng (郭晏生), which has dragged on for 13 years after he was accused of irregularities in 1995, will be commonplace. If vote-buying cases against elected officials cannot be resolved within their term of office, there would be little point in investigating anyone.

Also, I remember seeing a shitty editorial in UDN a few weeks ago arguing that Japan, Germany and the US all have pre-trial detention systems, and there's nothing wrong with Taiwan's! Of course, the writer missed the main point -- that you have to charge someone with a crime before you can detain them in democratic countries (though there are 24-hour exceptions in most US states).

Imagine my surprise when President Ma Ying-jeou made the same empty, misleading, even horrific argument today.
While some have argued that the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects is a violation of human rights, Ma pointed out that a similar system has been in practice in the United States since 1984 to prevent criminal suspects from committing other crimes before trial, running away or colluding with other co-conspirators.

In Taiwan, prosecutors are required to obtain permission from a court before taking any criminal suspects into custody, and in Chen's case, the court only made a decision after a nine-hour session, which showed how carefully considered the decision was, Ma said.
Mr. Harvard-educated Ma "my law degree is worthless" Ying-jeou also fails to notice that United States Code, Title 18, Sections 3141-3150 did not create a bail system in 1984, but just expanded the list of considerations the court made to include security factors. Bail has been around in the US since the colonial period, and since the middle ages in England. And habeas corpus has always long been integral English and American law.

I'm just infuriated by Ma's argument.


Haitien notes in comments:
The LY is also in the process of neutering the Public Television Service by subjecting its budget approval to "operational oversight" of individual programs, and increasing its governing board by 6 members.

PTS was one of the few media organs in Taiwan to not participate in the tabloid journalism that characterizes most of the mainstream media, and actually did some quality independent reporting. Gonna miss it.

Dec 9, 2008

Here comes Santa Claus

I've been watching Christmas movies most weekends with my wife in an effort to brianwash her into loving Christmas as much as I do.

One thing about the holidays is that since she was raised in a Daoist Taiwan household, she has no real background in Christmas festivities (other than what she's seen on TV). And she was actually shocked when I told her about the grand conspiracy that goes on to convince children that Santa exists until they're 8-10 years old (8 is the average).

So that brings me to my question here, especially aimed at getting a dialogue going between Taiwanese and foreigners: how do you all feel about Santa? How do you feel about the vast efforts to convince children there's Santa (think: department store Santa, letter writing, NORAD 'tracking' Santa's path, the milk and cookies, having uncles break in to lay presents, adults saying they've spotted elves around, hiding presents until Christmas eve, etc. etc.)?

Dec 8, 2008

Ruh roh

Japan urges Chinese ships to leave disputed waters (AP)

Japan's coast guard is urging Chinese survey ships to leave waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The coast guard Monday said the maritime survey ships entered waters surrounding islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, earlier in the day.

The islands are held by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

Ma ventures into the Green Jungle

Following up on his recent interview with the Liberty Times, President Ma Ying-jeou will have television interviews with the two largest green-leaning television news stations, SET-TV and Formosa TV. Should be fun!

As I mentioned, I though the Liberty Times reporter conducting the interview did all right, and that Ma was weak on a few questions in particular, but the tone from the paper seemed a bit overtly hostile and the questions were not Tim Russert enough for my liking.

Meanwhile, Frank Hsieh will begin hosting a radio program.

Dec 5, 2008

Chinese BBS watch

In China, the term BBS is often used interchangeably with message board, and I try to keep my eye on some of the most popular sites:

When there are popular articles of interest that relate to Taiwan, I will post about them here.

And this week there's really been only one in that category, over at QQ. Here's a rough translation:

Deciphered: Why does Lee Teng-hui want to help Japan claim the Diaoyutai (Senkaku Islands)?

Latest news from QQ: On his visit to Okinawa on the 24th, Lee Teng-hui had the nerve to publically claim "the Diaoyu Islands were Japan's," causing Taiwan's representative in Japan to suffer significant embarassment. In addition, Lee Teng-hui also claimed "China's oil and gas field development in the East China Sea is taking place in Japanese waters."

Lee Tenghui noted that after WWII Taiwan was no longer Japanese territory, but that Taiwanese fishermen still hope to continue to fish at the Diaoyutai. It was this problem that had caused the dispute over fishing rights. Further, Lee Teng-hui also claimed "China's oil and gas field development in the East China Sea is taking place in Japanese waters."

Lee's words upset [former VP] Annette Lu , who used a dinner with journalists to criticise Lee: "I believe that once he arrives in Japan, he becomes Japanese. He rarely says much for Taiwan when he is in Japan. He always speaks in Japanese. He shouldn't speak of domestic matters when he is in a foreign country."

...[Background on Lee's Japanese education and former Communist Party membership, followed by attacks on his behavior and character]

You can imagine what the comments are like. Calling him a traitor, suggesting terrible punishments, expressing disbelief he's not dead yet, etc etc.

Signs of the times

Taiwan opens stock market to China QDII investors

TAIPEI, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The Taiwan Cabinet said on Thursday it will open its local stock and futures markets to qualified direct institutional investors (QDII) from China, in its latest bid to prop up the sagging stock market....

The new plan could allow up to US$1.125 billion from QDIIs into the stock market, according to estimates from industry observers....

But observers said they did not expect the QDII funds, used by big mainland Chinese banks and other institutional buyers, to buy Taiwan stocks anytime soon until China sets up a framework officially allowing such investment.

OK, now number two on the Chiang-Chen agreeemnts; please read the whole article for lots of details on what sections the DPP was challenging as illegal without amending laws:
Amid heated debate and verbal disputes, the four agreements signed by Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) last month passed the Legislative Yuan’s joint committee review yesterday....

One of the disputes was over the issue of exemptions from income and business taxes for marine transport companies on revenues from cross-strait cargo services.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Hsin-yuan (賴幸媛) and Vice Chairman Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成) insisted that the exemptions were legal, but DPP lawmakers challenged that view.

“Any tax breaks — including those for the automobile industry recently proposed by the government — require a revision of the tax laws,” DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said during a question-and-answer session of a joint meeting of the Internal Administration Committee and the Transportation, Health, Environment and Labor Committee....

The agreements will be sent to the legislature’s General Assembly for approval today.
And since the leiglsature's already reviewed them, here is the result:
The ruling KMT caucus had decided to review the agreements today, which was postponed in case of opposition protests to the shopping voucher special statute due to pass on the same day Friday. Thus, three agreements of sea transport, direct flight, and postal links will automatically be effective on Dec. 7 in accordance with regulation that agreements will take effect automatically if not reviewed by the Legislative Yuan within one month of the signing.

And finally there's this article in the Liberty Times, which says yesterday morning Taiwanese food products arrived at Shanghai harbor. They belonged to a number of Taiwanese businessmen who were in a group of 68 companies being led by the International Trade Institute (外貿協會) to a food expo in Shanghai. Customs spotted "Made in ROC" on some of the packaging and began to more carefully inspect the products. Four or five companies had similar "Made in ROC" markings. The Taiwan respresentative was asked to scratch out/black out each instance or ROC before their material could clear customs and come into China.

According to the article, some customs guys even went to the expo today and asked Taiwanese businessmen to scratch out the ROC on their business cards.

Dec 4, 2008

Inheritence tax to be cut

Taiwan News:

The finance committee of the Legislative Yuan yesterday completed the first reading of the draft revisions to the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act, reducing the tax rate to a single level of 10 percent from the existing maximum of 50 percent, but having yet to determine relevant tax exemption amounts.

Ma says peace treaty not pressing issue

Taiwan News reports...

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that signing a peace treaty with political rival China, which sees the island as its own, was not an urgent matter because trade issues were more pressing.

"This is something that both sides have in mind, but it's not really an urgent question for both sides to engage each other on because hostility or even the atmosphere of hostility across the Taiwan Strait has been reduced to an all-time low," Ma told a news conference with foreign correspondents....

The two sides plan to discuss deals on financial services, double taxation and crime fighting at talks in early 2009, Ma said. Prevention of disease epidemics will also be on the agenda, his vice president, Vincent Siew, said earlier in the day.

So then I think the time table may look like this:

+ Issues mentioned above in 2009

+ CEPA in Marchish-2009

+ Peace treaty discussions start & partial removal of missiles by Augustish-2009.

New bet

How long will it be before Ma reactivates the National Unification Council (國統會/國家統一委員會)?

I say 45 days-60 days. Oh wait, ranges like that only work for shipping dates, not bets. I'll stick with 45 days then.

Person who gets closest wins. You can go over. No Price is Right rules today.

Yeah, looks like I won the Dalai bet

Dalai Lama not welcome to visit: Ma (Taipei Times)

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the Dalai Lama is not welcome to visit Taiwan.

Ma, attending a presidential briefing held by the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club in Taipei, was asked how he would respond to the Tibetan spiritual leader’s Nov. 28 comments to Elta TV in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala that he would like to visit Taiwan next year.

“We generally welcome religious leaders from all over the world to visit Taiwan, but I think at the current moment the timing isn’t appropriate,” he said.

The comments mark a distinct change of attitude for the president, who on March 23 said he welcomed the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the nation following his inauguration.
Meanhwhile the DPP caucus will raise a bill about welcoming the Dalai, Wang Jin-pyng encourages the government to reconsider from a religious standpoint, the Presidential office says it is putting country first, and blue legislators decry the DPP bill as ideologically motivated.

Dec 3, 2008

CEPA between Taiwan and China

It still looks on track, and I expect it will be on the December agenda of the next SEF-ARATS meeting. The name may change, but the content won't much.

President Ma: expand foreign relations on basis of '92 consensus, constitution

The statement came today in an RTI interview. After rambling a bit about how Taiwan hopes to improve relations with China and what a breakthrough Lien Chan's appearance at APEC was, we get to the key passage:

The host asked about to alleviate the suspicion that Taiwan's soverignty would be lost [due to the government position]. The President responded saying he believes throughout the history of cross-strait relations, some DPP members and opposition figures have had strong views on this topic. But if one carefully examines the six agreements that have been signed with the mainland to date, Ma said, not a single one degrades Taiwan or sacrifices Taiwan's sovereignty, and he has never heard anyone clearly explain a point to the contrary.

The President pointed out that the ROC has not changed since its inception, and he is still the president of the ROC. Some people have said that the government's acceptance of the '92 consensus is the reason relations have been going so smoothly, that and the '92 consensus does not harm national sovereignty. Ma said he believes the 92 consensus is "One China, two interpretations," that the constitution is a "One China" constitution, and the government wants to discuss matters with the mainland on these terms; sovereignty has not been harmed in any way.
The President expressed that in the past, the DPP government did not understand priorities, and made mainland recognition of "one side, one country" a precondition for talks. Not only was this not effective, but in fact made it impossible to deal with other important priorities, and increasingly isolated Taiwan.
This final bolded point is simply false, as the DPP continually proposed talks without preconditions, while the Chinese precondition was acceptance of "One China." The DPP hoped to enter dialogue in a situation where there was hope for continual de facto independence with some chance of eventual de jure independence. The current KMT position is that Taiwan is not independent from China, as they are both the same country (the ROC), and as long as China will talk on that basis, nothing bad will happen.

And as far as the first bolded point, let me explain: whether you call it the ROC or the PRC, agreeing that Taiwan is a part of the One China gives Taiwan little choice on the question of unification or independence, because you've already decided it, and the position will obviously not result in ROC control over the mainland. To the contrary.

Update: Also, see this on the next round of talks, from ICRT:
The Mainland Affairs Council has said that the agenda for the third
cross-strait meeting will be finalized by the end of this December, or early
January at the latest.

According to M-A-C Vice Chairman - Fu Dong-cheng - an initial agenda was for
the third round of talks was debated when the head of China's Association for
Relations Across the Taiwan Straits visited Taiwan last month.

However ... Fu admitted that there are still some differences to be worked
out om the exact agenda for further talks ... but that a finalized agenda for
the next round of talks will be ready within the coming months.

Reports have said that the signing of a memorandum of understanding on
financial cooperation is one of the issues on the agenda, as well as the
possible establishment of a cross-strait crime mechanism and a strengthening
of food safety measures.

More treaty speculation.

As I do from time to time, I scoured the intertubes for some news on the future cross-strait peace agreement that might indicate the position one of the parties will take in negotiations.

Here's an opinion from a Hunan public official published at China Review News:

The two sides can sign a peace agreement, but we must insist on two preconditions: first, that the agreement clearly states both sides adhere to the One China principal and oppose indpendence; and second, that as soon as th eTaiwan region moves twoard making indepdence or reality, or if there is a major event that makes indepence likely, than the agreement will automatically cease to function.
That's not an official position, but as I outlined earlier, it seems to be about the position China would take.

Meanwhile, New Party buddy and CEO of Tainet (台聯電) Robert H.C Tsao (曹興誠) suggests a three step process: first, passing a domestic peace law; then, allowing China to bring to Taiwan a concerete unification plan; and finally, allowing the people to vote on it by referendum.

Cao's plan would not "require" eventual unification, but would create a situation of 'automatic' unification if a referendum passed on it (and of course, no referendum would have the independence option). He sees this as establishing a non-cohersive path to unification that, one way or the other, would eventually get Taiwan there.

Ma expresses sympathy to Chinese fears of Cape No. 7

Rumor has it that the Chinese have slowed or may cancel the release of Cape No. 7 in China on grounds that it promotes Japanization.

In an interview with RTI yesterday (which broadcasts mainly to China), President Ma Ying-jeou praised the movie, expressed confidence that China would allow it to run, and responded to questions of Japanization.

Ma pointed out that Taiwan had been colonized by Japan for 50 years, and although lots of people had suffered during that time, there would still be love stories between people.

Quoth Ma: "Although there's been lots of both positive and negative sentiment between Japan and Taiwan, just like with the mainland, people are still people in the end, and human nature is unchangable. If you look at it from this perspective, many situations and stories can be sympathized with. I hope our mainland compatriots can view Cape No. 7 from this angle. "

I would just said, "You've got to be kidding me. What Japanization?"


After going through a couple of the '78-'83 documents yesterday where China lays out the policy for "peaceful unification," I was struck at how little the official position has changed. I mentioned that Hu Jintao could have written Deng Xiaoping's editorial. But he hasn't.

And then I wondered why the CCP has been keeping such a low profile.

If I were the CCP, and I had all these great sounding terms for unification (they sound like "status quo, but we get your 22 allies"), why wouldn't I talk about them them? And then it struck me that the CCP just spent the last 8 years berating and threatening Taiwan; that they got their man in power already; and that if they can just pretend 30 year old terms are new proposals, people might buy it this time around!

So to make that happen, you have to minimize talking about those terms in places where they'll hit the Taiwanese media at large. You've got to keep them fresh. So you just wait. Expect to hear the terms around the time of the peace treaty.

Does this strike you as an accurate reading of the situation?

I-shou University dean: Most Chinese students in Taiwan are CCP Youth Leaguers

Whoops! Probably didn't mean to say that out loud.

I-Shou university currently has the most Chinese students of any university in Taiwan; as Taiwan gets ready to expand the program, we should seriously consider the dean's statement that these Communist Youth League members are eager to join Taiwanese student groups and that being a CCYL member is likely a basic prerequisite for coming to Taiwan as a student.

Dec 2, 2008

Ma goals & the CCP's, Part II

This 1983 editorial published in the People's Daily, which outlines the main points Deng Xiaoping made when meeting with an American academic, shows remarkably few signs of aging. Here it is, with my own rough translation, again.

What strikes me about this is for all intents and purposes, it could have been written by Hu Jintao yesterday. You will also note the insistence of Deng of holding talks on "equal footing" as two parties, not as a central government to a regional government. This could well indicate that the DPP attacks against China's "downgrading" Taiwan in talks has been misguided -- and that the KMT defenses don't really get to the point either.

A few parts have been bolded by me. Enjoy!

The core issue is national unification. Peaceful unification has already become the common language used by the Nationalist and Communist parties. But this is not a unification where we would gobble [Taiwan] up, or they would gobble us up. We hope that the Nationalist and Communist parties can work together to complete the unification of our people and that everyone can make a contribution to the Zhonghua minzu.

We do not support the suggestion that Taiwan have "complete autonomy." Autonomy must obviously have some limits; if there are limits, the autonomy would not be "complete." Complete autonomy would be the same as 'two Chinas,' and not One China. The systems used [in Taiwan and China] can be different, but internationally there can only be one representative of China, and that is the People's Republic of China. We admit that the local Taiwan government can take care of policies related to its internal affairs. Taiwan as a special administrative region, although it would have a regional government, would be like other provinces, cities and autonomous regions [like Tibet and Xinjiang], though it would have some unique rights not seen in other provinces, cities or autonomous regions. The precondition is that those rights do not infringe on the national interests.

After unification, the Taiwan special administrative region can operate independently, and can continue to develop a system different than the mainland. The legal system can be independent, and final judgments would not have to go through Beijing. Taiwan can maintain its own army, as long as it does not threaten the mainland. The mainland would not dispatch any officials to Taiwan, would not send PLA there, and would not send government administrators there. Taiwan's party system, government, military and other systems would all be run entirely by Taiwanese. The central government [in China] would even allow Taiwan a quota for immigration and emigration [to the mainland]. [A-gu: not sure about this sentence, any corrections?]

Peaceful unification is not where the mainland swallows Taiwan, and of course it is not where Taiwan swallows the mainland. The so called idea of "unifying China under the Three People's Principles" is simply not realistic.

To realize unification, we need to use every appropriate method; therefore we suggest holding talks between the CCP and KMT and realizing the Third United Front, rather than having "central government to regional government" discussions. After both sides come to an agreement, then we can make a formal announcement. But what we cannot allow is foreign interference, which would imply that China was not yet independent, and that would carry disastrous consequences.

We hope the Taiwanese, to clarify their misunderstandings, will carefully read the nine points raised by Ye Jianying (叶剑英) in September 1981 [already discussed in Part 1, here] as well as the July 1983 statements Deng Yingchao (邓颖超) made
in his opening remarks at the sixth People's Political Consultative Conference meeting.

The conference you held in March this year in San Francisco, "A Look ahead at Chinese Unification," was a great thing.

We want to complete the as yet uncompleted grand mission of unification. If the Nationalist and Communist parties can do this, then all the history that will be written about [Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo] will be a little less harsh. Of course, realizing peaceful unification will naturally take time. If you say there is no hurry, that is nonsense; there are still elderly people around that hope to see unification soon. We need more exchanges, increased understanding. We can send anyone to Taiwan, and the visit can be informal and without talks. We can also welcome them to send someone here, where we would gaurentee their safety and privacy. We mean what we say, and do not intend to mess around.

We have already made 'peaceful solidarity' a reality [probably refers to stabilizing China internally]. The principle of peaceful reunification of the motherland was approved at the CCP's Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee. That policy was gradually developed, and we will adhere to it unwaveringly.

Sino-American relations have been changing lately, but the American leadership has not given up the "two Chinas" or "one and a half China" approach. America always talks about how great their system is, but the president says one thing during the election and then does another after he's in power. At the mid term elections there's still another position, and when its time for the next election there's still another policy. America likes to say China's policy is unstable, but compared to the United States, our policies are very stable indeed.

Ma goals & the CCP's, Part I

The 1981 People's Daily editorial lays out the nine objectives of the CPP when it comes to unification pretty well. And they are moving toward their objectives pretty well, too. Here they are, roughly translated:

(1) In order to achieve a rapid end to the unfortunate split between the Chinese people, we suggest holding talks between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on equal footing in order to realize the Third United Front and work together toward the great task of unifying the motherland. The two sides can send contacts to fully exchange ideas.
Status: check.
(2) All people on both sides of the Taiwan strait hope for a resumption to communication, visiting of relatives, trade relations and increased understanding. We suggest that both sides work toward signing agreements for establishment postal links, shipping, direct flights, visiting of relatives, tourism and artistic, cultural and educational exchanges.
Status: check.
(3) After the unification of the country, Taiwan will be a special administrative region and can maintain a high degree of autonomy, and may even keep its own army [A-Gu: Deng mentioned "as long as it doesn't threaten China"]. The central government will not interfere in Taiwan's internal affairs.
Status: waiting on the "unification" part, but I don't see much difference between this and Ma's current policy of downplaying military exercises and total foot dragging on the arms purchase, which may well be the last one.
(4) The social and economic system employed Taiwan now would not change, their way of life would not change, and Taiwan's economic and cultural relations with foreign countries would not change. Private property, homes, land and industry would have the right to continue legal agreements with foreign investors.
Status: well, this is more of a promise to alleviate fear of unification, and short of an invasion it will naturally be kept. And notice that China, like Ma, doesn't want Taiwan to have chance for formal relations with foreign countries here. So, check.
(5) The Taiwan authorities and representatives from every sphere may have positions of leadership in the political system of China and may participate in national administration.
Status: almost! Really, who knows, they could come work here as civil servants too...
(6) When there are economic or political difficulties in the Taiwan region, the central government will be willing to assist.
Status: check.
(7) Taiwan compatriots of all fields and ethnicities who wish to move back to China will be protected, not be discriminated against and will have freedom of movement.
Status: check. And that's a good thing, of course.
(8) We welcome Taiwanese business to come back to the motherland and invest in the mainland, including those businesses from all sectors, and we will guarantee legal protection of their rights.
Status: check; at least, they've been more protected than most foreign businessmen or regular Chinese investors.
(9) Everyone has a responsibility to help unify the motherland. We enthusiastically welcome suggestions and efforts of achieving this great goal from Taiwanese of all stripes, people from all sectors and civic organizations.
Status: no doubt, check! Or, search the bottom of this page for KMT distaste of the whole idea of "self-determination." And these exchanges between Ma and Chen are fascinating, with Chen emphasizing Taiwan's right to determine its future by referendum while Ma emphasizes that the ROC government does and should claim China, hence the need for "one China, two interpretations."

It seems to me with all the basics covered now, there really is only one place to go from here: negotiations for a peace treaty, which without doubt, would be seen as an important precursor toward formal unification in a "one country, two systems" framework.

Don't think they've given up on it.

Excellent News!

There's nothing on the regular wires, newspapers or cable news worth talking about this afternoon so far!

One piece of news I can't decide to classify as laughable or ominous, though: the People's Daily Taiwan subpage is prominently celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Message to the Compatriots in Taiwan issued by China on January 1, 1979. That letter more or less established the "strive for peaceful unification, but by God there will be unification" policy.

You can see their celebratory page here, read the original letter in full here, and read about the "contributions" of Deng, Jiang and Hu to unification as well.

Dec 1, 2008

Dalai bet

With the Dalai Lama ignoring China and expressing interest in coming to Taiwan next year, how much do you want to bet that politically-related complications will prevent his trip? How much do you want to bet that the KMT will actually reject his visa application, if it comes to that? I think Ma & Co. would rather reject his visit than piss off the Chinese at that time.

Between Chen "Giant Ham" Shui-bian and Ma "Roll Over and Hope They Don't Rip Your Entrails Out " Ying-jeou, I'm thinking I need a mental health break from news and politics.

Naturally, I'm not helped out when Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) claims Maokong Gondala structural problems have nothing to do with the previous mayor who ordered the construction without an environmental assessment (for fear the DPP might actually reject it for "political reasons," of course).

A-bian just can't get out of the spotlight

With his lawyer announcing that Dialog in Prison <<獄中對話>> now completed, A-bian has decided to start the second book of his detention-without-charges writing sprint, which will be titled Taiwanese Independence <<台灣獨立>>.

::sigh:: It seems this will just never end. And while his current detention is inexcusable, his determination to be front and center is dragging the weak, gasping troop of the DPP into abyss with him. And given the media and lack of due process in Chen's case, I'm not even sure they have a choice but to be taken along for the plunge.

New, not so funny joke: How many vote buying KMT legislators does it take to consider changing the election law?

Five. [TVBS video]

Meanwhile, China delays the release of Cape No. 7 in China (but really, not for political reasons!); the Justice Minister states (rather unconvincingly, given the evidence,) that it would be "impossible and unacceptable" for the judicial branch to become a political tool; the unreasonable and overly expensive 18% preferential savings rate for civil servants is rebutted with a creaking, verbal promise of reform; and the endless Chen Shui-bian drama continues.

We don't need no stinkin' oversight

Forget referendums. We don't even need the legislature to approve what would be a treaty in any normal reading of reality. Forget that several aspects of the agreement don't conform with current law. Do we need oversight? No way, no how.

KMT lawmaker Lin Yi- Shih, executive director of the KMT Central Policy Committee and a deputy chairman of the KMT, told reporters it appears that the agreements would not be approved in early December on the floor of the legislature.

Lin explained that in accordance with the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, the four agreements will become effective automatically if the legislature has not acted to sanction the pacts within one month after they were sent to its Procedure Committee.

This is rich.


Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) yesterday said all KMT assets had been acquired legally, but added that the party must divest itself of them “within a short period of time.”

Speaking at the party’s Central Evaluation Committee meeting, Wu said that no KMT assets had been obtained illegally because if the KMT had any illegal assets, the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration would have confiscated them...

While the party had a net value of NT$20 billion (US$625 million) last year, Wu said that figure had dwindled to NT$10 billion. If the party rid itself of all its assets, Wu said, the money would go to party employee pensions, severance payments and utility bills. If there were any money left, it would be donated to civic agencies and disadvantaged groups, he said.

While the party used to have more than 4,700 full-time employees, Wu said the number had been cut to 900.
Yes, please pay no attention to the frequent and fruitless DPP efforts to confiscate the assets. And ignore the fact that the legislature was a huge obstacle to accomplishing that goal.

If you were wondering what happened to Mango daily...

... then here's the story.