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Feb 2, 2009

Round up

Less than spectacular news.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to visit Japan and China on her first foreign trip in her new position, with a senior congressional source saying Clinton would be certain to discuss Taiwan with the Chinese leadership.

The source said the discussions would probably lead, on Clinton’s return, to an informal State Department review of US-Taiwan relations....

US State Department officials declined to confirm Clinton’s trip to China, but officials said in private that she was “leaning” toward visiting Asia at some point before US President Barack Obama meets Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at a London summit in April.
Given the new direction of Taiwan-PRC ties, I cannot imagine any review of relations with Taiwan, informal or otherwise, to end well. Washington's interest and willingness to assist Taiwan with weapons sales, which are already the only serious thorn in US-PRC ties, will only decline as Taiwan becomes more dependent and perhaps eventually (God forbid) servile to China.

Meanwhile, by-elections next month will provide a test for just how fed up or apathetic people in Taiwan are toward politics in this time of economic hardship. I expect apathy and record low voting percentages with strong blue machine turnout, so expect the KMT to fare well.
Former KMT legislator Lee E-tin (李乙廷) from Miaoli County lost his seat in the legislature after the Taichung High Court’s December rejection of his appeal against a Miaoli District Court ruling that annulled his election on vote-buying charges in last year’s legislative elections.

Another former KMT lawmaker, Diane Lee (李慶安), resigned last month amid a dispute over her alleged dual citizenship.

The KMT has nominated Lee E-tin’s wife, Chen Ruan-ying (陳鑾英), to run in the Miaoli by-election, while seven KMT hopefuls will vie in a party primary to represent the KMT in Daan district.

A senior KMT official said that if the KMT wins the two by-elections, it would show that its support base is solid, but if the result were the opposite, then the party would “have to learn about its deficiencies and address them accordingly.”
Economically, things are almost as dark as on the political side:
The consumer confidence index plunged to a new record low in a survey released by National Central University Monday, a day after the government announced it would create 150,000 jobs.


Tommy said...

Not to be a skeptic, but...

Aren't the two elections for seats in dependably blue areas anyways? My first thought on reading this was that the KMT is already sure they will win the elections. Otherwise, why would they make this into a referendum on their performance? This sounds more like an attempt to influence public/international opinion. The KMT needs only to build it up as a report card, and then when they win, they can tell everyone that Taiwan still supports them.

Tommy said...

Likewise, remember that Ma as well as some in the KMT have gone on record before saying that if such and such in the constitution were wrong, the DPP would have changed it in their eight years in power. Such dumb comments, like this one about the by-elections, are purposeful attempts to twist the truth based on faulty reasoning.

KMT wins = Taiwan happy

Tommy said...

Sorry, A-Gu. This will be my last comment. Three in a row means I should be organising my thoughts better before I start.

I was also thinking that the DPP's announcement today that they will finalise their candidate list for the year-end elections next month is potentially promising, and certainly of more importance than the hot air coming out of the mouths of KMT windbags about the upcoming by-elections.

By getting an early start, the DPP can hopefully iron out any kinks in their strategy in time to campaign strongly. The economy is not going to get significantly better by the end of the year. Have you noticed the growing number of admissions in the Western and Chinese media that are now coming out bit by bit that say that the much-sought-after turnaround is looking more and more like it will not be as soon as those in power would hope? Things may slowly inch back, but nobody seems to be predicting a quick comeback anymore. This is semi-officially now a U-shaped recession for everyone.

For the KMT, having to run against a DPP with a (hopefully) controversy-free list of candidates list running in island-wide elections at a time when the KMT and/or Ma is unpopular would be a far-greater barometer than these silly by-elections... which is possibly why it is important for some in the KMT to present these by-elections as a referendum now instead of raising the spectre of a referendum later.

Stephen said...

A KMT legislator is charged with election fraud so his wife takes his legislative position.
It is really quite difficult to beleive politics in Taiwan. Corruption and nepotism all sanctioned by democratic elections.

阿牛 said...


you are right that the seats are reliably blue and KMT is setting itself up for victory as best it can; still, I think the bigger news and more obvious trend will be reduced turn out.

Hopefully the year end DPP list will be inspired. Somehow I doubt it.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hi A-gu,

Thanks for expressing interest in the show. What is your email address? I will send you further details. Go ahead and post that here or at my blog.