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Apr 30, 2009

Re: Pomfret

To Pomfret: Yes, we can stop worrying about a US-China war, but we can't stop worrying about Taiwan.

Taiwanese are highly averse to political subservience to China. As the ancient Chinese saying goes, people here would "rather be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix" (寧做雞頭,不為鳳尾).

But, as economic integration continues, and the international community drops out of the picture, Chinese leverage to force political surrender will continually increase, and eventually be used -- and people would probably rather be politically subservient than fight a war or have their economy ripped out from under them.

This is not a love fest. This is a trap.

Good Liberty Times editorials today

Check 'em out. DPP legislator Tsai Trong-rong worries the Executive Yuan will amend regulations to allow Chinese investment in the cable market in Taiwan (which requires no Legislative approval), while Japanese Professor Tada Kei (多田惠) presents a strong case that the new KMT interpretation of the Treaty of Taipei is complete nonsense.

Not with a bang

See Michael Turton's critical, perhaps pivotal, post on Connecting the Dots. In light of other recent moves of the KMT along with recent revival of the Treaty of Taipei I made a comment there amounting to this: I now believe the upcoming peace treaty will declare a formal end to hostilities of the Chinese civil war (not far fetched at all), will make some sort of statement about the place of Taiwan, autonomous region of China, will authorize conditional de facto self-administration by the ROC government on Taiwan, and will postpone ultimate discussions on joint administration/unification/annexation for a set period of time.

Before he made the post we were chatting online about the same topic, and I realized why I hadn't been able to visualize what a peace agreement will look like. In my mind, the sovereignty question was still untouchable and unresolvable, because the KMT would be forcibly constrained by public opinion in Taiwan, and because practical benefits of de facto independence would outweigh any ideological tendency to resolve the Taiwan question in a way that would be so decisive.

Now I believe they will sign an agreement which effectively resolves the Taiwan question, pass it off as Chinese recognition of the "status quo," get China to do a lot of investing and perhaps job creation as the election approaches, and pretend like nothing really happened on the sovereignty issue at all.

The KMT could well manage to do what I had believed to be unthinkable, formally wrap this all up in one term.

The DPP had better put together a real platform fast and begin collecting signatures for a referendum topic that might be able to head off the end game (no point waiting around now) -- perhaps something like "Do you agree that any change to Taiwan's current 'de facto' independence from the People's Republic of China' or agreements signed with that polity require approval by the people through referenda?"

Apr 29, 2009

Back when Cheney was shooting people in the face...

.. then-Presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou was getting into hot water over constantly shifting and radically different tones of his ideal China policy. This was back when Ma made his now famous statement on "ultimate unification," and also marked about the last time the KMT was honest with the Taiwanese people about its plans for them.

Reading through all this, I can't help but wonder if I've correctly imagined the "interim solution" which is planned before ultimate unification with a prosperous, democratic China (keep dreaming).

Could it be that the peace agreement would immediately usher in a Jiang Zemin's Eight-point Proposal-like "one country, two systems" reality, where Taiwan formally agrees with the CCP that Taiwan is Chinese, but gets to keep its government organs and under-funded military -- that is, until the international community has lost interest and withdrawn all promises to Taiwan, at which point the CCP gets impatient and starts to ask for increasing degrees of "consultation" and then control over Taiwan's political & policy process, slowly abolishing this shining light of democracy one issue at a time?

After all, the CCP has always held it will not let Taiwan put off unification talks forever. And when would you ratchet up the pressure -- while Taiwan still has some real options, or after the issue is more or less decided?

Ma's biggest slip up (stating things plainly) came in Dec 2005 interview with Newsweek ...

What is your time frame, then, for unification?

For our party, the eventual goal is reunification, but we don't have a timetable. At the moment, we don't believe that either side is prepared to have unification... The conditions are really not ripe yet.

Do you see unification happening in your lifetime?

If you had asked me the question 10 years ago, I would have said no. But things are changing rapidly on the Chinese mainland, and we don't know how far they will go with democratization. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have thought that they were ready to have local elections. But they are doing it now. Of course, the nature of communism is to [hold] power for as long as possible. So it would be very naive to think that they will become as democratic as Taiwan in the near future... I think we may not be able to solve the sovereignty issue in our lifetimes—whether it's one China or two, or whatever.

Can you imagine a future in which Taiwan and China exist side by side as fully independent states, recognized as such by the world?

It would be very unlikely. Some of us here would like to see that happen. But for the mainland, they have similar problems with Xinjiang, with Tibet. So they feel that if they loosen up for Taiwan, they might encounter difficulties elsewhere. On the other hand, Taiwan is very different from the provinces in mainland China that have independence or autonomy [aspirations] because our situation is very much linked with the rest of the world. Any military move against Taiwan would certainly involve the United States.

Let's follow the timeline from there...

Feb 08, 2006 Ma pushes `status quo' in article

"The KMT believes that neither unification nor independence is likely for Taiwan in the foreseeable future and that therefore the status quo should be maintained. The island's [sic] future should be determined by its people, rather than the government," [Ma] wrote.

Ma criticized President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent Lunar New Year's Day message, in which Chen advocated abolishing the unification guidelines and pushing for another round of constitutional amendments. Ma said that Taiwan should not "rock the boat in regional waters."

"We should instead seek to advance the security and stability of the area," he said. "Taiwan, while it seeks to defuse tensions across the Taiwan Strait, should also demonstrate its determination to protect itself by maintaining adequate defensive capabilities."

Feb 10, 2006 Ma talks of `peace and prosperity' on arrival in Geneva

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said yesterday in Taipei that Ma had raised the unification theory in order to explain the "one China" spirit as stipulated in the ROC Constitution. What Ma is focused on, he said, is maintaining Taiwan's current status quo.

The "eventual unification" that Ma referred to must be based on preconditions of peace and equitable prosperity on both sides of the Strait and with the consent of Taiwan's people, Lai said, [A-gu: notice how here there's no requirement for China to become a democracy for Taiwan to accept annexation; that would be too pesky.] adding that what Ma talked about did not exceed the framework of the National Unification Council or its guidelines.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) accused the president of playing hardball by saying that he had unfairly interpreted Ma's remarks to the foreign media as a way of shifting the general public's attention from the poor performance of the government.
Feb 11, 2006 Ma touts unification with `free' China

Ma dismissed DPP criticisms that the KMT supports unification with China, saying that while the KMT does consider "ultimate cross-strait unification" an option in its cross-strait policy, unification can only be achieved after China has evolved into a country of freedom, democracy and prosperity, and on condition that the majority of Taiwanese voters consent to it. [A-gu: If one were generous, this would be read as a well-formed attempt to stall political annexation by China, because the CCP will never transition to a democracy. But that interpretation flies in the face of everything else we know about Ma's position.]

He added that none of these conditions for the implementation of cross-strait unification had been met, and that the KMT had no timetable in this regard.

Feb 13, 2006 Ma tells China to dismantle missles

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that China must agree to discuss dismantling its missiles pointed at Taiwan before the country would agree to hold talks.

"No one likes to live under the threat of guns, knives or warheads of missiles," Ma said in comments aired on Saturday by ETTV. "This should be included in the agenda if we hold talks in the future."

Feb 14, 2006 Hubbub over Ma's remarks escalates

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in London yesterday during an interview with Taiwanese and British reporters that engaging in negotiations with China to seek a breakthrough in relations remains the only way for Taiwan to solve thorny cross-strait issues peacefully.

Even in the face of more than 700 missiles targeting Taiwan, the country's leadership should seek to negotiate with China and solve the differences between the two sides to achieve permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait, Ma said.

Ma's comments contrasted with remarks he made on Saturday, as well as with the comments of other KMT officials on Sunday, when he agreed with a student at Cambridge University, who asked whether China must remove its missiles before the Taiwanese people could countenance negotiations.

Feb 15, 2006 Ma under fire over London party
He gave a speech on cross-strait relations during the reception on Sunday. The reception was organized by the KMT's UK branch, the Sun Yat-sen Association and the Republic of China Women's Association in the UK.

In addition to dozens of overseas Taiwanese residents in London, the attendees included overseas Chinese and Hong Kong residents.

Also present was a former official of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC), Rao Gang (饒剛), who has been charged by the Taipei District Court with corruption but who has failed to return home to stand trial.

Taiwanese Association in the UK director Lee Yi-te (李奕德), who teaches at a British university, told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview yesterday that the reception organizers had received a ?1,000 (US$1,744) donation from Chan Sheng (單聲), a British Taiwanese businessman and a staunch supporter of the Anti-Secession Law. [<-- an earlier paragraph, placed here for convenience]

Feb 15, 2006 KMT ad defends unification plan

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday sought to defend itself in the face of criticism that its goal of "eventually" unifying with China had little support among most Taiwanese.

The party published a print ad in a pro-independence newspaper explaining its cross-strait stance, as set out by Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) recently when he said that maintaining the status quo is the most pragmatic path for Taiwan.

In an ad titled "Taiwan's Pragmatic Path" that appeared in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), the KMT stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo as a practical choice for the country, and that Taiwan's future should be determined by its people, rather than the government. [A-gu: but not by referendum?]

Feb 16, 2008 Sparks fly over KMT's controversial ad

"The KMT firmly believes that, in keeping with the spirit of democracy, there are many options for Taiwan's future, be it reunification, independence or the status quo. It is necessary that the choice be made by the people," the ad said.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who arrived in Dublin early yesterday, defended the print ad, and said it was merely the result of "misreading or misinterpretation" to consider the KMT pro-independence because of an advertisement.

"Unification, independence and maintaining the status quo are all options for Taiwan's future. As citizens of a democratic country, the people of Taiwan are free to choose which option to pursue, [A-gu: except by referendum] so long as the choices are constitutional and do not violate any of the laws of the country," he said yesterday morning in Dublin.

While respecting the choices of the Taiwanese people [A-gu: see that back away from supporting eventual unification?], the KMT advocates maintaining the status quo at present, Ma added.

I left my heart in San Francisco...

Check out this Taipei Times article on Ma's reading of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.


Liberty Times sovereignty round up:

Also, final decision on the Assembly and Parade Law will not be made until at least next Tuesday, as the Legislature decided to continue negotiations and avoid a vote for now.

Apr 28, 2009

At the naval base ...

... I saw this, among other slogans, on a pillar lining the main drive:

完成復國使命 "Complete the mission of unifying [or reconquering] the country"

Apr 24, 2009

Latest Parade & Assembly Law developments

One of Taiwan's most controversial and misunderstood laws is the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) [full text at link]. Debate over how to revise the law has been an active topic for years, and this year will be no exception. Taiwan News reports (if you don't read the rest of this long post, this report is really the more important part):

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party occupied the dais at the Legislative Yuan in a protest against proposed government amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act Friday....

The DPP said the changes didn't go far enough, and amounted to a throwback to the martial law era which ended in 1987. Carrying banners reading "Police State," a group of DPP lawmakers mounted the speaker's dais and prevented further hearings from taking place Friday morning....

The KMT version of the amendments would require the approval of a protest march from each shop, apartment building or office building on the route, DPP chief whip Ker Chien-ming told reporters. Even after the protest organizers had reported their plans to the authorities, police could still order them to change the route, downsize the protest location and change the time, Ker said.

DPP lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling said the KMT wanted to force through the law Friday so it could be used against an anti-government labor protest on May 1 and a DPP march against President Ma Ying-jeou's policies planned for May 17.

Because the protest prevented the Legislative Yuan from passing scheduled tax changes leading to a price cut for rice wine, a common ingredient of local food, the two parties also accused each other of holding up legislation beneficial to the public at large.
If the KMT really cared about the price of rice wine, then it would have used its majority to schedule the passage of the tax cut ahead of the Assembly and Parade Act, Kuan said.

Another crappy provision of the proposed law is the ability to issue repeated large fines for a number of different technicalities, which coudl all happen for what is basically a signle parade incident.

It's always best to do a quick historic overview of the law's creation and application. The very beginning?

The act was first adopted in 1988 after martial law was lifted in 1987, its intended goal being to avoid social upheaval in the post-Martial Law era, while also protecting the public's right to hold rallies.

The act has long been criticized by activists as legislation that restricts freedom of expression rather than protecting it. It requires organizers of demonstrations to apply for an assembly and parade permit before a demonstration takes place, grants the police the power to disband a demonstration if they find it necessary and forbids any demonstrations in certain areas surrounding government buildings and foreign diplomatic missions.
The DPP made revision of the law a primary goal during it's time in executive power,[1] but was unable to push through any serious revision. But nothing much really happened. Instead, the debate largely lay dormant until 2006, during the "Red Shirt" siege of the presidential palace led by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh. Shih's final siege, in which the crowd refused to disperse even long after the protest had officially ended, finally got him charged with violating the law (though nothing else in the month long protest got him in trouble). Thankfully, Shih and the 15 other defendants were ultimately vindicated in February of this year:

Prosecutors said that the anti-Chen campaign organizers had not applied for a permit from the Taipei City Police Department to hold a parade or rally, as required by the Assembly and Parade Act.

The Taipei District Court yesterday said in a ruling that although the police had put up warning signs and broadcast requests to the organizers for the crowd to disperse, it was unlikely that so many thousands of protesters could respond to the requests, and therefore under the “principle of proportionality” it could not prove that the organizers violated the Assembly and Parade Act.

The ruling also said that evidence failed to prove that the 16 defendants were in charge of the massive protest.

It said that because the government and the legislature had proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act that would abolish the requirement that protest organizers apply for permits from the police, the act remained in question.

But Shih's camp were not the only ones protesting the law at that time, just the ones with the largest media megaphone:

The [Taiwan Association for Human Rights] and 20 other civic groups recently formed an alliance to push for an amendment to what they called a "bad" law.

Huang Te-pei (黃德北), a professor in the department of social development at Shih Hsin University, said that "police discretion" should be described more specifically in the law as this has largely been abused by the police in recent years.

"Last May, our labor union was protesting in front of the headquarters of Chunghwa Telecom. It was a legal action, but the police tried to disperse us," said Simon Chang (張緒中), president of Chunghwa Telecom's Workers' Union.

Or consider this protest, also from 2006:

On May 13, Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) plodded through a crowd of livid students. The front doors of the Ministry of Education were barely visible behind a shifting flank of riot police and an iron gate. Yang stuck his foot in the gate's grill, intending to climb over the barrier. That's when police yanked him down and arrested him in front of an army of TV cameras.

"I've participated in many raucous protests -- in the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] era, no less -- but that was the first time I had such a run-in with the cops," Yang said.

During and after Shih's protests, may KMT & DPP legislators alike called for amending the law to relax the standards and give the police more power. The PFP also got into the act:

Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), director of the PFP's policy research center, told reporters that Article 14 of the Constitution stipulates that "The people shall have freedom of assembly and association."

However, the Assembly and Parade Law requires organizers of an assembly or parade to apply for permits in advance to the local police chief, who may find it difficult to resist political pressure from higher authorities to deny the application, Chang said.

President Chen himself risked arrest in a "U.N. for Taiwan" torch rally in late 2007, during the run up to the legislative election, because the city and national governments couldn't agree whether the parade required a permit or not (Taipei City was probably inclined to deny it, and the central government insisted it was not a political event anyway).

After Chen Yun Lin's visit to Taiwan and the resulting protests, along with the police suppression of those protests, revision of that law became a central priority of the Wild Strawberry's protest movement in 2008:

The third change we want is that at present violations of the Assembly and Parade Law are criminal acts under the law and determined under criminal law, so you can be sent to jail for a year or two years, for example. We believe that this is against the freedom of the people. We want that changed so that violations fall under the administrative laws and only fines are handed out for violations of the Assembly and Parade Law, so you won't get a year or two for violations of the law. Finally, we want them to lift the restrictions on places where assemblies and parades can be held. These restrictions are a violation of the basic rights and freedoms laid out in the Constitution.
Some called for the outright abolition of the law. Eventually, minor progress was made on trying to relax the law:

Activists have called for a change from a pre-approval system to a pre-notice system, the abolition of the police’s power to disband demonstrations and a cut-down version or the complete abolition of the restricted areas.

Although both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, as well as the Cabinet, support the pre-notice system, they argued on whether it should be mandatory or voluntary.The Cabinet version of the amendment insists that organizers be required to notify police of a upcoming demonstration, while DPP lawmakers, including Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) and Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), argued for a voluntary system....

The second dispute came when lawmakers discussed whether there should
be a “safe distance” around government buildings and foreign diplomatic

Today's proposed "revisions" of the law, as well as the KMT's intentionally placing a contentious issue in front of the kind of laws that would pass without protest, are good reminders of the KMT's political maneuvering and authoritarian roots. Once champions of true reform of the law, they have decided the current law is much more useful when you're in charge!

Let us hope the law is eventually reformed in a positive way that increases, rather than decreases, the freedom of the people.

Latest MAC tracking poll

The MAC has long done polling on people's preference for Taiwan's future. Here is the latest breakdown:

Maintain the 'status quo' forever: 27% (record high)
Maintain the ‘status quo’ and decide later: 35%
Maintain the ‘status quo’ and then become independent: 15.1%
Maintain the ‘status quo’ and then unify [with China]: 7.6%
Declare independence as soon as possible: 6.7%
Immediate unification with China: 1.2%
(No response: 7.4%)

Beijing is friendly to Taiwan's government: 35.3%
Unfriendly: 44.3%

Beijing is friendly to Taiwan's people: 39.7%
Unfriendly: 41.3%
We should read 'status quo' forever, 'status quo' and decide later, and 'status quo' then independence to really just be three different ways of saying, "I support maintaining de facto independence for at least the foreseeable future," that's a 77.1% super-duper majority consensus on the issue.

Throw in the "independence now" people, and I think it's fair to say 83.8% of people here support some form of Taiwanese independence.

Even if we remove the 35% of "decide later" people and conclude all of them will eventually swing into the unification column, 48.8% support at least de facto independence, making this the largest group of all and close to a majority all by itself.

I've said repeatedly that part of the reason this question remains the only divisive one in local politics is that everyone selff-defines the 'status quo.' I have a feeling that if the MAC were asking, they'd find a lot more people define the status quo as "de facto independence" than as "One China, divided by civil war" or some such definition. But as far as I am aware, nobody has ever done a poll on what Taiwanese actually consider the status quo to be. So I can't say for sure.


Congrats to the legislature for getting past the first reading of this bill. It will give mainland-born spouses the right to work in Taiwan after obtaining their resident visa, the same (reasonable) standard already applied to other foreigners.

While there are general immigration issues worth considering, it just doesn't make sense to deny these legally entering spouses (normally women) the right to work -- their husbands are rarely of the highest caliber, and the women often must work to support themselves or their new family (husband might not work or may work sporadically). Without the right to work, the Chinese brides are often taking rather unpleasant jobs that pay less than minimum wage (the boss would be fined if caught employing them, so he pays less to compensate himself for the risk).

Hopefully this will improve the lives of a large group of underprivileged women in Taiwan.

Apr 21, 2009

Another two sets of 16 characters.

Nearly one year ago, on April 30th, 2008, I analyzed two different 16 character formulas that were seemingly guidelines for how the KMT and CCP wanted to approach cross-strait relations:

When VP-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) met with Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) met a few weeks ago at the economic conference, he raised a sixteen character phrase that he hoped would be the guiding principles of cross-strait relations:
"Face reality, start a new future, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."
Well, today Hu Jintao responded in kind, using his own slightly modified formula:
"Establish mutual trust, seek common ground while reserving differences, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."
Today I bring you a third set of 16 characters that spoken by Premier of the People's Republic of China "Grandpa" Wen Jiabao (温家宝) on the 18th of this month at the 2009 Boao Forum for Asia. This third formula appears to be another direct response to the KMT's 16 character formula. Wen called on Taiwan and China to:
"Face the future, relinquish grudges, closely cooperate, and move forward hand-in-hand."
In the same speech, Wen Jiabao calls on Taiwan to be more open to Chinese imports and for more completely integrating the economic situation. He also called for "discussing and solving the political and economic problems" under the One China principle.

A China time article on the same subject notes a 16 character phrase of Ma's which is also very closely related to all of these discussions:
Cross the stream on the same boat, give support to one another, deepen cooperation, and start a new future.
So you can see where all of this is going.

I'm not sure how I feel about it all.

Obviously I have no trust whatsoever in China's willingness to accept anything but full annexation of Taiwan, but I have no doubt they would be willing to form an intermediate agreement which will (a)
buy time to make coercion unnecessary (sway Taiwanese public opinion) to achieve a "one country, two systems" unification, or failing that, (b) reduce all other foreign interest in the Taiwan question, thereby making economic or military coercion a piece of cake that the rest of the world will ignore.

On the other hand, part of me wonders what sort of possibility there may be for truly creative solutions. Many US professors I had talked to before were convinced China wanted nothing more than to "save face" on the Taiwan question. I wonder how true this is. I think you could talk people on Taiwan into a federalist "union," but China will have none of that; and likewise, the Chinese "one country, two systems" package won't fly here.

I've previously (and repeatedly) speculated on what an intermediate peace agreement would look like, but basically came up blank. I still believe it's unthinkable that
the core issue (sovereignty) could be compromised by either side, so have a lot of trouble figuring out how the the intermediate agreement could be significant.

I think we are going to learn a lot more in the next year or two about the real plans of both the KMT and CCP. I think these are exciting times and that Taiwan will continue to maintain both its de facto independence & grow increasingly close to China on the economic and cultural fronts. I think the KMT will continue to be a bunch of dastardly authoritarian crooks while the DPP continues to be a bunch of whiners who can't even run candidates at the lowest levels or put together a compelling and comprehensive platform.

Time will tell.

Sun Yat-sen supported Taiwanese Independence.

It's true (exact quote: 「在台灣的中國同胞被日本壓迫,我們必須鼓吹台灣獨立,和高麗的獨立運動互相聯合」).

It wouldn't be
all that important, except that as the article linked above indicates, the Chinese Communist Party is trying to co-opt the only universally respected leader the ROC (gg, education system) as a unification supporter. And that's just not true.

KMT party property, revisited.

Update: whoops, missed this Taipei Times article on the subject. It's a very clear and well written article.

I have still not gotten around to posting about this incredibly important move by the KMT to clear themselves of party property problems and go on selling land and material that were stolen or 'given' to the party by the government in the past. Until now.

Remember that NT$55billion (US$1.6billion) had been sold by the KMT over the first 7 years of DPP rule, and total KMT worth could have been up to US$10billion as of 2001.

There are a lot of excellent details in the post, but it can be summarized like this:

  • The DPP started pushing a law in September 2002. By 2004 there were PFP and TSU versions of the law. Main objectives would have been to review the process by which the KMT got a number of pieces of land and buildings that are now KMT party property. Many of these were either confiscated from Taiwanese (who had bought them from the Japanese before those soldiers left), taken over directly after the Japanese left (if the property had remained unsold), or gifted/sold out outrageously low rates (both happened) from the state to the party.
  • These bills basically would have forced the KMT to compensate the government for stolen property or return it to the state (and I presume private owners/their decedents in those other cases).
  • These laws were blocked in the Procedural Committee by the pan-blue majority 179 times over three Legislative Yuans. The KMT came up with its own lenient version of the bill, but didn't even pass that.
  • The Interior Ministry, however, under DPP Executive control, labeled a number of KMT properties with a special code that would make it difficult for anyone buying KMT party property to later claim, "Hey, I'm just a third party who bought this property legally! Can't take it from me now!" just in case the bill ever was passed. That made it difficult for the KMT to convince anyone to buy the property.
  • Now that the KMT's back in black, the new cabinet has removed this property code, reasoning that "the party property bills have been holed up in the legislature forever" so there is no legal basis for the code.
Shameless? Sure. Surprising? Not really. Could the DPP have done more? I think so, if they had bothered to mention the party property issue in public more often than the couple of weeks before an election.

Keep in mind the KMT has repeatedly promised to "solve" the party property issue, which they have also repeatedly openly stated means selling everything they own. They've also taken down a government sponsored website on this topic from the DPP days.

See also these related posts and sites for some background on the party property issue:

Apr 20, 2009

Laundry list of sins

It can be hard to remember all the ways in which the KMT government under President Ma Ying-jeou has been pushing Taiwan back from the progress made during the DPP's last 8 years into darker times. So Wei-chen does us the favor of cataloging them, providing links to Chinese media as well. Here's a few of the choice ones:

  • Changing the name of Taiwan Post back to Chunghwa Post
  • Worshipping Chiang Ching-kuo [only a slight exaggeration of the government sponsored celebration a few weeks ago commemorating what would have been his 100th birthday]
  • Changing the name of Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
  • Having certain government officials dealing with China take a test on the Chinese constitution [as MT pointed out to me, this actually makes more sense than it sounds like]
  • Seriously curtailing human rights during ARATS head Chen Yun-lin's visit to Taiwan
  • Re-opening the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek.
  • Reintroducing the serviceman's doctrine.
  • Reintroducing a song at the Army's military academy which includes the line, "the [KMT] party flag waves"
  • Reintroducing the military song "I love China"
  • The Taipei City government specifically doing checks on the book sof pro-Green businesses
  • Asking departments to check on what male civil servants wear when on duty to make sure it is appropriate (really necessary?)
  • The MOI asking the CNA to alter its reporting to be more China- and Ma-friendly
  • Reintroducting student formations in the Double Ten parade
  • Putting military instructors in middle and elementary schools and re-expanding their roles
  • The police breaking up legal private assemblies
... and a few other curtailings on freedom of speech and reintroduction of martial-law era practices.

And now, the government wants to erase the past about the white terror. Not to mention the party property issue I talked about yesterday.

So how much of this questionable report was accurate, in the end?

Apr 19, 2009

Sunday afternoon

Don't miss Michael Turton's summary of the KMT's efforts to erase Taiwan's memory of the White Terror, or the Jackie Chan remarks that nearly sent me into a cursing fit in the presence of an infant.

Apr 17, 2009

Taiwanese characters / orthography

I get regular hits on the blog from people searcing for 300 standardized Taiwanese characters (hanji).

But I should note that there are, as of now, 400 'suggested' standardized characters put out by the ministry of the education. "Suggested" because the Ministry knew it could not and didn't even want to try to enforce their use at Karaoke or restaurants, the only place most people read Taiwanese.

300 characters were adopted in May 2007, and you can view them here:

臺灣閩南語推薦用字(第1批) (pdf)

Another 100 characters were adopted May 1, 2008 (but largely got ignored due to the impending election), and can be found here:

臺灣閩南語推薦用字(第2批) (pdf)

You can also see a list of some of the suggested revisions and how they would affect Taiwanese songs frequently heard at karaoke:

臺灣閩南語卡拉ok正字字表 (pdf)

It can't all be that bad

Some seemingly good news on the economic front, though I think the optimism in both the US and Taiwan right now is rather unfounded ...

A survey published by ING Investment Management Asia/Pacific appears to show
that 43-per cent of investors in Taiwan expect the country's economic
situation to improve in the second quarter of 2009.

The percentage represents an upswing of 29-percentage points from the
previous survey - which was conducted in December of 2008 - and in which
only 14-per cent of Taiwanese investors predicted the situation would be
better in the first quarter of 2009.

The increase is the highest seen among the 13 Asia-Pacific markets surveyed
- which included China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia Singapore and Australia.

The increase moved the index from "pessimistic" back into the "neutral"
category - with an ING spokesperson saying that the optimistic sentiment of
Taiwanese investors is reflected in their expectations for the stock market
and stock investment returns.

Apr 16, 2009

Chinese media daily round up

Today, in order to filter out noise, I'll stick with CNA articles.

The presidential office has confirmed that Ma will not decide about running for the party chairmanship until June. That's really code for "Ma has to float some trial balloons and see if any other candidates could embarrass him by winning or running anything more than a mock campaign."

A Chinese ARATS delegation will arrive in Taiwan tomorrow afternoon on China Airlines flight CI7952 at about 3:30 (at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport). The group will include a bunch of banking and security people who will be very interested in seeing just how they will manage to help the the Chinese government-industrial complex gain a controlling interest in all major Taiwanese companies & banks (China Times, you're no exception!) Expect feeble protests, air horns and excessive hand wringing.

The legislature is reviewing a bill that will end the awful practice of taping meetings between the accused and their lawyers, while the DPP candidate split in the year-end Tainan county election seems like a sure thing. That kind of infighting will really help them meet the goal of 300,000 at the upcoming May 17th protest!

The foreign ministry denies that China has veto power over Taiwan signing FTAs with other countries, which is only true in the narrowest sense.

Oh, and I discovered the Chinese version of the WSJ site.

must read

Taipei graveyard holds key to White Terror: Arrigo

Apr 15, 2009

I was too disgusted to report on this, so here's Michael Turton's round up.

Apr 13, 2009

On the other hand

I do buy this. And it is scary.

[Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih (陳博志) ] said China was trying to gain control over media in Taiwan by investing in or buying outlets, while the Taiwanese government eliminated information from media reports that portrays itself or China negatively.

The government is accomplishing this by “excluding targeted media outlets from government-sponsored projects or by pulling commercials from those media outlets,” he said....

National Taiwan University professor of economics Chang Ching-hsi (張清溪), who practices Falun Gong, said when New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV), a Chinese TV network based outside China, was trying to buy a channel to broadcast in Taiwan in 2007, no cable system owners would sell them one....

“They told me they didn’t want to earn ‘troublesome money’ from us because we’re Falun Gong,” Chang said. “When you take a closer look at these cable system companies, you find that most of them have investments in China.”

Association of Taiwan Journalists chairman Leon Chuang (莊豐嘉), meanwhile, criticized Ma for giving former aides management positions at the state-owned Radio Taiwan International and the Central News Agency (CNA) after taking office in May.

Chuang, who was then CNA’s deputy editor-in-chief, resigned in protest.

He also panned the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus for freezing part of the budget for the Taiwan Broadcasting Systems (TBS) and its proposal that TBS projects be subject to legislative review.

“Although most people are not aware of it, freedom of expression is weakening and the situation is very bad,” Chuang said. “We’re forced to see the world through the eyes of China and some people still believe that it can be called ‘global perspective.’”

You're kidding.

I don't buy this.

Despite the tighter regulations, tobacco companies still market fruit-flavored cigarettes to young ladies to give the impression that smoking these cigarettes has the same health benefits as eating fruit, the anti-smoking group John Tung Foundation said.

Many young ladies, perhaps because they are unable to consume enough servings of fruit, believe that by smoking peach [cigarettes], they are getting the same amount of nutrition as they would from a real peach,” said Lin Ching-li (林清麗), director of the foundation’s Tobacco Control Division. “This is completely wrong, but young ladies pass it on to each other and create this kind of misconception.”

Apr 12, 2009

That's it, Taiwan is a part of China

Sometimes when I see articles like this, in which a couple of KMT legislators complain about a Xinhua article in which French President Nicolas Sarkozy is quoted saying Taiwan and Tibet are a part of China at the G20 conference, I just want to bang my head against the wall repeatedly.

This is exactly the position of the Ma government, and the feigned self-righteous anger of such hacks as name changer John H. Chiang (蔣孝嚴) is infuriating.

I almost feel like declaring, as I did in the headline, "fine, Taiwan's a part of China. Taiwan is a province of China. Screw reality, let's just declare it. Taiwan belongs to China. Suck on that, suckers. Who needs elections? The KMT is just an illegal pretender to the throne anyway. Annexation, here we come!" I'd like to see how people would react to that.

In the mean time, the foreign ministry will "investigate" the situation and "react appropriately."

A stiff middle finger would have been my old reaction, but now that I've given in to the whole One China myth, I guess staying absolutely silent would be the right thing to do. I would like to encourage foreign leaders to make such statements, reaffirming my own policy, but if I did that, the voters might catch on and put the brakes on the unification train. So better just stick with silence.

I think I need a drink.

Apr 11, 2009

afternoon delight

"A recent announcement by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) that trips made by civil servants to China do not constitute overseas travel drew fire from lawmakers across party lines yesterday."

And "the Hong Kong consultancy that produced a report that prompted President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to order a three-month judicial and governmental review of corruption earlier this week said yesterday the scores should not be interpreted as meaning Taiwan is more corrupt than China."

Broadfoot also said the index did not include corruption in the police, judiciary, financial sector or civil service, in which perceptions in Taiwan were better than in China.

Your feedback

What sort of posts do you want to see on this blog? What do you find valuable, and what do you find boring? Why do you read? Where are you from (if you're comfortable saying)?

Let me know, and thanks to all readers and commentors!

Ma's selective memory

I need not demonstrate just how absurd it is for Ma Ying-jeou to inject himself into history as a formative cause of Taiwan's democratization; his public record demonstrates open opposition to every slow step from the lifting of martial law to the election of the legislature to the direct election of the president. So when I read these paragraphs about his rememberance of Chiang Ching-kuo, I can only hope this is a belated April Fool's joke. Emphasis mine in first pargraph, his own in the last; sorry, no translation:

民國67年(1978)12月15日,美國總統卡特(Jimmy Carter) 宣布與中華民國斷交、廢約、撤軍,全國震動。次年,我在《聯合報》海外版數次投稿,其中一篇名為「歡迎民主、反對獨立」,就主張「臺灣要民主化,但不能走臺獨的路」,當時流亡在美的一位臺灣著名反對派領袖,也認為此一觀點可以接受。另外一篇名為「消除幻覺、自立自強」,評論美國總統卡特被高華德(Barry M. Goldwater)參議員指控違反憲法、不顧國會、單獨終止「中美共同防禦條約」的訟案,提醒國人不要寄望於訴訟的勝利,而要自立自強,才有前途。另外,那一年我也在《中央日報》海外版寫過一篇「促進中國大陸的臺灣化」的文章,探討如何讓當時大陸留美學生了解臺灣經驗,帶回大陸。當時我在海外的言論,可能已引起了政府的注意與重視。


我回去查了總統府公報,當年12月7日中央政府從成都遷到臺北,並沒有作過任何宣布。一週後,我第二次奉召到七海寓所,還是在他的臥房,他還是躺在床上跟我談話。我向他報告查詢的結果,他說:「中華民國憲法,就是中華民國的法統。依照憲法選出來的中央民意代表,就可以代表中華民國的法統,不必再增設大陸代表。」 我當時聽了,真有說不出來的欣慰。因為我本身就反對在未來的國會設置大陸代表,因為既不合理,也行不通。如果能這樣做,為何36年前第一屆立法委員任滿時不做呢?為什麼要等36年呢?這是完全說不通的,人民絕對不能接受,所以我當然反對。經國先生的決定,解開了當時的一個死結。許多資深中央民意代表雖然不滿意,也不便大聲反對。如果他當時不是如此裁決,必然會造成極大的爭議,也必然使外界質疑政府推動政治民主化的誠意。

The real beginning of the end?


“We talked about economic and trade agreements, and financial cooperation will be next. The next thing after that will be a peace agreement, but it will take a long time,” said Stephen S.F. Chen, who is now a national policy advisor to President Ma Ying-jeou.

“The so-called confidence-building measures (CBMs) will be beyond a peace agreement,” he added....

“They still think the civil war is not over. That is why the peace agreement is necessary. But a peace agreement does not necessarily include CBMs,” he said.

Becoming a vassal of Beijing

Becoming a vassal of Beijing
by Lin Chuo-shui (林濁水), former DPP legislator, published first in the Liberty Times
Translated by your truly

Since the 1970's, Taiwan has had difficulty establishing and keeping foreign relations. With the help of the United States and other countries, Taiwan adopted a policy of internationalization and slowly made its way back into international society, joining APEC since 1991 and entering the WTO in 2002. Although participating in these organizations forced Taiwan to make some concessions on her designation, Taiwan did not accept "One China" as a condition for its participation, and Taiwan made full membership the goal.

However, the Hu [Jintao] - Lian [Chan] press communique of 2005 affirms that "Under the principle of One China, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can negotiate Taiwan's participation in international organizations." Ever since Ma Ying-jeou won the presidential election, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have come to a consensus that cross strait consultations should be held when it comes to Taiwan's participation in international activities.

Since the Ma administration has come to power, they have announced a number of policies, including acceptance of the '92 consensus & one China, two interpretations; KMT-CCP negotiations for Taiwan's international space; a détente in competition for foreign allies; an emphasis that America need not get involved in cross-strait relations; giving up the pursuit of mutual recognition [between Taiwan and China]; and stating that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not in a country-to-country relationship, but are two regions of the same country." In the thinking of the Ma administration, Taiwan's status is now:

  1. higher than Hong Kong's, since Taiwan already administers control over its
    own territory and can choose its own leaders and representatives.
  2. lower than Belarus or Ukraine under Soviet rule, as Taiwan is not a member
    of the United Nations.
  3. lower than the Korean state on the periphery of China during the dynastic
    era, as Korea was allowed to send ambassadors to all countries.
  4. giving up not only its legal sovereignty, but its actual

To summarize, the Ma government's sees Taiwan's status as a bit improved over "one country two systems," and a bit better than being a vassal state. But it gives up our independent sovereign status as a nation in favor of making us a vassal-state-in-training . But in fact, even this lowly status was refuted in "Hu's six points," and China has emphasized it will never accept Taiwan's independence, and certainly not partial independence (which basically defines the status of a vassal-state-in-training).

Faced with this kind of pressure, presentation of a unified front to the world by all [Taiwanese] parties ought to be a fundamental policy principle. But in the past few years, the parties have used international and cross-strait relations as a pretext to engage in internal fighting. The KMT-CCP forums are a product of that environment; KMT officials running off to China, drinking and laughing with those who seek to swallow Taiwan. The two groups work as one, crushing their common political enemy in Taiwan. This is a wonder of mankind's political history. [With the KMT's adoption of] such a bizarre "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me" policy, national sovereignty is quickly disappearing and domestic opposition will only increase. To submit to becoming a vassal state of Bejing has already become the current administration's basic policy; and that is currently the single largest danger to Taiwan's sovereignty.

Apr 9, 2009

A-bian writes again

::sigh:: What a mess. I wish this would all just be behind us.

Ma's not the only one honoring the Yellow Emperor

Just ask honorary KMT chair Lien Chan.

On this year's holiday, honorary chairman of Kuomintang (KMT) Lien Chan led a 35-member delegation from Chinese Taiwan to the ceremony and became the highest-ranking KMT official to the event in the past 60 years.

“It is very significant to be here to attend the ceremony," Lien said at the ceremony. "People from across the Taiwan Straits are all Chinese. They share the same root, the same clan and the same ancestor. Nothing can, or should, separate them from each other. Blood is thicker than water.”

Lien arrived in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, Thursday evening on the third visit to the city. The 73-year-old Lien was born in the city and his grandmother was buried there....

Yuan Chunqing, governor of Shaanxi province, said realizing the reunification of the motherland would be the best way to remember the Yellow Emperor.

Corruption ranking

The Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranked Taiwan lower (more corrupt) than China in a recent corruption report. President Ma Ying-jeou is spinning this as a DPP era problem, and calling for action to clean up "major" scandals.

But since the ranking results are based on a survey of foreign business executives, most of the corruption being talked about would be low level corruption that the business executives deal with when opening a company, dealing with regulations, taxes or officials, etc.

Ma is proposing the wrong remedy for the malady-- a set of laws that are designed to facilitate corruption (political donation laws that ask politicians to report spending but not receipts, a lack of transparency in politicians income, a legislature which won't take back salary of unqualified legislators who stole their salaries, etc). These laws work hand-in-hand with a low level political culture which expects corruption.

If Taiwan wants to improve its ranking on the corruption index, it will have to do much more than have a set of "investigations" of "major" corruption scandals.


Time to make a few wild predictions.

+ Houston will win the National League Central Division title and then be screwed in the first series of the playoffs.

+ My map for 2009 County Magistrate election data (soon to be made public) will be updated too infrequently.

+ The DPP will win only 4 mayoral/magistrate posts this election, despite popular unrest over the economy. This will translate into a continued domination of the KMT (with a handful of New Party guys thrown in) over all levels of Taiwanese government.

+ I will feel better as the medicine I took today for my cough continues to work on me.

+ Obama will not make a major breakthrough with Iran in time to prevent really, really big trouble.

Apr 1, 2009

What the hell is the GIO?

Racist Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英) returns to Taiwan with Bamboo Union gangster protection and in complete defiance of Taiwanese society, media, and government. But I have to say, this is taking things too far...

DPP Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said Kuo might have been in contempt of authority under the Criminal Code for saying: “What the hell is the GIO? What is the GIO?” during an interview with TVBS prior to his departure from Toronto.
I'd hate to think a remark like that would be illegal, especially considering Kuo is no longer an employee of the GIO. Then again, Kuo's ganster cronies are nuts, and I hope they'll at least be ticketed for these maneuvers:
Kuo’s driver performed a number of dangerous maneuvers while driving at high speed to try to lose chasing cars. At one point, he drove the wrong way down streets, running red lights and hitting an ETTV cable channel vehicle while making a high-speed turn near Wuxing Street.

An employee at the China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP), established by Chang An-le, said the party had arranged for different cars to carry Kuo during the chase, including two taxis belonging to the Grand Chinese Taxi Association, a chapter of the party.
This is at least a more open revival of the Unificationist-Gangster alliance, if not yet openly a revival of the Party-Gangster alliance of old.