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Oct 29, 2009


Yet another year of (probably) fixed baseball in Taiwan makes me very frowny face. Especially when it heavily involves the team that lost the championship.


The green-leaning Liberty Times cites an unnamed KMT Central Standing Committee member, saying Ma Ying-jeou and all the cabinet members were given gifts by candidates back during Mid-Autumn Festival. The disgruntled anonymous "former" CSC member, forced to resign with all other members in the wake of a scandal showing wide spread bribery by those running for election, asks if that means Ma is also guilty of taking a bribe from candidates, as he is also eligible to vote for CSC members.

Oct 26, 2009

China Times: Taiwan has access to real time PLA movements

So they say. The report, in which China Times quotes unnamed military sources, claims that Taiwan's military has rented access to a privately-owned high quality satellite to spy on China, and has been doing so for years now. The data is extensive, including photos showing detail down to 0.6m, and allows Taiwan to maintain real time understanding of China's troop and equipment movements.

The article implies that the US must know about and be passively allowing Taiwan to maintain this contract, otherwise, the report alleges, the Taiwanese officials involved wouldn't have gotten visas to go to the US in the process of dealing with this satellite company. Considering the close cooperation between high-tech companies and the US government, I would suggest it would indeed be unlikely such a contract would escape the notice of the US.

Is this news? I don't know enough about the topic to say. But it's being broken as news.

Oct 21, 2009

Some things never change...

But TVBS does occasionally switch away from being a KMT mouthpiece! While channel surfing last night, I decided to take the old motto to heart which advises "keep your friends close but your enemies closer." So I turned on a TVBS news talk show, 新聞夜總會. And the opening segment shown here has some interesting rumors, where pro-blue insider commentators suggest that half or more of the newly elected KMT central standing committee gave gifts to voters (against regulations). This was particularly noteworthy because one of Ma's first actions upon coming chairman was to invalidate the results of two members' election to that body on the basis that they gave gifts. Here's the first related clip:

Let's see if anyone else gets punished ...


Taiwan falls from 36th to 59th place in the press freedom rankings compiled by Reporters without Borders, and the compliers point to the newly empowered KMT's actions as a major cause.

On those latest Unification/Independence poll numbers

Tim Maddog has blogged on an apparent explosion in support for "immediate independence" over at Taiwan Matters!, but let me throw in some cautionary words.

First, keep in mind that there is a lot of ambiguity on what constitutes the status quo (is Taiwana province of an all-China ROC? Is Taiwan de facto independent? Is Taiwan's status undetermined?). Remembering this will help us decode the shift in support.

Tim does a good job of comparing the latest poll results with an earlier Mainland Affairs Council poll on the subject. In the table below, I've also thrown in a Global Affairs 5/20 poll on the same subject.

Independence ASAPStatus quo now, Independence laterStatus quo now, decide laterStatus quo foreverStatus quo now, unification laterUnification ASAP
Global Affairs 10/2019%10.3%40.7%11%4.3%4.0%
Global Affairs 05/2015%10.4%44.9%11.5%5.1% 3.2%
MAC 4/206.7%15.1%35%27%7.6%1.2%

Taking in all the data together, it appears support for unification now or later is rather static at around the 8.0-8.5% mark. The independence ASAP camp does seem to have gained some ground lately, picking up support from the "wait and see" group. Still, if the latest Global Affairs poll is accurate, a solid two thirds majority are content with the ambiguous "status quo."

Perhaps the shift is a result of people fearing Ma is moving too fast. Perhaps it's because people no longer find the status quo as ambiguously favorable toward Taiwan as they did before. Or perhaps the increase is really just statistical noise. In any case, it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on these numbers as time goes on.

Oct 17, 2009

Taiwan, China, and freedom

Michael Turton has repeatedly made the point that the closer Taiwan moves to China, even as talks remain restricted to economic issues (for the time being), the farther away Taiwan moves from democracy.

Now, my nose tells me that there will be plenty of skeptics to this theory, especially as the connection is not so linear. After all, why must it be so? There are so many other possible outcomes. Maybe nothing will really chance in Taiwan. Or maybe Taiwan will make China more democratic through osmosis, right?

I think it's increasingly apparent Michael is right. Not because this outcome is somehow inevitable, but because China clearly has every intention of using all the leverage it has to extract compliance from Taiwan in all areas. Let us count the ways that Chinese pressure has manifested in just the last couple of months:

  • Rebiya Kadeer was denied a visa due to the "national interest," which is to say because China would have thrown a hissy fit.
  • Kaohsiung City nearly didn't show The 10 Conditions of Love at their film festival due to Chinese pressure; an earlier decision to screen it early and separately still resulted in China directing its tourists away from Kaohsiung, causing a hit to the tourism industry here and setting a solid precedent.
  • The virtual guarantee that the Dalai Lama will not be granted a visa again (it had been denied once already, but the 8/8 flooding made it impossible to deny it the second time).
China already uses its rhetorical leverage to send international investors scurrying away from Taiwan whenever China gets its feelings hurt or senses "splittist" activity. But imagine what's going to happen when the Chinese own significant amounts of stock, real estate, and businesses here (including joint ventures with Taiwan companies).

These tools will be leveraged just as the tourists were in Kaohsiung; when Taiwan complies with Chinese wishes (which everyone agrees are aimed solely at unification), China will play nice. When Taiwan does not comply with those wishes, China will make Taiwan hurt.

Even if we grant the KMT the best of intentions, the KMT-CCP dynamic is a whirlpool that will suck Taiwan into ever-decreasing norms of freedoms and eventual unification. Simply put, the KMT wants greater economic integration with China and political détente; China wants unification; China has the greater leverage in negotiations; so China will demand steps toward unification as it grants economic integration and marginal political favors, while denying any political détente that will really push unification off the table for a while.

None of this is to say that China can use this intimidation to successfully annex Taiwan -- there could eventually be significant backlash. But with the KMT in power, things do not look bright.

Oct 15, 2009

Dan Bloom writes on Woodstock and how it changed more than the US.

Oct 14, 2009

Rundown of KMT factional problems

Well, all candidates are registered for year end elections, and the final picture is not pretty for the KMT -- not because the DPP is looking so strong, but because of KMT infighting. In fact, the KMT is suffering faction driven splits in candidates in Nantou, Hsingchu County, Hualien, Chiayi City, and Jinmen. Those would otherwise be safe seats.

Here is the run down of what things look like on a county by country basis:

District Candidate Party
Yilan 林聰賢 DPP
  呂國華 KMT
Taoyuan 吳志揚 KMT
  鄭文燦 DPP
  吳富彤 Hakka Party
Hsinchu County 張碧琴 No affiliation
  曾錦祥 No affiliation
  彭紹瑾 DPP
  邱鏡淳 KMT
Miaoli 李佳穆 No affiliation
  楊長鎮 DPP
  劉政鴻 KMT
Changhua 卓伯源 KMT
  翁金珠 DPP
  張春男 No affiliation
Nantou 陳振盛 No affiliation
  李文忠 DPP
  李朝卿 KMT
  張俊宏 No affiliation
Yunlin 蘇治芬 DPP
  吳威志 KMT
Chiayi County 蕭登標 No affiliation
  張花冠 DPP
  翁玉隆 No affiliation
  翁重鈞 KMT
Pingtung 周典論 KMT
  曹啟鴻 DPP
Taitung 黃健庭 KMT
  劉櫂豪 DPP
Hualien 張志明 No affiliation
  杜麗華 KMT
  傅崐萁 No affiliation
Penghu 王乾發 KMT
  蔡見興 DPP
  曾坤炳 No affiliation
Keelung 李步輝 No affiliation
  張通榮 KMT
  林右昌 DPP
Hsingchu City 許明財 KMT
  劉俊秀 DPP
  林修二 No affiliation
Chiayi City 涂醒哲 DPP
  林聖芬 No affiliation
  黃敏惠 KMT
Jinmen 吳成典 No affiliation
  翁天慶 No affiliation
  楊榮祥 No affiliation
  陳水在 No affiliation
  李沃士 KMT
  許敬民 No affiliation
  梁國棟 No affiliation
Lienchiang 劉增應 KMT
  楊綏生 KMT
  陳財能 No affiliation