Taiwan Matters! The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan, and don't you forget it!

"Taiwan is not a province of China. The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan."

Stick that in your clipboards and paste it, you so-called "lazy journalists"!

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Thursday, August 31, 2006



I offer this anecdote as a glimpse into how at least one person in Taiwan views the political situation here as well as Taiwan's relation to China. I like anecdotes, which might or might not express my personal views, because they in some ways break through the media filters that tend to represent specific corporate interests. To me, each personal account adds depth and nuance to stories that are usually presented as one-dimensional, this-or-that happenings with single interpretations.

A friend of mine from Germany introduced me to a friend of his last night, a Hakka woman from Miaoli County. Her family has been in Taiwan for several generations and came from somewhere in Guangdong Province. We met at a bar near National Taiwan University specializing in Belgian beer. Of course, I asked her many questions about politics here, as she asked me questions about America ("Do you like Bush?").

She said she gets mad everytime she hears Mainland Chinese say Taiwan is part of China. However, she said she is not green (pro-DPP and its allies) or blue (pro-KMT and its allies). She is in the center and is fed up with both parties. When my friend asked her if she supports Taiwan independence, she replied that Taiwan is already independent. It is just a matter of recognition of that fact.

However, she also said that she wasn't against unification between Taiwan and China at some point in the future. The main issue for her, though, is what are the conditions of the unification, and any talk of unification under China's present leadership is unacceptable for her.

Are her views representative of Taiwanese in general? Of the Hakka community? Of people in Miaoli? Of people in her class or sector of society?



More on the live-television beating

Taipei Times has an interesting editorial about the beating that took place on a political talk show on live TV, which Jason discussed and linked to below. It is by Cao Changqing, a freelance journalist based in the US (translated into English by Daniel Cheng):

This shocking and outrageous event, broadcast repeatedly on TV over the past few days, clearly points to two fundamental factors behind conflict in Taiwan.

The problem facing Taiwan is not a problem of ethnicity, but rather of identity. And the behavior of those who do not identify with Taiwan is outrageously arrogant.

Chin [Heng-wei], a Mainlander, sees Taiwan as his country and he has expressed his love for the nation by writing prolifically and attending numerous debates.

Lin [Cheng-chieh], on the other hand, does business in Shanghai, and according to a report by the China Press, a New York-based, pro-Beijing Chinese-language newspaper, loves China so much that he has "visited almost every province in the mother country."

Clearly, Lin does not call Taiwan home.

And while no one is going to force Lin to identify with Taiwan, no one is stopping him from moving to a country he does identify with, either.

Yet he is so arrogant about his beliefs that he not only assaulted someone on live TV over a difference of opinion, but also threatened to repeat the attack if Chin did not change his ways.

It is understandable that many people who live in Taiwan identify strongly with China either because they spent their youth there or because of the manner in which they have been educated.

If they are unable to love Taiwan as much as other Mainlanders such as Chin, Taiwan's representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉), the Taiwan Solidarity Union's Taipei mayoral candidate Clara Chou (周玉簆) or political commentator Huang Kuang-chin (黃光芹), then this is their choice.

However, it is likely that any normal person who chooses to live in a country with which they do not identify will be unhappy.

Taiwan has been a refuge for many Chinese who have fallen foul of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), helping them to avoid being killed or imprisoned for 20 years -- like Lin's own father.

As a result, although it is not where they were born, many Mainlanders have come to love Taiwan.

Lin and others of his ilk who refuse to identify with Taiwan but still choose to live here are irrational.

The fact that a person like this has the gumption to assault another who expresses an opinion different to his own is unacceptable.

This self-important and overbearing attitude is the result of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) "master" mentality, the pan-blue camp's slim legislative majority and its ability to use the judiciary to its advantage.

It is also a result of the pan-blue camp having a powerful cheer squad in the form of sympathetic media outlets and, of course, the CCP.



Frank Hsieh's Blog

Frank Hsieh, DPP candidate for mayor of Taipei (why?), has a blog here.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Ministry plans to Procure 60 F-16s

Numerous reports have been circulating in the media in recent months that Taiwan is planning to buy F-16s from the US. Yesterday the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that it would put a request for more aircraft in the budget:

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday that it has proposed a budget for procuring 66 F-16C/D fighter jets from the US.

Vice Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-hsi (高廣圻), a vice admiral, told a press conference yesterday that part of the budget to purchase the fighters would be included in next year's military budget book which would be sent to the legislature at the end of this month for review.

The ministry's confirmation of the F-16C/D budget is believed to show its determination to push through its arms budget requests and to respond to a report in a US magazine that said Washington has decided not to sell the fighters to Taiwan for the time being.

The Ministry also released its report on national defense, which was obviously heavily politicized, as it claimed the biggest threat to Taiwan's security was China's missile force. The missiles are nasty, but there are too few and they are too inaccurate to be a credible threat to Taiwan's security. The real threat to Taiwan's security is China's development of a modern air force and navy..... In any case it appears that the MND wants to drum up local support for a strategic missile program aimed at China, in case foreign powers such as the US feel the urge to suppress it...

This year's report indicated that the military is establishing a "special missile force," the first time mention of such a force has been made in the annual reports.

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑), however, refused to comment when asked at the press conference whether the "special missile force" referred to strategic missiles.

"I do not want to highlight the matter," Lee said.

"Every time the development of missiles is mentioned by the media, the military comes under pressure internationally. I do not like the pressure," he said.

Washington is severely unhappy with the legislature's refusal to make progress on the arms bill, and other publications have reported that any sales of F-16s will be contingent on forward motion in that regard. I don't see any prospect of that. Thus, look for more Blue betrayal of Taiwan's defense interests. If the DPP plays this card right, they can severely impact the Blues' 'strong on security' claims in the upcoming elections.



All Shih all the Time

Saruman laughed again. "Not he! When his tools have done their task he drops them."

The Shih Ming-te campaign continues, although outside of Taipei one would never know. Target date for the formal beginning of the sit-in is after President Chen returns from his visit to Palau, September 9th, 10 days off, three lifetimes in politics. Thus, the Shih campaign needs to keep itself in the public eye by constant talk and action for the next 10 days, giving plenty of opportunity for stupidity to occur. Fortunately the papers have reported that the DPP plans to soften its approach and give Shih the rope he needs to hang himself.

The Chinese papers reported this morning that Shih's complaints about the fence-sitting of Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, Chairman of the KMT and darling of the Deep Blues, had driven some of the good Mayor Ma's supporters -- who appear to be career suckers -- to demand their NT$100 back from the campaign. Shih is going to find out that his old enemies/new friends will back him precisely as long as remains useful, and not one second longer."When his tools have done their task he drops them." I would estimate Shih's shelf-life is about the biblical forty days.....and then it is back to the political wilderness.

Yesterday Shih's new spokesman said that the campaign would hold practice sit-ins.

According to Jerry Fan (范可欽), a new spokesman for Shih's campaign, organizers will prepare 230 seats for the "trial" sit-in on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office between Sept. 1 and Sept. 7, and later at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on Sept. 8.

Shih will officially begin the sit-in protest on Sept. 9 after Chen returns from a state visit to Palau.

Shih's movement has decided to launch "trial" protests first in order to boost interest in the event.

Not to mention keep Shih in the public eye. The campaign, Spokesman Fan also announced, is changing its name from the anti-Chen campaign to the Anti-Corruption campaign. You won't see it going after anyone in the KMT or PFP, though.

Shih's shift to a new spokesman was apparently the result of previous spokeswoman Ho De-fen exceeding the bounds of good sense the other day:

Wang also demanded that Ho De-fen (賀德芬), a spokeswoman for Shih's camp, apologize to the public and to DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) for insinuating that he had planted two bags outside Shih's headquarters on Monday that staff at Shih's headquarters reported to police, concerned that they were bombs.

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Chen/Ma differences laid out in Recent Taiwan Review

Taiwan Review offers a review of China-Taiwan relations over the years....ending with a comparison of the respective positions of Chen and Ma on cross-strait relations....

In April, President Chen Shui-bian met with Kuomintang Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou at the Office of the President to exchange opinions on various subjects. Excerpts of their views on cross-strait policies follow:

Chen: The major difference between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is their political systems. All people and political parties in Taiwan share the same belief that Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to the 23 million people of Taiwan and that the anti -secession law China just passed is unacceptable. The decision to cease the functioning of the National Unification Council [NUC] and the application of its Guidelines means to return to the people the right to make the ultimate decision.

Ma: On cross-strait relations, we believe that it's best to maintain the status quo. In addition to my "five noes," which are actually the "four noes and one not" Mr. President brought up, we believe that there should also be "five wants." These are: to reopen cross-strait dialogues on the foundation of the "1992 consensus"; sign a 30-to-50-year peace agreement including military confidence-building measures; normalize economic and trade ties; establish a modus vivendi for Taiwan's participation in the international community; and to greatly expand cultural exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" is the foundation on which to reopen cross-strait talks. The consensus was that both sides accept the "one China" principle, but each side has the freedom to interpret what "one China" means. What's important about the "1992 consensus" is the content, not the term. It's not written down in any official and formal way, but nevertheless served as the most important basis for later dialogue between the two sides of the Strait. If there hadn't been this consensus, there wouldn't have been the Singapore dialogue in 1993.

Chen: I've personally checked with people who were directly involved with the 1992 Hong Kong meeting. The fact is that the term "1992 consensus" doesn't exist. There was no consensus on allowing "different interpretations." For China, the "1992 consensus" refers to its "one China" principle, where Taiwan is seen as its province. It's totally different from the KMT's perception that each side can retain its own interpretation of "one China." It's difficult to use a non-existent consensus as a foundation for dialogue.

The "four noes and one not" in my inaugural speech were conditional upon China's having no intention to use military force against Taiwan. The situation has now changed. China's missiles targeting Taiwan have increased from 200 in 2000 to the current 784 and are still increasing. This is not a friendly gesture but a preparation for war. Intelligence has shown that China has even set a timetable for taking Taiwan by force. We cannot simply pretend that we see nothing and hear nothing.

The core value of my "four noes and one not" policy is not to protect the policy itself but to protect Taiwan's democracy, freedom and human rights. Therefore, the true "four noes and one not" are that Taiwan should not be downgraded, not be treated as a local government, not have its government downgraded, not see its sovereignty diminished and that there is no such thing as the "one China" principle.

A cross-strait peace agreement implies the coexistence of the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, some thing to which the PRC, based on its one-China principle, would not agree. Even former US President Bill Clinton told me that he did not agree with the naive idea of signing a cross-strait interim agreement proposed by one of his staff members.

Putting sensitive political disputes aside, we have been actively negotiating with China on cultural and economic exchanges such as direct charter flights and allowing tourists from China. Considering our national security and the interests of the Taiwanese people, however, I believe we have to be very careful in handling these issues.

Ma: Our interpretation that "one China" is the Republic of China is based on the former conclusion of a National Unification Council meeting. The key is that each side doesn't deny the other, though they don't recognize or agree with the other. On his visit to China in April 2005, former KMT Chairman Lien Chan met with Hu Jintao and they agreed on seeking the possibility of signing a cross-strait peace agreement--but there was no mention of unification. China has been deploying more missiles, and Taiwan is also buying more defensive weapons, but an arms race is not the solution. The ability to defend our nation is important, but political negotiations are also necessary to solve disputes.

I understand the precondition of the "four noes and one not" policy, but don't agree with your using China's increase of its missiles and the passing of the anti-secession law as excuses to announce the cessation of the functioning of the NUC and its Guidelines. The anti-secession law was in place for a year and the missiles have been increasing all the time prior to your announcement. In fact, the NUC had not met since you took office. It was really not necessary to make a formal announcement that provoked China and jeopardized the mutual trust between Taiwan and the United States.

Chen: The NUC was established in 1990. It was set up by a decision of the KMT rather than by legislative resolution, and is therefore without any legal basis. The Guidelines, as drawn up by the NUC, are merely generalized, principled political statements. They weren't enacted by a legitimate body empowered by the law to do so, nor were they legally binding. Clearly, they do not accord with the democratic system nor the rule of law in today's Taiwan. In addition, setting unification as the ultimate goal of our national cross-strait policy clearly ruled out other possibilities. Taiwan is shared by its 23 million people, and only they may decide its future.

Pursuant to Chen's claims, the GIO hosts the 2006 National Security Report here.

(crossposted from Taiwan Review: No Bridging the Divide)


Tuesday, August 29, 2006


The Nelson Report on the prospects of a US-Taiwan FTA

The Nelson Report, the unofficial newsletter of DC’s Asia policy community, took a look at the obstacles that stand in the way of a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States on Aug. 23. For the sake on discussion I’m posting the portion of the report that deals with the FTA in its entirety interspersed with my own thoughts. (Emphases mine).


SUMMARY: on the trade front, it’s been interesting to see a gradual but steady rise in activity here, and in Taipei, boosting the idea of a US-Taiwan FTA, an economic proposal with more than the usual amount of deeply embedded politics, domestic and international. At the Center for National Policy yesterday, John Deng, an old friend for the Washington trade community, but Taiwan’s new Deputy Representative here, ably made the latest presentation on the “case” for starting negotiations soon.

Not only is TPA (Trade Promotion Authority)/fast track presumed to be expiring next July, but the current US trade agenda needs to focus on economically significant deals. This Taiwan certainly represents, with a domestic market of $182.6 billion, far in excess of current US FTA or negotiating partners Australia, Thailand, and Malaysia, Deng argued.

And, he urged, Taiwan’s fledgling democracy, and booming free enterprise system, needs all the support it can get as it seeks to keep up with it’s giant partner/rival across the Strait...a China with which, Deng conceded, current relations are “stalled”.

Looming like the elephant in the living room, of course, is the presumed reality that you can’t talk about a US-Taiwan FTA as a stand-alone issue...you simply have to factor in the likely reaction from Beijing, and thus also the “larger issue” of US-China relations.

So an FTA discussion gets you right into the middle of the Cross Strait contest which has made official political relations between Washington and Taipei so difficult, since the Carter Administration.

We say “presumed” reaction from Beijing, since, as an official matter, US government folks have always, correctly, been reluctant to formally concede that China has what amounts to veto power over a US decision to start FTA talks with Taipei.

And in any event, as any USTR official will explain, on or off the record, until and unless Taiwan takes stronger steps to meet US concerns about IPR, and agricultural product access... and Taipei also indicates a plausible
intention to address these issues seriously in any FTA negotiations which might start
...then Beijing’s views are a moot point.

But there is precedent to think that a deal could be reached, in principle, given the linkage of WTO membership for both Taipei and Beijing in the successful Clinton Administration PNTR negotiations, which facilitated admission for both “economies”.

Taiwan’s domestic politics also play into the equation, in that Beijing-Taipei relations are, under the DPP government, touchy, unpredictable, and often self-contradictory. For its part, China has emphasized its displeasure with the DPP by not dealing at all with President Chen and his officials, while making a point, in recent years, of welcoming the opposition KMT leadership.

It’s only fair to point out that China isn’t the only one who’s been playing favorites here; the U.S. also rolled out the red carpet for Ma Ying-jeou during his visit to Washington earlier this year, but has yet to allow either of Taiwan’s elected leaders into the capital.
The DPP government has reciprocated by trying, with little success, to stall the increasingly massive Taiwan business community investment in China. This is now something like $100 billion, Deng told the Center for National
Policy audience.

But it is erroneous to label the DPP government’s decision as a simple case of sour grapes. Taiwan’s increasing economic reliance on China creates not only an national security risk in the form of a serious conflict of interest with a country that has hundreds of missiles pointed at it, but an economic risk that has Taiwan putting all of its direct investment eggs in a single basket.
So the first question which arises, given China’s evident intention to wait out the Chen/DPP Administration in hopes of a more accommodating KMT under a President Ma, is why would China, formally or informally, give the US the
“green light” to start FTA talks while the DPP still rules?

But second question, and an important one, is whether the Bush Administration might conclude that giving China any such “veto” whether assumed or presumed, is a bad precedent along the same lines as clearing with Beijing the US military and other support for Taiwan which is required under the Taiwan Relations Act.

“Heads up” is one thing, but “we need your OK” is neither sensible, nor allowed, analysts remind us.

A third question is whether the DPP government is prepared to make some gestures to both Taiwan’s business community, and to Beijing...many steps the DPP government currently refuses to undertake, since it would involve compromising on the principle of sovereignty, a point Deng conceded yesterday.

The US business community can help, say by demanding that the “3 links” be opened up to permit direct, “normal” flights across the Strait, officials here quietly urge. The international language of commerce may yet bridge some of the perceptual and political gaps. Deng yesterday noted that Microsoft recently held its international managers’ meeting in Taipei, and that 400 of the 700 attendees came from the Mainland.

Unfortunately, the US business community learned long ago that Beijing sees Taiwan’s economic expansion as a risk to its own national interests, and seems to have suddenly lost its voice as Taiwan goes around looking for U.S. corporations to support for an FTA.

Another side of the issue the Nelson Report does not address are the possible consequences of a US-Taiwan FTA. The impending implosion of the Doha round of trade talks within the WTO has placed fresh impetus on individual economies to tie up together for the time being. One of the major reasons why Taiwan has been pushing the FTA so hard recently is that China has quite effectively frozen it out of ASEAN+3 by tying the soveriegnty issue to any bilateral trade accords with its member countries. Taiwan figures that having the US sign on as a “true” economic partner would probably be enough to reassure other countries to help bring Taiwan into the increasingly inter-connected web of regional and bilateral trade deals. Like I said before, this is not in China’s interest since it has been working assiduously to make sure Taiwan is strapped tight to its economic apron strings.

Unfortunately, I think the fight has already been lost for a US-Taiwan FTA. Not only is the Bush administration’s fast-track trade negotiating power running out next year, but the USTR’s office is already stretched thin negotiating deals with countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Even if Taiwan cleaned up its IPR record and addressed the afore-mentioned agricultural and pharmaceutical issues, I doubt the US would be able to open negotiations with Taiwan even if it wanted.

For more information on the obstacles and potential surrounding the US-Taiwan FTA, you can check out this transcript to a recent conference on the issue held at George Washington University, featuring the opinions of Taiwan’s unofficial ambassador to the US David Lee, GWU economics professor Michael Moore, and US-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers, among others.

Cross-posted at Wandering to Tamshui


Monday, August 28, 2006


Anti-Chen Campaign Wraps Up Its Accounts

Taiwan News reports that the Shih Campaign has made its $NT100 million goal, and is shutting down its accounts in preparation for beginning the sit-in in front of the Presidential Palace:

Now that he has received the support from one million citizens and more than NT$100 million in public donations, former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) has begun preparing for his sit-in seeking President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) ouster.

Ho Teh-fen, a spokeswoman for the campaign, announced on Thursday that Shih's two bank accounts and one post office account opened to accept donations for the "One million people to depose the president" campaign were closed at midnight. As of Thursday afternoon, accumulated donations had come to NT$109,180,809, she said.

Shih, who served as DPP chairman from 1994-1996 before leaving the party in 2000, called for people to donate NT$100 each to support his sit-in protest in front of the Presidential Office to pressure Chen to resign over a series of corruption and embezzlement allegations implicating the president, his family members, and senior aides, according to Shih.

Ho said the sit-in will probably start September 1 or September 2, prior to Chen's scheduled departure for a state visit to Palau on September 3. It may also begin on either September 8 or September 9, after President Chen returns from the visit.

The article also featured quotes from Chen Chu, Shih's comrade in arms from the revolutionary days, asking the DPP to refrain from attacks on Shih, not only a smart political move, but also something that must be tearing apart a great many people. Politics may be local, but it is also personal:

Chen Chu (陳菊), who is running in the year-end Kaohsiung mayoral election under the DPP banner, expressed her disapproval of Shih's campaign. She reminded Shih that "there are only people, and no single hero," referring to what she called the media's attempts to "paint a heroic image" of Shih.

Chen said that the president was elected by the people through a democratic process and that if the people want the president to step down, there are constitutional methods such as initiating a motion to recall or impeach the president.

Chen said that despite her disagreement with Shih's advocacy and conduct, she respects his right to do so and objects to the recent personal attacks made on him by some DPP members.

She said the DPP should tolerate the Shih-led sit-in protest for as long as it lasts and should stop DPP politicians from leading an opposing group of people to the scene to counter Shih's action.

Stressing that the people have the right to express their anger at the government, Chen called on the DPP to conduct a sincere self-examination and squarely face the people's anger.

She urged the DPP to stop its politicians from resorting to "mud slinging and provocative actions" that might lead to violence, and to allow the matter to conclude peacefully.

Chen Chu was one of the members of the Kaohsiung 8, along with Shih Ming-te.

Where is this campaign going to go? Chen isn't going to resign, so if the DPP remains patient, prevents the outbreak of violence -- a distinct possibility given the KMT's longstanding use of organized crime to instigate violence at political protests -- and says nothing stupid -- someone needs to talk to Chen Shui-bian about his penchant for wisecracks -- this can only end with Shih a failure, provoking general public disgust with him, and the money disappearing in ways that suggest corruption. Major Blue leaders Ma Ying-jeou and James Soong have kept their distance -- Soong's distance is especially suggestive, given his well-developed political antennae.

Another potential victim is mayor Ma Ying-jeou, also Chairman of the KMT. Any violence that breaks out will reflect negatively on his administration. One might think this would restrain the Blues, but James Soong, the Chairman of the PFP, has been toying with the idea of a run for mayor. A canny supporter might conclude that violence at a political demonstration is just the ticket to give the KMT a black eye -- and some within the DPP might come to the same conclusion as well, since enhancing Soong's status splits the Blues and helps the DPP in the Taipei mayor election. Hence, in all this mess, the one beneficiary might well be James Soong, one of the people who helped put Shih in jail back in the 1980s, and conducted a propaganda campaign to blacken his name at home and abroad.

The gods love irony.

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Is Sisy Chen a liar, an amateurish thaumaturge, or both?

Let her own words and Occam's razor tell us

Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian is suing Little Bo Peep cosplayer Sisy Chen for allegations she made that the president is planning to use Taiwan's "Air Force One" to flee the country with his valuables during a desperation-reeking drive to oust him by the soulless Shih Ming-teh. He should have sued her immediately after the 2004 election when she lied about an imaginary "nurse" at Chimei Hospital who supposedly told her that the president's shooting the day before the election was "faked."

It's an ugly illusion
In Saturday's Taipei Times, Sisy "explained" her allegations -- some of which are demonstrably false, others which she apparently pulled them directly out of thin air. Here's how that paper relates Sisy's fussing:
"The president hasn't used Air Force One before. The last time he visited Palau, he used China Airlines. It's surely an issue of concern as to why he has chosen Air Force One this time," she said.

She said that she had listed four possible reasons why the president would choose Air Force One, of which transporting his valuables was only one.

"I said that the president may be planning to make surprise transit visits on the excuse of refueling Air Force One, avoiding any possible demonstrations, transporting his valuables and the need of being accompanied by people involved in the alleged embezzlement of state funds," she said.
Or maybe there's a teapot floating in space around the sun that was placed there by Louis Armstrong when he played his trumpet on the moon!*

There's a bunch of BS up her sleeves
The unlimited possiblities include many which are quite the opposite of what Sisy claims, so let's just take a look at the one about "avoiding any possible demonstrations" for the moment, shall we?

First, we already know that demonstrations will be occurring. Second, the plan for these demonstrations was announced on August 12, 2006.

Yet, the July 29, 2006 edition of the Taipei Times tells us that "Taiwan will hold its first ever summit with its six Pacific island allies in Palau in early September" and that " President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will be making his third trip to the Pacific in two years for the Sept. 4 summit." That simple fact makes Sisy's "possibility" an impossibility, which in turn makes her a liar.

Emptiest hat ever
But let's focus in further. Sisy says that the last time the president went to Palau he flew China Airlines and this his choice to fly Air Force One was "an issue of concern." I think Sisy's mental capacity may be "an issue of concern." As I just mentioned, the big difference in this trip is that President Chen will be attending the "first ever summit with [Taiwan's] six Pacific island allies." Could that possibly justify the use of Air Force One?

Sisy tried to downplay her lying by claiming that what she said was merely "reasonable conjecture." That would certainly hinge on a reasonable definition of "reasonable."

Ladies and gentlemen, Sisy Chen is no David Copperfield. All you have to do is pay attention and have the ability to remember back to her last outrageous illusion, and her smoke, mirrors, and Little Bo Peep costume will disappear before your very eyes. Ew!

PS: Sunday morning's papers brought us some contradictory information. The China Post asserts that "the time will be announced soon pending the exact timetable of activities to be adopted by President Chen," while the Taipei Times said that "Taipei police authorities have refused permission for Shih's sit-in to be held around the clock," despite earlier reports in which Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou "hinted that this application was approved because the country's public assembly law does not set any time limit on protest activities." TV reports on Sunday afternoon, however, showed that Shih Ming-teh's minions were still "rehearsing" for his "sit-in," and spokesperson Ho De-fen had told viewers watching TV on Saturday night that the "Nelson Mandela of his own imagination" wants to have showers. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?

Diagnoses: , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006


ESWN: Wang Wenyi = Ting Wan-ming

Burakov: You think that a man is what he says.
Fetisov: He is, if he talks for a living.

There are times I wish ESWN would stick to his usual tabloid recipe of tits and ass, true crime, and translations of blogposts on Chinese villagers being beaten up by gangsters trying to steal their land....The other day he posted the story of United Daily News (UDN) reporter Ting Wan-ming, who was punished by his employer for a political outburst during an awards ceremony...first his account of the event:

A reporter with the Chinese-language United Daily News was removed from his post yesterday after he shouted at President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), demanding he step down from the presidency while covering an award presentation ceremony in Taipei. In front of dozens of TV cameras, the reporter, identified as Ting Wan-ming (丁萬鳴), shouted "President Chen step down!" at the president while waving a placard saying "Depose Chen" after Chen delivered a speech at a ceremony marking the presentation of awards to producers of "products very well made in Taiwan" for the year. Ting was immediately subdued by three security guards and his poster and folder was also removed and checked. Chen was escorted by other guards as he swiftly left the scene without looking back or saying a word about the melee.

ESWN was also kind enough to provide Ting's self-justification, a perfect example of the blindness and self-indulgence of Chen's critics, who often appear as small children complaining about the world of adults:

Ting told other reporters later that he was speaking for "more than 60 percent of the Taiwanese people" who think Chen should be removed from office as he has lost the trust and respect of the people. Ting said he shouted at President Chen on impulse as he wished to remind President Chen what people think about him. "President Chen does not seem to able to hear what people say about him these days as he is always surrounded by guards wherever he goes," Ting said. "Only on these kind of occasions can we tell him what we think about him and his leadership." Ting was released after he was questioned by police and officials from the National Security Bureau (國安局).

It's difficult to imagine how anyone could think that President Chen does not hear what is said about him, since it is printed every day in Ting's own paper, as well as all the other media, Chen, his aides, and leading politicians regularly discuss it, and his family has to deal with reporters every day who ask them (stupid and intrusive) questions about it. Not to mention that there are daily protests in front of his office. I know UDN is a mite out of touch, being a pro-KMT paper, but I didn't think they were living in their own fantasy universe.

UDN, as ESWN describes, then went on to say that good journalistic ethics demanded that Ting at least receive some punishment, even if it was a slap on the wrist, and the paper disavowed his action. ESWN then added:

But here is the mystery (or maybe it is no mystery): Whatever happened to all the people who were up at arms to defend the right of Epoch Times reporter Wang Wenyi to disrupt Hu Jintao's speech on the White House lawn and to tell him that his days are numbered? Why are they not defending Ting Wan-ming? Unless such cases are permitted selectively, depending on whether your speech is deemed noble or ignoble by them ...

Let's see. Just what the differences between these protests of Hu and Chen? Well, for starters, Chen is the democratically elected President of a democratic state, Hu is the murderous leader of an authoritarian government. Chen got to where he was by free elections among the body of the citizenry, Hu got to where he was by climbing over the bodies of his citizenry. Chen began his political career as a human rights lawyer defending democracy activists, Hu came to the attention of the inner circle in China cracking down on democracy activists in Tibet (several deaths). I won't even comment on the slyly despicable juxtaposition of Hu Jin-tao with Chen Shui-bian. That's just too obvious.

Simple ethical fact: Attacks on authoritarianism, in all its forms, are always and everywhere, fundamentally laudable.

But looking at "journalistic ethics" -- a phrase I thought might never appear in the same sentence with "United Daily News" but live long enough and you see everything -- the two cases are completely different. Wang Wenyi staged her protest at a meeting between Hu and Bush, an event whose purpose was overtly political (and morally deplorable). Her protest was appropriate to the tone and purpose of the meeting -- in fact, she helped fulfill its goal, in a backhanded way. It is deplorable that she used her press pass to gain access, but that was not an abuse of her employer, Epoch Times, the Falun Gong propaganda organ, since she went on her own and not as a paid representative of the paper. Wang had done that before to protest Hu, and was known to security, implying that she had the tacit permission of someone in the system. Wang's ethical breach, such as it was, was lying, not abuse of journalistic (and employee) ethics. Further, Wang's ethical breach was necessitated by the fact that protesters were kept away from the meeting. Oh, and in case anyone forgot, Wang was protesting the actions of an authoritarian leader (she also shouted at Bush, a getting in a two-for-one. Good for her). Let us also note that when Wang spoke out, another reporter covered up her mouth -- thus expressing his politics instead of doing his job and covering the news story.

Ting, by contrast, was covering an awards ceremony, with no serious national political content, whose tone and purpose were to reflect positively on local businesses. There was nothing morally objectionable about Chen handing out awards to local businesses nor does Ting have any right to interrupt the ceremony with his own inane political opinions nor did anything Ting do further the purposes of the ceremony. Ting was on company time, not his own -- few employers welcome employees using company time to further their own social and political goals, and courts in many companies have consistently supported employer's rights to limit employee speech while on company time. Ting's protest called attention to nothing except his own stupidy and ineffectiveness, whereas Wang served to remind us that the Hu-Bush meeting was a moral travesty and that Hu is a murdering scum, a little bit of ragged reality breaking into the scripted political pageantry. Note that when it was over Ting did not immediately proffer an apology to the businessmen whose time he had wasted and whose awards he had interrupted, but instead justified his childish antics by blaming Chen Shui-bian.

Finally, Ting's right of free speech was not abridged. He can, if he wants, say anything he likes, anytime he likes (Taiwan is not run like Hu's China). There's a wonderful line from one of my favorite books, which says that freedom is the ability to say No! and take the consequences. In a free society his employer also has the right to punish him and disavow his actions, if in fact they take place on company time in violation of company regulations, in violation of the ethics of his field, and cast the integrity and reputation of the firm in a bad light. ESWN's intimation that free speech is threatened here is in the final analysis false and misleading. There is no free speech issue here in either case. Ting spoke his mind and was punished by his employers whose time he had abused; Wang spoke her mind and was manhandled, arrested, and brought before a judge (who dismissed the charges). Niether was muzzled before or after they spoke. Each took the consequences, though only one of them took them like a man.

It used to be that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel, but in the age of the Internet, where all is talk, it's free speech.

So, yes, ESWN, you are right. We do judge these cases differently -- "selectively, depending on whether your speech is deemed noble or ignoble by them ..." The real question is not why we think Wang is noble and Ting is a yutz, but why you don't.

Wang's previous: Hu told her in 2001 that he wasn't killing Falun Gong, they were killing themselves
Wiki on Wang but looks like it is by a FLG supporter

crossposted at the View from Taiwan


Friday, August 25, 2006


Taiwanese Democracy in Action!

Actually, this is Taiwanese democracy showing its ugly side: a violent altercation that took place on last night's "Everyone Has Their Say" (頭家來開講) in which former DPP legislator and current psychotic Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰, in the red shirt) beats the hell out of pan-green commentator Chin Hung-wei (金恆煒, in the fetal position). Nice to see that the pan-blues haven't changed their tune when it comes to dealing with people they disagree with.

I've posted a more detailed account of the beat-down over on Wandering to Tamshui.



Lung ying-tai on Chen Shui-bian Again

Lung Ying-tai, the mainlander democracy writer, has weighed in with another letter on Chen (translation from ESWN).

I am someone who has personally witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet empire, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Tienanmen incident, the Hong Kong July 1st march and I wrote the Wildfire Collection in authoritarian Taiwan. But Taiwan politics today still astounds me: in the history of the Republic of China that we have personally experienced, who has seen a president's family and aides engage in such disgusting things?
One thing is for sure -- when a critic of Chen gets the pen moving, history is going to disappear. The President's family and aides under Chiang Kai-Shek, Chiang Ching-Kuo, were far more disgusting, for they engaged in murder and theft on a grand scale. Black gold problems were extremely serious under the Lee Teng-hui Administration. The Chen Admnistration is by far the cleanest in Taiwan history, and the kind of "corruption" it has engaged in is perfectly normal. What is different is that it has been exposed and the people involved held accountable. Meanwhile the people who murdered Lin Yi-hsiung's family still walk free......
Who has heard of the President's Office, which is the highest symbol of the nation, engaging in creating fake accounting books? Who has seen a Control Yuan that only has air-conditioning but no committee members? Who has ever seen a Minister of the Interior with so little knowledge and appreciation of the law?
Well, as numerous people have pointed out, keeping fake account books was a practice in the President's office in the prior KMT regime as well. There was a major scandal involving a secret account that President Lee kept at the National Security Bureau, for example. Lung does not mention that prosecutors recently cleared Chen of any wrongdoing with that account, since it was used for national intelligence purposes. Lung published on the 23rd, the news of Chen being cleared came out on the 20th. I will leave it to the reader to imagine why she doesn't mention that.

Lung complains about the Control Yuan. Who has seen a Control Yuan that only has air-conditioning but no committee members? I quite agree. It is about time the legislature approved the slate of candidates proposed by the President, or entered into negotiations, so that the Control Yuan can get to work on its backlog of thousands of cases. Lung has hit upon a major problem here: since the Blues will not cooperate with the DPP government for the good of Taiwan, the country cannot be run. Chen cannot be blamed for this.

Lastly she lashes out at the ministry of the interior. The highest ranking political appointtee taken out by a scandal was...the vice minister of the interior. Normal. Lung's writing operates by emotional appeal, as this crack shows:
Who can imagine that Taiwan would produce its local version of Richard Nixon/Alberto Fujimori/Roh Tae Woo/Ferdinand Marcos? Who can imagine what the people ought to do when they run into their local version of Richard Nixon/Alberto Fujimori/Roh Tae Woo/Ferdinand Marcos?
Chen has not been implicated or convicted or indicted in any crime. What's really happening is that Chen has become a scapegoat for social discontent in Taiwan at the dawn of the 21st century (more on that in another post). And commentators like Lung, instead of carefully explaining the many different issues, are simply fanning the flames. She writes:

My thought: Legally speaking, a president who has not been found guilty under the law does not need to resign. But if politically he has become the source of social instability and political turmoil; if in terms of moral trust, he has become the subject of contempt by the people; if the President has lost the mutual trust with the majority of the people (the 18% public support should be a clear "assessment of truth), then he ought to bow to the people in apology and resign on his own.

Nonsense. The President is not a source of social instability; unscrupulous and unthinking assaults on the government are a source of social instability. The anthropologist Nick Pazderic remarked in his book on Taiwan that in Taiwan's competitive society, to label someone a failure is to label them a source of chaos, and the attacks on Chen show this perfectly.

It is illuminating to look at a more developed democracy. In the US, where Bush has admitted to violations of the Constitution and other US laws, and where his popularity is low, no one calls for him to resign. His opponents want him impeached. In other words, his opponents want the law to take its course. Calling for Chen to resign because he is unpopular is tantamount to saying "the law be damned." Instead, Chen's opponents should be calling for more investigations. But since those are likely to clear Chen....Chen's attackers are left with only one route....

Lung then follows with a series of abuses.
he is ashamed about the moral expectations from the people because his family is degenerate, his aides are corrupt and his personal trustworthiness is bankrupt.
Note the adjective 'degenerate' -- disgusting! -- and the exaggerations. Chen's family is not corrupt -- his son-in-law is under indictment, but no one else has been indicted. I imagine that people related to Lung Yung-tai have been sent to prison as well. Do we say that her "family" is corrupt? So far we have one aide who is linked to corruption, but in six years of Chen's Administration, only one. In lieu of facts and analysis, Lung simply spews exaggeration and insults.

She does come out against the idea of using street demonstrations in a democracy, and correctly notes that the system is badly flawed.

Finally look at her four questions:

Question 1: President Chen Shui-bian was elected through a democratic process........

So now Chen Shui-bian has failed the country. But when will the people start to examine their own responsibility? Do those who voted for him back then admit that they made the wrong choice? What were they thinking when they made their wrong choice? Did those who voted against him back then have the wrong reasons?
Yes, they made the right choice. Lung has never noticed that the alternative was far more corrupt. James Soong just got hit with a $26.5 million judgment in a tax evasion case in which he used fake names to dump election funds into his daughter-in-law's account. Lien Chan was set to meet with mainland leaders when he won the election. The KMT is far more corrupt than the DPP -- but you won't find that mentioned in a letter from Lung Ying-tai.

Does anyone think that if Lien and Soong had one in 2004, when the KMT re-installed the institutionalized corruption of the 1950s-90s, that a million people would be out there criticizing Lien Chan on Ketegalen Rd?

Don't make me laugh. The anti-Chen movement is partisan political hackery.

Lung then goes on to spew a trail of elitist sewage:
Question 2: Do our voters recognize adequately that the vote in their hands can have certain serious consequences? If we did not have that awareness at first and therefore we were rash or ignorant, then we are now being tortured and punished for our rashness and ignorance by having an immoral president. Is this the lesson that we should learn and the price that we should pay? Is this in the contract between us and the democratic system that we should pay the price for this mistake?
"Do the voters realize that votes have serious consequences?" Yes, of course they do. It is Lung Ying-tai who is the one who hasn't clearly thought through the choices, not the voters! Is Lung confessing that she voted for Lien and Soong in 2004?

Finally she asks the relevant question:
Question 3: If on this occasion, we got so angry that we could not wait until the next election and we therefore resort to street demonstrations. For every time in the future, if we think that we chose the wrong person, then should we also use mass demonstrations to force the president to quit? Under what circumstances should we patiently wait for the next four-year election and use our votes to "delete" him? Under what circumstances should we not wait and initiate a mass movement? What are the criteria of judgment?
Bingo! Of course, Lung doesn't really realize how this brings her own comments crashing down. Lung wrote above that the President should quit because he is at 18% popularity. What's the popularity criteria, Lung? 15%? 20%? 25%? The correct answer is: none, because popularity is not a criteria for bringing down a President. The one and only criteria is legal.
Question 4: What type of system produced Chen Shui-bian? What type of system gave Chen Shui-bian so much power? What kind of system allowed him to concentrate power and encouraged his corruption? What kind of system made us discover the abuse of power and corruption of a President but still we could not cause him to quit? What is wrong of political partisanship that we have no exit even though we are so aggrieved?
What type of system produced Chen Shui-bian? A democratic one. In democracies people realize that a certain amount of corruption is inevitable. Mature individuals focus mainly on issues of accountability and investigation: we know that people will be corrupt -- what we want is to make sure that corruption is exposed and investigated and justice is served. To her credit, Lung does dimly refer to the systemic issues:
I am even worried that precisely because "killing all the flied on the face with one slap of the hand" is such a satisfying rapid action that it will get the focus of all the emotions and attention of the people. Meanwhile, the real problems about the black box known as "Chen Shui-bian" -- the structural, the systematic, the philosophical and cultural -- are being pushed to the fringe.
But still focuses on Chen. The problem, however, is not Chen, but the System of business-government relationships mediated by flows of cash out of the central government to businessmen, and from businessmen back into the pockets of government. If Chen steps down, that system will not be affected one whit. Lung will not face that, and thus, her piece is simply a body of partisan political hackery glossied up with a bit of democratic plastic surgery.

Ultimately, Lung refuses to see the real and urgent problems, reducing everything to the "problem with Chen." Until Lung makes a general call for an end to government-business incest, and for all corrupt party leaders to step down, and for specific revisions of the Constitution, and for the Blues to stop obstructing the business of the nation, her commentary will sadly fail the people of Taiwan.


Thursday, August 24, 2006


Taiwan politics like a typhoon

I was thinking today that political waves in Taiwan rush in like Typhoons. Like the typhoons that come rushing in from the sea, some cause a lot of damage; others slight. We could see the recall coming in from miles out at sea. James Soong and a lot of other people made a lot of noise. Around that time or soon after, there was a real Typhoon and I remember the weatherman saying it had 3 eyes and they were all fighting for control. It never amounted to much, in my reckoning. James Soong performed his not-so-quiet sit-in and then the recall failed, as everyone knew it would.

Then there were the pro-green academics with their letters and petitions and requests for President Chen to step down.

Suddenly, a hunger striker performed a little quiet sitting of his own. I walked by there several days and I can tell you, there were a lot of attempts to mobilize a crowd. It never seemed to materialize, though every media outlet was on site. I'm glad they saw a story there, the big scoop: "Hunger striking student attracts almost no attention from passers-by." A little drizzle and a light breeze.

Next came former DPP leader, Shih Ming-te's quiet sitting. It is still unclear, at least to me, how much damage this typhoon will cause. Only time will tell, though it seems more and more former allies of Shih are coming out against him.

Do I see a pattern here? Is it the quiet sitting or the hand above that seems to be orchestrating events? Is it the similar tactics used by all of these dispossessed?

That's where we are now. A few short months in freewheeling Taiwan's vibrant democracy.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006



What are the funniest adjectives you've seen foreign press use to modify Taiwan? My favorite is freewheeling Taiwan. See here and here.

"freewheel |ˈfrēˌ(h)wēl| noun a device in a motor vehicle transmission allowing the drive shaft to spin faster than the engine. • a device that allows a bicycle wheel to revolve forward while the crank is stationary. verb [ intrans. ] ride a bicycle with the pedals at rest, esp. downhill : he had come freewheeling down the road. • [usu. as adj. ] ( freewheeling) act without concern for rules, conventions, or the consequences of one's actions : the freewheeling drug scene of the sixties."



Cross-strait fantasy?

Leonard Boasberg of the The Philadelphia Inquirer has a review of The Mandarin Club, an imaginative thriller about cross-strait politics:

What if the long-simmering dispute between the Chinese Communist government and Taiwan - the one determined to end Taiwan's independence, the other determined to defend it - metastasized into a crisis?

What if Taiwan were reported to be developing a clandestine nuclear capability against Chinese attack?

What if military hard-liners in the Chinese Communist government were deploying missiles in Fujian province, 60 miles from Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait?

What would the United States do? What could it do, its military still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, its economy in hock to China?

Interesting how, at least in the review, it is the "Chinese Communist government" v. "Taiwan," rather than the "Taiwanese Capitalist government" or the "Taiwanese Democratic government" or even the "Taiwanese government."

I thought there were missiles pointed at us from Fujian.



Shih Drive continues, DPP responds

General Allenby: What about your Arab friends? What about them?
T.E. Lawrence: I have no Arab friends. I don't want Arab friends !
General Allenby: What in Hell do you want, Lawrence?
T.E. Lawrence: I told you! I just want my ration of common humanity.

Quite a lot going on with the Shih Ming-te's "protest" against Chen Shui-bian...but as Shih himself said the other day, with his usual flair for the dramatic, either Chen will go down, or he will.

And Chen ain't gonna go down.

The sad thing is that this affair can only end one way, with the very public demolition of an icon of the democratic movement. Shih's friends within the DPP know everything about him -- and who does not have a skeleton in the closet? -- and they aren't hesitating to use it against him. Shih will, in the end, lose, and find himself the subject of pointed questions regarding that money. It won't be pretty. Shih may protest, and the DPP may fire back, but the only thing I hear is the laughter of Mordor as old friends tear themselves apart publicly....

Perhaps the most moving document this week came from Shih's old supporters at the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), Gerritt Van Der Wees and Chen Mei-chin. They wrote in the Taipei Times:

We are writing this as friends who -- when Shih was arrested in those dark days of January 1980, following the Dec. 10, 1979, Kaohsiung Incident -- worked day and night for his release from prison.

In 1985 and in 1986, when Shih was on hunger strike in prison, we wrote articles and letters calling on the international community to put pressure on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authorities to release him. These articles can be found on our Taiwan Communique Web site at www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc21-int.pdf and www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc26-int.pdf.

We are writing to remind Shih of the ideals he expressed at that time. In his 1985 statement, Shih wrote: "With mounting and maturing years, knowledge, experience and powers of judgment, I have come to know that injustice and inequality among the human family is not limited to Taiwan alone."

"Everyone must hold fast to this with unshaken conviction, even more with patience. Simply because we are confident of the supremacy and sacredness of our ideal, under no circumstance does this warrant our failure to carefully choose the methods used in its attainment. Foul means are still foul, and the sacredness of the purpose can in no way render them fair," he wrote.

We want to remind Shih that Taiwanese people have no other "motherland" than Taiwan.

Has Shih forgotten these truths? Perhaps he has only misplaced them, as one of my favorite movies puts it...

Meanwhile the DPP is gunning for Shih and make no mistake, eventually they will get him. I blogged earlier this week on the DPP's attempts to pin Shin to the hide of Chen Yu-hao, the fugitive tycoon who hates Chen Shui-bian (Is Shih Linked to Fugitive Tycoon?). Shih has shown everyone the pictures of them in Thailand together, which has also fueled speculation that Shih has linked himself to China, Thailand being one of the places where KMT reps have gone to have secret meetings with officials from China. No evidence supports that latter charge. Fortunately for Shih the move misfired today:

Showing two color photo copies of what Wang said was Shih's condominium in the "Yen Jiu Yuan" (研究苑) apartment complex on Tongshih Road in Nangang, Taipei City, Wang said that the NT$34 million apartment was about 170 pings, with a market value of NT$200,000 per ping.

The media swarmed over to the apartment, but quickly learned that Shih did not even live in the building complex.

When confronted by reporters, Wang refused to admit that he had been mistaken, saying only that he had deliberately showed the "wrong pictures" of Shih's apartment complex, claiming he wanted to "leave some leeway" for Shih.

One thing about accusations in Taiwan, they needn't come attached with evidence. Fortunately for the DPP, Shih's spokesman refuted the claims thusly:

A spokeswoman for Shih's campaign, Ho De-fen (賀德芬), said that because Shih was not a government official, it did not matter who had provided him with a condominium.

I love those denials that sound a lot like affirmations -- "he didn't buy it from Chen Yu-hao, and anyway, it doesn't matter if he did." Well, Ma'am, if your client is running an anti-corruption campaign, and lives in a house provided to him by an embezzler, well, yes, it does matter. I think a simple denial would have been more effective.

One of Shih's wives raced up to Taipei this week to stop the DPP from making public a letter that Shih wrote to Chiang Kai-shek begging forgiveness while in prison.

Despite her disapproval of her ex-husband's campaign against Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Shih's former wife Chen Li-chu (陳麗珠) showed up at the Legislative Yuan compound yesterday morning before DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) was scheduled to hold a press conference to reveal the letter.

Lin was forced to scrap his announcement and let Chen Li-chu tell her tale.

"I'm the owner of the letter, so I should be the one to tell the public what really happened," she said.

"I've put up with him [Shih] for over 40 years and have never done anything to hurt him. I don't understand why he is so cruel to me. I really don't," Chen Li-chu said.

She threatened to expose what she claimed were "immoral" incidents and "incest" in Shih's family if he and his family continued to provoke her by calling her a "whore" and denying the authenticity of the letter to Chiang. She did not elaborate.

The tearful 60-something Chen Li-chu said that she had taken the train from Kaohsiung to Taipei on Monday night, hoping to stop Lin before he revealed the contents of the letter.

I quite agree. People will do anything while in prison under torture and facing the threat of madness and death. Those letters should be placed in their proper historical context, in a biography of Shih.

Of course, the lighter side of things has come out too...a member of the DPP has launched a comical ant-anti-Chen campaign.

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politician in Kaohsiung has announced a mocking riposte aimed at efforts to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Hung Ping-lang (洪平朗), who is running for Kaohsiung City councilor, called on the public yesterday to donate NT$1 each to express their support for his "Anti-Anti-Chen Campaign."

One of the Chinese papers suggested that everyone put in a dollar into the Shih campaign, then go to the protest and eat the lunchbox after showing their receipt for the donation. Shih would lose millions that way.

Just sit tight. Shih's protest campaign is a bit of political theatre only. It has the look and feel of a landslide, but I suspect that like all landslides, it will peter out when it hits the bottom of the slope, leaving behind a trail of wrecked lives and a whole lot of mud to clean up.



The simple truth: Taiwan is a nation

Dan Bloom reveals The New York Times' codified bias against Taiwan

While telling us about a NYT article on Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming, former Taipei Times writer Dan Bloom reveals some details in an op-ed today of how the international media goes about belittling Taiwan's status:
Most news outlets around the world continue to play the game of appeasing China by pretending that Taiwan is a mere island and not a nation, and they routinely send out news bulletins, editorials and multipage feature articles referring to this bustling nation as a mere "island." From the Associated Press to Reuters, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from BBC to Le Monde, Taiwan is just an island, and never a country.

When asked why, a high-placed editor in New York once told this writer: "We must remain neutral and not take sides."

But one must counter that argument with this question: Just how does referring to Taiwan as an island and not as a nation in print make an international news agency "neutral"?


According to the copy desk at the New York Times in Manhattan, Taiwan is not to be referred to as a country or a nation or even an island nation, except in a quoted comment by a person being interviewed. The Times' reporters themselves are commanded to refer to Taiwan in every instance as an island and never a country. It is a written rule of the newsroom, re-examined every few years, but never changed.
The context about Wang Chien-ming in which the above was contained was that NYT writer Tyler Kepner managed to say of Wang in his article, "At 26, he is a national hero in his home country, where he endorses computers and potato chips." In these times, small things can still mean a lot.

Thanks, Tyler! Thanks, Dan!

Matters at hand: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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Political Links, August 23, 2006

Crowded with news...
  • Jerome Keating's piece from last week in the Taipei Times on the laziness of the international media was picked up by Asia Media. I love this line: When Taiwan is mentioned, the stock phrase appears: "Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province." Fair game, for that is what China considers Taiwan. Unfortunately, these journalists never say what Taiwan thinks of China....
  • ....which reminds me. Last week Jerome asked whatever happened to Li Wen-Chen, the young man on the hunger strike to bring down Chen Shui-bian? He has gone on to a singing career. As the Liberty Times noted, if you're against Chen, you can do well.
  • Jason blogs on Taiwan's exciting new policy of entering the UN under the name of Taiwan, which is sure to succeed. And in other news, a flock of flying pigs alighted briefly on Taipei 101 before resuming their southward migration ahead of winter.

  • I'll do the ongoing Shih Ming-te Show in a separate post....


    Tuesday, August 22, 2006


    Political Links, August 22, 2006

    Former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-te's spokesperson, Ho De-fen, tells media that Shih will soon decide on the time for his sit-in seeking President Chen Shui-bian's ouster (ETaiwan News)

    Plenty of politicking going on today on the Beautiful Isle:
  • The View from Taiwan (hey! That's me!) dissects a recent anti-Chen piece by blogger and journalist Michael Anti.
  • Taiwan News reports that Shih will determine his strategy soon. Meanwhile the interior ministry argues that Shih's acceptance of donations is illegal.
  • Oops! Another evidence-free opposition accusation goes down the tubes as the alleged misuse of the President's slush fund went for intelligence ops rather than into the Prez's pocket.
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    Chinese Execs in Taiwan

    Just to vary the discussion some (just so Mr. Shih doesn't hog the stage), I am curious about the political ramifications of almost 400 executives from China arriving in Taipei for Microsoft's Asia-Pacific conference:

    It is also the largest gathering of Chinese executives ever to come to Taiwan. The number far exceeds the 30-person limit Taiwan's government had formerly placed on Chinese executives allowed to visit Taiwan.

    I'm not sure I have an answer to this, though I'm sure some people see it as politically symbolic. Do you see this as a threat or a promise? Do you think Taiwan's government should be blocking this type of exchange (which is taking place anyway outside Taiwan) or welcome it with open arms?

    UPDATE: The China Economic News Service has a detailed account:
    According to existing regulation, foreign firms and domestic firms with annual revenue exceeding NT$30 million can invite mainland Chinese residents to visit Taiwan for commercial activities at an annual quota of 30. The MOEA decided to approve Microsoft’s application on a special case basis following formation of consensus for relaxing the quota restriction at the Conference on Sustainable Economic Development.

    Joseph Wu, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, admitted that the existing quota restriction is inadequate since seminars or training workshops held by multinationals often involve large numbers of attendees. Wu revealed that MAC is revising the existing regulation and may complete the revised draft by the end of August.

    With its fiscal year spanning July every year to the end of next June, Microsoft’s various departments have to start preparing next fiscal year’s business plan from May. Microsoft headquarters held its kick-off business meeting in Florida in early July, attended by ranking managers of the company’s branches throughout the world. The late August meeting in Taipei is part of the program for starting its marketing activities for the new fiscal year and is the first such gathering among Microsoft’s employees in the greater Chinese market.

    Presently, Chen Yung-cheng, chief executive officer of Microsoft’s greater China operation, and Huang Tsun-yi, president of Microsoft’s greater China operation, both hail from Taiwan, being frequent travelers across the Taiwan Strait. It’s been an established practice for executives of Microsoft’s Taiwan branch to go China for attending meetings.

    (updated by Michael. Tags added)

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    More Shih Ming-teh commentary 4 U

    A riff on Shih's campaign logo:


    Sunday, August 20, 2006


    Is Shih Linked to Fugitive Tycoon?

    DPP defenders of President Chen have been trying to tie Shih to a fugitive businessman now living in the US. Needless to say, there's no concrete evidence, but that won't stop them from trying...

    Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday said that his campaign calling on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to step down had nothing to do with fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪).

    Shih made the remarks at a press conference in Taipei, where he displayed photos he had taken with Chen Yu-hao during a visit to Thailand last year.

    He said that "Chen [Yu-hao] and I are definitely good friends."

    Chen Yu-hao, former chairman of the Tuntex Group who fled to the US, is listed as one of the country's 10 most-wanted fugitives.

    Shih has launched a campaign inviting a million people to join him in a sit-in to pressure Chen Shui-bian to step down.

    DPP legislators have said that his campaign to oust the president was linked to the fugitive tycoon, who during the 2004 presidential election had accused Chen Shui-bian of accepting millions of dollars in illegal political donations.

    Shih's denial was in response to attacks made the previous day:

    Meanwhile, a group of DPP lawmakers yesterday said Shih's anti-Chen campaign was driven by the KMT, and linked with fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) who in the runup to the 2004 presidential election had made a vow "to destroy Chen."

    "I know that Shih met with Chen Yu-hao on July 26 in Thailand. They conspired to bring [President] Chen down," DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) said.

    Chen Yu-hao is in the US on a Chinese passport, which of course impelled DPP members to claim that Shih was backed by China. The Shih camp responded by claiming that the DPP wanted to assassinate Shih:

    In a separate press conference held by Shih's camp yesterday, former lawmaker Wang Lie-ping (王麗萍) said: "We have received reliable reports that the pan-green camp is planning to assassinate"Shih.

    In response, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the "planned assassination" was fabricated by Shih's camp.

    "They fabricated the news because it will be easier for [Shih's] camp to reach its goal of [raising NT$100 million (US$3.06 million) from 1 million people] come true," Gao said.

    A few months ago Shen Fu-hsiung, a DPP legislator who has been in opposition to President Chen in recent months, said that Chen Shui-bian had taken money from Chen Yu-hao during the former's successful 1994 campaign for mayor of Taipei. Shen said that he himself had taken the tycoon to visit the President's wife. At the time Shih Ming-te was the Chairman of the DPP. During the 2004 election Chen Yu-hao's allegation not only damaged the Chen Shui-bian campaign, although the President and his wife issued numerous denials, but also drove down the local stock market. Chen Yu-hao fled Taiwan in 2002 leaving $50 billion in bad debt behind, in the form of syndicated loans with eleven local banks. First Lady Wu eventually sued him.



    More Corruption Involving In-Laws and Heavyweight Pols

    Let's take a look at a recent corruption case. In-laws receiving shady money? Check. Party heavyweight involved in petty corruption? Check. Secret payments and false names? Check. Clearly, this is just the kind of politician the pan-Blues claim they don't want in Taiwan.

    Nope, I'm not talking about President Chen Shui-bian , but James Soong, Chairman of the PFP, pan-Blue, and veteran of many protests attacking Chen for a lack of integrity. Soong lost his appeal in court today and must pay a massive fine for tax evasion:

    James Soong, chairman of the opposition People First Party (PFP), was the first political leader in Taiwan asked by the court to pay a big fine over tax evasion.

    The Supreme Administrative Court rejected his appeal of a lower court decision in his tax evasion case. Soong will have to pay NT$26.42 million to the national treasury as the Supreme Administrative Court's ruling is final.

    According to the National Tax Administration, Soong failed to pay a gift tax when he remitted more than NT$42 million left over from his 1994 gubernatorial campaign funds into his daughter-in-law's bank account in five installments under five different names. The amount exceeded the ceiling for non-taxable gifts.

    Five installments under five different names. Think some of those pan-Blues out there screaming at Chen will move over to PFP headquarters and camp there?

    Don't make me laugh.

    *(Meanwhile the Control Yuan announced that yet another evidence-free accusation of Chiu Yi against President Chen was found wanting today as no irregularities were discovered with the alleged secret account of President Chen.)

    Crossposted from
    The View from Taiwan


    Saturday, August 19, 2006


    More dirt on Shih Ming-teh

    Johnny Neihu returns to good form

    In today's Taipei Times, Johnny Neihu digs deep and dishes up some dirt on Shih Ming-teh (施明德) which demonstrates that the stated "moral" reasons for his deep-blue-backed attempt to depose Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) are fake, fake, fake.

    Johnny's legwork pays off, and he serves up these juicy academic-style quotes about Shih from the 2002 Academia Sinica oral history collection Special Collection on the Taiyuan Prison Incident (泰源監獄事件專輯) [COVER IMAGE] [MORE INFO], characterizing the speakers as the very people "you would most expect to line up behind [Shih]":
    Here's one: former political prisoner Cheng Cheng-cheng (鄭正成):

    "To this day, in Shih's eyes, everyone else is a drone and he's the queen bee, and that's the way it's always been. Everyone in prison who ran into Shih maintained a cordial relationship, but they wouldn't confide in him. Everyone knew he had a sweet tongue, he had a way with words, but what was in his heart and what he said were completely different things. ... In jail he once said that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was an amateur, and that if he could get a hold of power he would out-Hitler Hitler himself." (pages 32-33).

    Here's another one: former political prisoner Kao Chin-lang (高金郎):

    "Over the course [of preparations for the breakout] Shih Ming-teh intimidated me several times, saying that he had to be the commander because the military rank of the other [prisoners] meant they could only be middle-ranking officers. Only he had the ability to be a general, and his orders were to be obeyed on all matters. If not, he threatened to inform on all of us." (pages 131-132).
    The Taiyuan Incident happened in 1970. Shih's behavior, therefore, appears to be the continuation of a decades-long pattern of self-centeredness. Being that Shih's current goal coincides with that of the pan-blues, they are overjoyed by this.

    Shih's concept of democracy? "Me, me, me!" Is he "deep green"? No way! Can he be trusted? Not on your fucking life!

    Now, if Johnny could only show us exactly where the money for all those "thumbs down" ads is coming from. Could it possibly be the overjoyed pan-blues? Ya think?

    Watchwords: , , , , , , ,

    Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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