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"!

Thanks to all those who voted for Taiwan Matters!
in the Taiwanderful Best Taiwan Blog Awards 2010!
You've got great taste in blogs!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

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Clouting the Blues With Arms

Following on the heels of Feiren's excellent post yesterday on AIT Chairman Steve Young's blunt criticism of Blue obstructionism on the arms purchase, the Taipei Times published a couple of articles today further expanding on the issues.

The main article begins:

In an apparent criticism of pan-blue efforts to block the arms procurement package from reaching the legislative floor, the US State Department on Friday called on the Taiwanese to "hold their leaders responsible for preventing extraneous issues from interfering with urgent defense decisions."

At the same time, the US said "we applaud the Chen [Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration's defense spending goals."

The State Department also came to the defense of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young and indirectly slammed the opposition pan-blue forces for preventing the Legislative Yuan from acting on the proposed procurement of US weapons systems.

The fault is not all the Blues (for too long the DPP declined to split the package into parts and there's no denying that the submarines are massively overpriced -- perhaps the US can encourage movement here by cutting the price in half) but lately the Blues have gone from mere intrasigence to absolute insensate stupidity. They have assured the US several times going back almost a year, dating back to Richard Bush's meeting with Wang Jin-pyng back in December, that they have taken US demands into account. KMT Chair Ma Ying-jeou and Wang promised again back in May to move the arms proposal forward. Visits to Washington by both men brought promises. Over the summer and fall there were other apparent indications of Blue softening. Each time, however, Pharoh's heart was hardened, and the arms purchase was kept in bondage in the procedural committee.

It is important to note that the remarks were not merely Steve Young speaking for AIT here in Taiwan. The State Department enthusiastically supported them (emphasis mine):

In a statement supporting the AIT director's comments on Thursday urging the legislature to approve the arms procurement budget this fall, the State Department said that Young's comments reflected the long-standing US position and assessment of Taiwan's defense needs in light of Beijing's break-neck military upgrade.

Sources say that the administration is increasingly frustrated over the Legislative Yuan's failure to act on the defense budget.

"The dissatisfaction is tactile here, in Congress as well as in the administration," said Michael Fonte, a consultant with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Washington.


The Taipei Times continued (emphasis mine):

Sources say that Young's comments were in response to orders he was given by the department during a 10-day trip he took to Washington earlier this month. Young briefed his superiors and talked to a wide range of people, including a number of think tanks in Washington, they said.

The sources also say the remarks were meant to reinforce those made by Clifford Hart, the coordinator of the State Department's Taiwan department, last month at a defense industry conference hosted by the US-Taiwan Business Council in Denver.

At that meeting, Hart said it was "urgent" that Taiwan boost its defense spending to counter any war in the Taiwan Strait, and called on Taiwanese leaders to "place national security above partisan politics," and "compromise and bury differences."

Hart also took an apparent potshot at Ma, saying "leaders who aspire to represent Taiwan's people in dealing with the American people should appreciate that their positions right now ... cannot help but inform the sort of relations they will have with Washington in the years to come."


Change is glacial, especially inside the Beltway, but change is in the air. For fifty years the KMT and the US have enjoyed a marriage of convenience that has greatly benefitted the KMT. Now the KMT and its allies are finding out that you can't serve both God (China) and Mammon (the US), and Steve Young has shown them that divorce papers are drawn up and ready to be served. Promises broken mean something -- for whatever you may say about the incompetence and provincialism of DPP foreign policy, there's no denying that the DPP and the US share broad security goals in the region, goals not part of the platform of the KMT and its allies, a position already understood by many conservatives. On Ma's trip to the US conservatives were very suspicious of his claims, and each time the KMT stymies US interests in the region, it confirms the opinions of conservatives.

It's not too late for the KMT to mend fences, but somehow I don't see that happening. The KMT matches the DPP's provincialism with an overweening arrogance that verges on fantasy. And even if KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou was willing to serve regional security interests instead of China's long-term interests, the fact remains that KMT ally the People First Party (PFP) is more hardline than the KMT. Ultimately divisions within the pro-China camp may prevent a reversion to reality on the part of the Blue leadership.

As for me, for the entire year and more I've been asking US officialdom to send someone over here with the clout and the understanding to talk directly to the Blues and inform them that the world doesn't revolve around them, and, to get the US to do it again and again until the message sinks in. It's an absolute delight to see the US actually doing that. Now if only Steve Young would brng me back a 10 pound brick of fresh parmesan from his next trip to the States, AIT would complete my happiness....

EXTRA: This Taiwan Focus post, saved on my blog, written by someone I know to be an expert, has some very good background info on the arms purchase.

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Commentary: Soft Power of China Grows

The Foreigner pointed me to this article in Commentary on the growing clout of China.
But on his visit three years ago, the President was in for an unpleasant surprise. Thousands of protesters filled the streets in Sydney and Canberra, scuffling with police and staging mock trials of the American president. Inside the Australian parliament, Bush’s remarks were interrupted by heckling senators, who had to be escorted from the chamber. His speech done, he was met outside by another chorus of booing critics.

The tumult surrounding Bush’s visit was especially notable because, just days later, Australia would offer a vastly different welcome to another president—Hu Jintao of China. Hu toured Australia like a hero. Few protested China’s human-rights record. In parliament, no one disturbed his windy paean to the future of Australia-China ties. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer spoke words of fulsome praise. Before Hu left, the two nations had signed a framework for a future free-trade deal.
Scary. Meanwhile, as Iraq burns, Bush fiddles and China expands. The US critically needs moral authority to counter China's soft power, and the Bush Administration has totally decimated our moral authority. Iraq may yet have grave implications for Taiwan.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

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Blue on Blue: Friendly Fire

Today the the Taipei Times discussed the split in the pan-Blues camp with a hopeful tone:

However, history also shows that once there is a split within a camp, the third party is likely to become the sole beneficiary.

When he was the DPP mayoral candidate in 1994, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won mainly because of the split in the "pan-blue" vote between New Party candidate Jaw Shao-kong (趙少康) and KMT incumbent Huang Ta-chou (黃大洲). But the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) beat Chen in the 1998 contest when another New Party contender, Wang Chien-shien, stood for election. In the latter case, pan-blue voters gave their votes to Ma despite a nominal split in the blue alliance.

Ethnicity and the unification-independence debate used to determine elections for Taipei. Now, however, it comes down to the candidate's character, because Taipei residents are more politically informed and independent-minded.

It is too early to predict the impact PFP candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) will have on KMT candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) via the "dumping effect."

In this regard, Hsieh should not take the pan-blue camp's split for granted.

Rather, he must apply his experience as Kaohsiung mayor and present a platform on how he would crack down on the re-emerging sex industry, address deteriorating traffic conditions, stir up the bureaucratic machine and make Taipei a better and safer place in which to live.


Is the Times overly optimistic? Chen in 1994 did not carry Hsieh's baggage -- he was not widely despised in the north, like Hsieh is, and was not coming off a scandal involving foreign labor and the local metro, unlike Hsieh and Kaohsiung (although the real scandal is that no abuse of foreign labor continues unchecked, a problem neither party is willing to tackle).

Last time around, when the DPP fielded Lee Ying-yuan against Ma Ying-jeou, Lee never really climbed above 20% in the polls, but polled 37% of the votes, as one analyst pointed out a few weeks ago. It is tempting to conclude from that fact that there is a silent majority of sleeper voters who will put Hsieh into power. Don't. That was in 2002. The DPP had not aliened the bureaucracy at that point, the scandals had not occurred, and the DPP legislative agenda was not held up by the Blue-controlled legislature. Don't expect a big crop of sleepers for Hsieh.

Hau is vulnerable, because Ma has not done much for Taipei, aside from the excellent wireless internet program. The sex industry, which Chen Shui-bian evicted from the city during his tenure as mayor, has returned in force, and represents a weak spot that Taipei's middle class voters might respond to. Whether the DPP might go for the jugular is questionable -- they seem to have a knack for missing it -- and Taipei's population, predominantly pro-Blue and consisting of a much larger proportion of mainlanders than the nation at large, cannot be mobilized by appeals to independence and Taiwan consciousness.

The split between the PFP and the KMT has had other consequences, with the PFP this week voting to support the bill to strip the KMT of the assets it had stolen from the people of Taiwan during the era of one-party rule. The papers are explaining the stunning PFP volteface on the asset bill as Soong, currently running for Taipei mayor as an independent -- he asked himself for a leave of absence, and then granted it to himself -- revenging himself for remarks by Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou earlier

The PFP's actions have been interpreted by some as a revenge attack after the reputation of Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), was allegedly "damaged" by KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who supposedly leaked a story about Soong to a foreign news outlet.

What does Soong want? (Taipei Time asks if China is backing Soong). With his popularity in single digits and still falling ... anything is possible, although the PFP sent the bill back to the committees for review on Friday, signaling the end of its move to throw a scare into the KMT. Now that the Shih Ming-teh campaign against President Chen has pretty much shot its bolt (all talk of Shih staying there until either he or Chen is finished seems to have disappeared), Soong's Blue rival Hau Lung-bin, the KMT mayoral candidate, has rebounded in the polls. Soong may have well past his sell-by date, and whatever leverage he has as a viable third party candidate is rapidly dwindling. The good citizens of Taipei are probably not going to be willing to split the Blue vote this time, leaving Hau with a clear shot and Soong with nothing. I don't think he'll stay in the race to the end.

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Straight Talk on Taiwan Arms Budget: Stephen Young's 26 Oct. Press Conference

The age of American 'strategic ambiguity' on Taiwan is over. AIT director Stephen Young understands that Taiwan is a democracy and has appealed directly to the Taiwanese people on the arms budget. This is a remarkable document and well worth reading carefully.

I also have to say there has been an awful lot of discussion about what America's
interests and America's positions on issues of concern to Taiwan are, sometimes not very accurate, so what I would like to do is give you a chance on the record to discuss those things from an authoritative perspective. I'll give you an example of what I mean, and I want to stress that I'm not picking on Lian He Bao [聯合報United Daily News] but the example concerns them. Last week, there was an article that sought to characterize U.S. relations with the Chen administration as "strained." I just have to stress that that's not the case; in fact, we have a very broad cooperation with the Chen Administration, and as an example, we are working very closely with them on modernization of Taiwan's defense capabilities. We intend to continue to work on issues of mutual concern with the Chen Administration until the end of its term in office.

Young is saying a number of important things here. First, the US is not going to allow the Blue media to characterize the nature of US-Taiwan relations. A central theme in Blue propaganda is that the Chen administration has mismanaged relations with Taiwan's most important ally. The Chen administration is strongly vindicated here.

Note also the last sentence:

We intend to continue to work on issues of mutual concern with the Chen Administration until the end of its term in office.
The US does not want Chen to step down.


I think it's also important to avoid things that set back democratic institution-building. A couple of recent examples are Thailand and Hungary. Even though Thailand faced a difficult domestic situation, I think the intervention by the military set back the progress of democracy in Thailand and was bad for the region. Similarly in Hungary, we have been treated to scenes of rioting in the street and clashes between protestors and police which, in a country that just threw off Communism and the Soviet yoke fifteen years ago, is really something that concerns a lot of us.


Translation: people is in the US government understand that Shih Ming-teh's protest movement is fundamentally undemocratic.

I would add that the means and the ends should be in sync. I have in
mind that there should be a sense of decorum, or what at one point I called "you yi dianr limao 有一點兒禮貌" [a bit of courtesy]. I think there was an incident in the legislature two days ago that illustrates my point. These images do not promote the concept of Taiwan's peaceful democratic transition.


Here Young is pretending to refer to the Li Ao spray can incident the other day but in fact is talking about James Soong's disgraceful behavior on National Day Oct. 10th.

As a side note, would somebody tell the Chinese pedants over at AIT to pull their heads out and stop using retroflex 'r's in Taiwan (一點兒). Way uncool.

Now for the good stuff:

I fully respect Taiwan's democracy and I respect the fact that the people of Taiwan
ultimately have the responsibility and the privilege of deciding these matters. But I think that as Taiwan's indispensable partner in security, the United States has a special interest and should speak its mind. I hope through you, the print and video media of Taiwan, to reach the voters and the citizens of Taiwan with my message.


Here Young is signaling an important shift in the US approach to Taiwan. In the past, AIT dealt with the KMT government over the heads of the Taiwanese people. Young recognizes that the Taiwanese people are the ultimate arbiters of their fate and he is addressing them directly on this critical issue. One of the key features of the old KMT and Chinese nationalism is the canard that outsiders cannot talk to the Chinese (or Taiwanese people) directly and that to do so abrogates Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan has grown up, and the US, or at least Young, is recognizing that fact.

So what is Young's message?

The message is as follows: Taiwan needs to pass a robust defense budget in this fall's legislative session.


Crystal clear. End of strategic ambiguity. Finally someone in the US administration who understands that what we need is clarity, not obfuscation. Tellingly, Ma Ying-jeou complained that Young would have advanced his cause if he had been more 'wan3zhuan3' or indirect. Bullshit. The Taiwanese people need to hear what their security partner thinks directly without the mediation of paternal nationalists like Ma.

And just in case Ma was not listening carefully:

The United States is watching closely and will judge those who take responsible positions on this as well as those who play politics. Because fundamentally, this moment and this opportunity could pass and be missed by Taiwan if it doesn't seize it.


Again this is 指桑罵槐 'pointing at the mulberry while cursing the acacia.' While the immediate target is James Soong, Young and the US are in fact rightly holding Ma Ying-jeou responsible for the arms budget impasse.

The US does not want to see Taiwan go the way of South Korea and become a Chinese client state. After years of wondering if anyone in Washington gets Taiwan, we have an answer: Steve Young does.




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Thursday, October 26, 2006

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Bloomberg Blue Bias

STOP_MA volunteered to bring home the bacon with a guest blog on more bias and error in the international media. Enjoy!

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Bloomberg Blue Bias Barefaced
STOP_MA

Much has been written in this blog about the blatant pro-blue bias that is sadly so prevalent in the western corporate media these days. One can speculate as to why these so-called objective journalists continue to tell half-truths or to simply get it wrong on basic issues affecting Taiwan in the international community.

Sheer laziness in today’s big media can partially explain why details are not investigated or why one side of the story is reported but not the other. However, when an established international media outlet breaks with news about a major policy revelation concerning a political party that, in two years, may drastically change the dynamics of a global flash-point, you would think they would make more than a half-hearted effort to provide a story that is as objective and as accurate as possible.

The breaking news to which I refer is KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou’s proposed “peace” pact with China. The well-known international media company: Bloomberg.com. The Article: "Taiwan Presidential Hopeful to Seek China Peace Pact”.

Of course, the implications of Ma’s plan if he should become President will be dramatic. So, it is of no surprise that this story has generated political reverberations throughout Taiwan. Informed readers of this blog will be well aware of both the pan-green and pan-blue points of view in this debate. However, less-informed international readers may, again, form a decidedly less balanced opinion after reading this narrative (borderline opinion piece) by James Peng.

Here is an excerpt. (emphasis is mine, denotes strong bias and/or factual errors):
The Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, lost the presidency to the Democratic Progressive Party's Chen in 2000, ending their postwar hold on power. In his six years as president, Chen has provoked Beijing by calling Taiwan a sovereign state, proposing an overhaul of the island's 59-year-old constitution, and trying to get Taiwan a United Nations seat.

Almost 60 years after the civil war's end, those policies are prompting warmer relations between the heirs of Mao and Chiang. Ma's predecessor Lien Chan met President Hu Jintao in the mainland last year, the highest-level talks between the two sides since 1949. China has offered trade concessions to woo Taiwan voters.

A peace agreement would help reduce security tensions in East Asia, where the U.S. is preoccupied with the North Korea nuclear crisis. It might also benefit Taiwan's $346 billion economy by allowing businesses to forge closer ties with the mainland. Taiwan companies have invested as much as $150 billion in mainland China, the island's largest trading partner.

Ma's offer of peace talks didn't include a commitment to move toward reunification, the goal of the government in Beijing. The Nationalists adhere to a ``one China'' principle agreed with the Communist government in 1992, which declares the mainland and Taiwan are part of the same country, though the two sides may have different interpretations of the term.
I will not bore you with analyses of why the words in bold are so egregiously biased. It should be obvious to anyone who follows the cross-strait situation that annexation of Taiwan by China is an official goal. It should also be obvious that China has done far more to provoke Taiwan (I wonder if Mr. Peng remembers that little piece of paper called “anti-secession law”). Moreover, it is conveniently forgotten that President Chen Shui-bian has tried on numerous occasions to encourage a productive dialogue between the two nations. Chen even gave his blessings (wrongly, in my opinion) to the first exchange between Lien and Hu – and even invited Hu to Taiwan, afterwards!! However, James Peng erroneously insinuates that this very exchange was merely a causation of a very difficult President in Taipei. As for the 1992 “consensus” – James Peng is simply rewriting history by telling us that such an agreement was made at the time, despite the fact that two official delegates who were at the meeting later confirmed that such an agreement is part of Nationalist party mythology. There is no “consensus.” He shows himself to be a complete journalistic fool, however, by asserting that China and Taiwan agreed to the premise that they are the same country! LOL! More laughable fawning over Ma Ying-jeou can be found by reading the rest of the piece yourself.

Alas, the last laugh will be with Mr. Peng, as he will continue to distort history, report on only one-side of the issue, and print blatant factual errors. Why am I confident of this prediction? Because I wrote James Peng about an article he wrote on October 13th. It was a piece about the failed recall efforts on President Chen a couple of weeks ago.

Amongst the bias in that article entitled, “Taiwan's Chen Survives Lawmakers' Second Attempt to Oust Him”, was a unique version of factual information – factual information that has been contradicted by every international news organization that has reported on this story.

Here’s the short excerpt containing the lie (emphasis mine):
A rally in Taipei on Oct. 10 drew several hundred thousand people, according to police, while a spokesman for Shih said 1.5 million participated.
Several hundred thousand – that would be recognized by anyone to be, at the very minimum, 300,000. However, I think most people would consider “several” to mean at least 400 to 500 thousand. Of course, the other part of this factual error is that he is confirming this number based on a Taipei police estimate.

When I politely wrote James Peng about this distortion, he replied and reaffirmed that, “several hundred thousand is what Taipei police told us that day.”

I wrote him back and provided him with four different international news agencies – including CNN, Reuters and even The China Post that stated explicitly that the Taipei police had estimated the attendance to be 125,000.

And here is the China Daily’s version (which Mr. Peng might have read, being based in Hong Kong):
Organizers had pledged to bring 2 million people to the streets around the "presidential" office, but police estimated 125,000 protesters took part in the march.
One would think that an objective journalist would question why his report was the only one (including China state-run media) that reported this number to the international community. I received no further replies from James Peng. And he did not send me any links to any other news organization that reported this number, as I had politely asked.

However, he did manage to get an interview from none other than Ma Ying-jeou.

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Thank you, STOP_MA! Maddog informs me that the BBC has used the phrase "apparent assassination attempt."

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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Thoughts on the Taipei Mayoral Race

For once there is a halfway interesting discussion over on Forumosa's Taiwan Politics about the Taipei mayoral race and James Soong's decision to enter it. cctang, the inveterate but at least informed, apologist for the Beijing regime, asks why the KMT and Ma don't step aside and make room for Soong? The reasoning behind this rhetorical question is if Soong ran, Ma will be able to avoid taking responsibility and possibly stepping down if something goes wrong in Taipei and Frank Hsieh wins.

As I see it, Ma needs to stand up to Soong and put him and his ridiculous party out to pasture before they do any more damage to the Blue cause. Hau is a strong candidate who will probably do a good job if elected. Despite his Dad, Hau seems to be a pragmatic moderate who has impressed me with his willingness to bracket identity issues so that Taipei's many other problems can be dealt with. He's also clean, well-educated, relatively young and principled. He'll make an excellent mayor despite my prejudices against him because of who his old man is.

The DPP candidate Frank Hsieh is running a strong campaign. He's a Taiwanese Taipei native who is very comfortable with retail politicking unlike Hau. Thanks to the Shih Ming-teh and the Red Shirts, he's made real gains on Hau. The deep blue voters are going to drop Soong and vote for Hau en masse at the last minute, putting old James out of his misery. Ma knows this and he is calling Soong's bluff.

The most plausible reason I've seen put forth for Soong's candidacy is that he trying to wangle a few safe seats for the PFP in the next legislative elections from the KMT. By standing up to Soong now, Ma can look like he has a little backbone for once and do what has to be done so that he can concentrate on driving Wang Jyn-ping, his real enemy in the KMT, out of the party so that Wang can attempt to forge a centrist ethnic Taiwanese campaign with the blessings of Lee Teng-hui thereby splitting the Greens. Problem for Wang is that Su Tseng-chang has so far managed to make being premier an asset rather than a liability (as it was for his two hapless predecessors Yu and Hsieh).

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Friday, October 20, 2006

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Taipei Mayoral Election 2006: Pan-Blue Cohesion Edition

Yesterday the Taipei Times reported that People First Party Chairman James “The Artful Tax Dodger” Soong (宋楚瑜) has finally decided to give his supporters the news they’ve been waiting for and officially threw his greasy hat into the Taipei City mayoral election ring.

But as ever, Soong giveth with one hand and taketh with another. His candidacy now threatens to split the pan-blue vote with the KMT candidate (and son of former premier Hau Pei-tsun/郝伯村) Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who had been something of a favorite up until yesterday. Soong has reportedly answered calls by Handsome KMT Chairman Ma “Will Someone Please Just F**king Listen To Me For Once?” Ying-jeou (馬英九) to maintain pan-blue solidarity in Taipei with the dubious promise to resign his chairmanship of the PFP and run as an independent.

Soong’s odd decision to head off a pan-blue schism by offering to run under the Jolly Roger of independent candidacy (timed, curiously, to coincide with the release of his book, How to Publicly Screw Your Friends Over the Jimmy Soong Way) will hardly be of help to Hau, who has been bashed by members of the blue fringe for the unforgivable sin of whoring himself out to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during his shameful stint as the head of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration from 2001-2003. Soong’s candidacy (independent or no) will now provide a focal point for the sizeable number of hardcore anti-Chen pan-blue supporters who still feel the need to publicly vent (spew?) more bile toward traitors like “Apostate” Hau and anyone they perceive as playing a part in the epic implosion of their Anti-Chen campaign. Soong himself nicely set the tone for his campaign by spanking Hau over his celebrated pedigree and his connections to Ma, who as Taipei mayor is being blamed for not giving out permanent protest permits to the Anti-Chen campaign:
"We should not depend on `faction politics' in Taiwan ... In choosing the future Taipei mayor, residents should consider candidates' abilities, instead of asking what a candidate's father or his party chairman can do..."

Ouch.

But Soong may actually end up grabbing a smaller piece of the wingnut vote than he originally planned, since professional gadfly/ professed lawmaker/ profuse conspiracy theorist Li Ao (李傲) announced his own independent candidacy this weekend. Li has long courted the blue fringe vote with his wild n’ wacky claims, like when he said that he had proof of the CIA’s knowledge of President Chen’s “staged” shooting in 2004, or when he threatened to “out” Soong as being in bed with arms traders and (what else?) the CIA, or when he accused former president Lee Teng-hui of having a tumor in his spleen in 2000 (planted there, no doubt, by the CIA). The China Post succinctly captures Li’s strategic “we must destroy this village to save it” attitude toward his fellow campaigners:
Li said his running in the race is not meant to destroy the solidarity of the so-called pan-blue camp, but stressed he will do everything he can to defeat the other candidates...

On the other side of the campaign trough we have indomitable former mayor of Kaohsiung and recovering aborigine Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) running under the banner of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and perennial third place seat warmer Clara Chou (周玉蔻) going through the motions for the TSU.

It’s been a tough year for Our Frank, what with his ignominious retreat from the premiership this past January and the crap he’s caught in the media over his handling of the Kaohsiung Sinkhole MRT project. Frank seeks to set himself apart from his pan-blue competitors by emphasizing his past experience of running a major city and basically praying that voters will be so sick of pan-blue in-fighting that they’ll forget he’s even connected with President Chen. The wealth of pan-blue competitors in the Taipei race can only help his chances; as Michael pointed out in his own analysis of the Soong announcement, public support of the blues has fallen off since the Depose Chen movement imploded, putting Frank in second place behind Hau. (Be sure to read Michael’s entertaining addenda concerning push-polls at the bottom of the linked post).

And what of the TSU’s Ms. Chou? It seems that other than her attempt to grab headlines in July by picking a fight with the DPP’s New Tide faction (is there still such a thing?) the only thing her campaign has going for it is the Official Lee Teng-hui Seal Of Approval™, something that doesn’t hold quite as much water as it did four years ago. If anything, Chou’s candidacy exists to remind voters that there is still indeed a TSU for the DPP to push around.

Given the “meh” nature of the pan-green campaigns in Taipei (I’ll cover the awesome Chen Chu’s /陳菊 quest for the Kaohsiung mayorship in another post), I “boldly” predict a whole lot of ink will be spilled in coming weeks over the endless bickering among the Blues, but I don’t think the “hard blue” SS (that’s “Soong Supporters”) have enough political mojo left in the tank to become a serious threat to Hau’s campaign. Soong will snipe at Hau, Ma and Hsieh comfortably from his consolidated position at the head of the blue fringe, and in the end we’ll have a two-way race between Hau and Hsieh with Hau winning by a decent amount. Furthermore, I predict with Amazing Criswell-like certainty that the defeated Frank Hsieh will suddenly disappear alone into the Central Mountain Range where he will be occasionally spotted by betel nut farmers weeping uncontrollably while listening to Bunun tribal music on his iPod.

You heard it here first.

Cross-posted at Wandering to Tamshui


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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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The Anti-Chen crowd continues brainwashing children

... and posting it on the Internet for the world to see

It's not surprising to me, but it is disgusting. Since last month when I blogged about a 2-year-old girl being taught by her father to hate Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian, I've discovered 2 more similar videos, both posted by YouTube users who identify their location (on their profile pages) as Hong Kong. Imagine their "pride" and "joy"!

Then get ready to feel the nausea!

Shut up 'n' brainwash yer kids some more
The first of these latest examples of horrible parenting is titled 倒扁囡囡 ("Depose Chen baby") and consists solely of a very young child (with a crib visible in the background) repeating "下台" ("step down") and imitating the spasmodic "thumbs down" gesture of the redshirt protesters while two adults mumble outside the camera's view.



0'17" YouTube video: "倒扁囡囡"
Click "Play" at lower left to load the video here.
Click on the screen to open the video in a new browser window.
(I suggest hitting "Pause" until the video loads fully.)
Click here to download the latest version of Adobe Flash.
Click here for YouTube help.


(The user's other currently-posted videos are all related to fire and karaoke.)

Return of the sons of shut up 'n' brainwash yer kids
(AKA "Ew, baby baby!")
Although the children in the next video aren't exactly "babies," it is titled "Twins baby" [sic] and accompanied by this description: "Twins shouting Taiwan against Ah Bin slogan" [sic]. Adults can be heard encouraging the kids to repeat the Mandarin words for "A-bian, step down." If their age isn't enough for you to understand that these kids are being exploited for their inability to discern right from wrong, I hope this makes it even clearer: the kids mistakenly pronounce "下台" (xià tái) as "下來" (xià lái) at the beginning, but the adults "correct" them. The parents are already blindly repeating the memes pushed by pro-China media across the region, and their unknowing children will carry on the "tradition."



0'48" YouTube video: "Twins baby"


The above video is currently this user's only posted video.

What bile is this?
Just in case I have to explain, go back to my earlier post on this subject, and scroll down to the part about "Family tradition." The kind of values I personally hope to pass on are enunciated in one of my own mottoes: "Question everything -- especially this!"

Your comments, questions, criticism, and complaints are welcome.

Exhibits I through U: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

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BBC Taiwan Coverage: Pathetically Biased

The international media typically does spotty work on Taiwan, but the BBC definitely stands out for poor writing on happenings on the Beautiful Isle. The BBCs coverage is looking more like Xinhua's then the work of a democratic media writing from a democratic standpoint; it is, at the moment, to the right of even the local pro-Blue Chinese papers.

The reason for BBC's astonishing and unblushing pro-Blue stance may lie reside in the fact that the BBC's local partner is the cable news channel CTI, which is profoundly pro-Blue, and has been showing the protests 24/7 on its channel. CTI was purchased by the China Times, the local KMT Chinese-language paper, in 2002. Whatever the reason, it is absolutely unacceptable that a major international media organization has become so biased.

The two most recent articles, one covering the October 10 mess; the other the recent and failed second recall motion for President Chen dated yesterday, October 13, contain much of the same erroneous information, impoverished understanding of the situation, and ineptitude that have characterized BBC's reports since the beginning of the protests last month. Consider the most recent one on the recall motion:

Troubled leader

The allegations against Mr Chen started in May when his son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, was detained and later charged with insider trading.

Other allegations followed, against the president, his family and close aides. Mr Chen himself was questioned in August over alleged misuse of funds, but prosecutors have yet to release the findings of their investigation.

The president has apologised for this son-in-law's actions, but denies any personal wrongdoing and has refused to resign.

Both pretinent facts and key context are missing: the BBC article does not note that the investigation has already cleared his wife, nor does it note that there is no evidence the President has done anything wrong. The BBC then goes on to write:

Friday's bill, submitted to parliament by People First Party legislator Lu Hsue-chang, said Mr Chen lacked the ability to govern, and accused him of corruption.

The BBC again fails to provide key context. Imagine if it had added one or two of the following sentences.

Friday's bill, submitted to parliament by People First Party legislator Lu Hsue-chang, said Mr Chen lacked the ability to govern, and accused him of corruption. People's First Party Chairman James Soong, a longtime critic of Chen, was recently given the largest fine ever to a major Taiwan political figure for tax evasion. Soong was a key official in the suppression of democracy under the KMT regime.

The underlying slant is plain: nowhere does anything in the BBC article suggest that this might be a partisan political protest. Instead, it is carefully constructed to give exactly the opposite impression. This might have been acceptable last month, but a number of major international news organizations have had no trouble reporting that the bulk of protesters are pro-Blue, including Keith Bradsher of the New York Times (who got Shih to admit in an interview that the bulk of his protesters were nationalists), Stephan Grauwels of AP, and Kathrin Hille of the Financial Times. Local papers have also noted this, including a nice piece in the Taipei Times a couple of weeks ago on a potential coup here which identified most protesters as New Party members, Deep Blue, by veteran Taiwan observer Bo Tedards.

The October 10th piece from the BBC is by Caroline Gluck, whose work on this issue has been uniformly awful, and this one is no exception. Consider this succession of paragraphs:

He said Taiwan's predicament was similar to the growing pains of other emerging democracies and he said partisan differences should not be allowed to undermine the island's democracy, peace and prosperity.

But as he spoke, opposition legislators and critics in the presidential square began chanting calls for him to step down and some small scuffles broke out.

It was clearly an embarrassing moment for President Chen, who was addressing foreign delegates and government officials.

Was it an embarrassing moment for Chen? Well the foreign dignataries, some of whose vehicles were attacked by the protesters -- a detail left out of the BBC piece -- seemed to feel that the nation and the protesters embarrassed themselves. Indeed, the US representative rebuked PFP Chairman James Soong's outburst -- both outburst and rebuke go unmentioned in the BBC's piece. As Feiren notes below, some of the Blue papers seem to feel the Blues' behavior to be an embarrassment to themselves. All of the Green papers felt the protesters had embarrassed themselves. Gluck could have approached that in several ways: the BBC could have noted that it was an embarrassing moment without assigned the embarrassment to anyone, or simply reported what had happened without mentioning that it was embarrassing. Instead, it constructs the event in an anti-Chen manner. Clearly Gluck has very serious problems both with understanding what is going on in Taiwan and in presenting it in an evenhanded manner.

She began the article with:

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have been surrounding the presidential office in Taiwan, calling on President Chen Shui-bian to step down.

The mass action took place as the president took part in a ceremony marking Taiwan's National Day.

The crowds wore red T-shirts to symbolise public anger over corruption scandals surrounding the president's aides and family.

Again, not even the merest hint that the protests are partisan political protests aimed at destabilizing the government and bringing down an elected President by extralegal means. There is nothing here to disturb the image of "popular" protests -- apparently Gluck has been unable to discover what has been in the AP, the NY Times, the Financial Times, and hundreds of blogs and blogposts on the island. Gluck also does not give the Taipei Police estimate of 120,000 -- the idea of "hundreds of thousands" has appeared only in the pro-Blue media. Gluck simply regurgitates pro-Blue claims without the slightest contextualization.

It goes without saying that neither of the articles has a "Comments" section appended to the bottom. I guess they don't feel like being publicly and decisively corrected....I'll be writing them later, though apparently it hasn't done a lick of good. Anyone have an email for Gluck?

For Christmas, I'd like a significant upgrade in the BBC's balance....

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Friday, October 13, 2006

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Requiem for the Red Shirts

This morning's edition of the China Times ran a series of articles and op-ed pieces announcing the end of Shih Ming-teh's ill-fated, misguided, and self-serving movement to oust President Chen. Zhongshan precinct has revoked demonstration permits for the next two weeks, Shih has apologized to his followers for miscommunications and generally, and the protestors have been told to go home for the next two weeks. The next rally is planned for whenever the investigation into Chen's management of a secret slush fund concludes. I wouldn't be holding my breath if I were a protestor.

Suddenly the China Times has woken up to the fact that Chen was never going to resign unless he or a blood relative were indicted, that the entire movement is needlessly provoking ethnic tensions, and that it is fundamentally undemocratic. They are now noting the falling numbers and that centrist voters are tired of the mess in Taipei and provocative behavior of the mobs on Tuesday. Chen Ju is now back in the race in Kaohsiung thanks to the reds, and Ma Ying-jeou is suddenly looking a whole lot less invincible than he did a few months ago.

Welcome back to the real world.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

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Voters of Taipei: recall Ma Ying-jeou

Time for him to take some responsibility

Our pal STOP_Ma (AKA STOP_George), who's been fighting the good fight on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, has created an online petition seeking the resignation of Taipei City mayor and KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou to take responsibility for failing to protect the law-abiding citizens of Taiwan's capital city from the mess brought about by the persistent lawless behavior of Shih Ming-teh's Red-Ant Army. The redshirted mob has been on the streets of Taipei for over a month (in many cases and locations, without the proper permits) screeching that they want to depose Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's democratically-elected president, despite the fact that Chen hasn't been indicted on even a single charge. Tuesday night, Shih made threatening statements against the prosecutor who's investigating President Chen, saying that he'd better return a result which satisfies him and the redshirts. If he doesn't, Shih says that he and his crazies will surround the Judicial Yuan "in order to uphold an independent judiciary." (That's what he said!) Even if the result is to the liking of the crazies, they'll surround the Executive Yuan (Premier Su Tseng-chang's [蘇貞昌] branch) and the DPP central headquarters -- unless the DPP votes to recall the president.

That's not democracy -- it's mob rule! And if you think that kind of "justice" is anywhere near "independent," then I'm Ma Ying-jeou's grandmother!

Time for Mr. Rule-of-law to stop paying lip service to the law
"Chairman Mao-without-the-O" has previously insisted that the law must be followed (in certain cases only?), yet on Tuesday, when the nation's dignity and the safety of foreign dignitaries was at stake, he decided that the law was "flexib[le]." Wednesday night, Ma said that he's giving the redshirts another three weeks to run amok. [See UPDATE below]

No wonder he failed the bar exam.

See for yourself
Here's some video from Tuesday night's FTV English Edition which STOP_Ma kindly uploaded to YouTube.



10'12" YouTube video: "Resign, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou!"
Click "Play" at lower left to load the video here.
(I suggest hitting "Pause" until the video loads fully.)
Click here to download the latest version of Adobe Flash.
Click here for YouTube help.

Here's another video Michael Turton linked on his blog today which demonstrates the double standards of the redshirts/pan-blues surrounding the recent events. (Some Chinese-language ability required.)



1'36" YouTube video: "Double Standards - 2"

Now, go sign the petition and spread the word!

UPDATE: The report of Ma Ying-jeou giving the redshirts another three weeks may be incorrect. At the time I wrote that, they had originally held permits to hold two more weeks' worth of protests (October 14 - 27) on Ketagalan Boulevard (in front of Taiwan's Presidential Office), but those permits were subsequently revoked; however, redshirt organizer/spokesman Jerry Fan (范可欽) said they "would stay at the current site on the south plaza of Taipei Railway Station and continue protesting between 6pm and 10pm every night," according to the October 14 edition of the Taipei Times.

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

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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PFP Candidate exploits traditional Taiwanese religious sensitivities (with updates)

Here is the next installment in my series on the relationship between religion and politics in Taiwanese society (Walk through the colon):

I've been sitting on this for a few days now; I just haven't had the time to put it down into words. On Friday--Mid-Autumn Festival--I was sitting in the Xin Beitou Starbucks trying to finish up a translation I have been working on for what seems like ages. I took a sip from my latte...

And then suddenly I heard the sound of ritual drumming outside--you know, those big red drums. I looked out the window and there was a procession of little trucks going by. They are the kind of trucks that could represent a religious or a political procession. Of course, anyone who read my last post (the one linked to above) knows that I see little distinction.

It was obvious that they were moving in a circular pattern--the sound of drumming would subside and then return again, louder and louder, and then softer.

At first, I thought it was simply a celebration for Mid-Autumn Festival. I was wrong--well sort of.

I soon found out that the procession was for the People's First Party (PFP) Candidate for Taipei City Councilor in Beitou, Wang Yu-cheng. Or is he running for re-election?

The PFP, for those who don't know, is the KMT-splinter party that was founded by James Soong.

When I walked outside, I noticed a sizeable crowd in front of an open-front shop. This is what I saw:



The first thing that's clear is the ritual altar draped in red in front of the shop, over which is a large picture of the candidate--Wang Yu-cheng. It says: "Don't distinguish between blue and green; just distinguish who is capable."

If you look inside the building (a very red experience), there is a giant image of Councilor Wang on the back wall. On the side wall, a smiling image of James Soong. You know, the primogenitor, or the sage--at least to his followers (when are we going to get the post on Soong's retaining Chiang Kai-shek's aura?). People were also chanting Soong's name.



There is more to this story and more to this image, but I'm getting tired. It turns out that the building that was the shrine to Nourish the City (育城) Wang on Mid-Autumn Festival became his headquarters.

Then the procession suddenly made sense to me. On the one hand, I was reminded of the imperial tour that I wrote about in my ancestor worship post. On the other, the military connotations were striking. It was like an army seizing the locale, and setting up its base. Or perhaps they are the same thing--the two hands.

Is Beitou now PFP territory? Has it always been? Perhaps we will all have to go light incense in front of the Wang family altar.

UPDATE: See Michael's words about James Soong today here and here.

UPDATE: Tim Maddog has more on Wang Yu-cheng--alias Mike Wang--in the comments. Also check out Tim's post from June of last year on Mr. Wang's activities making stuff up. Tim also wonders if the guy wearing orange in the picture above is the same as this guy, who is Wang's accomplice.

UPDATE: Jerome Keating has more on the head of the PFP, James Soong's outrageous behavior on National Day:

Soong and People First Party (PFP) cohorts attended the national ceremonies dapperly dressed in red suits, shirts and ties. It is unclear whether they wanted to demonstrate their alignment with Shih or to seek to take leadership of his group. Regardless, they immediately caused a disturbance. First they tried to disrupt the President's speech; then they tried to disrupt the ceremonies and marching guard. Scuffling took place, but no one was seriously hurt. They were escorted out.

Such behavior can be tolerated in idealistic but immature youths who have no sense of the history and dignity of the national day and are trying to make a point to their elders. However, to have the leader of one of Taiwan's major parties so perform in public does not speak well of his national leadership potential or his concept of democracy. These were not the actions of a Statesman.

The moment was not lost on Stephen Young, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. When asked by reporters what he thought of Soong's actions, Young answered in excellent Mandarin that it was inappropriate for such a day and directed the reporters to pose the same question to James Soong. Young went on to say that in a mature democracy, statesmen will wait until the courts have made a judgment before laying blame on others.

In Soong's actions and protest, we find a continued growing sense of desperation. There is the feeling of a man whose time and opportunities are running out. Soong has still not declared whether he will run for Taipei Mayor; his latest promise was that he would make up his mind after the National Day. I have written on him several times and extensively on June 10. He continues playing dangerous games risking alienation from some pan-blue supporters while courting others.

The moment of truth is coming for James Soong. Elections are not won by accolades from Shih's Red Guard. He is starting to grasp at straws.


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Monday, October 09, 2006

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Voters of Taiwan: recall all the pan-blue legislators

Time for some political jujitsu

Six and a half years after losing Taiwan's presidency, the pan-blues are still wailing and gnashing their teeth about the "bane" of democracy which threatens their very existence. These days, the duties of hypocritically opposing "corruption" are being publicly handled by Taiwan's Charles Bronson lookalike and debt-ridden has-been, the overly-hyphenated buffoon, Shih Ming-teh

He's a partisan, and he'll cry if he wants to
An article on page 3 of today's Taipei Times says that the supposedly "non-partisan" Shih is preparing to launch a recall against all pan-green legislators who don't support his and the pan-blues' shrill drive to depose President Chen Shui-bian. His real goal, however, is to get the pan-greens to do his bidding. Here's the bait:
If pan-green legislators decide to support the second presidential recall motion and hand the future of the president over to the people to decide through a national referendum, the campaign will end its month-long protest, organizers said.
Doesn't that sound tasty -- an end to all the nonsense?

Not so fast! Remember the threat behind that bait.

Also remember this. Less than a month ago, I redundantly pointed out the partisan nature of Shih's rabble-rousing, and the subsequent behavior of his camp has consistently proven this to be correct. Here's the comment from Shih's spokesman (formerly-painted-as-neutral) which I criticized last month:
"We don't want any partisan support. We try to keep this as pure as possible, as a movement of the people," said Emile Sheng, professor of politics at Soochow University, who has joined the protest camp as a media spokesman.
Would you take bait from this man or the group he supports? I certainly hope not!

This latest "carrot-which-is-actually-a-stick" comes across exactly like the behavior of a spoiled child: "I'll stop crying as soon as you buy me the expensive gift which you can't afford and I shouldn't have anyway, and if you don't, I'll hold my breath until you can see that my face is already blue." It's just another in the series of tricks from the anti-Chen camp, and you know that if you give them what they want, they'll only ask for more.

Partial recall
These faux "opposers of corruption" fail to remember, though I do quite clearly, that less than 4 months ago, KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (erstwhile supporter of corrupt officials like Hsu Tsai-li and Wu Chun-li), referring to a soon-to-fail recall motion against President Chen, had these authoritarian-sounding words to say:
"It's time to load the gun, but not yet time to pull the trigger, because you only get one shot at recalling a president."
Did you read that? "[O]ne shot." But how soon they forget.

Henry Blackhand has a much longer memory
A letter to the editor, also in today's Taipei Times, gives readers a short lesson in history and law which speaks volumes:
[I]t must be hard for the KMT and its allies to adjust to a legal system where the burden of proof lies with the accuser, when for 40 years during the White Terror period they enjoyed the power of kangaroo courts, in which a mere accusation was often enough to get someone a long stretch in prison or even a death sentence.
A "kangaroo court" is exactly what this all is, and it's just another of the many ways that this non-democratic mess is like China's .

Turn the tactics of your opponents back on them
So what can the people of Taiwan do about this madness? Well, turnabout is fair play, so I simply suggest that a recall be initiated against all the pan-blue legislators -- sincerely, and not as a "bluff" -- since the KMT chairman himself said they only had "one shot" at recalling the president. They've played their hand. Call their bluff, and let them fall on their faces. What are they gonna do about it -- cry to their mommyland?

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

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On the Eve

The poundin’of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace
And...tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve
Of destruction -- "Eve of Destruction" -- P. F. Sloan

Tomorrow, in case you've been in a cave for two months, is Der Tag: the day that former DPP chairman and current Blue ally Shih Ming-teh and his pro-Blue supporters are going to "lay siege" to the Presidential Palace in Taipei during National Day celebrations in an attempt to get the President to step down.

Shih's protest (backgrounder at DKos), now entering its second month, peaked last month with the massive protest in downtown Taipei chronicled extensively and erroneously in the local media. If it ever had an opportunity to become non-partisan, that opportunity has long since disappeared. His supporters, as he admitted in an interview to the NY Times last week, are heavily pro-Blue. He has no positive program for change, no reform demands, no policy proposals. He has ignored ample corruption among the Blues, while focusing his "anti-corruption" protest on President Chen, a man for which no evidence corruption exists. His "movement" is simply the en masse realization of the politics of revenge and defeat, the final grandstanding of a man whose whole career has been a succession of stunts. The only question now is how big a bang his Gotterdammerung is going to have.

The climate of expectation that has gripped the island is rather like that deliciously dreadful anticipation of pain that one experiences at the dentist's office as he leans in with the drill to start the root canal: how much is this gonna hurt? Shih has been cagey about his plans, so no one really knows the answer.

There will, of course, be a sea of red, the campaign's color, out there tomorrow. Taipei is a heavily pro-Blue city and it will be child's play to bring in two or three hundred thousand protesters on a public holiday. In view of the vast potential for violence, which I personally judge to be one highly probable goal of Shih, the media has reported that President Chen will stay away if the Red crowd is too large. He has also asked DPP legislators to stay away as well. The last set of protests in Taipei saw Reds beating on Greens, and the newspapers here have reported the presence of Taipei gangs, well-known to be pro-Blue, at the protest.

Shih has promised to extend his protests to attack DPP legislators who support the President if they do not support a recall motion:

The "pan-blue alliance" formed by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) voiced their support for Shih's proposal, stressing that President Chen himself has repeatedly promised to let the people decide his political fate.

However, without a substantial number of "defecting" votes from the DPP's 88 members to vote for the recall of the president, the motion is unlikely to pass the 221-member legislature.

Yeh Yi-jin, secretary-general of the DPP's legislative caucus, said holding such a referendum would only create social turmoil.

"Shih is only voicing his personal views," she said, reiterating her caucus' opposition to the recall motion.

Cheng Hun-peng, another caucus member, said that if the DPP wanted to remove the president, the party might simply ask Chen to step down without having to waste NT$2 billion to hold a national referendum.

As for Shih's demand on DPP lawmakers to "give the people a chance to express their views through a referendum," Cheng said Shih need not "intimidate" DPP legislators like a gangster.


Having failed to gain popular support, Shih's campaign is now venting its frustrations at any target within reach, like a mad scorpion, stinging and stinging until it at last dies of exhaustion.

Meanwhile the island's politicians have been pleading with Shih not to do something violent. Vice-President Lu, once Shih's comrade in arms and fellow prisoner of conscience, implored Shih to restrain his followers:

"[Shih] Ming-teh (施明德), my brother and all of the friends who follow you, I hope you will let the nation celebrate its birthday jubilantly," Lu said. "If there is anything you want to talk about, let's close the door and talk about it since you are one of us."

Lu said that she hoped Shih and his supporters would not do anything radical that would undermine the nation's dignity and tarnish its image on one of its most important holidays.


The fear has even reached the pro-Blue media, which previously has been strongly supportive of Shih. Today the China Post reported as its lead story that Wang Jin-pyng, the dapper speaker of the legislature, noted that more than 4,000 invitees have declined to attend the National Day celebrations. Wang, one of the two main beneficiaries of the Shih-led protests, declined to criticize or advise, saying merely that he prayed that the demonstrations would be peaceful. Wang, KMT Chairman Ma's main rival for KMT leadership, and a possible presidential candidate if Ma's star should darken, has kept a low profile during the protests. He has been throwing warm fuzzies in the direction of former political ally James Soong, currently chairman of the People's First Party (PFP), the other major Blue party. It is an interesting coincidence that Shih Ming-teh's constant attacks on President Chen and Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou benefit one man most of all, James Soong, and that selfsame Soong has been seen sitting at Shih's right hand during the protests. What strange confluences life offers us...

Also exptensively reported in the media here is the heavy burdens the protests are placing on the police. I had the good fortune to talk to a mainlander yesterday whose wife is a Taipei city policeman; she has to work during this five day vacation thanks to Shih's "siege" -- which is illegal, having received no permit -- but she knows who is at fault: Chen Shui-bian.

Meanwhile a group of students is proposing dialogue between the top leaders. If only...

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Friday, October 06, 2006

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F-16s: Bush screws US, Taiwan, Japan....

'A week,!' said Hirgon. 'If it must be so, it must. But you are like to find only ruined walls in seven days from now, unless other help unlooked-for comes.'

I knew in 2000 that the Bush Administration was going to be an absolute disaster for the US, but the one silver lining I saw in that spreading ichor of dark clouds was the Administration's support for Taiwan. Now it looks like even that tiny sliver of good has been lost, as the Bush Administration has suspended F-16 sales to Taiwan.

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) yesterday said that although the US Department of Defense supported the sale of F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan, US President George W. Bush had decided to suspend the sale.

"Bush decided to suspend the arms procurement because Taiwan has not made any progress with its long-delayed arms procurement bill," Lee told the legislature's National Defense Committee yesterday.

"A high-ranking official from the US Department of Defense in charge of US arms sales to foreign countries earlier this year told the Ministry of National Defense (MND) that the US would sell F-16C/D fighter jets to the country," Lee said.

"The American Institute in Taiwan in late August submitted a reference of the prices at which the US was selling F-16C/D fighters to its allies, but since that time there has been no progress on the arms sales from the US, and the MND later learned from US officials that Bush had decided to suspend the bill," the minister said.


Last month, the media reported that the White House National Security Council had recommended that the F-16 sale be blocked, because the island's legislature had refused to purchase the overpriced and useless submarines, the pointless P-3C Orion subhunting aircraft, and the extremely useful Patriots missiles.

The White House National Security Council (NSC) has advised U.S. President George W. Bush to reject new sales of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in order to avoid upsetting China, according to The Washington Times Friday.

The move would also signal disapproval with Taipei for its failure to procure submarines, surveillance aircraft and anti-missile defenses offered by the United States since 2001, the paper said.


"To avoid upsetting China"! All gods forbid that we upset China! What a spineless, shortsighted, self-defeating decision! Consider: the presence of additional fighters will help deter Chinese military aggression against Taiwan, and force them to purchase far more fighters to cope with the Taiwanese jets. In case of war they will represent 60 fighters that the US will not have to supply, pay for, maintain, and staff with pilots and mechanics. When war comes, the US one way or another will have to supply 60 fighters, and more than 60. Here's someone offering to pay, staff, and maintain them in a forward position. Duh.

Further, by not sending F-16s to Taiwan, the US rewards the KMT-led Blue alliance for blocking the arms purchase. The KMT does not want any arms purchases at the moment, since it is cooperating with China, successful purchases the DPP look good, and no kickbacks will come to them. The Blue camp must be quaking in its boots: Don't throw us in the briar patch again, Uncle Sam! If the US really wants Taiwan to purchase those weapons, it needs to lean on the Blues, and hard. It needs to stop coddling KMT visitors. It needs to get credible people over here who will warn the KMT that US patience is exhausted, and that the US will switch its support to the Greens if the KMT does not start serving the interests of Taiwan, and it needs to keep doing that until the message gets through. It is incredible at this late date, with the Blues blocking the arms purchase after promising it would go through, fomenting unrest in Taiwan's streets, paralyzing the government, and cooperating with China, that any American policymaker could consider them a viable partner for future long-term cooperation.

Militarily, this is an ill-considered decision. Recall that the US wants Taiwan to buy P-3C Orion antisubmarine aircraft. There's no doubt that such aircraft would be useful for Taiwan in its quest to free the oceans of Chinese submarines. However, these are huge, slow, four-engine propeller aircraft that cannot be used unless Taiwan controls the airspace around the island. Taiwan cannot do that without fighter aircraft -- and here the US is refusing to sell Taiwan such aircraft. We won't even mention that in modern history no large invasion has been successful in the face of enemy control of the air. That's just too obvious.

The Bush Administration also has failed its allies -- what is Japan supposed to think of our commitment to regional security, and to peace in the Taiwan Strait? The Administration has an opportunity here to signal Japan that it is willing to support Japan in areas that nation considers vital to its strategic interests. Instead it is fumbling the ball.

There is no angle from which selling F-16s to Taiwan is a bad idea. That's millions of revenues for US corporations and their workers, and 60 more aircraft to keep the peace in the region, support our allies, and assure democracy in Taiwan. Even China will get over it sooner or later. I hope the US NSC wakes up soon, and gives us the weapons we need to keep Taiwan free. "For the love of God, Montresor!" don't wall us up in the catacombs of Chinese aggression-- sell us the F-16s!


(crossposted at The View from Taiwan)

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

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"National identity" or "Visitors' convinience"

Micheal from The view from Taiwan discussed Mark Caltonhill's article "When in Rome, shut up and fit in" showed up in Taiwan Journal. That article talks about the inconsistent English systems applied by different local governments in Taiwan, and criticizes at the disagreements (of Taiwan governemnt's choice of Tong-yong Pingying as the national system) expressed in blogs mainly maintained by foreigners/visitors who love Taiwan (who either visited or lived in Taiwan) .

I shared my point of view as a comment to Michael's post:

When talking about society issues or else, we always hear someone says this:

"It's nothing to do with politics."

Indeed, many things in a normal society are pure society issues and shouldn't be handled with political means or viewes from the political perspective.

In Taiwan, however, things could go to a very different direction. When comparing Taiwan with many western countries I often sighed at the fact that Taiwanese have to spend most of their time and energy on something like "Do I want to be a Taiwanese or a Chinese" (national identity, that is), while many western, democratic countries put their energy to improving the quality of life.

But do we have a choice? I don't think so. For Taiwanese, when "national identity" hasn't been solved, it will remain the first priority for ever. Therefore, every long term decision should and would be considered in that context. We can't afford loosing a grip on anything related to Taiwanese identity and surrender to "pro-china" side. If we do, we will push ourselves one step further to our enemy. In reality we already are losing "grips" on many grounds.

This is even more critical when you read the histories (of china and of Tiawan) and understand how Communists beat KMT. They started the wars not with bullet or even deplomatic approach, but with infutrating into the core of your group, making the mindsets of your people switching closer and closer to them and farther and farther away from local governments. When the red army actually came, a considerably large portion of citizen already have simpathy for them. The victory is determined before the red army actually stepped in. It's so evident that same approaches are actually being applied to Taiwan for some time.

Therefore, people who fight for Taiwanese identity are constantly under such a threat that they might be foreced to become a citizen of a barbarian country and live in a barbarian culture. The anxiety and worries are always there.

Naturally, anything related to China becomes extremely sensitive. You could probably say that, in Taiwan everything is politics. But we really don't have a choice. We can't afford leaving a blind eye to something that might push us away from democracy, even that step looks so harmless at this moment.

I totally understand how frustrated foreigners feel when they (you) got lost and confused by the English system here in Taiwan. Your complaints are reasonable, from the perspective of a foreigners. But, how many of you share the anxiety that some day you (and your kids !!) might be forced to give up the current democracy and become a citizen of barbarian ? How many of you would think about the possibility of future sorry that you wish you could re-live the history in order to adjust everything to go as far away from China as possible?

I can't answer that for all foreign friends. Actually I can't answer that for any single foreigner. I am just trying to share how a Taiwanese looks at this pronounciation issue, which in my personal point of view, is critical to the core as any other cultural war. I believe if it is put under this context, which comes as priority --- "national identity" or "making visitors feel convinient" --- becomes obvious.

P.S. I saw blame or complaint on Taiwan government for not using HP. Do I hear anyone questioning Ma Ying-Jeou for his decision to go against central government's policy? The foreigners' confusion would be largely reduced if such a "violation against his boss" didn't happen, right ?

As a follow-up to the point of the above P.S.:

When you visit a foreign country, will you go complain that the government there didn't choose an international standard, causing you and your fellows to suffer the inconvinience ?

Most probably not. Any country has the right to choose an English system that they think is the best fit to their own culture and need. We would most probably make some effort to learn and get used to it.

The core of the problem of all this dispute is that the English system in Taiwan is "inconsistent", but not "which system it is".

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