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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Friday, March 30, 2007


Kathrin Hille spills some of the beans

She works hard for the money

In contrast with former CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon's claim that the anti-Taiwan memes in the international media are the result of "journalistic laziness," Financial Times correspondent Kathrin Hille actually trots out a more credible motivation for such behavior.

Here's what Wednesday's Taipei Times tells us about the prevalence of "China-centric reporting on Taiwan":
Speaking to the Taipei Times by phone yesterday, Taipei Foreign Correspondents' Club president Kathrin Hille said that although major Western news publications are no longer dispatching as many "staffers" to the country, "I don't think the total number of [foreign journalists] has declined. That always happens in news markets that matter less," she said of the thinning ranks of permanent correspondents from big-name media organizations. "Look, news is a market -- media serve to give their audiences what they think they're interested in and right now, everybody's interested in China," Hille said.


"There's a need for people to read what you write and getting into a story from the China angle helps to ensure that," she added. "Taiwan's significance is declining."

"But, in a way, that's a good thing -- that means no disasters are coming out of this place," she said.
Read that again. She only seems to care that you read what she writes -- not whether it's factual. Could it be that "getting into a story from the China angle helps to ensure" that Hille keeps her job as the leader of the pack and that there will be "no disasters" regarding her current income? And would the writing of Hille and her ilk have anything to do with any of the potential truth behind her assertion that "right now, everybody's interested in China"? I certainly wonder even more about those things now than I did before reading that article.

Also, think again about Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon's assertion that "journalistic laziness" was the reason for the ubiquitous pro-China memes. If you weren't skeptical of that dubious drivel already, Hille's statement ought to raise some red flags.

Who else runs with this pack?
Well, well, well. Look who Hille has at her heel:
Tim Culpan
Taipei Editor
I guess that would make him the boss of the infamous James Peng, whose China-centric reporting has been documented previously on Taiwan Matters.

A brief Google search tells us more about the trustworthiness of the leaders of this pack of dogs:
Chief Editor's note

Monday, Mar 08, 2004, Page 8

I would like to hereby thank the local news media for all its recent attention on me. With respect to the discussions created by an internal memo sent by myself to my co-workers at the Taipei Times, I have neither new comments nor new input to add.

Throughout this incident, the only regrettable thing is the South China Morning Post's reporting of something that never happened.

The reporter, Tim Culpan, quoted an anonymous reporter as saying "I was told that if I write anything against the DPP or 'too Blue' that I would be fired," which is complete nonsense and very irresponsible and vicious reporting. No editor-in-chief can ever speak to his or her subordinates either openly or in private in this way.

The South China Morning Post's freelance reporter Tim Culpan previously worked as a copy editor at the Taipei Times.

I do not wish to speculate whether he was in fact being personally vindictive over any matter in particular.

However, it is a fact that the Taipei Times has indeed rejected news stories he submitted for publication after his departure.

Rick Chu

Chief Editor, Taipei Times
Here is a mirror of the SCMP article in question. See how Culpan has also been pushing the "China market" since at least 2002.

A lesson from the movies
China, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and writers like Hille remind me of a poignant line in the recent film 300. The gargantuan antagonist Xerxes says to the Spartan traitor Ephialtes, "Cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel." Only someone with no self-worth would choose the latter.

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

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A feast of KMT myths

This post should have appeared a few weeks back before the rally but somehow never got published. I've changed a few tenses and made a few minor revisions. This rally was one of the developments Wang Chin-pyng was respnding to ]weh he said that the KMT was dominated by a minority (mainlander) elite.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is held a "Love Taiwan/Defend the Republic of China" rally tomorrow near CKS Memorial Hall. The press conference was a litany of KMT canards.

Acting Chairman Chiang Pin-kung invited KMT supporters to come out and "express blue anger." He went on to say that "under presidents Chiang Kai-shek and Chinag Ching-kuo, Taiwan enjoyed an era of happiness, prosperity, and beauty. We cannot allow the DPP to erase history." Note the conservative appeal to a happy past totally unrelated to the dictatorial rule of the Chiang family when few were allowed to leave the island and political dissidents were arrested or shot by the tens of thousands. Happy, prosperous, and beautiful indeed!

Behind Chiang at the press conference were posters that read "We've been Pissed Off for a Long Time. Come Out and Show Your Anger!" Print ads for the rally in the China Times today said that "Look at how the DPP can do nothing but change names and ignores the people. Nothing but slogans. The DPP doesn't know how to govern. If you don't want to see them go on acting up, come out and let them hear you roar!"

As with Chiang's comments, note the tone of resentful, petulant anger. KMT supporters are pissed off (bushuang), showing anger (qiangsheng), and roaring (nuhou). If you go out to the rally tomorrow you will see ample evidence of this sullen resentfulness.

Oddly enough, this tone is always filtered out in international media reports about Taiwan. But the other message in the print ad comes out loud and clear--the DPP is allegedly misgoverning Taiwan. The filtered-out resentment is then transposed to the entire Taiwanese people (as opposed to one conservative, resentful constituency) and represented as being the causal effect of the other message of poor DPP governance. The end result of this alchemy? The Taiwanese people are sick of DPP misrule and the rational, pragmatic KMT will right things by getting back to business.

Chiang expanded on his theme. The purpose of government, according to Chiang, is to allow the people to live in peace and pursue their private business or careers (anju leye). But what these libertarian-sounding sentiments really mean is that we should go back to the low-crime days of martial law and allow big business free rein to blow the savings of the Taiwanese people on high-risk investments in China.

The means to achieving these ignoble ends are peace with China, ethnic harmony, bi-partisan cooperation, and getting tough on crime. What a hoot!

Peace with China means making deals over Taiwan's sovereignty and future status with consulting the Taiwanese people, cozying up to China, and intentionally eroding Taiwan's defenses. Ethnic harmony means getting back to the good old days when those uppity Taiwanese knew their place.

Bi-partisan cooperation is especially rich coming from a party that has been willing to leave Taiwan without a budget unless it gets control over the Central Elections Commission.

The rally will march around the walls of CKS memorial in a ludicrous reprise of Shih Ming-teh's Naztec line marches last fall (what ever happened to Shih, btw?) followed by film clips of Chinag Kai-shek's statue in Kaohsiung being 'desecrated' and images of Taiwan from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Chiang said that those were Taiwan's salad days, when Taiwan's economy was taking off. In those days everyone was full of hope. Now everyone wants to find a way for Taiwan's economy to take off again.

The linkage between an imagined past and a new era of unlimited economic development is striking. The poverty and indeed regressive nature of the KMT's vision of Taiwan 's future is underlined in Chiang's next comments. Over the past seven years, Taiwan's GDP has grown by an average of "just" 3.5 percent a year. Meanwhile, where Taiwanese per capita income once led the hated Koreans by US$5,000, Taiwanese per capita incomes are now the lowest among the four East Asian dragon and US$2,000 behind the Koreans. The KMT's economic policies left the Taiwanese "standing up to their eyeballs in cash."

I'll leave it to the experts to debate Taiwan's economic history, but it should be noted that it is an open question whether the KMT state-directed economy drove Taiwan's economy or inhibited the entrepreneurial drive of the Taiwanese people. Taiwan's economic miracle also came at a horrible cost to Taiwan's now ravaged environment and to exploited workers in the sweatshops of yore. Of course, things were pretty good for Taiwan's massive and cosseted state sector who lived inside a magical circle of cradle-to-grave benefits including lifelong job security, pensions, and free education and health care unlike the unwashed masses who pretty much fended for themselves.

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Wang Yu-tseng Wins a Round

Wang You-tseng, the fugitive Rebar tycoon, will be released from a US immigration detention center by April 4th unless the US government decides to appeal Judge Rose Peter's decision to release Wang on grounds that he did not illegally enter the US because he never exited.

Wang's lawyers successfully argued that although Wang passed through US passport control and flew to Singapore, he never legally exited the US because he did not legally enter Singapore. Wang's high-powered immigration lawyers cited a case known as the Matter of T as a precedent. In that 1955 case, a Yugoslav national left the US on a ship but was unable to enter his European destination. After returning to the United States, he eventually won a judgment that he had never exited the US since he had never entered another country.

The US government has 30 days to appeal.

In a related analysis, the pro-blue China Times tries to get in a jab at the government by arguing that this outcome is the fault of the government here for not letting Wang enter Singapore. They of course neglect to mention that had he entered Singapore, he might well be in Burma now by some other route. Still, it does once again raise the question of why Taiwanese authorities fail to find adequate representation in these cases until too late.

Wang's lawyers now say that he will apply for political asylum in the US. He can't apply for US citizenship because Taiwan will not issue him the criminal clearance he needs to apply. This requirement is waived for applicants for political asylum.

Tellingly, Wang's fancy Chinese-American lawyer said that Wang may eventually attempt to return to China, the country of his birth.


And remember, you read about it on Taiwan Matters first.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


TVBS Reporter Filmed Gangster

The China Times and other media outlets are now reporting that Chou Cheng-pao's video-taped threats were in fact filmed by Shih Chen-kang, a TVBS reporter from the station's Nantou bureau. TVBS has issued a public apology and fired Shih along with another reporter from the station's central Taiwan department. TVBS broke the story of the videotape a few days ago as an exclusive.

The station is claiming that Shih concealed the origin of the videotape. But officials from the National Communications Council aren't buying the station's story. They say that the station could be fined between NT$200,000 and NT$2 million and ordered to stop broadcasting for up to three months.

Earlier this year, TVBS caused consumer panic after it ran sensationalist reports of consumers who bought ducks with traces of tar in their beaks. Those reports were later discredited by government testing at slaughterhouses but caused financial losses for duck farmers.


Many media sources reported that TVBS would be ordered to stop broadcasting for three days.
In fact, Article 37 of the Satellite TV Broadcasting Act provides that a station can be be ordered to stop broadcasting for three days to three months if (among other things) it is caught broadcasting content that offend good public morals or disrupt public order three times in one year.


The NCC has wussed out and will fine TVBS up to NT$1 million. The NCC says it can't order TVBS to stop broadcasting because this is the first time TVBS has been found.


Chou was arrested this afternoon in Taichung County's Wuri Township. The guns Chou was brandishing in his video have turned out to be toy guns.


Sunday, March 25, 2007


Playing with guns

Full gunmetal irony

Today's Taipei Times brings us this appallingly ironic story:
Lawmaker presents shocking police photos


A police cadet standing to the left in a photograph has the muzzle of a handgun in his mouth, while a classmate standing next to him, in full uniform and smiling, levels a second handgun at the cadet's temple.

Other grainy photographs show similarly disturbing scenes of what Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) said yesterday were police cadets fooling around with guns during training.

"I received the pictures as a file attached to an anonymous e-mail from a Taipei police academy and I was just appalled," Chiang told the Taipei Times after displaying the photographs at a press conference in the legislature on Friday.

The file contained 30 photographs of cadets playing with guns by pointing them at one another, at a salamander and at other random targets.


Even if the firearms shown in the photos are merely pellet guns, the cadets' actions reveal a disturbing lack of discipline in handling sidearms and are indicative of a severe lack of gun training among police officers nationwide, Chiang said.
The target of Chiang's accusations is actually a notable example of police incompetence in which an officer's gun was stolen resulting in the death of an innocent victim who became caught up in the situation. However, how can such accusations be made by a person who does this?:

In lieu of a smoking gun
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu aims a gun at a Chen Shui-bian doll in the legislature yesterday, saying that the president should "end it all" after pan-green camp legislators boycotted the second day of recall proceedings.

Taipei Times photo - Thumbnail hosted by Image Shack

Even if the firearm shown in the photo is merely a BB gun, I guess what Chiang is really trying to say is this: "Do as I say, not as I do."

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

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Thursday, March 22, 2007


Blues Pick Vote Buyer for Keelung Mayor

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its spinoff kid brother, the People's First Party (PFP), jointly known as the pan-Blue coalition, have supposedly chosen Chang Tong-rong as their candidate for the Keelung Mayoral election necessitated by the death of Hsu Tai-li, the previous mayor. Chang is currently the speaker of the city council.

Hsu had been convicted in connection with shenanigans involving land deals, and the KMT, never one to miss continuing a tradition, decided that Keelung needed another lawbreaker as mayor:

Liu yesterday also questioned the fairness of the polls and reaffirmed his determination to run for the post. He said he could not believe that Keelung citizens had supported Chang, who was convicted of vote buying by the Supreme Court, to run for the mayoralty, and vowed to fight to the end of the election.

Despite the agreement to work together, the PFP candidate has not officially withdrawn, leading to threats to run separately. Apparently the KMT conducted the polls and then announced that that their man had won, violating an agreement between the two parties:

The PFP said that it had earlier agreed with the KMT to withhold the results of the polls temporarily so that the two parties could negotiate again in order to decide on a better way to jointly select a candidate for the election, citing concerns that the polls might be unfair.

PFP spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that in spite of the opinion polls, the PFP will still support Liu, and criticized the KMT for its about face on withholding the poll results. He questioned KMT's sincerity in negotiating with the PFP and labeled the KMT as hypocritical.

The PFP, essentially the personal fief of former KMT heavyweight James Soong, who left the party to run for President in 2000 as an independent, and formed the PFP in 2001 after narrowly losing to the current President, Chen Shui-bian. Since the 2004 election, when a joint KMT-PFP ticket blew a 20 point advantage and lost by a whisker to Chen Shui-bian, the PFP has been in eclipse, and was blown out in the recent municipal city council and mayor elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung. It is likely that the KMT considers the PFP no longer a serious threat to poach Blue votes, since the once-popular James Soong garnered less than 10% of the vote in the Taipei mayor election in December, and judges that its junior partner can be ignored with impunity.

Keelung has traditionally been a KMT stronghold, and the DPP is fighting an uphill struggle even if the Blue votes split. In a country with stronger democratic traditions, a convicted vote buyer would probably not be picked as a candidate, and would probably not be voted in, but Taiwan's voters have demonstrated again and again their willingness to vote for openly corrupt public figures.

Chang Tong-rong is currently speaker of the city council. City council speaker is an extremely important position, a major figure in determining who gets what plum pieces of land and to what use it will be put. Thus it has traditionally been one of the most corrupt positions in local city governments. It goes without saying that the KMT's rules forbid running convicted lawbreakers for government posts, but the law has never been a serious impediment to local political behavior.....

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Extinguishing Mandarin?

The Washington Post reported on changes to Taiwan's language policy a couple of days ago:

Taiwan is considering abandoning its long-standing policy of recognizing Mandarin Chinese as the island's only official language, the premier said Tuesday, in a move that would likely anger rival China.

Su Tseng-chang said the Cabinet is examining a draft for a "National Language Development Act" to promote the use of local dialects and prohibit linguistic discrimination.

"Taiwan is a plural society, and all languages should have equal standing and be respected and supported," Su said, indicating an intention to confer equal status on the Taiwanese dialect of Chinese, as well as Hakka, another Chinese dialect.

Such a move would likely be renounced [sic] by Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes any efforts by the island's leadership to loosen cultural and other bonds.

These changes were probably inevitable -- though I have never been in favor of them. It is fascinating to watch how both sides share the same assumptions about cultural imperialism -- Beijing defines what "being Chinese" means, and Taiwan either accepts this or rejects this. The weird fact is that the government here is recognizing other Chinese languages as national languages -- and both sides regard this as becoming less Chinese. In fact, I am sure that the pro-China crowd is going to scream that increased use of Chinese languages like Hakka and Taiwanese is an act of "de-Sinicization." Pro-China legislators actually made that charge yesterday:

Lawmaker after opposition lawmaker grilled Su on the language bill, which was condemned as another move to de-Sinicize Taiwan.

Opponents of the proposed bill describe it as one "to get rid of guo yu."

Sadly, by insisting on only one unitary Chinese culture defined by Beijing, Beijing is strangling the development of Chinese culture. In the later stages of the Cold War era scholars descried the way Taiwan was falsely presented as an idealized Chinese cultural location, where you had to go to get the Authentic Chinese Culture because the Communists had killed it in China. Ironically, this is now slowly becoming true: as Taiwan attempts to permit a number of different Sinic cultures to flourish under the rubric of Chinese/Taiwanese culture, China is slowly making everyone learn Mandarin and bow to Beijing's definition of what Chinese culture is. China is becoming a state that has never existed in Chinese history -- unified under one government, speaking only one language, enjoying a unitary culture -- whereas Taiwan is looking more and more like China used to look -- one government, many languages in use, and a diversity of cultures.

Meanwhile the Washington Post has positioned the story somewhat incorrectly. Taiwan is not getting rid of the official language; it is merely elevating the status of the other languages. As the Taipei Times reported the other day:

"The core purpose of the bill is to prevent native tongues from dying out as a result of `incorrect' language policies that were adopted by the government in the past," Su said.

Su was responding to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Chi (蘇起), who asked whether the government was planning to make Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) rather than Mandarin Chinese, the official language.

The Chinese-language United Daily News reported yesterday that all languages would in future be regarded as "national languages."

Su said that the new policy was intended to preserve all languages rather than encouraging their extinction by forcing everybody to use Mandarin Chinese. All languages should be regarded as "national languages," but there is still only one "official language," he said.

Council for Cultural Affairs Chairman Chiu Kun-liang (邱坤良) noted that, more than a decade ago, UNESCO listed Taiwan as a place where mother tongues are vanishing.

Language-wise Taiwan will probably resemble the US, where English is more or less the official language, but many other languages are officially recognized.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Caning for an At-Large Seat

One reason Taiwan's politics are filled with grandstanders is that grandstanding gets attention, which gets votes. Although the new legislative districting system is supposed to eliminate that, the tactic remains useful.

Thus the suggestion that sex offenders be caned that was mooted yesterday by a DPP femme legislator. I'm not going to comment on how stupid that was; I am sure the blogosphere will be filled with wonderful snark today. Note, however, that this was coupled with a threat against the DPP's political heavyweights (emphasis mine):

At a press conference in the legislature yesterday, DPP Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌) demanded that presidential contenders declare their stance toward the proposed amendment immediately.

She also called on lawmakers to back an amendment to the Sexual Assault Prevention Law (性侵害防治法) that includes the provision on caning.

She said she would publicize the names of presidential contenders who did not back the amendment, adding that she hoped it would pass cross-party negotiations this week.

Proposing provocative public policy? Penalizing Presidential pretenders? It's the P-word: Primary. Hsueh Ling is neither stupid nor fruitcake. As my pal Jason pointed out to me, the redoubtable A-gu listed her among the DPP hopefuls for an at-large seat (parties are granted at-large legislative seats proportional to their score in the election -- if a party wins 45% of the elected seats, they get 45% of the at-large seats). Moreover, half the at-large seats go to the Fair Sex. The DPP is making noises about settling the at-large seats by election somehow, instead of by backroom deals, the usual method.

Hence the publicity grab by Hsueh Ling -- she's positioning herself for the at-large primary by the tried and true method of running "against" the party elites while grabbing an issue that no one could object to, punishing rapists -- a classic "woman's" issue. Thus the Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again: it was thought that the new legislature would lead to fewer unseemly displays by legislators to get elected, but instead, the penchant for publicity stunts appears to have simply shifted to the competition for at-large seats. Hsueh is ahead of the curve, but look for more fun stuff to follow as we approach the election.

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MAC's Wu to US, Lee to Canada

The media are awash with stories about the move of Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the US, David Lee, to Canada, to make way for Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu to take his place.

Following a report yesterday in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) would replace David Lee (李大維) as the top representative to the US.
Wu is generally depicted as Chen's man:

Wu yesterday said he was confident he would be able to communicate the administration's intent to the US accurately, adding that his experience in handling cross-strait relations would be helpful in his new job.

"I think I am familiar with President Chen [Shui-bian's (陳水扁)] way of thinking, and I am able to interpret his ideas easily, precisely and directly," Wu said during a press conference yesterday afternoon.

"Cross-strait affairs have been the focal point of our diplomatic work, and having an understanding in this field is quite important when it comes to foreign affairs," Wu said.

Taiwan News reported the KMT protests over Wu's staunch pro-independence views:

On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) confirmed that Wu, who has never held a foreign post, will replace David Lee (李大維), a career diplomat trained under the Kuomintang era, as the country's top envoy to the United States. Lee is expected to succeed Thomas Chen as Taiwan's representative in Canada. Both men will start their new job sometime next month.

Soon after the announcement was made, pan-blue lawmakers criticized the reshuffle, saying the move is part of the Democratic Progressive Party's ploy to "greenify" top government officials before President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) term expires in May 2008.

At a press conference yesterday, a group of KMT lawmakers said Wu, who has never been shy about his staunch pro-Taiwan independence stance, will turn Taiwan's U.S. representative office in Washington into a "Taiwan Independence Lobbying Center."

"Wu's appointment is mainly to help justify the president's 'four wants and one no' doctrine to the United States," said Lwo Shih-hsiung, hinting that the United States is fully aware of the DPP's strategy, but still gave consent to Wu's appointment as a trade off for the legislature's approval on the U.S. arms procurement deal.

Despite never having served in a diplomatic post, Wu regularly visits the US to brief officials on Taiwan-China relations, and is well known and accepted by them. He speaks fluent English -- always important, since so many US Taiwan experts do not speak good Chinese or Taiwanese -- and has been interviewed by US media, including major television networks. David Lee, the outgoing representative, is one of the many KMTers working in high positions under the Chen Administration. Friends of mine within MOFA have been saying for months that the Administration wanted Lee replaced, and some of the more embarrassing incidents over the years in which Lee has been left unapprised of major events involving Taiwan and the US have been intentionally handled to make him look bad, they've said. Nevertheless, Lee is above all a consummate diplomatic professional, and it remains to be seen whether Taiwan will benefit from this appointment.

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Ma to go South?

Local media are reporting that once and future presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou is mulling relocation to southern Taiwan:

The ex-mayor made the disclosure following Chinese-language newspaper China Times' report yesterday that he plans to move to Kaohsiung soon in order to seek more support from voters in the south.

The report disclosed that Ma has planned to move to Kaohsiung in May or June to intensify his presidential campaign activities in southern counties, where candidates from pro-independence parties including the governing Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union have dominated major elections in the past.

The report continued that a pan-blue supporter has offered the ex-Kuomintang chairman a residence in downtown Kaohsiung as Ma's temporary accommodation during the presidential campaign. The landlord hopes Ma will improve his understanding and relations with the southern electorate during the temporary stay.

The report quoted an anonymous source in the end, however, that Ma and his supporters would decline to comment on plans at the moment, as the ex-mayor has not yet been formally selected as the KMT presidential candidate.

Ma announced to run for the 2008 presidential race on February 13, hours after Taipei prosecutors indicted him on charges of corruption resulting from his handling of a special fund.

The report came two weeks after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is also seen by the public as a potential KMT presidential nominee, made a comment that "People of central and southern Taiwan have told me that they will not vote in favor of a China-originated candidate" in the presidential election.

The Legislative Yuan leader explained that he made the remark as a warning to KMT members to watch out for the governing Democratic Progressive Party opponents' manipulation of an ethnic controversy, referring to a potential and protracted conflict of different ideologies and national identity between native Taiwanese and China-originated residents on the island. Wang, speaking during a magazine interview, cautioned that the ethnic issue would dominate the presidential campaign next year, according to his observation.

It is curious how each party is performing the mirror operation of the other: the KMT is trying to see how its strength at the local level can be transformed into national level success, while the DPP has not yet managed to parlay its powerful hand at the national level into local level success. It will be interesting to see whether he makes this move -- the action is in Taipei, and that's where his base of Deep Blues is.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


Chiang Kai-shek's Legacy: Small-minded Minions Struggling to Maintain His Image

A guest post by Jerome F. Keating, Ph.D.

Taiwan's Strawberry Generation (草莓族) is often blind and/or oblivious to the oppressive past that their parents endured. The then Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government regularly suppressed information and forbade certain discourse under penalty of jail, torture and even death. It even tried to deny the history of the world. Remnants of that controlling past remain and can easily be found for those who have eyes to see.

Given this past, it is all the more ironic that many members of the KMT and its lesser spin off parties try to downplay past reality, pretend that it never happened and even complain at the removal of their hero-like statues of Chiang Kai-shek (CKS, 蔣介石).

Most would agree that encyclopedias have a certain level of objectivity. The facts presented in them reflect the researched world at the time of their publication. Historians can challenge these facts and sometimes cause them to be changed. Only the smallest-minded dictators would try to deny them, alter them, and even censor them. Only the smallest-minded minions would carry out such directions. Yet in many university and public libraries around Taiwan, one can still find remaining instances of Chiang Kai-shek's legacy.

When one discovers such examples, the natural question arises. What kind of threatened egoist would issue orders to expunge or alter the past? Further, what kind of minions would carry out those orders?

The pictures attached to this post are true examples of such hypocrisy and deceit practiced by the KMT minions in trying to preserve their entitlement under the CKS legacy. These photos were taken in March 2007 from four separate censored encyclopedias published between 1977 and 1985; these encyclopedias are still on the shelves of university libraries:

Hosted by ImageShack

Click the above image to go to page one of Jerome's album

Hosted by ImageShack

Click the above image to go to page two of Jerome's album

Look first at the dates of this censorship. These are not examples of what was done in the 1950s when one might try to excuse it with the rationale that CKS was still in the throes of fighting for survival against Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Communist Party. These come much later. If one grants that these western encyclopedias would take a year or so to reach Taiwan after publication, they almost all came and were censored when James Soong was Director of the Government Information Office and responsible for all censorship (1979-84).

Examine the publication dates (1977 to 1985) further. The Republic of China under CKS had lost its UN seat to Mao's China (1971). CKS and Mao were now both dead (1975-76). The United States would transfer its embassy to Beijing (1979) and the Kaohsiung Incident would demonstrate the KMT government's attempted suppression of the democracy movement (December 1979). Three high profile murders of those opposing the KMT would be carried out in Taiwan and the United States (1980 to 1984). The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would be formed in 1986. Martial law would finally be lifted in 1987 and Chiang Ching-kuo would die in 1988.

This was the Taiwan when the Strawberry Generation was being born (1979 onward); this was the Taiwan where so many were still being sent to Green Island (綠島). This was the time the KMT still refers to as the good old days. Look, therefore, at the censorship and see who is facing reality and who is not.

First to be noticed is the refusal to still admit that Mao, then dead, ever existed or defeated the KMT in China [Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6]. Zhou Enlai (周恩來) and others also get the axe [Photo 11]. The false dream was still fostered that the KMT would liberate China; only under this dream could the KMT attempt to claim legitimacy for its government and justify its refusal to allow democratic elections at any serious level of government.

Next is the alteration of history. According to the censors, China still belongs to the KMT [Photos 7, 8]. Mongolia is still part of the KMT's China even though it already had a seat in the United Nations [Photo 9]. Tibet's history is altered to deny its history as a nation [Photo 10] and facts about CKS are both sanitized and changed [photo 13]. Note in particular in photo #13 that a censor crossed out the 'not' in a sentence. The sentence originally said "He (Chiang Kai-shek) was not concerned with the social and economic transformation of Chinese society. . ." The censor changed this sentence to read the opposite, "He was concerned with the social and economic transformation of Chinese society." Many similar alterations were made.

Some of this censorship was done by Formosa Magazine Press which imported western magazines to Taiwan. This was the same press that the government regularly ordered to censor information coming into the country. It censored Mao as TIME's man of the year in 1967. A shocked TIME editor then responded with the following to distance TIME from the censorship:
"TIME has been tampered with by censors and other officials in many countries, but never to our knowledge has anyone stamped a rub-out X on the cover. Last week we learned that in Taiwan authorities had ordered the Formosa Magazine Press, TIME's distributor, to stamp a three-inch blue cross upon the puffy features of Mao Tse-tung on the Jan. 13 cover. The distributor hand-stamped the thousand or more copies (exclusive of those for the U.S. military) that circulate in Taiwan."
To those in the Strawberry Generation, I suggest that you be a detective; go into the libraries and examine books and encyclopedias from that period and see for yourselves if there remnants of the censorship are still there. Try to imagine living in such an age of censorship as your parents.

Then you will see why people look askance at those who seek to soft peddle this censored past. There can be no sense of democracy, where denial of history is maintained. The sick privileged mentality remains in some. Many of the minions who supported or carried out the policies of the Chiangs are still in government or positions of power.

When the DPP removes the statues of CKS, it is not trying to deny that he existed in history. At least 120 of the statues have been placed in a park in Tashi, a grim reminder of the megalomania of a despot who preached Sun Yat-sen's government of the people, by the people, and for the people but never instituted it in China or in Taiwan. No, the DPP is not trying to say CKS did not exist; the pain caused by his existence still affects the island. What the DPP is saying is that these statues of intended adulation have no place in the public places of Taiwan.

As you, the Strawberry Generation, begin to grasp the censorship of the past, realize who still defends it and finally whose sacrifice, blood and sufferings bought the freedoms that you all have. Look further and ask why the state assets of the country still remain in the control of the KMT and why transitional justice has not yet been carried out. Then you can better grasp the emotions of today.


This was originally posted on Jerome's personal web site, where you can read more of his essays.

If any of you have seen similar instances of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) censorship, tell us about them in the comments or via e-mail. (The address is in the sidebar.)

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Friday, March 16, 2007


Ma Ying-jeou trashed

Here is the video footage of Ma Ying-jeou drunk at the KMT's Lunar New Year unity party hosted by the resurgent Lien Chan on Wednesday night.

In the first sequence (0 to 4 sec.) a female reporter fawningly asks Ma if he's had a lot to drink. Ma says that he hasn't--(meiyou la!) in a somewhat effeminate tone. The Taiwanese blogosphere and pro-green media have had a field day talking about Ma's gay lisp or niangniangqiang.

Around second 53, the TV station inserts Chinese to point out Ma's 'idiotic smiling' shaxiao. The following sequences of Ma pursing his lips minzui , sticking out his tongue, and making faces.

While there has been an unpleasant homophobic overtone to some of the editorializing and commentary on Ma's inebriated appearance, this bizarre attempt to show that he is just one of the guys does not jive with Ma's Mr. Clean image. More interesting though is how Lien Chan is back in the spotlight at a time when a serious power struggle appears to be underway within the KMT over the party chairmanship, legislative nominations, and the 2008 presidential nomination.

Ma has been rightly praised on this blog before for his ability to stay on message. But his problem may be that he can't stay on image.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007


DPP poll: 69% think Taiwan is an independent state

DPP announced a poll :

Who defines Taiwan status (台海現狀)Taiwanese 83.2%China
government 1.7%
Both 6.4%
Is Taiwan an independent sovereignty state? Yes 69.2%  
Is Taiwan part of China? Yes 14.6%  
A referendum is required when signing sovereignty-related agreements with China Yes 84.8% No 9.7% 
Join United Nations in the name of "Taiwan" Yes 70.6% No 19.6 

It seems that Taiwanese conscience has already become the majority in Taiwan. I recalled President Chen said earlier that, by the time of the 2008 Presidential Election, Taiwanese consicience would rise to a level that any candidate advocating for "Unification with China" will have no chance at all of getting elected. I never truely believe in what he said like this one before ... :)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


China Times Presidential Poll

The China Times has a new poll out with early predictions of the election. It has Ma up over Su or Hsieh by 20 points, 48-29, with 23% having no opinion, while Su/Hsieh beat Wang 38-32 with 30% having no opinion. The China Times organization also polled on Ma as an independent:


If Wang Jin-pyng represents the KMT, and Ma Ying-jeou participates as an independent, and Su or Hsieh represents the DPP, among those surveyed, 11.1% said they would support Wang, 42.5% said they'd support Ma, 27.6% said they'd support [DPP candidate], and 18.8% had no opinion.

The article went on to note that if Ma were convicted, those numbers are 13.5, 35.2, 31.1, and 20.2, respectively.

The survey was conducted by phone, probably in northern Taiwan, since I deem it unlikely the organization would spend all that money making long distance calls. Polls from Blue organizations are notorious for their wild inaccuracy, and these numbers should be read as indicative of the preferences of the China Times rather than as a valid representation of the electorate. Laughably, the paper claims it has a margin of error of 2.9%. Yes, and did you know that 63.8% of statistics are made up on the spot?

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And in this corner, Wang....

It seems a pity to leave the blogging day without a pointer to the ongoing discussions in the KMT over who will be on the ticket. Wang-Ma? Ma-Wang? Lien-Wang? Wang-Soong? Anything seems possible these days. But Wang Jin-pyng has the insightful comment:

Meanwhile, Wang yesterday said that he favored a Wang-Ma rather than a Ma-Wang presidential ticket, saying that the former one was a winning combination.

"If [I were to be paired up with Ma], of course it should be a Wang-Ma ticket," Wang told reporters when asked for comment on Ma's earlier remarks.

"Everyone wants the best for himself and will strive for it. I don't remember whether I have spoken about this, but what I am thinking about in my heart is a Wang-Ma ticket," Wang said.

Wang said that a Ma-Wang ticket would not be a threat to the DPP because the DPP has prepared itself for beating Ma in next year's presidential election.

"Only a presidential ticket led by a pro-localization candidate can help the KMT win the election," Wang said, without elaborating.

Not much else to be said; Wang hit the nail on the head. A ticket with Wang at the fore might do very well, but doesn't seem likely. That's Impossible doesn't think there is much chance of a Wang-Ma pair-up, either. The pro-KMT China Post, in an article by "China Post Staff" -- which usually indicates a translation from their sister publication -- noted the growing chill in the KMT leadership:

An emerging chill in the relationship among top leaders of the Kuomintang (KMT) is likely to complicate an earlier emergence of a consensus candidate for the main opposition party.

In spite of calls for restraining presidential hopefuls' aides from spreading public and controversial statements that might sow discord, the cold relations between Ma Ying-jeou, a former KMT chairman, and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng seemed to show no signs of improvement.

The two are currently rated as the two front-runners to win the party's nomination for the 2008 presidential race, although Ma enjoys a commanding lead over Wang in all major public opinion polls.

Analysts said that both of them have shown no genuine and concrete moves to form a team despite their open remarks that they will never cause any rift within the party that will hamper the KMT's campaign for returning to power next year.

Ma has so far refrained to make a commitment on asking Wang to be his running mate as suggested by many, saying the decision should not be made since no one has even formally registered for the party primary.

One thing about Ma -- the man is always on-message:

In response to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) refusal to play second fiddle and run as the vice-presidential candidate on the party's ticket, Ma said he realized that grassroots supporters did not take the pair-up issue too seriously, adding that he would focus his attention on seeking solutions to Taiwan's economic difficulties.

Bingo. Ma has announced that he's going to run on the economy -- "save Taiwan from poverty" was pretty much how he put it the other day -- and having done that, he's constantly on message: it's the economy, stupid.

I'm beginning to wonder if Ma Ying-jeou, currently without a post in either the government or the KMT and thus, just an ordinary jeou, is fast approaching his sell-by date. If another six months go by it may dawn on some in the KMT that Ma's star has peaked. Time will only improve Wang's longshot bid for the Presidential candidacy. UberChairmanforLife Lien Chan is back in the public eye and liking it. The Taipei Times report mainly focused on the by-play between party insiders over who will get the nod for the KMT Chairmanship, with reference to the influence of Lien Chan, but the Taiwan News also mentioned six-term legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), stirring up the pot with her bid:

To enter the race, Hung needs to collect the signatures of 3 percent of eligible party members. She said in a press conference yesterday, however, that many party members' names, addresses, or telephone numbers were missing in the detailed membership list provided by party headquarters.

The list showed that 278,000 party members had paid their annual membership fees and thus were eligible to vote in the election for chairman, she said, meaning she will need to collect nearly 8,500 signatures to enter the race.

Looking for data

Having paid an NT$2 million entry fee to participate in the election, Hung said she should have access to more complete data so that she can complete the signature-gathering process.

If she cannot successfully register as a candidate in the election by March 18, the party could suffer a big blow to its image, she said.

Soliciting support

Hung urged all party members who hope to see at least two candidates vying for the chairmanship to contact her and help her meet the signature threshold.

Hung, 59, has served six consecutive terms as a legislator and has a reputation for having a sharp tongue.

Believed to be closely associated with KMT Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), she has denied her that her candidacy represents any factional interests, saying she made the decision to run on her own.

The party has taken considerable effort to avoid a split between supporters of Ma and those of Wang and hopes to avoid a contentious internal election.

One opponent

Hung's only rival in the race will be Wu Po-hsiung, seen as an ally of Ma Ying-jeou.The 70-year-old Wu has served as secretary-general to former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and as KMT secretary-general.

Jason from Wandering to Tamshui pointed out over on That's Impossible! that she was the legislator who taught her dog to attack when it heard the phrase "A-Bian," the President's nickname. Say, wonder how the last chairmanship election was conducted, if so many dues-paying KMT members can't be verified.....cheating somehow? Naw. Not the KMT.

Meanwhile the DPP is arguing over whether to have a primary or simply decide in the time-honored, smoke-filled room fashion.....

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Friday, March 09, 2007


Mirror, Mirror

"It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men."

Yesterday as I was traveling home from Tainan there was a transporter accident and I found myself in a mysterious universe where everyone had a goatee, ate only spicy food, and waited patiently at traffic lights.

Recognizing my priceless opportunity, I surfed the net through the ubiquitous Mac OS and downloaded an article from Nativespeaker News Center. It discussed the situation between Taiwan and China in that universe. Due to its historical importance, I have reproduced it in its entirety below:

"Murderous Communist Dictator" Announces Missile Buildup

(Taipei) AP: Hu Jin-tao, whom Taiwan has referred to as a "murderous Communist dictator" and "relentless expansionist madman" today announced that more missiles would be placed opposite Taiwan, further increasing tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan, which considers China an expansionist, authoritarian state which has no claim to Taiwan, protested to the UN again over the continuing build up.

Analysts in both Taipei and in Washington, DC worried that the dictator's continued flouting of international norms may lead to war in the Strait. "Despite pragmatic diplomacy from the leadership in Taiwan," said one, "China has continued to refuse to talk to the island, and to enhance its military forces."

Regional leaders, including Prime Minister of Japan Namie Amuro, condemned China's continued missile build up in the strongest possible terms. "It is unacceptable that China unceasingly expands its missile bases, threatening not only democratic Taiwan but the free passage of goods through nearby waters." Most of Japan's oil imports pass near the island of 23 million. South Korea also issued a statement objecting to the build up.

China has claimed Taiwan since 1949, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to the island after it lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists. However, postwar treaties make no mention of the final recipient of the island's sovereignty, and legal experts consider China's claims doubtful at best.

Analysts foresaw a grim future for the provocative Hu. "China's belligerent policies, its brutal occupation of Tibet, its claims to islands as far away as the Natunas, and its authoritarian governance have isolated it from world trade networks,"observed Alfred Marshall, a Hong Kong-based securities analyst. "Investors have sent their cash elsewhere. Consequently, Hu is desperate. With his term of office likely to expire soon, as CCP leaders are restless, he could do anything."

After downloading this historical artifact, I quickly located a transporter and returned to my own universe, where I am thankful the world news media aren't nearly so biased.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


CNN: Scum of the cable news industry?

Seeking to fuck shit up for Taiwan?

I'll admit right off that Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) is not who I want to be Taiwan's next president, but CNN was way off base with a headline reading "Taiwan's 'scum of the nation' runs for president." Take a look at the nastiness for yourself:

The offensive phrase is a quote from China's state-owned media from way back in 2000, but the quotation marks in CNN's headline did little to take away from its declarative nature which, in the context of the terrible reporting on Taiwan, demeans the country as well.

They apparently changed the headline later. By the time I read the article, it bore the title "Lu seeks to be first Taiwan woman president." I wonder if they'll change that awkward one soon, too. (Quick! Who was the "first Taiwan man president"?)

The article also contains this obnoxious meme:
Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since the Communists won a civil war and took over the mainland in 1949. Beijing insists Taiwan must unify eventually or face a devastating war.
The fact is that Taiwan has been ruled "separately from China" since the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1896, and don't you forget it.

Questions to ask yourself:
* What kind of person would immediately think of a 7-year-old "scum of the nation" quote for a headline?
* Are there any similarities between Xinhua (新華) and this CNN piece?
* 1 + 1 = ?
Pre-completion update: I'm told this story was written by Hong Kong-based AP reporter Lee Ming (ph) (李明). According to Presidential Office spokesperson David Lee (李南陽), quoted in today's Taipei Times, "the AP told him that CNN, which is an AP subscriber, had changed its original headline to make it sound more sensational" and that "the office would contact CNN to gain a clearer understanding of the situation." Please contact CNN about this and express your disapproval. [Edit: I've changed the link to the one you get when you follow "Send general comments" from their "dotcom" Feedback page.]

Second pre-completion update: I'm now getting a blank page where the original article was. Not even a "404" error -- just a white cat in a snowstorm.

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

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Erroneous 228 ceremony

The ceremony in 228 Memorial Park, Taipei, was blocked with police tapes.
In one of his recent articles ( 錯謬的二二八紀念形式), Lu Li (路犁), the founder of one of the most popular pan-green forums (Anti-Media 與媒體對抗), talked about a 228 ceremony that was wrongfully conducted by the current government. The ceremony was held in 228 Memorial Park in Taipei, filled with high officials of central and local government's, but some families of 228 victims were denied the right of participation.

Lu Li mentioned that 228 belongs to all people and should not be considered a platform for some special class of people:

The historical 228 event belongs to the entire nation (if all Taiwanese are considered a nation), entire people. If so, then such a ceremony should allow all people to participate freely.

When the 228 ceremony became one that only some special people are allowed to participate, it will be a long way before it becomes a whole-nation ceremony of critical historical event. While KMT continuously denies her responsibility of historical crime, which results in more difficulty to reveal the truth, if the DPP, who has being the government for 7 years, was unable to escape from the authoritarian style of "central government ceremony", it would be even harder for the people to force KMT to admit her historical crime.

Taipei Mayor Hou Long-Bing (郝龍斌) while one of 228 victim's families, who protested in a peaceful way, was blocked away by the police.
The ceremony was organized to have high officials giving speeches on the stage, including the current Taipei Mayor Hou Long-Bing (郝龍斌), who is one of the successors of KMT -- the party responsible for the 228 massacre in 1947. At the same time, one of families of 228 victims were not only kept away from the ceremony but seemed to be escorted away by the police.

(when 228 victims' relatives were rejected) The KMT successor Hou Long-Bing, carrying the political crime of 228 event, was treated as a guest and allowed to give a speech on the stage. What kind of "transforming justice" DPP is trying to convey?

The truth of 228 event hasn't been revealed! The criminal(s) of 228 incident haven't been indicted! The president Chen Shui-Bian (陳水扁) and Head of Executive Yuan Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) are supposed to sit on the seats below the stage humbly to listen to the protest, the complaint, and the accusations coming from 228 victims and their families. How come it turns out to be that these slothful high officials were giving speeches on the stage ? What justifiable basis these governmental officials -- who carry varying degree of responsibility for not seeking the truth -- have to give such speeches to the 228 victims and families who have to tolerate and listen ?

Indeed, this arrangement has turned the relationship between KMT and the people from "murderers vs. victims" into "authority vs. people", which violates the principle of democracy in which the people should be the master and the government is only the servant.

While calls for justice seem to become a widely accepted concept in this 60 year anniversary of 228 massacre, a ceremony like this probably contributes little -- if any -- to the closure of this historical tragedy.


Friday, March 02, 2007


Okinawan Victims of 2-28

Taiwan News tells the fascinating tale of the killings among the Okinawan community in Taiwan during 2-28.

At that time, traders and fisherman came from Okinawa to Taiwan unaware of the chaos that the February 28th uprising against the then KMT governor general Chen Yi had caused. As a result, many became embroiled in the 228 massacre and lost their lives when KMT troops, dispatched by Republic of China president and autocrat Chiang Kai-shek to suppress the "rebellion," arrived.

At that time, approximately 300 Okinawans lived in a fishing community on Keelung's Sheliao Island (now known as Peace Island).

After the end of the Second World War and the substantive take over of Taiwan after five decades of Japanese rule by the KMT regime under the cover of occupation, this community of Okinawans, as with many Japanese professionals or essential workers, had been "retained for utilization" in Taiwan after the repatriation of most Japanese.

No distinction made

When KMT troops, from of the First Battalion of the 21st Military Police Regiment dispatched by Chiang from China arrived in Keelung harbor, they did not distinguish between persons from Okinawa with Japanese citizenship or Taiwanese and thus Sheliao Island became one of the first settlements to witness the following islandwide massacre and "purification" and at least 30 Okinawans became victims along with thousands of Taiwanese.

After the 228 massacre and the "purification" of dissidents that followed, the flight of the KMT regime to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communist Party's People's Liberation Army led to a deeper and more systematic "White Terror" marked by the (probably illegal) declaration of martial law on May 19, 1949 that lasted for over 38 years until July 15, 1987.

During these four decades of what one international human rights group called a "tortured silence," the story of the 228 victims from Okinawa and their right to know the fate of their loved ones and the truth behind their disappearance was buried along with any hopes for transitional justice.