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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in the Taiwanderful Best Taiwan Blog Awards 2010!
You've got great taste in blogs!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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Chen's 119 letter to Ma

President Chen Shui-bian, under investigation along with most of the former first family for corruption and money laundering, has sent a letter to President Ma Ying-jeou asking him to lift the travel ban on his daughter Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤). Taipei Times reports:
The move came after Chen Hsing-yu broke down in front of her father while visiting the former president last week....

The former president wrote: “If Chen Hsing-yu cannot go to the US, she might not be emotionally capable of dealing [with the situation],” [Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯)] said.

He added that Chen Shui-bian was worried his daughter might develop a mental disorder or try to commit suicide because of the travel restrictions.

When Chen Hsing-yu visited her father in the detention center on Friday, she reportedly cried to her father about not being able to go to the US as planned.

The former president asked Tsai to go to the Ministry of Justice to plead with Minister Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) to let Chen Hsing-yu go to the US on July 1 to register for school, as she has plans of leaving with her children to study and work in the US.
While I don't want to question former president Chen's motives, it seems to me this letter is grandstanding. It was the prosecutors who placed the ban on Chen Hsing-yu's travel when they charged her with perjury in relation to this case. I would suggest that any reversal of that decision by the Ministry of Justice, especially under pressure from President Ma, would be exactly the sort of overt political interference in the judicial system which the DPP has condemned repeatedly as being part of the problem in not only Chen's prosecution, but also in cases like Ma's cointinued appeals in his case against Hou:
Hou [Kuan-jen (侯寬仁)] was one of the prosecutors probing Ma’s handling of his special allowance funds when Ma was Taipei mayor, minister of justice, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council and other posts.

Ma accused Hou of inaccurately documenting his questioning of Wu Li-ju (吳麗洳), a Taipei City Government treasurer, about how Ma used his special mayoral fund.
There is ample cause to believe that the prosecutors in Chen's case are acting both inappropriately and vengefully. Still, I have to wonder just what is on Chen's mind, beyond possibly panicked concern for his daughter and maybe hopes of gaining political points against Ma.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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DPP ECFA referendum ad

With free English translation by Tim Maddog

Taiwan's DPP has a great ad to enlighten the public about the lies being told by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which his government insists will be signed with China. See what Ma says about "sovereignty," and compare it to the direct words of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) about "complete unification" [sic -- the correct word is "annexation" (併吞)]. Cringe in horror as you hear Taiwan's Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) "explain" why he can't talk about the details of this ECFA.

Here it is with English titles (original version below):


0:35 YouTube video: "DPP ECFA referendum ad - with English titles"

Here's the original version in Mandarin:


0:35 YouTube video: "DPP ECFA referendum ad"

For a more complete description (in English) and more links, go to the YouTube pages for either video (links below each video).

A peck of pixeled peppers for Peter Piper to pick: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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Iran and Taiwan

I don't want to compare too much here, as Iran and Taiwan are very different places, with distinct historical backgrounds, but what is happening there appears to confirm one of my worst fears.

We are now in an era where the concept of a "right to bear arm"s is effectively irrelevant; an uprising, even if it has the support of the majority of the people, is impossible to sustain without the assistance of the police and armed forces.

I am not arguing that the Iranian population is armed, because they are not; rather, I am reminding us all that if the government has tear gas and tanks, you're screwed, even when they don't have to use them. Iran's unarmed populations is already unable to affect change even with this strong popular uprising; a few AK-47s wouldn't make a difference versus the government's weaponry. Without the army, you're fucked. And with the army, you're probably also fucked, since they'll probably just take control instead of handing things over to a civilian government. [I haven't backed up this last statement with facts yet, but I suppose I should dig for the evidence that supports me.]

I am hopeful but pessimistic about the protesters' chance to affect change; I suspect any similar uprising in Taiwan would have the same moderate tendencies and the same useless result. And that reminds us that time is all the shorter. We must act while there is still a chance to affect change via the ballot box.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

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Separated by a common language

I'm talking about Taiwan and China. But President Ma Ying-jeou has a solution to that "problem."

Yesterday, President Ma called civic groups from both sides of the strait to work together on a joint dictionary, and while he did not provide many details, such a dictionary would presumably close the gap between Chinese and Taiwan dictionaries. So we would see a listing of both Hanyu Pinyin and Zhuyin Fuhao, simplified and traditional forms, cross-referencing of variant vocabulary, inclusion of slang from both sides, etc. Ma even proposed a name for this dictionary, the Comprehensive Zhonghua Dictionary (中華大辭典).

It sounds to me like Ma's thinking just a little too much. For one thing, if I am not mistaken, work along these lines has already been done. There are already very comprehensive dictionaries published both in Taiwan and China which allow for look up by stroke count, radical and Hanyu Pinyin (though I imagine only Taiwan also publishes Zhuyin). Plenty of dictionaries list simplified and traditional forms together. Still, I imagine few dictionaries cross-reference cross-strait variant vocabulary or include slang from both areas (correct me if I'm wrong!).

For another, this is a baldly political proposal despite its apparent innocence. Ma is amped up for more joint-strait "Greater China" projects that emphasis shared cultural heritage. There's nothing wrong with the idea for a dictionary like this; it's just politically stupid of the president to mention it mere days after drawing fire for implying Taiwan should learn to write simplified characters (he instantly retreated). And all this comes at the same time the government cuts down mother language instruction in elementary school.

Really, the publishing of such a dictionary is trivial, which gives you insight into why Ma would even care about it. Symbolism matters, and the KMT is doing all it can to re-introduce a very China oriented cultural framework in Taiwan which aims to slowly transform the boundaries of domestic political debate and opinion.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

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Fallout from Ma interview: probably zero.

Echo Taiwan has covered this latest Ma interview well, but I wonder if we shouldn't draw slightly different conclusions. For one, I think it rhetorically strikes just the note those more moderate voters, especially the moderate blues who gave him the majority in 2008, want to hear, especially in the first paragraph. Take a look for yourself [English version]:

Q: Many people have misgivings that your cross-strait policy is overly slanted toward China. What's your response?

A: Over the past year tension and confrontation in cross-strait ties have abated. But we still have a long road ahead. Crisis lurks everywhere, so we need to proceed with extreme caution. But we need to walk down that road. We don't have an alternative. This is neither surrender nor accepting a diminished status. We take a road based on the preconditions of protecting the sovereignty of the Republic of China and defending Taiwan's dignity.

My platform of no unification, no independence, and no military confrontation is supported by 80 percent of the public. No unification does not mean that we rule out the option of unification, but that we will not discuss unification within my eight years in office. Since it will be impossible to find an answer within these eight years, it does not make much sense to discuss this matter at all.

I often jokingly say that not a single country in the world has declared independence twice. We became a sovereign, independent country as early as 1912. What we really need to do is to oppose a military solution, to put cross-strait issues on hold and launch exchanges and dialogue. They (China) don't want to fight a war either.

Even though some of these methods (employed by China) seem to be a campaign for unification, of course we need to be careful, but we don't need to stand completely still just because of that. I believe that if we take a step-by-step approach, we can be successful. The opposition parties do, of course, stress opposition – they oppose whatever we do. But if you take a closer look at the nine agreements that have already been signed (between Taiwan and China), there is not a single one that says, "one country, two systems," "peaceful unification," or "one China." It's all very neutral stuff.

Q: You have pledged no unification, no independence, and no military confrontation as long as you are in office. But have you ever considered that the fast pace and high level of the exchanges might be conducive to unification in the future?

A: It depends on how you define "conducive to unification." Will the signing of a cross-strait ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) be conducive to unification?

Does Taiwan want unification? That decision must be made by the Taiwanese people. Of course, all the people must express their opinion. We definitely need to hold a referendum. But we have not yet come to that point. Is it necessary to call a referendum just because we sign an agreement on tariff reductions? If we hold a referendum on everything, the government will be paralyzed.

So this breaks down into three parts. First, a demonstration of the tight rope Ma is trying to walk; he claims the one China (the Republic of China) is sovereign and independent, while portraying the opposition's position as a joke. Not that the DPP needs much help to look like a joke nowadays. He also portrays his agreements as practical and completely non-political, downplaying that they have been negotiated under an understanding of adherence to "One China."

His answer to the next question is assertive and positive, so it is framed very well and will not attract much of a negative reaction.

His final answer shows that Ma is really in a tight spot. He cannot say anything more about the option for future Taiwan independence from "mainland" China; more telling, he can neither admit nor deny that his policy is encouraging or hastening unification, since a statement in either direction would damage his reputation either at home or in China. So he has to ask for your definition of "encouraging unification," without providing either his own definition or an answer to the question..

So while his answers here confirm Ma's goal of taking Taiwan toward a future of unification, though without formal agreements on that over the next 8 years, I think he avoided politically damaging language. As usual, different media will focus on the answers they love (or hate).

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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Referendums on the Referendum Law and the ECFA

It is my understanding that so far the representatives that participated in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) negotiations were not non-partisan -- all were from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). If the KMT government had any good intentions or plans for the future of Taiwan, they could have assembled and sent a team of Taiwan’s economic experts and scholars to the ECFA negotiation table.

Since the ECFA is a tool to be used by the KMT to sell out Taiwan’s economic strength and independence in order to pave a smooth road for future political integration with China, the DPP should be extra cautious.

The DPP seems to be falling into the enemy’s trap, and the people of Taiwan who are not so familiar with the issue but who trust the DPP’s judgment are being taken along into that trap.

A more correct approach, in my opinion, would be to sort out the priorities of the topics of the various referendums.

The first priority should be the Referendum Law itself, then the ECFA. Otherwise, the ECFA referendum will be a waste of human resources and will again result in a heart-breaking outcome.

The Referendum Law itself needs to be amended by a referendum first, not by the Legislative Yuan because the LY is the source of all problems, blocking Taiwan’s stability and growth.

Look at how the referendum law was formed back in 2003.

Read the article "The real significance of Taiwan's referendum law" written December 2, 2003 by Laurence Eyton, and take notes of the following (if you read the whole op-ed, you will have to scroll down quite a bit to find the text below):

…the [DPP] only complained about the shortcomings of the new law because major elements of the DPP's bill were omitted.

The pan-blues were not, however, prepared to pass the DPP's bill. Instead, they wrote their own and introduced it into the legislature too. During the summer, inter-party haggling caused the session to run out of time before the bill passed. But this time around - instead of the parties trying to agree on a reconciled version of the two different bills before voting - they simply voted clause by clause. The result was that while a couple of DPP-written clauses made it to the version that finally passed, most of the new act became a pan-blue creation.

Unlike the DPP's initial proposal, in the new act the executive [Bloggers note: President? or the Executive Yuan?] has no right to initiate a referendum, only the legislature [Blogger’s note: so easy!] and a popular initiative [Blogger’s note: the procedure is so difficult and time and resource consuming to collect people’s signatures] can do so, and only the legislature can call a referendum on a constitutional matter.

So instead of wasting time and resources on the ECFA, first tackle the referendum law itself, and let the people vote for the new proposed versions, and allowing each voter to support only one version, either the pan-green version or the pan-blue version.

If each party in Taiwan were to have its own version, there would be too many versions, and it would be too confusing for the public, so I think it’s best to have only two versions: a pan-blue version and a pan-green version.

I am a pan-green person, but I am not a DPP party member, and I am sure a lot of Taiwanese are just like me, they love Taiwan, but they are simply pan-green and nothing else.

In order to present the best version to win Taiwan voters’ approval, both parties will have to find their best scholars and experts to put a complete set of good clauses into the new referendum law.

The pan-green version can be initiated by anyone in the pan-green camp, not necessary a DPP party member. Similarly, the pan-blue version can be initiated by any supporter of the pan-blue camp, not necessary a KMT party member.

Each proposed set of clauses should address the same list of topics, and the topics should be agreed on by each side in advance.

For example:

Topic 1: the issue of who can initiate a referendum,

Topic 2: the issue of who can amend the referendum law in the future, in case the existing referendum law is found to be containing faults

Topic 3: the issue of what percentage of voter turnout is necessary in order to accept the validity of a referendum.

Topic 4: the issue of whether the constitutional matters should only be initiated by the Legislative Yuan

Topic 5: …

And so on.

In my opinion, the ECFA referendum should have been:

你是否同意國民與中國簽訂之經濟合作架構協議(ECFA)交付台灣人民稿?

Translation:
Yes or No: Do you agree that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) wants to sign with China
should first be presented to the citizens of Taiwan for discussion and approval or else be invalidated?

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Monday, June 15, 2009

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Editorial

An opinion piece I wrote for the Liberty Times was published in full today (Sunday). The article was composed in Chinese, but I will provide an English translation below. It represents the bulk of my national policy advise to the DPP; it does not touch upon my advice on other strategic matters, such as contesting local lizhang and city council level elections more vigorously.

I am from Texas. Beginning in 1998, my second year of high school, I began to study Mandarin and pay more attention to articles and books about Taiwan. Before long I had a deeper understanding of the Taiwanese struggle for freedom and self-determination. Since that time, over a ten year period, i have constantly upheld the basic principle that Taiwanese people have a right to determine their own future. Whether in Taiwan or the United States, I have demonstrated through action my commitment to the importance and legitimacy of Taiwanese self-determination.

The collapse of the DPP over the last year has been heart wrenching. This setback is not a result of the DPP's core values, but rather of how it promotes its political goals.

At the present, the DPP legislative caucus resorts to daily press conferences in order to thrash KMT policies using less than civil language. Although the party is also pressing ahead with good policies, the populace does not see them. Too many people believe the DPP is only capable of opposing every single KMT policy. This phenomenon has resulted in an inability of the party to attract swing voters. The DPP must on a daily basis promote a reasonable and constructive platform, as it did in the past.I suggest something along the lines of the following:

Deepening Democracy: Amend the Assembly and Parade Law and referendum law; promote "sunshine bills;" reform the single member district, two vote leglislative election system to create a legislature where party affiliations more closely reflect the percentage breakdown of votes (the German system would be a good model).

Economic progress: Support the signing of free trade agreements with the US, Japan, Singapore, and Korea; call for transparency of the ECFA negotiation process; encourage a high-tech shift in all economic sectors; promote continuing and adult education; improve water quality in all areas; strengthening environmental laws.

Protecting sovereignty: Express willingness to enter into negotiations with China with no preconditions; affirm the reality of "one side, one country;" support the right of the Taiwanese people to decide their future by referendum.

The above platform is largely in line with principles championed by the DPP. But the party must consolidate constructive and attractive concrete policies and present them to the people on a daily basis in order to convince swing voters that the DPP is worthy of their support.

Cross posted to That's Impossible!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

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Formosan black bear cub needs a name

Cuter than your average bear

A six-month-old Formosan black bear cub which is new to the Taipei Zoo needs a name, and you need to make sure it'll be a good one. Need inspiration?

A six-month-old Formosan black bear cub
Please don't let them give me a stupid, pro-China name!
(Click above to see the original, unaltered Taipei Times image by Lin Hsiu-tsu)

The first step of the naming process will take place from June 13 - 28, 2009 at the zoo itself.

All readers of this blog who are in Taipei during that time and who can make it to the zoo should go there and suggest the name "Indy." Each visitor to the zoo gets one "nomination card," and only 200 cards will be distributed each day, so get there early! Participation will probably require some Chinese-language skills, so if you need help in that area, be sure to bring someone who can assist.

The second step of the process -- voting -- will take place from July 1 - 14 on the zoo's web site. (I'll update with a more specific URL as soon as I have one.)

The name will be selected on July 18, and there are prizes to be given out.

The best prize, of course, would be if a name like "Indy" is chosen for this beautiful little creature!

Let's see what we can do! (Suggest other possible names in the comments section.)

Ursas major and minor: , , ,

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

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Friday, June 12, 2009

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Inspired by the Tibet experience

Most of the time, I am reading. I read more than I write.

Today, one particular post had me in deep thoughts, and I would like to share them with Taiwanese all over the world, especially those who live on the island once exclaimed by the Portuguese sailors as ‘Ihla Formosa’.

Will this island remain beautiful a few years from now? That will depend on you and me, and I think I have done all I can and to the best that I can possibly do.

I just read an interview of Pico Iyer by another author, Jon Wiener.

Pico Iyer was born in Oxford, raised in California, and a resident of Japan, sort of like a global resident just like me. He has a new book called, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

The interviewer, Jon Wiener asked Pico Iyer why in his book, he described the Tibetan population as being “slipping ever closer to extinction”.

And these were the words of Pico Iyer:

I wish they were overstated words, but they’re not. The Tibet autonomous region is more and more a Chinese province. Lhasa is now 65 percent Han Chinese, so Tibetans are a minority in their own country. The Chinese are practicing what the Dalai Lama has called “demographic aggression”—trying to wipe out Tibetan culture through force of numbers. Two years ago they set up that high speed train, which allows 6,000 more Han Chinese to come to Tibet every day. I first saw Lhasa in 1985 just when it opened up to the world.

The high speed train, if I am not wrong, is the masterpiece of the Canadian Bombardier (this link had been discovered and used in my other post).

The railway represents an overtly political project by China to facilitate its control over Tibet. Tibetans are already a minority in their own country and the railway has further marginalized them. It has allowed China to deploy troops and missiles to the Tibetan plateau more effectively, and has also enhanced China's ability to extract and remove Tibet's vast mineral wealth. The Dalai Lama has referred to the railway as "some kind of cultural genocide".

Sadly enough, this is what many western businessmen have said about more engagement with China will make China more open and democratic.

And some country who had tried to “help” Tibet had its own agenda.

The CIA had “helped” them during the cold war era as Pico Iyer said…

Yes. The CIA really moved in during the 1960s, when they trained Tibetans in Colorado, of all places, and set them up in Nepal. The CIA wasn’t concerned about Tibet; they were only concerned about trying to foil their great communist enemy China. It was a fitful resistance but the CIA was more than ready to help—until Nixon and Kissinger went to Beijing. At that point, the Dalai Lama realized that violent resistance would only bring more suffering to his people, so he sent a taped message to the guerillas in Nepal and told them to lay down their arms. They did, but some of them were so heartbroken that they took their own lives.

And this reminds me of the dark days of the martial law era in Taiwan when the US administration supported the Chiang Kai-Shek’s rule over Taiwan in order to block the red communism from spread out but did not care much about the human rights records of the KMT regime.

When their interests changed as the cold war ended, again our concern was never their concern!

Did the US administration help the Taiwanese society democratize? The recent Taiwanese history taught us that the democratization of Taiwan came gradually with the help of its own people’s struggle against authoritarian rule coupled with the timing of the rise of their former president Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwanese native, within the KMT party.

And now the US federal deficit (and China being their major creditor) has kept me worrying about what’s next for Taiwan. Why doesn’t the US administration encourage domestic production and domestic consumption to counter the trade imbalance instead of having to exchange favors with the Chinese authority, and in the process concede to Beijing’s requests on the Taiwan issue?

Back to the Tibet interview…

The Chinese Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s was a turning point for Tibet. Pico Iyer said

They tried to destroy Tibetan culture—much as they tried to destroy their own culture, but even more brutally. According to Tibetan estimates, 1.2 million Tibetans died—that’s 20 percent of the population. All but 13 of the 6,000 monasteries were destroyed. Little kids were asked to shoot their parents. Most violently, the Chinese sought to tear apart every last shred of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Monks were asked to use sacred texts as toilet paper. It was a brutal thing, which the Chinese government has since repudiated.

Dalai Lama’s fear…

He knows that as soon as he dies, the Chinese government will alight on an amenable little boy, probably the child of Communist cadre, and reenact a kind of monastic search and declare “This boy is the fifteenth Dalai Lama.” Of course he will be completely loyal to the communist party and probably be an enemy of Tibet.

Do you have any fear as a Taiwanese? Or do you care only if you have a bowl of rice on your table today?

And this is what I think…

Every little action in your daily life counts, it does not matter how insignificant it may look such as speaking to your children using your mother tongue, or buying your country’s products instead of the cheapest ones, or loving and caring for your environment.

After thoughts...

Tibetans are not extinguished, have you ever thought about an alliance of the Taiwanese, the Tibetans, and the Uyghurs?

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

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What's all the fuss about?

The Taipei Times is reporting that KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung is bowing out to let Ma run for party chairmanship, though rumors have been flying that Wu was less than happy with Ma's decision to run and even questioned why he wanted the office.

Taiwan Echo has already covered Ma Ying-jeou's complete reversal on this matter, as before the election he promised not to ever run for party chair while president. But I am reminded that this is not the first time we've seen this debate play out.

Former president Chen Shui-bian promised too, before his first term, to avoid all political party activities including taking the chairmanship; that decision was reversed on July 14, 2002. At that time, the green media was sympathetic to the DPP that this move would help the party govern better and consolidate policy. The DPP even altered its rules at that time to ensure the president would be an automatic party chairman during times the DPP had executive power. Chen left the post after the failure to secure a pan-green majority in the 2004 Legislative Yuan election.

Just as the green media supported Chen's decision to become party chair in 2002 and is now spreading ominous warnings about Ma will bring back the party-state (just check out Liberty Times editorials from earlier this week), you would not be surprised to learn that blue media today is 100% supportive of Ma's decision to take over the party chairmanship, while in 2002 they attacked Chen's reversal as "a new path a-kin to the Chinese Communist Party," an inability to separate party and government and a move toward dictatorship. (the links above, by the way, show the double standards used by blue papers then and now; unfortunately it is tougher to find comparable archives online from green-leaning papers from July 2002).

Knowing the media is too infatuated with their own party identity to give us a reasonable analysis of this issue, what are we to make of it? Does having a president who is also his party's chairman help or hurt the country? Does it help or hurt his party? Does it even matter?

I myself am theoretically in that last camp, and believe the president has tremendous influence even when he is not head of his party. At the same time, in a "hard party" based on the Leninist organizational model like the KMT, I can see why President Ma would want to control the chairmanship to give him power to suppress or diffuse dissent from within his own ranks -- and I can see why that is so scary to so many of us that don't trust the KMT.

But at the end of the day, I still feel this uproar is much ado about nothing. I don't see Ma's taking this office as consequential to party or domestic affairs.

The real different will be that in the future, Ma Ying-jeou and not Wu Po-hsiung will meet with CCP leader Hu Jintao. That will probably not actually change any of the practical outcomes of KMT-CCP discussions, but it will provide a different level of symbolism for those meetings.

Cross-posted to That's Impossible!

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Congress Bites Back

The US Congress had some unusually strong words in support of Taiwan and further arms sales this week, also criticising William Stanton as now unsuitable for the job of AIT Director (he described the two imprisoned reporters in the North Korea as 'stupid'
The conservative Heritage Foundation hosted the conference to discuss “The Taiwan Relations Act’s Enduring Legacy on Capitol Hill.”

Congressman Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, said: “The US should not dictate any particular outcome of Taiwan’s relationship with the mainland. But we must see that the relationship develops peacefully and with the consent of the people in Taiwan. I am committed to ensuring that Taiwan has the military wherewithal to negotiate from a position of strength.”

He added that while the people of Taiwan may want to maintain the status quo forever, China does not and that is why it has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan.

Wilson said that any well-meaning reconciliation would require dismantling the missile threat to Taiwan and there was no sign that China was prepared to do that.

He said: “What about the rest of the Chinese military build-up? They tell us it’s not aimed at us. Who is it aimed at? The Taiwanese know. That is why they want F-16s and that is why we should provide F-16s. It would be a deterrence to military adventurism and I believe it would promote peace through strength.”

Ros-Lehtinen was to say in her speech: “Beijing has given no indication that it has altered its ultimate objective of forcibly dominating Taiwan. Beijing has undertaken no confidence building measures to accompany the recent thaw. It has continued unabated in its buildup of missiles.”

All this implies that the recent cross-strait thaw may be no more than an early rise in temperatures to be followed by an even bleaker winter of discontent. Beijing also continues its expansion in submarines and other naval vessels seeking to turn the Western Pacific into a Chinese lake,” she added.
On almost any issue other than Taiwan I would usually find myself in vehement disagreement with such a neo-conservative and economically neo-liberal institution such as the Heritage Foundation. But here, for a nice change, we have political commentators and politicians themselves seeing right through Ma and the KMT's pretense of a new peaceful status quo and mutual non-recognition. Fact is, the status quo has radically shifted in China's favour as the KMT-CCP business fest continues at the expense of first Taiwan's economic sovereignty and then it's political existence as a de-facto independent nation. I wonder how long Ma will keep up the pretense that Beijing wishes no harm to the Taiwanese as long as we all behave ourselves and be good Chinese citizens ....

ps: thanks to Maddog for building the new team. I'm honored to join such illustrious and well read company.

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Taiwan Matters' new blog team

Introducing the lineup

After doing most of the writing on Taiwan Matters on my own for some time now, and with blogaholic Michael Turton (The View from Taiwan) taking a breather from politics to work on his PhD and do other things, I've invited some more writers to contribute to TM and bring it back more in line with its origins as a group blog.

Cropped version of the movie poster for ''The Usual Suspects''
No group photos of either the original bunch or the new lineup exist, so substitute "The Usual Suspects," and use your imagination.

What the new bloggers and I have in common is the ideal of keeping Taiwan free and independent, and I'd like to introduce them to you, just in case you haven't encountered their writing before.
* A-gu (阿牛) is the American blogger in Kaohsiung who writes That's Impossible: Politics from Taiwan. He has worked as both a translator and a steel salesman and has particular interest in the Taiwanese legislature and linguistic issues.

* Άλισον is a Taiwanese (not a Chinese) based in the EU, doing part-time research, advocating human rights, social justice, promoting Taiwan's interests abroad, and blogging (Talk Taiwan 談台灣). She had 10 years of public service experience (thank goodness not with the ROC); her diligence had earned her an "Innovation & Excellence" award from her employer. Her interest is on fairness and different taxation systems.

* British blogger Arthur Dent, the political commentator on Letters from Taiwan, is a relative newcomer to the Taiwan blogsphere, but a longtime observer of Taiwan's politics. He is a perennial student currently completing his Masters degree at a Taiwanese public university. Arthur is an active citizen based in central Taiwan whose heart lies south of the Hsiluo River.

* Claudia Jean is the blogger from In Claudia Jean's Eyes who brings a lot to the Taiwan blogosphere that English-only readers would otherwise never hear about.

* I, Tim Maddog, am an American who has lived in Taiwan since before its first democratic presidential election. I have a knack for spotting lies, contradictions, and spin in the media and for noticing the nefarious propaganda that pollutes our daily lives. I'm married to a Taiwanese woman, and I've been taking to the streets since the "228 Hand-in-Hand" rally of 2000.
Welcome aboard, y'all! Let's get this party started!

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

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

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Jerome Keating hits a home run

Don't expect AP to start telling the truth, though

In an editorial piece in yesterday's Taipei Times, author Jerome F. Keating provides readers with the facts that are always ignored when AP sells its mendacious stories about Taiwan.

Instead of laying all of those facts out here, however, I'm going to fast-forward to the swing that knocks it out of the park:
Taiwan has always been separate: before, during and after China's Civil War.

Isn't it time, then, to give up the canard that Taiwan and China split after the Civil War in 1949?

Taiwan is Taiwan; China is China.
Jerome provides a great deal of detail to back up his argument (go read the whole thing), whereas AP incessantly -- and with little variation -- repeats a carefully-crafted phrase which is a demonstrable lie -- or, as Jerome so eloquently puts it, a "canard."

You would think that the people at AP would know better. I bet they do.

In order to explain the sort of behavior they exhibit, I usually refer to this quote by Upton Sinclair:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
I'm pretty sure the quote is applicable to news wire agencies, too. If AP won't change (and don't hold your breath waiting), it's up to the readers to do so.

René Magritte's 1952 work, ''Ceci continue de ne pas être une pipe'' (This is still not a pipe)
René Magritte's 1952 work, "Ceci continue de ne pas être une pipe"
("This is still not a pipe")

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

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

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Summary of links from June 4th

Today's Chinese students do not know much about their recent history. They have never seen the famous image of the brave Tank Man of Tiananmen (mostly text -- for video clips see the next link below), and I am not surprised that they haven't seen the image.

This situation is similar to that of many Taiwanese students who had never heard of the 228 Massacre until they went abroad in the 70's and 80's.

I have summarized a few informative links with posts related to the events June 4th, 1989, but written 20 years later.

* Here are six educational video clips about Tiananmen.

* Read about Beijing blocking the media to this very day.

* Take a look at irresponsible business engagement with China and forced labor camps (Insist on buying things produced in your own country whenever you can, and support both the domestic economy and articles 23(3) and 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the same time.)

*See how the richest party in Taiwan blocked an important and symbolic resolution, because obviously both that party and the CCP are anti-democratic kleptocrats.

* Read a scholar's view of another anniversary, and some words from the Australian who also condemned (or praised?) the blue-dominated media for doing a really good job on this issue as he commented:

It is clear the KMT and its cohorts in the media have succeeded in convincing a significant percentage of people in Taiwan that A-bian is an evil monster who doesn't even deserve basic human rights. As a result it is difficult to have a calm and rational conversation about the topic.

Thanks to him, I will not need to write a separate post since I also signed the petition based on the same principles as him. Many Taiwanese are quick to blame the former president for the DPP's poor performance in the last election, and these same people tend to overlook Chen's basic human rights.

* Observe how the government that no one recognizes as having the sovereignty of the land it occupies has no plans on how to carry on with the process of transitional justice, but has every interest in reviving a dead dictator's legacy. It continues to introduce new laws that will be instrumental in abusing the rights of some selected citizens while failing to prosecute others like this one.

(With some editing by Tim Maddog)

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

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Ma Ying-jeou "observes" with closed eyes

... and a closed mind

From the presidential web site, we can see the ignorance of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九):
President Ma's Observations on the 20th Anniversary of the June 4th Incident

[...]

[paragraph 3]
Great changes have taken place on both sides of the Taiwan Strait in the two decades since the June 4th Incident. Successful economic reforms in mainland China have brought tremendous improvements to the quality of life there. Over the past decade, the mainland authorities have paid greater attention to human rights than before. China has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In addition, it has published a series of white papers on human rights, and just this past April took an even more concrete step forward by formally adopting the National Human Rights Action Plan of China. The Action Plan has received mixed reviews from the international community, but the mere fact that they took this step is a clear signal that the mainland authorities are now willing to directly address the issue of human rights. This shows a robust openness and confidence on their part, the likes of which we have not seen from them in the past.
How "great" are these changes? In Taiwan (under Ma Ying-jeou), police who are responsible for serious brutality against non-violent protesters get promotions. In China, not even CNN gets to do unfettered reporting.

About that "incident," uh, well, it was a massacre, President Ma!

Those "successful" economic reforms have made the Chicoms rich enough to support North Korea, Burma, Sudan, and other such violent regimes.

That "mainland" of which Ma speaks is a different country -- one which has never ruled Taiwan.

Now, on this "human rights" issue, all I have to say is that Ma's head is so far up his ass on this one, he can see his own molars. The parents of the school children who died in the Sichuan earthquake know much more about this than Mr. Ma ever will.

Next, "sign[ing]," "ratif[ying]," and "publish[ing]" human rights-related documents means nothing. Ma's next sentence reveals that these steps are hardly "concrete," but "formally adopting" a "plan" means nothing in the face of actual abuses.

If any of that amounts to a "clear signal" for Ma Ying-jeou, I have to wonder how he can even tie his own jogging shoes.

As far as "robust openness and confidence" goes, I've never seen anything quite as ridiculous as the umbrella video from CNN

FURTHER READING:
Here's the Chinese version of the above nonsense: 總統發表「六四事件」20週年感言.

The opposite of what the MSM tells you they are: , , , , , , , ,

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

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Monday, June 01, 2009

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Taiwan and China are two different nations

Stick this on your calendars

Declare to the world the truth-which-"cannot"-be told:

Taiwan and China are two different nations
TAIWAN AND CHINA ARE TWO DIFFERENT NATIONS
(Click for full size: 1248 x 604 pixels, 1,331 kb)
Original image photographed at the 517 protest by Tim Maddog

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

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