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

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

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

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

Monday, November 30, 2009

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Notice the anti-Taiwan propaganda, know the truth

Internet battles against self-censorship

Microsoft's Bing search engine downgrades Taiwan in its map search and reduces the nation's status below that given other countries. All country names on Bing's maps are written in dark red text, but Taiwan is written in greenish-gray, just like the names of China's provinces.

The names of countries -- even those as small as Kiribati -- are written in dark red, but Taiwan is unlabeled here.
The names of countries -- even those as small as Kiribati in this view --
are written in dark red, but Taiwan remains unlabeled here.
(Arrow added by Tim Maddog.)
(Click to slightly enlarge)

Even in the close view, Taiwan doesn't get labeled as a country.
Even in the close view, Taiwan doesn't get labeled as a country. It's labeled
in greenish-gray, just like China's Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, and Zhejiang
Provinces are.
(Arrows added by Tim Maddog.)
(Click to slightly enlarge)

This is precisely the kind of unbecoming self-censorship which appeases China!

Look at what Nicholas D. Kristof says in his recent New York Times op-ed "Boycott Microsoft Bing":
Western corporations have often behaved embarrassingly in China, sacrificing any principles to ingratiate themselves with the Communist Party authorities. Yahoo was the worst, handing over information about several email account holders so that they could be arrested – and then dissembling and defending its monstrous conduct. Now Microsoft is sacrificing the integrity of Bing searches so as to cozy up to State Security in Beijing. In effect, it has chosen become part of the Communist Party's propaganda apparatus.
Why does Bing use an algorithm that results in propaganda and skews results far more than Google?

Apparently, Microsoft doesn't want to pursue the Google solution of having separate sites – one which produces generally legitimate results (google.com) and another within China that blatantly censors (google.cn). Or, it's possible that Microsoft executives can't read Chinese and are being misled by executives focused on business in China.

Domestic self-censorship
Next, does Taiwan's so-called Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) also participate in self-censorship to appease China? It sure looks that way.

These 2 documents below can be found via Google, but clicking the URLs leads us to pages which read in Hanzi "Page not found" (找不到這個頁面):
Taiwan is determined to participate in the international community ...
The MAC strongly condemns China's comprehensive suppression of Taiwan's international space for sabotaging the normal development of cross-strait relations ...
www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/news/07095.htm

Examples of China's Suppression of Taiwan in the International Arena
Examples of China's Suppression of Taiwan in the International Arena ..... Chinese diplomatic personnel in Geneva intend to lobby the Swiss ...
www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/macpolicy/961101.pdf
The example below can be viewed only by clicking the "Cached" link (for the time being, at least):
MAC: The United States should respect and understand that the ...
China presumptuously includes Taiwan's ports under its territorial ... oppression and interference that China has imposed on Taiwan's international space and ... June 2007 to conduct a new round of political suppression against Taiwan. ...
www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/news/07117.htm - Cached - Similar
Searching Google for "China's suppression of Taiwan" led to the document below, a table showing Examples of China's Diplomatic Suppression of Taiwan in the Two Years Since the Enactment of the "Anti-Separation Law" compiled in March 2007:
Examples of China's Diplomatic Suppression of Taiwan in the Two ...
Examples of China's Diplomatic Suppression of Taiwan in the Two Years Since the Enactment of the "Anti-Separation Law". March 2007 ...
www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/macpolicy/su9603.htm - Cached - Similar
The above document initially had one more URL that could be used:
www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/anti/index.htm - Cached - Similar
... but clicking either www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/macpolicy/su9603.htm or www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/anti/index.htm led only to a "page not found."

Taiwan Matters blog administrator Tim Maddog hunted it down and took on the task of preserving history by saving the page cached by The Wayback Machine as a PDF file. Take a look:


Examples of China's Diplomatic Suppression of Taiwan in the Two Years Since the Enactment of the “Anti-Separation Law”
(See the menus for more viewing options.)

After Tim published the lost document in order to stop this important history from being dumped down the memory hole, the MAC document reappeared at a different URL.

Just a coincidence?

(Tim Maddog contributed to this post)

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Friday, November 20, 2009

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Bob Yang vs. Bonnie Glaser on Riz Khan

Obama's cross-strait conundrum

Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) president Dr. Bob Yang (advocating for an independent Taiwan) and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Freeman Chair in China Studies senior fellow and US government consultant Bonnie Glaser (read Michael Turton's eloquent description of her position) sat down with Al Jazeera's Riz Khan on November 17, 2009 to discuss recent events affecting the Taiwan-US-China relationship.

Here's the show in two parts. Watch it in a larger viewer by clicking the titles below each video.


13:01 YouTube video: "Riz Khan - Obama's cross-straits conundrum - 17 Nov 09 - Pt 1"


9:29 YouTube video: "Riz Khan - Obama's cross-straits conundrum - 17 Nov 09 - Pt 2"

At the end, Glaser talks about the majority supporting "the status quo," muddying the waters for those who don't realize that Taiwan is not now and has never been part of the People's Republic of China (PRC), but it is nice to at least hear her admit that without China's threats, the vast majority of Taiwanese would have no qualms about declaring independence.

Pieces of the puzzle: , , , , , , ,

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

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Monday, November 16, 2009

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DPP Chairwoman Tsai more popular than President Ma?

Taiwan News is first out of the gate with this news:

A summary:

Satisfied with Tsai's performance - 35%
Satisfied with Ma's performance - 33%
Dissatisfied with Tsai's performance - 34%
Dissatisfied with Ma's performance - 31%

By Region:

  • Kaohsiung and Pingtung - 18% Satisfied with Ma and 44% dissatisfied
  • Central and Eastern Taiwan - Ma more popular (no figures given) 
  • North - Tsai and Ma running equal (no figures given)
  • Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan - 40% Satisfied with Tsai
  • (The opposition leader rated ahead of Ma with independent voters, and received even a positive rating from 29 percent of Kuomintang supporters.)
Support by party:

Positive rating for KMT - 37%
Positive rating for DPP - 22%

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The poll successfully interviewed 717 respondents by phone on November 10 and had a margin of error of 3.7 percent, the China Times said.
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These mixed results from a blue-leaning media outlet seem generally positive for Tsai though tempered with caution since it appears that the DPP as a party has not raised its game in the public's eye as much as its leader.  Now if only the DPP could be as professional as Tsai and show some internal discipline ... (and pigs may fly?)

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China or Bust Economic Model - Why its rationale is misleading

Here's the money quote from today's Taipei Times:

Business consultant Chien Yao-tang (簡耀堂) said the government may have overestimated the importance of the Chinese market.
“If you remember, in 2000 when Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp [SMIC] was founded in China, many people despaired, saying if the government didn’t lift the ban on wafer manufacturers moving to China, Taiwanese manufacturers would not be able to get a share of the Chinese market and would be left behind in the global market,”
“Ten years have passed, the Chinese IC market has been growing, but SMIC has not made a profit, except for one year, even with all the support it receives from the Chinese government.”
Worth remembering the SMIC was founded with significant help and investment from Taiwanese business people.  Another thing highlighted recently in the media is that the 'golden age' of TW and foreign investment in China may have been the mid to late 1990's.  India now holds more potential for growth in the next ten years and investors will be aware that their investment in India is less likely to be controlled by the Indian State or used so clearly to bolster the political and economic power of India at the expense of neighbouring countries sovereignty.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

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Fifth open letter on the erosion of justice in Taiwan

The list of signatories grows by almost 20%

Writer Jerome F. Keating, Ph.D. and thirty other scholars and writers from the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia have penned a fifth open letter about the serious problems occurring under the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou.

The letter reminds us that "a decrease of tension across the Taiwan Strait would indeed be welcome, but [...] that this should not be done at the expense of the hard-won democracy" and that "Taiwan should be more fully accepted by the international community as a full and equal partner." Read the full letter at the link above, but here is a large excerpt [emphasis mine]:
During the past two decades, Taiwan has made major progress in each of these areas [freedom, democracy, justice and human rights]. It thus has been a disappointment for us to see an erosion of justice, a weakening of checks and balances in the democratic system and a decline in press freedom in Taiwan. These trends are reflected in the significantly downward ratings Taiwan received in the annual reports of international organizations such as Freedom House and Reporters without Borders.

They are also reflected in the expressions of concern by international scholars and friends of Taiwan related to the flaws in the judicial proceedings against former President Chen Shui-bian and the apparent lack of neutrality in the continuing "investigations" and indictments of other prominent members of the DPP government. We thus appeal to you again to ensure that measures are taken to ensure the impartiality and fairness of the judiciary.

Good governance, accountability and transparency based on the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy, justice and human rights are all the more essential now that your government is moving Taiwan on a path of closer economic ties with China. We believe that a decrease of tension across the Taiwan Strait would indeed be welcome, but emphasize that this should not be done at the expense of the hard-won democracy and the establishment of human rights in Taiwan itself.

Thus, the process of improving relations with the large neighbor across the Strait needs to be an open, deliberative and democratic process, in full consultation with both the Legislative Yuan and the democratic opposition, and fully transparent to the general public. We are thus pleased to hear that officials of your government have stated that any agreement with China would need to have both a domestic consensus, including approval by the Legislative Yuan, and acceptance by the international community. We trust this process will be open and consultative in ways that respect the democratic traditions begun so promisingly two decades ago.
The prequels
Don't forget the earlier parts of this long-running series, listed here in chronological order:
* November 6, 2008: Scholars and writers from around the world publish an "Open letter on erosion of justice in Taiwan." The same letter -- as an online petition -- has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

* November 25, 2008: Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) calls the open letter "inaccurate."

* December 2, 2008: "Eroding justice: Open letter No. 2" counters Wang Ching-feng's claims.

* January 8, 2009: Over a month later, Wang Ching-feng comes up with "clarif[ications]" regarding the open-letter writers' so-called "misunderstandings."

* January 21, 2009: "Eroding justice: Open letter No. 3" is addressed to President Ma Ying-jeou.

* January 24, 2009: Two more "US-based Taiwan experts add [their] names to open letter [No. 3]."

* January 25, 2009: President Ma claims the public had gained confidence in the judiciary in 2008 -- the exact opposite of what this Taiwan News article tells us they actually felt:
According to recent surveys conducted by Academia Sinica and the Web site Yahoo! Kimo, over 50 percent of the people do not believe in Taiwan's judicial system and over 75 percent have no confidence that the Judicial Yuan will undertake judicial reform [...]
* May 22, 2009: An estimable group of scholars and writers -- 26 in all, and each one with a deep understanding of Taiwan and the surrounding facts -- has composed an open letter addressed directly to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The letter addresses the ever-increasing problems with judicial fairness, press freedom, the lack of transparency in the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rapprochement with China, the loss of Taiwan's sovereignty, and the loss of human rights. The argument the letter makes is rock solid. It is based on demonstrable facts.

John Hancocks: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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NCC controversy again

The NCC has a proposal to relax restrictions on the government, political parties and the military from holding shares in media companies.  The rationale? :

The NCC said that while it was important for the three to stay out of the media, the rules had generated problems in some of the NCC’s rulings because some media corporations are publicly traded, meaning the government can purchase shares on the stock market.
KMT black sheep and family outcast Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) pointed out the obvious negative ramifications of this change for Taiwan's democracy but another KMT legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) called the NCC’s proposal practical.  

So the NCC wants to relax restrictions because they make the NCC's job more difficult and because the Government can't control itself and deign from buying shares in media (which for the KMT is like breathing or eating - a taken for granted necessity).

The NCC's job is to ensure media independence and quality but since its controversial inception it has done little to convince observers that it is anything but a tool of the Government.  So what difference then from the GIO many of whose powers it assumed?.

There is also a disturbing tendency of assuming that now Taiwan is a democracy, the old vestiges of the party-state are no longer a factor much in the way that because the CCP and the KMT are collaborating this is supposed to equal 'peace in our time' and an end to hostilities.  The danger is that in substance little has changed but policy is being changed to match the 'new conditions' which are really more just rhetorical flourishes rather than actual elemental changes in culture and practice.  This is in effect a 'gateway' for old party-state elements to resume their influence under the guise of democratic freedom.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

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How can East Asia achieve democracy?

Remembering the events that brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall

On November 9, 2009, Germans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years ago on October 7, 1989, the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic (AKA East Germany), the communist leadership wanted adulation, but the people offered defiance. The East Germans were supposed to be celebrating the "accomplishments" of socialism, but instead they staged three days of protests in Plauen, Dresden, and Leipzig. Read the Beginning of the end of East Germany, and take note of how the police responded to the demonstrators in Dresden and in Leipzig.

There is a lesson to be learned here for East Asians: At a crucial moment, police discipline -- namely their submission to authority -- should not compel an officer to act against his own citizens (i.e. to kill or harm unarmed civilians against his conscience merely because he is following orders), and of course this must be accompanied by wise decisions by the authorities (usually the top leadership of a nation). Demonstrators against a nation's leadership can be non-violent concerned citizens whose request is simple, freedom. It is how the police react to unarmed crowds that determines the course of such events. Confrontation and violence are the inevitable result when crowds are mishandled and provoked by the police. Unnecessary casualties follow unwise decisions; therefore, people in authority are always responsible for the outcomes.

Back to 1989 Berlin…
Several weeks of civil unrest -- actually starting as early as the summer of 1989 (known as the Peaceful revolution) -- took place in several cities. This finally led the East German government to announce on November 9, 1989 that all its citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Shortly thereafter, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in an atmosphere of celebration. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not come easily -- it only happened due to East Germans' defiance against their rulers.

Twenty years later, in East Asia, the picture looks grim. Democracy is under the threat of communism. Taiwan is on the verge of being converted from a young democracy to communism. Are people in East Asia more tolerant towards repressive rulers? How can this be happening?

The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years; that was long enough. But in Taiwan, from 1945 to 2009 -- 64 long years -- Taiwanese have not had a formally recognized nation to call their own after the General Order No.1 which initially brought the Chinese Nationalist Party government and their Republic of China (KMT-ROC) to the island to act as an administrator for the Allied Forces. This was then complicated by the defeat of the KMT by the Chinese Communists in 1949 which extended the KMT-ROC's temporary stay rather permanent as a Chinese government-in-exile on Taiwan waiting to retake China. The Taiwanese lived under a dictatorship -- led by the KMT's Chiang Kai-shek and his son -- for nearly five decades after WWII.

Although Taiwan did democratize to some extent, it did not normalize. Taiwan had a short period of some attempts to normalize their country when the DPP came into power (8 years from 2000 to 2008), but it ended with no success -- only rebukes from western leaders who believe that a Taiwanese referendum on UN membership was unnecessary troublemaking. When western politicians see economic opportunities with China, the rights of Taiwanese to build a nation of their own is not important anymore.

However, since the KMT regained power in 2008, this brief period of further strengthening of democracy is gradually being replaced by the seemly democratic election of a president (Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九],) who won on empty promises about "improving the economy" and "no unification" during his term; but his hidden agenda -- which should be apparent to nearly everyone by now -- was to bring Taiwan under Chinese Communist control through the illusion of cross-strait détente.

Similarly, the period from 1949 to 2009 has been six long decades for Chinese dissidents who were living either abroad or in "black jails" while their rulers celebrated and marched on a chemically-induced sunny October 1 this year with a show of force. Chinese citizens take advantage of every opportunity to stay abroad once they have completed their education because they admire the freedom that their own country cannot offer. Minorities within Chinese-controlled territories receive worse treatment from China's Han Chinese citizens. People belonging to minority groups are being continuously executed by the Chinese authorities without fair trials.

This explains why most of the post-World War II Chinese immigrants to Taiwan (the so-called "mainlanders" -- those who don't identify Taiwan as their "motherland" yet have no qualms about exploiting it), who have been able to visit China since long ago (contrary to the situation in Berlin-Wall-era Germany), are somewhat hesitant to embrace their original motherland. These mainlanders obviously have doubts, because no one would like to go back to authoritarian rule after they have enjoyed a period of freedom fought and gained by their Taiwanese counterparts, those who have always identify themselves as Taiwanese, against Chiang Kai-shek's dictatorship. But the young democracy in Taiwan may not stay for long, it is like a bubble: it may stay and shine for a little while, then it will burst up in the air.

I have a dream, a sweet dream in which a democratic China lives side by side with Taiwan, Tibet, and East Turkestan, all free and democratic. [My note: Initially taken from here, I added the word "sweet."]

But, I also have a recurring nightmare -- a nightmare in which a "greater China" under the existing one-party rule continues to interfere with all kinds of cultural activities globally (book fairs, film screenings, sports competitions, etc.) and causes all businesses to self-censor to meet the standards approved by the Chinese leadership; all computer makers pre-install firewalls demanded by the Chinese leaders; and all the Taiwanese aboriginal and non-aboriginal languages and traditions become extinct while the cultures of Tibet and East Turkestan are placed onto shelves visible only in museums.

While George H.W. Bush, Helmut Kohl, and Mikhael Gorbachev are going to meet in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolizing the beginning of democracy for Eastern Europe, I wonder what will happen in East Asia?

Are Taiwanese all too pessimistic and simply waiting for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to be signed between the KMT and the CCP and be implemented upon them? Isn't the European Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan very selfish and short-sighted to support the signing of the ECFA, even if it comes at the expense of Taiwan's sovereignty? Are Taiwanese waiting for a "Gandhi" to lead Taiwan's version of civil disobedience? It is certainly encouraging to see that there will be organized demonstrations in the coming days (Lîm Gī-hiông speaks out in Taiwanese). David Reid has more info in English on the demo, and here's a bilingual post on DEMO! Taiwan Democracy Movement.

I don't see why the money spent on renovation and upgrading the Confucius temple should not have been allocated for job creation. It doesn't make sense that Taiwanese have to remit taxes to the central government while the KMT continues to sell-off the national assets which belonged to the people in the first place. Why should the Taipei City government get a portion of its debt to the National Bureau of Health Insurance written-off while the outstanding amount is absorbed by the central government? Unfair rules simply need to be challenged one by one until they are fully abolished in Taiwan!

Civil disobedience does not always need to be carried out on the streets; it can also come in the form of economic measures such as defying the remittance of taxes. If the KMT-dominated Legislative Yuan could purposely delay the passing of the Executive Yuan's annual budget back when the DPP was in power, why can't Taiwanese withhold paying taxes to the central government until the KMT returns its stolen assets to the people? And should local governments collect taxes since there have been problems of unfair distribution among different regions of the nation (similar to the two-level tax system of a federal and a state or provincial tax)? These are just some suggestions that should be explored further.

Any successful civil disobedience movement would require massive participation because the KMT government has a finite number of prosecutors and jails. They won't be able to throw everyone in jail.

The fall of the Berlin Wall showed us the power of the people, when almost the whole nation came out to demonstrate against their communist rulers -- they were simply unstoppable!


Taiwan needs a wise leader amid the changing status quo. A recent opinion poll on Ma Ying-jeou's performance revealed by a pan-blue media outlet gave him a 58.6% disapproval rating. Imagine if the poll had been done by a neutral organization. The result would have looked even worse for Ma.

Ma was a true supporter of dictatorship camouflaged beneath Harvard-educated fake democratic clothing! He is but a leader who looks back and admires how Chiang Kai-shek did it and is totally unfit for facing future challenges. If a citizen takes no action to oppose Ma's policies, one can only live with the consequences of Ma's misguidance.

While most western politicians continue to appease the Chinese communist officials and applaud Ma's cross-strait policy, let's remind them that the new focus for our world of the future -- as human beings -- is not which country will dominate world politics with its military or economic power, but rather how humans can survive by overcoming the immediate problems of climate change, energy shortage, and hunger.

Hence, a country's success is measured not by how it can dominate outer space or by the number of nuclear warheads it has, but rather by how its citizens would like to live in their own country, free of hunger and feeling content economically and politically. The people of Taiwan are among the most peace-loving and innovative citizens of the world, so give the Taiwanese the dignity they deserve.

Regardless of who claims sovereignty over Taiwan, whether it's the ROC (the current administrator) or the PRC (the ones who have never administered the island yet who make false claims and threaten Taiwan with the use of force), all those who have stood in the way should now step back and allow the Taiwanese to hold a national referendum on the status of Taiwan -- a long-overdue expression of democracy. This small island nation may just turn out to be the lighthouse which will transform the remaining communist countries in East and Southeast Asia into ones which respect their citizens' freedom.

For further reference:
* Documentary film about the history of the construction of the Berlin Wall

* Ma's attempt to market the ECFA on the annual Europe Day Dinner by the ECCT

(This post was edited by Tim Maddog.)

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