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!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Taiwan's DPP wins big in latest legislative by-elections

Three out of four ain't bad

Today in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Chiayi, and Hualien, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won three of the four elections which were held to replace legislators elected to other positions in last December's 3-in-1 election.

Huang Jen-chu (黃仁杼) beat Apollo Chen (陳學聖) and two "independent" candidates in Taoyuan, Peng Shao-chin (彭紹瑾) beat Cheng Yung-tang (鄭永堂) in Hsinchu, and Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) summarily kicked Lin Te-jui's (林德瑞) ass and handed it to him on a plate (57,451 to 27,138) in Chiayi.

In Hualien, which is known as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) stronghold, DPP candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) came in second place, but she got an impressiive 40.8% of the votes running against the winner, KMT candidate Wang Ting-sheng (王廷升), and "independent" Shih Sheng-lang (施勝郎).

Here are unofficial numbers given by various TV stations after either victories had been declared or losses conceded in all districts.
5.35 PM results via ETTV
5:35 PM results via ETTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via CTiTV
5:37 PM results via CTiTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via FTV
5:37 PM results via FTV
(Click to enlarge)
5.37 PM results via BS-TV
5:37 PM results via TVBS
(Click to enlarge)
5.39 PM results via SETN
5:39 PM results via SETN
(Click to enlarge)
So far, there have been no reports of losing KMT candidates trying to shoot anybody.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next elections in December 2010 so Taiwan's voters can clean things up some more.

Further reading:
* Here are the vote counts for all candidates via the Liberty Times.

* Download MS Excel spreadsheets (Hanzi) of official results from the Central Election Commission (CEC) web site.

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

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Open Letter from the producer of Formosa Betrayed

Putting Taiwan in the spotlight

Will Tiao, the producer of the film "Formosa Betrayed" (被出賣的台灣), which is being released across the United States today, sent this around [emphasis mine]:
Dear Friends,

This weekend, February 26-28, a new movie about Taiwan will be coming to theaters. Formosa Betrayed is the first American film to ever deal with US-Taiwan relations and explore the issues of democracy, identity, and justice during the White Terror period in Taiwan. The movie was largely funded by Taiwanese all over the United States and Canada, who invested over $6 million into the film. This makes Formosa Betrayed one of the largest pro-Taiwan projects ever funded by the overseas Taiwanese community. Most of these investors are not wealthy -- they are hard working individuals who came to America to provide a better life for their children.

I am one of those children.

My parents are from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. While growing up, they taught me to call myself "Taiwanese," not "Chinese." This caused them much hardship, which included being put on a blacklist. Some of their friends had worse things happen to them. In some cases, people were killed.

The Taiwanese people have suffered at the hands of many over the last century, but these stories have rarely been told or heard. As a second generation Taiwanese American, I feel it is my duty to educate my generation, as well as the world, about the struggles and suffering of the Taiwanese. We cannot allow Taiwan's history and its people's hardships to be forgotten. Once that happens, it only becomes a matter of time before these atrocities are repeated. This is precisely why I dedicated the last five years of my life to bringing the story of Formosa Betrayed to the world.

As the turbulent reaction to President Obama's recent arms sale to Taiwan shows, US-China-Taiwan relations is still a touchy subject that is greeted by fleeting interest, faint support, or --perhaps worst of all-- indifference by the American media. I am hoping the release of Formosa Betrayed will help spur greater awareness and wider discussion about these important matters in the United States and abroad. This is why I am urging you to see Formosa Betrayed this weekend with your friends and family -- to enlighten them about Taiwan's embattled legacy and its struggle for democracy.

Thank you for your time and interest.


All the best,

Will Tiao
President, Formosa Films
Producer, Formosa Betrayed
Remember that this film is based upon important real events in Taiwan's history, and do everything within your power to see it.

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

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

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Innocent Mistake, Freudian Slip or Expose of a Manchurian Candidate?

Yesterday, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou inadvertently referred to the ROC Government as the 'Chinese (adjective) Government'. Here's how the Taipei Times reported it:
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday morning thanked the outgoing Solomon Islands ambassador at the Presidential Office, but referred to his administration as the “Chunghua government” (中華政府) or “Chinese government.” Expressing his gratitude for the Solomon Islands’ assistance following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Morakot in August, Ma said the “Chunghua government” and its people thanked the Pacific ally’s parliament for passing a resolution expressing concern over the destruction.

Solomon Islands Ambassador Beraki Jino has been posted in Taiwan for six years and will move on to Australia to serve as high commissioner.

Realizing his mistake, Ma immediately corrected himself and said he meant the “government of the Republic of China.”
For those not sure of why this should be an issue some clarification is required. The term Chungguo means China whilst the term Chunghua means, broadly, 'of Chinese culture' or 'of the Chinese diaspora'. The full title of the ROC is Chunghua Mingguo which means 'the Chinese Republic' which is usually translated as the Republic of China. So, to refer to the ROC Government as the Chunghua Government essentially absents the term 'republic'. For the President to make an error of speech is only human but in Taiwan's political climate such a mistake can carry very serious implications, especially when the President has been busy downgrading Taiwan as a region of China (ROC) and claiming that the PRC is still under the umbrella of sovereignty of the ROC. One is therefore left with the following interpretations:

1) An innocent mistake
2) A Freudian slip - Ma has Chunghua on his mind and has been attempting to reify the idea that Taiwan is Chinese through stressing that Taiwanese are Chinese culturally and part of the Chinese diaspora - hence his accidental confusing of terms.
3) An insight into Ma's real conception of his Government and the status of Taiwan - that it is only Chunghua (after all there cannot be two Chinas): a convenient articulation that eases the political process of downgrading the ROC in preparation for integration into the PRC.

You choose. No doubt many Taiwanese will not be impressed by his 'slip of the tongue', if that was what it was.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

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Lunar New Year in Taiwan: 2010

A twofer holiday!

In addition to being Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010 (Sunday) is New Year's Day as celebrated in several Asian countries. Many people use the term "Chinese New Year" to describe the holiday, despite the fact that the direct back-translation "中國新年" is rarely used; furthermore, it doesn't just belong to the Chinese.

Here's something from a couple of earlier posts related to why many people prefer to call this holiday "Lunar New Year" (Taiwanese: Lông li̍k sin nî; Hanzi: 農曆新年; Hanyu pinyin: Nónglì​xīnnián):
It doesn't just belong to the Chinese

Nor is it just "politically correct." Read about it in English and/or Chinese.

Happy Lunar New Year! 萬事如意! [=van.su_ru.yi! / wàn shì rú yì!]

UPDATE:Being in a bit of a rush to begin my vacation, I missed these links (all are presented in both English and Mandarin):* How the people of Vietnam celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of South Korea celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Singapore celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Malaysia celebrate Lunar New Year
And here's an update on the Taiwanese romanization which I derived by using an online dictionary on the Ministry of Education (MOE) web site:
袂記得 [bē-kì-tit/buē-kì-tit]: Every time you say "Lunar New Year," a Chinese KMT'er cries. Lông li̍k sin nî khuài lo̍k (農曆新年快樂!) Bān sū jû ì! (萬事如意!)
And as some people also say, Happy Taiwanese New Year!

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

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

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Debate on erosion of justice in Taiwan continues

Part XIII

Michael Danielsen, chairman of Denmark's Taiwan Corner and one of the signatories of the Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou last November, rebuts Government Information Office Minister Su Jun-pin's (蘇俊賓) response to Richard Kagan last month with a piece in today's Taipei Times titled "Democratic liberty is fundamental."

Here are some excerpts from Danielsen's piece:
[Su] states that the government will give "due attention to possible flaws in our judicial system" and continued by stating that it will "keep pushing forward on these fronts."

I look forward to actual steps that go beyond mere words. [...]

[...]

In its report, Freedom House refers to violations of the rights of defendants in criminal cases and other new restrictions on freedom of expression and news freedom. In addition, Jerome Cohen [Maddog note: Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) Harvard professor] and Chen Yu-jie (陳玉潔) stated in the South China Morning Post on Jan. 20 that now "it [the government] is trying to introduce legislation to punish 'obstructions of justice' that will inevitably restrict defense lawyers' activities." [Maddog note: Cohen and Chen's unedited original letter; The edited version which appeared in the SCMP (PDF); Hanzi version which appeared in the Taiwan-based China Times (中國時報)]

Thus, using history over the last two decades to showcase Taiwan's democratic development is deceptive.

Su seems to have a different understanding of democratic involvement than others. Based on his words, cross-strait relations are only important to the legislature if they are related to law, and the public should only have involvement between elections via the media. However, the agreements involving China and Taiwan deal with the key issue of Taiwan's future and its existence as a free and democratic nation, and for that reason the agreements are always important to the legislature and the public because of tensions with China and that country's obvious threats to Taiwan.
Notice how Su doesn't admit to any "actual" flaws -- only "possible" ones -- and that his use of the phrase "keep pushing forward" implies that his government is already making improvements on the judicial system in Taiwan. Anyone who has paid any amount of attention to this administration will know that it is not so. Danielsen implies as much by saying that he'd like to see "actual steps" as opposed to "mere words." As usual, the retorts make much more sense than the responses from the Ma government have. Look at the reality, test the logic, and you'll see.

UPDATE: Taipei Times editor J. Michael Cole writes on his blog how the Presidential Office snubbed the foreign media on ECFA briefings -- not a good indication of anything "improving" under Ma Ying-jeou:
The Taiwan Foreign Correspondent's Club (TFCC) yesterday lodged a protest with the Presidential Office after being informed that foreign reporters would not be allowed to attend Ma's briefing. The directive is expected to apply to all subsequent monthly briefings. The TFCC was told that foreign correspondents would be able to watch in real time from the Presidential Office press room.

[...]

I communicated this with Reporters Without Borders Asia, which responded by calling it a "disturbing development."
How "transparent" is that? [/update]

The prequels
Here are the 12 previous episodes of this long-running series, listed below 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.

* November 9, 2009: Then there were 31. The Taiwan News publishes an "Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou by 30 international scholars" which 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." (Here's a version with 31 names on the web site of one of the signatories, Jerome F. Keating, Ph.D.)

* December 13, 2009: Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) submits the "GIO response to Nov. [9] open letter" to the Taipei Times.

* December 25, 2009: Richard Kagan, professor emeritus at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota and one of the signatories of the November 2009 letter, replies to Su Jun-pin's silliness in "GIO's response misses the point"

* January 8, 2009: Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) churns out A GIO response to Richard Kagan (one of the signatories of the November 9, 2009 "Open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou by 30 international scholars") in which Su compares apples and oranges by imagining that other people don't know that China wants to annex Taiwan while the Taiwanese people don't want to be part of China, ignores what has happened to Hong Kong in the past 12 and a half years, talks about the "double-taxation" issue as if China won't still get those taxes from Taiwanese businesses, pretends to forget that Taiwan's Straits [sic] Exchange Foundation (海峽交流基金會) chairman and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice-chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) referred to himself as a "rubber stamp," complains that his government has no control over anything, ignores the KMT's continued attempts to take over Taiwan's Public TV (PTS, 公共電視), confuses gains in local elections with a balanced legislature and a president who listens to majority opinion without oppressing minorities or stupidly saying out loud that he "sees them as humans," and completely omits the fact that the talks regarding an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) -- which Chinese officials say "will certainly bring about complete unification of the motherland [sic] -- have been anything but transparent and have not been subject to legislative oversight. These things, Mr. Su, are clear signs of an erosion of both justice and democracy.
How long will this go on? Until the people of Taiwan kick the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) out for good -- that's how long!

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

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Monday, February 08, 2010

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Irony

One often overlooked part of the R.O.C polity's State structure is the The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) created in 1928. This body hitherto has had the responsibility for "enhancing Taiwan’s relations with Mongolia and the Tibetan government-in-exile". News has now come in that the commission may have undertaken a significant shift in its policy towards "promoting cross-strait exchanges". I'll leave you the kind reader to follow up on the details but a quote at the bottom of the piece struck me as hugely ironic:
Asked by the Taipei Times why MTAC would not accept the verification of authenticity of Green Books issued by the Tibetan government-in-exile for people who claim to be Tibetan refugees, MTAC chairman Kao Su-po (高思博) said the verification must come from “a proper government authority” and that the verification from “an exiled Tibetan organization” is not enough.
In 1949, the KMT lost control of China to Mao's Communist party and was effectively expelled from the country pretty much on pain of death. Then leader General Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan with his entire troop force and millions of refugees, bringing with them the apparatus and law of the R.O.C. Despite the fact that the R.O.C constitution was not implemented on Taiwan until 1949 and then immediately frozen to allow Martial Law, Chiang nevertheless set about recreating the R.O.C on Taiwan, with the exception of the rights enshrined in its constitution. Chiang's R.O.C was a Government in exile and only survived owing to US protection and funding (and in spite of later US attempts to overthrow Chiang). This was the origin of the two Chinas problem. Had the US actually refused straight away to recognise Chiang's R.O.C as a 'proper government authority' , history, and Taiwan's current status, would have been dramatically different. Had the US regarded Chiang's R.O.C as an 'exiled Chinese organisation', and contrived an excuse to deny verification of R.O.C passports or assistance to Taiwanese and exiled Chinese it is highly unlikely that today Taiwanese would be able to enjoy the ability to travel the world and conduct business with the US as it does today.

Whereas under the DPP the MTAC would confirm the identity of a Tibetan refugee if the Tibetan government-in-exile could verify the person’s Tibetan refugee status", it seems now that since the MTAC will be subsumed within the Mainland Affairs Council from 2012 and has reoriented its operating rationale to "supporting agency in cross-strait exchanges".

It could therefore be argued that the MTAC's change in policy toward Tibetan exiles is ironic in the extreme and with no sense of historical reflection or wisdom. Can this R.O.C loyalist Government in exile not see that but for the grace of American indulgence, they could have been the victims of the same political convenience that currently seems to inform their blind rush to please the Chinese? (not that it is working). It also potentially marks the beginning of another tragic chapter in the history of Tibetan peoples.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

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On the level

Last night, Taiwan's MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) argued that China would not be able to tolerate an ECFA with Taiwan when any pro-Taiwan independence party was in power. In Liu's own words, "The ECFA is a political and economic asset that the KMT has fought to give the Taiwan people. How could we let a pro-Taiwanese Independence party plunder or ruin it?"

The DPP has long complained that the ECFA agreement is meant to bind Taiwan to "One China" both politically and economically. The CCP, likewise, made it obvious that political unification was the ultimate objective.

But only recently a KMT official acknowledge the "logic" of the CCP argument and demonstrate how the ECFA exacts a political cost designed to keep the DPP either out of power or in line with CCP unification demands.

Expect "clarifications" and denials of political pre-requisites for the ECFA agreement.

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