Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

China’s Over Reaction and Pro-China Media’s No Reaction

Obama admin, after a few centuries, finally decide one something that should not surprise anyone: selling Black Hawks, PAC-3, and anti-mine ships.  Really, the list is so uncontroversial, they could have sold those to North Korea and no one would complained.  But wow, they have to sell these to TAIWAN.  Wow, wait a minute, all of a sudden it’s a big news, because look out, China the Drama Queen is ANGRY again.

OK, maybe I am being over sarcastic, because Taiwan does need those items (Black Hawks to replace the aging UH-1 transport fleets.  Mine sweepers to increase anti-blockade capability because China does own large amount and large variety of sea mines, some are quite advance.  PAC-3 is debatable as many still question its effectiveness and cost, but maybe it’s better than nothing).  But truely, the international relationship nowadays looks like a fucking joke.  What are these officials learn from nowadays?  Soup Opera? or babies beating the crap out of each other for a stuffed toy?  The US did not even sell Taiwan the controversial items such as F-16 C/D and submarines, WTF is China crying about?  Wow, Taiwan is going to invade China with its 60 new Black Hawks.  Its new mine sweepers is going to destroy the Chinese fleets with lightning bolts.  Its new PAC-3 is going to bomb the shit out of China.  Rediculous.  None of item sold are even close to a threat to China.  So why is China crying?

I suspect China is just using this as an excuse to get Chinese people angry and unite behind the Communists party.  After Google kicks the CCP in the balls, CCP does need to find some diversion and fabricating or re-emphasizing the outside enemies.

Interestingly, in Taiwan, those pro-China media seems rather quite.  During DPP admin, those pro-China media keeps black smearing whatever the US sold to Taiwan.  They call those weapons “waste iron.”  But now, all of a sudden, no one says shit.  Why don’t they complain about the mine sweepers?  They did complain about the P-3C Orion anti-sub aircraft.  Why don’t they complain about the PAC-3?  They kept complaining about it before.  The point is very simple, their brains grow on their asses.  On the positive side, that’s good.  Because at least now they can actually make some needed arm purchases.

( The order also include other items such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles.  But once again, those are items Taiwan already have and are considered regular stock pile and upgrades.  It should not be a big deal. )

UPDATE: It’s actually a good thing that China over reacted, because it’s actually a good advertisement of Taiwan’s sovereignty, as Liberty Times rightfully pointed outJust look at this photo.

The “Why” of ECFA

This is a well written blog by ghost_twtw, explaining why some corporations desperately ask for ECFA: because they sucks (no innovation and improvement). lol.  Of course, it’s not as simple as I said, but at the same time the reasoning is quite obvious and the blog’s argument is very strong I think.  Worth a read.

Update: It is indeed interesting.  Although I don’t know the detail, now that I thought about it, it seems that those corporations that desperately ask for ECFA are usually the weakest and the most screw up in Taiwan.  (Car manufacturing is a prime example)  Even if ECFA will benefit them, which I highly doubt it will (just look at how many companies got screwed by Ma even though Ma signed all these treaties with China, Ex. Tourists deal.  I suspect the next that could get screwed is the banking sectors), my preference is still just to let them rot.  It’s not like they are actually contributing to Taiwan’s economic advancement, actually quite a lot of them receive government subsidies one way or the other. 

Taiwan had nurture those corporation for quite a long time now.  If they cannot stand on their own feet, let them fall, and the resources they used can be divert to others who is more capable.  There is no need to sign ECFA just for their sake.

Hong Kong’s Unknown Future

Interesting Article form Taipei Times

Some pro-China politicians in Taiwan often looks at Hong Kong and describe it as the success of 1 country 2 system policy of China.  Their argument often goes like this “hey, Hong Kong turns out alright.  If it works for Hong Kong, it must work for Taiwan.”  Some even goes so far as saying the system in Hong Kong which limited political freedom is better than the direct democratic system of Taiwan.  Again, this type of argument is often based on cultural and racial biases  (Democracy does not work for Asian people), advocated by Asian dictators in China and Singapore etc.  Some in the west even agree (a liberal society with authoritarian rule in Hong Kong seems to work out quite well.)

The fact is, Hong Kong and Taiwan is completely different in so many ways.  Putting aside their stupid argument that Hong Kong’s system is better, the fact that it is so different, using Hong Kong as a support for 2 systems, 1 country for Taiwan is quite ridiculous.  On top of that, the recent violent protests in Hong Kong shows that there are actually many problems and some people in Hong Kong are fed up with them.  So Hong Kong is not a so called good example that Taiwan should look up to.

The cold reality is, only when it comes to money and turf, democracy becomes important, to the point that people could actually risk their lives for it.  Before, I am sure most Hong Kong people are just uncertain and have some anxiety about what will happens, that is why they are relatively calm, and no one actually tried to get a full democratic system to work.  Hey, if it isn’t broken, why fix it?  However, IMO, people have miscalculated.

During the British rule, does UK really give a sh*t about Hong Kong?  No.  And that is why Hong Kong is successful.  It is exactly because no one gives a sh*t about it that it turns out OK even though there is no democratic system in place.  Because in this codition, the benefits of democratic system does not stand out.  Now, China is a much closer and much more authoritative regime, could it actually let Hong Kong have its free style way?  This, people should be alarmed already.  China “cares” about Hong Kong in so many way.  In fact, Hong Kong is part of the key of Chinese economic investment node.  Because it “cares,” money, land and opportunity become big issues, and that is where people start to wish for a good democratic system.

Another interesting observation is how the society of Hong Kong has sacrifice the weakest among the society for profit.  It is quite interesting how they bring excessive competition to the young, and the living condition of the poor is really…intolerable.  All this does not happen over night…this is an accumulated policy result of the past few years.

Everyone says competition is good.  No, only “fair” competition is good.  The political system in Hong Kong has created this mutated society in which unfair advantages have been given to the big corporation, new Chinese workers and the pro-China groups…discontent will only grow.  But perhaps eventually it will die down again, who knows. 

Like in Taiwan, in the past, children of new comers (mainlanders that follow the KMT), were given unfair advantage in educational system in Taiwan.  Of course, after a while people just got used to it, and think, well, my life turn out to be OK as well.  It’s nice to be contend.   However, if you look at it as a whole, you realize how much sacrifice Taiwanese has to give for this unfair treatment.  How many that could have become more educated, lost the opportunity?  How many have to sacrifice their youth and time, just to squeeze in, while some others could get a 60% mark and still get into top Universities?

Unfortunately the truth is, the wrong policy setup by the 40 to 60 years old people often effect the next young generation.  Their wrong decision or laziness will not effect them, because they are probably dead or enjoying their retirement already.  However, the young will suffer the consequences.  Hong Kong certainly looks like this.  If the older generation has some balls to ask for more democratic system under the more lenient British rule, they are more likely to succeed, because hey, who in the UK cares?  If the voice is loud and noisy enough.  But because the previous generation does not do this, now the next generation has too…and under a much worse situation.

Or perhaps I think too much.  Does it really matter?  Even if a proper democratic system is setup in Hong Kong, will China not manipulate and castrate the system?

Ha…Funny But Sad at the Same Time

http://www.hi-on.org.tw/bulletins.jsp?b_ID=97326

This article is kind of funny, but it’s so true that it’s sad.

National Defense Is Part Of the Equation

Today there are 3 different article from Liberty Times that caught my attention.  Titles with my attempt translation:

The first article describe how CSBA  create a scenario, and highlights the possible problem in Taiwan Strait in the future, and how this could be one of the top challenge for the USA in the next decade.  To be ready of the potential crisis, the study recommend the Pentagon to have long term planning with discussion and debate about issues such as what to sell to Taiwan etc.  It does not seem to contain things that are too surprising.  However, the general feeling is that the US is focusing very strongly in the middle east.  To China, the current US policy is more of appeasement, because the US policy makers view China as a partner (of course, with the theory that China will turn democratic once it become rich…blah blah blah, we all heard it a thousand times before).  However, with the recent Google incident, one wonder if those policy makers will at least start to have some self-doubt about their believe that investment and trade will automatically bring out democracy and freedom…(even just spell that out sounds really like bull shit.  Economic well beings is necessary for democracy perhaps, but economic well beings do not bring out democracy.  Just look at WW2 era Japan and Germany.  Their people live well enough, but where is the democracy.  Japan’s parliament are occupied by retired military generals, and Germany is ruled by the one and only National Socialist Party, or Nazi for short).  What is perhaps more dire is that currently the US’s Taiwan policy is basically no policy.

The second article come from a famous military magazine editor.  However, although he has his expertise, we of course can only take his idea as only an idea.  The plausibility etc of this idea needs further investigations.  The system and technology is there (Standard Missile 3, developed jointly by the US and Japan), but it could be extremely expensive.  And just how effective it is we don’t know for sure.  Israel does seem to show some interest as well.  However, the missile problem faced by Israel and Taiwan is not exactly the same.  Israel’s main potential missile threat comes from Iran, but Taiwan’s comes from China.  Chinese missile forces is definitely a lot more mature than Iranian, which just got started.  And of course, there is also the nuclear warheads problem…

The 3rd article Chinese spouse in Taiwan.  Currently, there are quite a lot of them, mostly women, as the article pointed out.  To most country, immigration can be a good source of human capitals and exchange of cultures.  However, there are also considerable problems with immigration if it’s not handled properly.  Right now, Taiwan seems to have an imbalance (large portion of Chinese)  problem.  This is indeed a potential problem in my opinion.  However, the complexity of this issue is perhaps beyond my knowledge, because it involves social and human psychologies etc.  The problem I see with this though is the following:

  • Next generation problem: the children raised by Chinese in Taiwan, what would they think about Taiwan?
  • Integration problem:  as can be noted in North America and Europe, a lot of times immigrants, especially first generation, do not fully integrate into the rest of society.  They usually formed a niche community etc.  This is natural and might not be such a bad thing.  However, if its Chinese forming a niche within Taiwan, without much integration with the rest of Taiwanese society, what will happen?  Because afterall, the way Chinese view Taiwan is very different from new immigrants viewing the USA.

This topic might be quite interesing…some academia or government agencies should look into this and plan ahead.

The Importance of National Defense

This news just reminds me of some thoughts I had recently.  One of the strategic national objective of Taiwan is to achieve independence.  The independence I refer here is not just a name change or a new constitution, although have those would be great, even in practical purpose, because wrong name gives confusion and wrong constituion creates problems.  However, what I am talking about here is a bit bigger in scope.  I define it to include free from Chinese threats, coersion and international pressure.  In another word, Taiwan should be able to independently negotiate FTA with other coutnries or bloc if it choose to.  However, to do this, one thing has to happen: China has to give up.  And that is only going to happen if the following occurs:

  1. Chinese government realize that pressuring, threatening or annexing Taiwan has extremely high cost, to the point that doing so would mean the crumbling of CCP rule.
  2. Chinese government realizes that annexing Taiwan has no benefits whatsoever. 

Point 2 would solve all problem but that is quite impossible.  Of course, one can convince the Chinese government so they lower the value of Taiwan.  However, to convince them to the point that they won’t even bother to open their mouth in UN saying that Taiwan is part of China, blah blah blah, is quite impossible.  Geo-political situation simply does not seem to allow it.

Therefore, point 1 becomes important complimentary strategy.  However, to accomplish this is also very difficult, but we can see the importance of national defense to Taiwan’s objective.  Because without strong defense, all other leverage etc becomes useless.  The ideal situation will be that an Chinese invasion becomes impossible, blockage becomes breakable, and missiles barrage becomes useless.  If that is the case, Taiwan would be indepent already.  However, that ideal situation only exists in fantasy land, but it does illustrate the point: national defense is an important part of the equation.

UPDATE:  Someone replied to the 3rd article.  Ha, I knew this topic is going to be controversial.  Damn, maybe the next hot topic that will never get solved would the the policy on Chinese spouse.  I think that the article is debatable, but this reply does have some logical holes in it.

Point 1 of the reply said that the problem of Taiwan population is that it’s decreasing, not increasing.  However, that missed the point of the original article.  The original article is actually saying that the current population is already too many.  Therefore, a bit of decrease in population would actually be a good thing. 

Point 2 is correct…however that is exactly the concern of the original article.  In my opinion, immigration is immigration, it does not matter if it is through marriage or otherwise.  They are moving and living here, that is immigration, by the broader definition.

The final part points out we should treat them well etc since they are now part of Taiwan society.  That is correct.  We cannot treat them otherwise.  Once they are in,  they are part of Taiwan.  However, that is also the concern of the original article, and part of my concern. 

As one of the example shown by the original article, some Chinese women does not think too highly of Taiwanese women…for some reason.  It is this kind of view that I am worried about.  As I mentioned before, Chinese immigrants’ view of Taiwan is very different from immigrants view of the USA.  Chinese are educated from young that Taiwan is part of China etc, which come into clash with the majority view of Taiwan.  From this, other bad feeling toward Taiwan might come out.  Furthermore, not all immigrants like the country they immigrate to.  That sounds very weird, but it’s empirically true. 

The case of Chinese spouse in Taiwan is very unique in my opinion.  There might not bet that many countries which experience this type of situation before.  So my view is still that we should treat the Chinese spouse well, of course.  However, the long term implication of this needs to be understood, and potential problems need to be pointed out.

Interestingly…

http://neoformosamagz.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post_18.html

Interestingly, just when I wrote about the election structure problem in Taiwan, politicians, including ex-President Chen, are onto the same topic.  I guess it must be because DPP has shown sign and possibility of winning in these recent election, people start to think about it.

My view is that KMT tried to take as much advantage in it as possible, but in fact, they are paying the price now for making unfair rule.  But maybe I did not, and perhaps a lot of people, do not understand these election issue fully.  Because back then, most people think this is unfair, but now, it seems DPP can win in this type of election setup.  In fact, the more optimistic people (such as ex-President Chen) will think that it’s possible for DPP to exceed half seats in Legislature (if I remember correctly, that would be unprecedented.  Although for a time DPP is the biggest party in Legislature, pan Blue parties combined still far exceed DPP and pan green number).  However, although it’s natural to feel more optimistic now, it is perhaps still too early to see what will happen next IMO.

KMT is not Really “Right-Wing”

Taiwan News has a new editorial here.  Overall, it is well written, as usual.  However, I think the article has a major mistake that shows a general misconception, and that is identifying Ma’s KMT as right-wing.  I think that will create much confusion and misunderstanding about Taiwan politics for western and Taiwanese readers alike.

A right-wing party to me has the following features which left-wing party does not have:

  • Idea of small government: this KMT does not fit.  It is actually expanding governement structures over the years.  DPP is the one that tried to cut down government structure, although it never occurs due to legislature blockage of KMT.  Therefore, in a sense, KMT is pro large government, at least in practice.
  • Idea of strong military and hawkish foreign policy: this KMT, especially Ma’s KMT, obviously does not have.  Furthermore, although DPP as a party downplay military power, in practice, DPP seems to spend more effort in nationalize and strengthen military.  The current KMT in contrast cuts down military exercise and budget etc.  In foreign policy, KMT is definitely turtling.
  • Low Tax: this KMT does not fit exactly.  In fact, KMT has been increasing taxes (in different form) after 2008.  At least it is not lowering it. 
  • Opposing the idea of welfare state and state own enterprises: this KMT does not fit neither.  The KMT has provided the largest, most rediculous and unfair welfare to at least part of society – those people who are ‘loyal’ to KMT.  The famous 18% is a good example.  Perhaps there are historical justification, but then again they also opposing cutting down those welfare spending when the situation calls for it.  Therefore, it is clear to see that they do not uphold this idea.  Furthermore, KMT created large amount of state owned enterprises.  A lot of them inefficiently runned, until DPP took over and privatized them.  Again, one might justify such action, but it shows KMT is not opposing state-own enterprise.
  • More conservative: this one KMT does not fit neither, especially in its Chinese policy.  It is proposing larger investment and engagment with China.  In that sense, it is very unconservative, to the point of quite reckless.

Other stuff such as freer trade etc, in both left and right-wing parties, there are those who support and those who oppose it.  Therefore, I do not list them here.  As can be clearly seen above, it is actually quite difficult to call KMT a right-wing party, in the traditional western political sense.  In fact, it actually has some left-wing features.  However, it should not be called left-wing neither, in my opinion.

I agree with what ex-president Chen said in this matter: Taiwan does not have right-wing/left-wing problem.  The political situation is quite different in Taiwan due to its unique situation and political development.  It is difficult to identify Taiwan’s political parties simply as left and right.  To do so will only create confusion in my opinion.

Fairness Is the Better Policy

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2010/01/19/2003463877

This news reminds of a possible deeper problem in Taiwan political system.

Of course, the main reason behind the recent legislative chaos and stalemates can be contributed to Ma government’s irrational policy, not following proper procedures and channels, and general arrogant attitude.  (Example includes MOU, ECFA, US Beef with bones, and now the amendment of Local Government Act)  However, this is perhaps the result of a deeper structural problem.

For a very long time, Taiwan’s legislature has been quite dysfunctional in a way.  It’s not abnormal for a democratic country’s congress, legislture, parliament etc to turn into a battle field (looking at different countries in different times, you can find quite a bit of examples).  If nothing else, it’s sometimes quite entertaining to watch.  (Maybe that’s why Taiwan does not need WWF).  However, I think at least there is one clear reason why Taiwan legisture is not functioning properly now: under representative of the pan green supporters.

During the last legislature election, DPP actually got more than 25% of votes (if I remember correctly, it’s close to 40%), but because the new electoral areas etc (after they slash the number of legislature seats in half) is structure in such a way that KMT has the absolute advantage, DPP never had a chance.  During that time, a lot of people alreayd pointed out, but in any case, the law was passed and unsurprisingly that is the result.

However, now KMT legislators are actually paying the price of taking unfair advantages:

  • DPP has a valid reason in being more aggressive, because they should have more seats by vote percentage.
  • KMT officials become arrogant, and KMT legislators become low value pawn, because there are so many of them.  Their voice become less important.
  • In another word, each DPP representative has on average more support behind them than each KMT representative.
  • Even if KMT forces a bill/act through, it is really unjustifiable, because their majority is gained through unfair advantages.  The result is that the bills / acts that got passed does not reflect public opinions in general, which is what we are observing now.

For quite a long time, the KMT takes unfair advantages in election (ie, if they got 50% of vote, they got 70% of seats etc).  On the surface, it appears to be an advantage to them, but it can actually make their government quite dysfunctional (Ma as president or as Taipei Mayor.  In both cases, the resulting government is generally considered not very good).  More importantly, it hinders Taiwan’s democratic system.  Hopefully, the evolution of the system will adjust this problem.

Bellocchi’s Counter to Finlandization

Although it does not draw a huge attention in Taiwan, Gilley’s article published in Foreign Affairs does make some people in Taiwan quite worried.  Because it is an indication of at least part of the US academic view, and this type of view  seems to put Taiwan in a more disadvantageous position.  Plus it does contain quite some misconceptions.

Nat Bellocchi wrote a good counter to this view in Taipei Times.

Update: translation of the same article in Liberty Times.

Disaster in Haiti

Unfortunately I do not know much about Haiti.  However, the recently Haiti earth quake turned out to be a huge disaster… A blogger with more detail summary.  It is also worth knowing that Haiti is one of the few countries with a diplomatic tie with Taiwan.  However, the country has been plaque with gang fights and poverty.

Taiwanese rescue team also found a survivor

More report from Liberty Time