Saturday, January 14, 2017

What will Trump do? + Links

A small shrine tucked away in a field

NYTimes reports that Taiwan moves to shore up its central american friends, but the really ominous thing wasn't the possibility that they might bolt, but what happened in Nigeria, where Beijing forced the Taiwan office to move, is far more dangerous. Diplomatic allies are not as important as the everyday engagement Taiwan has with nations all over the world.
This week, another move showed that even countries without diplomatic ties to Taiwan could still isolate it further. On Wednesday, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to move a representative office in the country out of the political capital, Abuja, to Lagos, the country's commercial hub. Nigeria has not had official diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1971, so it doesn’t have an embassy in Abuja to move; instead, Taiwan was forced to move its trade mission, one of about 50 unofficial representative offices it has around the world.
That mission had been serving the small Taiwan factory investment community there. China offered to sink $40 billion into projects there... wonder how much will actually appear. Meanwhile the US is spending billions bombing wedding parties and barbecues in the Middle East. Hmm......

Another problem: Trump again says "one China" policy up for negotiation. This comment is entirely lacking in definition, though it is widely reported. What does he mean? Though Bonnie Glaser says China is preparing for rocky relations in 2017. If someone senior in the administration would contact me, I would be most grateful. At The News Lens Wayne Pajunen writes:
Among the ongoing tit-for-tat of Trump tweet vs. CCP bark, keeping in mind the Chinese proverb: a barking dog never bites (會叫的狗不會咬人), PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) responded, “China is paying close attention to developments,” Wang said. “I can clearly say that no matter whether the Tsai Ing-wen authority, any other person in the world, or any other force, if they try and damage the one-China principle and harm China’s core interests, in the end they are lifting a rock only to drop it on their feet.”

Beijing is always very careful to respond only with threatening rhetoric while never drawing lines in the sand demarking tangible retaliatory actions. To date, the uncertainty created by CCP bluster has been sufficient to deter the democratic nations to do Beijing’s bidding and isolate Taiwan.
"The barking dog never bites" may also apply to Trump. It's maddening how little concrete information there is about his Administration's views and plans. Rosalyn Hsueh in WaPo writes on his trade policy with China, while Michael Pillsbury argues that Trump can stand up to China without provoking a war.

Shirley Kan: China's military provocations ARE NOT mere responses to Trump
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BBC still pro-China, just not as bad

Motorcycle gangs, Taiwan style

Here is BBC's response to my complaint on this hugely pro-China backgrounder over a year ago. Despite the changes, the piece remains powerfully pro-China and studded with errors. For example, the TRA doesn't obligate the US to sell weapons or do anything else, as Chris Nelson explained these many years ago. But you can hardly expect a non-specialist to understand the arcanity of Taiwan in US politics. And although they have corrected some of the factual errors, the powerful pro-China slant remains. I guess the "C" in BBC stands for "China"....

Dear Mr Turton

Ref: CAS-3580463-1F12HS

Thank you for getting in touch about our feature article “What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?” (

It has come to our attention that you made a complaint about this article, over a year ago, but never received a response.

We’d firstly like to apologise for this oversight, which led to this hugely excessive and regrettable delay. Notwithstanding that delay, we’d also like the opportunity to address the points you’ve made, which are listed individually below along with our response to each:

Text says Dutch period began in 1642, it began in 1624

You’re quite correct and we’ve since amended this.

Text says in Taiwan Relations Act US promises to provide weapons to Taiwan, the Act specifically makes no such promise

The US is obliged to supply defensive weaponry to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, with section 3 specifically setting out that “it is U.S. policy to provide Taiwan with such weapons as may be necessary for its security and an adequate defensive capability.” (
[MT: The TRA is specifically written not to obligate the US to anything]

Text says US sent ships into Taiwan Strait. No ships entered Taiwan Strait.

The US Navy 7th fleet did deploy and the Nimitz battle carrier group transited the Taiwan Strait during the 1996 crisis.
[MT -- The Nimitz transited the Straits long before the 1996 Crisis. During the 1996 it stayed south of Taiwan]

Text says Japan's defeat in WWII led to UK and US assigning Taiwan to China. US and UK agreed after WWII Taiwan's status is undetermined. That is still both nations' policy today

We’ve since amended this sentence to now explain:

“But after World War Two, the Republic of China - one of the victors - began ruling Taiwan with the consent of its allies the US and UK, after Japan surrendered and relinquished control of territory it had taken from China.”
[MT: note how the text still refuses to give the actual status of Taiwan under international law. So pro-China]

Text says only small minority support independence. Independence is widely supported in poll after poll, usually around 70% support

We’ve also since amended this sentence to read:

“Opinion polls show only a small minority of Taiwanese support pursuing one or the other at the moment, with most preferring to stick with the current middle ground.”
[MT: You can see the pro-China slant again. The "status quo" is preferred over annexation to China. But polls consistently show most people want independence. Yet BBC cannot explain that]

Text claims China visited Taiwan in 239, which is pure speculation reported as fact. No evidence it is true

The text doesn’t claim as a fact that China visited Taiwan in 239, but that the island “first appears in Chinese records in AD239,” which is not the same thing and is contextualised when the same sentence explains that this is “a fact Beijing uses to back its territorial claim.”
[MT: The island doesn't appear in Chinese records in 239. That's a fantasy, not fact. And note how this invention relates Taiwan to China.]

Text omits mention of Taiwan aborigines and says only "settlers" came from China. But recent archaeology says Taiwan aborigines came up from south

We’ve since amended this sentence to refer to how:

“The first known settlers in Taiwan are Austronesian tribal people thought to have come from modern day southern China.”
[MT: Actually, it is just as likely they came up from the south. Again, a claim that links Taiwan to China. But at least progress....]

Text keeps saying "many Taiwanese" (support independence) when polls repeatedly show majority do

We think this sentence accurately describes the support for a separate nation and so have no plans to amend it.

Text omits 2-28 massacre and places KMT rule after 1949, not in 1945 as historically correct

The sentence doesn’t refer to KMT rule but that “Chiang and the remnants of his Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan in 1949,” which we’d stand by as accurate.

Text attributes democratization in Taiwan to dictator Chiang Ching-kuo. Like writing "In 1776, King George of England began a process of giving independence to the colonists in America".

We’ve since amended this sentence to now read:

“Having inherited an effective dictatorship, facing resistance from local people resentful of the 228 Massacre and authoritarian rule, and under pressure from a growing democracy movement, Chiang's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, began allowing a process of democratisation, which eventually led to the 2000 election of the island's first non-KMT president, Chen Shui-bian.”
[MT: that's much better]

We hope you’ll find this response satisfactory and please accept our apologies once again for not responding before now.

Best wishes,

Sean Moss

BBC News website
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Taiwan News #8: So much KMT.... =UPDATE WITH MORE AWESOMENESS=

Ants tending aphids. They've curved several leaves around, and parked the aphids inside.

My latest piece in Taiwan News is on the KMT Chairmanship election and its latest developments.
The KMT Chairmanship election heated up with both former Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bin and former Vice President Wu Den-yih challenging current KMT Chair Hung Hsiu-chu for her seat in the May 20 election. This trio was immediately parodied by Taiwan netizens as Hau-Wu-Chu (好無助), a homonym for "hopeless." Wu, a practiced politician, delivered an Oscar-worthy press conference, a Noh play of traditional references to Sun Yat-sen, calls for "power under unity" for the KMT, and a mask of tears for the memory of President Chiang Ching-kuo, who has the same kind of sainthood for the KMT that Ronald Reagan does for the US Republican party. Clearly the ability to summon tears at will is a must for would-be politicians in Taiwan.
Should be "so hopeless" not "hopeless".

None of these politicians has much of a following outside the KMT. Indeed, this week Hau observed that Wu is one of the least popular politicians among the population at large, and said that if elected Chairman, he would make Terry Gou (Wiki), the head of Foxconn, the 2020 KMT presidential candidate. Gou is a (1) big businessman whose (2) primary business is in China, and (3) who will be 70 in 2020. I am sure that 1, 2, and 3 will make him very attractive to younger and working/middle class Taiwanese, and to younger members of the KMT.

But from the KMT point of view Gou would have one priceless quality: he could afford to pay for his own election campaign. The KMT might not be able to...

Steve Chan, who resigned his KMT Vice Chairman position last week, announced his candidacy. Some of you might recall that Hung Hsiu-chu was in SE Asia a while back trawling local Chinese communities for support -- this week she is in the US doing the same.

At least we did get an entertaining alternative candidate for the KMT Chair in the person of Han Kuo-yu... UPDATE: but for sheer awesomeness this song for Wu Den-yih announcing his candidacy cannot be beat.

In the DPP other individuals are declaring their interest in candidacies. Kuan Bi-ling, the DPP politico, said she'd be interested in running for K-town mayor. The tussle over New Taipei City, currently the nation's largest, looks to be quite interesting, especially if current Tainan mayor William Lai shows an interest in running, which he should do if he wants to become President. He would likely beat all comers. But for 2020 and beyond, many of us are thinking current Taoyuan mayor (can you even think of his name?) ____ will be a powerful dark horse presidential candidate. He's popular and appears to be doing a good job in Taoyuan. Current Taichung mayor Lin Jia-long is also said to harbor presidential ambitions.

The DPP's discussion of who gets what merely emphasizes how its geographic advantages are so powerful -- the DPP has a lock on the south and can develop new candidates with wide population bases, whereas of the KMT-held areas Miaoli, Nantou, Hualien, and Taitung lack the money and population to vault a politician to national prominence, except for corruption allegations. Whoever wins the DPP nomination in K-town and the election will automatically come into consideration as a possible presidential candidate, and certainly for higher national posts such as Premier.

Also apropro: Timothy Rich: Can the KMT rebuild itself?
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

KMTers still distancing themselves from the KMT

Newly opened office of a KMT politician in Fengyuan. But... where is the familiar KMT logo?

Yup. Buried at the bottom of the sign. And of course the big characters at the top above "Forward Together" say "Taiwan". Next to the KMT logo is his title "Legislator" and name. But nothing on the sign except the blue color and the tiny non-standard KMT logo signal his party affiliation.
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The Political Ecology of Land Subsidence: A Solar Energy Farm

Farms in Tainan

I found The Political Ecology of Land Subsidence: A Case Study of the Solar Energy-Farming Scheme, Pingtung County, Taiwan by Shew-Jiuan Su, which is Chapter 7 in the book Geomorphology and Society (Eds. Meadows and.Lin, Springer, 2016).

In 2009 typhoon Morakot absolutely wrecked southern Taiwan, flooding low-lying areas and sweeping away infrastructure. The governments both central and local put in place new policies to address some of the water issues, though the basic understanding that the construction-industrial state could wreck Taiwan continues. This article is about a solar energy project in Pingtung...
The solar energy-farming scheme, initiated by the Pingtung County government in 2009 following the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot, is an illuminating case study in this regard. The scheme was established to convert low-lying land used for aquaculture into solar energy plants. The plan was not only expected to provide economic opportunities for the locals but also to prevent land subsidence.

Some interesting tidbits...
Both political economy and political ecology are crucial for understanding water pumping and
land subsidence. For example, in the late 1960s when the capital city of Taipei encountered land subsidence, investigations pointed to over-extraction of groundwater as the major cause. Discouraging water pumping and providing piped water thus became a priority during the 1970s–1980s. Only after 1987, when the Fei-tsui Dam was established to serve the Taipei metropolis, was groundwater pumping greatly reduced. The success in preventing Taipei land subsidence was partly due to abundant precipitation and the fact that regional geology and geomorphology facilitate the efficient infiltration of meteoric water into rock fissures.
At present Changhua (southwest coast), Yunlin (coast) and Pingtung (Linbian and Jiadong townships) are areas of Taiwan with severe land subsidence, though it affects much of the coastal plain. Along the south coast water withdrawn for aquaculture is a major cause of land subsidence, as southern Taiwan exports water in the form of fish to the rest of Taiwan, Japan, and elsewhere. The author offers some historical background on water rights...
Prior to the modern era of Taiwan, the Japanese colonial government exploited the country for its agricultural produce, in particular rice and sugar cane. Access to water at this time was strictly controlled by a highly organized and efficient bureaucracy (Tu 1993; Higashi 1944). The Society of Water Utility for Agricultural Fields, as it was then known, was the principal authority in this respect. Following the establishment of the republic in 1949, the bureaucratic system was retained, although the responsible authority was renamed as the Department of Irrigation and Engineering. The Department assumed all the water rights established by the colonial government and, because agriculture was the most important economic activity, the Department was very powerful and even influenced election outcomes. Even today, provision of water rights in most rural areas are controlled by this authority (Lin 1998).
The article points out that Taiwan's water policies have been driven by the Developmentalist State mentality. Although water rights were ostensibly about supporting agriculture, pumping became common for industrial uses and industry has had top priority for water in Taiwan. The result?
Nevertheless, when land subsidence was diagnosed as a consequence of groundwater pumping in the 1970s, it was politically conceptualized to be the result of pumping by agriculture and individual households. The misconception that agriculture is responsible for the heavy utilization of valuable water remains apparent today.
The state encouraged aquaculture and developed industrial districts in coastal regions, especially with the emergence of deep water wells that are draining freshwater aquifers at alarming rates. The footnotes contain gems:
Electricity is required to enable groundwater to be pumped from these individual wells. Thus the well owners have to apply for a utility permit and the installation needs to be done by the utility company on site. However, the utility company has no cause to investigate what the electricity is used for and whether or not the applicant has the right to extract groundwater. So-called “illegal pumping” has thus becomes prevalent, while well owners claim they are acting within the law because they pay the electricity bills.

Findings have indicated that primary and middle schools along the high-speed rail track may be held partially responsible for land subsidence. This points to the Ministry of Education’s olicy that encourages schools to obtain water via wells, rather than tap water, in order to become ‘green campuses’. Unfortunately most schools dug deep wells that inadvertantly contributed to the problem of land subsidence.
Why did the aquaculture industry become so dominant in Pingtung?
As a result of the high water table, abundant underground water and artesian wells, the percentage of tap water provision has always been relatively low in Pingtung County. Less than 50% of households in Pingtung are connected to a direct tap water supply provided by the utility company (Table 7.1). This again points to the lack of properly implemented water rights here, since the national average is 92 %. The low rate of water provision in Pingtung County has historical, economic, political and even ecological roots. First of all, the once state-owned utility company neglected to provide the necessary pipe infrastructure for Pingtung and so the county people developed their own water pumping system. Even to this day, the elected county government would debate whether direct water provision should be regarded as a priority and much of the population prefers to use spring water or groundwater that they consider to be of better quality than purified tap water.
The article covers the issues of the solar farm, but the project is still in its experimental state and the results are not in yet. Nevertheless, it does give a useful view of Why Things Are The Way They Are.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Nelson Report on China/Taiwan/US in wake of Tsai's visit to Houston

Couple selfies at the broken railroad viaduct in Miaoli

The Nelson Report with some of the debate over what Trump means for Tsai and Taiwan. Some of these commentators, like Bob Manning, appear to be getting their Taiwan information from China/KMT sources and are wrong about Tsai but dead right on the way many of us see the coming series of hegemonic wars in Asia as inevitable  Others are quite sharp... like Richard Bush's and Mike Fonte's and Michael Swaine. Click on READ MORE to read....

I've removed non-Taiwan/China stuff and newspaper articles.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

KMT Chairmanship, China relations in the news...

Unloading a giant water tank as fields are burnt off in the background.

This week, with pro-China gangsters and thugs attacking Joshua Wong and other Hong Kong democracy activists arriving in Taiwan, a former Vice Chair of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) was being interviewed in a Chinese paper. saying that the chaos in the KMT was destabilizing cross-strait relations... (Taipei Times):
Regarding Taiwanese politics, Wang said there no longer exists a force within Taiwan that could counterbalance the pro-Taiwan independence faction, adding that the only such force now lay in China.

The KMT has lost its status as one of the nation’s major political parties, and the factions favoring unification are now scattered, leaving the DPP the sole party in power, Wang said.


Economic sanctions against Taiwan would damage the interests of ordinary Taiwanese, Wang said, adding that Beijing should not seek to use the economy as leverage, but should instead seek to protect it.

Otherwise, China would continue to be unpopular in Taiwan, Wang said.
Interesting how first, he dismisses the KMT and says from now on China will be the principal force against Taiwan democracy. His claim that China won't punish Taiwan "economically" and protect it is of course absurd -- China is currently stealing Taiwan tech and enticing talented and skilled individuals from Taiwan to milk their knowledge and then send them home. China won't punish Taiwan economically because it would disrupt these processes.

Also interesting is that he concedes China is disliked in Taiwan.

China's refusal to talk to the DPP has, as I have noted before, placed it in a bind. The KMT is too weak at the moment, and it appears Chinese officials believe it is too weak to be of use. This means that China will have to, at some point, start talking to the DPP, probably while maintaining a verbose facade of toughness and benevolence for its home audiences.

Meanwhile lots going in the KMT. KMT Chief Deputy Chairman Steve Chan quit this week -- he was an important link to the southern/Taiwanese factions of the KMT, Solidaritytw observed on Twitter. It's that much less cement connecting the party with its factional networks in the hinterland. UPDATE: See comment on Chan below

Hau Long-bin, the former mayor of Taipei and KMT vice chairman, threw his hat in the ring for the Chairmanship election, but said if elected Chairman in 2017 he would not run for president in 2020. Of course, if he wants to run, he will arrange one of those bog-standard scenes of KMT politicians: "My followers are begging me, so I must reluctantly run for President." He also promised to make the legislative caucus head a KMT Vice Chair. Solidaritytw tweeted that it would be a big change...

Typical of Taiwan, he announced his Chairmanship candidacy on Facebook (Taiwan News), saying that he respected Hung but... (Taipei Times):
However, he has “been witnessing a party that is going downward; no matter how many mistakes the ruling Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] has made, the KMT, with the exception of its caucus, seems to have become an outsider [in the political realm],” Hau wrote.
Heavyweight Wu Den-yih is holding a press conference Monday morning and will likely announce his candidacy. Readers may recall that in the run-up to the 2016 election Wu, a Taiwanese closely linked to the inner circle of KMT mainlanders, said that a fortune teller had predicted that he would be president and his wife the first lady. Obvious presidential ambitions there....

Solidaritytw reminded on Twitter that the KMT Chairmanship election rules (the KMT has rules?) call for a run-off election if no candidate gets 50% of the vote. Is this some strategy by the party elders to attempt to split the Deep Blue Old Soldier vote by offering them the son of Old Soldier idol Hau Pei-tsun as a candidate and hoping he gets more than Hung does, to force a run-off in which she finishes third? Then the run-off would be Hau vs Wu, a win either way for the mainlander elites.

But Hung has control of a large chunk of the Party machinery, and she has the backing of the Old Soldiers -- her father was not a KMT elite. To my mind she remains the frontrunner.

Want a glimpse into the KMT bubble world? Just read this piece from the Taipei Times on what went on at a conference organized by a Blue youth org....
“That the KMT still suffered electoral defeats after having followed the ‘Taiwanese nationalist party’ direction suggests it is a dead end,” Pang said, adding the KMT’s future would be dire if it continues to cling to the naive idea that being a Taiwan-centric party would help it gain the support of swing voters.
Yes, that's right. The KMT has been following a 'Taiwanese nationalist party' direction. Missed that, didn't you?

Note also their support for the 1992C with different interpretations. KMT advocacy for the "different interpretations" claim -- which Beijing has never supported -- is important. Under that rubric, the ROC has a kind of continued existence as one of the interpretations of China, with Beijing's (imagined) acceptance. That is why Hung's "one interpretation" was so ominous and strange -- it threatens that arrangement. Indeed, it almost reduces 'China' to the PRC -- though I expect she means that only the ROC is 'China'.

If Tsai comes up with some other formula and the CCP wants to talk, what happens to the "two intepretations" then? And the KMT's clinging to the faux 1992 Consensus?
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Friday, January 06, 2017

Taiwan News #7: Taiwan's Untapped tourism potential + tons of links

Probably want to throw that stuff back....

Taiwan News #7: Taiwan has a banner year in Tourism, with many to come
The wonderful thing about this steady growth, in addition to making a mockery of Beijing's churlish tourism policies, is that Taiwan still possesses tremendous untapped potential for various forms of adventure tourism: paragliding, diving, surfing, cycling, climbing and hiking. At present all of these sports are still in their infancy. In many cases there are informal networks or small firms that bring people over. While many local communities are attempting to tap into local tourist demand for weekend experiences in aboriginal villages like Chimei or Smangus, the government does not seem to realize how marketable such places are to the westerners who have money and crave experience travel.
Sure wish the government would grasp the potential for Taiwan tourism...
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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Me in the Diplomat: Taiwan's Terrible Tourism Year and Other Media Fables

The Diplomat was kind enough to run a piece by me: Taiwan's Anno Horribilis in The Diplomat
The constant use of terms like “lucrative” or “suffering” to describe the effects of Chinese tourism in Taiwan highlights their key political role: Chinese tourists are aimed squarely at local Taiwan politics and at the international media. By sending in flows of tourists Beijing builds local patronage networks. They also offer Beijing a way to generate and then manage foreign media reporting through “goodwill” or “tensions” as needed, which costs Beijing nothing (outbound tourism is an import and cutting it helps Beijing’s trade numbers) yet has little real effect on Taiwan. When cut off, its patrons in Taiwan can be expected to scream loudly, and be heard in the dutifully unskeptical international media. Beijing’s tourism taps may not be an economic success, but they make effective political theater.
If the international media hadn't fallen dutifully into line with Beijing's intent in reporting on the protests without reporting on their political context, perhaps my taxpayer dollars wouldn't be going to subsidize these businesses which had cynically invested in Beijing's tourist flows...
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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New Bloom's Brian H in WaPo on the Taiwan Identity

Ants and the bugs they live with

Great, great piece in WaPo on the Taiwan identity and what Taiwanese want, from four very cool people. Not only does it correctly define US policy, it lays out in great detail what's going on...
What’s more, ROC residents increasingly identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. That identity has changed significantly since the island became a democracy in the 1990s. In 1991, ROC and PRC representatives met with one another for the first time since the 1949 civil war. At that point, about one-fourth of Taiwan’s residents identified themselves exclusively as “Chinese”; 17.6 percent as exclusively “Taiwanese”; and nearly half said both Chinese and Taiwanese.
I've commented on these polls before... things have not changed significantly. In fact the majority always identified as Taiwanese, and did so when they trusted the people who they were dealing with. There is immense evidence on this: Fairbanks' 1957 Atlantic piece observes that most people in Taiwan wanted to be independent of China. Douglas Mendel's The Politics of Formosan Nationalism, which is based on work he did in the 1960s in Taiwan. A Pail of Oysters. Albert Axelbank's 1963 piece in Harpers:
If a poll were taken now to determine what status Formosans want for their island, I am sure that at least a two-thirds majority would favor independence.
...and of course, a large literature from the Taiwanese themselves in the form of magazine articles and books from the 1950s through the 1980s. The evidence is there: the Taiwanese always thought of themselves as Taiwanese.

There was a shift, but it was not an identity shift. [The following is adapted from a previous post]. The reason polls from the early 1990s show a strong proportion of "Chinese" is because the old Taiwanese identity had learned long before to lie to the State and how to safely discuss their identity. With democratization, people started telling the truth to pollsters. Let me use Frank Muyard's compilation of polls...

The 1989 numbers are from a UDN poll, which appears maybe to have flipped the dual identity/Chinese columns, but the high number is indicative -- nobody was sure they could speak out about their Taiwan identity in safety. In 1989 Lee Teng-hui and diehard mainlander rightiest Hau Pei-tsun were still tussling for control of the KMT and the government. The non-mainstream (rightist) faction lost key struggles within the Party and in 1993 many exited to form the New Party. Observe that in the numbers collected by Muyard the Chinese identity collapses quickly -- between 1992 (recall that there was still a national security law under which dissidents were kept in jail) and 1996 it falls by a third and by 2000 has completely disappeared except among old mainlanders. People don't give up complex nationalist social identities within a single short decade. The shift occurred because people lied to pollsters and then stopped lying. Another sign of that is the fall in the "no response" answer... people felt safe in giving responses.

The "dual" identity remains relatively stable, testimony not to some confusion about identity but to the many meanings of the term "Chinese". Polls do not ask people to define "hua ren" or "Chunghua mintzu" as they relate to themselves, probably deliberately, to avoid providing evidence that "We're Chinese" for Taiwanese means something like what "We're Europeans" or "We're Westerners" means for Frenchmen. Muyard points out, however, that over time, when you give those polled the choice of "Taiwanese" or "Chinese", the number who choose "Taiwanese" has rising past 70%.

The WaPo piece is great, and the writers are correct to use surveys, but I think it is wrong to speak in terms of an identity shift, though they played it safe. Rather, as people began to believe that democracy would be durable, they began "coming out" as Taiwanese.
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Taiwan Sentinel is up and running

It's out! Taiwan Sentinel, run by the redoubtable J Michael Cole, is up and running. This promises to be a site much like Thinking Taiwan, with great commentary. Cole has funds to pay for content, so hope to see you all contribute. Really looking forward to it.

First pieces: William Stanton on Trump, China, and Taiwan, Peter Enav on Trump and Taiwan, and Tim Rich on Taiwan's Diplomatic Options. Oh, and this great piece on the KMT and the 1992C.
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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Universities Severely pinched... + Links

The KMT news organ reported....
According to statistics released Thursday by the Ministry of Education (MOE), in terms of registration rates for undergraduate programs, 17 universities across the nation saw less than a 60 percent enrollment rate, among which Nan Jeon University of Science and Technology (南榮科技大學) was the worst, with an 18.74 percent enrollment rate. Moreover, several universities and colleges in Taiwan failed to enroll any student in some of their doctoral programs for the 2016-2017 academic year.


The statistics also showed zero enrollments in 151 departments and graduate programs at universities and technical and vocational colleges, most of which were master and doctoral programs, including 64 public and 87 private institutions. Among them, National Taiwan University (NTU), the top university in Taiwan, had the most doctoral programs with zero enrollments, including theater and drama, anthropology, sociology, social work, ecology, art history, evolutionary biology and translational medicine.
According to the Taipei Times, 60 universities are slated to be closed, meaning that 12,000 instructors will be out of a job, out of 48,000 in the system.

The massive subsidies of the Lee and Chen Administration to universities had two effects. First, they encouraged the vocational schools to "upgrade" to universities, destroying the vocational universities, an incredibly useful source entrepreneurs, and they encouraged proliferation of universities. Many construction companies opened universities to farm the subsidy system -- if a university reached a certain minimum number of students and certain facility minimums such as a library with X number of volumes and a running track, then it received subsidies. The university would contract with the construction company to build its buildings, providing a flow of money... Over a decade ago the government started to mandate expansion of PhD programs throughout Taiwan -- the university I was at in central Taiwan received orders to accept 20 PhD students even though we did not have the professors to teach them.Then came the rotating subsidy...
As this year marks the end of the “Race to the Top Universities” program, which saw the government issue NT$50 billion (US$1.55 billion) in subsidies to a dozen select universities since 2011, a group of doctors hired for the program could be the first to lose their jobs, Taiwan Higher Education Union secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) said.
This was rotated around many universities, leading to the hiring of faculty to teach contract classes. More hiring, more expansion. All this is ended....

The smell of desperation is thick in the air: already there is a huge pool of part-timers whom universities are using to source classes, just as in the US. They will work for crappy pay, worse than a cram school, and universities will increasingly turn to them. With the job market shriveling and universities dying, grad students are going overseas or entering programs in materials, engineering, electronics, and similar. Humanities are widely perceived as a swift road to unemployment... Taiwan overproduces PhDs as people pursue the status of having a PhD, and avoid the job market.
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Taiwan News #6 and more on the KMT!

Anime drawing of KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu posted to her Facebook page. It says "Chu-chu" (a cute diminutive form of her name) will not lead the KMT to "New Partyization". We have to let the members of the New Party and the People's First Party will come back to the KMT, it says.

My latest for Taiwan News...
Supporting Yang was Sufin Siliko (Liao Kuo-tung,廖國棟), the KMT's legislative caucus whip, an Amis aborigine, who called on Hung to step down for being a chairperson who "brazenly violates the party's internal rules." Liao warned that if the party did not follow its rules, there would be a civil war within the KMT.
This week the news of the KMT's internal struggle has come out in the open. That piece I wrote on Wednesday night. It details the pushback and eventual compromise over Hung's moving the election date and her attempt to flood the party vote with the Old Soldiers who support her. Hau Long-bin, the former mayor of Taipei, and Wu Den-yi, the former vice-president, leagued against her. Consider Sufin Siliko's criticisms, enumerated in a piece in TT warning that the KMT could split if Hung wins again:
  • Sufin said no party member, including KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bing (郝龍斌) and former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), ...dares to openly challenge the veterans’ branch.
  • senior party members and businesspeople have come to him expressing concerns that the KMT might create a new party
  • the party shouldn't move to the right, but "...the 100-year-old KMT needs to stand in the center in order to be the ruling party again,” he said.
  • “We the caucus want to get out of the quagmire [of ill-gotten party assets] as soon as possible, and uphold that the party assets except those required for personnel expenditure have been dealt with,” he said.
  • “The caucus wishes to maintain the [so-called] 1992 consensus, which says ‘one China, different interpretations,’ while the headquarters wants ‘one China, same interpretation,’” he said.
The latter three are things that many of us on the outside, and many more moderate types within the KMT, all realize must be done if the KMT is to survive...

Liao was also calling for younger leadership, according to the KMT news organ... and trying to get Wu Den-yih to run for head of the party....
When asked by media, Liao stated that many KMT legislators, including himself, had urged Wu Den-yih to run for the KMT chairmanship, but Wu was not forthcoming with a response.

Liao stated, “More and more people within the KMT caucus have expressed the hope that the KMT could choose a young leader. Johnny Chiang is a popular candidate. A young leader will give the KMT a new image and bring more opportunities. However, the question is how to convince elders within the party that it is important for them to pass the baton to the younger generation.”
The current struggle will likely result in a leader from the older generation...

Hung is far to the right of center even in her own party. This week she spoke to university students and was the hero of the Chinese exchange students... and called for political negotiations...
“The reality is [Beijing] believes its sovereignty claim covers Taiwan, and Taiwan vice versa, so the sovereignty claims of the two sides actually overlap,” she said, calling for mutual recognition of governance and a step forward toward political negotiations rather than restricting cross-strait talks to economy-related matters.
This is an extreme position, not supported in Taiwan's society at large, and not supported in her own party. Apparently she learned nothing from her presidential run.

Will the KMT split? Probably not. The obvious split is between the rightist mainlanders and the moderate mainlanders + Taiwanese. The former unofficial leader of the Taiwanese KMT legislators, longtime legislator Wang Jin-pyng, is basically powerless. He will not lead a Taiwanese revolt. Wu Den-yih, probably the highest ranking Taiwanese, is a servant of the mainlander elites and will never revolt. Who else would lead a split? A putsch against Hung is far more likely, but as long as she keeps the Old Soldiers in her pocket, she's powerful.
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Monday, December 26, 2016

Cosplay Nazis. Yeah, sure. It's not only that. =UPDATED=

Thanks, China. You're even occupying our air.

UPDATE: Kerim Friedman has some very useful commentary on this incident. Also, re the MC's comments on the Wushe cosplay incident below, a Keen Observer pointed out to me that it might have simply been shouted out in the heat of the moment. I haven't commented more because I don't feel I have a clear understanding of why Nazi kitsch is so popular here.

Everyone is now aware of the totally tasteless and stupid cosplay event in which students from a high school in Hsinchu dressed up as Nazis (report in Chinese). The Jewish Center in Taiwan has issued a statement on it.

The internet is full of sudden expertise in the matter of power fetishes, costume displays, Nazism, ethics, and so on. Old incidents are being brought back to light. I am not going to rehash that here, it's been beaten to death. But my man Drew Kerslake alerted me that this is not the first time the school has been involved in a crypto-fascist cosplay. Ltn reports that on that same day of school celebration another year....:
...had another cosplay, of the Wushe Incident, whose Master of Ceremonies shouted "Fight the Japanese Devils, Restore our Chinese people!"
光復, the name of the school, is the KMT code term for the "restoration" of Taiwan, so the mention of it would immediately suggest that to the listeners, and would align and subsume the aboriginal revolt against the Japanese colonial people with the ROC and its imperial expansion. Note how the speaker even turns the aborigines into "Chinese".

There's a problem here.
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Taiwan News Number 5: KMT Chair election

A woman feeds stray dogs.

This week my piece was on the KMT's Chairmanship election, which has been moved up from Aug to May of 2107.
Potential rivals are few, and all are wounded. The "princelings," the children of KMT elites, lack appeal. Eric Chu, the current Mayor of New Taipei City, the one municipality still controlled by the KMT, performed poorly in the Presidential election and worse, is half-Taiwanese and thus suspect to many staunch mainlander voters. Hau Long-bin, the son of reactionary old KMT heavyweight Hau Pei-tsun and the former mayor of Taipei, lost an easy legislative election in 2016 in Keelung, long a KMT stronghold. Other names frequently mentioned include princeling Sean Lien, the son of heavyweight Lien Chan, who lacks appeal outside the deep Blues, and former Vice President Wu Den-yi, whose power base is in sparsely populated Nantou and who is Taiwanese. Except for Wu, who is a formidable politician with deep links throughout the party, none are likely to pose a great challenge to Hung.
I consider Wu more of a threat, in the sense that Huang Min-hui was a threat, because he is Taiwanese and can appeal to that large and dissatisfied wing. I have heard it was Wu who helped keep the KMT in line in the second Administration of Ma, when grumbling was widespread. Hau is also revered by the Old Soldiers since he is the son of the reactionary politician and general Hau Pei-tsun. But that loss in Keelung really hurt him.

After I wrote this and sent it in, Hau came out against the recent moves to change the position of the Old Soldiers in the party, indicating he is probably courting their votes. Perhaps he will run in May. If the Old Soldier votes, which determine the outcome, are split, then someone like Wu may have a chance. But in the end I still expect Hung will win. Hau may be a princeling, but the Old Soldiers can see that Hung is one of them. Moreover, Hung is an authoritarian ideologue and more KMT than the KMT, while Hau had to govern in the real world and lacks those qualities... UPDATE: Hau and Wu are leagued against Hung.

KMT-sympathetic news orgs were reporting that Ma was considering a run too. Still no new blood...

2020? Whoever becomes Chairman is automatically the next presidential candidate. I doubt the KMT will become wise enough to separate the two; the DPP certainly hasn't. Want to know who the next KMT candidates will be? Watch who makes pilgrimages to China to receive the blessing of the CCP...
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