May 09, 2007
Taiwan's boxing ring


If this happened on the street, people would be charged with assualt. But in Taiwan's parliament, it's all ok...

Rival lawmakers exchanged punches, climbed on each other's shoulders and jostled violently for position around the speaker's dais Tuesday, as Taiwan's legislature dissolved into chaos over an electoral reform bill...
And some interesting characters were involved:
One of the main protagonists was Yen Ching-piao, a KMT-aligned independent lawmaker who has been convicted of corruption, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice, but is free pending an appeal.

Yen, a short, squat man with owlish eyes and the piercing look of a mafia godfather used his large physical presence to try to create a corridor to Wang, but to no avail.

During the melee a small group of police stood by without intervening.

Man, imagine how much interest there would be in Legco if they did this kind of thing.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:41
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March 01, 2006
Infernal internal affairs

With all the fuss over Taiwan's defunct National (Non)-Reunification Council, Fumier spots a massive shift in China's position on Taiwan's status.

On a completely unrelated note, a look at the state of HK street food. There's not one mention of H5N1.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 10:06
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February 08, 2006
Chen's Desperate Gamble

An excellent article by former Princeton professor and now director of the China program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, reprinted in the Korea Herald.

It analyzes how Chen has basically gone from hero to zero in a two-year period, and how instead of being chastened by lack of support for his independence agenda, he is attempting to ratchet up tension further, to the displeasure of Washington, China and, it seems, a significant portion of the voting public.

Pei suggests three reasons for the failure of Chen's once seemingly unstoppable momentum:

Broadly speaking, three seismic changes since President Chen's re-election victory two years ago have greatly altered the short- to medium-term political landscape both in Taiwan and across the Taiwan Strait.

First, alarmed by Chen's thinly disguised ploy to seek de jure independence through the passage of a new Constitution enacted by a plebiscite, Taiwan's voters decided to end the President's gambit by refusing to give the DPP a majority in the island's legislative chamber (a condition which would be necessary to give a new Constitution any realistic chance of passage) in the watershed election of December 2004....

Second, China's new leadership adjusted its Taiwan policy in two dramatic directions. On the one hand, Beijing's new leaders concluded that they must make their threat of military action credible. Consequently, the mainland accelerated military preparations for a conflict with Taiwan in light of Chen's vow to pass a new Constitution.

Chinese leaders also set in motion a legislative process to obtain pre-authorization for the use of force - which culminated in the passage of an "anti-secession law" in March last year.

On the other hand, China's President Hu Jintao coupled the threat of the use of force with a charm offensive, inviting the leaders of Taiwan's main opposition parties to visit the mainland and offering a package of economic benefits and goodwill gestures (a pair of pandas) to Taiwan...

Third, President George W. Bush, perhaps the most pro-Taiwan American president in history, re-adjusted his policy in late 2004. Although the Bush administration approved the largest arms package for sale to Taiwan in 2001 and substantially upgraded ties with Taiwan in the past five years, Washington was greatly alarmed by Chen's apparent strategy of taking advantage of U.S. support and seeking a dangerous confrontation with mainland China.

Read the full article with the link up top.

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[boomerang] Posted by HK Dave at 23:37
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» China Law Blog links with: China Through Rose Colored Glasses, Darkly

December 08, 2005
Democracy and Credit Cards

Last night I had dinner with a well-known fund manager who expressed his disgust at Taiwan's parliament. Various politicians had apparently proposed a measure that would limit the spread between credit card interest rates and savings accounts to 10%. It was a populist move that the politicians had independently arrived at, irresponsibly thinking that while it would score them some points with the public, it would never actually pass. The responsible thing would have been for them to let the banks determine their own credit card APRs according to the dictates of the market. The banks of Taiwan are rather sluggish entities whose credit card businesses are their only real source of profitability.

But of course, it looks as though it will pass now, because so many politicians had already committed themselves to it. Given Taiwan's hollowing-out to China, this move to hamstring the banks, supposedly in favor of the public, will do little to improve the domestic economy (except punish delinquent payers less). My interlocutor used this opportunity to compare the stupidity of Taiwan's lawmakers with the wisdom of Beijing's technocrats, and posited that democracy has often failed [his own] Chinese race.

I found this conclusion appalling and intriguing in equal parts, and so we had a heated debate on the subject. We were able to agree that democracy can often produce inferior candidates to a benign autocracy, but that the trouble lay in when an autocracy picked a bad leader. And while China has been on a fairly good run for the last couple of decades (with some notable exceptional issues) I pointed out that the 180 years before that China had a very poor run indeed. Where do you stand?

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[boomerang] Posted by HK Dave at 11:45
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» Credit News Blog links with: Credit Repair: Loans Available Now For Some

October 16, 2005

If Michael Turton is right, and the Bush administration is either willfully ignorant of Taiwanese domestic developments or just trapped between Beijing and Taipei, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's trip to Taiwan is doomed to failure.

Recall further that the weapons package is one of a score of bills that needs passing, all stalled by the pan-blues. The US needs more than just an armed Taiwan; it needs a well-run government with a stable economy if Taiwan is to support the US policy of containing China. Any US response to the arms package should also focus on the fact that it is just one aspect, albeit the most public, of a multi-pronged campaign by the two pro-China parties to bring the nation's government to a halt. Effective governance, after all, furthers Taiwan's autonomy.

Turton's advice to "thump KMT and PFP heads" might not be Rumsfeld's intent, if this skittish, unnamed Defense official is any indication:

On the roadblocks in the Legislative Yuan to passage of the arms sales funding, the defense official, who briefed on the condition that he not be named, denied that Washington was trying to "force" Taiwan to fund the sale.

"It isn't our obligation [under the Taiwan Relations Act] to force anything on Taiwan," he said.

The decision is up to the Taiwan people, the official said. "So we are not attempting to interfere, as we are so often accused. We're simply saying that however it is budgeted, this is an issue for the people of Taiwan. If the people of Taiwan decide not to budget for it, then that's their business," he said.

Admiral William Fallon, US Pacific Commander, seems to be towing the party line, too. if this is all for Beijing's benefit, it's unlikely to persuade the KMT and PFP to play ball.

Another problem is the fast-approaching APEC summit in November. The government and opposition do seem to have agreed upon a representative. Finally, there is the issue of the cross-strait peace advancement bill.

Meanwhile, Canada is angry about Beijing's "bullying" over bill C-357, The Taiwan Affairs Act. Handling Taiwanese relations, with all these side-plays and domestic distractions, isn't a job for the military. Sending Rumsfeld just doesn't seem to be the right US cabinet official to send.

Cross-Posted at Barbarian Envoy

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[boomerang] Posted by Infidel at 17:34
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October 10, 2005
Avoiding Armageddon

Michael Turton and David Thailand both report on Paul Monk's controversial suggestions on China-Taiwan relations. On the surface, Monk's argument doesn't seem worth noticing, until one gets past the safe rhetoric to the bottom of the transcripts and editorials. At first, Monk reads like a good realist, with his talk of calculating costs of war and maintaining balance. It's when he talks about doing politics like economics, that I had to clear my throat. There's no intuitively suspect notion, then the realist pipedream, that power is calculable. It doesn't always work in economics, either, but politics is never tidy.

Until Monk goes back to 1912:

The pivotal moment in China's modern history was not October 1949, when Mao established a dictatorship that was to bring suffering and death on a staggering scale to China and keep it impoverished for a generation. It was in December 1912, when national legislative elections were held in China for the first and, so far, the only time. Forty million people voted and they elected 596 representatives, of whom only 269 belonged to the Guomindang, Sun Yat-sen's party. (There was no Communist Party at that point, of course, and it has never subjected its mandate to a popular vote.)

From this point, it's possible to talk about the real problem in Sino-Taiwan relations, or why Beijing needs to have Taiwan. By defanging the dragon, the threat to Taiwan is neutralized while the mainland is consumed in its own political problems. But, Monk then puts his realist-cum-government hat back on, and starts talking like a very Australian realist:

Well Australia is an unusual country. Australia has very good access in the, let's say, the culturally and geo-politically dominant Anglo-American part of the global economy and the sort of geo-strategic environment. So we're an advanced English-speaking country with very good access in Washington, better than ever now, and we're a major trading partner of China. We're an unusual country in the Asian region. We're the oldest democracy in the Asian region. And we're non-threatening because we're not a major power with military ambitions, despite the paranoia of some people in Indonesia from time to time. So there are very good reasons why thoughtful people in China might think we can sound out ideas in Australia.

II seriously doubt a foreign country can convince the Chinese Communist party to cede control, to downgrade the 1949 revolution, or to give Taiwan any share in the historical credit for China's world role. Monk wants to compare Britain to China, and Australia (or Hong Kong) to Taiwan, to set a precedent for a peaceful devolution of power. But, like Britain and America, China and Taiwan are part of an international contest between China and Japan, as the Anglo-French wars of the 17th-19th Centuries gave the American colonists a chance to break from London. In this sense, Australia's courtship with Beijing doesn't make sense, because Australia would lose economically if it had to choose between Japan and China. Monk's vision of Australia's mission to reform China is the most ridiculous part of his re-think.

Rethinking realism is a good part, but only if Monk realizes that the zero-sum game Beijing sees is not related to economics, but to Taiwan's place as a pawn in its contest with Japan. Australia does have an interest in delaying armageddon, so it can keep getting rich off both antagonists for as long as possible. Tokyo and Japan will have to come to the end of that path by themselves, and no country that didn't have to bleed for its independence will convince the two blood enemies to put down swords.

Cross-Posted at Barbarian Envoy

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[boomerang] Posted by Infidel at 20:05
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October 04, 2005
Yu Maochun on Taiwan

Dr. Yu Maochun is professor of history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He just gave a talk titled "Will China Attack Taiwan? Calculating the risk for war."

Luckily Mad Minerva went along and took copious notes, which you'll find at the above link. As a teaser, here are the six factors to consider:

1. Historical Pattern: China’s historical propensity to use force to solve geopolitical problems.
2. China’s New Security Agenda
3. High-Level Power Struggles Within Chinese Government Elite
4. Cross-Strait Economic Engagement
5. Taiwanese Democracy
6. The United States
There are some great snippets within the notes themselves, and MM has a constructive conclusion on the talk. Well worth a read.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 13:16
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