Is Dissent Against Party Leadership Rising Amongst KMT Legislators?
Usually my answer to this question is a resolute no. Until I see a majority of KMT legislators collected outside the Legislative Yuan and burning effigies of Premier Jiang and President Ma then I will forever remain skeptical of reports of cracks, fissures, revolts, schisms, and divisions in the KMT.
That said, two reports in the Taipei Times today, here and here, did highlight some unusually blunt language. Of course the Taipei Times is very happy to publicise anything that smacks of bad news for the KMT, as the China Post is in relation to the DPP, but one can wonder whether some KMT legislators are calculating that distancing themselves from the party leadership might help their re-election prospects in 2016, especially if they find themselves in a district that votes DPP for the seven-in-one elections. Here are some choice cuts …
KMT Legislator Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛) said the distribution of the benefits of the service pact touted by the government does not favor the general public.
“The administration keeps saying that there are more upsides than downsides, but all the public can see is the benefits being raked in by big enterprises,” he said.
KMT Legislator Lin Kuo-cheng (林國正) … said “the growth in real wages has halted and even been reversed,” Lin said, adding that this was what had driven the student protest movement. [sic]
“President Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] and the government are still trapped by the myth of GDP growth when the young are suffering, unlike their counterparts in other Asian tigers, from stagnant wage growth and an inability to buy their own houses,
Separately yesterday, KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) also voiced a view not in sync with the party line. He said he needs to be responsible for the safety of his constituency in Gongliao District and that of the Taiwanese nation as a whole.
Saying that “nobody believes in the [government’s] safety check of the plant anymore” and that a huge amount of money has been spent on the construction of the plant, and a lot more is to be spent on its operation and the subsequent nuclear-waste disposal, he urged that the funding be reallocated for the development of renewable and alternative energy.
"Politicized Chinese flags blanket two Taipei streets"
Much as this article was disturbing for bringing to light attempts by some Taiwanese to actively and publicly (but anonymously) shill for the annexation of Taiwan into China (acts that would have been punishable in Taiwan by death 50 years, torture & interrogation 40 years ago, and prison time 30 years ago) I am bugged by the awful headline. A national flag is the ultimate political symbol. It cannot be more politicized than it already is. What the TT editor wanted to refer to was the message inscribed on the flags (hua du jian tong (化獨漸統), which means “Turn [Taiwanese] independence into gradual unification [with China].”) but merely ended up with a hot mess. Perhaps they should have gone with “Annexationist Chinese Flags blanket two taipei Streets” or ”PRC Sympathisers blanket two Taipei streets with Chinese flags” instead.
What is more interesting here is that pro-PRC Taiwanese(?) citizens are resorting to unilateral acts of self annexation perhaps to create imagery for PR purposes. I’ll bet some of the pictures of the flags on the streets ended up on Chinese state servers and will later be used for propaganda to give the impression Taiwanese support ‘reunification’. Notable also is that this happened in the Da’an District of Taipei - a traditionally deep blue pro-China and pro-KMT legislative district. Who the women were who stealthily decided to ‘decorate’ other people’s houses with highly sensitive political statements (in the absence of any request to do so by the residents themselves) we may never know. According to the article the police don’t think it was technically illegal so I don’t expect any arrests any time soon. ’Poor’ old Chiang Kai-shek must be rolling in his mausoleum in Daxi at the sight of Taiwanese promoting the capitulation of his ROC to the implacable enemy of the CCP-run PRC.
In a written reply to a question from The Yomiuri Shimbun, Obama said:The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.
Well now. Finally the US is sending a message that China’s adventurism in the East China Seas won’t go without a response, or a cost.
Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), while giving a speech at a monthly meeting at the Presidential Office, said it was “regrettable” that Stanton apparently “does not understand” the difficulties Taiwan encounters diplomatically, despite having lived in the country for so long.
Taiwan joining the TPP is not an issue which the US alone can decide, because Beijing has a bearing on the other 11 TPP members, given that most of those countries have strong trade ties with China, Chang said.
Chang added that Taiwan would only be able to sign bilateral trade agreements or become a TPP member after it completes all the follow-on agreements of the cross-strait 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), including a service trade deal.
Reported comments of the Minister of Economics in the Taipei Times today [23/04/14].
Aside from the cheap shots at distinguished and respected Taiwan expert William Stanton, Chang’s comments to me suggest that the Government does not rue or resist China limiting the ROC’s international space as it claims, but has likely worked this ‘fact’ into its United Front strategy to shepherd the Taiwanese economy and polity towards ‘integration’ and ‘unification’. Ever since President Ma claimed a ‘diplomatic truce’ between the ROC & PRC, the PRC has made almost no effort to demonstrate that it is a willing partner to such a truce. Nevertheless, this has not prevented the Ma Administration from claiming it as a success. When it appeared that China has spoke for Taiwan on the issue of WHA membership / observership, the Ma Administration spun it as a victory of detente and brushed concerns that the UN agency had accepted Taiwan under the provision that it be called ‘Taiwan, China’. The Government claimed to protest but it appeared the protest was both cosmetic and half hearted, more designed for domestic consumption than to produce a real substantive outcome in Taiwan’s favour.
Before, we might have expected the Government to rue that Beijing might try to block Taiwan’s application and FTAs with other countries. Now we see Chang insist that China will block Taiwan’s membership into the TPP if Taiwan’s doesn’t complete the follow on agreements to the ECFA agreement. This is the first time I have seen Ma Administration officials actively work to Beijing’s agenda, and on the startlingly unproven premise that Beijing with deliver on not hampering Taiwan in this regard after it signs the CSSTA and CSTGA. What Chang is claiming is that Taiwan has come to an agreement with Beijing that essentially accepts Beijing’s blackmail - “sign these agreements or forget about trying to sign them with other countries”. Taiwan is no longer protesting Beijing’s attack on its international space, it has effectively conceded that beijing will determine the kind and depth of economic relations Taiwan can have with other countries. If Chang’s comments are accurate the Ma Administration appears to have surrendered the sovereignty of Taiwan’s international economic decision making in the hope that Beijing will throw it some crumbs from the table. That is both shocking and a matter of the gravest concern. I’m left wondering whether Chang’s title should now be changed to “Minister of Economics for Taiwan Province, China”.
Furthermore, Michael Turton at The View From Taiwan notes how Chang recently claimed that failing to ratify the CSSTA or complete signing the CSTGA has caused all other nations to suspend their trade agreement discussions with Taiwan, but, conveniently, when pressed he refused to provide any details. All this is in likely response to the US confirmation that it regards the TPP discussions as separate from the CSSTA and will not be intimidated by Beijing when making its case for Taiwan’s membership. Hence Chang’s attack on Stanton, who is a retired AIT official. It is in many ways an example of chickenshit politics and scare mongering as a way to deflect attention from the embarrassing fact that the US just completely contradicted one of the Ma Administration’s main talking points about the need to ratify the CSSTA ASAP.
In the entire public debate over the necessity for the CSSTA, over the reputed benefits of the ECFA, or the potential benefits of the CSTGA, the Ma Administration has confused and infuriated the public by talking in abstract terms, spinning figures and misrepresenting data sets, ignoring or underplaying clear threats, repeating a stock set of warnings should Taiwanese reject these economic ‘integration’ packages, and predicting a whole host of unverifiable and unlikely impacts, some of which, as with the TPP claims, have quickly been proven unfounded. Chang is Chicken Little saying the sky is going to fall down yet when pressed for evidence he can produce none. He serves a purpose only as a cat amongst timid and fearful Taiwanese pigeons who have invested in the ma Administration’s vision of economic integration as the golden egg to save an allegedly dying economy.
Negotiating With ‘Kate’
It all started to go wrong in Singapore. Attending a big trade fair, my boss sought out a German vendor with whom we wanted to establish a distribution partnership and ‘Kate’ was the initial contact in charge of handling our enquiry. Kate was a Chinese citizen who spoke English fluently and who was in charge of handling affairs for the company’s Hong Kong branch as well as its Chinese operations. Having come out of the back of a grilling at the hands of executives from another multinational European corporation I was feeling a little bit stressed out and tired. Within minutes of meeting Kate, it quickly dawned on me that in this particular situation, my job as a negotiator was made redundant by the fact that Kate spoke Chinese leaving me with very little to add or interpret. Kate immediately signalled her lack of need for my presence by speaking exclusively in Chinese to my boss and then, at the end of her monologue, adding a patronisingly simplified summary in English for my edification.
Kate not only went out of her way to cut me out of the discussions but, and this was a first for me in three years on the job, interspersed her disdain for me with open mockery in response to any question I had. She did this in the full knowledge that we were coming to her for a request to become their distribution partner in Taiwan. She knew that I would not want to jeopardise the negotiations and let down my boss who, as a Taiwanese, was more interested in doing business and burying any potential conflict of personality / politics in favour of establishing a good relationship. She utilised this power asymmetry to the max as she explained the products and negotiated, in a manner that was less Chinese and more just outright rude and arrogant. This wasn’t a Taiwan Vs China issue, this was Kate Vs our company and she was winning. I came away from the meeting dreading the already arranged follow up meeting at our offices in Taiwan later in the week.
The dreaded day rolled around and Kate arrived, with a senior American representative and a Taiwanese employee who officially worked out of the Hong Kong office but who spent much of her time working from home in Taiwan. As it turned out, without the plus two accompanying Kate, the events that transpired in our meeting would surely have taken a swift turn from bizarre to tragic, possibly resulting in a police investigation as to the unfortunate incident involving a visiting Chinese businesswoman mysteriously falling under a bus full of Chinese tourists.
In my experience in this job I have discussed and negotiated with a wide range of people from a wide range of countries. All business interactions have their own dynamic and culture plays a role though not as large a one as many people might imagine. If anyone tells you that the first rule of business discussions is to avoid taboo subjects such as sex, religion and politics, they are either lying or projecting a nice fantasy. I initially didn’t precisely follow this rule and felt that there was after all some truth to it but the more I censured myself the more I found my opposing number would at some point bring it into the conversation anyway. People like to know who they are dealing with and how they think. Business people are no exception and religion and politics are two of the ways they define the ‘them’ from ‘us’.
Predictably, as we began the meeting, Kate picked up pretty much were she left off in Singapore. I anticipated this would be the case and seeing as we were the hosts and I had the ‘home game’ advantage, I initially rose above it all and took the ultra-diplomatic route. I minimised my input, spoke almost exclusively in Chinese and only about relevant matters, and displayed the utmost courtesy, giving Kate as much face as I could stomach. This was made easier by the fact that whilst Kate was doing the hard sell to my boss, I could chat amiably and crack jokes with the American, who was senior in rank to her. After some basic discussions during which Kate relaxed a little and eased up on the ‘ice-maiden-breaking-my-balls’ routine, we all decamped outside for a fag break amongst the Chinese tourists waiting outside the luxury watch shop to hauled off to the next shopping destination.
Outside, Kate asked me why I was in Taiwan. I explained that this country was free, democratic, and had provided me with a great climate and numerous career, study, and business opportunities. On each point I deliberately started my explanation with ‘in this country’. I itched for some payback and I wanted to test the waters to see how far I could return some of verbal stabbing she had been serving up to me. This wasn’t lost on her but with the American by her side she wasn’t so free to use a more crude and basic form of emotional blackmail so she kept amending any stabs in my direction with caveats designed to take the tension out of her aggressive responses. I smelt blood, but the last thing I wanted to do was to lunge in all exposed and blow the whole deal. No, this was a game of a thousand cuts and to survive I had to give as good as I got but, critically, stay calm. To my delight this was driving Kate nuts.
Back inside, I turned on the politeness again when explaining that in my experience it was unusual to find myself in discussions with someone so ‘lively’ and ‘special’. This elicited a knowing laugh from the American and an admission from Kate that she was crazy. There was no contest of this statement from the other four people in the room. In fact, it seemed the American was well aware of Kate’s eccentricities and apparently found the whole thing very amusing. When I asked whether we would be accorded an exclusive distribution agreement, Kate explained that to ask a Chinese distributor such a direct question would have been deemed rude. This was an utterly redundant thing to say since she was representing a European company negotiating with a Taiwanese company in Taiwan, but it was typical of how she kept injecting a very ‘Chinese’ cultural and political tone into discussions that had nothing to do with China. By the time we got to lunch the atmosphere had eased by virtue of the fact that Kate was so over the top it had become somewhat of a joke. On the way to lunch I joked to the American that I had never had my balls so efficiently and consistently crushed in such a meeting with a potential client and that I didn’t quite know how to respond. He laughed and said I should feel free to give as good as I got.
With that green light in mind whilst checking my twitter when waiting for the food to arrive I saw a news item about Chinese tourists at the beach in Kaohsiung in their underwear and how many Taiwanese were unimpressed by such a display. Quite innocently I pulled up the picture and invited Kate to comment. Once I explained she got very defensive and although her point about Chinese learning to be ‘good’ tourists being a work in progress was utterly sound and reasonable, I nevertheless took a huge amount of immature pleasure from embarrassing belittling her, guessing correctly that underneath the ‘crazy’ image she projected would lie some barely dormant nationalist pride. When she said that her Government has so many chances to do the right thing I added ‘but they never do’. And so it went on. This was payback and it felt good. This was not about China Vs Taiwan or China Vs UK or Kate’s company vs my own. This was about Ben Vs Kate, and as she had already scored at least three own goals it afforded me the space and latitude to score a few own goals myself to level the score, without damaging our company’s prospects and I took them mercilessly. We talked of the size of the Taiwan market and Kate lamented that it was so small. I retorted that yes alas it was so small, but Singapore and Hong Kong were much smaller so I guess we should be surprised all three hadn’t vanished into thin air by now. I even added a few theatrical gestures of pulling a knife from my torso every time she verbally stabbed me back. I alternately played the pity card and attack, careful to keep my moves as swift and low profile as possible. Meanwhile the American ate, my boss looked on but lacked comprehension and the Taiwanese employee of Kate’s firm squirmed in her seat. It was my impression later that Kate was not exactly her favourite person in the world either.
At the end of the day, I was lucky enough not to have to accompany them to the airport but in a last parting gift I wished her a slow and steady journey in the Hoklo Language, something that she then needed her Taiwanese employee to translate. Ben 1 - 0 Kate. I’m not sure if we will continue to do business with this company (we are still discussing prices) but if we do I won’t dread meeting her again, and especially once we have signed the agreement. I won’t stand for being bullied or tolerate bullies, whether they are doing it on a personal level or belittling Taiwan. If you bring bad behaviour or politics to my table you better be able to out your money where your mouth is.
Jerome Keating explores similarities between the two Presidents and asks “why the silence over the shooting of Sean Lien?”
US Western Pacific Policy - Seven Suggestions For A Substantive ‘Pivot’
- The US should engage in at first three bilateral, and then trilateral discussions with Taiwan, Japan, China, on the issue of Senkaku Islands, and put forward the proposition that they be declared an International Marine Preserve that is under the sole administration of the UN and is closed to economic and human activity by any nation. These discussions would be held under the aegis of APEC or WTO membership.
- During most typhoons, Chinese ships blockading the Scarborough Shoal return home. In the last gasps of the next typhoon to pass through the area, US should send fleet to conduct a lightning occupation of the Scarborough Shoal, so as to allow Philippines Navy / Coast Guard to set up permanent outpost and prevent Chinese fishing boats, maritime patrol boats, or CCG, to return to block or occupy the shoal.
- US needs to demand that Japan and Korea come to a speedy resolution on islands they that both make claim to.
- US needs to insist that Japan make major substantive diplomatic moves and financial reparations to address historical crimes committed against Korea including ‘comfort women’, kidnapping, & crimes against humanity. Part of this should include a measure to neutralise the political and diplomatic leverage of the Yasukuni Shrine.
- US should sell Taiwan hundreds of small high-speed ‘multi-capability’ boats for Navy and Coast Guard.
- US should sail 7th Fleet through Taiwan Strait during Taiwan’s 2016 Presidential Elections as a message that it wants to see a ‘free vote’ uninfluenced by any external threat.
- US should issue a clear and unambiguous statement saying that it will neither accept, acknowledge, or recognise the legitimacy of ‘nine-dotted line’ claims to islands and waters in the South China Sea by either PRC or ROC.
The National Security Bureau (NSB) yesterday acknowledged the possibility that Chinese service sector businesses could use offices set up in Taiwan for espionage if the cross-strait service trade agreement is implemented.
Key figures in student protests questioned by prosecutors | Society | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS
Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Key figures in the recent student-led protests over the trade-in-services pact with China were questioned by prosecutors Monday over their parts in the movement.
Focus Taiwan is a part of the Central News Agency, a Taiwan Government media body.
Interestingly, Chen Lin and the other student leaders refused to interrogated by police and instead submitted themselves direct to prosecutors for questioning.