Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dick Muri - Running for WA State 9th Congressional District US Representative

After receiving my ballot a few days ago, I had the idea to once again e-mail the candidates for the 9th District (as I did for the WA State Senatorial Race) on their stance on Taiwan. Of course it seems like the incumbent (Adam Smith) is way too busy for any sort of questions from his constituents, but I did manage to get a hold of the Republican candidate, Dick Muri. In my e-mail, I asked similar things that I did in the e-mail to the senatorial candidates. Questions such as what do they know about Taiwan, what do they support in terms of China/Taiwan, etc.

Here is what he had to say:


I have always been a fan and supporter of Taiwan.  They are a nation that cherishes freedom and liberty.  That is one reason they have prospered.  Taiwan should be a member of the United Nations.  The 23 million citizens of Taiwan deserve to be represented.  I have only been to Taiwan once, that was in June of 1978.  Flew my C-141 into Taipei with a load of military hardware.  We were one of the last flights into Taiwan before those flights became restrictive.  As you next congressman, I hope to visit Taiwan!
Dick Muri
When asked if he had anything more to add, as I did let him know that I might be publishing some or all that he had to say on Taiwan on this blog, he added:

I will sponsor and vote for all bills that support Taiwan's liberty and independence.

All Americans should support freedom and liberty, it is the essence of our countries foundation and  character.


On top of that, he added that he would stop by my blog and perhaps make some comments as well!

In his second response, I pressed him about whether he would be willing to say that he would cosponsor any future bills that are in support of Taiwan's democracy and human rights. I mentioned to him how Adam Smith had not responded to me e-mailing him to cosponsor the HCR316 bill I mentioned a few weeks ago.

I believe Mr. Muri's responses to be quite standard in terms of view of Taiwan, but his one trip to Taiwan does make Taiwan more personal to him than those who haven't. On top of that, he has unofficially stated that he would sponsor/support "all bills that support Taiwan's liberty and independence."

Something interesting that I have noticed in my many contacts with fellow politicians and hopeful politicians, is that in regards to Taiwan, many have visited Taiwan. Whether it be for personal reasons, business ventures, or past military posts/stops in Taiwan, it seems like Taiwan was definitely a go-to place in Asia before official diplomatic relations ended.

As I stated in the past and will continue to do so - there are many more pressing issues at hand for us today as Americans, but that does not mean we should lose sight of potential issues that will arise in the future. For many Taiwanese-Americans, U.S. support for Taiwan is an important one, and one that I hope many of us will continue to consider in one way or another when we vote for candidates. So while I assume many voters will not vote for Muri merely because of his stance on Taiwan, I do hope that voters who are concerned about Taiwan recognize that Muri is supportive of Taiwan's liberty and independence.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Economic Integration Leads To Political Integration

I came across this article in Canadian Business Online on how some Taiwanese businessmen view Taiwan as just a stop on their way to making fortunes in China. It's a short article, but interesting to see how some Taiwanese are not shy at all about their intentions with China. That is, their intentions to fully disregard Taiwan's current political status as an independent democracy, in favor or making an extra buck or two (or three).
"Economic convergence will gradually lead to political convergence," says the straight-talking chairman of the Taiwan Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity Council. "You give the Taiwanese people enough candy and they will surrender in the end."
Huang's belief in economics as a prologue to politics is shared by many members of Taiwan's powerful business community, which provides key backing for President Ma Ying-jeou's signature policy of linking Taiwan's high tech economy to China's lucrative markets.
Since Ma took office in May 2008, Taiwan's economic connection to the mainland — already robust even under the pro-independence regime of his predecessor — has moved into high gear, spurred by this year's signing of a partial free trade agreement between the sides, and the rapid acceleration of direct flights and shipping across the 100-mile- (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait.
Huang is certainly on the same page with those in China; seeing not only that economic integration is just a means for them to bait Taiwan into political integration, but also that Ma Ying-jeou is a key player in Beijing's plans for Taiwan.

The article makes a point that is often portrayed incorrectly in that economic cooperation between Taiwan and China was already happening and increasing every year under the presidency of Chen Shui-bian. While it was at a much slower-pace, one must view the slow pace in a favorable way. As the "high gear" approach that Ma Ying-jeou has undertaken is something that has basically happened without any sort of oversight by the legislature, as well as the people of Taiwan.

Furthermore, a large part of the reason for the quick economic agreements that have taken place is due to the fact that Ma has no longer maintained Taiwan's sovereignty in negotiating with China. Whereas, during the Chen Shui-bian era, the DPP would only negotiate with China if China did not have the prerequisite of coming to the table under the agreement of the One China Policy - that is, Taiwan and China are both one country.

Another interesting thing that Huang stated was on the future of Taiwan and China:
Still, the business community is convinced that time is on the side of eventual union.
"I think it will take about ten years for a political arrangement to take place," said Huang, who believes that Ma will be re-elected in 2012 "because people will think twice" about sacrificing the benefits of their China economic connection.
Personally, I have been under the belief that the longer Taiwan and China remain separate, the harder it will be for China to bring Taiwan under their umbrella  under favorable circumstances. Perhaps even under unfavorable circumstances (by force), it may become harder as the years progress. The way I look at it is like this:

1) During the 8 years under Chen Shui-bian, Chen did a great job in cultivating a pride in Taiwan, domestically and abroad. Now with 2 years under China-leaning Ma, polls have continued to show a continual move towards favoring independence and status-quo, and a lower amount of those supporting unification. The numbers run similar for considering oneself as Taiwanese and/or Chinese. With that said, it does not make sense that even under further KMT-rule, that the people of Taiwan would revert back to pro-unification and pro-not Taiwanese thinking.

2) The result of #1 is that it inevitably affects how Ma can run the government on Taiwan (especially in terms of cross-straits policy). The problem for Ma right now is that while he wants to push his agenda with China faster and quicker, the Taiwanese are pushing back. They are doing this on the streets in protests, and at the ballots. This results in a sort of stand-still for Ma in which he can't push too far towards China without losing credibility on Taiwan.

3) Consider this as well. China is very much aware of how the relationship between Taiwan and China did not progress in their favor under the Chen administration. Any hopes of pursuing unchecked economic integration under the One China Principle was totally hopeless to them. Naturally, any hopes of pursuing political integration would be out of the question. Thus, it's reasonable to assume that China would like to continue to see their willing partner in Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, continue to remain in office through 2016. Otherwise, under another DPP administration, their efforts over the past 2 years (4 eventually) in furthering a Taiwan-China inseparable integration, will likely have gone to waste.

The only reason I can think of at this point that would allow China to have an easier time as time goes on for unification, is via force and military means. Within the next decade, China should have their aircraft carriers and other marine forces up and running - able to compete and perhaps deter the U.S. from entering into the area to protect Taiwan. We've seen many times in the past where China has backed down after the U.S. got involved in the area. If China can contain the U.S. involvement, politically as well as militarily, between Taiwan and China, then their chances of succeeding in unifying Taiwan with China by force, greatly increases.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Taiwan's" National Day

As with previous posts on this topic, I always have to have a * to remind people that this day, while popularly recognized as the national day of Taiwan and is legitimately the national day of "Taiwan," is also legitmately the national day of the Republic of China.

As most of you know, the R.O.C. is a Chinese government formed in China back in 1911. It should strike you as awkward that people on Taiwan are celebrating the national day of their government, which never existed on Taiwan until 1945. Anyways, just as the R.O.C. term and all the things that come along with it (government, constitution, etc) are basically established by both pan-green and pan-blue sides as legitimate on Taiwan, it's hard to address this issue.

What I want to bring attention to today though is this article in the Taipei Times today.

A majority of Taiwanese said they did not feel more proud to be a citizen of the Republic of China (ROC) after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May 2008, a poll released by the Taiwan Thinktank ahead of Double Ten National Day showed yesterday.
The poll showed that 65 percent of respondents said they had not felt their sense of pride as an ROC citizen grow after Ma assumed office, while 31.3 percent said they had.

It's nice to see that the blatant disregard for freedom of speech that has been violated in Taiwan since Ma has come to power has impacted Taiwanese citizens' views of Ma and their proud-ness to be "R.O.C." I do wonder though if the numbers might have been more in favor of "yes, I'm more proud to be a citizen of the R.O.C." if the term "Taiwan" was substituted in place of "R.O.C." I know many Taiwanese who would be proud to say, "Yes I'm proud to be Taiwanese," but instead say something closer to, "No, I'm not proud about the R.O.C." when asked about each respectively.

This lack of support for Ma's presidency is cross-party lines, and it has definitely showed up when Ma's government has attempted to regress on the right of freedom of speech. I encourage the young generation in Taiwan to remember those times (Chen Yulin visit to Taiwan (errr ROC), Wild Strawberry Movement, disregard for public opinion on ECFA, and the recent collegiate basketball incident) and take their disappointment with Ma and the KMT to the ballots in November.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Check Out Taipei Times

Looks like they finally revamped their website to be more "Web 2.0"-like. Although I'm no web expert, so I'm not even sure if that's the correct term. But, nonetheless the greatest part for me is that it loads at least 100% faster than before. For some reason, it used to take 20-30 seconds to load the page whereas now it takes less than 1-2 seconds.

Here's what their front page used to look like before:

A couple interesting bits from today's news on there:
Writing in the Washington Post this week, Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said: “We underestimate the importance of what is occurring between China and Taiwan.
“With 270 flights per week between the countries, and hundreds of missiles on the mainland targeting the island, China is quietly incorporating Taiwan into its dominion,” he wrote.
“Once it becomes clear, a few years or a decade hence, that the US cannot credibly defend Taiwan, China will be able to redirect its naval energies beyond the first island chain in the Pacific to the second island chain and in the opposite direction, to the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Be sure to check out the editorial cartoons, always a good laugh. While the Taipei Times always had them, they are in a more accessible and visible spot now on the front page I believe.

Another good laugh as always are the cartoons that the media/news stations in Taiwan put out. Here's a recent one, starring a couple of America's most notable political players.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Calling On Adam Smith

to support HCR316 of the 111th congress. As I shot off an e-mail to Congressman Adam Smith of the 9th District in WA, I did some more sleuthing on my representative. On previous HCR's involving support for Taiwan, Adam Smith did vote yes, such as HCR200 of the 110th congress. But as this page notes:
This resolution passed in the House of Representatives by roll call vote. The vote was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the resolution, needing a two-thirds majority. This usually occurs for non-controversial legislation. The totals were 413 Ayes, 2 Nays, 17 Present/Not Voting.
Of the 2 nays, one of which was Ron Paul (which isn't a surprise if you know his platform). Ron Paul is one I can agree with for the most part on domestic issues and things related to our own country, but when it comes to foreign policy, Paul basically wants to withdraw from everywhere and focus on our own country. This of course has its goods and bads.

Anyways, back to Adam Smith. For a non-controversial legislation, it doesn't really say much about Smith's stance on Taiwan by voting yes on it. It would be something else if he co-sponsored a bill supporting Taiwan though (see below for the recent HCR316 bill).

Also, I found this site that lists donations/contributions for their election races. Adam Smith's contributions from PAC's were 55% of his total raised. Conversely, Dick Muri's contributions from PAC's were a measly $221 dollars, or 0% of his total raised. Instead, 96% of his contributions came from individuals. I'll leave this at that, as the numbers speak for themselves.

H. Con. Res. 316:

Supporting Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations such as the United Nations.
Supporting Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations such as the United Nations.
Whereas for more than 50 years a close relationship has existed between the United States and Taiwan, which has been of major economic, cultural, and strategic advantage to both countries;
Whereas the 23,000,000 people in Taiwan are not represented in the United Nations and their human rights as citizens of the world are therefore severely abridged;
Whereas Taiwan has over the years repeatedly expressed its strong desire to participate in the United Nations;
Whereas Taiwan has much to contribute to the work and funding of the United Nations;
Whereas the world community has reacted positively to Taiwan's desire for international participation, as shown by Taiwan's membership in the Asian Development Bank, Taiwan's admission to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group as a full member, and Taiwan's membership in the World Trade Organization;
Whereas section 4(d) of the Taiwan Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 3303(d)) declares, `Nothing in this Act may be construed as a basis for supporting the exclusion or expulsion of Taiwan from continued membership in any international financial institution or any other international organization.'; and
Whereas the United States has supported Taiwan's participation in international organizations including the World Health Organization: Now, therefore, be it
      Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that--
            (1) Taiwan and its 23,000,000 people deserve membership in the United Nations; and
            (2) the United States should fulfill the commitment it made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan's membership in appropriate international organizations.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

China's Business Potential

There's been a common opinion in the past decade, especially within college graduates, about how China is the place to be to make money. Proponents of this claim that the ~1.3billion population of China represents a huge untapped market from which money can be made.

While doing business and making money do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, Forbes magazine has come out with their annual list of "Best Countries for Business." Notable countries and where they rank in the list are: Hong Kong (2), United States (9), Taiwan (25), and China (90). Forbes ranks countries based on several criteria, of which a few are:
Denmark scored in the top five among all countries in four of the 11 categories we considered as part of the ranking, including property rights, technology, corruption and personal freedom.Our ranking examines 128 economies. Other factors we looked at besides the above include red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. 
So what about China's potential? Forbes ranks China at 90, well outside of the Top 10 or 25, of which Taiwan managed to crack this year. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been keeping up with news this past year. GE's CEO, whose company was once one of the top sponsors for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is now openly criticizing China and their government for essentially taking GE's technology and proceeding to produce their own copy through their state-owned companies. And of course there is Google, whose exit from China was due to allegations of hacking and ultimately their censorship of Google's searches. These are a couple very large companies that have openly decried China's unfriendly business practices with foreign companies, and there are likely more to come - Toyota's production line was shut down earlier this year due to a strike in a factory in China.

Business opportunities don't look to be abound in China these days, especially long-lasting and positive ones. While I have no doubt there is money to be made there, China should no longer be considered a go-to-place for businesses. Along with these stories from large corporations, numerous personal accounts from relatives and relatives of relatives exist, especially within the Taiwanese community about their ultimately unsuccessful business adventures in China (these accounts usually end with them fleeing China due to ridiculous taxes or demands placed on their business, having to leave everything behind in an instant).

Besides China, Hong Kong makes a mark at #2 in the list. What strikes me the most about Hong Kong's high ranking is their decently high ranking (12) in the area of corruption. In comparison, Taiwan is #32 in corruption. I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise as corruption has especially been recently highlighted within Taipei mayor, Hau Lung-bin's circle.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Politicizing The Olympics

Came across an article/top-ten-like-list on athletes who made "major political and social statements." Interestingly, Taiwan came up as one of the "athletes" who made a political statement during the Olympics. Of course we all know how today China blocks Taiwan from entering international organizations and sporting events under the name Taiwan or R.O.C. Taiwan is forced to represent themselves under the name of Chinese Taipei, because everyone in Taiwan is in Taipei or something like that.

Controversy erupted in the days before the 1960 Olympics.
At that point in history, the United States and most western countries, did not recognize the communist government in mainland China.  Instead the US and others viewed the leaders and people on the island of Taiwan as the deposed and rightful rulers of mainland China.
This was a problem for the International Olympic Committee.
In 1958, China withdrew from the 1960 Rome Olympics because they wanted Taiwan banned from participating.
In response the IOC, with the support of the Soviet Union but in opposition to US wishes, asked that Taiwan no longer march under the name  "The Republic of China," but use the name of Taiwan or Formosa.

At that time, the government on Taiwan was still insistent on the idea of unifying with "the mainland," or "taking back the mainland." Most importantly, the government on Taiwan still claimed sovereignty over all of China, essentially saying that government on Taiwan was the legitimate government of "China." The sad part is that when given the chance back in 1960, Taiwan could have been able to enter the Olympics under the name "Taiwan" or "Formosa." Instead they decided to participate in the games under protest:

When they marched into the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony the lead Taiwanesse athlete held a sign reading, "Under Protest."  IOC President Avery Brundage had to be talked out of banning the Taiwannese delegation from participating in the games. 

[Yes, the people at bleacher report need better copy editors -- note the misspellings of "Taiwanese" multiple times] From this we can see how China's comments during the 2008 Olympics telling others not to politicize the Olympics, is utterly a joke. One could say that China started the whole "politicizing" of Olympics, especially when it comes to Taiwan and "Chinese Taipei."

This other 9 athletes are a good read too. The most recent being a few baseball players participating in the "Restoring Honor" rally at the Mall in Washington DC this past weekend. 

Another more recent one? The Phoenix Suns protesting the immigration law that was passed in Arizona.