Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Humanity At Stake

Earlier today I was at a local bubble tea shop (Meesum for you local readers) with some friends and we started talking about the current state of Taiwan. Obviously bringing up the lackluster TAIEX of late, and also the concessions President Ma has made in one month. Turns out that we were talking louder than we thought and a Caucasian girl overheard our conversation and stepped into the shop and asked if she could hear our views on the subject. We briefly described where we stood, one of my friends also on the DPP side, and the other leaning KMT.

The girl proceeded to describe where her curiosity stems from- that being that her girlfriend is from Taiwan and that her girlfriend's mom and dad had opposing views (DPP for mom, KMT for dad). She seemed genuinely interested in learning more about the history and complications of Taiwan and so I took the chance to recommend a book that I just recently read as well, "Humanity At Stake: China's Aggression, Taiwan's Democracy, and 23 Million Citizens' Human Rights to Self-Determination," written by Abe Young. She says she will be starting at the University of Washington in the fall, so perhaps we'll run into her again and see if she has formed her own views by then. Looking back, that situation almost closely resembled what the book, Humanity at Stake, is about- a dialogue between an American, a Taiwanese, and a Chinese. Except, in our case it was an American, a DPP, and a KMT.

My short review on the book:

It's a very short book, easily readable in less than an hour while still being able to cover, for the most part, a brief yet complete history of Taiwan. The history was mainly conveyed as footnotes and side blurbs, while the main part of this book dealt with the dialogue that occurred between Abe and two of his coworkers. Abe being a Taiwanese-American, and his two coworkers, one a Chinese Mainlander, and the other an American. It's an issue that all Taiwanese-Americans have probably dealt with at one time or another- someone asking you, "Isn't Taiwanese the same as Chinese?" Anyways, this book is a must read for any Taiwanese, Chinese, or even Americans who are interested in getting straight to the point of what the deal with Taiwan is all about. This will easily go down as my first recommendation for anyone to read if they wanted to get up to date about Taiwan in less than an hour. It takes a novel approach towards the Taiwan issue by focusing on the human rights aspect of 23 million people of Taiwan, instead of on the issue of simply "Taiwanese" identity.

I bought this book, so if you know me, I'd be more than happy to let you borrow it for a read. :) Just leave let me know via phone, e-mail, comment here, Facebook comment, MSN, etc.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rice Dips Toes Into US-Taiwan Relations

I guess the U.S. is starting to feel left out in this KMT-CCP love-fest that has been going on. The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, made some comments about the current relationship between Taiwan and U.S. in an interview with the WSJ here. Only a small part of the interview is about Taiwan, so you may want to skim it if you want to get straight to the Taiwan issue.

I've always found the U.S. position on Taiwan ironic, always seemingly playing both sides of the field. On one hand, they support Taiwan's international space, but at the same time discourages the type of "provocation" that Chen Shiu-bian apparently showed in promoting Taiwan as a country. Although, it's good to see that Rice recognized the real provocation from China (at least I think she was hinting at it- the 1,400 missiles aimed at Taiwan) in this line:
... we also want to make sure that China understands that it’s not just provocative behavior on the part of Taiwan that we would oppose, but provocative behavior on the part of China.
In other news, China will not allow the Chinese Tourists to Taiwan to participate in gambling, and "pornographic" activites... Yeah, whatever that means.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ma - Quick To Help China, But Leaves Taiwanese For Cabinet

Good point made in the Taipei Times today in an article called, "Ma using economy as a guise to push unification: groups." Here's an excerpt from the staff reporter:

“When heavy rainfalls caused flooding in the south, Ma said he would respect the system of government and let the Cabinet handle it,” he said.

“But when an earthquake hit Sichuan [in China], Ma and the first lady were so eager to participate in fundraising activities,” he said.

There's something to chew on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So earlier this year I went to the yearly "Chinese New Year" celebration that is put on by the Taiwanese Association of Greater Seattle. There was a Taiwanese law professor that came from California that spoke on an important issue of today's young generation. Whether you are interested in politics in Taiwan or not, I recommend you read this illustration as it applies to many things, not just the situation that the professor applied this to at the end. I know it is long, but, honestly, it was a really good illustration.


I will say first, that his speech was probably 90% Taiwanese, 5% Mandarin, 5% English, so if it seems like theres some holes or confusion in the illustration, it may have been lost in translation. Although I think my Taiwanese is not bad, I lack some vocabulary... anyways here is the illustration he gave:
There are three monkeys that are locked in an cage, sitting on a table. The cage is large, with a farily tall ceiling. At the top of the cage hangs a rope on which a banana is hanged from. Naturally, the three monkeys want to get the banana. So, the first one goes and tries to get it. As he is climbing up, just as he is about to get to the banana, the owner pours a bucket of water right onto the monkey. The monkey loses grasp and slips down the rope back to the floor. The other two monkeys laugh at the first monkey because he could not get the banana. The first monkey tries again; getting half way up before again, getting pushed back down because the owner pours water down on the monkey. The other two monkeys are now laughing and telling the first monkey to let them try. Finally, after the failed attempt by the first monkey, the first monkey gives up and sits down on the table in the middle of the cage. The second monkey now gives it a try. Just as the first monkey, he goes up and as he reaches the banana, the owner pours a bucket of water right above the monkey; and once again the monkey falls to the ground. The second monkey gives it another two goes as he still believes he can get it before giving up, just as the first monkey did. The third monkey, waiting for his chance to get the monkey, finally gets his chance. Just as the first two monkeys, he fails because of the water coming down on them as soon as they get close to the banana. Finally, all three monkeys are left sitting on the table, with the banana still hanging at the top of the cage.

The owner, then opens up the cage, and brings a new monkey into the cage, and takes one of the original monkeys out. The new monkey sees the other two sitting on the table, and looking at the banana, asks why they are just sitting there. "What are you waiting for?" The two monkeys reply saying, "Don't try, you won't be able to get it." The new monkey, not understanding why, goes for the rope to start climbing. The two monkeys from the original three start to pull on the new monkey to tell him to come down and stop him from climbing because they know its impossible. He tries again, with the other two monkeys once again pulling on him to just sit down because its not possible. After many failed attempts to get on the rope, he sits down as two monkeys are able to stop him from going up.

The owner, then opens up the cage, and brings a new monkey into the cage, and takes one of the two original monkeys remaining, out. The new monkey, again, looks at the two monkeys on the table and at the banana, and instantly laughs at them for not getting the banana. He tries to go for the rope, but the two monkeys stop him and pull on him, telling him that it's not worth his time, that it's impossible. Everytime the new monkey tries to reach for the rope, they stop him. After trying to get up the rope many times and failling because of the two monkeys pulling on him, he simply sits down on the table with the other two monkeys.

Finally, the owner opens up the cage, and brings in a new monkey, and takes out the final last original monkey. Just as the new monkeys previously, he goes for the rope, but is once again stopped by the two monkeys already in the cage. Not understanding why, but just that the other two monkeys keep saying not to do it, he finally takes a seat on the table.

The result? The three monkeys in the cage are left miserable, and on the table, with a banana within reach above them- but no one dares to go for it. And the sad thing is, they have no idea why. The original three knew why- water was being poured on them to stop them from reaching the banana. But the new three monkeys have no idea why, just that they were told by the previous monkeys, and stopped by them, to not attempt to go for the banana. And that is how the three monkeys, sitting on a table and staring at the banana, come to be.


So what does this have to do with the current situation in Taiwan and why was I reminded of this when I talked with my friend? The issue that the professor brought up was that the current generation of Taiwanese (my generation), has an apathy towards politics in Taiwan. Part of it, he says, stems from the past where parents may have discouraged their kids to not pursue and become involved in things such as politics because of the KMT in power. In the past, when the KMT was in power, although not as extreme as China, opposition to the KMT government was often put down and dissidents were placed into jail on absurd political charges. The illustration is that, the monkey owner could be likened to parents of one-two generations ago. The three monkeys are successive generation of kids. Parents discouraging their kids from pursuing and engaging in political discussion because of the possible failures and dangers of pursuing a career in politics that differs from KMT (the bucket of water), over time, became parents discouraging kids from pursuing law and politics because, well, we really don't know. The monkeys sitting on the table at the end of the story, are our young generation of Taiwanese. We just have an apathy towards it, which I believe is partially because of the previous "noes" to politics that have been handed down by our older generations. And now, the reason has been lost in time- and we simply don't get involved with politics because our parents said to not to, whose parents also said not to, and their parents, and so on.

So, the law professor said that the young generation of Taiwanese needs to wake up, and see the reason why. At the same time, called on the parents there to teach their kids about what happened in the past. Because not doing so, will result in a vicious cycle in which the future of Taiwan where the young generation will decide the vote, will actually be unable to have the knowledge to say, this is what happened in the past, but this is what it is now, and things have changed, so we can do this. The point is not to highlight the sins of the past of KMT, but to underline the current problem of apathy in our generation.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

KMT Souring Relations with Japan

As much as the KMT liked to call the DPP confrontational, provoking, escalating situations with China- well that's just what the KMT is now doing with Japan.

Why are we trying to make an enemy out of Japan? If Taiwan ever wants to become independent or at least move in that general direction, the help of Japan is needed. This is just more evidence of the Hu-lovefest by the KMT. Much of the Old Guard KMT can't wait to get back into bed with the communists that they'll do anything to win China's approval. They are doing a damn good job at it. It's hard to image how much can change in just one month, but the truth is that in just one month, the Wu-Hu-Ma-party have degraded Taiwan and it's people to nothing more than pawns in their ultimate goal of unification with the mainland.

I'm sad to say, but there are dark times ahead for the Taiwanese people if they do not wake up. This is not the time to shrug it off and continue to be apathetic. I will post a story about apathy in Taiwan by the young generation that I posted previously on a different blog later this week.

Sealing Deals: China to Taiwan Direct Flights

Now approved by both sides, you can soon get direct flights (weekends only) between China and Taiwan, although still a round-a-bout measure by flying through HK airspace.

So, rather then delve into the politics of it, I'm going to go into how I'm going to play it.

Whether weekend direct flights will be able to provide a sustained economic boost that the KMT says it would, or whether it will even provide a temporary short term stimulus will have to be seen. The better issue is to discuss involving stocks is, will there be an opinion among investors that there is economic growth happening? If so, the bid/asks will rise, regardless of actual economic improvement. Since lies can only be told until the truth comes out in a yearly or updated quarterly economic report, the largely KMT-controlled media can boast about the economic improvements that this will bring to the economy. As long as the media portrays Ma as a savior to Taiwan's economy, I will be building a position in EWT until before raw data comes out. Until then, I hope to see a good 15-20% rise in EWT from its current prices of around 15 and change. Anything in the 15s is a good buy in my opinion- technically it's close to an oversold position, but has yet to show a break from its current down trend. If you're cautious, hold off until the confirmed reversal, and jump in.

Just received Humanity At Stake: China's Aggression, Taiwan's Democracy, and 23 Million Citizens' Human Right to Self-Determination, upon seeing it mentioned on Michael Turton's blog. Will have my own review on it after I finish it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Taipei-Shanghai Direct Flights Soon?

Contrary to what I thought, it seems like direct flights between Taiwan and China may actually meet the initial July deadline that the Ma administration set out during it's campaigning. A few possibilities as to why these negotiations are happening so quickly:
  1. The KMT and CCP have been negotiating for years behind backdoors, eagerly waiting for when the KMT would regain power in Taiwan once again.
  2. Ma has conceded that Taiwan's sovereignty is not important, and effectively demoted Taiwan to a status that equals Hong Kong, a territory/province of China. (The main issue with direct flights commencing with the previous administration was that Chen wanted to negotiate with no "preconditions." i.e. not agreeing on things such as a so-called "1992 consensus" that states there is one-China, with each side differing on opinion of the one-China.)
  3. The KMT chairman, Wu, has been running the show and has completely bypassed president Ma. Even going as far as appeasing Presdient Hu by only referring to Ma as, Mr. Ma, not President Ma. The voice and opinion of 23 million Taiwanese are not being heard if the KMT chairman is deciding Taiwan's future and sovereignty. Taiwan elected Ma Ying-Jeou as president. But, Taiwan did not elect the KMT chairman. See the problem now?
Anyways, decided to check out what was on the mainly pro-KMT Taiwan e-news from, and saw this article on direct flights. Not surprising, but the article quotes an unnamed source as saying:
There will be no "danger" to Taiwan's national security after the direct flights begin, the source said. "Because the previous administration did not want to set the direct flight link in place," he added, "the military used to say Taiwan's air security would be at risk."
Fact: Chen did want to set direct flights with China on the condition of, no preconditions. China rejected the notion of negotiation on no preconditions.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Clinton Likely to Concede Tonight

Reports are coming in that Hillary Clinton will likely conceded the Democratic primary race tonight. It'll be interesting to see how the Obama-fans spin a potential Obama/Clinton ticket to say that Obama is still the "change" he says he is.

What do I mean?

Obama has labeled himself as the "change" to the face of Washington. Clinton is still part of the old face of Washington, i.e. "old politics." Picking up Clinton undermines Obama's "change" that he consistently touts.

As I've said before, Obama will say and do whatever it takes to win. That means, likely picking up Clinton as his VP. I would be very surprised if the Democratic ticket does not end up being a Obama/Clinton ticket. If the ticket is something other than that, then I admit- I have been wrong about Obama in the past.

Regardless, an Obama economic policy is what's keeping me from voting for him.