Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Vacation

:)

Back around the 10th of January.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Raytheon Missiles to Taiwan

U.S. defense company, Raytheon, has been awarded a $1.1 billion contract for supplying Patriot Air and MDS to Taiwan. As this Taipei Times article states, it's been a long and drawn out process (as with all other arms procurements between Taiwan and the U.S. have been), taking 14 months from when President George W. Bush first gave the go ahead to this sale.

As I mentioned in a post on my Facebook, arms sales are good for everyone- that is everyone except China, which is good in my books. Arms sales will give Taiwan more leverage in negotiating with China, because the only negotiation China truly knows is with a big stick. So how can Taiwan negotiate on an even playing field if it has a twig? Furthermore, procurement from the U.S. will help U.S. defense companies, and in turn, help or at least maintain job growth within this sector. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop, Raytheon, L-3, etc, all these companies can and may be helped by sales to Taiwan.

Last but not least, sales to Taiwan are more of a sign of commitment by the U.S. that they will continue to stand by Taiwan, for now. And that's really the best we can hope for.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6.4 Earthquake in Taiwan

Thank you for scaring everybody who wanted to know more news about the earthquake in Taiwan, Google News. Take a look at this screen shot when searching for news on Taiwan this morning:



News about earthquake, great! Oh wait, collapsed building on the side- "Oh no, looks real bad, hope everyone's okay."

Then you get into the article and says it was not that bad. The picture is actually from the 1999 earthquake.

In more pressing news, interesting comments from Taichung Mayor Jason Hu.
Hu described the upcoming protests as “typhoons,” while promising not to treat the protesters as a “mob.”

“It’d be best if typhoons never hit, but we should be prepared for the worst situation. However, we will not treat the protesters as a mob,” Hu said yesterday in Taichung when asked to comment on the planned protests by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Let's set some things straight. Typhoons are never welcome. Doesn't matter what time of the year, where it is at, typhoons do damage to people, buildings, nature, you name it. On the other hand, a part of democracy is the right to freedom of speech, protest, and assembly. Especially when you feel the need to let your voice be heard, a protest is called for.

This just goes to show how many in the KMT continue to have lack of regard for the true meaning of democracy and human rights. More baffling comments from Taipei KMT Mayor, Hau Lung-bin, being quoted as saying that Taiwan is a "region," and not a "country" or "nation."

Furthermore, Jason Hu makes the pledge that he will take "full responsibility" for what happens during the protests (if violence occurs, police brutality, etc.). I still don't understand, as it is probably a Taiwanese political custom, why politicians continue to stick their neck out for things they cannot control. This is why I continue to see DPP Chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen, as forward looking and "thinking out of the box." Her comment on this subject was very practical, and much more like what a "smart" politician would do:

Tsai went on to say that rather than focusing on whether physical clashes would occur during the demonstration, more attention should be focused on whether the government hears what the demonstrators want to say.
“It’s the Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] mentality that those who take part in a demonstration in which physical clashes occur are rioters, and rioters should not go on the streets — this is just wrong logic,” she said. “Violence does happen in rallies from time to time, but random and isolated incidents of violence should never be used as a reason to restrict people’s freedom of expression.”
There will always be bad apples that can spoil the whole, but it shouldn't be that way. And Tsai Ing-wen sees this.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Video on YouTube...

"Depicting how most Taiwanese feel about the newly elected president."

A good chuckle for the TGIF:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MSFT China "Stealing" Code?


Screenshot of the Plurk that went out to all users of this incident.

The Plurk blog has been updated with a post claiming that Microsoft China's recently released blogging service, similar to Plurk, has been built largely upon code that Plurk uses.

Here’s the short of what we think has happened:

  • Microsoft China officially launched its own microblogging service, MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub, some time in November, 2009.
  • The service’s design and UI is by and large an EXACT copy of Plurk’s innovative left-right timeline scrolling navigation system. (see screen captures below)
  • Some 80% of the client and product codebase appears to be stolen directly from Plurk! (see evidence below).
  • Plurk was never approached nor collaborated in any capacity with MS on this service.
  • As a young startup, we’re stunned, shocked, and unsure what to do next and need your support and suggestions.
Not sure what Microsoft is doing over there, as the post mentions how Microsoft has tried to combat piracy in China by lowering the prices of the OS to ridiculously low prices ($30USD). But this is quite astonishing. I would expect something like this from a company coming out of China, but Microsoft? Perhaps it was a local engineer who made the decision to go ahead with "borrowing" code from Plurk.

In any case, they are asking Plurk users to make this known so that they can seek a solution to this.
To our millions of loyal users: We also need your sincere help. We need your loud and emphatic voices. We need you to help us get out this important story to anyone and everyone you know who can raise awareness on what has taken place. Please translate this story into your respective languages, share it with local media, bloggers and friends, and help us fight the good fight for your beloved Plurk.
Update: It appears that Microsoft has confessed that their service, Microsoft Juku did indeed take code directly from Plurk. But, their Juku was developed under a third-party vendor. You can likely guess where that vendor is from- China, just as I said would be something to be expected of companies in China.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taiwanese Are Not Ready For an ECFA

If you need any more evidence (as it continues to pile up) that a majority of Taiwanese do not want, or feel like an ECFA should not be rushed as it is, new poll numbers from Taiwan ThinkTank, reported on Taipei Times:

The survey showed that 62.5 percent of respondents agreed that “the December [5] election results showed that many people in Taiwan still have doubts about an EFCA plan and thus the [President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)] administration should put off signing the deal with China and rather seek consensus within the country.”

Even among Pan-Blues, they are almost evenly split on this issue, showing a great rift within the Pan-Blues. What it shows is that there is no consensus on passing an ECFA.

On the question, among those who identified themselves as supporters of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-led pan-blue camp, 46.3 percent agreed and 43.4 percent disagreed, while among those who said they have no party affiliation, 56.1 percent agreed and 26.8 percent disagreed.
President Ma needs to take a step back and re-evaluate. There is mounting evidence that the course that Ma is paving is not what Taiwanese are looking for. When you consider the numbers for "independents/non-party affiliates" that show a majority disapprove of ECFA and of Ma's performance thus far, adding in the obvious disapproval from the Pan-Green side, and finally the evenly split approval/disapproval of Ma by the Pan-Blues, it should be clear that Ma Ying-Jeou is not on the same page as the rest of Taiwan.

About 30 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the government’s performance since Ma took office, while 65.6 percent said they were dissatisfied.

Ma’s disapproval rating among non-party affiliated respondents was 66.9 percent, while his approval rating was 23.5 percent.

Among pro-pan blue camp supporters, his disapproval rating and approval rating were 44.6 percent and 54 percent respectively.

Asked whether they worried about the future of Taiwan under Ma’s leadership, 50.2 percent of non-party affiliated respondents said “Yes,” while 45.3 percent said “No.”

The result was nearly identical for all respondents — with 51.8 percent saying “Yes” and 46 percent saying “No.”
As the article mentions, it is likely Ma is doing this, all the while knowing the non-approval of ECFA and his actions, in order to put the China-Taiwan issue on the fast track. This track is likely being orchestrated by Beijing in order to "lock-down" Taiwan into a bind where it cannot be independent from China- whether it be economically, politically, socially.

Both sides would like improved relations with China, but what Ma is doing is simply giving away Taiwan without regard for Taiwan's sovereignty and self-dignity. Exactly what has Ma helped gain for Taiwan? I would say absolutely nothing. What he thinks he has done is promoted Taiwan in the international arena, but in fact he has promoted a "Chinese Taipei" that is continually being regarded as a Province of China.

In other news, a lot of chitter chatter about Tsai Ing-wen possibly running for positions in next year's county/city elections, in a run-up towards the 2012 presidential elections. In my very honest opinion, Tsai should focus on continuing to unify and solidify the DPP as the Chairwoman. A lot of other problems start to arise when you have the situation of the party chairwoman/chairman holding high public positions (as Ma Ying-jeou has done).

And you may say, well why not have her run, and put in a new chairman? The problem I see is, why mess with something that isn't broke? She has proven thus far to be putting the DPP on the right track for contention in next year and 2012 elections. Removing her and possibly putting back in some DPP "old guard" may setback the vision of a rebuilding DPP. What the party needs is fresh, young, politicians that can think outside of the box.

As far as 2012 presidential elections, I still believe Hsieh Chang-ting should be the DPP's best candidate. He has a great grassroots following going on via Plurk. Claudia Jean mentioned his Plurk-ing back in April when he first started.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Arms Talks Back On The Table

Breaking news is that Obama is very close (within a couple weeks) of submitting a proposal to congress for Taiwan to purchase arms- these would include Blackhawk helicopters as well as Advanced Patriot Missiles. Currently, notably missing would be the F-16s and diesel-electric submarines. The F-16s have long been on Taiwan's wish list, and after 10 years, they still aren't being given the green light.

Here's an "exclusive" from Reuters on this development:

"We decided that trying to make up for the delays in the arms sale package in one fell swoop was potentially destabilizing to the improvements in cross-strait relations that occurred during the first year" of President Ma Ying-jeou's administration, Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian affairs on Bush's National Security Council staff, told Reuters in March.
I would say that having sold Taiwan the arms it wanted, including the F-16s in "one fell swoop" may have been a better move than dipping our toes in every few years and inevitably "upsetting" China. But who knows, perhaps China may actually have been more angry if there was one large arms package.

In any case, more arms sales is not only good for Taiwan but also the U.S. You may wonder how it bodes well for the U.S.? Actually quite simple, U.S. seeks to keep Taiwan as one if its unofficial allies and potentially as a "bargaining chip" (although I hope they never use Taiwan as such) against a rising and imperialistic China. Furthermore, more defense sales means more local jobs being put to work on these defense systems and weapons. Specifically of note: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon.

It has been a frustrating game of cat and mouse, with each side saying they want x and y one year, with the U.S. saying it will give z; and then the next time the U.S. says they won't give z but y instead, but now Taiwan has no longer budgeted for y. The madness of it all can almost be squarely blamed on U.S. President Bush and the trifecta of KMT/PFP leaders, Ma/Soong/Chan (Lien).

See this report for extensive historical background and information on U.S.-Taiwan Arms Sales. A very detailed and worthy read for anyone interested in more on this.

"Made in China" Ad

Going off-topic for today, sort of... spotted this in my news feed on Facebook:



Apparently it was supposed to be released last year during the melamine debacle, but delayed for whatever reason until now (right before Christmas season?). Basically the ad, which is funded and created by the Chinese government (can you say propaganda?), is trying to show that despite these items (Nike shoes, electronic items, clothes) being "Made in China," they are designed by "the world." This ad has appeared globally, and in the U.S. specifically, on CNN.

The thing that this ad fails to do is address the crux of the problem that the "western" world sees in products made in China, which is that they are made in China. Regardless of who designed it with what technology from where, the end product is still made in China.

Perhaps think of it like a recipe. I'm not sure this is the best metaphor, but I'll use it anyways. A recipe is designed, founded, usually by one chef. People then go on and buy that recipe (from a book, or from some collection, etc.), or perhaps simply ask for the recipe from them for free. While the recipe is the same, and for the most part, the end product will be the same, each person that makes that recipe ends with a slightly, and sometimes greatly different food at the end. It could be because they substituted dark meat for white meat, or because they chose a cheaper version of that flour than the brand-name one in the name of cost-cutting. For whatever reason, it most likely will come out different than the original chefs'.

So does it matter whose recipe it is? In a way, it really doesn't matter since the ending taste of the recipe is who makes it.

Products made in China are products made by cheap labor, which inherently doesn't give the workers a good incentive to do their job well, and after all that's what Communism promotes. Work hard or slack-off, you pretty much get the same at the end of the day. Even if you take out the notion of Communism, the fact that labor is cheap gives a worker little incentive to work hard. Think of your first few jobs, and when you were given a raise, did you feel like you wanted to stay at that job, work harder, perhaps attain another raise? I don't know about you, but that was my mentality. Of course there are a plethora of other reasons why you may or may not choose to work hard, but compensation is one of them.

Also, an interesting point which I saw in the comments about this ad. That is, it indirectly, sort-of, states the lack of ingenuity and creativity coming out of China. It might be a stretch, but I can sort of agree with their point here.
When I saw this ad the only thing I could think is how it highlights China’s lack of innovation, creativity, and design.

Lastly, this ad fails to recognize that for the majority of Americans, especially in a recession, we have no concern over where the product was made- as long as it is cheap. And it's certainly understandable. But for those who go out of their way to avoid China products (especially/mainly food products), it is unlikely that this advertisement will "turn on the light bulb" in their brain.

In news related to Taiwan, Chinese students attacked a Taiwanese study abroad student in South Korea for displaying the Taiwan (R.O.C.) flag. If you've been keeping up with related Taiwan news over the past couple years, you will know that this is not an isolated incident. If this makes you mad, irritated, angry, frustrated, then you should ask yourself why their wasn't a larger uproar when Ma Ying-jeou basically did the same thing when Chen Yunlin came from China and the Taiwan (R.O.C.) flag was barred from being displayed in the streets of Taipei. Talk Taiwan writes about this in his recent post, with images and video of Taiwanese who displayed the Taiwan (R.O.C.) flag, being basically assaulted and attacked as well. Don't be fooled, Ma Ying-jeou may talk the Taiwanese talk, but he certainly isn't making the case for walking the walk.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Election Day!

Update: Election Results - "DPP gains, KMT wins"

From the bullet points below:
  • Current political map for these 17 positions have 14 going to the KMT, and 3 to the DPP. I think most people would deem the DPP as "winning" if they take any seats away from the KMT. --- CHECK! The KMT lost 2 seats - one to the DPP, and one to an Independent. ---
  • This election is also being seen as the half-way verdict on Ma Ying-jeou's presidency thus far. We will see how the Morakot disaster as well as the ignoring of the public's non-approval of the ECFA plays in. --- Half a check. The DPP has up-played the fact that the overall voter % for the DPP has risen, citing disapproval of Ma, while the KMT and Ma will downplay the connection between these local elections and a "mid-term" test of Ma's presidency. ---
  • Yilan County is being touted as the county election to watch. --- CHECK! Yilan returns to the DPP after a 'one and done' term by the KMT candidate. ---
One would be hard pressed to say that the KMT had an "overwhelming" victory as I've seen some news articles say. Most reports that have come out so far have given the DPP wins a positive spin, and rightfully so. Taitung and Penghu counties were won by the KMT by razor thin margins (reports of a KMT win in Penghu by only 600 votes), and the big run for Yilan went to the DPP. Of note is seeing that Penghu rejected the KMT referendum on casinos a couple months ago rather decisively, and yet continue to vote for the KMT on a pretty 1:1 ratio with the DPP. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this, as their has been calls to "review" the votes for the Penghu County election.

I will let eTaiwannews.com take it away with some ending details:

Of 4.09 million valid votes, the DPP received 1.98 million or 45.36 percent compared to 2.09 million or 47.87 percent for the KMT, 0.36 percent to the Hakka Party and 6.41 percent to independent candidates.

In addition, the DPP expanded its number of grassroots township mayors by 29.8 percent from 20 to 34 and boosted the number of its city or county assembly seats from 107 in December 2005 to 129 for a 15.1 percent increase.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just dropping in to say that today is the day that a lot of Taiwanese have been waiting for, for a good 6 months, hoping to see the DPP start to rebuild itself. The polls should open in about 3 hours or so. Just a few points:
  • Current political map for these 17 positions have 14 going to the KMT, and 3 to the DPP. I think most people would deem the DPP as "winning" if they take any seats away from the KMT.
  • This election is also being seen as the half-way verdict on Ma Ying-jeou's presidency thus far. We will see how the Morakot disaster as well as the ignoring of the public's non-approval of the ECFA plays in.
  • Yilan County is being touted as the county election to watch.
As far as the markets, the TAIEX jumped back inside the 50DMA, but the recent intraday moves on the U.S. side continues to caution of going long (two consecutive days of gap up, with no follow through and ending lower on the day). I remain cautiously short.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taiwanese Gamers Continue To Prove Their Own

If you recall in late 2007, at the World Cyber Games in Seattle, a Taiwanese placed Bronze in an event and was true to himself and his country by displaying the flag of the R.O.C. (which is being used for Taiwan), and as a result the insults from Chinese came. Read about it here.

While this time there are no naysayers and foul-mouthed Chinese threatening to kill him, a "Taiwanese man" as the article describes, has completed World of Warcraft- likely the game that has the most playability over the last 5 years.
A Taiwanese man has reportedly completed all 986 of the game's achievements. He's shown Azeroth's critters how much he loves them (To All The Squirrels Who Shared My Life), equipped an epic item every available slot (Epic), and slain 15 turkeys in three minutes (Friend or Fowl?)
Congratulations to this Taiwanese man! I know a lot of Taiwanese boys are gamers, and being one myself, I know the glory you feel when you achieve being #1 in the rankings. I was once #1 on the Diablo II USWest Ladder after a reset-- up to level 13 or so, and then I had claimed my fame and proceeded to call it a night and went to bed.

I don't know how many hours he spent on WoW in order to achieve what he did, but it must have been a lot. If you haven't seen that South Park episode sometime in the last 2 or so years about the kids playing WoW- you should, it's pretty funny and may be something close to what this guy was doing (although I hope not- in that episode they were gaming so hard that they were becoming obese).

In other news, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu says that there will not be any designated areas for the protests for the upcoming ECFA meetings. I would applaud this move by him, and it's a step in the direction of freedom of assembly and speech, but being the skeptic I am, can't help but think this is just another pawn move to help boost opinion of the KMT right before the December elections, which should be happening in 24 hours or so!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Taiwanese Census 2010: Vote on Facebook

Received this message from the "Taiwanese Census 2010" group on Facebook. See this post for more information: U.S. Census 2010: Taiwanese-Americans
Subject: Taiwanese Census Campaign, Volunteers, & Vote for TACL!

Hi everyone:
Thank you for joining this group for Census 2010. We've grown quickly in the few weeks the group has started. Please help to continue to invite friends to join, to spread the word so that people are both aware of the Census, and that "Taiwanese" or any other ethnicity can be written in. This is extremely important for our community as well as any other community to be accurately counted and recognized.

TACL (Taiwanese American Citizen's League) is one of the non-profit organizations behind this campaign, and has formed a taskforce creating promotional materials to pass out, such as postcards, flyers, T-shirts, pens, etc. We also are preparing a PSA, to be shown on TV, youtube, etc, and creating a youth contest.

Therefore, we still need the help of VOLUNTEERS! If interested in helping with the campaign, feel free to message me back directly.

Also, since all of the above things also cost money, especially TV airtime, we still need financial support, and are continuing to try to FUNDRAISE.

Therefore, TACL is trying to get a $25,000 grant through Chase's Community Giving Program on Facebook. However, we can only win this grant if you and your friends get on Facebook and VOTE FOR US!!!! The top 100 receive $25,000.

Please take a second to cast a VOTE!
As a nonprofit organization run completely by unpaid volunteers, TACL definitely needs the community's support! These funds could go a long way, not only towards Census outreach, which would mainly help to pay for promotional materials, and advertising, but would also go towards continuing our youth scholarships, internships, camps, and young professional leadership development adjunct (TAP), which all serve to help to preserve and promote Taiwanese American IDENTITY.

Click here:
http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/816777

You may think your vote doesn't count but if we can get all our
supporters and your friends to vote, it'll make a difference! All
you've got to do is vote and ask 10 other friends to do the same!
Help TACL in 4 easy steps:

1. Become a fan of Community Giving:
http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/
2. Search for "Taiwanese American Citizens League" where it reads "Enter your charity".
3. Vote for us! Afterwards, under "Help this charity by spreading the word" you can post it on:
* Twitter
* Your Facebook wall & newsfeed or
* Invite a friend to vote!
4. Here's the text you can copy and paste to post on the walls of your friends:
"I just cast my vote for TACL! Please help support my charity by voting to give them a chance to receive $25K! Voting ends December 11, so please vote now!

Click here:
http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/816777

To know more about what TACL does, and where the funds would also go towards, you can click here to see our Leadership Development programs:
http://www.facebook.com/l/a728f;tacl.org/programs/tacl-leadership-development/.

Thank you for your time and support!

Ben Ling
TACL National President
http://www.facebook.com/l/a728f;tacl.org
http://www.facebook.com/l/a728f;census2010.tacl.org

You can click the button right below this sentence as well to join and vote:

Editorial in WSJ on Obama & Taiwan

Saw this piece by Parris H. Chang, a former DPP legislator, whereby he proposes that Obama is "giving up" Taiwan. Not much "new" revelations in his editorial, but it provides a decent overview of what has been happening as far as the US-China-Taiwan relations, as well as Obama's recent visit to China. Here's a snippet, and probably the most important part of it:

Now is not the time to repeat Mr. Clinton's mistakes. It is morally and politically wrong for the U.S. to oppose the right of Taiwan, a democratic and open society of 23 million people, to determine its own future. President Obama may be leaning in that direction by not supporting an independent Taiwan and backing China's opposition to Taiwan independence. Beijing has long tried to isolate Taiwan in the international community, lock the island into the framework of a "one China" policy, pave the way for Taiwan's eventual unification with China, and most importantly, seek Washington's support for its maneuvers.

The author goes onto state how previous administrations did or didn't treat Taiwan well. President Bush Jr. comes up as a very pro-Taiwan president in this piece, and while the two facts he stated make it seem true- I will say that I believe that President Bush was a real letdown in how he handled Taiwan during his 8 years. While he did come out early on in his tenure and say the US will do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan, his actions thereafter spoke of a different tone- a much softer tone. Only during his last few months did he push through that arms package as an outgoing gesture, for whatever reason.

As far as the current situation, I find that Obama might be mistakenly taking the Nobel Peace Prize at face value, and focusing on this imaginary "peace" that China and Ma Ying-jeou have been touting, in the face of a majority of Taiwanese who oppose this sort of pseudo-peace that may lead to unification of the two sides.

Perhaps Obama should use his apparent world-respected image to give some face to Taiwan. Would it really hurt that much?

Been busy at home... sorry for infrequent thoughts! But sometimes, there just isn't much that catches my eyes these days. Just more of Ma giving up another piece of Taiwan, and China happily taking it in exchange for, well, really nothing at all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

TAIEX : 4th Break of 50DMA

On the news of potential defaults by Dubai, the world markets sunk over Thanksgiving and into black friday. Glancing at the TAIEX, which along with the other Asian markets, has lead the way up in this rally since March, we should note what happens over this next week. Here's a 6 month daily chart of the TAIEX- take note of the times that the 50DMA was breached, and then taken back within the next 3-5 trading days.



If the TAIEX fails to regain the 50 within this next week, I will be looking in greater interest to establish a good short position on the markets. Careful out there! The markets have come a long ways since the lows in March, and a correction should be anticipated.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update on "Global Views" Numbers

So apparently it looks like there are multiple departments/agencies/whatever you name it, under the "Global Views" name. Today's article in the Taipei Times cites the "Global Views Survey Research Center," giving DPP Chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen, a higher "trust" % than President Ma. That is, higher than what the previous article I found stated.
Public trust in the DPP also surged to a new three-year high, the survey showed.

The poll, conducted by the Global Views Survey Research Center, put Tsai’s trust index at 46.2 on a scale of 0 to 100, up 0.1 points from last month, while Ma’s dropped 2.6 points from last month to 43.9 this month.

Tsai’s trust index has risen to its highest level since she took over as DPP chairwoman in May last year. Ma became the KMT chairman last month.
That, compared to my previous blog, where Tsai and Ma's "trust" percentage were at 35.4% and 38.6%, respectively. Whatever the case, it numbers are still pretty tight, and not to mention that when the article compares trust of the DPP and to the KMT, the DPP is slightly lagging.
The level of trust in the DPP stood at 39.4 points, just below its record high of 39.5 set in August. The center began conducting the polls in June 2006.

The KMT’s trust index was 41.5 this month, a drop of 0.6 points from last month and just 2.1 higher than that of the DPP.
At this point, and from the general "feel" of the mood in Taiwan, I would say that a tie in these numbers is just as good of news for the DPP as they could hope for. I would think that the usual independents and light-greens and light-blues may be more inclined to side with the DPP in next week's local elections, when you consider the large fallout from Typhoon Morakot, as well as the distancing of many candidates from the "central" KMT administration (including President Ma), in their campaigning.

While the DPP may be gaining some ground in their domestic battle, I just hope that on the international level, with all the commotion about US Beef imports, that the ties between DPP and the US do not take a step back.

P.S. Thanks for subscribing people!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taiwan's Dissastisfaction with Ma, Then What?

This month's polls show President Ma still struggling to regain the confidence of the Taiwanese after the Morakot disaster. From the Global Views Magazine:
The unpopularity of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou remains significantly high, according to a poll by Global Views. 58.6 per cent of respondents are dissatisfied with Ma’s performance, down one point since September.
From the low of about 23% approval rating right after the Morakot diaster, his approval rating has barely gained 6 points, now hanging at 29.5%, according to the article.

In another article that gives some other numbers, what's interesting to see is that the DPP still has work to do in giving the Taiwanese a different option than the KMT. Note that this piece also says the numbers are from the Global Views magazine, so I'm not sure where the discrepancy in the numbers are coming from (in the approval % of Ma Ying-Jeou).

The telephone survey of 1,004 adults by the Global View monthly magazine found that only 38.6 per cent trust President Ma Ying-jeou, who lags well behind Obama's 46.1-per-cent trust rate.

While 35.4 per cent trust Tsai Ying-wen, chairwoman of Taiwan's pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party, only 17.5 per cent trust Hu.

Here, it has Ma's "trust" at 38.6%, which possibly could be different from the "satisfaction/approval" rating of the earlier article. I think more importantly is the number of Tsai Ing-wen, whose "trust" rating is still lower than Ma's. Rightfully so, Hu Jintao of the Communist Party of China is the lowest, but not nearly as low as I would have thought most Taiwanese would see him.

These numbers should be a reminder for the DPP that they still have a lot of work to do leading into the December local-elections, as well as the 2012 presidential election. Even with the "feeling" in the air that the majority of Taiwanese are upset or unsatisfied with the performance of Ma and his administration, the polls show that it might not necessarily translate into actual numbers in the elections.

Whether it's a problem of complacency, political bribery, political oppression, or something else, the next movement in the political theater of Taiwan must and can really only be initiated and sustained by the younger generation of Taiwanese. Our fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers have done their part, and with each passing of the elder, there needs to be one of us who steps up to take their place.

While I may have an opinion on gay marriage that certainly isn't "popular" these days, and not to take anything away from the homosexual communities' efforts to attain similar rights as heterosexuals, there is a deep pain and inability to understand why the recent march for gay pride/marriage in Taiwan can bring us (the "Gen Y") out in droves, along with the support of celebrities, while the most basic human rights and safeguarding those rights via democracy, garners little excitement among us.

Is it because we are taking the rights that our parents and grandparents secured for us, for granted? Is it because we are too caught up with ourselves and what our selfish wants are, that we can't think for anyone else other than ourselves? Is it because we are in the now, and our complacency leads us to be blinded from the future consequences that being apathetic will do to us, to Taiwanese, to Taiwan? How can we be so proud of being Taiwanese, and yet don't give a damn about the problems that Ma Ying-Jeou is bringing upon Taiwan.

It is a problem that has crossed my mind many times over and over, and something that I hope my blogging helps to mend, especially to those of my generation. Even if it's just one person that gets a glimpse of what I mean, at least I can say I did my part. Can you?

P.S.: I know my blogging is intermittent and definitely not consistent, but a good way to keep up with me if you have a blogger account (you can use your GMail account to sign-in), is to click on "Follow" at the top of the page, and you can set your settings to get e-mail updates. If you don't have a blogger/blogspot account, you can subscribe to my posts via the "E-mail Subscription" box on the top right, below my banner. I say this because I know a lot of you (especially my friends) have expressed positive remarks about my blog and I feel like I'm doing a disservice to you guys by not blogging regularly. And from that, it inadvertently causes you to not check back regularly. So, one way to help alleviate this is to get a subscription!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Applying for Jobs in Taiwan, Province of China?

For whatever it's worth, many company websites list Taiwan as a Province of China, if you poke around in the job application area of their websites. I believe Qualcomm and Verizon are just a couple that do so, and here is what NSA shows when you select TWN during the process of filling out the forms online:



It probably wasn't intended, and from my many job applications, it seems like a similar type of application system is used by each company/entity. So, it may very well be that these companies are sort of just "borrowing" the system to use for their job application process. Nevertheless, this is the type of ignorance than Taiwanese must continue to fight against and make known. What may be harmless to those that know, may give the wrong information to those who don't- and in turn spread these lies.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inquiries Of Insider Trading: Taiwan & US

Anyone who has been watching stocks over the past year surely must have noticed all the blatant insider trading going on during the day/hours leading up to an announcement. What has been a large problem that continues to be unchecked by the SEC in the US, looks to be plaguing the Taiwan Stock Exchange as well.

The Taipei Times reports of possible insider trading in the Chimei-Innolux merger deal. Things such as this are a huge tip-off that someone was "tipped-off" about the deal:
Two days before the merger was announced, Chi Mei trading volume spiked to 142 million shares on Thursday and 184 million shares on Friday, four times and five times higher than its averaged daily turnover of 34.7 million shares in the first eight trading days of the month respectively, information on TWSE’s Web site showed.
Similarly, in the recently announced buyout of 3COM buy HPQ, the day of the announcement had 3COM (COMS) trading on heavy volume of around 22 million shares, with historical average volume at just around 9 million. Furthermore, there was heavy trading in the options on 3COM where a large lot of calls were bought on the front month options. Keep in mind that this was only about 7 trading says until November OPEX. As most traders know, buying front month options is a disaster in the making, unless you are expecting a large move that the market is not expecting. The time decay in the options in the last 2 weeks will kill your potential for a profitable trade if the direction and movement are not what you fully expect. The WSJ has a good wrap on this here:

Yesterday, options traders scooped up 8,000 near-term “call” options that allow them to buy stock in 3Com at fixed prices. Specifically, they bought November options that allow them to buy the stock for $5 a share, below the $7.90 a share that H-P offered for 3Com. Overall, 22 million 3Com shares changed hands on Wednesday, compared to its 52 week average of about $5 million, according to Bloomberg.

“Somebody knew something was coming,” said Stefen Choy, founder of Livevol, a San Francisco provider of options-market data and analytics, told Bloomberg. “It looks like very unusual call buying. I see this very frequently when there’s a takeover.”

The fact the same company involved in the Galleon case is again being mentioned for unusual trading activity shows how pervasive and persistent insider trading may be. It also shows the endless battled the Securities & Exchange Commission faces in trying to stamp this out. (The SEC, 3Com and H-P have all declined comment on the matter).

As much as I'd like to believe that the bad guys will always get caught, it seems like the SEC is simply looking the other way.

Monday, November 9, 2009

US Census 2010: Taiwanese-Americans

A reminder to all you Taiwanese-Americans that the 2010 US Census is coming up. Not only a great chance to get a high-paying part-time job (if you're still looking by then), but also a good chance to make the Taiwanese population in the states count.

These are official numbers that will be used in things such as federal funding allocation towards communities and social programs, as well as determining the number of representatives that each state gets to the House of Representatives, etc. I assume these numbers may also be used by politicians to determine how much influence a specific demographic (Taiwanese-Americans?) may have on a politician's chance of (put bluntly) being elected (if they support that group of people's concerns, etc.).

More information can be found below:

http://census2010.tacl.org/

and a Facebook group to join, to help spread the word:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=185788971053&ref=nf#/group.php?gid=185788971053&v=wall&ref=nf

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Continued 'Bull' on TAIEX

“Taiwan is a buy story as the economic and commercial assumptions from cross-strait ties are positive for the market,” he said in a phone interview today. “Asian markets will rely on company earnings beating expectations in 2010 as good year-on-year economic data in the first half of 2010 is mainly discounted.”
This above quote from this bullish article on the TAIEX. The author claims that increased cross-strait agreements and potential upcoming ECFA and MOUs and whatever other agreements they come up with, will strengthen the position of Taiwan equities.

Consider these few points, and take from this what you will.

The article mentions Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008 (specifically the 20th of May), and whos' platform consisted of "easing curbs on investments and increasing transportation links with China." May 20, 2008 marks the high over the past 2 years on the TAIEX. Despite all the "fanfare" over increased links and cross-strait agreements, the TAIEX has never seen those prices since.

What does this say? Well, it goes along with the saying, "Buy on rumor, sell on the news." Buy on rumor that Ma is likely to win, sell when he actually does. If you did? You made out like a bandit.

Furthermore, it sort of shows that fundamentals and the news that supposedly drives stocks, doesn't really drive price. If so, why did TAIEX trade down after news of the oncoming "Chinese stimulus" into the Taiwan economy? If so, why are global markets trading up since March, despite worsening economic numbers (U.S. "official" unemployed now over 10%!).

I will continue to watch the TAIEX carefully, as it may well turn out to be another "buy the rumor, sell the news" opportunity. Of course, higher prices are definitely possible, but my point here is to not trust these so-called "experts" and "analysts" at face value. How many can you recall, actually came out and downgraded stocks and called for the crash of 2008?
"God works in weird ways, markets work in twisted ways, to accomplish the most obvious in the most unobvious ways."

Monday, November 2, 2009

More On Happy Farmers, Yet Again... And Taxes!

As if Taiwanese can't get enough of Happy Farm and their obsession over US Beef, here's an interesting article citing the author's own obsession over Happy Farm, and for many others in Asia (specifically Taiwan).

The author, Victor Cheung, links to a picture off of a website called MMdays, showing a real-life "Happy Farm" on Yangmingshan. Hats off to whoever got that farm created up there, as it'll likely be a nice tourist spot for the 80% of Happy Farmers who are Taiwanese.

Anyways, another article where the author admits his own happiness with playing Happy Farm, here.

In other news, I came across this story on a website I frequent, and I found it rather interesting in putting America's tax situation into something more easily understood. Take it for what it's worth:

From Keith Franklin:

I was having lunch with one of my favorite friends
last week - a very liberal college professor - and the
conversation turned to the government's recent round of tax cuts.

"I'm opposed to those tax cuts," the Professor
declared, "because they benefit the rich.
The rich get much more money back than ordinary
taxpayers like you and me and that's not fair."

"But the rich pay more in the first place," I
argued, "so it stands to reason they'd get more money back."

I could tell that my friend was unimpressed by this
meager argument.

So I said to him, let's put tax cuts in terms
everyone can understand:
Suppose that every day 10 men go to a restaurant
for dinner.
The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If it was paid the way we pay our taxes,
The first four men paid nothing;
The fifth paid $1;
The sixth paid $3;
The seventh $7;
The eighth $12;
The ninth $18.
The tenth man (the richest) paid $59.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day
and seemed quite happy with the arrangement
until the owner threw them a curve.

Since you are all such good customers, he said, I'm
going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.

Now, dinner for the 10 only costs $80. The first
four are unaffected. They still eat for free.
Can you figure out how to divide up the $20 savings
among the remaining six so that everyone gets his
fair share?

The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but
if they subtract that from everybody's share,
then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up
being paid to eat their meal.

The restaurant owner suggested that it would be
fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the
same percentage, being sure to give each a break, and
he proceeded to work out the amounts each should
pay.

And so now:
Along with the first four, the fifth man
paid nothing,
The sixth pitched in $2,
The seventh paid $5,
The eighth paid $9,
The ninth paid $12,
Leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52
instead of $59.

Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare
their savings,
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," complained
the sixth man, pointing to the tenth, "and he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I
only saved a dollar,too.
It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!"

"That's true," shouted the seventh man. "Why should
he get $7 back when I got only $2?
The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men. "We
didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor."

Then, the nine men surrounded the tenth man (the
richest one, paying the most) and beat him up.

The next night the richest man didn't show up for
dinner, so now the nine men sat down and ate without him.
But when it came time to pay the bill,
they discovered something very important. They
were $52 short!

And now people and college professors, this is
how America's tax system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get
the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for
being wealthy, and they just may
not show up at the table any more.

My Reply To Congressman Adam Smith

See here, for Congressman Adam Smith's original letter regarding HCR18.

Congressman Adam Smith,

Thank you for your response and appreciate your concern for Taiwan as well. I would just like to point out a few things regarding the recent "warming" of ties between China and Taiwan. While on the surface, it may seem that indeed relations are warming, the fact remains that China continues to hold Taiwan hostage with 1500+ missiles aimed at Taiwan. Along with these missiles are measures by China to continue to isolate Taiwan and China from foreign interference (specifically the US), with their military advancements far exceeding the advancements made in regards to the "peace" between China and Taiwan. Because of this, I believe that Taiwan continues to have the necessity for defensive arms sales and weapons to act as a deterrent for any forcible strike that China may undertake (as it has continued to say it will, if Taiwan pursues formal independence). As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I am sure you are well aware of these advancements, and hope you take these into consideration when considering Taiwan's request for F-16s.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that what I hope we all strive for in Taiwan's future is the self-determination of the people of Taiwan. As my parents have emigrated from from Taiwan to the US, and I see myself as a Taiwanese-American, I believe it is part of my duty to continue to help promote the freedoms that my parents and I enjoy in the United States, for those in Taiwan as well. China's threat to take Taiwan by force if the people of Taiwan decide they want to keep their democracy, human rights, sovereignty, self-determination, and all these values that Americans cherish, is a threat that cannot and should not stand in our world today.

Lastly, while you mention that the KMT and President Ma were overwhelming victors in the elections last year, I think it is unfair to say that because of that, Taiwan as a whole supports whatever President Ma is doing. Polls conducted by both sides in Taiwan continue to show consistently that less than 10% of Taiwanese would like to unify with China, now, or ever. Here is a recent survey by the Global Views Magazine that points to the fact that the % of those favoring independence has actually increased under the KMT/President Ma administration, despite their platform being support for eventual unification between the two (the survey results are in Chinese, but I hope someone in your office can translate; also a blog-post from "Taiwan Matters" that helps with English translation on the survey). Continuing with this, a poll conducted earlier this year after Ma mishandled the Typhoon Morakot crisis, showed that support for Ma's presidency dropped as low as 16%, and currently sits around 25-30%. As you can see, while Taiwanese may have voted President Ma to office, it does not mean that Taiwanese have continued to voice support for Ma's policies. My point here is that the situation in Taiwan is much more dire than it seems, as the KMT have regained control of the government of Taiwan, human rights and symbols of democracy have continued to deteriorate under the watch of President Ma. Things such as the handling of the ex-president Chen's case that seem like another step in what seems like a political witch-hunt, as well as international bodies citing a drop in Taiwan's freedom of press, all shout of old habits that never die, a sign that the KMT's authoritarian past is not quite fully in the past yet.

While there is no simple solution to these problems, I believe that the United States plays an integral role in the future of Taiwan, not only because of the TRA, but because Taiwan serves as a beacon of democracy to the rest of region in Asia. I hope that you can support both HCR18 as well as HCR200, which expresses Congress' support for the self-determination of the people of Taiwan. I look forward to your support on this issue.

Sincerely,
Richard

Monday, October 26, 2009

Congressman Adam Smith's Response to My Letter Concerning HCR18

October 26, 2009

Dear Richard,

Thank you for contacting me in support of establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Like you, I believe it is important to engage in dialogue with and promote the interests of peaceful, democratically elected governments. I also believe that the history and complexities of China-Taiwan relations make this issue an especially delicate one that must be handled with careful deliberation and diplomacy.

As you may know, the United States has officially recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the legitimate Chinese government since 1979. This officially ended the diplomatic and military obligations of the United States to Taiwan. However, that same year, the 96th Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which stated that while official relations with Taiwan were over, it would be the policy to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and Taiwan, as well as the people in mainland China. This legislation has been the governing authority for United States-Taiwanese relations since its passage.

The framework that the TRA established consisted of recognition of the PRC as the sovereign and sole government of all of China, while still maintaining a positive relationship with Taiwan. The United States has worked for a peaceful resolution to the Taiwanese issue within this framework for the past three decades, preserving the delicate balance in the region that has resulted in a static, yet peaceful situation. In addition, a closer relationship with the PRC has been an important tool in maintaining regional stability, particularly on the Korean peninsula.

The current framework has largely been effective for maintaining peace in the region and promoting the interests of the United States. I believe we should continue to support the "One-China Policy" while maximizing Taiwanese freedom within the TRA framework. Most importantly, we must engage in a diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese to achieve a lasting resolution that preserves United States, Chinese, and Taiwanese interests.

More recently, I have been pleased by the improving relations between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. As you may know, on March 22, 2008, the people of Taiwan elected Ma Ying Jeou, of the Nationalist (KMT) Party, as President. Ma's victory came on the heels of the KMT's sweeping victory in the legislative elections in January 2008. Since his election, relations between Taiwan and China appear to be warming. For example, in 2008, Taiwan's government agreed to accept a gift of a pair of pandas that were offered by Beijing as a goodwill gesture in 2005. In addition, daily direct flights began for the first time between Taipei and Beijing in December 2008. While tension between both parties remain, their willingness to directly engage each other, strengthen economic ties, and diminish the threat of violence appear to be steps in the right direction to improve the relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China.

Congressman John Linder introduced H.Con.Res.18 on January 9, 2009. This legislation expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should abandon the "One-China Policy" in favor of a "One-China, One-Taiwan Policy" that recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country. In addition, the resolution states that the President should begin the process of resuming normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and support Taiwan's full participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.

Currently, this legislation is being reviewed by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. As a member of the Committee, please be assured that I will continue to study this proposal and will keep your thoughts in mind should this legislation be brought up for a vote.

Again, thank you for contacting me in support of establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Sincerely,

Adam Smith

Member of Congress

No More Happy Farmers in Taiwan: Redux

One of Happy Farm's marketing slogans: "Our Game = Five Minutes Joy"

First post on Happy Farmers in Taiwan here.

Some statistics came out in an article from the AFP, reporting the actual number of Happy Farmers who are Taiwanese. Interestingly enough, they report that:
Taiwanese Internet users reportedly constitute about 80 percent of the 3.7 million members of "Happy Farm".
That is simply amazing marketing for whoever headed the Happy Farm division for Asia/Taiwan/the whole world. I'm sure he/she is going to get a nice bonus at the end of this year. I am not surprised that this application-internet-game-type sector is quickly growing, since I've heard from a few of my friends that they have paid upwards of $30 on the game Happy Farm. Officially there is at least one person in Taiwan who has spent at least $80 on this game, and plans to sue Facebook for "deceiving" him to pay money for the game.

Having played a decent assortment of games before, paid and non-paid, it would seem like the profit margins for these types of games should be relatively high. It's quite remarkable for a game like Happy Farm to be able to generate $30-80 from one customer (with the possibility of more over time).

The future for these games and Facebook in Taiwan look bright, despite continued opposition from a few in Taiwan's government:
In related developments, Vice Minister of Education Lin Tsung-ming (林聰明) said the ministry did not recommend that youths play a popular Facebook game called Happy Farm because “stealing” vegetables is unethical.

Wu said the ministry would suggest that the developer of the game modify it by having players “rent” rather than “steal” vegetables from other players.
Since when has doing something "unethical" become such a driving force for voicing public opposition towards that thing? I wonder if there is something more to this story than just simply not wanting workers to waste their time on this at work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Fate of the Language?

Brought to my attention in my Facebook news-feed (what is this world coming to?!), a friend of mine posted a link to this article in the New York Times about how the Cantonese language is facing the possibility of becoming a "dying" language over the next few years in the United States- specifically in New York's Chinatown.

I emphasize language here because it is a language. As far as I can tell from my one-year education in Mandarin, the Cantonese language and Mandarin language are mutually unintelligible. Just as, the Taiwanese language and Mandarin language are mutually unintelligible. And while both languages, Cantonese and Taiwanese, may be facing an uphill battle in surviving as a language- the outlook for Cantonese remains much brighter.

This is due in most part to Cantonese having a fairly well supported written form of itself. On the other hand, Taiwanese is being hit on all fronts by many different systems, from using romanized systems to character systems, where each can be further broken down. This website, Talingua, has a good overview of the various ways you can approach Taiwanese writing/reading. The problem here is (from what I remember/hear) that the KMT government at one point gave money to a bunch of different groups/scholars to each come up with their own system of writing Taiwanese. Sounds good/reasonable right? Well, the result was that each came up with their own, and there ended up being a sort of competition for whose is better. In the end, we have a bunch of different systems, that no one can agree upon. So the Taiwanese language continues to lose place in society as the years pass on with no agreed upon writing system.

While a writing system for a language is not the only thing that is needed to help keep it alive, it is a large part of it. But, I believe there needs to be a change that takes place in conjunction with a unified writing system for Taiwanese to maintain it's prominence as a language of Taiwan. That is, the political and social issues that plague the Taiwanese language. Many young Taiwanese these days are plagued with the notion that Taiwanese is/should be used for only in the marketplace and at home. While currently this notion is certainly not unfounded (as Taiwanese is currently mainly used in marketplaces and inside the home), it is a slippery slope of self-fulfilling prophecy that should be reconsidered. It is one thing to put Mandarin on a pedestal and say it's the main language to be used in the business world/work place, but another thing to put Taiwanese down and limit it to the marketplace and home.

The part that I find must unbearable about this is (coming from personal experience), young Taiwanese telling other Taiwanese, "Why are you speaking Taiwanese? It's so weird." As one who excels in the Taiwanese language, and has the Mandarin capability of probably a 2nd or 3rd grader (or worse), I was not one to be ashamed to use my Taiwanese in all aspects of my life and time in Taiwan- from classmates, to professors, other exchange students, at clubs/bars, customer service people, retail workers, you name it, I probably talked to them in Taiwanese. Were they taken aback at first? Yes. Did they get used to it? Yes. Was it easier to make friends because of my Taiwanese? In my point of view, yes. I think we can all do the Taiwanese language a favor, by at the very least, simply not handing out negative remarks over using Taiwanese. I even met a few people who speak Taiwanese with their friends all the time, and it was a refreshing change to see that there are still young people in Taiwan who have respect for their own culture.

Keep in mind, this is no hack on the Taiwanese who don't speak the language, Taiwanese- but rather a reminder to those that do. Furthermore, I want to emphasize here that speaking Taiwanese does not make one more "Taiwanese" than those who don't. I have met plenty of people who don't speak Taiwanese (only Mandarin and/or Hakka), but are more "Taiwanese" than the current president of Taiwan will ever be (although that isn't saying much of those who really know what Ma is up to, but you get my point).

P.S. As crazy as it is to hear a girl inside Babe 18 speaking butchered-Taiwanese and continuing saying li-ho, li-ho, jia-beng, jia-beng, as if those were the only few Taiwanese phrases that exist, I do applaud these few girls that I met for attempting to do so- and I must say, it is rather cute.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taiwan's Military

With the recent flurry of news regarding more calls for arms sales to Taiwan and China's 1300+ missiles, the actual military of Taiwan has been overlooked.

Let's take a look at what the government is doing to help recruit more people:



From that, I'd say we could bypass all that commotion about arms sales to Taiwan, and just utilize the auto-bots that Taiwan has somehow secretly (not so secret anymore) attained. I'm sure if Taiwan had those transformers, they would have no problem getting rid of mandatory conscription and having an all-volunteer force.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Review: "The Founding of a Republic (建國大業)"

I previously mentioned this movie in my previous post, here. After having seen it through some online channels, I would like to revisit the movie to see how much actual propaganda could be seen in their government production of a movie. Since I am no movie review guru, I'm just going to hit a few points that stuck out to me.

The movie is presented with subtitles in both Chinese (Simplified) characters, as well as English subtitles. I had to go along with the English subtitles due to my Mandarin not being quite up to par, as well as my Chinese characters' education being in traditional writing.

In one of the opening scenes, we get a cameo appearance from Jet Li, which ultimately led me to start thinking about him in that role and what character he played. Because of this, I was distracted from the subtitles and failed to understand what was going on in that part of the movie. It's nice to have an all-star cast I guess, but at least for me, the short cameos detracted from the movie more than it gave. Part of this is that most of the big name characters like Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Ze-dong are played by non-famous actors, so when you get famous people like Zhang Ziyi and Jet Li coming in on 30 second cameos, it just makes you wonder, needlessly.

In another scene, when Chiang Kai-shek's wife is flown to Washington to plead with the U.S. Secretary of State for assistance for her husband's KMT forces, we see her passing through the entrance of a building where there stands two soldiers "guarding." In one of the most bizarre scenes of the movie, upon seeing CKS's wife walk by, he eyes her like a hound and remarks, "Wow... she's so hot, mang." Needless to say, the soldier in that scene is the only black person (if I recall correctly) to be seen throughout the movie. Great appearance for the blacks, right? Anyways, it was hard to tell if that was thrown in there to lighten up the movie from it's, semi-documentary-esque style movie, or simply part of the way they wanted to portray Americans and/or blacks?

As far as the big two, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Ze-dong, having never seen previous movies produced by the China group that produced this film, they portray both as how I figured they would.

Mao with his pal Zhou Enlai, are seen in ragged clothing, huddled in huts using candles to light the room, and lively dance in the streets with local farmers/peasants after defeating the KMT in a battle. Very much portrayed as your average Chinese, working hard for the greater good of the country. In one scene, Mao is seen with his daughters in the flower fields joking around with them. But, I will say it is a nice touch as far as bringing some personality into his character.

CKS on the other hand is portrayed as a rich and stuck-up leader of the KMT. He (whether it's true or not?) walks around the movie with his cane in almost all the scenes, making him out to be some old hag. There was hardly a smile that appeared on CKS's face throughout the movie, other than the beginning where the truce between the CCP and the KMT was agreed upon.

This carries over into the potrayal of the KMT, corrupt and filled with internal strife, where Chiang's own family is caught in corrupt business practices in Shanghai.

For the CCP, the movie proudly promotes the CCP as the party that unified all of China under principles of democracy. As far-fetched as it sounds, the word "democracy" was seen in many scenes where Mao or Zhou talked of the their plans for a new government. Democracy was talked about so much, that it is possible that 'democracy' was mentioned more times than 'communism/communist,' which is remarkable considering that they are a communist party.

As a Taiwanese, or 'outsider' (not one inside China), I can easily see how this was meant for China's domestic audience only. A lot of historical background is needed to get a better understanding of what is happening. Even though I had enough background in this issue, I felt this movie simply isn't a movie for anyone other than Chinese- especially as a Taiwanese.

As one who supports Taiwan's self-rule and sovereignty, it was hard to "get behind" either the protagonist (CCP), or antagonist (KMT). At one point, I was just too turned off to even have a response towards the movie. Knowing that the CCP currently oppresses Taiwan, along with the fact that the KMT eventually occupies Taiwan and is effectively the cause of the struggles in Taiwan today, it pained me to watch a movie where neither side could be 'my' side.

All in all, it was ok for a historical movie, but I can hardly see how foreigners (especially Taiwanese people) would enjoy watching this (since it is rumored to be appearing in Taiwan next year).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No More Happy Farmers in Taiwan


Screenshot of the homepage of the "Happy Farm" application
on Facebook
. "The Happiest Farm on Facebook"

If you're Taiwanese and you're on Facebook, it's likely you either play or have seen "Happy Farm," "Farmville," "Restaurant City," or some other similar variant of these game applications featured on Facebook, especially in your 'news feed'. I guess it finally took a toll on the work efficiency in Taiwan, as the games have now been banned at work (for those that are civil servants).

It's quite a phenomenon, seeing the entire country (pretty much) play that game. It had become so popular in Taiwan, that there are Facebook groups devoted to having "free" friends to add to their Facebook account so that they can obtain more items in the games. Groups such as these, "♥ RESTAURANT CITY ♥ "ADD ME"" and "台灣美版餐廳Restaurant City討論區" are mostly filled with players from Taiwan, and as you see in the second one, a group specific to Taiwan.

In my view, a large percentage of Taiwanese have flocked to Facebook for these specific applications, as they provide a lot more entertainment and things to do (while at work?) than previous social networking sites that Taiwanese were used to before, such as Wretch (無名). Less than a year ago, a lot of my friends in Taiwan (locals) had never heard of Facebook, and now, I think I am connected with 70-80% of those friends that I've met in the past via Facebook. Facebook looks like it has got a solid ground to start from in Taiwan, barring any more punishment from above for using Facebook.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another 1010

Another year, another Double-Ten day. This year though, without all the festivities, and just a low-key speech by President Ma Ying-jeou. Full transcript of the speech can be found here.

While it is the national day for the government of the Republic of China, through some twists and turns for Taiwan's history, it has become Taiwan's nationally recognized day as well. There's controversy over whether it was right for Ma Ying-jeou to decide whether or not to have normal parades and festivities for today, as well as those that may think we shouldn't even celebrate today, as it is the national day for the authoritarian regime that now occupies Taiwan.

Whatever the case may be, I think President Ma hit a good stride in this part of his speech, titled "Developing a Chinese culture with unique Taiwanese character." For this, I will just ignore the details about wording- whether it should be 'Taiwanese culture with unique Chinese character,' or whatever other combination of words you can put in there. Furthermore, putting aside details about how democratic reforms came about to the ROC government at the cost of Taiwanese lives. Here's Ma's opening for this part of his speech:

My dear friends, looking back over the 98 years of the Republic of China's history inspires a welter of contrasting feelings. Except for the "golden decade" immediately following the Northern Expedition, the 38 years during which the ROC government was based on the mainland was a period of incessant war and chaos that rendered people destitute and rootless and allowed little opportunity to put into practice the nation-building ideals of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Yet, over the six decades since the ROC government relocated to Taiwan, it has succeeded in carrying out land reform, implementing universal education, promoting economic growth, erecting a social welfare system and instituting democratic constitutional government.

After these 60 years of national development, Taiwan has a robust middle class, enjoys an open and free media environment, and has a healthy civil society in which environmental awareness has taken root, while community-building and volunteerism have developed at a lively pace. Step by step, we have created a Chinese culture with a unique Taiwanese character--a heritage belonging to all of us and in which we all can take pride.

During the past six decades, the histories and cultures of the Republic of China and Taiwan have become thoroughly intertwined. In this context, "Taiwan spirit" is not a vapid slogan, but is concretely embodied in the values and character of those who have struggled for this land.


The great thing I see about this part of his speech is the recognition that Taiwan's history is more than just when their government, the R.O.C., decided to occupy Taiwan. It started long before then, with roots of our culture tracing back to the Japanese occupation and before. If Ma is being honest here, and not just throwing more "Taiwanese" into his speeches for the upcoming elections, then I applaud him here.

It is as much of a call towards the pan-green side to recognize that the future of Taiwan includes those that came to Taiwan in 1949, as it is a call on the pan-blue side to recognize that the future cannot be determined simply by their rule, but those that have inhabited Taiwan for centuries before. The future of Taiwan depends on the both greens, blues, independents, because at this point in each of our lives, we all have stakes in the future of Taiwan.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama - Nobel Peace Prize Winner

The main news this morning is that President Barack Obama of the United States has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for:
for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
Now ignoring the fact that he was nominated within a couple weeks of being inaugurated (nomination deadline was Feb 1st), and that really, he hasn't fully accomplished anything in terms of Israel-Palestine, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. I would like to bring the attention to someone else. That man, Ma Ying-jeou.

As readers of my blog, and those who know me, you likely know that I am certainly no fan of Taiwan's current president, Ma Ying-jeou. But, I will say that the events that have occurred up until today, it feels like Ma Ying-jeou has done a lot more in terms of promoting peace, even if it is just regional peace- and fake peace at that (there's still 1500+ missiles ready to bring Taiwan to rubble). So while it is fake to those who really know what's going on, on the other hand the media has gobbled up Ma and his "warming" of cross-strait relations. Media coverage concerning Taiwan, China, and Ma Ying-jeou have always given credit to Ma on his "warming cross-strait relations," and "closest relations in many years."

Therefore, it's hard to see how Obama's accomplishments (or lack thereof) trumps Ma Ying-jeou's. For me to come out and say that Ma Ying-jeou deserves this more than Obama? Well, I'll just leave it at that.

Rather than putting this on Obama, because it is unfair to him, I think it just shows that the Nobel Peace prize has become nothing more than a political and media affair of which the value of the prize is close to nothing. But, that began a while ago when the likes of Jimmy Carter (the one that officially screwed Taiwan) in 2002, and Yasser Arafat in 1994 took home the prize.

And it is sad, because "it used to mean something."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Taipei" Welcomes the NBA


The TaipeiTimes caption reads:
"IDENTITY CRISIS

Workers at the Taipei Arena yesterday replace the word “Taiwan” with the word “Taipei” ahead of tomorrow’s Indiana Pacers vs Denver Nuggets NBA basketball game.
PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES"

On Thursday, two NBA teams, the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers will play against each other in Taipei. Besides the fact that it will be the first NBA game ever to be played in Taiwan, not too much to say on this event. It will be a great opportunity for the people in Taiwan to see a live NBA game. I'm sure as the NBA continues its work in Taiwan, it'll find it has a large market in Taiwan as well.

While nothing is wrong with either "Taipei welcomes..." or "Taiwan welcomes...," it seems like another case of appeasing China at the expense of "Taiwan." After all, "Taiwan" was already placed on there, and yet there is this last minute change to "Taipei."

Taipei, a city looking to put itself on the international map? Or another instance of Taiwanese unable to take a stand, and placating to China. I'll go with the latter. The Taipei Arena, Taipei Mayor, Minister of Sports Affairs Council, and the President of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association all dropped the ball here.

In other, more interesting news, an interesting response to an Op-Ed, "Rebiya Kadeer and Taipei," in the WSJ, by Su Jun-pin, Minister of the GIO:

On behalf of the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I would like to comment on a number of mistaken notions contained in the editorial "Rebiya Kadeer and Taipei" (Review & Outlook, Sept. 29).

First, the decision of not allowing Ms. Kadeer to visit Taiwan has been made in accordance with Article 18 of Chapter 4 of the Immigration Act, "Entry of Aliens and Exit of Aliens." This article stipulates that the National Immigration Agency shall prohibit an alien from entering the ROC if he/she is believed to endanger national interests or public security. This does not mean, however, that the ROC government disrespects freedom of expression. Indeed, the documentary about Ms. Kadeer's life has been shown at many venues in Taiwan.

Further, the editorial states that President Ma Ying-jeou was elected to improve Taiwan's economy through closer links with mainland China, but "is misinterpreting that mandate to include closer ties with [mainland] China's authoritarian politics, too." This is a gross misconception.

The Ma administration, it must be stressed, has turned a new page in relations across the Taiwan Strait. Since taking office in May 2008, cross-Strait tensions have eased, and the prospects for lasting peace in the Asia-Pacific region are improving, a trend affirmed by governments around the world. Our cross-Strait policy is premised on safeguarding our sovereignty and putting Taiwan first for the benefit of its people. That means insisting on freedom and democracy in Taiwan while promoting cross-Strait peace and prosperity.

We believe this is the right course to take and that observers who look closely at Taiwan will concur.

Su Jun-pin

Minister

Government Information Office

Republic of China (Taiwan)

My basic response to this, as you will see in the comments on the WSJ page as well, is that here and in the past week, the Ma administration has continued to state this fact that they can deny entry to a person who is deemed a threat to national interests or the public. But, they have continued to be silent on exactly how is Ms. Kadeer a threat to Taiwan? That is the question we all would like to know. Perhaps the real answer is what we already suspected, that Ms. Kadeer is a threat to China, and the Ma administration is once again letting China stomp all over us.

EWT Trade (10/07/09): Stopped out of my EWT trade for a loss of $0.35 per contract. As I recently mentioned, TA works until it doesn't! Minimizing losses is part of the game.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stocks and Politics - Now In Different Languages!

http://spia.uga.edu/images/image_sets/flags_around_the_world.jpg
Flags from around the world - Photo Credit

Came across this useful tool by Google, called the "Google Translate" tool.

Translates the entire page, including comments! Figured it would be handy for those who are in Taiwan and elsewhere across the globe who might want to read the blog in their native language. As I don't think the translator is quite up to par- although it should get the job done (in most cases), you probably shouldn't translate my blog from English into say, Chinese, just to practice learning Chinese.

If your browser default language is already set to English, then you might not get a pop-up at the top of the page about translating the page, otherwise a pop-up for Google Translate should be at the top. But, you can always find the language translate tool on the right hand sidebar.

Friday, October 2, 2009

SinoPac - TAIEX to 10,000

Update 10/5/09: Based on my price levels, I took a short position on EWT at $12.25 (1 cent off the days high) via Dec 13 puts @ 1.05. Targets are seen below.

So with all the hoopla of the impending MOU, ECFA, and whatever other alphabet soup acronym they come up with, a fund manager sees the TAIEX jumping another 33% by the first half of next year. So let's see where does that put the TAIEX-- currently trading at 7411.88 right now, another 33% puts it circa 9857.80, about 1.5 points shy of the '07 highs of 9859.65.

Now the number make sense, but the question is do we get there? I certainly don't read the future, but I just read charts. Similar calculations on EWT (the ETF for the Taiwan Index on the US stock exchange), also puts a 33% jump on EWT at the previous highs of $16.17 to the penny. Impressive huh? :)

Take a look at this 5 year chart on EWT below:



Closed yesterday in the US side at $12.16 and likely to open lower tomorrow if the TAIEX continues to struggle today. You can see that it's hitting some decent supply area in the $12.20-$12.50 region, where there's a cluster of previous support and resistance over the past years.

Rather than taking a long position based on this recommendation to buy on the TAIEX, I would rather short the EWT anywhere in the $12.25-$12.40 region with a stop above the highs at $12.40, with targets of $11.72 - $11.47 - $11.00 - $10.60. Of course, his time frame is in the months, and mine is short-term.

But, that just means I believe you can get a better entry going long the TAIEX in the short to intermediate term if you wait for prices to come back from these overbought conditions. If you are so inclined to take a long position on the TAIEX, I would wait until it gets to around $11.00.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"The Beauty of Airspace in Taiwan" (福爾摩沙 空中散步) - Video

Title and screencap of the video of mention

If you haven't seen this video of scenic places in Taiwan, it's a must see! Be sure to click the HD button, or watch it in 720p by downloading it here (it's a .mkv file and missing the last shots of Orchid Island; use VLC player if you can't play it). The video is called, "The Beauty of Airspace in Taiwan" I saw it a month or so ago, but forgot where, and then again this past weekend at the local Taiwanese Association of Greater Seattle (TAGS) 中秋晚會 event to celebrate-- the Mid-Autumn Festival. Then, finally again someone posted it on Facebook and it appeared on my news feed.

Seems like it's something that's recently picked up (again?) some popularity, so for us Taiwanese, who for some odd reason aren't celebrating the 60th anniversary of the PRC, take a look and enjoy the spectacular views of Taiwan. And if you missed it, the PRC has made a movie for their 60th birthday, called "The Founding of a Republic."

As far as for what reason it was made, looks like it could be an advertisement for http://www.hd.club.tw

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taiwan's Tennis Star, "Chang," Prevails over No.1 Seed

Congratulations to the latest Taiwan tennis star, Chang Kai-chen, not to be confused with Taiwan's first tennis star (albeit played under the U.S. nationality), Michael Chang, for defeating the currently No.1 ranked woman's player, Dinara Safina of Russia.

As always with news surrounding Taiwan, there's controversy over whether Safina should even be considered being ranked #1 in the world. Safina has not won a single grand slam this year, and yet has held onto the #1 ranking due to consistent wins in the non-slam tournaments.

Also some weird commenting on this victory, as seen in this monstersandcritics.com article:
Taiwan's Broadcasting Corp of China lauded 18-year-old Chang for 're-writing history (of tennis).'
Rewriting history of tennis? I can hardly see how that is so. Anyway you look at it, it's just another upset of the number one seed, one of the many that have occurred in the past.

Furthermore, absent in many of the match wrap-ups, is the mention of Chang's nationality. Readers and listeners of tennis matches know that the country is almost always mentioned. Such as, "The only American players left in this tournament after Round 2..." Or, "Nadal of Spain defeated..." etc. In this CNN.com article, nationalities are mentioned of every single player, except for Taiwan's Chang. It's hard to believe this is just a slip-up/typo.

With that said, it is still a great accomplishment for her nonetheless.

台灣加油!