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:

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:
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:

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:

Thank you for your time and support!

Ben Ling
TACL National President

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.