Thursday, October 21, 2010

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

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

Here is what he had to say:


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Economic Integration Leads To Political Integration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Taiwan's" National Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Check Out Taipei Times

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Calling On Adam Smith

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

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

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

H. Con. Res. 316:

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

China's Business Potential

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Politicizing The Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reviewing Senator Patty Murray's Visit To China

Earlier this year in January, WA State Senator Patty Murray visited China as the head of a three-member group called the "Senate's United States-China Inter-Parliamentary Group." According to this Seattle Times article back when Senator Murray was just about to embark on her trip, it cites the groups purpose as:

to foster better relations with China with the aim of improving cooperation on issues such as human rights, trade and security.
Now fast forward and lets look over what Senator Murray did on her "China 2010 Visit" as seen on her own website. Despite the group's purpose being 3-fold, Senator Murray admitted that her discussions were "largely focused" on trade issues:
As the head of the U.S. delegation, I chaired the afternoon's session which largely focused on a wide range of economic and trade issues. This is the second IPG session I have attended in China, in addition to attending IPG meetings in Washington, DC. One thing that I have noticed is that the tone is much different than in the past. Previously discussions were more relaxed. Today we had intense and much more passionate exchanges. A key issue for the Chinese was weapons sales to Taiwan. 
The issue of Taiwan of course came up, and Senator Murray merely stated that it was a key issue for the Chinese. The question that we would have wanted to know is, is Taiwan is key issue for the U.S.? Is it a key issue for you, Senator Murray?

On the issue of security, Murray did have one line about that:
We raised the need for continued engagement with North Korea and Iran as well as protection of intellectual property.
But other than that, it seems as if economy and trade issues simply dominated the talks. I would say that Senator Murray's group failed on getting the message about human rights and security across to the Chinese. Human Rights? What human rights (see this report on China's continual "dismal and not improving" record on human rights)? And security talk with China about engaging with North Korea? China says definitely, we'll engage but not in the way you want us to. North Korea remains as one of China's main allies - after all, if communists can't stick together, how can you expect western democracies to get along with China? Just the past week or so, Kim Jung Il visited China for who knows what, but it certainly doesn't seem like beneficial news for the rest of the world... two of the world's most well-known communist leaders getting together to discuss their transition to democracy? I think not.

Patty Murray's ties with China should mean she has greater leverage with them, or so you would think. Instead, abroad in China we have the communist party threatening to boycott Boeing due to them manufacturing arms that would eventually be sold to Taiwan. And at home in Washington, we have Patty Murray unable to keep the additional manufacturing jobs for Boeing 787s in Everett.

I think it's time to put your party preference aside and just get someone new in there. Yes, that means Republican Dino Rossi. And if he doesn't serve us well, then vote in the next new guy.

According to Wikipedia, Senatory Murray is currently the 4th highest-ranking democratic senator in the senate. That should give you an idea of how long she's been in the senate.

For full disclosure, yes I would consider myself a Republican. But, had Rossi been the incumbent with this track record, I would be saying the same thing for him to go.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taiwan Cross-Straits Research Project - Participate!

This was forwarded to me as a opportunity to share your knowledge and experience of Cross-Straits history. See below for more information:

Hi everyone!

My name's Alina and I'm currently a rising junior at Brown University, pursuing a research project about how youth in mainland China and Taiwan (ages 18-30) look at cross-strait history. 

Here's what you do
1) Take this survey.
2) Investigate your own history and share it on our website
4) Continue the conversation.

Cross-Strait Passages seeks to work towards cross-strait peace by starting a conversation about our past. Find out more about your grandparents' generation. If we don't record their stories now, who will?

So from now until August 10th, we will be having a summer feature contest. The winner will be have their work undergo post-production processing, have four CDs of their work to share with family and friends, be featured on our website, and provided he or she lives in Taipei or Beijing, be eligible for a 2000 NT or 400 RMB cash prize. 

So start now. Tell your friends and share this message! This project will be most meaningful if we have as many people as possible participate. 

Look forward to hearing from you,

Cross-Strait Passages

大家好!我怡文,來自美國布朗大學。我正在進行一項名為 峽通道」的和平計畫,需要你們的協助。 海峽通道是一個收集歷史故事網路空間。讀者可以透過此空間中世代交錯的內容認識四零及年代台灣和中國可開啟並培養出對於兩岸事務敏銳度。





Musings of the Future

It's quite hard to digest all the contradictory and ironic talk that comes out of Taiwan's government these days. I was thinking about writing about another ridiculous statement a former KMT chairman stated on the ECFA, but decided it wasn't worth my time. After all, it's been pretty much all the same over the past year - say one thing to the person on your left, and another to the person on your right, and what actually happens is neither what you told the left nor right.

So, I was thinking about the endless possibilities that could turn out in Taiwan over the next two years and wondered if what some other people have stated could be true - that is, Taiwanese will be just as quick to "punish" the KMT at the polls as they did the DPP in 2008, if the KMT swing way too far into the hands of China. So far, the small signs point to this being a real possibility - and the November elections will further cement this hypothesis for the 2012 presidential elections if the DPP come away with wins.

What I think would really boost the DPP in the upcoming elections are the votes from the younger Taiwanese (those in the 20s to 30s). Though if not properly informed, this block of voters could potentially lift the KMT to another win quite easily. The negative image that Chen Shui-bian left on the many young Taiwanese my age is quite deep and hard to reverse. Especially because this group of voters are already quite apathetic to politics in Taiwan, so for the most part all they still know about DPP and the KMT is that Chen Shui-bian was a horrible corrupt president, and Ma Ying-jeou was voted in with great popularity and that's it. They hardly know of the implications surrounding the ECFA or Ma's mishandling of Typhoon Morokat, and all his other blunders.

I say this because my generation of Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans have already got the Taiwanese identity down. The issue during the 90s and early 2000s of Taiwanese not recognizing themselves as Taiwanese is a forgotten past by now (ironically, much to do with Chen Shui-bians efforts). What likely concerns these Taiwanese are the social and economic future of Taiwan. Do they know that Taiwan != China? Yes. Do many consider themselves Taiwanese, not Chinese? Yes. But does that translate to voting for the DPP? No.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but just felt like putting it down in writing. You must understand that China's ultimate goal is the unification of Taiwan with them. There is a reason they have 1500/1800/2000 missiles pointed at Taiwan this very moment. So do not be so naive in thinking that China has signed this ECFA with Taiwan (and claiming Taiwan is getting more out of it than China) knowing that they received the short end of the stick. Trust me, they aren't. Being a communist does not mean you aren't smart; they are, and they know exactly what they are doing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

WA State Senatorial Candidates, Part 4: Schalk Leonard

Here is Schalk Leonard's response to my e-mail regarding candidates' stance on Taiwan:
Thank you for writing.
I agree with you - Democracy is precious and must be protected.
I believe that the relationship between Taiwan and China must be resolved primarily by the two - through peaceful means which respect the voice of the people.
Sincerely, Schalk Leonard
P.S. Have you seen my Chinese-language campaign video on YouTube?

I'm beginning to sense a bit of complacency within the Republican camp in their responses to my questions regarding Taiwan. While Mr. Schalk Leonard is running under no party affiliation, his response is similar to what the other Republican candidates (Paul Akers & James (Skip) Mercer) have stated - that they see Taiwan as a friend and must be protected. To that I say, by what means and to what extent. Perhaps I indeed needed to guide them more than I had, by asking specific questions in regards to arms sales, support for Taiwan on the international scale, and China's intimidation tactics.

Nevertheless, Mr. Leonard was able to touch on something that none of the previous responses had mentioned - the resolution of the Taiwan issue should be decided primarily between Taiwan and China. When you hear this, you often get a mixed response due to the intricacies of the relationship, often involving a third party - Japan or the US. I do believe that Taiwan's future ultimately needs to be decided by Taiwan themselves, not by China nor by the US. At the same time, the "One China" issue will have to be settled by China and Taiwan (specifically the KMT) as these are the two main parties that still maintain "One China" in one sense or another. But lastly, I do hope and see that the US maintains a part in this relationship and ultimately the resolution of the stand-off between China and Taiwan. History has shown that without the US involvement in the Taiwan Cross-Straits, Taiwan may already no longer be "Taiwan" as we know it today.

So while it sounds "right" for Mr. Leonard to state that this needs to be settled by China and Taiwan through peaceful measures, he may be overlooking the problem that a majority of Taiwanese already see themselves separate from China. Thus, a joint resolution of this issue is not in the best interest of Taiwanese, as the Chinese are not Taiwanese.

In regards to his statement in the voter's pamphlet, Schalk Leonard sort of vaguely describes America as a country in "deep pain." His statement does not really get into any specifics of today's issues, so it's a bit hard to understand what he's getting at. For the most part, it comes across as a, "we're in trouble, come lets get together and rebuild this great nation," type of hope speech. Here's an example:
As for our neighbors of the wider world? The peoples of the old countries from whence our forefathers came? They know to find their way in their own time and own way. They always have and always will. And we honor them as our neighbors. We join them for mutual endeavors, when they stumble and fall we lend them a hand, and we respect the fences they have built. Good fences make good neighbors.
I think he's talking about immigration issues here, but at the same time talking about allies across the world. If so, it makes me wonder if what he means when he stated that the Taiwan issue must be primarily decided between China and Taiwan, is that he hopes the U.S. stays out of it as, "they know to find their way in their own time and own way." Might be a stretch though, since he mentions right before that about the countries from "whence our forefathers came."

Anyways, that's Schalk Leonard on Taiwan for you! Oh, and do check out his video in Chinese, his pronunciation is quite clear... that is the Chinese zh ch sh.

For which candidate will I be spotlighting next, I'm not sure. That's all the responses I've received thus far. Those that have not responded for whatever reason are: Dino Rossi, Clint Didier (only sent an automated response saying he might not respond to every e-mail due to time), Mike Latimer, Charles Allen, and Senator Patty Murray. I hope to get at least one more, but this may be it.

Make sure to return your ballots before Aug. 17, 2010 as I believe that's the last day to do so. Please feel free to circulate these responses to anyone who may be interested in hearing what they had to say about Taiwan. All links have been updated on the first post.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

WA State Senatorial Candidates, Part 3: Bob Burr

Continuing with the spotlights on the senatorial candidates, Democratic leaning Bob Burr and his wonderful response to my e-mail:

Hi Richard:

Thanks for the inquiry. I agree with you that this issue is off the radar screen of most people in Washington D.C. but that it could re-emerge big time. Taiwan is small, with less than 2% of the population of China; yet, on most economic measures, it is more like a country 20% China's size. One of my earliest political memories is of Quemoy and Matsu and that left a lasting impression.

While I was at Prudential, I was instrumental in setting up agencies designed to serve the Chinese communities and worked closely with several immigrants from both Taiwan and the mainland. The work ethic, value of education and family orientation that I observed was something that I wish was more widespread in American society. It came as something of a surprise to me--and a revelatory one at that--that the Taiwanese immigrants were more favorable towards reunification than the Chinese. I am hardly an expert in the area. I do believe that the United States should try to have friendly relations with both countries and do not believe the Hong Kong model will work for Taiwan. I don't want to see something doing well subverted nor its people subjected to restrictions. Thus, if the Chinese got to the point of playing the "it is us vs. them" card strongly, I would choose "them"--the Taiwanese. Unfortunately, I have limited confidence that our government would take such a stand if its hand was forced.

I believe that the People's Republic of China and Taiwan are two separate entities and that neither holds rightful dominion over the other. Taiwan should be a member of the United Nations. I am not a fan of United States arms sales to the world, but approve of sales to Taiwan. I approve of the growing trade and movement towards rapprochement between the two countries.

In summary, I would hope not to have to be moved from a position of neutrality/fence sitting an China vs. Taiwan and have the two entities amicably resolve their long-standing differences; however, in a serious showdown situation, my support would be to Taiwan.



Simply, wow. His depth and candor in his response is quite refreshing to hear. Mr. Burr starts off with acknowledging my statement that the Taiwan issue is currently on the back-burner, but at the same time realizes that this issue can and likely will be a potential flash-point in the future. This is one of the vital points about discussing Taiwan, China, and U.S. relations - realizing that this delicate dance between the three is a big deal. Having someone know a lot about the history between the three and the current situations doesn't do much if that same person does not feel like it is a potential area for "big" things to happen on an international scale.

Mr. Burr moves on to discuss more of his past experiences with both Taiwanese and Chinese, and includes an interesting comment of which I'm not sure how to take. Burr states,

"It came as something of a surprise to me--and a revelatory one at that--that the Taiwanese immigrants were more favorable towards reunification than the Chinese."

Overlooking the error of him in saying reunification rather than unification, this is quite a revelatory one as well to me. While I'm not sure during what time he was at Prudential working with these Taiwanese and Chinese, but from what I've seen is that a lot of those Taiwanese that immigrated to the U.S. between the 70s to 80s are those that were negatively affected by the martial law era of the KMT in Taiwan at the time. As a result, they likely have a negative view of the KMT and of China in general. But, I do not doubt Mr. Burr has come across Taiwanese that view unification favorable.

The latter half of his response, Mr. Burr wraps up by basically saying were it to come down to a showdown, he would support Taiwan. This definitely sounds good actually hearing him say it, but also I believe most politicians would support this notion if it really came down to it in the end. But at the same time, he is frank in saying that he has limited confidence in the U.S. actually holding up with Taiwan against China.

All in all, Mr. Burr left a great impression on me - not only being one of the first to respond back but also with honesty and knowledge of the situation. While some of his analysis may be different than what the majority of Taiwanese want (Taiwanese supporting unification vs not & Taiwanese supporting ECFA and not- his comment about rapprochement) I believe he definitely has a better handle on the Taiwan & China issue than incumbent Patty Murray.

For his statement on the voter's pamphlet, Mr. Burr is a strong proponent of changing up the current senate in a big way - eliminating private financing for elections, eliminating the excessive lobbying that results in "earmarks, tax breaks, and legislative concessions," and basically calling for the removal of all incumbents. In short, Burr's closing line is, "Say no to the status quo. Vote Bob Burr."

While I may still receive a few more responses from other Democrats, but for those Democratic leaning voters of Washington who also want to see the best for Taiwan, take a good look at Bob Burr and consider him instead of Patty Murray for the 2010 Primaries.

P.S. Not sure what the Chinese at the end means, anyone care to chime in?

Edit 8/9/10: Thanks to Henry for providing a translation for the Chinese in Bob Burr's response:

"The last two words; Un-Lei is his family name Burr - Famous Blast (Thunder). The first five; not so sure- could be said a foreign person with simplicity and robustness sustaining ten thousand years."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WA State Senatorial Candidates, Part 2: Paul Akers

Continuing with this mini-series on Washington State Senatorial Candidates, here's Republican Paul Akers, in response to my e-mail:

Hello, I am Jeremy, volunteer coordinator for Paul Akers’ campaign, and I am following up with your e-mail because Paul is out of the office. .
Paul supports the Taiwan Relations Act that gives the United States an important legal commitment to this vibrant democracy. The U.S. provides tangible security and stability to the Taiwan Straits which helps Taiwan interact with China on its own terms. This act requires the United States "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character", and "to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." China’s communist party should not be supported in anyway.
If you would like to know Paul better, you may call him personally at his direct cell line at 360-941-3748.
Thank you,
Jeremy Jasman
Paul Akers for US Senate
From a volunteer coordinator for a candidate, this is probably what I would have expected. Although the last line about not supporting China's communist party "in anyway" probably tilts his campaign stance towards something that supporters of Taiwan would be more comfortable with.

Besides that, the beginning and middle are pretty much standard responses - recognizing and/or supporting the T.R.A. and all the sub-acts within it. The problem with these types of responses is that they do not delve into the real problems at hand. For example, the T.R.A. states that the U.S. should provide arms of defensive nature; but we have seen that it isn't just a simple "I want this, I'll sell you it" relationship going on between Taiwan and the U.S.

Something I would look to see in comments about the arms sales would be along the lines of, support for newer F-16s and advanced combat systems (Aegis), as well as commenting on the root of the problem - China's missile build-up against Taiwan.

I do believe that if Mr. Paul Akers were to be able to respond personally, he might have more to offer than his volunteer coordinator. Still, thanks to Jeremy for responding as I have not received responses from Dino Rossi and Clint Didier.

As far as his statement in the Voter's Pamphlet, Akers is big on small government and bringing back power to the local level. He places emphasis on balancing the federal budget by cutting taxes and spending.

Up for tomorrow, Democratic leaning Bob Burr - and it's a good one.

Lastly, all signs point to a Murray (incumbent) v. Rossi showdown in November. Murray because she's incumbent, Rossi because he's gotten the name recognition down over the past 6-8 years due to his race for WA State governor. It is quite disappointing, since I believe both of these two may actually be the same in terms of what they would do with Taiwan as they are largely supported by the "establishment" Democrats and Republicans. In fairness to Patty Murray, I will send her an e-mail about this again. Maybe she will surprise me (us) and respond?

Edit: Paul Akers and Clint Didier came out with a new type of campaign ad today, aimed at taking down the two front-runners, Murray and Rossi. It's an interesting strategy, take a look at this link here:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WA State Senatorial Candidates, Part 1: James (Skip) Mercer

I received a few responses to my e-mail to senatorial candidates over the past few days in regards to their position on Taiwan. Here's the first of them, James (Skip) Mercer.

Hi Richard,

I have been to Taiwan twice in the last 15 months conducting research for
the US Navy. I believe that friends and commitments are important.
Taiwan is a friend and our commitments must be honored before our

Not exactly much at all in terms of depth in his answer, but it's quite possible that the short and simple answers are the most concrete ones. While his first sentence about him being to Taiwan really does not bear much on his position on Taiwan, his stance (I believe) on Taiwan shows in the last two. A simple statement like, "Taiwan is a friend and our commitments must be honored before our fears," is reassuring to voters who have at least some part of their mind on Taiwan.

Looking into the Voter's Pamphlet that gets sent out to the households, James (Skip) Mercer is stated to be a professor at the University of Washington in the Applied Physics Laboratory. Interesting tidbit: I did some work for a graduate student who was working on underwater acoustics for the APL as well. He claims that his work doing research for the U.S. Navy over the past 40 years has, "prepared me for the challenges that face this nation, including energy independence, the truth about global warming, education, identifying key innovations, and national defense."

The most striking thing that I find in his statement in the pamphlet is that he states he will only serve one term (six years), as he is not looking to make this a career. For that I think that makes him a great candidate that, as he says, "will not be answerable to any corporation, union, or PAC."

Next up, Paul Akers.

Also, I have sent similar e-mails to Schalk Leonard, Mike Latimer, and Charles Allen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

WA State Senators Race - On Taiwan

With the Washington State Primaries happening over the next couple weeks, I wrote to Paul Akers, James (Skip) Mercer, Clint Didier, Dino Rossi, and Bob Burr about the issue of Taiwan and what their stance is on Taiwan (and as a result, China). Because the primaries send the top two vote-getters to the final round in November, I did not send e-mails to the Democratic candidates (except Bob Burr) because of the high likelihood that one of the top two will be incumbent Patty Murray. Despite the low popularity of Democrats and incumbents around the nation at this time, I'm still fairly certain a large percentage of voters don't know what's going on and will send Murray back to the November ballot just because they voted for her in the past. As a result, it will likely be Murray vs a Republican - thus my reasoning for only e-mail Republicans. Here's what I sent to each one:

Mr. Senatorial Candidate,

My name is Richard, a resident of City in Washington, WA. As a constituent of Washington state, and a Taiwanese-American who values supporting democracies worldwide and on Taiwan, I write to you asking what your position is regarding China and Taiwan. While there are many issues that may be more pressing to our country at this moment such as the economy, I believe that the issue of Taiwan may once again come to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy in the next few years.

Our current senator, Patty Murray, has often promoted business opportunities with China while staying on the fence about Taiwan - careful to not anger China, but at the same time not fully supporting Taiwan. It is this type of action that leads China to believe they can do as they please in terms of their responsibilities as a growing power in the international landscape. And so I kindly ask, in regards to the usual issues that come up for the United States in terms of Taiwan, what is your stance?

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


You may wonder why I did not get into specifics, such as arms sales to Taiwan, or support for Taiwan's international recognition, or China's missiles pointed at Taiwan. The reason for this is I did not want to give them an easy response and be done with it. For one, I want to see what knowledge of the Taiwan issue they already know, and two, to leave it open for them to say as little or as much as they feel like.

While I do not expect each of them to respond (especially the more popular candidates who may not have time to respond), I'm hoping to at least get one or two responses. And for those wondering what Patty Murray is about on Taiwan? Well I already covered that last year. Senator Murray is silent on Taiwan.

I will update if and when I receive responses from the candidates.

Edit: This post will be continuously updated with the candidate responses:
Part 1: James (Skip) Mercer
Part 2: Paul Akers
Part 3: Bob Burr
Part 4: Schalk Leonard
Part 5: Dino Rossi, Mike Latimer, Clint Didier, Charles Allen, Senator Patty Murray - May or may not be coming soon

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taichung MRT

With Taipei and Kaohsiung both having their MRT's up and running, one must reasonably ask when the Taichung one will be up. While I wasn't thinking of the Taichung MRT randomly, I did randomly decide to use the Flickr search to find some photos of Taiwan. I eventually decided to search for photos of Fengyuan and came across this visual mock-up of the planned elevated station for Fengyuan.

That got me searching for more information on it, which led me to the Taichung MRT situation as a whole. According to to the Wiki, the Taichung MRT was originally approved in 2006, and scheduled to begin construction in 2007, it was eventually pushed back to late 2009. Even then, I'm not sure what was exactly started. In any case, I came across this press release for Taiwan's "Railway Reconstruction Bureau" dated for June 1st of 2010.

The current status of implementation of this project is as follows:
  1. A new electrical room has been completed for the Fengyuan Section Temporary Engineering. A temporary station platform underground pass and connecting pass have been completed for the Tanzi Section Temporary Engineering. Full casing-piles are currently being under construction on the Taiyuan-Jingwu Station Elevated Railway Engineering.
 2. Detailed design currently includes stations and bridge bids and design/inspection of the Songzhu-Daqing Section Elevated Railway Project.
 3. Changes to the Taichung County/City Railway Urban Corridor Plan were reviewed and approved by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), and have been publicly announced for all areas other than the Taichung Station Special District, and ground object investigations have been completed.
  The Taichung Elevated Railway Project is scheduled for completion by 2014, and will remove 17 level crossings, 18 underpasses, and 3 land bridges in Taichung City and County, relieving traffic congestion caused by the railway. It will also integrate stations and elevated railway sections along the line, connecting the city and improving the cityscape, improving livability and providing residents with convenient transportation.
This PR states 2014 as when it will be completed, but most of the other articles I've seen including the Wiki state 2015 as when the green line will be completed. What is the green line? Take a look at this map here, with the MRT lines in thin dotted lines. From the map, I can't tell if you would actually be able to take the MRT starting at the Fengyuan station all the way into Taichung, as the red and green lines don't seem to reach all the way up there to the north. That would be quite disappointing to have to transfer, but it looks like if so, it would only be one stop before being able to hop onto the MRT lines.

Having already been 4 years since it's been approved and not much groundwork has actually been done, I really question their ability to meet the 2015 deadline. Perhaps if Taichung gets a new mayor, things might actually speed up (or not).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taiwan's Jeremy Lin to Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have signed Harvard grad Jeremy Lin. This should be a great opportunity for the Asian-American community as well as the Taiwanese community to get excited about a hard-working player in the NBA.

Lin, on the other hand, is Asian-American. He was born in California. His parents are originally from Jiaxing, China, and emigrated from Taiwan. Lin making it to the NBA is truly a milestone. Should he make the Warriors’ final roster, he will become the first Asian-American to play in the NBA since Wataru Misaka, whose career consisted of a mere three games with the New York Knicks in 1947.

Pretty solid reporting on Lin in the several articles I've read, in terms of his "origins" - originally parents from China, emigrated to Taiwan, then to U.S. during the martial law era. I'm actually excited to go to an NBA game now --- wait, oh yeah, the Seattle Supersonics doesn't exist anymore.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taiwan Quick Hits

Let's review that last one, from the article:
Ma said that the biggest benefit of the ECFA is that it will give Taiwan a more favorable position to get involved in the world and that the government is seeking to establish free trade agreements or economic cooperation pacts with other countries that could benefit Taiwan.
One would have thought that the ECFA would benefit Taiwan economically via trade from China, and yet here Ma is saying the biggest benefit is that it can get more involved with the world? So basically what Ma is confessing is exactly what we all feared - Taiwan's sovereignty was downgraded such that only through an "ECFA" with China, can we possibly (not even guaranteed) sign FTAs with other countries. The sad part is that officials in China have already let the cat out of the bag in saying that the ECFA being signed does not change anything - they will still unfairly block FTAs being forged between Taiwan and other countries.

Is Ma being tricked, or are the Taiwanese being tricked? I think the latter, and Ma is knowingly throwing Taiwan into China's hand.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Cause For Concern

Rumors are coming out of Washington that the Obama administration may be shifting their policy on Taiwan to that which would be less favorable to Taiwan. This is a continuation of the news over the past week or so since the ECFA has been signed that the U.S. may be halting (at least temporarily) arms sales to Taiwan. A Randy Schriver, formerly from inside the Dept of State at Washington has, "strongly hinted that it could result in a Taiwan arms sale freeze."

This is one of the problems that have come out of the ECFA signing that may not have been obvious to all parties involved. While the KMT side has heralded the ECFA as a purely economic arrangement without political motives, the CCP has made no mistake their intentions in using the ECFA as a means to an end (unification).

While the news of a potential "freeze" may not mean a permanent freeze, it would likely start something that could cascade into an era of relations with Taiwan where "freezes" are the norm, and the arms sales are few and far between. The Taiwan Relations Act stipulates that the U.S. policy in regards to Taiwan involves providing Taiwan with arms sales. This can not be changed as part of the Six Assurances given to Taiwan by Reagan. Therefore, please continue to write, e-mail, call, or fax to your senators and representatives about the need for Taiwan to procure defensive arms sales from the U.S.

Keep in mind though that these arms sales may not actually be used for actual use. What I mean by that is that these arms sales are more of a symbol of the United States continued support for Taiwan and as a deterrent against the P.R.C. Taiwan cannot negotiate with the P.R.C. from a position of weakness. And as we've seen in the past, the P.R.C. does take notice when they are responding to in force (95-96 Cross Straits Crisis).

I have posted this on my blog before, but here's a report on arms sales to Taiwan since the 1990s. Lots of background information about the past and current situation, including the flip-flop attitude that the KMT has shown about the arms sales. A must read for anyone interested in this topic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy [Early] Independence Day!

Taking a short vacation this weekend, so to my readers - Happy 4th of July! Let us celebrate with family and friends with lots and lots of food and fireworks.

Also remember our troops across the world fighting for the independence we have today!

P.S. That negative divergence I pointed out in my last post is playing out real nicely :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lu Dat!!

Whatever "Lu Dat" means, regardless, everyone in Taiwan is cheering for Lu right now. Andy Roddick was just defeated by Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan (not TPE (Taipei)) who will now move onto the quarterfinals. Great day for Taiwanese tennis, as Lu was not shy to promote Taiwan before this match as well as in the post-match interview. Here's a snippet of what he said last week:

The result wrote Lu's name in the Asian tennis history books and he expressed his pride about putting Taiwanese tennis on the map.

He added: "There is probably a lot of news coming out right now in Taiwan. I am happy to have done it for my country, for my family, for my friends and for all the people that have supported me.

"But I don't want them to call me the Pride of Taiwan or anything - I am the same as I was before."

Recaps are just starting to come out, but for the most part I have not seen any refer to him as from Chinese Taipei or some ridiculous name like that. Edit: Just saw one out of the LA Times that states "Lu of Taipei." Oh well... as long as international sports organizations keep allowing China to dictate what Taiwan can be called, you can't really expect much from the media.

ECFA News: With the ECFA likely to be signed within the next 24 hours (one of the saddest moments in Taiwan history), I remain quite bearish on the TAIEX. Take a look at the leading indicator for the TAIEX that I have been using (the Shanghai Composite) and tell me that is not a negative divergence showing on the TAIEX. But of course there is the possibility that the indices are decoupling from this previous correlation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ma on Taiwan Province, Part II

It would be hard to find Taiwanese who support Taiwan that would shrug off the meaning of the president & leader of Taiwan using "Taiwan Province." Indeed President Ma did that this past week (see previous post here), showing his true colors, mainly red. Well, there's many places you can find this type of error where someone or something incorrectly states that Taiwan is a part of China.

The latest one I've found on a large website? Wikipedia! It's pretty bad to see the main encyclopedia resource that kids and students use these days stating that Ma Ying-jeou is the president of Taiwan Province of the P.R.C.

Not sure how to work Wiki cause I've heard it's quite a mess to edit it, especially if you aren't one of the "super editors" or something like that, but I hope someone sets that right. Edit: Thanks to thegreensquirre1 for taking care of that - it now correctly states that he's the "president of the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan."

In other news, being a tennis player myself, I will have to report that a Taiwanese (Lu Yen-hsun) has made it into the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Awesome!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Road Back to ... The "Double-dip" Recession

Well what do you know, those artificially inflated "good" housing numbers over the first half of 2009 and late 2008 are just that - inflated. May's housing numbers are not what you would expect in a recovery, no not even close. [Emphasis from me in bold]

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new single-family home sales dropped 32.7 percent in May from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a decline of 18.7 percent.

The percentage drop was the largest monthly decline since the government started tracking the numbers in 1963. The annual rate also ranked as a record low. New-home sales fell by double digits in every part of the country, led by a 53 percent drop in the West.

If you had gotten in a conversation with me anytime over the past year about buying a house, you would have heard me tell you not do it as an investment, nor to do it for the $8000 credit. If you were to buy one, buy one because you found a house you loved and it was a good deal (without taking the $8000 credit into consideration).

Despite what the media has been telling you constantly over the past year about our V-shaped recovery and that we are on our way out of this recession, the truth is the job growth is still not there.

While I basically erased my 180% gains on the year [and proceeded to further decimate my account] over the last two weeks due to this false-rally, I will be back. And when I do, I will not make this same mistake again. Note to traders: Shorting with vigor and tenacity requires exactly that. On the flip-side, it also requires you to be prepared to get a full-on beating with similar vigor and tenacity. That said, it was a great experience (positioning 100% long/short in trades) as I believed I picked up some nimbleness in my trading.

P.S. If 109 breaks on SPY, not a good sign for the bulls!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ma's Stance on Taiwan: Simple and Clear

If you have any questions as to what a person means when they say, "Taiwan Province," let me assure you that they mean Taiwan is a province of China. Thus, they mean that Taiwan is a part of China.

It should be infuriating to the people of Taiwan and Taiwanese abroad to hear their elected-presidential-leader call their own country, not a country. From the Taipei Times:

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) referred to Taiwan as a “province” yesterday while describing the sister-state relationship between Taiwan and Texas, rekindling the controversial issue of his perception of Taiwan’s status.

From statements like this, if you have not already, you should begin to understand why and how most of Ma's foreign policy (specifically regarding China-Taiwan) are shaped. That is, they are shaped with the mindset that Taiwan is a part of China and that any relationship must be held in that regard.

While he may say that it is the constitution of the R.O.C. that states this, then we must also ask why he does not also recognize that the constitution states that the people have the right to a referendum. While I am no law/constitution buff, it seems that to have a constitution that is not consistent with the current reality is not really a viable constitution at all. What is the current reality though? The reality is that an overwhelming percentage of Taiwanese on Taiwan do not consider themselves Chinese, instead as Taiwanese. Furthermore, they do not consider Taiwan a part of China. Either follow through with the constitution completely, or the constitution is simply just another document with no meaningful value at all.

Here's an editorial on this issue in the Taipei Times as well. An excerpt:

Ma rationalized his reduction of Taiwan to an “area” by stressing his government’s adherence to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, which states that the ROC is an independent, sovereign state whose territory includes China. Hence, Ma said the relationship between Taiwan and China is one of two regions, with Taiwan, a province, known as the “Taiwan area,” and China as “the mainland area.”

Interestingly, Ma does not refer to Taiwan as a province when talking to local audiences. Whenever elections are closing in and campaigning steps into high gear, voters can hear Ma, along and other Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights, roaring slogans that trumpet the name Taiwan. Whenever they mention Taiwan in their campaign speeches, the electorate assumes that the word “Taiwan” implies the country for which the official name is the ROC.

Given that his definition of the word “Taiwan” seems to depend on the occasion, it is no wonder there is continued public doubt over Ma’s dedication to safeguarding the country’s dignity as a sovereign state. If Ma wants to be clear about his meaning, in future whenever he talks to the people of Taiwan and uses the appellation “Taiwan,” he should not do so in shorthand, but rather use the term “Taiwan Province,” as he so clearly did with the Texas governor.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foxconn's Troubles

Great editorial piece in the Taipei Times on the possible effects that Foxconn's pay raises may have on manufacturing plants and on labor in general in China.

When a market leader such as Hon Hai offers such massive salary increases, it puts great pressure on other electronics companies and might even force competitors out of the market. In addition, the increased expenditure can be passed on to US, EU and Japanese companies so that it does not affect Hon Hai’s profits. The move could even turn out to be a crucial first step toward the transformation of China’s labor-intensive industries.

Another side effect of the big raise could be that some Taiwanese companies see more clearly the uncertainties of the Chinese market and decide to return to Taiwan to invest in automated plants. If that is the case, then Taiwan should thank Terry Gou (郭台銘) for such an unexpected gift.
It indeed will be interesting to see what the effects of this are, not only to the companies down the line from Foxconn (most notably Apple and their iProducts), but also the impact on "cheap Chinese labor" that has governed the way we think of labor in China. Optimistically speaking, this could serve as a reminder to those in Taiwan that doing business with China in China comes with a lot of baggage, especially concerning labor laws and the inability for companies to control their workforce in China (i.e. Honda's manufacturing plant in China).

More on this issue @ Michael Turton's blog, where he also covers some quote-un-quote conspiracy theories on what is actually happening in China between Foxconn and the government.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP & Things

With all the recent support for crucifying the company BP to the cross for its part in the accident that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, I can't help but say no thanks. When everyone is piling onto the train, I usually have to take a step back and reassess things.

First off, it was an accident. And secondly, they are doing everything they can to try and stop it. An accident like this has never occurred and despite our technological and engineering prowess that we believe to have, tackling this engineering problem involves careful planning and execution, which takes plenty of time. Furthermore, as engineers know, there will always be bugs and unknown variables that will affect your design negatively. So for all you who think BP or Obama are not doing enough to stop it, why don't you get yourself an engineering degree before we hear from you again.

For the Republicans, please stop getting on Obama's back for "not doing enough." These are international waters, and as such I believe it should be a joint effort between nations in order to help BP solve this problem. Now is not the time to play politics either.

For the Democrats, you need to realize that taking the company BP out to backyard for a genuine beat down is not in the best interests of this country. With BP being one of the largest companies in the world, and it being not only an oil company but also an energy company, the number of employees a company like that employ should be a staggering amount. Attempting to bring down a company of that size will wreak havoc on the economies of the world.

As I mentioned, BP is not just an oil company that does nothing but find oil, refine, and sell. Indeed it is not. It is an energy company that does commit millions if not billions of dollars into research and development. If you fail to understand the significance of R&D in a company, then it is likely that you fail to have an engineering degree.

Lastly, if you still feel that BP needs to be punished, then why the hell are you not calling for the crucifixion of all the banks that stole your money in 2007-2008, and likely will continue to do so this year. My point it this: BP has problems in the Gulf it needs to take care of. It is doing so and has pledged to do so with their own money. That's all we can ask for.

As far as the BP stock goes... well, let's just say it's best to not be in that stock. I would be wary of shorting BP on the idea that they are going to get kicked in the groin by the public and government. Why? Because that's what everyone thinks! I'd be more inclined to watch for a potential short-term bottom and go long for a short squeeze. In other stock news, much to the chagrin of iLovers, I have a bearish view on AAPL. My reading of AAPL charts tells me that AAPL could be trading at the price of a new iPhone 4 16GB model (with an AT&T 2-year subscription agreement). For those of you not in the know, that would be $199.

P.S. If you ever have any questions or would like to see a chart of what I'm talking about, let me know!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TAIEX Outlook - Week of June 6th

Apologies for not getting this out on the Sunday as I originally planned. So, without further adieu:

First off, let's check how the markets unfolded after my last update:
Looking at the $SSEC that has already begun a bounce off the lows, it would make sense that the TAIEX follow similarly. Targets for a bounce are a 50% retracement from recent highs to lows at around 7400, which also coincides with a gap fill. Above that, the 200DMA could be within reach at the 7600 price level.
I specifically noted the 7400 level as an area to watch for the first signs of distribution. While the TAIEX did not quite hit 7400, it came mighty close to that level, at 7373.98. Good enough for me! Now here comes the tricky part - where do we go from here. Here's a current chart of the TAIEX:

I'm afraid this week I'm actually at quite a loss for where it might be headed. The chart certainly looks a bit more volatile, with gap downs and gap ups a-plenty over the past couple weeks. At the least, I would be looking at a range-bound market between 7000-7400. Until the Taiwanese markets decide to break out of this range, I foresee more choppy prices.

Lastly, what does the trusty Shanghai Composite forebode for the TAIEX?

What we see here is orderly selling, something that is not indicative of a bottom. Short term and intermediate term bottoms usually occur on climatic selling. Accordingly, I would not be surprised if there was more downside for the Shanghai Composite in the near future.

The interesting thing is that most experts including your local investment adviser at your bank will likely tell you that this sell-off is just part of a normal correction that happens all the time in bull markets, and that they foresee higher prices. While I certainly don't know what the future may hold, neither do they. All I know is that the economy is worse than everyone thinks, and as such you should trade the markets accordingly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Human Rights in China

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident (6/4), in which Chinese students and intellectuals protested against the Chinese government. Originally to mourn for Hu Yaobang, the protests proceeded onto calls for reform using slogans such as "No corruption," "Rule by law," "Human rights," and eventually "Democracy." In the end, there was a swift and violent crackdown on those in the square, and unofficial numbers (more accurate than the "official" numbers) go into the thousands for the number of deaths.

Fast forward 20+ years, and it seems as if the CCP has not changed at all. Suppression of basic human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to assemble and protest are all still illegal today in China. Moving beyond the normal suppression of human rights, China has continued to censor speech on the web.

It's interesting to note that many "experts" and "scholars" continue to see Taiwan as a mediator for western democracy and human rights to enter into China. The idea that Taiwan can influence China to become "westernized" is a dangerous road for Taiwan to consider. While Taiwan can definitely try, the results thus far have usually been the other way around - China affecting Taiwan.

Even more of concern is the human rights in Taiwan today, and the apparent regression of human rights in Taiwan. How can one call on another to do this and that, when they themselves do not even adhere to the same principles. What do I mean?

For one, the continual rejection of referendums being proposed by groups in Taiwan to ask the Taiwanese public if they really want an ECFA or not is a clear sign of the current KMT government restricting the voice of the people.

Secondly, the suppression of press via the confiscation of radio equipment from Ocean View, a pro-democracy radio station located in Taichung, is another clear sign that the current KMT government is violating the freedom of press.

Thirdly, the bullying tactics by police in Taiwan against e-users who are vocal about Taiwan's democracy should be raising a flag to any human rights watchers. People's rights to privacy and their right to express their opinion are being violated by the government and the seemingly police-state government.

The list goes on and on. While most of us hope for a more open and democratic China in the future, perhaps we should work on keeping Taiwan a free and democratic country first. After all, you will hear Chinese say often, "western-style democracy is not for us." Then the appropriate response to anyone who tells you that is, "Taiwan is a western-style democracy, and it's been working for them for almost 20 years now." And the kicker? It shows you right there that Taiwanese are not the same as the Chinese, when they say "us."

I will have an update on the TAIEX and markets in general on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TAIEX Outlook - Week of May 23rd

Not to say I'm good at this stuff or whatever (because I'm not), but it just shows that "fundamentals" and "news" does not really matter when trading stocks. I simply look at a chart, see support and resistance levels, trend lines, volume, and Fibonacci numbers.

What did I say back on the May 9th update when the TAIEX was hanging right at the 200DMA @ 7600 and change?
From here, I'm looking for some consolidation (sideways movement) before a lower high before moving lower once again. Again, looking at the Shanghai Composite Index, as long as it continues to slide, so goes the the TAIEX and likely the U.S. markets.
Well what do you know, it was as if the markets were listening to me. While I wasn't completely spot-on (the day after I posted that, the TAIEX dropped below the 200DMA before assuming the sideways consolidation). What did proceed after that was the lower high as well as the moving lower once again. Here's a snapshot of the market of where it stands now:

As you can see, the lower high was made at 7782.32, followed by lower lows. So that's that. Did I know about any earnings that may have "caused" Taiwanese stocks to go down or other "news" that experts claim have caused the markets to go lower? Not in the slightest.

So where to now? As I've mentioned before, I look at the Shanghai Composite Index for indications of where the TAIEX may be headed.

Looking at the $SSEC that has already begun a bounce off the lows, it would make sense that the TAIEX follow similarly. Targets for a bounce are a 50% retracement from recent highs to lows at around 7400, which also coincides with a gap fill. Above that, the 200DMA could be within reach at the 7600 price level.

Keep in mind that all markets have been under heavy selling pressure over the last month, and that it pays to be cautious being long. I firmly believe we will still see lower prices across world markets later this year. As a result, I am cautiously long SPY calls as of this moment and looking for an exit around SPX 1106-1117.