Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

China, Taiwan, and Haiti

As everyone is well aware, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti about 2 days ago, and aid has continued to pour into the country from all over the world. I wish the best for those in Haiti and a swift and uplifting recovery to those that are left behind.

In regards to China & Taiwan, what's interesting to note is the aid that has been pledged towards Haiti. Taiwan has pledged to donate US $5 million to relief efforts in Haiti, while the supposed current/future global superpower China, has also pledged US $1 million as well as US $4.4 million in supplies to Haiti (total of around US ~$5.4 million). Keep in mind, China has a GDP of about 10x as large as Taiwan's.

It is of note that Taiwan does maintain official diplomatic relations with Haiti (one of the few countries that recognizes Taiwan), and thus China does not. So, there's two ways you can look at this- sure, you can say, "Wow, even though China does not maintain official relations with Haiti, it still decided to help them out!" Or, you could say, "Wow, China is the up and coming global superpower and it comes up with a measly $5 mln, while countries like the U.S. are donating over $100 mln."

You decide how you want to view this situation, but it seems like China continues to play the role of a spoiled child in a big world, with things like the China-Google fiasco, as well as the disaster in Copenhagen showing just how disappointing they can be. China just can't seem to shoulder the responsibilities that comes with trying to assert itself as a global superpower. This is why there is such great applause for Google, deservedly or not, Americans feel like China is that little kid trying to grow up, but wants everything their way, like a spoiled brat. And this is what separates true superpowers from those like China- ones like the U.S. will utilize the resources and manpower that they thankfully have, towards helping others in a big way. On the other hand, a booming Chinese economy and a Chinese government with an increasing clout over global politics, fails to utilize their resources in a similar fashion.

Call it selfishness, call it cautiousness. In the end, it's simply what we've come to know, as China.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

US Lawmakers Urging Other US IT Companies to Follow Google

It sure would be nice to have a mass exodus of businesses exiting China. It would be a good sign for Taiwanese businesses to see that after years of fighting with the regulations of the Chinese government, many US IT Tech companies are exiting due to their inability to operate freely and also competitively, in an environment where the Chinese government has stakes in many of their companies.

Specifically, Republican lawmakers have called on CSCO, MSFT, and YHOO to review their operations in China and perhaps take similar steps that Google has taken.

Over the years, there have been cases after cases of how intellectual property was stolen in China, remember the Plurk incident? Only companies that truly are "evil," would continue to operate in China, knowingly supporting a Communist regime and their propaganda (via obeying China's rules on filtering, etc.). The bottom line for those companies that remain in China is, well, the bottom line- $$$.

While it has been known that Google certainly hasn't been doing that well in search engine market share in China (lagging behind Baidu), had they stayed, their presence would likely grow over time.

Microsoft has already responded, with CEO Ballmer stating he is maintaining their China operations, [filtering everything the Chinese government wishes.] Perhaps this is just another step in the demise of Microsoft, and a continuation of the ingenuity and leadership of Google in the IT industry.

Another good editorial on this here, at All Things Digital, a short excerpt:

What he said then must have finally sunk in: “Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I simply don’t understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night.”

How far Google execs are willing to take this fight with China will determine how well they sleep in the future. But good for them for beginning this move, which is critical to the Web evolving globally as a free, unfettered and transparent force.

Most of all, we should only hope that Google’s actions spur other tech companies to try to change China the only way its government understands: By saying enough is enough regarding how China behaves in the digital community, and finding a “spine,” as Lantos called for, to actually do something that will make a difference.

Because, let’s be honest, enough was enough a very long time ago.

Further Arms Sales Announcements On Deck?

Reports today are that Obama will likely announce further arms sales to Taiwan in the upcoming months (which could mean anytime until Dec this year). While it is likely part of the U.S. Military's best interests in keeping China at bay from Taiwan, it is nevertheless a good thing for Taiwan. More arms means a better position to negotiate and defend from, if it comes to that.

Also part of these reports, are that China is possibly boosting their arsenal for a "short" term strike against Taiwan, and thus prompting these discussions of more sales to Taiwan. From the Taipei Times:

Speaking to US lawmakers at a congressional hearing, they said that China was boosting preparations for a short, intense fight against Taiwan. Its military buildup, which includes more than 1,000 ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan, is in stark contrast to the improved ties between the rivals since the March 2008 election of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Also, Taiwan's MAC's response to these reports, "beneficial to Taiwan."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google to Quit China Operations?

Rather interesting development from Google about its operations in China. See their official blog here.

Basically some Chinese hackers have attempted to access account information via Gmail for Chinese human rights activists. These attacks also seem to have been launched via Taiwan, and so this news will sort of hit Taiwan in a negative way (just as China had earlier used a Taiwanese company as a conduit to ship parts/devices that may be used in nuclear weapons). Just goes to show how getting into bed business with China may not be the strongest and smartest move for Taiwan. Also, I believe I read comments that say that Google has already turned off filtering on its Google China website- the ball is in China's hands now.

Good commentary/analysis on this development at Michael Turton's Taiwan blog, as well as these two other tech blogs: Wordpress Marketing & Tipstech.info

I like the comments from Tipstech, hitting the key issue in my opinion:
I’ll give Google this much: They’re taking a bad situation and making something good out of it, both from a human and business point of view. I’m not saying human rights didn’t play into the decision, but this was as much about business. Lest we get too self-righteous as Westerners, we should remember three things:

Win-win situation for Google. I wouldn't be so naive as to think they are doing this purely on "principle" rather than "profit," but it sure does seem like it's a step in the right direction that neither the U.S. government or other Forture 500 Companies have/are willing to take in regards to China.

In other news, Taiwan maintains its "FREE" rating, given by the Freedom House, in it's 2010 Freedom in the World Report. The gist of the report on Taiwan is in these two paragraphs:

While Taiwan’s overall ranking remains unchanged from last year’s, it registers both gains and losses. In individual categories, its political rights rating improved from 2 in 2009 findings to 1 “due to enforcement of anticorruption laws that led to the prosecution of former high-ranking officials, the annulment of several legislators’ elections owing to vote-buying, and the investigation of over 200 candidates for alleged vote-buying in local elections.”

On civil liberties, however, the report indicates Taiwan’s rating suffered a decline from 1 to 2 because of “flaws in the protection of criminal defendants’ rights that were exposed during anticorruption prosecutions and a high-profile murder case, as well as a law that infringes on academic freedom by barring staff and scholars at public educational facilities from participating in certain political activities.”

Sunday, January 10, 2010

China's Increasing Clout in the US

As I don't have a physical Washington Post paper, I can't verify- but no reason to doubt the Taipei Times, but the Taipei Times reports that the WaPo's Saturday issue had a front-page story on China's increased lobbying efforts in Washington, to the extent that previous congressman that were pro-Taiwan, are now leaning towards China. Here's the link to the actual WaPo story, "China's lobbying efforts yield new influence, openness on Capitol Hill."

It's quite sad that our politicians are quite easily moved in one direction:

Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, a nonvoting, 11-term member from American Samoa, is the influential chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment and for years was considered a solid backer of Taiwan. But over the past year, the Democrat has watered down or killed pro-Taiwan legislation and resolutions.

Faleomavaega partly credited China's improved lobbying for the shift. "Our friendliest allies -- Germany, Great Britain, France and Japan -- know how to work the system," he said. "China is just trying to catch up."

Because of this, I think writing to your congressman and representatives that represent your county/district is still very important. I have done so on numerous times, and have received responses from them. While it may not seem like it will do anything, you never really know. Even more sad, Rep. Rick Larsen from Washington is one of the pro-China representatives, leading a "60-member U.S.-China working group."

Larsen is pretty much the representative for anywhere above Everett and northward, and an incumbent since 2000. So voting him is out is going to be quite tough, but he's up for re-election in 2010 I believe. Write to him if you are in his district!

A Fortnight of Taiwan News

Back from my vacation to Texas. Interestingly, it was quite colder there than in Seattle. Add to that, they received snow twice there, and I don't think Seattle got any.

Late, tired, and my blogging engine is still being dusted off- so for those who semi-rely on my blog for news about Taiwan, here's some of the major developments:

  • The Legislative Yuan reverses the un-ban on US Beef; Ma reneges.
  • China balks over the recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Note the error that shows up consistently in Taiwan articles, "Communist-ruled China split with Taiwan amid civil war in 1949..." Fact: China and Taiwan did not split in a "civil war" in 1949; Rather, the Communist Part of China regained control of China, and forced the losing Nationalists to flee to Taiwan, and setup their temporary-turned-permanent government on Taiwan.
  • DPP gains 3 more seats in legislative by-elections; Taiwan's press, comments on Ma's future. Note that these by-elections are mainly due to the KMT's previous winners being annulled for vote buying.
  • Apple Tablet PC pretty much on schedule for release this year, as a Taiwan manufacturer steps up to make those cases.

Not much to say tonight, but that Tsai Ing-wen is moving the DPP on the right track. Let's hope this momentum can continue well into 2012. More elections later on this year will likely give the clearest indication as to whether Ma will see a second term.