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 :)