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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TWAyQbS5PQ

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.