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.