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.