Archive for November 7th, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Exquisite Slides for the General Public

The following is a translation of a notice on the Xinmin Website (Shanghai) –

Offense Reporting Center exposes a Batch of Websites with Vulgar Content

Xinmin / China Network (中国网), November 6 — The Reporting Center for Illegal and Bad Information received and checked  offense reports from the general public, concerning websites which didn’t stick to the effective implementation of remediating vulgar internet content, which relaxed supervision, allowed the appearance of large quantities of vulgar content which violates public virtue, and inflicted damage on the physical and mental integrity of minors. The websites are hereby published.

I. The following websites didn’t carry out strict examination and cleaning on pornographic content

1) Yahoo China, location Beijing, category “Yahoo Space”, pornographic content.

2) First Video (第一视频), location Beijing, many vulgar images on category Exquisite Slides (精美幻灯).

3) Qihoo Network, location Beijing, category 360 Pockets, many vulgar images.

4) SouFun (搜房网), location Beijing, category SouFun Album, many vulgar images.

5) Computer Expert (电脑之家), location Shanghai, category Broadband Hill (宽带山) Community’s Entertainment Map, many vulgar images.

6) Bus Blog (博客大巴), location Shanghai, category Blogs, lots of pornographic contents.

II. The following websites didn’t carry out strict examination and cleaning on many vulgar videos

1) Three Cups of Water (三杯水) Video Website, location Liaoning Province, Personal Video Forum, big quantity of vulgar video content.

III. The following websites dissimenated P2P tools without carrying out control of pornographic, vulgar etc. content downloaded with those tools, and provided the media for the dissemination of illegal content

1) Wow Ga (哇嘎), location Shanghai, search function allows to find pornographic contents, and through its Vagaa Wow Ga software, downloads (and uploads) can be carried out.

IV. The following websites, besides providing website navigation, didn’t carry out examination of websites they linked to, linked to pornographic and vulgar content, provided media for the  dissimenation of illegal websites

1) Happy Network – Website Indexed, location Heilongjiang Province, many links to pornographic websites in its website navigation.

2) 678 Website Navigation, location Shandong Province, many links to pornographic websites in its website navigation.

This kind of disregard for laws and regulations, and behaviour which violates  public virtue, provokes the indignation of the public and should be strongly condemned. The Reporting Center for Illegal and Bad Information requires the above-mentioned websites to conscientiously clean and remediate vulgar content, and welcomes the general public’s control supervision of the demanded changes being carried out by the above-mentioned website, and their continuation of reporting illegal and bad information on the internet.

____________

Related: An Army of Porn Watchers, June 20, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sovereignty is no mere Legal Issue

Many blogs help us to better understand Taiwan’s legal positions and its situation. They also help to question the CCP narrative (subscribed to at various degrees by the KMT, America, Japan, EU and other governments, and organizations, and individuals), according to which Taiwan were “part of China”.

The view from Taiwan is such a blog. It is a great mix of texts where Taiwanese people – both prominent and “in the streets” – are quoted, and beautiful photos from the beautiful island.

Echo Taiwan is another. No photos unfortunately, but thoughts and feelings from a Taiwanese heart. Right there, you can find a number of links to further Taiwan-related blogs.

All these blogs, along with Taiwan’s considerable press, some in English, help us not only to know that there is a Taiwanese public, but also to keep ourselves informed about where people stand on particular issues. Taiwan is a democratic and diverse society, and speaks to the world.

What may strike people who are in Taiwan for the first time, or collect information about Taiwan for the first time, is the China factor in many deliberations. But given the CCP’s concept that it is the legitimate ruler of Taiwan, and China’s determination to “reunify” Taiwan with the “motherland”, and given Taiwan’s very limited diplomatic status, this China factor, in Taiwan’s cultural, economic, and political debates is only natural.

Most pro-Taiwan blogs are highly critical of what they see as too much Taiwanese cooperation with China.

ECFA, the economic cooperation framework agreement, for example. President Ma Ying-jeou’s government believes that Taiwan can’t remain competitive without the ability to join some kinds of Free Trade Agreements (FTA). To build such economic relations is always feasible for countries whose sovereignty is globally recognized. Taiwan’s isn’t globally recognized, and its choices for economic cooperations are limited.

Taiwan’s economic minister Yiin Chii-ming said earlier this year that the government would continue to negotiate with opponents to the ECFA plan, so as to achieve consensus on the plan. On the Taiwan Advocates‘ forum, an official from the economic ministry argued that given the existing free trade agreement between ASEAN and China (to take full effect by 2010), Taiwan’s competitiveness vs ASEAN would suffer without signing ECFA, as customs to be paid by Taiwanese exporters to China would then be five to ten per cent above ASEAN exporters’.

And here is a crux. How can Taiwan hope to maintain its de-facto independence without staying economically competitive? Without economic clout, it can’t even develop state-of-the-art military equipment of its own. Ma may be making mistakes, and accepting the 92 Consensus may actually have been a fundamental mistake. But as much as one may criticize Ma Ying-jeou on many issues, his advocacy of ECFA doesn’t look wrong. Lee Teng-hui, one of his predecessors, said on May 16 this year that by signing the ECFA, Taipei was falling into China’s plot of hijacking Taiwan economically to force unification.

That is certainly one of Beijing’s motives. But what would Taiwan do by not signing ECFA?

Besides, Taiwan’s government is reforming the army. The ratio of volunteers to conscripts is currently at four to six, but is scheduled to become six to four in 2011, something which an American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) paper views as the first step in Taiwan’s gradual transition to a professional army.

[Update, January 30, 2010: The original link seems to be defunct now, so I replaced it by another one. The initial link was http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewBulletin/567]

The army reform makes a lot of sense. Consider this: many conscripts are looking for jobs (as employees) or orders and business (as business people and investors) in China. The way some or many of them show up at Beijing-orchestrated events suggests that they might be pretty harmonized. This is not meant as a blanket insult to all Taiwanese people who are doing business with China (and my apoligies if it sounds like it) – but the overall commitment of volunteers to defending their country should be higher than that of conscripts.

Again: given the CCP’s concept that it is the legitimate ruler of Taiwan, and China’s determination to “reunify” Taiwan with the “motherland”, and given Taiwan’s very limited diplomatic status, this China factor, in Taiwan’s cultural, economic, and political debates is only natural. Is it also natural that certain debates and polls are sensitive in Taiwan? Is it too idealistic to expect otherwise?

You may refer to the lack of information as to where the Taiwanese stand on the issue of declared independence as an export of Chinese censorship into a free (Taiwanese) society, and you may be right with that. There is another issue which is even less discussed, at least in the blogs I’m reading regularly. I never tried to think it through by myself before, because it is very unpleasant stuff.

Others have tried to think it through. Americans, for example. After all, outside Taiwan, they would be the first to be involved if war breaks out across the Taiwan Strait. That said, countries like Japan, the Philippines or Vietnam (very close to the hotspot) and Australia and New Zealand (also still uncannily close geographically) would be implicated to an uncertain degree. Most EU countries are also US allies. Let’s not act like if this was a mere problem of the Taiwanese.

Ted Galen Carpenter, in August 1998, described two general American approaches, concerning Beijing’s stance on Taiwan, at the time: the blundering accomodationist approach, and the reckless hawkish alternative. Carpenter points out that Taiwan’s officials seem uncertain about the willingness of the United States to risk war with Beijing to defend Taiwan. Aren’t we all?

I don’t want to be mistaken for an armchair general. I’m trying to think these matters through, because without doing so, much of the talk about the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their future by themselves would be empty talk. Much of it – not all of it. To create global awareness about Taiwan’s quandary, and the views of all of its people, is always useful. But in itself, it isn’t enough.

When Taiwanese people call on us to show solidarity, and if we want to show solidarity, we must do our best to understand the possible implications. We must understand that to a vast majority of China’s 1.something billion people, this is literally a matter of life and death. Yes, their view is pathetic – but pointing that out won’t make this factor go away. Chinese intellectual laziness on that particular matter may be very powerful in keeping such feelings of the Chinese people going: most Chinese people only know the CCP narrative of war. They don’t really know what war means, just as we don’t. Most of us in Taiwan or in the West only know the tales of our great-grandparents, or grandparents, or parents – if they were able to narrate them. Many of them were too traumatized to speak out. Some of us may still remember relatives who were mutilated by wars.

But if the Taiwanese should not be ready to pay the price internationally recognized independence from China may demand, Beijing is likely to see its plans for Taiwan through. Before the people of Taiwan can expect Americans to risk their lives, limbs, or their physical and mental health, they must be ready to risk their own. As much as it may often appear as if the matter of Taiwanese sovereignty were a mere matter of moral or civil rights, it is not. China’s position on Taiwan is unjustified, but that won’t make China change its position. Further democratization of China would be desirable, but that wouldn’t make its threat against Taiwan go away either. It may actually turn China into an even more nationalistic country than what it is already.

Miracles may happen. But if the Taiwanese – or a majority among them – is determined to see their plans through, they have to be prepared for war as a last resort. If we want to support them, we must be prepared for war, too – be it as bystanders, be it as people who are involved themselves. Taiwan may turn out to be an actual nuclear power. America and China are nuclear powers for sure. So are some of America’s allies. That might amount to a lot of semi-automatic involvement.

I don’t believe that anyone has a turnkey solution to these problems. For now, I believe that both appeasement and defense are legitimate options for the Taiwanese to choose. After all, they are China’s primary target. And if any of the Taiwanese possible choices constitutes trouble for us, let’s not blame Taiwan. They are not at fault. Neither the supporters of “eventual reunification with China”, nor the supporters of a Republic of China, nor the supporters of a Republic of Taiwan.

Sometimes I’m asking myself why the criticism of every big or small diplomatic step taken by the Ma government is frequently very bitter. It may not only be because many of the government’s domestic and foreign policies are questionable indeed. It makes no sense to doubt their readiness to defend Taiwan, if the critics themselves don’t answer the very same question explicitly.

I’m not suggesting that they are obliged to. Probably, only few of us would be blogging the way we are if we were “responsible politicians”. And noone of us has to consider Taiwan as a strategic issue, rather than a moral challenge that we have to answer. Robert Green, in a review of Ted Carpenter’s “America’s Coming War with China”, points out that although many Taiwanese do not believe it, the United States would be obligated to defend Taiwan if attacked in order not to preserve Taiwan’s independence but US supremacy in the waters of East Asia.

We may push our governments, in America, in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere, to do more for Taiwan because Taiwan deserves more. But above all, we – especially foreigners – shouldn’t accuse Taiwan’s current government of wanting to “sell Taiwan to Beijing”. After all, the government has shown some determination, in that it tackles the task of modernizing the army. That isn’t symbolism – it is a practical step.

____________

Related:
ECFA Negotiations, first formal round? – Taipei Times, Nov. 7, 2009
Lee Teng-hui: ECFA “Most Serious Mistake”, May 17, 2009
Taiwan was temporarily Part of China, June 16, 2008
Worried Dragon, Cato Institute / National Interest, June 6, 2008
Let Taiwan Defend Itself, Cato Institute, August 24, 1998

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lee Kuan Yew: America must Strike a Balance

Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), Singapore’s founding father and minister mentor, warned the US on Thursday that it risked losing global leadership if it did not remain engaged in Asia to balance China’s military and economic might. US President Barack Obama should make sure that America stayed engaged not just in China but in the whole of East Asia and India.

In a keynote address to a US-Asean Business Council’s 25th anniversary meeting, Lee also said that “unlike US-Soviet relations during the Cold War, there is no bitter, irreconcilable ideological conflict between the US and a China that has enthusiastically embraced the market” and that competition between the two countries was inevitable, while conflict was not.

Lee met Obama in Washington on October 29.

It was probably Lee’s call on America which “sparked controversy” among  Chinese internet users (引起的中国网民争议), according to Singapore’s Morning News. On an advance briefing for the press in Singapore on Friday, ahead of state chairman Hu Jintao‘s visit next week, Chinese assistant foreign minister Hu Zhengyue (胡正跃) said that Lee, as a statesman, had expressed his views on international affairs, and that it was natural that all kinds of comments appeared on newspapers. Beijing didn’t wish to get involved in the discussion.

Lee seems to be treading a fine line between authoritarian harmony (a concept of his own, neither totalitarian, nor democratic), and a need he sees for a strategic balance between America and China which would leave sufficient space for all other regional stakeholders, including ASEAN.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Latest Middle East Peace Initiative…

comes from Ramallah, and somehow looks like a one-state proposal.

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