Archive for April 26th, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

ECFA, the DPP, and the Moderates

Michael Turton, from Taichung, argues that economic forecasts disprove president Ma Ying-jeou‘s (馬英九) warnings in yesterday’s ECFA debate:

It is ironic to contrast the President’s claim that Taiwan needs ECFA and that Taiwan will be isolated “like North Korea” if ECFA is not signed, with the economic reality that the economy is doing well without it.

Turton quotes Taiwan’s minister of economic affairs (MOEA) Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥)’s forecast of 6.5, or at least five per cent, GDP growth this year.

The arguments about isolation are simply emotional appeals to the visceral fear of being weeded out instilled in every Taiwanese by the educational system. The reality is that Taiwan’s economy is performing well with the links it already has, and there is no reason to assume that shipping more industry off to China will help it perform better.

A-Gu (阿牛), himself tending to support Tsai Ing-wen‘s (蔡英文) positions, doesn’t see a blow-out in yesterday’s debate by any means, but would still give Ma the win:

Polls are naturally divided on partisan lines, but I have to say I was most impressed with Ma’s performance in the ECFA debate. I wasn’t expecting him to come out swinging. But instead, he was aggressive and dripped sarcasm, and somehow it worked better than I would have imagined. He was a man on a mission out there.

Despite Ma’s rhetorical sway, A-Gu also notes that

Tsai Ying-wen had a set of four reasonable questions which she felt Ma refused to answer even after being asked four or five times. She kept bringing that up, and that was making Ma look evasive. She was also amply able to answer questions asked to her, and appeared very competent.

On Stocks and Politics, Richard, an American-born Taiwanese, argues that

For those who may not know all the past details and comments made by Ma and Tsai, it would seem as if Ma was the winner here. But for those who have been keeping up with all the developments with ECFA, it’s clear that Ma’s responses just touch the surface of the murky waters beneath.

Ma had defended the unknowns in the ECFA negotiations with China by saying that “The list has not been finalized yet, that’s why we can’t show it at the moment. We try to keep everything behind closed doors during negotiations, but we will make the results public. I promise that I won’t only publicize the list when it’s sent to the legislature”. But

[w]hat Ma fails to mention is that by the time the list is sent to the legislature, it is too late. Negotiations will have been over and the agreement will be well on its way to being inked in.

Not to mention the time it takes to carry out a referendum on ECFA.

Looking beyond yesterday’s debate, an editorial by the Taipei Times today reminds the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen herself that given the KMT’s dictatorial approach to policy, there was plenty of potential for winning support from political moderates, and that the moderates would decide the presidential elections in 2012.

Tsai and her fellow DPP leaders should keep pushing their series of public forums which they began in April, in order to map a ten-year policy platform, recommends the Taipei Times.


ECFA Double-Ying Debate: first impressions, April 25, 2010
MAC: “Completely Pro-Taiwan”, March 4, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Laobaixing against RMB Appreciation

Central bank heads and governors Henrique Meirelles (Brazil) and Duvvuri Subbarao (India), and Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong made the most forceful statements to date in demands for a stronger Chinese currency, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. A few days earlier, the New York Times reported that the Chinese government was preparing to announce in the coming days that it will allow its currency to strengthen slightly and vary more from day to day. Liu Bin (刘斌), of the Southern Metropolis Daily, sums some Financial Times analysis (“金融时报”文章综合整理分析) up:

Nobody foresaw that, just after chairman Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) had taken part in the “BRIC” conference, in the twinkling of an eye, India and Brazil, China’s BRIC “comanions”, would actually strike the same note as America and strongly demand a RMB appreciation. All of a sudden, a tilt occurred in the sino-western confrontation about the RMB’s exchange rate.

But what is more noteworthy are Obama’s diplomatic means. He has abandoned his predecessor’s hegemonial way of applying unilateral force China to lower its head, and rather convinces the emerging economies to join a big chorus of demands to appreciate the RMB.

Of course, maybe India and Brazil aren’t just speaking in support of America. They obviously believe that an appreciation of the RMB will help their own economies, or help to solving global economic imbalances. China’s exporters can, of course, curse the two countries for becoming America’s accomplices, but we should see clearly that, the technical argument about RMB appreciation aside, there is no doubt that China’s international public relations are facing a test.

This is because China’s traditional diplomatic measure of aligning with third-world countries to resist American pressure are now flexibly turned onto China itself by Obama. One can say that the pressure India’s and Brazil’s attack have added are more important than America singling China out as a currency manipulator.

It’s actually foreseeable that more developing countries will join this chorus, that China’s international public relations will face more pressure, because Obama’s flexible diplomacy is a mellow measure with unmistakable effects.

The online commenters don’t see eye to eye:

1. Currency appreciation is related to sovereignty, it’s the Chinese laobaixing and Chinese businesses who have to decide, and not other countries or groups of countries. Whatever the chorus of other countries says, it’s futile at best, futile. The finishing touches to this piece [a work of art] haven’t yet been made, and they hope it won’t be a big one [literally: the eyes haven’t yet been painted onto the dragon yet, and they all hope it will be a small eye – i.e. a botched opus]. This is the western-led and international anti-China forces’ consistent method.

6. India is just a jumping clown, making thankless poor performances before the developed European and American countries! The sad thing is that Brazil, all of a sudden, is also blinded by lard on its eyes! They have forgotten how the developed countries grab their national interests.

8. Once you get used to it, it won’t hurt anymore (习惯了就好).(…..)
10. The question of RMB appreciation isn’t only a matter of sovereignty, but also one of human rights. Since the design of the Chinese people’s livelihood is related to the livelihood of the world, in this world, human rights are a bigger matter than sovereignty.

11. Every country has its own interests, it’s no use to tell them what to do.9. I’m a bit shallow – can one subjectively say that China’s diplomacy is becoming more and more disappointing? Can one say that China’s current officials are becoming more incapable?

12. Why should China assume this responsibility? Won’t we, the laobaixing, be the ultimate victims? (那我们老百姓不就成了最后的受害者吗?)

Comment 18 begins to look at the technical issues of revaluation, rather than historical ones.


北京颐和园-画龙, (look at the big eyes), Phototime

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