Sunday/Monday Links: Taiwan’s foreign Trade, Scotland’s Referendum, Ilham Tohti on trial, and Taiwan’s President losing it

Off into another week (a week actually starts on a Sunday)

Off into another week (a week actually starts on a Sunday)

1. Taiwan

William T. Wilson, a researcher with the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, and a regular advocate of “free trade”, warns that bilateral or multilateral international trade agreements tend to lock Taiwan out, and increase Taiwan’s economic dependence on China. Wilson recommends that America should launch formal discussions of a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan as soon as possible.

Obviously, Wilson has his eyes firmly set on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a project often described as an impeccable motor of future global economic growth, but also frequently criticised for levering out democratic principles, not least as TPP prescribes a right for foreign companies in member countries to sue national governments under international law (which would make domestic legislation count very little).

2. The usual Suspects

Chinese internet administration has shut nearly 1.8 million user accounts in what is called a pornography crackdown, reports Reuters.

3. Scottish Referendum

Foarp breathes a sigh of relief as the United Kingdom stays united, after days of unease.

The Financial Times had celebrated the referendum as a very civilized struggle (in English on September 12) or as a civilized struggle between unity and independence (in Chinese on September 16). The author was Mure Dickie. That was too much for Beijing – the referendum was, of course, deemed an internal UK matter by official China, but Dickie got a (semi-official – my take of it) reply from Zhi Zhenfeng (支振锋) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Yes, it was surprising that the UK was willing to let eight percent of the population and about a third of the territory go peacefully, and the consultative, democratic and peaceful procedure deserved praise. In 19th-century America, a referendum had been replied to by war, and the Crimea referendum in March had been carried out under very different circumstances. All that made the British tolerance displayed in the referendum a precious thing.

However, that didn’t make the referendum a great example for the rest of the world. It did reflect particular Western values, which had brought Europe huge technological and economic progress (besides religious wars and separatist chaos), but even in Europe, the referendum was a contested approach, and even within the West, not every referendum and its results had been accepted peacefully. All too often, people in the West had been unable to foresee the long-term effects of their purportedly rational choices.

4. Ilham Tohti on Trial

Ilham Tohti, an Uighur economics professor, is reportedly on trial now, according to China Change, who published excerpts of an account written by Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan writer and a friend of Ilham Tohti. Tohti had been arrested in Beijing in January this year, and his whereabouts had been unknown afterwards.

5. Ma Ying-jeou’s 19th-Plenary-Session speech on September 14

And as this collection of links starts with Taiwan, let’s take a look at what Taiwan Explorer, usually not a terribly “political” blog, has to say about Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s president who has moved into the third year of his second term in office this year.

Ma is president on the KMT ticket, and his party, if his comments during the KMT’s 19th Plenary Session are anything to go by, is quite afraid of the oppositional DPP. But electoral behavior in Taiwan looks somewhat mysterious, at least to me as an outsider. Only four months after having voted Ma into office for a second term, the president’s support and satisfaction rates dropped to numbers between 15 to 22 per cent, and it seems they never really recovered since. Indeed, Ma appears to be completely unable to understand his country’s public.

Nanfang Shuo (aka Wang Hsing-ching / 王杏慶), predicted in summer 2011 that word-games were no solution for the problems that lying ahead if Ma would win a second term as president. Ma’s speech a week ago seems to suggest that he won’t abandon the word games during his remaining time in office – but by now, they appear to have become offensive.

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