Posts tagged ‘Taiwan’

Friday, January 22, 2016

Taiwan Election Data, the Changes, and the ROC Convergence

Wrote a bio of sorts in a German blogpost about president-elect Tsai Ing-wen last Saturday, as it seems to me that in the English-language press, there’s lots of coverage about the Taiwan elections, sometimes beyond the mere “conflict with China” issues. In most of Germany’s media, Taiwan would hardly emerge even on election days, if it wasn’t for China’s “claims” on the island.

What looks notable to me is the voter turnout in the January 16 elections: 66.27 per cent, compared with 76.04 percent in 1996, 82.7 percent in 2000, 80.28 percent in 2004, 76.33 percent in 2008, and 74.38 percent in 2012, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC), quoted by CNA. Also notable: the general trends in the pan-blue and pan-green shares in the presidential elections.

 

Taiwan's presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016

Taiwan’s presidential elections, from 1996 to 2016. The 1996 numbers for the pan-blue camp include the two independent candidates’ shares. Both of them were close to the KMT, but critical of then president Lee Teng-hui‘s China policies. Numbers taken from Wikipedia.

 

Taiwan presidential elections chart, 1996 - 2016

Usually, I’m surprised to find out how time flies. But in this case, it strikes me as odd how big change can be within “only” two decades, from 1996 to 2016. Also, no DPP candidate has ever drawn as many votes – inabsolute numbers – as Tsai Ing-wen has last Saturday. This would seem to suggest that some of the reasons for the record-low in turnout could lie in the KMT’s performance during the election campaigns. An uncertain number of people who’d normally support the KMT may have seen no sense in voting for Eric Chu, or any KMT candidate, for that matter.

Frozen Garlic, a blogger in Taiwan who has been doing a lot of number crunching during the past week, probed district-level turnout data in “blue” and “green” districts this week, and found some clues there that would support this guess.

There were, however, nearly 1.6 million voters who chose James Soong who is more China-leaning than the average KMT candidate. Soong only fared better in 2000, under what might be carefully described as exceptional circumstances.

Another notable first – in the parliamentary elections, that is – is the emergence of the “New-Power Party” – they’ve actually overtaken James Soong’s People-First Party there  (seats: 5 – 3; votes: 6.1 percent – 5.5 percent).

What does this tell about the KMT? The party remains a force to be reckoned with, for – reportedly – being one of the world’s richest political parties, and for its connections within Taiwan’s elites and civil society, big business, as well as for connections to China, and to America. But how “Chinese” can the KMT remain if it wants to remain competitive? Probably not as Chinese as incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou.

China’s accusation until December (by quoting the KMT, that is) that Tsai Ing-wen rejects the 1992 Consensus has become old news. Literally, she said in an interview with the Liberty Times on Thursday that

In 1992, the two parties [the Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits] from the two sides communicated and negotiated through an approach of mutual understanding and “seeking common ground while shelving differences,” and I understand and respect this historical fact. [The interview in English, Taipei Times]

在一九九二年,兩岸兩會秉持相互諒解、求同存異的政治思維進行溝通協商,達成了若干的共同認知與諒解,我理解和尊重這個歷史事實。[The interview in Chinese, Liberty Times]

Thinking about it, while there have been big changes during the past twenty years, there’s been a remarkable convergence toward what Taiwan and the outside world commonly refer to as the “status quo” – the KMT and the DPP used to be further apart in the past, not only in terms of public support or votes, but in terms of their respective international concepts, too.

One day after Tsai’s election, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office had announced that it would continue to use the 1992 Consensus and oppose any Taiwan independence activities in cross-strait relations, as quoted by Radio Taiwan International (RTI). And on Monday, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, during his stay in Taiwan, met with incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou, the defeated KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu, and Tsai Ing-wen, who reportedly said that [t]he U.S. anticipates seeing a successful political transition.

There is continuity in Taiwan’s foreign policy: Cindy Sui, the BBC‘s (occasional) Taiwan correspondent pointed out on election day that it was Tsai who, in 2003 and in her capacity as the Mainland Affairs Council chairperson during president Chen Shui-bian‘s presidency, made a case for further legalizing trade and communications links with China.

Tsai, as opposition leader, also took a fairly public measure on Taiwan’s (or the Republic of China’s) national day on October 10, 2011, saying that the vast majority of Taiwanese today could acknowledge that “Taiwan simply is the Republic of China”, as the two have merged, for a new life in Taiwan.

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Related Tag: Taiwan Consensus

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

President Elect: Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen has been elected president of Taiwan.

Related tag: Tsai Ing-wen

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Updates/Related

» Victory speech full text (English), CNA, Jan 16, 2016
» Personal Memories, latest results, Foarp, Jan 16, 2016
» Tsai Ing-wens Wahlkampf, 2010 – 2016, Jan 16, 2016

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Lin Rong-san, 1939 – 2015

Lin Rong-san (林榮三), publisher of the Liberty Times (自由時報, a Chinese-language paper) and the Taipei Times (an English-langugage paper), died on Saturday afternoon local time, according to Radio Taiwan International (RTI).  He was 76 years old (or 77 years old, by Chinese standard).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Japan, Netherlands: “Shared Concern” about “China’s increasing Maritime Activities”

Japan and the Netherlands have agreed to building a strategic partnership, reports Dutch news website Nu, with ANP material. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte wound up a two-day visit to Japan on Tuesday. In talks with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Rutte reportedly expressed support for Japan’s legislative authorization for more military involvement in international conflicts.

Both premiers also emphasized the significance of a “peaceful solution” for the conflict in the East China Sea, where both China and Japan claim possession of the Senkaku Isles. Abe and Rutte “share the concerns that unilateral actions such as display of power and rising tensions could lead to in the region.”*)

Beide premiers benadrukken daanraast het belang van een “vreedzame oplossing” voor het conflict in de Oost-Chinese Zee, waar China en Japan beiden het bezit claimen van de Senkaku-eilanden. Abe en Rutte “delen de zorgen die eenzijdige acties, zoals machtsvertoon, en oplopende spanningen met zich meebrengen in het gebied”.

Rutte also complimented Japan for the progress the country had made in the field of human rights, after the Second World War.

Rutte complimenteerde Japan daarnaast met de vooruitgang die het land sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog heeft geboekt op het gebied van mensenrechten.

In addition,  the two leaders discussed a number of global issues, such as the war in Syria, the situation in Ukraine, and the nuclear threat in North Korea.

Daarnaast bespraken beide leiders een aantal globale onderwerpen, zoals de oorlog in Syrië, de situatie in Oekraïne en de nucleaire dreiging in Noord-Korea.

Cooperation between the two countries also covers internet security, agriculture and horticulture, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, and on health- and pension problems with an aging population.

De samenwerking tussen beide landen richt zich ook op internetbeveiliging, land- en tuinbouw, de Olympische en Paralympische Spelen in Tokio in 2020 en op gezondheids- en pensioenproblemen bij een vergrijzende bevolking.

According to Nu, more than 120 companies and research organizations traveled with Rutte’s delegation.

According to a joint statement, published here by Japan’s foreign ministry,

The two leaders share the importance of the rule of law for the international community including the freedom of navigation and overflight over the high seas, and stress the importance to settle disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law. They share concerns caused by any unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion, that change the status quo and raise tensions in the East and South China Sea. They support the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the rapid conclusion of the negotiations to establish an effective code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The joint statement also demands that all sides in the Ukraine conflict

fully implement their commitment under the Minsk agreements to solve the conflict in eastern Ukraine peacefully, respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They remain determined never to recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and will continue to support Ukraine to advance its reforms, aimed at strengthening and modernizing Ukraine for the benefit of its citizens. The two leaders reaffirm that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 must be held to account and that all States should cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability, as demanded by Security Council resolution 2166.

The statement also addresses Syrian and North Korean issues.

Radio Japan reported on Tuesday that [t]he leaders of Japan and the Netherlands have expressed their shared concern about China’s increasing maritime activities.

Radio Japan’s reporting is also quoted by Sina Corp, but apparently only on its Taiwanese website, and drawing on Taiwan’s CNA newsagency:

After holding talks, prime minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Dutch prime minister Rutte issued a joint statement. Although its content doesn’t mention mainland China directly, but is targeted at mainland actions in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

(中央社記者楊明珠東京10日專電)日本放送協會(NHK)報導,首相安倍晉三今天與來訪的荷蘭總理呂特舉行會談後,發表聯合聲明。內容雖未直接點名中國大陸,但對陸方在東海、南海的海洋行動具箝制之意。

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Notes

*) For the wording, according to the prime ministers’ joint statement, see para (5) there.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Must-Ask Question: China’s Missiles targeting Taiwan

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou as saying in a press conference after his meeting with Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping that he brought up the issue of Chinese missiles aiming at Taiwan. According to Ma, Xi said that the missile deployments were a comprehensive arrangement and not targeted at the people of Taiwan [「部署是整體性,不是針對台灣人民」].

RTI also quotes from a Central News Agency (CNA) interview with the founder of a Canadian military magazine, Kanwa (漢和防務評論), Andrei Pinkov (平可夫). Pinkov reportedly said that clearly, China’s missiles, and land and naval forces were targeting Taiwan.

To expect Beijing to remove these deployments would be difficult:

[Pinkov] said, if you want the removal of missiles be implemented, the mainland will certainly demand the building of mutual military trust. “If there’s no trust built, how can the missiles be removed?” Also, where to store the removed stuff? Just a while ago, the mainland has announced to cut 300,000 military staff. That needs to be digested. If you make more cuts, how should they deploy the staff?

他說,撤飛彈的事情若要實際落實,大陸一定會要求建立雙方軍事互信,「互信沒建立,怎麼撤飛彈?」此外,撤除的東西要往哪擺?大陸先前宣布裁軍30萬人,人員都可能還在消化,若又再撤,人員要怎麼安排?

Pinkov said that although most of the international community viewed the Ma-Xi meeting favorably, but, he concluded, if this was really followed by the two sides establishing some military interaction, America might increase its restrictions on arms sales to Taiwan, and Japan, too, could become more vigilant about Taiwan. All these were problem Taiwan could face [under such circumstances].

平可夫表示,雖然國際社會對馬習會多是樂觀其成,但兩岸雙方若隨後在軍事上真的有一些互動,他推論,美國對台軍售的限制可能會更多,日本對台灣也會開始有戒心,這都是台灣可能面臨的問題。

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Related

» More sophisticated, Jamestown, April 1, 2010

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Friday, November 6, 2015

An Interview on “Huanqiu Shibao”: the too-optimistic Expert

It’s being said time and again, in the Chinese media, that the Ma-Xi meeting in Singapore tomorrow has “milestone significance” (有里程碑式的意义). With neither glorious economic growth rates nor more former colonies’ returns to the motherland to report in the evening news, it seems that the Singapore meeting came almost like a last straw for the great-expectations propaganda.

This interpretation, of course, would be an exaggeration. But the CCP’s publicity behavior sometimes does look desperate. If there’s no countdown to the return to the motherland as was the case with Hong Kong and Macau, try Taiwan, even if you do not know the day or the hour.

And there’s desperation on the other side of the strait, for sure. Not in the DPP headquarters, but at the KMT’s. That’s probably not the only reason for Ma Ying-jeou to meet Xi Jinping. There’s reason to believe that consolidation of a “peace and stability” trend in the bilateral relations is on Ma’s mind. But if the KMT was faring better in the election campaign, maybe there wouldn’t be a meeting of this kind on Saturday.

Huanqiu Shibao published an interview with a retired diplomat, Hu Zhongle (胡中乐), on Wednesday. [Update 20151107 »Ersatzlink] Hu is on the board of an association of particular authors, the Old Diplomatic Service Cadres’ Writing Association (外交部老干部笔会, or in short, 外交笔会). He’s also a blogger.

Hu Zhongle praises former party secretary Hu Jintao who had “lost no time”, after the KMT’s electoral defeat in 2005 [Hu Zhongle seems to confuse the 2005 local elections with some other elections here], and had invited Lien Chan (KMT) and James Soong (PFP, the KMT’s Shining Path), to Beijing, in their capacities as party leaders.

Obviously, it was impossible for Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping to meet as party leaders, as Ma wasn’t the KMT’s chairman. Meeting as “two cross-strait leaders”, rather than with formal titles, would avoid conflict with the “one-China principle”, and help to consolidate the achievements in the cross-strait relations of the past years, said Hu Zhongle.

Asked if Ma’s meeting with Xi would help the KMT in catching up to the DPP, Hu said that the effect would be rather limited. The long-standing military confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had come to an end, and the concept of “Taiwan independence” had become “history”. When people [in China, that is] heard about the DPP, they associated the party with Taiwanese independence, but the DPP had adjusted its strategy.

In fact, there was no Taiwan issue [or Taiwan question, 台湾问题] anymore, said Hu. There should be no ambiguity [on the part of Beijing] concerning the “one-China principle”, said Hu. Citing a CCP management philosophy from the late 1990s (抓大放小, i. e. focusing on the management of big enterprises and decentralizing or macro-controlling small and medium-sized ones), he suggested that on smaller issues, far below the “one-China threshold, Beijing could adopt a constructive stance. Even military cooperation with Taiwan was conceivable, given its strategic position near the South China Sea.

Hu wasn’t terribly precise in what he said, but he added to a feelgood atmosphere. Or might have, if he had talked to a normal newspaper rather than to one that caters to a fairly nationalistic readership.

The verdict of the commentariat – at least if you go by the more recent ones – appears to be near-unanimous:

Intellectuals are too optimistic about the issue. (知识分子,看问题太乐观)

What Mr. Hu says is simply bullshit. (胡中乐先生说的简称“胡说”。)

[A suggestion that the “expertise” came across as dim] (这专家姓胡名扯,字瞎说,号忽悠!)

Blindly optimistic!” [太盲目乐观了!]

and a comment with more detail:

To say that the “Taiwan question is no longer a problem”, I believe an extreme mistake, and harmful talk. The DPP holds on tightly to Taiwan independence, and ruling Ma doesn’t want unification, clinging to the Republic-of-China zombie. clamoring about a sovereign and independent Republic of China. Besides, he sides with Japan to oppose the mainland, serving as America’s and Japan’s running dog. I’m asking you – is this “not a problem”? Are you saying that we need no reunification? [“台海问题已不是问题”,我认为这是极端错误和有害的言论。民进党死抱台独党纲不放,执政的“马不统”死抱中华民国的僵尸不放,叫嚣台湾是主权独立的中华民国,并且,亲美友日反大陆,充美日走狗,请问,这不是问题吗?难道不要国家统一了吗?]

Not least (this could be read as an answer to the management of big and small enterprises, or priorities, as mentioned by Hu Zhongle):

If you don’t solve America, the Taiwan issue will never be solved! [不解决美国,台湾问题就始终是个问题!]

The Huanqiu readership isn’t necessarily representative for the more general Chinese public. But it would be premature to think that the meeting in Singapore would automatically add to the CCP’s publicity capital. It may also increase the publics appetite for yet more patriotic glory, or lead to dangerous disappointment when Taiwan doesn’t play along with the screenplay from Beijing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Summit Ma Ying-jeou – Xi Jinping on Saturday

Chinese state chairman and party secretary general Xi Jinping and Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou are going to meet in Singapore on Saturday, reports the BBC, adding an analysis by Cindy Sui.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This Week (2): If you are Chinese today, can you become Taiwan’s President?

Probably not. But then, especially in Taiwanese politics, everything depends on definitions. If you think – and publicly state – that there is one China with different interpretations (一中各表), and if you add that this means that China is in fact the Republic of China (RoC), and that the constitution doesn’t permit a concept of two Chinas, that might work for a president, or for a presidential candidate, especially when your opponents are in disarray. That was the case with the (governing) DPP when Ma Ying-jeou himself was elected RoC president, in 2008. Back then, and in an article that didn’t necessarily describe Taiwan’s legal status accurately, the Washington Post referred to the president-elect as a smooth Harvard law graduate.

There’s a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan however when your opponents are well-organized and pretty much in tune with the majority of the country. And there’s a problem when you, as a candidate, are anything but smooth. Her Hong Hsiu-chu‘s political career was, but apparently, she owed that to herself, friends, and her wider family, rather than to her party, the KMT. And she is said to be very outspoken – that makes for a difficult relationship with a party that is hardly known for non-conformism.

There’s also a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan when you create the impression that you can’t wait for Taiwan’s “reunification with the mainland”, with mottos like one China, one interpretation (一中同表). Yes, you can afford some non-starters when there is no real opponent, as was the case for Ma Ying-jeou from about 2005 to 2010. All the same, telling an international audience via CNN that Taiwan would never ask the American to fight for Taiwan was too smooth to become acceptable.

Tsai Ing-wen, the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) nominee, has managed to convince much of the centrist political spectrum in Taiwan that she is not, like former president Chen Shui-bian, a “troublemaker”. In 2011, during her first candidacy for presidency, then against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, she acknowledged the Republic of China’s significance for Taiwan, even if Taiwan had its own history. That was on October 10, Taiwan’s national day. This year, she agreed to an invitation by legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng to attend the official “double-ten” celebrations.

In this context, Hung Hsiu-hong became the actual “radical” in the election campaigns, and her apparent closeness to China only helped Tsai.

Just how much the KMT is in disarray can be seen from this well-meant, but delirious advice as from the KMT-leaning China Post in summer this year:

The Taiwanization faction is wrong. Hung’s China policy can be a weapon with which she can fight Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the DPP who bears its standard. Tsai is far outdistancing Hung, according to polls conducted by pro-Taiwan independence think tanks. Instead of attempting to copy the DPP’s pro-Taiwanization stance, Hung can try to narrow Tsai’s lead by telling eligible voters that her policy is to build a roadmap to eventual Chinese unification. She has to only explain it is a Chinese version of the Commonwealth that is an evolutionary outgrowth of the British Empire and that relations between the Republic of China in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China would be like those between the United Kingdom and Canada or Australia or New Zealand.

This read as if Kang Youwei had been at work again.

To cut a long, miserable story short: yes, you can (become Taiwan’s President if you are Chinese today). But not if you are too Chinese.

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