Political Backlash – The AhBien Story

As many people, even those who may not know about Taiwan, are aware President Chen Shui-Bian (ahBien) was arrested at the end of his second presidential term. In Taiwan, the source of information or updates on these proceedings has only been the politically controlled media. These media sources have been reporting rumor and third fourth and fifth hand information presented as facts. The inaccuracies have spread so far as to hinder prosecution attempts at information gathering by following hearsay from media sources.

There have been some global calls for accountability in the accuracy and humanity of the handling of this case. In some small response to this pressure recently there was a NYU University dialogue focusing on the trial of Chen Shui-bian. Thank you to NYU for opening this dialogue and posting it on YouTube. It is a long drawn out recap of the conclusions of the AhBien investigation without actually covering the conclusions of the investigation made superficial by the Taiwanese cultural need to save face. However, some very useful information can be gathered from the dialog and its well worth your time to watch considering I don’t have the time to respond to 1/12th of the issues raised here. I have linked the video below.

My Favorite Quotes

Video 1 approx: 1:05:45 Wang Jaw-Perng 國立台灣大學

“The trial of Chens case was independent, although I believe the judge was very bias and Chen did not get a fair trail.”

Video 1 approx:00:33:10 Nigel Li, Esq. 理律法律事務所

“Actually judicial independence or another notion, which is highly related in this case that is another constitutional principle… assumption of innocence. These two basic principles are also novel ideals to the legal culture of the young democracy in Taiwan….”

The trail of ahBien leaves one shrouded in mystery, specifically “What are the facts in the case?”. Unfortunately details of any evidence against ahBien do not come out in this dialogue, however there was an uncontested comment that all evidence against ahBien for extortion and money laundering is circumstantial. In Taiwan acceptance of evidence is the decision of the 3 judge panel, and they can decide if hearsay is admissible.  The additional fact that the maximum time any detainee can be held incommunicado is 2 months with the possibility of a single 2 month extension seems to ignore the fact that ahBien has been held from 2008 until now (2010/06/17). However as we know on the ground, as the time for this deadline draws nearer additional charges are brought against ahBien effectively resetting this 4 month limit. You may also find it interesting that the detention holding cell is 2.5 square meters, and a single 30 min exclusion from this cell is permitted daily. Another important fact of this case is better summed up by another quote from this video.

Video 1 approx: 1:04:30 Wang Jaw-Perng

“Judge B [the judge] was very active and very inquisitorial sometimes he was more aggressive than prosecutors in conducting the trial. In several occasions we can see this judge b [the judge] interrogated the defense witnesses for up to two hours”… “I think he did a good job for the prosecutors, this judge b [the judge] also a lot of times on many occasions he yelled at defense lawyers and yell at defendants he even sometimes mocked defense lawyers and defendants. So to protest the unfairness of judges and judiciary Chen [ahBien] dismissed all of his three defense lawyers and had several hunger strikes in the detention house.”

What happened to ahBien? A man who was able to win presidential election for two terms. A man who was considered a man of the people. Where are the people of his political campaign, his supporters and party? A man, who, as the dust is settling, only has two charges against him (the others have been dropped) and both are by circumstantial evidence. A man who was sentenced to life in prison, although that sentence has now been reduced to 20 years it is still a sentence far beyond any remedy found in the Taiwan legal code. A man who one month was the most powerful man in Taiwan and the next month was locked in a cell smaller than most bathrooms. Well for that answer we need to go to his people and ask.

In my conversations with party members I have attempted to find the source of this lack of support for ahBien. Initially I had began to suspect that many people had started to believe the media propaganda, and while this is true it is not so much the case with his party members. After the fall of ahBien a widespread ‘anti-corruption’ movement plagued Taiwan. Many people in office including several mayors found themselves under investigation and even incarcerated in the suspicion of mismanagement of slush funds. Interestingly enough, some of the accusations spread to those of the KMT party, but not one KMT political leader has been successfully prosecuted. In addition many ahBien supporters were drawn into the charges associated with those currently beimg held against Chen Sui-Bian. “Now is not the climate to be an ahBien supporter” said one party member and he is not the only one to express this sentiment. Many people however have expressed frustration and even anger at ahBien. One persons comments seemed to incorporate many other comments I have heard. “Chen Shui Bien had everything. We gave him 8 years to make changes to Taiwan. We supported him with large amounts of money. He was told the first thing that he should do is kill [not literally] the opposition. But now we find out he [ahBien] has enough money, and did not use that to support the party[DPP]. He was supposed to make Taiwan more better, but what has he done? He didn’t change the legal system, he didn’t use the chance to remove the opposition, he didn’t do anything that was needed. He deserves what he gets.” While the person went on to clarify that ahBien didn’t truly deserve everything that has happened, that person is unwilling to give ahBien any more support.

Unfortunately, it seems that the backlash of Chen Shui-Bians lack of monetary accountability and desire to leave the past behind when he stepped into office has given him a very harsh lesson in reality. Although, I would hope that in the spirit of human rights and concern for the legal system more Taiwanese would support not ahBien, but the legal decisions applicable to his case that have further reaching party implications in the future.

Part 1

Part 2

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A Historical Look on the Foreign View of Taiwan

I was just amazed with an article I read published by Time Magazine on Monday, Sep. 11, 1950. I think for historical reference alone it is an interesting read. I will not inject my opinions, but some interesting observations were made that play a large role in current issues today.

Formosa, an island about 100 miles off the South China coast, is slightly larger than Maryland. Two-thirds of Formosa is covered with tropical forest—banyans, Japanese cedars, teak, black ebony and most of the world’s camphor trees.

The island’s backbone is formed by two north-south mountain ranges which thrust up 16 peaks of 10,000 feet or more. On the east coast, the mountains become sheer rock walls, dropping 1,500 to 7,000 feet into the sea. On the west they fall away in successive terraces down to a wide coastal plain, thereby giving the island its Chinese name: Taiwan (Terraced Bay).

The climate and fertile soil combine to produce vast quantities of rice, tea, sugar and fruit, including the round, yellow-fleshed watermelons which Formosans like to eat chilled in vinegar. In their paddy fields many Formosans grow two crops of rice each year, follow up with a third crop of turnips or cabbages.

Snakes & Pirates. The Portuguese, who first sighted the island in 1590, were so entranced by its vistas of purple mountains rising out of lush, green lowlands that they named it Ilka Formosa (Beautiful Isle). But the Beautiful Isle has its shortcomings. In August and September it is whipped by destructive typhoons. It averages 330 earthquakes a year. Formosa also boasts twelve varieties of poisonous snakes, including the “hundred pace snake.” (The legend: the victim walks 100 paces and falls dead.)

The Dutch and the Spaniards arrived in Formosa in the 1620s. They fought the head-hunting Formosan aborigines and each other. In 1644 the Dutch captured the Spanish stronghold of La Santissima Trinidad at Keelung, but their victory was short-lived. Formosa was being inundated with South Chinese fleeing before the Manchu invaders of China. In 1661 one refugee, the pirate Koxinga, turned up at Formosa with a fleet and an army of 25,000 men, overwhelmed Formosa’s small Dutch garrison and proclaimed himself king of the island. Though he ruled for only a year before his death, Koxinga is still Formosans’ greatest hero.

Wasps & Head-Hunters. Until Koxinga’s time, Formosa had been bedeviled by Japanese pirates. Formosans still maintain that the Chinese residents of Kaohsiung beat off one Japanese attack in the 16th Century by setting afloat a host of bamboo tubes filled with live wasps. The curious pirates opened the tubes, were so badly stung that the Chinese captured the whole invading force.

In 1683 Formosa became a part of the Chinese Empire. Chinese settlers wrested control of the best land from the aborigines. This land steal aroused in the aborigines a hatred so implacable that even after World War I a traveler reported of the headhunters: “Mongolian [Chinese] heads are preferred, though those of other tribesmen, of domesticated natives or of Japanese are esteemed.”

During their 212 years under the Chinese Empire, Formosans of Chinese blood became different from mainland Chinese, much as colonial Americans developed a different type from their British stock. In appearance Formosans still resemble their South Chinese ancestors—short, dark, well-muscled people with broad faces and flat noses. Most Formosans still live in the straw-thatched huts which are the homes of South China’s peasants or in the two-story brick houses which are the homes of South China’s gentry. Formosans speak a Fukienese dialect, and few can talk to mainland Chinese without an interpreter.

Crows & Bombing Planes. In 1895, after its defeat in the Sino-Japanese War, China was forced to cede Formosa to Japan. Admiral Viscount Kabayama, appointed Japan’s first governor general, sailed down to Formosa in triumph, released from his flagship as a sign of victory a pair of crows. Their descendants still make Formosan daybreaks raucous.

The Formosan Chinese proclaimed a “Republic of Formosa” which the Japanese defeated in three weeks. The aborigines were harder to handle. To isolate the aborigines up in the mountains, the Japanese built what they called the Savage Guard Line, 360 miles of barbed wire fence, 230 miles of which were electrified in the 1920s. Along the Guard Line the Japanese maintained a force of 5,000 men who, as late as 1930, were besieging the aborigines with field guns, land mines and bombing planes.

Japanese rule in Formosa was a model of colonial exploitation. They developed an irrigation system so that water falling during the rainy season could be stored for use in dry periods, extended it to cover two-thirds of Formosa’s arable land. Under Japanese guidance, Formosa’s annual rice crop was doubled, and cultivation of sugar cane increased so greatly that in the years before World War II the Japanese Empire stood fourth among the world’s sugar-producing nations.

The Japanese also turned Formosa’s fragrant Oolong tea into a big-money crop, but here their customary sense of order and cleanliness deserted them. Of the girls employed in the tea-sorting godowns a Yankee traveler in 1922 complained: “Some of these tea-sorters are as much addicted to maternity as the cigarette-makers of Seville, and not a few carry young bead-eyed Mongolians slung in wide black bands over one hip. These pigtailed little toddlers do not always heighten one’s relish for the finished tea, as the big piles of leaves ready for sorting and perfuming are oftentimes their playgrounds, and through and over them they tumble and waddle with infantile disregard for consequences.”

Ports & Power. The Japanese were ready to spend money in order to make money. They gave Taipei, Formosa’s capital, a government building which would do credit to most British colonies, developed deepwater ports at Keelung and Kaohsiung. Throughout the island Japanese engineers built 2,463 miles of railway, 11,300 miles of good road. They harnessed Formosa’s short, swift-flowing rivers, built a large 300,000-kilowatt hydroelectric power station at Jihyuehu (Sun-Moon Lake). For other power sources, they worked Formosa’s coal deposits, believed to total 400 million metric tons, and exploited her oil, refining it at the rate of 5,000 gallons of gasoline a day.

Everywhere the Japanese scattered sugar mills, pineapple canneries and factories to produce textiles, chemicals, paper and industrial alcohol. At Kaohsiung and Hualien they built plants which produced about 10% of the Japanese Empire’s alumina and aluminum. By the beginning of World War II, Formosa was exporting more than Turkey or Yugoslavia, returning a yearly net profit of $100 million to Japanese investors and the Japanese government, had an export balance in trade with both China and Japan.

Gold Teeth & Electric Lights. Fifty years under Japan’s wing has given Formosans attitudes and habits rare on China’s mainland. Nearly every Formosan sports one or two gold teeth, the badge of Japanese health-consciousness. About 10% of Formosans are industrial or communications workers. Even the 71% of Formosans who are agricultural workers have electric lights in their huts, a luxury possessed by no other Asian peasants except the Japanese.

World War II shattered Formosan’s secure and, by Oriental standards, abundant life. U.S. bombers hit all of the island’s 42 sugar mills, put almost all of the rest of its industry out of commission. The bombers won the U.S. great face in Formosa by leaving the Japanese quarter of Taipei in rubble, damaging the Formosan section of town far less.

Wreckage & Reconstruction. At war’s end Formosa was placed under Chinese control with the understanding that China would get final possession of the island when the war with Japan was officially ended. (No peace treaty with Japan has been signed.) Formosans, stumbling about in the wreckage of their economy, found themselves in the hands of a despotic and inefficient Chinese governor, Chen Yi. After he had provoked a brief, bloody rebellion Chen Yi was removed. As the faltering Nationalist government fled from South China, Formosa became the refuge of nearly 2,000,000 mainland Chinese. Formosans complained bitterly that the rapacious Nationalist refugees acted like conquerors who did not expect to stay long.

In the last two years Formosans have grown more contented. Nationalist authorities have done a good job of economic reconstruction. Formosa’s overall production this year will be up to 75% of what it was in good prewar years. Formosan tenant farmers, who under the Japanese paid as much as 70% of their crops in rent, now pay only 37% to the landlord. Formosans have also been mollified by the improved morale of 500,000 Nationalist troops largely trained by V.M.I.-educated General Sun Li-jen.

Formosa’s 160,000 remaining aborigines are happier, too. They do little work. Some of them sublimate their head-hunting desires by taking monkey skulls; others make a play for the tourist trade with performances of native dances. And now that the harsh days of the Japanese Guard Line are gone, the aborigines are free to wander down to Taipei for an occasional glimpse of civilization.

Computex – An International Trade-Show???

Welcome again to Taiwans’ premier international event. Computex, is a IT hardware trade show hosted in Taipei. Taitra, the show organizer, has failed miserably this year to host to any non-Chinese speaking person. In fact, what is the point of hosting a show with the build-up, marketing effort and substantial government investment if it does not draw additional business from abroad? In my visit this year, I spent little time looking at companies that hold my interest and focused a touch more on the attendees and people at the show. I talked with people from the Japan, Greece, Columbia, US and countries undisclosed. But I am getting a little ahead of why I decided to write this story, and will start at the beginning.

Getting There

I started my journey near the HP building, making Halls 1 and 3 equally distant. Deciding that I didn’t want to wait in line for registration in Hall 1, i headed to Hall 3. At the first door I arrived, I walked past the local security and went straight to the lady with the Taitra badge. “Excuse me, where is the main entrance?” I asked. “Uhmmm…” shaking her head in confusion (i.e. not understanding English) she invites over the security guard. “What do you want?” asked the security guard. “Where is the main entrance?” I asked again. “What?” replied the security guard. “Where is the front door?, Where can I get in? Where is registration?” I asked multiple questions hoping one of these would hit an English speaking neuron. “Ahhh, take a right and right.” the guard replied. Basically this response did not answer my question, but rather than speak Chinese or spend another 5 minutes, I walked around the corner to the right and assuming the next door was the next right, I proceeded to the next entrance.

At this door (significantly bigger) there was one security guard and two Taitra employees. I approached the one on the left of the entrance. Before I could get near, the employee on the right said “No you cant come in” as he pointed at me. This 60 kilo 18 year old youth was speaking very rudely to me, in a raised voice and pointing at me all with refined enough English that I could only assume he knew the words and tone he was using. I raised my tone to match his, pointed and said “Don’t you point at me.” at the same time I turned to my initial target and asked “Where is the registration?”. The focus of my question answered “You need to go right.” as he pointed along the face of the building. I turned and walked on.

Registration

Finally, at the 3rd door I approached, after having a vague recollection of registering before at this door years past and noticing the much large size of the entry area I knew I had at last come to where I could enter. A sign at the entrance indicated that I must prepare two business cards, and a queue presented itself in front of some registration computers. I proceeded to enter the queue as I noticed a Taitra employee at the beginning of the line talking with 2 Taiwanese. I attempted to squeeze past them to enter the queue, and the Taitra employee said “No you can go past.”. I asked him “What is the trouble here?”. “You have to give me your business card” he responded curtly. As I look at the line there was nothing to indicate what we were supposed to do with these two cards, but rather than cause issue I reached into my wallet and gave him the card. He held it in his hand and went back to harassing the other two people in front of the queue. I asked “So do I get my card back?”. He responded “No, I keep it.”. I entered the queue and politely let the two people he was harassing go ahead of me once they finally finished with the Taitra employee.

Standing in the queue, it was very apparent that the registration process takes about 4-5 minutes per person and there were only 5 computers available. Meaning that one person per minute could be handled, luckily not many people were registering here and I only spent about 10 minutes waiting. However, I could only think how lucky I must have been considering the show typically draws around 120,000 people. I proceed to the registration computer and answer more questions than I truly wanted to answer, with no consideration or statement on the privacy of my information. Once I entered my information the computer pointed me to the left to get my badge. I approached the person dispersing the badges who said “Give me your name card”. At this point I had about enough of the Taiwanese attitude and casual ignorance of politeness that they demand of other people but so rarely give out. “I have worked with Taitra for a long time, is this how they are now teaching people to deal with show attendees? Basically the question is ‘Please give me your business card’, not ‘Give me your business card’ one is rude and the other is not.” I said without giving the person a chance between breaths. “I did ask please.” she said. Feeling a little guilty to put all my annoyances so far on her lap I responded “I am sorry, you must have said please very quietly, I have had a couple other not so pleasant conversations with Taitra employees so far.”. Not feeling good about letting the lie slip, but ready to get on with my day I entered the show.

Environment

With most trade shows there is a certain dignity involved with the set up of a booth. It represents tens of thousands of dollars of investment in most cases and a significant amount of set up time working with show organizers, contractors for booth preparation, printers for materials and advertising, approval from the host, selection of the lot and so much more. Many booths in this were a ragtag collection of booths containing the equivalent of cardboard boxes and a Lemonade for Sale sign. In 3/5 booths that I visited not a single person could speak English. In 5/7 booths there was not a person present who could answer questions about major products in their display. While all announcements may not have been in English, every one that I heard was in Chinese. I walked by and the typical events were present. Companies were engaging the audience and trying to increase brand recognition by getting the audience to chant their name,or answer questions in return for prizes. The problem is, it was all in Chinese. In addition, the exhibition halls are now split between Nangang and Taipei city (a 30 minute bus commute). For many people, a trade show is as much a chance to meet with distributors, partners and clients as much as to attend the event. Subtracting a minimal 1 hour a day from a persons ability to engage in business or browsing vendors is another major cut to the exposure a trade show can provide.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that large government investments do not fiscally make sense if your targeting a trade show to the local market. When your trade show can positively impact the GDP by drawing foreign investment you then have a reason to ask for other large buildings to be built for your exhibitions, and not supporting the international community does not help. <cough cough – that was aimed at Taitra> Providing poor language support, printing newspapers with 5 articles in English and 10 in Chinese, rude staff, low booth standards for appearance and service and large distances between events are all indicators of failure. If for some reason you are reading this and are considering an appearance at next years event…. stay home, you will be just as, if not more productive contacting these companies via e-mail.

A Pot, a Kettle and the Color Black

Thank you very much MOFA for what a complete outsider to the politics of this situation calls “The pot calling the kettle black”. I have seen very few statements from a countries diplomatic corp so arrogant and so reflective of the true thinking of the current regime as this statement.

Source: This is a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on the MOFA website.

Statement regarding the Incident of South Korean Warship “The Cheonon”

The Cheonon, a South Korean warship, was sunk by an explosion on March 26, 2010, approximately one nautical mile off the south-west coast of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. A joint investigation by the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Republic of Korea reached the conclusion that the battleship was scuttled by a North Korean torpedo. This event has seriously affected the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, rising tensions in the area.
As a responsible nation in East Asia, the Republic of China (Taiwan) highly concerns over the situation and condemns any violent or provocative act that undermines regional peace and stability.
Taiwan supports the efforts of the Republic of Korea, the United States, Japan and other countries in their endeavour to reduce existing tension and to restore regional stability through the United Nations. The government of Taiwan is willing to cooperate with the international community to adopt appropriate measures in order to prevent the conflict from escalating, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding regional peace, stability and prosperity.(E)

This statement “As a responsible nation in East Asia, the Republic of China (Taiwan) highly concerns over the situation and condemns any violent or provocative act that undermines regional peace and stability.”coming from the country best described as the ‘flash point’ of Asia for the past several decades does nothing but grate me the wrong way. Looking past the ‘responsible nation’ statement lets take a look at the form used. Taiwan (ROC) is not a Republic of China (Taiwan), anyone in any capacity in the dip. corps. that knows of Taiwan knows this. Secondly, the international press release in English is not even a proper sentence. Taiwan(on what grounds) condemns a provocative act (on the grounds of the fictional nation they name?). Now, to the real abuser, ‘provocative act that undermines regional peace and stability’. How does a nation well known for pissing on the boot of China, think that this is anything but shit-talk?

Did the main editor for China Post draft this press release by chance, or have the new executives from Beijing finally decided to flex their muscles and give Ma penis breath as he took notes to give to MOFA?

The Foreign Effect – A look into the criminal mind

Lets face it, Foreigners are criminals in Taiwan. Weather you have actually committed a crime or not. Being a foreigner is one of the most heinous reprehensible actions you can commit to some people. Last night as a friend and I were talking in the car a woman walked by our vehicle. Just to give you a little background, we were two foreign males and the building is a high-end secure building (where my friend happens to live) with a security guard inside and rfid entry badges. We were parked in a vehicle just outside the entrance as I was dropping him off. The female Taiwanese had a laptop in one hand, and a bag in her other. As she approached a look of fear entered her face (not too uncommon unfortunately) and she skirted as close to the building as possible. She fumbled with her keys so quickly and in such distress that her hair dongle (yeah I’m not a girl, but the rubbery thing that wraps around a girls hair to secure it) fell out. She didn’t even bother to pick it up and ran in the building, too bad she didn’t leave the laptop also I guess. If we could only apply the Vietnamese custom of taking a bride from the home of her family and running away while dropping large amounts of cash behind you until you escape, and replace the bride taking with keeping the foreigner away then this would really work in my benefit.

Typically I find that if a foreign male is on the street, and there is nobody else in sight, a Taiwanese female will walk to the other side of the road to avoid walking by them. I have had couples, elderly men and women and even teenagers avoid walking by me by turning completely around, walking 1-2 blocks out of their way to avoid me, or upon realizing there is no good alternative simply getting as far away as they can. I have been patted down for a gun search in Taiwan before (and no not by police, but by a business-security before entry into their business), had public doors closed in my face (while they were still serving Taiwanese) and a multitude of not so cool accusations placed on me for no apparent reason. Now lets get down to character, I am (99% of the time) clean shaven, well groomed and dressed in name-brand clothing or a suit. I don’t drink, hold corporate positions  around the director level and am not generally considered to look ugly or like a gangster. And most importantly I am not black (as black people here have an even harder time with this).  Now the question I have is, where is all of this history of abusive foreigners? What is the per-capita ratio of foreigner rapes in Taiwan? What is the % of foreigners arrested of violent crimes (in which they were the propagator)? Why, when there is new graffiti in the area, does rumor spread that it was a group of  ‘foreign kids’?

Since I have already spent 2 paragraphs on my opinion, I mine as well tell you my theory in work. In this male dominant prejudice society that changes their history at the flip of a whim, a significant amount of know-how or learning comes from opinion based prejudices forced on others fueled by the jealousy of others and their desire to control. For example, the abusive pimp tells his ho, foreigners have a big penis and will hurt you, make sure you charge them extra or just ignore them. Or as another example, the over-domineering boyfriend tells his girlfriend, who admits she likes Brad Pitt, that all foreigners have AIDS. Whats worse is that Taiwan has this unique ability to hire people from abroad to ‘teach English’ without asking for any credentials, thus luring the trailer trash scum of other societies who cant get a job at home to come to Taiwan to teach. These dead-beats of society help reinforce some of these images in the minds of people. I am not saying all teachers are bad, but I am saying that the worst foreigners I have met are teachers here leeching off of this society.

Taiwanese seem to have 6 major prejudices depending on where they think you came from

  • 1) Japanese. Basically if they think your from Japan, other than thinking your rich, they worship your feet and try to imitate your dress and look.
  • 2) American. Basically if you look white at all, you are American. Continue reading my blog for the many prejudices here.
  • 3) Dirt. Basically if you come from any south-east Asian country (like Philippines, Vietnam etc.) you are dirt, and should be their slave.
  • 4) Chinese. Yeah well, basically they only way they will care is if they hear your accent. Either they will make a bad comment on it or befriend you.
  • 5) Indian. Well, yeah you stink, cant talk in any way they want to understand, and other than that you are dirt.
  • 6) Black. Either your from America or Africa. Either way they want you to keep your enormous penis and AIDS to yourself. Beyond being treated like an American there is a general disgust with your presence even on the business level.

Here’s Why Taiwan Is Destined To Submit To Beijing’s Will

Well I certainly stumbled on an interesting business blog with some politics in it. I have posted it and my response below. I would like to know your opinion on this also.  Also I was on the MOEA site trying to verify these numbers with their data, I couldn’t but I was getting data rolled into monthly views and not segmented by sector. Does anyone have the source for this data?

Taken from businessinsider.

Good news, the ongoing rift between Beijing and Taiwan — a nuisance that constantly interjects itself into international affairs — is coming to an end. Taiwan will eventually submit to Beijing’s will.

Here’s why.

Taiwan’s economic growth is growing more and more dependent on Chinese demand.

From Waverly Advisors:

More signals of stronger than anticipated demand in China over the Lunar New Year holiday arrived from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs today. The ministry reported that total export orders increased by 36.25% Y/Y, with Critical Electronic and Communications product segments increasing by 41% Y/Y and 44% Y/Y respectively.

The impact of last year’s direct trade agreement and other economic partnerships with China leaves Taiwan with a quandary: how to balance the massive opportunity presented by trade with the mainland with Beijing’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the ROC as an independent state –let alone accept it.  To date officials from both nations have for the most part politely sidestepped the issue in public in a process akin to family at a holiday dinner silently refusing to acknowledge underlying tensions. Inevitably it will bubble to the surface, but for now the denial is paying off handsomely for all.

More important that Taiwanese/Mainland relations this data –massive orders from Chinese purchasing managers remained in February despite the PBOC’s second reserve hike and the Holiday, supports the argument for further tightening measures by Beijing in the near term.

Here is my response  (I advise you to go to the site and look at the comments also):
There are so many issues here I am not surprised to see the comments you have received. I will attempt to summarize why i disagree with your (and Waverly Advisors) conclusion.

First, we are operating on the assumption that this spike is related to decreased tensions (fyi, MOEA is under pressure at the 2yr anniversary of Ma’s presidency to show some good and further under pressure from ECFA debates that are causing protests). While I am not accusing MOEA of altering their numbers, I am suggesting that this ‘correlation’ is unsubstantiated.

Second, we must evaluate the March spike. It is a little hard to evaluate from the records shown above but in 1st quarter in every fiscal year we have a significant spike that drops by the end of the quarter. One could also suggest that delays in orders could be affected by financial concerns in the EU and how they would be handled. Or one could suggest that with some resurgence in many markets purchasing behaviors have become more pronounced.

Third, where is this time-line coming from? No physical or verbal trade agreements, or restrictions have been placed/lifted on trade between Taiwan and China yet. The only agreement that has been made is for commercial flights between the countries. One can only assume that the ‘direct trade’ is the provision that shipping is now allowed without going through Ishigaki, which still has not affected the container costs for shipping. Is this correlation supposedly in ‘speculation’ that ECFA will be signed?

Fourth, even assuming that we could roll such a complicated issue into a chart and assume that this jump is in fact due solely to the increased relations, that does not mean that the ECFA (FTA) between China and Taiwan will be made. Currently the issue is being evaluated for referendum. If that happens historically there is a very minute chance that this will pass. Moreover, considering the poor public opinion of Ma, it is possible another party change will occur in the next election which will be based in large part to his relationship to China.

Wanting this Waverly assessment to be true or not, it is nowhere close to the open and shut case of ‘pretending’ Joe didn’t just get out of prison for fratricide last year while he eats at the family dinner table.

Drunk Driving in Taiwan

Last night I was in Tien Mu driving around with a friend. Entering the Tien Mu area (next to the baseball stadium) the was a police checkpoint. The method for controlling drunk driving in Taiwan is simple… Place a police checkpoint in moderate traffic areas, and perform the visual inspection. On occasion the question “Have you been drinking” is asked, and sometimes a simple sniff of the interior of your car is performed. Well, after answering the rigorous question “Did you have any drinks?” we passed the checkpoint and headed down Tien Mu East Road. After deciding nothing was happening there (no big surprise) we turned around and started heading towards Tien Mu West road.

On the way we passed a guy in a red Saab convertible parked in the right lane talking to a taxi driver with a beer in his hand. With my video recorder in-hand, we pulled over and waited for the red Saab to pass us. After about 10 min, the Saab turned on his lights, and proceeded to honk is horn, randomly flash his blinkers and shift from lane to lane (not as much in a drunken stupor as in just plain idiocy). We followed him to the Ox on the Roof bar, where he proceeded to park in the rightmost lane and get out of the car to go talk with people in the bar. After another 10 min pause, he proceeded to continue his lane changing horn honking charade and make a u turn, narrowly avoiding hitting another oncoming car. As we approached we noticed that a police office is his car witnessed the whole scene (as he was waiting at the light) . But did nothing. Unfortunately i paused my recording at the Ox on the Roof, and did not capture this blatant near collision in front of the officer :(.

Unfortunately foreigners have a reputation in Taiwan for being drunk lecherous people. Based on very little fact, but well known to many locals. While the fact remains that Taiwan business circles relies heavily on KTV and bar-room negotiations, most foreigners must be willing to drink in order to get business done. In psychology there is a term called projection (Freudian Projection), which I think fairly accurately describes the mentality involved whenever there are unwanted associations with ones self or culture and placing them on another. There is a drinking problem in Taiwan, and there is a drinking and driving problem in Taiwan. I would even suggest (without proof) this is a bigger problem than in other countries, and exacerbated by the ineffective measures in place to deal with it. I will not say I have not met ‘drunkards’ who are foreigners, nor will I say I haven’t been falling down drunk in Taiwan before. But it does not benefit Taiwanese to continue this myth when it only proves ignorance and does not deal with the issues at home.

(This is a placeholder for video as soon as i can resolve my conversion issue)