"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Friday, October 29, 2004

Powell claims he misspoke

Just a couple of days after saying that the US hoped for a "reunification" of Taiwan and China, Secretary of State Colin Powell has backpedaled on the particular statement.

Radio Australia tells it like this:
Mr Powell said in television interviews during the visit that Taiwan was not a sovereign nation and that the United States favored its "peaceful reunification" with China.

But Mr Powell now says he meant to say the US wants a peaceful "resolution" to the cross strait problem - replacing the word "reunification." [sic]
But don't pull the red-hot poker out of his ass just yet. There are several things that still trouble me about this.

On Monday (October 25, 2004), the State Department's Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli had this to say while being asked specifically about the word "reunification." (The first time I read it, I didn't think too much of it, but upon re-reading it tonight after Powell's "correction," it took on a brand new shade of "bullshit."):
QUESTION: Yes, Secretary Powell, in interviews in Beijing, has said things on Cross-Strait relations that have never been said before by the U.S. Government, such as Taiwan does not enjoy the sovereignty of a nation, and also comments to the fact that we need to find ways to start cross-strait dialogue so that someday we may have the movement towards a peaceful reunification.

Does this indicate any policy change? I know your policy remains the same, but, you know, policy is described in words. When words change, so does the policy, doesn't it?

MR. ERELI: The policy has not changed. (Laughter.) We can lead with that. I think the Secretary is very clear that the United States is committed, remains firmly committed to its One China policy, based on the three communiqués and our responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act. He also made it clear that we opposed unilateral actions by either side, that we do not support Taiwanese independence, and that the way to resolve this issue is through peaceful dialogue.

As far as Taiwanese sovereignty goes, again, there was -- I don't think there was any new ground broken on that. The words the Secretary used accurately reflect our longstanding policy on Taiwan status. And so, frankly, I think we are today where we were yesterday.

QUESTION: Can I follow up please? When you say, you know, the United States does not want to prejudge the outcome of any outcome between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and when the Secretary uses words like reunification, is there a contradiction there? Why does the Secretary use such word as reunification?

MR. ERELI: I don't think you should read that any prejudging or hinting or departure from our longstanding position. That, as I said, the policy has not changed. One element of our policy has been to favor a peaceful resolution of the Cross-Straits issue through dialogue and through a resolution that is acceptable to both sides.

[...] [Emphasis mine]
How's that for addressing the question without addressing the question? Despite the reporter's emphasis on the word "reunification," the Deputy Freakin' Spokesman for the US State Department still didn't get it! If Powell "misspoke," somebody should have noticed by that point in time, don't you think?

There's also that meaningless bullshit about Powell "also ma[king] it clear that we opposed unilateral actions by either side." Someone living in Taiwan might not take that too seriously when China continues to increase the number of missiles aimed in their direction, and people get all upset because the Taiwanese are, you know, trying to protect themselves and stuff, being treated like "orphans" in a world that gives legitimacy to bellicose China.

Who ya gonna trust?
Townhall.com had an anonymously-written article quoting unnamed sources yesterday which said:
An American lawyer and analyst who lived in Taiwan during most of President Clinton's second term and during the current Bush presidency, said Thursday worried Taiwanese should "take a time-out."

"The guy made a mistake," he said of Powell. "If you think he was going to choose that forum [media interviews while visiting China] to announce a dramatic shift in policy, you're just not familiar with the issues."

Because the China-Taiwan situation was so finely-balanced and semantics were so important, when a poor choice of words is used, it causes a stir.

The lawyer, a supporter of President Bush who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Taiwanese had reason to be wary of Democratic administrations and policies.

"The Democratic policy-making community has clearly showed a tendency to pressurize Taiwan to give in to China," he said.

He cited officials like Richard Holbrooke and Winston Lord, assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and the Pacific in the Carter and Clinton administrations respectively.

"These are all people who have publicly advocated that Taiwan enter into interim agreements [with Beijing] - things that the Taiwanese do not favor and do not see too much advantage in." [Emphasis mine]
If you believe this anonymous lawyer/analyst/Bush supporter, then you don't know too much about Republican media manipulation either! To be honest, I'm not too fond of the Democrats' position toward China -- at least on the surface of it. I do tend to believe, however, that they (e.g., Clinton) are looking for longer-term stability through more diplomatic methods -- and that we're far more likely to get the truth about things from the Democrats.

But according to Townhall.com, we're supposed to believe the Bush administration?!

I wrote in an earlier post (in a subliminal message hidden in a mouse-over on the word "interview") that Mike Chinoy's interview of Powell "reads like a script," so the likelihood that Powell "misspoke" diminishes greatly, in my opinion.

Other notable "misspeakers"
I suppose Dick Cheney "misspoke" when he (repeatedly) linked Saddam Hussein to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

I assume Donald Rumsfeld "misspoke" when he said he knew where the WMD were.

I imagine Condoleezza Rice "misspoke" when she said that the title of that Presidential Daily Briefing was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" and that she "could not have imagined" planes being used as missiles.

I guess Dubya "grotesquely misunderstatemented" when he said, "Ya fool me can't get fooled again."

I suppose I could go on like this for days... I hope Americans don't "misvote" next Tuesday. Don't get fooled again!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Taiwan's opposition reinforces smug image

Accuses ruling party of being smug

Early Wednesday afternoon, I saw Lien Chan on the news, smirking proudly as he accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of overestimating their greatness (paraphrased: "Min jin dang jue de ta men na mo wei da de").

This was Lien's joyous response to Colin Powell's recent comments that "Taiwan is not a sovereign state." Instead of attacking Powell -- or even the idiotic statements -- the opposition pan-blue parties are using this as yet another excuse to attack the pan-greens' plan to implement a NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) budget for the purchase of defensive weapons in order to counter the continually growing threat of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan.

The irony of this is that the very budget the pan-blues are now adamantly opposing was, in fact, requested by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT or Kuomintang) when they were in power. (Talk about two-faced!)

Also, one must recall that when Singapore scolded Taiwan at the United Nations, the DPP-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs (Chen Tang-shan, AKA Mark Chen) accused Singapore of "holding China's balls" (i.e., "brown-nosing"), the KMT attacked the DPP instead of standing up for Taiwan and pointing out the absurdity of the accusation that Taiwan is any kind of threat to peace in the region.

Additionally, one cannot forget that legislative elections are coming up, and the pan-greens are working hard at gaining a majority, looking more and more confident as the days pass. The pan-blues, on the other hand, are looking more and more like cartoon figures clinging for dear life onto a bare branch protruding from the face of a cliff.

Further acts of desperation
The pan-blues will do absolutely anything to try to beat the pan-greens -- anything except introspection, that is.

While Typhoon Nock-Ten (Laotian for "bird") was lashing at Taiwan on Monday, a TTV camera operator said to be covering Premier Yu Shyi-kun's visit to a water diversion project drowned. (Government Information Office (GIO) Director Lin Chia-lung, however, says "that the media did not go to the scene to cover the premier's trip but to cover the activation of the Yuanshanzih floodwater diversion channel.") The pan-blues immediately used this event to attack Yu, blaming him for the journalist's death and calling his visit to the location a "political stunt."

There are several problems with this. The cameraman, Alex Ping, had been warned earlier to leave the area due to rising water. He and others had crossed rising waters after being told not to -- probably in an attempt to get more dramatic footage of the rapidly rising waters.

During recent typhoons, I've commented to my wife about the idiotic behavior of reporters who put on "stunts" of their own: staging "pratfalls" to demonstrate the danger of navigating Taiwan's flooded streets; standing on the beach as huge waves and powerful winds batter them, all the while saying how "dangerous" it is (not to mention "stupid"); and exaggerating the existing conditions for the sake of "shock value" (e.g., during a light rain, a reporter left the hood of his raincoat covering half his face, all the while grimacing as if it were the fault of the weather).

I cannot say with 100 percent certainty if Ping was doing such a thing, but the behavior mentioned above certainly gives viewers reason to wonder. If reporters had the reputation of giving accurate, honest reports, this doubt would not exist. If journalists would adhere to some basic safety guidelines, such unfortunate incidents might not happen so frequently.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fuck Colin Powell in the ass with a red-hot poker

He cannot determine Taiwan's sovereignty

Despite the US' praise for Chen Shui-bian's recent offer to start talks with China, Secretary of State Colin Powell said some really ignorant things on Monday during his visit there. From a Reuters article:
"Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy," Powell told Phoenix TV.
In a subsequent interview with CNN's Mike Chinoy, Powell spoke of eventual "reunification," in contrast to the US' more ambiguously-stated policy of "the peaceful resolution of [Taiwan and China's] future relations ... by mutual decision":
MR. CHINOY: Last year President Bush said in the presence of China's Premier and I quote, "the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan, that's President Chen Shui-bian's, indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo which we oppose." It's clear China, even today, still feels that way about President Chen. Do you still feel that his comments, his actions, his attitude indicate that kind of direction and does it worry you?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have made it very clear to the authorities in Taiwan, to President Chen Shui-bian, that we do not support independence for Taiwan. Our One-China Policy, resting on the Three Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act, has served all of the parties quite well for a long period of time, and we would not support anything that would change that approach.

We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking. And we think that this is the time for both sides to reach out to each other and find ways to discuss these issues. We were hoping that we would see an improvement in cross-straits dialogue, but our position is rather clear, we do not support independence for Taiwan. That would be inconsistent with our One-China Policy. And There is no doubt by either Chen Shui-bian's mind or any other Taiwanese leader's mind that that is a firm US policy that is not going to change. [Emphasis mine]
While the Taiwan Relations Act may have prevented war from breaking out so far, it hasn't stopped China from continually threatening Taiwan nor from increasing the number of missiles -- now said to be over 600 -- aimed at its tiny neighbor across the Taiwan Strait.

Chinoy is known for mentioning that "China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province," but he doesn't ever seem to emphasize the facts that Taiwan considers China a military threat, only buys defensive weapons, or continually tries to open talks with China which are not based on preconditions such as acceptance of the "one China" principle.

Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian once again held out an olive branch to China in his recent National Day speech. China quickly responded by calling Chen's overtures "insincere" and again threatening to "to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force if necessary."

In the weeks preceding Chen's speech, China had flown "over 30 sorties ... of bomber and fighter aircraft" which approached the middle line of the Taiwan Strait, creating an "extremely tense" and potentially quite dangerous situation. This may be what Chen was talking about when he suggested establishing a "Code of Conduct across the Taiwan Strait."

Understanding Taiwan's sovereignty
The Taiwan Documents Project presents a scholarly summary of the legalities and common misconceptions regarding such documents as the Treaty of Shimonoseki (secession of Taiwan from China to Japan in 1895), the 1943 Cairo Declaration (a "press release" with no binding signatures), the 1945 Yalta Declaration (and its failure to deal with "Formosa"), and more. See number 13 in particular, regarding the various definitions and means of acquisition of sovereignty. For further study, the summary also contains links to full text versions of all of the documents mentioned within.

Taiwan may currentlly live under a fucked up constitution (that of the "Republic of China"), but that does not cancel out the reality of the situation, in which the government in Taiwan does not exercise control over Mongolia or any part of the PRC.

Coming soon?
* Shooting down Bulletgate
* Kerry's landslide victory?

[Edited for spelling]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Taiwan's pan-blues can't endure the truth

Truth comes back to haunt them
Since the March 20,2004 presidential election in Taiwan, the opposition pan-blue parties have been crying that they want the "truth" about the election eve assassination attempt of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice-President Annette Lu. Chen and Lu won the election by a margin of 0.228 percent. The pan-blues have gone so far as to create an unconstitutional "truth commission" which could never be trusted to provide any semblance of "truth" to the Taiwanese people.

Just yesterday, the pan-blues showed once again that they can't handle the truth. Weeks of criticism has been aimed at the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for their intentions to spend NT$610.8 billion (US$18.25 billion) on defensive weapons in order to counter the threat posed by the 600 missiles China has aimed at Taiwan.

People First Party (PFP) legislator Liu Wen-hsiung, who threatened to bring a bulldozer with which to charge the Presidential Office during post-election rioting, physically attacked DPP legislators Lee Wen-chung and Chen Tsung-yi in the Legislative Yuan Tuesday as they held up posters pointing out that the budget was agreed to during the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rule and that a PFP legislator Nelson Ku supported the deal when he was a navy chief but now opposes it.

Mr. Bulldozer "tried to tackle" legislators Lee and Chen when they revealed the truth in order for the public to see that the pan-blues are simply full of shit. Others present were able to separate the two men and the spoiled brat.

Bully China demands weapon sales from EU
After the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989, the European Union (EU) imposed an embargo on arms sales to China. Beijing officials are now playing the victim and demanding that the embargo be lifted. Isn't this an awful lot like a fox demanding to be let loose in a henhouse? If China is the fox and Taiwan is the henhouse, this analogy fits quite well.

Taiwan's Premier dispatches illegitimate interpretations
Premier Yu Shyi-kun has clarified President Chen Shui-bian's National Day speech -- for those who like to read between the lines and see things that aren't there -- "stressing that [Chen's] words should not be twisted to imply a consensus was reached in 1992."

Get it? Got it? Good!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

When yin equals yang

Give me ambiguity, or give me something else
In his National Day speech on Sunday, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian stated that "The Republic of China is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the Republic of China."

Yesterday, former president Lee Teng-hui called the statement deceptive rhetoric.

The difference is that being president, Chen Shui-bian doesn't have the option of being as blunt as Lee can be. Lee himself admitted that he, too, said almost the same thing when he was in office.

Again, we should go back to Derrida's decontructionist philosophy and consider the multiple legitimate interpretations of each.

According to the constitution, the "Republic of China" (ROC) includes all of what the world knows as "China" -- including Outer Mongolia, which has been independent from China since 1921. However, the government in Taiwan has never controlled any of the area now known as the People's Republic of China (PRC). The constitution needs to be rewritten to reflect the reality of the situation.

According to Lee Teng-hui, the ROC "does not exist." Chen Shui-bian seems to be arguing that if it does, it only exists on Taiwan, and that Taiwanese who identify with either "Taiwan" or the "ROC" hold equally valid views.

Beijing has already responded to Chen's National Day speech by saying that his statements are "too insincere and vague to be treated seriously," while others see the ambiguity as a good thing. Executive director of the Institute for National Policy Research Lo Chih-cheng says, "The speech solves the problem of the 'one China' principle with ambiguity. If both sides are willing to accept this ambiguity, than a new beginning is possible,"

Whichever interpretation one chooses, it is impossible to see Chen as "bellicose." It is equally impossible to see China as having any flexibility whatsover.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The day after National Day

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian gave what I thought was a stunning National Day speech yesterday, and the response of both the "pro-independence" and "pro-unification" camps only reinforces this description. Both sides were stunned by the speech.

The speech came just two days after the death of philosopher Jacques Derrida. Derrida's deconstructionist philosophy focused on "reading between the lines;" therefore, it must be remembered that Chen's speech was a political one, and that one must "read between the lines" in order to understand it.

Derrida's philosophy proposed that there are multiple legitimate interpretations of a text. I would tend to believe that it's obvious there are also a number of illegitimate interpretations and that many of the speedy criticisms of Chen's National Day speech are full of 'em.

For example, Chen's reference to the "1992 consensus," in which both sides "agreed to disagree," cannot be simply interpreted as giving in to China (i.e., the likely purposeful misinterpretation of the pan-blues). [CORRECTION: Chen didn't refer to it, as people often do, as a "consensus," but rather talked about "the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong."] It appears to me that Chen is doing everything he can to move forward toward a dialog with China that will avoid the war that Beijing so desperately seems to want.

Taiwan has been bullied by China for decades with the help of the international community. It has been smeared as a "renegade province," and the world has a tough time seeing through this thick smokescreen. Therefore, threats (like Chirac's as well as recent remarks by Singapore's Foreign Minister) are often made toward Taiwan based on perceptions that its actions are "instigating" tension between itself and China when nothing could be further from the truth.

By repeatedly making such overtures to China, Chen Shui-bian gives Taiwan the upper hand in situations such as when France's President Jacques Chirac voiced a "warning" to Taiwan the day before yesterday during a meeting with China's President Hu Jintao.

The world needs to see through China's lies, many of which they deliver by proxy.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A stroke of genius

Today is Double Ten Day, Taiwan's National Day. This morning, President Chen Shui-bian delivered a speech that seems -- at least in print -- to be a coup de grace for himself as president, for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the ruling party, and for the sovereign nation of Taiwan in the face of military threats from China.

In the speech, President Chen...

... spoke of the "bittersweet" success of Taiwan's Olympic victories:
When Taiwan's first gold medal was conferred officially, waves of emotions swept through the hearts of our athletes and millions of our fellow citizens, who witnessed that glorious moment in history with tears of joy streaming down their faces. Perhaps those not from Taiwan find it difficult to comprehend the bittersweet sentiment so deeply felt by all of us--one that stems from a profound regret that our gold medallists are forbidden to sing our national anthem and salute our national flag, and that our only recourse is to make a loud appeal to the international media: "I am from Taiwan!"
... struck back at all of Taiwan's so-called "artists" who turned down the chance to sing the national anthem at the rally for fear of reprisal from China and instead honored Taiwan's Olympic and Paralympic medalists:
Today, we have invited our Olympic and Paralympic champions to lead the chorus of our National Anthem. In a song that entwines our people with the remembrance of our glorious past, we honor the "Heroes of Taiwan"; and as sounds of our national Anthem reach far beyond the horizon, we join here today with our Olympic heroes as a symbolic gesture that each and every one of you, my fellow citizens, is a hero of Taiwan.
... argued for Taiwan's inclusion in the United Nations [Clarification: Chen is referring to Resolution 2758 in this passage, not 2785.]:
The Resolution 2758 of the 1971 UN General Assembly addresses the issue of representation of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the UN and relevant organizations. However, it never endows the PRC any right to "represent the people of Taiwan." It is essential that Resolution 2785 [sic] should not be wrongly used as an excuse to exclude Taiwan from the UN system. Misusing this resolution to obstruct the participation of Taiwan people not only violates the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights principles; it is also the greatest irony to the principle of "universality of membership."
... made a direct reference to China's disdain for the people of Taiwan, specifically during the SARS crisis:
Taiwan must stand tall on the international stage, with parity and dignity. This is a wish shared by the 23 million people of Taiwan. In the same spirit, it is the yearning of each of our fellow citizens to see our national flag raised and our national anthem played in the Olympic award ceremony. It is but a simple wish that should never be ignored by any member of civilized societies nor met with flagrant attitude that retorts: "nobody cares about you!"
... reminded everyone of China's bellicosity while simultaneously extending an olive branch:
The threat of military force poses the greatest "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" across the Taiwan Strait. At present, there are more than 600 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan, and the numbers grow by 50 to 75 missiles each year--a serious threat that neither the Taiwan people nor the international society can afford to look on idly. These "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" not only directly threaten the peaceful status quo of the Taiwan Strait, they also undermine regional stability and global security.

Taiwan is pleased to witness the steady progress, reforms and peaceful emergence of China. We also extend our best wishes to the other side of the Strait as it prepares for the 2008 Beijing Olympics; and we hope that it will be a successful event conducted in accordance with the Olympic spirits of peace and equality. Nevertheless, the international community should be wary of and yet hope for the emergence of China to be accompanied by a "peaceful awakening", rather than a hegemony of belligerence and aggression.
... set forth a clear proposal for making progress in relations with China:
On many issues, the governments and the peoples on both sides of the Strait hold different views--some of which result from the absence of communication. In light of this, I have, on many occasions, proposed that, based on the existing foundation, both sides should promote the resumption of cross-strait dialogue and communication channel, so as to reduce the gap between the two sides and to construct a foundation of mutual trust. Today, I would like to take the initiative to propose that both sides use the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong, to seek possible schemes that are "not necessarily perfect but acceptable", as preparation of a step forward in the resumption of dialogue and consultation.

Any conflict in the Taiwan Strait could result in irreparable damages to the peoples on both sides. Therefore, I propose that both sides should seriously consider the issue of "arms control" and take concrete actions to reduce tension and military threats across the Taiwan Strait. Not too long ago, Taiwan's initiative to cancel the Han-kuang military exercise originally scheduled for last September was based on such deliberation. We believe only when both sides are committed to exercising restraint and avoiding any action that might further complicate the situation or induce conflicts, can we ensure that cross-strait relations develop on a peaceful and stable path. In the long term, both sides should formally end the state of hostility across the Taiwan Strait and establish confidence-building measures through consultations and dialogues. Furthermore, we should review the armament policies of both sides and seek to establish the "Code of Conduct across the Taiwan Strait" as the tangible guarantee of permanent peace in the Taiwan Strait.
... and promoted a 4-point plan for Taiwan's progress, both domestically and internationally:
Distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, "Unite Taiwan, stabilize cross-strait relations, seek social harmony, and reinvigorate the economy"-these are not only my commitments to the people of Taiwan; they are also responsibilities that all political parties must shoulder together. The impending legislative election at the end of this year presents us an opportunity, as well as a challenge. Therefore, I hope that all political parties will hold a sensible campaign based on goodwill and rational competition--so as to open a new era for post-election politics and to give Taiwan a chance to attain lasting unity, stability, peace, and prosperity.
I'll have to watch how it gets covered by the pan-blue media later this evening, but in the meantime, I'm pretty impressed.

A stroke of "village idiot"
On the other side of the globe, George "W is for War" Bush was being "testy" -- not at all "presidential" -- and "ramp[ing] up the aggression" during his second debate with the Democratic -- more presidential -- candidate Senator John Kerry. Well, what else would you expect from someone who was appointed to the job?

Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 (with Mandarin subtitles) will only be arriving in Taiwan on October 22. For a lot of Taiwanese, this will be their first chance to see a little of what they've been missing from the mainstream media, and I think they will be shocked and awed. I'll have to be there to catch some of the reactions.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Blog the vote

"Walking papers" for "W"
I was starting to get nervous, but my absentee ballots finally arrived Wednesday! I've got to say, they don't make it easy. In order to be sure that my vote would both be valid and be counted, I had to make an international phone call in the middle of the night to be sure I was doing everything correctly.

The ballot envelope clearly marked "PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT ONLY" is the one I was told on the phone in which I should also include the other "state" ballots for Proposed Constitutional Amendments and United States Representative. Had I not made the call, I'm not sure I would have taken the appropriate action. The kind lady on the phone told me that some kind of a special "allowance" had been made. No instructions regarding this fact were included with my ballots, and the Internet was no help -- except in finding the telephone number to my Registrar of Voters' office.

Anyway, it suuuuuuure feels good to have 'em in their proper envelopes and ready to go in the mail later today!

Up is down, redux
Now that it's once again been redundantly re-confirmed that there have been no WMD (nor WMD-related program activities) in Iraq since 1991, Dick Cheney is still perversely trying to use this very news to justify the March 2003 invasion.

Talk about living in a fantasy world!

UPDATE: The above link to the "wmdfinalreport.pdf" is merely a summary. For the whole 1,000 or so pages, you can go to the CIA's web site and download it there.
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