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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the news

Taiwan has been invited to be an observer at the World Health Assembly, and the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ thinks this is just swell ("Taiwan gets a U.N. invite"):

"The World Health Organization has invited Taiwan to take part in the May 18-27 meeting of the World Health Assembly, the WHO's governing body, as an observer. The invitation came just after Beijing and Taipei 台北 signed agreements April 26 to deepen ties, signaling that relations across the Taiwan Strait 台灣海峽 are further warming. The WHA meeting will mark Taiwan's first participation in a meeting of a United Nations-affiliated organization since it lost its U.N. seat in 1971. It will help Taiwan take adequate measures to prevent the entry of A-type H1N1 flu and to cope with domestic cases if they emerge. In 2003, Taiwan saw more than 40 people die of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) amid China's refusal to let it take part in a WHA meeting."

Of course, this is all due to the current administration:

"Mr. Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 of (the) Kuomintang 中國國民黨, who became Taiwan's president in May 2008, has pushed rapprochement with China by shelving the sovereignty issue. Last year two rounds of talks produced bilateral pacts on air, tourism and cargo links. On April 26, Beijing and Taipei further agreed to inaugurate 270 regularly scheduled weekly flights across the Taiwan Strait, replacing the current 108 weekly chartered flights; to cooperate in criminal investigations, including extradition; to establish a currency clearing system; and to allow mutual access to market information. The two sides also agreed in principle to increase China's investment in Taiwan. As for the coming WHA meeting, Taiwan consulted with China and agreed to use the name 'Chinese Taipei'  中華北 instead of the 'Republic of China' 中華民國 or 'Taiwan.' 台灣 More than 40 percent of Taiwan's exports now go to China and 60 percent of its overseas investments are made in China. Mr. Ma's approach should be appreciated by the international community for contributing to building trustful relations across the strait."

There are several problems that the editorial doesn't mention. First, there is that name, "Chinese Taipei". Previously, it had been used mainly for sporting events such as the Olympics, but now it appears it's going to be accepted name of choice for diplomatic functions as well. Then there's the fact that the invitation received by the "Chinese Taipei" Department of Health is for this year's assembly only, suggesting that this is going to be handled on a year-by-year basis. In other words, as long as the Taiwanese government plays by the rules set down by the Chinese, it can continue to observe the goings-on at the "Chinese Taipei", of course (maybe the delegates should wear baseball jerseys while they're in Geneva). Taiwan can hardly be considered a sovereign nation if it can't use a proper name, and requires the permission of a larger nation, in order to participate in an international organization. But permanent membership under the name of "Taiwan" is clearly not on the agenda of the Ma administration.

The JT editorial staff aren't the only outside observers welcoming closer Taiwan-China cooperation. But have these people considered the end result of a complete rapprochement, otherwise known as "annexation"? Taiwan is one of those unsinkable aircraft carriers U.S. security policy planners like to rely on, only in this case, it would be the People's Liberation Army Air Force 中国人民解放军 and Navy 中国人民解放军海军 that would benefit from greater power projection abilities. Does the Japan Times really want that military potential right on the doorstep of Okinawa 沖縄, not to mention the disputes over the Senkakus 尖閣諸島, gas fields and Japan's claims to exclusive economic zones around distant islands such as Okinotorishima 沖ノ鳥島?

The name "Chinese Taipei" conjures up baseball, in my mind at least. Unfortunately, Taiwan's greatest claim to fame in the sporting world, Wang Chien-ming 王建民, isn't doing very well at the moment, with a record of 0-3 and a 34.50 ERA. But while Wang ponders his future on the New York Yankees' disabled list, another local hurler seems to be doing well in Japan:

"Chen Wei-yin 陳偉殷 didn't give much thought to going nine innings, but the Taiwan lefty pitched out of three late jams to throw his second career shutout and snap the Dragons' ドラゴンズ four-game losing streak. Perfect through six, Chen (2-1) went the distance, and Kazuhiro Wada 和田一浩 drove in both runs in a 2-0 Chunichi 中日 victory over the Yokohama BayStars 横浜ベイスターズ at Yokohama Stadium 横浜スタジアム on Sunday. 'Throwing a shutout didn't enter into my thinking, and at the end I was pitching knowing I had a run to give away,' said Chen, who allowed five hits and two walks, while striking out five. The southpaw got away with a few mistakes, but kept Yokohama at bay by pinpointing a 150-kph (93-mph) heater all afternoon. 'It wasn't about how hard I was throwing, but rather how the game came together,' said Chen, who hung a few pitches early on that were either mis-hit or hit on a line to a Dragons fielder...The 23-year-old didn't expect to go the distance when teammate Masaaki Koike 小池正晃 took his place in the batter's box in the top of the ninth. But Koike returned to the dugout and Chen reached on an infield single against 45-year-old lefty Kimiyasu Kudō 工藤公康. 'I didn't think I pitched well enough to go nine, so I wasn't surprised to see Koike getting ready,' said Chen, who has yet to allow a run in 15 innings against Yokohama."

Chen currently has a 1.22 ERA to go along with his 2-1 record.

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