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Thursday, May 7, 2009

The news that keeps on coming!

The Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ today is running a fuller version of the Kyōdō News 共同通信社 report on the cancellation of the planned protest voyage to the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 by those heroic Tiaoyutai Warriors ("Taipei nixes protest voyage to Senkakus"):

"The activists said Tuesday that Taiwan's National Security Council pressured them and the boat owner to cancel the trip. Council Secretary General Su Chi personally met with organizers to persuade them to call it off, said Hu Pu-kai, a spokesman for a Taipei 台北-based group that disputes Japan's claims to the islets. 'I was approached last week by Su Chi and (Philip) Yang, who tried to persuade us to cancel the trip,' said Hu, of the Chinese Association to Protect the Tiaoyutai. Yang is the top official for Japan affairs on the council, an advisory body that provides analyzes and counsel on security issues to Taiwan's president. 'They said they didn't want the trip to affect bilateral relations between Taiwan and Japan, but I didn't agree,' Hu said. The council, he added, later resorted to 'harder measures,' including prompting the island's Fisheries Agency to threaten the boat owner with fines should he proceed with the protest voyage. The activists had planned to depart from Taiwan's northern Suao 蘇澳 Harbor by 11 p.m. Monday."

Interestingly, it appears a quid pro quo was involved:

"Tōkyō 東京 has also sought to ease tensions, denying last month a request by the mayor of Ishigaki 石垣, Okinawa Prefecture 沖縄県, under whose local-level administration the Senkakus fall, to visit the islets, located just 170 km northeast of Taipei and 410 km west of Okinawa. The visit by Ishigaki Mayor Nagateru Ōhama to conduct a property tax investigation on the islets would surely have antagonized Taiwan and China."

The local newspaper that operates in an alternate version of reality, the China Post, naturally sees things differently. According to this fine, upstanding publication, the protesters had to cancel their voyage to the Senkakus...sorry, Tiaoyutais because of "gales". Funny, the weather report for Yonaguni 与那国 was showing sunny skies and light breezes.

Another person who lives in a separate reality is Tom Plate, one of the worst commentators on Taiwanese affairs. The Japan Times has his latest column, "China and Taiwan try a practical approach", on Taiwan's invitation to observe the World Health Assembly:

" the context of Asian diplomatic history, it is a big deal. For years Beijing has successfully blocked Taiwan's participation — formal or otherwise — in everything from international organizations to beach volleyball pickup games. Beijing's venom for a Taiwan that at any moment might declare formal independence scared everyone off — including the United States."

A DPP 民主進步黨 president who was barely reelected with 50.11% of the vote, while dealing with a legislature dominated by anti-independence parties, not to mention a cumbersome referendum process, was hardly in a position to declare Taiwan an independent state "at any moment". This isn't the only thing that Pate is wrong about. He writes how Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 was:

"(e)lected last year in a landslide over his discredited predecessor (leader of the pro-independence party now in jail for corruption charges)..."

Discredited or not, Chen Shui-bian 陳水扁 was barred by the constitution from running for a third term, and it was Frank Hsieh 謝長廷 that Ma defeated in the presidential election. There there is this paragraph:

"Accepting historic reality, it turns out, is the old way of the Kuomintang 中國國民黨, the KMT, which is the party Ma represents. The party line has always been to accept the one-China principle, without getting too far into the details of how exactly it might work. Back in 1993, in fact, Beijing and Taipei (then headed by a KMT government) met for the so-called 'Wang-Koo Talks' in Singapore. These settled absolutely nothing, of course — but established a very nice precedent for negotiation rather than confrontation."

This is the very same KMT that still officially doesn't recognize the existence of an independent Mongolia, or the annexation of Okinawa by Japan (back in 1879!), and maintains territorial claims on parts of Burma, India and Russia. Hell, the KMT still considers itself the government of all China. Plate also forgets to mention that the very existence of the "1992 Consensus" 九二共識 is open for debate and interpretation.

Finally, Plate still harbors an admiration for Ma that has at times bordered on the homoerotic (not that there's anything wrong with that!), calling him "suave" and "special". And he feels good, because, thanks to Ma, there is:

"...the strong possibility arises that, for the first time in memory, whatever might trigger war in Asia, tension between China and Taiwan might be one of the least likely causes. And what a tremendous new thing that would be."

Which could also result in Taiwan becoming, as he puts it earlier:

"...some kind of Hong Kong — semi-separate but unequal, and an indivisible part of political Mother China."

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