Jerome F. Keating's writings

2008 - 3rd Quarter Writings

Musings on the US Presidential Elections II: McCain, Distance, Palin and More Bush

Sunday September 28

Distance, distance, distance. Distance is the watchword and battle-cry of Republican John McCain's presidential campaign for if he is to have any chance, he must distance himself from fellow Republican George Bush and from the disastrous past eight years of the Bush presidency. For that reason, on August 29th I wrote that I was not surprised by McCain's choice of running mate Sarah Palin. He needed a Republican but one with little baggage from the Beltway and little association with Bush policies. He got that in the relative unknown Palin, but he also got a lot more, he got an attack dog, a cheerleader, and a mixed bag of anomalies. ...

News from China, Is There a Pattern There?

Saturday September 27

There seems to be a clear pattern for news from China. It is simple, it is basic, and it is geared to one thing--make the ruling government look good. Any bad news must be delivered late; hopefully it will go away before it has to be delivered. SARS, let's keep that under wraps; put the doctor who blew the whistle on it under permanent house arrest and maybe the people in the world won't understand why they are dying. The poisoned milk? Yes that news has to be delayed, we cannot have anything like that ruin the image we are trying to create for the Olympics, you know, peaceful China rising, while babies in China and around the world die. Delay that one six months or so, or at least until the Olympics are past. ...

Musings on the US Presidential Elections I, Bush, Republicans and the Economy

Friday September 26

As the US elections approach, I cannot escape one of those "Wordsworthian spots of time." It happened in the year 2000 when I was in X'ian, China looking at the terra cotta warriors. As I admired the statues and craftsmanship, a tourist group from the United States passed by and a loud mouth American who had to have been a Republican (Clinton was in the White House then) was boasting, "Just wait until we get in the White House, then we'll show them how to run the economy." George Bush, the Republican candidate did win the election in Nov. 2000 and of course entered the White House in January, 2001. So here I am eight years later, thinking back on that loud mouth and the way the Republicans showed us how to run the economy. ...

Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou, Clueless but Comforted?

Wednesday September 24

While his popularity ratings plummet to an all time low, the saga of Ma Ying-jeou, little boy lost and clueless in the cross-currents of reality continues. First, Ma wonders why things are not going right and according to the script of the novels and stories he read as a young boy. These are the ones where ruler takes the pose of paternalistic benevolence, makes a show of listening to the people, utters the right platitudes and then everything works out. Ma has followed the script, but somehow real leadership in today's Taiwan demands more. ...

Cairo Rhetoric, Undecided Stealing, Taiwan and the UN

Saturday September 20

The 65th anniversary of the Cairo Declaration (Dec. 1, 1943) approaches and I have always wondered at its rhetoric as well as how often this simple declaration is used by some to justify the People's Republic of China's (PRC) claim to Taiwan (then called Formosa). Let us grant that the declaration was made in war time, and that it would require rhetorical wording to rally the troops to the righteousness of a cause. Granted it was a statement and not a treaty. It had no legal force; there were no binding commitments. Granted, it also was made at a time when though the darkest hour of the war was past, there was much more to come. For some the concern that Chiang Kai-shek might still sign a private peace treaty with Japan and opt out of the war remained. Go past that however and focus for a moment on one simple neglected aspect, the rhetoric involved and the future problems that have arisen because of that rhetoric. ...

St. Andrew's Ball, Scottish Dancing Anyone?

Sunday September 14

This year the St. Andrew's ball will be celebrated on November 1st at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Every year I have posted about it since 2004; if anyone wants to see past photos just go to the heading "Another Side" click on and find the four sub-albums on St. Andrew's Ball for each year. If anyone out there will be in Taiwan at that time and would like to go, you are more than welcome and we still have some room at our table (room for 3). Just go back to postings at the end of November or early December and you will see more of the details. Contact me if you are interested in joining the Scottish community in one of the best celebrations in Taiwan. ...

Taiwan, China Matters: a MOFA Smokescreen?

Saturday September 13

Henry Chen, MOFA spokesman, announced yesterday that MOFA has found fewer cases of Chinese pressure against Taiwan participation in international affairs. "In the first half of the year, there were relatively fewer examples of China's suppression of Taiwan." While this sounds like progress, Chen did not elaborate as to why and so leaves the whole matter in the vagaries of limbo. Does this mean China is relenting or that a certain strategy is working? Chen's vagueness is as graspable as the morning mist. ...

Taiwan Commemorates Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPOW) Day

Friday September 12

While Taiwan's media vacillates between focusing on President Ma Ying-jeou's dismal performance in his first 100 days and the US$ 20 million dollars that Chen Shui-bian admits he profited from by using the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) system to advantage, believe it or not a lot of other things are going on in Taiwan besides those two events. One such was on August 10, when the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society hosted a gathering to celebrate the first ever Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) Day in Taiwan. ...

Is Ma Ying-jeou Becoming a Parrot of the PRC?

Wednesday September 10

Recently, the People's Republic of China (PRC) rejected Taiwan's bid for simple participation in other international agencies as an observer. This was allegedly Ma's new flexible and placating approach to China. Though it was quickly shot down by the PRC, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) tried to downplay the rejection and say that the PRC did not understand Taiwan's effort. The PRC understood only too well, but it is what followed that indicates how things are getting worse and how China seeks to define the terms of engagement. ...

Taiwan's Economy Continues Sinking but Ma Ying-jeou Wants to Bring Back Chiang Kai-shek

Monday September 08

I attended a presentation by Vice Premier Chiu Cheng-hsiung today and what he said about the world and Taiwan's economy were not encouraging. Quoting Global Insight he predicted the growth of the world economy will slow to 3% this year and 2.8% next year. Taiwan's growth would fall from 5.72% last year to 4.3% this year. Plus Taiwan's CPI would go up 3.74%. Now Taiwan is in much better shape than most countries in Asia, but since Ma Ying-jeou had predicted the growth would reach 6% under him, (he later changed and said it would only be by 2016) things do not look good. ...

Taiwan, the Gravy Train Rolls On

Saturday September 06

Well I barely posted the need for Taiwanese to examine the gravy train politics and system of rewards and punishments than Ma Ying-jeou gave a good example. Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po confirmed that the state affairs fund (some read that as personal slush fund for politicians) has been used to give a birthday party banquet for Lien Chan, the former chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Using my tax dollars for what? ...

Taiwan's Political Gravy Train in Search of a Wild Lily

Thursday September 04

While hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to show their displeasure with the ineffectual performance and potential betrayal of the country's sovereignty by MaYing-jeou in his first 100 days, other media headlines have been discussing the so-called "money laundering" scandal of the former president, Chen Shui-bian. Chen had wired (via his wife) some twenty million US dollars to bank accounts overseas. While it is being investigated as to whether it is actually laundering, some felt betrayed; some felt justified, and many others were shocked. Regardless of that, what this does is expose how Taiwan politics is and has been one big, long, and continuous gravy train. ...

Why There are Protests Against Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou

Wednesday September 03

This August, there have already been two protests against the ineffectual leadership of Ma Ying-jeou as president of Taiwan. Ma's party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will use their press to try and downplay the actual size of the protests, their importance, and their implications. ...

Taiwan's Little Boy Ma Remains Lost in Lah-lah Land

Monday September 01

Ma Ying-joke, the flim-flam man, the phony pony, call him what they will, for the people in Taiwan who watch the real world going on in places like Georgia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tibet, Xinxiang etc. Ma Ying-jeou's "flexible diplomacy" remains the laughing-stock of the country. Somehow Ma still feels that by being a good little boy to the powers of the world and by continuing to seek venues where he can pose and smile, then all will be solved and the rest of the problems of the country will disappear. ...

McCain Picks Palin: His Safest Bet Given the Circumstances

Friday August 29

I don't usually comment on US politics except as they relate to Taiwan but everyone is touting McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for his running mate as his boldest move yet. I don't see it that way at all. McCain is playing it safe. ...

Art Taipei 2008: Money and Freedom, a Different Perspective

Thursday August 28

Art Taipei 2008 begins today at the Taipei World Trade Center and runs through September 2nd. As an art show, it is worth attending; and because of work I do with the art community, I was lucky and already got a sneak preview. I had a VIP pass to get me through the gates for the preview and grand opening on Thursday. I am not however going to give you a review; you can get that in the local papers. What I want to talk about is a different feeling I left with - that art shows present an unusual and ironic microcosm of our world. ...

To Taiwan's Foreign Media: Check out the Aughst 30 Protest Against Ma Ying-jeou

Tuesday August 26

It will soon be 100 days since Ma Ying-jeou has been president of Taiwan, 100 ineffectual days. So what do the people think about Ma? How do they evaluate his first 100 days? Come to the Presidential Palace this Saturday, August 30th and you'll see what people think of the man whose popularity rating has dropped below 37 per cent. Don't be misled, this protest is no show of support for the scandal-ridden Chen Shui-bian as pan-blue forces may try to paint it. This protest is all about Ma, his ineffectual programs, his placing the country at risk and his inability to govern. ...

Ma's New Brainchild; Give China's 1.3 billion Multiple Entry Visas

Monday August 25

Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan's President, the president that does not want to be called president, the same one that said that Taiwan's sovereignty is not important, has come up with a new brainchild. (Notice that he does not talk about the economy after his last economic brainchild failed in less than a month.)So speaking on Kinmen where many died to defend the island against the atacking Chinese, Ma decided that the real answer was to just open the doors and let them in. ...

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" Revisited

Friday August 22

With the recent events in the troubled democracies of Georgia and Taiwan, recurring images from George Orwell's seminal novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" return. In that novel, (published 1949) Orwell predicted a divided world where three major powers Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia compete and re-align with each other. Each is so large that no two united can destroy the remaining one. As a result their battles regularly overflow into the remaining world around them. Present also in each though only seen in one are departments such as the Thought Police, the Ministry of Truth, Newspeak etc. ...

China/Taiwan, Russia/Georgia:an Inconvenient Case of Cause and Effect?

Wednesday August 20

Russia recently shocked the world. With a swift show of military might it steamrolled into Georgia, grabbed key strategic locations and took aim at punishing what it considers an annoying democratic gnat at its doorstep. The timing was perfect; Russia's neighbor China, one that also cares little for democracy, was hosting the Olympics, a good distraction for all. George Bush, the named leader of the free world was enjoying the games. He gave a condemnatory speech and went back to enjoying the Olympics. The world remained shocked but how much should it be? ...

Spreading the Blame: the KMT Finds a New Excuse on Arms Delays

Tuesday August 12

The farcical charade between Taiwan's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the United States State Department over arms sales to Taiwan has reached a new level. For those uninformed, the old excuse as to why nothing happened was the past president, Chen Shui-bian. Remember him; he was the alleged trouble maker that stymied everything. Never mind the fact that it was Taiwan's KMT dominated Legislative Yuan that blocked the sales over 50 times; never mind the fact that the US State Department also couldn't bring itself to honor the Taiwan Relations Act for fear of offending China before the Olympics, Chen was the problem. Unfortunately he is not around now so how does the KMT explain the reality that progress is still not happening. Not to worry, the KMT's Lin Yu-fang (Chairman of the Legislative Yuan's Diplomacy and National Defense Committee), has come up with a new solution, a new excuse; "Everyone is to blame." ...

Katyn, Poland's Bitter Past Recalls Taiwan's Tragedy

Monday August 11

It is September 1939 and Poland is in dire straits; first the Nazis have attacked from the west on September 1st and then on September 17th, the Russians violated their non-Aggression Pact with Poland and attacked from the east. Andrezej Wajda's film "Katyn" opens with a poignant scene from this period. Polish refugees fleeing the German invasion on the west, meet on a bridge with refugees fleeing the Russian invasion coming from the east. They have nowhere to go; each indicates to the other it is worse where they came from. Germany and Russia have decided to carve Poland up and Poland unable to fight on both fronts must surrender. ...

Taiwan, the UN, What's in a Name?

Wednesday August 06

We have all witnessed how quickly the People's Republic of China (PRC) kept their most recent promise to refer to Taiwan as Zhonghua Taibei (Chinese Taipei) and not Zhongguo Taibei (Taipei, China) as regards the 2008 Olympics. This broken promise followed upon the heels of the previous broken promise that they would originally use this term. But another issue now faces Taiwan, that of United Nations membership. Not to worry, Ma's Cub Scouts are again hard at work, flying by the seat of their pants. ...

Taitung and the KMT's Kuang Li-chen: She Did it All for Love

Tuesday August 05

One thing about Taiwan politics, it will never disappoint. Even in the remotest of areas, scandals and bhagwa can be brewing. The latest of a long string of episodes involves the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taitung County Magistrate, Kuang Li-chen. Kuang Li-chen has gained the reputation of being a jet-setting magistrate after having taken eight trips abroad in her two and a half years in office at a cost to tax-payers of 10 million NT dollars or roughly $1,200,000 NT dollars (US$40,000) a trip. ...

President Bush Makes it Clear?

Tuesday August 05

Lest one think that Ma Ying-jeou is the only problem Taiwan has in getting respect in the international community, examine the recent words of the United States President George Bush. Some have conjectured that a meeting with this man might be enough to convince the leaders of the People's Republic of China (PRC) or any totalitarian state that they would not want to risk the leadership of their country to the potential pitfalls of the results of a democratic election; regardless of that, the United States has continually and ambivalently sat on the fence as regards the status of Taiwan. Yes despite it being more than sixty years after World War II, the United States still does not know how it wants Taiwan to fit into its script. The US official position on Taiwan's status is that it is undetermined. ...

Ma Ying-joke's Alternate Universe

Monday August 04

Ma Ying-joke, the naive president of Taiwan continues to live in his own little alternate universe, a universe so distant that no one can figure out where he is coming from. If you remember that yesterday I posted on how Ma boasted of the great diplomatic coup his staff had achieved by getting China to agree to use the term Zhonghua Taibei instead of Zhongguo Taibei in reference to Taiwan in the Olympics. The reality was that all they had gotten China to do is to agree to honor what it had pledged back ages ago. ...

The Buck Stops Elsewhere: Ma Ying-joke, Taiwan's Inveterate Poseur

Sunday August 03

Western media pundits in search of quick dramatic story lines have always glossed and glamorized Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou; few have observed him long and close enough to see the reality beneath the surface. For example, they always tout him as the brilliant Harvard lawyer though in reality while he did attend Harvard he never passed the bar in the United States or in Taiwan. He is spoken of as being a glamorous mayor of Taipei, but few can list any real concrete accomplishments of his eight year period in that office. True, gloss is easier than doing one's homework, but this is why such reporters feel surprise when more and more people express a different conception of Ma and have started to refer to him as Ma Ying-joke. What to make of it and why? Let me count the ways. ...

The US State Deparmtent and the KMT Fail Again

Friday August 01

The farcical dance goes on, proving once again how difficult life is for the US State Department and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to cover up their ineptitude and kowtowing to China. Without Chen Shui-bian to blame, they are at sixes and sevens in trying to explain why there has been no activity on arms sales to Taiwan. The US State Department has said it wants to sell arms to Taiwan; the KMT says that they want to buy arms, so why is there no action? The dance continues with no results. Where is the problem? ...

The New Kissinger Institute: Score One for the China Lobby

Thursday July 31

I have been traveling for the past two weeks but am back in Taiwan and there is plenty to write about. First on the horizon is a blurb from Xinhua Agencies announcing that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars inaugurated on July 29, the Kissinger Institute for China and the United States Relations. Before anyone shouts Hallelujah, there are basic questions that need to be asked. ...

Taiwan's Black Hole and the Cultural Imperialism of Zhonghua Minzu

Sunday July 13

Taiwanese have always had a black hole in their psyche. It is a black hole caused by underreported or misrepresented history, a black hole partly caused by their own neglect, a black hole caused by 50 years of colonial rule by Japan and another 50 years of martial law, white terror and indoctrination by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). It is a black hole that looks at the years before 1895 as a vague blank. It shames Taiwanese of their present, and prevents them from discovering the fullness of their true identity, selves, and pride. It is a black hole that they must eradicate if they are ever truly going to know themselves, and their place in the world. ...

Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan's One Trick Pony

Friday July 11

While his cabinet continues making mistake after mistake in governing Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou appears to be the proverbial one trick pony and have only one thing on his mind. Elected on his promises that he would send Taiwan's economy soaring, Ma's only solution and hope is to continue to keep repeating his mantra, "run to China." Life however, is not that simple. ...

The Difference Between Two Countries: More of Ma's Tourists Take Flight

Wednesday July 09

In other related news, a second group of three more Chinese tourists have jumped ship and run after they got to Taiwan. The only Taiwanese that jump ship and flee to China from Taiwan are those under indictment or criminal charges in Taiwan. But perhaps Ma Ying-jeou will use the argument that they will spend more money if they hang around. Or will they go on to Canada and the United States ...

Flimflam and Fluff: Taiwan Voters and Their Syndromes

Tuesday July 08

The days of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) control of indoctrination, propaganda and media are long gone (if you can consider twenty years as long gone), but that does not mean that the KMT does not keep influencing Taiwan voters. Witness Taiwan's last presidential election where many sheep-like voters were led to believe that Taiwan's main problem was its economy and that Chen Shui-bian was solely responsible for holding it back. Some may call this response a Stockholm syndrome result; hostages take on the beliefs and identity of their captors and Taiwanese have been hostage for fifty years under the KMT's one-party state rule and indoctrination. For me, I prefer to look on it as the failure of voters to do their homework. ...

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen, a Woman to Watch

Tuesday July 08

I recently had the pleasure to take part in a two-hour question and answer presentation to the Taiwan Foreign Correspondent's Club (TFCC) by Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) new Chairperson. Without any canned, prepared statements, Tsai immediately launched into any and all topics that the correspondents wanted to ask and know about. With a short break in the middle, this went on for two hours straight; it was all in English. In sharp contrast to Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou (oft touted by foreign media for his ability to speak English), Tsai did Ma one better. Ma will usually require prepared questions in advance so that he can avoid controversial topics. Tsai had no such requirement. ...

Taiwan: We'll Take Tibet's Torch over China's Any Day!

Monday July 07

The fate of the Olympic Torch has been superceded in the international press by the Sichuan earthquake and other problems that China is facing as it tries to reduce pollution for the Olympics. But another torch is going around and it made its symbolic presence known in Taiwan on July 6th. That torch is the Tibetan Freedom Torch which began on March 10 the 49th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising for freedom from China. This torch has passed through 30 cities in 18 countries around the world before coming to Taiwan. ...

Taiwan's Human Rights Struggles, 1960--1980, a New Book

Sunday July 06

Anyone involved in the Civil Rights Movements in the United States would scoff at the suggestion that the South intended all along to give blacks equal opportunity. The South was just waiting for the right moment. Anyone who knows the struggles against apartheid in South Africa would scoff at the suggestion that the Afrikaners were also just simply waiting for the right moment to share power with the majority of the people. So too, anyone who knows Taiwan will laugh at implications that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was working hard to share power and to extend human rights to all citizens including the right to a representative two or more party system, the right to freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the right to a fair trial etc. in sum the basic rights of a democracy. Against despotic, autocratic rulers who strive to cling to their self-justified power, privilege and sense of entitlement, such rights can only be won by the sacrifice and struggle of the people. The grass roots work involved in wringing such rights from the self-appointed elite in Taiwan, is the subject of a new book, "A Borrowed Voice, Taiwan Human Rights through International Networks, 1960--1980" written and edited by Linda Gail Arrigo and Lynn Miles, Hanyao Color Printing Co. 2008, Taipei. ...

A New Book on the Spanish Experience in Taiwan Coming Soon

Saturday July 05

Those interested in Taiwan's early encounters with the West and the outside world will be happy to know of a new book coming out this fall. The work, "The Spanish Experience in Taiwan 1626--1642: The Baroque Ending of a Renaissance Endeavor" by Jose Eugenio Borao of National Taiwan University is sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and in line to be published by Hong Kong University Press. For researchers of Seventeenth Century Taiwan, this is an important and fascinating part of the Taiwan mosaic. Here we see Taiwan on the furthest reaches of the Spanish Empire with all the hopes, challenges and conflicts faced by the Spanish at that time. ...

Taiwan and the USA on Arms Sales with No One to Blame

Friday July 04

The charade of the blame game goes on. Now that the United States State Department and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) cannot use Chen Shui-bian as a scapegoat for their problems and inadequacies; they don't know how to talk to each other. Case in point, Jason Yuan who is soon to be Taiwan's representative in Washington DC says his top priority will be to mend fences and rebuild trust; he followed this up by quoting President Ma Ying-jeou as saying countries should not "play games" with each other. Noble thoughts, so how are things working out between these two countries now that the KMT has absolute control of Taiwan's politics. Ironically, not so well, they have already fallen into playing "the game of not me." ...

Ma Ying-jeou Continues to Talk out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Thursday July 03

Ma Ying-jeou seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth again; how else does one match his words with his actions? Speaking at the graduation ceremony for the nation's five military schools, Ma put forth the following statements. ...