2013 - 4th Quarter

The ECFA Trap or Ma Ying-jeou's 'Pig in a Poke'

Sunday December 15

Begin with this basic premise, i.e. the well-known axiom that all countries operate out of self-interest. There is nothing wrong with that; it is to be expected. Of course, for a country to have more than one motive for action is also possible, but if self-interest is not a part of a country's modus operandi, then its leadership should be questioned. So when Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou begins touting the advantages of ECFA and its FTAs for Taiwan, it would appear natural for him to try to claim that its advantages are in Taiwan's interest. But is that the case? With a little scrutiny, it soon becomes evident that Ma is asking Taiwan to buy an unseen "pig in a poke" and the self-interest is not the country's but his own and even perhaps China's. ...

Taiwan and Mongolia: Who Could Be Taiwan's "Russia"?

Sunday December 15

Two current democracies, Mongolia and Taiwan, opposites in size and population, have a strange, intertwined past. Mongolia is now the 19th largest state (square miles) in the world, but ranks 140th in population. Diminutive Taiwan on the other hand barely makes 136th in world size, yet it ranks 20th in population. But their polar fate runs deeper, and involves a shifting relationship vis-à-vis the nebulous character of what is or can be defined as "one China?" The current twist in this relationship started in 1911. At that time, the island Taiwan was part of Japan, but on the Asian continent, a developing Han Republic of China (ROC) - one, which would ironically later be forced to seek refuge on Taiwan--declared a rebellious independence from the Manchu Qing Empire (aka China). ...