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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Gilley’s ‘Finlandization’ is wrong

The relations between Taiwan, the US and China have given rise to many an academic analysis. This is understandable and even laudable: The network of relations is complex and is open to various interpretations and insights. Many past treatises have made valuable contributions to the understanding of developments between the three countries.

However, once every so often an academic publishes an analysis that is so far removed from reality that it would be dismissed out of hand for its lack of understanding and its outright naivite. Bruce Gilley’s article, titled “Not So Dire Straits” — published in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs (January/February 2010) — is such a work.

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Wickedness in the guise of policy

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has drawn criticism from all sides for its handling of the US beef issue, failing to please either the American or the Taiwanese public. This, however, has not compelled the government to change its ways. Ma’s team is still determined to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China without public consultation.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) has announced that the government will start preliminary talks with China on the issue this month and hopes to have the ECFA signed in May. He said the government would decide on further easing of restrictions on investment in China by Taiwanese businesses toward the end of this month.

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Haiti’s tragedy and Taiwan

The world’s most severe earthquakes of recent memory are notable for taking place in states that are politically stable — or at least those that have a working infrastructure. The Sichuan Earthquake in China, the Kashmir disaster of 2005, the Bam quake in Iran in late 2003 — all took place in regions that were remote and/or poverty-stricken, but there was at least some hope of response by central officials. International assistance, where it was welcomed, had to be moderated to some extent by sovereign considerations.

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Friedman Leaves Me Cold, Flat, and Disgusted

Between the known and the unknown, falls the shadow. Between the surface and reality falls the guess. Between what can be controlled and what cannot, falls the wish. Between the shadow, the guess, and the wish, comes the consultant, a shadowy seller of guesses striving to say truisms that the wishers want to hear. Thomas Friedman, "The World is Flat" (2005) and the World is "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" (2008), recently graced the shores of Taiwan, and demonstrated this process. Unfortunately the more one listens to him, the more one wonders how he ever became a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Or better yet, what judgment standards does the Pulitzer Prize Board have? In the 14 Journalistic categories awarded only to paid entrants, does cleverness trump content? Does style trump substance?

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New KMT scheme to keep local power in Taiwan

Many Taiwan citizens may be perplexed by the the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) declaration Wednesday of "absolute opposition" to revisions proposed by the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) to the Local Government Law.

During a meeting of the rightist ruling party's Central Standing Committee Wednesday, President and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou demanded that the KMT legislative caucus petition for a special legislative session next week in order to pass newly proposed but highly controversial changes to Article 58 of the local government act.

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Referendum law needs to be reformed to be useful

Last Thursday, the Cabinet’s Referendum Review Committee approved the Consumers’ Foundation petition for a referendum on US beef imports by a vote of 16-0.

The proposed referendum has now entered the second stage, which requires 860,000 valid signatures.

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Newsflash

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday called on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers to set aside partisan politics and agree to establish a special investigative committee to probe last month’s election-eve shooting.

Speaking one day after the opposition party raised the possibility of contesting the election results, DPP lawmakers said the government owed the public a clear and consistent explanation on the attack on KMT Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文).