Wednesday, March 22, 2006

End to the China Lobby

One of the enduring features of the American political landscape since the end of World War II was the China Lobby. The China Lobby was committed to defending the Kuomintang, or Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek, when he was in power on the mainland and later to defending Taiwan, where he took refuge in 1949, from being taken over by the Communists.

For many years the China Lobby was as powerful and influential in Washington as AIPAC, the Israeli lobby is today. But the China Lobby today is a pale reflection of its once domineering presence. In fact, the Washington establishment, while still publicly voicing undying formal support for Taipei, is turning downright hostile to the island and its leaders.

President George W. Bush was potentially the most Taiwan-friendly president in decades. Soon after he took office, he said the U.S. would do “anything it takes” to ensure Taiwan’s de facto independence from the mainland. In its first year the Bush administration raised Beijing’s ire by approving a $18 billion arms acquisition deal with Taipei, the largest arms sale package in a decade. It was a powerful sign that Washington remained committed to Taiwan’s defense.

Six years later, relations are seriously strained. It is probable that President Bush dislikes Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian almost as much as he dislikes South Korea’s President Roh Moon-hyun. And he dislikes Roh almost as much as dislikes North Korea’s Kim Il Sung. And he says he loathes Kim. So that should tell you something.

But what about the Taiwan Relations Act? Doesn’t that act commit the U.S. to defending Taiwan in any confrontation with China? Well, not exactly. Many in Washington are taking a closer look at the 1979 law and finding that, lo, it does not commit the U.S. to go to war under any circumstances. It commits Washington to “enable” Taiwan to defend itself and to maintain sufficient “capabilities” nearby to defer any Chinese adventurism.

Recently, Sen. John Warner (R-Va), an establishment figure if there ever was one, issued a blunt warning to Taiwan: “If a conflict with China were to be aided by inappropriate and wrongful politics generated by the Taiwanese elected officials, I am not entirely sure that this nation would come full force to the rescue.” The words, hardly noticed in Washington, reverberated through the Chinese community.

There can be little doubt that the U.S. has lived up to its side of the bargain. In addition to the arms authorization package, dating back to 2001, the U.S. continues to maintain a strong military capability in the region. Indeed, it is shifting more naval resources to the Pacific. In recent years Washington has also strengthened its position through agreements with Japan that appear to tie that country closer into supporting any defensive actions in the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has been agonizingly slow in expanding and modernizing its own defenses. Five years after it was first authorized, the Taiwan legislature has yet to appropriate the money needed to purchase the weapons. The weapons package has been defeated more than 40 times, even though the cost has been pared to about $14 billion. It has become a kind of political soccer ball to be kicked and head-butted in the game of Taiwan domestic politics. .

Washington has also become increasingly irritated with President Chen Shiu-bien relentless efforts to move Taiwan along the road to independence. Chen has resurrected all of the old pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party tropes, including rewriting the constitution (which conceivably could define Taiwan as an independent Republic of Taiwan), re-applying for admission to the U.N under the name of Taiwan and, most provocatively, proposing to abolish the National Unification Council.

The NUC was established in the early 1990s when the Kuomintang Party governed Taiwan. It makes eventual reunification under mutually agreeable terms official policy. The council has been a dead letter since the DPP gained power in the historic 2000 election. It has no members and a derisory budget. Still, symbolically it has importance, which was on reason why Washington has been warning Taipei not to dismantle it in total.

For Beijing there are two main things that could, in theory, persuade the mainland to attack. One would be any action that moved Taiwan from de facto to de jure independence, such as formally changing the name to the Republic of Taiwan. The other might come if Beijing calculated that Taiwan had swung decisively toward independence, even without a formal declaration. That’s why, for Taiwan’s own safety, it is important that the parties remain open to the notion of reunification at some vague future time.

In past two or three months, Washington has sent a steady stream of messengers to Taipei to urge Chen to tone things down. It culminated in the recent visit by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, an unusually high-ranking visitor for Taiwan, who urged Taipei to spend more on its own defense. In deference to the Americans Chen modified his position slightly, deciding merely to “suspend” the NUC rather than abolish it outright.

Chen’s public approval ratings range from 10 to 20 percent depending on which poll one reads. His party suffered devastating losses in December’s local elections. It is considered almost certain the Kuomintang will wrest the presidency back in the presidential election in 2008. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeiu is widely expected to be the standard bearer. Looking at all this Chen decided that the best defense was a strong offense.

He is clearly calculates that taking such bold moves might provoke Beijing into doing something threatening, which would rally more voters behind the DPP. That is what happened exactly ten years ago this month (March) when Beijing lobbed ballistic missiles near the island’s northern tip. Since then Beijing has learned to play a shrewder game. It is wooing Taiwan, especially the business class, with more incentives. Taiwan enjoyed a trade surplus of some $58 billion last year.

But Beijing walks a pretty narrow line. If it seems too threatening, it strengthens anti-China forces on Taiwan. If it is too passive, it undermines its own position that Taiwan is a part of China. It is thought that Beijing’s action a year ago this month to adopt a law promising to use force to prevent Taiwan from declaring independents – the so-called anti-secession law – was as much to stiffen its own backbone as it was to intimidate Taiwan.

The Kuomintang leader has promised that if he wins the next presidential election in 2008, which seems likely, he would shift Taiwan sharply away from the confrontational, policies followed by President Chen. There is no doubt who Beijing will be rooting for. Washington too. But the election is still a long way off, and there is plenty of time for more mischief.

2 Comments:

Blogger fish said...

We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.

Bottles

After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.

Thermometer

This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
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February 14, 2007 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Angela Navejas said...

Thanks for sharing Asia Cable with us, which is very beneficial information as user point of view and please keep sharing your info with us.

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