Posts Tagged ‘NSYSU’

Still in business

December 17, 2010

R.O.C. Marine band members

Since my last post, I’ve been busy pursuing my hobby (triathlons / triathlon training), made a quick trip back to the U.S., and as of late, been burdened quite heavily writing papers and presenting on them at grad school.  First, I’d like to talk a little bit about this last point, sharing a little bit of what I’ve been researching, writing about, and presenting on.  I’ll also share what remains “in the hopper” – requirements left to be satisfied before the end of the semester about a month from now.  Be warned: there will also be a fair amount of miscellany tossed in for good measure!

  1. I wrote a paper and made a presentation this week entitled “China’s Rise and the South China Sea.”  I find China’s recent aggressiveness over its claims in the South China Sea to be part of their overall trend toward consolidation of territorial claims, both maritime and land-based (for example, the September 2010 row with Japan over the Chinese fishing boat which rammed Japanese patrol vessels near the Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands not far from Taiwan in the East China Sea is another example of aggressive behavior over a disputed maritime claim).  While China’s claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea made just after the July ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi made headlines, in fact China has been making the same types of claims about the South China Sea for decades, going back to not long after the establishment of the People’s Republic.  What was significant in China’s rhetoric about the South China Sea this year was the elevation of the area to “core national interest” status, something that heretofore only long-standing PRC irredentist claims such as those involving Taiwan or Tibet were assigned.  Looks to me like China is positioning itself to be more aggressive about the South China Sea, not less.   There is a chance that the paper might be accepted for publication next year in an edited book on topics related to China’s foreign policy produced by my school, National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), so I will refrain from posting it until that situation is sorted out.
  2. I also participated in the creation and delivery of a presentation this week about Japan’s national security strategy under Koizumi (2001 – 2006).  There was no paper for this project, just the presentation.  It was interesting to me to learn about how much the U.S. has pressured Japan to assume a greater and greater security role as the decades passed after World War II, and to see how changes in Japan’s laws governing overseas deployment of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) marching in lock-step with U.S. overseas wars since 1990.  Today, Japan is assuming more and more of a “normal” role in terms of its own security, though a there is still a long way to go until the process is complete.  It will be interesting to see how far the process goes, and whether or not at some point perhaps in the next decade Japan’s people reach enough of a consensus to make changes to or perhaps eliminate altogether Article 9 of their American-authored post-WWII constitution that currently outlaws Japan from possessing “military” forces and bans aggression as a policy choice.  You can see the presentation here. (Google Docs)
  3. Papers I am still working on this semester include an examination of the continuing utility of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that established the current non-official relationship between the United States and Taiwan when the U.S. decided to switch official recognition to the PRC, another on non-traditional security issues in Southeast Asia (probably focusing on pandemic disease threats and response preparation, since this [East Asia]  is the region that suffered the most in the SARS outbreak back in the early 2000s and has also been subject to not a few bird flu scares).  The final paper will deal in with national security / crisis management, and will likely revolve around a case study of one or both of the Quemoy crises in the 1950s.
  4. I talked in a recent post about deliberations over selecting a thesis topic.  I decided that the anti-access/area denial (A2AD) realm is the one I am truly interested in with regard to China’s military modernization, so that will be what my thesis will be on – the effect of China’s development of A2AD capabilities like the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) and associated systems on Taiwan Strait security.  At the very least, the Navy guys should be interested in it.
  5. We continue to benefit from NSYSU professors “mining their Rolodexes” when they will be unable to give classes due to international travel or other conflicts.  This week Ambassador Feng Tai (酆邰), formerly Taiwan’s ambassador in Tuvalu and 37-year veteran of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a talk on crisis management and negotiating skills.  By far the best parts of the talk were when he leavened it with personal anecdotes from some of his own experiences, from hosting the Saudis here in Taiwan in 1990 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was weighing switching its recognition of Taiwan to the PRC (it ultimately did so) to stories about preparing to negotiate with meticulous and well-prepared Japanese and Chinese delegations on various issues.  Ambassador Feng mentioned that he is weighing retiring from the MOFA next year and going into academia, teaching foreign affairs at a university in Taipei.
  6. Not really related to academic affairs as the rest of this post has been, but interesting nonetheless: last month I traveled to Taipei to attend the U.S. Marine Corps birthday celebration.  The U.S. Marine Corps was established 10 November 1775, and every year about that time Marines pause to remember fondly those who have gone before us.  The interesting part about this year’s celebration here in Taiwan was that it was the first official celebration of any size since the late 1970s when the above-mentioned Taiwan Relations Act was passed.  For decades after the TRA, there were no active-duty U.S. military officers stationed as attaché with AIT.  It was only in 2005 that the first active-duty military folks returned to AIT.  A couple years later, the first post-TRA U.S. Marine attaché came to Taiwan.  Since that time, every year the celebration of the Marine birthday grew a little bit, and now, in 2010, the celebration of the U.S. Marine birthday here in Taiwan (235 years young!) was on par with celebrations held at places with very robust U.S. Marine presences (like Marine bases in the U.S. or Okinawa).  There was one key difference, though – here we were able to celebrate hand-in-hand with out R.O.C. Marine counterparts, who attended in force this year, led by their Commandant, Lieutenant General Hsia Fu-Hwa.  The Taiwan Marines were even gracious enough to offer up their band’s jazz ensemble to provide the music for the event – that’s them in the photo at the top of this post. (Good thing, because we couldn’t make much of a U.S. Marine band here with the two of us, no matter how talented we are!)  I have no doubt that in the future these birthday celebrations will only become more and more like the finer Marine Corps Birthday Balls put on by embassies and equivalent worldwide each November.
  7. Blogroll update: I’m adding the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank that put out a fine report on the future of security in Asia this year, and also China SignPost, an effort by Dr. Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College and Gabe Collins.  They publish periodic analytical briefs on various aspects of China and the world.  I’ve found especially their report on how China’s dependence on oil imported by sea will only continue to increase, despite efforts at developing overland pipelines.

The new semester

September 16, 2010
Seal of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Image via Wikipedia

This week marked the start of the fall semester in Taiwan.  Back at the books!  The 2 1/2 month summer vacation was nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also impossible to complete a task unless one first starts it.  Thus, starting back at school is good!

I’m really excited about the classes I have this semester.  I am in a new department at my university.  Last year I studied in the Institute of Political Science, but over the summer I transferred to the Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies.  The course selections I had to choose from were far better this semester as compared to last.  I picked five courses:

  1. 20th Century American Foreign Policy
  2. American Foreign Policy (comprehensive, not scope-limited to a particular century)
  3. Studies in China’s Foreign Policy
  4. National Security and Crisis Management
  5. China and Southeast Asia

Two of the five are taught in Chinese, while three are in English.  Two (not the same two) are doctorate-level courses which I am now eligible to take, as a second year master’s student.  Nice!

Now that the first week of classes is done, I am performing the enjoyable task of ordering the books for the courses.  A year ago, I spent a considerable amount of time going to virtually every book store I could find in Kaohsiung to try to source the books I needed for my classes.  Unlike in America, the university bookstore here has a very low probability of having the required books.  I found exactly *one* text I needed at the university bookstore over the past 2 semesters, and a whopping one more at a local bookstore.  In the end, and despite the sometimes breathtakingly steep shipping costs, the only plausible way to get the majority of the books was online.  This semester, I am not even wasting my time looking at brick-and-mortar bookstores here in Taiwan; I know from past experience that the best way to go is just to bite the bullet and buy online.

Of course, the fastest and often cheapest way to obtain the books I need is in the e-book format.  I have a Kindle reading device and last semester was able to get a few of the books I needed on it.  This virtually instantaneously gives me access to the book I want and I don’t have to pay all the ridiculous shipping costs – win-win!  Unfortunately, even though Amazon is continuously adding more Kindle e-books to its selection, the majority of the books I need are not available to me on the Kindle. (For a review of my Kindle experiences written about a year ago, see here.  I’m a fan.)

I like books and reading, so it is fun to shop around at various sites to see where I can get the best deal.  It is even more fun when the big boxes of books arrive in the mail – like Christmas!  Looking forward to lots of good readings this semester…

A few more conferences…

May 26, 2010

It’s too bad I missed Willy Lam’s talk in Taipei a couple of weeks ago…

Willy Lam flyer

…but yesterday I didn’t have to do a thing and a good opportunity fell into my lap.  As a guest speaker in my Tuesday afternoon course on Cross-

Michael Ying-mao Kau

Michael Ying-mao Kau

Strait Relations and Asia-Pacific Security, Ambassador Michael Ying-mao Kau, PhD, Taiwan’s former representative to the European Union and Belgium (also former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and so forth), spoke on some salient issues related to the EU and contrasted them with the current situation in Asia.  It was an interesting talk.  He is very hopeful about the EU’s integration and sensitive to challenges it faces, including issues facing Turkey’s possible accession to the union and the near-trillion US dollar bailout for Greece.  Asia, by contrast, remains firmly entrenched in the throes of nationalism and nowhere near as robust a level of integration, consisting mainly of a very loose economic regime in ASEAN.  The unilateral use of force or the threat of force is still often times the preferred way to solve problems in Asia, something that Europe has moved beyond, at least in terms of relations internal to the Continent.

But that’s not all!  Also this week I saw a couple other flyers up announcing some upcoming events that look like they might be worth checking out.  These events are both in Taipei, put on by National Chengchi University.

Kau event poster

Kau event poster

The first one is next week, June 1 – 2 (Tuesday and Wednesday).  Here’s the full scoop:

Welcome to IDAS international conference on 6/1

◆Title: Stronger Nations. Stronger Relations: New Prospects for Asia-Pacific Regional Integration

◆Time: 08:30-17:30,2010/06/01(Tue),06/02(Wed)

◆Venue: 5F, International Conference Hall, General Building of Colleges, National Chengchi University

◆International scholars: Dr.TJ Pempel from UC Santa Barbara University, Dr. Benjamin Cohen from Berkeley University, etc.

◆The conference focuses on the following issues:

*Frontiers in Public Administration Governance: Leadership for the Modern World
*New IPE Challenges for Asia- Pacific Region
*Rediscovery of social and cultural development
*Evolution of Asia-Pacific Security and New Security Focus

◆Language: English

◆P.S.: We welcome all professors and students. Registration Required. Please register through the registration system before 05/28. Please see the agenda as the link below.

Acdemics .posted by IDAS.中文 列印

The second conference, on June 12 (Saturday), looks even better.  It’s the 3rd annual conference of the Republic of China Institute of International Relations and the event, which runs all day, is entitled, “Theory and Practice of Dialogue.”  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Bush, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and current director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  I haven’t been able to locate an English version of the conference’s program, but here’s the program in Chinese (it’s essentially a larger version of the photo just below this paragraph).  Lack of English publicity materials makes me suspect this event will be in Chinese, as opposed to the two-day conference next week, which explicitly indicates that it will be held in English (see above).

June 12 event poster

"Theory and Practice of Dialogue" International Conference Agenda

Finally, for those folks a bit west of here in a few weeks (DC-area), I would recommend trying to catch an event at the National Defense University on June 16.  The symposium’s title is “China’s Naval Modernization: Cause for Storm Warnings?” and it looks almost as if the entire faculty of the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) of the U.S. Naval War College will be occupying the place to put on the event.  They’ve gone as far as preparing a nice list of “read-ahead”-type items (PDF)for folks who are interested in attending.  Related to the Naval War College’s CMSI, just today Dr. Andrew Erickson, an assistant professor at the Naval War College, founding member of CMSI, and fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, released the first edition of a newsletter (PDF) written by him and another researcher called China Signpost.  The aim of the newsletter is to provide “high-quality China analysis in a concise, accessible form for people whose lives are being profoundly affected by China’s political, economic, and security development.”  That pretty much describes anybody in Taiwan!  The first issue concerns China’s reliance on petroleum and the authors’ conviction that China will continue to disproportionately rely on seaborne means of transportation to keep their oil supply flowing (despite what you might hear about China’s efforts to build pipelines to reduce their reliance on seaborne oil transport).  The authors go on to explore the naval security implications that arise from China’s continuing dependence on maritime transport for energy needs.  It’s certainly worth a read – as is everything else posted over at Dr. Erickson’s webpage, www.andrewerickson.com.  (See also the top of the blogroll on the right-hand margin of this page.)

See you at the conferences!

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“The Motherlode” on Chinese ASBM Development

March 29, 2010

Bad day

Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), said something in testimony to House Armed Services Committee last week that, uh, sort of set off people who have been watching Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) development.  Here’s the key bit of Admiral Willard’s testimony (PDF):

China is also developing and testing a conventional anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21/CSS-5 MRBM designed specifically to target aircraft carriers. (p. 14)

The part that was so provocative to China ASBM-watchers was the use of the word “testing.”  Dr. Andrew S. Erickson, Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College and a founding member of the department’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI), had this to say about the use that particular word in official testimony:

While mounting evidence from Chinese doctrinal, service, technical, trade, and netizen publications suggests that China has been developing an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) since the 1990s, this is the first official confirmation that it has advanced to the stage of actual testing. This data point should dispel notions previously held by some that Beijing could not, or would not, develop an ASBM. (emphasis in original)

If Chinese ASBM capabilities interest you, you should do yourself a favor and check out Dr. Erickson’s related post in its entirety.  He includes at the bottom of the post a useful list of relevant recent literature, some of which I was already familiar with, but that also contains some new items that I had not seen before.  The motherlode!

I think that China’s rapid military modernization, particularly as focused on so-called asymmetric capabilities (sometimes also called anti-access weapons) like ASBMs, computer network operations (CNO; so-called “cyber” or computer hacking capabilities), and anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) could indeed be “game changers” in the Taiwan Strait.  In fact, it is likely that I will focus on some aspect related to this in my master’s thesis.

During my first semester in graduate school in Taiwan, I wrote a short term paper that started off some lines of thinking on these asymmetric capabilities and their effect on Taiwan Strait security.  A copy of the paper is here:

China’s Development of Asymmetric Capabilities and Taiwan Strait Security

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Americans in Southern Taiwan

March 15, 2010

Latest in the “things I want to check out” category in Kaohsiung – an exhibit at the Kaohsiung Museum of History about the American presence in Southern Taiwan from 1950 – 1980.  I am interested to see what kind of “footprint” there was here during that time, because I know that right now, the official U.S. presence is pretty small.

Here’s the press release from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT):

“American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan” Exhibit to Open at the Kaohsiung Museum of History from March 16 to July 4

PR-1017EDate: 3/12/2010

In cooperation with the Kaohsiung Museum of History and the America Center located at National Sun Yat-sen University, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Kaohsiung Branch Office is pleased to present “American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan,” an unprecedented museum exhibition which will be shown at the Kaohsiung Museum of History from March 16 to July 4.  An opening ceremony will be held on March 18 with the participation of AIT Director William Stanton, AIT Kaohsiung Branch Chief Christian Castro, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu and National Sun Yat-sen University President Yang Hong-dun.

The “American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan” exhibit features stories of U.S. interaction with southern Taiwan in a key era from 1950-80.  Utilizing historic artifacts, photos, taped interviews and documentaries, the exhibition gives the audience a broad overview of the American cultural, social, military and religious presence in Kaohsiung and southern Taiwan during that period and the impressions Americans and local Taiwanese had of each other.

The items on display include a personal note written especially to commemorate this exhibition from U.S. Representative Lester Wolff (retired), one of the principal authors of the Taiwan Relations Act.  Other unique items provide a rare glimpse into America’s multifaceted post-World War II economic assistance program in Taiwan.  The exhibition also highlights a host of fascinating artifacts, photos and documents from the long-ago U.S. military presence in southern Taiwan.

The Kaohsiung Museum of History is also proud to put on display for this exhibit an especially significant item acquired for its permanent collection – an antique karaoke machine with 30 vinyl records left behind by the U.S. Military Consulting Corps.  Decades later, the machine is still functioning well, and during the exhibition, it will play those vintage vinyl records to give visitors an authentic nostalgic sense of this unique and defining era in Taiwan-U.S. relations.

For further information about this exhibition, please visit the museum website:http://w5.kcg.gov.tw/khm.

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Former Minister of Foreign Affairs speaks at NSYSU

December 2, 2009

Ambassdor Ding Mou-shi (L) and Dean Lin Wen-cheng (R)

Dean Lin Wen-cheng (R) introduces Ambassador Ding Mao-shi (L)

I said I would write about yesterday’s lecture if it was interesting.  I want to share a little bit about it.

First, I didn’t really do Ambassador Ding’s (丁懋時) background justice with my post yesterday (which I can partly attribute to writing it while mobile and not having access to his full bio at the time – what stood out when I read it initially was what I mentioned, that he was Taiwan’s representative to the US).  He’s done a lot more than that, including foreign service in Africa for over 10 years, was Taiwan’s ambassador to South Korea, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council, and so forth.  You can read all about it here (link to a translated version of his biography on Wikipedia).  His experience in over four decades of foreign affairs work runs the gamut.

Which is precisely why he came to talk yesterday.  His talk mainly focused on the earlier portion of his career when posted in various places in Africa.  He spoke of the various noteworthy things in the numerous countries he worked in or traveled to, referring to Rwanda as the “land of 1000 hills” and mentioned that he saw vast rain forests in The Congo.

He also spoke of some of the challenges he faced, primarily linguistic.  I did not catch how many languages he speaks, but clearly his English is excellent and he is a native Chinese speaker (most of the lecture was in Chinese, but now and again he switched to English for a few words to describe things hard to express in Chinese).  He talked about how he was able to speak with the South Koreans in Chinese and in English.  I would not be surprised, due to the amount of time he spent in Africa and working on Africa issues (such as at working in the Africa Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the early 1970s) if he is also conversant in at least one of the African languages.

Ambassador Ding Mou-shi addresses NSYSU students

Ambassador Ding Mao-shi addresses NSYSU students

All this was essentially a “soft sell” for the foreign service.  Here was an elder statesman of Taiwan, talking to an audience of who could essentially be his grandchildren, about the good things that come from a career in foreign affairs.  He talked about the travel, about learning about other cultures and people, about sorting out language differences and learning foreign languages.  This type of experience will open your eyes to the rest of the world.

But he didn’t make it all sound like it was easy – far from it.  He explicitly mentioned that foreign affairs work is hard and that it is a high-pressure field.  About this, he expressed the sentiment that “hard work is good training.”

National Sun Yat-sen University has these types of lectures and events from time to time and as I am able to attend and discover relevant material, I will treat it here in the future.


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