Looking at the current situation with the talks with China on one hand, and the hilarious mess with the fishing vessel Lian He Hao colliding with a Japanese military vessel in the Diaoyutai, one is forced to ask, Where’s Waldo? style: where’s Ma?

The Taipei Times offered an interview today with new DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen on the China talks:

Taipei Times: Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) met Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Friday afternoon after a deal was struck on cross-strait weekend charter flights and expanding Chinese tourism in Taiwan. Do you think the agreements should be approved by the legislature?

Tsai Ing-wen: Like a treaty signed with a foreign country, an executive agreement signed with China requires the approval of the legislature.

The problem with the agreements is the negotiation process was not transparent. We do not know who goes where to talk about what, when they go and with whom they talked. So we are worried.

It is a very sensitive issue and concerns Taiwan’s interests, but the negotiation process was not transparent and there is no due process for the legislature to make inquiries.

Read the whole interview, it is quite good. One effect of having Taiwan and China talk about Taiwan’s fate is simple: China has achieved what it always wanted to achieve: localization of the Taiwan issue, specifically to itself. By contrast, the pro-democracy side’s strategy was to internationalize the Taiwan issue. The new head of MAC, Lai Shin-yuan, who has been fielding accusations that the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has been sidelined by the party-to-party talks, said that the KMT representative had done well. More talks on direct flights are coming soon.

On the lighter side, we note that the “pragmatic” KMT which had promised to make foreign policy about economics and not ideology has gone ideologically insane over the minor incident of a Japanese military vessel colliding with a Taiwanese fishing boat in the Diaoyutai Islands. Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled Taiwan’s representative to Japan, for talks — not as a diplomatic move. As my hiking partner Sponge Bear, freshly back from a Japan trip, reminded me with droll humor…

Now that I’ve returned, I can sit back and watch the war over the Senkakus begin. I’m just wondering, however, if anyone in the government or KMT is aware of something called the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. You know, the little piece of paper that obliges the United States to come to the defense of Japan if any country should attack it.

It was the US that handed the islands back to Japan when it returned Okinawa to Japan. Francisco Ou, Taiwan’s foreign minister, who wants to retire to the US and once applied for citizenship there, called for a revival of a special inter-agency committee on the Diaoyutai, a group of islands claimed by China, Taiwan, and Japan (who call them by their better known name, the Senkakus).

So….the KMT comes to power, snuggles up to China, and foments trouble with Japan. Funny coincidence how the trouble with Japan comes at the same time that it is conducting cross-strait talks. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reports that in China, Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who ironically is a Japan expert, will head up China’s Taiwan Affairs Office as the current director, Chen Yunlin, is being kicked up to head ARATs, China’s counterpart to the SEF. According to the SCMP, Wang has an excellent international image. He headed China’s delegation to the Six Party talks, and also was part of the team that calmed down the anti-Japanese movement. An interesting appointment.

UPDATE: Calls for a confederation or federation used to be the preserve of scholars in the west. But now Reuters reports on a “bold” call for a confederation by a high-ranking Chinese economist.