Business Progress (or lack thereof)

Things have been going a bit slowly for a variety of reasons. One of the things I need to do for the business formation is to deposit a minimum amount of capital into the business account. Because I’m a foreigner, this capital can only be wired in from overseas, despite having enough in my personal account here. (Crazy but true: my accountant suggested wiring the funds from my local account to my US account and then back again. Besides being stupid, about 2% will be lost due to fees and exchange spread.)

So planning ahead, at the beginning of February I asked my broker to send a check to my Dad’s address and he would take care of depositing it. After not hearing anything for a week, I contacted my broker again and he found out that they sent the check to my address in Santa Clara and not my Dad. So he ordered up another check sent out to my Dad and told me it would be sent by next-day service. Turns out it was sent by regular mail. Rather than resend it again we waited a couple more days for it to turn up in the regular mail. Then I find out it’s less than what I’d requested, so another check is cut and sent out.

To wrap up that part of the story, the second check didn’t make it into my US account until last Friday. Hopefully it’ll only take a few business days to clear and I’ll be able to wire the funds and get the receipts into my accountant’s hands before I leave on Thursday, but it could end up being tight.

The next part of the aggravation has been with the store design. Normally this is supposed to take a few days of back and forth and consulting with the local development agent. This time things have been backed up, and the designer working on it isn’t familiar with typical local designs. The local agent sent the first plan straight back without even showing it to me first because it was so bad. The second one was a bit better, but still had some pretty strange design choices. The main concern is that both plans had relatively little customer seating compared to other Subways here of similar size.

The local agent I’ve been working with so far had to leave on a business trip this week so he passed me off to a different agent to finish up this stage of things. Normally the pass off is supposed to occur after the design has been finalized to blueprint, but because of the scheduling problems this was done earlier. The new agent was busy working on a new store opening on Friday and Saturday so today was the first chance we got to get together.

We hit it off pretty well. He’s another former Silicon Valley techie so we had a lot in common. He has two Subways in Taiwan, so he’s pretty familiar with the process of store design and we were able to come up with a lot of good ideas fairly quickly. He’s gonna talk to the designer tonight to work out those details. I had a feeling that progress is being made again after a lot of stalls.

It’s still a bit frustrating though. I pushed back my training dates by two weeks because I was hoping to get things under way so that the business formation, equipment delivery and remodeling would happen while I was away, and I could come back with things almost ready. Maggie can probably help things move along while I’m gone, but with all the delays it’s still gonna be end of March before things are close to completion. It probably would have been better if I’d stuck to the original training dates.

In other news, I’m starting to get into the Subway system now. I’ve started receiving the newsletters (I was listed in the February 2006 edition as a new franchisee), and today I got the Operations Manual. Subway really gives their franchisees a lot of information on operations and marketing which is nice.

National Unification Guidelines

I admit that I was not familiar with the actual terms of the Guidelines for National Unification when President Chen announced that they will be scrapped. To hear the DPP side of things, the Guidelines must completely and unequivocally sell out Taiwan to Mainland China, and only a commie lover would like them. Yesterday the Taipei Times published the Guidelines in the newspaper. They are not posted on their web edition, but they are available from the Mainland Affairs Council web site. It’s pretty short, so go read it for yourself:

Guidelines for National Unification

After reading it, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could dislike the Guidelines unless they were opposed to any kind of unification at all. As a prerequisite for reunification, the Mainland must allow freedom of expression, be democratic, and follow the rule of law. Mainland China may not endanger the security of Taiwan. Reunification should be on the basis of parity and reciprocity. Both sides must support participation of each other in international organizations. And unification can only happen with the consent of the Taiwan people.

I can easily agree with those requirements, and under those terms the Mainland has a lot to achieve before unification is possible.

New Music Arrivals This Week

This week has some new arrivals here:

The Love Rocks (w/Bonus DVD) by Dreams Come True. They also have a tour in Japan this April through June. I’m considering going up for one of the concerts.

Ride A White Horse CD Single, CD Maxi Single and DVD Single (UK Versions) by Goldfrapp, the third single from their Supernature album.

For those of you in the US, the free single of the week on iTunes Music Store is Goldfrapp’s “Ooh La La”, and the US release of Supernature (w/Bonus DVD) comes out on March 7. The DVD includes an amazing DTS 5.1 mix of the album if you are so equipped, and the US version includes extra videos not on the UK version.

All of these recommended.

Taiwan-China Relations

Taiwan-China relations aver the past couple of weeks have been the subject of two different news stories. The first is ROC President Chen Shuibian’s announcement that the National Unification Council and National Unification Guidelines will be scrapped. This has caused some consternation because it is perceived as yet another step towards declaring formal independence.

The other story involves KMT Party Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Yingjiu’s clarification or refinement of their position on relations with the mainland. Basically he has said that he supports eventual reunification, but that he does not believe that now is the right time for either reunification or formal independence. Further, any change in the status quo should have the consent of the Taiwanese people. He and the KMT Party muddled the message a bit though by also saying that independence was an option, but not an option for the KMT Party. The latter part of the message has been the core of some controversy over the remarks.

The issue of the status of Taiwan is complicated. The stance of ‘maintaining the status quo’ is a particularly difficult concept to understand, when essentially status quo means ‘leave the issue unresolved’. From the viewpoint of western culture, it seems quite odd to leave something important like this in an unknown state for more than 50 years. Why can’t things be nicely defined like North and South Korea, or like East and West Germany used to be? Even the split of Greek and Turkish Cyprus is more clearly defined than Taiwan and China, and politicians seem to be willing to talk about Palestine as a country in public at least some of the time.

My opinion has changed over time, but currently is closest to the KMT’s position. Unification is a potential goal, but not until there are major reforms to the PRC government, and not when the supposed autonomy in places such as Hong Kong and Tibet gets short shrift whenever Beijing has other ideas. In the meantime there is no reason not to improve ties with the mainland where it is possible to do so without unreasonable compromises, a position the current government doesn’t support.

On the other hand, neither the status quo nor the One China policy fundamentally require that Taiwan be treated in demeaning ways by disallowing membership in international organizations or being forced to use names such as Chinese Taipei or Taiwan, Province of China. I think that such nastiness only serves to bolster independence seekers. Dignified treatment of both sides does not detract from the One China concept, and in fact would probably improve sentiment in Taiwan towards the mainland.

As for the issue of independence, read today’s Taipei Times editorial article Why fear the independence option?

Jyllands-Posten Editor Explains

The Jyllands-Posten culture editor explains “Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons.”

“[I]f a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. … This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies,’ insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant.”

Progress Report

Today I went to my accountant’s office to drop off some documents she needed. I also picked up the company name check form and the investment approval letter as well as the company stamps. My first choice of names was approved, so the company will be 建咪三明治有限公司 (Jimmy’s Sandwich Limited Company). Now I can open a company bank account and wire in the approved capital, and meanwhile the business formation process will proceed.