Bolton book bombshells: What Trump really thinks of Taiwan and more–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Trump

Restrictions being lifted on some travel

Starting on June 22, eligible business travellers to Taiwan can be exempted from the compulsory 14-day quarantine currently in place.
They didn’t specify what types of business travellers are covered by these new rules, but did list activities like product inspection, skills training, and signing contracts as examples of eligible business engagements.
These travellers, who must come from low-risk places, are eligible to quarantine in a hotel for a shortened seven days instead.
On the fifth day, they will be tested for the coronavirus, and if the result is negative they will be free to engage in their business activities.
Business travellers from the following places, deemed low- and medium-risk are eligible for shortened quarantine: New Zealand, Australia, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia, Bhutan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
In related news, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday announced 11 countries that it deems as low-risk for coronavirus infections and whose students will be given priority when Taiwan opens up its borders to students for the fall semester.
They will prioritize students from 11 countries and regions to attend school this fall semester. These include Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Palau, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Fiji, Mongolia, and Bhutan.
Meanwhile, a parents association pleaded with the Taiwan government Wednesday to allow the return of their Chinese children who have been stranded in China since February, when Taiwan began to implement border control measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Under the COVID-19 prevention measures, Chinese children who do not hold Taiwan passports are not permitted to enter Taiwan, which has left many of them stuck in China for months, separated from their families and unable to return to school, an association made up of their parents said.

The KMT wants to put assets issue behind it, down to zero

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is determined to zero out its assets, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration of exploiting the issue to persecute the party.
The party has always believed in having a healthy democratic system and fair competition among political parties, Chiang told a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting in Taipei.
Haha, tell that to those that lived under the KMT during the martial law era.
At the KMT’s 19th National Congress on Sept. 4, 2016, the party resolved to donate to charity any remaining assets after subtracting its debts, with the exception of party offices and the funds needed to pay retired and current employees, he said, adding that the resolution shows that there is a consensus within the party to zero out its assets and donate them to charity.
He accused the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee of using administrative means to thwart the KMT’s wishes to completely dispose of its assets as soon as possible.
The committee’s actions have greatly affected the rights of the KMT’s retired workers, Chiang said, adding that he believed it is the committee’s “political intention” to continue exploiting the topic of the KMT’s assets.
During President Tsai’s first administration, they passed the Act Governing the Settlement of Ill- gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations.
The KMT used to be regularly billed in the international media as the world’s richest political party.
They had huge assets that they had appropriated from the Japanese when they took over, as well as properties and assets they coveted from locals.
Being effectively a one-party dictatorship until the early 90s, they could pretty much do whatever they wanted.
The passage of this law froze those assets, finally ending one of the KMT’s huge electoral advantages.
Opinion polls showed the move was popular.
Some of Chiang’s points have some truth to them, especially the part about pensions.
The KMT, being super rich, used the party coffers to give loyal followers cushy jobs in the party.
Now the KMT is stuck with having to pay their pensions.
Let me read a passage from a Ketagalan media translation of a Voicetank piece:
““According to publicly available reporting from each political party, in 2018 the KMT has an income of NT$430 million dollars from government subsidies, donations and membership dues.
They are not exactly starving to death because their assets are frozen.
Their problem is with their expenditure.
According to the same data, the KMT’s personnel expenses amount to a whopping NT$1.75 billion dollars.
This is why Wu, as chairman, had to bust his chops fundraising and taking out loans of NT$25 million a month.
In comparison, the DPP’s personnel expenses are NT$136 million dollars, less than a tenth of the cost.
What’s the difference?
1.59 billion of the 1.75 billion goes to paying out pensions.
In other words, the real cost of labor for the party is about comparable to the DPP, but about nine times more of that cost goes to people who no longer work there.”
By seizing the ill-gotten gains, which were genuinely ill-gotten, the DPP pulled the rug out from under the KMT financially–something I’m sure the DPP was entirely aware of.
They didn’t put in any provisions to allow the assets to go to those pensions.
No doubt many in the DPP felt it was justified in light of the martial law era and the difficulties the DPP had for years campaigning against such a well-funded adversary.
It’s also not hard to see why the KMT feels they’ve been screwed because they now are at a huge financial disadvantage compared to the DPP.
The problem is, the KMT knew this day was going to come for a long time, but didn’t deal with it when they had the chance.

DPP chooses Chen Chi-mai, KMT still mulling candidate for Kaohsiung by-election

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday nominated outgoing Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) as the party’s candidate for the Aug. 15 Kaohsiung mayoral by-election to replace recalled mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
Now that he is resigning as Vice Premier, that clears the way for the New Power Party to support him, as that had been their sole condition.
Interestingly, a local media report is suggesting that Enoch Wu, the dashing up-and-comer would act as Chen’s spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the KMT told reporters the party is currently in talks with seven potential candidates for the by-election, and is scheduled to officially announce its candidate on June 24 when the party holds a Central Standing Committee meeting in Kaohsiung.
Local pan-blue media outlet UDN is reporting the KMT is limiting potential candidates to being aged 50 and younger, and are ruling out city councillors.
That probably narrows the field by removing at least one city councillor who had already tossed her hat into the ring.
This sounds like a good move.
Unlike the DPP, the KMT is desperately short of high profile candidates under the age of 50.
Even if the candidate loses, this will provide a national stage for whoever they pick.

Bolton book bombshells: What Trump really thinks of Taiwan and more

Former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton’s new book is in the hands of journalists, and the bombshells are coming fast and furious.
CNN is reporting that Bolton claims in his new book that President Donald Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election, according to a copy obtained by CNN Wednesday.
Bolton also charged that when Xi told Trump last year that China was building concentration camps for the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, Trump said Xi should go ahead building the camps, “which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
Interestingly Trump just signed off on some sanctions on China over the concentration camps.
But for us in Taiwan, this is what the WSJ quoted from the book on Taiwan:
“Trump was particularly dyspeptic about Taiwan, having listened to Wall Street financiers who had gotten rich off mainland China investments.
One of Trump’s favorite comparisons was to point to the tip of one of his Sharpies and say, “This is Taiwan,” then point to the historic Resolute desk in the Oval Office and say, “This is China.”
So much for American commitments and obligations to another democratic ally.”
Two important comments to make.
First, this is Bolton’s account, we don’t know for sure if it is true.
I’ve read a fair bit on Bolton, though–much of it negative–but I don’t recall being a liar as one of his traits, if anything the opposite: Offensively blunt.
The other thing to note is that Bolton, and others who have been in Trump’s administration, describe Trump as erratic.
While we can’t be absolutely sure this is what Trump said, it does sound like him.
It confirms what many, myself included, have thought about Trump’s attitude toward Taiwan and foreign policy in general: It’s transactional.
In other words, he doesn’t give a crap about Taiwan.
He has, however, picked a lot of key people for his administration who are very pro-Taiwan.
So, while his administration has been very positive for Taiwan, Trump himself can’t be trusted or relied upon.
Not in the least bit surprised, but it is still disappointing.
As for his opponent in this year’s US presidential race, Democrat Joe Biden, the fears are almost a mirror opposite–and still bad.
Biden himself traditionally hasn’t been very Taiwan friendly, and has been considered accommodationist on China.
Recently, however, he’s been trying to appear more tough on China.
His attitudes remain unclear on Taiwan.
He recently sent a congratulations to President Tsai, but referred to her as “Doctor Tsai”, not “President,” which is worrying.
But what has many of the people I’ve talked to with knowledge of Washington is who he’ll pick for his administration.
There is a worry he’ll pick many of ex-President Obama’s team, which were significantly less pro-Taiwan than the current administration’s team.
They’re the ones who are tasked with the nuts and bolts of Taiwan policy.
So while currently the US has a president Taiwan can’t trust, but a pro-Taiwan administration, under Biden he can probably be trusted to not be erratic and sell out Taiwan personally…but we can’t be very confident he’ll pick an administration we can trust.

Image courtesy of the Donald J. Trump Facebook page

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