Dangerous pandering to the PRC by the Taipei Mayor–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Summary: The quota on ROC nationals abroad moving to Taiwan is to be lifted. Taiwanese prefer Biden over Trump by a hair. And finally our big segment of the week, Article walkthrough: Ko’s dangerous misunderstandings on China…or is it intentional? And of course, lots of headlines.


The Cabinet on Thursday finalized a plan to allocate an additional NT$210 billion (US$7.13 billion) budget to the government’s COVID-19 relief fund.
Pending legislative approval, NT$137.55 billion–well over half the total–will go towards helping local businesses, such as providing subsidies and financial loan guarantees, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).
The remainder will be spread across various departments.

The government is offering subsidies of up to NT$500 million (US$17 million) to Taiwanese companies undertaking clinical trials for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.

The central bank has raised its cap on special loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after companies called for more funds to weather the downturn.
The central bank on April 1 launched a NT$200 billion (US$6.77 billion) special lending program for SMEs at preferential interest rates to help them survive the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
From tomorrow, SMEs can apply for loans of up to NT$4 million, an increase from NT$2 million, if the SME Credit Guarantee Fund provides a more than 90 percent guarantee, the central bank said.
Alternatively, SMEs can apply for loans of up to NT$16 million, an increase from NT$6 million, if the lender sets aside an 80 percent provision in conjunction with the SME Credit Guarantee Funds, it said

Industrial production last month grew 7.34 percent year-on-year, ending three consecutive months of decline, as strong demand for 5G-related applications and work-from-home and distance-learning trends boosted the production of electronic components to a record high, according to Ministry of Economic Affairs data.
The pandemic has stimulated demand for work-from-home equipment such as servers, laptops and communication devices and the demand remains strong.
Electronic components production increased 23.82 percent year-on-year, marking the seventh month in a row of double-digit percentage growth, according to ministry statistics.

Quota on ROC nationals abroad moving to Taiwan to be lifted

The interior ministry is set to remove a quota on overseas Taiwanese people applying for residency in Taiwan.
Taiwanese nationality law does not automatically grant citizens the right to reside in Taiwan.
The right of abode comes only with what’s known as household registration.
For historical reasons, nationals who are born overseas under certain circumstances do not have this household registration and must apply for it if they wish to live in Taiwan.
Under existing laws, there is a quota in place on how many overseas Taiwanese living in Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia are granted residency per month.
The National Immigration Agency said that the decision to scrap the quota is part of the government’s plan to help Taiwan cope with a brain drain and a labour shortage.
At the end of the Chinese Civil War there was an ROC army left in northern Burma (aka Myanmar), and their descendants still live there in a kind of limbo.
Others also ended up in Vietnam and around the region.

Taiwanese prefer Biden over Trump by a hair

More Hong Kong residents support President Donald Trump to continue leading the United States after elections this November, while in Taiwan, Democratic nominee Joe Biden eked out a slight edge, an exclusive Newsweek poll conducted by London-based polling firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies showed.
In Hong Kong, a plurality of respondents, or 36 percent, said they would prefer Trump to win the 2020 election.
However, the findings were close.
About 33 percent of them said they backed Biden, while 31 percent said they did not know.
In Taiwan, respondents appeared to be largely indifferent about the race.
About 44 percent of those surveyed said they did not know who their preferred candidate would be.
But of those with an opinion, Biden slightly edged out Trump with 29 percent of those surveyed saying they’d prefer to see him take office in November as opposed to the 26 percent of them choosing the current leader.
I suspect if this survey had been conducted just a few months ago, Trump would have come out ahead because of his administration’s support for Taiwan.
However, in the last few months Taiwan TV news has been bombarded with chaotic images of pandemic pandemonium and police attacking protestors.

Article walkthrough: Ko’s misunderstandings on China

For the second time I’m going to do an article walkthrough, reading from the article, and commenting as I go.
The article is “Cross-strait harmony better than hostility: Taipei mayor,” which ran on Focus Taiwan on Wednesday.
You should be able to tell what is the article, and what is my commentary by the tone and style.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Wednesday defended his “pragmatic” approach to relations with China, saying that “family harmony is better than family hostility” during an annual forum between the cities of Taipei and Shanghai.
The 11th Taipei-Shanghai Twin City forum was scaled back from three days to one this year and held via videoconferencing for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
OK, so this Twin City forum was founded under the then KMT mayor Hau Long-bin, and is one of many outreaches to deepen ties with China by the KMT after the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian left office in 2008 and the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou took over.
In his opening remarks to the conference, Ko said he has tried to adopt a “pragmatic” approach to relations across the Taiwan Strait during his tenure as mayor, taking into account the two sides’ historical and cultural connections and close economic ties.
Ko loves words like “pragmatic” and at times pragmatic is a good thing–but he’s not being pragmatic, he’s simply pandering to China at the expense of Taiwanese interests, as we shall see.
The problem is that he seems to be trying to do an end run around the central government, which should be in charge of foreign policy by creating his own formulas for dealing with China, which we’ll get to in a moment.
He’s hoping to come up with an acceptable formula for dealing with China that doesn’t include the deeply unpopular 1992 consensus.
Why? Because he’s indicated he’ll very possibly be the Taiwan People’s Party candidate for president in 2024, and considering the party seems to be re-orienting to light blue, a new formula could be handy to have to appeal to those voters and pull them from the KMT.
Notice his reference to “two sides’ historical and cultural connections”
Such ties exist, of course.
However, mentioning them so vaguely is dangerous.
Both China and the KMT have for years been trying to emphasize those ties, exaggerating them and downplaying the elements of Taiwan’s history and culture that make Taiwan a unique and different country from China.
By being so vague, Ko is playing into their hands and speaking their language.
Moving on…
“Even today I still believe that having cross-strait exchanges is better than not, that cooperation is better than confrontation, and that family harmony is better than family hostility,” Ko said, in a reference to China’s frequent characterization of the two sides as “one family.”
For such a supposed “straight talker” the beginning is just pure platitude, no one is calling for no exchanges at all, and of course confrontation is bad–but China has been creating the confrontation.
He seems to be implying it’s Taiwan’s fault, which it isn’t.
But it’s the using of China’s “family” vocabulary that is so worrying.
Once again this plays into their narrative of “Taiwan and China are one family” which implies we must be together.
There is no reason that has to be so, but Ko is apparently buying into it.
Ko proposed “five mutual principles” to guide the relationship, saying the two sides need to meet, understand, respect, cooperate and have forbearance with each other.
Yes, I couldn’t agree more.
Funny thing, though, is that is precisely what President Tsai’s government has been trying to do since day one.
The problem, once again, isn’t on the Taiwan side.
It’s Chinese intransigence and bullying.
Again, Ko seems to either not get it, or is pretending what is true isn’t in order to appease the Chinese side by parroting their propaganda.
Again, moving on…
He also criticized Taiwan’s government for what he called a “contradictory strategy” of instigating anti-China sentiment, even as the two sides continue to enjoy close commercial relations.
So, China is conducting hostile military activities–according to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu nearly every day in June–and repeatedly has threatened to use force against Taiwan.
They hold drills for invasion, poach Taiwanese diplomatic partners, threaten and bully countries, people, politicians, academics and journalists the world over to tow their line on Taiwan…and Taiwan is instigating anti-China sentiment.
That’s totally backwards.
China is instigating anti-China sentiment in Taiwan.
The Tsai administration is reflecting public opinion on the matter, not the other way around.
Ko sharpened his criticisms in remarks to reporters after the speech. “I don’t really approve of using ideology to sow conflict in the cross-strait relationship,” he said, adding that some in Taiwan are using the tense relations with China “for personal, partisan or electoral benefit.”
Mayor Ko, that is exactly what you are doing!
The “ideology” sowing conflict here is the ethno-nationalist Marxist-Leninist ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, the most murderous political party in history that is conducting a cultural genocide against minorities in its own country.
Back to the article…
Ko, the founder of the centrist Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), has tried to stake out a middle ground on China between the skepticism of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the more sympathetic stance of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
Maybe in Taipei that counts as a middle ground, but not in the rest of the country.
In this vein, Ko’s speech on Wednesday emphasized the importance of “building goodwill” between the two cities’ people, while avoiding larger political issues, such as Taiwan’s participation in international organizations or China’s recent imposition of repressive national security laws in Hong Kong.
Sure, building goodwill between the two cities’ people isn’t a bad thing, but if only he was avoiding larger political issues in his comments–but he’s not, he’s just avoiding specifics.
Mayor Ko’s TPP is now the third largest and in most polls also the third most popular, though in one poll the second most popular.
The KMT is continuing its ruinous collapse and if either Johnny Chiang is forced to resign over what appears to a coming disastrous rout in the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election, or fails in his bid to get party reforms through the party congress in September, the TPP could be poised to benefit by poaching both voters and experienced light blue politicians from the KMT.
Officially, the TPP’s China policies closely mimic the Tsai administration’s stance, which is pretty close to dead centre in public opinion.
Mayor Ko’s comments and many of the people around him, however, sound more like the light blue end of the KMT.
True, nowhere near as outright capitulatory and pro-unification as the deep blue end of the KMT, but pandering to China’s line over Taiwan interests nonetheless.

I’d like to thank John Ross for his book “Taiwan in 100 Books” by Camphor Press. I’ve read both of his previous books, so I know I’m in for a treat with this one. I’d also like to thank our patrons on Patreon once again, including Patsy who joined us as our biggest patron just the other day, it’s with the support of you guys that this project can go ahead.

Image courtesy of 柯文哲’s Facebook page

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