Emblem, pollution and polls–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Summary: A DPP bill speeding up closure of Taichung Power Plant passes. Taiwanese are becoming more Taiwanese. Virtually no one wants “unification” with China. Party identification is strongly shifting in Taiwan. But up first, the government is pouring cold water on plans to change the national emblem.

The government is pouring cold water on plans to change the national emblem

The Executive Yuan announced that more deliberation was needed before a proposal to have the national emblem changed could be reviewed by the Ministry of the Interior.
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) said that while he agreed the emblems are similar, which could cause confusion, changing the national emblem would be contentious.
Lawmakers must proceed prudently, slowly and only after collecting feedback, Li said.
“Taiwan’s passports were recently redesigned, and the new design incorporates the national emblem,” he said, adding that changing it would mean paying to replace everything bearing the current emblem.
In other words, the DPP administration appears to be attempting to pour cold water on this, most likely to avoid having to spend political capital on this issue so early in the president’s second term.
The only difference between the KMT emblem and the national emblem is that the rays of the sun on the national one doesn’t touch the edge of the circle.
For many, the obviously similar emblem is a painful reminder of the martial law era, and is blatantly partisan.
However, for others–and not just KMT supporters or old people–have come to identify with the symbol as being of Taiwan, regardless of its past.
Getting rid of it would cause a big political fight, and would mobilize KMT supporters, which is probably why the government wants to steer clear of it.
The president and her top people remember vividly former President Chen Shui-bian’s attempts late in his second term to make sweeping changes, and the push-back he got for doing it–including from the United States.
Up until now, the president has been avoiding touching on issues that would give Beijing to complain about–with the practical effect of making it clear to everyone that it is the Chinese side that has been belligerent and changing the status quo.
So this may be another factor, not wanting to give Beijing something they can show to their own people and say “see, they’re moving towards independence.”
Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and a front-runner for next KMT party chair said “Could the pan-green camp stop putting on an act?
If they change the national emblem, the next thing they change will be the national flag and then the country’s name.”
“If they want to engage in independence activities, they should just clearly say so.”

A DPP bill speeding up closure of Taichung Power Plant passes

The Legislative Yuan has passed a resolution proposed by the DPP to decommission Taichung Power Plant’s coal-fired generators by 2035, well ahead of Taipower’s original plan of decommissioning all 10 generators in 2046.
This new plan, however, will preserve the generators as a national security emergency reserve.
They also plan to move up the first decommissioning of generator one from 2029 to 2027.
The vote was held on partisan lines, and proposals by the KMT and New Power Party failed to pass.
The KMT called the plan “too slow” and KMT chair Johnny Chiang accused the DPP of “putting on a performance” for Taichung voters.
In spite of the current power plant system being largely created by KMT governments, in recent years the KMT has taken up the issue of air pollution.
It’s a safe and popular issue, and they know they have the DPP administration over a barrel on this–the DPP isn’t going to risk closing the plant and the country losing power supplies, which would be even more politically damaging.
The Taichung Power Plant, which until a few years ago was the biggest coal-fired plant in the world, is Taiwan’s single largest stationary source of air pollution, so the issue is a genuine problem.
The target is to create, via offshore wind, generating capacity roughly equal to the Taichung Power Plant by 2025–but there has been no talk of using that to replace the existing coal-fired generators.
It appears it is intended to meet growing capacity needs in the future.
It is noteworthy, however, that the DPP legislative caucus took up the issue and moved the date significantly forward of Taipower’s plans.
The plan was spearheaded by lawmakers from Taichung and Changhua, who no doubt know the issue does resonate with local voters–and is probably the reason Lu Shiow-yen won Taichung in 2018.

Taiwanese are becoming more Taiwanese

The National Chengchi University poll is out!
This is probably the most consistently cited polling on national identity, cross-strait ties and party identification.
Let’s start with “Changes in the Taiwanese/Chinese identity of Taiwanese.”
Those solely identifying as Chinese has hit a record low, at 2.6 percent–dipping below ‘no response’.
Doing the math, that means about 620,000 people in Taiwan identify solely as Chinese.
I should point out that there are over half a million Chinese spouses in Taiwan.
There are also tens of thousands, possibly low hundreds of thousands of elderly people who came over with their families in 1949.
In other words, the number of people solely identifying as Chinese who were born in Taiwan is basically zero–those identifying as Chinese almost are actually from China.
Those identifying as both Taiwanese and Chinese has also hit a record low, at 29.9 percent.
Those identifying as Taiwanese only has also hit a record high at 64.3 percent.
In 1992, when the survey began, only 17.6 percent identified as Taiwanese only, though Taiwan was still a one-party state at the time, so it’s entirely possible that number isn’t very reliable.
There was a big leap up to 34 percent after the first presidential election.
From there on out the trend has been upwards, with a brief dip around the Han wave period.

Virtually no one wants “unification”

Let’s move on to “Changes in the unification-independence stances of Taiwanese.”
Unification as soon as possible hit a record low at 1 percent.
Maintain status quo, move towards unification also hit a record low at 5.6 percent.
Independence as soon as possible ticked up, but not to a record high, at 6.6 percent.
By far the biggest leap on the chart is status quo, move towards independence, which has more than doubled in two years and is now at 25.8 percent.
That’s the first time it has passed maintain status quo indefinitely, which is now at 25.5 percent.
Maintain status quo, decide at a later date still tops the chart, but it has dropped to a near-record low at 28.8 percent.
Maintaining some form of status quo–in other words keeping Taiwan independent–is over 80%.
6.8 percent gave no response, so who knows where they fall.

Party identification is strongly shifting in Taiwan

The third chart is “changes in the party identification of Taiwanese.”
Topping the chart is independent or no response at 40.9 percent.
That’s actually pretty near the average since the year 2000.
Support for the DPP has soared, reaching a record 34 percent.
The KMT, meanwhile, plunged to exactly half the DPP at 17 percent.
Interestingly, technically that’s not the lowest the KMT has reached–they were a bit lower in 2001 and 2002.
However, those two years are a bit misleading.
In those two years the People’s First Party, a KMT breakaway party, actually briefly passed the KMT in popularity in 2001 and was close behind the KMT in 2002.
The reason that isn’t comparable to today is that the PFP’s ideology and membership were essentially KMT, and the two parties were allied in the legislature.
It was in that period that the terms “pan-blue” and “pan-green” were coined, to describe the KMT, PFP and New Party alliance on the blue side, and the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union on the green side.
Eventually most of the surviving PFP and NP politicians rejoined the KMT.
So, what about the Taiwan People’s Party?
There was a poll out in December showing them only two points behind the KMT.
As I noted at the time, more polls would be needed to confirm they really are closing in on the KMT.
The January version of that poll showed the gap widening again widely, so I suspect it’s not a great poll.
This poll, however, is likely more accurate.
It has the TPP at 4.9 percent.
That’s not great, but it’s worth noting that’s better than the TSU or New Power Party have ever polled.
Only the New Party in the 1990s and the PFP in the early 2000s have done better as third parties than the TPP.
The New Power Party has taken a big hit, dropping to 2.4 percent from around roughly 4 percent the four years prior.
A corruption scandal and widespread defections will do that to a party.

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