Han calls on supporters to NOT vote in recall. Seriously.–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Bill to remove “unification” with China dropped

A bill to remove “unification” with China as a national goal, that had passed first reading and had moved to committee, has been pulled.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said with Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration approaching, he did not want the proposals to be a source of contention for China and opposition parties, which would give Beijing a pretext for saber rattling and undermining peace.
Following discussions with DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), Tsai Yi-yu, despite acknowledging a recent swell of anti-China sentiment, said he decided not to run the risk.
He is aware that retracting the proposals would invite ridicule, but he had to do so for the nation’s future, he said, adding that he believes that the president would lead the nation along the right path.
A Tamkang University Graduate Institute of China Studies associate professor said that Tsai Yi-yu likely had to retract the proposals because Tsai Ing-wen said in her inauguration speech four years ago that she would abide by the act, the Constitution and other applicable laws when handling cross-strait relations.
This decision almost certainly was at the behest of the president, who is about to return to the post of party chair as well.
This indicates that either the president intends to stay the course on her careful, cautious approach in relations with China–or that she’s got something big planned for her inauguration and doesn’t want this as a distraction.
Based on past performance, either is entirely possible.
Her inauguration speech will be getting close attention and scrutiny on what it will portend for her second term.

More hints on the direction of KMT’s China stance

The KMT is currently engaging in internal debate in a reform committee on what their stance on China should be, but KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang has released some of the outline.
Chiang urged Beijing to remain calm and face the fact of the existence of the Republic of China government in Taiwan, while warning Beijing that there is no market here for Beijing’s “one country, two systems” idea.
Beijing should also stop threatening Taiwan with military force, he said.
The KMT will insist on values, including the ROC’s existence, freedom, democracy, peace and safety, as well as putting Taiwan first, so that nobody can deride the party as representing Beijing’s interests, he said.
So far so good.
It would be almost unthinkable for the KMT to drop the ROC framework, but otherwise this sounds broadly speaking like the party is moving from deep blue to light blue, and closer to mainstream public opinion.
In other words, similar to President Tsai’s “Republic of China Taiwan” formulation, probably minus the Taiwan bit at the end.
However, there is more:
Under the KMT administration between 2008 and 2016, Chiang said the party made progress in expanding negotiations between Taiwan and China on the basis of the so-called “1992 consensus,” under which the KMT accepts that the two sides are part of one China, with each side free to interpret what “one China” means.
There is a lot going on with this.
First, hearkening back to the Ma administration is probably not a wise electoral move, considering how unpopular it was when it ended.
Second, the Chinese Communists have never, ever accepted or acknowledged the “1992 consensus” as having “each side free to interpret” in the formulation.
Further, in a speech on January 2nd 2019, Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping basically tied the “92 consensus” to “one country, two systems”.
In short, what the KMT and the CCP mean by the “92 consensus” are pretty far apart–though they both include “one China”.
But possibly the most interesting part about this is that it suggests the KMT may be sticking to the “92 consensus”.
Chiang had previously made clear that it would be reconsidered, and suggests possibly they would propose a new formulation.
That would have made sense electorially, it is deeply unpopular.
However, the PRC has made it clear that for them, the “92 consensus” is an absolute red line for them–no “92 consensus”, no relationship with China.
While the final decision by the reform committee hasn’t been released, these comments suggest it may be leaning towards–or has already decided–to keep the “92 consensus”.
But wait, there’s more!
Amid heightened tensions between the US and China due to the pandemic, the Tsai administration has favored and depended on the US, when it should aim to take a neutral position, Chiang said.
This flies in the face of much of what Chiang had said before, which had been more pro-US, and sounded a lot more like the KMT of old.
The impression this all gives is that the reform committee is deeper blue on these issues than Chiang.
Chiang is a US-educated local Taiwanese factional pol from Taichung’s Fengyuan District.
In person, and in his statements, he comes across as more practical than ideological.
He also seems to have a pretty good idea why the KMT has lost so much popularity, and what needs to be done to make the party electable on the national level again.
These comments by Chiang suggest he is constrained on how far he can go by the party.
So far, it is beginning to look like the new KMT platform may move a little to the centre–but not enough that it will appear as being anything other than basically the same.
If that is the case, they’re in trouble.

Han calls on supporters to NOT vote in recall

Today’s big bombshell is that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu has called on his supporters to NOT vote in the recall election against him being held on June 6.
He said it was important as part of efforts against the coronavirus, and that instead they should go shopping to support local businesses.
Former KMT chair Hung Hsiu-chu then changed her tune, adding her voice to calling for supporters to not take part in the vote.
Clearly, his explanation makes no sense.
The coronavirus appears to have been essentially eradicated in Taiwan already–and even if not suggesting they go shopping sounds hardly safer than voting.
Has he decided to just give up? Is he just tired of the whole circus?
Nope, his lawyers have just launched a new legal challenge against the recall.
So what is he up to?
Most likely he’s hoping to depress turnout so the final percentage of the voting public that turns out is lower than the required 25% to be valid.
This is a disastrously bad strategy.
Looking at polling number it appears that about 45-50% of voters plan to go to vote.
However, some polling suggests that others “might vote”, so it is entirely possible that the final total is over 50%.
The polls have also shown that about 50-60% are planning to vote to recall him, roughly ⅓ plan to support him and the remainder are undecided.
For his plan to work, turnout would have to be low to begin with on the recall supporters side.
That could happen, the weather could be terrible, the coronavirus could return, streets could explode again, who knows?
That is unlikely.
Then, all of his supporters and all the undecideds would have to take up his boycott.
That’s not gonna happen.
First, not all of the people voting to keep him are necessarily supporters–some people think he should be given a chance, or think overturning a popular vote is undemocratic and so forth.
Plus, it’s extremely unlikely his supporters will all comply.
Why am I so confident in saying that?
Because during the presidential campaign Han tried something similar.
He called on his supporters to tell opinion pollsters that they supported Tsai in order to essentially nuke the results and overturn the narrative he was heading to a crushing defeat.
It didn’t work.
Nathan Batto over at his excellent blog Frozen Garlic did an analysis, and showed that Han’s plan had little or possibly even no effect on the polls.
Apparently few got the memo, or simply ignored it.
All of this also begs the question: Did Johnny Chiang and the KMT central brass know this was coming?
What will the KMT do now?
This is going to be interesting to watch.

All eyes on India in the WHA vote on allowing Taiwan in

More countries have come forth to support Taiwan in the WHO and WHA, with the latest being the Czech Republic.
So far the number of countries openly committed to supporting Taiwan is now in the 20s.
That isn’t enough to form a majority, but many if not most countries haven’t stated how they plan to vote–though Chinese state media has announced South Africa plans to support them.
One big country that is going to have a crucial role to play over the next three years in the WHO is India.
A WIO news anchor in India explains why in this clip:
Then she goes on to make the case for Taiwan: