Taipower union to protest Taichung City Government
According to a report in local newspaper China Times, the Taiwan Power Labor Union has voted to hold an encirclement protest around Taichung City Hall.
The 27,000 person strong union says it will be no problem to attract over 10,000 people.
They accused the Taichung City Government of ignoring their professionalism, politicking, issuing fine after fine, and trampling on the hard work of their nearly 30,000 members.
They resolved on unity, support for Taipower’s chairman and to defend the necessary hard work they do.
No date for the protest was mentioned in the report.
I went into the dispute between Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen and the KMT on one side, and Taipower and the Tsai administration on the other, in depth in yesterday’s show.
Basically, Mayor Lu won election on an anti-air pollution platform, and since becoming mayor has been in a protracted battle with state-owned Taipower over pollution coming from the Taichung Power Plant.
Her government has issued many fines and revoked operating permits, but on all the key issues has been overruled by the central government.
Her administration has also gone after Taipower’s chairman legally, and is threatening to go after other officials in the firm.
There is some irony to the union’s move.
Both Taipower and the union used to be firmly under the control of the KMT, and ties lasted long after the one-party state era.
But now, the union is protesting a KMT administration in Taichung.
As a historical side note, under martial law spies were planted in classrooms and in big companies, including Taipower.
In that weird period in the mid 1990s after the first free legislative elections and in the run up to the first free presidential election, I was teaching English to a class of Taipower employees in Changhua City.
The spy was still in place at the company, and he was in my class.
What was funny about the whole thing is that by this point it had become a joke, and the class laughed about their spy, and laughed along with them.
One guy old enough to remember the 228 massacre in particular was very outspoken about his support for Taiwan independence.
Less than a decade earlier he wouldn’t have dared, if the spy reported him his life would have been ruined, and could have ended up in jail, or put in a mental institution.
Military instructors in schools to go
Speaking of martial law era legacies, according to a Chinese language report on PTS, military instructors will be pulled out of schools in 2023.
There are currently 2600 to 2700 of them.
KMT faces fines over occupation of the legislature
According to a report in local news outlet Newtalk, the Taipei City government culture department is planning to fine the KMT over their occupation of the legislature.
The legislature building is designated a historical site, and the KMT illegally damaged it.
The fine will reportedly be between NT$300,000 and NT$2 million.
Han fans revenge plans continue to grow
Furious fans of ousted Kaohsiung mayor Dan Han Kuo-yu have launched a series of revenge recall campaigns, including NPP Kaohsiung city councillor Huang Jie and Chen Shui-bian’s son 陳致中, who is a DPP city councillor.
Now, according to a local news report, they’re doing something different: bulk recall campaigns.
According to the report, organizers have already completed the stage 1 signature drive to recall four city councillors at once–three from the DPP and one from the NPP–all in the Sanmin District in Kaohsiung.
Pingtung City headless
Both the Pingtung Mayor and Pingtung City Council Speaker have been charged with corruption, leaving both branches of government decapitated.
Both are of the KMT.
A bail court judge approved detention of the pair with restricted communication.
More government subsidies on the way
The government is continuing to keep the spigot open.
Maximum spending on the second phase of the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program was set at NT$510 billion after the Legislative Yuan approved a funds ceiling, which was bolstered by NT$90 billion left over from the first phase.
Separately, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is allocating more than NT$13 billion (US$439.4 million) to bail out tourism companies that continue to struggle.
The same ministry has earmarked more than NT$4.2 billion to develop smart transportation systems in Taiwan and one of the crucial items in the four-year project is to support field trials for autonomous and connected vehicle technologies using 5G.
I assume that is to help improve the birthrate, not needing to drive means more time for procreation.
The Executive Yuan has also approved a project aimed at increasing the annual production value of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to NT$5 trillion by 2030.
Taiwan’s semiconductor industry had production value of NT$2.7 trillion in 2019, taking the second spot globally with a market share of 20 percent.
However, there is one area where the government is saving money: on pensions.
President Tsai’s politically contentious pension reforms appear to be working.
The data show that the reforms have lived up to the promise to balance pension funds.
The general government budget this year was also originally planned to be the first to be balanced since the Lee Tung-hui administration, but emergency pandemic spending has removed any hope of that for this year.
Next year’s economy predicted to be good
A Moody’s Investor Survey said that while the pandemic is likely to force Taiwan’s economic growth down to 0.2 percent for 2020, it is likely to rebound sharply to 3.7 percent in 2021.
The main factors behind the optimism are the expected continued “reshoring” or returning of Taiwanese corporations from overseas to invest at home, and a renewed appetite on the part of global consumers for the country’s electronics exports.
In more recent economic news, the downturn in Taiwan’s manufacturing industry eased last month.
The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) came in at 47.2 last month, up 2.4 points from 44.8 one month earlier, indicating a milder contraction.
It is still below 50, however, indicating contraction.
However, the non-manufacturing index sent an encouraging signal at 54.4, rising from 45.2 and ending four months of declines.
ARC holders again treated differently
Foreign residents of Taiwan are lodging complaints with the government over a policy that requires Alien Resident Certificate holders to provide proof of a negative test result for the coronavirus if they return from abroad.
Local citizens are simply quarantined.
This is a major problem for some ARC holders, as they are in countries with restricted access to testing, and may not be able to get one.
Strangely, foreign students, migrant workers, and Chinese spouses are exempt from the testing requirement and need only undergo the 14-day home quarantine.
The explanation provided by MOFA and the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in their press releases is that because the entry of foreign diplomats, migrant workers, and foreign students is being supervised by MOFA, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Education, the “risk levels for these groups are manageable.”
Apparently they are suggesting that other taxpaying ARC holders, who usually also have National Health Insurance, are “unmanageable”.
Military guns ablazing
A large-scale anti-landing drill simulating Taiwan’s response to a Chinese invasion was staged in central Taiwan in Taichung City on Thursday, in a live-fire rehearsal ahead of the annual Han Kuang military exercises.
That follows a fleet of F-16 fighter jets, carrying live MK-84 general purpose bombs, departed from Hualien Jiashan Air Base on Wednesday in a live-fire drill that simulated bombing enemy ships.
Live torpedo drills are also planned.
In many cases, these are the first live fire tests in years.
China has been upping their military encroachments and bullying tactics recently.
In related news, recently an official video from the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group has offered a rare look at Green Berets training on the island of Taiwan.
It is interesting that they released the footage, usually they are very low key about joint training with Taiwan–presumably to avoid hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.
Finally, in other military news, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced measures to make Taiwan’s military reserve force a more reliable backup for the regular forces in protecting the country amid increased military movements around Taiwan.
President Tsai said one measure involves building a reserve force that has similar combat capabilities to the regular Armed Forces by having them carry the same weapons and gear as full-time military members.
Other measures involve synchronizing the mobilization of manpower and strategic resources and establishing closer collaboration between the reserve force and different government departments and agencies.
These measures are expected to help the country effectively respond to natural disasters during peacetime and improve the ability of different agencies and units to operate cohesively during wartime.
This is excellent news.
Military experts I’ve talked to consistently point to this as one of Taiwan’s key defence weaknesses.
Some other issues they also mention are poor mandatory military service training, morale in the military and poor recruitment.
Taiwan finds a friend with even less friends in the world
Taiwan and Somaliland, a self-declared state in East Africa, have signed an agreement to set up representative offices in each other’s territory.
Somaliland has even less friends internationally than Taiwan, as it is not recognized as a state by the international community and has no official diplomatic ties with any country.
When asked why Taiwan was not directly establishing diplomatic relations with Somaliland, Joseph Wu said the two sides concluded that setting up representative offices was the most beneficial course of action.
Wu was also asked whether Taiwan was now recognizing Somaliland as an independent country, which no other nation has officially done.
Wu initially side-stepped the question, saying Taiwan was setting up a representative office in Somaliland like many other countries had done.
When pressed on the issue by another reporter who pointed out that Wu described Somaliland as an “independent country” in a tweet earlier that day, Wu said that Somaliland “became independent in 1991.”
However, not everyone was happy, the Kuomintang (KMT) questioned why President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration failed to include the words “Republic of China” in the name for the new office.
The official name is Taiwan Representative Office.
Bolton speaks on whether a Biden win would be good for Taiwan
Here in Taiwan there has been considerable speculation on what a potential Joe Biden win in the US presidential race could mean for Taiwan.
Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton had some interesting things to say in an interview with Taiwan’s CNA.
He said he believes there is “a rethinking going on across the board” now with regard to U.S. policy toward China, as the long-held assumption that a wealthier China would become more democratic and responsible internationally has turned out to be wrong.
“So it’s possible that the Democratic Party will actually be tougher on China,” Bolton said.
“I think that’s important for Taiwan. Hard to say what Trump is going to do once he doesn’t have to be re-elected anymore.”
“From the Taiwanese perspective, I think what that means is, you have to continue the long-standing strategy of working with members of Congress in both the Democratic and Republican parties, where support for Taiwan remains very, very strong,” he said.
In his recent book, Bolton wrote that after President Trump abandoned the Kurds, he was worried that Taiwan was next.
Most analysts I’ve spoken to, and myself, think Trump personally doesn’t care about Taiwan, but he has a track record of hiring key figures who are strong Taiwan supporters, like Bolton.
There are concerns that if Biden wins, he’ll bring back much of President Obama’s foreign policy team, which was considerably less pro-Taiwan than the current administration.
Image courtesy of the 中華民國海軍 Facebook page