Business updates

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan approved by the government in the first five months of this year totaled US$3.42 billion, an 11.95 percent increase from the same period last year.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a statement: “This shows that despite the effects of trade tensions and technology disputes between the US and China, as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign investors remain optimistic about Taiwan as a safe and trustworthy investment environment.”

Food and beverage vendors saw their sales rise by 29 percent to NT$61.9 billion (US$2.1 billion) in May, although the figure was 8.7 percent lower than the same month last year.

The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan has hit a record high of 30,000, with the manufacturing sector accounting for more than 50 percent of those taking unpaid leave.

Taiwanese fishing fleet again under pressure over abuse

The UK-based non-profit Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) said in a report released Wednesday that there is a prevalence of human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on 62 fishing vessels linked to Taiwan.
Illegal shark finning was reported on half of the 62 vessels, which were either owned by Taiwanese or registered in Taiwan.
On 14 of the boats, the crews reported intentional killing or illegal capture of protected marine mammals, including false killer whales and dolphins.
On human rights issues, withholding of wages was reported on 92 percent of the boats, while other issues included excessive overtime, and physical and verbal abuse.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Agency said prosecutors are looking into the case of an Indonesian fisherman who said he was locked in a freezer by his boat captain and subjected to electric shocks in punishment for minor mistakes.
A couple of years ago I was involved in doing research for an article by Nick Aspinwall, who has done some excellent work on this issue.
I interviewed an Indonesian man who had been aboard a ship that had two deaths.
One person had been swept overboard.
Another had been beaten severely, and wasn’t given any medical treatment, and later died of his wounds.
The interview was filled with shocking descriptions of horrifying abuse, extreme overwork, lack of even the most basic of human care and withheld pay.
I can’t even begin to describe how horrifying this interview was.
Unfortunately, these cases come up again, and again, and again.
This is not something that Taiwan should be a world leader in, but it is.
It is true that it is hard to police, and often the fishing crew will be picked up in another country, and dropped off back there.
But other nations do manage to manage their fishing fleets without these things happening, or happening far less than on Taiwanese boats.
So it is possible.
I love Taiwan, but if I were asked to pick the absolute worst thing about Taiwan, this would be it.

The “King of Hualien” gets more jail sentences

The Taiwan High Court on Wednesday ruled on three separate cases against independent Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁), handing out a combined sentence of three years and 10 months.
Fu last month reported to Hualien Prison to start serving a two-year-and-10-month sentence for insider trading and stock manipulation.
Two of the new cases were also stock manipulation.
The third was related to political manipulation.
Fu was elected Hualien County commissioner in 2009, when the court was about to rule on one of his stock manipulation cases.
So he filed for divorce from his wife, Hsu Chen-wei (徐榛蔚).
Fu was able to name his wife as deputy commissioner to continue to head the county government on his behalf.
Fu was found guilty of breaching the provisions of the “Act on Recusal of Public Servants Due to Conflicts of Interest (公職人員利益衝突迴避法), which prohibits granting a spouse or a direct family member a job or contract.
The court found the divorce fraudulent.
Guess who is the current Hualien County Commissioner!
His wife, Hsu Chen-wei.
Characters like these two used to be very common in Taiwan.
Thankfully, voters in most of the country have grown sick of it.
But pockets of old school politics still survive.

Taichung’s battle with Taipower takes another nasty turn

The long-running struggle between state-owned power company Taipower and the Taichung City Government is back on.
Taipower has gone ahead and restarted its No. 2 coal-fired unit at the Taichung Power Plant.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) then fired back with an NT$2 million fine.
The city government said that the state-run utility’s action contravened the Air Pollution Control Act and ordered it to shut the unit down.
The company said it would consider contesting the fine.
Taipower said the No. 2 unit is operating within the law, citing the national Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) overturning of sanctions imposed by the Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau, which revoked the operating licenses for its generators.
Mayor Lu and the KMT accuse Taipower and the DPP of using Taichung’s residents’ lungs as air pollution filters.
Taipower says it needs the extra power in the summer when demand is high.

KMT joins call to abolish two branches of government

The KMT has joined the call to abolish two branches of government.
Like the New Power Party, they are calling for the Examination and Control Yuans to be constitutionally removed.
Interestingly, it used to be the DPP that was more for the idea, and the KMT against it.
It is unclear right now which way the DPP will jump on this, but apparently legislative speaker Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) has stated on Facebook he is in support of the move.
Basically, the Examination Yuan administers civil servants exams and the Control Yuan is supposed to conduct investigations on government misconduct.
Not sure why the Examination Yuan is a full branch of government, but in theory the Control Yuan is a good idea.
In theory.
The problem is that it has almost always been highly partisan.

Johnny Chiang finally gets some love in the KMT on his 92c plan

Johnny Chiang has finally gotten some love in the KMT for his proposal to remove the 1992 consensus from the party’s cross-strait platform.
Several members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Reform Committee’s youth participation task force yesterday voiced their support for recommendations made by the committee’s cross-strait narrative task force and said they were not abandoning the “1992 consensus.”
By “not abandoning” they mean to refer to it as a historical process that was once successful–but to drop it going forward.
Chiang has been getting a lot of attacks on his plan from inside the party.

The Milk Tea Alliance adds a new member

The Milk Tea Alliance has a new member: India.
The original Milk Tea Alliance started when Chinese netizens launched an online war against a popular Thai actor–who is in a show popular in China–”liked” a post that suggested Hong Kong is a country.
Yeah, that’s all he did.
Apparently they still haven’t forgiven him in spite of his apologizing the other day.
Chinese Communist mouthpiece Global Times the other day ran an article with the headline: “Chinese netizens refuse to forgive lead actor of Thai drama ‘2gether: The Series’ after he apologizes on social media”
Thai netizens fought back against their Chinese counterparts, and were soon joined by Hong Kong and Taiwanese netizens.
This was named the Milk Tea Alliance, because each country has a popular tea drink with milk added.
In Taiwan that is of course Bubble Milk Tea.
Then, about a week ago Chinese soldiers reportedly attacked–at least according to the Indian side and US intelligence–their Indian counterparts at Galwan in the Himalayas, leaving 20 Indians dead and reportedly 35 Chinese dead.
This caused nationalist outrage in India, and their netizens went to war online with the Chinese.
While glad to see the alliance has grown, it has been a major headache for me.
One of the Facebook groups I founded, Taiwan Daily News in English, started to be swamped with memes from Indians attacking China.
The problem is that the group is for news item posts on Taiwan, and not memes unrelated to Taiwan–though they are welcome in the comments.
But something else interesting has happened, and it started roughly to become very visible even before this incident.
In the past month or two there has been a significant rise in articles and editorials from India in support of Taiwan.
I have linked to many of them on our website Report.tw.
They mostly take three forms.
Some advocate for closer ties with Taiwan, often with a strong emphasis on how Taiwan business strengths and India’s are complementary, and unlike China, isn’t a threat.
Others advocate for India to be more proactive in supporting Taiwan in things like acceptance into the WHO.
Most interesting is the surprising number calling for India to drop their “One China Policy”.
Usually the argument goes, since China doesn’t recognize India’s territorial integrity, why should India respect China’s claims.
Some have even added Tibet and East Turkestan–aka Xinjiang–into the mix.
If India were to make such a move, it would be a bombshell–and it would make other countries ask this basic question: Why are we supporting this “One China” fiction?
As China has been acting increasingly aggressively, and many countries are growing increasingly fed up with appeasing China, this could simply be the first domino to fall.
Not every country would go for it of course, but if a key group of nations did it would make quite a statement to China.

Photo by C Rayban on Unsplash