KMT backs Jane Lee, not that they have a choice–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

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Summary: White terror files have come to light, but crucial files are “contaminated.” A holdout stalls railway plans in Tainan.  KMT stands by Jane Lee, not that they have much choice.  Taiwan responds in kind to HK visa denials.  And today we have plenty of headlines. 

Headlines

  • Temperatures in Taipei reached their highest level in recorded history in the city when the mercury hit 39.7 degrees Celsius on Friday afternoon, according to Central Weather Bureau (CWB) data.
  • The Taiwan Blood Services Foundation (TBSF) and Facebook on Friday co-launched the Blood Donations feature in Taiwan, a first in East Asia, which will alert donors to donate blood in times of need.
  • Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) will establish an online platform offering video programming in English next year with an eye to introducing Taiwan to the world, according to the culture minister.
  • The planned “International Video Platform” will provide original videos and programs in English produced by PTS on themes related to Taiwan and post them on the online platform.
  • New housing prices in the Greater Taipei area and Taoyuan last quarter rose to their highest level in three years, on the back of investment and asset allocation needs.
  • Interest rate cuts and sufficient liquidity helped neutralize headwinds caused by the pandemic.
  • Confidence in the domestic economic outlook weakened in July, as COVID-19 cases continued to rise worldwide, although Taiwan has been doing well to fight the virus, according to Cathay Financial Holding Co.
  • Citing a survey conducted July 1-7, Cathay Financial said earlier this week that 44.2 percent of its clients think the fundamentals of the domestic economy would improve over the next six months, while 31.1 percent said it would get worse.
  • That translated into an optimism index of 13.1 for the next six months, down from 19.3 in a similar poll in May, the company said.
  • However, the optimism index for the current economic conditions rose in July to minus 18.2 from minus 42.5 in June, marking the third consecutive month of improvement
  • Credit card spending on food delivery services rose to about NT$1.2 billion (US$40.6 million) in April, the highest ever in a single month, as more consumers turned to delivery services amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) statistics showed.
  • It marked a growth of 140 percent from about NT$500 million in September last year.
  • The number of transactions through food delivery service apps jumped to 6.1 million in April, about three times higher than in September last year.
  • Local food and beverage vendors are feeling an easing of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the year-on-year decline in sales for June narrowed, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
  • The local food and beverage industry posted NT$63.8 billion (US$2.03 billion) in sales in June, down 7 percent from a year earlier, but the decline continued to be narrowed as more and more consumers appeared willing to spend due to Taiwan’s successful efforts in containing the virus spread.
  • Chinese e-commerce website Taobao (淘寶) hit another setback in Taiwan after the Investment Commission rejected Taobao International Exhibition Industry Alliance Ltd’s (淘寶國際) NT$30 million investment plan, saying that it breached laws restricting Chinese companies from operating advertising businesses. 
  • Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced on Thursday that the visa-free privilege extended to tourists from Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Russia will be extended for one year, effective from Aug. 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021.
  • MOFA clarified that the policy does not constitute a relaxation of Taiwan’s current ban on the entry of foreign tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • However, all passengers arriving from the Philippines will have to undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 starting Sunday because of the rising number of imported cases from the country, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Friday.
  • The new regulation will apply to both Taiwanese citizens and resident permit holders
  • The Taiwan Tourism Bureau announced Friday the ban on inbound and outbound tour groups would be extended for another month, until Aug. 31.
  • The United States Senate on Thursday passed its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including provisions that support the strengthening of Taiwan’s military and further cooperation on efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The bill cleared the Senate floor with a 86-14 vote.
  • It is unlikely that the 14 votes against are related to the relatively minor Taiwan provisions tucked into this huge defence bill.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives on July 21 passed its own version of the national defence act.
  • The two houses will soon begin negotiations to hammer out the differences in their competing bills before a finalized version can be signed into law by the U.S. President.
  • Indian outlet Inventiva ran an article about China’s Tianwen Mars mission, but in the headline and through the entire article called it Taiwan-1. 
  • Thanks for promoting Taiwan #1 Inventiva!

White terror files come to light, but crucial files “contaminated”

  • A year after the promulgation of the Political Archives Act (政治檔案法), a vast number of files dating back to the White Terror era remain classified, the Transitional Justice Commission said yesterday, adding that it is working with the National Archives Administration (NAA) to supervise efforts by government agencies to search their archives for any documents that still have not been transferred. 
  • Thanks to the act, the commission was able to shed more light on the death of Carnegie Mellon University associate processor Chen Wen-cheng (陳文成) and the killing of three of democracy activist and future DPP chair Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) family members, the commission said.
  • Through the new findings, the commission was able to better understand the roles of intelligence organs under the authoritarian state and how deeply they were involved in the cases, it said.
  • However, the commission has found that crucial files on the two unsolved cases have been contaminated and that further searches of the missing pieces are desperately needed, it said.
  • New findings surfaced every time the commission ordered an agency to step up efforts to search its archives for political files, indicating that the amount of files that have not been discovered is “incalculable,” the commission said.
  • “Contaminated” doesn’t sound good at all. 
  • The files they’re looking for almost certainly exist…or existed at one time. 
  • If there is one thing authoritarian states under martial law are good at, it’s bureaucracy. 
  • Lin I-hsiung is now very old, it would be good to finally give him closure. 

Holdout stalls railway plans in Tainan

  • The Railway Bureau decided to delay the demolition of a property as part of the Tainan City Government’s railway relocation project after the owner locked himself inside.
  • The decision was made after protesters and the homeowner locked themselves into the property, which was scheduled to be demolished as part of the project to move the city’s railway lines underground, the bureau’s central office said.
  • The bureau said that it wanted to avoid a heated conflict that could result in injuries.
  • Despite arranging for 400 police to be stationed at the site from 6 am and moving machinery to Tainan’s East District (東區), the office said the protesters had still managed to enter the property and lock themselves inside.
  • Among the 340 properties in the area designated for demolition, 121 of the owners refused to move in May last year, but after negotiations and the first wave of forced demolitions, this property is the only one that remains.
  • Protestors say that the amount of land expropriated for the project is disproportionate to its needs and that the government intends to use part of the land for other developments.
  • The project to move existing railway lines underground was due to be completed in June 2024, but because of delays, the projected completion date has been moved to 2026.

KMT stands by Jane Lee, not that they have much choice

  • The KMT on Saturday reiterated that it will continue to throw its full weight behind Jane Lee (李眉蓁), its candidate in the upcoming Kaohsiung mayoral by-election, two days after she said she was “renouncing” her graduate degree amid accusations that she had plagiarized her thesis.
  • At a press conference Saturday, Wang Yu-min (王育敏), head of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee, denied reports that KMT members with backgrounds in academia and others had been calling on the party’s leaders to cut ties with Lee.
  • “The KMT leadership continues to support Lee’s candidacy, and the party is united in its efforts to get her elected and consolidate the support of KMT voters,” Wang said.
  • For instance, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) will attend Lee’s campaign rally on Saturday, as scheduled, and none of her other campaign activities with elected KMT officials in Kaohsiung have been cancelled, Wang said.
  • Well, that’s not entirely true, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih pulled out of an event citing his own duties in his city.
  • Smells like Hou knows a waste of time when he sees it.
  • Addressing reports that former KMT Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), whose recall on June 6 led to the by-election, would endorse Lee at a rally on the eve of the Aug. 15 poll, Wang said that decision was entirely up to Han.
  • “The party will respect Han’s decision on the matter, either way,” Wang said.
  • A report in local media today suggested that KMT chair Johnny Chiang is against him joining the event, though I can’t confirm that. 
  • Party heavyweight Eric Chu will be campaigning with Lee, as will Johnny Chiang. 
  • As an aside, Eric Chu released his platform on constitutional reform today, further suggesting he’s not only not going anywhere–he fully intends to stay relevant. 
  • In short, this further suggests he’s going to run for KMT party chair next May. 
  • Regarding Lee’s candidacy, however, KMT Deputy Secretary-General Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said there was “no question” that she would remain in the race. “Not only Lee, but the entire KMT in Kaohsiung has no room for retreat,” Lee said.
  • That’s far more honest. 
  • It’s far too late in the campaign for the KMT to find a new candidate, get that person ready, change all their campaign materials, register the candidate with the government and get the person known.
  • They’re stuck with Jane Lee whether they like it or not. 
  • I guess it’s just as well that Lee picked “Keep Going” as her campaign slogan. 

Taiwan responds in kind to HK visa denials

  • The Taiwan government said that it will deal with the issue of work permits for Hong Kong officials based on the principles of parity and reciprocity, after several Taiwanese officials in Hong Kong were denied work visa extensions and had to return home after refusing to sign “one China” pledges. 
  • The Taiwan government will respond if Hong Kong continues to impose unnecessary restrictions that bypass the agreement signed by the two sides in 2011 to establish the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei.
  • According to a Hong Kong news report on Tuesday, two staff members at the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei have returned home, as their residence permits were rejected by the Taiwan government.
  • There has been no formal statement that that incident is related, but it sure looks like it. 

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Image courtesy of 李眉蓁 Facebook page

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