Summary: President Tsai urges constitutional reforms and warns on power going to the party’s head. The DPP is set to ram through judicial reforms against the united opposition of the KMT, the NPP and the TPP. A bill is to be introduced in the US Congress authorizing US military intervention if China attacks.
Taiwan’s legislature is set to vote this week on motions to change the name of national air carrier China Airlines and the cover of the Republic of China passports.
In the contentious Kaohsiung City Council race for speaker, Taiwan People’s Party mayoral candidate and city council member Wu Yi-cheng (吳益政) has stated he will not vote for a DPP candidate.
KMT chair Johnny Chiang has said he will step down if the KMT doesn’t secure the position.
A survey by Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控) on how people planned to use their Triple Stimulus Vouchers found that 42 percent would buy daily groceries, the company said yesterday.
Other top uses included department store spending (24.2 percent) and travel (14.6 percent), while 6.3 percent of respondents would use them for dining and drinks, and less than 1 percent plan to use them for arts and culture activities
The total number of 5G subscribers in Taiwan is expected to reach 700,000-900,000 by the end of 2020, accounting for a penetration rate of 3-4%, according to estimates by local channel operators.
Wistron Corp (緯創) on Friday said that its board of directors had agreed to sell two of the firm’s wholly-owned subsidiaries to China’s Luxshare Group (立訊集團) as part of its plans to better integrate group resources and improve its smartphone assembly profitability.
The subsidiaries assemble Apple iPhones among other things.
This allows Wistron to reduce dependence on China and to raise money, but it puts some important know-how in the hands of a Chinese company.
Taiwan’s export orders in June rose more than 6 percent from a year earlier, marking the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year increase, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Monday.
The value of orders received by Taiwan-based companies in June totalled US$41 billion, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier after a year-on-year increase of 0.4 percent in May, data compiled by the MOEA showed.
In terms of Taiwan’s biggest export markets, in June the United States placed the largest orders to Taiwanese exporters at US$13.3 billion, followed by China/Hong Kong (US$10.56 billion, up 13 percent from a year earlier) and Europe (US$7.47 billion, up 10.8 percent).
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan approved by the government in the first half of the year grew 9.27 percent year-on-year to US$3.84 billion, the Investment Commission said yesterday.
That was in contrast to a fall in global FDI, which the commission estimated fell by up to 40 percent this year, citing the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s World Investment Report.
The commission approved US$49.55 million in Chinese investment, a 4.38 percent increase from a year earlier.
The commission approved US$4.91 billion in outbound investment excluding to China, a 37.5 percent increase compared with the same period last year, while investments to China increased 52.49 percent to US$3.17 billion.
Outbound investment to New Southbound Policy countries fell 2.79 percent year-on-year to US$1.41 billion.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) said Monday that it has no plans to build chip foundries in Japan, as reported, but it will not rule out such a possibility.
“TSMC gives top priority to its clients’ demands,” the company said, when asked by CNA about a report in a Japanese newspaper, which said Sunday that Japan intends to invite TSMC and other global chipmakers to build an advanced chip foundry there, in partnership with domestic companies.
Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan formally launched a USA Caucus on Monday to promote friendship and exchanges between Taiwanese legislators and their counterparts in the United States.
Seventy-one legislators from different political parties joined the USA Caucus.
President Tsai urges constitutional reforms
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in her role as party chair, gave a speech at the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) national congress in Taipei.
She said constitutional reform is one of the most important advancements for Taiwan, adding that items that should be prioritized include lowering the voting age from 20 to 18, and abolishing the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan, as the issues have cross-party consensus.
This means that removing the two branches of government is formally backed by the DPP.
Interestingly, the KMT will not finalize its stance on the fate of the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan until after it holds intraparty discussions, according to a KMT spokeswoman, in spite of many calls from within the KMT to do so.
The TPP and the New Power Party (NPP) have already said they would support the move.
All of the parties agree on lowering the voting age.
The president also made some comments that jumped out at me:
“In society, some people have been saying that, with an absolute governing majority, in the future the DPP will inevitably become corrupt.
In response, we should continually remind ourselves to prevent this prediction from happening.
The DPP members of this generation must have a focused mission based on two core values.
First, we must “maintain honesty, implement hardworking policy and express love for the land,” and more importantly, we must serve as the “leader of values,” leading the Taiwanese people towards what the DPP envisions for Taiwan in the next 20 years.”
According to the KMT, the Tsai administration does nothing but “exercise crushing tyranny of the majority.”
It’s good she’s paying attention to this, for two reasons.
First, when a party is in power for two terms, it’s not unusual–in any democratic country–for the arrogance and sleeze to come out in the second term.
While she can’t control what every member of her team does, this does suggest she is concerned about this happening.
Second, a functioning democracy needs a function opposition, and right now her party doesn’t have one.
While Johnny Chiang on the KMT side is working to reform the party, he’s got a serious uphill battle to pull it off.
If he fails to get his reforms through the KMT party congress in September, the party will be in deep trouble.
Even if he does, convincing the public that the party really is pro-Taiwan will be tough because so many in his party so obviously aren’t.
Former chair Wu Den-yih’s choice of party list legislators almost ensures that the pro-China image will remain.
They’re going to keep saying and doing things that will undermine Chiang’s efforts.
The Taiwan People’s Party is pulling in some experienced people, and has been working on becoming a viable national force.
But with their one year anniversary coming up in August, it is still fair to say they are a half-baked party at best.
It appears they are settling for being a more pro-Taiwan version of the more moderate end of the KMT.
But it’s still unclear what they really stand for.
The New Power Party has a clear ideological stance, basically more pro-Taiwan than the DPP and further to the left.
Their insistence on ideological purity, however, means their growth is slow as they need to find viable candidates, and then train them.
They’re short on experience, and unlike the TPP seem averse to poaching experienced people from other parties.
So, for the time being, we all need to hope the DPP doesn’t become arrogant and corrupt–which is a big temptation considering their near-total power and weak opposition.
Tsai’s guidance to keep them a party responsive to the public and clean is critical for the country until a viable opposition exists.
It’s good she’s aware of it.
DPP set to ram through judicial reforms
Speaking of having near-absolute power, the DPP is set to ram their version of judicial reforms through the legislature.
They are going through the motions of consulting the opposition parties, but they’ve pretty much made it clear they’re going to do what they want in the end.
On the KMT side they’re talking about using “scorched earth” tactics to try and block it.
The TPP and NPP are also both vehemently against the administration plans–leaving the DPP the only party in favour.
They have a majority, though, and don’t seem to care.
That the judiciary needs to be reformed pretty much everyone agrees on.
The public has a high degree of distrust for it, apparently disapproval is as high as 80%.
Taiwan currently uses a system where panels of judges oversee trial proceedings and deliver verdicts.
The problem with this is, as someone put it in the Taipei Times: “The current unrefined trial system has resulted in three judicial maladies: judges prone to receiving bribes, judges inclined to becoming political pawns, and judges who we have dubbed “dinosaurs,” handing out rulings that are out of touch with society.”
The DPP’s proposed lay judge system would comprise three professional judges and six citizen judges, and operate on a “joint deliberation and joint ruling” model.
However, this model would only be a six-year trial to see if it works–and will be highly limited.
Of the over 200,000 criminal cases tried every year, the draft would only allow citizen participation in just 200 to 500 of them.
In other words, for the next six years not much would change.
Opponents are calling for a full jury system, like those used in English common law countries.
The DPP defends their plan as “stable” and calls juries too expensive.
Proponents of the jury system note it has been used for a thousand years in the UK and is in 52 countries, suggesting it is a tried-and-true reliable system, with the jurors answerable to no one and difficult to bribe.
Plus, it is more representative of the people.
I’m not a legal expert, so I’m not the best person to discuss this, but it is clear that the DPP’s limited trial is unlikely to satisfy people’s dissatisfaction with the judiciary.
Bill to be introduced authorizing US military intervention
Republican House Representative Ted Yoho said over the weekend that he plans to put forth a bill that would authorize the president of the United States to respond with military force if China decides to attack Taiwan.
Yoho said on Fox Business, “We are introducing a bill next week that’s going to be called the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act.”
“This [Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act] is something that’s going to lay very clear what our intent is,” said Yoho, a vocal supporter of Taiwan. “In fact, it will go to the point where it authorizes an AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) if China invades Taiwan, and it’ll be a sunset for five years, that AUMF, that would authorize the president to use force.”
He noted that under the U.S.’ current Taiwan Relations Act that took effect in 1979, the U.S. is committed to sell Taiwan enough weapons to defend itself.
“But when Xi Jinping has announced that he’s ready to draw blood over Taiwan and reunify them, they forgot to ask Taiwan,” Yoho said.
“Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, and nor do they want to.”
Weird that he said “reunify” and then pointed out why using that word is wrong in the very next sentence.
It’s good to see the congressman taking a clear moral stance on Taiwan.
The question is, will the US State Department, the White House or congressional Democrats try to weaken or kill the bill.
It is unlikely the Democrats would try to kill it all together as they are generally pro-Taiwan, but there have been examples recently of the party intervening to soften to the wording of bills.
The State Department or the White House is a bigger worry, in past they have worked hard to kill bills like this.
Partly that was because they don’t like Congress telling them what to do, and partly to appease China.
The current administration doesn’t appear to be much in an appeasement mood, however, so that’s probably not a worry.
If this bill passes, it would clearly be the most direct and powerful message of support from the US Congress for Taiwan specifically.
If I recall, there was a similar bill in the 1950s, but that was for the Republic of China.
It will be very interesting to see if it passes.
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Image by Jiang – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27484748