Love from Europe & KMT whip–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Summary: KMT to change their party whip, which is a very interesting move. More polling confirms the DPP is in the mainstream of Taiwan politics. More shows of support for Taiwan from Europe.


According to data released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) Taiwan’s exports were US$31.99 billion in November, which is a decline of 0.8 percent from the previous month but 12 percent higher than the same month last year.
It is also the second-highest single-month amount ever.

The central bank has tightened the rules governing mortgages extended by banks to rein in speculation in the local property market.
The property market has been booming, raising already high prices and pricing even more people out of the market.

KMT lawmaker Chen Chao-ming, who is currently out on bail awaiting trial on the SOGO bribery scandal, said that being a legislator was “useless” and is considering making a run for Miaoli County Commissioner.
Miaoli is famously corrupt, so who knows, maybe he has a shot at it.

DPP lawmaker Kao Chia-yu, on a CTiTV News talk show, questioned the neutrality of the National Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC refused to renew the pro-China news station’s license, which expires on the 11th.
She drew criticism from her own party.

Prosecutors in Yilan have filed human trafficking charges against a Taiwanese labour broker and two others for allegedly contracting migrant fishermen using fake employment applications, and then profiting off their placement in jobs where they worked long hours for little pay–even after one worker lost a finger in a workplace accident.
These kinds of charges are rarely filed, so this is at least a positive step in the right direction.
Taiwan has a terrible reputation for the treatment of migrant fishermen, with human rights abuses widely reported.

Taiwan has been named as the only country in Asia with an open civic space, according to the “People Power Under Attack 2020” annual report South Africa-based non-governmental organization Civicus.
Taiwan was one of 42 countries worldwide, and the only one in Asia, to be ranked in the open category.

President Tsai has appeared on yet another international list, ranking number 37 in the Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2020 list.
Her title was listed as President, Taiwan.

The United States government has approved the sale to Taiwan of a Field Information Communications System (FICS) and related equipment at an estimated cost of US$280 million.

The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA) has released a new logo in recognition of the humanitarian assistance Taiwan provided after the March 11, 2011 earthquake, which totalled US$239.58 million in disaster aid, donated supplies and dispatched rescue teams.
In the new logo, the lowercase English letters “j” and “t”–representing Japan and Taiwan–lean together to form the character for people (人), representing the countries’ friendly ties and commitment to mutual support.
It will be formally launched on Jan. 23, 2021, exactly six months before the launch of the Tokyo Olympics.

KMT to change party whip, which is an interesting move

Lin Wei-jo (林為洲) will step down as KMT party convener–aka party whip–and will be replaced by Fai Hrong-tai (費鴻泰) in the next legislative session.
Lin, among other things, had called for the KMT to drop the “Chinese” from the Chinese Nationalist Party, and was once a DPP member, joined a small third party and has been an independent.
Lin is considered part of the youth faction and a reformist, and is close to party chair Johnny Chiang.
Fai Hrong-tai is older, and was in the New Party from 1990s through to 2005, and is currently associated with the powerful, conservative, and deep, deep blue veteran’s grouping the Huang Fuhsing.
That he remained in the New Party until 2005 is significant, from the late 1990s on the party became deeply pro-unification.
After consultations, Lin said he wouldn’t seek re-election to the post.
So what is going on here?
Why would Chiang move his supporter out of a key role?
Some theories are being bandied about.
A likely one is to make the party more unified and cohesive: Fai is an experienced old hand.
That, in turn, would make it easier for Chiang to try and get party member votes from Fai’s wing of the party when trying to re-election to party chair next year.
Another possibility is, however, he succumbed to pressure, or there is some kind of behind-the-scenes horse-trading going on, though what he might have gotten in return isn’t immediately obvious, if that is indeed the case.
Yet another possibility is some combination of all or some of the above.
What is certain, however, is that Chiang’s efforts to get the party to drop the 1992 consensus at the party congress in September failed in the face of opposition from older, more conservative party members.
Regular listeners to the show may be asking the question, “why focus on the KMT and third parties so much, and why so little on the DPP?”
The reason is simple, the DPP is firmly in the control of President and party chair Tsai, who has firmly planted the party’s flag in the centre of Taiwan’s politics on sovereignty and identity, and has done an excellent job of nurturing young political talent.
Without much infighting and tension in the DPP, there isn’t much to talk about.
The KMT by contrast, has become marginalized by their ideology regarding China, making them very hard for the broad public to swallow in national elections–though they may do well in local elections.
They’ve also done a terrible job preparing a new generation of political talent, with the exception of Wayne Chiang Wan-an–but he’s the great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek.
To be a truly viable and thriving party again, they desperately need reform, but in spite of his best efforts, Johnny Chiang has only made limited headway.
He’s up against party heavyweights, a voting party membership that is out of the mainstream, an inflexible and hidebound political culture and the perception he is simply a temporary interim chair.
So who wins these internal battles is key to how and in what direction the party moves, and by extension Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty.
As for the third parties, they have had a golden opportunity to fill the vacuum left by having a viable opposition to the DPP in the centre–but have largely been undone by their own incompetence, inexperience and internal strife.
At some point the DPP will start to come unglued.
Eventually internal tensions, inertia and overconfidence will catch up with them.
For how many terms can one party rule?
That process could begin as soon as 2022 or 2023 when the various factions and personalities in the party start to jockey for the mantle of power post-Tsai–earlier if the party does poorly in the 2022 local elections.
It’s also possible pax Tsaiannica will last into the post-Tsai era for awhile, but it can’t last forever.
Who will be the opposition to the DPP when that happens?
Will it be the KMT?
A finally competent third party?
Or will the DPP itself split, spawning its own competition–possibly in partnership with non-DPP politicians?
It’s a fascinating question, and the story unfolding is dramatic, and with huge stakes on the line for Taiwan’s future.

More polling confirms the DPP is in the mainstream of Taiwan politics

Speaking of the DPP currently owning the mainstream of Taiwan politics on identity and sovereignty, recent polling continues to firmly underline this point.
Recently, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “Taiwan has never been a part of China”, Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation polling showed 70 percent agreed with the statement, with only 22.5 percent disagreeing.
That’s remarkable considering decades of KMT-imposed education emphasizing Taiwan’s Chinese identity and as a province of China.
Even KMT supporters were split, with 45 percent agreeing and 46 percent disagreeing.
Among Taiwanese descended from Chinese who came to Taiwan after 1945, or Waishengren (外省人), 46 percent agreed and 32 percent disagreed.
Meanwhile the KMT continues to espouse a “one China” ideology.
The younger the person polled, the more likely they were to agree with the statement, suggesting that the current trend is that this will only continue to increase unless something big changes.
That’s not all, according to a Taiwan National Security Survey (TNSS) poll–which is sponsored by Duke University and conducted by National Chengchi University–when asked whether Taiwan was already an independent country called the “Republic of China,” nearly 75 percent agreed.
That has been President Tsai’s line, though she usually phrases it Republic of China, Taiwan.
All polls in the last year have shown strong movement towards increased self-identification as Taiwan, increased opposition to, and sense of threat from, China and an increased willingness to declare so-called independence, which in practice is name rectification to Taiwan and dropping the ROC.
Maintaining the status quo, however, as an independent ROC, Taiwan is still the most popular option, as most people still don’t want a war over a name.
Support for unification has remained roughly steady in the low single digits.

More shows of support for Taiwan from Europe

Though trailing the US, there have been clear signs of support from the European Union.
In a video conference with Taiwan’s representative to the European Union (EU) and Belgium, European Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer has expressed an interest in visiting Taiwan as soon as travel conditions permit to show support for Taiwan.
CNA quoted her comments this way:
“During the virtual meeting, Beer argued that Europe needed to support Taiwan’s democracy, and that the events in Hong Kong showed that Europe must not wait to take action.
Now is the time for the EU to adjust its relations with Taiwan, she said, especially as calls for the EU to review its China policy are growing and China’s threat against Taiwan is mounting and putting the status-quo across the Taiwan Strait in danger.
Increasing dialogue with Taiwan is part of the EU’s efforts to help maintain peace across the strait, so stepping up EU-Taiwan ties is in line with the European Parliament’s duties, she said.”
The article continued with this:
“On efforts to deepen two-way relations and cooperation with Taiwan, Beer was cited as saying that concrete actions should be taken to initiate negotiations on an EU-Taiwan free trade agreement and support Taiwan’s bid to gain observer status in the World Health Organization.”
In an email response to CNA, Beer’s office confirmed she would visit Taiwan “as soon as the COVID-19 context allows this.”
This follows closely on the European Parliament (EP) recently passing two resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with the European Union (EU).
Even more boldly, though with less immediate impact, the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), approved the motion “Let Taiwan be Taiwan; Recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign state,” paving the way for its parent institution, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) to raise the motion in the European Parliament.
The proposition, which was submitted by Danish youth party Radikal Ungdom, passed with 91 percent of the vote, 172 to eight, with nine abstentions.
The text of the motion calls for the EU to “end its ‘One-China-Policy’” and to “recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state, independent from the PRC.
It also ended with a summary reason for the motion, which reads “Taiwan has its own military, economy, culture, and its democracy.
By every definition, Taiwan is a sovereign state, yet few state regonized it to be so. Lets change that.”
That’s excellent, misspellings and wonky grammar aside.
Whether it actually makes it to the European Parliament remains to be seen, never mind seeing it passed–but it is still a strong show of support that would have been unthinkable a year ago.
Especially since EU foreign ministers stood together against and lambasted the Chinese foreign minister during his European trip earlier this year after he attacked the Czech senate president for visiting Taiwan, there seems to be a growing sense that not only should China be resisted on the issue of Taiwan, there really isn’t a whole lot China can do about it.
At least to a point.
Let’s hope this continues to gain steam.

Image courtesy of Nicola Beer’s Facebook page

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