No to singing the praises of reuniting with the motherland–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Coronavirus updates

One new imported case of the coronavirus disease was reported in Taiwan on Friday, and was quarantined immediately upon return.

Anyone in Taiwan can obtain a self-pay test for the COVID-19 coronavirus, with effect from Friday, as the country now has adequate testing capacity, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.
They’re not cheap, though, the cost ranges from NT$4,000 (US$133) to NT$13,155 per test.

More government largess

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a NT$6.6 billion (US$220 million) incentive plan to assist and reward new graduates entering the job market in Taiwan, which will go into effect in June.
The plan, proposed by the Ministry of Labor, identifies three criteria — employment, skillset training and hiring, the latter targeting employers.
In terms of employment, a cash reward of NT$20,000 will be given to each first-time jobseeker if he or she is able to find a job before the end of the year and hold onto it for at least three months.
Those that are able to keep at it for six months will receive an additional NT$10,000, Shih said, noting that the maximum is NT$30,000 per individual.

Meanwhile, more details on the stimulus coupons are coming out.
Stimulus coupons valued at NT$3,000 (US$99.85) are to be handed out, but would require proof of purchases totaling NT$1,000.
1.2 million disadvantaged families would be eligible to receive the coupons without providing receipts.
It is limited to Republic of China citizens.
Apparently they don’t want foreigners to get out and stimulate the economy.

Government cuts growth forecast

Taiwan’s government on Thursday downgraded its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2020, due to the economic impact of the pandemic, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).
The DGBAS said it expects Taiwan’s GDP to grow 1.67 percent in 2020, a downgrade from its earlier forecast of 2.37 percent made in February, but much higher than the global average of -5.5 percent forecast by IHS Markit.

Taiwan’s R&D third highest in the world

Taiwan’s gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D) is ranked third-highest in the world as it reached 3.36 percent of total gross domestic product.
That surpassed Japan’s 3.26 percent, the US’ 2.83 percent and China’s 2.19 percent.
Taiwan’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D closely followed Israel’s and South Korea’s, which remained the top two spenders on R&D at 4.9 percent and 4.53 percent respectively in 2018.
Corporate spending has become the main driving force behind Taiwan’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D, making up 80.3 percent of total expenditure, on a level with that of South Korea, ministry data showed.
Japan, China and the US posted slightly lower figures at 79.4 percent, 77.4 percent and 72.6 percent respectively.

New airline on the horizon

Investors said Friday they are hoping to raise NT$5 billion (US$166.67 million) to start an airline based in Taiwan-controlled Kinmen County and hope to set it up in October.
Kinmen residents find it inconvenient to fly overseas, having to transfer first in Taipei or another city in Taiwan.
One of the reasons given for wanting to found Kinmen Airlines is interesting: “Given that a large number of families from Kinmen live in Southeast Asian countries, it is critical that Kinmen has its own airline to serve its people through a more comprehensive air travel network.”
This historical tie goes back centuries.
Kinmen has many mansions built over the years with money brought back from Southeast Asia.

National Taiwan Normal University to change anthem

National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) on Thursday said it is amending the lyrics of the school anthem ahead of its centennial celebrations in 2022, adding that any changes would be nonpolitical and a result of a consensus among students, the faculty and alumni.
Among the changes include removing phrases like “to be joyous when reunited with the motherland.”
Symbolically this may be important, but in practice one university alumnus, surnamed Feng (馮), said that they have not even heard, much less sung, the school anthem.

What’s up with the Transitional Justice Commission?

The Legislative Yuan voted along party lines Tuesday to approve the nomination of eight commissioners to the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC), an “independent government agency” charged with investigating Taiwan’s authoritarian past.
The TJC was formed on May 31, 2018 and given two years to draft a report on steps to promote transitional justice in Taiwan before being disbanded.
The government announced in April that it would grant the commission an additional year to complete its work, but was legally required to re-nominate the commission’s leadership.
The acting chair said the commission would use the coming year to pursue financial reparations for the victims of state violence and to expand knowledge of transitional justice within Taiwanese society.
Wait, what!?
That’s it?
Those things are certainly important, to be sure, but they had said they were going to be doing a whole lot more than that.
They’ve long since passed their own deadline to decide what to do with the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.
And what about other symbols of the martial law one-party state era they said they were going to address?
Two possibilities come to mind here.
One is that the DPP, or President Tsai, has simply decided that drawn out political battles over symbols simply isn’t worth expending political capital on, there are bigger battles to fight.
The other is that they’re kicking the can down the road, and will get to these issues nearer the end of the president’s second term, which will be her last.

Taiwan wants more American missiles

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has confirmed media reports that it plans to purchase coastal defense cruise missile (CDCM) systems from the US, saying that they could be delivered by 2023, should Washington agree to sell.
The CDCMs are a truck-mounted system of Harpoon anti-ship missiles made by Boeing for mobile coastal defense.

Criminal adultery law struck down

Provisions in Taiwan’s laws that treat adultery as a criminal offense have been ruled unconstitutional and declared invalid effective immediately by the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court determined that the laws that punish adultery infringe on the privacy of individuals and the right of people to make their own decisions.
The court believed that adultery was not detrimental to social order or public welfare.
Taiwan had been one of the very few non-Islamic countries that still had adultery as a criminal, jailable offence.
This move may not be popular, however, as opinion polling has shown significant majorities in favour of the law.
Adultery is still punishable under civil law, which includes large fines.
It will also continue to have an impact on divorce cases.
For a deeper look at the issues involved, I’ve put up a link to a Lao Ren Cha post on

Taiwan reacts to HK national security law

Taiwan has reacted with horror to the new national security law passed in Beijing to control Hong Kong.
In a striking, and rare, move all political caucuses in the legislature issued a joint statement, including the KMT, DPP, TPP and NPP.
“We hereby express our deep regret and strong condemnation concerning mainland China’s attempts to enforce its version of a national security law in Hong Kong by circumventing the territory’s Legislative Council, as Beijing would be reneging on its promise of ‘a high degree of autonomy’ for 50 years in Hong Kong,” the lawmakers said.
Based on the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights, the Legislative Yuan staunchly supports the Hong Kong people’s pursuit of these values, the lawmakers said.
The legislative caucuses unanimously support the Hong Kong peoples’ pursuit of a genuine vote for chief executive and all Legislative Council members to restore the territory’s stability and prosperity and rebuild its communication channels, according to the statement.
It also called on Taiwan’s administration to offer assistance to Hong Kongers whose security and freedoms are at risk due to political factors.
This move by all the political parties is excellent news.
Showing unity in the face of the Chinese Communists bullying tactics is important for both the people of Hong Kong, as well as the defence of Taiwan’s sovereignty.
President Trump has also joined in, announcing they will be stripping Hong Kong of its special status under US law.
This unity, however, was partially broken by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
Commenting on China’s National People’s Congress approving national security legislation for Hong Kong on Thursday, Su yesterday said the move highlighted Beijing’s failure to adhere to its promise to maintain the “one country, two systems” framework in the territory until 2047.
The action, Su added, showed how that model, promoted by the KMT in tandem with China, was a lie.
The KMT issued a statement condemning Su’s remarks, asking him on what grounds he had made such an accusation and demanding an apology.
While there are many things one can take issue with the KMT on regarding policies towards China, in this case the KMT deserves an apology.
They have been consistently and vocally against “one country, two systems” for quite some time.
Johnny Chiang said that Su was talking nonsense, saying that his remarks had spoiled a joint statement in support of Hong Kongers from legislative caucuses across party lines.
He’s right.
President Tsai, as always, didn’t put her foot in her mouth.
As far as I can tell, she’s so disciplined that she’s never tasted toe cheese.
On Twitter the president had some important things to say:
“Taiwan’s commitment to caring for the people of Hong Kong will not change, no matter what adjustments we make to our system.”
She added:
Today I asked the Executive Yuan to draw up a humanitarian assistance action plan for #HongKong citizens that lays out clear, complete plans for their residence, placement, employment, & life in #Taiwan as soon as possible.
Somewhat worryingly, however, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) promised the Taiwan government would provide all necessary assistance to Hong Kong refugees based on existing legislation and said there was no need to establish an asylum system.
Under current laws Hong Kong investors–IE, people with money–and students get preferential treatment and an easier path to citizenship.
That potentially leaves some large gaps, however.
Su added that both Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Cabinet will follow the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macao Affairs to help those threatened by the CCP’s political prosecution.
This is where the crunch is, “help those threatened by the CCP’s political prosecution.”
From what I’ve read, it does appear they can use the existing law–but whether it genuinely does help Hong Kongers fleeing persecution will depend on how the law is applied by local authorities and what guidelines they follow.
In short, how they choose to follow the President’s call for a “humanitarian assistance action plan” “that lays out clear, complete plans for their residence, placement, employment, & life in #Taiwan.”
Of course, the PRC had nothing good to say about it.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said “Bringing black, violent forces into Taiwan will bring disaster to Taiwan’s people.”

China holds 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law do

Speaking of charming behaviour by the People’s Republic, at a forum marking 15 years of the Anti-Secession Act on Friday, Chinese Politburo member Li Zhanshu (栗戰書–whose given name means “written war challenge” according to my dictionary) said China remains committed to “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification,” but said the act provided grounds for taking “necessary measures” if Taiwan persisted in pushing for independence.
In a press release, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) countered that the law was merely an attempt to impose “unilateral legal measures to decide the future of cross-strait” relations, and gave China “carte blanche for the use of force against Taiwan.”
Also at the fun-sounding Anti-Secession anniversary party, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission said:
“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said.
“We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” he added.
Sounds like a charming guy.

I’m taking tomorrow off, but I’ll be back on Current Affairs Taiwan with the always awesome Michael Turton the day after, so be sure to tune in for that!

Image courtesy of People’s Daily Facebook page

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