Skulls from Scotland and the Love Ferris Wheel is back–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Coronavirus updates

Taiwan reported no new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with the total number of confirmed cases remaining at 438.
Recovered COVID-19 patients who test positive again for the disease are “almost not contagious” due to the low level of the virus in their bodies and thus pose little threat to the community, according to a Taiwanese epidemiologist.

More coronavirus cash

The government is to offer a one-time payment of NT$10,000 to workers not covered by social insurance programs, as well as farmers and fishers who do not qualify for other forms of financial aid, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
Among those eligible are an estimated 340,000 people who work, but are not enrolled in labor insurance, farmers’ insurance, or any other social insurance program and have a household income of 1.5 to two times the average minimum living cost in their city or county.
They include people who hold advertisement placards outdoors, street vendors and small-scale self-employed people.
They will have access to the funds from Monday next week.

Han issues defence–the return of the ferris wheel

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, who is facing a recall vote on June 6, submitted a written defense, which was released by the Central Election Commission (CEC) Tuesday.
Han listed 15 achievements since he took office in December 2018, including how his administration pushed for investment to increase new jobs for the city, saying that “he will brave the storms and move ahead.”
Interestingly, Han said that through the efforts of his administration to boost the tourism industry in the city, a business group from the United States submitted an application in January to team up with Kaohsiung to develop a “Love Ferris Wheel” project in the city.
Han had proposed such a project during his mayoral campaign.
It involved, and I’m not making this up, a giant ferris wheel overlooking the love river–but with the regular viewing cars swapped out for small motel rooms so people could do–how should I put this–“romantic things” in them.

KMT Spox belittles Taiwan on Chinese TV

On Chinese state media channel CCTV, KMT Culture and Communications Deputy Chairperson and Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) referred to President Tsai Ing-wen as “leader” of Taiwan rather than as president, following Chinese Communist practice.
She went on to say that Tsai was “obedient to Americans” and that the US was simply using Taiwan as a chess piece against the People’s Republic.
This is important for two reasons.
Wang is a frequent guest on local TV talk shows and is high profile.
That she would say these things while serving as KMT Culture and Communications Deputy Chairperson is a blow to new KMT chairman Johnny Chiang’s plans to bring the party closer to mainstream opinion on these issues–and these comments were anything but.
The other reason is that as a Taipei City Councillor she is a likely future candidate for legislature.

Chunghwa Post to release inauguration stamps

Chunghwa Post has unveiled a set of commemorative stamps for the presidential inauguration on May 20.
The package, to be released on the same day, contains three items: a stamp featuring President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is to begin her second term, and vice president-elect William Lai (賴清德); a collection of four designer stamps; and a stamp folio.
The stamp of Tsai and Lai show them smiling in white shirts to highlight their approachable nature, said graphic designer Aaron Nieh (聶永真), who designed the stamps.
Now, putting a sitting head of state on stamps is not a good look, putting her in league with some tinpot dictatorships.
Well, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Another stamp is a NT$15 “readiness” stamp, which uses shapes to depict a golf ball approaching the edge of a hole, as a way to show that the government is ready to serve the public with professionalism and perseverance.
If you can make any sense of that, let me know in the comments section below.

Skulls from Scotland

The University of Edinburgh is to return the skulls of four Paiwan Indigenes who were killed in 1874, following requests from the central government, Pingtung County’s Mudan Township (牡丹) Mayor Pan Chuang-chih (潘壯志) said on Friday.
Japanese soldiers originally took the skulls as war trophies when they fought Paiwan Indigenes in retaliation for the killing of Ryukyuan sailors in the Mudan Incident, Pan told a news conference in Mudan.
I highly recommend learning more about the Mudan Incident if you don’t know about it already.
There is some great material on it on the blog View From Taiwan.

Huang Kuo-chang to join board at Tatung

Following a report by Apple Daily which suggested improper Chinese investment in Tatung, it appears that ex-New Power Party (NPP) legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) is to run to be an independent board member.
Tatung is most famous for their iconic rice cookers, but they also have high tech subsidiaries, so some national security worries were raised.
If elected, he would propose to form a taskforce within the company to investigate allegations of illegal Chinese funding and of forged accounts.
In the legislature Huang was noted for his uncompromising nature, and is widely viewed as being incorruptible.
And stubborn.

Mixed business news

Manufacturing activity in Taiwan contracted in April.
Taiwan’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for April fell 5.5 points from a month earlier to 47.6, the steepest monthly decline since a local think tank started to release the index in July 2012.
Meanwhile, campaigns launched last year to lure overseas Taiwanese businesspeople to invest funds back in Taiwan amid the trade war between the United States and China is close to attracting pledges of NT$1 trillion (US$33 billion), the Cabinet said Tuesday.
NT$200 billion of that was actually invested by the end of 2019 and another NT$325.3 billion of that should be invested by the end of 2020 they said.
It is worth noting that these are pledges, and not all will come through.
Regardless, though, the numbers are still huge.

Hacking a problem for gas companies, hospitals

Taiwan’s two major fuel suppliers, state-run CPC Corp., Taiwan and Formosa Petrochemical Corp. (FPCC), both reported computer hacks over the past two days, though their systems have since returned to normal.
The attacks appear to be from ransomware, suggesting the motive may have been money, rather than an attack on national security.
Meanwhile, in related news, Taiwan is cooperating with partners in other nations on cybersecurity after the Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic and the US Department of Health and Human Services experienced cyberattacks in recent months, Executive Yuan sources said.
Too bad they didn’t partner with the local fuel suppliers first.

Mask diplomacy

Taiwan will start a third round of mask donations soon, giving more than 7 million surgical face masks to countries around the world to help with their response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
2.28 million will be donated to the United States, another 1.3 million will be sent to member states of the European Union, 1.09 million to Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies, and 1.8 million to some of the countries covered in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.
The remaining 600,000 face masks will be donated to some African and Middle Eastern countries and to frontline medical staff providing assistance to Syrian refugees.

More support for WHO inclusion

Fox news has reported that the Trump administration has circulated a draft proposal that would bring Taiwan to the table at the World Health Organization in an effort to push back against China and punish the global body for being “too China-centric.”
The administration’s national security team is also considering the creation of a new global health organization, which would likely have no problems admitting Taiwan.
Meanwhile, two World Health Organization (WHO) members have proposed to discuss Taiwan’s participation in this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), a WHO officer said Monday, though he did not specify which two members they were.
In other related news, Taiwan was invited to a video conference hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Force (PACAF) Commander Charles Q. Brown Jr. on April 29 to discuss with 19 countries approaches to fighting the coronavirus.

Pro-Trump ad uses China Airlines thinking it was Chinese

In yet another case in point for why there is debate ongoing about changing China Airlines name, pro-Trump TV ads aiming to depict the leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as being a friend of China’s used images of China Airlines.

Retired PLA general calls attacking Taiwan “too costly”

The SCMP has come out with a report quoting Chinese military strategist and retired air force major general Qiao Liang–whom they say is considered hawkish–on invading Taiwan.
The quotes are somewhat surprising.
“China’s ultimate goal is not the reunification of Taiwan, but to achieve the dream of national rejuvenation – so that all 1.4 billion Chinese can have a good life,” Qiao, a professor at the PLA National Defence University in Beijing, said in an interview on Monday.
“Could it be achieved by taking Taiwan back? Of course not. So we shouldn’t make this the top priority. If Beijing wants to take Taiwan back by force, it will need to mobilise all its resources and power to do this,” he said. “You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, it’s too costly.”
That is very interesting because generally the official line is annexing Taiwan is a key part of Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream”.
He went on to say: “The Taiwan issue is actually a key problem between China and the US, even though we have insisted it is China’s domestic issue,” he said. “In other words, the Taiwan issue cannot be completely resolved unless the rivalry between Beijing and Washington is resolved.”
Again, directly contradicting the official line by clearly stating this is an international issue, not a domestic one.
I should caution that this is one guy commenting and he’s now just a professor.
However, professors are influential in China, and it is very interesting that in spite of having been steeped in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) line and is currently teaching at a PLA university that he would say these things publicly and in a Chinese-owned publication in Hong Kong.
It begs the question, is this just his opinion, or does his thinking reflect that of many people in the PLA?

Photo by Lina White on Unsplash

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