Sorry to pop your bubble, China–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Coronavirus updates

Taiwan confirmed no new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus for the eighth consecutive day on Friday.
It was also the 33rd straight day with no domestically transmitted infections.
A stricter set of quarantine measures for returning far-sea fishermen will go into effect on May 18.
And some good news, the number of spectators allowed at CPBL baseball games is to be raised to 2,000.

Marriage equality survey

As Taiwan approaches the one-year anniversary of its legalization of marriage equality on May 24, nearly 93 percent of Taiwanese say the policy has had no impact on them, according to the results of a survey.
Regarding the policy’s impact on Taiwanese society, 50.1 percent said there had been no effect, while 28.4 percent said the effect was negative, 11.9 percent said it was positive and 9.6 percent expressed no opinion.
More than 65 percent of those surveyed said they could accept learning that a family member, classmate or co-worker identified as homosexual.
However, a slightly lower 49.2 percent said they could accept learning that their own child was gay, while 47.3 percent said it would be “difficult to accept.”
The respondents said they favored allowing same-sex couples to adopt children by a 56.8 percent-38.4 percent margin, but opposed allowing them to have children using artificial reproduction technologies by a margin of 50.1 percent-42.1 percent.
While this survey suggests wider acceptance than the results of the referendums in 2018, there is a ways to go before it can be said to be universally accepted.
It’s curious that the majority opposed artificial reproduction technologies to have kids, this technology has been widely available to straight couples for quite some time.

TSMC US plans announced

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) said on Friday it will build a semiconductor facility in Arizona.
Total spending on the project will be US$12 billion with TSMC claiming it will directly create 1,600 jobs.
Construction is planned to start in 2021.
The factory will be focused on producing so-called 5-nanometer chips, the latest in semiconductor technology being manufactured today–so presumably a bit behind the cutting edge when the plant is finished.
The US government most likely put pressure on the firm over national security concerns over the supply chain of key components.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tweeted after the announcement “This deal bolsters U.S. national security at a time when China is trying to dominate cutting-edge tech and control critical industries.”

Taiwanese firms’ investment pledges pass NT$1 trillion

Pledges of investments by Taiwanese companies have reached NT$1 trillion (US$33.39 billion), since the government launched a series of incentive programs last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Thursday.
So far, 480 firms have made investment pledges under the three major investment programs that are geared toward overseas Taiwanese businesses, domestic corporations that have never invested in China or other countries, and locally based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to the ministry.
The investment plans are expected to create 82,555 new job opportunities in Taiwan, including 61,814 jobs with 188 Taiwanese companies operating overseas.
In reality, some of these pledges will likely fail to materialize–but many will and already have.
Regardless of the final tally, the program has been a huge success.

Outgoing VP Chen Chien-jen gives away money

With incoming Vice President William Lai (賴清德) set to be inaugurated on the 20th, outgoing Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said that he would give up his pension and privileges, and return to his position as a research fellow at Academia Sinica.
That would save the nation about NT$23 million in the first four years after he leaves office.
Asked about William Lai, he said that Lai is more experienced in politics and more capable than he is.
Chen is widely known for being humble.

“King of Hualien” to go back to jail

Well, after musing about independent Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁)–the so-called “King of Hualien–yesterday on the show, lo-and-behold the very next day he’s back in the news.
Turns out, he will have to serve two years and 10 months in prison after the Supreme Court yesterday upheld a lower court ruling that found him guilty of insider trading and stock manipulation in the late 1990s.
However, the judges did not suspend Fu’s civil rights, allowing him to maintain his legislative seat.
Fu said his aides and office staff would continue to serve his constituents throughout his imprisonment.
The Hualien chapters of both the ruling DPP and the KMT called on Fu to resign so that a new lawmaker can be elected who can better serve the needs of the county’s residents.
As I mentioned yesterday, in the runup to the KMT chair by-election, there was considerable talk of restoring Fu’s party membership to boost the size of the KMT caucus.
During his campaign, Johnny Chiang was the least enthusiastic one about it, simply saying he could reapply and it would be handled through normal procedures–in other words making it clear he wouldn’t make any special exceptions for him.
That was a good call.

In other political news, the DPP is suspending the Taipei party chair race until after President Tsai resumes her role as party chair.
The race has turned vicious, with the two candidates accusing each other of bribery.
Other local party chair races will continue as normal.

Sorry to prick your bubble, China–Part I

Beijing is mulling expanding its “travel bubble” to include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as well as South Korea.
The idea is to cut red tape and fast-track health and quarantine checks so people crossing borders within the five jurisdictions have the minimum hassle.
However, in spite of lobbying by Taishang–Taiwanese business people in China–President Tsai Ing-wen said last week that any easing of restrictions would not include China.

Sorry to prick your bubble, China–Part II

China has continued to demand Taiwan accept the “One China Principle”–in other words that Taiwan bows to their illegitimate claim that it is part of China–as a pre-condition to allowing Taiwan into the World Health Organization or the upcoming World Health Assembly.
Apparently China is confident of their control over the WHO.
However, at a news conference in Taipei, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung rejected China’s pre-condition, saying: “I have no way to accept something which does not exist.”

Sorry to prick your bubble, China–Part III

In an interview with Fox Business, President Trump appeared to be threatening to cut ties with China.
He said at one point “We could cut off the whole relationship.”
“If you did, what would happen?” Trump asked.
“You’d save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship.”
At the end of the show, the interviewer asked “How are you going to have a partnership with China when you can’t trust anything they say and do?”
“It may be hard to do,” said Mr Trump.
Of course cutting off the whole relationship isn’t going to happen, too much of the US economy and the supply chains that feed it are dependent on China.
This is, however, very much a part of a pattern playing out around the world.
Both the president and Secretary of State Pompeo have been hardening their line against China, and as we saw in the case of TSMC, they are actively working to reduce reliance on Chinese manufacturing.
This is also true of Taiwan as well as Japan, which has also introduced financial incentives for their companies to leave China.
National security is probably not the only consideration for Trump, however,
It is an election year, and both Biden and Trump are vying to be seen as the toughest on China.
China has been looming large recently in the presidential race.

Ironic image of Fu Kun-chi courtesy of his Facebook page