Support for KMT hits all-time low–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

KMT_Youth

Headlines:

A warning system developed to monitor volcanic activity in northern Taiwan and guide disaster prevention measures will be launched by the end of this year, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
The system will target the Datun volcano system in Taipei and Turtle Island in Yilan, which are active volcanoes, defined as a volcano that has erupted at least once in the past 10,000 years.

One of the supervisors of a Navy anti-landing drill in Taiwan that went fatally wrong and leaving two dead on Friday has committed suicide, according to the military.

The central government will install air conditioning systems in 100,000 classrooms at elementary and junior high schools throughout Taiwan over the next two years, at a cost of NT$30 billion (US$1.02 billion).

Taiwan’s government will formalize plans by the end of July to allocate NT$1 billion (US$33.9 million) to hold clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates with the goal of developing an effective vaccine by the first quarter of 2021, according to the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to the NT$1 billion in funding, the government is also considering allowing phase 2 and 3 clinical trials to be carried out concurrently with as few as 1,000 participants.

Ørsted and Taiwan-based TSMC have signed a corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) that will see TSMC offtake the full production from the developer’s 920-MW Greater Changhua 2b & 4 offshore windfarm, making it the largest-ever contract of its kind in renewable energy.

Taiwan’s e-bike exports to the EU soared 76.4 percent to US$430.4 million in 2019, surpassing China and Hong Kong to become the top supplier to the organization’s member states for the first time, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said July 6.
According to the MOEA, Taiwan accounted for 64.7 percent of the EU’s import market, up from 32.4 percent the year before.
It was followed by Vietnam, 14 percent, and Switzerland, 12.1 percent.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs on Friday approved NT$3.4 billion (US$114.82 million) in investments from seven small and medium-sized enterprises through a government program that provides assistance for financing, taxation, land, utilities, and labor.
As of Friday, the ministry had approved 545 companies — ranging from returning Taiwanese businesses to domestic companies large and small — to invest a total of NT$1.043 trillion through three government incentive programs.
Yes, that’s trillion, with a ‘t’.
The investments are expected to provide 86,907 jobs, while another 55 companies are waiting for approval, the ministry said in a statement.

June exports fell for the fourth consecutive month on an annual basis, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) reporting a 3.8 percent decline compared with the same month last year.

Taiwan’s national savings rate is estimated to reach 35.79 percent in 2020, the highest in 32 years.

Support for the KMT is at an all-time low

In the last show I discussed the National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center poll showing the number of people identifying as Taiwanese jumped dramatically, the biggest such jump since the survey began in 1992.
That survey also asked about support for political parties.
Asked which political party they supported, 36.8 percent said the Democratic Progressive Party — the highest since the center began the surveys — while 15.8 percent said the KMT — the lowest since the start of the center’s surveys.
While 5.3 percent expressed support for the Taiwan People’s Party and 3.3 percent for the New Power Party, at 37.8 percent expressed a politically neutral stance and favored no particular party.
That 15.8 percent support for the KMT is similar to other recent polls, which showed 16.2 percent and even a KMT Think Tank poll which showed 13.7 percent.
Another pan-green affiliated poll not long ago showed KMT support below 10 percent and behind the Taiwan People’s Party.
Some of the KMT’s low popularity right now may be temporary, influenced by the popularity of the Tsai administration’s successful handling of the pandemic.
That being said, support for the KMT has been heading downwards since a peak in 2012, with only a slight uptick likely inspired by the Han wave in 2018.
Fundamentally, the party’s pro-China ideology is now too far out of the mainstream for them to be as electable as before.
Also, aside from New Taipei City mayor Hou Yu-ih, most of the local KMT government heads are less popular than their DPP counterparts.
Even worse going forward, the KMT has only single digit support with people under 30, with one recent poll showing 6.3 percent support in that age group.
Another poll broke it down to smaller ranges, and in the 20-24 age group support for the KMT was zero.
In a mock poll late last year of high school and college students, in the party list section the KMT got less than 3 percent.
KMT chair Johnny Chiang isn’t stupid, he’s aware of these challenges, and his reform committee’s plan to retire the 1992 consensus is a huge step in the right direction–if he can get it approved at a party congress in September.
Almost all of the party bigshots have come out against the plan, though Eric Chu equivocated and Hou Yu-ih hasn’t commented on it as far as I know.
Just today, however, I did see a report quoting Wang Jin-pyng as saying that the KMT should come up with a new name, essentially agreeing the 1992 consensus has to go.
The party members who will attend the congress may be more open to the idea than the elites.
Many are from the local political patronage factions, and many of those could care less about the 1992 consensus.
If Chiang fails to get it through the party congress, the KMT will remain too far out of the mainstream, and will continue to struggle nationally.
A quick aside, I just saw a report quoting Chiang as saying he wants to get the KMT back into the UN under the name Republic of China.
He is also trying to address the lack of support among young voters.
I’m going to go through a Taipei Times article and comment along the way on this.
“The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Institute of Revolutionary Practice yesterday resumed its training sessions after a 20-year hiatus, with institute director Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) saying the party should do more to connect with young people.
The KMT started a “reform agenda” following its losses in January’s presidential and legislative elections.”
That they haven’t had these sessions in 20 years shows how long the party has been neglecting young talent.
Once upon a time the KMT was actually very active in grooming young talent, especially those from elite families.
They even helped them get degrees overseas.
In the 1990s and into the early 2000s they had a solid stable of well-educated and well-trained people in the party, and the KMT was widely perceived as more professional and effective in running government.
There was some truth to that.
The DPP was led by people who were better at protesting and agitating than actually running a government.
By the end of the Ma administration, however, the KMT’s reputation was in tatters, while under DPP chair Tsai Ing-wen the party has become far more technocratic.
The pandemic has only underlined the effectiveness of the DPP in government in recent times.
Back to the article:
“During the session’s opening ceremony in Taipei yesterday, Lo said he was moved to see 400 applicants sign up “even when the KMT is in its darkest era.” “
He’s right, this is their darkest era.
“Given its limited quota, the institute only admitted 100 applicants, he said.
“Young people’s interest in the session is an extremely precious gift for the KMT, as the party has almost nothing left but ideals, its mission and glory in its counteraction against the power-abusing Democratic Progressive Party,” Lo said.”
The “power-abusing” line is a common refrain from the KMT, which apparently still hasn’t gotten used to the idea of not being in power.
“The number of applicants shows that young people have not forsaken the KMT, and so the party should not give up reaching out to them,” he added.
Well, apparently 400 haven’t.
Or their parents made them sign up.
“Although the KMT is in its lowest ebb, it is time for the party to demonstrate its ideals and strengths, Lo said, adding that those standing up to an opposition party are brave, as they face bullying and isolation.
He said that those who side with the ruling party do not need courage, as they are favored by the media, Internet celebrities and their affiliated “cyberarmy,” while having access to more government resources.”
Obviously he’s going way over the top here, but he’s not entirely wrong, the KMT is so unpopular with young Taiwanese that openly supporting it probably does take some courage.
“Lo urged the KMT to do its job as an opposition force, so that it can win back people’s confidence and one day resume as a ruling power.
If it returns to the nation’s helm, the KMT would not confiscate civic property, keep its own media and cyberarmy, or abuse government resources, he said.”
Again, that’s way over the top.
I’d be curious as to what the curriculum was.
If it is the same old KMT line, it’s not going to help much in winning hearts and minds.
That former President Ma Ying-jeou, who is deeply unpopular with young people, was in attendance suggests it was a lot of the same old, same old.
As an aside, I’ve noticed Ma has been very much on the attack recently against the Tsai administration, and been very visible.
I’m wondering if he’s up to something.
Anyway, if the sessions had practical lessons on winning elections, that could be useful to the party.
The KMT does have a lot of experience in elections, so grooming a new generation with those skills could be very helpful.
But only if they have a message they can sell to the voters.

Will the China trade deal survive?

A while back I shared with you some quotes from Global Times, the Chinese Communist mouthpiece, that suggested that the Chinese side was thinking of cancelling ECFA, the Taiwan-China trade deal, when it expires this year.
However, in East Asia Forum, this was reported:
“There were once concerns about China halting the ECFA to ‘choke Taiwan’s economy’, but Vice President of the All China Taiwan Federation of Mainland China Yang Yi-zhou emphasized that Beijing would ‘definitely not easily scrap the ECFA’ and that ‘cross-strait economic relations should be properly maintained in tough times’.”
This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
While the trade deal has helped some businesses, the Taipei Times the other day pointed some of its failures:
“Consider machine tool exports to China, an item on the ECFA’s early-harvest list: In 2011, such exports stood at US$870 million.
Their value fell year-on-year for the next five years, and by last year had fallen to US$560 million, a 35 percent decline.
In 2011, Taiwanese exports of vehicle parts to China totaled US$330 million, but last year had fallen to US$220 million, a 33 percent decline.
Vehicle part exports on the ECFA early-harvest list were at US$270 million in 2011, but last year had fallen to US$160 million, a 40 percent decline.”
From what I understand, though, farmers especially have gained from increasing trade with China.

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