Taiwan Headlines, Feb. 18

Though the Lunar New Year holiday started with rain, reservoirs in central and south Taiwan are still only 20 percent full.
Water supplies are to be reduced further from Feb. 25 in Chiayi County and Tainan as orange water shortage alerts are set to be issued there.
The water shortage alerts in Nantou County and Changhua County in central Taiwan, as well as Yunlin County and Kaohsiung, will be upgraded from green to yellow from Feb. 25.
2020 was the first time in 56 years that Taiwan had no typhoons, leaving the reservoirs entering 2021 at a very low level.

Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shih-chung has revealed in a radio interview that Taiwan’s plan to sign a contract to buy five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Germany’s BioNTech has been halted, most likely due to pressure from China.
This isn’t new, after the 921 earthquake in 1999 Beijing tried to interfere with international relief efforts.
This move comes as Beijing is trying to get Taiwan to accept their vaccines, but minister Chen has ruled it out so far.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou has provoked backlash after calling for more cooperation with China, called on Taiwanese to stop using the commonly used “Wuhan pneumonia” and to accept Chinese vaccines.
Taiwanese Representative to Japan and former DPP presidential candidate who lost to Ma in 2008, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), replied on Facebook “If China really cared about the health of Taiwanese, it would allow Taiwan to join the WHO.”

A TVBS satisfaction poll on local government heads showed, to no one’s surprise, that New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the KMT topped the list.
Taoyuan’s Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) of the DPP was tied for third, while Tainan’s Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), also of the DPP, came in 11th.
Taichung’s Lu Shiow-yen tied for 13th, which if this poll is to be trusted, is a big improvement for her as in most previous polls she came in near the bottom.
Chen Chi-mai, the DPP mayor of Kaohsiung came in second to last, while Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party came in dead last.

The number of recipients of Taiwan’s employment gold card, a special work and residency permit for highly skilled foreign talent, took a big jump in 2020 reaching a total of 1,399.
That is far higher than the 358 in 2019 and 188 in 2018.
Most likely this is due to Taiwan’s relative safety during the pandemic.

Some DPP lawmakers have said they would seek to amend the Constitution committing the state to prioritize the use of the name “Taiwan” instead of the “Republic of China” when participating in international affairs.
KMT Chair Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) emphasized that the party will not support any proposals to change what it views as Taiwan’s identity.
That includes opposing making legal changes to the country’s official name, national emblem, or symbols.
However, he agreed that the Constitution could be updated to enhance the government’s operational efficiency.
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told reporters that as far as sensitive topics such as changing the country’s name are concerned, the DPP will not push for “radical changes” to the Constitution.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has instructed the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) to display “TAIWAN” prominently on its ships to send a clear signal about what country they are defending.

Taiwan will ramp up production of a range of indigenous weapons systems this year, including anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles after President Tsai instructed the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) to speed up production to meet national security needs.

In a previous Taiwan Headlines I went into some depth for this show into President Tsai’s comments directed towards China.
Representative to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, on Twitter provided a very succinct summary of the president’s comments: “Happy New Year, and stop threatening us.”
It was a very popular tweet.

Image courtesy of Ma Ying-jeou’s FB page

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