Taiwan Headlines, Jan. 3

A labor broker has been fined NT$1 million by the Fisheries Agency for deducting too much from the pay of eight migrant fishery workers for the repayment of loans.
The fine was levied in September, but only made the news public after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a withhold release order (WRO) against the fishing boat Lien Yi Hsing No. 12 on Thursday to bar the entry of its harvest into the United States.
CBP said it issued the order based on information that “reasonably indicates the use of forced labor,” and said it identified the forced labor indicators of “deception, withholding of wages, and debt bondage” during its investigation.
Taiwan has the world’s second-largest fishing fleet, and it has a very bad reputation for mistreating foreign employees.

The Taiwan dollar rose 5.6 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2020, closing the year out at NT$28.508.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of shares in Taiwan in 2020 despite a 23 percent rise in the Taiwan Stock Exchange’s benchmark index, the Taiex.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) plans to assist Taiwanese vehicle tire makers accused of unfair trade practices by the United States.
South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam also face US tariffs, but at a much lower rate than the 52.42 percent to 98.44 percent being slapped on Taiwanese companies.

People rallied yet again in Taipei on Saturday to support US President Donald Trump and called for Taipei and Washington to normalize the relationship between the two nations.
The event was organized by the Preparatory Office of Autonomous Formosa Detached Territory of Japan, the Taiwan Republic Office, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the Taiwan Independence Party.
Attendance was in the low hundreds.

Former President Chen Shui-bian has emphasized that on his new radio show he won’t be discussing politics.
That would probably violate the terms of his medical parole.

President Tsai, in her New Year’s speech, said the following about the racto-pork issue:
“From the recent discussions and disputes surrounding the decision to further open the domestic market to beef and pork importation that meets international standards, I fully understand why previous administrations could not follow through with their promises to do that.
Taiwan depends on trade to survive.
This issue was left pending by three successive administrations, so there was no way to avoid it.
With utmost humility, I ask my fellow citizens for your understanding, and hope everyone knows that we thought long and hard before making this decision.”
That was very clever framing of the issue.
Former President Ma Ying-jeou’s office released a statement, however, denying they ever wanted to import pork, only beef.
The statement also read “We ask that President Tsai take responsibility for her administration’s own actions, instead of blaming previous administrations.”

In her New Year’s speech, President Tsai said the following in regards to China:
“I want to reaffirm that in dealing with cross-strait relations, we will uphold our principles and not act rashly.
We are willing to facilitate meaningful dialogue under the principles of parity and dignity as long as the Beijing authorities sincerely want to resolve differences and improve cross-strait relations.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office replied, as quoted in Reuters:
Since 2016, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) “has continued to provoke by seeking independence, confronting the mainland at every turn, deliberately creating confrontation across the Taiwan Strait”, it said.
“They again talked about so-called ‘dialogue,’ but where can that come from?” the office added. “We urge the DPP authorities to stop it with these cheap tricks that dupe people.”

A United States defense policy bill containing sections supportive of Taiwan was passed into law on Friday.
Both the US House and Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto.
I discussed this in more depth in the last Taiwan Report News Brief.

Image courtesy of President Tsai’s Facebook

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