Taiwan Headlines, Jan. 30

Taiwan reported four more domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases linked to a recent cluster infection in Taoyuan General Hospital on Saturday, including one death, bringing the total number of cases related to the cluster to 19.
The total death toll in Taiwan now stands at eight.
In related news, a ban on eating and drinking on trains will be imposed on Feb. 1.

Authorities have indicted four people for allegedly docking Vietnamese workers half of their monthly wage.
The Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office described the case as the biggest of its kind in the nation’s history, with the suspects allegedly making illegal gains of about NT$25.75 million (US$905,988).
These sorts of practices are widespread in Taiwan and common knowledge, but hopefully this will send a message.

The New Power Party got a bill passed calling on the Ministry of the Interior to determine within two months if the national emblem and the KMT emblem are too similar, and if it should be changed.
The MOI is instructed to deliver a report to the legislature after the two month period.
The only difference between the two emblems is that in the KMT emblem the rays of the sun reach the border of the circle, while in the national emblem there is some space.
The KMT opposed the measure and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) abstained.
An Interior Ministry official downplayed the chances of actually changing the emblem, telling CNA that such proposals have been made in the past and not gone anywhere.

The Legislative Yuan has passed a resolution proposed by the DPP to decommission Taichung Power Plant’s coal-fired generators by 2035, and to preserve the generators as a national security emergency reserve.
Taipower’s original plan was to decommission the generators in 2046.
I will be discussing this at more length, with analysis, in an upcoming Taiwan Report News Brief.

Taiwan’s Consumer Protection Committee has published a new multilingual set of resources on its website targeting foreigners living in Taiwan.

A group of major foreign companies is under investigation in Taiwan for allegedly speculating on the surging local currency last year, hindering the central bank’s efforts to rein in a rampant foreign-exchange market.
Reportedly, the companies are Cargill, ING, ANZ, Louis Dreyfus, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered.
The central bank said that the huge positions the commodity companies built up in deliverable forwards went beyond their actual business needs.

A group of labor funds managed by the Bureau of Labor Funds recorded a return of 7.35 percent last year.
That is a terrible result, considering how much the stock market boomed during that period.

Gross domestic product expanded 2.98% last year, outpacing that of China’s for the first time in 30 years.

In this year’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index Taiwan was ranked 28th, maintaining the same spot as the previous year.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said a virtual meeting will be held next Friday with officials and business leaders from both the United States and Taiwan to discuss the issue of automotive chips and other supply-chain related matters.
Germany and Japan have also asked for help in boosting the supply chain.
The automobile companies really only have themselves to blame, they cut back their orders in reaction to the pandemic, but when demand rebounded they were left flat-footed.

U.S. Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said Thursday the United States will continue to fulfill its commitments to Taiwan’s self-defense needs and to the security of the Indo-Pacific region.
When asked if the U.S. was ready and able to defend Taiwan against a potential Chinese invasion, Kirby dismissed the question as “hypothetical,” but said the U.S. military “remains ready in all respects to meet our security commitments in the region.”
Meanwhile, in a tough speech on China, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the U.S. must speak with clarity and consistency in regards to China and other foreign policy issues, adding this includes “being prepared to act as well as to impose costs for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it’s doing in Hong Kong, and for the bellicosity and threats that it is projecting towards Taiwan.”

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