Summary: There are calls for closer Australia ties. Lawmakers freeze half the eID budget, but the Executive Yuan says the new eIDs still on their way. Polls continue to show Taiwanese don’t trust China. Airlines still obey China, while China Airlines shrinks its font. But up first, headlines.
A research team at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology has developed a new antibody tool that has shown promising results in killing malignant tumor cells in mice and could eventually be turned into a therapeutic drug.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced that it is working toward starting vaccinations in the first quarter of next year.
Taiwan has signed an agreement to purchase 10 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from an international supplier.
It will add to the nearly 5 million doses it has guaranteed through the COVAX allocation program.
Medical practitioners and disease prevention personnel will be given priority in receiving COVID-19 vaccinations when they become available.
Scooter and motorcycle manufacturer Kwang Yang Motor Co. (KYMCO) has announced a plan to manufacture its high-performance heavy electric motorcycle, the RevoNEX, in Italy.
The company has chosen Italy as RevoNEX’s manufacturing base because of its accessibility to other countries in Europe, its main target market, as well as to increase brand awareness of the RevoNEX by associating it with “Made in Italy,” the home of supercars.
Taiwan’s export orders rose in October for the eighth consecutive month year-on-year, setting a new historical high.
Export orders rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier to US$51.59 billion in October after a 9.9 percent increase in September.
Thanks to the rise in exports, the nation’s balance of payments recorded a current account surplus of US$28.65 billion last quarter, more than double the level a year earlier.
The unemployment rate hit 3.8 percent last month, down by 0.03 percentage points from September, the lowest level in six months.
Taiwan’s economy in the third quarter expanded a strong 3.92 percent.
This surpassed an earlier forecast of 3.3 percent and prompted the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) to hike its full-year growth forecast to 2.54 percent from 1.56 percent.
However, private consumption might contract 2.52 percent for the year, deeper than their earlier forecast of 1.44 percent.
Taiwan is one of the few places on the planet not in recession.
Taiwan took fourth spot in the 2020 Asia corporate governance watch (CGW) rankings, up one place from 2018.
Australia took the top spot, while Hong Kong and Singapore came in second, followed by Taiwan, Malaysia, and Japan tied in fifth.
Trial runs of the first line of the Taichung mass rapid transit (MRT) system, which were suspended after a major malfunction occurred on Saturday, could resume as soon as Nov. 30.
The formal launch date of the city’s first MRT line is still set for Dec. 19.
The first date will almost certainly be missed, and the second date is questionable now.
A Legislative Yuan committee on has passed preliminary reviews of proposed amendments to the Civil Code to lower the legal age of majority from 20 to 18 and to set the marriage age at 18 for both men and women.
Amending the legal age of majority in the Civil Code will affect private rights and duties, such as legal guardianship, inheritance and property ownership.
It would not change the voting age, which is set at 20 in the Constitution.
If passed, it will take effect in 2023.
According to a report in local outlet FTV news, the coast guard is planning live-fire exercises in December on Pratas (aka Dongsha) Island.
The US State Department director of policy planning Peter Berkowitz told the Foundations for Defense of Democracy “It seems to me preserving Taiwan’s freedom and independence is a priority.”
“Independence” is not a word the Chinese like to hear, especially from an American diplomat.
Calls for closer Australia ties
The Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ANZCham) is calling on Taiwan and Australia to sign a free trade deal, similar to the successful pact between Taiwan and New Zealand signed in 2013.
With China currently trying to economically bully Australia by throttling imports to get it to toe their line, Australia could use an expanded Taiwan market–but they may also calculate that such a deal would make things even worse with China.
In related news, a Taiwan-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association is being established in the legislature.
Lawmakers freeze half of eID budget
The Legislative Yuan’s Internal Affairs Committee has decided to freeze NT$400 million (US$13.9 million) of the Ministry of the Interior’s budget for the issuance of new electronic identification cards (eIDs).
The ministry had initially budgeted NT$867.96 million for the cards.
Lawmakers across party lines have cybersecurity and privacy concerns over the new eIDs.
Concerns have also been raised about the card manufacturer’s relationship with the Chinese government, exposing apparent dangers in issuing the new cards.
Regardless, the Executive Yuan said they would continue moving forward on the project.
In defence of the eIDs they noted that Taiwanese have been using passports and National Health Insurance cards for years with embedded chips.
They also said citizens would be able to decide whether their eID would only be used for identification, or be linked with their Citizen Digital Certificate.
They added people need not worry about contactless card readers being able to pull information from the eID, as such a function is not included in the cards.
And they added that the cards would need to be inserted into a reader, rendering it impossible for any sort of detector to steal personal data, whether illicitly or accidentally.
And of course they added the ever-popular in Taiwan “but everyone else does it” defence, noting 128 countries already have chipped or digital IDs.
One DPP lawmaker said that issues related to information security handled by the Executive Yuan’s Department of Cyber Security would eventually become the responsibility of the planned Ministry of Digital Development.
But it doesn’t yet exist.
Polls continue to show Taiwanese don’t trust China
I’ve been holding on to two polls waiting for a good time to share them.
The first was taken between November 6 and 10 by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
90.3 percent of Taiwanese oppose China’s military threats against the country.
Which begs the question, who are the one in ten people who didn’t say they opposed China’s military threats?
74 percent said the Chinese government has been unfriendly to Taiwan.
74.4 percent of respondents do not approve of China’s long-held “one China principle” and its corollaries “the 1992 consensus” and opposition to Taiwan independence that see the country as part of China.
86.4 percent believe only the 23 million people of Taiwan have the right to determine the nation’s future and direction of cross-strait ties.
85.3 percent supported President Tsai’s proposal during her National Day address that she is willing to engage in meaningful dialogue with Beijing as long as parity and dignity are maintained.
73.4 percent said they support continuous close cooperation with the U.S. to bolster the nation’s national security and self-defense capabilities and more than 68 percent approve of recent national security legislation and regulatory amendments as well as the enactment of the anti-infiltration act to strengthen Taiwan’s ability to defend the country’s democratic system.
The second poll is from the Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation.
I should caution it was an online poll, but it did get over 1800 respondents.
91.7 percent of respondents said that it was important for Taiwanese to cultivate a sense of identification with the history and culture of Taiwan, and 74.5 percent said they felt that Taiwanese generally demonstrated this.
89.1 percent said it was important for citizens to “be proud of being Taiwanese,” and 74.4 percent felt Taiwanese generally showed such behavior.
The survey also found that 89.8 percent felt it is important for Taiwanese to see Taiwan as a sovereign nation and not part of another country, and 73.2 percent felt that Taiwanese generally demonstrated such an understanding.
These two polls confirm the trend towards a distinct Taiwanese national identity and culture and a growing distrust of China.
At this point there is no doubt that Taiwanese do not want to be a part of China, in spite of Chinese Communist propaganda to the contrary.
The other thing the polls confirm is that President Tsai and the DPP now occupy the mainstream of public opinion on Taiwan sovereignty and identity issues, and the KMT does not.
While the KMT may continue to do well on the local level, the last two elections and these polls show they have little hope on the national level unless there is significant change in their stance.
This puts KMT party reformers in a quandary.
KMT chair Johnny Chiang has tried to move the party towards the centre, but so far with only mixed results.
His problem is that the party elders and party membership are outside of the mainstream of public opinion on these issues.
It’s hard to move these hardcore diehards, in other words the type that join the KMT as members rather than casual voters, where they don’t want to be moved.
But if he fails to do so, the party will remain weak.
Airlines still obey China, and China Airlines shrinks font
China Airlines has reduced the font of its name on the exterior of its new cargo aircraft to allow more space to highlight images that represent Taiwan.
The name has also been moved to near the tail.
There is no word on what those images representing Taiwan will be, but you can bet bubble tea will be in the running.
The legislature’s Transportation Committee in July passed a resolution requiring the ministry to stipulate medium and long-term plans to change the airline’s name in English as well as in Chinese.
The reduced font and Taiwan images were their short term solution.
Speaking of airlines, a few years ago Beijing threw a tantrum and started demanding airlines not to refer to Taiwan as a country.
Not wanting to lose the lucrative Chinese market, many complied.
I got curious and decided to check what the current status of this was with some major airlines.
United, American, Air New Zealand, Singapore: city only
Lufthansa: Taiwan, China
Air Canada: Taipei, China
Air France: Taipei, Taoyuan Int’L Airport
Quantas, Emirates: Taipei, Taiwan, China
Air China: Taipei, Songshan Airport, Taiwan, China
By JetPix – Gallery page http://www.airliners.net/photo/China-Airlines/Boeing-747-409/0198833/LPhoto http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/3/3/8/0198833.jpg, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28608208