Taiwan Report New Brief: Sunflowers convicted and Phils deportation case turns into diplomatic spat (transcript)

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Coronavirus updates

Taiwan has gone three straight days with no new coronavirus infections, and the number of days with no domestic transmission cases has passed two weeks.

The government platforms for the online purchase of surgical face masks now have a function that allows Taiwanese to donate their quota of surgical face masks to other countries that are in short supply, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Monday.
People in Taiwan who have not purchased their nine masks per fortnight under the government’s rationing system can access a function either on the website of the National Health Insurance Administration’s (NHIA) mobile app or its website to easily donate the masks, Chen said.
The donations to countries in need can be made in the person’s name or anonymously.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Chen says social distancing will be the new normal until a reliable vaccine is developed.
Essential interaction between Taiwanese businesses and their foreign partners will be the first to recover from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the heath minister said Wednesday, although he emphasized that this will not happen unless the pandemic control is well-executed.

Business briefs

Consumer confidence is down, with the confidence gauges on stock investment, durable goods consumption and economic outlook retreating, a survey released by National Central University showed.
The business climate has also suffered, the government’s business climate monitor last month slipped to “yellow-blue,” reflecting declines in major economic barometers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Development Council (NDC) said yesterday.
The council uses a five-color scheme to capture the state of the economy, with “green” indicating steady growth, “red” suggesting overheating and “blue” signaling a recession.
Dual colors indicate a transition.
However, some appear to have confidence in the future.
New home mortgages from five major state-run banks last month reached the highest level for March, while the average interest rate on new housing loans hit a record low, central bank data released on Thursday showed.
Meanwhile, books are going to be cheaper next year.
The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance have reached an agreement to make books eligible for sales tax exemptions, starting next year.

New IDs delayed

The rollout of Taiwan’s new national electronic identification cards (eIDs) originally slated for October is to be postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
The rollout will depend on how the pandemic situation develops.
The new IDs have run into some opposition on privacy concerns.
Oddly, the sample picture of the new ID they’ve been using has the person’s name written using China’s Hanyu Pinyin, not Wade-Giles as is traditional in Taiwan.

Coast Guard gets new toy

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday unveiled its first domestically built 600-tonne patrol vessel at a ceremony in Kaohsiung.
The ship is based on the design for the navy’s Tuo Chiang-class corvettes and comes with missile launchers, making the ships useful in the event of war.

Passport and China Airlines changes move forward

The DPP caucus has tendered a motion to send to a second reading its proposal and one by Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) on redesigning the passport cover to highlight the marking or symbol of “Taiwan,” which was passed without objection.
The DPP’s proposal advocates any method that would emphasize the English and Chinese-language use of “Taiwan” on the cover, while Chen’s proposal seeks to replace the words on the cover with just “Taiwan (臺灣).”
The DPP version would allow people to choose between a redesigned passport and the current version.
This is an interesting choice, but would likely be less politically contentious, allowing ROC nationalists to retain ROC on their passports.
Meanwhile, the DPP and the New Power Party (NPP) caucuses each tendered a proposal to rename China Airlines.
The DPP’s proposal says that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications should meet with relevant agencies to devise plans to repaint its aircraft in ways that would highlight Taiwan or its symbols, on the condition that such actions would not affect the nation’s air rights.
The NPP’s motion calls for the “China Airlines” logo to be minimized and the word “Taiwan” or its outline to be added to aircraft fuselages.
On both the passport and China Airlines bills, moving to a second reading is only an early step.

Sunflower activists found guilty

The High Court yesterday overturned a lower court’s ruling and found seven Sunflower movement figures, guilty of inciting people to storm the Executive Yuan on March 23, 2014, resulting in their forceful eviction by police.
The seven were among 10 defendants, out of group of 21 tried by the Taipei District Court over the storming of the Executive Yuan, who were previously acquitted on April 10, 2017, of inciting others to commit a crime and theft in the first ruling.
The 11 other defendants were found guilty — eight of obstructing official business and three of damaging public property — and were sentenced to three to five months in prison.
All of the sentences in yesterday’s ruling can be commuted to a fine, usually at a rate of NT$1,000 to NT$2,000 per day.
They can also still be appealed, which seems likely.
For context, activists had prior to storming the Executive Yuan, had occupied the Legislative Yuan.
The activists were protesting the ramming through of a trade deal with China.
The President of the Legislative Yuan, usually referred to in English as the “speaker”, Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT ordered the police to stand down, allowing the students to remain for weeks.
Hundreds of thousands joined the movement out in the streets, and it set off a political sea change that deepened Taiwanese identity for many and led to two consecutive DPP landslide wins in national elections.
While the legislature was being occupied, these activists and many others decided to also occupy the Executive Yuan.
Then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) reacted very differently, ordering in the police to violently evict the activists.
He argued that the Executive Yuan had to stay open to keep the government functioning.
Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said of this week’s ruling that “premier Jiang at the time ordered police to use violent means to remove the protesters, many of whom were beaten up… One person who was assaulted and was injured later tragically died of his injuries.
However, the officers who assaulted the protesters … cannot be found to this day.”

China attacks Dutch office name change

The Netherlands’ de facto embassy in Taiwan has officially changed its name from the “Netherlands Trade and Investment Office” to the “Netherlands Office Taipei” as of Monday, to be “more inclusive” in terms of bilateral cooperation, the European nation’s top envoy to the country said that day.
This new name follows the identical format of many other nations’ offices in Taiwan.
The Global Times, a Chinese communist party mouthpiece, has released two articles attacking the move.
According to their report, the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands has contacted the Dutch Foreign Ministry to lodge solemn representations.
They also claimed that Chinese netizens were threatening a boycott of Dutch goods.
The article went on in typical tone deaf style to say “Analysts pointed out that the announcement, which comes on the Netherlands’ national day, known as King’s Day, could remind many Taiwan compatriots of the history of Dutch colonial rule over Taiwan island in the 17th century.
Dutch officials did not seem to be aware that the move boasts its former glory and could insult the island.”
They went on to quote a Chinese professor: “It’s ridiculous that the Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has attempted to bow to foreign countries to achieve its goal of ‘Taiwan independence,’ has kidnapped the island and its people politically”.
Such a move will further tear apart Taiwan society and politics and result in long-term trauma to the island, Li said.
Li also warned that the Netherlands’ decision to change the name of its Taiwan office may trigger similar dangerous moves from other European countries. But no matter how the office conducts its activities on Taiwan island, it will not change the fact that Taiwan is a part of China, Li said.
Li said China may consider suspending medical supplies to the Netherlands amid the coronavirus pandemic, and calling off some trade projects and people-to-people exchanges with the Netherlands to warn the country.
Meanwhile, here in Taiwan medical professionals were delighted this week to receive tulips as a gesture of thanks for Taiwan’s support in donating medical supplies.

Most think nation should join the WHA as ‘Taiwan’

Most Taiwanese think the nation should join the World Health Assembly as ‘Taiwan’.
A New Power Party poll showed that 65.1 percent of respondents supported the nation participating in the WHO’s decisionmaking body under the name “Taiwan,”
27.2 percent said that it did not matter what name or status it used as long as it could participate, the survey found.

Taiwan reportedly investigating illegal work in China

The Taipei Times is quoting a source as saying the government is investigating 87 Taiwanese allegedly working for the Chinese government after a reporter was found to be employed by a Chinese state-run news agency.
The White House correspondent for Shanghai Dragon TV, generated controversy at a White House news briefing on April 8 when he was asked by US President Donald Trump where he was from.
A technology correspondent, a judge’s assistant, various posts at state-run enterprises and a Taipei-based stringer for Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times are among the jobs being investigated, the official said.
Over the past few years, the government has fined 37 Taiwanese NT$4.5 million for working for such organizations in China.

Filipina deportation story gets weirder as Phils spox suggests it is up to China

This topic has been covered in the last show, plus on Current Affair Taiwan, but here is a brief background.
A Filipina working as a caregiver in Yunlin posted on Facebook her opinions about Philippine President Duterte.
A Philippine labor department official based in Taichung accused her “using several social media accounts” to “discredit and malign the President and destabilize the government.”
He demanded she be deported for trial in the Philippines.
However, the presidential office in the Philippines and their local representative said they had no plans to deport her.
However, the labor secretary in the Philippines seemed to indicate he was backing his man in Taichung.
Taiwan also poured cold water on the plan, officials at the labor affairs department told the Philippine national that all migrant workers in Taiwan enjoy freedom of expression and are equal under the law.
However, Yunlin county is asking the police to increase patrols where the woman lives after her online remarks drew some angry responses.
Then, a Philippine news outlet reported that a presidential spokesman said “We leave that wholly to Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China,” commenting on an effort by the Philippine labor department to have the Filipina sent back to Manila.
Taiwan’s representative office in Manila has been instructed to file a formal protest over the statement.
For a good backgrounder on this story, I recommend checking out an article by Cat Thomas on Ketagalan Media, that is linked to on our website.

As always, the source articles for this report and more are linked to on our website Report.tw.
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