Summary: Wired magazine hails three top Taiwan leaders. Indigenous groups protest China’s moves in Inner Mongolia. The KMT pulls out of the Cross-straits forum. The curious case of five Hong Kongers. But up first, headlines.
Yet again, Taiwan will grant a further 30-day extension of stay to foreign visitors who entered the country on or before March 21.
The automatic extension will apply to all foreign nationals who entered Taiwan visa-free or on a visitor’s or landing visa on or before that date.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has decided to keep Taiwan’s basic electricity rate at the current price.
That’s the fifth consecutive time the MOEA has decided to keep the rate unchanged.
By international standards, all of Taiwan’s utility rates are very low.
DRAM chipmaker Nanya Technology Corp has stated that it would stop shipping chips to China’s Huawei Technologies Co due to US export restrictions, joining the world’s other major memorychip suppliers, including Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix.
The company said in a regulatory filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange that it would seek the US government’s permission to resume shipments to the Chinese company.
The head of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has the objective of having all of Taiwan’s banks bilingual by 2030 as part of Taiwan’s efforts to become a regional financial hub in Asia, and is now confident of seeing the goal being achieved sooner than planned.
The second language, by the way, is English–not Taiwanese.
According to research from Oxford University Taiwan is one of several countries that clearly disproves the argument that governments must choose between protecting people’s health and protecting the economy in their responses to the pandemic.
The study found that Taiwan, out of 38 countries, was the least impacted, with a decline of 0.6 percent in economic growth, far ahead of second-place finisher South Korea at 3 percent.
Fitch Ratings has revised upward its forecast for Taiwan’s economy, saying it might grow 1 percent this year, from an expected 0.2 percent contraction, due to fast recoveries of private consumption and exports.
The number of people employed in Taiwan’s industrial and service sectors rose about 37,000 from a month earlier in July, but the growth was short of an increase of some 48,000 over the same period of last year.
After inflationary adjustment, however, the average monthly regular wage for the seven months rose 1.71 percent from a year earlier and the average earned income grew 1.76 percent from a year earlier.
The central bank has issued a statement dismissing media reports that it asked banks not to sell large amounts of US dollars in an attempt to slow the appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar.
They said it was only a suggestion, intended as advice, and should not be taken as sales restrictions.
I wonder how many banks would have the courage to not listen to central bank “advice”.
The legislature has decided to set up an ad hoc committee tasked with revising the Constitution of the Republic of China.
The committee will consist of 22 lawmakers from the DPP, 14 lawmakers from the KMT, two from the Taiwan People’s Party, and one from the New Power Party, based on their proportion of seats.
Out of their 22 seats, the DPP gave two away: One to independent lawmaker Freddy Lim and to Taiwan Statebuilding Party legislator Chen Po-wei.
Up for discussion are measures to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 and abolish the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.
I’ve been collecting materials for a big show on these issues, so stay tuned.
The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the National Health Insurance (NHI) program.
The second-generation NHI, launched in 2013, covers 99.84 percent of the population.
However, at present, the reserve fund can only sustain the system for around 6 weeks.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, when asked about raising health insurance rates at the end of the year, admitted “there is that possibility”.
Taiwan is the target of an average 30 million hacking attempts from China each month according to Vice President William Lai, speaking at HITCON 2020, a hacking conference being held in Taipei.
Wired magazine hails three top Taiwan leaders
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) were jointly named by Wired magazine as this year’s Wired25 honorees for their efforts in fighting the pandemic.
The online announcement by the magazine said the following: “A country’s first female president, an epidemiologist as her veep, and a transgender digital minister with anarchist beliefs — together, this Taiwanese trio all but eradicated the coronavirus from their homeland.”
Taiwan, President Tsai and Minister Tang have been the focus of a massive amount of positive press in the international media this year.
And some of it even managed to resist using “renegade province”.
Indigenous groups protest China’s moves in Inner Mongolia
At a rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in protest at moves in China to remove Mongolian education in Inner Mongolia, the Tayal National Assembly, the Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan, the Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Policy and other organizations denounced what they called China’s policy of “cultural genocide.”
Rukai Legislator Saidai Tarovecahe of the Democratic Progressive Party told a news conference at the rally that mother tongues are the essence of knowledge of the natural environment, and for understanding life and the world.
“The fastest way to wipe out an ethnic group is to cut them off from their mother tongue,” she said.
That indigenous groups have stepped up on this issue is a good sign, but also makes a lot of sense.
Their languages were actively suppressed until recently, so much so that in some cases there are few or no speakers left.
In other words, they are very familiar with what is going on and the lasting impact.
KMT pulls out of the Cross-straits forum
At first it seemed the interesting story about the KMT delegation attending the Straits Forum in China, which was first held in 2009 under the then-KMT government as a platform for cultural cooperation and economic exchanges between the two sides, was going to be about the choice to lead the delegation: former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng.
How were the Chinese going to react Wang, who is considered by some more pro-Taiwan than most of the party?
What was on KMT Chair Johnny Chiang’s mind when he chose him, following on his defeat over the 1992 consensus at the hands of pro-unification forces led by former President Ma Ying-jeou.
That was all sidelined when Chinese mouthpiece broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) ran a headline about the KMT delegation, referring to Wang, saying “With the [Taiwan] Strait on the brink of war, this man [Wang] is coming to the mainland to beg for peace.”
The managed to offend pretty much everyone in Taiwan, including many in the KMT.
The KMT tweeted out the following:
“While we cherish peace for the sake of the Chinese Nation #ROC’s prosperity, we would never sacrifice our dignity! Every #crossStrait exchange must be made on equal terms.
The KMT is NOT a peace-beggar, we’re peace builders.
We demand that the #CCTV recant its erroneous words.”
The KMT in a statement said “distorts the original intention of pursuing peace and hurts the feelings of the peoples of the two sides.”
When an apology wasn’t forthcoming, the KMT announced that as a party they wouldn’t attend, though individuals weren’t banned from doing so.
In a statement, the party said: “The overall atmosphere is now unfit for cross-strait dialogue.
The KMT hereby announces that it will not participate in the forum as a political party.”
“The cross-strait situation is complicated.
Any inappropriate comments or actions can seriously harm the hard-earned goodwill and mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait.”
The event is still going ahead, and according to Communist mouthpiece Xinhua “nearly 2,000 Taiwan compatriots” will still be attending.
So who is going?
One is a brief former acting KMT chair with business ties to China.
Other attendees include the chair of the pro-unification New Party (not to be confused with the New Power Party), and a People First Party adviser.
This year is also the first time since the inauguration of the Straits Forum that the chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) did not receive a participating Taiwanese delegation.
Instead the lower-ranking director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office took that role.
Out of all of this, the only beneficiaries appear to be KMT Chair Johnny Chiang and his reformers.
They are trying to move the KMT closer to mainstream Taiwanese voter’s opinions on China and the US.
Coming off their loss on the 92 consensus, this gave them a chance to distance themselves from China.
While it is not likely to convince the broader voting public that the KMT is now more pro-Taiwan, it may help them on the margins a bit.
The curious case of five Hong Kongers
Speaking of the KMT trying to look tougher on China, a KMT spokesperson said: “Before the [Jan. 11 presidential election], the Tsai administration told everyone that it supports Hong Kong, but so far the Tsai administration’s support for Hong Kong appears to be just talk.”
She continued: “we hope that the Tsai administration will come up with specific measures to give Hong Kong friends more specific legal protection.”
A lawmaker, speaking at the same press event said that a draft amendment to Article 18 of the Hong Kong and Macau act that he and other KMT lawmakers proposed in May would give the government a “legal basis” to deal with the issue, through “minimal amendments,” he said.
The Tsai administration’s Hong Kong Humanitarian Aid Project only applies to people who enter Taiwan legally, he said.
However, the people who are truly in need of humanitarian or emergency assistance are unable to travel legally, he added.
While it is hard to imagine a KMT administration being friendlier to Hong Kongers, they are right on this issue, as demonstrated by revelations that five Hong Kongers are being held at a coast guard facility.
The news of these five first broke via a Facebook post by someone claiming to have helped them escape.
The post was intended to draw attention to the plight of those escaping new repressive laws enacted in Hong Kong by China who are unable to leave legally.
It could also, however, put others hiding in Taiwan in danger.
Reuters has confirmed the story, reporting the following: “Five sources told Reuters the five people held in detention by Taiwan’s coast guard had left by boat from Hong Kong and made it to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the northern end of the South China Sea.”
The government has refused to comment on these cases, and has repeatedly called on Hong Kongers to come to Taiwan legally.
The problem is, the ones most at risk of arrest and deportation into the horrific maw of the Communist prison system are the ones who can’t leave Hong Kong legally, and can only run.
Taiwan needs to acknowledge that fact.
I’m thrilled to welcome another patron on Patreon, Jonathan. Thank you very much Jonathan, and our other patrons, for helping keep this project going.
The last few days were short on shows, apologies, but a friend’s crisis got in the way–and I took some time out to help with something that, if successful, could significantly help Taiwan’s standing in the world. No apologies for that part, it was well worth it. This is a really hot period in the news, so tune in the next few shows to get you all caught up.
Image: Xinhua via the 海峽論壇-Straits Forum Facebook page