Summary: The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee is to further investigate two affiliates of the KMT. Enoch Wu announces he’s not running for Taipei Mayor. The local political fallout over American pork continues. Why President Tsai is expending political capital on a US trade deal. China’s reaction to Taiwan’s new French office is priceless. But up first, headlines.
Taiwanese drug maker Adimmune Corp. said it has started the first phase of human trials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine this week, with Phase 2 likely to follow in November if everything goes well.
They hope to see people in Taiwan receive their vaccine shots sometime after the middle of 2021.
That’s not the only one in the works.
A COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by a Taiwanese biomedical company and the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been given conditional approval to enter human trials, according to Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Travelers arriving at airports in Taiwan who have to be tested for COVID-19 will be given deep-throat saliva tests instead of throat swab tests starting Sept. 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Sunday.
The change will make the testing process less uncomfortable and reduce the burden of health care professionals.
Unlike throat swab tests, where medical workers rub a cotton swab inside a person’s throat to collect samples, deep-throat saliva tests can be conducted by the person being tested simply by spitting into a bottle.
Premier Su Tseng-chang has unveiled the second phase of a government anti-drug campaign.
The Cabinet gave the green light to the plan on Thursday, approving a budget of NT$15 billion (US$ 500 million) to be used between 2021 and 2025.
Su says although the first phase of the anti-drug campaign, which lasted from 2017 to 2020, produced some results, more still has to be done.
President Tsai indicated this was one of her priorities in her first inaugural speech.
Taiwan has registered 22 newly arrived foreign journalists so far this year, including some barred from working in China.
Hopefully this will result in better coverage of Taiwan, which had often been treated as an afterthought.
Taiwanese e-book platform Readmoo has reportedly ended its partnership with China’s largest third-party payment processor Alipay after the Chinese firm demanded the removal of politically sensitive books from the platform.
“Alipay has requested the platform to carry out self-censorship and remove politically sensitive books,” said Readmoo via a statement.
“We will terminate the online payment services provided by Alipay to protect readers’ rights to knowledge and free choice.”
Taiwan will provide US$150,000 in humanitarian aid to the victims of the devastating Aug. 4 explosion at the port in Beirut, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee is to further investigate two affiliates of the KMT
The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee is to further investigate two affiliates of the KMT before deciding how to transfer their ownership to the government, according to a committee spokesman.
The committee is to collect more information about the China Youth Corps and Central Motion Picture Corp, as well as hold hearings, before deciding whether to transfer part or all of their assets to state ownership.
The committee in August 2018 determined that the China Youth Corps was a KMT affiliate, freezing assets valued at NT$5.61 billion, before doing the same with Central Motion Picture in October of that year, freezing assets valued at NT$11.8 billion.
Enoch Wu announces he’s not running for Taipei Mayor
Enoch Wu has announced he’s not going to run for Taipei Mayor in 2022, preferring instead to work on national defence-related issues.
Wu had been considered a good candidate for the DPP, as he’s handsome, popular and has a background in both finance at Goldman Sachs and a military background.
He was defeated in a run for the legislature by the KMT’s Chiang Wan-an, another handsome young man who also happens to be Chiang Kai-shek’s great-grandson.
Chiang is considered a strong possibility to represent the KMT in the mayoral run, in spite of only have just been elected to the legislature.
Current Mayor Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party will have reached his term limits, and won’t be able to run again.
His Vice Mayor, Huang Shan-shan is considered the most likely candidate to run for the TPP.
The local political fallout over American pork continues
The local political fallout over American pork continues to make waves.
The KMT is now openly calling on its caucuses in local governments across Taiwan to work towards countering the central government’s new policies on imported meat.
Nineteen of Taiwan’s 22 city and county councils are led by KMT speakers.
Yes, you heard that correctly, 19 of 22.
While the KMT is struggling at the national level, at the local level they remain dominant.
Kaohsiung, now led by a DPP mayor and in a pro-DPP city, has a KMT city council speaker and they hold a plurality of the seats.
Not all local governments are on board, however.
New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) of the KMT, said he will not oppose the new policy just for the sake of opposition, but he wanted the government to explain the issue clearly.
“As long as people’s health is safeguarded and people accept (the new policy), I will stand with them,” Hou said.
That is classic Hou, being practical and constructive.
It also bucks his own party.
It is also one of the reasons he’s the most popular politician in the country.
At a KMT press conference, KMT Chair Johnny Chiang asked “Who do you (Tsai) think you are? An empress? Is it now an authoritarian era?”
They’ve been using pretty much every issue recently to try and brand the DPP as authoritarian, dictatorial or enacting one-party rule.
This is the first time I’ve heard “empress” though.
They clearly haven’t gotten used to being out of power.
Before 2016 they always had control of the legislature, even under DPP President Chen Shui-bian.
Johnny Chiang also accused the DPP of having double standards, saying that it had previously opposed the use of ractopamine.
That’s actually completely true, the DPP did use to oppose it–but his statement reminds people the same is true about their party, they used to support it.
As I’ve noted before, this issue-swapping by parties depending on who is in power is common in Taiwan.
Vice President William Lai has acknowledged this bipartisan flip-flopping, saying “When the DPP is in power, the opposition is against the policy.
When it’s the KMT’s turn, the DPP opposes it.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Monday defended the government’s policy.
He cited a risk assessment commissioned by a Council of Agriculture (COA) agency in 2019 to assert that meat from animals fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption.
He added, a person would have to eat at least 33 pork chops containing ractopamine every day to reach the amount considered to pose a risk to their health.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission passed a global standard for ractopamine in beef and pork in July 2012, which Chen said he would follow.
However, the standards were passed at the time by a 69-67 vote, indicating the lack of a scientific consensus on the issue.
It is banned in the EU and some other major markets, but is common and legal in North America, and US meat has major market share in Japan and South Korea.
Why President Tsai is expending political capital on a US trade deal
In my last show I ran out of time to go into why President Tsai is expending political capital on this issue.
It’s deeply unpopular and gives the KMT a stick to beat the DPP with.
Local media outlet Newtalk released what it billed as a sneak peak at an upcoming poll release.
According to their article, 73.9% are against trading allowing in American pork for a free trade agreement.
Only 17.9% were for it.
That’s a pretty stark disparity.
Reasons for this that are put forward to explain this include that Taiwanese are very sensitive to food safety issues and most are only one or two generations removed from the farm, and retain sentimental ties to local pork production.
If Taiwan can secure a bilateral trade agreement or a free trade agreement with the US, that would be a big deal economically and strategically for Taiwan.
Aside from China and New Zealand, Taiwan has no trade deals and is kept out of all trade blocks other than the WTO.
This means that pretty much everywhere Taiwanese products are at a disadvantage.
The US is Taiwan’s second-biggest market after China, so the opportunities are huge.
If a US deal is made, that makes it easier for other markets to make similar deals with Taiwan despite opposition from Communist China.
Australia had been working on a deal similar to the New Zealand one, but dropped it under Chinese pressure.
If a US deal is in place, and considering the current tensions between Australia and China, they may restart talks.
It also would make it easier to get entry into the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has 11 signatories including Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam.
If Joe Biden wins the US election, he has said he intends to rejoin the block, which Donald Trump withdrew from.
Strategically President Tsai wants to reduce economic reliance on China so as to reduce their leverage over Taiwan.
The trade deal with China, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), is also due to expire next month, and the Chinese side is giving conflicting messages on whether they will continue with it.
If they don’t renew it, they’ll deliver an economic blow to Taiwan and a political blow to President Tsai–but they’ll also be reducing their own leverage.
How big of an economic blow is an open question.
It would definitely hurt Taiwanese farmers and fishermen.
It definitely deliver a short term blow to many other companies, but this may further push Taiwanese firms to accelerate their exodus out of China.
While on paper China is Taiwan’s biggest trade partner, those numbers hide a significant fact: much of that trade isn’t intended for the Chinese market.
Much of it is components in the supply chain for final assembly in China.
Those products are then exported out of China.
That means that those supply chains in many cases can moved out of China.
This is well understood by the US national security establishment, which is why they are for a US-Taiwan trade deal, as does the State Department.
However, to date there has been no word from the US Trade Representative, which is worrying.
China’s reaction to Taiwan’s new French office is priceless
Taiwan has opened a new representative office in the French city of Aix-en-Provence, which is a minor diplomatic breakthrough.
More Taiwanese have been travelling to France, so it will provide useful services to citizens abroad.
Normally I would have simply put this under headlines, but for the priceless response in Chinese Communist mouthpiece the Global Times.
“Although some secessionists on the island took the establishment of the office as a “diplomatic breakthrough,” while the island leader Tsai Ing-wen boasted about it via a Twitter post on Tuesday, mainland experts believe that Taiwan’s self-pleasing move is like spiritual opium obtained through provoking the Chinese mainland”
You heard that right, “self-pleasing”!
Taiwan, according to them, masturbates to provoking the Chinese mainland!
You can’t make this stuff up.
The Global Times is pure comedy gold.
Image courtesy of the Changhua County Govt