Are Taiwanese ready for war?–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

Summary: A new New Power Party poll is out. The legislative speaker wants to undo a DPP referendum reform from just last year. Fan Yun finds out she was a surveillance target. Will Johnny Chiang survive as KMT chair until his term ends? A poll shows Taiwanese views on fighting a war with China. And a couple of headlines.


The government budget for fiscal 2021 could see national defence spending increase to NT$335.8 billion (US$11.36 billion), up NT$10 billion, or 3 percent, from fiscal 2020.
If the NT$29 billion in special funding to purchase F-16 jets from the US were included, the increase in the national defence budget would be 7 percent.

Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) has said that he will propose a bill calling for the government to return the confiscated property or financial assets of those convicted of rebellion or sedition during the White Terror and Martial Law eras.
Lim said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has made progress in implementing transitional justice by passing laws since 2016, but its efforts have yet to address the assets owned by those wrongfully convicted of rebellion or sedition that were confiscated by the government.

A new New Power Party poll is out

A New Power Party poll showed that more than half of those questioned were confident in Taiwan’s preparations against the Chinese military threat, with 26.1% feeling extremely confident and 24.9% feeling fairly confident. Meanwhile, 21.0% were not very confident, and 19.4% did not feel confident at all, with 8.6% having no opinion.
Regarding the relationship between Taiwan and China, 33.4% of people were inclined towards independence, 54.6% supported maintaining the status quo, and only 6.4% supporting reunification.
Though down 16.1% from the peak of the pandemic crisis, President Tsai’s approval rating remains high at 60.8%, with 30.1% disapproving.
Premier Su’s approval is also down, but still healthy at 56.1%, with 35.7% disapproving.
The poll also showed that only 38.8% had faith in Chen Chu’s ability to remain impartial and non-partisan as head of the Control Yuan.
So it appears the KMT had a winning issue on that.

Legislative speaker wants to undo DPP referendum reform

Legislative Speaker Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) has suggested holding a referendum in 2022 along with the nine-in-one elections to deal with constitutional issues such as lowering the legal voting age and abolishing the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.
An amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) last year decoupled referendums from national elections and stipulated that they be held every two years on the fourth Saturday of August starting next year.
That was put in after the DPP was embarrassed by a series of referendum results they didn’t like, including voting for nuclear power and against marriage equality.
This has created a problem, however, for the referendum to be valid requires more than 9 million votes.
Getting people to turn up to vote in hot, sweaty August to vote for a referendum is a tall order–and that was the point of the change.
Now that they have something they want to pass, however, the legislative speaker apparently wants to change it back.
Yu said that he met separately with the three opposition caucuses in April, and all of them agreed that the referendum for the proposed constitutional amendments should be held in tandem with the national elections.
So it looks likely they’re going to undo their own referendum reform.

Fan Yun finds out she was a surveillance target

DPP Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) on Saturday disclosed that she had recently found out she had been a target of the KMT government in the early 90s, just a few years after martial law ended in Taiwan.
She learned about it when the Transitional Justice Commission invited her to view an archive of more than 1,000 secret surveillance files against her.
Fan was one of the leaders of the pro-democracy Wild Lily student movement in 1990.
Initiated by university students, the Wild Lily protests called for direct presidential elections and the establishment of a new National Assembly, among other democratic reforms.
Taiwan nationally was still effectively a one-party state.
Fan wrote on Facebook “The government was on my case for more than eight years, from January 1990 to August 1998,” adding that some of her peers at National Taiwan University (NTU) were paid to act as informers.
“Their aim was to collect enough evidence to charge me with disrupting social order and campus peace,” she said.
At the time, Fan said, the KMT had its fingers in NTU affairs, and both the school and the party were working against her.
Some people say the KMT still has its fingers in NTU affairs.

Will Johnny Chiang survive as KMT chair until his term ends?

I was asked this question the other day:
“So do you think Johnny’s days as party chair are limited after this latest scandal?
Some of the TV commentators certainly seem to think so…”
Of course by latest scandal he was referring to the revelation that KMT Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Jane Lee had plagiarized 96% of her master’s thesis, and then she renounced her degree.
By Johnny, he’s referring to Johnny Chiang, the KMT chairman.
This was my answer:
I think he can hold on for now, although in theory vetting candidates should be within his remit, this isn’t a race for the presidency so I think he can resist calls to resign…assuming no new scandals pop up.
Those who already want him gone won’t be happy, but he’s got until at least election day on August 15 I reckon.
His problem now is to try to keep the Kaohsiung mayoral result from being a total blowout.
I’ve seen in both UDN and China Times–both pro-KMT local papers–it suggested that he should resign if Lee drops below 31% of the vote (which was the KMT result in 2014) or drops behind the TPP candidate, then the pressure on him to resign will grow dramatically.
If he survives that (a big if at this point) then he has to get his reforms through the party congress in mid-September.
He’s in a minefield, that’s for sure.
However, he does have two advantages which may see him serve out his term.
First, many consider him a mere caretaker anyway, after all he won in a by-election.
Second, the KMT is in it’s “darkest hour” as they’re fond of saying (though I’d have thought losing China would have qualified for that title) and it’s a toxic post to hold right now with the party polling lower than at any time in history.
I suspect those that are lining up for next May’s chair election would be fine with him holding the bag and enacting reforms they can benefit from without having to expend any personal political capital themselves–especially Eric Chu.
Chu is clearly angling to run next May, and unlike the other heavyweights in the party (aside from the always reticent Hou Yu-ih, who has said nothing) he hasn’t attacked Chiang’s reform plans–he equivocated by saying basically that Chiang was enduring hardship (specifically using the phrase 很辛苦) and that reform is hard work, without saying one way or the other whether he supported the reforms or not.
Chiang may survive on an argument inside the party of “is it worth having another election for chair when there is only less than a year left in the term?”
Doesn’t mean the pressure for him to resign won’t be high, but that could possibly temper it.

Poll shows Taiwanese views on fighting a war with China

Not being time sensitive, I’ve held this story for a less busy day.
About a week ago this the results of a poll on conscription and fighting an attack by China came out, and was reported in the Taiwan News:
About 75 percent of Taiwanese agree with the proposition that Taiwan should extend the period of military conscription instead of adopting a completely voluntary recruitment policy, according to a recent survey carried out by ETtoday.
Among the respondents, 50.8 percent strongly agree with the proposition, 24.4 percent slightly agree, 12 percent slightly disagree, 5.9 percent totally disagree, and 7 percent have no opinion.
Before 2000, Taiwan’s conscription system mandated that all males over the age of 18 serve two years in the military.
This has since been shortened to four months of basic training.
The military experts, and young men who’ve gone through it, I’ve spoken to say the four months of basic training is next to useless–and clearly Taiwanese are aware of this.
The poll also showed if war were to break out between Taiwan and China, 40.9 percent of those surveyed said that they are willing to fight or would not object to their family’s participation, while 49.1 percent said the opposite.
Compared to the results of a previous survey, the percentage of people willing to take up arms in defence of Taiwan or support family members in doing so has increased significantly
Those willing to fight for Taiwan are typically male, between the ages of 30 and 39, and with party affiliations slanting towards the green coalition, which includes supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party and New Power Party among others.
Most likely pretty much everyone above the age of 40 or 50 put themselves in the won’t fight category, simply because they reckon they are too old.
Because of gender roles instilled in women here from a young age, it wouldn’t surprise me if most said they wouldn’t fight, simply because they assume that’s something men do.
In practice, however, I suspect a lot of women would in the end fight, no matter what they may think now.
The women of Hong Kong in the last few years have shown the kind of strength and bravery battling for freedom that I expect Taiwanese women have in them–whether they know it now or not.
While the Taiwan News headline was “Nearly half of Taiwanese unwilling to fight to defend nation,” I think actually 41% is a fairly high number considering.
However, last summer I spoke with a young man about to go to university, and I asked him if he would fight if China attacked.
He said no.
He pointed out, which is an interesting point, that without a few years training he figured he’d be useless on the battlefield.
Essentially he figured he’d just be cannon fodder.
Let’s hope we never have to find out.

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