TAIWAN INSIDER Vol. 2 No. 18

Week of May 2-8, 2015
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Staff
By

KMT Chairman Eric Chu backs the “1992 consensus” as the basis for future cross-strait collaboration and Taiwan’s global access; President Ma is pleased with Chu’s speech and slams the opposition for its refusal to recognize the consensus; Washington names new AIT director; KMT and DPP caucuses disclose their proposals for constitutional reform; Taiwan decides not to lift its ban on Japanese food. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.

 

► CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

CHU ON “1992 CONSENSUS,” ONE CHINA: Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said in Beijing on Tuesday that he hopes Taiwan and China will continue to work together on the basis of the “1992 consensus” to help deepen the consensus and increase cooperation between future generations, as well as expand Taiwan’s global access. At a high-level meeting between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), where he met Chinese President and CCP Secretary-General Xi Jinping (習近平), Chu described the consensus as “both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to ‘one China,’ but with each side ascribing different contents and definitions to the concept of ‘one China.’” At the same occasion, Xi said that cross-strait relations have reached a new and important point and would “have an impact on the Chinese nation and the country’s future.” State-run Xinhua news agency reported Xi as commenting that the two sides should settle political differences through “equal consultations.” President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) made positive remarks about the comments by Chu and Xi in regards to a continued commitment to “deepening the consensus.”

The full text of Chu’s speech is available here.

DPP ON CHU-XI MEETING: Commenting on the Chu-Xi meeting, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed her concerns that the proposal to promote Taiwan’s international participation based on the “1992 consensus” would limit Taiwan’s options and space, urging Chu to provide clarifications on points that might have prompted questions and apprehension among the public. Calling Chu’s remark a revision of Ma’s China policy refashioned under Beijing’s “one China” principle, the DPP also criticized him as having made concessions on Taiwanese sovereignty by acknowledging China’s assertion, adding that Chu will likely echo China’s policies and proceed to initiate a “peace agreement” with China under the “one China” framework.

Chu (朱立倫) lashed out at Tsai on Wednesday by pointing to “a lack of substance in cross-strait policy that could help realize her pledge of maintaining the ‘status quo’” in cross-strait relations.” He also strongly protested against, and requested the withdrawal of, a report by The Associated Press saying that he supported the eventual unification of Taiwan and China.

TAIWAN’S AIIB BID: During his meeting with Chu on Monday, Xi said that China welcomes Taiwan’s bid to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) based on the “one China principle” for cross-strait economic cooperation, as China is willing to share the opportunities for economic benefits first and foremost with Taiwanese. During the KMT-CCP Forum, Chu said that Taiwan’s younger generations would like to see the two sides work together to promote regional economic integration, including through the AIIB.

MAC ON CHU’S DEFINITION OF CONSENSUS: Taking legislators’ questions after Cu’s visit to China, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said on Tuesday that the KMT chairman’s description of cross-strait relations as two sides “belonging to ‘one China’” risked prompting a “misunderstanding” that Taiwan belongs to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The government of Taiwan has avoided using the language Chu adopted on account of political sensitivities, Hsia said. Analysts and DPP lawmakers said that Hsia’s comments were a slap in Chu’s face as Chu and the central government’s positions on the issue were “inconsistent.”

DPP REJECTS UNOFFICIAL TIES WITH CCP: Responding to Chu’s statement that the DPP is failing to develop relations with the CCP, the DPP last Saturday insisted it is committed to developing cross-strait ties on a government-to-government basis, and accused the KMT of “having made cross-strait relations something between the KMT and the CCP, and something that is conducted in secrecy.”

BEIJING CANCELS VISIT BY TAIWANESE ACADEMICS: Beijing has cancelled a planned visit to China by a Taiwanese delegation led by Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), one of the Taiwanese academics who was accused of leading the public to misinterpret the messages of the Chu-Xi meeting in an article published on Wednesday by the Hong Kong-based China Review.

FORMER PRESIDENT LEE DENIES CONSENSUS: Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said on Saturday that there is no such thing as the “1992 consensus” and that it “only incurs ridicule” when President Ma keeps “chanting” it. Lee added that he had inquired with the top delegates at the cross-strait meeting in 1992 and was told there had been no such consensus. The Presidential Office dismissed Lee’s claim, insisting that the consensus is an “undeniable fact.”

OVERSEAS TAIWANESE WITH CLOSE TIES WITH CHINA: At least 20 consulting committee members of Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, including China-based businesswoman Tung Shu-chen (董淑貞), who prompted public outcry over her controversial remarks about cross-strait relations, hold positions in Chinese political bodies or have had involvement with the operations of China’s United Front Work Department, DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) revealed on Wednesday. Tung, a committee member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)-subsidized NGO World League of Freedom and Democracy, sparked controversy with her comments during a closed-door forum in Shanghai on Sunday with Eric Chu and China-based Taiwanese businesspeople. Tung, who is also a KMT representative in China, said that Chu should disregard different voices in Taiwan and simply concentrate on further KMT-CCP cooperation. Tung added that the votes by Chinese immigrants married to Taiwanese and their offspring would “ensure” KMT victory in future elections.

 

► ELSEWHERE IN POLITICS

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM: The KMT and the DPP caucuses disclosed their proposed amendments to the Constitution last Friday, with consensus on the issues of lowering the voting age and the party ballot threshold to 3 percent for small parties to appoint legislators-at-large. The DPP caucus also proposed the abolition of the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan, the lowering of the threshold for constitutional amendments and complementary revisions to guarantee basic human rights. Also last Saturday, representatives of civic groups and political parties attended the Convention on the Action Plan for Constitutional Reform reached agreement on the above issues, as well as on a two-stage process of constitutional reform aiming to defer the most controversial issues until a second round. The convention began with speeches by former president Lee and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). If the legislature plans to put its proposed amendments to the Constitution to the vote in a referendum on Jan. 16, the day of the presidential and legislative elections, it will need to submit its proposals in mid-June, Wang said on Saturday.

NEW AIT DIRECTOR: Taiwan welcomes the appointment of Kin Moy, a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as the new director of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), MOFA said Thursday after the announcement was made in Washington.

TSAI VISIT TO US: It is expected that DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen will meet with senior U.S. government officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during her visit to Washington next month, as the U.S. regards her party as the likely winner in next year’s presidential election, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported, citing DPP sources. Tsai denied the report, saying that the itinerary of her U.S. visit is still being planned.

TAIWANESE IN AUSTRALIA EXPLOITED: Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported that Taiwanese were among foreign workers being underpaid in slave-labor conditions. Taiwan’s representative office in Canberra said it has contacted Australian authorities and urged them to investigate the matter.

TOUGH REGULATIONS ON JAPANESE FOOD IMPORTS: The Executive Yuan said on Tuesday that a new directive that will tighten regulations on Japanese food imports will take effect on May 15 as scheduled. Food products from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba have been banned in Taiwan since those areas suffered radiation contamination as a result of the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. Under the new regulations, importers of Japanese food products will be required to present certificates of origin to prove that the imports are not from any of the five prefectures. For some imports such as tea, baby food, and dairy and aquatic products, radiation inspection certificates will also be required.

DONATION FOR NEPAL: Nepali Vice President Parmanand Jha accepted an official note verbale from Taiwan on Sunday for the donation of US$300,000 for earthquake relief. Jha expressed hopes that the meeting would mark the beginning of closer ties between Nepal and Taiwan.

WU DENIES PRESIDENTIAL BID: Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said last Saturday that he would not join the KMT’s presidential primary, ending speculation about a possible bid for the presidency next year.

OFFICIALS’ CHINA VISIT QUESTIONED: Opposition lawmakers questioned the administrative neutrality of six government officials who joined the KMT delegation for this year’s Shanghai Cross-Strait Economic and Cultural Forums on KMT funds, saying that the officials were incapable of distinguishing between party loyalty and their duty to Taiwan. Minister of Civil Service Chang Che-shen (張哲琛) said he agreed such acts were inappropriate.

CURRICULUM CHANGE DISPUTE CONTINUES: Facing severe criticism, the Ministry of Education insisted on Wednesday that new textbooks and future college entrance examinations should follow the new curriculum guidelines, which have been the object of a months-long dispute due to revisions that were the result of “conservative ideology” and an “opaque design process” by the ministry’s committee. Thirteen local governments nationwide have rejected the new guidelines, which include the removal of sections on human rights and the White Terror era, while strengthening emphasis on Chinese culture.

EX- DPP CHAIRMAN SLAMS MA: Former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) said on Sunday that “empty campaign promises have “cheapened” Taiwanese politics. Lin cited the various pledges made by Ma during his presidential campaign, saying he had failed to honor them. Lin added that Ma was “a president of no value.”

CHEN SHUI-BIAN’S MEDICAL PAROLE EXTENDED: The medical parole of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who serving a 20-year jail sentence for corruption, has been extended by three months, officials said last Friday.

SUNFLOWER ACTIVIST MULLING LEGISLATIVE BID: Academia Sinica researcher and Sunflower movement leader Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) announced on Monday his decision to join the New Power Party (NPP), a political party launched in January by prominent social activists. Huang said he remained undecided on whether to join next year’s legislative election, but that he could consider the party’s candidacy in two constituencies if necessary.

CHIANG KAI-SHEK STATUE CONTROVERSY: Keelung has became the first local government to be investigated by prosecutors for removing a statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), a symbol of Taiwan’s past authoritarian rule, to create space for activities. The probe into funding issues was based on reports that were allegedly filed by councilors or residents who were upset about the removal.

 

► MILITARY AND SECURITY

EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOCUS OF MILITARY DRILL: The military has begun its five-day computer-assisted wargame in the first phase of the annual Han Kuang military exercises, with a particular focus on emergency response, namely rapid battle preparations and the mobilization of supplies and reservists. According to Storm Media, an online news website, Taipei falls in two days to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with the majority of Air Force combat aircraft and radar stations destroyed within a short period of time.

RUMORED UPGRADED PLA FIGHTER JET: The PLA Air Force’s upgraded D variant of the mainstay J-11 jet fighter has taken its maiden flight, according to pictures that have emerged on various Chinese web sites and forums.

CHINA THREAT: Taiwan faces “imminent military threats” from China, and its current defense posture — “compounded by financial constraints” — will soon become obsolete at dealing with the threats, former defense minister Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said in a paper published in the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief journal. Yang currently serves on the National Security Council.

KNOX-CLASS FRIGATES DECOMMISSIONED: The Navy decommissioned two of its eight Knox-class frigates on Friday and intends to replace them with two Perry-class guided missile frigates that is part of a fleet modernization effort.

 

► LEGISLATION

EMPLOYEE PAYOUTS: Amendments to the Company Act were passed in the legislature last Friday, with a new clause requiring corporations to stipulate a portion of the company’s profits to be allocated to their employees either in cash or as shares.

 

► SOCIETY

LABOR OUTCRY: Thousands of labor union members and workers from various industries, including healthcare professionals, police officers and foreign workers who are perceived as the most exploited groups of employees in Taiwan staged a demonstration during International Workers’ Day last Friday, demanding an immediate end to overwork, long working hours and stagnant salaries. About three-quarters of Taiwanese employees work long hours, but 60 percent of people said their current wages are insufficient to cover basic living expenses, according to a survey by the Social Democratic Party. DPP Chairperson Tsai pledged last Saturday to improve workers’ rights by amending laws that would promote a shorter workweek and a higher minimum wage, urging the KMT to stop prioritizing cross-strait relations over labor issues.

LEGAL AID FOR MIGRANTS AND FOREIGN SPOUSES: Lawmakers across party lines agreed on Monday to extend legal aid to migrant workers and disadvantaged foreign spouses during a preliminary review of amendments to the Legal Aids Act.

 

The Taiwan Insider is a weekly feature prepared by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation’s Chris Wang and staff members. Comments? Leads? You can reach us at editor@thinking-taiwan.com. Click here to subscribe to the Insider and receive it in your e-mail.

 

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