Week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2015

KMT pro-localization members reportedly plan to split from the party to force the replacement of KMT presidential candidate Hung; Hung says she will not drop out of the race and claims she trails behind DPP presidential Tsai by 7 percentage points; Soong discriminatory ad causes a stir; U.S. President Obama reportedly reaffirms the Three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act as the cornerstones of Washington’s cross-strait policy during talks with Chinese President Xi. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.



HUNG SAYS WILL NOT DROP OUT: Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said she will not drop out of the presidential race despite depressing electoral prospects and rumors of an alleged plan by the party’s pro-localization members to form a splinter group to create pressure for Hung’s replacement. Senior presidential adviser Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) and former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) were allegedly among the KMT heavyweights spearheading the splinter group. Chang’s daughter, KMT lawmaker Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡), withdrew from the race last month at her father’s request. KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) are rumored to be Hung’s likely alternatives.

Hung dismissed the rumors, claiming she did not care as “everything is possible in election season.” In response to the speculation that she could be replaced by Chu, Hung said she would be thrilled if Chu decided to quit as New Taipei City mayor to join the election as her deputy. The remark sparked criticism of her “insolent manner” toward the party chairman. Separately, Hung warned that it would not reflect well on any party member — especially the chairman — if her election campaign crumbled, but later on denied that the remarks was a threat to Chu, who explicitly said it is “a fact that the KMT is not united.”

KMT DISPLAY OF UNITY: After KMT Chairman Chu dismissed allegations that his predecessor, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), had expressed discontent with his campaign performance at a luncheon with KMT members, KMT presidential candidate Hung appeared with Ma, Chu and Vice President Wu in a display of solidarity at a campaign event Wednesday-the first time since the party’s national congress on July 19 that so many top KMT members were together. However, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng was conspicuously absent.

During the event, where China-based Taiwanese businesspeople launched a club to support the KMT in next year’s elections, a participant yelled “Reform the legislature, down with Wang Jin-pyng,” sparking an ovation. Hung did not defend Wang, while Ma, whose longstanding feud with the leader of KMT’s pro-localization faction is an open secret, appeared at ease and laughed pleasantly. Hung warned the KMT party leaders and those who have not supported her campaign that the party “cannot afford to vacillate over her official nomination.” Separately, Hung made an appearance at a KMT event in Taoyuan last Saturday, but only one out of six KMT legislators representing the municipality were present.

The president of the pro-KMT club estimated that 200,000 to 300,000 Taiwanese businesspeople in China would return to Taiwan to vote “as long as the issue of their air tickets could be resolved.”

HUNG EXPECTS VICTORY: Hung Hsiu-chu asserted unwavering confidence on Sunday in winning next year’s presidential race, citing a recent poll by her own team showing her trailing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) by “only a small margin of seven percentage points.” According to the most recent presidential poll, released by the Chinese-language Liberty Times last Thursday, Tsai enjoys a commanding lead with 44.75 percent, with Hung at 12.13 percent.

SOONG AD SPARKS ANGER: A slogan appearing on PFP presidential candidate James Soong’s campaign commercial aired Sunday, reading: “[Only those who are] faithful to their wives and faithful to their children will be faithful to their country” has triggered criticism against its implication that single people are disloyal residents. Soong’s campaign team argued that the advertisement was made by PFP supporters, while the party did not play any part in its production-a similar statement Soong adopted two weeks ago when apologizing for the party’s social media post with offensive comments against single women.

TSAI UNVEILS HEADQUARTERS, POLICIES: The national campaign headquarters of DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen were unveiled on Wednesday and will be officially opened on Oct. 18. Major personnel appointments for her campaign headquarters have mostly been confirmed. In the past week, Tsai made public her housing policy, which aims to build 200,000 social housing units in eight years, and her “Asian Silicon Valley” initiative, an integral zone for innovative high-tech industries near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.



OBAMA’S STANCE ON TAIWAN: U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly declared his “strong commitment” to the Three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act during his White House summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the remarks were a sign of “the full understanding of U.S. about Taiwan’s position and its active support.” Following Xi’s visit, Project 2049 Institute executive director Mark Stokes said on Wednesday that the time might be ripe for a review of U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Separately, U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia Chairman Matt Salmon told a National Bureau of Asian Research conference on Wednesday that the U.S. is not living up to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

PORK ISSUE UP NEXT? U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Robert Holleyman told a press conference after the latest round of trade talks between Taiwan and the U.S. under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that “the issue surrounding beef and pork imports do complicate the ongoing discussions,” adding that Taiwan should handle food safety measures in a way that is based on science and consistent with global standards. Taiwanese media reported that resolving Taiwan’s ban on U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine remained a priority for the U.S., while the Taiwanese side was keen to join the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.



LAI SAYS HE SUPPORTS INDEPENDENCE: Baited by a KMT city councilor on Wednesday, Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said he supported Taiwanese independence, but that his position did not mean that he agrees with use of force or war between Taiwan and China. The comments drew criticism from KMT lawmakers, who accused Lai of “collaborating with Tsai Ing-wen [who says she intends to maintain the ‘status quo’] to cheat voters.”

MINISTER OF CULTURE RESIGNS: Minister of Culture Hung Meng-chi (洪孟啟) submitted his resignation on Wednesday after a report in Next Magazine claimed that the ministry had offered KMT lawmakers “special allowances” to ensure the approval of its proposed budget. Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) has asked Hung, who denied the allegations, to remain in his post. DPP legislators said they suspected that Hung may be a scapegoat for “decision-makers at a higher level” or a “victim of internal strife” at the Cabinet.

SAYS TIES WITH VATICAN ‘SOLID’: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday downplayed comments by Pope Francis signaling that he was seeking improvement in the Vatican’s relations with China and a possible visit to the country. The ministry said it remained confident that the Vatican would take the “feelings of Taiwanese” into consideration.

Separately, amid reports that the ministry could soon set up an office in Myanmar, the ministry said on Monday that it has always wanted to establish representative offices in Southeast Asia in a “pragmatic” fashion.

TRAVEL PASS CONTROVERSY: The legislature last Friday issued a statement protesting China’s introduction of a smart card as its new entry permit for Taiwanese, citing the lack of reciprocal respect and equal footing in the unilateral in Beijing’s launch of the initiative. Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) told the legislature on Thursday that the issue would be brought up at a top-level cross-strait meeting scheduled for Oct. 13-15 in China, where he will meet his counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

STICKER FOR TAIWAN’S IDENTITY: Pro-independence activists staged a protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Bureau of Consular Affairs last Friday to protest against Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin’s (林永樂) remarks at the legislature earlier last week that covering Taiwan’s official name “Republic of China” engraved on passports to support the Taiwan Identity movement was “illegal.”

EU PARLIAMENT TO PASS RESOLUTION ON PEACE INITIATIVE: The European Parliament is expected to pass a resolution next month in support of the South China Sea peace initiative proposed by President Ma, Werner Langen, chairman of the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group, said on Tuesday.

TOP SECURITY RESHUFFLE BEFORE ELECTIONS: Two top national security officials — Military Police commander Lieutenant General Wu Ying-ping (吳應平) and National Security Bureau’s Special Service Center deputy commander Lieutenant General Hsu Chang (許昌) — will leave their posts less than four months before next year’s elections.

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS WITH EU: Taiwan hopes to start negotiating with the EU on a bilateral investment agreement for more solid bilateral trade relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.



CHINA INVASION REPORT: An invasion of Taiwan would be a “daunting undertaking” for China as a potential U.S. intervention would present enormous challenges for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to a U.S. congressional report released during Chinese President Xi’s visit to the U.S. visit last week. The report included an unusual footnote pointing out that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never ruled Taiwan, which analysts said was in stark contrast with the usual reference to Taiwan’s status under the “one China” policy.

NEW ROUND OF US ARMS SALES TO TAIWAN: Project 2049 Institute executive director Mark Stokes said on Wednesday that the Obama administration could notify Congress about the latest round of sales of “three or four weapons systems” to Taiwan before the end of the year, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported.

DISSIDENTS OR SPIES? Immigration authorities have deported a Chinese woman suspected of spying and prosecutors charged four of her associates — also Chinese — with illegal entry after they landed on the shore of northern Taiwan in a motorboat earlier this month. Some lawmakers and human rights advocates said the deportation was made too soon without an adequate investigation into the motives of the five people, suggesting that they may have sought asylum in Taiwan.



VETERANS IN CHINA: The number of Taiwanese veterans relocating to China on government living allowances is likely to drop below 1,000 next year due to the scarcity of medical resources and difficulty in adjusting to the lifestyle of people there, the Veterans Affairs Council said on Monday.

LAYOFFS, INVOLUNTARY FURLOUGHS: The numbers of workers who are being laid off or put on unpaid leave have risen, while adjustments to the minimum wage would be unlikely, the Ministry of Labor said on Wednesday.

TYPHOON BATTERS TAIWAN: Typhoon Dujuan hit Taiwan on Monday, killing three and injuring 376.

DENGUE IN PEAK SEASON: The Central Epidemic Command Center for dengue fever said on Sunday that the disease had entered its peak season. The total number of reported dengue fever cases across Taiwan since May had reached 18,879 as of Thursday, with the death toll at a record-high of 56 since 2002.


The Taiwan Insider is a weekly feature prepared by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation’s Chris Wang, Serena Chuang, 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.

Recently published on Thinking Taiwan:

“China, Taiwan, and the Challenge of Military Transformation,” by Michal Thim

Comments are welcome, but will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive language, personal attacks or self-promotion will not be published. We encourage healthy discussion and, above all, tolerance of other's views.