The KMT Central Standing Committee endorses a proposal to revoke the nomination of its presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu four days ahead of its extempore party congress; KMT chairman Eric Chu apologizes to Hung and says he will try to lead the party to victory; Hung does not back off from the race despite affirming that she will respect the party’s decision; the Special Investigation Division is to launch an investigation if Hung’s replacement involves a tradeoff; DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen enters Tokyo’s Cabinet Office for talks with Japanese officials; Tsai enjoys a significant lead in poll despite the change in KMT candidate. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.
► PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: KMT
HUNG’S REPLACEMENT: The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) moved closer to replacing its presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) after its central standing committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal calling for the rescission of her presidential nomination, which is to be confirmed by a party congress on Saturday. With the theme of “forging consensuses and securing victory through party solidarity,” the party congress will start at 2pm on Saturday. Ironically, the gathering will be held at National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, where the KMT’s national congress confirmed her nomination three months ago. Hung has been invited to attend and speak at the congress, according to the KMT.
Despite Hung’s reiterating that she will respect the party’s decision, KMT chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) gave a second open apology in a week over the party leadership’s decision to force her out of the race with an emphasis on the solidarity of all KMT members, apparently in response to predictions that the unprecedented nullification of Hung’s nomination would widen a split within the party. Calling Chu “shameless,” about 200 supporters Hung supporters gathered outside the party headquarters on Saturday in protest at the KMT’s candidate change.
Following this week’s committee decision, Hung said in a press release that although “there is no way that one should be confused with what is right and wrong,” she fully understood the party’s anxiety over its electoral prospects.
Saturday’s party congress is expected to nominate Chu to replace Hung. The Central Election Commission said on Wednesday that Chu, who is currently New Taipei City Mayor, could still join a mayoral by-election, held separately from the presidential election, if he resigned from the mayoral post but eventually lost the presidential vote. In a letter to the party’s national congress members on Tuesday, Chu implied that he would join the race and stressed that he would “shoulder the responsibility with courage to lead the party forward for its victory.”
MA ORCHESTRATES CANDIDACY, CHAIRMANSHIP? The Presidential Office on Wednesday denied a report by Storm Media, an online news Website, that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had instructed Chu to run for the presidency to block a presidential bid by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), with whom Ma has had a long-running feud, and to hand over the party chairmanship to Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) following the presidential election. The Presidential Office called the news report “outright fabrication.”
INVESTIGATION INTO HUNG’S REMOVAL: In response to accusations by opposition lawmakers that the KMT has leveraged financial and other incentives to talk presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu into withdrawing from the presidential race, the Special Investigation Division said on Tuesday that it would conduct an investigation into possible violations of election laws by the party in Hung’s removal. Hung brushed off a rumor that she would receive NT$500 million (US$15.3 million) from party headquarters as a trade-off for her withdrawal from the race.
► PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: DPP
TSAI’S VISIT TO JAPAN: Regional peace and economic cooperation between Taiwan and Japan were at the center of her talks with “some people concerned,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said after exiting the Cabinet Office in Tokyo last Friday, refereeing to meetings on the final day of her visit to Japan. Although Tsai declined to reveal the identity of the Japanese officials she had met, media reports on Friday speculated that she may have met with Japanese Cabinet ministers－the first time that a Taiwanese presidential candidate was able to do so. Tsai also reportedly held informal talks in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.
TSAI SAYS ‘MA DISCONNECTED FROM PUBLIC’: President Ma focused his final National Day speech last Saturday on making clarifications to the public about various “misunderstandings” about his performance, an attempt that Tsai Ing-wen described as an example of the president’s “disconnection” from the people. As Ma also urged any future president to continue to adhere to the so-called “1992 consensus” for cross-strait relations, a remark interpreted as being directed at Tsai, whose attendance at the National Day celebration was a first for a DPP chairperson during the Ma administration, Tsai said the future of the nation should be decided by its people with their opinions reflected in next year’s elections. Tsai skipped a few words when singing the Republic of China (ROC) anthem at the ceremony on Saturday, as the anthem is also the KMT anthem, with lyrics including the passage “our party.”
CHINA’S CUT OF TOURISTS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS: The Mainland Affairs Council denied on Tuesday speculation that Beijing was planning to drastically cut the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan to ensure that Taiwanese businesspeople based in China could return and vote, a move that Beijing expected would benefit the pan-blue camp.
TSAI HOLDS LEAD IN POLL: The latest poll by the Taiwan Indicators Survey Research shows that DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen will maintain her double-digit lead against her opponents even if KMT chairman Eric Chu joins the race.
Recent poll results:
|Taiwan Indicators Survey Research
► ELSEWHERE IN POLITICS
CROSS-STRAIT TALKS: After denying on Tuesday that President Ma was planning to propose a Taiwan Strait peace initiative before his presidential term ends in May next year, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said on Wednesday that the existence of the so-called “1992 consensus” was a historical fact requiring respect. Hsia made the remarks during his meeting with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in China. The talks are expected to be the last high-level cross-strait interaction of Ma’s second term. Hsia also said he had informed Zhang of the government’s intense reaction to China’s unilateral introduction of a smart card as the new travel pass for Taiwanese visitors to China. Hsai “jokingly” told his Chinese counterpart that he was compelled to do because “lawmakers demanded a protest on the issue.”
Separately, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said on Wednesday that allowing Chinese tourists to board transit flights in Taiwan would not be tied to optimizing cross-strait flight operations in cross-strait negotiations.
ITU ABA FOR HUMANITARIAN WORK: Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, in the disputed Spratlys in the South China Sea, will serve as a low-carbon bastion for undertaking humanitarian tasks for the promotion of peace and stability in the South China Sea, where China’s claims overlap with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, the Coast Guard Administration said on Wednesday.
US PORK FOR TPP: The thorny issue of U.S. pork imports arising from Taiwan’s banning of imports of U.S. pork that contain traces of ractopamine, a feed additive banned in Taiwan, needs to be addressed if Taiwan hopes to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional trade bloc, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
INVESTMENT PACT WITH EU: Taiwan on Tuesday expressed hope that negotiations with the European Union on an investment agreement could start as soon as possible. It made the comments one day after the European Commission openly expressed its intention to negotiate with Taiwan for the first time.
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN IC INDUSTRY: The Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Tuesday that restrictions on Chinese investments in Taiwan’s IC design sector are still in place, but assured that it would listen to “voices from the industry.” The ministry made the remarks amid reports that MediaTek Inc (聯發科) had urged the government to relax its regulations to bolster access to the Chinese market.
► MILITARY AND SECURITY
FRIGATE DEAL: The Ministry of National Defense said that coordination difficulties between the U.S. executive and legislative branches had delayed the signing of a contract for the sale of Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. The ministry said it hoped that a letter of offer and acceptance for the frigates could be secured by the end of the year.
CYBERWARFARE DEFENSE: The Ministry of National Defense said last Friday that the military has been upgrading its digital technology know-how and improved its cyberwarfare defenses, as well as ensuring cybersecurity is in coordination with various government agencies. The comments were ostensibly in in response to DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu’s (吳釗燮) pledge at the 14th annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference last week regarding the DPP’s commitment to establish a Taiwanese “cyberarmy” if it were to become the ruling party.
PLA PROPAGANDA ON GOVERNMENT WEBSITE: A government-sponsored Website providing materials for the promotion of national defense education was found by a primary school teacher as containing a video of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on parade, along with about 40 World War II movies produced by the Chinese government, prompting criticism that “the Ministry of Education is apparently unable to distinguish between our own military and enemy troops.” The Website at the heart of the controversy was managed by the National Defense Education Center, a joint project between the defense and education ministry.
INTRUSION OF CHINESE COAST GUARD: Family members and crewmates of a deceased Kinmen Island ship captain have accused China maritime police of causing the captain’s death, while intruding into Taiwan’s coastal territory, and have demanded that the Mainland Affairs Council and the judiciary investigate, the Taipei Times reported on Sunday. The cargo ship DeWang No. 2 (德旺二號) crew members said four Chinese officers boarded the vessel on Sept. 21 while in the coastal waters of Kinmen Island, after the DeWang No. 2 returned from Quanzhou City in China’s Fujian Province. During the incident, cargo ship captain Lin Ming-chun (林明濬) fell overboard. His body was found two days later by a search helicopter from the National Airborne Service Corps 2.3 nautical miles (4.25km) off Kinmen Island.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to subscribe to the Insider and receive it in your e-mail.
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