The DPP sues pan-blue politicians over their sustained attacks on presidential candidate Tsai; Chinese investment targeting Taiwan’s two key semiconductor firms raises grave concerns; One of the largest TV networks in Taiwan agrees on sale to China-affiliated firm; The Obama administration authorizes a US$1.83 billion new arms package for Taiwan; Minister of the interior visits Itu Aba to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty claim; Deputy Legislative Speaker and short-lived KMT presidential candidate Hung denies report of planned meeting with Chinese President Xi; Tsai maintains a substantial lead in the polls. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.
► PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
DPP SUES PAN-BLUE POLITICIANS OVER SMEARS: As Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers Alex Tsai (蔡正元), Alicia Wang (王育敏) and former legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) continued to accuse Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of involvement in land speculation in 1997, the DPP on Monday filed a lawsuit over what it called a “smear” and “negative” campaign. In response to the lawsuit, the three politicians filed a lawsuit alleging a false accusation while extending their allegations against Tsai.
Tsai Ing-wen has been under attack in the past week in an apparent attempt to retaliate against the controversy involving KMT vice presidential candidate Jennifer Wang’s (王如玄) alleged real estate profiteering, which was first revealed by DPP lawmaker Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康). DPP lawyers on Tuesday also released the complete data of Tsai’s declaration of her assets in the past 20 years to fend off the accusation and urged KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) to do so as well.
In response to an advertisement published by Tsai’s campaign office on Sunday calling for voters to take action against KMT mudslinging tactics with their ballots in next month’s elections, Chu on Monday accused the DPP of focusing on its own smear campaign against him and Wang, who were — according to him — “engrossed in finding a solution to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness.”
IC OPENING TO CHINA: Eric Chu and Tsai Ing-wen both reasserted their opposition to the intended purchase by China’s Tsinghua Unigroup (清華紫光) of a stake in Siliconware Precision Industries Co Ltd (矽品精密) and MediaTek (聯發科) — two of Taiwan’s key semiconductor firms, with concerns over deepened Chinese influence that risks hollowing out the industry. The Chinese-language Liberty Times reported on Wednesday that Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said last month that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) intends to open the sector to Chinese investment after the Jan. 16 presidential election to avoid a contradicting Chu on the matter. Legislators agreed during cross-caucus negotiations that the government should prohibit Chinese capitals in the IC design industry and refrain from approving investment by Tsinghua Unigroup without briefing the legislature in advance.
COMMITMENT TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Environmentalists accused all presidential candidates of giving inadequate attention to pollution issues in southern Taiwan, and criticized their refusal to sign a pledge drafted by environmental groups urging the termination of energy and pollution-intensive development projects in concerned municipalities.
TSAI WIDENS LEADS: Tsai Ing-wen continued to hold a steady lead in the latest polls, with her support numbers unaffected by the KMT’s recent retaliatory accusation of Tsai’s involvement in land speculation.
Recent poll results:
|Taiwan Indicators Survey Research
BALLOT ORDER ASSIGNED: The order in which the three pairs of presidential and vice presidential candidates are to be placed on the ballot in next month’s election was decided at the Central Election Commission, with the KMT’s Eric Chu and his running mate, Jennifer Wang (王如玄), as No. 1, DPP contenders Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) No. 2 and People First Party (PFP) candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) and his running mate, Hsu Hsin-ying (徐欣瑩), No.3.
► ELSEWHERE IN POLITICS
ITU ABA VISIT FOR SOVEREIGNTY CLAIM: Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) paid an inspection visit to Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島), the largest in the Spratlys (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) in the disputed South China Sea, drawing ire from Vietnam. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday that Chen was simply exercising Taiwan’s sovereignty over its territory, which was “none of any other nation’s business.”
Chen presided over the opening of a renovated wharf and a newly constructed lighthouse on the island on Saturday, while local media speculated that Ma had dropped the plan to do so personally under pressure from the US, to avoid giving the impression of coordinating with Beijing in the South China Sea.
On Thursday, former senior director for Asian affairs on the US National Security Council Evan Medeiros said in a speech in Taipei that Ma’s planned visit to Taiping Island would “send a wrong message at the wrong time.” Medeiros also questioned Taiwan’s assertion of the 11-dash line in the South China Sea, saying that it would be imperative for Taiwan to define what it means and where it came from.
Separately, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in recent days organized a fleet to go to relevant seas in the disputed South China Sea for live-fire exercises, calling them routine arrangement in line with this year’s naval training plan, China’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday. Taiwan is aware of the PLA maneuvers and has kept close watch on its latest movements, the Ministry of National Defense said in Taipei.
HUNG-XI MEETING IN CHINA? Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) dismissed a report by the Chinese-language Next Magazine on Wednesday that she is to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) during an upcoming trip to China next week because she is “Beijing’s choice for the next KMT chairperson.” With Eric Chu pledging to resign as KMT chairman should he lose the presidential election, talks have emerged about Vice President Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) intention to seek the chairmanship position.
WANG RILED BY STRANDED REFORM: Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) expressed disappointment with the breakdown in cross-party negotiations on legislative reforms, which made it impossible for the proposal to pass before the current legislative session concludes on Thursday. Though it expressed support for reform, the DPP reiterated its position that the matter should be left to the next legislature. Wang has been accused of pushing the reforms now in order to secure his political influence, as his speakership is likely to be challenged in the new legislature.
RESPONSE TO FREE-TRADE: The legislature on Tuesday passed the Act Providing Support in Response to Trade Liberalization (因應貿易自由化調整支援條例), which requires the government to establish a fund to mitigate the impact of market liberalization on industries, including by means of offering “appropriate supporting aid” to people working in negatively impacted industries and companies.
SUPPORT FOR TAIWAN IN COP21: Taiwan’s diplomatic allies expressed support for Taiwan’s inclusion as an observer in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the 21st convention conference (COP21) in Paris, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥) said on Saturday. Measures to reduce carbon emissions following the passage of the Paris climate deal would include regulating major industrial carbon producers and reviewing energy options, said the EPA, while environmentalists urged the end of fossil-fuel subsidies and the introduction of more emissions-reduction measures.
LABOR PROTEST: About 30 demonstrators stormed the Ministry of Labor on Tuesday to protest a proposed amendment that would cut the number of officially designated holidays to implement a universal 40-hour workweek, criticizing the change as in contradiction to a policy of reducing work hours under the law.
► MILITARY AND SECURITY
US ARMS SALES: The Obama administration on Wednesday authorized a $1.83 billion arms package for Taiwan that consists mostly defense equipment, including two U.S. Navy guided Oliver Hazard Perry-class missile frigates, amphibious assault vehicles, as well as anti-aircraft and anti-ship systems, said David McKeeby, a U.S. state department spokesman on political-military affairs. The White House said there was no change in the longstanding U.S. “one China” policy. In response to the announcement, China summoned the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Beijing, Kaye Lee, to protest the sale, which ended to the longest gap in such arms sales in nearly four decades. Beijing has threatened to slap sanctions on the companies involved, according to Xinhua. Meanwhile U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Eliot Engel suggested the U.S. increase the flow of weapons and to make future sales on a more regular basis.
► TRADE & ECONOMY
TV-NETWORK SALE TO CHINA-AFFILIATE FIRM: Eastern Media International Corp (東森國際) said last Friday the company and Carlyle Group have agreed to sell their stakes in Eastern Broadcasting Co (東森電視台), one of Taiwan’s largest television networks, to Los Angeles-based entertainment company DMG Entertainment, for NT$18.3 billion (US$555.1 million). The deal, which has yet to be approved by concerned authorities, has riled lawmakers and media watchdogs, as Peter Xiao (肖文閣), allegedly the son of a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army leader, is one of the cofounders of Dynamic Marketing Group to which DMG belongs.
CENTRAL BANK CUTS RATES: The central bank lowered the benchmark discount rate by another 12.5 basis points to 1.625 percent on Thursday, a day after the Fed’s hike, as a contraction in exports shows no signs of a recovery.
APPLE OPENS LAB IN TAIWAN: Apple Inc opened a production laboratory in April at Taoyuan’s Longtan District to create new screens for devices, including iPhones and iPads. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple in Cupertino, California, declined to comment on the matter as the presence of the lab has been kept low-profile to ensure the confidentiality of the research and development outcomes, local media outlets reported.
NUCLEAR SECURITY: Taiwan Power Co confirmed on Monday that the annual overhaul of the No. 2 reactor of the Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County last month unveiled two mechanical problems, including a crooked control rod driver and a fractured screw bolt on the steam generator. Environmentalist urged the government to explore with alternatives to its reliance on nuclear power as safety risk is highest when the nation’s three operating nuclear plants are at the end of their service life.
NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY REPORT SLAMMED: A report by the Ministry of Economic Affairs outlining possible energy scenarios for the next 20 years was criticized by environmentalists on Monday as “endorsing extending the lifespans of nuclear power plants, a policy that no presidential candidate supports.”
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ RIGHTS: The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday said the Prosecutor-General would file an extraordinary appeal against a jail sentence given to an indigenous Bunun for hunting protected animals to feed his sick mother, a ruling that sparked protests from the indigenous community and human rights activists who criticized the law as in conflict with the indigenous people’s traditional way of life.
MIGRANT WORKERS MARCH: Migrant workers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand and their supporters took to the streets of Taipei on Sunday, calling for an end to the private brokerage system in favor of a direct nation-to-nation hiring system to allow migrant workers to change employers more easily, the unreasonably long work hours, as well as a rule that requires them to leave Taiwan for at least one day after the expiration of their standard three-year work contract.
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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