Chinese hackers intensify their attacks on DPP members and local media to acquire information about the party’s policies and speeches; the KMT continues its negative campaign against DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen as the DPP files another lawsuit; presidential and vice presidential TV debates coming soon; Tsai urges the KMT to stop selling its assets; Tsai maintains a significant lead in the polls. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider…and Happy Holidays to our loyal readers!
► PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
PRC CYBER ATTACKS AHEAD OF VOTE: Chinese hackers have allegedly attacked the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and several Taiwanese media outlets, in an attempt to access information about policies and speeches before next month’s presidential and legislative elections. Security firm FireEye, which identified a Chinese state-backed group called APT16 as the author of the attacks, said the Chinese may have sought to better understand and undermine the opposition party. Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director William Stanton was also a target of hackers.
KMT’S NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN: The DPP on Wednesday filed a second lawsuit against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) and former legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) over their allegations that DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was involved in land speculation and illegal lobbying of the Taipei City Government for a rezoning project in Taipei’s Neihu District. The trio of Alex Tsai, Chiu and KMT legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) has called daily press conference for two consecutive weeks aiming to expose Tsai’s alleged scandals. Recent polls suggest that the strategy is failing.
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: The major political parties have finally reached a consensus on the televised presidential debates, with the first (and only) vice-presidential debate to be held on Saturday Dec. 26 prior, while presidential debates will take place on Sunday Dec. 27 and Jan. 2. The first round of presidential debates, to be moderated by Acer Inc. founder Stan Shih (施振榮), will see People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) speak first, followed by the KMT’s Eric Chu (朱立倫) and the DPP’s Tsai. Each candidate will engage in an opening round of remarks before proceeding to five questions prepared by selected media in addition to three subsequent rounds of direct debates among the candidates before each makes concluding remarks.
TSAI TARGETS KMT ASSETS: DPP presidential candidate Tsai has called on the KMT to stop selling its controversial party assets and urged presidential candidate Eric Chu to clarify whether the ongoing sale was associated with the election campaign and to avoid supervision from the next legislature. Tsai on Wednesday said that party-run businesses should be prohibited as they result in unfair competition and thus threaten democracy. The DPP candidate said there should also be a law to address illegitimate party assets. KMT presidential candidate Chu countered by accusing the DPP of using the issue to distract the public from the KMT’s claims that the DPP’s piggy bank campaign was “a greedy scheme to fill Tsai’s pockets [that are already] “full of billions of New Taiwan dollars in profit” from alleged land speculation. Tsai on Sunday urged supporters to “bring piggy banks home” to help ease the DPP presidential campaign office’s NT$70 million (US$2.1 million) shortfall.
U.S. ARMS SALE: The US$1.83 billion arms package for Taiwan announced by Washington last week signifies “acceptance, if not endorsement,” of DPP presidential candidate Tsai, Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow, a former special assistant to president Ronald Reagan, said in an article. The sale indicates Washington’s “willingness to arm a Tsai government as she is “almost certain to win next month’s presidential election,” Bandow added. In a paper released last Friday, the Center for a New American Security described the arms package as “uncommonly modest and inherently defensive.”
TSAI’S ENERGY POLICY: During her first comprehensive discussion with the nation’s six major industrial groups, DPP presidential candidate Tsai said her campaign team has prepared extensive energy policies, including the formation of a Cabinet task force to avert any power shortage risks over the next few years. The event was part of a forum organized by a coalition of industry and commerce organizations for the three presidential candidates to discuss their cross-strait and economic policies. Protesting labor activists said Tsai’s participation “indicated the ‘servility’ of the nation’s politicians to corporations” and described the event as a “job interview.”
TSAI MAINTAINS LEAD: DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen and her running mate, former Academia Sinica vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), are still well ahead of the KMT’s Eric Chu and his deputy Jennifer Wang in the polls. However, a KMT poll released on Tuesday showed significantly different results, with Chu closing the gap with Tsai by narrowing her lead to less than 10 percentage points. Tsai’s camp downplayed the poll as “a reference,” while PFP chairman James Soong described it as a “blatant fraud.”
Recent poll results:
► ELSEWHERE IN POLITICS
LAW GROUP DRUMS FOR ITU ABA VISIT BY MA: The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to visit Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the disputed South China Sea before leaving office to strengthen Taiwan’s sovereignty claim and to demonstrate its willingness to safeguard freedom of navigation in the area. The call came amid speculation that President Ma has cancelled a plan to do so under pressure from the U.S. to avoid giving the impression that Taipei is coordinating with Beijing in the South China Sea.
AMTI RELEASES ITU ABA PHOTOS: The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), an affiliate of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on Tuesday published a collection of images documenting human activity on Taiping Island. The 25 photos showcase the efforts by Taiwanese coast guard personnel to live self-sufficiently on the island.
NO INDICTMENT FOR CHEN SHUI-BIAN CHILDREN: Public prosecutors said on Monday that they had decided not to indict former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) children and his son-in-law on corruption and forgery charges in a case involving the State Affairs Fund, on the ground that they did not actively give receipts to former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) to claim expenses from the fund earmarked for the discretionary use of the president.
SUNFLOWER MOVEMENT LEADER FURIOUS OVER ALLEGATION: New Power Party legislative candidate Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a prominent leader of the Sunflower movement, blasted on Wednesday a report by the China Times Weekly magazine alleging that his anti-China stance is “all fake” considering his father-in-law’s grand investments in China, criticizing the report as a ludicrous move to “help save KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu’s presidential bid.”
TRADE PACT IS OPAQUE, WANG SAYS: Speaking at a KMT rally in New Taipei City on Sunday, Wang Jin-pyng described the service trade agreement between Taiwan and China, seen as the Ma administration’s crown jewel, as “opaquely negotiated.” Wang’s position on the pact was markedly different from that of the KMT establishment.
TAIWAN HELPING SYRIANS: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it is working with the Turkish government to build a school to allow 1,500 Syrian refugee children to receive a proper education as their country continues to be ravaged by war and Islamic State (IS).
IS THREAT? A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said on Thursday that a rumor circulating on the Internet about potential Islamic State attack against Taipei was “quite possibly a prank” as the Arabic-language message, which was posted on Facebook, contained spelling errors and the Facebook account appeared to be a zombie account. The post occurs as Western embassies warn of possible attacks against foreigners in Sanlitun, a popular shopping district in Beijing, during the holidays.
FARMLAND LOSS PREVENTION: The legislature last Friday finally passed the National Land Planning Act (國土計畫法), first drafted in 1993, which stipulates that future land development plans must be subject to zoning laws enacted to prevent the loss of farmland and natural reserves.
AUTONOMY IN CLINICAL DECISION MAKING: The legislature last Friday passed the Patient Autonomy Act (病人自主權利法), which allows people with full capacity for civil conduct to draft healthcare directives regarding their preferred medical treatment in the event that they are rendered incapable of making such decisions in future.
LEGISLATURE PASSES GENERAL BUDGET: The legislature has approved the central government’s general budget for next year. Originally listed at NT$1.9981 trillion, the final budget was slashed by NT$22.2 billion, a 1.11 percent cut.
► TRADE & ECONOMY
ASE UPS ANTE TO TRUMP TSINGHUA DEAL: As rival Siliconware Precision Industries Co (SPIL, 矽品精密) prepares to seek support from its shareholders for a new strategic cooperation agreement with China’s Tsinghua Unigroup Inc (清華紫光), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) has launched a second tender offer on Tuesday to acquire an additional 24.7 percent stake in SPIL for NT$42.35 billion (US$1.28 billion), stepping up its buyout bid.
WARNING OVER CHINA’S LIFT OF RESTRICTIONS: Academics have called for caution over the political and business risks, as well as the potential draining effect on Taiwan’s capital and talent, following China’s announcement last Wednesday that a number of restrictions on the licensing of privately or individually owned Taiwanese businesses are to be lifted next year.
HOSTAGES IN TAITUNG FREED: A hostage situation ended peacefully on Tuesday when Lin Kuo-cheng (林國正) surrendered to police after a 21-hour standoff in a neighborhood in Taitung. All three hostages, male students at National Taitung University, were unharmed and were taken to a local hospital for observation, police said.
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 email@example.com. Click here to subscribe to the Insider and receive it in your e-mail.
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