Week of Nov. 7-13

Former vice president Vincent Siew meets Chinese President Xi Jinping; the Taiwanese government’s attempt to promote a cross-strait trade agreement in the wake of the South Korea-China free trade agreement (FTA) draws a backlash; as the 9-in-1 elections come down to the wire, crazy remarks and dramatic developments surface as expected. Welcome to this week’s issue of the Insider.



Led by former VP Vincent Siew, Taiwan’s delegation arrived in Beijing for the APEC summit on Saturday and was received by Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office Chen Yuanfong (陳元豐). Siew had a brief meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the same day.

Siew met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a 30-minute closed-door meeting, in which both sides reaffirmed the “1992 Consensus” as the foundation for bilateral engagement. Siew called for maintaining the three “noes”: no change to the principle of peaceful development of cross-strait ties; no change to the 1992 consensus as a basis for negotiations; and no change to the institutionalization of economic cooperation. Xi reiterated Beijing’s opposition to Taiwanese independence, but did not bring up the “one country, two systems” formula he mentioned in September, which had sparked an angry response from Taiwan. Issues of a meeting between Xi and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong were not raised in the meeting, according to Taiwanese officials.

Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said after the ministerial meeting that Taiwan supported Beijing’s proposed roadmap for the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and reiterated Taiwan’s hope of joining both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Siew expressed the same determination afterwards, but said he suspected the FTAAP would make swift progress. Duh said both Taiwan and China had agreed to launch negotiations for trade in goods by the end of the year, which would prioritize talks on automobiles, machinery, panels and petrochemical products.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to its “one China” policy based on the three joint communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in his meeting with Xi on Wednesday.

The opposition criticized Taiwan’s silence on China’s treatment of the Taiwanese delegation during the summit, which they said had made bilateral engagement “a relation between the central government and a local government.” As usual, China did not address Siew in his official capacity and only referred to him as “Mr. Siew,” the opposition said. Siew denied the allegation, saying that such treatment was “common practice.”

In response to the four-point consensus reached between Japan and China, which included Tokyo and Beijing’s “shared intention” to lower tensions over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (aka, Senkakus Islands), Taiwan reiterated that the dispute over sovereignty should be shelved.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, held an unofficial meeting on Thursday and reached a six-point consensus, including “joint participation” in regional economic integration, the establishment of representative offices on each other’s territory, and negotiation on a trade in goods agreement as well as food safety cooperation.

For the first time, officials from the National Security Bureau were included in the APEC delegation.



The Taiwanese government said it hopes that after China and South Korea signed a “substantial conclusion” of a free-trade agreement on Monday to push for an expedited signing of agreements on service trade and trade in goods with China. The Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all warned that the South Korea-China FTA was a major alert to Taiwan’s “marginalization” in regional economic integration.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Taiwan was expected to see a 0.5% decline in GDP, with total exports and total production output likely to drop by US$3.75 billion and US$8.9 billion respectively. The ministry estimated that Taiwan’s industrial sector could lose NT$260 billion to NT$650 billion (US$8.5 billion to US$21.27 billion).

However, academics, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) all questioned the MOEA’s estimates, as the details of the South Korea-China FTA have yet to be disclosed. They also said that the government was exaggerating the negative impact on Taiwan.



REPUBLICAN HEAVYWEIGHT VISITING TAIWAN: Elaine Chao (趙小蘭), former U.S. secretary of labor under the George W. Bush administration, is scheduled to visit Taiwan and meet President Ma on Nov. 17, the Central News Agency reported. Born in Taiwan, Chao married Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the incoming Senate majority leader.

KEEGAN SUPPORTS TAIWAN’S TPP BID: David Keegan, a former deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and former director of the U.S. Department of State’s Taiwan Coordination Office, told the annual Taiwanese Association of America, Greater Washington Chapter Thanksgiving Banquet in Washington that the U.S. could show its support for Taiwan’s economic prosperity and security by making sure Taiwan is included in the TPP.

US ORGANIZATIONS BACKS CHEN SHUI-BIAN RELEASE: Local media reported that 10 Taiwanese-American organizations have asked President Ma to grant imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian a medical parole.

LIEN FAMILY VOTED AS MOST AUTOCRATIC POLITICAL FAMILY: The Lien family — which includes Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) and his father, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) — finished first in a poll to pick the “top 10 autocratic political families in Taiwan,” according to an online survey conducted by the Taiwan Inversion movement. The Wu family, which includes Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚), his brother, Taipei City Councilor Wu Chih-kang (吳志剛), and their father, former KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), ranked second.



KO-LIEN TV DEBATE: The televised debate between independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and KMT candidate Sean Lien on Thursday night captured unprecedented national attention. Most people believed Ko defeated Lien in the 120-minute debate. The debate generated a rating of 4.36 percent, the highest rating of any political debate in the past decade, with an estimated 2.3 million people watching the debate. The rating for the 2012 presidential election between DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Ma Ying-jeou was 1.04 percent.

POLLS FAVOR KO: A public opinion poll conducted by the Chinese-language United Daily News found that 40 percent of those who watched the debate said Ko had outperformed Lien while 27 percent said Lien had fared better, with 8 percent saying it was a tie. Another survey conducted by TVBS found that Ko held a 13-point lead over Lien (45%:32%) after the debate.

BIASED QUESTIONS: Three civic groups recommended by Lien’s office in the TV debate were under fire for posing what was regarded as “biased questions” against Ko. One of the groups admitted it had leaked its question to Lien’s office prior to the debate.

AMBITIOUS GOAL: Yao Li-ming (姚立明), Ko’s campaign manager, predicted that Ko would garner more than 800,000 votes — a record for a non-KMT candidate in electoral history— with Lien receiving about 600,000.

KO STOPS RECEIVING DONATIONS: Ko’s campaign office said it would stop taking any donations by Saturday, as the office had received donation of NT$89 million, which exceeds the legal maximum of NT$87 million allowed for the campaign.

LIEN IN PANIC MODE: Trailing by a large deficit, the Lien camp has hit the panic button, with heavyweight KMT politicians — including Ma, Lien’s father Lien Chan (連戰) and former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) — stumping for the KMT candidate with remarks that tried to make the election a war between the “blue” and “green” camps. Hau was quoted as saying that the election would be “a battle between [defending] the Republic of China and [fighting] Taiwan independence.”

WIRETAPPING ON KO’S CAMPAIGN: Prosecutors and police confirmed on Friday that one of Ko Wen-je’s campaign offices had been wiretapped and ruled out the possibility of a “staged incident.” The investigation is ongoing and no one seems to be sure who is responsible for bugging the office. In a report on Wednesday, Next Magazine said that Chang Ching-sen (張景森), Ko’s top policy advisor, may have been the target of the perpetrators.

DUAL-NATIONALITY CONTROVERSY: Sean Lien said his wife Patty Tsai (蔡依姍) applied for the cancellation of Tsai’s Canadian citizenship after Next Magazine reported on her dual-nationality status. Dual-nationality is allowed in Taiwan, but has always been a controversial issue when it comes to elections and participation in politics.

KMT HEAVYWEIGHTS, CHINA GIVE UP ON LIEN? In a column on my-formosa.com, an online news website, political commentator Clara Chou (周玉蔻) said a senior KMT official, who wished to remain anonymous, told her that Lien’s loss in the Taipei mayoral election would be “beneficial for the KMT, the DPP and Taiwan.” The Journalist magazine quoted unnamed Chinese Taiwan policy-makers as saying that KMT politicians could prefer a Ko victory as this would put more pressure on Ma to step down as KMT chairman and benefit their political career. The magazine also reported that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) could be tapped as premier after the elections.



JP MORGAN PREDICTS DPP VICTORY: A report by JP Morgan Securities said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was likely to win four of the six special municipality elections due to the prevalent and strong “anti-China” atmosphere and the electorate could see the 9-in-1 local elections as their final review of Ma’s governance since 2008.

DPP’S LIN POISED TO WIN KEELUNG: Lin Yu-chang (林右昌), DPP candidate for the Keelung mayoral election, is holding a 20-point lead over his closest opponent and looks likely to win in the Nov. 29 election, a poll conducted by Chinese-language Liberty Times found. Lin enjoyed a 36.39% support rate, followed by independent Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰) with 16.24% and KMT candidate Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) with 10.86%; 34.81 % of respondents remain undecided.

9-IN-1 ELECTIONS TO BE HELD EVERY FOUR YEARS: The Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday that 9-in-1 elections would become a regular practice and be held every four years. It said that 19,762 candidates are vying for 11,130 seats in the elections on Nov. 29.

ACCUSATION, LAWSUITS EVERYWHERE: Two weeks before Election Day, candidates and political parties have been busy filing lawsuits over smear campaigns or making corruption allegations. DPP lawmaker Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu and his family had bought luxury items with public funds in 2012. A Taipei City councilor candidate and a New Taipei City councilor candidate filed a lawsuit against Kao Yu-jen (高育仁), New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) father-in-law, for the alleged illegal export of Taiwanese agricultural know-how to China. DPP New Taipei City candidate Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) also accused Chu of approving an urban development project in the city as a favor to Ting Hsing International Group, the main culprit in the recent cooking oil scandal.



TAIWAN’S SUB PROGRAM: The Navy is in the process of establishing an indigenous submarine production program with a budget of more than NT$3 billion (US$98 million), the Navy chief of staff told lawmakers on Thursday. (See Agence France-Presse for a feature story on Taiwan’s 70-year-old subs.)

CHINESE VESSEL NEAR ITU ABA: DPP lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said on Monday that a Chinese transport vessel registered in Cambodia was involved in construction work for the military on Taiping Island (Itu Aba). Kuan added on Wednesday that the ship had turned off its Automatic Identification System to avoid reporting its location since Oct. 8, prompting concerns over national security.



MORE TAINTED FOOD CASES: Local governments are investigating 117 restaurants and traditional market vendors that are alleged to have purchased and used lamb mixed with pork, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Several manufacturers of tofu pudding and grass jelly products are under investigation for using industrial-grade gypsum powder, rather than food-grade gypsum powder, to produce tofu pudding.

PRISON BRIBERY UNDER PROBE: Six individuals, among them Taichung Prison deputy warden Chao Chung-chih (趙崇智), were detained over allegations of corruption in prisons involving business tycoon Gary Wang’s (王令麟) smuggling of contraband into prison. Former Taipei Prison deputy warden Su Ching-chun (蘇清俊), who currently serves as the warden of the Green Island Prison, is under investigation for allegedly taking bribes and covering up for Wang, the former chairman of the Eastern Multimedia Group who is serving a sentence for violating the Securities and Exchange Law.


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.

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