President Acts, Premier Concedes, Sharp Turn on Five-Time Stimulus Vouchers
The Executive Yuan's five-time stimulus voucher policy turned sharply. It changed from requiring the public to pay NT$1,000 (about US$36) for NT$5,000 (about US$180) in vouchers to being free of charge. Observers interpret this to be due to a rebound in public opinion. Premier Su Tseng-chang had to reverse the policy in order to keep his position. Pictured above are three-time vouchers issued last year.
Sharp Turn on Five-time Stimulus Voucher
China Times, August 14 and 15, 2021
The five-time stimulus voucher policy made a sharp turn after Premier Su Tseng-chang consulted with some related ministries last night. It will be all free five-time voucher while citizens don’t have to pay NT$1,000 (about US$36) for it. In fact, when this five-time voucher was initiated, it encountered endless controversies. It was not only opposed by opposition parties, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also was against it. Even President Tsai Ying-wen twice urged for good communication, Premier Su still sticked to his own opinion. It was not until yesterday when legislative Tsai faction launched a tandem event to echo the statement of “free voucher without paying to exchange” by mainstream legislative faction, this policy made a sharp turn. The strong rebound of all factions from DPP forced the arrogant and domineering Su cabinet to hit the snag. This would affect the future development of domestic political situation.
Responding to the onslaught of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Executive Yuan planned to issue five-time revitalization voucher claiming it would stimulate consumption to drive economic benefits. However, the DPP caucus of the Legislative Yuan held different opinions all time to the way of issuing the revitalization voucher.
According to media commentary, the erroneous five-time stimulus voucher policy, including popular complaints, opposition by ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, and the president's policy reversal, shows that Premier Su's cabinet has lost its leadership and prestige.
(Photo from: The Storm Media)
With Policy Flip-flops on Stimulus Vouchers, Does Premier Su Still Retain Leadership?
United Daily News Editorial, August 15, 2021
The Executive Yuan insisted that the people pay NT$1,000 (about US$36) upfront to obtain the five-time stimulus vouchers valued at NT$5,000 (about US$180). However, with the grievances of the people, the criticism from the party factions, and the intervention of President Tsai Ing-wen, this policy flip-flops three times. Premier Su Tseng-chang finally agreed that all people can obtain the vouchers free of charge. The public opinion has won and President Tsai got to claim once again that she is the boss. Under these circumstances, Premier Su lost charge.
The Executive Yuan endeavored to promote that the stimulus vouchers at NT$5,000 is "a kind of public participation economy," and that "contributing NT$1,000 can help our domestic economy." They flattered themselves with the comment that this is an extraordinary thing.
According to Su Chi, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, even if the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen procures more weapons, if the ruling DPP continues to tear society apart and crack down on dissidents, Taiwan's public sentiment and morale will sure be weakened. This will not help Taiwan's defense and security.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
A Note of Alarm on Taiwan’s Defense
By Su Chi
United Daily News, August 15, 2021
Diplomacy and national defense are businesses of conscience, because only those directly involved know what is really going on; those outside could hardly exercise oversight. This is especially true for national defense. Its unique nature allows it to continue hiding in a dark corner even after Taiwan’s democratization. With cross-strait relations increasingly testy now, defense issue should at last step into the sunshine.
Generally speaking, until the turn of the century, Taiwan was capable of safeguarding its security by itself. However, the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in former Yugoslavia and Taiwan’s pronouncement of “special state-to-state relationship” in 1999 gave a big push to Beijing’s drive toward military buildup. Its capabilities to strike Taiwan reached a minimal level by 2008. As of now, according to a number of studies in the United States, China is capable of disrupting or denying possible American intervention, creating a new
fait accompli in the Taiwan Strait.
After Lithuania announced that it would permit Taiwan to establish a representative office using "Taiwanese" in its name, the Taiwan government claimed that this was a major diplomatic breakthrough. However, because "Taiwan" is not the official country name, and Lithuania did not abandon its "One China" policy, the actual benefits remain to be seen.
Lithuania Backs Taiwan, Substantive Benefits Remain to Be Seen
United Daily News, August 15, 2021
Lithuania had announced that it would allow us to set up a representative office in Lithuania under the name of the "Taiwanese Representative Office", while the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen declared it a major diplomatic breakthrough. However, "Taiwanese" is not equivalent to the official name of the Republic of China (ROC) after all, and Lithuania has not given up its "One China” policy. The said "breakthrough" might only satisfy the psychological needs of some people.
Lithuania is slightly larger than Taiwan with a population of only 2.8 million. She is far away from Taiwan geographically. Two-way trade volume between these two countries has not been significant. Lithuania nudged toward Taiwan due to the United States factors. The Soviet Union incorporated Lithuania as the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic during World War II. In March 1990, Lithuania declared independence when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was about to disintegrate. At that time, the ROC government sought to establish diplomatic relations with Lithuania by sending officials to contact its counterparts in Vilnius. The situation seemed to be favorable to Taiwan. However, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Fredrick Chien pointed out: "We are willing to further develop diplomatic relations, but we must take into account of the other side’s real intention, and our country cannot harbor a wishful thinking". Lithuania might not have even considered establishing official relations with the ROC then. Unfortunately, just one week after Chien’s words, Lithuania established diplomatic relations with mainland China. In the communiqué of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Lithuania expressed, "The Government of the Republic of Lithuania recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the territory of China. The Government of the Republic of Lithuania undertakes not to establish official relations or conduct official exchanges with Taiwan.”
According to media commentary, sudden withdrawal by the United States from Afghanistan shocked many American allies and partners. The ruling DPP administration should also be vigilant such that Taiwan may avoid repeating the tragedy in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Politics Overturned, Why Can Taiwan Still Be So Indifferent?
By Chang Ching
United Daily News, August 15, 2021
The development of chaotic conflict in Afghanistan is so astonishing. Progress of the Taliban armed forces is literally invincible. Comparatively, the United States is pretty embarrassing to face the ugly realities. Medias in various nations all address that the strategy of the United States involvement in the Afghanistan domestic politics for the past twenty years is unquestionably wrong. Although pouring unbelievably huge amount budgets on infrastructure construction, yet, it totally failed to correct the corruption within the current governing authority. Further, the discipline of its forces is so awful thus completely undermining the war-fighting capabilities. The trend cannot be turned anymore. The fate of the pro-US regime is already foregone.
New York Times has published a special commentary with no reservation indicating the scheme of the United States adopted for managing international relations treating the pro-US regimes always started with disordered policies and betrayed them in the final moments eventually will inevitably questioned by the international community. Particularly, several extremely pro-US nations in the world that desperately expecting the United States will exercise military intervention measures during crisis situations to support the survival of their regimes by providing military force protection are specifically named.
Dissatisfied with Lithuania's decision to allow a representative office established with "Taiwanese" in its name, mainland China announced on August 10 that it would recall its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador to China. Pictured above is Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis of Lithuania.
United Daily News)
August 9: Days of torrential rain struck Kaohsiung, and the Mingba Kelu Bridge on Taiwan Route 20 was disrupted by the rising Yusui Stream around noon on August 7, stranding a total of 501 people from three aboriginal tribes in Taoyuan District. On August 8 and 9, the Kaohsiung City Government asked the National Airborne Service Corps, Ministry of the Interior, to dispatch three Black Hawk helicopters to deliver more than a ton of necessities and medicines to the victims and transporting two tribal patients to receive medical treatment.
In aboriginal language, the Mingba Kelu Bridge means the "Bridge of Hope." It opened in 2017 and cost NT$1 billion (about US$36 million). It is the main passage to the three tribes in the mountainous areas of Taoyuan District. Nobody anticipated that the bridge would be destroyed by mountain torrents in only four years.
August 10: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a climate report on August 9, indicating that the average global temperature is likely to rise 1.5 degree Celsius within the next decade, breaking the limits on temperature increase set forth in the Paris Agreement. Taiwan's climate change science team also released a Taiwan Climate Change Report on August 10, claiming that Taiwan will be drier when dry and wetter when wet. Typhoons striking Taiwan will be less in number but will increase in intensity. In the worst case, Taiwan may have no winter as soon as 2060.
August 10: In an interview by Japanese magazine
Bungei Shunju, President Tsai Ing-wen stressed that on cross-strait relations, the Taiwan government adopts a stance of maintaining the status quo towards China, that is, a policy of no rash advances. At the same time, Taiwan seeks to reduce its high reliance on products, parts, and software produced by China.
According to experts, even if the official communication channels between the two sides have been disrupted, Taiwan's exports to the mainland continue to record new highs. For example, Taiwan's exports to the mainland accounted for 42.6 percent of total exports in the first seven months of this year.
August 11: Dissatisfied with Lithuania's agreement to have a representative office established in the name of "Taiwan," mainland China recalled on August 10 its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador to China.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania expressed regret over China's decision but emphasized that under the "One China" principle, it intends to seek reciprocal relations with Taiwan, just like the European Union (EU) and many other nations in the world.
Spokesman Ned Price of the Department of State immediately stated that the United States supports its European partners in developing reciprocal relations with Taiwan and resist China's coercive actions. Spokesman Nabila Massrali of the European External Action Service also stated that the EU does not consider establishing an office in Taiwan or having Taiwan set up an office in Europe as a violation of the "One China" policy because it is essentially different from an embassy or consulate. While it recognizes that the People's Republic of China is the government which represents China, the EU is also interested in deepening relations with Taiwan, so it has an European Economic and Trade Office in Taipei.
Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 and established diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1991.
August 11: An F-16V fighter plane at the Air Force's Chiayi base took off during routine training at 7:29 AM. The cockpit cover flew off. It hurried back to the airport seven minutes later. The pilot and the plane were both safe. This is the first instance that the cockpit cover fell off in flight since the Air Force received F-16 fighter jets from the United States.
An Air Force task force launched an investigation focusing on human negligence, and the pilot is currently grounded for investigation.
The captain pilot returned to the field in an "open-top" condition. He was unclear when he entered the field, but he still tried his best to overcome it. He corrected the altitude and speed of the fighter jet and landed smoothly. This was quite fortunate in his unfortunate situation.
August 12: The White House announced that the United States will convene a Leaders' Summit for Democracy on December 9 by video conference, for two days. Although the list of invitees has not yet been announced, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated that it is working hard to ensure participation.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously promised that Taiwan would be invited when he attended a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 10.
In an online press conference, Deputy Director-General Chen Hui-chen of the Department of North American Affairs, MOFA, stated that the topics covered by the summit includes resisting authoritarianism, combating corruption, and promoting human rights. These are values shared by Taiwan and the United States.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of mainland Chinse state media Global Times authored a fierce editorial claiming that the mainland will not allow Tsai to attend. If the United States were to invite Taiwan to participate, it needs to follow the protocol similar to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Otherwise, the meeting would constitute a serious escalation of American intervention on the Taiwan issue.
August 13: The momentum behind Taiwan's exports and investment exceeded expectations. The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Executive Yuan, revised the economic growth forecast to 5.88 percent, an increase of 0.42 points from the June forecast, marking the best performance in 11 years. The Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs, also released a summary of trade statistics. Taiwan's cumulative exports this year until July amounted to $244.87 billion, marking an increase of 31.5 percent.
August 14: After epidemic prevention measures eased in Taiwan, the first travel bubble tour group to Palau departed on August 14, with most guests traveling to Palau to be vaccinated. On whether vaccination abroad would be recognized, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) stated that certification issued by the place of vaccination may be accepted, but the particular vaccine must have passed emergency use authorization (EUA) in Taiwan. Mix-and-match combinations must have international precedent, and the two doses should be separated by an interval of at least 28 days.