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Tsai calls on allies to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called on allies and like-minded democratic nations to protect Taiwan and defend its sovereignty, closing out a week of tempestuous cross-Strait rhetoric between the leaders of Taiwan and China.
Tsai, speaking to foreign reporters on the morning of Jan. 5, reiterated her stance that the Taiwanese people would never accept a “one country, two systems” model of governance, as proposed in a Jan. 2 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
She added that Xi’s equivalence of the so-called “1992 Consensus” to a “one country, two systems” framework leaves no room for ambiguity and called upon all Taiwanese political parties to stop using the term, reemphasizing her “Four Musts” framework for cross-Strait relations.
Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) reiterated that Tsai was wrong to deny the “1992 Consensus,” but said Xi’s interpretation of the alleged agreement was also incorrect.
The “1992 Consensus” stems from a purported agreement between People’s Republic of China (PRC) and KMT leaders that both sides agree there is “one China.” The KMT says both sides have the freedom to interpret what that “one China” means, while Xi Jinping has included the “one country, two systems” framework into the equation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) rejected Xi’s “one country, two systems” offer on Saturday, tweeting: “No thanks! We have democracy and freedom and are just fine.”
Cho Jung-tai glides to easy victory in DPP chair election
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elected former Executive Yuan secretary-general Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) as party chairman in a Sunday by-election.
Cho won 24,699 votes, or 72.6 percent of the votes cast, according to CNA. Challenger Michael You (游盈隆), chairman of the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, gained 9,323 votes.
Cho replaces Tsai Ing-wen, who stepped down as DPP chair after the party suffered heavy losses in the Nov. 24, 2018 regional elections. He will take his new post on Wednesday. His term will run until May 19, 2020.
The turnout of about 35,000 voters was less than half of the turnout in the 2010 and 2014 elections, which were both won by Tsai.
Cho’s victory is seen as a victory for Tsai against opposition within the DPP. Writing for New Bloom, Brian Hioe noted Cho’s candidacy had garnered the support of middle-generation politicians belonging to the DPP’s “New Tide” faction. You, meanwhile, was critical of Tsai and her cross-Strait policies prior to the by-election. You criticized Cho last week when the latter attended a banquet in Pingtung County at which the host allegedly tried to canvas for voters.
US, Europe lawmakers speak in support of Taiwan
Lawmakers in the United States and Europe have spoken in support of Taiwan amid Xi Jinping’s comments last week that unification between Taiwan and China was “inevitable” and that military force remained an option to achieve that goal.
U.S. Republican Senator John Kennedy tweeted that China’s threats of using military force were “reprehensible, counterproductive and just bad diplomacy,” while Republican Representative Ted Yoho reiterated the U.S. Congress’ “unwavering support” for Taiwan. Other Republican legislators shared similar sentiments, per the Taipei Times.
Democratic Representative Vicente Gonzalez tweeted in support of Taiwan, calling it “a key democratic ally and friend” of the U.S. and urging “a return to peaceful and productive cross-Strait relations.”
A spokesperson for the European Union (EU) told CNA in an email that the EU shares values of freedom and democracy with Taiwan, adding that it supports “the constructive development of relations between mainland China and Taiwan as part of the peaceful development of the Asia-Pacific region.”
New amnesty program for overstaying foreign nationals
Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA announced it will start an “amnesty” program for foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas.
The program would allow overstaying foreign nationals to face reduced fines and shortened bans on reentry to Taiwan if they report to the NIA within a five-month grace period.
NIA Director General Chiu Feng-kuang (邱豐光) said the number of overstays had reached 88,000 as of Oct. 2018, adding that a majority of the overstaying foreign nationals were from Vietnam or Indonesia, according to CNA.
Taiwater set to build Indonesia water purifying plant
Taiwan Water Corp. (Taiwater) plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Jan. 10 to build a water purification plant in Malang, East Java, Indonesia.
The facility will cost between NT$400 million (US$13 million) and NT$500 million (US$16.2 million), according to Taiwater Chairman Kuo Chun-ming (郭俊銘), who is in Indonesia to finalize the deal.
A Taiwater spokesperson said the investment would hopefully give Taiwan’s water companies increased visibility in the Indonesian market, according to CNA.
Indonesia is among the target countries of Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy, which aims to bolster trade and economic ties with South and Southeast Asian countries and lessen Taiwan’s economic dependence on China.
However, the policy came under fire after a KMT legislator alleged that some Taiwanese universities were colluding with brokers to send Southeast Asian students on a scholarship program into illegal low-paying factory jobs. Indonesia temporarily suspended the scholarship program last week. Some students have denied allegations that the jobs constituted forced labor.
Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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