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A daily breakdown of Taiwan's top stories and why they matter.
Mass resignations for Taiwan’s Cabinet
Taiwan’s Cabinet is resigning en masse today, two months after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a crushing regional election defeat. Premier William Lai (賴清德) announced his long-expected departure, along with those of his Executive Yuan colleagues, after the Legislative Yuan approved Taiwan’s 2019 fiscal year budget on Thursday.
“The general budget has been passed. The time is up,” said Lai. “I will hold a special Executive Yuan meeting tomorrow to proceed with the Cabinet’s mass resignation and patiently wait for the president to announce a new premier.”
That new premier is rumored to be Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who served as premier from 2006 to 2007 under then-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will be tasked with organizing a new Cabinet ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Some within the DPP would prefer that Lai head the party ticket, although he has not indicated an interest in doing so.
Lai, who has called himself a “political worker for Taiwan’s independence,” is favored by the DPP’s “deep-Green” factions, and Tsai will have to maintain support from her party’s base on her cross-Strait policy to make a strong entrance into the upcoming presidential campaign.
The final 2019 budget will clock in at NT$1.998 trillion (US$64.88 billion). Proposals by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to cut or freeze budgets for several government agencies, including the Central Election Commission and Transitional Justice Commission, were defeated, according to CNA.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved a plan aimed at boosting Taiwan’s economic growth by stimulating domestic demand in the face of an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, according to Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka.
Two more pork products positive for African swine fever
Two pork products brought by travelers from China to Taiwan on Dec. 28, 2018 tested positive for African swine fever on Thursday.
The travelers, one Taiwanese and one Chinese, carried pork products into the country from China’s Nanjing and Harbin cities to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, according to CNA. Both passengers were fined NT$200,000 (US$6,450), according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
The positive tests marked the 11th and 12th cases in Taiwan since Oct. 31, 2018.
Taiwan has stepped up its defense against the incursion of African swine fever from China amid fears that it could destroy the country’s lucrative pork farming industry. Last week, a temporary ban was placed on pork imports from outlying Kinmen Island after a dead hog that washed ashore tested positive for the virus, which does not sicken humans but is fatal to pigs.
AIT reaffirms support for Taiwan
The U.S. de facto embassy in Taiwan said that China should resume dialogue with Taiwan and cease coercion of the island’s government.
“The United States has made clear to Beijing that it should stop its coercion and resume dialogue with the democratically-elected administration on Taiwan,” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Amanda Mansour said Thursday.
Mansour, who was fielding questions from local media, added: “Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world.”
Taiwan has received broad support from many corners of the international community, including officials from the U.S., Canada, Europe and diplomatic allies such as Belize and Nauru.
Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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