What you need to know
A daily breakdown of Taiwan's top stories and why they matter.
Taiwan to hold live-fire drills to deter China
Taiwan’s military is holding its first live-fire drill of 2019 today, shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping refused to rule out the possibility of using force to unify Taiwan and China in his Jan. 2 speech.
Major General Yeh Kuo-hui (葉國輝) previously said the drills are aimed at “defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” adding that the military will practice new drills and training routines to incorporate defense tactics designed to repel Chinese forces.
Taiwan’s defense ministry says the drills, which follow a regular schedule and have been planned for months, are not a direct response to Xi’s speech.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a Tuesday visit to the Army Defense Command in Hualien and Taitung, said her administration vows to adapt to the changing cross-Strait climate, mentioning Xi’s reiteration that using force against Taiwan remains an option.
Taiwan’s military, which is striving to bolster its indigenous defense capabilities, remains reliant on arms sales from the United States. The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 31, contains provisions encouraging arms sales from the U.S. to Taiwan.
Pentagon report raises concerns over China attack
The Pentagon released a report on Tuesday that addresses U.S. concerns that China is upgrading its military equipment and technology as a precursor to a potential attack on Taiwan.
The official said Beijing has clearly stated that gaining sovereignty over Taiwan is the top priority of Xi Jinping, leading to U.S. concerns that China’s confidence to attempt to wage a regional conflict is growing, according to a senior U.S. defense intelligence official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
China does not yet have the military capability to launch a successful invasion of Taiwan, the official noted.
While China can fire missiles at Taiwan (and vice versa), many experts believe it is focusing on alternative forms of warfare, instead adopting strategies in the cyber and information realms.
The much-ballyhooed threat of Chinese election interference and “fake news” has made headlines during and after Taiwan’s recent regional election campaigns. China has long crusaded to influence domestic politics and public opinion within Taiwan and breach the country’s lines of cyber defense, but experts still concur that China’s influence operations had little to no impact on Taiwan’s Nov. 24, 2018 elections and remain fairly rudimentary in comparison to those of fellow powers, such as Russia and the United States.
90% of workers want new job after Lunar New Year, says poll
A survey released by online job bank Yes123 on Monday said 90.7 of the poll’s 1,204 respondents hope to find a new job after the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
84.6 percent of workers wishing for a new job are considering working overseas, citing the potential to earn higher salaries outside of Taiwan.
Among respondents who want a new job, 54.9 percent said they were unhappy with their pay and 41.2 percent were unhappy with their benefits. The numbers reflect pessimism about Taiwan’s stagnant wages – while some have argued that Taiwan’s economy is performing as well as can be expected, this has seemingly failed to enrich workers during the term of President Tsai.
Other news from Taiwan:
- Tsai celebrated her three-year presidential anniversary yesterday, saying on Twitter she is “deeply honored to serve the country.” (Tsai Ing-wen)
- Taoyuan International Airport is expanding its inspections of carry-on luggage for passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to concerns over African swine fever. (Taipei Times)
- Chinese state media is upset after learning Taipei’s National Palace Museum has lent a Tang dynasty calligraphy masterpiece to a museum in Tokyo. (South China Morning Post)
- The story of a man in New Taipei beating his son and wife over meatballs has gone viral on social media and been sensationalized by some media outlets, who have dubbed the man “Meatball Dad” in headlines, but it also reveals a broader pattern of child abuse by parents and daycare workers in Taiwan. The Ministry of Health and Welfare says there were over 9,000 child abuse cases requiring intervention last year, 15 of which resulted in death – part of an excellent series of reports in today’s Taipei Times.
Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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