What you need to know
A daily breakdown of Taiwan's top stories and why they matter.
Taiwan will maintain its goal of abolishing nuclear power by May 2025, despite the outcome of last November’s referendum that required the removal of an article of legislation calling for all six nuclear reactors on the island to be shuttered.
That article was subsequently repealed, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Thursday published a revised national energy strategy affirming the government’s intention to abolish nuclear, and calling for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told a press conference that resistance from local governments, difficulty in maintaining Taiwan’s aging reactors, a lack of storage space for spent fuel rods, and a failure to complete an application to extend an agreed decommissioning deadline with the Atomic Energy Commission make it impossible for Taiwan to continue with nuclear.
The move is likely to cause consternation among proponents of the referendum, support for which which garnered almost 6 million signatures, equivalent to 59 percent of the vote. Pro-nuclear activists have vowed to hold another referendum on the issue in 2020 if the government failed to restart non-operational reactors.
The plan also said Taiwan would reduce thermal power consumption by an average 1 percent per year, without risking energy shortages for the next two years, in line with a separate referendum held in November.
However, the ongoing reshoring of major Taiwan manufacturing companies, increased use of electric vehicles, and plans by Taiwan’s major electronics companies to expand production, could put the 1 percent reduction aim in jeopardy in 2021, Shen said.
Taiwan celebrates economic freedom
Taiwan placed in 10th position out of 180 countries ranked in an annual report on economic freedom by the the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing U.S. think tank.
The Index of Economic Freedom report for measures economic freedom based on categories including rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and the openness of a country’s markets.
Taiwan’s ranking improved 0.7 points from last year, allowing President Tsai Ing-wen to celebrate the country’s best ever score on Twitter.
At a meeting in Taipei with a delegation led by Heritage Foundation founder, Edwin J. Feulner Jr., President Tsai said Taiwan is seeking to further open its trade and economy, while cementing its commitments to democracy and the rule of law.
Feulner said he would do his upmost to convince U.S. government officials to move towards signing a free trade agreement with Taiwan, though this is extremely unlikely unless Taiwan revises its stance on imports of U.S. meat products.
Tsai also thanked U.S. officials for their support of Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization, which has been vehemently opposed by China since she came to power.
Hong Kong ranked in first position in the chart, which was first released in 1995, for the 25th year in a row.
More news from Taiwan:
- Permits have finally been issued for six wind power projects off the coast of Changhua County, after the local government missed a Jan. 14 deadline to review applications, in the process triggering a brouhaha over feed in tariff pricing. The Bureau of Energy said permits had been issued to China Steel Corp., Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), Danish company Orsted A/S, and Yushan Energy.
- Taiwan’s 2020 presidential and legislate elections will be held on the same day, most likely in January, the Central Electoral Commission said Thursday, in a move that received cross-party support.
- A map that appeared to exclude Taiwan from China’s territory caught the attention of Taiwanese viewers when it was displayed during a White House press conference hosted by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton was discussing the possibility of sanctions on a Venezuelan oil company, with the map marking countries that remained in favor of embattled president Nicolas Maduro, including China, in red.
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Editor David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)
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