Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cabinet and legislators agreed on Monday to prioritize a bill which would put any potential cross-Strait peace agreement with China to a national referendum.

Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said Monday that an agreement was reached between the Executive Yuan and the legislature at a meeting hosted by Deputy Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

The move came days after Kuomintang (KMT) chairman and potential 2020 presidential candidate Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said Taiwan could sign a peace treaty with China should the KMT win the presidency in 2020.


Credit: Wikicommons

Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka.

Taiwan’s Referendum Act, reformed in late 2017 to lower the thresholds needed for a measure to appear on the ballot and to succeed at the polls, is potentially headed for another batch of reforms after a chaotic day of voting on Nov. 24 which saw 10 questions appear on ballots. These questions received answers which, in many cases, disappointed the DPP.

A move to subject cross-Strait peace to a national referendum could insulate the DPP – which favors eventual Taiwan independence and takes a cautious approach towards Beijing (which itself refuses to engage with the DPP) – from a KMT victory in 2020.

The DPP’s cross-Strait policies are among its most popular – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has enjoyed broad support for her framework for cross-Strait relations, even as her overall popularity, and her 2020 reelection changes, remain in flux.

It’s a safe bet to expect the DPP to continue to focus on cross-Strait affairs in the leadup to the 2020 election – although some observers believed its focus on China at the expense of domestic issues contributed to its heavy defeat in the Nov. 24 regional elections.

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The DPP is also prioritizing a bill that would bar Taiwanese citizens from public office if they hold a residence permit from China.

In September 2018, China began offering residence permits to citizens of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, a move which sparked consternation among DPP officials – some of whom floated the idea of revoking the citizenship of Taiwanese who chose to obtain the permits.

Other news from Taiwan:

► Taiwan is asking the United Kingdom for help in finding five Filipinos who went missing after a Taiwan-flagged fishing boat went missing off the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. (Taipei Times)

► Taiwan is protesting Spain’s decision to deport two Taiwanese fraud suspects to China. (Channel NewsAsia)

► Meanwhile, Hong Kong is debating a proposed extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong has extradition agreements with 20 countries, a list which does not include China and Taiwan. (Hong Kong Free Press)

► Chinese tech brands are pushing Taiwanese smartphone makers such as Asus and HTC out of the global market. (Nikkei Asian Review)

► Taiwan is tops in Asia and eighth worldwide in gender equality, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, which uses the UN gender inequality index for its rankings. (Taipei Times)

► A satellite jointly developed by Taiwan and the United States is ready to be transported to the U.S. for its launch, according to Taiwan’s National Space Organization. (CNA)

► Today’s Lantern Festival celebrations are set to illuminate the skies of Taiwan. Here’s a dispatch from Pingxi village in northern Taiwan. (News24)

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Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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