The KMT has found the first major issue it can use to bash the DPP with, with the VP warning the DPP that permitting US pork imports would land it in hot water:

Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday denounced President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for not caring about citizens’ health. Wu noted that when Tsai was Deputy Premier, she failed to impose a ban on US beef when an outbreak of mad cow disease occurred in the US. According to Wu, it is now even more challenging for Tsai to lift the ban on US pork imports containing ractopamine residue as “people will hold her accountable.”

In response, the DPP retorted that when Wu was Premier, he was the one who allowed US beef to be imported from areas where mad cow disease had occurred without regard for the safety and health of people in Taiwan.

Pork and beef are contentious, not because the government cares about the health of Taiwanese, but because both KMT and DPP patronage networks in farming communities are filled with pork farmers. Taiwan produces little beef, but under WTO regulations, if it imports beef with ractopamine, it must import all products containing that drug. Hence, if it imports US beef, it must accept US pork (before the beef mess began years ago, Taiwan took about one-eighth of US beef exports). However, if it takes in heavily subsidized US pork, local producers will scream (as will I, I hate rubbery US pork and prefer the fatty local stuff). Those producers will then blame whichever party lets in the pork.

The situation is even more complicated because the NPP is now bashing couple of the DPP from the left on the pork issue even as the KMT bashes it from the right.

Note also that the KMT assigned this bashing to Wu Den-yi, a classic move — it allows the Big Man (Ma Ying-jeou) to remain benevolent and distant while the right-hand man says what he really thinks. Moreover, Wu is Taiwanese and presumably speaks to Taiwanese as one of their own…

Only the first of many such issues…

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published by Michael Turton.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang