Trending in Taiwan Today

Trending in Taiwan Today
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What you need to know

The biggest stories from around Taiwan today.

Sunflower leaders speak out on international response to Trump-Tsai call

Photo Credit: REUTERS/達志影像

Three of the key student leaders during the 2014 Taiwan Sunflower Movement have spoken out about the international response to the Dec. 2 phone call between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) and June Lin (林倢) co-authored an opinion piece in for Washington Post on the call, which was the first direct contact between the two country’s leaders in decades.

“We are puzzled why many commentators have treated Trump’s move as an “affront” to authoritarian China rather than consider the possibility of normalizing relations with a democratic nation of 23 million people, many of whom share deep affinities with the United States,” they say.

“When it comes to human rights in Tibet, freedom of speech in Hong Kong or maintaining strong relations with Japan or the Philippines, U.S. pundits rarely skirt controversy for fear of ‘provoking’ China.”

The three also note that despite Taiwan having the world’s 21st-largest GDP and a larger population than that of Australia,“our flourishing multicultural society is internationally silenced and played as a pawn of superpower politics.”

Taiwan tech giant may expand US operations

Terry Kuo 郭台銘 Hon Hai Precision Industry chairman and founder Gou attends a news conference in Tokyo
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Foxconn is in preliminary discussions to expand its operations in the United States.

The Taiwan company, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is a key supplier to Apple and the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer.

“We can confirm that we are in preliminary discussions regarding a potential investment that would represent an expansion of our current U.S. operations,” the company said. “While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant U.S. officials. Those plans would be made based on mutually-agreed terms.”

As Bloomberg reports, the Taiwan-based manufacturer assembles Apple hardware outside the U.S but President-elect Donald Trump has called for Apple to make its products in the U.S. to create jobs.

President meets with former White House advisor

Photo Credit: 蔡英文

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has met with Stephen Yates, a former White House official who was deputy national security adviser to former vice president Dick Cheney.

Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said the pair met at the presidential residence in Taipei and had "had quite a deep conversation,” CNA reports. No further details were available about what Yates and Tsai discussed.

Yates, who is chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, earlier in the week met with press in Taipei. He downplayed the significance of Trump’s acceptance of a phone call from the Taiwan president, saying the call did not mean U.S. policy on Taiwan has changed. However, pointing to a Tweet from Trump following the call, however, Yates acknowledged that the ground has moved.

“In 140 characters, or less, he pretty much broke a myth that I think has stood in the way of common sense in Washington for multiple decades,” he says.

Speaking bluntly to Bloomberg on Dec. 4, Yates said, “The Chinese have imposed thought control, verbal control, behavior control on the United States.”

Yates told reporters in Taipei that once Trump takes office, he will be unlikely to follow China’s wishes in this regard, or to the same “stale notion” as to how the U.S. refers to Taiwan and its leadership.

“No one is going to tell him who he can talk to and how he can talk to them.”

Double-digit growth for Taiwan’s exports

China Foxconn
Photo Credit : AP/達志影像

Taiwan has reported double-digit year-on-year growth for exports in November. Exports for the month were up 12 percent compared to the same time last year, led by a 20 percent increase in exports to its biggest market, China.

Officials say the growth came from strong demand for semiconductors and improving prices for input materials, Reuters reports. However, officials also cautioned the momentum may not last amid stiff competition and the potential for the U.S. to move towards protectionism.

Digging into Dole’s Taiwan links and ‘The Call’

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Revelations that former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole had a hand in organizing the Dec. 2 phone call between Taiwan President Tsai and U.S. President Donald Trump have been downplayed in Taipei.

New York Times reports, “Former Senator Bob Dole, acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan, worked behind the scenes over the past six months to establish high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff, an outreach effort that culminated last week in an unorthodox telephone call between Mr. Trump and Taiwan’s president.”

Dole’s Washington law firm received US$140,000 from May to October for the work, the paper reports.

Officials in Taipei say that while it is customary practice to hire lobbyists, none of the firms hired by Taiwan had a hand in organizing the phone call. The call followed “standard procedure,” according to the Presidential Office.

Taiwan tech companies in global VR group

青春發言人 唐鳳 VR
Photo Credit: 青春發言人

Several Taiwan tech companies are part of a core group of technology companies forming a global association for virtual reality.

Taiwan’s Acer Starbreeze and HTC VIVE have joined forces with Google, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung, and Sony Interactive Entertainment in announcing the creation of an organization of international headset manufacturers to promote the growth of the virtual reality (VR) industry, the group says in the statement.

“The goal of the Global Virtual Reality Association is to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally,” they say. “The association’s members will develop and share best practices, conduct research, and bring the international VR community together as the technology progresses. The group will also serve as a resource for consumers, policymakers, and industry interested in VR.”

Specialist technology website TechCrunch notes, “After a couple years of being driven primarily by the startups, the virtual reality industry is growing to be one increasingly dominated by the big dogs.”

Editor: Olivia Yang