What you need to know
Today's biggest stories from around Taiwan.
Hong Kong independence advocates assaulted in Taipei
Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) convenor Andy Chan Ho-Tin (陳浩天) and spokesperson Jason Chow Ho-Fai (周浩輝) were assaulted in Taipei on the evening of Dec. 12. The two were attacked as they were leaving the restaurant after an interview with members of a pro-China group. According to a statement released on the HKNP Facebook page, the attackers chanted “Taiwanese and Hong Kongese secessionists” and “Han traitors to the state” as they splashed coffee and water on the two members.
The two politicians and their attackers were taken to the police department, but as Chan and Chow had to catch a flight back to Hong Kong, charges have not been pressed yet, Liberty Times reports. The police have also recorded the names of the attackers for future reference if Chan and Chow want to press charges, Liberty Times reports.
Chan and Chow are members of Hong Kong’s first pro-independence political party and were in Taipei to attend the Human Rights Day parade on Dec. 10, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reports. Speaking at the parade, they accused China of “colonizing” Hong Kong and Taiwan, HKFP reports, and they also spoke at a conference on human rights and self-determination in Asia.
Is Trump using Taiwan as a 'bargaining chip' with China?
International media has rushed to condemn Donald Trump for his comments on the “one-China” policy, accusing the president-elect of using Taiwan as a bargaining chip with China, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reports. While the Taiwanese presidential office has remained largely silent on Trump’s “one China” comments, international press like Vox and the Washington Post have criticized Trump and say he risks starting a war if he does not hold to the "one-China" policy.
Speaking to Fox News Sunday a week after accepting a controversial congratulatory call from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Dec. 2, the U.S. president-elect said, “I fully understand the one-China policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal having to do with other things, including trade.”
Meanwhile, the White House responded to Trump’s comments by insisting that the one-China policy should not be used as a bargaining chip, Reuters reports. Republican senator John McCain also said he personally supports the one-China policy, and that he would not respond to every comment made by the president-elect since his comments “might be reversed the next day,” Reuters reports.
Taiwan more of a currency manipulator than China: Bloomberg
A Bloomberg report says Taiwan is more suited to bear the name “currency manipulator” than China after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s accusation that China has been ripping-off the U.S. by manipulating its currency. Although China’s trade surplus with the U.S. and its other trade partners is far bigger than Taiwan’s, Bloomberg reports that if measured as a share of the economy, Taiwan’s trade surplus is six times the size of China’s.
The report cites calculations from William Cline, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, who found that the Taiwanese dollar is undervalued against the currencies of its trading partners by more than 25 percent. Cline thinks that the Chinese Yuan is “more or less fairly valued by his reckoning, which takes account of current and prospective trade flows,” Bloomberg reports.
Nationality Act amended to ease naturalization process for foreign spouses
Taiwan’s parliament passed an amendment to the Nationality Act that will ease restrictions on the naturalization of foreign spouses, CNA reports. Under the new laws, foreign spouses seeking naturalization will no longer be confined to Article 3 of the act, which previously stipulated that foreign nationals would have to provide proof of assets or professional skills to be granted ROC citizenship.
The amendments allow divorcees or widowers to stay in Taiwan and remain eligible for naturalization. The new regulations do not require foreign spouses to renounce their original citizenship before naturalization. Instead, they can provide proof that they have renounced citizenship within a year of being granted naturalization.
The previous law was criticized for discriminating against foreign spouses who married into lower income Taiwanese families. The law change was lauded by Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬) who said it would help foreign women who married Taiwanese men. Many of these women come from Southeast Asia or China.
DPP caucus will not issue directive on Civil Code amendment
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus will not issue a directive on whether the Civil Code should be amended to allow same-sex marriage or if a separate bill should be drafted, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said on Dec. 12, reports Taipei Times.
Ker also said that while the DPP, as a whole, supports same-sex marriage, there are supporters of both amending the Civil Code and drafting a separate law within the party. Ker made the comments in a radio interview, where he also denied rumors that he was averse to homosexuality, reports Taipei Times.
More than 200,000 Taiwanese gathered outside the Presidential Office building on Dec. 10 to call on the government to enact marriage equality legislation, as amendments to the Civil Code are being stalled amidst anti-LGBT protests.
Taiwanese youth have little interest in learning Southeast Asian languages
A survey released on Dec. 7 has found that only 2.4 percent of Taiwanese middle school, college and university students are interested in learning Southeast Asian languages, Taipei Times reports. The survey found that the majority of Taiwanese students prioritized learning English, Korean and Japanese.
The King Car Cultural and Educational Foundation, which conducted the survey, said that the results show that Taiwanese students need to broaden their horizons instead of only learning about the cultures and languages of countries like the U.S., South Korea and Japan.
The Ministry of Education announced on Dec. 11 that Southeast Asian languages would become required courses in elementary schools starting in 2018.
Comfort women museum opens in Taipei
Taiwan’s first museum dedicated to “comfort women” opened on Dec. 10 in the Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area in Taipei, CNA reports. The museum is called the “Ama Museum” — after the surviving comfort women, who are affectionately called “Ama (阿嬤),” which means “grandmother” in Taiwanese — and was established by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation.
Thousands of Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Only three of these women who have spoken up about their experiences are still alive today. Japan, South Korea and China all have similar museums, while women in Southeast Asia were also forced into becoming comfort women for the Japanese forces during the war.
Chairwoman of the foundation, Huang Shu-ling (黃淑玲), said she hoped that the museum could help educate future generations about this period in Taiwan’s history, CNA reports. The museum features a permanent exhibition of photos, documents and videos on Taiwanese comfort women, and will also host workshops and seminars on topics such as human rights.
Editor: Olivia Yang