What you need to know
The biggest stories from Taiwan and around Asia this week.
Taiwan marches on to Washington
Taiwan has responded to China’s calls for the Taiwan delegation to be blocked from attending Donald Trump's inauguration.
Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States later today has drawn hundreds of thousands to Washington, including an expected 200,000 protesters as part of the Women's March tomorrow.
Former Premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), a member of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), departed Taiwan on Monday to head the delegation to Washington.
China urged the U.S. to block the official delegation, but You responded by saying China should not be “so small” over the matter, according to an AFP report.
Other members of the cross-party delegation include the opposition Kuomintang’s Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), New Power Party (NPP) legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and the DPP’s Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃).
New poll finds Taiwanese believe Trump sees Taiwan as a bargaining chip
Taiwanese believe the incoming U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, sees their country as a bargaining chip and not a friend, according to a new poll.
Over the past two weeks, The News Lens Taiwan edition surveyed more than 100 Taiwanese for their opinions on the incoming U.S. president and found that while a majority were excited by Trump’s historic phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), very few, if any, believe Trump is a friend of Taiwan.
Asked whether Taiwan is a “bargaining chip” for Trump, more than 80 percent agreed, choosing the answer, "Yes, Trump thinks of Taiwan as a ‘bargaining chip’ with China and this is a political fact of Taiwan’s position in the world, the country needs to learn to survive under these conditions.”
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Rubio to push Hong Kong human rights bill in Congress
The United States Congress looks set to reintroduce a human rights act on Hong Kong in the coming days, The South China Morning Post reported this week.
“I look forward to reintroducing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the coming days,” Marco Rubio, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in an email to the SCMP through a spokesman on Tuesday.
The law, which was proposed after the disappearances of five Hong Kong booksellers in 2015 but was not progressed, would require human rights reporting requirements on issues like press freedom as part of United States-Hong Kong relations.
Taiwan’s human rights performance in spotlight
A group of 10 international experts were in Taiwan this week as part of a four-year review of Taiwan’s human rights performance. They reviewed Taiwan’s adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which have been part of Taiwan’s law since 2009. Among the group’s key conclusions was the recommendation that Taiwan suspend capital punishment and move to abolish the death penalty, state media CNA reports.
From 2010 to 2015, Taiwan executed four to six people each year. The last person to be executed in Taiwan was 23-year-old Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) who was executed on May 10, two years after he killed four and injured 22 in a stabbing spree on the Taipei subway. More than 40 people remain on death row and the courts continue to sentence criminals to death. However, no executions have been carried out since the Democratic Progressive Party took office in late May last year.
Polls show that Taiwanese overwhelmingly support the death penalty. Nevertheless, international experience — particularly in Europe — shows that if politicians act on the issue rather than wait for the electorate to vote on it, public support will follow. Local abolition advocates, however, doubt whether Taiwanese politicians possess the confidence or conviction needed to act against mainstream opinion. According to the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), research shows that the more information Taiwanese have about the issue, the more likely they are to be against it.
Meanwhile, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) announced on Monday that the government will establish a new national human rights institution, CNA reports.
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Duterte tipped to go back to Beijing
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China again in May, China’s Foreign Ministry said this week.
Chinese officials said Duterte would attend a summit focused on China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy. However, the Manila Standard reports that Filipino government officials have yet to confirm the visit.
In October 2016, Duterte traveled to China and proclaimed before the People’s Congress in Beijing that he would be switching his county’s alliance from the United States to China. Officials later tempered his statements, but analysts believe Duterte’s détente with China may still have major ramifications for the region.
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The East is Red
Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ premieres in Taiwan
Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese was in Taipei this week attending the premiere of his new film, “Silence.”
The historical drama, which was shot in Taiwan, features Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, and Liam Neeson.
The film tells the story of Christian missionaries in Japan and is adapted from Shusaku Endo’s 1966 acclaimed novel.
Editor: Olivia Yang