Archive for ‘Taipei’

17/04/2019

Foxconn’s Gou throws hat in ring for Taiwan presidency, with blessing of sea goddess

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Terry Gou, chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Wednesday he will contest Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election, shaking up the political landscape at a time of heightened tension between the self-ruled island and Beijing.

Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion according to Forbes, said he would join the already competitive race, and take part in the opposition, China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) primaries.
His decision capped a flurry of news this week that began when Gou told Reuters on Monday he planned to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer to pave the way for younger talent to move up the company’s ranks.
He later announced he was considering a presidential bid and hinted he was close to a decision, and then told more than 100 people packed into a temple he would follow the instruction of a sea goddess who had told him to run for president.

The sea goddess Mazu is a popular deity in Taiwan and is believed to hold sway over one’s safety and fortune.

“Peace, stability, economy, future, are my core values,” Gou said later at the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei.

He urged the party to rediscover its spirit, the honor of its members and the lost support of the youth, and to establish a fair and transparent system for the primary race.

The KMT’s primary was already highly competitive, with contenders including a former KMT chairman, Eric Chu, and a former head of the island’s parliament, Wang Jin-pyng.

Gou’s bid, which requires KMT approval, comes at a delicate time for cross-strait relations and delivers a blow to the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which is struggling in opinion polls.

China-Taiwan relations have deteriorated since the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning DPP, swept to power in 2016.

China suspects Tsai is pushing for the island’s formal independence. That is a red line for China, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

‘VERY PRO-CHINA’

A senior adviser to Tsai told Reuters he thought Gou’s bid could create problems, given his extensive business ties with China.

“This is problematic to Taiwan’s national security,” the adviser, Yao Chia-wen, said.

“He’s very pro-China and he represents the class of the wealthy people. Will that gain support from Taiwanese?” Yao said, adding he believed Gou would face a tough battle in the KMT primary.

Tension between Taipei and Beijing escalated again on Monday, as Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around the island, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces.

A senior U.S. official denounced Beijing’s military maneuvers as “coercion” and a threat to stability in the region.
Gou has questioned Taiwan’s ties with the United States and said this week the island should stop buying U.S. weapons. He said peace was the best the defense.
William Stanton, professor at National Taiwan University and former head of the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, said he would have concerns if Gou were to become president.
“I’d be concerned about how he would behave. He did not have a positive attitude toward the U.S.,” Stanton said.
The KMT, which once ruled China before fleeing to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949, said in February it could sign a peace treaty with Beijing if it won the presidential election.
Zhang Baohui, a regional security analyst at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said Gou’s run could mark the start of the most unusual election in Taiwan history.
This is something entirely fresh for Taiwan politics – here is a candidate who sees everything through the pragmatic angle of a businessman rather than raw politics or ideology,” Zhang told Reuters.
“He has no baggage and that will be a fascinating scenario.”
Gou’s news comes as Tsai is grappling with a series of unpopular domestic reform initiatives, from a pension scheme to labor law, which have come under intense voter scrutiny.
The KMT said this week Gou had been a party member for more than 50 years and had given it an interest-free loan of T$45 million ($1.5 million) in 2016 under the name of his mother, which had signaled his loyalty to the party.
Foxconn said on Tuesday Gou would remain chairman, though he planned to withdraw from daily operations.
It was not immediately clear when he planned to pull back or if his presidential bid would require him to step down from Foxconn. There were no regulations related to a company executive running for the presidency, the island’s stock exchange said.
Foxconn’s shares closed up 2.1 percent at T$91.80 ahead of Gou’s formal declaration, the highest in six months. His Hong Kong-listed FIH Mobile closed up 28 percent, tracking the strength in parent Foxconn.
Source: Reuters
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27/02/2019

Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwans’s Quemoy, Matsu islands

  • Different social systems should not be ‘a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation’, according to mainland’s cross-strait affairs office
  • After Quemoy began importing water from Fujian in August, preliminary research has been done to supply water to Matsu chain and electricity to both

News

Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwan’s islands

27 Feb 2019

Taiwan-controlled Quemoy Island – which is just 2km from Xiamen – began importing water from the mainland in August. Photo: Weibo

Beijing says it is prepared to supply electricity and water to islands controlled by Taipei in the Taiwan Strait despite escalating tensions between the two sides.

An Fengshan, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, also said their different social systems should not be “an excuse” to separate the country, and any deal between the mainland and Taipei should be struck in the interests of a “peaceful unification” agenda.

Speaking at a monthly press briefing on Wednesday, An said the mainland could supply power and water to meet the needs of residents on Quemoy, also known as Kinmen, and the Matsu island group. Controlled by Taipei, the islands are located off the mainland’s southeastern Fujian coast – Quemoy is just 2km from Xiamen – and have been on the front line of cross-strait tensions since 1949.

Taiwan’s cold war island begins to thaw

“The people of the Quemoy and Matsu islands have long hoped that the mainland could help to resolve the difficulties they face with power and water shortages, and they have made numerous appeals for gas and bridge connections [with the mainland],” An said.

“Our attitude is very clear – that in regards to these demands, the mainland will make every effort to provide opportunities and conditions to help them achieve bigger and better development.”

An said Fujian province authorities had completed preliminary research and planning to supply electricity to the Quemoy and Matsu islands, as well as water to the Matsu chain. Plans to supply gas and build bridges were expected in the future, he said, without elaborating.

Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE
Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE

Quemoy began importing water from Fujian to ease its water shortage in August, three years after it signed a 30-year agreement with the mainland province to supply water via an undersea pipeline.

But Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles cross-strait ties, asked the Quemoy county government to downplay a ceremony marking the start of the supply
because of moves by Beijing to suppress Taipei.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province subject to eventual reunification, by force if necessary. Relations across the strait soured after Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principles.

Since then, mainland China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan, suspending official communications with the Tsai government, poaching its diplomatic allies and staging war games near the self-ruled island, which is edging closer to Washington.

In an interview with CNN last week, Tsai said she would seek re-election next year and there would be no peace deal with the mainland unless Beijing ruled out using force against Taiwan.

On Wednesday, An said the different social systems across the strait should not be a barrier to unification, which President Xi Jinping sees as part of his Chinese dream of national rejuvenation but has been rejected by Tsai.

“Peaceful unification and ‘one country, two systems’ are the basic policies for us to resolve the Taiwan issues, and the best way to realise the motherland’s unification,” An said.

He was referring to a speech by Xi in January calling for Beijing and Taipei to start talks on “one country, two systems” in Taiwan – first proposed by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s – as the path to bring the island back into the China fold.

“The differences in the systems should not be a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation,” An said.

China protests against US ‘provocation’ after two American warships pass through Taiwan Straits.
Asked about Beijing-friendly Kuomintang chairman Wu Den-yih’s recent remarks that Taipei would sign a peace deal with the mainland if his party won the election in 2020, An said the two sides could explore a deal “as long as it benefits and safeguards the peace of the Taiwan Strait, increases the peaceful development of relations and pushes the peaceful unification process of the motherland”.

Source: SCMP

24/02/2019

China’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

  • Military watchers can expect ‘something new’ at this year’s National Day parade in October, Professor Jin Canrong tells forum in Hong Kong
  • As tensions rise over Taiwan, Beijing is building a naval and missile force as powerful as any in the world, he says

Beijing’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

24 Feb 2019

Submarine arms race seen heating up in Indo-Pacific amid China ‘threat’

16 Feb 2019

The US could send more nuclear attack submarines, such as the Virginia-class, to the region. Photo: AFP
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its arsenal of short- to medium-range ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, according to a Chinese expert on international relations.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of Hong Kong on Saturday, Professor Jin Canrong, associate dean of the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said China had made great strides in expanding its military capability, but there was a lot more to come.

US commander pushes for more funding to counter China’s influence in Indo-Pacific

While he did not elaborate on what the “something new” might be, he said the country was gearing up for a possible conflict over Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as a wayward province awaiting reunification.

Over the next five or 10 years, Taiwan could provide the “biggest uncertainty” for Beijing, he said, especially if the United States decided to “ignite” the situation.

Known for being outspoken on sensitive issues, Jin said that while Beijing wanted a peaceful reunification, it was wary of “pro-independence factions [on the island] and right-wing American [politicians] creating trouble”.

In a speech on January 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of Beijing’s call to end military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “the political division across the strait … cannot be passed on from generation to generation”, apparently signalling his determination to bring it to an end.

Xi said China would not abandon the use of force in reunifying Taiwan, but stressed the military would target only external elements and those seeking independence for the island.

In 2017, Taipei said that it had detected the deployment of DF-16 ballistic missiles on the mainland that were aimed at Taiwan.

Jin said China was rapidly expanding its missile capabilities. The People’s Liberation Army had already stockpiled about 3,000 short- and medium-range missiles, he said, even though it had been using just 15 per cent of its production capacity.

“Just imagine if we were running at 100 per cent,” he said.

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua
Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua

Under its plan for military modernisation China had achieved “great advancements in space, electronics and cyberwarfare”, the academic said, but its achievements to date were only the beginning.

As well as the expansion of its missile force, Beijing was investing heavily in its navy, he said.

Is China about to abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy?

With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer – which some Chinese military experts have said is as good as anything in the US Navy – the balance of power was shifting, he said.

“For the first time in 500 years, the East has combat equipment that is at least as good as the West’s.”

With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout
With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout

And as the navy continued to modernise and expand, the US might be forced to rethink its position in the region, he said.

“When we have dozens of destroyers and four or five [aircraft] carriers the US will not be able to meddle in Taiwan.”

China’s first aircraft carrier may become test bed for electromagnetic warplane launcher

Jin said that China would also soon have all the scientific, academic and research personnel it needed to achieve its military ambitions.

“China had nearly 30 million university students in 2018, which is twice as many as the US. More than half of them are studying science or engineering,” he said.

“Every year we produce about 4 million science and engineering graduates, while America produces just 440,000.”

Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout
Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Beijing also had the money to support its plans, Jin said. Based on his own calculations, he said China allocated about 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product to military spending, which was lower than “Germany’s 1.5 per cent”, and less than half the “3 per cent in Britain and France”.

“The tax paid by Chinese smokers is more than enough to cover [the country’s] military expenses,” Jin said.

According to figures from Nato, Britain spent 2.1 of its GDP on defence in 2017, France 1.8 per cent and Germany 1.2 per cent. Both the World Bank and the United Nations put China’s military spending in 2017 at 1.9 per cent of its GDP.

Source: SCMP

22/01/2019

Ma Ying-jeou appears as ‘shopkeeper for a day’ in Taipei bookstore

  • Video clip shows 68-year-old serving customers to ‘earn some money’ for calligraphy brushes and ink to write Lunar New Year couplets for supporters
  • Former Taiwanese president has been trying to rebuild his popularity, but his office says they are unaware of whether he plans to join 2020 election race
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, 7:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, 7:58pm

Ma Ying-jeou has been trying to rebuild his popularity, and the latest effort involves a video clip of the former Taiwanese president working as a “shopkeeper for a day” at a bookstore in Taipei.

More than two years after he stepped down from the top job and the helm of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang, the 68-year-old is seen in the video serving customers to “earn some money” so that he can buy calligraphy brushes and ink to write Lunar New Year couplets to give to his supporters.

The video has been viewed more than 110,000 times since Ma’s office posted it on YouTube on Friday.

But the Harvard Law School graduate is not a natural for retail work, judging from the footage. Dressed casually and wearing a face mask to hide his identity, when a customer asks to use JKo Pay – the local version of Apple Pay – Ma appears to have never heard of it.

Still, it is a chance to try to sell some copies of his book. But he fails to drum up any interest in his memoir until he removes the face mask, to the delight of some of the women customers at least.

According to his office, the video aims to show another side to Ma who, in his younger days, was known for his movie star looks and squeaky clean image.

“We want to let the public know that the ex-president is actually an easy-going person, the man next door type,” an official from the office said.

But he would not be drawn on whether the video had anything to do with Ma potentially joining the 2020 presidential election race.

“This kind of question has been around for some time, you’ll have to ask the former president because we have no idea at all,” the official said.

In a recent radio interview, Ma also deflected questions about a possible comeback, saying he had been asked about his intentions numerous times since he launched a political foundation in July and released his memoir in December. “They are much too imaginative,” he said.

Yet efforts on social media such as the “shopkeeper” video are clearly aimed at promoting his image and winning support.

On the self-ruled island, politicians such as Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, a former doctor with no political affiliation, has had the most success amassing fans on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, of the KMT, also used social media to help his campaign in the November local government elections.

Lin Ching-hung, an author and commentator, said social media campaigns were a valid way to win public support.

“To improve public understanding of serious topics or to create a laid-back image, there’s nothing wrong with politicians trying to turn around their image or do something lighthearted online – like Ma acting as a shopkeeper for a day, or President Tsai Ing-wen going to Ximending [in Taipei] to eat and shop, or former New Taipei mayor Eric Chu making a pig gesture on Facebook,” Lin said.

But he added that gaining popularity online was not the same as doing a good job in government, and voters knew that.

Ma’s popularity has risen sharply in the past year or so, in contrast with his time as president – especially during the last few years of his second term, which ended in 2016.

When he was first elected in 2008, Ma’s approval rating was at 68 per cent. But his government’s mishandling of the economy and issues such as a devastating typhoon that killed nearly 700 people in 2009, as well as the Sunflower movement – which saw hundreds of students storming the legislature in 2014 – made him highly unpopular.

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