::: TSR Weekly Report
2018-01-01 | NO.41(52) epaper |
Note to Readers
TSR is pleased to announce newly published books about Taiwan and East Asia on its website and in its weekly newsletter. If you're a scholar or your book is coming out from an academic press, please send the title of your book and a link to the publisher's web site to TSR's Senior Editor, James Lee (JL18@princeton.edu).
Cross-Strait Relations
Cabinet Handling Cross-Strait Issues in International Context (2017-12-27)
(CNA, By Shih Hsiu-chuan) The Cabinet manages cross-Taiwan Strait relations as an issue that extends beyond Taiwan and China to involve the international community, Premier Lai Ching-te said Wednesday. How the evolution of cross-strait relations affects the international community is the context under which the Cabinet looks at the situation, Lai said.

Armed Forces Must Remain Vigilant, Tsai Says (2017-12-29)
(Taipei Times/CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday said that the nation’s armed forces must keep a close watch on China’s military movements and take necessary measures to safeguard national security and ensure regional peace and stability. Speaking at a military promotion ceremony, Tsai said China’s frequent military activity in East Asia has affected stability in the region.

President Tsai Calls Air Pollution an Issue for Cross-Strait Dialogue (2017-12-29)
(CNA, By Elaine Hou and Kuan-lin Liu) The president said air pollution should be a topic for further cross-strait discussion. As other neighboring countries like Japan and South Korea address such pollution, Tsai said Taiwan looks forward to collaborating on anti-pollution measures, technology and related policies.

Taiwan President Says China’s Military Expansion Could Destabilize Asia (2017-12-29)
(New York Times, By Chris Horton) Her comments, made at a year-end news conference, underlined a commitment to self-defense just days after Beijing reiterated its goal of annexing the island.

Taiwan Calls for New 'Cross-Strait' Atmosphere in New Year (2017-12-31)
(CNA, By Miao Zong-han and Evelyn Kao) The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top authority on cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, called on China on Sunday to turn a new page in cross-Strait relations in the coming year by settling differences between the two sides through communications. The MAC made the call in a statement in response to a comment by Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under the Mainland's State Council, who said China will continue to adhere to the "1992 consensus" and the one-China principle in the new year.

Kinmen Features One Nation on Each Side of the Street (2018-01-02)
(Taipei Times, By Wu Cheng-ting) Kinmen’s Mofan Street has become a new sightseeing spot for tourists from across the Strait after it was decorated with a sea of flags of both the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Local residents might fly the national flag during Double Ten National Day, but during the New Year holiday the street, which was built in 1924, was lined with national flags on one side and Chinese flags on the other. Many visitors were seen taking pictures and sharing them on social media.
Taiwan's Domestic Politics and Foreign Relations
Taiwan's Domestic Politics

Consular Affairs Chief Resigns over Passport Fiasco (2017-12-27)
(CNA, By Joseph Yeh) Head of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) Agnes Chen stepped down Wednesday amid a furor over an error on the newly updated Taiwan e-passport, which bears an image of Washington's Dulles International Airport rather than Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Premier Aims to Balance Development
(Taipei Times, By Chen Wei-han) Premier William Lai yesterday proposed redefining administrative zones to balance urban and rural development, and introducing a population policy to boost the declining birth rate as the Executive Yuan’s priorities next year. Lai recounted the Cabinet’s achievements over the past year at an end of year news conference, saying that his policies are oriented toward developing the economy, promoting renewable energy sources and technology, as well as achieving social justice, and promoting security and cultural policies.

DPP Picks More Local Candidates (2017-12-28)
(Taipei Times, By Chen Wei-han) The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has nominated Caotun Township Mayor Hung Kuo-hao and DPP Legislator Liu Chao-hao to run for county commissioner in Nantou and Taitung counties respectively, both of which have long been Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) strongholds. In line with expectations, the party yesterday finalized the nomination process for the two candidates to run in the local elections, which are to be held on Nov. 29 next year. President Tsai Ing-wen personally endorsed the nominees.

Tsai's Approval Rating Slips on Response to Chinese Maneuvers (2017-12-31)
(CNA, By Ku Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu) President Tsai Ing-wen's approval rating fell for the third consecutive month in December, possibly because of her passive response in the face of Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan, according to poll results released on Sunday. Tsai's approval rating was 35.9 percent at year's end, down 2.7 percentage points from the 38.6 percent support she received in November, the survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation found.

Taiwan’s Tsai Takes China and the KMT in Her Stride (2018-01-01)
(East Asia Forum, By Sheryn Lee) These dynamics means that both the DPP and KMT are increasingly weary of mainland interference due to the perception of its influence on local politics. It is clear that this does not bode well for Beijing’s current cross-Strait objectives. It also does not bode well for Taiwan’s desire to maintain the status quo or Tsai’s deft political manoeuvring — Beijing will only increase its diplomatic, economic and military pressure to suffocate Taiwan’s independence.

Taiwan's Foreign Relations

Taiwan Company Did Not Transport North Korea Oil: Presidential Office (2017-12-29)
(CNA, By Yeh Su-ping, Elaine Hou and Kuan-lin Liu) The Presidential Office denied claims made by a South Korean news outlet that a Taiwanese company was behind a Hong Kong-registered vessel that secretly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in October, an action prohibited by the United Nations Security Council's latest sanctions against Pyongyang.

Visitor Arrivals from Southeast Asia Rose 33% Last Year: MOI
(Taipei Times/CNA) The number of people traveling to and from Taiwan in the first 11 months of last year was up slightly from 2016, helped by a sizable increase in visitors from Southeast Asia, Ministry of the Interior (MOI) data released on Saturday showed. According to ministry statistics, 48.17 million travelers left and arrived in Taiwan from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 last year, up 4.1 percent from the same period in 2016.

Honduras Invites Tsai to Visit Maya Ruins on Next Visit
(Taipei Times/CNA) Honduras would welcome another visit by President Tsai Ing-wen and would arrange a special tour of the Mayan Copan ruins for her, Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada said. Tsai was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on his re-election, symbolizing the nations’ strong ties, despite Beijing’s efforts to lure away Taiwan’s Central American allies, Sierra told media on Thursday.

INTERVIEW: Southbound Projects to Show Nation’s Worth: Minister (2018-01-02)
(Liberty Times, By Lee Hsin-fang) Minister Without Portfolio John Deng, who has been tasked with supervising implementation of the Cabinet’s New Southbound Policy, spoke to ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Lee Hsin-fang about his expectations for cooperation with the targeted countries on public infrastructure, medical and agricultural projects, and about the nation’s chances of joining the CPTPP.
PLA, Military Balance and Arms Sales
Why China’s Armed Police Will Now Only Take Orders from Xi and His Generals (2017-12-28)
(South China Morning Post, By Viola Zhou) The decision to put China’s 1.5 million paramilitary police under the sole command of the Central Military Commission is meant to ensure the Communist Party’s “absolute control” over the armed forces and to guarantee the “political security” of the regime, according to the military. The People’s Armed Police (PAP) has been under the dual command of the CMC, which oversees the armed forces, and the State Council, China’s cabinet. The structure gave lower-level authorities the power to deploy the PAP to tackle natural disasters, protests and hostage crises. But from January 1, the PAP will be under the sole command of the CMC, chaired by President Xi Jinping, a move that will strip local officials of that power.

Tsai Issues Directive for Close Monitoring of China Military Activity
(CNA, By Yeh Su-ping and Evelyn Kao) President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday that Taiwan's armed forces must keep a close watch on China's military movements and take the necessary measures to ensure national security and regional peace and stability. Speaking a military promotion ceremony, Tsai said China's frequent military activity in East Asia has affected stability in the region to a certain extent.

President Vows to Increase Taiwan's Military Spending
(CNA, By Shih Hsiu-chuan) Amid tensions heightened by Chinese military drills near Taiwan and the situation on the Korean peninsula, President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Friday to develop Taiwan's own indigenous defense systems and make a reasonable year-on-year increase in military spending.

Quick Reaction Force to Defend Taipei (2018-01-02)
(Taipei Times, By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin) A Taipei-based military police motorcycle platoon yesterday assumed a new mission when it became operational as a rapid reaction force for the Taipei garrison zone, tasked with defending the capital against attacks by enemy air assault, parachute, special operations and conventional forces. Known as the 202nd Military Police Command’s Services and Guards Platoon before its transformation, the Quick Reaction Company — also known as the “motorcycle platoon” — was selected to bolster the Taipei garrison zone’s defense, a national security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Territorial Disputes, the Korean Peninsula, and Other Regional Issues
The Korean Peninsula

Beijing Denies Reports That Chinese Ships Are Secretly Selling Oil to North Korea (2017-12-28)
(South China Morning Post, By Katherine Wong) China on Thursday denied that it is violating UN sanctions by selling oil to North Korean vessels after reports that Chinese ships suspected of carrying out the illegal trade were seen in the Yellow Sea. The latest UN sanctions – passed last week after Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile test in November – seek to cut nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year. But US reconnaissance satellites have reportedly spotted Chinese and North Korean ships illegally trading in oil in the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean peninsula.

Crew of Hong Kong Ship Accused of Transferring Oil to North Korean Vessel Questioned in South Korea
(Agence France-Presse) The crew of a Hong Kong-registered ship have been detained for questioning in South Korea since the tanker was impounded in November for transferring oil to a North Korean vessel and breaching UN sanctions, customs officials said on Saturday. The Lighthouse Winmore, which was chartered by a Taiwanese company, was impounded by South Korean customs authorities at the port of Yeosu on November 24 following an inspection.

Kim Jong-un’s Overture Could Drive a Wedge Between South Korea and the U.S. (2018-01-01)
(New York Times, By Choe Sang-Hun) North Korea’s surprising call for dialogue with the South may undercut the Trump administration’s tough approach.

North Korean Leader Says He Has ‘Nuclear Button’ But Won’t Use It Unless Threatened (2018-01-01)
(Washington Post, By Simon Denyer) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted in an annual New Year’s Day speech Monday that he had a nuclear button on his desk and that the entire United States was within range of his weapons — but he also vowed not to attack unless threatened. Kim promised to focus this year on producing nuclear warheads and missiles for operational deployment. But he also struck a conciliatory note, opening the door to dialogue with South Korea and saying he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics to be held in his southern neighbor in February.

Other Regional Issues

China Reluctant to Commit to Japan’s Plan to Hold Trilateral Summit with South Korea in April, Sources Say
(Kyodo) Japan has proposed to China and South Korea that a long-delayed trilateral summit be held in Tokyo in early April, but Beijing is withholding its response, diplomatic sources said on Friday. With China remaining reluctant about the summit before its National People’s Congress in March, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has conveyed its readiness for a three-day visit to Japan by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In from April 4 or 9, the people said. Seoul said it would try to make necessary arrangements, they said.

Is Trump’s America the ‘Dispensable’ Power in Asia? (2017-12-30)
(East Asia Forum, By David Camroux) Yet while the United States has been seeking to weaken the international institutions it helped establish, China has been creating new international institutions to further its aims. An October 2014 China Monitor suggests some fourteen parallel and alternative multilateral structures with the potential to supplant existing ones. The most visible in Asia is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Trump’s Democratic Destruction and Asian Absenteeism (2017-12-30)
(East Asia Forum, By TJ Pempel) The long established regional order now faces major challenges, and realists across Asia must deal with the United States as it is — not as they would like it to be. Thus the other participants of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have moved ahead without the United States to forge their own eleven-nation agreement (suspending provisions previously negotiated to benefit the United States). Meanwhile, China utilises the absence of the United States and its own economic strengths to enhance its influence over regional developments.
U.S.-China Relations
Trump Readies Tougher ‘America First’ Line for China Trade in 2018 (2017-12-27)
(Washington Post, By David J. Lynch) The Trump administration is setting the stage to unveil tough new trade penalties against China early next year, moving closer to an oft-promised crackdown that some U.S. business executives fear will ignite a costly battle. Several corporate officials and analysts closely tracking trade policy said that President Trump is expected to take concrete actions on a range of disputes involving China within weeks.

Is Tide Turning for US-China Ties under Trump?
(South China Morning Post, By Shi Jiangtao) It is not the first time China has been labelled a strategic competitor to the United States, with Washington’s China policy having swung between containment and engagement in the back and forth policy debate since the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 1979. But Trump became the first US president to spell it out officially in America’s national security strategy, a policy paper required by the US Congress since the mid-1980s.

China Fires Up Advanced Hypersonic Missile Challenge to US Defences
(South China Morning Post, By Minnie Chan) China’s new “hypersonic” ballistic missiles will not only challenge the defences of the United States but also be able to more accurately hit military targets in Japan and India, according to Chinese military specialists.
China's Domestic Politics and Foreign Relations
Domestic Politics in Mainland China

The Mysterious Death of a Chinese General (2017-12-28)
(The Diplomat, By Don Tse) To the military’s senior leadership, Zhang’s arrest underscores Xi’s conviction to clean out corruption or eliminate his opposition. Earlier, they may have felt that the purge of retired generals Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou was an inevitable outcome of the factional struggle between Xi and Jiang since Xi needed to preserve his authority and consolidate power. But for Xi to abruptly remove Zhang, an active-duty senior general who was tipped to become a CMC vice chairman, signals that no one is safe.

China's Foreign Relations

China Criticizes US, German Embassies for ‘Interference’ (2017-12-28)
(Associated Press) China’s foreign ministry accused the American and German embassies on Thursday of interfering in its affairs after they objected to the prosecutions of an activist and a lawyer who handled sensitive cases. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters a joint statement by the embassies calling for Wu Gan’s release and for lawyer Xie Yang to be allowed to return to work was irresponsible.

Can a China-Moldova Free-Trade Deal Give Beijing a Foothold in Eastern Europe?
(South China Morning Post, By Liu Zhen) China has agreed to begin talks on the establishment of a free-trade deal with the former Soviet state of Moldova, as the world’s most populous nation continues to seek to boost its influence in Russia’s backyard. Officials from the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing on Thursday, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.

China’s Underwater Surveillance Network Puts Targets in Focus along Maritime Silk Road
(South China Morning Post, By Stephen Chen) A new underwater surveillance network is expected to help China’s submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road, from the Korean peninsula to the east coast of Africa. The system, which has already been launched, works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.

Xi Jinping Bids Farewell to 2017 with New Year’s Eve Pledge to Defend International Rules
(South China Morning Post, By Viola Zhou) Chinese President Xi Jinping used his New Year’s Eve address to promote the country as a defender of international rules and to highlight the ongoing need to lift living standards. In a 10-minute address on Sunday, Xi touted the country’s achievements in science, defence and diplomacy in 2017 and pledged to turn his national blueprint for the next three decades into reality. He also highlighted his trip to Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover, saying that with mainland support the city would continue to enjoy long-term stability and prosperity.

China’s Trade Minister Pledges Easier Market Access for Foreign Investors
(Reuters) China will make it easier for foreign investors to access the country’s markets, will protect their rights and ensure a fair and transparent investment environment, Trade Minister Zhong Shan said in comments published on Sunday. Writing in the latest issue of the Communist Party theoretical journal Qiushi, Zhong said the government would “raise the level of use of foreign investment”. China would make market access a lot easier, protect the legitimate rights of foreign firms and create a “fair, transparent and predictable business environment”, he added, without giving details.

Contact: James Lee, Senior Editor 

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