Parliament passes transitional justice legislation

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passes the Act Promoting Transitional Justice in a late-evening session today. The 21-article act mainly aims for truth-seeking and reparations from Taiwan’s authoritarian era. The law specified the authoritarian era as between August 15, 1945, when Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan ended, and November 6, 1992, when martial law on Kinmen and Matsu was lifted (martial law lifted in Taiwan proper in July 1987).

The law establishes the Promotion of Transitional Justice Committee as an independent agency under the Executive Yuan, with nine committee members nominated by the premier and confirmed by the Legislative Yuan. The committee will be in charge of acquiring Kuomintang historical archives to clarify the history of repression during rule of Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo.

Establishment of the committee follows the establishment of the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, responsible for investigating and returning ill-gotten political party assets during the same authoritarian era, mainly targeting the KMT and its affiliated organizations. The Promotion of Transitional Justice Committee is tasked with utilizing the returned assets.

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Taiwan President to visit Pacific Islands

President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation to visit three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific: Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. The delegation departs Taipei today, will make a stop in Honolulu, and will return on November 4 with a stop in Guam. China Airlines is selected to handle the delegation this time.

President Tsai is expected to meet with the head of state of each country and deliver a speech each at the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands parliaments. She is also expected to meet with the Taiwanese community in Honolulu and visit aid projects sponsored by Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) in the three countries. The ROC first established diplomatic relations with Tuvalu in 1979, with Solomon Islands in 1983, and with Marshall Islands in 1998. Other allies in the region include Kiribati, Nauru, and Palau.

Taiwan to join US Global Entry program

Beginning November 1, 2017, Taiwanese passport holders will be eligible to join the US Global Entry program, designed to expedite immigration and customs processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. US citizens enrolled in a US Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Program (e.g. Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI) will be eligible to register for e-Gate, an automated border control system for entry into Taiwan, for a fee of NT$3,000 (~US$100). Taiwan will be the 12th country in the world to be eligible for Global Entry, while the US is the first country to be eligible for Taiwan’s e-Gate.

This development follows the fifth anniversary of Taiwan’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program, which led to almost 60% increase in Taiwanese visitors to the US.  American Institute in Taiwan Director Kin Moy and Taiwanese Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong announced the launch together with representatives from the US Customs and Border Protection, Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Taiwanese National Immigration Agency.

Independence v. Unification

Two independence movements were buzzing in Taiwan in the past few weeks, with Catalonia seeking independence from Spain and Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for separation from Iraq. Both ongoing events sparked new discussions on whether Taiwan should be holding an independence referendum, and how China and the rest of the world might respond if a vote took place.

Much like other complicated political problems in the world, however, it is not as simple as an independence referendum. For one thing, there remains large divides within the Taiwanese population on the status of Taiwan as an independent state as well as what that state, if actually independent, should be called. The Taiwan National Security Surveys designed by Duke University and conducted by National Chengchi University in 2016 showed that more than 70% of people surveyed agreed with the following statement:

 台灣是一個主權獨立的國家,它現在的名字叫做中華民國。
[Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, and its current name is the Republic of China.]

Continue reading “Independence v. Unification”

Better Taiwan

During Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Day address titled Better Taiwan today, she pledged to honor her electoral promises and accelerate reforms, safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and to actively seek Taiwan’s place in the new international order.

In particular, she reiterated her government’s approach in dealing with China:

Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.
我們的善意不變、承諾不變,不會走回對抗的老路,但也不會在壓力下屈服

She did not mentioned the magic words (“1992 Consensus”) China has been looking for, which naturally drew ire from our neighbor across the strait. Yet as China seems unable to comprehend the lack of support for the so-called consensus in Taiwan, Taiwan-China relations will likely remain in its current state of no official contacts, unless something drastic happens in the upcoming 19th CPC Party Congress.

Government to abolish Mongolian & Tibetan affairs commission

roc_mongolian_and_tibetan_affairs_commission_logoTaiwan’s Executive Yuan today approved a draft bill to abolish the Mongolian & Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), a ministry-level agency responsible for Mongolian and Tibetan affairs by the end of this year. Much of its portfolio has already been transferred to the foreign ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council, leaving it as a primarily cultural promotion agency. Its current staff and portfolio will be absorbed by the Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Culture. The commission maintains the Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural Center in Taipei. Continue reading “Government to abolish Mongolian & Tibetan affairs commission”