This Week in Taiwan 0802-0809

August 3: Office of the President Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan was allowed to resign from his post because his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching, became involved in a corruption scandal. Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman David Lee will succeed as secretary-general to the president. President Tsai Ing-wen also warned her administration that those who wish to make a fortune should take other roads. Political power must not be used for personal gain, which would only destroy the people's trust in the administration. 


August 5: New Power Party (NPP) Chairman and former Legislator Hsu Yung-ming announced his withdrawal from the party due to a recent corruption scandal, and two affiliated Taipei City councilors also announced their withdrawal. Acting Chairman and Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih stated that the decision-making committee passed a general resignation, and the party will hold a by-election in three weeks. The NPP is in its fifth year. In 2016, it secured five seats in the Legislative Yuan and became the third largest party. In recent years, 12 key figures have announced their withdrawal from the party. 


August 5: The immigration policy governing mainland Chinese students recently reversed. The Ministry of Education had sent an official letter to colleges and universities indicating that current foreign and mainland Chinese students would be permitted to re-enter Taiwan. But in a media interview, Deputy Minister of Education Liu Meng-chi switched positions, indicating that "due to some considerations related to cross-strait relations," current mainland Chinese students will no longer be permitted to enter Taiwan; only graduating students will be permitted.


August 7: Reuters reported on August 6 that the United States is interested in selling to Taiwan for the first time four units of General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial jets, worth up to US$600 million. If this arms sale is successful, then it is bound to escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing even further. Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense had no comment.


August 8: The prosecution investigated the recent corruption scandal involving multiple legislators. The Taipei District Court held that DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching and Kuomintang (KMT) Legislators Liao Kuo-tung and Chen Chao-ming would be detained. DPP-friendly independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu was also successfully detained upon the prosecution's successful counter-appeal. The detention of four legislators strikes a new record in Taiwan's judicial history. Former Legislator Hsu Yung-ming was released on a bail of NT$800,000 (about US$27,000).


August 9: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar of the United States and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori of Japan led delegations to Taiwan. Their delegations benefited from the so-called "diplomatic bubbles" and need not quarantine for 14 days, stirring public controversy. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung stated that he would take responsibility if anyone becomes infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) due to the diplomatic exceptions. Minister Chen stated that in the interest of epidemic prevention, the dignitaries from the U.S. and Japan need to present a negative test report, take a special plane, be guided by special personnel, travel as a group, and keep distance from the public.


The spokesperson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that Azar's trip is meant to communicate high regard of Taiwan's achievements in containing the coronavirus. His delegation will meet President Tsai Ing-wen on August 10. All members of his delegation will wear face masks throughout their visit to Taiwan.


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