This Week in Taiwan 0810-0815

August 11: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar of the United States visited Taiwan for four days from August 9 to 12. He attended a ceremony witnessing the signature of a U.S.-Taiwan memorandum of understanding on health cooperation. When he met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Azar praised Taiwan's epidemic prevention achievements as an example to the world. Azar added that his trip is meant to express President Donald Trump's strong friendship with and support of Taiwan. 

On August 11, Azar visited the Taipei Guest House to pay tribute to the late former President Lee Teng-hui and admitted that he accidentally mispronounced President Tsai's surname. The Central Epidemic Command Center Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang said that it has verbally expressed Taiwan's demand for vaccines. Azar responded that he will bring the information back to the United States for discussion. 


August 12: In handling the collective corruption case involving several legislators, the prosecution found NT$3 million (about US$102,000) in cash at the residence of New Power Party Chairman Hsu Yung-ming. Hsu claimed that the money was a loan provided by Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung, but Lin has denied lending money. The prosecution suspects that inside information remains to be uncovered and will work to clarify the source of this NT$3 million. 


August 13: In Yunlin, police uncovered the first counterfeit "Triple Stimulus Vouchers" case, arresting five and seizing vouchers amounting NT$2.5 million (about US$85,000). Based on the quantity of print paper found at the site, if the counterfeit vouchers were printed completely, then they may be exchanged for a face value of greater than $370 million (about US$12.5 million). The key to bringing the counterfeit syndicate to justice was a lottery vendor who received the counterfeit vouchers and immediately reported to the police after detecting oddities. The police was able to dismantle the counterfeit syndicate within half a month.


August 13: The Executive Yuan passed draft articles to amend the Civil Code. The government is planning to lower the voting and marriage age to 18 years. The draft bill, which must be sent to the Legislative Yuan for consideration, is expected to take effect in 2023. 


August 15: The Executive Yuan announced the central government budget for 2021. Because Taiwan plans to purchase F-16V Fighting Falcon jets, the national defense budget reached NT$ 395.8 billion (about US$13.4 billion), a historical high. 

The U.S. Department of State approved the sale of 60 F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan last August. After a year, the arms sale contract released by the U.S. Department of Defense on August 14 includes the manufacture of F-16 jets by Lockheed Martin, including Taiwan's order. 

The arms sale this time includes 56 single-seat fighter jets and 10 double-seat fighter jets, amounting to US$8 billion. The order will begin to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023, and delivery will be complete by the fourth quarter of 2026. 


August 15: The Kaohsiung mayoral by-election was held. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Candidate Chen Chi-mai secured more than 670,000 votes, about 70 percent of the total number of votes. 

In November 2018, Chen lost the Kaohsiung mayoral-election with 740,000 votes to Kuomintang (KMT) Candidate Han Kuo-yu, who garnered 890,000 votes. This June, the citizens of Kaohsiung recalled Mayor Han with 940,000 votes, or 41 percent, and 41.83 percent voter turnout. The by-election on August 15 demonstrates that those who favored recalling Han do not necessarily support Chen. 

By-election KMT Candidate Li Mei-jhen lost with 25.9 percent of the votes, while Taiwan People's Party Candidate Wu Yi-jheng earned only 4.06 percent.


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