Kaohsiung kicks Han Guo-yu out of office

It finally happened. The people of Kaohsiung voted their mayor Han Guo-yu out of office in a historic referendum on June 6. Over 900,000 voters supported his ouster while only 25,000 were against it. Han accepted his defeat in a concession speech right after the results were announced, though he hailed the million other Kaohsiung residents who did not come out to vote, implying that that showed they were against his recall. A by-election to choose a new mayor will be held by September 12.

One sad event is that Kaohsiung city council speaker Hsu Kun-yuan committed suicide that very night. Hsu was a supporter of Han though the main reason for his suicide has not been confirmed.

Taiwan has passed over 56 days without locally transmitted coronavirus cases so the authorities have loosened some measures. People can take off masks on the subway and trains if there is nobody within 1.5 meters of them (everyone still needs to wear a mask when they enter the station). Train passengers can now eat and drink on board though some train workers are not exactly fine with this.

The BBC lauds Taiwan’s usage of apps and quirky public notices such as featuring a “bottom wiggling” premier to combat the coronavirus.

Also, Taiwan’s coronavirus media briefings will now be held once a week instead of daily as it has been for the past few months.

Taiwan’s coronavirus cases number 443 with seven deaths, with no locally transmitted cases seen in 59 days.

Taiwan will give foreign tech firms over US$334 million (NT$10 billion) in subsidies to do R&D in the country.

Despite Taiwan’s domestic economy being almost fully intact, it has still been hit hard by job layoffs, reduced sales, and lower new jobs. The travel and hospitality sectors have already been heavily affected, but other sectors such as the tech industry are expected to be hit in the second and third quarters due to lower sales overseas.

Taiwan will give out travel subsidies to its citizens from July 1 to October 31 for hotel stays. Foreign residents are excluded.

Taiwan is in a good place in terms of international standing and cooperation, especially in relations with the US. Ian Easton is hopeful enough that in 2030, Taiwan can be formally acknowledged as a country by the US and participate in multilateral democratic organizations. Personally I hope all this can happen before 2030, especially as Easton points out, Chinese aggression towards Taiwan has intensified recently.

As if to emphasize the threat, Chinese fighter jets flew in Taiwan airspace on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic’s senate president will visit Taiwan this year, leading a delegation of business and political leaders. The visit is expected to run from August 30-September 5.

This essays make a good case that Taiwan and Hong Kong should be looked as a country and entity in their own rights, rather than as mere pieces of “Greater China” as has been done for a long time. Indeed, the idea that Taiwan deserves to be treated as a country and not as something China covets is part of the spirit behind this newsletter.