The aftermath of typhoon Soudelor, and justice in a case from last year’s Sunflower Movement. Elsewhere, nations continue to strategize as everyone focuses on China’s multiple depreciations of the yuan.
#Soudelor #elections #nuclear #nukes #HTC #yuan #depreciation #laborcosts #disaster #MiddleEast
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Last Week on KM:
- “They Don’t Get It, They’re Just Kids.” Courtney Donovan Smith’s observation of the KMT elite’s top-down attitude behind, well, everything: Everyone else “just don’t get it.”
- Social Democracy in Taiwan. In Ketagalan Media’s interview with Prof. Fan Yun — Wild Lily Movement leader, professor at National Taiwan University, and now Social Democratic Party candidate for parliament — we hear about going from academia to politics, the need for a more progressive voice in Taiwan, anda new left-right political axis. “But Taiwan has always focused on the question of unification versus independence, and ignored social issues. I think it’s about time.”
Latest from Taiwan:
- After the storm. Typhoon Soudelor caused tremendous damage, and loss of life in Saipan, Taiwan, and China. It also created a new tourist attraction in Taiwan: Two bowing mailboxes. Also, this video of a van being carried by the storm. Taipei 101’s damper moved a record amount to counteract wind forces.
- Top KMT leaders disagree? KMT chairman Eric Chu and presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu seemed at odds over the party platform on nuclear energy. Hung favors completing Taiwan’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant after typhoon power outages, to which Chu responded with promises of a KMT goal for a nuclear-free nation.
- Good timing on monetary stimulus. In response to slowing economic growth last quarter (0.64% GDP growth), Taiwan’s central bank lowered interest rates on overnight certificates of deposit as a soft form of stimulus. The well-timed decision coincided with China’s first yuan devaluation on Tuesday (more on this below), and to prevent capital flight with a weakening Taiwan Dollar, Taiwan lowered the interest rate a second time while the US sent China a warning against currency manipulation.
- Police brutality during SFM legally confirmed. The Taipei District Court awarded junior-high school teacher Lin Ming-hui NT $300,000 (USD $10,000) in a case filed against police brutality during the March 24 occupation of the Executive Yuan.
- A handful of other news. HTC stock has fallen below the value of HTC’s physical and cash assets. Taiwan military unveils a large new drone. Finally, a Taiwan FDA inspector has been charged with taking bribes.
Ongoing Trends in Asia and the World:
- China slowdown prompts yuan devaluation. China’s July imports and exports both dropped by over 8% compared to last year, further indicating a contraction in the economy. Auto sales were also down 7%. In response China shocked with an un-telegraphed 2% devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday, another 1.6% on Wednesday despite calling the first a one-off, and then a third depreciation on Thursday. This affected commodities and global markets, and caused concern. Vietnam and other Asian neighbors’ currencies quickly lowered in response and there are fears of impending currency wars. See AP and WSJ for details.
- Regionally-related. After signs of economic contraction, Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi started production in India for labor costs and to target India’s market. Meanwhile, with rising labor costs China’s factories turn to illegal labor smuggled from Southeast Asia.
- Politics, not economy. US-Thailand relations are taut as Thailand’s ruling military junta delays democratic elections. Myanmar President Thein ousted party leader Shwe Mann in lead up to elections over alleged ties to activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
- US draws a line in the sand. US continues to be vocal, with State Secretary Kerry directly stating the US will not accept restrictions on navigation in the South China Sea, at ASEAN meetings last week. Contrary to previous reports, China has not stopped its island building in the region. Meanwhile, the Philippines-China arbitration continues, and Japan and the Philippines increased ties with a US$2 billion loan to upgrade the Philippines’ rail system. Like the US and Japan, India has been evolving its naval presence and providing loans to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.
- Lines crossed. It looks like an originally-Israeli fighter jet design may show up as part of a jets-for-oil deal between China and Iran. If finalized, China would trade 24 Chinese jets in exchange for 20 years control over Iran’s biggest oil field.
- Explosion in Tianjin. Major explosions in China’s Tianjin were large enough to register on earthquake sensors, and casualty is estimated in the hundreds. A situation also developed surrounding one Taiwanese journalist attempting to cover the event.
Matters of Perspective:
- China now owns less of America. For years pundits talked about how China can hurt the US through its large-scale ownership of US debt. This Bloomberg piece explains that China sold $180 billion in holdings over the past year to redirect to its internal economy…and nothing happened.
- An Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Everyone knows India and Pakistan’s dire enmity, but it’s suggested that India’s nuclear program was originally focused on China.
- The closed mind perspective. Opaque decision-making and heavy-handed enforcement (including refusal to acknowledge widespread public views) caused the KMT’s issues with student group opposition during the curriculum change protests.
For Something Completely Different:
- Hey, Turkey is part of Asia, too. Usually we are looking at East & Southeast Asia, but this week FP magazine carried a fascinating piece, on how the failed Treaty of Sevres led to the Middle East of today: in a strong, centralized Turkey, in Turkish attitudes toward interference, in the varying perspectives of Kurdish nationalism, and in a relatively weaker Syria and Iraq.
(Feature photo of Jiufen, by Gail Su)
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