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Latest from Taiwan includes Ko Wen-je’s visit to Shanghai, and a commando rescue at sea. Elsewhere, search for answers continue after bomb explosion in Thailand, and North Korea and South Korea exchange artillery fire.
#KoWen-je #FourReciprocalProcesses #CoastGuard #Semiconductor #Deregulation #Greece #Tsipras #Tianjin #NorthKorea #Hostilities #Fukushima #Confucian #History #Rewrite


Last Week on KM:

  • The Fight Over Education: Sorting for the Social Assembly Line.  Taiwan’s patriarchal Confucian values of cohesion, unity, and passivity are at the heart of student protests over curriculum changes, and why Taiwan’s workers are overworked and underpaid. Innovation, questioning authority, and self-criticism should be education’s focuses, to truly allow Taiwan’s students to thrive in the global economy. The same qualities in citizens also lead to a thriving democracy.
  • Translation of Is KMT’s Old Base Doomed? Solidarity.tw’s previous piece on the KMT’s old guard, and how their descendants in Taiwan are not buying their parents’ national myths. English original here.


Latest from Taiwan:

  • Japanese or Chinese, all over again? Former president Lee Teng-hui’s comments in a Japanese magazine article was harshly criticized by current president Ma Ying-jeou. Lee wrote that during WWII, “Taiwanese fought for their motherland as Japanese,” sharply contrasting Ma administration’s celebration of Japan’s defeat in WWII by the ROC army.
  • A hostage situation. Chinese boats carrying three Taiwan Coast Guard officials conducting inspections headed for China instead of agree-upon Taiwan port. The Coast Guard conducted a commando-style rescue, armed with 9mm handguns, M16 assault rifles, and 12-gauge shotguns. The Chinese fishermen are being held pending charges of hostage-taking.
  • For protestors, a not-guilty verdict. Last week in the newsletter, school teacher Lin Ming-hui won his case against the March 24 police brutality at the Executive Yuan. This week, the Taipei District Court found two organizers of April 2014 anti-nuclear protests not guilty of charges associated with the protest activity.
  • Searching for the competitive edge. The Ministry of Economic Affairs relaxed China-investment regulations related to 12-inch wafer semiconductor chips. Formerly, Taiwanese companies could only invest in China plants through joint venture, or merger and acquisition, but now they can fully own plants in China. Foreign firms Intel and Samsung have already invested in plants in China. Meanwhile, foreign semiconductor companies are planning to invest in Taiwan, citing complete supply chains, industry clusters, and pool of talent.
  • Platform on taxes. KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu presented some of her views on taxes this week, including tax cuts for firms that raise wages, and her take on capital gains tax reform.


Ongoing Trends in Asia and the World:

  • Breaking news from Greece. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has resigned his position. Now that Greece’s third bailout has been finalized, Tsipras says his mandate from the January elections has passed. Practically speaking, the rebellion within his own left-leaning Syriza party means he does not currently lead a majority government.
  • Tianjin. The massive explosions in Tianjin bore a heavy toll on first-responder firemen who arrived to handle the flames. In the aftermath, executives and officials are under investigation, and fears arise about pollution to the water supply. Meanwhile, within China part of the dialogue for citizens includes issues surrounding censorship and transparency in such situations.
  • Smaller explosion, outcome just as tragic. A bomb explosion in Thailand injured over one hundred and killed nineteen. The bomb was set off at a shrine with high tourist traffic. No perpetrator was identified yet, but it might be tied to ongoing political tension.
  • Overstepping their jurisdiction. The Obama administration issued a warning against China’s covert agents in the US as the hunt for Ling Wancheng continues. Ling, a businessman, is suspected to be in the US and may possess insider information on Chinese officials.
  • North/South Korean hostilities erupt.  An exchange of artillery fire across the DMZ occurred between North Korea and South Korea on Thursday. Tensions have heightened since last week, after two South Korean soldiers lost their legs to new mines at the DMZ.
  • A request… to die? 25,000 Indian farmers sought permission to commit suicide from President Pranab Mukherjee. Far from silly news, farmers’ suicides is a phenomenon in India. The mass suicide action protests a 17 year delay for government compensation.
  • Moving past disaster. In Japan, the Sendai Unit 1 became the first reactor to be restarted since Japan’s nuclear plants were idled after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.


Matters of Perspective:

  • Japan’s 100-hour work week. The work-life culture in Japan created by “patriarchal Confucian values” has 100-hour weeks the norm, and made karoshi, death by overwork, legally recognized.
  • Not everyone is trying to flee North Korea. Kim Ryen-hi, who defected from North Korea in 2011, deeply misses her family and wants to return.
  • A history rewrite from the People’s Republic of China. History revisions by Taiwan’s KMT party has been in the news lately, so how would the KMT respond to the PRC replacing Chiang Kai-shek with Mao Zedong from the Cairo Conference in a new movie by the People’s Liberation Army? In related news, BBC gives us some of the songs that have been banned by China from the internet.

For Something Completely Different:

  • The story of Taiwan bananas. From Commonwealth Magazine, a piece on the history of Taiwan’s banana farmers and banana industry.
  • A dose of cute.  It was hard to read the article — I kept just looking at the pictures.  Anna Kendrick once described the red panda as “every adorable animal in one animal”. Found in the region between Nepal and western China, red pandas are threatened by deforestation, disease, and climate change.

(Feature photo of Tainan, by Gail Su)




The Debrief

A well informed citizenry is the foundation of our modern society. Every week, our news team brings you the most important stories on current affairs, diplomacy, business and human rights, in Asia and around the globe. Not only can we be well informed, but better informed, about the relationship between our lives, our communities, and the common world.

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