Taiwan Life in Brief – November 2020

Modified F-16 fighter jets conduct a synchronized flyby as attendees at the Double Ten National Day ceremony look on. Photo: Office of the President

Taiwan Celebrates National Day 2020

Taiwan’s 109th Double Ten National Day celebration, held primarily in Taipei and Tainan, featured several military and civilian performances, including a synchronized flyby of recently upgraded F-16 fighter jets and a massive fireworks display. The ceremony was attended by representatives and visiting dignitaries from several of Taiwan’s official and unofficial diplomatic partners.

In her Double Ten speech in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, President Tsai once again praised Taiwan’s ability to confront the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently and effectively without needing to impose lockdowns or other drastic measures. Because of Taiwan’s strong pandemic response, it was one of few countries to maintain positive economic growth throughout the pandemic.

Tsai also commented on Taiwan’s defense posture, stating that “showing weakness and making concessions will not bring peace,” and that Taiwan must adequately prepare and strengthen its national defense capabilities to foster peace and stability in the region. She reiterated her administration’s willingness to work with China to improve the currently frosty cross-Strait relationship but placed the onus on Beijing to “heed Taiwan’s voice, change the way it handles cross-Strait relations, and jointly facilitate cross-Strait reconciliation and peaceful dialogue.”

Tsai’s foreign policy remarks were criticized by the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as too vague, particularly regarding regional partnerships and trade agreements. The KMT also said that her call for Taiwan’s political parties to unite in upholding values of freedom and democracy was not reflected in her administration’s decision this August to lift the ban on certain imports of U.S. pork and beef, a move it says is not in line with public opinion in Taiwan. Surveys conducted by the Chinese-language United Daily News and Storm Media have found Taiwanese public opinion split evenly on the pork and beef issue.

Double Ten Day events were also held in major cities and territories around the world, including New York, the Vatican, Sydney, and Somaliland.

NCC Holds Hearing on TV TV License Renewal

The National Communications Commission (NCC) held a widely publicized administrative hearing on October 26 regarding renewal of the broadcasting license for Chung T’ien Television (CTiTV), part of the Want Want China Times Media Group. It was the first such hearing to be conducted since the NCC was established in 2006.

During the hearing, the NCC accused CTiTV of lacking an internal review mechanism, evidenced by the large number of fines levied against it for complaints ranging from spreading disinformation to biased reporting. CTiTV has been fined 21 times over the past six years, for a total of NT$10.73 million (US$375,000). The station’s lawyer argued that most of the cases have not been finalized and that the hearing was politically motivated.

Want Want founder and Chairman Tsai Eng-meng, an outspoken supporter of Taiwan’s unification with China, also attended the hearing after being invited by the NCC to testify. Despite reports that Tsai plays a big role in setting the editorial tone of the media outlets his company owns, he stated that he is not directly involved in CTiTV’s daily operations, nor does he dictate the angle of the stories it covers.

CTiTV came under scrutiny during the runup to Taiwan’s national elections in January this year for coverage that overwhelmingly emphasized the presidential candidacy of the KMT’s Han Kuo-yu. A July 2019 report in the Financial Times quoted some current and former reporters for Want Want-owned outlets as stating that they had received direct editorial input from the Taiwan Affairs Office, the organ of the Chinese government responsible for relations with Taiwan.