Algal Reef Referendum Breaks Half Million Signatures, Vote Set for August
The "Cherish the Algal Reef" referendum initiated by environmental groups has exceeded 540,000 in the number of signatures, well above the legal threshold of 290,000. The referendum vote is expected to be held on August 28. Pictured above is the Datan algal reef along the Taoyuan coastline.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Proposed Algal Reef Referendum Breaks 500,000 Signatures, Vote Set for August
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The proposed “Cherish the Algal Reefs” referendum initiated by environmental groups passed the 500,000 signatures mark on March 4 and broke 540,000 on March 6, far exceeding the legal threshold of 290,000. A referendum is expected to be held on August 28. However, it was unexpectedly reported that Minister Chen Chi-chung of the Council of Agriculture had planned to meet with environmental groups on March 8 for discussion. The move has raised suspicion that the government’s friendly gesture is only attempting to appease those concerned.
Regarding the rumor, the referendum campaign team issued a statement during midnight on March 7, claiming that since they are busy preparing for the referendum, they currently will not be available for any other meetings, and apologizes for not being able to attend the meeting on March 8." Pan Chung-cheng, the leader of the referendum campaign, also emphasized that the establishment of the proposed referendum case will be inevitable, and the case will not be withdrawn. The signatures will be submitted to the Central Election Commission before March 19, as had been scheduled.
According to a commentator, if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration continues to use ideology to smear its opponents and kidnap the people, while it may prevail for a while, the people will eventually turn their backs. Popular backlash supporting the algal reef referendum is a clear example.
(Photo from: The Storm Media)
The Significance of the Overwhelming Support of Algal Reef Referendum
By Lin Chin-chia
The Storm Media
, March 6, 2021
After three months of disappointing campaigning, the referendum to decide the destiny of the 7,600-year-old algal reefs miraculously exceeded the legal threshold of 290,000 petition signatures in the last week of February and quickly broke through the 500,000 mark on March 4. Although the result of the future referendum is unknown yet, the success of the campaign for public endorsement is a shot in the arm for the long sluggish and lackluster social movement after President Tsai Ing-wen took office.
Since the era of authoritarian rule in Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) coordinated with civic groups (including labor, farmer, and aborigines groups), groups advocating for Taiwanese localization, and academic associations to participate in various social movements, including struggles for democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, environmental and ecological protection, and empowerment of disadvantaged social groups. Many DPP members had overlap participation in various aforementioned groups. After the DPP came to power, it began to assign some social activists to government positions, which led them to believe that their past ideals had a chance to be realized. Among these groups, some people got a piece of the pie and turned away from their previous ideals; some still have expectations for the DPP; or some others have a high tolerance for the DPP administration. Therefore, over the past five years, Taiwan's social movements have been lifeless—either disappearing, or quickly being appeased by the Tsai administration. Compared with their vigorous development when Kuomintang (KMT) was in power, it is simply not the same.
From the Taiwan-related remarks made by Wang Yang at the beginning of the year to Li Keqiang during the recent Two Sessions, it is clear that Beijing is in no hurry to have dialogue with Taiwan. Pictured above is mainland Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Cross-Strait Observations: Beijing Not in Hurry to Have Dialogue with Taiwan
United Daily News, March 7, 2021
Right after the administration of President Joe Biden assumed office in the United States, American officials called upon the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue. Mainly to respond to the United States, the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen recently reorganized its national security team and appointed the dovish Chiu Tai-san as minister of the Mainland Affairs Council. However, judging from remarks on Taiwan by Chairman Wang Yang of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) earlier this year and by Premier Li Keqiang during the current Two Sessions political meetings, Beijing apparently is not in a hurry to engage in dialogue with Taiwan.
No positive signal for resuming communications. Premier Li reiterated on March 5 the adherence to the “One China principle”, the “1992 Consensus” (i.e. One China, with respective interpretations), and the promotion of peaceful unification in his report on government work; he also stated that the mainland will be highly vigilant and resolutely curb the Taiwan independence separatist actions. At the same time, Li stated that China will fully implement the policy of protecting the welfare of the Taiwanese compatriots and their enjoyment of equal treatment on the mainland, thereby promoting cross-strait interactions, cooperation, and fusion and development. This basic line is consistent with his report on government work last year.
President Joe Biden of the United States recently issued an Interim National Security Strategic Guidance indicating that China is the only competitor that can challenge the international system and making clear American support for Taiwan and Hong Kong. (Photo from: United Daily News)
February 28: In a press release, the Chinese Taipei Swimming Association (CTSA) announced that Wang Kuan-hung, dubbed "Taiwan's butterfly king, participated in 2020 a competition held by the International Swimming League, scoring 1 minute 49 seconds in a 200-meter butterfly stroke race. CTSA received official correspondence from the International Swimming Federation (FINA) confirming that the performance has set the world youth short-track record, a historic first for Taiwan. Wang has received invitation to participate in the 200-meter butterfly stroke race in the Olympic Games.
March 2: Mainland China unilaterally announced that it would suspend import of Taiwanese pineapples beginning in March. President Tsai Ing-wen instructed her administration to set up a national team for agricultural products so as to maintain the prices of pineapples relative to those in past years and calm the fears of farmers. But producers remain concerned and are rushing to ship at least 100 containers to the mainland before the ban takes effect, in order to minimize losses.
According to the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, Taiwanese pineapples ordered by domestic consumers and businesses reached 41,687 tons within 96 hours, surpassing the quantity sold to China last year.
March 3: The administration of President Joe Biden in the United States issued an Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, pointing out that China is the only competitor with the comprehensive strength to challenge the international system established by the United States. It also indicated how American support for Taiwan as an advanced democracy and vital economic and security partner is consistent with long-standing commitments made by the United States.
The document also made clear support for Taiwan and Hong Kong in responding to China's threats, human rights issues, and unfair trade practices. The United States will respond to challenges when American interests and values are directly threatened by China.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Taiwan's welcome and thanks to the White House.
March 3: The first batch of 117,000 doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines that Taiwan ordered from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca arrived in Taiwan by air from South Korea. Front-line medical personnel will have priority to be vaccinated. The vaccines will need to be tested and inspected, and inoculation may begin as soon as March 15.
March 4: Ai Fukuhara, a retired Japanese table tennis player, had been married with Taiwanese player Chiang Hung-chieh for nearly five years before recent repeated rumors about issues in their marriage. Fukuhara was recently observed by Japanese media to have dated and spent an evening with a tall and handsome man in Yokohama, stirring a uproar in public opinion. She has twice apologized but denies infidelity. Chiang also spoke in her defense, claiming that "false gossip" will not impact his love for Fukuhara. It appears that the couple has reached consensus to maintain the couple's image to the outside world.
March 4: The Heritage Foundation, an American think tank, released a 2021 Index of Economic Freedom in which Taiwan leaped to the sixth place, the best performance in 27 years since the indicator's inception. The National Development Council stated that the government's efforts in promoting integrity, performance, and judicial reforms are receiving acclaim by the international community.
March 5: At the opening of the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated that the mainland adheres to the "One China" principle and "1992 Consensus" in order to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and national reunification. It remains highly vigilant and resolutely opposes separatist activities by "Taiwan independence" supporters.
In response to Li's comments, the Mainland Affairs Council stressed that public opinion within Taiwan has long advocated maintaining the status quo, which is consistent with the administration's cross-strait policy of promoting peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The government will continue to defend national sovereignty and Taiwan's democracy and freedom.