Taiwan referendums fail in major setback for opposition
The Taiwanese opposition suffered a major setback on Saturday after voters rejected four referendums it had defended as a sign of defiance of the government. The defeat of the referendums comes as Taipei faces growing military and political pressure from Beijing, and is a boost for President Tsai Ing-wen re-elected by a landslide last year on his pledges to stand up to China.
China claims the democratically ruled island as its own territory. Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, or KMT, which traditionally favors close ties to Beijing, hopes to make a return to key municipal elections late next year.
Saturday’s two most controversial referenda asked whether to ban imports of pork containing ractopamine, a leanness-improving additive, for safety reasons, and whether to relocate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal ) to protect a reef. The government approved pork imports last year, hoping to remove an obstacle to a free trade agreement with the United States, where ractopamine is widely used, and to show that it is from a reliable business partner.
He said the LNG terminal will secure the energy supply to the semiconductor-producing island, which was hit by blackouts in May. Government officials have said the LNG terminal will be moved further offshore to minimize the impact on the reef, but Saturday’s referendum called for a full relocation.
Turnout on Saturday was low, but the government welcomed the defeat of the referendums. âThe Taiwanese people want to come out into the world and are ready to actively participate in the international community,â Tsai told reporters, referring to the vote on pork.
His government hopes the outcome will also strengthen its adherence to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. Asked about the vote, an official at the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto United States embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, said, “We will continue to seek constructive engagement with Taiwan on issues that affect US food and agricultural exports. . “
KMT chairman Eric Chu, who took office in September with a promise to revitalize the party’s fortunes, apologized for the failure. “Let us not be discouraged. Letâs continue to work hard. We will always be on the side of the people. We must always represent the opinions of the people and oppose the democratic dictatorship of the government,â he said.
The cold could have been the cause of the low participation, he added. The KMT had also asked voters to approve a third question, restarting a nuclear power plant on the back burner, saying it was the best way to ensure energy supply. The government wants to get out of nuclear power.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)