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China

Taiwan’s pro-China speaker choice stirs fears of deeper Beijing influence

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The former pro-China mayor of Taiwan’s Kaohsiung has been elected speaker of the Legislative Yuan sparking local civic groups’ protests to “reject China’s choice”.

Han Kuo-yu of the main opposition and Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) emerged victorious after two rounds of voting on Thursday, an outcome that could challenge the ruling and pro-independent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which last month won the presidential election. Neither of the two parties, along with the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), had more than half of the seats of the legislature – DPP with 51 seats, KMT 52, and TPP eight.

By law, the Speaker is to remain neutral in Parliament, but plays a crucial role in determining which bills are put up for discussion in the legislature that controls spending. 

Speaking to reporters after his win, Han thanked the KMT and independent legislators, as well as urged the public to look forward to a new and reform-driven legislature that will create happiness for the Taiwanese people.

The DPP issued a statement to congratulate the new speaker, and emphasized that “in the future, the three parties will jointly bear the responsibility for national progress.”

Hours before the voting for speakership began, a coalition of about ten civic and non-governmental organizations gathered outside the legislature complex to protest against the voting for “China’s preferred candidate.”

“Kuo-yu becomes Speaker and introduces the Communist Party. We reject China’s choice. We don’t want China’s choice,” read one placard.

“Taiwan is the Taiwan of Taiwanese people, the Taiwan of the world, not the Taiwan of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]. Stop lying to young people, and don’t go back to the old politics,” Kao Fan-hsi, leader of the rally, told the crowd.

Demonstrators gather near the parliament building to protest against the candidacy for parliament speaker of Han Kuo-yu from Taiwan’s largest opposition party the Kuomintang, in Taipei, Taiwan on Feb. 1, 2024. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Separately, the Taiwan Green Party, one of civic groups, stated: “Letting a person who agrees with the CCP’s ‘1992 consensus’ become the speaker of Taiwan’s parliament is probably the biggest breakthrough for the CCP to infiltrate and unite Taiwan. It is undoubtedly a humiliation and threat to Taiwan’s democracy.”

The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding reached in that year between the then-ruling KMT and Beijing. Both sides acknowledge that there is only “one China,” with each side free to interpret what that “one China” refers to.

Han seen as a “national security risk”

Elected as Kaohsiung’s mayor in late 2018, Han swiftly visited Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China in March of the following year. His meeting with Wang Zhimin, the then-director of China’s Liaison Office for Hong Kong and Macau, sparked significant controversy within Taiwan’s political spheres.

Before the speaker’s vote on Thursday, president-elect Lai raised concerns about how Han’s election and potential meetings between the island’s mayors and Chinese officials would affect Taiwan’s international image. 

After being sworn in, Han addressed Lai’s concerns directly, saying: “Don’t be overly nervous and don’t overinterpret.”

Han also affirmed his commitment to Taiwan, promising to uphold the constitution, remain neutral, and empower the Legislative Yuan to fulfill its duties and responsibilities.  

Taiwan Association of University Professors President Chen Li-Fu described Han’s win as “an unprecedented congressional crisis.” 

He believes that China had hoped for Han to be elected as Han has visited the Liaison Office and it would be no surprise if the speaker eventually visits or delivers a speech at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The CPPCC is the CCP’s political advisory body.

“China’s preparations for the threat of force against Taiwan and its annexation ambitions have never stopped,” Chen told Radio Free Asia. 

“In the future, when Han presides over discussions in the legislature, he doesn’t even need to object, but only has to be passive and uncooperative – the domestic submarine production or the US military procurement funds will be delayed, or initiate a technical delay of a few years until the United States no longer wants to sell, we’d achieve the goal.”

Although Taiwan only has 12 diplomatic allies, Chen stressed that the self-governing island, which Beijing considers its own, has maintained very close congressional exchanges in recent years with democratic countries including the United States, Japan, Australia, and in Europe. 

Taiwan needs to leverage this second-track and alternate congressional diplomacy to increase its international space, he noted.

Translated by RFA staff. Edited by Taejun Kang and Mike Firn. 

Read the rest of this article here >>> Taiwan’s pro-China speaker choice stirs fears of deeper Beijing influence

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Canberra ties the knot with Washington

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Canberra ties the knot with Washington

Abstract

Australia has shifted its strategy towards favoring the United States over China due to increasing fear of Chinese power and the competitive Indo-Pacific environment.

The ‘riding two horses’ strategy adopted by Canberra over the past 25 years has shifted in favor of the US alliance to counter China’s growing power. Previous prime ministers sought to balance relations between China and the US, with Kevin Rudd aiming for ‘true friendship’ with China while also promising military intervention if needed. Tony Abbott’s approach was driven by ‘fear and greed’, and John Howard acknowledged the benefits of a relationship with both countries.

However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed a desire to strengthen the US alliance and cooperate with China while also engaging in Australia’s national interest. This shift is evident in actions such as sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait and introducing legislation to facilitate the AUKUS security partnership.

The Indo-Pacific environment has become more competitive, leading Australia to prioritize fear over greed in its alignment. As China’s GDP continues to rise and may overtake the US by 2030, Canberra’s strategy is likely to continue favoring alignment with Washington due to the lack of a viable alternative for addressing its fear of China’s power.

Read the complete article on East Asia Forum

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2024 China IIT Reconciliation: Appointment Through IIT App Opens on February 21st

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Annual IIT reconciliation for 2023 must be done from March 1 to June 30, 2024. Final tax settlement appointments must be made after February 21, 2024. The process involves checking and reporting on IIT paid and deducted in 2023 to calculate refundable or supplementary tax.


Annual IIT reconciliation for the year 2023 is required to be made during the period from March 1 to June 30, 2024. For those who need to make the final tax settlement between March 1 to March 20, they need to make an appointment after February 21, 2024.

On February 1, 2024, the State Taxation Administration (STA) issued the Announcement on Matters Relating to the Final Settlement of Individual Income Tax on Consolidated Income for the Year 2023 (the Announcement), clarifying matters related to the annual individual income tax (IIT) reconciliation for the year 2023.

Annual IIT reconciliation, or annual IIT settlement, is a process applied to individual taxpayers on their comprehensive income (an individual’s combined income of wages and salaries, remuneration from labor services, author’s remuneration, and royalties), to make sure their IIT paid in the previous tax year is accurate.

During the process, individual taxpayers will need to recheck their IIT paid and deducted in the tax year, calculate the refundable or supplementary tax payable, report to the tax authorities, and make the tax settlement.

In this article, we introduce key issues related to the annual IIT reconciliation in 2024 and the key changes as compared to previous years.

After the end of the year 2023, a resident individual is required to consolidate his/her four types of comprehensive income, namely wages and salaries, remuneration for personal services, author’s remuneration, and royalties obtained from January 1 to December 31, 2023, to compute the final tax payable amount. The taxpayer needs to deduct the prepaid tax amount in 2023 to obtain the tax refundable or the tax to be made up amount. Further, the taxpayer is required to declare to tax authorities for a tax refund or tax to be made up.

Tax Refundable or Tax to Be Made Up = [(Annual Comprehensive Income – RMB 60,000- Special Deductions – Special Additional Deductions – Other Deductions Determined Pursuant to the Law – Qualified Public Welfare And Charitable Donations) × Applicable Tax Rate – Quick Deduction] – Prepaid Tax Amount

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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The Year of the Dragon brings record-breaking travel and consumption during the 2024 Chinese Spring Festival

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The Chinese New Year holiday saw a remarkable recovery in the tourist industry, with travel numbers and revenues exceeding 2023 and pre-pandemic levels. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported unprecedented growth, showcasing the industry’s resilience despite the COVID-19 pandemic.


The tourist industry registered significant growth during this year’s Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays, the first to be completely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest figure released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, both travel numbers and tourism-related revenues reached unprecedented levels, surpassing figures registered during the 2023 Chinese New Year while also surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels.

Rebound in domestic and international travels

According to the data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Sunday, domestic tourism registered a remarkable performance during this year’s eight-day celebration.

The data reveals a significant surge in domestic trips, totaling 474 million trips made across the country from February 10 to February 18, marking a notable increase of 34.4 percent compared to the same period in 2023. This figure attracted special attention as it was a 19 percent rise compared with that in 2019.

The surge in travel within the country was facilitated by traditional transportation models, such as railways, civil aircraft, and waterways. Additionally, this year there has been also an increase in travelers embarking on independent road trips, partially due to the current rise in popularity of electric cars in China. This trend was further encouraged by the government’s efforts to stimulate the purchase of these vehicles as a way to boost domestic consumption. To cater to this trend, provinces ensured the temporary deployment of additional recharging stations in service areas, ensuring a seamless travel experience for travelers.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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