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Taiwan's 2024 presidential candidates: Where they stand on key issues

12/27/2023 02:00 PM
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From left to right: Taiwan People's Party (TPP) nominee Ko Wen-je, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominee Lai Ching-te and Kuomintang (KMT) nominee Hou Yu-ih. (CNA file photo)
From left to right: Taiwan People's Party (TPP) nominee Ko Wen-je, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominee Lai Ching-te and Kuomintang (KMT) nominee Hou Yu-ih. (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Dec. 27 (CNA) Taiwanese voters will go to the polls on Jan. 13, 2024 to elect a new president.

Voters will choose among Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominee Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Kuomintang (KMT) nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) nominee Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

To compare the candidates' platforms, CNA has reviewed their campaign websites, policy presentations and other public statements, and has compiled their positions in eight key policy areas in the charts below. ­

Labor Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Create tax incentives for employers to put an amount equal to 7.8 percent of each employee's monthly salary into their labor pension account

◆ Advocate for a market-driven approach to hiring migrant workers currently controlled by industry-specific quotas, with employers subject to a poll tax; enact government-to-government direct-hiring as a replacement for the current brokerage system. Allow migrant workers to be free to change jobs within specified industries.

◆ Pass amendments to provide more workplace accommodations for people who want to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age of 65

◆ Simultaneous labor shortages and low salaries show that Taiwan's educational institutions are not addressing the needs of society. Fix these problems via educational reforms, including by closing some universities

Lai Ching-te

◆ Create incentives for employers to contribute an amount higher than the required 6 percent of each employee's monthly salary into their labor pension account

◆ Require new publicly traded companies to pay employees a minimum monthly salary of NT$30,000

◆ Increase interdisciplinary learning opportunities at schools and expand cooperation between schools and the private sector to reduce skill gaps in the workforce

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Gradually increase the monthly minimum wage to a "target" of NT$33,000

◆ Reinstate ROC Constitution Day (Dec. 25) as a public holiday, and give public sector employees, as well as workers, a day off on Labor Day (May 1)

◆ Provide incentives for companies to build rental-only worker housing on industrial-use land

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Housing Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Institute a uniform 0.6 percent house tax for owners of a single home, down from 1 percent set to take effect in July 2024, and progressively higher taxes for owners of multiple homes

◆ Increase rental subsidies for households based on income and number of people

◆ Use tax incentives to force the release of vacant houses onto the rental market

◆ Limit the sale of government-owned land until the number of public housing units reaches 5 percent of total households.

Lai Ching-te

◆ Raise cap on preferential home loans for young people from NT$8 million to NT$10 million, and raise amount of subsidized interest from 0.125 percent to 0.375 percent (Note: The government subsequently enacted this policy.)

◆ Build 130,000 new social housing units in 8 years, adding upon the 120,000 units built (or under construction) during President Tsai Ing-wen's two terms in office

◆ Lower taxes on owners of a single home, and use tax incentives to curb house hoarding and free up vacant properties, as stipulated in a newly revised law that will take effect in July 2024.

◆ Expand sub-leasing schemes and rental subsidies

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Raise cap on preferential home loans for eligible first-time home buyers under age 40 from NT$10 million to NT$15 million

◆ Waive down payments for eligible young buyers if the property's purchase price is NT$15 million or less

◆ Young buyers only required to pay interest on mortgage in the first five years after home purchase, with 0.5 percent subsidized by the government. After five years, a 0.125 percent reduction on interest would be offered

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Low Birth Rate and Child Care Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Expand monthly child-rearing subsidies (currently NT$5,000 per month for children under 6) to cover children ages 6-12

◆ Extend maternity leave from 8 weeks to 14 weeks; provide expectant mothers with NT$50,000 when they are three months pregnant; offer a one-time payment of NT$100,000 upon the birth of the newborn baby

◆ Legalize surrogacy

Lai Ching-te

◆ Expand monthly subsidies to families sending first-born children aged 2 and under to a public childcare center from NT$5,500 to NT$7,000, and to a quasi-public care center from NT$8,500 to NT$13,000 (Note: The government subsequently enacted this policy, which will take effect from 2024)

◆ Improve quality, staffing and salaries at public child care centers; expand after-school care and availability of summer/winter vacation classes for students in public kindergartens

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Free public and quasi-public child care and kindergartens for children aged 0-6, monthly NT$10,000 subsidies for those at private institutions

◆ Offer a one-time housing subsidy of NT$1 million for households with 3 or more children

◆ Increase Taiwan's 6-month parental leave-without-pay labor insurance subsidy from 80 percent to 100 percent of a parent's insured salary, additional 20 percent to be paid for out of the general government budget

◆ Offer a one-time NT$20,000 subsidy for egg freezing for women aged 30-40, along with an annual egg storage fee subsidy for a period of 5 years

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Social Welfare Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Increase health care spending to 8 percent of GDP from the current 6.6 percent

◆ Fully cover national health insurance fees of people aged 65+

◆ Establish a Long-Term Care Insurance Bureau, increase subsidies for families of people in residential long-term care facilities from NT$10,000 to a maximum of NT$30,000 per month

Lai Ching-te

◆ Increase the number of community mental health centers from the current 38 to 100 by 2028

◆ Expand program that offers people aged 15-30 up to three subsidized mental health counseling sessions per year to include children aged 6-14

◆ Subsidies to outfit old apartment buildings with elevators or stair lifts

◆ Increase internet usage rate among people aged 65+ from current 50.6 percent to 65 percent in first term

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Free national health insurance for people aged 65 and above if their household's comprehensive income tax rate is below 20 percent

◆ Allow people aged 80 and above to hire a foreign caregiver without undergoing a Barthel Index functionality assessment

◆ Expand tax benefits for people with children aged 12 and under, as well as for those with an annual net income of less than NT$560,000 where more than 70% of their taxable income is derived from their salary

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Energy Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Achieve an energy mix of 45 percent natural gas, 15 percent coal, 30 percent renewables, and 10 percent nuclear by 2030

◆ Maintain decommissioning of Jinshan (No. 1) Nuclear Plant; inspect, repair, extend license and restart/continue operations of Kuosheng and Ma-anshang (No. 2 and 3) nuclear plants; reexamine operability of the unfinished Lungmen (No. 4) nuclear plant

◆ Promote the use of rooftop solar panels

Lai Ching-te

◆ Achieve an energy mix of 50 percent natural gas, 20 percent coal, and 30 percent renewables by 2030, while phasing out nuclear power by 2025

◆ Maintain decommissioning of No. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants (which started in 2018 and 2021, respectively), and allow No. 3 nuclear plant to enter decommissioning as scheduled starting in 2024; respect result of 2021 referendum on No. 4 nuclear plant

◆ By 2050, achieve an energy mix of 60-70 percent renewables and 29-39 percent carbon neutral power (energy generation with carbon capture utilization and storage)

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Achieve an energy mix of 45 percent natural gas, 14 percent coal, 27 percent renewables, 12 percent nuclear and 2 percent carbon neutral power by 2030

◆ Inspect, repair, extend license and restart/continue operations of No. 1-3 nuclear power plants; convene a review committee to determine if No. 4 nuclear plant can be safely brought into operation

◆ Ensure that natural gas does not exceed 50 percent of energy mix; phase out coal power by 2040

◆ By 2050, achieve an energy mix of 57 percent renewables, 18 percent nuclear, and 25 percent carbon neutral power

(Note: Taiwan's energy mix from January-September 2023: 43.60 percent coal, 38.90 percent natural gas; 8.7 percent renewables; 6.4 percent nuclear; 1.4 percent oil-fired thermal power; 1.1 percent pumped storage hydropower)

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Education Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Extend 9-year compulsory education to 13 years, starting at age 5; last three years considered "quasi-compulsory"

◆ Add English and Chinese sections back into the Advanced Subjects Test used for university admissions from 2026

◆ Offer free bilingual textbooks for grades 1-9 to help bridge resource gap between urban and rural areas

Lai Ching-te

◆ Eliminate tuition fees for all senior high school students; evaluate offering students mental health leave days

◆ Raise subsidies for low-income students to a maximum of NT$20,000 per year (public) or NT$55,000 per year (private); (government adopted the measure, which will take effect in February 2024)

◆ Set up NT$10 billion fund to provide grants for Taiwanese students who wish to study abroad

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Raise the government's education budget by at least 1 percent

◆ Free after-school care until 7 p.m. for students at public elementary schools, with classes available on winter/summer vacations

◆ Gradually increase tuition subsidies for students at private universities to NT$50,000

◆ Convene a national affairs conference to review the government's 2019 compulsory education curriculum

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Cross-Strait Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Maintaining status quo is Taiwan's only choice

◆ Preserve peace via deterrence and communication. Apply five mutual principles -- recognition, understanding, respect, cooperation, and consideration of each other's interests -- to resume talks with China

◆ Refrain from rejecting the 1992 consensus if asked by Beijing, but would suggest changing the name because there is no market for the term in Taiwan

◆ Advocate continuation of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), but enact an oversight bill before resumption of negotiations

Lai Ching-te

◆ The Republic of China (Taiwan) is an independent, sovereign country; no plans to declare independence, nor is there a need to

◆ Preserve peace via "Four Pillars" plan: Enhancing deterrence, strengthening economic security, deepening democratic partnerships, and maintaining a pragmatic and principled cross-strait policy

◆ Rejects the 1992 consensus, considering it akin to China's "one China" principle and "one country, two systems" approach

◆ Willing to communicate and collaborate with China on the basis of mutual respect

◆ Oppose further deals under the ECFA; lessen reliance on China economically.

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Maintain status quo by adopting former President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) "no unification, no independence and no use of force" policy

◆ Preserve peace via "3Ds" strategy: deterrence (strengthening self-defense), dialogue (based on the ROC Constitution and related cross-strait laws) and de-escalation (facilitate cross-strait exchanges based on equality, goodwill, and dignity; and reduce risk of conflict)

◆ Establish a youth commission under the Presidential Office composed of members aged 18 to 40 to ensure that the opinions of young people are incorporated into cross-strait policies

◆ Support a version of the 1992 consensus that conforms to the ROC Constitution and ROC laws; oppose "one country, two systems" framework

◆ Enact an oversight bill on cross-strait agreements before reopening talks with China on the ECFA and its subsequent deals

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

Defense and Foreign Policies

Ko Wen-je

◆ Support gradually increasing defense budget to 3 percent of GDP

◆ Increase the diversity of defense procurement channels; seek technology transfer and promote the in-country production of ammunition and weapon systems; encourage key foreign technology firms to establish production in Taiwan

◆ One-year compulsory military service is not sufficient

◆ Taiwan should join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) instead of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Lai Ching-te

◆ Support the government's policy to extend compulsory military service from the current four months to one-year starting in 2024

◆ Defense spending to reach 2.5 percent of GDP in the 2024 budget, the highest since 2013; would continue in this direction

◆ Expedite transition of the military into an asymmetric fighting force; seek greater cooperation with partners and allies in training, force restructuring, civil defense and information sharing

◆ Advocate for Taiwan to prioritize joining the CPTPP, which Lai describes as a higher-standard initiative led by Western democracies in contrast to the RCEP, which he sees as under China's control

Hou Yu-ih

◆ Increase defense budget to over 2.5 percent of GDP and gradually raise it to 3 percent of GDP or higher

◆ Earmark an annual budget of NT$10.6 billion to increase salaries for volunteer-enlisted soldiers

◆ Does not oppose change to one-year military service program starting on Jan. 1, 2024, but said it could be shortened back to the current four months as long as there was stability and peace in the Taiwan Strait.

◆ Develop asymmetric capabilities; continue to advance indigenous construction of submarines

◆ Advocate for Taiwan to join CPTPP, RCEP and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)

CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023
CNA graphic Dec. 27, 2023

(By Matthew Mazzetta and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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