Taiwan holds referendum on reef protection, pork imports, and nuclear power

Taiwan will hold a four-question referendum today. Citizens will vote on four issues: reopening a nuclear power plant, banning US

Taiwan set for contentious referendum

Photo: The Indian Nation

Taiwan will hold a four-question referendum today.

Citizens will vote on four issues: reopening a nuclear power plant, banning US pork imports, relocating a natural gas terminal to protect algae, and changing referendum laws. The vote, originally scheduled for August, was delayed due to fears of low voter turnout due to COVID lockdowns.

The vote is viewed as a referendum on President Tsai Ing-Wen and the incumbent Democratic People’s Party (DPP). The DPP views the gas terminals as critical for securing Taiwan’s energy sector, necessary for microchip manufacturers, while the opposition KMT wants to shift to nuclear power instead. The DPP also sees continuing US pork imports as key to securing a bilateral US trade agreement and Taiwanese membership in the Asian CPTPP trade group.

Expect the public to vote against DPP wishes in the upcoming referendum. Polling shows that public support is for both relocating the gas terminals and banning pork imports. Medium-term, these results will likely hurt Taiwanese security both domestically and internationally. Relocating the gas terminals will take years, hurting Taiwan’s vulnerable energy sector and impacting microchip manufacturing. Internationally, banning pork imports could hurt growing relations with the US, Taiwan’s main safeguard against Chinese aggression.

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