Pollster dissects Tsai’s decision to open Taiwan to US pork

Pollster believes US Health Secretary Azar made Tsai an offer she could not refuse in exchange for greenlighting US pork imports

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You Ying-lung

You Ying-lung (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a press conference on Aug. 28, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the new policy of opening the Taiwanese market to U.S. pork containing ractopamine, an additive that reduces the fat content in meat, and allowing the import of U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months old, sending shock waves across Taiwan.

A week after the policy was announced, You Ying-lung (游盈隆), opinion pollster and chairman of the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, said now is the time to examine President Tsai’s decision-making process.

You said that Tsai has cultivated in herself both the qualities of a lion and a fox. He surmised that the only reason Tsai had made the decision on American pork against her usual ideological pattern was because of Alex Azar's visit last month.

You guessed that the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services had made Tsai a proposal that she could not refuse. As for the existence and nature of such a proposal, nobody but the insiders know for now.

During the press conference, Tsai said that opening the market to U.S. pork has nothing to do with the upcoming U.S. presidential election. This is nonsense, according to You.

“Experience tells us Tsai’s comment reveals what she intends to hide,” he said.

Subsequent explanations by the Cabinet were all prefabricated political statements, he continued, calling these a mixture of truth and lies intended to make the controversial decision look like it was made voluntarily and after much deliberation.

According to You, the decision goes against the collective will of the Taiwanese people.

“Frankly speaking, I haven’t conducted a poll on the issue, but according to my observations and experience regarding Taiwan’s public opinions,” he said, “the poll results would be very unfavorable to the government.”

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that after the decision, they conducted an internal poll that reportedly resulted in a toss-up. You said that people familiar with the DPP know this is a method used to support an already determined policy.

He noted that there were no details made known about the poll except for its results. He called this a dishonorable practice aimed at fooling the people.

The lineup at the press conference was an indication that President Tsai wanted others to share responsibility for the decision, You said. Contrary to the past practice of letting spokespeople for the Presidential Office announce her policy decisions, President Tsai brought the vice president, premier, and DPP legislative whip with her to the podium.

The pollster also declared that the decision-making process with regard to opening Taiwan to U.S. pork shows that a new mode of oligarchy has been established in Taiwan’s political arena.

He went on to say that because Tsai hastily made the decision, there was no input from the country’s legislature. Moreover, she did not consult with the public for their opinions on the issue.

Tsai previously criticized Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for allowing in U.S. beef without a process, but now she has made the same mistake, according to the pollster. He added that no matter how important U.S. pork is to the administration, there are many things that merit criticism and review, and the public ought to have been asked for its input.