Taiwan News: Apaches Commissioned, CPC Gasoline Leak Cover-up

Taiwan News: Apaches Commissioned, CPC Gasoline Leak Cover-up
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said the commissioning of Taiwan's first Apache attack helicopter brigade is an important milestone in meeting the military's "multiple deterrence" strategy in the event of invasion.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command base in Taoyuan, Tsai said the new helicopters will play an important role in the military's "multiple deterrence, resolute defense" strategy.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) shifted Taiwan's defense policy from "effective deterrence, resolute defense" to "multiple deterrence, resolute defense" in 2017, indicating a new focus on being able to attack and defend on all fronts.

Taiwan purchased 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the U.S. in 2008, costing NT$59.31 billion (US$1.94 billion) in today's money, and took delivery from November 2013 to October 2014.

However, one of the helicopters was wrecked in a crash during a training flight in Taoyuan in April 2014, and the interim has been spent giving pilots, ground crew and logistics staff the necessary training, Tsai said.

The remaining 29 helicopters have been allocated to the 601st Brigade.

The Special Forces Command has also introduced Army Major Yang Yun-hsuan (楊韻璇), a former pageant contestant in Hsinchu and now the only female Apache pilot in Asia.

Yang told reporters that her father was a helicopter pilot, which inspired her to follow the same path.

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The Environmental Protection Administration has said CPC Corp. (台灣中油), Taiwan's state-owned petroleum, natural gas and has company, could face a fine of up to NT$6 million (US$196,000) for violating the Water Pollution Control Act after the company concealed an oil leak at its depot in Penghu.

CPC has admitted and apologized for a gas leak from an oil tank at its depot in Penghu polluting land there.

However, the admission only came after media reports accused the state refiner of attempting to cover-up the leak, which occurred in June last year.

CPC vice president Huang Jen-hung (黃仁弘) said 63 cubic meters of gasoline leaked from from the No. 16 oil tank at the Huxi Oil Depot polluting about 0.8 hectares of land.

The statement was issued after CPC employees told Apple Daily that the leak was due to a failure to follow standard operating procedures and that could have made the problem worse and allowed up to 70 cubic meters of gasoline to leak out of the tank.

According to Huang, officials at the oil depot failed to report the matter until January, when CPC's regional office uncovered the problem. He apologized for CPC and the company will continue to clean up the site and monitor the pollution for a year.

CPC also said the depot director and manager have since been disciplined and each received a major demerit.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
China's President Xi Jinping.

The MoD has said it is monitoring Chinese military activity off the coast of Zhejiang Province in the East China Sea.

The statement comes amid reports Chinese forces are set to begin six-day live-fire exercises in the area from today, following from similar drills that took place in April and an intensification of military activity close to Taiwan that has been ongoing since late last year.

Defense officials say the exercises are not unusual and will pose no threat to Taiwan's security, but that it is prepared to enact an appropriate response if required.

Last week, China's President Xi Jinping struck reiterated that Beijing's policy towards Taiwan, saying: “We have the confidence and ability to keep a firm hold on the correct direction, work for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China.”

Xi was meeting with former Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Lien Chan, who is now 81, in Beijing when he made the comments.

The Chinese leader has this week been reported to be under pressure from hawkish elements within the Communist Party to take a tougher line on Taiwan in light of expressions of support from the U.S., including the sailing of destroyers through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month, and amid an increasingly fractious trade war.

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The Central Weather Bureau has saidit is monitoring a new tropical depression east of the Philippines that could turn into a tropical storm.

Forecasters say it could move nearer Taiwan's east and northeast coasts and begin affecting weather patterns here by Friday or Saturday and we can expect to see rain pretty much islandwide this weekend.

However, it remains too early to say whether the system will directly affect the island.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Son Tinh is continuing move in an westerly direction after passing through the Bashi Channel and is now heading towards China's Hainan Island.

The storm could pick up strength and become a typhoon, but it will not affect Taiwan.

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A U.S. Asia expert says the Tsai administration's New Southbound Policy is compatible with the United States' Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, and helps to improve regional stability and strengthen alliances.

According to Derek Mitchell of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Taiwan can overcome its international isolation and contribute to regional peace, freedom and open access to markets by making more friends in the region.

Speaking at a round table discussion held in Delhi, Mitchell said China will not stop obstructing Taiwan internationally, and until countries begin standing up to Beijing, China's threatening posture toward other nations in the region will not stop.

Mitchell also said countries in the Indo-Pacific region need to seriously consider whether to fall in step with China or draw a line in the sand so that Beijing will understand that it does not have free reign to dominate its neighbors.

The conference, titled "Taiwan's New Southbound Policy: Importance for India and the Indo-Pacific Region," was organized by the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
A soldier salutes (L-R) Director of the Institute for National Security Studies Feng Shih-kuan, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa after the joint military academies graduation ceremony, in Taipei, Taiwan June 29, 2018.

President Tsai is once again reiterating her willingness to hold talks with China - but only on an equal footing and with no political conditions.

Speaking during a meeting with a visiting delegation from the European Parliament, Tsai said Taiwan will never yield under pressure, as the island adheres to a free and democratic lifestyle and will uphold its sovereignty.

Tsai thanked the members for their long-term support of Taiwan, saying the government was grateful that pro-Taiwan EU lawmakers attended a rally held by Taiwanese expats in Belgium to protest China's bullying and suppression.

And the president went on to say that she hopes that the EU and other members of the international community will realize that the threat from Beijing not only affects Taiwan, but other countries as well.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the Paraguayan government has officially been invited President Tsai Ing-wen to attend the inauguration of President-elect Mario Abdo Benitez next month.

According to Vivia Chang (張俊菲), deputy head of MOFA's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, the invitation was delivered by the Embassy of the Republic of Paraguay in Taipei.

Tsai had already been invited to attend the inauguration on several occasions -- with the president-elect's team making an oral invitation and a written invitation from the transition team was also sent to the foreign office.

However, the letter is an official invitation from the Paraguayan government.

The inauguration ceremony will take place on Aug. 15.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the peak of enterovirus activity this year has passed, with the number of patients seeking outpatient or emergency treatment for enterovirus infection dropping over the last two weeks.

According to the CDC, 10,988 patients infected with enterovirus sought medical treatment islandwide last week, a decrease of 8.4 percent from the previous week, and less than the epidemic threshold of 11,000.

Health officials say a decreasing trend of patient numbers has been shown for two successive weeks means the peak of enterovirus activity is over.

Data shows that over the past four weeks, the number of cases of enterovirus type 71 infection have increased, while more cases of echovirus 11 infection with severe complications have also been reported.

CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said that although the peak of enterovirus activity is over, the public should remain vigilant against the virus, as children are particularly susceptible to it during the summer months.

The CDC last week confirmed Taiwan's second case of indigenous dengue fever in New Taipei City.


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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: David Green

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