Taiwan News: Mainland Affairs Minister Chen Tells It Strait in Washington

Taiwan News: Mainland Affairs Minister Chen Tells It Strait in Washington
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) has said both sides of the Taiwan Strait need to respect each other, listen to rational views domestically, and work out rules for an orderly interaction.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank in Washington, Chen said the two sides have tried to bring their relationship to a final settlement for two years, but have failed to find a solution that is satisfactory to both sides.

According to Chen, while Taiwan works to guard and develop its democracy, China has centralized control, is intent on changing the global order and lacks respect for democracy and human rights.

The minister went on to say that that Beijing's denial of the existence of the Republic of China as an independent sovereign government has prevented resolution of the political impasse across the Taiwan Strait.

Chen concluded his address saying Taiwan remains open and willing to promote cross-Strait dialogue in any form, at any place without political preconditions.

China's President Xi Jinping reiterated his government's commitment to the peaceful "unification" of Taiwan during a meeting with former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) in Beijing last week, but has so far refused to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), despite repeated calls from the Office of the President for dialogue.

Chen arrived in Washington earlier this week for a nine-day visit in the U.S. during which he will hold talks with various U.S. officials. Chen is the first MAC minister to have traveled there since President Tsai took office in 2016.

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Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office decision to indict him and five others on charges of breach of trust and for violating the Securities and Exchange Act was politically motivated and an instance of the judicial branch of government "following orders" from the executive branch.

The indictment is related to Ma's alleged involvement in the disposal of Hua Hsia Investment Holdings, China Television, the Central Motion Picture Company, the Broadcasting Corporation of China and the old Kuomintang (KMT) headquarters building in Taipei.

The office has accused Ma of approving a scheme to undersell the assets while he was KMT chairman, resulting in a loss of NT$7.29 billion (US$240 million) for the KMT.

However, Ma said the sales were reviewed over an eight-year period by the now-defunct Special Investigation Division, which cleared all those involved of any wrongdoing.

According to Ma, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party government decided to reopen the case in 2016 solely for political reasons and the prosecutors' office is now executing a "political" scheme against him.

The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office has denied any political interference, saying the office knew the case would be politically charged and it carefully reviewed the evidence on a weekly basis prior to issuing the indictment.

Pool Photo_馬英九
Photo Credit: AP / TPG
Happier days: Then President Ma reacts when meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015.

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The Cabinet is set to scrap its policy of using labor brokers to hire thousands of contract workers on behalf of government and will allow all its central agencies to recruit such workers directly beginning in 2020.

According to Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka, the policy is aimed at better protecting the rights and interests of government contract workers and ensuring their conditions are in line with the Labor Standards Act.

Labor groups in Taiwan have long advocated that the government abolish the broker system, under which staff are contracted by intermediaries, arguing that it leaves workers open to exploitation.

Government contract worker are usually employed in areas such as forestry management and protection, forestry survey, lab testing and experimentation, national park patrols, and cultural site maintenance, according to Yotaka.

The spokeswoman said 80 percent of contract workers are currently under the direct supervision of government agencies, while the division of labor and assignment of responsibilities are jointly managed by labor brokers and government agencies.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) has said he believes the change, which will require government departments to form their own recruitment divisions, will lead to a better working environment for contract workers, which is in line with President Tsai Ing-wen's labor policy.

Read More: Taiwan Labor Ministry Gives Migrant Caregivers' Appeals Short Shrift

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The Central Weather Bureau has said Tropical Storm Ampil is likely to affect weather patterns across much of the island this weekend.

The storm developed over waters east of the Philippines Wednesday evening and is currently located some 900 km southeast of Eluanbi and moving in a north-northeasterly direction towards the Ryukyu Islands at 9 km an hour.

Ampil has a radius of 150 km and is packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 64 km an hour, with gusts of up to 90 km an hour.

The storm is forecast to continue on its current path until this evening.

However, it could then begin to veer in a northwesterly direction towards the East China Sea.

The weather bureau said it is continuing to monitor the storm, but it remains too early to say if Ampil will directly hit Taiwan.

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The Fisheries Agency (FA) is downplaying a report that a Taiwan registered fishing boat has become the first fishing vessel to be detained for violating the United Nations' Work in Fishing Convention, which seeks to apply international labor standards practices in the fishing sector.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Kaohsiung-based Fusheng 11 was detained in Cape Town, South Africa, in May following complaints by the crew about working conditions.

The boat was released at the end of June following an investigation.

Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) said the boat was detained mainly because it was listing to one side and its rescue equipment failed to meet the convention's requirements. Lin also said the boat was found to have not been involved in labor abuses.

However, that statement contradicts a news release by the ILO, which said inspectors from South Africa found problems with working conditions, including "poor accommodation, insufficient food, and poor safety and health conditions on board."

The UN convention was implemented last November and aims to protect the 38 million workers in the global fishing industry and South Africa is only one of 10 countries to have ratified it.

Taiwan's FA has come under sustained fire from international environmental and human rights groups for failing to ensure Taiwan's deep sea fishing fleet maintains fair working conditions for its primarily migrant workforce, and has also been urged to adopt the framework of the UN Work in Fishing Convention.

Read More: Welcome to Taiwan: Beatings, Bodies Dumped at Sea and a Culture of Maritime Abuse

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RTSGNJH 釣魚島
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
A group of disputed islands known as Diaoyutai in Taiwan, Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo in September 2012.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is once again reiterating Taiwan's claim over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

The latest call comes after Tokyo announced plans to teach high school students that the island chain belongs to Japan.

Japan's Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced Tuesday that a tentative guideline be applied to high school textbooks from 2019 will include a section indicating that the islands are undisputed Japanese territory.

However, speaking to reporters foreign office spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the Diaoyutai Islands are the inherent territory of the ROC, and this historical fact will not change.

Lee went on to say that the government here in Taiwan has always adopted peaceful means to resolve disputes and all sides involved should avoid taking any unilateral action that would destabilize and undermine regional stability.

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The Garden of Hope Foundation, a non-government, non-profit group established in 1988 to help disadvantaged girls and young women, will host the Fourth World Conference of Women's Shelters next year.

According to the foundation, the conference is scheduled to take place at the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center in early November and is expected to attract up to 2,000 participants from 120 countries.

The event will focus on issues related to helping women who suffer from domestic violence manage living on their own.

Foundation director Zoe Chi (紀惠容) said providing protection for abused women is not enough and the more important issues are to elevate their self-protection and help them develop the ability to stay away from an environment of domestic violence.

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President Chain Stores, which operates the 7-ELEVEN chain of convenience stores, has opened its second unstaffed store in Taipei.

The second X-STORE is located in Xinyi District and is open 24-seven.

Customers can enter the story using a facial-recognition card or an icash card and they pay with the icash card in the checkout area after verifying their identity.

President Chain Stores opened its first unmanned X-STORE on the first floor of its headquarters in Xinyi District in January on a trial basis. That store has been open to the public since last month.

Read Next: Exploring Taiwan's Hidden Underwater Gems

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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