Taiwan News: Foreign Ministry Thanks Pompeo, Beijing Rails Against Tsai's US Stopovers

Taiwan News: Foreign Ministry Thanks Pompeo, Beijing Rails Against Tsai's US Stopovers
Photo Credit: AP / TPG

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

The government is thanking the U.S. for recognizing Taiwan's importance as part of the Trump Administration's Indo-Pacific initiative.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said they are now working on a series of ideas to put forward to U.S. officials.

The statement comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the importance of the U.S.' partnership with Taiwan at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted by the U..S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. earlier this week, and is in line with a more vociferous line taken by the Tsai administration in thanking its international partners for their recognition.

Pompeo told the audience that Taiwan's economic and democratic development have worked together to make the island "a high-tech powerhouse." He also said the U.S. has important partnerships with Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

The foreign ministry here said the government firmly believes Taiwan can play an important role in the region and it is good that the U.S. and other countries are recognizing the island is an indispensable regional partner.

The ministry also said it hopes that it can work with the U.S. to help integrate President Tsai's New Southbound Policy with the Trump administration's Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, which began to crystalize as a result of Pompeo's speech.

Under the plan, the U.S. will invest US$133 million in new regional investments focused on technology, energy and infrastructure – opening salvo in what is expected to become a concerted effort to counter China's ongoing Belt and Road Initiative investments in Asia-Pacific.

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Photo Credit:蔡英文臉書
President Tsai will fly to Belize and Paraguay via Los Angeles.

Beijing is calling on the United States not to allow President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to make transit stopovers in Los Angeles and Houston later this month, when she travels to Paraguay and Belize.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing has lodged "solemn representations" with Washington about the planned stopovers and remains "resolutely opposed to the U.S. or other countries arranging this kind of transit."

The Chinese spokesman also reiterated a standard statement – calling on the U.S. "not send any wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces."

The Presidential Office here in Taiwan announced Tsai would travel to and from Paraguay and Belize via the United States on Monday.

Tsai will transit in Los Angeles on first leg of her trip and in Houston on the return journey.

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The Taoyuan Union of Pilots said Tuesday that it is not ruling out the possibility of its members taking strike action during the Mid Autumn Festival holiday if an ongoing vote grants its members the right to walkout.

A majority of union members have already cast their ballots on whether to strike following unsuccessful negotiations on working conditions, including overtime arrangements and airline policy on whether staff should have to work during typhoons, with China Airlines and EVA Airways.

About 70 percent of China Airlines pilots and half of Eva Air pilots belong to the union, amounting to 800 and 500 pilots, respectively.

A vote in favor of action is considered highly likely and a pilot walkout could have a significant impact on the country's aviation industry – as a one-day strike by China Airlines flight attendants two years ago cost the carrier NT$500 million (US$16.3 million).

Union Chairwoman Lee Hsin-yen (李信燕) said the pilots could go on strike at any time but they will give "at least three days" advance notice.

According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration, it will help facilitate meetings between different stakeholders, but said the rights of passengers should not be ignored.

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Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
Palau.

MoFA said it is planning to send a delegation of tourism sector operators to Palau and other Pacific allies in the coming months to boost business ties.

According to ministry, the move comes after Chinese visitors to Palau saw a huge drop in in recent months and Taiwan is now planning to offer assistance to boost the diplomatic ally's tourism sector.

The decline in Chinese tourists to Palau is due to Beijing's banning group tours there in November 2017 because of the Pacific-island nation's diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Foreign office officials said China Airlines has regular flights to Palau and although it has added more flights this summer, that is only a temporary measure and the Tsai administration wants to do more to help the island.

The gesture comes after MoFA suggested in June that Tsai's next foreign visit should be to Pacific Island countries – before the president opted to visit Belize and Paraguay next month.

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Visiting Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine has visited a floating solar power installation at the Tainan Science Park and outlined her goals for alternative energy in her country.

Heine toured the solar farm in the science park's Tree Valley Park accompanied by President Tsai Ing-wen.

In a statement released by the Presidential Office, Tsai said President Heine is hoping that alternative energy will supply 20 percent of the electricity demand in the Marshall Islands by 2020.

Tsai said although that is a "very ambitious goal" her government is "willing to help the Marshall Islands achieve its goal by providing technologies and resources."

Tree Valley solar farm is Taiwan's largest floating photovoltaic power system and was established jointly by the Tainan City government and a subsidiary of AU Optronics.

The area is dedicated to renewable energy development.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Demonstrators take part in a protest against nuclear power on the 7th anniversary of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, in Taipei, Taiwan March 11, 2018.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is calling on the public to support two referendum proposals seeking to override the government's policy of scrapping the fourth nuclear power plant and making Taiwan a nuclear-free homeland by 2025.

Ma made the decision to mothball the fourth nuclear power plant when he was in office in 2014 amid public concerns over nuclear safety, and a demonstration in Taipei that saw around half a million people turnout to protest against Taiwan's nuclear power policy.

However, speaking to reporters, Ma said as global warming intensifies, the trend against nuclear power that emerged after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011 "has reversed."

Ma also said that opposing nuclear energy is now an outdated trend and has been surpassed by the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and tackle global warming.

The most recent annual anti-nuclear protest in March this year saw only about 2,000 people turn out to protest, while anti-pollution protests in Taichung and Kaohsiung numbered several thousand more in December last year.

One of the referendum proposals asks whether the mothballed power plant should be activated for commercial operations.

The other referendum proposal is about whether Article 95-1 of the Electricity Act, which will phase out nuclear power plants by 2025, should be abolished.

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Power consumption reached an all-time high of 36.85 GW on Tuesday.

Taiwan Power Co., the state electricity provider, said usage peaked at 1:50 p.m., beating the record 36.77 GW recorded on May 30.

According to Taipower ,the surge in usage left it with an operating reserve margin of 6.33 percent.

The reserve margin triggered a yellow light, which indicates tight power supply when operating reserves fall between 6 and 10 percent.

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The secretary-general of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association said the Ministry of Health will make the final decision on whether to lift the ban on the import of food products from five radiation-affected prefectures in Japan.

The statement comes after Japan's top envoy to Taiwan raised concerns over a Kuomintang-initiated referendum aimed at preventing the government from lifting an import ban on food from the areas.

According to association Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲), the government will do everything possible to safeguard public health and all sides should remain clam and rational as food safety should not be politicized.

She also voiced concern that politicization of the issue could adversely impact Taiwan's trade and economic relations with other countries.

However, Chang also defended the KMT initiative, saying as a democratic country, the government has no right to stop people exercising their civil right to initiate a referendum.

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed a fourth case of indigenous dengue fever in New Taipei's Xinzhuang District and said it believes it is part of a cluster infection.

Health officials said the 30-year-old woman was diagnosed with dengue fever on Monday after she sought medical treatment the previous day, and is currently hospitalized.

She has no history of recent overseas travel.

CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said the woman lives within a 250-meter radius of the three other recent dengue fever cases and her infection is likely part of the same cluster.

As of Tuesday, there were six cases of indigenous dengue fever in Taiwan, four of which were in the cluster in New Taipei.

The other two cases were reported in Kaohsiung.

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Some 60 percent of the public are angry at Taichung being stripped of the right to host the East Asian Youth Games due to China's objection, and more than half blame China for its suppression of Taiwan, according to a poll by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The DPP survey shows that 60.1 percent of respondents blamed China for the action that led to the revoking of Taichung's rights to host the games.

The poll also posed the question of whether the public attribute the cause of Taichung losing the hosting right to China's suppression or to the government's refusal to recognize the "1992 consensus."

And that saw 54.8 percent putting the blame on China, and 25.9 per ent on the government's objection to the "1992 consensus."

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Photo Credit: AP / TPG
Lai Sheng-Jung carries the flag of Chinese Taipei during the opening ceremonies for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said its Executive Board has confirmed that a decades long agreement on the name, emblem and flag to be used by Taiwan at the Olympic games remains in place.

According to the IOC, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee fully supports this approach and has not requested any change to the Lausanne Agreement.

That agreement was signed in 1981 and states that Taiwan be allowed to attend international sports events under the name "Chinese Taipei" and fly the flag of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.

The statement comes as a campaign here in Taiwan to hold a referendum on whether Taiwan should participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the name "Taiwan," rather than the currently agreed "Chinese Taipei" is gaining traction.

Organizers of the referendum drive say they have seen a two-fold increase in the number of people signing the petition in support of the ballot since the East Asian Olympic Committee canceled the East Asian Youth Games in Taichung.

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The National Development Council (NDC) has said Taiwan's six municipalities have endorsed the Open Data Charter to become the first cities in Asia to pledge their commitment to open data.

International efforts to promote the Open Data Charter, which is a collaboration between governments and experts, began in 2013.

Two years later the charter was founded based on six guiding principles on which governments should publish information and the aspiration that data should be open by default, timely and interoperable.

As of late July, a total of 19 countries, 35 local governments and 46 non-governmental organizations have endorsed the charter.

According to the NDC, it is devoted to open data and Taiwan ranked first globally in the Global Open Data Index published by the UK-based Open Knowledge International in 2015 and again in 2016/2017.

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An automated voice-to-text service using artificial intelligence is being planned for courtrooms, with a trial run expected by next year.

The Judicial Yuan said the speech recognition tool will be able to transcribe everything spoken in Mandarin, Hakka and Hokklo for court records.

According to the Judicial Yuan, the decision comes as automated speech recognition technology has evolved and the spoken word can now be transcribed and preserved more cost-effectively, more accurately and faster than ever before.

The technology will be adopted first in local district courts in New Taipei, Changhua County and Pingtung County, as well as at the Taiwan High Court in Taipei.

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Indonesia is considering including ROC passports in its automated immigration clearance system when it is completed.

A spokesman for the Indonesian immigration office said Jakarta hopes the move will attract more tourists and investors from Taiwan to the country.

Talks on the matter between immigration administration officials from Taiwan and Indonesia are ongoing.

And reports said they are focusing on making it easier for Taiwan nationals to clear immigration at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, where an automatic gate system is being installed.

However, officials said there are still some problems related to the connecting the new system to the older of the airport's two terminals.

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About half of children have encountered unsafe situations on the Internet, according to a recent report by the Institute of Watch Internet Network.

The findings are based on a review of children's internet use habits in 2017, and were released at the institute's annual meeting, which focuses on the safety of children on the internet.

Institute CEO Huang Yi-feng (黃益豐) said the report found that nearly five out of 10 children encountered dangerous situations online, with 19 percent being harassed by strangers or added as a friend by a stranger on social media.

The report also highlights the ease of internet access available to children, with approximately eight out of 10 under the age of 18 having smart mobile devices and only 38 percent of such devices used by children are equipped being security software.

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Taiwan's GDP for the second quarter of this year rose 3.29 percent from a year earlier, marking four consecutive quarters of growth over 3 percent, on the back of a strong showing in exports and private consumption.

The second-quarter GDP growth print beat an earlier government forecast for a 3.08 percent increase made in May.

Officials said the increase is expected to boost the country's economic growth for 2018.

And the government is now expected to raise its forecast for 2018's total GDP growth to about 2.65 percent from the current 2.6 percent.

An official estimate of GDP growth for the year is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

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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