Taiwan News: Tsai Braces for Trade War Fallout, MoFA Deletes Pooh Tweet

Taiwan News: Tsai Braces for Trade War Fallout, MoFA Deletes Pooh Tweet
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is directing government agencies to work on measures to reduce possible fallout on the local economy from the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

Speaking after a briefing by the Economic and Trade Negotiation Office, Tsai said if the trade war intensifies over the long-term, it is expected to impact Taiwan's exported-oriented economy.

China announced Wednesday that it will impost additional tariffs on US$16 billion of imported American autos and energy products, responding to the Trump administration's detailing the previous day of 25 percent tariffs on an equivalent value of Chinese products.

When the tariffs come into effect on Aug. 23, the two sides will have taxes on about US$100 billion worth of bilateral trade. Trump has said he is considering imposing a 25 percent tariff on a further US$200 billion of Chinese goods in September, a threat that Beijing has promised to match yuan for yuan if it is carried out.

According to Tsai, Taiwan businesses are then likely to face huge challenges in terms of their global deployment strategies and in their trade relations with China, which will require a comprehensive industrial upgrade to boost competitiveness.

Tsai said she has asked the National Security Council to work with the Cabinet to draft plans to assist China-based Taiwan businesses to relocate investment back to Taiwan or to countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy.

Tsai said she believes such a move will help them minimize the adverse effects of the trade war.

Read Next: ANALYSIS: Bubbling US-China Trade War Provides Major Headache for Taiwan

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said Wednesday that a tweet earlier this week on a reported Chinese ban on a Winnie the Pooh movie was aimed at highlighting Taiwan's freedom of speech.

The ministry posted an image of the tourism bureau's mascot "Oh! Bear" on Twitter, with a caption reading he was dismayed that "his cousin Winnie's" film had been banned by Chinese authorities.

The tweet went on to state that "make no mistake: All bears are created equal in Taiwan and 'Christopher Robin' is screening nationwide" here in Taiwan.

The tweet was made in both English and Japanese and picked up by CNN, which said Taiwan's government was mocking Beijing with the move.

MoFA said it was meant to show to the world that Taiwan is a democratic country that enjoys freedom of speech, using a humorous tone.

However, the foreign ministry removed the tweet last night, saying it had led to "some misinterpretation."

Beijing has reportedly banned the new Disney movie "Christopher Robin", because people in China compare Winnie the Pooh's appearance to that of President Xi Jinping.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Actor Jim Cummings, who voiced Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, attends the European premiere of 'Christopher Robin' in central London, Aug. 5, 2018.

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said two more cases of indigenous dengue fever have been reported in the Greater Taipei area.

One of the cases is in Taipei and the other in New Taipei.

Health officials said the patient in Taipei is a woman in her 20s who lives in the Neihu District. She tested positive for the dengue virus type 1, which is close to an imported virus from Cambodia.

The CDC said efforts are now underway to find the source of the infection in the Neihu and Xizhi areas.

The second dengue fever case has been confirmed in a 60-year-old man in New Taipei's Xinzhuang District and his infection is believed to be part of a cluster infection in the area.

Twelve indigenous dengue fever cases have been reported islandwide since July, 11 of which have occurred in the Greater Taipei area.

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The Mainland Affairs Council said there can be no bilateral discussions on China's proposal to build an undersea rail link between the two sides due to the current state of cross-Strait ties.

Council officials said the tunnel is part of China's consistent United Front propaganda, was made unilaterally and there have never any discussions between the two sides on the issue.

According to the council, China is proposing to build such a tunnel as it intensifies efforts to squeeze Taiwan's international space and steps-up military pressure on the island.

The statement comes after the South China Morning Post published an article citing Chinese officials as saying Beijing is looking to build a 135-km undersea rail tunnel to connect Pingtan in Fujian province to Hsinchu on Taiwan's northwest coast.

The article, which quoted unnamed Chinese government researchers, said the completion date for the tunnel has been set for 2030.

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The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, established by the Tsai administration to oversee the reclamation and redistribution of illegally obtained assets by political parties during the martial law period, said the China Youth Corps will be able apply for access to its assets in order to continue to operate.

The statement came after the committee froze NT$5.6 billion (US$183 million) in assets belonging to the corps as part of an investigation into its affiliation with the Kuomintang (KMT).

According to the committee, it opted to allow the corps access to its funds so that it can still run its legal businesses such as fitness and youth activity centers.

However, the youth corps must submit a full report concerning the use of any funds removed from the frozen assets.

The corps is continuing to deny charges of its affiliation with the KMT and is expected to file a case with the Taipei High Administrative Court next week against the freezing of its assets.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs Randall Schriver (L) shakes hands with Taiwan's then President Chen Shui-bian during a meeting at the presidential palace in Taipei, July 12, 2005.

U.S. official Randall Schriver said Wednesday that it is to the benefit of the United States to think how to continue its non-diplomatic relations with Taiwan creatively.

According to Schriver, Taiwan is an important contributor to the "free, open concepts" of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy due to its "internal good governance, democracy, respect for humanitarian rights and religious freedom."

Schriver said there remains "strong support for Taiwan" by the U.S. Congress, as witnessed by passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which included Taiwan provisions.

U.S. officials also said the Pentagon is still reviewing the Taiwan-related provisions.

Schriver serves as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.

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The government has announced plans to donate US$250,000 to Indonesia to help with relief work following Sunday's magnitude 6.9 earthquake on Lombok.

The earthquake has left more than 130 people dead.

President Tsai Ing-wen said on Twitter Monday that "Taiwan stands ready to help our Indonesian friends at this difficult time."

MoFA said details of the donation will be announced at a later date, as Taiwan's representative office in Indonesia is currently in talks with local officials to see how the money can best be used.

Officials also said that Taiwan's representative office in Indonesia has been in contact with 17 Taiwanese tourists who were in Lombok during the earthquake and they have all been confirmed to be safe.

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The Taipei District Court has sentenced former TV show host Qin Wei to eight years in prison on charges of sexual assault.

The ruling comes two years after Qin was indicted on charges of sexually assaulting eight women.

Prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of 40 years in prison.

The court found Qin guilty on charges of sexual assault against three of the victims.

Qin is continuing to deny the charges and said while he may have acted inappropriately, he did not forcibly have sex with any of the women.

Qin's lawyers say they will appeal the court's ruling.

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The Press Freedom Committee of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan has lodged a protest against the World Health Organization (WHO)'s refusal to accredit Taiwanese reporters to cover the World Health Assembly (WHA).

The club said the committee objects to the WHO's decision to deny Taiwanese journalists press accreditation to the WHA, as although Taiwan is not a member of the global health body, its journalists were allowed to attend meetings prior to 2017.

And the statement goes on to say the denial of accreditation is an infringement on press freedom and accurate health reporting is critical to a safe and informed citizenry and health crises do not stop at political borders.

The committee is calling on the WHO to resume issuing press credentials to Taiwanese journalists, saying that no journalist should be barred from reporting solely because of their nationality.

Read More: WHO Bows to China Pressure, Contravenes Human Rights in Refusing Taiwan Media

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Photo Credit: 「柯文哲」臉書粉專
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has come under fire for attempting to silence inconvenient reporting.

The Taipei City government is denying charges that it is intervening in media reports and intimidating members of the press.

The denial came after the International Federation of Journalists and the Association of Taiwan Journalists accused the city of intervening in three events of media reporting in less than a year, raising concern about its commitment to press freedom.

The journalist groups said one event involves claims Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) suppressed a CTi News report about controversial remarks he made about cross-Strait relations.

Another complaint involves a Storm Media reporter who was denied interviews by city officials regarding a dispute between the city government and contractors for a lantern festival project.

And the third involves the city's Department of Health allegedly intervening in a report about a breach of personal information of over 3,000 AIDS patients.

The two groups are now calling on the city government to deliver a concrete explanation for its denials that it intervened in the stories.

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Taiwan's representative office in India has confirmed that seven ROC nationals have been arrested in New Delhi for trying to take a large sum of U.S. currency out of the country.

Indian officials said the three men and four women were detained following a tipoff at Indira Gandhi International Airport as they were trying leave the country carrying US$890,000 dollars in cash hidden in their luggage.

The suspects reportedly confessed to the offense after an initial investigation.

And they reportedly told police they planned to take the money out of India after smuggling 18 kg of gold into the country from Hong Kong on Aug. 3.

Taiwan's representative office in India said it's understood the smuggling ring has hired a lawyer to represent them.

A total of 17 Taiwanese nationals have been detained in India in cases related to gold smuggling so far this year.

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Customs officials have arrested three people in connection with the seizure of 1.6 million pills of the controlled hypnotic drug Erimin-5, also known as Nimetazepam.

According to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the drugs were found hidden in 32 boxes disguised as live bait to be exported to Malaysia from Keelung.

The drugs have a reported street value of NT$320 million.

Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said the volume of drugs being smuggled was shocking and could have impacted Taiwan's international image if the smugglers had not been caught.

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President Tsai Ing-wen has said the newly launched Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation will be tasked with implementing the government's New Southbound Policy.

Speaking during the foundation's inauguration ceremony, Tsai said the think tank will work on the frontline implementing the policy and strengthening Taiwan's overall engagement with other Asian countries.

Tsai said such engagements include cultivating relationships with civil society, young people and think tanks in other countries.

The government-funded think tank will also organize the annual Yushan Forum, which was launched last October and promotes Taiwan's regional status and supports the government's New Southbound Policy.

The Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation is chaired by Senior Advisor to the President Hsiao Hsin-huang (蕭新煌).

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Seriously ill patients will be transferred from Penghu to hospitals elsewhere in Taiwan by helicopter.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) said the launch of aircraft emergency medical evacuation services for Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu will improve medical resource efficiency on the outlying islands.

The statement comes as the Executive Aviation Taiwan Corporation and Emerald Pacific Airlines begin airplane- and helicopter-based services providing emergency medical evacuations to residents of the three counties.

The Cabinet passed the emergency medical care project in September 2016 and the Ministry of Health awarded the contract to the two companies in July of last year.

Under the plan, a jet will be based on Kinmen, while two helicopters will be stationed on Penghu and Matsu to be used to transfer critically and seriously ill patients from the islands to major hospitals in Taiwan.

The National Airborne Service Corps will also continue to provide backup support after the launch of the new services.

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Photo Credit:體育署
Kuo Hsing-chun winning gold at the 2017 Taipei Universiade.

Olympic female weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) will carry the Taiwan team flag during the opening ceremony for the Asian Games in Indonesia later this month.

Sport Administration Director-General Kao Chin-hsung (高俊雄) said his office chose Kuo as she met the criteria for selection because she is known internationally and is not scheduled to compete the day after the Aug, 18 opening ceremony.

Kuo won gold in the women's weightlifting 58-kg weight class at the 2017 Taipei Universiade.

Badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎), who currently ranks number one in the world, was in the running the carry the team flag.

But the Sport Administration said she will be unable to attend the opening ceremony and is also scheduled to compete the following day.

It will be the first time since 1998 in Bangkok that a female athlete will carry the flag for the Taiwan team at the Asian Games, which will see 45 nations compete across 40 sports.

Read Next: OPINION: Time for Taiwan to Modernize Its Views on Migrant Workers

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

Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)

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