Taiwan News: Defense Ministry Thanks Trump, Tsai Visits Paraguay

Taiwan News: Defense Ministry Thanks Trump, Tsai Visits Paraguay
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

The Ministry of National Defense is expressing its thanks to the U.S. after President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019, which includes provisions supporting Taiwan's armed forces.

Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said the act shows America's commitment to peace and stability in the region. Defense officials are grateful Washington has offered to enhance arms sales and military exchanges with the island.

Trump signed the defense policy bill into law at Fort Drum in New York.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 includes several Taiwan provisions. Section 1257 requires the U.S. Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan's military forces and submit the findings to a congressional committee within one year of the act's enactment.

Section 1258 states U.S. support for helping to strengthen Taiwan's combat readiness, and reaffirms both the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of U.S. relations with Taiwan.

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Deputy Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said fire investigators are still looking into the cause of Monday's deadly blaze at the Taipei Hospital in Xinzhuang.

The New Taipei District Prosecutors' Office has also opened an investigation into possible negligence by the hospital due to its failure to report the fire for some nine-minutes after it broke out.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Fire inspectors view damage after a fire broke out at the Taipei Hospital in New Taipei City's Xinzhuang District, causing multiple deaths.

The deputy minister said the findings from both the fire investigator's report and the prosecutor's investigation will be use to assess how best to improve safety at hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the island.

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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is in Paraguay for a three-day state visit, during which she will attend the inauguration of President-elect Mario Abdo Benitez.

Tsai was greeted at the airport by Paraguay's foreign minister and Taiwan's ambassador to the country, Diego Chou. Hundreds of Taiwanese expatriates living in the country were also on hand to greet Tsai when she arrived in Asuncion.

Tsai held talks with Benitez shortly after arriving in Paraguay and will attend his inauguration ceremony tomorrow morning Taiwan time.

Tsai will then travel to Belize on Thursday. She will transit in Houston for her return flight to Taiwan and is expected to arrive back at Taoyuan International Airport on the evening of Aug. 20.

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The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office has indicted Chen Po-chien (陳伯謙) on charges related to the murder and dismemberment of a woman at the Huashan Grasslands earlier this year.

Prosecutors have charged Chen with rape and murder as well as mutilating and disposing of a corpse.

The 37-year-old archery instructor was arrested on June 18.

According to prosecutors, Chen confessed to strangling the 30-year-old woman on June 1 before dismembering her body several days later and then dumping the body parts in the Yangmingshan area.

Prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty.

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Labor rights groups are calling on the government to raise the minimum wage.

The groups say they are hoping to see the minimum monthly wage increase to NT$28,862 (US$936) and the minimum hourly wage raised to NT$182 (US$5.90).

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Photo Credit: David Green
A banner made for Taiwan's May 1 labor protests demanding, among other things, the raising of the national minimum wage to NT$28,000.

The call comes as the Ministry of Labor is holding its regular talks this week on whether to increase the minimum wage.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) earlier this week appeared to back the labor groups - when he said workers who earn less then the NT$48,000 (US$1,556) average monthly wage should see pay increases.

However, local business groups are opposing any major hikes to the minimum wage.

The labor ministry is expected to announce any changes to the minimum wage tomorrow, following this week's meetings.

Read Next: Taiwan Is Better than Selfish Bosses and Their Heartless Wage Threats

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Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) has said the No. 3 generator at the Mailiao Power Plant in Yunlin County is now resuming operations.

The generator at the coal-fired plant had been shut down since Aug. 1 due to a pipe failure.

Taipower said the No. 3 unit can generate 600,000 kilowatts of power at full capacity. The company says that will help boost its reserve margins after the No. 5 generator at the Dalin Power Plant in Kaohsiung suffered a malfunction on August 13 and remains shutdown for repairs.

Electricity consumption peaked at 34.69 GW on Tuesday, well below the peak demand of close to 37 GW seen on some of the hottest days so far this summer.

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Women's rights groups have held a silent protest in front of Japan's representative office in Taipei to commemorate International Comfort Women Day.

Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation holds activities on Aug. 14 each year to remind the public that the issue of comfort women has yet to be resolved.

They are demanding Japan apologize for its actions during the Second World War, including the forced recruitment of Taiwanese girls and women into military brothels.

The women's rights groups are also calling for compensation to be paid to the Taiwanese victims for their economic loss and emotional injury.

The protest took place as the first monument commemorating comfort women in Taiwan was unveiled at a ceremony in Tainan.

Some 2,000 girls and women in Taiwan are believed to have been forced to serve as "comfort women" by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

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The Overseas Community Affairs Council is disputing claims by Beijing that officials from China's embassy in Kenya were the first on the scene after a Taiwanese national was attacked and killed by a hippopotamus the past weekend.

One other Taiwan tourist was injured in the same incident.

Beijing claims that it's embassy officials were on hand and providing consular services to members of the Taiwan tour group almost immediately.

However, council official Chen Fa (陳發) says he didn't see any Chinese embassy staff when he arrived at the hospital where the injured tourist was taken and he also didn't he see any Chinese officials meeting with other members of the Taiwan tour group.

According to Overseas Community Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Chien-chih (高建智), Beijing did not provide any assistance to the tour group and is trying to take credit for something it didn't do.

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Taipei has moved up two places in the rankings of the world's most livable cities to 58th place - that, according to the 2018 Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Livability Ranking.

Taipei edged past Seoul, which dropped one spot to 59th from last year.

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Photo Credit: CC0
Taipei checked in as the world's 58th most livable city.

Austria's capital Vienna topped the list of 140 cities surveyed, nudging Melbourne out of first place into second. Osaka, Calgary and Sydney rounded out the to five most livable cities.

Syria's capital Damascus was bottom of the list.

The survey assesses living conditions in 140 cities worldwide and gives an overall score of 0 to 100, where 1 is "intolerable" and 100 is "ideal."

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The New Taipei City Water Resources Department said an investigation shows that mass fish deaths in the Tamsui, Xindian, Dahan, and Keelung rivers were likely due to high temperatures.

The statement comes after hundreds of thousands of dead mullet were found floating in the rivers.

Water agency officials said some 100,000 of the dead fish have so far been removed and all of the remaining fish carcasses should be removed by tomorrow.

An initial investigation has excluded the possibility of pollution, and says a lack of oxygen in the water due to recent hot weather led to the mass die off. However, the investigation is still ongoing.

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Newly arrived American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen has said Taiwan is a reliable partner in combating cross-border crime.

Christensen made the statement at the opening of a transnational crime-fighting and forensic science workshop under the Taiwan-US Global Cooperation Training Framework in Taipei.

According to the AIT director, the respect for the law and trust that authorities have to protect the public in Taiwan shows confidence in law enforcement and strengthens the security and stability of both the island itself and the region.

Christensen went on to say that these are the reasons the U.S. included Taiwan in its global entry and visa waiver programs.

The Global Cooperation Training Framework was established in June 2015 and is designed to support bilateral cooperation in international public health, humanitarian assistance and other global issues.

The two-day event is being attended by representatives from 16 countries.

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The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it plans to establish an office in Taipei to help increase interaction with Taiwan's law enforcement agencies.

According to the DEA's attache for Hong Kong, it's hoped the office will enhance cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and enable the two sides to better exchange information on cross-border crime.

No date for the establishment of the office has yet been announced.

The DEA currently has 86 foreign offices in 62 countries, of which 14 are in the Asia-Pacific region including in Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines and Singapore.

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The 2018 Taiwan International Balloon Festival in Taitung County saw a record attendance this year.

Organizers say some 900,000 people visited the event, which took place from June 30 through August 13 in Luye Township.

The Taitung County tourism department says only 480,000 people visited the annual festival last year.

County officials say this year's festival also created more than NT$2 billion (US$64.86 million) in business opportunities, breaking the previous record set in 2012.

It also saw 39 balloons taking part, the largest number ever seen at the event. Of those balloons 24 flew over the East Rift Valley on the opening day, which was also a new record.

The Taiwan International Balloon Festival has been held every year since 2011.

Read Next: Rights Groups Urge Taiwan to Suspend Deadly Philippines Drug Deportations

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

TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall


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