Taiwan News: Govt Thanks US Senators for TAIPEI Act Supporting Its Remaining Allies

Taiwan News: Govt Thanks US Senators for TAIPEI Act Supporting Its Remaining Allies
Credit: AP / TPG
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The government is thanking U.S. senators for introducing legislation requesting Washington help Taipei to keep its existing 17 diplomatic allies.

The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative, or TAIPEI Act, was introduced by Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio and Democrats Ed Markey and Bob Menendez.

It seeks to authorize the State Department to downgrade U.S. relations with any government that shifts away from Taiwan, and to suspend or alter U.S. assistance to that government.

The bill also requires the U.S. to engage with governments to support Taiwan's diplomatic recognition or strengthen unofficial ties with the island.

The legislation comes after Washington voiced concern about El Salvador's decision last month to sever ties with Taiwan in favor of China, and is in keeping with other indications of informal support for Taiwan by US legislators such as the Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed in March.

Read More: After El Salvador, What Now for Taiwan and Its Central American Allies?

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China Airlines and EVA Airways have canceled all flights to New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido today following Thursday's magnitude 6.7 earthquake.

Hokkaido's main airport remains closed due to an electricity outage.

The Tourism Bureau said some 712 Taiwanese tourists are still in Hokkaido and the island's representative office in Japan is working on ways to bring them home.

The government also said it is ready to assist Japan with search and rescue efforts following Thursday's earthquake, which claimed the lives of at least nine people.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a 40-member special search and rescue team equipped with the latest life detection equipment and two trained dogs is on standby.

And teams from the National Fire Agency have also been called up to leave for Japan if Tokyo requests assistance.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has conveyed her concern and condolences to Japan and expressed her hopes that the impact of the earthquake will be minimal.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Evacuees are seen at a gymnasium of elementary school, acting as an evacuation shelter, during blackout after an earthquake hit the area in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on Sept. 6, 2018.

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The Mainland Affairs Council said Thursday that there has been "no obvious effect" in terms of the Taiwanese opting to take advantage of China's 31 measures, which were aimed at attracting people to work, study, live or start businesses there.

China's 31 measures included 12 plans to treat Taiwanese investors the same as their Chinese counterparts, and 19 others loosening regulations on students and professionals.

According to the council, Taiwanese invested US$5 billion in China in the January to July period, a 2.7 percent decrease from the same period of last year.

And council officials said that based on that decline, the number of Taiwanese opting to work or invest in China could continue to decrease through the remainder of the year.

The council said no university teachers from public colleges have left to teach at Chinese universities since the the 31 measures were implemented in February and medical professionals have also become less enthusiastic about working in China.

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The Ministry of National Defense said it is considering whether Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) will attend an annual defense meeting in the United States next month.

According to the ministry, the head of Taiwan's delegation will be decided based on the content of the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference and the level of U.S. participation.

The statement comes after the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council invited Yen to the meeting, which will take place in Maryland.

The council has invited Taiwan's defense minister to attend the event every year since 2002. However, only two have ever accepted the invitation and led delegations to the event in that period.

This year's U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will include debates about Taiwan's defense and national security needs and weapons procurement processes.

It follows the July passage of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which encourages the U.S. to support the development of Taiwan's defense capability and mandates an assessment of its military across a range of areas.

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The Transitional Justice Commission said plans regarding the future of Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall have not been finalized.

According to the commission, a decision on what to do with both the memorial hall and the Cihu Mausoleum in Taoyuan will likely be made before early next year.

Commission member Yang Tsui (楊翠) said the Ministry of Culture is still reviewing plans for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to "undergo transition" and issues such as what to do with Chiang's statute are still up for discussion.

The government also has to introduce amendments to the Organization Act of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Management Office before any changes can be made to the Taipei landmark.

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The Philippine Immigration Bureau has said it received requests from authorities both in Taipei and the U.S. for the extradition to Taiwan of a 37-year-old Israeli-American wanted in connection with the murder of a Canadian national in New Taipei.

Philippine police and immigration officers arrested Oren Shlomo Mayer at an apartment some 18-kilometers east of Manila Wednesday evening.

Mayer is a suspect in the murder of Canadian Ryan Ramgahan, whose dismembered body was discovered in a riverside park in New Taipei's Yonghe District on Aug. 22.

Another suspect, 30-year-old American national Ewart Odane Bent, was arrested on Aug. 25 in connection with the case and remains in detention.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian citizen, Wu Hsuan (吳宣), has been released on bail of NT$300,000 (US$9,744) after being questioned by authorities.

Police and prosecutors are still investigating the murder.

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Kuomintang (KMT) party Chairman Wu Den-yih's (吳敦義) said he will not be adopting the winning design of a competition to pick a new mascot for the party.

The competition was organized by the KMT's Youth Department and the winning design was drawn by 18-year-old Wu Ching-ping (吳婧萍).

However, the drawing has drawn criticism and derision from within the party and from the general public due to its resembling a rubber chicken with a worm on its chest,

It also has a KMT emblem on its rear end.

According to the KMT chairman, he doesn't like the winning design and it was only for the party's primary elections.

He went on to tell reporters the KMT already has many good mascots and logos and doesn't need another one.

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The tourism sector is welcoming a decision to allow visa-free entry for Russian passport holders, saying it will "expand the horizons of the local industry."

The statement comes after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Russian nationals will enjoy visa-free entry for visits of up to 14 days.

The program will run through July 31, 2019, on a trial basis as part of government efforts to build closer ties with other countries.

A Tourism Bureau official is being quoted as saying the measure will attract a larger number of Russian tourists to Taiwan and the island's sub-tropical weather and beaches will be among the major attractions for the Russian visitors.

Bureau figures show there were 9,226 visitor arrivals from Russia last year, with most of them being businesspeople.


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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 (@DavidPeterGreen)

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