Taiwan News: Govt Rejects China Student Spy Claims, El Salvador Donation Probe

Taiwan News: Govt Rejects China Student Spy Claims, El Salvador Donation Probe
Photo credit: AP / 達志影像

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

The Presidential Office said Monday that claims by Beijing that Taiwan's intelligence services are recruiting Chinese students studying in Taiwan as spies are "misinformation aimed at undermining cross-Strait ties."

The statement comes after China's state broadcaster CCTV and various other news outlets claimed that Taiwan is stepping-up its espionage operations against Beijing.

An editorial in the state-run Global Times explicitly drew the link between the inauguration of Tsai Ing-wen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government and heightened espionage activities by Taiwan: "After the pro-independence DPP took office, the Taiwan authorities dispatched more spies to the mainland, posing serious challenges and adding difficulties to counter-espionage work." it said.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Beijing is fabricating the news in order to raise anti-Taiwan sentiment in China and dampen the development of cross-Strait ties.

Taiwan will hold local elections on Nov. 24 and is braced for Chinese government interference in the process.

According to Huang, China should place its faith in youth exchange programs between Taiwan and China and should extend its support for other forms of exchanges without preconditions to enable the two sides to enhance understanding.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is denying allegations of illegal donations to El Salvador.

The statement comes as prosecutors in San Salvador are investigating claims that US$10 million donated by Taiwan was used by the country's former ruling party for political campaigns.

According to prosecutors, the funds were diverted from a donation of US$38 million made by Taipei for various projects and used by then-President Mauricio Funes to support a party ally.

Funes' Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party is also denying the allegations.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said all cooperation between Taiwan and its former ally was conducted in accordance with related laws.

Lee also said the government carefully screened all assistance proposals and the donations were made in public with detailed records of where the funding was to be used.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Read More: After El Salvador, What Now for Taiwan and Its Central American Allies?

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Taiwan's top envoy to the Vatican said he believes an agreement between the Holy See and China on the appointment of bishops will help ensure the protection of religious freedom there.

According to Matthew Lee (李世明), the embassy is closely monitoring developments between the Vatican and China, but the agreement is purely on religious matters.

Lee said it will give Chinese people a chance to lead a normal life of faith, reduce the oppression of Chinese Catholics, and help promote religious freedom throughout China.

The comments came amid speculation that an agreement between the Beijing and the Vatican could be signed by October, leading to fears that the Vatican will cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing as part of the deal.

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Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chuan (蘇嘉全) said he's confident Taiwan will be able to upgrade its international status after the European Parliament passed a report calling for an end to China's military provocation toward the island.

The report on the state of the European Union (EU)'s relations with China was adopted last Wednesday.

Su said now is the time for Taiwan to expand diplomatically because with the help of the EU, it will be more successful in participating in international organizations.

The report calls for EU member states to urge Beijing to refrain from further military provocation towards Taiwan and to cease endangering peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The report also urged for a resumption of official talks between Beijing and Taipei and reiterated support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations.

According to Su, some 10 delegations from the European Parliament have visited Taiwan's legislature over the past two years and Taiwan was received like a sovereign country when he led a delegation to the United Kingdom and France in July.

立法院 蘇嘉全
Photo Credit:公民監督國會聯盟
Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chuan is grateful for European Union support for Taiwan.

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An Israeli-American national wanted in connection with the murder and dismemberment of a Canadian citizen in New Taipei has been repatriated from Manila.

Oren Shlomo Mayer was escorted by four Taiwanese police officers on his return to face trail.

Officials said his swift repatriation was due to coordination among authorities in the United States, the Philippines and here Taiwan.

The 37-year-old was taken to the Criminal Investigation Bureau for questioning following his arrival back at Taoyuan International Airport.

Mayer and U.S. national Ewart Odane Bent are believed to have killed Ryan Ramgahan, whose dismembered body was discovered under the Zhongzheng Bridge in the Yonghe District on Aug. 22.

Mayer fled Taiwan after the murder, and was arrested by Philippine police on Sept. 5 while he was hiding out in an apartment east of Manila.

Bent was arrested by police in Taiwan Aug. 25 and remains in custody.

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Taiwan will send four military officers to attend the funeral of a retired British army officer to drape the ROC flag over his coffin

Gerald Fitzpatrick requested that his coffin be draped in the ROC flag to express his gratitude to the country.

Fitzpatrick was 99 and died on Aug. 27 in the northern English city of Leeds.

He was one of 7,000 British soldiers rescued by the 113th Regiment of the Chinese Expeditionary Force after being surrounded by Japanese troops near Yenangyaung in Myanmar in April of 1942.

The Ministry of National Defense said the four officers set to attend Fitzpatrick's funeral this Thursday are all currently studying in the UK and they will not wear their military uniforms during the ceremony.

Fitzpatrick visited Taiwan in 2013.

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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has attended a banquet marking Central American Independence Day in Taipei, where she urged allies in that region to join with Taiwan in its pursuit of democracy and freedom amid growing pressure from China.

Speaking at the event, Tsai said that "China's continued diplomatic suppression of Taiwan will only strengthen our partnership with our Central American allies."

According to Tsai, Taiwan's Central American allies have always been the island's strongest supporters, and special task forces will be formed to further explore the regions markets and help build infrastructure to boost development there.

The event was also attended by National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發).

Ambassador's from Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, were also present at the celebration.

However, Haiti's ambassador reportedly declined an invitation to the attend the banquet, sparking speculation the country could be moving further away from Taiwan and could seek to establish formal ties with China.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega applauds during a ceremony to receive the Central American Independence torch, ahead of Nicaragua's independence day, at the Revolution Square in Managua, Nicaragua, Sept. 12, 2018.

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President Tsai's approval rating has dropped to 31.2 percent, according to a poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, a non-governmental and non-profit institute founded last year.

September's rating is down from the 33.3 percent seen in last month's survey and is Tsai's second-lowest support rating score since she took office in May 2016.

The foundation is attributing the decline to controversy over Tsai's visit to flood victims in Chiayi and El Salvador's severing of ties with Taiwan.

The poll also found that 57.5 percent of respondents said Tsai is failing to effectively lead the government and 56.8 percent said Tsai has picked bad Cabinet members.

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Premier William Lai (賴清德) has overseen a ground breaking ceremony for the Central Taiwan Science Park's Erlin Township campus.

The park in Changhua County is being built to focus on the aeronautics, smart machinery and biotech sectors and is expected to create 6,000 jobs.

The government has earmarked NT$36 billion (US$1.2 billion) for development of the 631-hectare site.

And officials said 12 businesses have already pledged investments totaling NT$60 billion in the new park.

The project was first proposed a decade ago and finally approved by the Environmental Protection Administration in May.

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Police in Taipei have detained a 36-year-old woman who suffers from mental health issues for stabbing another woman on the city's MRT.

The suspect stabbed a 30 year-old woman at the MRT's Taipei Main Station.

The victim suffered a laceration to her chest in the attack and authorities say she was treated at a near by hospital and her injury was not life threatening.

Police say the suspect was seen threatening several other people on the MRT before stabbing the victim.

According to law enforcement authorities, the suspect has now been sent for medical evaluation after being detained under the Mental Health Act.

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Three people have been fined for attempting to bring uncooked meat products into Taiwan from China.

Officials said they were all fined NT$15,000.

The fines were issued amid growing concern over an outbreak of the highly contagious virus that causes African swine fever in China.

The virus has been spreading rapidly there since Beijing reported its first outbreak Aug. 3.

Customs officials said 47 such items were seized from passengers' checked-in luggage in the first two weeks of this month and the latest violators were two Chinese visitors and a Taiwanese national who works in China.

The smuggled items, included cured sausages, meat noodles and ham and they were seized at airports in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

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Police in Thailand have detained a Taiwanese national who fled the island after being convicted of running an investment scam that netted him NT$13 million.

Chin Hsiang-yu (秦庠鈺) was arrested in Bangkok after arriving from Cambodia using a fake ROC passport.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2015 by the High Court, but fled to China before he could begin his sentence in 2016.

The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last year.

Thai police say the case has been referred to a court in central Thailand for further investigation into the use a fake passport.

It's not yet known whether he will be extradited to Taiwan soon.

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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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