Taiwan News: US Mulls US$330m Arms Sale, Super Typhoon Veers North

Taiwan News: US Mulls US$330m Arms Sale, Super Typhoon Veers North
Credit: Reuters / TPG
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The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expressing its thanks to the U.S. government after it officially notified Congress of a proposed US$330 million (NT$10.12 billion) arms sales package to Taiwan.

The package includes spare parts for several aircraft, including F-16 warplanes and C-130 cargo planes, as well as related logistics and program support elements.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the arms package shows the U.S. government's commitments toward Taiwan, and the sale will enhance the island's defensive capability and boost confidence in self-defense.

However, China is demanding the U.S. cancel the sale, warning of "severe damage" to bilateral relations and mutual cooperation if Washington fails to comply. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang is also claiming the sale violates international law and the "basic norms governing international relations," although it's unclear what aspect of international law the Chinese official is referring to.

The deal would follow a US$1.42 billion (NT$43.55 billion) U.S. arms sale to Taiwan in June of last year.

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The Central Weather Bureau says Super Typhoon Trami is likely to move away from Taiwan and veer in a northerly direction before moving towards the Ryukyu Islands and southern Japan in the coming 24 hours.

However, the weather bureau says it could still issue a sea warning for the storm, as its outer rim skirts the island's eastern and northern coasts this Friday and Saturday.

Trami is currently located some 800 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi at the island's southernmost tip and is moving in a north-north-easterly direction at 4 kilometers an hour. The super typhoon has a radius of 250 kilometers and is packing sustained wind speeds of 183 kilometers an hour, with gusts of up to 226 kilometers an hour.

The weather bureau said a weakening Pacific high pressure system is expected to push Trami northwards, lessening its direct impact on Taiwan.

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Nicaragua has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Nicaragua's vice minister of foreign affairs said the country will continue its relations with Taiwan and that there is no need for speculation on ties between the two sides.

The statement comes amid concerns that Nicaragua is coming under pressure from China to sever ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing. However, the vice foreign minister says his country's ties with Taiwan remain strong and President Daniel Ortega has said Nicaragua will continue its relationship with Taiwan and that relationship "is not in doubt."

Ortega broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan to recognize China in 1985. However, Nicaragua re-established ties with Taiwan after Ortega lost his bid for re-election in 1990.

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Read More: Meet the Monarchs and Dictators of Tsai Ing-wen’s ‘Alliance of Democratic Values’

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Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that, as a member economy of APEC, Taiwan has every right to participate in all related meetings.

According to Huang, Taiwan has the same rights and privileges as other member economies and there should be no political pre-requisites for Taiwan's participation in the 2018 APEC forum.

The statement comes after Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was cited as saying China is attempting to block Taiwan's participation at this year's meeting.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Taiwan will not be absent from the 2018 APEC leaders' summit and related meetings despite the reports of China's attempted obstruction.

The Presidential Office has not yet selected an envoy to head Taiwan's delegation to the APEC leaders' summit in November.

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Premier William Lai (賴清德) has once again apologized to people affected by last months heavy flooding in parts of the center and south, saying the government failed to take effective measures to reduce and prevent such a huge build-up of rainwater.

According to Lai, the flooding inundated 46,000 hectares of land, affected 33,000 households, resulted in over NT$870 million (US$28.36 million) in agricultural losses, and caused more than NT$480 million (US$15.65 million) in damage to schools.

Speaking during a legislative hearing, Lai said lawmakers have now completed work on amendments to the Water Act and those changes call for new development projects to take drainage and flood management into consideration and to improve flood resistance.

Lai previously apologized to the victims of the flooding on August 25, when he announced that affected households would receive NT$20,000 (US$652) each in relief payments.

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American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen is accusing China of using market-distorting subsidies, intellectual property theft, and forced technology transfers to harm the global economy.

Speaking at the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce in Taipei, Christensen said other countries must defend the international rule-based order and take steps to dissuade those who flout global rules.

According to Christensen, the U.S. is committed to open markets and free trade in the Indo-Pacific region and globally, both common values America shares with Taiwan.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
The new AIT complex in Taiwan, opened in June 2018.

The AIT head went on to say the U.S. is looking to work more closely with Taiwan on the Indo-Pacific strategy's priority initiatives of energy, infrastructure and the digital economy.

The annual congress was also attended by former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

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President Tsai said her administration will offer incentives such as tax credits and revise regulations as part of its plan to develop Taiwan as a regional hub for startups.

Tsai says the government is moving to cultivate talent, attract more foreign professionals, and abolish the outdated regulations in the Company Act.

According to Tsai, recent decisions by companies including Google, Microsoft, Cisco System and Amazon to invest or expand their operations in Taiwan are indicative of a positive outlook for future development.

Tsai also says Taiwan's economy is on the rise, as indicated by its improved performance in the areas of economic growth, unemployment, exports, and the stock market.

The president made the comments at the opening of the annual congress of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce in Taipei.

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Taiwan and the United Kingdom have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the development of financial technology and innovation.

The agreement was signed by the Taiwan Financial Services Roundtable and the British Office in Taipei.

The deal comes as the UK minister for trade policy is visiting Taiwan this week for talks amid tense negotiations back home over leaving the European Union.

The MOU sees two sides agree to strengthen information and assistance to financial technology companies that enter their respective markets, and to promote the FinTech area.

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Police have arrested five suspects and seized more than 5,000 kilograms of ketamine during a raid on a factory on the border between Chiayi County and Tainan.

The Investigation Bureau said it was the largest ketamine factory to have ever been raided in Taiwan.

Authorities said the equipment, raw materials and drug-producing technology used at the factory had all been shipped to Taiwan from China.

Four of the suspects remain in detention while one has been released on bail.

The raid comes amid concern that underground drug factories are being relocated to Taiwan from China due to moves by Beijing to step-up its anti-drug campaigns.

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The European Union's top representative to Taiwan says a decisive global response is key to reaching the desired level of greenhouse gas emissions and the Eu is sharing its experience with Taiwan to meet its goal of reducing emissions.

Speaking at the opening of the EU Climate Action Week in Taipei, Madeleine Majorenko said the Paris Agreement is not enough to reach the objective of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels and the world must do more.

According to Majorenko, the EU is working with Taiwan to ensure emission reduction systems are functioning and experience shows that no country will not lose its economic growth just because it protects its environment.

Fifteen EU member states have also released a joint statement commending Taiwan on its efforts to address climate change, including a target of sourcing 20 percent renewable energy by 2025 and banning the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

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The Centers for Disease Control said the number of people seeking emergency treatment for diarrhea during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday has hit a three-year high.

Health officials say 1,703 people visited hospital emergency rooms for treatment on Monday.

Last year saw 1,397 cases of diarrhea reported during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The CDC says more cases of people suffering abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting are likely to be reported throughout the reminder of this week.

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Credit: Liu Pang-yu / Flickr
Barbecues: the real pollution culprits?

In other Mid-Autumn Festival news, the Taipei City Government said it is considering a ban on barbecuing at riverside parks and other public sites, citing the negative impact of PM2.5 pollution.

However, it would not enforce such a ban until holding public opinion polls and gathering more information.

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

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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