Taiwan News: Taipei Mayor Ko Defends Against China Organ Harvest Claims

Taiwan News: Taipei Mayor Ko Defends Against China Organ Harvest Claims
Photo Credit: 中央社
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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Wednesday that he will file a lawsuit against author Ethan Gutmann if he fails to provide evidence he was involved in live organ harvesting in China.

Ko is also demanding Gutmann issues a public apology for the claims, which were made in a 2014 paper titled "The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem," and reiterated at a press conference yesterday.

The mayor's statement comes after Gutmann told reporters in Taipei that Ko was a broker for Taiwanese patients wanting to receive organ transplants in China.

He also claimed Ko created "incentives" for Chinese doctors to harvest live organs and was aware many of the organs came from Falun Gong members.

Ko has faced similar allegations in the past, but has denied them.

According to the mayor, the fresh allegations are harming to the reputations of Taiwan's transplant and intensive care sectors.

Ko's office said the mayor will file the lawsuit with the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office at 10 a.m. this morning if Gutmann fails to apologize.

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張忠謀
Photo credit: 中央社
Morris Chang (L) will be Taiwan's special envoy to next month's APEC leaders' summit meeting in Papua New Guinea.

Morris Chang (張忠謀), founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., said his mission at next month's APEC leaders' summit in Papua New Guinea is to address how small economies can deal with the challenges of emerging economic nationalism.

Speaking after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced Chang will be her special envoy to APEC, the now retired TSMC founder said moves by some countries towards economic nationalism pose a growing challenge to small economies such as Taiwan.

According to Chang, he will take advantage of the 21-member intergovernmental forum to exchange views with world leaders on how to address those challenges.

The President said she appointed Chang as Taiwan's APEC representative because he is held in high esteem in the international business community and he is the best candidate to engage in dialogue on economic issues with world leaders.

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) had represented Taiwan at the two previous APEC leaders' summits.

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Representatives from eight of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have delivered a joint letter signed by 12 of the 16 United Nations countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The letter voices support for Taiwan to play a more active role in the international body.

It calls for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in the meetings of UN agencies, that Taiwanese tourists not be required to show a travel permit issued by China in order to access UN premises and for a lifting of restrictions on Taiwanese media covering UN events.

Delivery of the letter to the secretary-general comes after leaders from 12 diplomatic allies spoke up for Taiwan during the UN general debate session.

Fellow allies Nicaragua, Paraguay and Honduras sent their own letters in support of Taiwan to the UN Secretariat.

However, neither Guatemala nor the Vatican publicly supported Taiwan during the general debate.

The Holy See is not a member of the UN, but a permanent observer state and it rarely speaks on political issues during the general debate.

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The U.S. state of Wyoming has opened its first foreign trade office in 30 years in Taiwan.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead Said Wednesday that the office will also be used as a hub for the state in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Mead said the decision to open the office was made following five years of preparation since his first visit to Taiwan in 2013.

According to Mead, he choose Taiwan as its location because of the island's democracy, warmth and hospitality.

Mead also expressed his hope the new office will enhance cultural and educational exchanges, as well as promote tourism.

Wyoming is the seventh U.S, state to open a trade office in Taiwan.

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China Airlines and EVA Air have canceled or postponed flights to and from Okinawa today due to the approach of Typhoon Kong-rey.

China Airlines has canceled flights from Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung to Okinawa.

EVA Air said all its flights scheduled for today between Taipei and Okinawa will be canceled, while it will operate its larger 777-300ER aircraft on round-trip flights tomorrow.

Tigerair Taiwan has canceled its flights from Taipei and Kaohsiung to Okinawa today and re-scheduled tomorrow's Taipei to Okinawa flight.

The Central Weather Bureau said Typhoon Kong-Rey is located some 800-kilometers east of Oulunbi at Taiwan's southernmost tip and is moving in a north-northwesterly direction at 16 kilometers an hour.

The storm has a radius of 250 kilometers and is packing maximum sustained winds of 162 kilometers an hour, with gusts of up to 198 kilometers an hour.

The storm will be closest to Taiwan this evening as it heads into the East China Sea towards southern Japan.

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Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) has said that protecting Taiwan is in the national interest of the United States because the island plays a role in maintaining regional peace.

The statement comes after Yen was asked to respond to a quote by U.S. President Donald Trump in which he reportedly asked the National Security Council what America gets from protecting Taiwan.

The quote appears in a new book, titled "Fear," by veteran U.S, journalist Bob Woodward.

The minister is also playing down his decision not to attend this year's U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference.

According to Yen, it was decided that Deputy Defense Minister Chang Guan-chung (張冠群) will attend the event Maryland later this month after taking into account the rank of participating officers and the topics slated for discussion.

Yen said that given the frequent military exchanges between the two countries, he will have many opportunities to interact with the U.S. military in the future.

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The Vatican's deputy foreign minister has attended a party organized by Taiwan's embassy to the Holy See in Rome to celebrate ROC National Day.

Antoine Camilleri's attendance at the event is being seen as a move aimed at dispel rumors of unstable diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Vatican after the Holy See signed an agreement with China regarding the appointment of bishops.

The agreement has led to speculation it is the first step towards the Vatican establishing formal diplomatic ties with Beijing.

However, speaking at the reception, Taiwan's ambassador to the Vatican Matthew Lee reiterated that the agreement between the Vatican and China was aimed more at dealing with religious affairs in China rather than political issues.

Lee also said high ranking Vatican officials have told him the Holy See will continue to be a committed partner of Taiwan.

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Read More: CARTOON: Pope Signs Off on Suffering Chinese Faithful

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The Keelung District Court has sentenced a known mob boss to 20 years in prison on charge of arms smuggling.

Liao Wei-chang (廖緯蒼) was found guilty of purchasing over one hundred handguns, seven assault rifles and ammunition for the weapons, which originated in the Philippines, before shipping them to Taiwan via Hong Kong.

Police seized the smuggled weapons during a raid on a warehouse in New Taipei City on May 5.

Liao fled to Singapore before authorities could arrest him but was arrested by Singapore police several days after he arrived there based on information provided by Taiwanese law enforcement authorities.

Three other defendants have been sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years in connection with the case.

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Images of Taiwan are now being featured on a New York City Subway train.

The move is a collaboration between Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Officials said the initiative, which features images on both the interior and exterior of train cars, aims to promote Taiwan's diverse cultures and natural scenery.

The outside of of the cars are painted images of faces of members of Taiwan's indigenous people, while the interior has been painted with 3D images of spring onions.

The designs have been created by two Taiwanese artists and appear on a train that runs between the Times Square and Grand Central terminals.

Read Next: INFOGRAPHIC: Why All Typhoons Have Missed Taiwan in 2018

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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