Taiwan News: Ministry Shoots Down KMT Questioning Over US Navy Ship

Taiwan News: Ministry Shoots Down KMT Questioning Over US Navy Ship

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) downplayed the significance of the arrival of a U.S. Navy research vessel in Kaohsiung and said it's unrelated to any current or pending military activity.

The statement comes after the Thomas G. Thompson arrived at the port for refueling and changes to crew arrangements.

Taiwan International Ports Corporations (TIPC, 台灣港務) said the vessel is slated to leave for Australia tomorrow and the ship has visited the port four times already this year, solely for refueling purposes.

RV_Thomas_G__Thompson_01A
Credit: Joe Mabel / Wikicommons
RV Thomas G. Thompson, pictured at its dock in Seattle.

Kuomintang (KMT) legislators Jason Hsu (許毓仁) and Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬) asked Yen if the ship's arrival Tuesday was related to the 2019 U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions to help Taiwan strengthen its defense capabilities.

However, the defense minister said the Thomas G. Thompson is a naval scientific research vessel operated under a charter party agreement with the University of Washington and its port call is unrelated to the defense act.

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Premier William Lai (賴清德) denied claims by the KMT that a series of measures put into place to counter money laundering are aimed at limiting donations to the party's candidates in next month's local elections.

According to Lai, the measures aimed at stepping-up reviews of large wire transfers to and from China are solely aimed at strengthening anti-money laundering practices and are non-political in nature.

The statement follows claims by the KMT that the anti-money laundering measures have been specifically designed to stop Taiwanese business owners in China from sending money to the party in support of its candidates.

The introduction of new measures comes ahead of an evaluation by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering next month.

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The Central Election Commission approved two more referendum proposals, bringing the number of referendums expected to be held in conjunction with next month's local elections to nine.

The newly approved referendum proposals were both put forward by marriage equality advocates and support same-sex marriage.

One of the referendums asks voters if they believe the Civil Code marriage regulations should be used to guarantee the rights of same sex couples. while the other asks if gender equity education should be taught as part of the national school curriculum.

Another referendum supporting the development of green energy, while retaining nuclear power, failed to pass the commission's review. Commission officials said the number of qualified public endorsements for that proposal failed to pass the legally required threshold.

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Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said a recent poll shows a majority of the public supports some restrictions being imposed on Taiwanese nationals who choose to hold China's new residency permit.

According to Chen, the survey found that 75 percent of respondents believe permit holders should be banned from running for public office and over 50 percent say holders should be required by law to declare their Chinese residency.

The poll was conducted as the council is considering whether to introduce laws aimed at penalizing Taiwanese nationals who fail to declare their residence permit status in China.

Mainland_Travel_Permit_for_Taiwan_Reside
Credit: Chinese Ministry of Public Security
The current Mainland Travel Permit, required for Taiwanese residents wishing to enter China.

The council says it has no immediate plans to automatically revoke the voting rights or household registrations of Taiwanese nationals who opt to be issued with the new residence permits. However, they could lose their political participation rights, meaning they could be banned from running for office or taking a civil service position.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the government is working towards strengthening bilateral ties and increasing investment and trade related exchanges with Paraguay.

The comments are in response to remarks by Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez, who on Monday tweeted that Taiwan has agreed to invest US$150 million (NT$4.63 billion) in his country on public infrastructure and education.

According to ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章), the size of the investment is the direction in which the two sides are aiming to move, but implementation plans are still in the development stage.

Lee says Taiwan and Paraguay have pledged to enhance bilateral relations so they can become mutually beneficial strategic partners.

President Abdo visited Taiwan last week to attended the National Day celebrations.

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The Civil Aeronautics Administration is investigating the reasons why a China Airlines aircraft blew a tire while landing at Kaohsiung International Airport.

The airport said more than 7,000 passengers on 66 flights were affected by the incident. The incident also resulted in damage to the runway.

The aircraft, which had arrived from Manila, was left stuck on the runway and forced the closure of the airport for over five hours while repairs to the runway were carried out.

The airport says 2,827 passengers on 19 international inbound flights and 3,006 passengers on 21 outbound flights, as well as about 1,200 passengers on 13 domestic departures and 13 domestic arrivals were affected by the delay.

No one was injured in the incident.

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The Ministry of Labor said 3,490 workers were on furlough as of this Monday, the highest figure since December of 2015.

The number was an increase of 3,006 from the ministry's previous update on September 30 when 484 workers were on unpaid leave.

The government says the increase was due to one company in the electrical and mechanical sector reporting that over 2,000 of its employees have been put on unpaid leave pending an adjustment in production.

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The Ministry of Culture announced that 175 museums and cultural venues islandwide will not be charging admission fees today in order to celebrate Taiwan Culture Day.

Local governments are also organizing arts and cultural activities, which will be free for members of the public to participate in.

Taipei_Taiwan_National-Palace-Museum-02
Credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
The National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) designated October 17 as Taiwan Culture Day in 2001 to commemorate the establishment in the 1920s of a group which sought to build and promote Taiwanese culture.

The Taiwan Culture Day was scrapped under Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) presidency, but revived in 2016 by Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), who vowed to promote Taiwan Culture Day as a national event.

The ministry has organized various art and cultural activities under different themes to mark the culture day, and this year's theme is "Telling Stories of Taiwan."

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American physicist Eric Betzig, one of the three winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will give a lecture at Academia Sinica in Taipei tomorrow.

Betzig currently leads a group at the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn in Virginia and he will be speaking about "Imaging Biological Structure and Dynamics from Molecules to Organisms,."

He will also speak at National Qing Hua University's College of Life Science in Hsinchu on Friday.

It will be Betzig's second visit to Taiwan, after his visit in 2016 to give a lecture about imaging life at high spatiotemporal resolution.

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The Eslite Spectrum Corporation said it will open its first retail outlet outside of the Chinese market next year.

According to Chairwoman Mercy Wu (吳旻潔), a branch of the Eslite bookstore will be opening in Tokyo's Nihonbashi business district and it will occupy about 2,970 square meters on the second floor of a building close to the Tokyo Station.

Wu says the company is excited that a Taiwanese brand will be presented in Japan and the outlet will include a bookstore, a craft store and a dining area, combining both Taiwanese and Japanese elements.

Eslite Spectrum opened its first store in Taiwan in 1989 and currently operates 46 stores - 42 in Taiwan, three in Hong Kong and one in China.

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Two hotels operated by Taiwanese businesses have been listed in the top 10 best hotels in Asia and Venice, Italy, by readers of a U.S. luxury and lifestyle travel magazine for their world-class facilities and excellent service.

Grand Hyatt Taipei was ranked the seventh top hotel in Asia in the 2018 Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel in Venice, which is owned by Taiwan's LDC Hotels & Resorts Group, was named the third top hotel in Venice by Conde Nast Traveler readers.

The travel magazine announced the results of its annual awards in New York. The Grand Hyatt Taipei was the only hotel from Taiwan recognized as among the very best in Asia.

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Cover photo credit: University of Washington / CC BY 2.0

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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