Taiwan News: US Warships Commissioned, Ko Leaves Office to Campaign

Taiwan News: US Warships Commissioned, Ko Leaves Office to Campaign
Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), speaking while inaugurating two Perry-class frigates purchased from the United States, said Taiwan would not “concede one step” in its self-defense.

The warships were commissioned in a ceremony at Kaohsiung's Zuoying naval port yesterday. They were purchased as part of a US$1.8 billion (NT$55.4 billion) arms deal under the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama.

According to the Republic of China (ROC) Navy, the ships will be used to patrol the Taiwan Strait. They are equipped to use the same SQR-19 sonar system as the U.S. Navy and have “high mobility, high sea resistance and low noise,” the ROC navy said.

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Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen waves to the media aboard the PFG-1112 Ming Chuan, a Perry-class guided missile frigate, after a commissioning ceremony at Kaohsiung's Zuoying naval base on Nov. 8, 2018.

“We want to send a clear and firm message from Taiwanese to the international community that we will not concede one step in defending ... Taiwan and protecting our free and democratic way of life,” said Tsai at the ceremony, adding that China's “military actions in the region not only attempt to weaken Taiwan’s sovereignty, but also damage regional peace and stability.”

The ships were built in the 1980s and were originally named USS Taylor and USS Gary. They have been renamed Ming Chuan (銘傳) and Feng Chia (逢甲).

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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is beginning a leave of absence from his mayoral seat today to focus on campaigning ahead of Taiwan's Nov. 24 elections.

Ko, who said he did not feel any certain way about leaving his mayoral position, also defended his campaign director's public support of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), according to the Taipei Times.

Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) used the opportunity to call Ko's political stances into question, and has also made repeated claims that the DPP is ready to give up on its support of Taipei mayoral candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智) to focus on the Kaohsiung mayoral race.

The Kaohsiung race between Chen and KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) appears much closer than expected in what has long been a DPP stronghold.

Ko skipped last week's Taipei mayoral debate, telling voters to Google him to learn about his positions. A second televised debate is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10.

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Credit: YouTube Screenshot
Ko Wen-je (L), seen here in his viral rap video, has left office to focus full-time on his re-election campaign.

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The organizers of the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice 2019 e-game tournament event invited a Taiwanese team to re-enter the competition Thursday.

This comes after Taiwanese team Sad Story was earlier disqualified for failing to register under the "China subregion" and competing in the Southeast Asia qualifier.

They won their first round 16-1 over Japanese team Friendly Welcome in a "Counter Strike: Global Offensive" match.

The organizers apologized for the inconvenience caused, and invited Sad Story to re-enter the tournament by playing in the Asia Minor Closed Qualifier, China subregion.

The disqualification, which said "Taiwan does not belong to any region recognized by the tournament authorities", in line with U.N. determination of countries and regions, was protested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

MoFA urged the organizers not to deprive the team of its right to play in the event because of the political stance of "a certain country."

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A meeting between President Tsai and Chinese President Xi Jinping is not impossible, even with Tsai not recognizing the so-called "1992 consensus," according to former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良).

Hsu's comments come as former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said both sides should recognize the 1992 consensus as a way to repair cross-strait relations.

Hsu placed blame for the current stalemate on China for its constant bullying of Taiwan over the years. He said the meeting could happen as long as Xi is willing to meet with Tsai.

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Media reports say the Japanese maker of an express train that fatally derailed in Taiwan last month has promised to fix what it said was a system defect in its Puyuma trains supplied to Taiwan.

The statement from Nippon Sharyo came after the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) on Nov. 2 requested that the manufacturer examine its Puyuma trains for defects.

On Oct. 21, one of the TRA's Puyuma Express trains derailed on a curve in Yilan in northeastern Taiwan, killing 18 people and injuring more than 200, in Taiwan's worst train accident in nearly three decades.

Following the deadly derailment, Nippon Sharyo said the accident had occurred because of a defective system on the train.

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Credit: 捷利 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Read More: Taiwan's East Coast 'Tilting Trains' Have Always Faced Operational Challenges

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The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) says it has asked the government to raise the issue of China's imprisonment of a Taiwanese activist, when Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meet later this month.

The meeting is to take place Nov. 12 to Nov. 18.

The MAC said it has submitted a request to MoFA for Taiwan's representative to the summit to call on Chinese President Xi Jinping to release Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who has been in prison in China since December 2017.

Lee was detained in China in March 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison in November that year on charges of "subversion of state power."

Officials say the MAC and the Straits Exchange Foundation have been helping Lee's family to apply for permission to visit him and hope they can do so later this month.

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The Central Election Commission (CEC) said official results of the local government elections and 10 referendums on Nov. 24 will be released at midnight, two hours after the vote count is completed.

The CEC said almost 300,000 workers, including over 16,300 police officers, will be assigned to polling stations nationwide to ensure a smooth voting process and quick counting of the ballots.

Commission data shows that over 20,800 are vying for the 11,047 at the local government level, from mayors to borough chiefs (also known as "neighborhood wardens").

In addition, 10 referendums will be held alongside the elections covering issues such as same-sex marriage, food imports from radioactive contaminated areas in Japan, and Taiwan's designation in big sporting events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu

Read More: Has the DPP Unwittingly Opened the Door to Chinese Election Interference?

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A survey finds that a majority of netizens polled say they are looking forward to the upcoming Double 11 "shopping festival,".

Nov. 11 as Singles Day originated in China, involving a day of online shopping and sales.

The practice has spread to other parts of the world, including Taiwan.

Now, the MIC survey finds that 64 percent of survey respondents said they plan to make purchases that day. That's a rise from 57 percent in 2017 and 50 percent in 2016.

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A Canadian film festival will feature a Taiwan film as part of its opening night gala.

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival starts today, and Taiwan director Hsu Yu-ting (徐譽庭) said she is hoping people fall in love with Taipei as they watch her film "Dear Ex".

She added that the work echoes the gay rights movement in Taiwan, seeking to bring the island and the world together and encourage everyone to think about what love means to people.

"Dear Ex" won Best Narrative Feature, Best Actor, and Best Actress at the 2018 Taipei Film Festival and was recently nominated for eight Golden Horse Awards.

2018 Reel Asian is scheduled to run from Nov. 8 to Nov. 16 and will show 60 movies from 17 countries and regions, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and Canada.

Read Next: REVIEW: 'First Man' Is a Stellar Action Spectacle but Falls Emotionally Flat

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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