Taiwan News: Palau President Visits Taiwan, Palace Museum to Remain Open?

Taiwan News: Palau President Visits Taiwan, Palace Museum to Remain Open?
Credit: Tsai Ing-wen Facebook
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Palau's president, Tommy Remengesau Jr., is visiting Taiwan, which he calls an important and productive partner of his country.

On Palau's ties with Taiwan, Remengesau Jr. said "friendship is earned, not forced," amid continuing pressure from China to force the Pacific country to switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

According to Palau's Bureau of Immigration, visitor arrivals from China this year dropped by over 36 percent from 2016 as a result of Beijing's ban on group tours to Palau because of the Pacific island nation's diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

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Credit: Tsai Ing-wen Facebook
Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. (L) and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R).

When he was asked to comment on Chinese pressure, Remengesau Jr. said that respect is a very important word for the people of Palau, no matter how big or small a country is.

Taiwan's government said it has been sending more local tourism business and small and medium-sized business delegations to Palau in recent months to boost business ties in the wake of the huge drop in the number of Chinese visitors.

Asked to comment, the Palauan leader welcomed and appreciated the visits to his country every year, as well as private sector investment from Taiwan in hotels.

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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that the government would invest more in cybersecurity and related infrastructure as a means of bolstering Taiwan's national security.

Tsai made her remarks while meeting with members of the HITCON and BFS hacking teams at the Presidential Office. HITCON placed third last month in a hacking competition held by computer security convention DEFCON.

Tsai said that Taiwan faces immense challenges in information security and reiterated that information security is national security. "As we are speaking now, our key infrastructure and information security systems are under continuous threat and attacks from abroad," she said yesterday, according to the Taipei Times.

"We will invest more resources into building key infrastructure and training personnel to strengthen information security," Tsai continued.

Upon taking office in 2016, Tsai established the cabinet-level Department of Cybersecurity. Last year, she spearheaded the creation of the military's first dedicated cyber branch, the Information and Electronic Warfare Command.

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Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said the Cabinet is against closing the National Palace Museum (NPM) for renovations, contradicting remarks made earlier by NPM Director Chen Chi-nan (陳其南).

Kolas said the Executive Yuan and the NPM are still in discussion about how to carry out the renovations, and she said a 2017 draft proposed a partial relocation of staff and national treasures to the south, but not a full closure.

Her comments follow surging media reports about Chen's controversial renovation plan, which opposition KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) exposed during a Monday legislative hearing.

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

The lawmaker alleged the museum could be shut down for three years for renovation starting in 2020, with its collections to be shipped to the museum's southern branch.

The comments triggered heated debate in local society, with some worrying that Taiwan's tourism industry might be negatively affected if the NPM's Taipei branch, which draws nearly 5 million visitors each year, is closed for a major overhaul.

Chen has since clarified his stance, saying the plan to close the NPM Taipei branch is just one of many options.

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President Tsai said Taiwan-based research has seen outstanding results in recent years and cited the 2018 World Economic Forum's global competitiveness report which ranked Taiwan 13 out of 140 countries.

She notes that in terms of innovation, Taiwan was ranked first in Asia and fourth in the world, and that Taiwan also has strong ties to many well-known international academic programs and organizations.

In addition to long-term academic exchange with Europe, the U.S., Japan and South Korea, Tsai said Taiwan has also actively stepped up exchanges with New Southbound Policy target countries, including Singapore, India, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia.

Meanwhile, Tsai said she also hopes Taiwan will continue to contribute to issues of shared international concern, such as energy conservation, reducing carbon emissions, sustainability and artificial intelligence.

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The Taichung Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT) mayoral candidates had their debate last night.

Incumbent DPP Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and KMT challenger Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) went at each other in a televised debate that centered on the city's battle with air pollution.

Lin said Taichung was the first Taiwanese city to push for reduced power generation of its coal-fired plant in an effort to cut emissions. Under his leadership, Lin said the city was also the first to introduce a plan that reduces the Taichung Power Plant's capacity when concentrations of PM2.5 get too high.

He adds that 157 factories in Taichung have since complied with the city's efforts to phase out industrial boilers that use heavy oil.

Taichung_Fire_Power_Plant
Credit: 阿爾特斯 / CC BY-SA 3.0
The Longjing District thermal power plant in Taichung, Taiwan.

For her part, Lu accuses Lin of living in denial by looking only at numbers, saying that the city experienced frightening air quality levels just last week, so dangerous that they put local residents at higher risk of cancer.

Lu proposed the city stop sending electricity to northern Taiwan, as part of efforts to reduce emissions.

She said using modern technology would make cutting air pollution more effective and the use of renewable energy to replace the electricity produced by thermal power plants could be a better option.

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An international broadcaster said it was Taiwan's high level of press freedom that spurred its decision to set up shop here.

Germany's public broadcaster Deutsche Welle opened an office in Taipei last month, its first office in East Asia.

The DW Chinese service chief said the most important reason for opening the office in Asia is to bridge the time gap between Germany and their main target region, China.

He said DW can now react much more quickly to events in the region, although the main focus is not on Taiwan itself.

As for why they chose to operate out of Taiwan, the service chief said the island has good working conditions, press freedom, and infrastructure.

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South Korean dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chipmaker SK Hynix will soon become the third largest integrated circuit supplier in the world, replacing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

In a research report posted on its website on Monday, market advisory firm IC Insights said Hynix is expected to post US$37.73 billion (NT$1.17 trillion) in sales for 2018, an annual increase of 41 percent.

That figure will move Hynix up one spot to third place among global IC suppliers, displacing TSMC.

Hynix's 2018 sales growth is also expected to be the strongest among the world's IC suppliers.

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Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu
A leaflet asking employees to protect company confidentiality in the reception area of TSMC in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

The report forecast TSMC 2018 sales at US$34.21 billion (NT$1.06 trillion), a 6 percent annual increase, which will put the company in fourth place globally.

Samsung Electronics of South Korea is expected to retain the top spot in 2018, with a forecast 26 percent annual increase in sales to US$83.26 billion (NT$2.57 billion), followed by Intel Corp. of the United States with a forecast sales growth of 14 percent to US$70.15 billion (NT$2.17 billion).

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A free visa-on-arrival program for visitors to Thailand, including Taiwanese nationals, begins tomorrow.

The fee waiver for visitors from 21 countries is for stays of up to 15 days.

The program lasts until January 13 and will save these visitors the visa-on-arrival fee of about US$61 (NT$1,885).

The initiative is aimed at attracting more foreign visitors to the country and increasing tourism revenue, following a decline in the number of arrivals from China this year.

According to Taiwan Tourism Bureau statistics, nearly 533,000 Taiwanese traveled to Thailand in 2016 and close to 554,000 last year.

Read Next: Health Care for All: The Good & Not-So-Great of Taiwan's Universal Coverage

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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