Taiwan News: Chinese Officials Arrive in Taipei Ahead of Twin City Forum

Taiwan News: Chinese Officials Arrive in Taipei Ahead of Twin City Forum
Photo Credit: 中央社
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Seven Chinese local government officials are visiting Taiwan today, as they seek to set the agenda for the upcoming Taipei-Shanghai twin city forum, which will take place in Taipei next Thursday.

The officials include Shanghai Municipal Taiwan Affairs Office Director Li Wenhui (see cover image), and his deputy Li Xiaodong.

They were met at on arrival at Taipei Songshan Airport by the head of the Taipei City government's mainland affairs division, Yao Ching-yu (饒慶鈺).

Speaking to reporters, Li Wenhui said the Chinese delegation will be holding discussions with Taipei officials to set the agenda for the Dec. 20 forum, and will also meet Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) today.

According to Li, the discussions will cover "anything" related to the forum, including Taipei's efforts to instill a circular economy, public housing projects, as well as environmental protection and market renovation initiatives.

However, the Shanghai office declined to say whether he plans to meet with Kaohsiung Mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), though the Taipei City mayor has said Han will be invited to attend the event.

The twin-city forum, which is hosted alternatively in Taipei and Shanghai, has run annually since 2010, save for last year, when negotiations broke down amid icy cross-Strait ties.

Mayor Ko courted controversy at the forum in 2015 when he said that the “two sides of the Strait are one family,” leading to outrage among pro-Taiwan independence supporters. He apologized for his remarks earlier this year, but is expected to come under pressure from Chinese authorities to proffer similar sentiments during next week's event.

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No damage or injuries have been reported following a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that rattled much of the island overnight.

The earthquake struck at 11:15 p.m. and was centered some 12-kilometers west-north-west of Hualian County Hall at a depth of 19 kilometers.

It was felt strongest in Hualien County's Tongmen, Taroko, Xibao, Xilin districts, and in Hualien City – where the temblor registered a magnitude 5 on the Central Weather Bureau's intensity scale.

The quake registered a magnitude 4 in other parts of Hualien as well several areas of Nantou and Taichung.

It registered a magnitude 3 in part of Yilan and a magnitude 2 in parts of Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Changhua, Yunlin and Taidong.

The quake was also felt in parts of Taipei and Kaohsiung, where it registered a magnitude 1 on the intensity scale.

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The criminal records of 1,505 victims of political persecution have been wiped clean.

The victims were exonerated at a formal ceremony at the Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park in New Taipei's Xindian District.

The event was overseen by Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), and officials said the move is aimed at helping heal the long-lasting trauma, and to remind the country of the lessons learned from its authoritarian past.

The Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park is the site of a former military prison, and featured a performance by an elderly man from the indigenous Atayal tribe in honor of the 27 indigenous people who were exonerated.

The indigenous people were among those imprisoned or executed during the Feb. 28, 1947 crackdown by the Kuomintang (KMT) on an anti-government uprising, and the subsequent White Terror period under martial law from 1949 to 1987.

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Credit: Taiwan National Human Rights Museum
The Jingmei White Terror Memorial Park in New Taipei. Political prisoners were detained, prosecuted, tried and imprisoned at the site during the White Terror period.

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The Ministry of the Interior has said a total of 3,951 same-sex couples have registered as partners since same-sex partnership recording began in Taiwan in 2015.

Figures show the largest numbers were recorded in Taipei, New Taipei and Taichung.

Kaohsiung became the first city to allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships at household registration offices on May 20, 2015.

Some 18 of the country's 22 cities and counties have introduced a partnership registration scheme for such couples, and have also begun to accept applications from other localities.

All of the 18 cities and counties that offer sex-same partnership registration have recorded same-sex partnerships, except for Matsu.

Hualien, Taitung, Yunlin and Penghu have yet to introduce same-sex partnership registration.

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A professor at the National Taiwan University of Arts is warning about the dangers of government moves to curb 'fake news' – saying it could affect free speech on the internet.

The statement comes as the government is considering cracking down websites that post fake news under a draft bill currently under review in the Legislative Yuan.

According to the Cabinet, a new revision will allow for fines against social media platforms that fail to remove false information, and will also allow individuals to report social media websites found to carrying false information.

However, Lai Hsiang-wai (賴祥蔚) of the the university's Department of Radio and Television, said the planned revision may lead to websites automatically removing information or comments without fact checking, which will limit the freedom of speech.

Lai also said the government should intervene only in cases where there is enough evidence to prove that the false information originated overseas and poses a threat to national security.

Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June proposed adding a clause to the Social Order Maintenance Act that would punish those who spread fake news on the internet with up to three days in jail or a fine of up to NT$30,000 (US$1,000), promoting various civil groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, to protest the move based on the threat it poses to freedom of speech.

The Ministry of the Interior has also proposed a draft amendment to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act, which requires transparency in the funding of political advertising and bans media outlets from running ads paid for with foreign money.

Officials have said the move is aimed at preventing external elements from attempting to influence Taiwan's elections, including groups or individuals from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

According to the ministry, the draft amendment is based on the U.S. Honest Ads Act and the new rules will require all election-related advertisers say who is funding the ad.

The draft stipulates that if a media company advertises election-related commercials funded by overseas sources, the company will face a maximum fine of NT$10 million, or a fine double the cost of the advertisement.

Read More: Taiwan Takes Centerstage in Global Fight Against 'Fake News'

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Tainan Mayor-elect Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) of the DPP has said he is considering visiting China to market the city's tourism if the opportunity arises.

According to Huang, he will not make any statements, "stir up provocations or engage in confrontations" if he travels to China, but will instead solely focus on promoting tourism in Tainan.

Huang said he believes there is no need for China to exclude Tainan in its exchanges with Taiwan, and his city also welcomes investments by Taiwanese businesses based in China.

Huang also said Tainan is more than willing to collaborate with other cities and counties, regardless of their political leadership, to find ways of boosting Taiwan's economy.

Huang beat the KMT's Kao Su-po (高思博) by less than six percentage points in the Tainan mayoral election. Huang also said he will focus on new rail lines and flood defense systems in his upcoming tenure as mayor, while accommodating the work of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. at the Southern Taiwan Science Park.

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The Ministry of National Defense has said it plans to spend NT$2 billion to upgrade the electronic warfare systems on its four Kidd-class destroyers in response to the increased threat of China's surface-to-air combat capabilities.

The ministry said its 2019 budget proposal sets aside funds to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32 system on the Kidd-class guided missile destroyers and the upgrade is expected to be completed by 2023.

The four destroyers are usually deployed in waters off the east coast to carry out early warning missions.

The Navy's defense capabilities heavily depend on the AN/SLQ-32 system.

Defense officials have indicated it is outdated and must be upgraded to improve its capabilities to counter the growing threat of more complex radar-guided anti-ship missile systems.

The military will also purchase Standard Missile 2 Block IIIA missiles to strengthen its surface-to-air defense capabilities.

RTSHAHT
Credit: Reuters / TPG
Reporters take photographs on a Kidd-class destroyer next to a Taiwan-made Panshi ship during a military drill outside a naval base in Kaohsiung port, southern Taiwan.

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Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) has honored an Indonesian migrant worker whose fund-raising efforts over a 10-year period helped establish the first mosque in Pingtung County earlier this year.

Speaking at an event in Taichung marking International Migrants Day, Hsu paid tribute to the worker known as Muksin, who founded the An-Nur Tongkang Mosque.

Muksin has been working as a fisherman in Pingtung's Donggang Township since 1999, and decided to establish the mosque in the township for the many Indonesian Muslim fishermen who live there.

Muksin managed to raise NT$7 million to establish the mosque, which can accommodate 120 worshipers. The community had been worshipping in a local rented house prior to the opening of the mosque.

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Credit: Jules Quartly
Read More: OPINION: Taiwan Welcomes Islam with Open Arms

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The Central Weather Bureau has said the mercury is likely to drop from Wednesday in northern parts of the island due to the arrival of cold air front.

The front will push temperatures down to around 15 degrees in some areas.

The cold air mass will begin to affect Taiwan on Tuesday night and linger in the north until Dec. 15.

It is forecast to weaken from late Friday, and the weather bureau said temperatures in the north will rise to about 26 degrees on Saturday, but another cold front is expected to arrive on Sunday.

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CPC has increased gasoline and diesel prices at the pump from this morning by NT$0.2 per liter.

The hikes bring to an end a seven-week decline in local fuel prices.

The state refiner said the increase is due to a hike in international crude oil prices last week after the United States and China agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade dispute, and Canada announcing plans to cut production next year to bolster prices.

International crude oil prices are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks, according to CPC.

CPC calculates its weekly fuel prices based on a weighted oil price formula made up of 70 percent Dubai crude and 30 percent Brent crude.

Based on that formula, the average oil price rose by US$1.19 to stand at US$60.19 dollars a barrel last week.

Formosa Petrochemical announced similar price hikes at the pump from this morning.

Read Next: How Are South Koreans Reacting to the Country's 'Molka' Spycam Epidemic?

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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