Taiwan News: MoFA Urges Fake News Fines, End to CKS Memorial Honor Guards?

Taiwan News: MoFA Urges Fake News Fines, End to CKS Memorial Honor Guards?
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The Transitional Justice Commission said the military honor guard at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei should be discontinued, as the complex remains a symbol of Taiwan's authoritarian past.

According to acting commission chair Yang Tsui (楊翠), removal of the honor guard will help promote "social communication" and show that "Taiwan attaches importance to human rights and democratic values."

Yang said the discontinuance of the honor guard should also be part of a wider revision of the way the complex is managed and it should host permanent exhibitions highlighting human rights and democracy.

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Credit: AP / Ng Han Guan
A member of the Taiwanese honor guard takes part in a change of duty ceremony at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.

The commission has proposed five guidelines for the transformation of the memorial hall. The guidelines include removing the statues of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), highlighting evidence of authoritarian rule and the people's opposition to such rule, and undertaking research and education related to human rights, democracy and rule of the law.

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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said his office will seek further legal recourse after the Nantou District Court rejected a request to fine a college student for spreading a rumor that was followed by the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Japan.

The college student was accused of spreading online rumors in September claiming that Taiwan nationals were left stranded at Kansai International Airport in Japan after Typhoon Jebi, while the Chinese embassy there sent 15 tour buses to evacuate its citizens.

The post sparked criticism of Taiwan's top envoy to Japan, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), along with its envoy to Osaka, with netizens saying they were not doing their jobs. However, the claims were later proven to be incorrect, as no vehicles were allowed into the area at the time.

In October, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said the Kansai Airport rumors originated from a content farm in Shanghai. Experts maintain that, overall, the large majority of disinformation in Taiwan is domestic in origin.

According to Wu, the ministry finds the court ruling regrettable and unacceptable and sends a message that people who spread such rumors will not held accountable.

The Nantou court said police failed to present enough evidence to prove the student violated Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act.

Earlier this year, the proposed extension of Article 63 to penalize the spread of "fake news" on the Internet irked press freedom advocates, including the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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Foreign Minister Wu also said the Japanese government has not yet responded to a request to say whether it will support Taiwan's efforts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The statement comes amid concern that passage of a referendum last month to maintain a ban on the import of Japanese food products from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster could stymie plans to join the Japan-led economic bloc.

According to Wu, the ministry is still trying to confirm the Japanese government's stance on the issue after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono warned last month that the decision to maintain the ban might hamper Taiwan's efforts to gain membership in the bloc.

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Credit: CC0
Joseph Wu, Taiwan's current foreign minister, speaks to reporters in June 2013.

Wu said the foreign ministry has asked the Japanese government to clearly state its position on the issue and is now awaiting a response, which is expected in the coming days.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership currently has 11 member economies and represents around 16-per cent of global economic output. Applications for new members are expected to begin next year.

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Premier William Lai (賴清德) will oversee the first meeting of a new African swine fever central epidemic command center later today.

The center has been established as the government seeks to take action to stop the spread of the virus into Taiwan from China.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has called the spread of African swine fever a national security issue and asked the public not to bring meat products into the country to protect Taiwan's pig farming industry.

The government is scheduled to hold a nationwide African swine fever drill next Wednesday as part of its prevention and control measures.

The Council of Agriculture has also announced stiffer fines for people caught smuggling meat into Taiwan to prevent the spread of African swine fever and offenders now face fines of up to NT$1 million (US$32,415).

The fines apply to people smuggling meat into Taiwan from areas affected by the African swine fever virus over the past three years, including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Russia and several European countries.

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Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) accused China of mismanaging the outbreak of African swine fever, saying Beijing's failure to contain the virus could result in its affecting Taiwan's pig farming sector.

According to Chen, China appears to have lost control of the epidemic, which has forced Taiwan to step up its own management and inspection measures.

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Credit: Reuters / Stringer
Workers in protective suits are seen at a checkpoint on a road leading to a village near a farm where African swine fever was detected, in Fangshan district of Beijing, China on Nov. 23, 2018.

Chen said the council has requested China hold bilateral talks on measures to combat African swine fever on three separate occasions and has also called on Beijing to ban e-commerce platforms from selling foreign pork products. However, Beijing has yet to respond to any of those requests.

African swine fever has now spread to 22 provinces, cities and areas in China since the outbreak was first reported in early August and authorities here in Taiwan believe the virus could decimate the island's pig-farming industry if it enters Taiwan.

Taiwan's pig-farming industry is worth an estimated NT$150 billion (US$4.86 billion) annually.

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The Legislature's Budget Center said some 2,000 people from countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania who entered Taiwan on visa free status between August 1, 2016 and March 31 of this year are unaccounted for.

Citing data from the National Audit Office, the center says as of March 31, 1,946 people had overstayed their visas and remain in Taiwan illegally.

According to the center, there are no exit records for the visitors from the 18 countries listed in the government's New Southbound Policy and their whereabouts are unknown.

Officials also say that 1,441 visitors from the 10 Southeast Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand, India and other South Asian countries were found to have used the documents of another person to remain in Taiwan, while 606 were found to be working illegally here.

The center called on the government to reevaluate the impact of its visa regulations on Taiwan's tourism and security, saying the results should be used as reference in deciding whether to maintain its visa-free policies for certain countries.

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The number of Taiwanese choosing to work overseas is continuing to grow, with China being the top destination, followed by Southeast Asia and the United States.

According to government figures, 662,000 Taiwanese worked overseas in 2009, and that number rose to over 700,000 in 2013 and to 736,000 in 2017, an annual increase of 1.1 percent.

The government insists the rise in numbers does not mean Taiwan's brain drain is worsening because the number of employees in Taiwan has also grown during the same period.

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Credit: Stefan Fussan / CC BY-SA 2.0
Taiwanese workers continue to look abroad for higher wages and better career opportunities.

Officials say globalization means it's natural that companies extend their reach to overseas markets and invest in other countries, which leads to sending workers abroad.

Last year, 405,000 Taiwanese worked in China, accounting for 55 percent of Taiwan's nationals working overseas.

Another 109,000 people were working in Southeast Asian countries and 101,000 were working in the United States.

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Acer will begin using a government test facility at an industrial park in Tainan in the first quarter of next to carry out research and development tests for driverless cars.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Applied Research Laboratories to make use of its 1.75-hectare test site at the Shalun Green Energy Science City.

Acer unveiled a self-driving concept car in September in collaboration with Yulon Group. The company says the test area will help it integrate its expertise in artificial intelligence and the cloud with Yulon's self-developed open vehicle platform.

The test area can simulate real road conditions and street views in Taiwan to provide 13 types of driving scenarios and will enable the vehicles to collect more diverse data from real-time positioning, cameras, and light detection and ranging sensors.

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Taipower said the number one reactor at the Third Nuclear Power Plant has been shut down for maintenance after an alarm went off indicating that lubricant oil levels for the reactor's cooling pump motor were too low.

According to Taipower, the reactor was turned off for maintenance as a safety precaution even though the temperature of the reactor's cooling pump motor was within an acceptable range for safe operations.

The oil was responsible for lubricating and cooling down motor bearings.

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Credit: CEphoto / Uwe Aranas
Taiwan's Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant in Hengchun, Pingtung County.

Taipower said there were no radioactive-related abnormalities and the shutdown will not impact power supplies because power usage is relatively low during the winter months.

The incident is the fourth time an alarm has been raised at the Maanshan Plant in Pingtung County over the last four months.

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Deputy Economics Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) is warning that the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China is expected to slow the pace of Taiwan's GDP growth next year.

According to Gong, Taiwan's GDP will continue to grow next year, but the pace of growth is likely to be slower than it was in 2018.

Gong said the trade dispute has led many foreign buyers to put their purchasing plans on hold, in particular in the machinery sector, as manufacturers are hesitant to expand their production capacity amid rising uncertainty.

The government lowered its forecasts for Taiwan's 2018 and 2019 GDP growth by 0.03 percentage points and 0.14 percentage points, respectively, at the end of November from a previous forecast in August.

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A South Korean national has died while paragliding in Pingtung County.

County emergency service officials say the 49-year-old was rushed to a nearby hospital with no vital signs immediately following the accident, but was pronounced dead on arrival there.

According to the owner of paragliding school in Sandimen where the accident occurred, the victim was in the air for around 10 to 20 minutes when his parachute collapsed and he fell about 100 meters into a hillside.

The victim is believed to have held a paraglider's license that showed him to have over five years of experience, or the equivalent of 1,000 hours of flight time.

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Declassified files show that China's former Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping was annoyed when the U-S Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) nearly four decades ago.

The files show that Deng said the move would make the Taiwan president "very cocky."

The Taiwan Relations Act was signed into law on April 10, 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, four months after Washington announced a shift of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

While the severance of formal ties by the U.S. triggered protests here in Taiwan, the signing of the TRA, which provides the legal basis for unofficial relations, angered Beijing.

According to U.S. State Department declassified files, Deng complained about the TRA in a 1979 meeting with then U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale in Beijing.

The files quote Deng as saying the agreement "has tended to make Chiang Ching-kuo very cocky" and "caused his tail to raise very high."

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Read More: EXPLAINER: How Deng Xiaoping Shaped Modern China

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President Tsai has sent a congratulatory message to Pope Francis on his 82nd birthday and invited him to visit Taiwan.

Tsai's message said she was honored to express her heartfelt congratulations to the Pope on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China and wished him a happy birthday and good health.

Tsai also wrote that Taiwan is grateful for the pope's longstanding devotion to helping and aiding the weak and the needy and protecting human rights and she went on to describe the pope as an important source of inspiration for Taiwan's people.

According to Tsai, the people of Taiwan see Pope Francis as a major source of energy, and they hope he can visit the island to provide inspiration, compassion and spiritual guidance.

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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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