Taiwan News: Govt Hits Back After PLA Aircraft & Warships Sighted Near Taiwan

Taiwan News: Govt Hits Back After PLA Aircraft & Warships Sighted Near Taiwan
Credit: Reuters / China Stringer (09.19.2016)
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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said any military actions that escalate tension in the region and damage relations between Taiwan and China are not welcomed by the international community.

The statement comes after the Ministry of National Defense confirmed that a number of Chinese aircraft, along with two naval vessels, were operating near Taiwan Tuesday. The ministry said it spotted Xian H-6 bombers, Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft and Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, but did not comment on the type of vessels.

According to Huang, it is irresponsible to launch any military actions that can disturb security and stability in the region and negatively impact cross-strait relations.

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Credit: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense
Chinese Xian H-6 bombers (seen above) were spotted operating near Taiwan yesterday.

The defense ministry confirmed that Chinese aircraft flew over the Bashi Channel on their way to the Western Pacific Ocean for a routine far-seas exercise.

Two Chinese navy vessels were also been detected traveling outside Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone off the southeast coast.

Defense officials say they are closely monitoring the Chinese movements and have response measures in place to ensure national security.

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Nine of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have spoken out against the island's exclusion from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 24th Conference of the Parties, which took place in Poland earlier this month.

Acting Environment Minister Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said 15 diplomatic allies also sent a letter to the organizers of the conference saying Taiwan should not be excluded from the meeting.

Although Taiwan was not allowed to participate in the COP-24 meeting, Tsai headed a delegation of representatives from different agencies to Poland. They held talks there with other participants on the sidelines of the event.

According to Tsai, the delegation held 38 bilateral meetings with representatives from Taiwan's allies and also met with environmental ministers and lawmakers from several other countries.

Tsai said the delegation highlighted Taiwan's carbon reduction efforts in the energy, manufacturing, transportation, agricultural and environmental sectors.

Last week, Taiwan was ranked 56th out of 60 ranked countries by NGO Germanwatch in its 2019 Climate Risk Index, well behind high-emissions countries such as China and India. The NGO cited a "very low rating in the [Greenhouse Gas], Emissions, Renewables and Energy Use sections" and criticized government officials for a "very poor performance in domestic climate policy, leading to a very low rating in the Climate Policy category."

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Taiwan ranked 56th out of 60 on the climate index released by Germanwatch. (Credit: Twitter @Germanwatch)

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The government is extending its thanks the U.S. Congress for passing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which is aimed at enhancing American leadership in Asia and strengthening cooperation with regional partners, including Taiwan.

The bill seeks to enshrine a long-term strategic vision and comprehensive, multifaceted and principled U.S. policy for the "Indo-Pacific" that includes checking China's growing influence.

Section 209 of the bill reiterates U.S. commitment to Taiwan. It includes backing regular arms sales to Taiwan and encouraging diplomatic and defense contacts between the two sides in line with the Taiwan Relations Act and Six Assurances.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the bill represents further bipartisan support for enhanced Taiwan-U.S. relations following the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act earlier this year.

Read More: OPINION: Western Media Is Misreading the Taiwan Travel Act

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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged China not to conceal any facts about the spread of African swine fever there and to share real-time information about the outbreak.

Speaking to reporters at one of her now regular "hallway briefings," Tsai said Beijing is obliged to inform Taiwan of the latest developments, as the island cannot afford to be kept in dark about the swine fever outbreak.

Tsai also reminded travelers to protect the local pig farming sector and not bring meat products into Taiwan from countries where African swine fever outbreaks have been reported.

Taiwan and China agreed in 2009 to provide each other with information related to such outbreaks under the Cross-Strait Arrangement on Cooperation of Agricultural Product Quarantine and Inspection.

However, the Mainland Affairs Council said it has made three requests for talks with China on possible measures to guard against swine fever, but has not received any response.

Meanwhile, the Council of Agriculture has launched a center for disaster prevention and response to better coordinate preemptive measures against an African swine fever outbreak here in Taiwan.

The center held its first meeting Tuesday. Speaking after that meeting, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said pandemics "should be treated as a combat situation" and there should be no gaps in the prevention network.

Lai is slated to head a series of inspection tours of local pig farms in the coming days to ensure that biosecurity measures are being adopted. He said he also plans to personally check whether customs authorities are enforcing proper border controls to prevent the entry of African swine fever.

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Students from the National Taiwan University (NTU) have protested an on-campus talk by former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

Jiang was at the university at the invitation of the Department of Political Science and some 100 students surrounded the venue and began disrupting the talk mid-way through.

They accused Jiang of initiating a police action to clear members of the Sunflower Movement from the Executive Yuan in March of 2014.

The students also managed to rig a projector screen in the lecture hall with images of a documentary about the Sunflower student movement.

Jiang is seen by some as being instrumental in ordering riot police to forcibly remove student protesters from the cabinet building.

Over 100 people were injured in the Mar. 23, 2014 police action and authorities made 61 arrests.

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A delegation led by Shanghai's executive vice mayor, Zhou Bo, is expected to arrive in Taipei later today to attend the 2018 Taipei-Shanghai Twin-City Forum.

The forum is scheduled to run through Friday.

The delegation is expected to visit electronics manufacturing company Delta Electronics shortly after its arrival and attend a welcome reception this evening, hosted by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (L) poses with Yang Xiong, then mayor of Shanghai, as they attend a city forum in Shanghai in August 2015.

According to the Taipei City government, this year's forum will focus on the theme of a circular economy and cooperation between the two cities.

Other issues on the agenda are related to culture, environmental protection and urban renovation.

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President Tsai said the central government will provide assistance to Taoyuan City to expedite it's infrastructure and public projects.

The statement comes after Tsai held talks with Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Cheng briefed Tsai about proposals for major development projects, including an infrastructure upgrade to boost tourism, additional public housing units, and a museum and concert hall complex.

The mayor says he hopes the president will oversee the progress of all those projects.

Tsai is currently meeting with the mayors-elect of the six special municipalities following the Nov. 24 local government elections.

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The number one reactor at the third nuclear power plant is now back online after being shutdown earlier this week for maintenance work.

According to the Atomic Energy Council, the 951-megawatt reactor at the power plant in Pingtung County was restarted at 12:13 p.m. Tuesday.

The shutdown was initiated Monday after an alarm for low levels of lubricants in the reactor's cooling pump motor went off and Taipower said there were no radioactive-related abnormalities.

Drops of oil leakage were later found on a rubber hose that carried water to the reactor's cooling pump motor.

The reactor is expected to start producing and transmitting electricity again by today.

The incident was the fourth time an alarm has been raised at the Maanshan Plant over the last four months.

Read More: OPINION: KMT Fukushima Food Ban Drives a Wedge Between Taiwan & Japan

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

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The National Immigration Agency said the government is seeking to revise the Immigration Act to better protect the rights of foreign spouses of Taiwanese citizens after a divorce.

According to the draft bill, immigrants who divorce their Taiwanese spouses on grounds of domestic violence and do not remarry will have the right to remain in Taiwan on an Alien Resident Card (ARC).

The same rule will apply to foreign spouses who have to care for their minor children or have visitation rights following a divorce.

Divorced foreign spouses who have left Taiwan will be allowed to return to care for their minor children and to apply for ARCs if they have custody of their children or visitation rights.

The move comes after immigrants' rights groups called for better protection of the rights and interests of new immigrants.

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The Council on Foreign Relations has included a possible crisis between the United States and China over Taiwan for the first time in its annual Preventive Priorities Survey.

The report classifies potential crises into three tiers, and a possible U.S.-China crisis over Taiwan was put in Tier II. That means its impact on U.S. interests would be high, but the likelihood of it happening in 2019 is low.

The report saw only a potential contingency involving the U.S. and China in the South China Sea as a Tier I priority, which means the impact is high and the likelihood is moderate, meaning it has an even chance of happening in 2019.

The possibility of a similar confrontation in the East China Sea involving China and Japan, which had been a high priority in recent surveys, was considered unlikely in 2019.

The report also say China is expected to intensify its political and economic pressure on Taiwan ahead of the island's presidential election in 2020.

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The Centers for Disease Control said 124 cases of severe seasonal influenza with complications have been reported since October 1.

The number is the second highest in the past five flu seasons and 90 percent of the cases were reported in patients who had not received vaccinations against influenza.

Health officials say a total of 61,628 people sought outpatient and emergency treatment for flu-like symptoms at hospitals and clinics islandwide last week.

Of that number, 25 patients developed serious flu complications over that same week, 23 of whom had not received flu vaccines.

The flu season starts in October, escalates around November, and reaches a peak by the end of the year or around the Lunar New Year Period in late January to mid February.

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The Danhai Light Rail system is set to begin operations this Sunday.

According to New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), the opening of the line marks a milestone for his administration.

Initial operations will be on the 7.3 kilometer the Green Mountain Line that has 11 stations, all of which feature artworks by local artist Jimmy Liao.

When completed, the Danhai Light Rail line will span 13.99 kilometers and have a total of 20 stations.

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Credit: Jason Huang / CC BY-SA 4.0
A Danhai Light Rail train seen in October 2018.

Construction on the transit system began in November of 2014 with the goal of easing traffic congestion in Tamsui District.

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Hsinchu has retained its title of Taiwan's happiest city for the third consecutive year, while Taitung County has jumped to second place.

The survey conducted by the Economic Daily News and Nan Shan Life Insurance company shows the 2018 national happiness index of Hsinchu City reached 78.6. That was the highest among Taiwan's 22 cities and counties and the highest score recorded in the poll since it was first conducted in 2012.

Taitung County improved the most of all the counties and cities, moving up 10 notches from last year in to second this year's survey.

Hsinchu County and Yilan County also improved, taking the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively, on the happiness index.

However, Taichung fell six places from last year to stand at 13th and Kaohsiung fell four places from last year to stand at 17th.

Taipei fell two notches from last year to sixth, while Taoyuan dropped one notch to ninth.

New Taipei remained in 11th place, while Tainan advanced two places to 12th.

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Police in New Taipei's Xindian District say they've been receiving phone calls from people seeking to donate money to a young delivery van driver who crashed into four Ferraris this past weekend.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning, when the 20-year old allegedly fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his vehicle into the four Ferraris, that were parked on a road near the Danlan Suspension Bridge in the city's Shiding District.

There were no injuries and police say the delivery driver had not been drinking.

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Credit: Wikicommons
Donations are pouring in to help a delivery driver who crashed into four parked Ferraris.

According to the Ferrari dealership in Taipei, the four Italian supercars are worth over NT$60 million (US$1.95 million) and the estimated cost to repair the damage is around NT$10 million (US$324,500).

The New Taipei Social Welfare Department said a special bank account has now been created for members of the public who wish to make donations to help the driver.

Read Next: No Consensus, Mass Confusion After Taiwan's Energy Referendums

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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