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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday he has never drifted away from believing in the need to reduce tension and conflict between Taiwan and China.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Shanghai-Taipei Twin-City Forum, Ko said "Shanghai has its own stance, while Taipei also has its own, and that's why the two sides need to conduct negotiations."
According to Ko, he is seeking the maximum benefits and a feasible solution acceptable to the majority when tackling cross-strait issues, and he says he told members of the Shanghai delegation of the need to use dialogue to replace confrontation.
Ko also said as that terms such as "1992 Consensus" and "the two sides of the [Taiwan] Strait are one family" have been deemed pro-China propaganda in Taiwan, there is now a need to coin new terms acceptable to the people on both sides.
Ko's comments came after visiting Shanghai Executive Vice Mayor Zhou Bo (周波) (cover photo, back left) said the "1992 Consensus" serves as the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges and includes city-to-city interaction between the two sides.
Zhou has now returned to China after attending Thursday's session of the twin-city forum.
Officials from the two cities signed three agreement Thursday covering sports, community and film exchanges.
A survey by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank shows a majority of respondents would not support President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) if she ran for re-election in 2020.
According to the poll, 66.3 percent of respondents said they would not vote for Tsai is she chooses to run again in 2020, while a mere 22.4 percent said they would support her re-election.
Respondents to the poll said their preferred Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate for the 2020 election is Premier William Lai (賴清德), with 56.5 percent of respondents saying they would for him.
The poll also found that Tsai's approval rating has dropped to 19 percent since the last survey in July.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated Taiwan's claim over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
The move comes after the Japanese government, which calls them the Senkaku Islands, lodged a protest with the ministry over record number of Taiwanese fishing vessels operating near the islands that are claimed by both sides.
Reports said Japanese coastguard authorities have found 310 Taiwanese fishing boats "illegally" operating near the islands this year, a figure that is three times that reported last year.
The Japan Coast Guard issued the protest to Taiwan over the intrusions via diplomatic channels.
Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the Diaoyu Islands are the inherent territory of the Republic of China, but Taipei will continue to engage in rational dialogue with the Japanese side over the matter.
The government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) also claims the islands.
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Taiwan's only two options for the future are to maintain the status quo tied to the "1992 Consensus" and "unifying with China."
Speaking at an event to promoting the publication of his biography titled "A Memoir of Eight Years in Office," Ma said independence is not possible, and the only option is whether to unify with China or not."
According to Ma, unification can only be achieved "in a democratic and peaceful manner" through a referendum, but no specific time frame should be given on such a vote.
Ma also questioned President Tsai Ing-wen's approach to cross-strait ties, saying her administration's siding with the U.S. and Japan in an alliance apparently aimed at confronting China is not in the interests of Taiwan.
He went on to say Tsai has failed to earn goodwill from China despite the adopted a policy of maintaining the status quo because she refuses to accept the "1992 Consensus" which is a central part of the status quo.
The biography was written by former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) and is based on his interviews with Ma.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang responded by saying Ma's comments send the wrong message to the world and said Ma appeared to cast Taiwan as approving of Chinese suppression.
The Council of Agriculture said Chinese sausage products brought into Taiwan by a passenger traveling from Macau to the Kaohsiung International Airport have tested positive for African swine fever.
It is the sixth time a meat product from China has tested positive for the virus.
Official said customs officials have uncovered 20 cases of meat smuggling since the government increased fines on Tuesday.
Fines totaling NT$1.24 million (US$40,270) have so far been issued to passengers attempting to bring meat products into Taiwan over the past four days.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are urging the Civil Aeronautics Administration to ban in-flight meals from containing pork on all flights from countries where African swine fever has been reported.
DPP lawmaker Hsiao Bih-khim (蕭美琴) said even if the administration doesn't have the authority to enforce such a restriction, it should at least ask all airlines to comply.
Hsiao noted that a netizen had complained that some flights to Taiwan from Hong Kong were serving rice with pork chops.
The Presidential Office is expressing its thanks to the U.S. Congress for passing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which includes Taiwan clauses.
The bill cleared the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives this month.
It includes a section reiterating U.S. commitment to Taiwan, including backing regular arms sales and encouraging mutual visits by high-level officials between the two countries.
The bill will now be submitted to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign, but it automatically becomes law after 10 days, even if Trump does not sign it.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the bill's Taiwan clauses demonstrate the U.S.' longstanding support for the island and Washington remains Taiwan's most important friend in the international community.
According to Huang, Taiwan will continue working with the U.S. and like-minded countries in the region to contribute to peace, stability and well-being in the "Indo-Pacific" region.
China's former top cross-strait negotiator Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) has paid tribute to late Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), who died earlier this month at the age of 85.
Chen, who once headed the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, paid a five-minute visit to a memorial service in Taipei. He observed a period of silence in honor of Chiang.
Chen was greeted at the memorial service former foundation Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) and other former officials.
The Chinese official says he came to Taiwan to his respects in his capacity as a private individual. Chen is scheduled to return to China today.
Chiang died on Dec. 10 of multiple organ failure at the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei.
The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation says MRT services will run for 42 hours from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, in order to make it more convenient for people celebrating the new year holiday.
The MRT will start operating from 6 a.m. on New Year's Eve and the extended service will end at midnight on New Year's Day.
The metro company is advising people to to avoid the Taipei City Hall and Taipei 101 stations, which are expected to attract the largest crowds.
Crowd control measures will be implemented at both stations due to their being the closest to the Taipei City government's main New Year's Eve events.
Organizers of the Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks display have said the event will include an animated LED light show, featuring nine themes showcasing some of Taiwan's top attractions and achievements.
The themes will be cuisine and night markets, people and professions, geography and environment, medical expertise, technology and contract manufacturing, fruit kingdom, freedom and democracy, religion, and tolerance.
According to the Taipei Financial Center Corporation, the animated light show will be projected onto the exterior of Taipei 101 from the 35th to the 90th floors, using an LED lighting system called the T-Pad.
This year's New Year's Eve fireworks show at the Taipei 101 will be six minutes long, one minute longer than last year.
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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