Taiwan News: Japan-Taiwan Maritime Talks Begin, Kuan Payments Scrutinized

Taiwan News: Japan-Taiwan Maritime Talks Begin, Kuan Payments Scrutinized
Credit: Reuters / TPG
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The annual Taiwan-Japan maritime affairs cooperation talks will begin in Tokyo today.

This year's talks are expected to cover such issues as marine resource conservation, marine scientific research, emergency and rescue operations and fishing rights in waters near the Okinotori Atoll.

Taiwan's delegation includes the secretary-general of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, the Fisheries Agency, the Coast Guard Administration, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation is reportedly seeking to sign a cooperation agreement aimed at reducing illegal fishing by Taiwanese fishermen.

This week's talks are the third maritime affairs cooperation meeting between the two sides since the mechanism was launched in 2016.

The meeting has been scheduled for one day, but the previous rounds of talks all lasted two days.

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The Control Yuan said it could open an investigation into allegations that National Taiwan University president-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) wrote articles under a pseudonym while he served as a minister without portfolio under the Ma administration.

Kuan was allegedly paid NT$600,000 (US$19,485) a year for the articles that were published by Next Magazine.

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Credit: 關鍵評論網 羊正鈺
NTU president-elect Kuan Chung-ming.

The government watchdog says if it's proven Kuan accepted payments while he served as head of the Economic Planning and Development Council and head of the National Development Council, he will have violated the Civil Servant Work Act.

That act bans civil servants from having a side job while serving in public office and according to the Control Yuan, Kuan could face impeachment for his actions.

A lawyer for Kuan said while his client did write columns for the publication, all his earnings were reported to tax authorities and the writing was not a fixed source of income.

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The Tourism Bureau said 409 of the 566 foreign tourists who arrived in Taiwan as part of a special visa program and who failed to leave the country are from Vietnam.

The statement comes after 152 Vietnamese tourists went missing after arriving in Taiwan on group visas last week.

The visas were obtained as part of a special visa program was launched in November 2015.

The program made it easier for citizens of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Brunei to visit Taiwan, by scrapping visa fees for groups of at least five tourists from the six countries.

The government says it has now shortened the length of visas issued to Vietnamese passport holders from 30 to 14 days due to the sharp increase in the number of Vietnamese absconding.

Officials also says Vietnam's representative office in Taiwan is aware of the problem and the Vietnamese government has been asked to improve controls at its end.

Meanwhile, representatives from the island's travel agencies say they are victims of inadequate government reviews of visa applications and poor law enforcement in cases of tourist runaways.

The head of the Travel Agent Association said the government needs tighten its tourism code to curb illegal immigration through package tours and come up with effective measures when serious incidents occur. The chairman of the Taiwan International Tourist Aid Rescue Association said he believes human trafficking rings are involved in some of the cases involving missing tourists.

Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said his office will tighten reviews of visa applications and discuss the possibility of conducting random background checks of individual tourists with the National Immigration Agency.

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The Ministry of Education said eight international students from countries covered by the New Southbound Policy have gone missing over the past year.

The universities in which the eight students are enrolled have reported the cases to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency. Officials say authorities are working to track their movements.

The statements come amid concern that the launch an international industry-university cooperation program with countries covered by the policy has resulted in people issued with student permits actually taking jobs illegally here.

The education ministry says it approved applications from 5,680 students to attend 174 classes under the cooperation program last year, while 6,030 students were allowed to attend 151 classes this year.

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Local heavy metal band Chthonic has live streamed a show to a music festival in Hong Kong after singer and lawmaker Freddy Lim (林昶佐) was denied a work visa to perform at the event.

Chthonic performed over Facebook Live with Canto-pop star Denise Ho (何韻詩) on the second to last day of the "On The Pulse Of" music festival.

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Credit: Freddy Lim / Facebook
Chthonic frontman and New Power Party (NPP) legislator Freddy Lim.

Chthonic was originally slated to perform live at the four-day festival, which was held at the at Hong Kong Science Park.

However, immigration officials in the former British territory refused to issue him with a work visa on the grounds that he did not possess a special skill, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in the special administrative region.

Lim told his band's fans that he was sorry for not having "super powers," but he was still honored to play at the event, albeit via live streaming.

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Deputy Agriculture Minister Li Tui-chih (李退之) said his office has made five formal requests to China for updates about the outbreak of African swine fever there, but has received no response from Beijing.

The statement comes after China's Taiwan Affairs Office played down the outbreak at a press conference, claiming that it has not reached a "massive scale."=

An office spokesman admitted there is a cross-strait agreement for the reporting information about agricultural and food safety issues, but claimed Beijing is not obliged to report swine fever outbreaks because Taiwan does not import pork from China.

The spokesman then went on to claim that the two sides had ceased to exchange information about such outbreaks following a personnel change in Taiwan's Rural Development Foundation in 2017.

The deputy agriculture minister is dismissing Beijing claims, saying African swine fever has now spread to 23 Chinese provinces or regions, and the comments about personnel changes are aimed "confusing public opinion."

The semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation said even though Taiwan does not import pork from China, Beijing should still report swine fever outbreaks to Taipei because it constitutes "safety and health information."

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The Council of Agriculture said tests have found that six dead pigs dumped in a Hualien township were negative for African swine fever.

The carcasses were found abandoned in a gutter under a bridge in Hualien's Shoufeng Township and the discovery had sparked fears of a possible outbreak in the area.

However, animal health officials say no trace of the virus was found and tests have also confirmed the pigs did not die of foot-and-mouth disease.

Officials say further tests are now being carried out to determine the exact cause of death.

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Another Chinese national has been fined NT$200,000 (US$6,495) after being caught attempting to bring shredded pork muffins into the country at Taoyuan International Airport.

According to customs officials, the fine was issued after the food products were discovered in the hand luggage of a passenger arriving from Ningbo.

Customs personnel say several other tourists were fined the same amount earlier this week for trying to bring in pork pies, pork sausages, and duck meat.

According to the government, a total of 54 people were stopped for trying to bring in meat products from Dec. 18 to 25. Thirteen of them were fined NT$200,000.

The fines are part of government efforts to prevent African swine fever entering Taiwan.

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The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) against his prison sentence for corruption.

Gao was found guilty of influence peddling and receiving a NT$500,000 (US$16,240) political donation by the High Court in a second retrial related to a 2006 case centering on a land deal in Taichung.

The case was related to Gao's involvement in a Taichung-based company's efforts to lease a plot of land belonging to the Ministry of Finance's National Property Administration.

The Supreme Court rejection of Gao's final appeal means he will now have to serve his full sentence of four years and six months.

The ruling also means Gao's legislative seat will be vacated and a by-election called within three months after the Central Election Commission receives notification of the judgment from the court.

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The Ministry of National Defense is denying reports that China has test fired a Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile in the Taiwan Strait.

Defense officials say that reports of the test originated in Japan and are "fake news" that has the potential to cause public concern.

According to the defense ministry, it regularly monitors China's military operations in the area and detected no missile launches.

S-400_Triumf-34
Credit: Vitaly V. Kuzmin / CC BY-SA 4.0
An S-400 Triumf missile defense system.

The statement comes after Kyodo news agency reported the Chinese missile flew 250 kilometers into the Taiwan Strait.

The news agency did not say where the missile was launched from.

China took delivery of its first S-400 advanced air defense missiles this past summer.

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Premier William Lai praised efforts by law enforcement agencies to crackdown on drugs following the seizure of 470 kilograms of heroin.

The Pingtung District Prosecutors' Office says the heroin were seized on Nov. 19 from a culvert on a beach beside Provincial Highway 26.

Ten people were detained in connection with the case.

Lai thanked prosecutors, police and coastal patrol authorities for their efforts, lauding their joint action in breaking the case.

The heroin was worth an estimated NT$6 billion (US$194.9 million) and it was the second-largest ever seizure of the drug in Taiwan by weight.

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The Ministry of Education said drug abuse among students was on the decline again this year, continuing a trend seen in recent years.

Officials say 487 students were identified as having abused drugs based on urine tests, police crackdowns or confessions in the first 10 months of 2018.

That number represents a noticeable drop from the past few years, down from 1,749 in 2015, 1,006 in 2016, and 1,022 in 2017.

The number of those using Class 2 and Class 3 drugs decreased the most.

Deputy Education Minister Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) said the focus of prevention efforts in the last two years has shifted to building a protection network to reduce the chances of students under 18 years old coming in contact with illegal drugs.

Lin said the central and local governments will continue to collaborate with the private sector, education officials and parents to increase awareness in the fight against drug abuse.

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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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