A group of U.S.-based China academics urged U.S. President Donald Trump in a report published on Tuesday to help Taiwan develop asymmetrical warfare capabilities in the face of potential Chinese aggression.

The report, released by the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S.-China policy, advised Trump to develop a strategy to assist Taiwan in its response to an expansionist Beijing while also remaining open to dialogue and cooperation with China.

It comes on a busy day for cross-Strait policy talk. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which serves as a de facto unofficial U.S. embassy, reaffirmed its refusal to support a referendum on Taiwanese independence in opposition to a proposed plebiscite from the pro-independence Formosa Alliance. In response, a foreign ministry spokesperson said Taiwan would be cautious in handling referendum measures.


Credit: Reuters / TPG

Foreign minister Joseph Wu.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) reiterated that unification with China is not an option for Taiwan in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

There have been rumblings of shifts in the cross-Strait status quo – notably, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to speak to a joint session of Congress. However, it seems that 2019 is set to deliver much of the same as what we saw in 2018 – including Chinese pressure on airlines not to recognize Taiwan, even if their planes are already in the sky.

China Airlines pilots extend strike

Taiwan-based China Airlines has met only one of the five demands made by over 600 striking pilots, meaning the strike will continue for a seventh day today.

The Taoyuan Union of Pilots and China Airlines managed to reach a preliminary agreement on changes to pilot deployment following almost 11 hours of negotiations yesterday. Negotiations are scheduled to continue at 10 a.m. today, the Taipei Times reports.

The airline has canceled 107 flights thus far, affecting about 18,000 passengers, due to its failure to reach an agreement with pilots who are asking for a reduction in work hours, an increase in bonus pay, the replacement of poorly performing managers and a ban on retaliation against union members.


Credit: lasta29 / CC BY 2.0

The strike goes on.

2 students in critical condition after university fire

16 people were rescued and two students are in critical condition after a fire broke out at Chinese Culture University in the suburbs on Taipei on Wednesday.

The Taipei fire department said the two students were found unconscious in a bathroom and were rushed to nearby hospitals. One of the students had no vital signs but was resuscitated, according to Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital.

14 people were rescued from a sixth floor balcony with the use of a ladder truck, according to the fire department.

Other news from Taiwan:

► Beijing is intensifying its efforts to persuade Pacific Island nations to recognize Beijing rather than Taipei. (ABC)

► Taiwan has cut its GDP growth outlook to 2.27 percent – more bad news for those concerned about the island’s sluggish economy. (Nikkei Asian Review)

► Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong are asking the government to work out an extradition arrangement with Taiwan, which welcomed the proposal. (South China Morning Post)

► The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has appointed a “slash group” to improve the party’s mood and creativity. (Taipei Times)

► A doctor is warning of the effects of beer consumption, weighing in on a government plan to increase drunk driving penalties in Taiwan. (CNA)

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Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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