Trending in Taiwan Today

Trending in Taiwan Today
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What you need to know

Today's biggest stories from around Taiwan.

Law targeting Uber passes

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Amendments to the Highway Act that would increase maximum fines against Uber and allow the government to stop Uber’s operations in Taiwan have passed the third reading at the Legislative Yuan today, state-run Central News Agency reports. The amendments would increase the fines against “illegal transport operators” from NT$50,000 to NT$150,000 (US$1,500 to US$4,600) to NT$100,000 to NT$25,000,000 (US$3,100 to US$780,000).

The Ministry of Transportation said that amendments to separate articles within the act would take up to six months, and that the new penalties against Uber would not come into effect until mid-2017. The amendments also include a reward for members of the public who report Uber drivers.

Think tank wary on latest South China Sea militarization

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China is likely arming all seven of its reclaimed reefs in the South China Sea, says Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). The installations appear to be anti-aircraft guns, which are capable of detecting and destroying incoming missiles and enemy aircraft, the Taipei Times reports.

The think tank said it had begun tracking the construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the contested Spratly Islands since June, Al-Jazeera reports.

China has insisted it is not militarizing its islands in the South China Sea, but it has also been conducting air force drills over the Okinawa and Miyako islands as well as over the oceans surrounding Taiwan. The Chinese Air Force has released a statement saying the flight drills are routine and “lawful, reasonable and fair,” the Taipei Times reports.

Tsai a top global thinker

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been named a global thinker of 2016 “for poking the bear” by U.S.-based Foreign Policy magazine. The magazine lauded Tsai for making Taiwan’s sovereignty her top priority — despite the controversy it has caused. Foreign Policy also notes that Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua attacked Tsai for being single and claimed her “political style and tactics are often emotional, personalized and extreme.”

Presidential office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tsai’s nomination was a “recognition not just of the president but also the efforts of the Taiwanese people in the areas of democracy and freedom,” CNA reports.

Tsai was named a global thinker in the “decision-makers” category, alongside U.S. democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “for going high when others go low,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “designing a humane refugee policy,” Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon for “weathering Brexit,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for “keeping doors ajar.”

Chinese media stoke cross-Strait tension

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Chinese state-run media Global Times has published an op-ed on Dec. 14 urging for the use of military force to push for the reunification of Taiwan and China amidst the uproar surrounding U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments on the necessity of the “one China” policy and his phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

“It is possible for Washington to activate the Taiwan card in a crude manner at any moment. The tacit understanding and hidden rules made between China and the U.S. over the Taiwan Straits can hardly be respected for long,” the Global Times writes.

The op-ed claims that China is responsible for the future of Taiwan, and “it might be time for the Chinese mainland to reformulate its Taiwan policy, make the use of force as the main option and carefully prepare for it.” The op-ed goes on to say, “the Chinese mainland should display its resolution to recover Taiwan by force. Peace does not belong to cowards.”

Kissinger weighs in on Trump and one-China


Henry Kissinger has chided U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for “making Taiwan a key issue at the beginning of his dialogue with China” for taking a congratulatory call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The 93-year-old former national security adviser and Secretary of State to U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford called Trump’s actions “unwise” and “not the most efficient,” Bloomberg reports.

However, Kissinger remains hopeful and confident that the president-elect will uphold the “one China” policy and continue the U.S.’ unofficial relationship with Taiwan. “Every president of the U.S. since 1971 and both parties have accepted this framework and once that framework is studied, I do not expect it to be overturned,” said Kissinger.

Kissinger has visited Trump in his New York offices as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing, although he will not disclose what advice he gave to Xi, Bloomberg reports.

Animal rights concerns as Taiwan forges ahead on no-kill policy

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The implementation of a “no-kill” policy at public animal shelters in Taiwan will begin next year as scheduled, despite twelve cities and counties warning that they would be unable to comply, the Council of Agriculture Minister Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) said yesterday, CNA reports.

Overcrowded public shelters have made it hard to avoid euthanizing stray animals, but Tsao said shelters that faced difficulties would receive assistance from the central government. So far, only New Taipei City, Kaohsiung County and Taitung County have successfully ended the practice of euthanasia at public shelters in these areas.

The Animal Protection Act was amended in February 2015 to end the practice of putting down animals held at public shelters for more than 12 days and is scheduled to start on Feb. 4, 2017. Animals Taiwan board member Liza Milne criticized the policy, which she says might lead to outbreaks of highly contagious diseases like parvovirus and distemper. “The gradual steps that lead up to being a no-kill country have not been taken,” said Milne.

Editor: Edward White