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The biggest stories around Taiwan today.
Taiwan loses diplomatic ally after it 'played both sides'
Taiwan is today mourning the loss of diplomatic relations with former ally the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. The tiny West African island nation, which has a population of 178,000, is the first country to severe ties with Taiwan since Gambia, in November 2013.
China, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with countries that recognize Taiwan, welcomed the news. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (華春瑩) was quoted in state-media saying that São Tomé and Príncipe was “back on the right track of the one-China principle.”
Taiwan will close its embassy in São Tomé and Príncipe, recall its technical mission and end all bilateral cooperation projects, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said. The ministry said Taiwan regrets an “abrupt and unfriendly decision by São Tomé and Príncipe government.”
“The government of São Tomé and Príncipe, however, with excessive financial difficulties, and demands beyond those the [Taiwan] could meet, has ignored 20 years of friendly diplomatic relations, playing both sides of the Taiwan Strait while holding out for the highest bidder.”
MoFA also noted that since diplomatic relations were established in May 1997, the ROC has actively assisted São Tomé and Príncipe in advancing its national development, with bilateral cooperation covering such areas as public health – particularly malaria alleviation – agriculture, infrastructure, energy and education.
Taiwan now has 21 diplomatic allies remaining. In Latin America and the Caribbean: Belize; the Dominican Republic; El Salvador; the Republic of Guatemala; Haiti; the Republic of Honduras; Nicaragua; the Republic of Panama; Paraguay; the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis; St. Lucia; and, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In the Pacific Islands; Kiribati; the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Nauru; the Republic of Palau; Solomon Islands; and, Tuvalu. In Africa: Burkina Faso; and, the Kingdom of Swaziland. And in Europe, the Vatican.
The Brookings Institution noted recently that for years, Latin American countries have played China and Taiwan off one another off one another “to negotiate preferential trade, financial, and other assistance, with Costa Rica being the latest example of winning new investments in exchange for its recognition of Beijing in 2007.”
Brookings also said there has been something of a “truce” between China and Taiwan in their competing in the region during the recent years of “calmer” relations across the Taiwan Strait. However, it also noted there had been speculation since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the Democratic Progressive Party took power from the more China-friendly Kuomintang this year, competition could “could heat up again.”
President Tsai to visit Central America
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will be making a nine-day trip to four of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in Central America starting Jan. 7, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday. The countries Tsai will be visiting include Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山) said Tsai will lead a delegation of more than 90 people, including National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維), Overseas Community Affairs Council Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興), deputy heads of government agencies, lawmakers and business people, reports the Taipei Times.
Earlier this month, Lee dismissed rumors of Tsai making a stop in New York City to visit U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
New labor laws come into effect on Friday
The Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's parliament, earlier this month passed a set of amendments to the Labor Standards Act that were proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The amended act will be carried out starting Dec. 23.
The amendments cancel seven national holidays and stipulate "employees are entitled to two days off every week, with one being a mandatory day off and the other a flexible rest day, on which employees can be asked to work and receive overtime payment," reports Taipei Times. The amendments have long been controversial and were passed after hours of negotiation and scuffle between DPP and Kuomintang (KMT) legislators in early December.
Government ready to offer NT$100 billion credit line in New Southbound Policy
The Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) said Tuesday that the government next year will offer a total of NT$100 billion (US$3.12 billion) in credit for local businesses to expand or invest in the 18 countries targeted in the New Southbound Policy. The 18 countries include Australia, New Zealand, 10 ASEAN countries and six South Asian countries, reports Taiwan News.
Taiwan Buddhist charity receives Philippines Presidential Award
The Tzu Chi Foundation on Monday was presented the Philippines Presidential Award for the help it has provided Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan, reports CNA. Twenty two other organizations and individuals also received the awards this year. The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan applied for the award for Tzu Chi.
Editor: Edward White