Trending in Taiwan Today

Trending in Taiwan Today
美麗的東沙環礁群島,像是太平洋上的指環|Photo Credit: NASA Johnson Space Center Public Domain

What you need to know

Check out today's biggest stories around Taiwan.

China’s aircraft carrier sails past Taiwan-controlled area in the South China Sea

東沙環礁群島 Pratas Islands
美麗的東沙環礁群島,像是太平洋上的指環|Photo Credit: NASA Johnson Space Center Public Domain

The Liaoning, accompanied by five other warships, sailed through the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) on Monday, said the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

The archipelago is a Taiwan-controlled area in the South China Sea, and according to the MND, the fleet reached 90 nautical miles south of Pingtung County’s Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), Taiwan’s southernmost tip.

The MND says it is closely monitoring the waters, and according to Taipei Times, two F-16 jets and two RF-16 reconnaissance aircraft from an air base in Hualien County were deployed to track the fleet.

The Liaoning was recently on a routine exercise in the Western Pacific, which China called “part of its annual training,” reports Taiwan News, and is still heading southwest towards Hainan, reports Taipei Times.

KMT top brass ‘pessimistic’ about future amid asset issue

Photo Credit: 準建築人手札網站 @ Flickr CC BY 2.0

Taiwan’s opposition party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT), continues to oppose investigations into its assets allegedly illegally obtained during its 50 years in power.

The KMT has long been accused of exploiting its decades of one-party rule in Taiwan and building up a massive asset base, worth billions. The party earlier this year claimed the net worth of its assets was no more than NT$16 billion (US$500 million) – this figure is widely disputed and far below many other estimates.

The party’s Vice Chairman Jason Hu (胡志强) today addressed media and reiterated the party’s position that it wants investigations to be carried out by the judiciary, not the committee, in addition to calling for the dissolution of the Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee and the resignation of committee chair Wellington Ku (顧立雄).

Since taking office in May, the Democratic Progressive Part-led government has, via the committee, frozen the KMT’s assets and is trying to make the party relinquish major holding companies.

“If that last resort [of moving the investigation to the judiciary] does not work, I would then become very pessimistic about the future of our opposition party,” he said in response to a question.

Read more here:
A Catalyst for KMT Reform?

U.S. and Taiwan sign FATCA agreement

Taxes 稅
Photo Credit: GotCredit @ Flickr CC By 2.0

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) on Dec. 22 signed an agreement to facilitate the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Under FATCA, non-U.S. financial institutions are required to report relevant information to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on financial accounts held by identified U.S. persons. The IRS can impose a 30 percent withholding tax on U.S. source payments paid to the financial institution or its clients if such a financial institution fails to meet the requirements.

The signed agreement still needs to be approved by the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, but in the future the U.S. government can ask Taiwan to provide personal information of "non-cooperative" clients.

113 countries are currently part of the FATCA program, reports Focus Taiwan, and agreements with 69 of them are already effective. Another 22, including Taiwan, have signed the agreement while the remaining 22 have yet to sign.

Beijing re-establishes diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

Beijing announced on Monday that it has re-established diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny West African island nation that ended relations with Taiwan on Dec. 21.

Sao Tome and Principe was the first country to severe ties with Taiwan since Gambia, in November 2013. 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 has 21 diplomatic allies remaining.

Read more here:
Why the Sky Did Not Fall after São Tomé and Príncipe Dropped Taiwan

First death penalty under the Tsai administration sentenced

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

The Supreme Court this morning sentenced 38-year-old Li Hong-ji (李宏基) to death, making it the first death penalty sentence since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office this May.

In April 2014, Li stabbed his ex-wife to death in public and attempted to commit suicide with one of his two daughters in his car. Li recovered from his injuries but his daughter died two months later.

There are currently 43 prisoners awaiting execution in Taiwan, with the latest execution being Cheng-Chieh (鄭捷) on May 10, just before Tsai’s inauguration on May 20.

Read more here:
INTERVIEW: Fighting for the Innocent on Death Row in Taiwan
INTERVIEW: Subway Murderer’s Lawyer Believes More ‘Random Killings’ Likely
UK Experts in Taipei to Convince Taiwan to Drop Death Penalty

Taipei is the most vegan-friendly Asian city: PETA

Photo Credit: Fredrik von Erichsen / picture-alliance / dpa / AP Images / 達志影像

Taipei has topped the list of the ten most vegan-friendly cities in Asia, according to PETA Asia, an international animal rights organization. Following Taiwan on the list was Singapore and Chiang Mai, Thailand, with Shanghai, China, placing tenth. The list also named some of the vegan-friendly restaurants in Taipei, including Ooh Cha Cha, Soul R. Vegan Café, Fresh Bakery & Cafe Taipei, among others.

Editor: Edward White