Trending in Taiwan Today

Trending in Taiwan Today
Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

What you need to know

The biggest stories around Taiwan today.

Trump hints at possibility of Tsai meeting

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

United States President-elect Donald Trump has not quelled rumors that he may meet President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her stopover in Houston, Texas and San Francisco, California en route to Central America this Saturday. Speaking at a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Florida estate, Trump said that it was inappropriate for him to meet with anyone before his inauguration on Jan. 20 from a protocol standpoint, CNA reports. However, Trump continued to say, “But we’ll see…, we’ll see.”

At a Q&A session with foreign media on Dec. 31, Tsai discredited the rumors surrounding her transit in the U.S., saying that it was nothing more than a stopover.

Trump broke with decades of protocol by accepting a congratulatory call from Tsai on Dec. 2, a move U.S. presidents have not taken since 1979, when the U.S. established formal ties with China.

Read more: Fears for Cross-Strait Economic Backlash after Trump-Tsai Phone Call

We must take back Taipei mayorship: KMT

Photo Credit: 洪秀柱

Kuomintang (KMT) chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has vowed to take back mayorship of Taipei during the 2018 elections, CNA reports. “My biggest mission will be fielding the most qualified candidate to help the KMT win the elections,” she said. She was referring to the KMT's Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強), former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general from 2012 to 2013 under the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration. Lo announced he would run for Taipei mayor shortly after incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) announced his desire to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, New Power Party legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said today that his party aims to take over the 30 legislative seats held by the KMT during the next elections, Apple Daily reports.

Draft regulations prohibiting conversion therapy

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The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Dec. 30 released draft amendments to the Physicians Act (醫師法) that would prohibit physicians from recommending conversion therapy to patients, the Liberty Times reports. Conversion therapy aims to “convert” homosexuals and change their sexual orientation. The amendments could come into force as early as March. Under the Physicians Act, doctors who engage in banned treatments could be fined up to NT$500,000 (US$15,500) and have their licenses suspended up to one year.

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), head of the ministry’s department of medical affairs, said that homosexuality is not an illness and there is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy works, the Liberty Times reports. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness and removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

China increases military drills around Taiwan

Photo Credit: 美國海軍 公有領域

The Chinese Navy has confirmed that its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, conducted drills in the South China Sea on Dec. 26, CNBC reports. The Liaoning and five other ships also sailed between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa. China conducted two military drills around Taiwan last year, once in November and another in December; it has also reportedly built anti-missile systems on its reefs in the South China Sea, according to U.S.-based think tank The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

Military reorganization scheduled for March

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

The Taiwanese Air Defense Missile Command will merge with the Air Defense Artillery Command and be put under the purview of the air force to streamline the chain of command and make operations more efficient, the Taipei Times reports. An unnamed official from the Ministry of Defense told the Taipei Times that the move was due to a change in doctrine from “effective deterrence” to “multiple deterrence.” The new doctrine will be tested during this year’s annual Han Kuang maneuvers (漢光演習).

Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said that the ministry was considering the reorganization of missile defense by taking into account enemy capability assessments, operational needs, and command-and-control factors, the Taipei Times reports.

Documents on Chiang Kai-shek to be declassified and released online

蔣介石 銅像
Photo Credit: 準建築人手札網站 @ Flickr CC By 2.0

Academia Historica is set to release some 260,000 declassified documents relating to former Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) online, CNA reports. The move comes as the Academia Historica aims to digitize and update its search system. 50,000 documents will be accessible free-of-charge to the public when the new system goes online on Jan. 5, with the remaining documents to be digitized and uploaded by the end of April, CNA reports.

Fake news from China prompts Taiwan government concern

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Fake news that is circulating by China’s “online army” has prompted Taiwan’s Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan to call a meeting to discuss countermeasures, the Taipei Times reports. A fake news article claiming that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could confiscate food imports from 14 Japanese prefectures without physical examination has been circulating on social media platforms, such as messaging app Line, said an unnamed official to the Taipei Times. The article began circulating two years ago, the Liberty Times reports, and although the article was written in traditional Chinese characters, the vocabulary and grammar were not commonly used in Taiwan. The official told the Taipei Times the false information was aimed at unsettling Taiwanese society and was a threat to national security.

President Tsai Ing-wen also raised her concerns over fake news during a press conference on Dec. 31, saying that the false information affected public trust in the government.

Editor: Olivia Yang