Taiwan News: Protests over Hong Kong Handover Anniversary, Pensions Come into Force

Taiwan News: Protests over Hong Kong Handover Anniversary, Pensions Come into Force
photo credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/達志影像

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Mainland Affairs Council urges China to keep promise on Hong Kong democracy

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is urging China to keep its promise on Hong Kong's democracy.

To mark yesterday's 21st anniversary of the handover of the territory from Britain to China the MAC said in a statement that China should maintain the "one country, two systems" policy that was set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. The MAC also urged China to keep its promise by making Hong Kong an autonomous and democratic region.

The office points to two main reasons that it is difficult for Hong Kong to maintain a self-ruling democratic system, citing Beijing's increasing interference in the civil and political rights of the people, including the right to assemble and the implementation of universal suffrage.

Another issue the MAC is concerned about is judicial independence in Hong Kong, pointing out that it is constantly being challenged by the Chinese authorities, most recently in a plan that would allow Chinese police officers to operate in a section of a new high-speed rail link schedule to open later this year.

Two international organizations, Reporters Without Borders and the Fraser Institute, both noted marked drops in the region's standing in terms of freedom of the press and human rights.

The council also noted that given a choice, only 0.3 percent of Hong Kong residents aged 18 to 29 identified themselves as Chinese versus other options like "Hongkongers" or "Hongkongers in China."


Taiwanese, Hong Kong activists unite in criticism of China

Several smaller Taiwan political parties and Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are uniting in their criticism of China.

Speaking at an event yesterday to mark the anniversary of Beijing's recovery of the region, Hong Kong National Party convener Andy Chan said “Hongkongers and Taiwanese are the two most unfortunate peoples in the world because their neighbor is ruled by an evil and mighty communist regime."

Hong Kong native and professor of political science at National Cheng Kung University Leung Man-to recently released a report on the civil and political rights in Hong Kong.

It details cases of activists being imprisoned or disqualified from standing for elections for exercising their freedom of expression, assembly and association, and of lawmakers being removed from office or being threatened for performing their duties.

Leader of the local Social Democratic Party Fan Yun said the 2014 Sunflower Movement in Taiwan and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement later that year, demanding universal suffrage, were of vital importance in preventing the expansion of Chinese authoritarianism in recent years.


Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Protesters throw hell money during a rally against the overhaul of the military and civil service pension fund, outside the Presidential Office in Taipei,Taiwan January 22, 2017.

Officials praise new pension reforms as they come into force

Taiwan's new pensions are receiving praise from government officials after coming into force yesterday.

The reforms are aimed at civil servants, teachers and military personnel, and President Tsai Ing-wen said she was thankful to those affected by the pension cuts for their understanding of the need for reform.

She expressed her gratitude in a Facebook post, in which she also thanked fellow nationals, saying “It is because of your understanding, support and wisdom that reform of the pension systems, which should have been undertaken earlier, was accomplished smoothly."

Vice President Chen Jian-ren says the implementation of the new pension systems “marked the beginning of a new era” in which the viability and sustainability of the pension system can be ensured so that everyone can collect their pension benefits for years to come.

Government calculations had found that had the changes not been made, the pension program for military personnel would go bankrupt in 2020, for teachers in 2030 and civil servants in 2031.

However, protesters continue to demonstrate and are seeking a Constitutional interpretation of the new laws.


Outgoing AIT chief lauds kindness of Taiwan's people

The outgoing America Institute in Taiwan chief is lauding the kindness of Taiwan's people.

As he prepares to leave Taiwan this month after serving for more than three years as de facto United States ambassador, Kin Moy says he and his family will always remember the kindness and thoughtfulness of the local people.

He is the first Chinese-American AIT chief, while his wife was a reporter and editor at the local English-language newspaper The China Post in the 1980s.

Their familiarity with Taiwan has played an important role in helping them become more involved in the local cultural scene.

Wherever he has visited, Moy says he is always moved when people approach him to say thank you for what he is doing.

He was also impressed by his interactions with Taiwan's officials, saying he could not think of any other posting where he received such access to the president's office.

Moy's position will be filled later this summer by Brent Christensen, a former AIT deputy director and a diplomat with experience in senior positions related to Taiwan and China.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Kin W. Moy, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, listens to a question during a news conference in Taipei October 27, 2015.


E-bikes a key transportation equipment export for Taiwan

E-bikes have become a key export for Taiwan.

Finance Ministry statistics show the total value of Taiwan’s electric bicycle exports in the first five months of this year increased 54 percent year-on-year, the highest ever in that time period.

The statistics also show that the export value of e-bikes last year was US$250 million, 17 times higher than the US$14 million registered in 2012.

Europe is Taiwan’s biggest market for e-bikes, with the ministry finding the bloc accounts for 68 percent of total exports, followed by the Unites States at 22 percent.

The ministry said e-bikes have become one of the nation's main exports in the category of transportation equipment, which previously mainly consisted of auto parts, motor vehicle parts and bicycle components.

Taiwan's traditional bicycles also show similar popularity in the two regions, where Europe is again the number 1 destination, accounting for 43 percent in the first five months of this year, while about 32 percent went to the U.S. in the same period.


Taiwan airlines offer new services to Chiang Mai, Nagoya

Two Taiwan airlines have opened new services to Chiang Mai and Nagoya.

EVA Airways yesterday launched daily nonstop flights on a new route between Taoyuan and Chiang Mai, Thailand, in celebration of the 27th anniversary of the airline's inaugural flight to the country.

EVA Air President Clay Sun said the new route will give passengers that fly its 82 weekly flights from North America more convenient access to Thailand's second largest city and is expected to attract more tourists to Taiwan and Thailand.

A company official said Tigerair attaches great importance to the Kaohsiung market and hopes to help boost tourism in the two cities and increase bilateral exchanges by offering budget flight tickets.

Tigerair Taiwan is the only carrier that offers direct flights to Nagoya.

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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: David Green