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Premier William Lai has countered claims from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party suggesting the government's Cabinet reshuffle aims only to help the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win more seats in the November local elections and ignores ongoing problems affecting Taiwan.
Lai said the decision to replace four Cabinet ministers was made because the outgoing members were seeking to leave and because the government is now seeking to put into practice policy decisions made since coming to power in 2016.
The reshuffle sees Interior Minister Yeh Chun-Jung, Minister of Justice, Chiu Tai-san, Transport Minister Ho Chen Tan, and Finance Minister Sheu Yu-jer all replaced.
Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung will take over as Interior Minister, Investigation Bureau Director-General Tsai Ching-hsiang is being appointed Justice Minister.
Meanwhile, Taiwan International Ports Corporation Chairman Wu Hong-mo is being promoted to the post of Transport Minister and Deputy Finance Minister Su Jain-rong will take over as head of the ministry. Current Interior Minister Yeh Chun-rong is being appointed Education Minister.
And DPP lawmaker-at-large Kolas Yotaka has been promoted to the post of Cabinet spokesperson.
Reports had initially said current Minister of Justice, Chiu Tai-san could be appointed Presidential Office deputy secretary-general.
However, the Presidential Office has announced that Chiu will become a member of the National Security Council.
The opposition has slammed the reshuffle – suggesting its only
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has expressed its thanks to the United Kingdom government after it said London will not succumb to Beijing's unreasonable bullying as regards Taiwan's designation.
Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field also called on more likeminded countries to support Taiwan and reject China's bullying tactics, echoing calls made by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month.
Field said the British government will continue its long-standing policy of referring to Taiwan as simply "Taiwan" and UK companies should not be placed under political pressure by Beijing to make changes to their designations.
The statement comes after lawmakers, Andrea Jenkyns and Bob Blackman called on the Foreign Office to explain the government's position on China's request that British Airways refer to Taiwan as as part of China on its website.
Education Minister-designate Yeh Chun-rong said his first task will be to settle the long-running dispute over the selection of a new president for the National Taiwan University (NTU).
Speaking to reporters following the announcement of the Cabinet reshuffle, Yeh said the failure to resolve the problem has had a huge impact on the education sector and society and a resolution needs to be found as soon as possible.
Yeh is replacing Wu Maw-kuen, who resigned in May in relation to the controversy, before being impeached by the Control Yuan, the government's investigatory agency, earlier this month on the grounds that he contravened various laws by applying for patents owned by the university at which he was a researcher in the name of his own company
According to Yeh, he will tackle the NTU issue with an open mind and also seek to apply the best ideas from the education ministry, schools, government agencies and society to deal with the problem.
Yeh received his bachelor's and master's degrees in law from NTU and doctoral degrees in law from Yale University in the United States. He has also worked as a professor of law at NTU.
Former Vice President Lien Chan has held talks with the head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing.
According to former KMT Vice Party Secretary Chang Rong-gong, Lien and Chinese diplomat Liu Jieyi discussed the possibility of China helping farmers in Taiwan due to plummeting fruit prices in recent months.
He is scheduled to meet China's President Xi Jinping later today.
Lien will also participate in a forum on cross-Strait relations at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse before attending a dinner hosted by Wang Yang – the chairman of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong is once again calling on China to release Taiwanese democracy advocate Lee Ming-che and other detained Chinese dissidents so that it can advance human rights and improve cross-Strait ties.
According to Chen, protecting human rights and treating human right activists and dissidents well are the necessary ways to bridge the psychological distance between the two sides of the strait.
The statement comes after China on Wednesday sentenced veteran pro-democracy campaigner, Qin Yongmin to 13 years in prison for "subversion of state power", the same reason attributed to Lee's five-year sentence, and two more years than was handed to Nobel Peace Prize winning activist Liu Xiaobo before he passed away in captivity in 2017.
The 64-year-old Qin is the founder of a pro-democracy group called China Human Rights Watch and has already spent 23 years in prison, making him one of the longest jailed political prisoners during the last four decades.
Speaking to reporters, Chen said the government here in Taiwan closely monitors democratic developments and the human rights situation in China and has called on Beijing to respect universal values on several occasions.
The government said it is extending a trial 14-day visa-free entry program for nationals from Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand for another year.
The extended visa-free entry program begins on Aug. 1.
Officials said the measure is being continued to attract visitors from New Southbound Policy partner countries for tourism and business purposes, and to increase people-to-people exchanges.
It will be effective through July 31, 2019, and the government said it is keeping the option to open to further extend the policy upon review.
And the government added that it has resulted in an increase in the number of residents of New Southbound Policy partner countries choosing to travel to travel to Taiwan.
According to the Tourism Bureau, nationals from New Southbound Policy partner countries totaled 2,284,382 visits to Taiwan in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent from 2016.
The government is seeking to ban age discrimination in the workplace by introducing an amendment to the Employment Service Act.
According to the Labor Ministry, the bill will encourage older people to rejoin the workforce by fining companies up to NT$1.5 million (US$49,000) if they are found to have discriminated against older job seekers.
The government is required to provide assistance to older people seeking employment under the Employment Service Act.
But many have argued that as the island is already an "aged society", meaning that more than 14 percent of people are over 65, more need to be done to ensure that people aged 45 and over can find employment and begin new careers without fear of discrimination due their age.
The amendment also states that older job seekers be able to apply for subsidies or assistance from the government to start their own businesses to undergo training courses.
The Sports Administration has said Taiwan will be sending 588 athletes to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta next month.
That will be the largest team the country has ever sent to the event.
And the administration's acting director, Wang Shui-wen said the goal is to win more gold medals this year.
Members of the sports administration are expected to leave for Jakarta on Aug. 1 to make the preparations before the athletes arrive.
The administration has rented 10 apartment-style hotels close to competition venues as accommodation for the athletes.
The Asian Games squad will compete in 36 of the 40 sporting events in Jakarta, including electronic sports, which is being included as a demonstration sport for the first time this year.
Taiwan sent some 400 athletes to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. They came home with 10 gold, 18 silver and 23 bronze medals.
The 2018 Asian Games run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2.
This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.
TNL Editor: David Green