Thu, Jul 07, 2022
Taiwan recorded its first local cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, two family members of imported cases who arrived from the US, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that the index case — reported on Monday — tested positive with the COVID-19 subvariant after arriving from the US. The woman returned to Taiwan with her two children, both aged under 10, on June 19, and they underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival, Lo said, adding that two family members — a brother and the mother of the woman — drove a private vehicle to pick them up and travel to Taichung. The arriving woman had a fever, coughing and ear pain when she landed, and the PCR test at the airport came back positive the next day, while her two children tested positive on June 23 after they developed a fever, Lo said. The woman’s brother developed a fever, coughing and a sore throat on June 24 and tested positive for COVID-19, while his mother tested positive on Thursday last week, despite not reporting any symptoms, Lo said. Genome sequencing of samples from the arriving woman showed that she was infected with BA.5, he said. The two family members are the first local cases of BA.5 in Taiwan, he said. The Taichung City Health Bureau’s contact tracing efforts showed that the cases did not leave their home much while they were contagious and the only close contact tested negative, so the cluster does not seem to have spread further to the local community, he said. The two local cases most likely contracted the disease when they picked up the three imported cases at the airport, Lo said, adding that they told health
Tens of millions of people were under lockdown across China yesterday and businesses in a major tourist city were forced to close as fresh COVID-19 clusters sparked fears of wider restrictions. Chinese health authorities have reported more than 300 infections in Xian, with new clusters found in Shanghai, Beijing and elsewhere. The outbreaks and official response have dashed hopes that China would move away from the virus curbs seen earlier this year, when its “zero COVID-19” policy saw tens of millions of people forced to stay home for weeks. In Shanghai, some social media users reported receiving government food rations — a throwback to the months-long confinement forced on the city’s residents earlier this year. “I’m so nervous, the epidemic has destroyed my youth,” a Shanghai resident wrote on social media. Officials launched a new round of mass testing in more than half of the city’s districts after a rebound in cases since the weekend. Karaoke bars were closed after some infections were linked to six venues. “I think this is unnecessary and I don’t really want to do it,” Shanghai resident Alice Chan told reporters. Chan said that she took part in the latest testing round over fears that her smartphone-stored health code, which is used to access public spaces, might otherwise flag her as an infection risk. “I think the situation won’t improve in the short term,” said another resident, who gave his name as Yao. “People now aren’t really scared of COVID-19 anymore, they’re scared of being locked down in their homes.” Japanese bank Nomura has estimated that at least 114 million people were under full or partial lockdowns nationwide as of Monday, a sharp jump from last week’s 66.7 million.
‘MANAGED COMPETITION’: A US official said that the meeting might include discussions about ‘guardrails’ on Washington-Beijing ties to avoid miscalculations The US has briefed Taiwan before a scheduled meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on the sidelines of a G20 conference in Indonesia later this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told the Central News Agency that Taipei and Washington remain in close contact, especially ahead of high-level meetings between US and Chinese diplomats, to safeguard Taiwan’s interests. As per Washington’s usual practice, the US briefed Taiwan on the meeting before the US Department of State announced on Tuesday that Blinken and Wang would meet in Bali during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be held today and tomorrow, Ou said. The US would also brief Taipei following the meeting, as it always does, Ou said. She refused to disclose details of the briefings, citing an arrangement and mutual understanding. Her remarks came after the department on Tuesday said that Blinken would travel to Bali and Bangkok from yesterday to Monday next week. In a telephone briefing on Tuesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said that Washington’s top priority during the meeting is to underscore its commitment to maintaining “open lines of communication with the People’s Republic of China [PRC].” “We have often stated that our goal is to manage responsibly the intense competition between the United States and the PRC. So I would expect that in the course of that meeting we’ll be able to discuss having guardrails, so to speak, on the relationship, so that our competition does not spill over into miscalculation or confrontation,” Kritenbrink told reporters. It would be the second in-person meeting between Blinken and Wang following their meeting in Rome in October last year. In other news, the ministry in a statement on Tuesday thanked the European
SOGO SAGA: Sufin Siluko, Chen Chao-ming, Su Chen-ching and Hsu Yung-ming received heavier sentences because they were not cooperative, the court said Five current and former legislators were yesterday among those found guilty of graft, exercising undue influence and related charges in a large political corruption scandal, with the Taipei District Court handing down sentences ranging from seven to 10 years. Lawmakers and aides contravened the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over the ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) was sentened to eight-and-a-half years and was ordered to forgo NT$6.2 million (US$207,984) that he accepted as bribes. KMT Legislator Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) received a sentence of seven years and eight months for coruption, with NT$1 million confiscated. Independent Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, was given the heaviest sentence — a 10-year jail term and NT$15.8 million confiscated for corruption. Former New Power Party (NPP) legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) was sentenced to seven years and four months for corruption, although the evidence showed that he did not receive bribes. Independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was found guilty of tax evasion after receiving kickbacks from companies on property deals, the court said. Chao illicitly reported the money as political donations, it said. He got a six-month term, which can be commuted to a fine, and was ordered to pay NT$60,000. Investigators found that Lee was the central figure in the corruption scandal, paying NT$36.54 million in total in bribes to legislators in exchange for holding public hearings at the legislature, putting pressure on government officials and using political influence to help his company gain ownership of Pacific SOGO Department Store, Taipei District Court spokeswoman Huang Pei-chen (黃珮禎) said. “Lee cooperated during the investigation and agreed to be a witness, which was pivotal in clarifying the details of the
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday refused to quit, despite a slew of resignations from his government, piling on pressure as he faced a grilling from members of parliament. The 58-year-old leader promised to “deliver” on his “mandate,” but his grip on power appeared to be slipping following 10 minutes on Tuesday night, when Rishi Sunak resigned as chancellor of the exchequer and Sajid Javid quit as secretary of state for health. Both said that they could no longer tolerate the “culture of scandal” surrounding Johnson. At the weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament, members from all sides rounded on Johnson. However, brushing off calls to resign, he said: “Frankly, the job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when you have been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that’s what I’m going to do.” Johnson has faced an exodus of ministers in just 24 hours and later faced an hours-long grilling from the chairs of the House of Commons’ most powerful committees, including some of his most virulent critics in the Conservative Party’s ranks. Sunak’s and Javid’s departures came just minutes after Johnson apologized for appointing Chris Pincher, a senior Conservative, who quit his post last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men. Former British secretary of state for education Nadhim Zahawi was handed the finance brief. “You don’t go into this job to have an easy life,” Zahawi told Sky News. Will Quince quit early yesterday as minister for children and families, saying that he was given inaccurate information about Pincher before having to defend the government in a round of media interviews on Monday. That triggered a new wave of more than a dozen resignations. The Pincher affair was the “icing on the cake” for Sunak and Javid, Conservative Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen told Sky News. “I and a lot
FLASH POINT: The ministry said it was aware of Chinese and Russian warships being detected in waters near the disputed islands and was closely monitoring the situation The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reaffirmed the nation’s sovereignty claim over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) after Japan, which controls the islands in the East China Sea, accused Chinese and Russian warships of operating near the disputed islands. “It is an indisputable fact that the Diaoyutai Islands are an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Any unilateral action taken by other parties will not change the fact,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. Citing the government’s stance in calling on all parties concerned to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner, Ou said the government was aware of the latest incident when Chinese and Russian warships were detected in waters near the Diaoyutais, and it was closely monitoring the situation to safeguard national and regional peace and security. Ou made the remarks when asked to comment on the Japanese government’s protest lodged with China over the latest incident. The Diaoyutai Islands are also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands, and Taiwan. Japan lodged a protest with China on Monday over a Chinese naval vessel sailing near the islands it calls the Senkakus, a Japanese official said, as reports emerged of Russia also sending its own ship to the area. Japanese officials regularly protest the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels near the islands, but it is the first time since 2018 that a navy ship had been spotted there, public broadcaster NHK reported. At about 7:44am on Monday, a Chinese navy frigate “was observed entering Japan’s contiguous waters” southwest of one of the Tokyo-controlled islands, a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense said. Contiguous waters are a 12 nautical mile (22km) band that extends beyond territorial waters. “We expressed grave concerns and lodged our protest to the Chinese side through a diplomatic route, and urged them to prevent a repeat” of
INFILTRATION: The TAO urged businesspeople who supported the association to wire money to its account at Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank, prosecutors said China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) funded the pro-unification Concentric Patriotism Association’s attempts to influence Taiwanese politics, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday. The office issued a wanted notice for the association’s late chairman Chou Ching-chun’s (周慶峻) wife, Lin Ming-mei (林明美), and its secretary-general Zhang Xiuye (張秀葉) on charges of contravening the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法). It said it would not posthumously indict Chou. Prior to fleeing to China, Zhang was quoted as telling the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau that Chou had received funding from the TAO’s main office, as well as the TAO branches in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong and Hubei provinces, prosecutors said. The TAO urged Taiwanese businesspeople who supported the association’s views to wire money to the association’s account at Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank, Zhang was quoted as saying, adding that Chou’s wife was in charge of the account. Zhang told the Investigation Bureau that she and Chou were the only core personnel of the association. Chou had nominated Zhang to run for Taipei city councilor in 2018, but the campaign resulted in both being indicted for attempted bribery, receiving prison sentences of three years and six months, and three years and five months respectively. Using information from the investigation into the election bribery, prosecutors charged Lin and Zhang with contravening the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the Anti-infiltration Act. Separately, prosecutors dismissed the charges against other members of the association, a director-general surnamed Hsiao (蕭), a deputy chairperson surnamed Lee (李) and an association member surnamed Cheng (鄭), citing a lack of evidence. None of the three members, while a part of the association, had any part in being in charge of, controlling or developing an organization that originated in China, they said.
The air force yesterday showed off its new locally designed and made jet trainer, touting the more advanced, combat-capable abilities of the aircraft that is to replace aging and accident-prone existing equipment. The armed forces are mostly equipped by the US, but President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has made development of an advanced home-grown defense industry a priority, especially as China steps up military modernization efforts and drills near the nation. The new AT-5 Yung Ying (勇鷹, “Brave Eagle”), made by state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (ADIC) with a budget of NT$68.6 billion (US$2.3 billion), had its first test flight in 2020. It is Taiwan’s first jet made domestically since the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter, rolled out more than three decades ago, and the two jets look similar and have similar capabilities. Three Brave Eagles roared into the air at the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County, in a show of its prowess in front of reporters. Flight training officer Chang Chong-hao (張崇豪) said the Brave Eagle was suitable for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training purposes, and can land and take off on a shorter runway. “So it helps give the students more space to deal with some unforeseen situations,” he said. The Brave Eagle trainer can be equipped with weapons, although that remains in the testing phase, and the plane is designed to have a support function in time of war. “We’re not involved in the armaments part, those tests are up to the manufacturer ADIC,” air force officer Huang Chun-yuan (黃俊源) said. “Our main mission at the moment is general conversion training and tandem flying.” The air force plans on taking 66 units by 2026 to replace aging AT-3 and F-5 training aircraft, which have suffered a series of crashes in recent years. An AT-3, a model that first flew in 1980, crashed in May, while three
UNDER TESTING: The shots are to be offered as first doses for children aged six months to five years old and local governments are to arrange vaccination sites The first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for young children has arrived and would be delivered to local governments on July 21, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. It also reported 34,577 new COVID-19 cases and 95 deaths. The batch of 450,000 vaccine doses arrived in the morning and has been transported to a logistics center for lot release testing, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman. Testing is expected to be completed by July 20 and deliveries to local governments would begin on July 21, he said. The vaccines would be offered as first doses for children aged from six months to five years, and the expiration date is Dec. 25, he added. Vaccination sites would be arranged by local governments, and might include hospitals, clinics, preschools and temporary vaccine stations, Chuang said. Local governments are encouraged to keep vaccine stations open in the evenings and weekends for the convenience of working parents, he added. He said 34,499 new local and 78 imported COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, a decline of 7,705 from Wednesday last week. Although daily caseloads are still falling, the pace of decline has slowed slightly, he said. Most of the new cases were reported in New Taipei City at 5,324, followed by Taichung with 4,669 cases, Taoyuan with 3,687, Kaohsiung with 3,608, Taipei with 3,110, Tainan with 2,902, Changhua County with 1,880, Pingtung County with 1,362, and 14 other cities and counties with fewer than 1,000 cases. CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said the youngest death reported yesterday was a one-year-old, who had a congenital nervous system disorder and died one day after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Three new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) were also
Taiwanese writer Chi Wei-jan (紀蔚然) has won the Falcon Award from the Maltese Falcon Society in Japan for his debut novel Private Eyes (私家偵探), making him the first Taiwanese to win the honor, Ink Publishing Co said on Tuesday. The Falcon Award is presented annually to honor the best hard-boiled mystery novel published in Japan. Mystery writer and translator Jiro Kimura, who founded the society’s Japanese chapter, announced the news on Twitter. The Maltese Falcon Society was founded in San Francisco in 1981 based on the 1930 detective novel The Maltese Falcon by US writer Dashiell Hammett. The organization is no longer active in the US, but the Japanese chapter has been active since 1982. The winners of the award are masters of contemporary mystery novels, such as US crime writer Lawrence Block, who has received the award twice for When the Sacred Ginmill Closes and A Ticket to the Boneyard, the publisher said. US mystery authors Michel Connelly, Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton and Don Winslow have won Falcon Awards from the Japanese chapter. Private Eyes tells the story of a former professor who becomes a private detective. It became a literary sensation when it came out in 2011, winning almost every major literary award in Taiwan that year, including the China Times Open Book Award and Asia Weekly Top 10 Chinese Novel of the Year. It also won the 2012 Taipei Book Fair Award for Fiction and was later translated into French, Japanese, Italian, Turkish and Korean. Chi’s contemporary detective story last month also won the Honkaku Mystery Award, which honors best works of mystery fiction published over the previous year in Japan. Last year, Chi published a sequel, titled DV8: Private Eyes 2 (DV8：私家偵探2)
LOVE AND HOPE: A call from two art establishments for art submissions for the benefit of children in Ukraine collected more than 1,200 creations in two weeks A touring exhibition of artworks created by children from around the world to give hope to children in war-torn Ukraine has arrived in Yilan County. The “2022 I Draw Peace” exhibition opened on Tuesday at Dancewood Museum and is to run through Aug. 31. It is part of the “Children Draw the World” exhibition that was launched in the Czech Republic in April. The exhibition also features artworks from Taiwan, said Dancewoods Hotels and Resorts, which is sponsoring the Taiwan leg of the tour. The call for children’s art was issued earlier this year by Lviv Children’s Art Gallery and the Kherson educational-aesthetic complex Art School. The drive collected more than 1,200 artworks in about two weeks, 210 of which are being displayed at the Yilan exhibition. They said the goal was to provide love and hope to Ukrainian children amid the Russian invasion. “The Peace Relay actively involves children all over the world who want to be happy and live in peace, no matter where they are. Peace is and will always be relevant as long as humanity exists,” Lviv Children’s Art Gallery says on its Web site. Dancewoods said it hopes people will visit the exhibition in Taiwan, the first Asian stop of the tour, to see the impact of the Ukraine-Russia war on children from the kids’ own perspective, and to appreciate the value of peace. The artworks, most of which were created by Ukrainian children, would next travel to Mexico, Slovakia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Norway and other countries, Dancewoods said.
The Ministry of Education yesterday said that it was considering measures to instill greater academic fidelity at institutions and preserve the quality of academic papers. The measures being considered include reducing the student recruitment quota at departments and colleges that fail to enforce academic discipline, and attributing blame to the instructing professor or department. The ministry has told universities that all master’s and doctoral theses must be transparent and public. Hopefully, students who do not make their thesis public will become the minority, it said. The ministry would also publish the ratio of non-public theses at all academic departments across Taiwan, it added. Oral defense examiners must be university lecturers or researchers of a certain level, and other people, selected for their expertise or professional knowledge, must work with other panelists and do their utmost to prioritize academic professionalism, the ministry said. It said that it would ask universities to publish their criteria for oral defense panelists and the ratio of individuals serving as oral defense examiners that are sought after for their professional expertise. If a student’s dissertation is considered to have breached academic integrity, the instructing professor must share the responsibility, the ministry said. The department to which the professor belongs would also face punitive measures, such as a recruitment freeze, a lower recruitment quota or a subsidy reduction, if they do not provide ameliorative suggestions and measures, it said. The ministry said that it is planning to purchase systems that can cross-reference academic journals and archived papers for use by universities so that they can more actively investigate allegations of plagiarism. The ministry’s statement came after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member Chung Hsiao-ping (鍾小平) yesterday presented the ministry with documents supporting his accusation that Hsinchu City Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) plagiarized parts or the entirety of his master’s thesis when studying at National Taiwan University’s
DIGITAL SERVICES ACT: The NCC denied that plans to set up an agency to regulate Internet messages would be a cyberarmy that would trample on freedom of speech Government agencies can only ask digital intermediate service providers to put a warning on online content if it is deemed to have contravened government regulations and they have applied for a restraining order in court, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday. The commission made the comment at its weekly news conference in response to criticism of the digital intermediate service draft act, which it unveiled on Wednesday last week. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus on Tuesday said the draft act would allow government agencies to place warnings on online content without a court order. It also criticized the NCC’s plan to spend NT$2.5 billion (US$83.9 million) to establish a specialized agency to regulate Internet messages, which it said would create an Internet army for the government to trample on freedom of speech. NCC Deputy Chairman and spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) yesterday said that the proposed law would only allow government agencies to place a warning on online information if it is deemed to be a rumor or false, or contravenes mandatory or prohibited provisions of the law. At the same time, government agencies should seek a restraining order from a district court if it wants to take down the illegal information, he said. Article 18 of the draft act stipulates that warnings for online information should not last more than 30 days. Before placing a warning, government agencies should consult a third-party fact-checking organization, it says. Most of the laws in Taiwan punish people for committing crimes, but few of them address the consequences of a crime, NCC Planning Department Director Wang De-wei (王德威) said. The article authorizes government agencies to petition for a restraining order from a district court that would require intermediate service providers to remove illegal user-generated information to minimize damage to public
PRIVACY: Human rights advocates said that academic researchers have been using the database without people’s consent for decades Allowing access to the national health database for academic research projects is unconstitutional and an infringement of a person’s right to privacy, human rights advocates said yesterday. As a nation under the rule of law, the government must safeguard the borders of democracy and human rights, Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) executive Tu Yu-yin (涂予尹) said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. “Use of the national health database and any action that infringes on the right of an individual to privacy must not breach these borders,” he said. “Researchers have been accessing information from this database for years, but such use has no legal basis whatsoever,” Tu said. “Only authoritarian nations would allow access to personal information without a person’s consent,” Open Culture Foundation director Lee Hsin-ying (李欣穎) said. “We must not set up a compulsory database on all citizens. It should be done through prior, informed consent by each individual,” Lee said. The rights advocates’ demand came ahead of a decision by the Constitutional Court later this month on a request for interpretation of the law on privacy. Oral arguments by both sides had taken place in April, with rights campaigners urging the grand justices to rule that personal information can only be accessed for research under constitutional protection and under international rules governing academic research ethics. Tu said that researchers have for 20 years been accessing the National Health Insurance Administration database for academic projects and studies, which arose from provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act (個人資料保護法) allowing government agencies to use it. “Furthermore, the information contained under the National Health Insurance can be linked to an individual’s medical and hospital records, as well as their tax return, income and financial records. There is no place to hide; every citizen’s life details can be accessed,” Tu said. TAHR lawyer Weng Kuo-yen (翁國彥) said if
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday expressed his gratitude to Taiwan for donating more than 1,000 wheelchairs and mobility aids to improve the quality of life of physically challenged Guatemalans. “I am pleased to be part of the delivery of medical equipment for children and adults with disabilities, donated by the Republic of China, whom I thank for being a great ally and friend,” Giammattei wrote on Twitter after attending the donation ceremony. “Today we see this friendship between our two peoples reflected in the smiles and comfort of people who need it. The needs are many and we will continue to attend to them so that Guatemalans can have a better quality of life,” he added. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) retweeted Giammattei’s post, and added a line that said: “That’s what friends are for.” “I will keep working with you for the betterment of our two peoples,” she wrote on Twitter. Ambassador to Guatemala Cheng Li-cheng (鄭力城) said the latest batch of donations includes 294 wheelchairs for adults, 158 wheelchairs for children and 848 walking assist devices for those in need. The medical equipment was jointly donated by the Taiwanese government and two Taiwan-based charity groups — the third consecutive year Taiwan is making such a donation, Cheng said at the ceremony. In addition, 1,560 tonnes of rice donated by Taiwan are in the process of being distributed to families in need, he said. These donations show that Taiwan is doing its best to support its ally and its people, he said. Guatemala is the biggest of the 14 states in terms of population that recognize Taiwan and is one of its oldest allies. The two countries established formal ties in 1935 when the government of the Republic of China was still based in mainland China. During a recent interview, Giammattei pledged that Guatemala would stick with Taiwan,
Taiwan and the UK on Tuesday vowed to deepen their cooperation on developing offshore wind power as Taiwan ramps up efforts to develop sustainable energy to meet its net zero carbon emissions goal. Speaking at the fourth UK-Taiwan Energy Dialogue, British Representative to Taiwan John Dennis said that the British Taipei Office would be working with Taiwan International Ports Corp on port affairs related to offshore wind power development and with the Taiwanese government on power grid transitioning projects. Taiwan announced its policy to achieve net-zero emissions soon after the third dialogue last year and has taken action to achieve its goal, highlighting its ambition to lead in the offshore power generation sector in the Asia-Pacific region, Dennis said. UK-Taiwan collaborations are growing, with 36 British companies establishing bases in Taiwan and supporting domestic development of Taiwanese industries, Dennis said, adding that he believed ensuing collaborations would deepen UK-Taiwan collaborations in the energy sector and in dealing with climate change. Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said that Taiwan is committed to producing net-zero emissions by 2050 and has proposed concrete measures to achieve this goal. The UK is a leader in transitioning to a zero-emissions model and in developing offshore wind power, and Taiwan hopes to work with it to develop more low-carbon-based power generation, Wang said. With both nations sharing a common goal of attaining net zero emissions, Taiwan looks forward to continuing bilateral exchanges of ideas in the energy sector, she added. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has plans to turn Taichung Harbor and Anping Harbor into pre-fab and maintenance bases for offshore wind turbines, Bureau of Energy official Chen Chung-hsien (陳崇憲) said at the meeting. Julie Scott, head of energy diplomacy at the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, welcomed Taiwan Power Co’s planned visit to Drax power station —
FOOD AND FUEL PRICES: Average household spending increased by NT$2,872 per month, the DGBAS said as it predicted the trend to gradually slow down The consumer price index (CPI) last month accelerated 3.59 percent from a year earlier, the fastest advance in 14 years, as almost all consumer item prices increased, led by food and fuel, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. It is the fourth straight month the inflationary gauge climbed more than 3 percent, steeper than the central bank’s 2 percent target. The summer electricity rates contributed to the increase after policymakers last year waived the measure amid a level-3 COVID-19 alert, senior DGBAS official Tsao Chih-hung (曹志弘) said. “The pace of consumer price hikes could slow this month, although they will remain above 3 percent, in the absence of bad weather such as typhoons to disrupt vegetable and fruit supply,” Tsao said, adding that international commodity and oil prices have shown signs of stabilization. The index after seasonal adjustments increased 0.11 percent, the statistics agency said in a monthly report. Food costs, which account for 25 percent of the index, inflated 7.27 percent after suppliers raised egg and meat prices by 29.11 percent and 6.78 percent respectively to reflect increased feed costs, Tsao said. Unfavorable weather conditions weighed on fruit supply and drove up their prices by 25.31 percent from a year earlier, he said. Fishery product prices grew 6.99 percent, while dining costs picked up 6.38 percent, the biggest gain in nearly 14 years, he added. The cost for transportation and communications gained 3.54 percent last month as a 7.86 percent increase in oil prices was offset by a 4.99 percent decline in telecommunications charges, the agency said. Living costs picked up 3.36 percent due mainly to the introduction of new electricity rates on Friday, even though they only affected industrial users, but spared households, Tsao said. Core CPI, a more reliable long-term price tracker that excludes items with volatile prices, increased 2.77 percent last
FALLING SHORT: Revenue declined to NT$31.46 billion, below the IC driver designer’s lower estimate of NT$34.5 billion, due to sagging market demand Novatek Microelectronics Corp’s (聯詠) second-quarter revenue fell short of its expectations, as last month’s revenue fell 25.68 percent month-on-month on dwindling demand, the designer of driver ICs used in flat panels said yesterday. Revenue fell to NT$8.16 billion (US$273.7 million) last month, compared with NT$10.98 billion in May, as display driver IC revenue plummeted 21.2 percent and system-on-a-chip (SoC) revenue dipped 35.27 percent, Novatek said. Second-quarter revenue declined 13.83 percent to NT$31.46 billion from NT$36.51 billion in the first quarter, it said. The company in May estimated revenue would be NT$34.5 billion to NT$35.8 billion, as it expected a bigger correction in the market for driver ICs used in smartphone displays. It at the time expected sales from display driver ICs for TVs to drop quarter-on-quarter, while SoC revenue might grow. Compared with the previous year, second-quarter revenue tumbled 29.55 percent from NT$11.58 billion. The company attributed the decline in sales to sagging market demand for consumer electronics amid growing uncertainties, including high inflation, central banks’ rate hikes, Russia’s war in Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns in China. The firm has low visibility for the third quarter, Novatek president Steve Wang (王守仁) said in May. Separately, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) yesterday said revenue rose 1.64 percent month-on-month to NT$24.83 billion last month from NT$24.43 billion in May, expanding 43.2 percent annually from NT$17.34 billion in June last year. Second-quarter revenue grew 13.62 percent quarter-on-quarter to NT$72.06 billion, largely matching the chipmaker’s estimate as an ongoing chip crunch helped boosted average selling prices, it said. UMC said it is to allocate NT$8.8 billion to construct so-called P3 facilities at its fab in Singapore, accounting for a major portion of the chipmaker’s capital spending of US$3.6 billion for this year. The company has completed the capacity expansion at its P5 facility in a fab in Tainan and is working
Nearly 60 percent of Taiwanese would travel abroad despite higher travel costs and about 80 percent would likely accept an increase of travel expenses of up to 25 percent, a MasterCard Taiwan (萬事達) survey showed yesterday. Eleven percent of those polled said they would refrain from traveling overseas given the rising travel costs and 23 percent said they would travel domestically within the next year due to the COVID-19 situation and border control measures to curb the spread of the disease, the survey showed. Japan was the most popular overseas destination, followed by South Korea, Southeast Asia and Europe, it showed. The survey collected answers from 1,000 people aged 20 to 65. It was held from June 3 to 11. MasterCard Taiwan said that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s attitude toward travel. Regardless of age, Taiwanese have become less interested in participating in group tours and are looking to travel alone or with friends instead, the survey showed. Those aged 20 to 30 are least interested in group tours compared with other age groups, it showed. The survey showed that people pay more attention to social distancing than before the pandemic. It showed that 58 percent would prefer direct flights or traveling in their own vehicle, while 36 percent preferred independent accommodation over shared accommodation. MasterCard Taiwan said it would update the benefits for holders of World MasterCards and begin offering travel insurance including medical coverage for people who contract COVID-19 overseas.
Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君) was arrested in Hong Kong on May 11 for “collusion with foreign forces.” That Hong Kong’s national security police would arrest the 90-year-old was seen by many as a harbinger of bad times for the Catholic Church in Hong Kong. Before the British handed the colony back to China on July 1, 1997, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) had promised them that Beijing would govern the territory under the “one country, two systems” model, and that Hong Kongers would continue to enjoy their freedoms and lifestyle for another 50 years. Before his arrest, Cardinal Zen wrote to Reuters: “We are at the bottom of the pit... We are becoming like any other city in China.” Reuters on Tuesday reported that Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona, the Vatican’s unofficial representative to Hong Kong, had told Catholic missionaries during a series of meetings beginning in October last year that China would continue to impose mainland-style restrictions on religious groups. Even before the National Security Law was imposed in Hong Kong in 2020, he and others had been moving archives overseas for safekeeping. Diplomats and advocates had been closely watching the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong since the introduction of the security law, saying they viewed the territory’s religious freedoms and traditions as one of the remaining bulwarks of the “one country, two systems” model. In December last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) spoke of his policy of the Sinicization of religion: Catholic clerics referred to this policy as “Xi-nification.” Like Zen and Herrera-Corona, they knew that Xi could not be trusted to keep Deng’s promise. Xi spoke of “one country, two systems” in his speech marking the handover’s 25th anniversary in Hong Kong on Friday last week, saying the territory could keep its capitalist system unchanged “for a long time” and
Macau authorities on Wednesday last week announced that they had found the nucleic acid of SARS-CoV-2 on mangoes imported from Taiwan, an incident that came just weeks after similar claims by Chinese authorities with regard to Taiwanese frozen ribbonfish and horse mackerel imports. Consequently, the batch of 20 boxes of mangoes, weighing about 100kg, was destroyed, and the Macau Municipal Affairs Bureau imposed a one-week ban on shipments from the Taiwanese mango importer and the producers from whom it sources its fruits. As well as lacking a scientific basis, this measure runs contrary to the rules of international trade. SARS-CoV-2 can infect humans and animals, but it cannot infect plants or be spread by them. Furthermore, there is no evidence that packaging contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 can infect humans, mainly because viruses can only survive on the surface of objects for a limited time. If China destroys Taiwanese products and suspends their importation on grounds related to COVID-19, it should present evidence that the virus was on the packaging and a scientific analysis that proves the contamination poses a risk to humans. Only then would people be convinced that the action taken is reasonable. At meetings of the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures since 2020, member countries, including Australia, Canada, the EU, India, Russia and the US, have raised concerns about China’s “excessive” measures regarding COVID-19, which have affected trade in food and agricultural products. The complaints showed that China has a long track record of hindering international trade citing COVID-19 concerns. Moreover, even if the mangoes were found to have SARS-CoV-2 on their packaging, the problem could have been solved by cleaning them with bleach or alcohol. Was it really necessary to destroy all the mangoes? China’s handling of the incident is so far over the top that one can only shake their
Anniversaries can serve multiple functions. For example when Taiwan commemorates the 228 Incident, there is a combined feeling of sadness over the sufferings following the events in 1947, joined with the resolve that such a tragedy should never be allowed to happen again. This year, when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) attended the 25th anniversary of the UK’s 1997 handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a different and strange mood prevailed. Even stranger yet was Xi’s explanatory narrative. Those who had attended the historic event in 1997 could recall how festive it had been. Media were everywhere. Hong Kong was to have new leadership; the PRC had promised full democracy by 2017 and many were curious as to what “one country, two systems” would be. Now, 25 years later, draconian measures prevail, numerous liberties have been lost, several media are excluded, and yet Hong Kongers are told to be happy. What went wrong? Had it all been a lie? And why is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accepting history books saying that the territorial lease to the UK never really took place? There is more. While Xi repeated the twisted meme of China’s century of humiliation, he glossed over that in the 19th century, Hong Kong was really not part of China, it was part of the Manchu Empire. The Manchus had conquered and imposed their rule on China, Tibet, Mongolia and Xinjiang from the 17th century on; they humiliated each with Manchu restrictions as they progressed. Thus even by the 19th century, Chinese were protesting with cries of “overthrow the [Manchu] Qing and restore the [Chinese] Ming.” Of course, in that process, Chinese also wished to ironically keep the lands that the Manchus had conquered. Xi’s talk was clear doublespeak in spades and left many wondering: If such
MAKING HISTORY: Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to make the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, and next faces Tatjana Maria, her close friend and ‘barbecue buddy’ Defending champion Novak Djokovic on Tuesday battled back from two sets down to reach an 11th Wimbledon semi-final as Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to book a place in the last-four of a Grand Slam. Djokovic triumphed 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner, recovering from a two-set deficit for the seventh time in his career. The Serb next faces Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who also needed five sets to get past David Goffin of Belgium 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. World No. 2 Jabeur of Tunisia defeated Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. She next faces close friend and mother-of-two Tatjana Maria, who defeated fellow unseeded German Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Djokovic, a 20-time major winner, said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down. “The first two sets compared to the next three were like two different matches, but at the end of the second set I took a toilet break, gave myself a little pep talk, tried to gather my thoughts,” he said. “I broke early in the third set. I saw a little bit of doubt start to come into his movement. I have many years’ experience of playing on these courts and coping with the pressure.” Djokovic is no stranger to Grand Slam adversity, having twice come back from two sets down as recently as last year’s French Open. The second of those stunning recoveries was in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. After Tuesday’s bathroom break, he returned to court and grabbed a break in the fourth game of the third set as he trimmed his quarter-final deficit. In control, the 35-year-old leveled the tie with a double break in the fourth set as Sinner took a worrying tumble on his ankle scrambling to the Centre Court net. Djokovic carved out two more breaks in
Tennis star Nick Kyrgios is due to face a court in Australia after being summonsed to face a charge of assaulting a former girlfriend. The 27-year-old Australian is to appear in court in the capital, Canberra, next month. Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Policing on Tuesday confirmed that Kyrgios had been summonsed to face a charge of assaulting his former girlfriend. It relates to an incident in Canberra in December last year. “ACT Policing can confirm a 27-year-old Watson man is scheduled to face the ACT Magistrates Court on [Aug. 2] in relation to one charge of common assault following an incident in December 2021,” a spokesperson said. The summons reportedly relates to an allegation that Kyrgios grabbed a former partner, the Canberra Times reported. The maximum sentence for the charge is two years.
The fourth Congress of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and Baseball Federation of Asia (BFA) was held at the Marriott Taipei Hotel on Monday. In recognition of his professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to baseball in Taiwan, Chinese Taipei Baseball Association chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) was elected as the BFA’s new president, with the support of Japan, China and all the other member countries. Receiving the baton from outgoing president Tom Peng (彭誠浩), Koo is now tasked with ensuring that Taiwanese baseball continues to excel on the world baseball stage. Koo said that he aims to unite Asian countries as one family and bring Asian baseball to the next level. After being elected, Koo thanked Peng for giving him the care and support he needed to join the big family of Asian baseball. Koo said that, thanks to Peng’s love and selfless dedication to baseball over more than five decades, the name of Taiwan’s Tom Peng is well known even in the hallowed halls of US Major League Baseball. Koo praised Peng for having won Taiwan the right to host many international tournaments. As ambassador-at-large for the government, Koo’s late father, CTBC Financial Holding Co founder Jeffrey Koo Sr (辜?松), promoted Taiwan’s international visibility through golfing activities and private sector economic and trade exchanges. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jeffrey Koo Jr said he is striving to build Taiwan’s baseball prowess and raise its global profile. He said that his first and foremost task after taking office would be the WBSC’s U-12 Baseball World Cup, which is to be held in Tainan from July 29 to Aug. 7, and he aims to make it the most desirable international tournament for baseball lovers of all ages around the world to take part in. He said he also wants the WBSC to know that the
Belgian Wout van Aert on Tuesday produced a solo break for the ages to win stage 4 of the Tour de France and extend his overall lead in swashbuckling style. After coming second on each of the first three stages in Denmark, the Jumbo-Visma man finally tasted victory when he crossed the finish line in Calais, 8 seconds ahead of the fast-closing peloton. Van Aert’s feat was a rare act of brilliance that is likely to live long in the memory, and makes up for the disappointment of his three narrow misses. “It seems almost impossible, the jersey gave me wings, but we planned it, both for the GC [general classification] and the green jersey, there were 50 points today” said Van Aert, the overall leader who also tops the sprint standings. “They say third time lucky, but for me it was the fourth.” There was nothing lucky about it. After 160km dominated by two escapees, Van Aert’s Jumbo team and Adam Yates’ Ineos Grenadiers launched a blistering attack on a short, steep climb about 10km from the finish. Dressed in his luminous yellow outfit as race leader, Van Aert crossed the summit first and alone after a relentless scrap up the incline. He then powered over the final 8km at speeds of up to 55kph, waving his arms in mock flight at the finish. “This is an exceptional, a really special moment,” Van Aert said. Behind him, Alpecin-Deceuninck rider Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint for second and briefly celebrated believing he had won the stage. “It’s a shame for Philipsen, we shouldn’t laugh at him,” Van Aert said. Philipsen soon found out the painful truth. “I thought I’d won for about 5 seconds. It’ll look funny watching replays in years to come,” he said. Van Aert leads stage 1 winner Yves Lampaert by 25 seconds in the overall standings,
POWER OF PRINT: The group are accused of trying to ‘incite hatred’ with a series of books allegedly depicting Hong Kong residents as sheep and Chinese as wolves Hong Kong unionists have pleaded not guilty to publishing “seditious” material as a five-day trial began over illustrated children’s books. The case revolves around a series of books published by the now-defunct General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists that featured cartoon sheep and wolves, which prosecutors said were analogies for Hong Kong residents and Chinese that were intended to “incite hatred” toward the latter. On the first day of the trial on Tuesday, prosecutor Laura Ng (伍淑娟) said the books characterized the two groups as hostile toward each other. “Hong Kong residents are vulnerable minorities, Chinese rulers are cold-blooded, totalitarian and brutal, and mainland Chinese are thugs,” Ng said. Ng said the defendants openly admitted to having based the books on the political turmoil and street protests that began in 2019 over a contentious extradition bill. One of the books, titled The 12 Warriors of Sheep Village (羊村十二勇士), was linked by the prosecutor to the capture of 12 Hong Kong fugitives by Chinese authorities in 2020. She said that one of the books called for Hong Kong residents to take up arms and use violence against authorities, while another called for foreign interference in the territory’s judicial process. A third book was said to have blamed Chinese for the COVID-19 pandemic, portraying them as “selfish, uncivilized and unhygienic,” which could incite separatist feelings among Hong Kong residents, Ng said. The unionists were arrested by national security police in July last year and have been in custody since, with bail applications denied. The defendants, two men and three women in their 20s, were executive committee members of the union. They face the charge of “conspiracy to print, publish, distribute, display and/or reproduce seditious publications” under the colonial-era crimes ordinance, with a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
Twitter is challenging the Indian government’s orders to block content on its social media site in court, local media reported yesterday, citing legal documents. The suit is the latest showdown between Twitter and Indian authorities, which have been accused of muzzling criticism on and offline. In the case filed with a court in Bengaluru, the social media giant said that the basis on which multiple accounts and content flagged by the government was either “overboard and arbitrary” or “disproportionate,” the Indian Express daily reported. The social media giant submitted to the High Court of Karnataka state that the ministry had failed to prove how some of the content it wanted taken down contravened information technology rules, the newspaper quoted sources as saying. Last week, Twitter confirmed that India had directed it to locally censor accounts and dozens of posts, including some talking about declining Internet freedom in the world’s biggest democracy. Others were accounts operated by the Pakistani government, sparking an angry response from Islamabad. Twitter and the Indian government declined to comment on the court case. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has sought in the past few years to have more control over content on social media in India, where Twitter has more than 20 million users. Last year, as India saw massive anti-government protests by farmers, Twitter was ordered to take down dozens of accounts for supporting the demonstrations, but the US firm reinstated them, angering the government. An Indian climate activist was also arrested in February last year on sedition charges for helping to edit a protest “tool kit” that was shared on Twitter by environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg. New Delhi has accused Twitter of deliberately ignoring new information technology rules — which critics fear could be used to silence dissent — that came into force in May last year. That same month, police
SIT BACK, RELAX: Harumichi Shibasaki has built a global following teaching painting and sketching techniques, and has even become an agony uncle for some viewers Harumichi Shibasaki was nearly 70 when he began making YouTube art tutorials from his quiet home in the Japanese countryside. Five years on, he has 1.4 million subscribers. Unlike the attention-grabbing antics of most top YouTubers, the grandfather has won hearts with his calm, soothing manner, which fans say makes them feel “warm and peaceful.” He has also built a global following thanks to the English subtitles on his videos demonstrating painting and sketch techniques, which sometimes feature his grandchildren and two cats. “Hello. Shibasaki here. How’s everyone doing?” the gray-haired art instructor with glasses and a mustache says in Japanese, pausing to smile and wave. The 74-year-old films everything himself for his channel “Watercolor by Shibasaki” using tripods, lighting and a smartphone or DSLR camera. He is also active on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, and said that being directly connected to the world is “like a dream.” “We didn’t even have a TV at home when I was a child,” Shibasaki said near his home in a rural part of Chiba, outside Tokyo, where birdsong fills the air. “As someone from my generation, I didn’t expect there would ever be a time like this.” His videos range from how to paint cherry blossoms to snapshots of daily life, such as cooking bamboo shoots dug up from his garden. Like many successful YouTubers, his clips are peppered with banner and video ads, while big fans can send cash during livestreams or pay to access members-only footage. It was Shibasaki’s son who first encouraged him to post on the site — a chance for the instructor with decades of experience to reach a global audience. “I like teaching, I like chatting with everyone. I can talk for five, six hours,” Shibasaki said. During the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shibasaki’s subscriber count soared. In one April 2020 video he showed viewers how
As Taiwan continues to reclaim its suppressed past, there’s been a proliferation of documentaries on notable writers — in this case the legendary author and critic Yeh Shi-tao (葉石濤) — in a bid to bring them back to the national consciousness, especially among young people. Born in Tainan in 1925, Yeh showed his genius from a young age, publishing his first novel as a teenager. Things went south for him after World War II; as a member of the “translingual generation” he was forced to compose in an unfamiliar language — Mandarin. Additionally, he was thrown in jail for three years 1951 for “harboring communists” during White Terror era. The ensuing decade was a dark one for Yeh as he struggled to make ends meet after his release, but once he picked up the pen again in 1964, it was full steam ahead until his death in 2008. In addition to depicting the lives of everyday Taiwanese, he was also a sharp literary critic and completed the History of Taiwanese Literature (台灣文學史綱) during a time when local works were still not valued by the government or most scholars. Born in the same year as Taoyuan’s Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政), an exemplar of Taiwan’s “nativist literature movement,” the two are often referred together as “Chung of the North, Yeh of the South, 北鍾南葉). Yeh Shih-tao, A Taiwan Man (台灣男子葉石濤) eschews a linear approach, instead it pieces together Yeh’s life through extensive interviews with more than a dozen friends and family members, and re-interprets his work through modern dance, drama and woodblock-style animations. It’s very ambitious of director Hsu Hui-lin (許卉林) to include so many productions within her production, and the result pays off. The narrative still drifts in a generally chronological direction, so it’s not too confusing. The film immediately draws in the viewers
Once weary of hordes of foreign tourists crowding its narrow streets and ignoring etiquette, many in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto are longing for their return — missing the revenue they brought before the country largely shut its doors to overseas visitors two years ago due to the pandemic. That includes Shoei Murayama, a former city assemblyman and author of the 2019 book The Day Kyoto Collapses From Overtourism, in which he warned the travel industry would push out local businesses and residents. He compared the city to Venice, which has banned cruise ships and is set to introduce a tourism tax. Now, Murayama believes Kyoto needs a hefty flow of visitors to thrive. “At long last they’re able to come back,” he said in an interview at his offices in late June. “Kyoto people have realized over the past two years that it’s tourists who were keeping them going. People’s view of tourism has changed a little.” Japan banned overseas tourists for about two years to slow the spread of the virus and has been among the slowest in the developed world to open up again. Although Japanese citizens made up more than 80 percent of the 50 million visitors to Kyoto in 2019, the lack of foreign tourists still dealt a hefty blow to Kyoto, which has a population of 1.45 million — similar to that of Barcelona. From June, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government began to allow limited numbers to return, albeit subject to strict rules such as being part of a package tour with a guide. His government has retained a cap on daily international arrivals at 20,000, a far cry from the record 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019, who spent 4.8 trillion yen (US$35.5 billion) according to the Japan Tourism Agency. Kyoto has been one of the biggest beneficiaries
Will there be nuclear war? Will Russia win the Ukraine offensive? Will my son survive? As the Kremlin presses ahead with its military intervention in the pro-Western country, more and more Russians are turning to astrologers. In Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, bespectacled Elena Korolyova receives clients in her apartment, where two cats prowl between piles of books. “People want to know what will become of Russia, cut off from the rest of world,” the 63-year-old said. Astrologers, psychics and mediums have for years been popular in Russia, and particularly turbulent years have seen demand for their services increase. As the country reels from a barrage of unprecedented sanctions over Ukraine, more and more Russians are turning to astrology as they peer into the future. Korolyova, a grey-haired philologist by training who rose to fame in the former imperial capital through word of mouth, seeks to reassure her clients. She predicts that Moscow will not only survive the economic storm, but also emerge victorious. “The global cataclysm will intensify in September, but Russia will come out of it stable and prosperous,” she said. Korolyova charges 5,000 rubles (US$90) per consultation and says — without wanting to reveal any numbers — that since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 requests from clients have increased. In the first week of the conflict, the number of searches for “astrologer” more than doubled on Russia’s main search engine Yandex — from 42,900 on Feb. 19 to 95,000 on March 5, according to the company’s keyword statistics. POLITICAL ASTROLOGY In Moscow, another prominent astrologer, Konstantin Daragan, who made a name for himself by claiming to have predicted the coronavirus pandemic, also says Russia will win on the ground in Ukraine and in its clash with the West. “Russia will become the center of the world after the conflict,” he said
The Taipei Times bilingual pages are having a makeover, with professionally curated content for both English and Chinese learners of all levels. With our new partners Ivy English, English OK and others, Taipei Times readers can improve their language studies while keeping abreast of important issues in Taiwan and abroad. A new departure for us is the addition of a Chinese-language learning module, with content provided by the National Taiwan Normal University “Mandarin Training Center.” 《台北時報》雙語版最優質的中英文內容，多年來一向受到讀者們的喜愛。近日起版面全新升級！每週和《常春藤解析英語》、《English OK中學英閱誌》……等專業英語機構合作，提供豐富多元且實用的英語學習內容，不但適合各種程度學生及上班族自修，老師、家長用它當教材也超便利。原先頗受歡迎的雙語新聞則予以保留，持續帶領大家了解國內外之重要議題。 而此次改版除了英語學習以外，本報特別和台灣師範大學「國語教學中心」聯手，即將為外國讀者們推出華語學習單元，打造最強全方位中英文雙語版，精彩內容在網站上也看的到唷！
A: What is the “Tai Arctic?” B: It’s a polar research station jointly established by Taiwan’s National Central University, National Academy of Marine Research and Poland’s Nicolaus Copernicus University. A: That’s so cool. B: In the future, when Taiwan wants to conduct polar research or monitor the environment, it now has a home in the Arctic. A: 什麼是「極地研究站」啊？ B: 它是由台灣中央大學、國家海洋研究院和波蘭哥白尼大學在北極共同成立的研究站。 A: 聽起來好酷唷。 B: 以後台灣在北極做研究或環境監測，就有自己的家了。 （Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報張聖恩）
Taiwan opens polar research station in Arctic (1/3) 台灣研究站插旗北極（一） A: The summer weather is so hot. I really feel like moving to the Arctic. B: Well, you might just have a chance. A: Are you serious? B: According to news reports, Taiwan established its first polar research station at the Arctic’s Svalbard Archipelago, called the “Tai Arctic.” You might have a chance to work there someday. A: 夏天好熱唷，我真想搬到北極。 B: 搞不好你會有機會喔。 A: 你是認真的嗎？ B: 新聞說，台灣首座「極地研究站」，上月底在北極冷岸群島成立了，你也有機會前進北極。 （Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報張聖恩）
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