On Wednesday, several groups of environmental activists and oyster farmers from Changhua County jointly applied to the government to set up a trust fund to purchase coastal wetlands near the estuary of the Jhuoshuei River. \nThe trust fund for public land — the first of its kind in this country if it is approved — is aimed at protecting the endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and preserving the area’s unique ecosystem, which hosts a diversity of wildlife off Taiwan’s west coast. \nAccording to the organizers, more than 31,000 people had signed up for the land-purchase drive as of Tuesday, subscribing 1.5 million shares of the fund worth NT$160 million (US$4.9 million) in total, which they said could buy up to 150 hectares of the most sensitive 200 hectares where Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Corp plans to construct a new naphtha cracker. \nThe first challenge facing the activists, of course, is whether the trust fund will be approved by the authorities, as currently there’s no particular law that could be applied to this fund and no one knows exactly which specific government agency would be in charge of overseeing it. \nWithout first clearing the legal uncertainties regarding the trust fund, activists may be left only to watch Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Corp proceed with the second stage of its environmental impact assessment of the planned naphtha cracker project. \nHowever, what has caused more concern was a remark by Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on Wednesday that dolphins should be able to “make a turn” to avoid a planned harbor for the shipment of petrochemical products in the area. According to local media reports, Wu said if the humpback dolphins could “make a turn” when moving toward Taichung Harbor, why couldn’t they do the same when swimming along the coastal area of Changhua County? \nMr Premier, no one would question the dolphins’ ability to learn to adapt to the environment, because they are probably one of the most intelligent aquatic mammals on Earth. Their ability to change course may indicate they are smarter than humans. \nHowever, such remarks simply show the stereotypical mindset and underlying assumption that we human beings are much more important than nature and don’t need to care about how serious the petrochemical project’s impact is on this area. \nClearly, Wu favors the construction of the project. During his interview with two Chinese-language business dailies published on Wednesday, the premier said the Kuokuang project was a must for the nation’s economy. And later the same day, he told reporters that he was also worried that there would be a monopoly in the nation’s petrochemical sector under Formosa Petrochemical Corp without the planned project by Kuokuang, a subsidiary of state-run CPC Corp, Taiwan. \nHowever, he has apparently turned a blind eye to increasing opposition to the project from 280 local academics over concern about its potential negative impact in terms of biodiversity loss, public health risk and increased greenhouse gas emissions, as well as dangers to water resources and the farming sector in the area. \nWith the whole world cutting greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming, Taiwan’s plan to build the Kuokuang petrochemical complex, coupled with the proposed expansion of Formosa’s sixth naphtha cracker in Yunlin County, looks bizarre and lamentable, only to be topped by the premier making such an absurd remark about dolphins. Of more concern is the nation’s international image over the increasingly important matter of environmental protection.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at a ceremony on July 30 officially commissioned China’s BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system. The constellation of satellites, which is now fully operational, was completed six months ahead of schedule. Its deployment means that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is now in possession of an autonomous, global satellite navigation system to rival the US’ GPS, Russia’s Glonass and the EU’s Galileo. Although Chinese officials have repeatedly sought to reassure the world that BeiDou-3 is primarily a civilian and commercial platform, US and European military experts beg to differ. Teresa Hitchens, a senior research associate at the University of
Taiwan’s rampant thesis and dissertation plagiarism has reduced the value of degrees, bringing the academic system’s public credibility to the brink of collapse. Data published on Retraction Watch — a blog that reports on retractions of scientific papers — showed that 73 papers written by Taiwanese researchers were retracted from international journals between 2012 and 2016 due to fake peer reviews, the second-highest in the world behind China. Based on the size of the academic population, Taiwan was the highest in the world, making it academically a pirate nation. Academic fraud in Taiwan can be divided into several types: the listing of coauthors;