Taiwan signs amity treaty with Spain
1953: Taiwan and the Kingdom of Spain sign the Sino-Spanish Friendship Treaty (中西友好條約) in Madrid on Feb. 19. The two parties established diplomatic ties in 1928, and signed the Sino-Spanish Treaty of Amity and Commerce the next year. The relationship lasted until 1973, two years after the ROC’s withdrawal from the UN. Since 1982, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan has assumed non-diplomatic functions, such as promoting cultural and economic relations.
James Soong sued for party funds embezzlement
2000: The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT, 國民黨) files a lawsuit on Feb. 16 against the party’s former secretary general James Soong (宋楚瑜) for allegedly embezzling NT$360 million of party funds. In 1999, Soong left the KMT after losing the presidential nomination to then-vice president Lien Chan (連戰). He ran as an independent in the 2000 presidential elections — effectively splitting the KMT vote — but the embezzlement scandal harmed his chances of winning. The Democratic Progressive Party’s Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) eventually won the vote by a narrow margin. Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Soong.
Two China Airlines aircrafts crash
1986: A China Airlines (中華航空) Boeing 737 departing from Taipei crashes near Magong, Penghu (澎湖馬公) on Feb. 16, killing all 13 aboard. The wreckage was found on March 10 under 190 feet of water, 12 miles north of Magong. Mechanical failure is believed to be the cause of the crash.
Exactly 12 years later to the day, a China Airlines Airbus A-300 returning from Bali, Indonesia crashes during landing near Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport), killing all 116 passengers and six people on the ground.
From the 1990s to early 2000s, the flag carrier for Taiwan earned a notorious reputation for crashes — most notably in May, 2002, after a China Airlines Boeing 747 flying from Taipei to Hong Kong crashed, killing all 225 on board — dragging the company’s safety record down to among the world’s worst. Since 2002, the 51-year-old airline has made dramatic improvements with no major fatalities over the past 12 years.
Policy bans excessive use of plastic bag
2003: On Feb. 17, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA, 環保署) starts to fine department stores, retail stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants who violate the EPA’s new rule that bans retailers from giving customers free plastic bags over a thickness of 0.06mm.
The endeavor marks the second phase of the agency’s policy to decrease the use of plastic bags; fines range from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000. The fines were later reduced to NT$1,200 and NT$6,000 in June, 2004. According to administration statistics, the number of plastic bags used at regulated stores has fallen since 2002 from about 3.435 billion per year to about 1.43 billion per year — a total reduction of 2.005 billion per year.
Taiwan scores at international film festivals
2005: Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) takes home the Alfred Bauer Prize, the Silver Bear and the Fipresci Award (the International Critics Prize) at the 55th Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 19 for The Wayward Cloud (天邊一朵雲), considered Tsai’s most audacious film.
2006: Director Ang Lee’s (李安) Brokeback Mountain (斷背山) pockets major wins at the 59th British Academy Film Awards on Feb. 19, including best film, best director, best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay awards.