The European Parliament yesterday passed a report calling for closer cooperation between Taiwan and the eurozone on political, economic and cultural affairs. Meeting in Strasbourg, France, the members of the European Parliament voted 580 to 26, with 66 abstentions, in favor of the report on EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation. The lawmakers hailed Taiwan as a key EU partner and democratic ally, and a contributor to the rule-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region amid intensifying geopolitical tensions, the European Parliament said in a news release. A bilateral economic agreement between the EU and Taiwan should be designed, and the bloc must do more to address tensions with China and protect Taiwanese democracy, the statement added. The report urged European states to bolster official ties with Taiwan, while pursuing closer relations, such as economic, scientific, cultural and personal interactions, including high-level exchanges. The conduct of interactions is to be guided by the EU’s “one China” policy, the European Parliament said. The European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan should be renamed the European Office in Taiwan, it added, while voicing support for the proposed establishment of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania. EU lawmakers condemn Bejing’s economic sanctions against Lithuania, it said. In the report, the European Parliament additionally voiced support for Taiwan’s bid to take part in the WHO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, Interpol and the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. “[The] parliament insists that any change to Chinese-Taiwanese relations must be neither unilateral nor against the will of Taiwanese citizens,” it said, before warning of a “direct connection between European prosperity and Asian security.” In Taipei, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the resolution reflects a groundswell of popular support in Europe for Taiwan and that it marked the progress Taipei has achieved in fostering better ties with the bloc. The nations of the world are viewing
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) is next week to visit Slovakia and the Czech Republic to enhance ties with the central European countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. In Slovakia, Wu would give a keynote speech on Tuesday next week at a conference on “Resilience in a post-pandemic world” hosted by the Bratislava-based think tank GLOBSEC, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. Wu would then travel to Prague, where he is to receive a medal from Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil to honor the minister as a special guest of the country, and meet with Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib. Wu would also speak at a seminar cohosted by the Czech Academy of Sciences and Prague-based think tank Sinopsis, Ou said. Although Wu would not attend a conference organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China in Rome on Friday next week, “due to a tight schedule and each country’s COVID-19 prevention rules,” he would speak at the conference virtually, Ou said. Wu’s European trip to two countries with which Taiwan has no official diplomatic relations is rare for a Taiwanese foreign minister, given that the countries usually face strong pressure from Beijing to prevent such trips. The ministry did not say when Wu is expected to depart or when he would return. Wu’s visit coincides with one by a trade delegation led by National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫). The 66-person delegation departed on Wednesday to visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania, as part of the government’s efforts to boost trade and economic ties with central and east European countries. The visit ends on Saturday next week. While Wu’s visit would not overlap with the trade delegation’s itinerary, it shares the same goals of expressing the strategic importance of Taiwan, its economic strength and its resolve to defend its democracy, Ou said. Taiwan plays a
SKEPTICAL: Long-time US diplomat Nicholas Burns said that China has been the ‘aggressor’ in its relationship with Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines
US President Joe Biden’s pick to be ambassador to China drew sharp lines with Beijing over its “aggressive” actions in the Indo-Pacific region, but said that “American strength” gives the US key advantages in the relationship between the world’s two largest economies. Nicholas Burns, a long-time diplomat who previously served as US ambassador to NATO and Greece, said that China has been the “aggressor” in its relationship with Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines. He also said that he is skeptical about Chinese intentions on issues such as 5G technology, but he emphasized his view that the US has the upper hand. “Beijing proclaims that the East is rising and the West is in decline,” Burns said. “I’m confident in our own country. The People’s Republic of China is not an Olympian power.” Burns singled out China’s frequent incursions of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone as particularly egregious, saying it is clear that “they intend to take back Taiwan” and that the US needs to redouble efforts to prevent that from happening. “Our responsibility is to make Taiwan a tough nut to crack,” Burns said, while dismissing a suggestion that the US ditch its policy of “strategic ambiguity.” “We’re better off, and we’ll be more effective, in staying with the one China policy of the last four decades,” he said, without clarifying its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty. In Taipei yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the Biden administration for reiterating the US’ commitment to Taiwan. The threatening posture that Beijing has adopted toward Taiwan is affecting regional security and stability, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. Many countries, including the US, have become increasingly alarmed by Beijing’s belligerence, Ou said, referring to what Burns had said at his confirmation hearing: “We certainly cannot trust the Chinese.” Taiwan would continue to bolster its self-defense capabilities and safeguard its democracy, she
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday urged the UN not to yield to China, stressing that UN Resolution 2758 does not say that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can represent Taiwan. The ministry issued the remarks as Monday next week marks the 50th anniversary of the resolution, which gave the Repulic of China’s seat in the UN to the PRC. In the resolution adopted on Oct. 25, 1971, the UN General Assembly decided to “expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it.” Since then, Taiwan has not been represented at the UN. The ministry yesterday reiterated that the resolution only deals with the issue of China’s representation in the UN system. It does not say that Taiwan is part of the PRC, nor does it authorize the PRC to represent the people of Taiwan, the ministry said. Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said it is regretful that the UN Secretariat has persisted in making incorrect references to the resolution and in expanding a false interpretation that backs Beijing’s assertion that “Taiwan is a province of China.” Meanwhile, it refuses to allow Taiwanese to enter UN facilities, denies Taiwan the opportunity to engage in UN forums and even rejects applications from Taiwanese media to cover events inside the UN, she said. The PRC has never governed Taiwan, and does not have the right to represent the people of Taiwan, Ou added. The ministry urged the UN not bow to China’s political pressure, and not to expand the interpretation of Resolution 2758, which has excluded Taiwan for too long.
Southeast Asia’s regional bloc should do some “soul-searching” on its policy of not interfering in members’ internal affairs so that it can deal effectively with issues such as the crisis in Myanmar, Malaysia said yesterday. The comments came after ASEAN members last week excluded Myanmar’s military leader, Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from an upcoming leaders’ summit, a rare rebuke. ASEAN members have accused the Burmese military of failing to stick to a roadmap they drew up together, which was supposed to defuse the crisis that erupted in Myanmar after a February coup. Following the snub, Myanmar accused the bloc of breaking its decades-old policy of not meddling in each others’ domestic affairs — which critics say has made the grouping “toothless.” Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah said he understood that the policy is “almost sacrosanct” in ASEAN, and had been “useful and practical” in the past. “But when we are faced with situations like the one that is currently occurring in Myanmar, then perhaps ASEAN should actually do some soul-searching,” he said at a virtual dialogue on human rights in Myanmar. “As much as the issue in Myanmar is local and national ... it has [an] impact on the region and we should also recognize the concerns of the other nine member states,” he said. The military leader was excluded after authorities refused to allow an ASEAN special envoy to meet with ousted Burmese civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Southeast Asian bloc has been under international pressure to address unrest and the Burmese military’s brutal crackdown on dissent. Diplomatic sources have said that key ASEAN members, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, have pushed for tough action to stop the group’s credibility from being tarnished.
ANTI-COERCION: EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU wishes to bolster relations with Taiwan within the framework of its ‘one China’ policy
The EU is to further its engagement with Taiwan to defend democracy, freedom and an open market, while bolstering cooperation in semiconductor supply chains, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday. In her remarks at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Vestager referred to China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan. “This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait. “We Europeans — we have an interest in preserving the status quo in the Taiwan Strait ... and we will continue voicing our concerns in our contact with China and publicly, and step up coordination with like-minded partners such as the G7,” Vestager said. The EU wishes to enhance relations and cooperation with Taiwan within the framework of its “one China” policy, while strengthening their people-to-people ties, she said. Exchanges between the two sides have also been expanded in that past few years to include human rights, trade and economic issues, she said. “While enhancing ties with Taiwan, the EU also has to address China’s assertiveness and attempts to intimidate Taiwan’s like-minded partners,” Vestager said. The EU is evaluating how to better tackle challenges posed to its supply chains and consolidate its relations with partners in strategic sectors, such as semiconductors, she added. The EU hopes that Taiwan will become an important partner to help it realize the “European chips act,” she said. The chips act, proposed last month by the European Commission, covers research and production capacity, prompted by a chip shortage that has disrupted the auto industry, medical device makers and telecoms. The EU relies on Asian-made chips and it has a diminished share in the supply
‘IT’s FINE’: Retired army lieutenant general Chi Lin-liang reportedly told a radio show that China’s military drills near Taiwan should not be considered harassment
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday expressed outrage after a retired army general had on Tuesday implied that China has the right to fly warplanes over Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Retired army lieutenant general Chi Lin-liang (季麟連), who chairs the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Huang Fu-shin branch — the party’s veteran affairs organization — told a radio show that any country can fly in the skies over the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), which he claimed to be “international airspace.” “Let them [the warplanes] come through — it’s fine,” he said. Beijing’s military drills near Taiwan are more frequent than the Ministry of National Defense has disclosed, but they should not be considered harassment of Taiwan, he added. During yesterday’s legislative session with defense and intelligence officials, DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that Chi abetted China’s psychological warfare against Taiwan and that the Ministry of National Defense’s Political Warfare Bureau should take action against him. “Such a comment would have been laughable if it came from an ordinary citizen, but not from the mouth of a retired general,” he said, adding that some retired military officers have made remarks about China that appeared to have been “coordinated at a high level.” DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said that Chi had spread disinformation in an attempt to downplay Beijing’s hostile intent. Taiwan has laid sovereignty claims to the skies above the Pratas Islands as an extension of the atoll’s land mass, National Security Bureau Director-General Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) told lawmakers. “Chi’s comment that no nation owns the skies over the Dongsha Islands is absurd to the international community and the nation,” he said. The bureau is aware that retired generals have echoed the Chinese Communist Party’s statements, he added. The Political Warfare Bureau would bolster its operational security protocols for former military members, agency Director-General Chien Shih-wei
Facebook Inc, under fire from regulators and lawmakers over its business practices, is planning to rebrand itself with a new name that focuses on the metaverse, The Verge reported on Tuesday. The name change is to be announced next week, the Web site reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter. The move would likely position the flagship app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing brands, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, the report said. Google adopted such a structure when it reorganized into a holding company called Alphabet Inc in 2015. Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg since July has been talking up the metaverse, a digital world where people can move between devices and communicate in a virtual environment. The firm has invested heavily in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets, and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies. The buzz word, first coined in Neal Stephenson’s dystopian 1992 novel Snow Crash, is popular in Silicon Valley and has been referenced by other tech firms, such as Microsoft. Children’s game Roblox describes itself as a metaverse company. Epic Games’ Fortnite is also considered to be part of the metaverse. Zuckerberg plans to talk about the name change at the firm’s annual Connect conference on Thursday next week, but it could be unveiled sooner, The Verge said. The move would come at a time when Facebook is under wide-ranging scrutiny from global lawmakers and regulators over its content moderation practices and harms linked to its platforms, with internal documents leaked by a whistle-blower forming the basis for a US Senate hearing last week. Separately, Facebook has agreed to pay up to US$14.25 million to settle civil claims by the US government that the social media company discriminated against US workers and breached federal recruitment rules,
The world’s nations are planning to produce more than double the amount of coal, oil and gas consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the UN said yesterday. Ten days before a climate summit that is being billed as key to the viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement temperature goals, the UN Environment Programme said that government fossil-fuel production plans this decade “are dangerously out of sync” with the emissions cuts needed. Emissions must go down nearly 50 percent by 2030 and to net-zero by the middle of the century to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the UN said. However, its Production Gap report found that total fossil-fuel production would likely increase until at least 2040. Development plans would produce 110 percent more fossil fuels this decade than consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and 45 percent more than for a world where temperatures increase 2°C. “The research is clear: Global coal, oil and gas production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead report author from the Stockholm Environment Institute. “However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil-fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn,” Achakulwisut said. With 1.1°C of warming so far, Earth is being increasingly pummeled by droughts, floods and storms supercharged by rising sea levels. The Paris deal saw countries commit to limiting warming to between 1.5°C and 2°C through sweeping emissions cuts. Under the deal, every signatory must submit renewed emissions cutting plans — known as National Determined Contributions, or NDCs — every five years. In an assessment last month, the UN said that, taken together, countries’ latest NDCs — assuming that they are fulfilled — put Earth on course to reach a “catastrophic” 2.7°C of warming by 2100. The organizers
The Olympic flame yesterday arrived in Beijing amid calls from overseas critics for a boycott of the Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 Winter Games. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary of Beijing Cai Qi (蔡奇), the top official in the Chinese capital, received the flame at a closely guarded airport ceremony. Beijing successfully hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, although the event failed to produce the more open political and social environment in China that many had hoped for. On Monday, advocacy groups disrupted the flame lighting ceremony in southern Greece, accusing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of granting legitimacy to rights abuses in China. IOC officials have said that they are committed to seeing the competition go ahead and that rights issues are not part of their remit. Speaking in the ancient stadium of Olympia, IOC president Thomas Bach said that the Games must be “respected as politically neutral ground.” Rights advocates on Tuesday said that human rights in China have deteriorated since 2008, claiming that the Summer Games “emboldened” China. Human rights advocates say that China’s oppression of political critics, along with minority groups, including Tibetan Buddhists and Muslim Uighurs, and a crackdown in Hong Kong should prompt athletes and politicians to shun the Games. China says that spectators from outside China are not to be allowed to attend the Winter Games because of COVID-19, and that athletes must remain in a “competition bubble” to guard against the spread of the virus. At yesterday’s flame handover, Beijing Deputy Mayor Zhang Jiandong (張建東) said that the city was committed to holding a “simple, safe and excellent Games.”
COUNTER-MEETING: The conference is to focus on leaders targeted by Beijing, with Tibet, Hong Kong and Uighur activists also invited, the inter-parliamentary alliance said
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has been invited by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party group of legislators, to its meeting in Rome on Friday next week, the alliance said on Monday. “Representatives from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) — a body of some 200 global parliamentarians — will gather in Rome to stage a counter-meeting ahead of the G20 Leaders Summit to demand a tougher stance towards the Chinese government,” the group said in a statement. The conference “will see parliamentarians from five continents meet with prominent leaders of groups targeted by the Chinese government, including Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration Penpa Tsering, former Hong Kong legislator Nathan Law [羅冠聰] and Uyghur artist and activist Rahima Mahmut,” it said. The Rome conference would be the first time that IPAC holds an in-person meeting since its launch in June last year, it said. “Earlier this year the Chinese government imposed travel bans and other sanctions on nine IPAC members, including former UK Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Belgian Green MP Samuel Cogolati, EPP MEP Miriam Lexmann and Lithuanian Social Democratic MP Dovile Sakaliene — all of whom will be present at the Rome conference,” it said. In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry is deliberating details about Wu’s visit to Europe, without confirming whether he would attend the meeting in person. The ministry would share more information with the public once a decision is confirmed, Ou said. IPAC is composed of the parliaments of 19 countries, spanning five continents and includes the European Parliament, she added. It aims to promote cooperation among like-minded parliaments to push China to respect international regulations, global security and human rights through legislation, she said. The alliance has repeatedly expressed
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of the Criminal Code. A conviction for distributing obscene videos carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, which can be converted or added to a NT$90,000 (US$3,222) fine, while a public insult conviction could result in a fine of up to NT$9,000. New Taipei City Deputy Chief Prosecutor Nieh Chung (聶眾) said that while the alleged crimes were serious, it was not necessary to detain the suspects. He said the office originally set Chu’s bail at NT$500,000 and Chuang’s at NT$100,000, but because their assets were frozen, they were released on NT$300,000 and NT$50,000 bail respectively on Monday evening. Yeh was released without bail, Nieh said, without elaborating. The three are believed to have made more than NT$11 million over the past year by creating and distributing the videos, which were made by superimposing people’s faces onto existing pornographic videos using deep learning technology, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said. The videos make it seem as if the celebrities themselves are engaging in the sexual acts depicted. They are controversial, as the likenesses of those involved are usually used without their consent, it said. Deputy Commander of the 4th Investigation Corps Ko Chih-jen (柯志仁) told a CIB briefing on Monday that pornographic videos featuring
People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in other countries can register with the National Immunization Information System (NIIS) in Taiwan, but a vaccination document will not be issued, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its daily news briefing yesterday. Those who have been inoculated with any of the six WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines can go to their local health department to register their overseas vaccination record with the NIIS after they return to Taiwan, but they will not receive a vaccination document, known locally as a “yellow card,” said Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is also the deputy head of the CECC. Those who have not been fully vaccinated can receive their second dose in Taiwan, he said. The WHO-approved vaccines are: AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Sinopharm and Sinovac. The atmosphere at the briefing turned a little testy when a reporter asked about the case of a Taiwanese who exchanged their “vaccination record from the mainland” for a yellow card after returning to Taiwan. “Did you mean the person returned from ‘China?’” Chen asked. “Because when you said the mainland, I did not know what country you were referring to.” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that the local health department had recalled the yellow card from the person. The CECC also reported one local COVID-19 infection and five imported cases. The local case is a man in his 60s from New Taipei City who developed a fever on Saturday and tested positive for COVID-19 when he sought treatment on Sunday, Chen said. The man’s cycle threshold value from his first polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was 33.1, and his antibody test came back positive with both IgG and IgM antibodies, but he later tested negative in two more PCR
DEEP DIVIDE: The Polish Constitutional Court challenging the primacy of EU law puts European diplomacy at risk, said the European Commission
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki yesterday accused the EU of “blackmail” in a public clash with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over his country’s rejection of parts of EU law. The ferocious row, played out in the European Parliament, underlined the seriousness of the issue, which Brussels and Warsaw say threatens the cohesion of the 27-nation bloc. Von der Leyen, speaking just before and after Morawiecki took the podium, said that her commission — tasked as guardian of the EU treaties — “will act” to rein in Poland. She said a controversial Oct. 7 ruling by Poland’s Consitutional Court challenging the primacy of EU law was an attempt “to take an axe to the European treaties by undermining their legitimacy.” “Undermining any of these essential pillars puts our European democracy at risk. We cannot let this happen. We will not let this happen,” she said. Von der Leyen spoke of a number of legal, financial and political options being considered, adding that “the rule of law and the treaties of the European Union are to be defended with all instruments at our disposal.” Morawiecki, in a long speech, hit back by saying: “I will not have EU politicians blackmail Poland.” Dismissing assertions by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that Poland had taken a step toward leaving the EU with the ruling, he insisted that his country’s place was firmly in the bloc. Instead, he said there was a “fundamental misunderstanding” in that EU law derived from its treaties could only be applied in specified areas, and Poland’s constitution was supreme in all other aspects. He said the rule of law issue was being used as a “pretext” by Brussels to force Poland into line. The duel in the parliament brought to a head tensions between the European Commission and Warsaw that have been festering for years. The commission
North Korea yesterday fired at least one ballistic missile, which South Korea’s military said was likely designed to be launched from a submarine. The launch of the missile into the sea came hours after the US reaffirmed an offer to resume talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It underscored how Pyongyang has continued to expand its military capabilities during the pause in diplomacy. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement it detected that North Korea had fired one short-range missile it believed was a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters near the eastern port of Sinpo, and that the South Korean and US militaries were closely analyzing the launch. The South Korean military said the launch was made at sea, but did not say whether it was fired from a vessel underwater or another launch platform above the sea’s surface. Japan’s military said its initial analysis suggested that the North fired two ballistic missiles. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said officials were examining whether they were launched from a submarine. He interrupted a campaign trip ahead of Japanese legislative elections later this month and returned to Tokyo because of the launch. He ordered his government to start revising the country’s national security strategy to adapt to growing North Korean threats, including the possible development of the ability to pre-emptively strike North Korean military targets. “We cannot overlook North Korea’s recent development in missile technology and its impact on the security of Japan and in the region,” he said. One of the missiles reached a maximum altitude of 50km and flew on “an irregular trajectory” while traveling as far as 600km, he said, adding that the missile did not breach Japan’s exclusive economic zone set outside its territorial waters.
MIX AND MATCH: Mixing vaccine brands might be available next month, the minister of health and welfare said, depending on the supply of vaccines to the nation
Yesterday was the first time in 193 days that all daily COVID-19 case numbers returned to zero, with the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reporting no new infections or deaths. “This is the first time since April 8, which was 193 days ago, that we reported zero ... locally transmitted cases, imported cases and deaths,” said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), who also heads the CECC’s disease surveillance division. “Of course, we are glad to see the numbers return to zero, but we need to work hard to keep up the good work.” Chou said that a total of 356,483 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Sunday and yesterday, bringing the nation’s first-dose vaccination rate to 62.4 percent, with 84.61 doses administered per 100 people. Separately at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning, a reporter asked Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, whether Taiwan was close to lowering the COVID-19 alert to level 1. “You can say so,” Chen said. Asked if it could be lowered to level 1 by next month, Chou said at the news briefing that it could be lowered by then, but that the CECC was still discussing comprehensive criteria for adjusting the alert level and would make a public announcement as soon as a final decision is made. Asked about a physician’s remark that border control measures would most likely be eased after May next year, Chou said: “Reopening the national borders is a very big decision, and it would depend on the global COVID-19 situation and Taiwan’s preparedness for it.” Reopening borders is a frequently discussed issue, and changes in the government’s policy would be announced when a final decision is made, he said. Chen urged people to get vaccinated as early as possible, adding that mixing vaccine brands might be
Starting today, people can eat and drink in most areas inside airports, ports and bus terminals, while Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) will from Nov. 8 begin selling tickets for non-reserved seats, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its daily news briefing yesterday. Eating and drinking were banned in all public transportation facilities when a domestic COVID-19 outbreak began in the middle of May. When the nationwide COVID-19 alert was lowered to level 2 on July 27, restaurants in Taiwan Railways Administration and THSRC stations were partially reopened. Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said that from today, the ban on eating and drinking is to be conditionally lifted for airports, ports and bus terminals. Eating and drinking are to be allowed in the waiting areas of bus terminals, Wang said, adding that eating and drinking at ports and airports would be allowed in the departure areas, including departure halls, pre-departure waiting areas and restaurants in those areas. Restaurants are required to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, and people should maintain social distancing from strangers, or use dividers when eating and drinking in these areas, he said. As the CECC is maintaining its strict border controls, eating and drinking are to remain prohibited in the arrival areas of airports and ports, he added. Aside from selling non-reserved seats from Nov. 8, THSRC will increase the weekly number of trains from 899 to 1,016, Wang said. Addressing concerns that non-reserved carriages might become overcrowded, Wang said that while normally there are three carriages of non-reserved seats — the 10th to 12th carriages — on high-speed trains, THSRC would increase the number of carriages during rush hour and could also increase the number of trains to meet increased demand.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) yesterday debuted three electric vehicle (EV) prototypes to great fanfare at its Tech Day event at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. The prototypes of sports utility vehicle Model C, luxury sedan Model E and electric bus Model T were developed by Foxtron Vehicles Technologies Co (鴻華先進), a joint venture between Hon Hai and Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車). The Model C and Model E are to be initially sold under the Yulon-affiliated Luxgen Motor Co (納智捷汽車) and China Motor Corp (中華汽車) brands when they hit the market, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) said. The company expects the electric vehicle business to contribute to revenue as early as next year, Liu said. “We anticipate significant revenue contribution by 2023, and for EVs to be Hon Hai’s next trillion NT business in five years,” he said. Although Hon Hai has aggressively trumpeted its EV ambitions since October last year and announced many partnerships, including with US firm Fisker Inc, Lordstown Motors Corp and European auto giant Stellantis NV, yesterday was the first time it showed the fruits of its labor. The 4.64m-long Model C features a sleek, spacious and power-saving design, while the Model T bus is equipped with a rigid body and a 400 watt-hours battery, fully meeting the standards set by the US Federal Transit Administration, the company said. The Model E luxury sedan, jointly developed with Italian design firm Pininfarina SpA, can accelerate from 0 to 100kph in 2.8 seconds, and generates 750 horsepower, with a full range of 750km, it said. The three vehicles were built on Hon Hai’s EV open platform known as MIH. The “MIH alliance” is an open standard founded by Hon Hai with the aim of allowing Taiwanese EV component makers to cooperate with each other with the ambition to become “the Android
TOOTHLESS? The group did not invite the junta chief after he rebuffed ASEAN’s requests for a special envoy to meet ‘all stakeholders’ in Myanmar
Myanmar’s junta chief yesterday announced the release of more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against a February coup, days after ASEAN delivered a major snub to the military regime. There has been chaos in Myanmar since the coup, with more than 1,100 civilians killed in a bloody crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested, a local monitoring group said. More than 7,300 people are currently behind bars, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said. Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said a total of 5,636 prisoners are to be freed to mark the Thadingyut festival later this month. He gave no details on who would be included in the list and when they would be freed. Prison authorities did not respond to requests for comment. The announcement comes on the heels of ASEAN’s decision to exclude Min Aung Hlaing from the group’s summit on Tuesday to Thursday next week over his administration’s commitment to defuse the bloody crisis. The Democratic Voice of Burma news Web site said three of its journalists, all held for about six months, had been freed. Burmese authorities released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters from prisons across the country in June, including journalists critical of the military government. Those still in custody include US journalist Danny Fenster, who was arrested on May 24. Mya Nu, who said her daughter was arrested in April, was one of dozens waiting outside Yangon’s Insein prison after the latest announcement in the hope their loved ones would be among those set free. “I didn’t get a chance to meet her yet,” she said. “It’s only through her lawyer that I know she’s in good health.” More than 1,300 of those due to be released would be freed on the condition they sign agreements promising not to reoffend, according to the junta’s statement. Such agreements were “basically a
New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that there can be no delay to plans to release contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into the sea, despite opposition from fishers and neighboring countries. Kishida, who made his first trip to the plant on Sunday since becoming prime minister last month, said every effort would be made to reassure local people that disposing of the water in the Pacific Ocean was safe. The wastewater, which is pumped up from reactor basements and treated to remove all but one radioactive material, has built up at the site since the plant suffered a triple meltdown in March 2011. Researchers have used snakes fitted with tracking devices and dosimeters to measure radiation levels in the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered triple meltdowns in March 2011. “I felt strongly that the water issue is a crucial one that should not be pushed back,” Kishida told reporters after being shown around by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). More than 1 million tonnes of water are being stored in 1,000 tanks at the site, and TEPCO has said that space would run out late next year. The government and TEPCO in April said that work to release the heavily diluted water would begin in the spring of 2023 and take decades to complete. The move is opposed by nearby fishing communities, which say it would undo years of hard work rebuilding their industry’s reputation since the plant was struck by a huge tsunami in March 2011, soon after Japan’s northeast coast was rocked by a magnitude 9 earthquake. The decision ended years of debate over what to do with the water, with other options including evaporation or the construction of more storage tanks at other sites. South Korea, which still bans seafood