Visa application fee goes up
The US Department of State has announced that effective Dec. 1, all nonimmigrant visa applications must be accompanied by application fee receipts totaling US$100, the American Institute said in Taiwan in a press release yesterday. Starting from Nov. 1, applicants for US non-immigration visa were requested to pay US$100. Applicants who purchased application fee receipts prior to Nov. 1 for less than US$100 will be required to purchase a supplemental receipt to bring the total to US$100 for non-immigrant visa applications submitted after Nov. 30, according to the press release.
British delegation arrives
A five-member British delegation -- headed by Tom Cox, co-chairman of the British-Taiwan Parliamentary Group -- arrived yesterday for a seven-day visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a press release. The delegation plans to discuss Taiwan's politics, cross-strait ties, trade and investment links with Europe and the UK, the statement said. The group will visit the legislature, the ministries of foreign affairs, rational defense and economic affairs, as well as the Mainland Affairs Council. Non-political ties between London and Taipei have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Official British statistics show that over 70 percent of Taiwanese investors targeting Europe have chosen the UK as their base.
Cheng Yu-cheng quits DPP
DPP Legislator Cheng Yu-cheng (鄭余鎮) yesterday afternoon announced his withdrawal from the ruling party. The announcement was made before the DPP's Central Advisory Committee's decision whether to expel the scandal-plagued lawmaker for ignoring his legislative duties. Cheng also returned his party membership card to the DPP's headquarters in Taipei. "I temporarily lost myself and thought that [Sophie Wang (王筱嬋), Cheng's ex-mistress] was a gift from God," he said. "But the whole thing turned out to be a joke from God," he added, saying that he has already payed a considerable price for his mistake.
Cigarette seizures soar
The number of counterfeit cigarettes smuggled into Taiwan more than doubled this year after penalties were relaxed due to Taiwan joining the WTO, officials said yesterday. Most of the cigarettes are smuggled from China, where brand-name cigarettes are copied, said Hung Yi-shun, a coast guard in Keelung, northern Taiwan. The rest are from the Philippines and Hong Kong, he said. Authorities seized 38,000 boxes of smuggled cigarettes in the first 10 months of this year, compared with 14,000 boxes last year, the customs bureau in Keelung said. Since it joined the WTO in January, Taiwan has relaxed its penalties for cigarette smugglers to a maximum one-year jail term, down from the 10-year term before.
■ Human Rights
Dissident escapes charges
Tang Yuanjun (唐元雋), a Chinese dissident who swam to an islet in the Taiwan Strait in mid-October, will not be prosecuted for his illegal entry into Taiwan territory, an official said yesterday. Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) told reporters yesterday that the Kinmen Prosecutor's Office had announced the verdict last week after a full investigation. He added that the government will now respect Tang's wish to send him to any country he wishes to go.