■ Diplomacy \nDowner's comment `unwise' \nAustralia's opposition Labor Party said yesterday that Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was unwise to break the country's silence on what it would do in the event of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Speaking in Beijing, Downer indicated that the US should not automatically expect \nit would have Australian support if China launched \nan attack against Taiwan. A \n53-year-old military alliance between Australia and the US would be invoked only in the event of an attack on either country "so some other activity somewhere else in the world ... doesn't invoke" the pact, Downer said at a press conference after talks with Chinese officials. Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Downer's comment was unhelpful \nand broke a long-standing protocol that Canberra \ndid not comment on hypotheticals concerning \nthe Taiwan Strait. \n■ Tourism \nChinese vistors to missing \nA group of 13 Chinese tourists went missing yesterday after arriving in Taiwan late Tuesday night, marking the second major disappearance of Chinese tourists in less than a month, the Mainland Affairs Council confirmed yesterday. According to the council, a total of 17 Chinese tourists arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday night and were escorted by the police to check in at a hotel in Taoyuan County. However, 13 member of the tour group failed to report to their tour guide yesterday morning. The remaining four tourists are now under the custody of the related authorities. The disappearance of the Chinese tourists, which coincided with the annual Hankuang military exercises, was the second time that Chinese tourists have been missing in Taiwan following the disappearance of 17 Chinese tourists in July 20 last month. \n■ Welfare \nDisability officials arrive \nTwo executives from a regional forum investigating circumstances facing the developmentally disabled will arrive in Taiwan tonight to assess the situation facing local disabled people, the Eden Social Welfare Foundation said yesterday. Asia Pacific Disability Forum secretary-general Ryosuke Matsui and information committee head Joseph Kwok (郭鍵勳) will also inspect the foundation's operations. The foundation failed in its bid to host the forum's bi-annual conference next year, a failure due to the nation's diplomatic difficulties, the foundation said. However, since Taiwan was a leader in disabled facilities and rights awareness within the region, the forum's executive committee had decided to learn more about the local situation, the foundation said. During their three day trip, Matsui and Kwok will also inspect accessibility for disabled people in tourist facilities. \n■ Society \nPregnancy drive approved \nThe Cabinet yesterday approved a NT$84 million package over the next \nthree years to promote \nearlier marriage and more pregnancies. It hopes to \nstop the sliding birth rate by encouraging women to get married before age 30 and conceive before age 35. The average age for women to get married was 23.8 in 1980, but that figure has jumped to the high 20s in recent years. The Cabinet hopes to see \nthe percentage of married women aged between 22 \nand 39 wanting one child decrease from 20 percent this year to 15 percent in 2007, and those wanting \ntwo children increase from \n60 percent this year to 65 percent in 2007.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu