On the first day the US granted visa-waiver status to Republic of China (ROC) passport holders, 77 Taiwanese tourists on board China Airlines CI006, which took off at 5:10pm from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, were the first group to travel to the US without a visa.
During a ceremony at the boarding gate at the airport terminal, China Airlines chairman Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) made the announcement to mark the first direct flight from Taiwan to the US after the implementation of the US Visa-Waiver Program.
On board the aircraft, a Boeing 747SP, were 351 tourists, including a “VIP guest,” American Institute in Taiwan Director Christopher Marut, Chang said.
Among the travelers who boarded the airplane, 109 held ROC passports, and 77 enjoyed visa-waiver access, Chang said.
“It’s a great honor for China Airlines to fly this first direct flight. The nation’s tourism industry will certainly receive a big boost from the [US visa-waiver] policy,” Chang said.
In his remarks delivered in Mandarin, Marut said that the visa waiver was a result of years of efforts by both sides.
He said it was a testimony to accomplishments in bilateral trade and economic ties, and a milestone in people-to-people relations.
The departure of the CI006 flight was a “historical moment” because it signified that the relationship between Taiwan and the US “has taken off” on all fronts, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said.
“It will create more opportunities for business-to-business exchanges and create closer bilateral ties in all the possible areas,” he said.
Under the program, Taiwanese traveling to the US for a stay of no more than 90 days need to apply for the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) online using a fee of US$14. The permit is valid for two years.
In response, Taiwan extended the number of days US passport holders may stay in Taiwan on a visitor visa from 30 days to 90 days, effective yesterday.
In other news, the Taiwanese government has expressed its sympathy to the US, where in recent days Hurricane Sandy has caused severe damage and claimed dozens of lives, and is mulling ways to offer assistance for post-storm reconstruction.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering ways to assist the US, including making donations toward relief efforts, ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed his sympathy for the US on Wednesday during a meeting with US Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, who left for home earlier in the day after a three-day visit to promote bilateral trade and investment.
No deaths or casualties of Taiwanese had been reported from storm-hit areas of the US, Hsia said.
Additonal reporting by CNA
PIVOTAL ROLE: Taiwan’s importance in the global chip supply chain can be bolstered by domestic equipment manufacturing, President Tsai Ing-wen said Efforts must be made to better secure Taiwan’s place in the global supply chain by localizing production of equipment and facilities used by the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. Tsai discussed the issue during a meeting with representatives from the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly of automotive chips — highlighted the pivotal role of Taiwan in the global supply chain, she said. Tsai thanked the association for cooperating with the government on the shared goal of localizing production of important semiconductor industry equipment.
TRACING UNDER WAY: The CECC has identified six transmission chains among 25 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases, including those linked to a restaurant and a bank The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 54 new COVID-19 infections — 44 imported and 10 local — and identified six transmission chains among local cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the imported cases are 18 who tested positive upon arrival at the airport and 26 who tested positive during quarantine. Of the local cases, seven are associated with a cluster infection at a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) outlet in Taoyuan’s Zhongli District (中壢), one is linked to a family of four with COVID-19 reported on Monday, one is a family member of an
BILINGUAL NATION 2030: Those interested can apply online, while recruitment would continue until all of the positions are filled, the Ministry of Education said The recruitment of foreign English teachers for elementary and junior-high schools would be expanded in the 2022-2023 school year as part of Taiwan’s efforts to become a bilingual country, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday. In a statement, the ministry said that it has since 2004 hired 81 foreign nationals per year to teach English in 16 smaller counties and cities to build a better English-learning environment for students. However, for the 2022-2023 school year, the number of foreign English teachers recruited would increase to 531, with some of them to be posted to Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan
Taiwan’s 5G service would not interfere with civil aviation, as there is a broad guard frequency band between the two systems, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday. The 5G system’s possible risks to flight safety came under scrutiny after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week warned that 5G services in the C-band spectrum might interfere with radio altimeters on certain types of aircraft, which could prevent a plane from stopping on the runway after landing. Pilots use radio altimeters when landing under low-visibility. Major US carriers last week also said that 5G service plans offered by AT&T and Verizon