Russian flights deal signed
After two decades of negotiations, Taiwan and Russia signed an aviation agreement yesterday that could pave the way to stronger air links between the two countries. The pact was inked by Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀) and Russia’s Oleg Ivanovich Lobov, the chairman of the Moscow-Taipei Coordinating Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation, according to aviation officials in Taiwan. The Civil Aeronautics Administration said that the agreement will help define the number of flights and their routes between the two countries. Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, responded to the news by saying it will consider launching a non-stop service to Russia. The airline currently partners with Russia’s Transaero Airlines to operate a code-sharing Taipei-Moscow route via Bangkok. About 20,000 people traveled between the two countries last year, a 30 percent rise from the year before, according to Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
Panda cub keeps nickname
After more than three months of going by the nickname Yuan Zai (圓仔), Taipei Zoo’s panda cub has finally been given a real name by voters in an online poll. The poll to choose a permanent name closed on Tuesday night with the majority — 60 percent — of the 75,000 voters deciding to stick with Yuan Zai, which literally means “child of Yuan Yuan (圓圓).” A lucky draw will continue to run on the voting Web site: panda.taipeitravel.net until Oct. 26, when the zoo will hold a celebration to mark its centennial. Zookeepers will then present Yuan Zai with an “ID card” featuring her official name. The 102-day-old Yuan Zai is growing into a healthy young panda at 6.39kg and has begun slowly mastering the art of walking.
‘Humiliation’ brings charges
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Monday indicted a 29-year-old man on charges of deliberate humiliation after he allegedly poured a cup of coffee on a man sitting behind him in a Breeze Center movie theater for kicking his seat back. The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the defendant, surnamed Sun (孫), poured the coffee over the plaintiff, surnamed Lai (賴), after trying to reason with the man kicking his seat. Theater staff said Lai left the theater with his shirt soaking wet and coffee dripping from his hair. Since Sun was seen holding an empty coffee cup when leaving the theater, prosecutors decided he was responsible. If convicted, he could face up to a year in prison.
Retired officer sentenced
The Taiwan High Court sentenced retired major Chen Shu-lung (陳蜀龍) to eight years in prison on Tuesday for setting up an acquaintance to be interrogated by Chinese agents. Chen, who retired from the Ministry of National Defense’s Military Intelligence Bureau, tricked an acquaintance, a former diplomat stationed in Japan, into meeting him in Shanghai in 2007. The acquaintance was taken away by Chinese intelligence personnel for three days and questioned about whether Taiwan’s diplomatic missions in Japan had attempted to recruit Chinese spies and other subjects, the court ruling said. Chen began working for the Chinese intelligence authorities after retired lieutenant general Chen Chu-fan (陳筑藩), a former Military Police deputy commander, arranged a meeting between him and Chinese agents in 2006, the ruling said. Chen Shu-lung was indicted in February, accused of providing China with intelligence on the army, local elections and Falun Gong activities.