Taiwan-Japan pacts pending
Taiwan and Japan are expected to sign five more agreements by the end of this year to advance bilateral cooperation in various areas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The five agreements will cover e-commerce, patents, railway cooperation and pharmaceutical affairs, as well as airborne and maritime search-and-rescue, said Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The two sides have reached a consensus on the pacts and are expected to ink them soon, Su said, adding that they are to be signed by Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進), chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations, which handles ties with Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties, and his counterpart in Tokyo, Japanese Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi.
Severe dengue case reported
The year’s first case of severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, has been reported in Pingtung County, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that it was one of the 16 locally acquired dengue cases reported last week. The patient in Pingtung was a 57-year-old man with hypertension and diabetes, the CDC said. He was diagnosed after seeking medical attention for symptoms of fever, headache, muscle, joint, back and bone pain, the agency said. The man has since been hospitalized and is now stable. The CDC reported that three types of the dengue virus have been reported in Pingtung so far this year and cautioned those with cancer or chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease, to take extra care and employ personal prevention measures.
Chinese group visits decline
The number of Chinese tour groups visiting Taiwan dropped 35.7 percent annually in the first 20 days of the month, following the introduction of a ban in China on low-cost, low-quality tours. According to the Tourism Bureau, local travel agents expected the sector to be hit hard by the ban, which as of Oct. 1 outlawed “free” or low-cost tours that make up revenue from commissions by forcing travelers to make shopping trips. However, the bureau is confident that the change is for the best, saying that in the long run, it will boost both the quality and quantity of group travel from China to the benefit of both visitors and businesses. Statistics show only 54,705 Chinese traveled to Taiwan in tour groups in the first 20 days of the month, which is usually a peak month for travel thanks to the China’s week-long National Day holiday.
Songshan Line on track
The Songshan Line on Taipei’s MRT system is expected to begin commercial runs at the end of next year, the city’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems said yesterday. The new 8.5km line, to run between Ximending (西門町) and Songshan (松山) stations, will be an extension of the Xindian Line. Department commissioner Tsai Hui-sheng (蔡輝昇) said test runs began earlier this year, but since the entire testing process would take about 17 months, commercial runs will not begin until the end of next year. The extension will run mainly under Nanjing E Road, with three transfer stations — at Zhongshan Station to connect to the Tamsui Line, at Songjiang-Nanjing Station for connection to the Zhonghe/Xinlu Line, and at Nanjing E Road Station to link with the Wenhu Line.