Smoking rate rises slightly
The nation recorded a smoking rate of 17.1 percent last year, up slightly from 16.4 percent in 2014 and marking the first year-on-year increase in seven years, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday. The figure translates into a smoking population of 3.27 million last year, an increase of 170,000 from the previous year, said Lo Su-ying (羅素英), head of the HPA’s Health Education and Tobacco Control Division. While the smoking rate among men rose from 29.2 percent in 2014 to 29.9 percent last year, that female smokers jumped from 3.5 percent to 4.2 percent, Lo said. She said low cigarette prices in Taiwan are a possible reason for the increase in the nation’s smoking rate. She said that a decision by the Legislative Yuan to raise the cigarette surcharge by NT$20 in 2013 pushed the number of people seeking smoking cessation services up from 380,000 that year to 620,000 in 2014.
Taiwanese arrested in Tokyo
A Taiwanese man was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo after he was found to be carrying nearly 15kg of amphetamine on Dec. 15 last year, according to Japanese media reports. The man, surnamed Chen (陳), who was traveling with a tour group, was carrying the drug in containers labeled in Chinese-language as tea, the reports said, adding the containers were distributed in his checked luggage and backpack. With a total weight of 14.9kg, it was the second-largest shipment of drugs seized at Narita Airport since it opened in 1989, according to the reports, which put the street value of the amphetamine at around ￥1 billion (US$8.5 million). Chen reportedly tried to convince the police that friends of his had asked him on the day of his departure from Taiwan to carry the packages, but that he had no idea what they contained. He is being held in detention by airport police and could face at least 15 years in prison if convicted, the reports said.
Air traffic hits record
Taiwan’s air passenger traffic amounted to a record high of 57.81 million trips last year, as the nation stepped up efforts to build up its aviation industry, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday. Of the 57.81 million passengers, overseas, cross-strait and domestic travelers accounted for 36.18 million, 11.85 million and 9.77 million respectively, the agency said. The figure, up 5 percent from last year, surpassed the record of 56.3 million air passengers set in 1997, CAA data show. Air traffic in Taiwan began to slide in 1997 due to the start of high-speed rail services between Taipei and Kaohsiung. In 2008, a record low of 35.23 million air passengers were handled in the nation’s airports.
Nangang HSR on track
The new Nangang station on the high-speed railway (HSR) line is expected to start commercial operation in mid-July, as construction work has been progressing smoothly, the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) said. The station in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) is the 12th on the high-speed railway line, which has one stop roughly every 30km. Just over a month ago, three new stations were opened on the line, in Miaoli, Changhua and Yunlin counties. During an inspection earlier this week, Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said the Nangang station was planned at first as a logistics station to service and resupply trains, but was changed to a regular operational station, which is expected to play an important role in the development of the Nangang area.
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
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
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
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,