Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) faced criticism at a legislative committee meeting yesterday over his “over-optimistic” interpretation of a response to the government’s request to visit Taiwanese detained in China following their deportation from Kenya.
At the Internal Administration Committee meeting, several lawmakers asked when the government planned to send officials to China to visit the 45 Taiwanese who were “illegally abducted” by China from Kenya on Friday last week and Tuesday.
Twenty-three of them were acquitted by a Kenyan court on Friday last week in a 2014 telecom fraud case, while the other 22 Taiwanese were among a group of 41 suspects arrested by Kenyan police on the same day.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
When answering questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) regarding visiting the detained Taiwanese, Hsia said that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office sent a fax earlier yesterday welcoming such a visit and that the council would endeavor to make the trip possible within the next two or three days.
“Although Beijing requires more time to handle some administrative procedures and collect evidence, we have stressed the importance of a visit,” Hsia said.
Hsia said that as the heads of government agencies including the council, the Ministry of Justice, the Criminal Investigation Bureau and the Straits Exchange Foundation were swamped with work, their deputies might go instead.
However, after obtaining a copy of the fax — which the council said was classified — People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) accused Hsia of being naively optimistic and making a fool of lawmakers.
“It clearly states that ‘it would be inconvenient for you to send people here for communications at the moment.’ Is my Mandarin too poor to understand this sentence, or is the council being too optimistic?” Chen asked.
“We have no doubt such a visit would be possible and we will talk to agencies [in Beijing] regarding the matter,” Hsia said.
Chen said the content of the fax by no means suggested that China would allow such a visit in the near future, before handing over the document to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who is convener of the committee.
Chen Chi-mai then read out the fax: “We welcome your officials. We are willing to engage in cross-strait communications within the framework of the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議).”
“As the suspects have just been brought back, we still need some time to undergo processes and verify certain issues. Hence, it would be inconvenient for you to send people here for discussions at the moment, but we will actively prepare for bilateral communications. We will keep you informed. The wait will not be too long,” the fax said.
“However, we must stress that according to Chinese law, it would be difficult for us to arrange a visit with the suspects. Nevertheless, if families of the suspects file for visitation rights, we would process them in accordance with the regulations,” it said.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37