■ Online music Virgin to offer new service \n \nVirgin Group Ltd, the company founded by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, plans to start an online music service in the US and the UK later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The service, called Virgin Digital, will be provided by Internet music wholesaler MusicNet and consumers will be able to buy individual songs, music albums online or subscribe to a membership service, the paper said. London-based Virgin plans to offer the service through kiosks in its stores and also via its mobile phones; the company declined to provide information on the cost of the service, the newspaper said. \n \n■ Risk \nInvestors taking chances \n \nInvestors have given international financial markets a boost by recovering their "robust appetite for risk," the Bank for International Settlements said in its quarterly review yesterday. The BIS found that the investment climate had improved so much since markets rallied one year ago that it was not even unsettled by fresh revelations of major accounting scandals such as the collapse of the Italian dairy giant Parmalat. "Financial markets around the world rallied into the new year, adding to the impressive gains recorded in 2003," the BIS said. "Improvements in global growth prospects and corporate finances, coupled with a robust appetite for risk, underpinned increases in equity and credit prices," it added. \n \n■ Investment \nSingapore to go shopping \n \nThe Singapore government's investment arm will spend S$100 million (US$58.6 million) to buy stakes in small and medium-sized companies throughout Asia over the next 12 months, a spokeswoman said yesterday. Acquisitions in commodities and agricultural companies may be included in addition to further investment in manufacturing and services in the region, said Rachel Lin, a spokeswoman for the government's Temasek Holdings. Through Temasek, the government has spent S$72 million (US$42.2 million) on small and medium-sized companies since July 2002, including stakes in electronics distributor Autron Corp, water company Hyflux Ltd, and car parts distributor YHI International. It also invested in Chinese shipping company, Cosco Corp. \n \n■ Finance \nMacquarie buys ING unit \n \nAustralia's Macquarie Bank Ltd said yesterday it had agreed to buy the Asian share-dealing businesses of Dutch financial services company ING Groep NV, including operations in nine countries of Asia. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Macquarie chief executive Allan Moss called the deal "significant" because of its earning potential. He said it would also increase Macquarie's staff numbers by 8 percent. The transaction, which would be completed before July 31, will help Macquarie's position in the Asia Pacific region, Moss said. "Macquarie's management team is enormously excited about the potential for financial services in Asia and the opportunities this acquisition presents to strengthen our business and team in our region," he said in a statement.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no