■ Thai airport ceremony put off
Thailand would delay an opening ceremony at Bangkok's new international airport due to problems including cracked taxiways, inadequate toilets and complaints of sexual harassment, reports said yesterday. The government was to hold a formal inauguration ceremony this month of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which opened in late September, with an annual passenger capacity of 45 million. But the ceremony, to be attended by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, would be delayed at least six months due to multiple problems, English-language newspapers the Nation and Bangkok Post said. The problems include long waits for luggage, hold-ups at check-in counters, roof leaks and inadequate toilets, the Nation said, adding "uneven and cracked taxiways" were also discovered at the new airport.
NZ backs free trade plan
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke yesterday threw her support behind a US-backed proposal for a massive free trade zone stretching across the Pacific Ocean, saying it was an attractive alternative if global free trade talks fail. Clarke, speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day summit of leaders from the 21-member APEC forum, said the idea was not in conflict with the Doha round of WTO talks, which collapsed in July amid bickering between the US and Europe over farm tariffs. "The key game has to be WTO," she said. "But if Doha stumbles so badly that it went into suspension for years, then of course an agreement which covers countries around about 60 percent of the world economy is very attractive for us," she said.
■ IP protection
China court backs local firm
A Beijing court has ruled China's leading Internet search engine was not guilty of property rights infringement when posting links to Web sites offering illegal music downloads, state press said yesterday. A Beijing intermediate court ruled in favor of Baidu.com (百度) in the lawsuit brought against it by major international music companies, including EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal Music, the Xinhua news agency reported. No date for the ruling was given. The music companies accused Baidu of engaging in illegal downloading and the playing of music owned by the plaintiffs without their permission, the report said. They had demanded a public apology from Baidu, the suspension of its download service and 1.73 million yuan (US$216,250) in compensation, it said.
Major US deal closed
A New York development company closed its US$5.4 billion purchase of one of the US' largest apartment complexes, despite some tenants' claims that the sale isn't allowed under state housing laws. MetLife Inc said on Friday it had finalized the sale of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complex to Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty, the real estate arm of BlackRock Inc, a provider of global investment management and advisory services. Tenants of the 110-building complex had launched their own bid to take over its 11,000 units, most of which are rent-stabilized and priced far below the market rate. This week, the tenants asked the city comptroller to investigate the sale, saying MetLife had not terminated the redevelopment company that managed the complex.
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,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
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.