Mon, Sep 20, 2021
Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan and China. “We cannot accept this,” Chen said, adding that his office had only received notice of China’s decision at 9am yesterday. Taiwan has told China that it would take the matter to the WTO if Beijing does not respond to Taipei’s request to resolve the issue under their existing bilateral framework before Thursday next week, he added. The council would earmark NT$1 billion (US$36.05 million) to help promote domestic sales of wax and custard apples, and expand their sales to other overseas markets, Chen said. Other measures would include extending the harvest time for the fruits, which usually begins in December, to enable farmers to sell them for a longer period, he added. The mealybug in question is present in many Asian countries, Chen said, adding that as they are usually found on the surface of fruits, a common practice by the importing country is to fumigate the fruit with methyl bromide, so the shipments can clear customs. During the first half of this year, China notified Taiwan about mealybugs found in 13 shipments of custard apples and six shipments of wax apples, but did not provide any scientific proof, Chen said, adding that there had been no reports of mealybugs in July and last
NEW REGULATIONS: People working at conventions and trade fairs must now provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination when entering the site The nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert has been extended for another two weeks to Oct. 4, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Since July 27, Taiwan has been on level 2 alert, which was to expire today, before the center announced a fourth extension. Under the alert, people must wear a mask when they are not at home, and the number of people attending indoor and outdoor gatherings is capped at 80 and 300 respectively, the center said. Social distancing rules would remain in place for businesses and public spaces, it said, adding that entertainment venues, such as dance halls, bars, clubs and KTV parlors, would not be allowed to open. The Ministry of Economic Affairs also announced a new set of rules for conventions and trade fairs, which require organizers to submit a disease prevention plan to local governments three weeks before the event is to be held. The rules require at least 60 percent of the people working at an event to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and all of them must provide a negative COVID-19 test or their vaccination record when entering the site, the center said. The ministry has been offering event organizers subsidies to help pay for their operations and employees’ salaries from July to this month, Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Cynthia Kiang (江文若) said. The center reported one local and 11 imported COVID-19 cases, as well as one death. The domestic case is a Taipei resident in her 60s. She tested negative for COVID-19 on Sept. 10, prior to being admitted to hospital, but her daughter, who planned to accompany her during her hospital stay, tested positive on Wednesday. The woman was tested again on Friday, and the result was positive, the center said. Two other people in the woman’s family tested positive for COVID-19 in May, as
The government should build more contingency runways to be used in the event of a Chinese attack on air force bases, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said on Saturday. The annual Han Kuang military exercises, which ended on Friday, included an aircraft takeoff and landing exercise on a public road to test the military’s ability to adapt if air force runways are destroyed. However, the exercises highlighted the lack of such contingency runways on the east coast of Taiwan proper, he said. “On the west coast there are lots of highways that are suitable for the purpose, but on the east coast there are only the bases and public airports in Hualien and Taitung counties,” he said. With Chinese military aggression toward Taiwan on the rise over the past few years, members of the military and the public have been discussing the possibility of building more contingency runways on the east coast, he said. Contingency runways on the west coast are all within reach of Chinese missiles, a miltiary official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity. Therefore, additional runways along the east coast in locations that are obstructed by mountains could prove invaluable in the event of an attack, they said. The government could consider building a runway in a place like Taitung County’s Luye Township (鹿野), where there is a straight section of land for about 14.5km, they said, adding that military aircraft need only about 2km of runway to take off, so it would be more than enough space. Chang Yan-ting (張延廷), a retired air marshal and adjunct professor at National Defense University, echoed concerns about the lack of contingency runways on the east coast, saying the area is strategically important and should be better protected. Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and
Hong Kong’s political elite yesterday began selecting a powerful committee to choose the territory’s next leader and nearly half the legislature under a new “patriots only” system imposed by Beijing. The territory has never been a democracy — the source of years of protests — but a small and vocal opposition was tolerated after its 1997 handover from the UK. Huge democracy rallies exploded two years ago and Beijing responded with a crackdown and a new political system where only those deemed loyal are allowed to stand for office. The first poll under that new system — carrying the slogan “Patriots rule Hong Kong” — took place yesterday as members of the territory’s ruling classes cast votes for a 1,500-seat Election Committee. In December, that committee is to appoint 40 of the territory’s 90 legislators — 30 others are to be chosen by special interest groups and just 20 are to be directly elected. Next year, it is set to pick Hong Kong’s next Beijing-approved leader. Beijing says the new political system is more representative and would ensure “anti-China” elements are not allowed into office. Critics say it leaves no room for the pro-democracy opposition, turning Hong Kong into a mirror of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party-ruled mainland. “Hong Kongers are completely cut off from electoral operations,” said Nathan Law (羅冠聰), a prominent democracy leader who fled to the UK last year. “All election runners will become puppet showmen under Beijing’s entire control ... with no meaningful competition.” Ted Hui (許智?), a former Hong Kong lawmaker and democracy advocate who moved to Australia, said Hong Kong’s political system is now “a rubber-stamp game completely controlled by Beijing.” “It’s more than a managed democracy. It’s an autocracy trying to pretend to be civilized,” Hui said. In 2016, about 233,000 Hong Kongers were allowed to select the Election Committee. That figure has
US President Joe Biden has requested early talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, France said yesterday, in an apparent effort to mend fences after a row over a submarine contract that sparked rare tensions between the allies. The announcement came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected French accusations that Canberra had lied about plans to cancel a contract to buy French submarines, saying he had raised concerns over the deal “some months ago.” Australia’s decision to tear up the French deal in favor of US nuclear-powered vessels sparked outrage in Paris, with Macron recalling France’s ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented move. However, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal yesterday said that there would be a telephone conversation between Biden and Macron “in the coming days,” at the request of the US president. Macron would ask the US president for “clarification” after the announcement on Wednesday of a Australia-UK-US defense pact known as AUKUS that prompted Canberra’s cancellation of a huge contract for diesel-electric French vessels. “We want explanations,” Attal said, adding that the US must answer for “what looks a lot like a major breach of trust.” Morrison said that he and his ministers had made no secret of their issues with the French vessels. “I think they would have had every reason to know that we had deep and grave concerns,” he told reporters in Sydney. “We made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest.” French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves le Drian on Saturday used distinctly undiplomatic language toward Australia, the US and the UK. “There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt,” Le Drian told France 2 television. He said the recall of the ambassadors for the first time in the history of relations with the countries was “to
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry of National Defense yesterday confirmed the transit, saying the US destroyer sailed from north to south through the Strait. The ministry said it has a grasp of the situation and uses joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools to monitor the waters and airspace around Taiwan. The situation was “normal” while the ship traveled through the Strait, it added. The destroyer was in the Strait on the same day that 10 Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. It was the 15th consecutive day that Chinese military aircraft had entered the area. The military maneuvers are seen by some as a way for Beijing to indicate its displeasure with Taipei and warn against actions it sees as jeopardizing its hopes of annexing Taiwan. Taipei considers such moves military threats. On Aug. 27, the USS Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, accompanied by the USCGC Munro, conducted what the US Navy called “routine transits” through the Strait. The USS John S. McCain sailed through the Strait on Feb. 4 and April 7; the USS Curtis Wilbur on Feb. 24, May 18 and June 22; the USS John Finn on March 10; and the USS Benfold on July 28. The most recent passage came as Taiwan concluded its
INFORMANTS? Seven editors were banned, as they might have reported users to the authorities after convincing them to share their identities Seven editors have been banned from Wikipedia in a bid to stop what the US-based Wikimedia Foundation Inc termed “infiltration” by a Chinese group to control the volunteer-edited encyclopedia’s online content, BBC News reported on Friday. The banned editors had been linked to a group based in China and their attempt to “infiltrate” the Web site posed a threat to the “very foundations of Wikipedia,” the foundation told BBC News. The foundation had been investigating the assault on the Chinese-language Wikipedia for almost a year, BBC News reported, citing foundation vice president of community resilience and sustainability Maggie Dennis. She said that information this summer pointing to “credible threats” to the safety of volunteers prompted the foundation to initiate a “rapid response.” “This case is unprecedented in scope,” the report cited Dennis as writing in an internal message to volunteers. The foundation is battling against “capture” by a group that seeks to edit Wikipedia to advance a particular viewpoint, she wrote, adding: “Controlling content was an aim.” However, she said: “I am not in position to point fingers at the Chinese state nor in possession of information that would lead me to do so.” BBC News cited Hong Kong Free Press reporter Selina Cheng (鄭嘉如) as saying that members of the territory’s Wikipedia community are fearful of commenting on articles that the authorities deem sensitive. They fear “they may be targeted as a result of their identities being known,” she said. Weeks earlier, the foundation enacted security measures to protect the personal information of Wikipedia users in territories that block access to the Web site, including China, BBC News said. Wikipedia also took action against the editors because it feared they might have convinced users to reveal their identities by arranging social events or exchanging messages, then betraying them to the authorities, Dennis told BBC News. “When the foundation has credible
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time it was “announced today and banned tomorrow,” intentionally planned for the Mid-Autumn Festival to throw the government into chaos and prevent farmers from enjoying the holiday, the official said. Beijing’s use of “cruel and crass means to target the most vulnerable” disproves its promise of beneficial integration, the official said, adding that it is obvious retaliation for recent improvements in Taiwan-US relations. Beijing always waits until Taiwanese crops are about to be in season to unilaterally announce that it has intercepted some sort of pest, using farmers as the scapegoat, DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said. It is clearly a political attempt to suppress the development of Taiwanese agriculture, he said, decrying Beijing’s “disgraceful” tactic of using agriculture to subjugate the government and businesses to promote unification. Chuang said he has already urged the government to take immediate countermeasures, including reducing the nation’s reliance on one market. He also called on the public to use their pocketbooks to support local farmers. DPP Legislator Wang Mei-hui (王美惠) also called foul, saying that China does not restrict other nations’ fruit imports. The timing is especially suspicious, considering reports earlier this month that US lawmakers have called for renaming Taiwan’s Washington representative office to include the name “Taiwan,” she added. Meanwhile,
WIDER NOTION NEEDED: Victory means preventing the enemy from imposing its political will, former chief of the general staff admiral Lee Hsi-ming said The military should redefine its understanding of victory, which under the current circumstances is not so much winning battles, but preventing the enemy from occupying the nation, former chief of the general staff admiral Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) said. The former deputy minister of national defense made the remarks at a seminar hosted by the Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology in Taipei on Friday. The event was titled: “Challenges for the Taiwanese military’s relationship with society under the overall defense concept.” Lee said that last month’s events in Afghanistan had proven that the US had been unable to control the country, despite having won every major battle of the 20-year war. In light of the US’ defeat in Afghanistan, the military should understand that victory means preventing the enemy from imposing its political will on the nation, he said. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has repeatedly said that the so-called “reunification” with Taiwan is crucial to his ambition of a glorious national revival, he added. This means that Xi might start a cross-strait war in reaction to internal pressure or as a means to “secure his place in history,” Lee said. Taiwan should ready itself to counter a Chinese aggression and boost its military strength to deter China from attacking, Lee said. Should China make an attempt to force unification, Taiwan needs a military that is strong enough to fight off the attack, he said. However, as China’s annual military spending is about US$200 billion — compared with Taiwan’s NT$12 billion (US$432.7 million) — and its naval forces have overtaken the US in strength, deterring or defending against an attack might not be possible, he said. Therefore, the government’s focus on acquiring advanced jets and warships is unwise, he said. Foreign defense experts assume that a Chinese attack with standoff missiles would destroy most of the military’s aircraft and ships, or
Efforts to improve Kaohsiung’s transportation infrastructure and other measures to retain local talent have drawn significant investment to the city over the past few years, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said on Friday. “The year since I took office has been a race against time, but we have managed to draw lots of investors into the city,” he said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper). During his time in office, state-run refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan started to process oil from Chad at its Kaohsiung facility and the newly opened Ciaotou Science Park has spurred interest from more than 20 manufacturers, Chen said, adding that the city has been receiving feedback from those businesses on issues to solve. Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc, Brogent Technologies Inc, Daxin Materials Corp and Huang Liang Technologies Co were among the manufacturers that opened facilities in the park, he said. The Renwu Industrial Park in the city’s Renwu District (仁武) this year held an investors meeting that more than 300 businesses attended, he said, adding that as of July 15, the park had received lease applications from 60 businesses. Meanwhile, four office buildings under construction in the city’s Asia New Bay Area (亞洲新灣區) are to offer more than 1,000 ping (3,305.8m2) floor space, he said. Thirteen companies have thus far signed leases, he said, adding that most of them focus on Internet of Things and 5G applications. “We want these companies to be happy, but at the same time, we also want talented people to stay in the city, so we are constantly upgrading transportation networks that link people’s workplaces and lifestyle places,” he said. Citing an example, Chen said that there are four stations of the KMRT metro rail system covering metropolitan Kaohsiung near the CPC plant. The plant is two stops from
Taiwan is looking to deepen its trade relations with Lithuania, particularly in the fields of agriculture and technology, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council said on Wednesday. Following an online meeting of representatives from both nations, council chairman James Huang (黃志芳) said that the two sides are hoping to increase their mutual trade volume and the diversity of traded goods. Lithuania has a competitive agricultural industry, and is known for food products and beverages such as chocolate and beer, he said. It also has strong laser technology and financial technology sectors, he added. The council, which hosted the meeting, would continue promoting high-quality foods from Lithuania, as the two sides seek to expand bilateral trade of agricultural products, he said. About 60 matchmaking discussions between 24 Lithuanian food companies and their Taiwanese counterparts were held during the meeting, Huang said. The Taiwanese participants, including representatives from retailers PX Mart and Carrefour, said that they would consider importing Lithuanian chocolate and alcoholic beverages. Lithuania’s exports of agricultural and food products to Taiwan totaled about US$20 million (US$721,085) last year, Huang said. Its imports of Taiwanese machinery and information technology products totaled NT$75 million, he added. “I am confident that not just agricultural products, but also the overall volume and value of Taiwan’s imports [from Lithuania] will grow,” Huang said. National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) is scheduled to lead a trade delegation to Lithuania next month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said. Relations between Taiwan and Lithuania have been growing since the Baltic state donated 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan earlier this year. The two countries are also planning to set up representative offices in each others capital later this year.
The National Central Library in Taipei on Saturday opened a special exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Center for Chinese Studies. Titled “Making Sinology a sparkling asset — The 40 years endeavors of the Center for Chinese Studies,” the exhibition showcases the center’s work over the past four decades in the areas of academic research and international exchange. The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 7, also spotlights the center’s progress in digitizing Sinology archives. Fuounded in September 1981 by the Ministry of Education, the center provides assistance to institutes abroad that offer Chinese studies. Library director-general Tseng Shu-hsien (曾淑賢) said that aside from continuing to make breakthroughs in Sinology, the center also focuses on educating foreign Sinologists. Tseng said that 511 researchers from 48 countries had received scholarships to conduct studies at the center. Tseng said that the exhibition also commemorates the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies, which the library in 2012 launched to promote “Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics” through the publication of academic research in Sinology by Taiwanese academics. Thirty-seven resource center branches have since opened worldwide, Tseng added. Before the resource center was launched, the government had started to promote Taiwanese efforts in the field by establishing Taiwan Academy branches in cities worldwide, Tseng said. The library joined the government’s efforts and opened exchange platforms at academy branches in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, Tseng said.
GUIDELINES UNCLEAR: Taipei’s Dianthus MFM Clinic would be fined for conducting antibody testing and charging people without approval from the city government The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is to convene a meeting on Wednesday to specify guidelines for out-of-pocket antibody testing, following controversy over an Internet celebrity receiving a test even though it was unavailable for general purchase. Two weeks after receiving his first dose of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Co’s COVID-19 vaccine, Internet celebrity Liu Yu (劉宇) on Sept. 7 received an antibody test at Taipei’s Dianthus MFM Clinic for NT$1,000, he said on Facebook. He shared his results the day after, saying that his immunoglobulin G (IgG) level of 35.4 arbitrary units per milliliter (AU/ml) showed that he “developed antibodies, but the value is on the low side.” However, the CECC had not yet made antibody tests available for purchase, eliciting calls to change the policy. Some have also suggested that antibody test results could help the public decide whether to receive a third vaccine dose. At the moment, 12 clinics are certified to administer publicly funded antibody tests, but out-of-pocket testing is not yet permitted. If a medical institution wishes to offer paid tests, it is required to first apply with its local health bureau. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said on Saturday that it would be difficult to use self-paid antibody testing to determine the advisability of receiving a third vaccine dose. Guidelines for administering third doses would be decided based on the center’s studies, as well as other countries’ experiences and expert advice, he added. As for whether to allow out-of-pocket antibody testing, Chen said the center would not object to eligible recipients receiving the test, but the law and medical procedures must be followed. The CECC is to convene a meeting of its medical response division on Wednesday to prepare guidelines, he added. The guidelines to be discussed include standards for fees and testing methods, said Centers for Disease
People who have received a first dose of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Co’s COVID-19 vaccine would be able to receive their second shot from Monday to Saturday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Saturday. It also said government-funded influenza vaccinations would begin on Friday next week. The beginning of Medigen’s second-dose vaccination program was moved forward from the original starting date of Friday next week at the request of several local governments, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, without elaborating. The government is also to administer another 910,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Saturday to Saturday next week. Vaccination would cover people aged 18 to 22, those aged 65 or older and people aged 40 or older with high-risk health conditions. The first batch of 932,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses received early this month is expected to be administered to children aged 12 to 17 starting on Wednesday. As for the flu vaccination program, Chen said the government would provide 6.32 million shots to Taiwanese citizens and legal residents. Students in elementary, junior-high and high school are to receive their government-funded flu shots at school, while other members of the public can get vaccinated at designated hospitals. People should wait at least seven days between receiving their seasonal flu shot and a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to make it easier to monitor side effects, Chen said. In related news, Chen said convenience stores and supermarkets would no longer sell locally made masks through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system after next month. The last round of online preorders for collection at convenience stores and supermarkets would run from Monday next week to Oct. 6, the CECC said, as demand for masks through that channel has dropped sharply over the past few months. The sale of masks
Porous sidewalks installed in Taipei last year have been found to reduce surface temperatures by up to 3°C in addition to absorbing excessive runoff, researchers said on Thursday. The Taipei City Government has been experimenting with new building materials since launching a “sponge city” initiative in 2015 to improve drainage and flood controls in the capital. Seeking to reduce runoff along Zhongxiao E Road, which is prone to flooding, the city replaced its asphalt and concrete sidewalks with a more porous material. To test the effectiveness of the renovation completed late last year, researchers from the National Taipei University of Technology’s Water Environment Research Center installed a sensor in front of Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station Exit 4 to monitor how much water was absorbed by the pavement. They discovered that the material was not only effective at reducing runoff, but also had a lower temperature than other types of pavement. Data gathered from March 9 to Aug. 31 showed that the sidewalk can reduce runoff by 13.8 to 63.4 percent, or about 40 percent on average, compared with traditional materials, the center said. Its surface temperature was on average 2.5°C cooler than asphalt, center director Lin Jen-yang (林鎮洋) said. The highest difference in temperature was recorded on July 26, when the porous surface was 3°C cooler than asphalt amid an atmospheric temperature of 37.4°C, Lin added. The material can absorb more water because its porous structure allows runoff to seep into the ground instead of accumulating on top, he said. In sunny weather, water evaporating from within the porous pavement helps cool down the surface and the air above it, he added. “You can think of it like a sponge absorbing water,” Lin said. “The less runoff there is, the better the pavement is at absorbing rainwater.” University president Wang Hsi-fu (王錫福) praised the renovation, saying that the wider sidewalks provide
A Belgian priest has been awarded a Plum Blossom Card for his service and contributions in Hsinchu County over the past 26 years, the National Immigration Agency said in a statement yesterday. Father Joseph Emile Corneille Hermans, who came to Taiwan when he was 30 years old and has since been engaged in missionary work in Aboriginal villages in the county, received the special version of the Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) given to foreign nationals who have made special contributions to Taiwan. Hermans tirelessly traveled between Jhudong Township (竹東) and communities such as Hsiujuan (秀巒) and Tianpu (田埔) villages in the mountainous Jianshi Township (尖石) to promote social welfare for retirement homes, correctional facilities and underprivileged households, the agency said. The agency cited Hermans as saying that Taiwan is his home, and that he often feels he loves this land more than even some Taiwanese do. Receiving the Plum Blossom card ahead of the family-oriented Mid-Autumn Festival was a meaningful form of recognition, he was cited as saying. Many families in the villages need social support and attention, Hermans said, but while non-governmental organizations provide financial support, the responsibility of a priest is to visit and listen to people, and offer them spiritual support and religious blessings. Hermans has also helped Aboriginal children. Seeing that children in the villages often lacked education resources, usually due to family issues or financial difficulties, he organized after-school programs, summer and winter camps, and community services to help them, the agency said. Huang Ching-chin (黃清欽), the director of the agency’s office in the county, said Hermans qualified for the Plum Blossom Card due to his selfless missionary work in the county and social contributions to rural neighborhoods and Aboriginal villages. In Hermans’ case, the Plum Blossom Card serves both as an APRC and an acknowledgement of his contributions, Huang said. Plum Blossom Cards
‘RED SLIPS’: Low interest rates are facilitating the flow of trade in deposits on presale housing, earning profit for many, though regulations could be breached The practice of trading preorder “red slips” for presale housing projects persists amid strong market sentiment, ample liquidity and record-low interest rates, the Ministry of the Interior said on Friday. Red slips function as receipts for deposit payments for presale housing. Several local governments on Thursday conducted inspections at presale projects and found that red slips had been traded for profit by depositors at 48 out of 56 objects, which in one case breached the regulations, the ministry said in a statement. The inspections also found other breaches at 36 projects, including the withholding of information and sale contracts containing insufficient transaction information, it said. With the introduction of an actual-price registration system for property transactions nationwide and stricter reporting requirements for presale housing transactions on July 1, the government aims to curb the sale of red slips. Fines for illegal trading of the receipts are NT$150,000 to NT$1 million (US$5,408 to US$36,054). In a separate report on Monday last week, the ministry disclosed that 882,634 housing units were empty in the second half of last year — a historic low of 9.96 percent since its initial survey in 2009. The ministry attributed the trend to improving utilization rates. Unoccupied houses are defined as units that use less than 60 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Among them, 69,581 were newly completed houses that have yet to find buyers, a five-year low and 4.34 percent fewer than three months earlier, the ministry’s first semi-annual report on housing occupation showed. Previously, the ministry issued the data annually. Releasing the data on a more frequent basis is part of the government’s efforts to rein in house hoarding, which drives up prices and impedes market access for buyers with lower budgets. New Taipei City had the most unoccupied houses nationwide at 131,300, followed by Kaohsiung’s 108,316 and Taichung’s 93,291, the report said. Kinmen County
FINANCE INCENTIVES: The computer server casings manufacturer is to invest in a plant in northern Taiwan, as part of a ministry program to encourage local ventures The Ministry of Economic Affairs on Friday approved mechanical parts maker Chenming Electronic Tech Corp’s (晟銘電子) application to invest NT$1.9 billion (US$68.5 million) as part of the ministry’s three-year program to provide incentives for overseas Taiwanese companies to invest in Taiwan. Chenming Electronic, which specializes in computer and server casings, plans to set up an automated plant in northern Taiwan as it eyes growing business opportunities brought by the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and 5G technology, the ministry said in a statement. The company also aims to focus on systematic research and development of server casing products, and develop high-automation process technology through the investment, it said. The investment is expected to generate 100 job opportunities for local talent, it added. It was the second investment application by Chenming Electronic to be approved by the ministry, following one last year to set up an automated plant in Taiwan to become more competitive, the ministry said. The company, based in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), has manufacturing facilities in China and sales offices in the US. It decided to expand its operations in Taiwan to meet customers’ requests that it diversifies its production to lower risks amid trade tensions between the US and China, the ministry said. The ministry also approved investment applications by six other firms: diode maker Formosa Microsemi Co (美麗微半導體), China General Plastics Corp (華夏海灣塑膠), steel maker Wa Ta Her Co (萬大禾鋼鐵), solid recovered fuel developer Perfect & Outstanding Technology Inc (瑋傑科技), Tosei Seafood Co (東晟水產) and Titan Star International Co (立捷國際), a developer of security and sensor systems. As of Friday, the ministry had approved applications from 998 companies for a combined NT$1.34 trillion since the incentive program was launched in early 2019. The investments are expected to create 113,702 jobs, while another 52 firms are awaiting approval, the ministry said.
PChome Online Inc (網路家庭) is planning a private placement to seek strategic investors for its long-term development and collaboration across sectors, the e-commerce company said at a news conference at the Taipei Exchange on Friday. The company plans to raise NT$1 billion (US$36.05 million) from China Development Financial Holding Corp (中華開發金控), Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and the management team of 21st Century Digital Technology Co (廿一世紀數位), it said after gaining approval from its board of directors earlier that day. Private placement refers to the sale of a large tranche of securities to a small group of investors. In such a transaction, buyers sign an investment letter stating that the securities would not be resold for a specified period of time. In PChome’s case, the sale of 9,376,463 common shares — at NT$106.65 per share — to the three strategic investors accounts for 7.35 percent of its outstanding shares, it said. “By leveraging the experiences and resources on financial services and valuable telecom big data, as well as its AI-enablement technology from the strategic investors, PChome anticipates to accelerate the data-driven digital transformation to not only reinforce its fintech ecosystems, specifically on e-commerce and fintech solutions, but also optimize its fintech subsidiary organization through this strategic partnership,” the company said in a statement. To integrate resources and promote cooperation to enhance shareholders’ interests, PChome said its board also approved a plan to obtain about 50 percent of the shares in 21st Century Digital. Based on their agreement, PChome plans to invest about NT$2.16 billion and exchange shares of its mobile payment arm Pi Mobile Technology Inc (拍付國際) to secure about 10.28 million common shares of 21st Century Digital, while 21st Century Digital is to acquire 34.49 million common shares of Pi Mobile through share swap. One share of Pi Mobile is worth 0.298 common shares of
Financial products and services have been rapidly evolving, rendering the industry more complex, but the public has failed to keep up. People’s lack of knowledge has led to disorder in the markets and a distrust of the financial players, as well as fraud. Regulators mete out stiff penalties to those profiting from consumer ignorance, but people need to become better educated about financial services. Taiwanese have a high level of education, but the nation scores low on financial literacy, with relatively poor skills in managing personal finances, budgeting and investing. Media reports tell about young people who cannot manage their finances well enough to pay back their student loans, people plagued by credit card debt through ignorance about revolving interest rates and older people placing pensions into whatever insurance policy their sales agent recommends. Being financially literate means having the knowledge to make essential financial decisions, but a lack of financial education among Taiwanese continues to land cases of financial fraud in the headlines, whether they involve people purchasing investment-linked insurance policies and derivatives, investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, or buying shares in fraudulent, unlisted companies. The “Taiwan Financial Lives” survey released on Oct. 30 last year by the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance found that 37 percent of respondents felt they only had “a little understanding” of financial services and products, while 36 percent felt they “completely” did not understand. Describing their overall financial literacy, 32.2 percent believed theirs to be “low,” while 45.5 percent said theirs was “extremely low.” While more Taiwanese are embracing the diversity of wealth management tools and products available, they are finding that simply leveraging their knowledge and life experience to navigate the financial industry is not enough — financial literacy is key. A survey released in June last year by HSBC Bank found that only 20
WASHINGTON [Special Commentary]: It is just a teensy-weensy change, a change of one little syllable. It is barely noticeable unless you’re watching really carefully: The Tai-“pei” Representative Office in Washington, D.C. (TECRO) could soon change its name — just ever so very slightly — to Tai-“wan” Representative Office. The office’s “TECRO” initials would remain the same. It will be only a symbolic change. London’s Financial Times reported last week that such a change may soon be coming. The timing was a bit awkward, though. The FT’s report came out on the very same day that Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Taiwan’s national security team were in nearby colonial Annapolis a few minutes from D.C., where he was holding his regular discreet “Special Channel” talks with top Biden White House, Pentagon and State Department officials. These “Special Channel” meetings have been a fixture of Washington-Taipei diplomacy for at least twenty-five years. They became more frequent and higher-level in the Trump Administration. In fact, unlike most Trump policies, the Biden Administration has preserved the Trump White House’s close ties with Taiwan’s foreign policy and defense leaders. The FT’s news was even more awkward because President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) for about an hour-and-a-half late Thursday night, September 9 (Friday morning, the 10th, for Chairman Xi). In fact, one suspects that Chairman Xi knew about Minister Joseph Wu’s presence in the Washington area and timed his call for maximum awkwardness. In truth, President Biden had asked Xi for the phone call some time ago. I surmise that, since Biden’s press secretary didn’t mention a call during her Thursday press briefing, it is likely that Xi agreed to the phone conversation on very short notice. Perhaps the Chairman believed he would have an advantage if the the call took place during
Although 20 years have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, unconventional methods of attack continue to threaten global peace and security. As a woman serving in the armed forces, I sincerely urge everyone to recognize that terror attacks, like war, cannot go away forever. While seeking peaceful solutions, people must also understand the nature of war. A poll released on Thursday by the Mainland Affairs Council showed that 83.9 percent of respondents support a sentiment that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) posted on Facebook on Aug. 28: “I want to tell everyone that Taiwan’s only option is to make ourselves stronger, more united and more resolute in our determination to protect ourselves.” A similar percentage said they support the government’s efforts to bolster national security and the nation’s capabilities to defend its sovereignty and democracy. This also reflects the meaning of “national defense by the people as a whole,” that the military and civilians are united in their determination to defend the nation. Since humans first appeared, conflicts have occurred — the most serious being war — but a “science of war” has yet to be formulated that could cover its every aspect. Neither is there a sophisticated and rigorous theoretical system of war, because war is not the norm and innumerable variables make it difficult to control. Many people eagerly air their views about wars or conflicts, but no one can infer or predetermine how a war will develop, or when and where the next conflict will break out. Even for a major power such as the US, the war in Afghanistan dragged on through the administrations of four presidents, and there has been much debate over when would have been the best time to end that war. Joseph Nye, the US political scientist and expert
UNWELCOME TREND: The French minister of sports called for a ‘reality check ... starting with supporters,’ after the season had been marred by fan-driven chaos Racing Club de Lens on Saturday defeated reigning French champions Lille OSC 1-0 in a northern derby overshadowed by a pitch invasion that delayed the start of the second half by 30 minutes. Dozens of Lens supporters stormed the Stade Bollaert-Delelis pitch at halftime to confront the visiting Lille fans nestled away in a corner of the ground after tensions flared with other spectators. Riot police intervened to separate the factions of opposing supporters as both sets of fans hurled seats at each other over a partition wall. “We’re in the process of trying to get a clear view. It unfolded in some confusion. Of course, any act of violence is condemned by Lens,” club managing director Arnaud Pouille said. “Unfortunately the region’s image is affected by what happened.” “I have a precise idea of the facts, but I don’t want to influence anyone,” he added. “You’ve seen the images. There were some gestures that sparked things and a reaction, which is damaging.” Six people sustained minor injuries and police made two arrests, according to the Lens sub-prefect. The trouble comes the week after OGC Nice were docked a point following the ugly incidents that led to their Aug. 22 home match with Olympique de Marseille to be abandoned. That game is to be replayed at a neutral venue on Oct. 27. Nice were also ordered to play three matches behind closed doors. A clash between Montpellier and Marseille on the opening weekend of the season was also interrupted for about 10 minutes after fans threw bottles onto the pitch. “This start of the season is not going to help us. A reality check is quickly needed for everyone involved in football, starting with supporters,” French Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu wrote on Twitter. Poland midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski scored the winning goal on 74 minutes, as Lens climbed to second
Minor league players in the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies farm systems on Saturday wore teal wristbands to protest pay that they say is insufficient. At least 10 players from the Brooklyn Cyclones and Jersey Shore BlueClaws wore the wristbands — which feature the hashtag #FairBall — during their High-A game in New York. The demonstration was organized in part by Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which also handed out the wristbands to fans and distributed pamphlets detailing the financial issues faced by players. “Minor League Baseball players have been severely underpaid and silenced for decades,” players from both teams said in a joint statement released by the advocacy group. “We love the game of baseball, but it needs to evolve. It is time for every minor leaguer to be paid a living wage,” it added. High-A players make a minimum of US$500 per week and are only paid during the six-month minor league season. Although some players receive signing bonuses worth hundreds of thousands — even millions — of dollars upon entering pro ball, many sign for as little as US$1,000. The financial burden has prompted players to sleep on sofas, air mattresses or floors in overcrowded apartments, play with tattered equipment, and seek charity from fans and more fortunate teammates. “The players who donned wristbands in Brooklyn today will make less than $12,000 this year,” the statement said. “The MLB teams they play for are worth well more than US$2 billion. There is absolutely no excuse for this.” The group said it had volunteers handing out wristbands and pamphlets to fans outside minor league stadiums in Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska and California, along with Brooklyn, which had the only on-field player protest with the wristbands. The pamphlets say that MLB teams extend pay to players during the offseason and provide players with housing and three meals per day during
Gary Sanchez on Saturday failed to catch a foul popup that led to a seven-run fifth inning capped by Andres Gimenez’s three-run homer, as home runs from Taiwan’s Yu Chang and Franmil Reyes led the Cleveland Indians to rout the Yankees 11-3, which dropped New York out of a playoff position. “Definitely a play there that I’m used to making, especially this year. I thought I’ve been very good catching those flies,” Sanchez said through a translator. “I think this is the first one I missed this year, but just a bad read there with the fly ball.” Reyes hit an RBI double off Albert Abreu in the big fifth inning and a two-run homer in the sixth against Andrew Heaney. Chang put the Indians ahead with a second-inning homer off Luis Gil (1-1) and added a two-run double in the fifth against Abreu. Jose Ramirez hit his 34th homer in the eighth against Heaney. New York has 13 games left and fell a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors for the second American League wild card. The Yankees dropped 1-1/2 games behind the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox. A day after the Yankees won the series opener 8-0, they fell behind 10-0 by the sixth inning on Don Mattingly Bobblehead Day. The former Yankees captain was a six-time All-Star, but missed the playoffs in all but one of his 14 big league seasons. Sanchez failed to tag out the Mets’ Jonathan Villar last weekend when Joey Gallo’s throw reached the plate 20 feet ahead of him, then was criticized by manager Aaron Boone after failing to prevent two costly wild pitches in Thursday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss in Baltimore. Sanchez overran a foul pop behind the plate by Oscar Mercado in the fifth inning, misreading the backspin as the ball fell on the dirt behind the plate. He was
Jim Knous and Maverick McNealy both birdied their final holes of the third round to top a crowded leaderboard at the Fortinet Championship, the first PGA Tour event of the new season, while Taiwan’s C.T. Pan was just four shots off the leaders. McNealy caught fire on the back nine, closing his round of 70 with three consecutive birdies for a 14-under 202 total to maintain a share of the lead on the Silverado Resort and Spa course. Neither McNealy nor Knous would sleep easy heading into yesterday’s final round, as there were 18 players within four shots of the lead, including Pan, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson. Pan, who was tied for ninth with a 10-under-par 206, shot a clean round with five birdies on holes five, six, 12, 15 and 16, for a five-under-par 67. It was a welcome follow-up to the four birdies he landed in the second round on Friday for a four-under 68. In the past two rounds, Pan managed to make up major ground after a one-under 71 in the first round, where his five birdies on holes five, seven, 10, 14 and 16 were marred by bogeys on two and 12, and a wrenching double-bogey on the ninth hole. “It was a crazy day,” second-round leader McNealy said of Saturday’s play. “One of those days where the ball was running up in funny spots.” “It was pretty hectic, and then on the 12th everything seemed to slow down for me, and I am really proud of the way I finished,” he added. In Oregon, Taiwan’s Cheng Ssu-chia, Hsu Wei-ling and Min Lee were forced to take a day off from the Portland Classic, after an overnight downpour forced play to be canceled. The LPGA said in a statement that course conditions found in the morning,
DEFENSE SHIFT: The finance minister said that France was given advance notice that their submarine deal was being scrapped in favor of leasing vessels from the US or UK As the government of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering leasing nuclear-powered submarines from the UK or the US, a senior minister sought to reassue the public that nuclear weapons would not be based in Australia under the AUKUS defense alliance. Australian Minister of Finance Simon Birmingham and Minister of Defence Peter Dutton confirmed in separate interviews yesterday that leasing submarines from the AUKUS allies could be a stop-gap solution until Australia takes delivery of its own — potentially in the 2040s. “The short answer is yes,” Dutton said when asked about leasing vessels. Birmingham said that leasing arrangements would not necessarily “increase the number of submarines and the capability across all of the partner nations,” but would help with training and information sharing. “Doing so may provide opportunities for us to train our sailors, provide the skills and knowledge in terms of how we operate,” he said. “[It would help] provide the platforms for us to upgrade the infrastructure in Perth that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see … lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future that sees our sailors working more closely and indeed, potentially on UK and US vessels, to get that skills and training and knowledge.” Birmingham said there was no “quid pro quo” in Australia agreeing to step up its strategic relationship with the UK and the US. He insisted that nuclear weapons would not be based within Australia’s jurisdiction. “We’ve been clear, Australia’s position in relation to nuclear weapons does not change, will not change,” he said yesterday. “We will meet all of our non-proliferation treaty arrangements and obligations and not be changing any of our policies in relation to the nuclear weapons technology.” Birmingham did not rule out an increase in the number of UK and US military
Recent satellite images show North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that it is intent on boosting the production of bomb materials, experts say. The assessment comes after North Korea last week raised tensions with its first missile tests in six months amid long-dormant nuclear disarmament negotiations with the US. “The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea plans to increase its production of weapons-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by as much as 25 percent,” Jeffrey Lewis and two other experts at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said in a report. The report said the photos taken by satellite imagery company Maxar showed construction in an area adjoining the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon. It said a satellite image taken on Sept. 1 showed that North Korea had cleared trees and prepared the ground for construction, and that an excavator was also visible. The report said a second image taken on Tuesday showed a wall erected to enclose the area, work on a foundation and panels removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly enclosed area. The new area is approximately 1,000m2, enough space to house 1,000 additional centrifuges, which would increase the plant’s capacity to produce highly enriched uranium by 25 percent, the report said. Nuclear weapons can be built using either highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and North Korea has facilities to produce both at Yongbyon. Last month, earlier satellite photos of the area showed signs that North Korea was resuming the operation of other facilities to produce weapons-grade plutonium. North Korea calls the Yongbyon complex “the heart” of its nuclear program. During a summit with then-US president Donald Trump in early 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to dismantle the
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place up. There is no alternative,” Andrews said. The state “cannot perennially or permanently suppress this virus. Lockdowns have been about buying time to get to 70 percent and 80 percent vaccination.” Many social distancing restrictions are to remain, while retail and hospitality venues will be limited. However, people will be free to leave their houses without a reason. Andrews said that the authorities aim to have 80 percent of the state’s eligible population fully vaccinated in time for the Nov. 2 Melbourne Cup, leaving the door open for crowds on track at one of the world’s most famous horse races. The COVID-19 plan follows a federal scheme that is to end lockdowns at a 70 percent vaccination rate and gradually reopen international borders at 80 percent. New South Wales has adopted a similar plan. Australia’s most populous state reported 1,083 cases yesterday as it uses lockdowns and vaccination blitzes to fight an outbreak of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 that began in mid-June. The state, home to Sydney, eased some restrictions on gathering yesterday. About 52 percent of people have been vaccinated in New South Wales. After eliminating outbreaks last year through lockdowns, border closures and strict public health measures, Australia has acknowledged in recent months
Late last week the commentariat was stirred by a TVBS poll published on Thursday showing that pro-China dinosaur, college professor and fringe presidential contender Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) was leading establishment dinosaur Eric Chu (朱立倫) 30.6 percent to 27.5 percent in a poll of Chinese National Party (KMT) members. Current KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), considered “youthful” at nearly 50, trailed with a dismal 12.8 percent. TVBS is generally regarded as pro-KMT and so would have little reason to diddle the numbers, which show that Chu, the fair-haired boy of the party’s elites, has been in a slide since the beginning of last month, while Chang suddenly doubled his standing to leap past Chu. Polls are often used by voters to register disapproval and signal candidates. Once they get to the ballot box, they return to the reassuring arms of the establishment candidate. FAR RIGHTISTS RULE Chang, a far-right deep blue Mainlander — people who fled to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) following its defeat in the Chinese Civil War — who advised far rightist Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) during her calamitous presidential campaign before the 2016 election, said in 2017 that he would never permit the KMT to become a Taiwanese KMT party. This attitude appeals to the deep blue senior citizens who now form the bulk of party members and internal voters of the KMT. It is wildly out of touch with mainstream opinion. Even Beijing knows that. Since the 2005 chairmanship election the KMT has been trapped by its far-right internal party electorate, which keeps putting forward rightists like Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Hung and Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜). Ma, at least, knew how to grit his teeth and spit “I am Taiwanese” through them. Han possessed a thin veneer of populist appeal laid over his far-right pro-China views. Hung, a purist
A Finnish man who spent two decades behind bars for murder is trying to repay his debt to society by founding a “rage room” — letting clients vent their anger on household objects with a baseball bat. Janne Raninen, a 44-year-old convicted of two gang-related murders, opened Helsinki’s “Raivoomo” (“rage center”) two months ago using money borrowed from friends, and says he has been “fully booked” ever since. “I was in prison until six months ago and I thought this kind of room could have also been good for me when I was younger,” says Raninen, who became embroiled in gangs while growing up in a disadvantaged suburb in Sweden. “I thought, when I come out I’m going to start this room and let people let out their anger here instead of doing the stupid things that I did in my youth,” he said. Raninen also gives regular talks to young people, trying to steer them away from gangs. “It’s one of my ways to try and pay back society,” he says, adding that the rage room is another -- not only through the taxes he pays but also through the wellbeing it can bring people. SMASH WITH WOMEN Rage rooms are fairly common, particularly in the US, and Raninen’s new venture has proven a particular smash hit with women letting out post-pandemic frustration. “I feel fantastic, you just get swept along with it,” says Sanna Sulin, who has come to celebrate her 50th birthday, letting rip on old printers, a vacuum cleaner and crockery, to a soundtrack of her favourite music. “My friend brought me here to try it and at first I refused, I’m more into repairing things,” she says standing among fragments of metal, plastic and glass. “We women are used to having to behave properly, having to control ourselves,” she says. Eighty percent of the customers are
Life-sized carvings of camels and horses hewn into rock faces in Saudi Arabia could be around 7,000 years old, according to new research that suggests they are significantly older than previously thought. The 21 reliefs, which were only recently discovered, are heavily eroded and were initially estimated in 2018 to be some 2,000 years old based on similarities with artworks found in Petra in Jordan. But the new research by Saudi and European institutions used a variety of different methods, including analysing tool marks and erosion patterns as well as x-ray technology, and suggests the reliefs are around 7,000 to 8,000 years old. This would mean that the area of carvings, known as the Camel Site, “is likely home to the oldest surviving large-scale (naturalistic) animal reliefs in the world,” the study said. In the era that it was created, the region would have looked very different to the arid landscape of today, with a savannah-like grassland dotted with lakes and trees, where wild camels roamed and were hunted. “We can now link the Camel Site to a period in prehistory when the pastoral populations of northern Arabia created rock art and built large stone structures called mustatil,” the authors said in a press release issued by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “The Camel Site is therefore part of a wider pattern of activity where groups frequently came together to establish and mark symbolic places.” ‘ANNUAL GATHERING’ The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Wednesday, was carried out by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, France’s CNRS research institutes and the King Saud University. The team included a stone mason, who estimated that each relief would have taken up to 15 days of carving to complete.
We should do something more cultural to celebrate it (1/5) 我們應該要做點有氣質的事（一） A: What am I going to do? It’s Mid-Autumn Festival, and I’ve been so busy I forgot to prepare anything for the BBQ! B: Who says you need to have a BBQ on Mid-Autumn Festival? That was just a marketing ploy dreamt up by a BBQ sauce producer 30 years ago. Moon viewing, eating moon cakes and pomelos are the traditional ways of celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival. A: Yeah, I’ve always wondered why loads of people set off rockets on Mid-Autumn Festival. If the Jade Hare or Chang-e really did live on the moon, they would long ago have hopped off in fright. B: Well, if you think about it, with the cool autumn breeze and the full moon in the sky, Mid-Autumn Festival should have more of a literary feeling, and we should do something more cultural to celebrate it. A: You mean like composing poetry? I don’t think I’m quite up to that, but I do know there’s an exhibition in an art gallery nearby. Fancy taking a look? B: Now that is a splendid idea. A: 怎麼辦，中秋節到了，我忙到忘記準備烤肉材料了！ B: 誰說中秋節一定要烤肉的？這也不過是三十年前烤肉醬廠商搞出來的名堂。賞月、吃月餅和柚子，才是過中秋真正的傳統吧！ A: 對呀，我也搞不懂為什麼中秋節一大堆人都在放沖天炮。如果月亮上有月兔和嫦娥，也早就被嚇跑了吧！ B: 其實想想看，秋高氣爽、明月皎潔，中秋節應該是很有氣質的節日。過中秋我們應該要做點有氣質的事才對。 A: 吟詩作對嗎？這我沒辦法。不過附近的藝廊有個展覽，我們去看看怎麼樣？ B: 你這真是冰雪聰明的好主意 ！ （Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times / 台北時報林俐凱） Audio recordings for Speak Up! dialogues will be suspended until further notice due to the pandemic.
Facebook has kept internal research secret for two years that suggests its Instagram app makes body image issues worse for teenage girls, according to a leak from the tech firm. Since at least 2019, staff at the company have been studying the impact of their product on its younger users’ states of mind. Their research has repeatedly found that it is harmful for a large proportion, and particularly teenage girls. “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said a slide from one internal presentation in 2019, seen by the Wall Street Journal. Comprised of findings from focus groups, online surveys and diary studies in 2019 and 2020, the Instagram research shows for the first time how aware the company is of its product’s impact on the mental health of teenagers. And yet, in public, executives at Facebook, which has owned Instagram since 2012, have consistently downplayed its negative impact on teenagers. Pressure to share only the best moments and to look perfect could pitch teenagers into depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders, said one internal report. A spokesperson for 5Rights Foundation, which campaigns for changes to digital services to make them more suitable for children and young people, said: “Facebook’s own research is a devastating indictment of the carelessness with which it, and the tech sector more broadly, treats children. “In pursuit of profit, these companies are stealing children’s time, self-esteem and mental health, and sometimes tragically their lives … This is an entirely human-made world, largely privately owned, designed to optimize for commercial purposes — it does not have to be like this. It is time to optimize for the safety, rights and wellbeing of kids first — and then, only then — profit.” (The Guardian) 根據所洩漏之科技公司臉書密件，該公司旗下之Instagram 應用程式，讓少女對身體形象問題更加擔憂。臉書已經將此內部研究保密了兩年。 起碼自二○一九年起，該公司員工就在研究其產品對年輕用戶心理狀態之影響。其研究一再發現它對很多人有害，尤其是少女。 「三個少女中，就有一個因為我們的產品而加劇了對身體形象的擔憂」，華爾街日報所掌握的二○一九年該公司內部簡報中一張投影片顯示。 此項Instagram之研究，為二○一九及二○二○年所進行的焦點團體訪談、線上調查與日誌研究之結果，首次顯露該公司非常明白其產品對青少年心理健康所造成之衝擊。但在公開場合，自二○一二年已將Instagram收編旗下的臉書公司，其高級主管一直在淡化Instagram對青少年的負面影響。 一份內部報告寫道，只分享最佳時刻及看起來完美，這種壓力可能會使青少年陷入憂鬱、自卑和飲食失調症的境地。 致力於改變數位服務，使其更適合兒童及少年的5Rights基金會，其發言人表示：「臉書公司自己的研究，是對該公司及更廣泛的科技業對兒童草菅人命的最嚴厲控訴」。 「為了追求利潤，這些公司正竊取兒童的時間、自尊和心理健康，有時可悲地甚至是他們的生命......這是一個完全人造的世界，大部分是私有的，旨在極大化商業利潤——它可以不必如此。現在該把兒童安全、權利及福祉擺在第一位了——只有做到了這點，才能去考慮獲利」。 （台北時報林俐凱編譯）
With the Mid-Autumn Festival nearly upon us, bakery shelves are heaving with a vast array of appetizing mooncakes in a mind-boggling variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. For many Taiwanese gourmands, the venerable egg yolk pastry is a special favorite. However, in the past some unscrupulous businesses were discovered to have added the harmful industrial dye Sudan Red G to their egg yolk pastries to give the salty egg yolks a rosy-red luster. Sudan Red G was cassified as a toxic chemical by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in July 2018. The administration says it has been carrying out inspections since the ban but has not discovered any illegal use of Sudan Red G. However, with increased demand for egg yolk pastries during the festive season, the administration says it will intensify inspection work during the period. In the past, some egg farms would add the carcinogenic substance to duck feed in order to give their salted duck eggs a deep color and luster. In 2017, the illegal use of Sudan Red G was detected in an online retailer’s salted egg yolk mooncakes. The poultry farm which supplied the egg yolks was required to cull its duck population and destroy its stock of duck eggs. Fraud charges were also brought against the farm. The following year, the EPA classified Sudan Red G as a category 4 toxic chemical. Sudan Red G is in fact an umbrella term for a series of related chemical dyes that sound similar but have different molecular structures, chiefly Sudan Red I, II, III and IV, and Sudan Red 7B and G. Because the molecular structure of the Sudan Red G dye is easily soluble in oils, it is often used in industrial settings such as colorant in furniture paint, shoe polish, floor wax, car wax and oils
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