Asian leaders began arriving yesterday for a summit in the Islamic sultanate of Brunei as strains start to show over support for the US bombing of Afghanistan. \nThe centerpiece of the ASEAN summit is a declaration of support for the war on terror and a commitment to coordinate ASEAN's anti-terrorist efforts. \nBut the group is divided over the US bombing of Afghanistan and a summit declaration ducks any reference to it. \n"Some ASEAN members are strongly aligned to the US and prefer to keep silent, while for instance Malaysia and Indonesia have already voiced their opposition to military action," a Malaysian official was quoted as saying by the Malaysian news agency Bernama. \nThe official said some countries were cautious about offending Washington. \nIndonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, and mostly Muslim Malaysia have already said the bombing of Afghanistan should stop and will seek backing within ASEAN. \n"We urge for a humanitarian pause. We have to be attentive to the problem of civilian sufferings," said Makarim Wibisono, head of foreign and economic relations at the Indonesian foreign ministry. \nASEAN begins its two-day annual summit today, along with the leaders of north Asian neighbors China, Japan and Korea, as civilian casualties in Afghanistan mount and with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan less than two weeks away. \nASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino said the organization's message was that it opposed terrorism in all its forms and was determined to take measures to combat it. \nBut the declaration would contain no reference to Afghanistan. \n"What is happening in Afghanistan is not part of the declaration because the declaration that the leaders may issue will be about ASEAN cooperation in combating [terrorism], especially in this area," Severino said. \nIndonesia's Wibisono said Afghanistan would be discussed on the sidelines as the continued US bombings could alienate moderate Muslim states and jeopardize the global coalition against terrorism. \n"The issue is being handled through the lobbies but not at the meeting proper," Wibisono said. "It will not be reflected in the final document. \n"This question of sensitivity to that issue is essential because it will [be needed to] guarantee the cohesiveness of an international coalition to combat terrorism." \nASEAN's broad commitment to Washington's campaign against terrorism echoes the pledge these same leaders made at the bigger Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Shanghai last month, but its focus will be how to counter cross-border militancy in the region. \nThe wording of the declaration is still being worked on, as some countries, such as Indonesia, want a binding convention ratified by national parliaments to cement coordination between the security and defense forces of the ten nations. \nIndonesia and the Philippines are fighting separatist movements and in the past three months Malaysia has locked up supporters of an opposition Muslim fundamentalist party on suspicion of belonging to an Afghan-inspired militant group. \nThe governments have raised the spectre of links between militant groups in the three countries. \n"Terrorism in Southeast Asia has a transnational dimension," Severino said. \n"In the summit, they will be looking at specific measures to deal with terrorism, perhaps the financial resources of terrorists, in terms of exchange of intelligence and border control," he said. \nThe summit will also address how to counter an economic slowdown and the long-term goal of linking the infant ASEAN Free Trade Area with the emerging power of the Chinese economy. It will also examine the fight against AIDS, which has already infected an estimated 1.6 million of the region's half a billion people.
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on
ON THE LOOKOUT: A Lockheed EP-3 reconnaissance plane was yesterday seen flying southwest of Kaohsiung, according to Twitter account ‘Aircraft Spots’ A Twitter account that tracks military aircraft movements has indicated an increase in US military activity near Taiwan, coinciding with an increase in Chinese military activity in the area. Planes from the US Seventh Fleet have been sighted frequently above the South China Sea in the past several days, and a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was seen flying close to Taiwanese airspace southwest of Kaohsiung yesterday, according to posts by the Twitter account Aircraft Spots. The EP-3 was seen circling above the same area, Aircraft Spots said, adding that other planes from the fleet were seen in the past few days
A Taipei resident who had breached his home quarantine order was found on Tuesday night in an Internet cafe and fined NT$1 million (US$32,976), Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday, as the Taipei City Government announced a short-term COVID-19 relief plan. Huang on Tuesday afternoon publicized the name of the man, Chen Tse (陳冊), who on Saturday last week returned from Beijing and was ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine. However, city monitoring officials were unable to contact him by mobile phone or at his home. Chen was found by police at an Internet cafe on Nanyang Street, Huang said
ACCLIMATION: Chen Shih-chung said that only ‘soft’ policies have been carried out so far, but ‘hard’ measures would be implemented if the coronavirus situation worsens The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday recommended that indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor events with more than 500 people should be canceled, as 19 new imported cases of COVID-19 were announced, bringing the total number in Taiwan to 235. “The center recommends that from now, indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor events with more than 500 people should be suspended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 community transmission,” said Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), deputy head of the center. Event organizers should refer to six indicators listed in the response guidelines