Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) announced yesterday that Taiwan had established diplomatic ties with Kiribati, an island country located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. \nKiribati, a nation consisting of a group of 33 coral atolls, straddles the equator. It becomes Taiwan's 27th diplomatic ally and the first one added since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took office. \nThe Kiribati Foreign Ministry made the same announcement earlier than its counterpart here, stating that it will "continue to recognize the government of [the People's Republic of China]" and expressing the hope that its relations with China "will continue to prosper in the future." \nNevertheless, China is expected to cut ties with Kiribati within a fortnight, as it has to several previous allies that opted to also recognize Taiwan, Chien said. \nIn the Pacific, Kiribati joins the Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands in having ties with Taiwan. \nKiribati said it will support international recognition of Taiwan, which is not a member of the UN and many other international organizations because of China's opposition. \nChien said diplomats from Taiwan had been visiting Kiribati in secret since the middle of last year and that the diplomatic achievement was the result of a "long, nervous, tortuous and complicated" negotiating process. \nKiribati provides one of three Chinese space-monitoring stations overseas and played a role in China's first manned space mission. Financial aid from China is a critical supplement to Kiribati's income. \nAccording to Chien's description, an intense tug-of-war between diplomats from Taiwan and China had been running on the arena of tiny Kiribati, with 811km2 of land -- three times the size of Taipei City. \nSome high-ranking Chinese officials were present in Kiribati last week, said Chien, to make last-minute efforts to stop the country from forging diplomatic ties with Taiwan. \nChien refused to give any details of aid packages offered to Kiribati by either China or Taiwan but said that one of the reasons for establishing ties with Taiwan was that China had failed to make good on many of its promises of aid to the island nation. \nChien stressed that Taiwan will cooperate with Kiribati on agriculture, fisheries, health and education. \nAnote Tong, Kiribati's part ethnic-Chinese president, played "a significant role" in establishing the diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Chien said. \nChien said his first talks with Tong, which were conducted outside Taiwan, were very pleasant, and he praised the London School of Economics and Political Science graduate's views on international relations. \nTong and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tou Chou-seng (杜筑生) held talks over the past week that led to an agreement, Kiribati's Foreign Ministry said. \nTaiwan's embassy officially opened in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, yesterday. \nPresident Chen and Premier Yu Shyi-kun have been aware of the progress of negotiations with Kiribati, said Chien. \nChen, who just returned from a trip to the US and Panama on Thursday, lauded the ministry's performance, Chien said. \nReporters asked Chien whether the government intended to boost Chen's diplomatic credits by choosing to announce the new ties with Kiribati one day after Chen returned from his foreign trip. \nChien denied the timing of the announcement had anything to do with next March's presidential election. \nTarawa is about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia. Its islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and the country completed independence in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth. \nHome to a population less than 100,000, Kiribati's ethnic groups are predominantly Micronesian with some Polynesians. Kiribati has few natural resources. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of its GDP.
LAND ALERT UNCERTAIN: The CWB was waiting to observe how In-Fa shifts as it moves north to determine when to issue a land alert, a forecaster at the bureau said Residents of northern Taiwan should brace for heavy rain today and tomorrow as Typhoon In-Fa approaches the northeast, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. A land alert for the typhoon would be issued depending on the angle at which it moves north today, the bureau said. The bureau on Wednesday issued a sea alert for the typhoon, which applies to ships operating off the nation’s northern, northeastern and southeastern coasts. As of 8:30pm yesterday, In-Fa’s center was 470km southeast of Taipei, moving northwest at 6kph. It was carrying maximum sustained winds of 180kph, and had a radius of 200km. The typhoon was moving
TARGET RAISED: The CECC said vaccination coverage has reached 24.35%, while Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government hopes for 30% by the end of July The government has signed a contract to buy an additional 36 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 1 million of which are to be delivered in the fourth quarter, the Executive Yuan announced yesterday, as it updated its vaccination target to 30 percent coverage by the end of the month. The two-year deal with the US company covers “prime series” vaccines and future booster shots to protect against SARS-CoV-2 variants, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying during an Executive Yuan meeting in Taipei. In the two weeks since vaccine registration opened, more than 9.8
NEXT ROUND: About 1.44 million people who have registered online to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine are to get text messages today to book a vaccine appointment Strict border control measures, including a ban on foreign nationals entering or transiting through Taiwan, are to continue, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 10 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and no deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said five of the cases tested positive during isolation or upon ending it. The sources of infection of eight cases have been identified, one remains unclear and one is under investigation, he said, adding that 87.8 percent of the people infected with COVID-19 since May 11 have been released from isolation. Chen said an
BREAKING RECORDS: Kuo Hsing-chun’s snatch, clean and jerk, and combined lifts were all Olympic records, although well off her combined world record Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) yesterday completed her elusive quest for Olympic gold, clinching Taiwan’s first win at the Tokyo Games as she set Olympic records in the women’s under-59kg weight class. Kuo, who has not lost a major competition in her weight class since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she was hampered by injury and finished third, finally chased down the gold medal that had long remained just out of her grasp. The 27-year-old finished with a combined lift of 236kg — 103kg in the snatch and 133kg in the clean and jerk — 21kg more