A lack of typhoons to cool waters off the south of Taiwan have resulted in severe coral bleaching, the Ocean Conservation Administration said yesterday as it issued a level 2 alert over the issue. The agency surveyed 20 areas near the coast of Taiwan proper, as well as off Green Island (綠島) and Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), it said, adding that it issued a level 1 alert for areas in northern Taiwan, where it found only sporadic bleaching. Level 2 alerts were issued for all of the areas it assessed in the south, with the exception of Jihuei Fishing Port (基翬漁港) in Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), which had mild to moderate bleaching, it said. “In much of the country the bleaching is happening where the water depth is around 2m, at which depth the coral is more affected by sunlight and human activities,” the agency said. “At depths of 3m, there has been mild bleaching, with some heat-sensitive coral species being moderately bleached.” The issue is concerning because if coral start to die then fish near the shore will be without a habitat and will move away, it said. Water temperatures of 20°C to 28°C are ideal for coral growth and the only way to bring temperatures back within that range is through long-term carbon emission reductions, it said. In other news, the owner of the Chu Lung cargo ship — which ran aground off Pingtung County’s Manjhou Township (滿州) on Dec. 16, 2018, damaging 377m2 of coral — on Sunday was fined NT$652,967 (US$21,772). The Kenting National Park Management Office had requested the owner be fined NT$5.8 million due to the extensive damage to marine life, which it said would take 15 years to recover. This was the first time a fine has been imposed for damaging coral, the office said. The incident occurred because the ship
MONKEYPOX VACCINE: The CDC said that Taiwan has signed a contract to secure an unspecified number of doses and is seeking to have them delivered this month
The first domestic cluster of infections of the BA.4 Omicron subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 has been confirmed in northern Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. A woman tested positive for BA.4 after her husband on Monday was reported as the country’s first domestic case of the subvariant, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, told a news briefing. Four members of the family — the couple and their two children — tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago and genome sequencing has confirmed that both parents have the BA.4 variant, Lo said. With the confirmation of the second BA.4 case, the infections have been deemed a domestic BA.4 cluster — the first in Taiwan, he said. Genome sequencing was under way for the two children, with the results expected to be available soon, Lo said. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, first identified in South Africa in January and February respectively, have been shown to evade immunity from prior infections and seem to be more transmissible than the original Omicron variant, the CECC said. Taiwan has recorded 58 BA.5 cases and two BA.4 cases. Taiwan yesterday reported 23,088 new local cases of COVID-19 and 34 deaths from the disease, CECC data showed. In other news, the CDC said that Taiwan has signed a contract to secure an unspecified number of monkeypox vaccine doses, with efforts being made to have them delivered by the end of this month. The CDC previously said that the vaccine Taiwan has purchased is a third-generation smallpox vaccine, which is clinically suitable for use as a monkeypox vaccine. CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) did not specify the quantity of the doses or the number of shipments. Taiwan has recorded three monkeypox infections since June 24, all of which were imported, with the cases
Noncommercial online platforms should not be regulated by the digital intermediary service act, the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) bulletin board system yesterday said in an information session organized by the National Communications Commission (NCC). “The draft act stipulates that platforms with more than 2.3 million active users would be categorized as ‘designated online platform operators’ and would be subject to more obligations required by the NCC,” PTT legal consultant Hsu Che-jen (許哲仁). “Although we have yet to reach that threshold, we believe that the government should only impose more obligations on large commercial platforms. As a noncommercial platform with very limited resources, PTT would have no way to fulfill obligations required by the government,” Hsu said. “Categorizing us as a designated online platform operator would be no different from asking us to shut down the entire operation.” The draft act would limit the actions that platform operators can take to sanction users who repeatedly disseminate illegal content, such as those who share child pornography, Hsu said. “These users must first be warned by platform operators, who are entitled to suspend users’ access to platforms for a reasonable amount of time only if they refuse to change their ways,” he said. “Based on the draft act, platform operators must not suspend their access to the platforms immediately without administering correctional measures first, or they will be fined NT$500,000 to NT$5 million [US$16,672 to US$166,717].” The draft act also allows such users to counter the restrictions imposed by platform operators through mechanisms on the platforms if the operators fail to follow due process to suspend access, he said. “The draft act would empower malefactors by allowing them to spread illegal content at least two times and leave platforms without quicker and more effective means to handle them,” he said, adding the draft act should leave room for an
Taiwan and Australia are to collaborate on language courses and training teachers after the Ministry of Education, the National Development Council and the Australian Office in Taipei yesterday signed the Taiwan-Australia English Learning Partners Action Plan. The program aims to increase focus on the average proficiency of Taiwanese in bilingual communications, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said. The program includes expedited development of bilingual high-education facilities, creating a bilingual learning environment in elementary and junior-high schools, enhancing the digital learning environment for English, promoting the acceptance of Taiwan’s General English Proficiency Test among international facilities and universities, boosting Mandarin education, and fostering and increasing the talent pool for bilingual education. The ministry looks forward to working with its Australian peers on bilingual education for students under the 12-Year National Education Program and those in higher education to create online teaching programs and to help English-language teaching at vocational schools, Pan said. Australia’s efforts to train bilingual talent and step up English-language training for vocational education would interface with professional associations and private organizations based on the needs of both sides, the ministry said. The project aims to produce more bilingual individuals in the fields of tourism, medicare and in the technology sector, as well as in other industries, the ministry said. The program was first discussed in March, and the ceremony yesterday marked an excellent beginning for a Taiwan-Australia partnership, National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said. The program also highlights the council’s resolve to implement the government’s 2030 bilingual policy by offering more diverse channels to learn English and creating more opportunities for bilingual Taiwanese to excel and shine on the international stage, Kung said. Australian Representative to Taiwan Jenny Bloomfield said that the program would deepen Taiwan-Australia collaboration in education, vocational training and youth interaction by establishing more sister-school ties and introducing more joint
‘DESTABILIZING’: Beijing risks miscalculating and threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait with its intensified pressure campaign against Taipei, a US official said
China’s efforts to coerce and undermine Taiwan risk miscalculation and its pressure campaign will most likely continue, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said on Wednesday. China has been carrying out war games and military drills around Taiwan earlier this month to show its anger at a visit to Taipei by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaking on a conference call, Kritenbrink said Beijing had used Pelosi’s landmark visit to Taipei earlier this month as an excuse to change the “status quo,” jeopardizing peace. “These actions are part of an intensified pressure campaign by the PRC against Taiwan, which we expect to continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months,” he said, referring to China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China. “The goal of this campaign is clear to intimidate and coerce Taiwan, and undermine its resilience.” The US has been clear with China that its approach to Taiwan has not changed, including the US commitment to its “one China” policy and not supporting Taiwan’s formal independence, he added. “While our policy has not changed, what has changed is Beijing’s growing coercion. The PRC’s words and actions are deeply destabilizing. They risk miscalculation, and threaten the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” he said. The US has conveyed to China in every conversation that it does not seek and would not provoke a crisis, he said. US lines of communication with Beijing remain open, and Washington will continue to conduct routine naval transits through the Taiwan Strait, he added. “We will continue to take calm, but resolute steps to uphold peace and stability in the face of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to undermine it and to support Taiwan in line with our long-standing policy. We will act responsibly, steadily and resolutely,” he said. US Department of State spokesman
Taiwan’s air force showcased its anti-aircraft capabilities yesterday, saying it is ready for action 24 hours a day, as the nation faces sustained pressure from Chinese military drills. China has been carrying out exercises around the nation after a visit earlier this month by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was followed by five US lawmakers on Sunday and Monday. Pelosi’s visit infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei, and sent warships and fighter jets close to Taiwan. On a government-organized trip for media to Taiwan’s key east coast air base in Hualien, the air force showed off its anti-aircraft systems, including the domestically developed Tien Kung III (Sky Bow III) surface-to-air missiles. Also on display was the Oerlikon GDF-006 35mm anti-aircraft gun, which officers demonstrated how to set up and how it was aimed at incoming aircraft. Air defense crews said the increased tensions, including the recent Chinese drills, did not faze them. “We were not nervous at all at that time, as our regular training is prepared for all-day, 24-hour missile operations,” air defense officer Chen Te-huan said. “When the Chinese military acted, we were already well prepared.” Although Taiwan’s air force has been at the front lines of responding to China’s drills, including regularly scrambling aircraft to ward off Chinese fighters that get close to the nation, the government has stressed its “calm response,” and there have been no clashes. Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense said that 51 Chinese aircraft and six Chinese ships had been detected operating around Taiwan yesterday as Beijing continued its military activities. That included 25 aircraft that crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line or flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone, it said.
With China recently conducting large-scale military exercises around Taiwan, public perception that Beijing is hostile to the government and people of Taiwan has soared to 20-year highs, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday. A survey commissioned by the council showed that 80.8 percent of respondents said Beijing is hostile to the Taiwanese government and 66.6 percent said it is hostile to Taiwanese, MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said. Asked about China’s military activities, 88.3 percent of respondents condemned Beijng’s live-fire missile tests and sea and air drills, and 88.7 percent slammed Chinese cyberattacks and fake news targeting Taiwan, he said. In a show of support for the government, 80.3 percent backed President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) call on Beijing to immediately cease its provocative actions and 82.6 percent agreed with the Tsai administration’s line to neither provoke nor concede to China. Additionally, 82.3 percent agreed that Taiwan should prevent Chinese aggression by standing in solidarity with the international community, and 82.6 percent opposed Beijing’s bans on Taiwanese agricultural exports and natural sand imports, the survey showed. Furthermore, 76.2 percent of respondents rejected Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a part of China, and 77.7 percent backed Taipei’s stance that Taiwan and China are independent and mutually non-subordinate sovereign nations, it showed. Beijing’s latest white paper promoting “reunification” under the “one country, two systems” framework was unacceptable to 84.7 percent of respondents, and 77.8 percent opposed China’s sanctions against so-called “separatist” individuals, groups and companies in Taiwan, the poll showed. According to the poll, 86.1 percent of the public wants to keep a “broadly defined status quo” and 84.7 percent said only Taiwanese have the right to decide the future of Taiwan. The MAC condemns China’s recent actions as harmful to peace and stability in the region, and a challenge to the international order, Chiu said. Taiwan will make
The government must put measures in place to regulate returning Taiwanese exposed to Chinese political manipulation, National Taipei University Institute of Criminology professor Shen Pao-yang (沈伯洋) said yesterday. Shen made the remarks at a seminar titled: “How democratic Taiwan should regulate growing Chinese influence on the Internet streaming/broadcasting industry.” The Economic Democracy Union, which hosted the event, said that China is stepping up political propaganda on Taiwan’s elections, public referendums and COVID-19 pandemic prevention issues via Internet streaming and broadcasting platforms. They embed links on platforms promoting Chinese merchandise, computer games, adverts and Internet celebrities, it said. Taiwan must enact preventive measures instead of stanching the wound when the damage has already been done, Shen said, adding that preventative measures do not absolve the need to draft legislation. People have been exposed to Chinese influence when they traveled to China with their professors, or worked with job creation centers or other universities, Shen said, adding that the professors themselves are targets of China’s political warfare rhetoric. There should be more attention paid to professors taking students to China instead of what young Taiwanese have done, he said, urging the government to implement regulatory measures. One of the ways China is expanding its influence and “brainwashing” young Taiwanese young is through the use of artificial intelligence to create “fake news broadcasters” who mouth “news” generated by a central content farm, Shen said. China has also been hiring Taiwanese to ghostwrite articles to make them feel closer and more authentic to Taiwanese, he said. Chinese agents have learned that it is easy to make Taiwanese spread false news reports — all it takes is money, he said. In other cases, streamers would notice that they receive more donations online when speaking about pro-China issues, incentivizing them to make more such content, Shen said. There is evidence that at least five people that have
Low salaries in Taiwan are to blame for a spate in human trafficking scams luring Taiwanese abroad with the promise of high-paying jobs, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers said yesterday. Calls have emerged for police to investigate human trafficking rings and help people stranded in Southeast Asia amid a series of reports of Taiwanese going to Cambodia on promises of jobs paying about NT$70,000 to NT$200,000 a month and later being subject to abuse. KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) blamed the “extremely serious issue of low wages” for the problem. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the end of 2017 promised that 2018 would be the year the problem is solved, he told a news conference in Taipei. “All these years later, what specific measures have there been?” Tseng asked. The labor share of GDP was only 45 percent in 2020, down from 51.1 percent on average since 1992, showing that a dwindling share of economic growth reaches Taiwanese workers, he said. In May, the average unemployment rate was 3.68 percent, KMT Legislator Lin Szu-ming (林思銘) said, citing Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics data. However, the rate was 11.78 percent among people aged 15 to 24, and 12.16 percent among 20 to 24-year-olds, Lin said. One in every eight young people was without a job, he added. The government raises the minimum wage every year, but it is not enough to keep pace with inflation, making the wage hikes merely a “drop in the bucket,” he added. To solve the low wage problem, the KMT caucus proposed attracting foreign investment to create jobs, assisting industrial upgrades, adjusting talent cultivation strategies and supporting entrepreneurs. The Executive Yuan has said that authorities are working to rescue more than 300 people trafficked to Cambodia. Police have in the past few weeks identified 144 potential victims after visiting 4,679 households, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng
Disability advocates yesterday called for a presidential pardon for an elderly man convicted in a “compassionate killing” case, while asking for more support for people with cerebral palsy and their caregivers. The Supreme Court on Monday last week upheld a two-and-a-half-year prison term for a Taipei man surnamed Chen (陳), 79, who was convicted of suffocating his daughter to death in 2020. Chen’s daughter, then 50 years old, was bedridden since childhood due to severe cerebral palsy and mental disability. Chen and his wife attended to all of their daughter’s daily needs, which then became Chen’s sole responsibility after his wife fell ill. According to court transcripts, Chen said his daughter developed a toothache and body pain in February 2020, and believed she had built a resistance to painkillers and anesthetics. He also could not take her to a hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions and fear of infection, he told the court. Unable to bear seeing her suffer, he said he suffocated her with a blanket, then attempted suicide after regretting his actions. Three courts subsequently handed him the most lenient possible sentence on compassionate grounds. Eleven associations dedicated to cerebral palsy, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) and other advocates yesterday held a news conference calling on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to grant Chen a pardon. Charles Chen said the issue is dear to him, as his legislative assistant, Huang Hsiao-chih (黃筱智), also has cerebral palsy. While she knows that not everyone is as lucky as she is, she deeply understands the toll it takes on those who care for people with the condition, the lawmaker said. Huang said she fears that Chen’s case would be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” that makes families of people with cerebral palsy lose hope. The government is responsible for caring for its people, and as such, should take the social
NINE-IN-ONE ELECTIONS: An estimated 19.3 million Taiwanese aged 20 or older, including 760,000 first-time voters, can cast their ballots in the Nov. 26 elections
More than 83 percent of the nation’s 23 million people are eligible to vote in the local elections in November, including 760,000 first-time voters, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said yesterday. In the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 26, voters will be electing 11,023 public officials at all levels of local government, CEC Chairperson Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said shortly after the commission published a notice for candidate registration. Registration will be open from Monday to Friday next week for candidates for special municipality mayors and councilors, county commissioners and councilors, indigenous district representatives and councilors, township mayors and councilors, and borough wardens or village chiefs, the notice said. About 19.3 million Taiwanese — or more than 83 percent of the population — aged 20 or older are eligible to cast their ballots, including 760,000 first-time voters, it said. Alongside the local government elections, a national referendum on whether the voting age should be lowered to 18 is to be held. If the referendum passes, it would require an amendment to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution to lower the voting age to 18. The threshold for passage of the referendum is a “yes” vote by at least 50 percent of the nation’s 19.3 million eligible voters, which is double the 25 percent approval required in referendums on non-constitutional issues. The 113-seat Legislative Yuan on March 25 voted 109-0 to send the issue to a referendum. The ROC Constitution has been amended seven times since it was ratified in 1947. The most recent change was in 2004 to dissolve the National Assembly and pass on its power of constitutional amendments to the electorate. The CEC is to employ about 300,000 people to work at an estimated 17,648 polling stations nationwide, Lee said.
General Association of Chinese Culture Deputy Chairman Cheng Li-chiun, third left, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Deputy Representative Akira Yokochi, second left, and others attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday to announce that a festival titled “Taiwan Plus” is to be held in Japan next month after a three-year hiatus. Taiwanese brands would introduce local culture and art at the festival, themed “Taiwan Kichijitsu” or “Taiwan’s good fortune days,” organizers said.
SAVED: Five Taiwanese were found waiting in a hotel to travel to what they thought would be high-paying jobs, while a 21-year-old was found trapped in an apartment
Nine people were arrested in separate raids on Monday for allegedly colluding with foreign human trafficking syndicates and duping Taiwanese jobseekers into becoming “cyberslaves” in Cambodia. Cyberslavery refers to people being enslaved and forced to work for syndicates involved in cyberscams. Police in Changhua County said the 41-year-old female suspect, surnamed Chang (張), has been detained on suspicion of working with a Chinese human trafficking ring, and is alleged to have sent 50 Taiwanese over a five-month period to Cambodia, after posting adverts online promising high-paying jobs. Prosecutors said that Chang lead the ring’s Taiwan operations and was paid NT$5 million (US$166,772) in total, as she received commission of NT$100,000 per person. Police arrested two men, along with Chang, in Monday’s raids. They allegedly worked for her as a driver and guard, and have been released. Investigators said Chang paid for the victims’ flights and helped them apply for new passports,while the driver took them to a hotel a few days before departure, and the guard watched over them at the hotel and airport to ensure they did not back out. Changhua District Court Judge Huang Ling-yu (黃齡玉) said one victim managed to escape and returned to Taiwan. He said he was deceived by Chang’s advertisement offering word processing and desk jobs in Europe that paid NT$100,000 per month, but later learned the job was in Cambodia, Huang said. During the raids five Taiwanese were found, Huang said, adding that they were staying in a hotel, waiting to travel to their “high-paying jobs.” Meanwhile, police in Hsinchu City detained six people after questioning yesterday, on suspicion of working with a Chinese human trafficking ring. The case came to light after a traffic incident that led to a scuffle in the street. Police sought out a man surnamed Ho (何) and his friends, as they were allegedly involved in the
Malaysian pop singer Eison Chai (艾成) was found dead yesterday after apparently falling from the Luzhou MRT station building in New Taipei City, local police said. The 40-year-old entertainer fell from the building at around 10 a.m., and was found dead on the spot near the Luzhou MRT station's Exit 3. No other details were immediately available, and an investigation has been launched into the incident, the Luzhou Police Precinct of the New Taipei City Police Department said in a statement. Eison released his first album " Mr. I" in 2004. He rose to fame after winning season two of Taiwanese singing competition "Super Idol" in 2009. He was married to famous Taiwanese actress Hitomi Wu (王瞳) in 2020, and the couple had plans to hold a wedding banquet in Malaysia soon. However, Eison had reportedly lost NT$5 million in a restaurant venture in Ximending recently due to Covid-19 pandemic. In his FB, Eison had posted some selfies in the week before his death, In one of his last post, he wrote: “ Love is the hardest lesson in the world, but is also the easiest lesson. Love her, and you will have eternity.” His management agency had released a statement to confirm his death, and asked for privacy for his widow.
The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday called on the government to expand Taiwan’s energy reserves and plan for the possibility that China might hold regular military drills around the nation or attempt to impose a blockade. During China’s military drills around Taiwan in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, air traffic in and out of the country dropped by half, while many flights were forced to reroute on short notice, TPP legislative caucus chair Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) told a news conference. If Beijing begins conducting such exercises on a regular basis, the pressure on pilots and air traffic control operators in Taiwan would rise considerably, increasing the risk of human error, he said. A full blockade would cut off Taiwan’s access to imports that account for 98 percent of the country’s fuel supply, making it essential for the government to maintain sufficient reserves, Chiu said. A blockade could also shut down trade through the Taiwan Strait, causing raw materials and shipping costs to soar worldwide, while also preventing exports of semiconductors vital to the global tech industry, he said. Chiu’s warnings echoed those of TPP Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), who on Tuesday said Taiwan should hold drills to practice defending the country’s financial system from possible Chinese cyberattacks. Chiu yesterday called on government agencies to develop plans to counter a Chinese blockade, expand reserves of energy sources, and enhance air traffic monitoring in the Taipei Flight Information Region. Weng Su-chen (翁素真), chief secretary of the Bureau of Energy, said that Taiwan maintains oil, natural gas and coal reserves above the legal minimum, and reduces risk by importing from multiple countries: 14 in the case of oil, and nine for coal. The country’s reserves include a 90-day supply of oil, an 11-day supply of natural gas and a 30-day supply of coal, she said. The Council
MATTER OF TRUST: Alicia Kearns said Taiwan would benefit from teaching Mandarin in the UK, while slamming China’s Confucius Institutes for not teaching ‘accurate history’
British lawmaker Alicia Kearns has called on Taiwan to play a bigger role in teaching Mandarin in the UK to enhance public understanding about Taiwan as Britons become increasingly distrustful of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In a recent interview, the Conservative Party lawmaker expressed her hope that the government of Taiwan “comes proactively to the British government” to offer to help Britons improve their Mandarin. A member of the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Kearns in June proposed an amendment to the Higher Education Bill, which would give the government the power to shut down China’s Confucius Institutes over academic freedom concerns. If people in the UK want to learn Mandarin at university or another school, they can only go to a Confucius Institute, but Confucius Institutes “do not teach accurate history” and are under the control of the Chinese state, Kearns said. “That needs to end,” she said, adding that Confucius Institutes, closely tied to the Chinese Ministry of Education, are “the arms of the Chinese state” and are harmful at the level of discussion about and to the understanding of China in the UK. Kearns said that Taiwan’s equivalent of Confucius Institutes would expand Britons’ interest in Taiwan beyond the primary focus on defense and security to include its history, culture, bubble tea, the semiconductor industry and other success stories, as well as trade relationships and other exchanges between the two sides. The change would shift conversation about Taiwan in the UK “away from Taiwan juxtaposed to the CCP” to one “that is just about our friendship with our friends in Taiwan,” she said. A report published in June by the China Research Group, which was set up by Conservative lawmakers in 2020, said that there are 30 university-based Confucius Institutes in the UK, the highest number in the world. British schools and
Record-low rainfall in Yilan County this year has raised fears that harvests might be affected, the county’s weather bureau said on Tuesday. Yilan is reliant on rainwater brought by typhoons, which generally arrive from July to September, but there have been none this year. The county only had 11mm of rain last month, the least recorded in 15 years, it said. Yilan said crops are suffering due to the water shortage, with reports of withered tea shrubs in the Dongshan Township (冬山) region and more than two-thirds of newly planted tea trees dying. Township residents said that over the past five decades, the area has seen little to no rainfall, leading to mountain streams drying up and depriving tea trees of a valuable water source. Chen Wan-hui (陳琬惠), the Taiwan People’s Party candidate for Yilan County commissioner, said that Yilan had never needed a reservoir, but due to climate change the county might see less rain. The county government should prepare, and start setting up water storage facilities while stepping up water reclamation measures, Chen said. The bureau said it would ask the Council of Agriculture to issue subsidies if the area of affected tea trees in Dongshan exceeds 20 percent. Meanwhile, Yilan growers are concerned about an alleged export ban on Asian pear sprigs from China’s Shandong Province, the primary type used to graft the “Lieutenant General” Asian pear cultivar in Taiwan, the county’s Agriculture Department said. As cuttings cannot acclimatize to Taiwan’s weather, new cuttings have to be grafted every year. The bureau said that the cultivar is planted over 43 hectares in Taiwan, and has an annual profit margin of NT$100 million (US$3.34 million). The cultivar is further subdivided into two types, the “fengshui pear” (豐水), using Japanese cuttings, and the “golden pear” (黃金), which uses cuttings from Shandong Province, the bureau said. Growers placed orders to China
STALLED PROJECT: The Taipei mayoral candidate said that he would seek to increase transparency and release documents that could guide public debate
The Taipei Dome would mainly be used for sports events after authorities have ensured its safety, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, as he announced that if he is elected on Nov. 26, he would make public part of the correspondence between the Taipei City Government and the Dome’s contractor to clarify the decades-long controversy over the project. DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄), Chen’s election campaign spokesman, said the Taipei Dome has been under construction for more than 20 years, under the supervision of three mayors, but there are still many unsolved issues concerning traffic, fire safety and usage rules, among others. “The only thing that we are sure of is that construction has been ongoing, and currently 96.63 percent of the sports venue’s construction and 96.23 percent of the affiliated facilities’ construction have been completed, but there are still many problems with the Taipei Dome construction project,” Chuang said. DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), head of the campaign’s policy research task force, said that stagnation at the project 20 years after the Dome’s preparatory office was established proves the overall stagnation of Taipei under its current mayor and his two most recent predecessors. She said Taipei needs a new mayor who tries to find solutions that are bold and daring, and who has the ability to execute plans. DPP Taipei City Councilor Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) said that then-Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2004 had meetings with Taipei Dome contractor Farglory Group, which included negotiations on operation royalties, but the 11th meeting suddenly concluded with an agreement of “zero royalties,” which has long been suspected as lining the company’s pockets. The original site for the Dome project was in the Guandu (關渡) area, and the reason for the project’s relocation remains unknown, Juan said. Farglory’s investment execution plan for 2020
State-funded English-language streaming service TaiwanPlus is to start broadcasting on terrestrial television and through Chunghwa Telecom’s multimedia-on-demand service on Oct. 10 after its broadcast application was yesterday approved by the National Communications Commission (NCC). The NCC assigned TaiwanPlus to use the frequency block between 542 megahertz (MHz) and 548MHz — designated for use by the Public Television Service’s (PTS) Channel 26. NCC Department of Broadcasting and Content Affairs Director Huang Wen-che (黃文哲) said the PTS is negotiating with cable service operators about airing TaiwanPlus on cable. The Ministry of Culture-funded streaming service was run by the Central News Agency before the PTS in June took over its management. The application submitted to the NCC showed TaiwanPlus would operate based on the PTS’ management guidelines, the commission said. “The English-language streaming service will feature news and documentaries, and aims to show the world that Taiwan, a country formed by immigrants, has a diverse, rich and unique culture,” the commission said. The PTS hopes to expand Taiwan’s international news coverage, offer diverse programs and cultivate reporting talent. The commission also approved the PTS’ proposed changes to the operations of Channel 26. “The Public Television Service pledged to have a full-time executive director for the streaming service, recruit additional staff, offer training to employees and procure new equipment,” the NCC said. The changes would not interfere with the broadcast of the PTS’ main channel and PTS Haklo. Chen Chin-shuan (陳金霜), a senior specialist at the Department of Broadcasting and Content, said that the PTS plans to recruit 45 more staff for TaiwanPlus’ production team. The network has pledged that at least 25 percent of TaiwanPlus programs would not have been aired before on another domestic terrestrial television channel, Chen said. Content on TaiwanPlus would be created by the production team itself, Chen said, adding that the streaming service has an operational
ADS REMAINED ONLINE: A Taipei city councilor misrepresented the NCC’s authoritiy when she accused it of enabling the schemes, the agency said
The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it had communicated with Meta Platforms about a rising number of scam messages on Facebook. The commission made the remarks after Taipei City Councilor Angela Ying (應曉薇) on Tuesday accused the NCC of allowing Meta to spread fraudulent job advertisements created by trafficking rings seeking to lure Taiwanese jobseekers to Cambodia, where they would face abusive working conditions. Ying said the ads remained online even though police have notified Meta about them. The NCC has the authority to ask Facebook to take them down, but it apparently chose to do nothing, making it a coconspirator of the scammers, she said. NCC Department of Broadcasting and Content Affairs Director Huang Wen-che (黃文哲) said that the councilor’s statement misrepresented the commission’s authority. “We have expressed our concerns with Meta, which pledged to handle false advertisements with their existing mechanism,” Huang said, adding that police should notify the Facebook operator about keywords that appear regularly in scam schemes. Facebook did not say whether users would be shown a pop-up alert when they search “Cambodia” or other typical keywords. A recent rise in online fraud also highlights the need for the legislature to pass the draft digital intermediary service act, which the NCC proposed to address challenges that arose due to increased use of online platforms, Huang said. “People are wondering whether Facebook itself is capable of regulating the content on the platform. The draft act authorizes the creation of a specialized organization to coordinate among different stakeholders, which ensures that such matters can be handled in a timelier manner,” he said. The draft act also stipulates that platform operators can only be exempt from responsibility for content under certain conditions, such as when they properly address users’ complaints, Huang said. The commission said in a statement that controversies and illegal content