A doctor urged family members to pay more attention to symptoms of prenatal depression, a condition less widely known than postpartum depression and which one in 10 pregnant women experiences. Chang Pei-chen (張倍禎), a doctor at China Medical University’s Department of Pediatric Psychiatry, said that she early this year treated a pregnant woman whose symptoms ranked 15 out of 20 on the Brief Symptom Rating Scale, which measures emotional stress. The scale, codeveloped by Lee Ming-pin (李明濱), a professor at National Taiwan University (NTU), is based on five standardized questions, with answers given one to four points. Should the total points exceed 15, it indicates that a person is facing serious emotional stress. Chang said that the woman experienced prenatal depression, for which she prescribed regular psychiatric sessions and a diet based on foods rich in with omega-3 fatty acids. Chang also recommended that her family spend more time with her, listen to her concerns, and do not criticize her or judge her for experiencing depression, she said. After three months of treatment, her condition had stabilized and other pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea in the morning had also eased, Chang said. About 13 percent of pregnant women experience prenatal depression, Chang said, adding that the conditions occur most often when women expect their first child. Symptoms of prenatal depression usually occur in the 16th week of pregnancy and persist until four weeks after giving birth, she said. Many cases go untreated, and about 10 percent of women with prenatal depression continue to experience depression after giving birth, Chang said. Family members should pay close attention to the emotional well-being of pregnant women, as prenatal depression might lead to malnourishment of the mother and premature birth, which might also lead to malnourishment of the newborn and delayed development, he said. Typical symptoms are fitful sleep, restlessness, loss of interest in
Agricultural losses caused by the current water shortage have exceeded NT$400 million (US$14.07 million), with farmers in Pingtung County affected the most, Council of Agriculture data showed yesterday. As of Friday, agricultural losses nationwide totaled NT$401.8 million, with the losses in Pingtung reaching NT$352 million, or 88 percent of the total, followed by Nantou County’s NT$21.42 million (5 percent) and Chiayi County’s NT$13.95 million (3 percent), the data showed. Agricultural losses in Kaohsiung and Yunlin County were NT$13.62 million and NT$810,000 respectively, it showed. The production of mangoes, tea leaves, plums and onions has been hit hardest, the data showed. The shortage has damaged 53 percent of the production of improved mango cultivars, meaning 977 hectares have not yielded fruit and losses have reached NT$307.8 million, it showed. As for farms growing locally developed mango cultivars, 34 percent of planted areas have been affected, with losses reaching NT$23 million, the data showed. The shortage has affected 16 percent of tea production with losses totaling NT$30 million, 31 percent of plum production with losses of NT$15 million and 33 percent of onion production with losses of NT$14 million, it showed. From Tuesday, Miaoli County and Taichung are to only have water for five days per week. Water supply to 74,000 hectares of farmland, mainly in the central and southern regions, has been suspended. Water would continue to be supplied to another 236,000 hectares of farmland, but there are concerns that it might be restricted soon. If the shortage continues and water levels in rivers drop further, the council would consider drilling more than 500 wells to ensure supply to 236,000 hectares of rice farms, Irrigation Agency Director-General Tsai Sheng-fu (蔡昇甫) said yesterday. In other news, farmers are facing a shortage of boxes for packaging. Demand for boxes is surging as more farmers are exporting their products abroad and the international price
TEN IMPLICATED: An Agency Against Corruption probe focuses on Hualien government officials and contractors accused of bribery, the agency said
Hualien prosecutors yesterday questioned four more suspects amid an investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week, saying that they are focusing on alleged corruption over public work projects. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 injured when Taroko Express No. 408 crashed into a crane truck that had rolled onto the tracks, derailed and slammed into the walls of the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The four additional suspects are Hsiung Teh-yu (熊德育), a construction site superintendent at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien engineering section, Pan Tang-yi (潘堂益), supervising engineer at the section, Lee Chin-fu (李進福), a construction superintendent at United Geotech Inc (聯合大地工程), and Chang Chi Fu-tsai (張齊富財), a labor safety and health inspector at the company. Hualien prosecutor Chou Fang-yi (周芳怡) said that the four were questioned yesterday and released on bail. Chang Chi posted NT$500,000 (US$17,583) and Pan posted NT$150,000, while Lee and Hsiung both posted NT$300,000. Including the four, 10 people are listed as suspects, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, Agency Against Corruption (AAC) officers have over the past week been gathering evidence to determine whether the suspects have been involved in bribery, collusion between government officials and contractors, financial profiteering, and other contraventions, the agency said. Its investigation focuses on the Hualien County Government and the TRA, the AAC added. The construction site where the crane truck was employed, was part of the TRA’s six-year railway safety plan, it said. The train operator has commissioned work to reinforce slopes next to the tracks on a 51km section of its north link line, the agency said. United Geotech has won a NT$124.8 million tender for design and construction. United Geotech has employed Tung Hsin Construction (東新營造) as subcontractor on-site, which itself employed as subcontractors Yi Hsiang Industry Co (義祥工業社) and Yi Cheng Construction Co (義程營造), which are both owned by Lee
Taipei is undertaking a “food vendors long-term advancement project” in the hopes that more of its traditional markets would be awarded “five stars” by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday. Ko made the remarks at the launch ceremony of the two-day Taipei City Traditional Market Festival at Taipei Flora Expo Park in Zhongshan District (中山), where 59 food vendors from Taipei’s traditional market offer delicacies from a variety of cuisines. At the end of the two-day event, which is its 14th year, the Taipei Market Administration Office is to present an award to the food stall that offers the best dumpling-based dish. Nineteen dumpling vendors competed for the award. In the post-COVID-19 era, cooking at home will be a trend, Taipei Market Administration Office Director Chen Ting-hui (陳庭輝) said, adding that the competition focuses on dumplings because they are nutritious and convenient to prepare at home. Ko said that if a visitor wishes to experience Taipei in just 30 minutes, they should spend the time at a traditional market, which is the epitome of the local culture and manifests Taiwan’s economic environmental and moral standards. With that in mind, Taipei has been striving to improve its markets to become an internationally recognized civilized city, he said. The Taipei Government has been promoting a “food vendors long-term advancement project” aimed at improving the service quality, hygiene and food safety of food stalls in the city, Ko said. The city’s Shidong Market (士東市場), Nanmen Market (南門市場) and Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) were awarded “five stars” by the ministry last year, he said, adding that hopefully other markets would also be recognized.
Children who have pet turtles should wash their hands more often to avoid salmonella infection transmitted by the animals, a doctor said on Friday. Citing two cases involving six-year-old children, Taichung Hospital Department of Pediatrics director Chen Min-kung (陳敏恭) said that he treated both for fever, stomachache and diarrhea due to salmonella infection. A boy surnamed Kuo (郭) was last month hospitalized after experiencing diarrhea up to eight times per day, and a girl surnamed Hsu (徐) was hospitalized after experiencing diarrhea, a cough and low urine output, he said. Their symptoms eased after treatment, but persisted, and they also had green stool, Chen said. While inquiring into the sources of infection, Chen learned that they both recently started keeping a pet turtle, he said. Healthy turtles have salmonella bacteria in their digestive tracts, Chen said, adding that the children might have been infected through the animals’ excrement while playing with their pets. Children with pet turtles are at risk of salmonella infection if they do not wash hands after touching the animals, he said, adding that other sources of infection are spoiled milk or eggs. Symptoms of salmonella infection, such as diarrhea, stomachache, fever or vomiting, often occur after an incubation period of one or two days, he said. Blood in stool, headache, joint ache, dehydration or shock might occur during more severe infections, Chen added. Children under five and people over 65, as well as people with weak immune systems, are at risk of developing meningitis and osteomyelitis due to a salmonella infection, he said. Chen also called on pet stores to provide information on the risk of salmonella infection to people interested in buying pet turtles. Parents of children with pet turtles should also pay attention to the issue, he said. If their children experience nausea, diarrhea or fever, parents should send them to hospital immediately to avoid serious
STEM THE TIDE: From 2013 to October last year, 47 of the 129 breaches of the Trade Secrets Act led to Taiwanese trade secrets reaching Chinese industries, a legislator said
The Executive Yuan is considering measures to prevent Chinese commercial espionage and the poaching of core technologies, especially in semiconductors and information technology, sources said. The Executive Yuan is considering amendments to the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法) to respond to increasing reports of Chinese firms recruiting Taiwanese and stealing core technologies, the sources said. Although Taiwan prohibits firms from China from doing business or recruiting locally without prior approval, some companies conceal their Chinese ownership to recruit workers, they said. Beijing-based Bitmain Technologies (比特大陸), an IC chip design firm, is suspected of using its Taiwanese units — New Taipei City-based WiseCore Technology (智鈊科技) and Hsinchu-based IC Link (芯道互聯) — to illegally recruit hundreds of engineers from Taiwanese firms over three years, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said. An investigation found that since 2018 Bitmain had recruited more than 200 engineers and managers, she said, adding that the suspects were released on bail ranging from NT$100,000 to NT$200,000 (US$3,517 to US$7,033). “It is a clear case of China’s ‘red supply chain’ stealing from us. On the surface we have laws preventing such offenses, but in reality they could not stop the theft and poaching from happening. This has resulted in the theft of Taiwan’s core technologies to China one after another,” she said. Citing data from the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) yesterday said that 47 out of 129 breaches of the Trade Secrets Act from 2013 to October last year have resulted in Taiwanese trade secrets finding their way to China. The government must better protect its trade secrets, which would help Taiwan win the trust of countries that it works with, he said, adding that there is a discrepancy in fines handed to United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) for its involvement in
LOOKING FOR MORE: Some KMT officials welcomed the new guidelines on Taiwan-US exchanges, while others said they hoped more restrictions could be removed
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) intends to visit Washington this year to mark the opening of a KMT office there and meet with US officials, a source said yesterday. After the COVID-19 pandemic has “slowed down,” Chiang would visit Washington, where he would meet with members of the Taiwan Benevolent Association of Metropolitan Washington, the source said. In a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen in June last year, Chiang said that he hoped the US would take concrete actions in support of democracy and freedom in Taiwan. At the meeting, Christensen said the US has always valued Taiwan as a trading partner and that the AIT welcomed the KMT’s establishment of an office in Washington. The KMT has been preparing to open the Washington office since January, and had already found a location, the source said, adding that it was waiting for the pandemic to abate before proceeding. In a videoconference with members of the association last month, Chiang thanked the organization for its support since he was elected KMT chairman, and said that he would visit the association and other members of the Taiwanese community in Washington when he travels there, the source said. It has always been a goal of the KMT to establish a representative office in Washington, KMT vice chairman of international affairs Ho Chih-yung (何志勇) said. Therefore, Chiang’s position on the matter did not represent a shift in party policy, Ho said, adding that Chiang would also likely meet with academics during the trip. Meanwhile, in response to guidelines issued by the US on Friday that seek to loosen restrictions on Taiwan-US exchanges, KMT Deputy Secretary-General Huang Kwei-bo (黃奎博) said he hoped the changes would continue the advancement of the countries’ mutual interests. However, although the KMT understood the US’ way of doing things, it hoped
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed to meet operational requirements for amphibious assault and personnel and materiel transport, as well as disaster prevention, relief and humanitarian aid, the Navy Command Headquarters said. Built by CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船), the 153m-long, 23m-wide vessel can support a marine battalion of 673 soldiers with helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles, craft, and light and heavy utility vehicles. The ship is armed with an OTO Melara 76mm gun, two Tien Chien-2N air-defense missile systems and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems. The superstructure is designed to reduce its radar signature and enclose its twin masts. The ship can also be modified to be used as a field hospital. It is expected to be put into operation next year, the navy said. CSBC had met all relevant project milestones since the ship’s construction started in May 2019, Commander of the Navy Admiral Liu Chih-pin (劉志斌) said at an event marking the ship’s mast stepping on March 18. The navy has full confidence that CSBC and the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology will continue their smooth cooperation to deliver the ship, he said. The navy thanks President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for supporting its programs to build new ships and promoting national defense self-sufficiency, industry upgrades and economic growth, he said. The Ministry
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday honored a fighter pilot who died after his F-5E jet crashed into the sea off Pingtung County following a mid-air collision on March 22. At a memorial service at the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County, the president presented a citation to Lo Shang-hua’s (羅尚樺) widow. The 26-year-old pilot was also posthumously promoted from the rank of first lieutenant to major and awarded a posthumous Order of Loyalty and Valor, which his father accepted on his behalf from air force Commander General Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基). Tsai thanked Lo for his dedication and the sacrifices he made to protect Taiwan. “As a guardian of Taiwan’s national airspace, we are all proud of him,” she said. She instructed the Ministry of National Defense to provide the best possible care to his family. During the memorial procession, members of the military police performed a three-volley salute and four F-5 jets flew the missing man formation over the air base. Lo is to be interred at the Hualien Martyrs’ Shrine. His F-5E, a single-seat variant of the F-5 “Tiger” jet, crashed into the sea after it brushed against his wingman in mid-air as they were switching formation during a training mission over Pingtung County. He ejected from the aircraft after the collision, but did not show any vital signs when found at sea and was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital. The other pilot, Captain Pan Ying-chun (潘穎諄), is thought to have also ejected from his aircraft, but he has not yet been found. The air force said yesterday that it has not given up the search to find Pan.
Diplomats from several countries on Friday attended the start of the annual Dajia Matsu Pilgrimage at the Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲). The temple, the General Association of Chinese Taoism, the General Association of Chinese Culture and the Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association invited diplomatic personnel from 13 countries and their families to attend the procession of the sea goddess Matsu (媽祖) — a nine-day, 340km journey to more than 100 temples. Jenn Lann Temple chairman Yen Chin-piao (顏清標) greeted diplomatic staff and their families at a banquet before the start of the pilgrimage, which has been ranked by Discovery Channel as one of the top three religious events in the world and attracts millions of attendees each year. Saint Lucian Ambassador Edwin Laurent said he had heard about the event and was excited to participate for the first time. Acting deputy director of the Polish Office in Taipei Aleksandra Byra-Rys said it was beautiful that different religions and cultures coexist in Taiwan. Other participants said it was impressive that Taiwan could hold an event of this scale amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the group paid their respects to Matsu before proceeding to the viewing stand. The diplomats were greeted by followers on their way to the temple, and many said they were impressed at the passion and friendliness of Taiwanese. A representative from a South American country said the event was reminiscent of a carnival. Another said the atmosphere was “open-minded” and accepting, whereas religious events abroad are often only attended by devout followers. A representative from a European country said it was amazing to witness the dedication and faith Taiwanese had for Matsu. Commenting on how attendees helped each other, distributing water, towels and other items along the way, the European representative said it was the same spirit that allowed Taiwan to contain COVID-19. The procession
DEFENSE Chinese aircraft enter ADIZ Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) yesterday for the eighth consecutive day. The mission involved four People’s Liberation Army aircraft, a Ministry of National Defense report said. The air force responded by scrambling planes to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense systems until the aircraft left the area, the ministry said. The number of Chinese warplanes flying into Taiwan’s ADIZ has increased after China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier group sailed south through the Miyako Strait on Saturday last week. DIPLOMACY Honduras ties hailed President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday thanked Honduras for its international support of Taiwan in a video message marking the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries on Friday. Calling Honduras “a staunch ally of Taiwan,” Tsai in a video released online by the Presidential Office highlighted growing trade relations with the Central American country, adding that Honduras is the main source of whiteleg shrimp sold in Taiwan. Apart from trade, Tsai said the nations are mutually supportive allies. “Taiwan has stood with Honduras to address the global [COVID-19] pandemic and hurricane relief, donating supplies and sharing experiences that helped us overcome these challenges together” in the past year, she said. SOCIETY New monkeys arrive at zoo Black howlers and golden-headed lion tamarins, both species native to South America, have arrived at the Taipei Zoo for the first time, the zoo said on Friday. Two male golden-headed tamarins and three male black howlers were on Wednesday brought from the Singapore Zoo through the European Endangered Species Programme. The Taipei Zoo is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The monkeys are undergoing a month of quarantine, the zoo said, adding that the zoo would give them time to adapt to their new home before exhibiting them
Participants dive into the water as they compete in the Taitung Puyuma Triathlon yesterday.
Aboriginal archers from across Taiwan yesterday take aim at an archery competition in the Beinan Township Office grounds in Taitung County.
Independent Pingtung County Councilor Chiang Yueh-hui, center, wears a bat costume as she and other campaigners outside Fangliao Station in Pingtung County yesterday petition against a photoelectric factory being built near a World War II Japanese fort at Shihtouying. The fort’s underground tunnels are inhabited by several bat species.
NOT PRIVATIZATION: The Cabinet sees Chunghwa Post’s successful corporatization as a good model, but a Chunghwa official said the TRA has bigger problems
The Executive Yuan favors corporatization, but not privatization, of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), following the model of Chunghwa Post Co, which remains a 100 percent state-owned company under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, sources said yesterday. The issue of reforming the TRA has come to the fore again after a fatal train crash on Friday last week in which 50 people were killed and more than 200 were injured. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Thursday pledged to speed up the TRA’s restructuring. How to make train rides safer, resolve the agency’s deficit and raise its efficiency are key issues that would determine what operational model it should adopt, sources said. There are no plans at present to turn the TRA into a company, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said on Thursday, adding that the agency must first undergo an organizational restructuring before the government would consider corporatizing it. Reforms at the TRA must guarantee employee rights, offer equal access to transportation to all cities and counties, and ensure balanced development of transportation in urban and rural areas, as well as well as maintain reasonable fares, Lin said. The ministry would propose amendments and submit them to the Executive Yuan for review, he said. Lin cited as an example Chunghwa Post, which in 2003 underwent an organizational restructuring from its predecessor, the Directorate-General of Posts, and inherited all of the former entity’s affairs, assets and debts. Unlike before, Chunghwa Post no longer has to turn all of its revenue over to the state. Its annual revenue ranges between NT$280 billion and NT$300 billion (US$9.85 billion and US$10.6 billion), 25 percent of which it can retain as capital reserves. Administratively, Chunghwa Post only requires approval from the Executive Yuan for personnel appointments above the rank of vice president — unlike its predecessor, which needed government
The Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office has listed six people as suspects in a judicial investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the Taroko Express No. 408 train slammed into a crane truck that had slid onto the tracks near the entrance of Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The office also summoned six officials at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien Engineering Section for questioning about alleged illegal business operations and unsafe work conditions by Yi Hsiang Industry Co and Tung Hsin Construction Co, the two main contractors working on the TRA’s safety improvement project near the site of the crash. Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥), of Yi Hsiang Industry and the crane truck driver, and his assistant, A-hao (阿好), a Vietnamese worker, are facing charges of “negligence causing death,” Hualien head prosecutor Chou Fang-yi (周芳怡) said. Investigators said that an audio recording of a conversation between Lee and A-hao suggested that after the crane truck slid down a slope into the bushes, Lee tried to pull it out using an excavator, but the truck only fell farther down the slope onto the railway track. Lee and A-hao have been detained to prevent them from tampering with evidence, colluding in their testimonies or fleeing the country, Chou said. The four other suspects — on-site supervisor Lin Chang-ching (林長清), Tung Hsin Construction Co owner Huang Ping-ho (黃平和) and his son Huang Wen-li (黃文利), and construction engineer Yang Chin-lang (楊金郎) — are facing charges of breaching the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), falsifying documents and other charges, she added. After questioning, Huang Ping-ho and Lin were released on bail of NT$4 million (US$140,667) and NT$3 million respectively, while Huang Wen-li and Yang were freed on bail of NT$250,000 and NT$50,000 respectively. Prosecutors said
Changing the national emblem should not be taken lightly, as it embodies the nation’s collective sentiment, but political party symbols can and should change with the times, the Ministry of the Interior said on Thursday in a report on the issues stemming from similarities between the national and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) emblems. The ministry issued the report in response to a motion raised by the New Power Party caucus and passed on Jan. 29 requesting an evaluation within two months. Since its installment in 1928, the national emblem has been broadly applied on the national and military flags, medals, uniforms, certificates, foreign embassies and other places, it said. Changing the emblem would involve difficult legal amendments and considerable expense to redesign all of the aforementioned applications, it said. The ideological strife it would exacerbate is also a concern, potentially spilling over into the nation’s international dealings, the report added. The nation went through a long period of authoritarian rule that erased the lines between party and state, but has been lauded the world over for its transition to democracy, earning it the moniker “the beacon of democracy in Asia,” it said. Although the similarity between the national and KMT emblems is based in history, the national emblem is a symbol of the nation and changing it should not be considered lightly, the ministry said. On the other hand, the symbols of political parties can and should change to reflect current sentiment, it said. The party-state era is over and the political arena has become diversified, so political symbols should change to respect the national emblem, it added. In response, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) wrote on Facebook that the suggestion was a deliberate attempt by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to shift the public’s focus from the deadly train accident in Hualien County on Friday last week, claiming
Twenty-one Republican members of the US Congress have called on the Department of Education to consider using a program with Taiwan to offer “censorship-free alternatives” to the China-backed Confucius Institutes on many US college campuses. Fox News on Tuesday reported that US Senator Marsha Blackburn and US Representative Michelle Steel initiated the group’s March 18 letter to US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asking that the US-Taiwan Education Initiative, which was established in December last year, be expanded. In the letter, the lawmakers said the Confucius Institutes, which promote the study of Mandarin and Chinese culture on US college campuses, are funded and overseen by an affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education. In response to growing evidence that Beijing was pressuring faculty at the centers to avoid topics seen as damaging to China’s national interests, the US Department of State designated the program’s Washington headquarters as a foreign mission in August last year, the lawmakers said. While many US colleges have taken steps to clamp down on or close their Confucius Institutes, “there remains a high student demand for studies relating to Mandarin language and Chinese culture and history,” which Taiwan can help to fill, the letter said. “Learning Mandarin from Taiwanese teachers means learning Mandarin in an environment free from censorship or coercion,” the lawmakers said, quoting American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen. The US lawmakers urged Cardona to consider expanding the US-Taiwan Education Initiative or other related programs to provide “censorship-free alternatives” to Confucius Institutes for the study of Mandarin and Chinese culture. According to the National Association of Scholars, there were 50 Confucius Institutes were operating in the US as of March 25, down from a peak of more than 100. The reduction stems in part from a 2018 US law that forced schools to choose between keeping the institutes open or losing
COVID-19 PANDEMIC: The US had since 2003 sent a delegation to observe the war games, but also missed it last year because of the pandemic
The US military will not observe Taiwan’s annual war games for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of National Defense said on Wednesday. Major General Liu Yu-ping (劉豫屏) of the ministry’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the General Staff for Training, said the ministry did not invite a US military delegation to Taiwan to conduct an “After Action Review” of this year’s Han Kuang exercises due to the pandemic. However, Liu said that the absence of the US delegation would not affect long-term bilateral cooperation between the two countries in terms of military exchanges. Instead, the ministry would invite officials from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to observe this year’s Han Kuang exercises, the ministry said. The annual Han Kuang drills, first held in 1984, are the nation’s largest military exercises involving all branches of the armed forces. The US military has sent a delegation to observe the annual drill, which aims to test local armed forces’ combat readiness in the event of a Chinese invasion, every year since 2003. Last year was the first time no US military delegation attended the annual war games. Officials from AIT observed the exercises in their place. This year’s Han Kuang exercises would again be held in two stages; computer-assisted war games and live-fire drills, scheduled for this month and July respectively, said Major General Lin Wen-huang (林文皇) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the General Staff for Operations and Planning. The computer war games phase are to be conducted 24/7 from April 23 to April 30 using the Joint Theater Level Simulation system. The live-fire drills are to be staged from July 12 to July 16, he said. The exercises would also test the ability of the armed forces to
PALAU ‘TRAVEL BUBBLE’: If all the tourists who returned on Sunday test negative for COVID-19, changes might be made to make the scheme more attractive, the center said
The government might relax quarantine measures for people who visited Palau under a “travel bubble” arrangement if all first returnees test negative for COVID-19, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The first group of 100 travelers left for Palau under the scheme on April 1 and returned to Taiwan on Sunday. Upon return, they are required to practice 14 days of self-health management, including stricter measures on the first five days, the center said, adding that additional measures would apply should any group member test positive. All returnees have thus far observed the rules so that the stricter measures on the first days might be waived for future groups, it said, adding that it hopes this would boost the sales of the tours, which have thus far been sluggish. Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC spokesman, said that the returnees were tested yesterday, and the results would come back tomorrow. If they all test negative, the center might relax the rules for future groups, Chuang said. The center yesterday reported one suspected serious reaction to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. After receiving the jab, a man in his 20s experienced fever and headache, but his symptoms have eased after treatment with antipyretic painkillers and a saline drip, Chuang said. While fever is a common reaction to the vaccine, the case was classified as a suspected serious adverse reaction because of the medical treatment, Chuang said, adding that classification criteria might be updated. As of Thursday, 21,807 people have received the vaccine in Taiwan, including 1,687 on that day, CECC data showed. The center on Thursday reported a first suspected serious adverse reaction to the vaccine: bruises on the body of a man, also in his 20s. The bruises appeared on the fifth day after he received the jab, but have since