France may have to pay Taiwan US$600 million (476 million euros) in fines because of illegal commissions that massively inflated the price of warships sold to Taipei in 1991, Le Figaro reported yesterday, citing a public prosecutor's office report to Justice Minister Dominique Perben. \nThe Taiwan government filed a lawsuit in November claiming illicit commission payments breached the terms of the frigate construction contract awarded to Thomson-CSF (now Thales SA) the newspaper reported. \nTaipei paid more than FF16 billion (2.44 billion euros) for the six Lafayette class frigates, and judicial investigations have since revealed that around a third of that was spent on a complex lobbying operation to secure the deal run by Thomson. \nThe report drawn up by the Paris prosecutor's office and handed over to the Ministry of Justice on Jan. 15 warned that France is financially liable because of a clause in the contract that stipulated that if commissions were found to have been paid the amount should be deducted from the sale price. \nThe public prosecutor's report said France may be liable because it acted as guarantor for the frigate contract, Le Figaro said. \nMagistrates Renaud van Ruymbeke and Dominique de Talance, who advised the public prosecutor, are about to make their fourth application to successive governments for the lifting of the official secrets act so they might investigate the illicit commissions paid to secure the contract, the paper said. \nVice Minister Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定) yesterday declined to comment on the report, but only said he needed some time to follow the whole situation.
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
Taiwan and the US on Friday celebrated the second anniversary of a language education initiative that aims to encourage more Americans to learn Mandarin at Taiwanese study centers as China’s language and cultural centers close across the US. “Over the past two years, we have significantly increased Mandarin and English language learning and exchange opportunities. Here’s to the future!” the US Department of State’ Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs wrote on Twitter. Attached to the post was a graphic that showed that the number of US students in the bureau’s exchange programs in Taiwan has increased to about 130 from 90