MND defends frigate sale
US arms sales to Taiwan play an important role in Taiwan’s defense due to the military threat from China, Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesperson Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said yesterday in response to protests by China against a US bill for the sale of military frigates to Taiwan. In line with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the “six assurances,” US arms sales to Taiwan help maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Lo said. The goal of the weapons procurement is to bolster Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, not to engage in a military buildup race against China, he said. Luo said Beijing has not renounced the use of force against Taiwan, adding that US arms sales to Taiwan are important and necessary. China on Sunday urged the US to block the bill, saying that arms sales to Taiwan interfere with China’s internal affairs and that China is firmly opposed to the bill. China’s protest came after the US Senate approved a bill last week authorizing the sale of four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan, a transfer expected to enhance Taiwan’s defensive capability by replacing its aging fleet of Knox-class frigates.
Smoking rate falls
The smoking rate for adults in Taiwan dropped to 18 percent last year — the lowest level since 1990 — Health Promotion Administration Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said yesterday. The smoking rate for adults in 1990 was 32.5 percent, Chiou said, attributing the drop in ensuing years to measures taken by the government to encourage smokers to quit tobacco usage since the enforcement of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) in 1997. Over the past two decades, regulations have been revised to make them tighter on smoking in public places, while tobacco taxes have been raised as part of the efforts to discourage people from smoking, Chiou said. Anti-smoking campaigns on college campuses have borne fruit, the administration said, citing official statistics that show the smoking rate among high-school students dropped from 14.1 percent in 2012 to 11.9 percent last year. The peak was at 15.2 percent in 2005, the data showed. The statistics also showed that the smoking rate among junior-high school students stood at 5.2 percent last year, lower than the 6.7 percent recorded the previous year. The highest level of 8 percent was registered in 2010.
Property sales to hit low
Real-estate transactions in Taipei and neighboring New Taipei City could fall to their lowest point in 23 years amid lingering concerns that the government plans to come up with measures to cap the local property market, Yung Ching Realty Group (永慶房屋) said yesterday. Yung Ching, one of Taiwan’s largest property sales agencies, said that the Nov. 29 elections served as an significant influence in cautious sentiment amid perceived political uncertainty. According to Yung Ching’s statistics, transactions of homes, shops and offices in Taipei for the first 11 months of the year fell 19.6 percent from a year earlier to end at 28,968 units. In New Taipei City, transactions of residential and commercial properties for the 11-month period dropped 24.6 percent from a year ago to 54,974 units, the data showed. Huang Shu-wei (黃舒衛), manager of Yung Ching’s market research center, said that based on sales data for the 11 months, real-estate transactions might reach a total of just 32,000 units in Taipei and 60,000 units in New Taipei City, the lowest levels since 2001.
UNDER INVESTIGATION: Huang’s body was found just outside the bathroom and showed no signs of a struggle, and no alcohol or drugs were found Singer and actor Alien Huang (黃鴻升) was found dead at his home in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) yesterday. He was 36. Huang was also known by the nickname Xiao Gui (“little ghost”). His body was found when his father went to check on him after being unable to reach him by telephone, and called emergency services to the house at 11am, the Taipei City Police Department said. Huang’s body, which was discovered just outside the bathroom, showed no signs of a physical struggle, and he appeared to have been dead for some time, police said, adding that no drugs or alcohol were
CONFIRMED IN PHILIPPINES: The CECC would conduct contact tracing for the migrant workers to determine if they had come into contact with elderly people or children Six Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning home from Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it reported a case of imported COVID-19 infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Taiwan to 500. Philippine authorities reported four of the cases through the National IHR Focal Point, while the other two were reported by the company that they had worked for in Taiwan. The six — five women and one man — are aged from their 20s to 40s, and worked as in-home care workers, domestic workers, factory workers and sailors in Taiwan, said Minister of Health and
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
The COVID-19 pandemic might not have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, National Taiwan University College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. While many countries are experiencing second waves of COVID-19 infections, many are also lifting lockdowns to revive their economies, allowing travelers to cross national borders, Chen said. Academics have been questioning whether genetic mutations in the novel coronavirus in different countries have made it more infectious, he added. Academics from different backgrounds have conducted phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences, he said, adding that the studies can help scientists understand how the virus spread among