Firm files over bunkers
A renewable energy firm building a solar farm in Pingtung County’s Fangliao Township (枋寮) has requested that the county protect World War II-era bunkers on the construction site as cultural heritage. Shengli Energy in September last year uncovered Japanese bunkers while preparing the ground for the solar farm. The bunkers were connected to a larger system of fortifications built toward the end of 1945 by the Japanese military to shield Taiwan from an Allied invasion that never came. Last month, the county rejected a filing by conservationists to list the bunkers as a heritage site on a technicality, but without contesting that the fortification might have cultural value. Shengli Energy is renewing the historical heritage filing for two pillboxes, an observation post and connecting tunnels inside the project area, firm spokeswoman Chang Shu-wen (張淑雯) said. However, the discovery has fueled local opposition to the project. Opponents to the project said that they are also concerned that trees are being cut down to make room for the solar panels, which could make the area more vulnerable to landslides. Lin Yang-chu (林洋助), director of the county’s cultural heritage office, said that the agency has opened bids for experts to evaluate the fortifications’ cultural value and advise the county on their preservation.
Crack down on teen vapers
People under the age of 18 will not be permitted to buy or smoke electronic cigarettes in New Taipei City when a new ordinance takes effect early next month, the city government said yesterday. The ordinance on e-cigarettes was passed by the New Taipei City Council on April 29 and is expected to take effect on Aug. 6, two days after it is to be promulgated, the city said. When it takes effect, vapers under the age of 18 would be required to enroll in a program to help them quit smoking if they caught carrying or smoking e-cigarettes in New Taipei City, the city’s Department of Health said in a statement. Offenders who skip the programs without a valid reason would face fines of up to NT$10,000 (US$357), the department said, adding that individuals or businesses found selling e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to people under the age of 18 would risk a fine of up to NT$100,000.
Garlic price riseo censured
The Control Yuan on Wednesday censured the Council of Agriculture for a spike in garlic prices from July to September last year. Control Yuan member Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) conducted the investigation that led to the censure, the Control Yuan said in a news release. Early last year, the wholesale price of garlic was NT$170 per kilogram, but then its price skyrocketed to as much as NT$400 per kilogram in some locations, it said, citing Chen’s report. The price hike occurred after large shipments of imported garlic were rejected for being contaminated, but the council’s failure to react to warnings on multiple occasions compounded supply shortages, the report said. Local farmers’ cooperatives discovered the contamination, which had slipped through customs, it said. The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine failed to share the information with the council’s Agriculture and Food Agency, it said. Prices of garlic steadily rose in subsequent months, but the council’s inactivity continued until Aug. 6, it said. The council did not carry out its duty to protect consumers, it added.
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two
National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) Ethical Review Committee on Tuesday approved the hospital’s application to conduct human trials of mixed Moderna and Medigen COVID-19 vaccines. The hospital yesterday said that 220 volunteers aged 20 to 70 who have received one dose of a Moderna vaccine eight to 12 weeks ago are to be enrolled in the program. The volunteers are to be separated into two groups — a treatment group and a control group — and a double-blind study would be conducted, assigning Medigen or Moderna vaccines to the groups on a random basis, it said. The trial is expected to start
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
TAIWAN TIES: The foreign ministry said like-minded nations continue to express support for Taiwan’s ties with Lithuania, highlighting a letter by Slovenia’s PM US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday saluted Lithuania’s championing of democracy in Taiwan and Belarus. Lithuania in July agreed to let Taiwan open a representative office using its own name, prompting a pressure campaign by China. “We stand against economic coercion, including that being exerted by China,” Blinken said as he welcomed Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis in Washington. “We stand strongly for democracy, including in Belarus, where we’re very much working together,” Blinken said. Landsbergis told reporters afterward that he and Blinken discussed “economic, financial, political measures” that can be taken to withstand Chinese pressure. “We discussed various possible measures