Fourth visa extension allowed for foreigners
Taiwan announced Monday a fourth automatic 30-day visa extension for foreign visitors who entered the country on or before March 21, due to ongoing strict border control measures.
All foreign nationals who entered the country on or before that date on a visitor visa, landing visa or through a visa-waiver program, with the exception of overstayers, will now be granted an automatic fourth 30-day extension, meaning the duration of their stay has been extended to 120 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a press release.
However, the ministry reminded foreign visitors that their stay in the country cannot exceed 180 days.
Foreign nationals who have already been in the country for more than 180 days or those who have overstayed their visas are advised to check the National Immigration Agency (NIA) website.
Tourists again on the move locally
People in Taiwan are eager to travel again as COVID-19 fears ease, but with overseas travel restrictions still in place, domestic tourism has been the big winner, with hotels, travel agencies and amusement parks seeing vigorous demand.
Several hotel operators, including Silks Hotel Group, Humble House Hotels and Fullon Hotels & Resorts, will see an average occupancy rate of 80 to 90 percent in their hotels at popular tourist spots during the June 25-28 Dragon Boat Festival weekend, according to industry sources.
That would be the highest occupancy rate local hotels have seen since the COVID-19 outbreak began in early January, sources said.
In related news, an industry insider is predicting that the food and beverage sector, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions so far this year, is expecting a rebound in the second half as restrictions ease and more consumers feel comfortable going out.
Two rallies for justice held over the weekend
Two rallies for justice were held over the weekend in Taipei.
Around 500 Taiwanese and foreign nationals–or 300 according to police estimates–flocked to the 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei on Saturday to show their support for the global Black Lives Matter movement, with participants saying it was a good educational opportunity.
Holding banners such as “White supremacy is the deadliest virus,” “We stand with you,” and “Silence is violence,” event participants sang songs and knelt in tribute to Black Lives Matter and George Floyd, who was killed during an arrest by police in Minneapolis on May 25.
The Taipei Times reported “Stefanie Davis, of the Black Lives Solidarity Global Initiative, said that it was important to show solidarity with people in the US, where there have been numerous protests and rallies.
Asked how the group expects Taiwanese to respond to the event, Davis said they hope to change stereotypes about black people and promote mutual understanding.”
A representative of the Taiwan-based Indigenous Youth Front, said the group came out to support Black Lives Matter not only because it wanted to speak up against the longtime social discrimination against black people in America.
“We would like to call on Taiwanese society or even the world to see that many more groups are being discriminated against and receiving this unfair treatment, be it indigenous groups, the LGBTQ community, migrant workers or the immigrants,” she said.
People I’ve spoken to who attended called the event “moving”, “inspirational” and “very well organized.”
On the same day groups rallied in Taipei to mark the one-year anniversary of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong called on China to leave Hong Kong to Hong Kongers and urged Taiwan’s government to take tangible action to support the territory.
Specifically, they called on Taiwan to ban Hong Kong policemen and Chinese capital from entering Taiwan and make preparations to handle immigrants from Hong Kong.
In a recorded video message, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) thanked people for taking part in the event in Taipei.
Taiwan to host the world’s only Pride parade in 2020
Curve Magazine is reporting that with the pandemic in full swing around the globe, Taiwan will be the only country to host a Gay Pride Parade this year.
They reported “Taiwan is fortunate to have been one of the very few countries in the world that never needed a lockdown, and has not had a single local case in over 2 months.
To celebrate that fact and to honor our global gay family, in league with the Taiwan Gay Sport Association (TGSMA), they will host the world’s only Gay Pride during Pride Month 2020, on June 28th, the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, at Liberty Square at the CKS Memorial Hall, with the theme of “Taiwan Pride March for the World!”
They will provide Pride Flags and signs on which you can write the place you are marching for, which could be where you grew up, a city you hold close to your heart, or where your loved ones are – it’s your march, and your choice!
They will also give away “Made in Taiwan” rainbow masks, to show support and raise awareness. Taiwan is ready to march for the world!
They will run a Mask 4 Mask campaign, collecting mask donations to send to LGBTQ centers all around the world.
NTU nixes transitional justice plan
National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday rejected a proposal by students to establish a transitional justice task force to deal with authoritarian symbols on campus and review the school’s history.
The NTU Student Association proposed that historical researchers and representatives from the Gallery of NTU History, as well as students and faculty from each college, could be invited to form a campus transitional justice task force.
The main duties of the task force would be to investigate and publish facts about historical events, plan commemorative and educational events, remove authoritarian symbols and preserve historical sites of injustice, the proposal said.
NTU vice president Chou Chia-pei (周家蓓) told a news conference that 109 people had voted against the students’ proposal and 24 had voted for it.
The political affiliations of those in charge of NTU has frequently been a political point of contention between the DPP and the KMT.
Drugs, alcohol ruled out in Hsu suicide
Amid intense speculation as to reason why KMT City Council Speaker Hsu Kun-yuan committed suicide, the police have ruled out drugs and alcohol as factors according to a report in local media outlet UDN.
Police also seem to be ruling out an external person being involved.
Hsu committed suicide after the Han recall results came in by throwing himself out of his 17th floor apartment.
He has been held up as a martyr by supporters of Han Kuo-yu.
Others have speculated as to other reasons, including the possibility that he may have gambled big on the recall result.
So far, police have offered no proof of any motive one way or another.
Wikipedia victory as Taiwan labelled a “country”
The editors of Wikipedia have finally come to a consensus that Taiwan is a country instead of a “state.”
The Wikipedia entry for Taiwan has frequently been a target of vandalism by Chinese nationalists.
33 editors voted in favor of “country,” 10 opted for “state,” and five others chose a variant of “state.”
US senator introduces Taiwan Defense Act
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley has introduced a bill named the Taiwan Defense Act (TDA), which is aimed at ensuring that American armed forces can maintain their ability to fend off any invasion of Taiwan by China.
Hawley later released a statement in which he elaborated that the bill “ensures that the United States is able to continue meeting its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act in the face of the Communist Party of China’s aggressive military build-up.”
“The TDA requires the Department of Defense to maintain the ability to defeat a Chinese invasion — and in particular, a Chinese fait accompli — against Taiwan and to report regularly on its progress toward this goal,” he said.
Calling Taiwan the “lynchpin of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Hawley said that “if the Chinese Communist Party is allowed to seize control of Taiwan, it will stand ready to dominate the region.
“This would pose an unacceptable threat to the lives and livelihoods, not just of our Asian allies and partners, but of working Americans here at home,” he said. “We must not allow that to happen.”
If this goes like previous bills, this will take awhile to pass the Senate, the House and then reconcile those versions to send to the president to sign.
That’s especially true considering how busy the US Congress is right now.
KMT chair supports Taiwan-US ties
KMT party chair Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told the de facto U.S. ambassador to the country on Monday that the Kuomintang (KMT) supports maintaining strong relations between Taiwan and the United States.
During his meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen, Chiang said the KMT, Taiwan’s main opposition party, is looking forward to seeing the U.S. side taking more concrete steps in supporting Taiwan’s quest for universal values of freedom and democracy.
The KMT will also boost its party-to-party diplomacy with American counterparts and will continue to support the long-standing tradition of close Taiwan-U.S. exchanges.
The KMT is also planning to reopen its party representative office in Washington D.C., which closed in 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou became president.
Ma moved the party, and Taiwan closer to China.
Chiang, when running for party chair emphasised that he intended to move the party back towards a stronger US emphasis.
However, recently he seemed to back down, quoted in UDN as calling for President Tsai to be more “neutral” between the US and China.
Chiang knows that strong relations with the US is very popular in Taiwan, but there are powerful forces in the KMT with interests more aligned with China.
Whether Chiang prevails on this remains to be seen, but he’s clearly trying.
Chiang, by the way, was educated in the US.
Taiwan is looking to boost business ties with Israel
Curiously I haven’t seen anything in the local news about this, but Israeli outlet Israel is reporting this:
“Israeli startups finding it tougher to raise money during the Covid-19 crisis can now look to Taiwan for assistance.
Innovation to Industry (i2i), a Taiwan-based innovation company, is funding an incubator program dubbed “IP2 LaunchPad” that includes $70 million earmarked just for Israeli startups.”
The program was launched in March – specifically during the pandemic, i2i notes – and has already selected 25 early-stage Israeli companies to participate.
Each startup will have access to investments of $200,000 in the first phase, rising to $3 million by the end of the program.
Israeli startups in the program will receive an office and living quarters in Taiwan for a year, as well as reduced tax payments on any income generated in the country.
IP2 LaunchPad will operate out of The Startup Terrace in Taipei, a coworking space and ecosystem that includes 106 entrepreneurs from 11 countries.
This is interesting.
Taiwan and Israel in many ways have complementary strengths in business, with Taiwan good at hardware and Israel strong in software.
The two nations have also for a long time had an interesting relationship.
The President of the Czech Senate to visit
This story got bumped in all the Han recall hoopla, but the Speaker of the Czech Senate Miloš Vystrčil is going to visit Taiwan Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.
He said that threats from China and a desire to uphold democratic values strengthened his intent to visit Taiwan.
Vystrčil’s predecessor Jaroslav Kubera, who died of a heart attack in January, was a long-time supporter of Taiwan and was planning to visit the country in February.
At the time, Czech media reported that the Chinese embassy had sent a letter threatening repercussions on Czech businesses if Kubera went through with the trip.
His family later said the letter contributed to his death.
At the press conference, Vystrčil said he was dismayed by the letter and found the influence China exerts over his country unbearable.
Separately, Senator Jiří Drahoš of the Czech Republic, who made a presidential bid in 2018, said Wednesday that he plans to visit Taiwan with a group of scientists in October to promote exchanges on cybersecurity and disease prevention between the two countries.
The Czech Republic is Taiwan’s fourth-largest investment destination in Europe.
The Mayor of Prague is also a strong supporter of Taiwan and opponent of China.
It’s not all good news on the Czech front, however.
Members of the Czech Republic parliament on June 4 criticized their fellow MPs as kowtowing to China after a measure to thank Taiwan for its help fighting the COVID-19 pandemic failed to pass.
Only 46 out of 122 deputies present voted in favor of the resolution.
After the measure failed to pass, Jan Bartosek, a member of the Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party apologized for his parliament’s failure to thank Taiwan and emphasized that “I do not expect the government to work for Taiwan to become a full member of the WHO.
Unlike China, I see [Taiwan] as an important member.
Thank you at least on this point. For all of us.”