Summary: Tours to nowhere turn out to be surprisingly popular, go figure. Manufacturing is on the uptick. The Government touts their claimed success of Internet of Things policies. Small victory for an indigenous campaigner against the Taipei City Government. Environmental rally is held in Taichung, “tree men” and all. Former President Ma trashes the military’s ability. Taiwan responds to Hong Kong arrests. Donald Trump makes some rare comments on Taiwan, and Mike Pompeo gets squishy.
Food items that have not received health food permits will not be able to be billed as “healthy” or a “health food” starting in July 2022 to avoid confusion, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
A second round of “Arts FUN Go” electronic cultural vouchers, worth NT$600 (US$20.43) each, will be available through a lottery for registered senior citizens, minors, and people with disabilities next month, the Ministry of Culture said Wednesday.
Two members of the Control Yuan said they will investigate government agencies for alleged leniency toward two Taiwanese-owned fishing boats accused of engaging in forced labor practices against migrant fishermen.
This is good news, as this problem is widespread.
Promising results have been seen in research on a DNA vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, with human trials likely to commence later this year, Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) said Monday.
The DNA-based candidate proved potent in animal testing, the NHRI said.
All travelers arriving from the Philippines will be quarantined at official quarantine locations starting Wednesday, due to the rising number of imported COVID-19 cases from the country, including a new case on Sunday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
The new regulation will apply to Taiwanese citizens, resident permit holders, migrant workers, international students, and diplomatic officials.
Vietnam has been reassigned as a country that is at low-to-moderate risk for the coronavirus.
Chinese children aged 2-6 who hold Taiwan residence permits will be allowed to return to the country, starting Thursday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
The new policy followed Taiwan’s green light last month for the return of Chinese children under the age of 2.
Legal experts and representatives of political parties accused the Taiwan High Administrative Court of aiding China in its “united front” campaign against Taiwan, after it ruled against the Ministry of the Interior, which had fined 27 Taiwanese for working for local government offices in China.
The ruling was based on the defendants’ right to work and their freedom to choose a job, but the ministry may appeal because the case had contravened the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), which prohibits Taiwanese from holding a position or becoming a member of political party, military unit or government agency in China.
A survey, conducted from July 29 to August 3, indicated that 54.5 percent of the Taiwanese respondents agreed to the setting up of the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office.
Only 33.0 percent of the respondents disagreed with the move, while another 12.5 percent were undecided, the survey showed.
Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib announced Wednesday that he will join a delegation to be led by Milos Vystrcil, president of the Senate of the Czech Republic, on a visit to Taiwan later this month.
The Prague mayor is a strong supporter of Taiwan.
Taiwan is in discussions with the United States on acquiring underwater sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to United States said on Wednesday.
Tours to nowhere surprisingly popular
Half-day tours in the air going nowhere being offered by Taiwanese airlines have been quickly sold out as people unable to travel overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic seek other ways to satisfy their wanderlust.
Getting in on the act, newly founded Taipei-based StarLux Airlines Co. on Friday launched a “pretending to go abroad” tour to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the northern part of the disputed South China Sea.
Apparently StarLux thought, gosh, who wouldn’t want to fly around in an area with lots of military activity by China and the US going on?
In short, people are paying to go through customs, immigration and get crammed into a plane to go nowhere, but to experience all the worst aspects of travelling.
Manufacturing on the uptick
Taiwan’s manufacturing activity returned to expansion mode in July after three straight months of contraction, as new orders, production and employment improved significantly, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) said Monday.
Data showed that the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for July rose 6.9 from a month earlier to 54.1, after June’s 47.2.
In the service sector, the non-manufacturing index (NMI) rose by 3.3 from a month earlier to 57.3.
Readings above 50 indicate expansion or growth, while those below 50 represent contraction.
Government touts success of Internet of Things policies
The output of Taiwan’s Internet of Things sector totaled NT$1.31 trillion (US$43.6 billion) in 2019, up nearly 12 percent year on year to the highest amount on record, according to the National Development Council.
The NDC attributed the strong showing to the government’s Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan, which aims at engineering a new industrial transformation for the country.
According to the NDC, since its launch in 2016, the eight-year initiative has pushed Taiwan’s global IoT share to 4.33 percent, which is in line with the project’s goal of reaching 5 percent by 2025.
It has also helped 78 startups secure funding of at least US$2 million each.
Small victory for indigenous campaigner
Indigenous singer Panai Kusui may have won her appeal to overturn fines imposed by Taipei for demonstrating against the central government’s policy on indigenous lands, but regardless of the outcome, the fight against the policy goes on.
The Taipei Parks and Street Lights Office fined Panai a total of NT$7,200 (US$245.1) on July 16, 18, and 19 in 2019 for violating the Taipei City Park Management Ordinance for setting up tables, chairs, boxes, cabinets, and structures at a protest site at 228 Peace Park without permission.
After two previous hearings of the case, the Taipei District Court ruled in favor of Panai on July 27 to have the fines overturned, saying that she was exercising her freedom of speech without hindering the public passing through or damaging the facilities of the park.
The city hasn’t yet said if it will appeal the verdict.
For more than three years, the protestors have staunchly opposed a regulation defining and zoning what can be classified as Indigenous Peoples’ “traditional territories and lands” enacted by the Council of Indigenous Peoples in February 2017.
The regulation was enacted after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) promised in 2016 to delineate Indigenous traditional territories and lands.
Environmental rally held in Taichung
Environmental groups held a parade in Taichung, calling on the government to work harder to cut air pollution and coal use, and outline plans to achieve a carbon-neutral society.
The annual parade was headed by Air Clean Taiwan chairman Yeh Guang-perng (葉光芃) and Changhua Mayor Lin Shih-hsien (林世賢) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who dressed as “tree men” to draw attention to climate issues.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen also attended.
The parade organizers urged the government to declare a climate emergency and promote new “green” policies; improve air pollution and cut coal use, especially in central and southern municipalities; and announce a timetable to achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050.
At a previous year’s rally current KMT chairman Johnny Chiang talked with me for about 30 minutes.
He was running in the KMT Taichung mayoral primary at the time.
He lost the primary Lu Shiow-yen by only a couple of dozen people polled.
So it’s theoretically possible he lost that race by talking to me and not working the crowd.
Former President Ma trashes military
Former President Ma Ying-jeou, speaking about if China should attack, made comments that provoked outrage.
He said if China were to attack, it would be fast and the first battle would be the last and that there would be no chance for the US to help, and the US absolutely couldn’t provide help.
He went on to say the role of the president is to make sure war doesn’t happen.
Taiwanese-independence advocates then accused the former president of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate.
They also called on him to commit hara-kiri, or ritual suicide by sword, as an apology to the people.
Considering how little Ma likes the Japanese, that seems rather unlikely to happen.
The hyperventilating protestors aside, a more serious criticism of Ma might be that military spending during his 8 years in office dropped significantly to below 2% of GDP by his last year in office.
Taiwan responds to Hong Kong arrests
Taiwan and President Tsai condemned the arrest of seven democracy activists in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英), founder of media group Next Digital, and lawmaker Agnes Chow on suspicion of violating the city’s new security law.
Hong Kong police arrested Lai, Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee (李柱銘) and five others Monday morning for allegedly breaching the national security law which was imposed by Beijing in June.
They also raided the offices of Hong Kong pro-democracy Apple Daily, an affiliate of Next Digital.
I was in Hong Kong during the handover in 1997 and went to hear Martin Lee speak at midnight at the legislature.
His amp wasn’t very strong, and basically couldn’t hear a thing he said. Oh well.
I also knew a guy he defended in court on drug charges before he was famous for supporting democracy.
Donald Trump speaks out on Taiwan
In an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt, Hewitt asked whether Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s “significant” visit to Taiwan was a “trial run for something bigger,” such as a visit by Trump himself before the end of the year.
Trump responded “No, I’m not. No, it wasn’t, you know, anything like that. It wasn’t, it was just something we were talking about COVID. They’ve done well. We’ve done well also. We get no credit for it,” according to a transcript of the interview on Hewitt’s website.
Now we have a really clear idea of what Trump thinks of Taiwan!
Hewitt then asked Trump if countries like Japan, South Korea “or even Taiwan” should seek nuclear weapons or hypersonic missiles, given China’s “recklessness with the virus, and its aggressiveness.”
“Well, I’m not going to suggest anything, but I will tell you it causes problems,” Trump said, adding that China would be “a big point of discussion for us” in the coming months.
Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the mere fact China can get so worked up over an American official’s visit to Taiwan only goes to reflect its “weakness.”
“I think that tells you a lot about the weakness of the Chinese Communist Party and the fact that it could feel threatened from such a visit,” Pompeo said in an interview on the conservative Newsmax TV.
“It seems pretty weak when the mere presence of a health minister in a particular place working to defeat this global pandemic you find threatening or you find angering or you find somehow challenging to your very nation’s national security,” Pompeo added.
Asked what would be the red line for the U.S. that would lead the U.S. to go in and defend Taiwan, Pompeo called it “a very sensitive issue.”
“We thoroughly intend to uphold our obligations and commitments with respect to the historical understandings between the United States and China on Taiwan,” he said, stressing that Azar’s visit is “wholly consistent with those commitments.”
“We’ve told both the Chinese and the Taiwanese that we are going to continue to abide by that set of understandings.
It’s enshrined in U.S. law as well, so it’s an obligation that we do so.
I am confident that we’ll continue to keep up those promises,” he said.
In short, Pompeo is continuing with traditional US policy of strategic ambiguity on whether the US would respond militarily to a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
Moves are afoot in the US Congress to remove that ambiguity.
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