Taiwan Headlines, Mar. 12, 2021

Workers from other countries in Taiwan whose contracts are about to expire will be eligible to obtain a six-month extension, the Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) Workforce Development Agency has announced, citing the need to reduce international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Taiwan received last week have to pass just one more test, as required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), before distribution can begin.

Taichung’s MRT Green Line will resume trial runs open to the public on March 25, running through April 23.
The system is projected to begin commercial operations on April 25.

The Executive Yuan is set to propose an amendment to the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act to reduce penalties for people caught growing cannabis plants for personal consumption.
The amendment would reduce prison terms for people caught growing cannabis for personal use from five years to one year.
The move came after the Council of Grand Justices in March last year issued Constitutional Interpretation No. 790 to strike down provisions in the act.

The legislature has launched an “Open Parliament Action Plan” online, based on a platform by Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international organization that aims to transform how governments serve their citizens.

Acting on a tip-off, a task force comprising New Taipei prosecutors and investigators raided seven locations of two alleged China-funded companies and summoned 19 people for questioning over allegations of poaching talent from local hi-tech companies.
According to local media reports, in 2018, one of the two companies, IC Link, successfully recruited 200 R&D engineers from local IC design companies such as MediaTek, MStar Semiconductor and Global Unichip by offering double the normal annual local salary equivalents, ranging from NT$7 million to NT$11 million.

An alliance of eight major offshore wind farm companies has been established to help develop the industry and local supply chain, as the country advances its plans to increase offshore wind power.
Local purchase requirements have required local partners in the supply chain, with mixed results in a totally new industry to the nation.
With a projected NT$1 trillion (US$35.5 billion) in investment to come in, the stakes are high.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has announced that it is planning to add over 18,000 new recruits to the military this year to enhance its defense capabilities against China.
The MND also said it was able to enlist more troops than it had expected last year.
In related news, the MND is developing a new combat vehicle armed with a 105-millimeter cannon set to begin testing in 2022.

The central bank governor has stated that the United States may label Taiwan a currency manipulator as it has already met Washington’s three main criteria for making such a decision.
While answering lawmaker questions in the legislature, he added that if this happens it would not be too serious and that there would be no immediate disadvantage for Taiwan and they did not expect to be subject to so-called “Section 301” measures that might lead to tariffs.

The United Kingdom has joined as a host for the first time of a meeting of the Taiwan-US jointly co-founded Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) to share expertise in disaster relief with the world.

The United States and Taiwan has issued a joint statement on partnership on High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR), reaffirming their dedication to humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when asked about why the State Department under his leadership removed its administrative restrictions on official exchanges with Taiwan, Pompeo said, “We started staring at them and realized it was just crazy.
We had this completely separate set of rules that made no sense.”
He said that after a full review, “it made sense for us to have more conversations, not fewer.
To have more open conversations, not more clandestine conversations.”
When asked whether he plans to visit Taiwan, Pompeo said, “It would be wonderful to get the chance to travel there someday. I would truly enjoy that. It would be a real treat.”

Palau’s President will visit Taiwan on the first flight once a travel bubble between the two countries is established.
Palau diplomatically recognizes Taiwan.
According to Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Taiwan is currently discussing “travel bubbles” with five countries: Palau, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash

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