Taiwan Healines, Mar. 13, 2021

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday announced that it has dropped defamation cases against the Financial Times, the Central News Agency (CNA) president and others after Want Want China Times Media Group suddenly rescinded its lawsuits.
The group in 2019 filed a lawsuit against the UK-based newspaper, the state-run news agency and two others over a July 17, 2019, report by Financial Times reporter Kathrin Hille.
In the article, Hille quoted anonymous journalists at Want Want-owned media outlets the China Times and CtiTV as saying that editorial staff took daily orders from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on how to handle news relating to cross-strait affairs and China.

Mobile payments in Taiwan last year more than doubled to NT$240.7 billion from NT$118.2 billion a year earlier.
Growth of mobile payments has at least doubled each year since 2016.

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) union members who handle station services in Yilan are planning to strike during the April 2-5 Tomb Sweeping Festival.
This could cause travel disruptions.
They are protesting a TRA plan that would ensure that employees have two days off per week and not work any overtime.
They are upset because they will not have a chance to earn overtime pay, which many of them rely on to supplement their regular earnings.
While no other union branch has yet said it would follow suit on the holiday strike, some said they will protest against the new rule if it is implemented.

The Executive Yuan has approved a draft amendment to the Income Tax Act that involves adjusting the “integrated house and land sales tax” so real estate sellers will face heavier taxes if they sell property within a fixed period of time.
It is aimed at curbing short-term real estate speculation, and will be sent to the legislature for review.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), while attending a commemorative event for Republic of China founder Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), Ma called China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) decision to change election rules in Hong Kong “regrettable.”
He added that the proposed changes have put an end to the “one country, two systems” formula agreed to by the U.K. and China in 1984.
“In other words, one country, two systems is officially dead,” he said.
In January 2019 Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping tied “one country, two systems” to the 1992 consensus, which Ma champions and claims still exists.
The KMT protested against Xi’s formulation at the time, but the damage was done in the public’s mind on the 92 consensus.

The KMT has thrown its support behind a proposed referendum against a Liquid Natural Gas terminal that critics say will damage an algal reef on the coast of Taoyuan.
The government insists they have revised the original plan of 232 hectares for the project was reduced by 90 percent to minimize the potential environmental impact.
They also insist there isn’t any other practical location for it, and it would delay the plans by years if they have to start over at a new location.
The plan is to use gas power to phase out coal-fired units.
The referendum has gained around 650,000 signatures, so it will almost certainly be put on the ballot in August.
They are also considering pushing for a referendum on re-starting construction on the uncompleted fourth nuclear power plant.

The 2021 Women in Politics map, published by the UN Woman and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), shows the political participation rate of women in countries around the world, with Taiwan color-coded in red, same as China, and the combined rate listed at 24.9 percent.
In a Facebook post, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York said the IPU-UN Women in Politics 2021 map flagrantly excluded Taiwan and disregarded its hard-won progress in the area of gender equality.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan has announced that its new president will be Andrew Wylegala, a former senior U.S. foreign service officer in the Commerce Department.
They hope he will work on issues including a U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade agreement (BTA) and business development.

Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, speaking of China, “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions–and I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”

Members of the U.S. Congress have reintroduced the Taiwan Fellowship Act, which would establish a program allowing U.S. federal government employees to study and work in Taiwan for up to two years.
A statement said that the act would “build upon the U.S. strategic partnership with Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Congressional appearance he is committed to pushing the administration of President Joe Biden to begin talks on free trade agreement negotiations with Taiwan, and for Taiwan to be invited to the Summit for Democracy, which the U.S. will likely host later this year.
A free trade deal is not his department, however, that power belongs to the US Trade Representative.
He went on to say that Taiwan is “a country that can contribute to the world, not just its own people. COVID is a very good example of that.”
Unlike many of his predecessors, he used the word “country”.

In a speech delivered via video at the opening of the EU-Taiwan Supply Chains Forum, President Tsai highlighted the importance of trade, pointing out that the EU is Taiwan’s “biggest source of foreign direct investment.”
That is mostly due to investments in offshore wind.

Photo by Vincent Chan on Unsplash

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