More students to be allowed to return
Taiwan on Wednesday announced the easing of border restrictions allowing students from 18 countries and regions to return to the nation, whether they are scheduled to graduate this year or not, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
The 18 countries and regions are Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Palau, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Fiji, Mongolia, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka, the MOE said in a statement.
Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka were the latest five countries to be added to a list of 13, that originally only allowed graduating students to return to Taiwan, the MOE said.
A total of 260 students have returned as of Tuesday, according to MOE statistics.
According to the ministry, 63,000 foreign students were enrolled in Taiwanese universities and colleges as of the end of 2019.
In response to reporters asking when new students will be allowed into the country, the MOE said a decision will be made at a later date, after the current condition of returning students has been evaluated.
Push to abolish two branches of government grows
The Control Yuan and Examination Yuan should be abolished as their seats are filled with “fat-cat patronage appointments” for well-paying and cushy jobs, while some members have accepted teaching positions in China, raising national security concerns, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and New Power Party (NPP) lawmakers said.
The KMT has also called for them to be abolished.
The DPP in past has supported the idea, but the DPP hasn’t formally supported it in this legislative session–or stated they don’t support it.
The DPP speaker of the legislature, Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), has said he does support it on Facebook.
A constitutional reform committee is slated to be convened in the next legislative session, which starts in September.
Meanwhile, President Tsai’s nominee for head of the Examination Yuan told lawmakers that he would support any effort to move the nation toward a sounder constitutional system, including abolishing the Examination Yuan, if he were to be confirmed as its head.
Taiwan still wants to join WHO, in spite of the US withdrawal
Taiwan’s goal of joining the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as attending its annual World Health Assembly (WHA), remains “unchanged” despite the United States’ decision to withdraw from the global health body, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reiterated on Thursday.
Membership has long been a wish of the Taiwanese people and part of the government’s efforts to promote the country’s participation in international organizations, MOFA said in a statement.
The Taiwan government plays a joke on British Columbia
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended the University of British Columbia (UBC) for “resuming its academic autonomy,” after the school said it would refer to the nation as “Taiwan,” instead of as “Taiwan (Province of China)” as it had done in an annual report.
The school said the mistake was inadvertently caused by a move to a standardized computer terminology and that it has implemented a fix.
This story takes a humorous turn if a report in the Burrard Street Journal is to be believed.
Their report reads:
“The government of Taiwan’s official website has quietly changed its designation of British Columbia to a “province of China”.
The change was spotted by users on Twitter who noticed that the Taiwanese government’s foreign studies webpage now lists the University of British Columbia as “UBC, British Columbia (Province of China)”.”
I am, however, unclear as to what “Taiwan’s official website” refers to, so I wasn’t able to confirm it.
Pretty funny if it is true, though.
Since Joseph Wu became foreign minister, humour has become part of Taiwan’s foreign policy.
Ma Ying-jeou weighs in on the 92 consensus
This was reported in the Taipei Times:
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called on critics of the so-called “1992 consensus” to propose a feasible alternative, and urged Beijing to accept the “complete” version of the “consensus” if it is to advocate it.
What he is referring to is the KMT formulation of the 92 consensus, which is “one China, each side with their own interpretation.”
China has never accepted that, in their formulation it is only “one China.”
Continuing with the article:
Recently, the “1992 consensus” has been a popular topic within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Ma said, calling the discussion a “healthy sign” of the party’s willingness to reflect.
While many people have said they want Beijing to face the reality of the Republic of China’s (ROC) existence, it would be “impossible” for Beijing to “hold a press conference announcing that the Republic of China really exists,” Ma said.
He’s right about that.
Ma said people who propose changing the “1992 consensus” or oppose it should propose an “equally feasible alternative plan.”
He’s referring to current KMT chair Johnny Chiang and the reform committee, who are working to get the 92 consensus removed from official party policy in a party congress in September.
In the meantime, the KMT should work to “de-stigmatize” the “consensus,” he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) mention of the “1992 consensus” in his speech on Jan. 2 last year was “a bit different from what we usually hear,” Ma said.
His comments in that speech gave President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) an opportunity to say that the “consensus” means “one country, two systems,” he said, adding that they had also had a great impact on the KMT’s performance in the subsequent elections.
The KMT must clarify that the “consensus” does not equal “one country, two systems,” he said.
That’s an odd thing to say, the KMT made a clear declaration saying exactly that after Xi’s speech last year, and has repeated it many times since.
If the Chinese government is to advocate the “1992 consensus,” it must be the “complete 1992 consensus,” he said, adding that without “each side having its own interpretation,” there was no “one China,” and no “consensus.”
This is also odd, as he said himself it is “impossible” for them to acknowledge the Republic of China, which the “each side” implies.
What is most interesting about his comments is his call for critics to come up with a “feasible alternative”, and his acknowledgment of some of the problems the 92 consensus faces.
Many other elite figures in the party have staunchly defended it.
There are some serious problems with coming up with a “feasible alternative” however.
As the Taipei Times repeats ad nauseam, the “1992 consensus” is a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000.
China has already stated that no 92 consensus, no more talks.
It would be very hard to come up with a new formulation that is accepted by both China, and Taiwanese voters.
China will press for something stronger on the “one China” side, which Taiwanese simply won’t accept.
Will the Dalai Lama visit?
On Sunday, the day before his 85th birthday, the Dalai Lama said in a video message to his supporters in Taiwan that he would like to visit them again.
On Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the government had not received an application for the Dalai Lama to visit the country, but would welcome him “at a time convenient for both sides.”
Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said Wednesday that he has revived the Taiwan Parliament Group for Tibet and is urging the government to unequivocally support the idea of a visit.
Lim said 46 lawmakers across party lines had joined the legislative group, which is seeking to strengthen ties between the Tibetan and Taiwanese people, provide support for Tibetans living in Taiwan, and work with international human rights groups to advance the Tibetan cause.
The Dalai Lama visited Taiwan in 1997, 2001 and 2009 but has not done so since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first took office in 2016.
That makes hers the only presidency in modern times to have not had a visit.
If he does come, she’ll have to face the question of whether to meet with him personally or not.
Of course if she does, Beijing will respond angrily.
Not that they could do much about it.
FBI head accuses China of trying to block US visits to Taiwan
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray made some interesting comments at the Hudson Institute the other day:
“Let’s say China gets wind that some American official is planning to travel to Taiwan — think a governor, a state senator, a member of Congress,” Wray said.
“China does not want that to happen, because that travel might appear to legitimize Taiwanese independence from China and legitimizing Taiwan would, of course, be contrary to China’s ‘one China’ policy.”
Among the sophisticated methods China is using to keep U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan are bribery, blackmail, and covert deals, he said.
That can take the form of open, naked economic pressure and seemingly independent middlemen to push China’s preferences on American officials to achieve its goals.
Beijing, Wray said, has leverage over many constituents of American officials, including American companies, academics, and members of the media, as all of them want to gain access to their Chinese partners and China’s market.
Thus, if an American official wants to visit Taiwan, Beijing may threaten to cut ties with a company from that official’s home state by withholding permission for it to sell its products in China, forcing the company to pressure the official to change his or her plans.
Other more subtle tactics are also used, Wray said.
“China will work relentlessly to identify the people closest to the official — the people that official trusts most.
China will then work to influence those people to act on China’s behalf as middlemen to influence the official,” Wray said.
“Worse still, some of these intermediaries may not even realize they’re being used as pawns, because they, too, have been deceived.”
Wray said this malign foreign influence campaign targets Washington’s policies “24/7, 365 days a year.”
Tsai warns China of potential countermeasures to new security law
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that if necessary, her administration will consider countermeasures to the newly implemented rules under Hong Kong’s national security law, which states that authorities there can ask Taiwanese “political groups” to provide evidence in the investigation of potential violators.
Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory.
Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively.
Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how the national security legislation is implemented in Hong Kong.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that “there was not a snowball’s chance in hell” that it would comply with the Chinese legislation.
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