Summary: A cool advertisement wins an international award. Taiwan’s government responds to PLA incursions. Momentum for trade deals is mounting. The Dalai Lama looks to visit Taiwan. But with all the recent topic-heavy shows, today we’ve got lots of headlines.
Human trials of COVID-19 vaccines in Taiwan conducted with Oxford University’s AstraZeneca have been suspended after some subjects had adverse reactions.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that Taiwan is working to gain the right to produce vaccines from partner companies but, in the first stage, it will likely pre-order from overseas instead.
Taiwan on Wednesday added Hong Kong back to its list of regions from which business travelers can apply for shorter quarantine periods upon arrival in Taiwan.
The CECC also moved Vietnam from the low-to-moderate risk category to a low-risk designation, citing its only slight increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s northern runway has re-opened after five months of renovation, according to Taoyuan International Airport Corp.
They had originally planned to resurface the runway after the Lunar New Year holiday next year during nighttime, but moved the project forward when the pandemic caused a massive drop in air traffic.
Taiwan’s listed companies reported record combined Chinese investment gains of NT$154.3 billion (US$5.23 billion) in the first half of the year, up 37 percent year-on-year.
Despite the gains, listed companies trimmed their investments in China by NT$4 billion in the second quarter.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has accepted the resignation of Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭).
Ting’s resignation came after Mirror Media, based on information provided by an ex-girlfriend, reported that Ting had relationships with four women at the same time while serving as head of Kaohsiung’s Information Bureau in 2014, even though he was engaged to be married at the time.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has announced that it had removed Article 13 of the Enforcement Rules for the Suicide Prevention Act, promulgated on Aug. 6, after complaints that it restricted journalistic freedom.
The article had said that the media could not place news of suicides on front pages, use sensational headlines, use photographs of suicides or include a link to a social media platform carrying such images.
It had also prohibited repeated reporting of suicides.
Parent-founded civic groups and gender-equality groups held competing protests over the Education Ministry’s new list of books recommended for kids.
On this year’s list, the book “King & King”, an illustrated children’s book that tells the story of a young prince falling in love with another prince, drew criticism from parent groups who were worried that the book would “turn their children gay.”
The KMT legislative caucus plans to introduce a bill aimed at banning the importation of pork containing residues of the livestock drug ractopamine.
In related news, the KMT is mobilizing this weekend to collect signatures to launch a referendum on the issue.
The Legislative Yuan is demanding NT$410,000 in damages done to the historic structure during the KMT occupation of the legislature during the last session.
They were protesting the choice of Chen Chu as head of the Control Yuan.
The KMT is calling the demand “unprecedented”.
Taiwan, the United States, Japan and Guatemala hosted the first international forum under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) in Latin America and the Caribbean region on Wednesday, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
The forum, held virtually, was hosted by AIT, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, and the government of Guatemala.
Topics discussed included the use of technology to overcome workplace challenges posed by the pandemic; the power of data to build resilience to global epidemic threats; and the use of artificial intelligence to limit the spread of the disease.
The leaders of the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) have signed a joint statement calling for Taiwan and the United States to open negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA).
A legislative friendship group that seeks to build closer ties between Taiwanese legislators and lawmakers in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, was established in Taipei on Wednesday.
Taiwan’s top envoy to France shared the nation’s experience at containing the pandemic at a French Senate hearing Wednesday.
It was the first ever speech by a Taiwanese envoy at the French Senate.
Somaliland, the self-declared East African state, has formally opened its representative office in Taiwan.
Taiwan opened its office in Somaliland last month.
Taiwan is planning to send a military delegation to Israel to learn about its reserve mobilization systems.
This is a good move, as Israel’s reserve mobilization system is apparently light years ahead of Taiwan’s, which is confused at best.
A mission comprising six officials from the nation’s military will be traveling to Germany and Belgium in 2021 on an eight-day “international security cooperation and research” tour.
The Taiwanese delegates will visit German and Belgian defense departments and parliaments, attend seminars, and meet with officials to explore opportunities for potential collaboration.
It is unusual that this has been made public.
Similarly, three defense officials will visit the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) in 2021 to discuss ideas to address potential future threats.
Twenty-one Taiwanese organizations in Greater New York have launched a petition calling for Taiwan to be included in the UN.
The UN General Assembly slated to begin September 15 in New York City.
A cool advertisement wins international award
A subway car advertisement that resembles an old-style Taiwanese bathroom recently won a U.S.-based advertising award, the Singapore branch office of Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, which commissioned the ad, said on Monday.
The ad was featured in a subway car on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system last year from October to November, and its design won a Silver award in the Outdoor category of this year’s Summit Creative Award.
The ad also won Silver in this year’s Muse Creative Awards.
The retro Taiwanese bathroom design inside the subway car included a mosaic-tiled bathtub, yellow rubber duck, bath ladle and of course classic Taiwanese slippers in blue and white.
I normally only cover hard news, but this was just too cool not to share with you guys.
Taiwan’s government responds to PLA incursions
Both Taiwan’s Defence and Foreign ministries held hastily convened press conferences on Thursday evening.
Focus Taiwan is reporting the following:
“According to a military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, about 30 incursions by PLA Air Force planes and seven by Navy vessels were detected in an area southwest of Taiwan on Wednesday, with Chinese planes entering Taiwan’s ADIZ for at least 21 times.
The official further said that about the same number of incursions by Chinese military aircraft and ships near Taiwan Thursday.”
According to the Defence Ministry, PLA Navy vessels operated just north of the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands), raising concerns the PLA could use the military drill as cover to try to take the islands.
Reuters reported the following:
““The PLA activities in question are merely the latest in a string of destabilizing PLA actions aimed at both Taiwan and the broader region intended to intimidate and which increase the risk of miscalculation,” the Pentagon statement said.”
At the press conference the Vice Defence Minister said “These military actions have seriously roiled Taiwan and threaten peace and stability in the region”.
He warned that PLA military assets are also maneuvering along international flight routes, endangering international aviation safety, adding that the Chinese authorities should exercise restraint and not be a “trouble maker” in the region.
He went on to say “We once again say, do not underestimate the military’s determination to defend our home.
We are confident and capable of defending the country.”
At the foreign ministry’s news conference the same evening, spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) condemned China for provoking tensions and urged the international community to squarely face up to the threat posed by China.
“Today, the PLA has chosen to conduct exercises near Taiwan. Tomorrow, it may engage in similar threats near other countries.”.
“Taiwan does not seek confrontation, but neither will it back down,” she said.
On Friday President Tsai made a visit to the Air Force’s air defense and artillery command, and on Facebook warned China not to underestimate Taiwan’s will to defend itself and the determination of the Taiwanese people to safeguard their free and democratic way of life.
Momentum for trade deals is mounting
While most of the media focus is on the pressure mounting in Washington to sign a trade deal with Taiwan–with the latest being a letter from Senator Marco Rubio–there are some signs of movement with other countries as well.
Australian media is reporting that several ruling party backbenchers are pushing to restart talks on a free trade deal that Australia shelved under pressure from China–in spite of the fact that New Zealand went ahead their deal with Taiwan.
President Tsai made a pitch for deepening trade ties recently in a videoconference with an Australian think tank.
Over in the UK, Taiwan News reported the following:
“I take a very strong interest in our superb bilateral trade relationship with Taiwan,” said Greg Hands, minister of state at the Department of International Trade, during a parliamentarian session Sep. 3.
He mentioned that both sides will commence bilateral trade talks in autumn, which have been held almost annually since 1991.
“Taiwan through its membership of the World Trade Organization is committed to the same values of free trade and free markets as we are, and we look forward to deepening our relationship with Taiwan in the coming trade talks,” said Hands.
Most likely with Brexit on the horizon, there is more pressure to make trade deals elsewhere.
They just secured their first post-Brexit trade deal with Japan.
Speaking of the EU, President Tsai at a European Chamber of Commerce event said Taiwan is a natural and trusted partner for the EU, with both sides sharing core values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Now is the ideal time to come together and agree on a deal that further strengthens ties.
Meanwhile, the head of the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) in Taiwan, in what he referred to as an important milestone to Taiwan-EU relations, has announced a first-ever EU Investment Forum (EIF) on Sept. 22 at the Taipei International Convention Center, with 15 EU member states participating.
Focus Taiwan asked about the prospect of a trade agreement between the EU and Taiwan, and he said it will depend on the new trade strategy the EU is currently working on.
However, he added that the more momentum there is in economic relations between the EU and Taiwan, including business investments, the easier it will be for the two sides to move onto the next phase of negotiations on trade deals.
More trade deals would be good for two main reasons.
The normal reason is to boost the economy, which in turn boosts tax revenues.
That provides more money to boost the military.
The second reason is more unusual, and not something that enters usually into other country’s thinking: To deepen ties with, and reliance on Taiwan.
The closer Taiwan is interlinked with other nations, the more they have at stake should the Chinese take action against Taiwan.
This is already playing out in the tech sector.
TSMC for example, which many consider the most advanced chipmaker on the planet, is now instrumental to the economies and security of many nations.
If it, and other advanced Taiwanese companies, should fall into the hands of the Chinese Communists, there would be very real costs for countries like the US.
Taiwan is looking to increase that reliance.
The Dalai Lama looks to visit Taiwan
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he hopes to visit Taiwan next year, according to a report by the Voice of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has already received a letter of invitation from Taiwan though the report did not mention which institution sent him the invitation.
The foreign ministry has said that he is welcome, but hasn’t received any application yet.
China is likely to be very happy with the visit.
Just kidding, they’ll bleat like a stuck pig.
Image courtesy of President Tsai’s Facebook page