Archive for ‘Taipei’

28/05/2019

Taiwan changes name of de facto embassy in United States to ‘reflect stronger ties’

  • Coordination Council for North American Affairs becomes Taiwan Council for US Affairs, island’s foreign ministry says
  • Move signifies ‘firm and close relationship between Taiwan and the US’, President Tsai Ing-wen says
Taiwan has changed the name of its de facto embassy in the United States to better reflect ever-improving ties between the sides. Photo: EPA
Taiwan has changed the name of its de facto embassy in the United States to better reflect ever-improving ties between the sides. Photo: EPA
Taiwan has changed the name of its de facto embassy in the United States to better reflect relations between the sides, which are at their strongest in decades, Taipei said on Saturday.
Once the necessary formalities have been completed, the agency formerly known as the Coordination Council for North American Affairs will be called the Taiwan Council for US Affairs, the island’s foreign ministry said.
“The new name better reflects the [agency’s] role in coordinating US-Taiwan affairs. It also symbolises the close and amicable relations between Taiwan and the United States,” it said.
Observers said the name change was significant as it appeared to drop the pretence that the council was non-diplomatic or political in nature.
The name change was possible because of the consensus between Taiwan and the US. Photo: CNA
The name change was possible because of the consensus between Taiwan and the US. Photo: CNA

Although Washington severed formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing, the two sides retained unofficial relations that have grown ever-closer in recent years, including an increase in military exchanges and cooperation.

“The new name [was made possible] as a result of the consensus between Taiwan and the US,” the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post. “This is the first time the designations ‘Taiwan and the US’ have been used to refer to each other’s affairs office on an equal basis, signifying the firm and close relationship.”

Taiwan begins mass production of missile corvettes, minelayers

Taiwan had been forced to use the old title because of the “special historical background” related to the change in diplomatic allegiance 40 years ago, Tsai said.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, has demanded that Washington observe the one-China policy by not officially recognising Taiwan or allowing it to use either “Republic of China” – the island’s official name – or “Taiwan” in the title of its representative offices in the US.

Washington also enacted the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 to prescribes relations with the island and includes a commitment to supply it with arms to protect itself.

“After continuous efforts and coordination by the two sides, and in 2019, the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, our office handling relations with the US is finally able to change its name,” Tsai said.

The American Institute in Taiwan relocated to a larger, purpose-built compound last month. Photo: Bloomberg
The American Institute in Taiwan relocated to a larger, purpose-built compound last month. Photo: Bloomberg

Presidential spokesman Alex Huang said the name change was due mainly to an improvement in relations between Taiwan and the US as a result of a greater cooperation on the promotion of regional peace and the Indo-Pacific security agenda.

“In the past few years, the US government has given Taiwan strong and firm support in terms of national security and participation in international events, as well as support from Congress and think tanks,” he said, referring to bills signed by US President Donald Trump that allow for exchanges between high-level officials and military personnel, and the approval of new sales of arms and logistical support to the island.

US official urges Pacific island nations to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Also, last week, Taiwan’s national security chief David Lee met US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Washington for the first talks of their kind since 1979, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported on Saturday.

Last month, the American Institute in Taiwan – the United States’ unofficial embassy in Taipei – relocated to a significantly larger, purpose-built compound, in yet another sign of improving relations.

US support for Taiwan has increased under Trump’s leadership as he regards Beijing as a hostile competitor, not only on trade, but also in military and global influence terms.

Tensions between Taipei and Beijing have flared since Tsai became president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. The mainland subsequently halted all official exchanges with the island and embarked on a campaign to squeeze its diplomatic allies around the world.

Source: SCMP

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28/05/2019

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says Tiananmen crackdown highlights need to stand up to Beijing

  • Tsai meets leaders of 1989 pro-democracy movement to bolster credentials for protecting island’s democracy
An installation recreating the celebrated Tank Man photograph in Taipei’s liberty square. Photo: Reuters
An installation recreating the celebrated Tank Man photograph in Taipei’s liberty square. Photo: Reuters
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met a group of exiled Tiananmen protesters on Thursday, a move that further burnishes her credentials for standing up to Beijing.
She said the bloody crackdown on the student protesters in 1989 should remind Taiwan that it must firmly reject the “one country, two systems” formula put forward by Beijing for reunification to safeguard its sovereignty, freedom and democracy.
“We don’t want to mislead the other side into making a wrong judgment nor do we want to let down those who support democracy and freedom as a result of an ambiguous answer by a Taiwanese president,” Tsai told her visitors.
“There is no room for ambiguity or dodging when the ‘one country, two systems’ proposal was raised, and we must clearly state that this is not a proposal that we, who have enjoyed freedom, democracy and human rights, could accept.”
The group of mainland émigrés included former Tiananmen student leaders such as Wang Dan, Wang Juntao, Deng Biao, Zhou Fengsuo and Fang Zheng, who were visiting Taiwan for a three-day international forum held to mark the 30th anniversary of the crackdown.
At the start of the year Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed that the two sides should start cross-strait unification talks under the one country, two systems model used to reunite Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland – a model that Tsai flatly rejected saying the two cities had no real autonomy.

In a statement issued by the presidential office, Tsai also noted the different course Taiwan and mainland China had taken over the past 30 years, with the island developing a fully fledged democracy while Beijing has tightened its curbs on freedom of speech.

She also accused Beijing of infiltrating free societies and undermining others’ freedoms using disinformation or hi-tech and commercial weapons.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says the 1989 killings highlight the importance of standing up to Beijing. Photo: EPA-EFE
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says the 1989 killings highlight the importance of standing up to Beijing. Photo: EPA-EFE
In the meeting, Tsai sharply criticised Chinese Communist leaders for suppressing the pro-democracy student movement in 1989 and failing to restore the activists’ rights.
Teng Biao, one of the visitors, said it was the first time Tsai had set up a meeting with so many pro-democracy activists.
Despite her sharply worded comments, Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party have generally kept their distance from the Tiananmen exiles, some of whom support cross-strait unification.
Since the DPP’s first election victory in 2000, increasing numbers of people on the island have identified themselves primarily or exclusively as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, and events to mark the 1989 crackdown have dwindled.
On the 20th anniversary of the June 4 killing more than 200,000 people took part in a memorial event in Hong Kong, a sharp contrast to the handful of people who marked the event in Taiwan.
“I guess that might be because we no long cared that much about the [1989] incident over the years. June 4 is just a symbol we use to justify our push for further democracy in Taiwan,” said Chen Wei-ting, a former leader of the Sunflower movement that formed in 2014 to protest against a cross-strait trade deal with the mainland.
Analysts said Tsai hoped the Tiananmen anniversary would remind people of the need to reject the mainland’s overtures to protect Taiwan’s hard-won democracy.
“By reiterating her stand against one country, two systems, Tsai has built up her image as being the leader who is willing to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty despite mounting pressure from Beijing,” said Wang Kung-yi, a professor of political science at Chinese Culture University in Taipei.
Tsai, who is running for a second four-year term in January, has seen her approval rating rebound recently to around 40 per cent from a low of 20 per cent after the DPP’s humiliating defeat in last year’s local government elections.
The mainland-friendly Kuomintang made a string of gains at the DPP’s expense to punish it for unpopular labour and pension reforms and the economy’s poor performance.
Source: SCMP
28/05/2019

Taiwan lands warplanes on highway as part of military exercise

  • President Tsai Ing-wen says Taipei should ‘maintain a high degree of vigilance’
  • Exercise simulates response to attack from mainland on military bases
President Tsai Ing-wen and senior Taiwanese military staff during an exercise in southern county Changhua, not far from one of the island’s main airbases at Taichung. Photo: Facebook
President Tsai Ing-wen and senior Taiwanese military staff during an exercise in southern county Changhua, not far from one of the island’s main airbases at Taichung. Photo: Facebook
Taiwanese warplanes landed on a highway on Tuesday as part of annual exercises designed to test the island’s military capabilities and resolve to repel an attack from the mainland across the Taiwan Strait.
President Tsai Ing-wen watched the exercise in the southern county of Changhua, not far from one of Taiwan’s main airbases at Taichung.
“Our national security has faced multiple challenges,” Tsai said. “Whether it is the Chinese Communist Party’s [People’s Liberation Army] long-distance training or its fighter jets circling Taiwan, it has posed a certain degree of threat to regional peace and stability.
“We should maintain a high degree of vigilance,” she said.
Taiwanese warplanes are parked on a highway during an exercise to simulate a response to a mainland attack on its airfields in Changhua. Photo: AP
Taiwanese warplanes are parked on a highway during an exercise to simulate a response to a mainland attack on its airfields in Changhua. Photo: AP

Aircraft involved in the exercise included US-made F-16 Fighting Falcons, French Mirage 2000s, Taiwan-made IDF fighter jets and US-built Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye surveillance aircraft.

Ground crews practised refuelling and ammunition replenishment before the aircraft returned to the air. About 1,600 service personnel were mobilised in Tuesday’s exercise.

The event marked the exercise debut of the first F-16 upgraded to the V variant, featuring advanced radar and combat capabilities. Taiwan is spending about US$4.21 billion to upgrade 144 F-16As and Bs to the F-16V version.

Rare meeting between Taiwanese, US security officials angers Beijing
Taiwan buys military hardware mainly from the US and has asked to purchase new F-16V fighters and M1 Abrams tanks.

American arms sales to Taiwan have long been a thorn in the side of US relations with China, routinely drawing protests from Beijing that Washington had reneged on commitments.

Beijing has also been angered by warming relations between Taipei and Washington since Tsai came to power in 2016.

On Monday, Beijing reacted frostily to photos showing a rare meeting between uniformed Taiwanese officers and their US counterparts this month.

A Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet takes off from a highway during an emergency take-off and landing drill in Changhua, Taiwan. Photo: EPA
A Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet takes off from a highway during an emergency take-off and landing drill in Changhua, Taiwan. Photo: EPA

Last week, Beijing lodged a protest with Washington after two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan expected to be outgunned in terms of troop numbers and firepower in any war with mainland China but it claimed to have had developed sophisticated asymmetric warfare tactics to make any invasion costly for Beijing.

“There are only a few military airbases which would become the prime targets in the event of an attack. The highway drill is necessary as highway strips would be our priority choice if the runways were damaged during a war,” air force Colonel Shu Kuo-mao.

Taiwan changes name of de facto embassy in United States to ‘reflect stronger ties’

Taiwan’s Central News Agency said highway take-off and landing drills last took place in 2014. A military source told CNA that Tuesday’s drill was not much different from those conducted by the military during the Han Kuang exercises, but it was still challenging.

Among the challenges were that the drill could not be rehearsed and it required clear communications between the military, police and the National Freeway Bureau, said the source.

Source: SCMP

23/05/2019

U.S. Navy again sails through Taiwan Strait, angering China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, angering China at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a bitter trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.

The voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, which views the island as a breakaway province.

The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

Doss said all interactions were safe and professional.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.
“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in China-U.S. relations,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the two U.S. ships had sailed north through the Taiwan Strait and that they had monitored the mission.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said there was no cause for alarm.
“Nothing abnormal happened during it, please everyone rest assured,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
U.S. warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait at least once a month since the start of this year. The United States restarted such missions on a regular basis last July.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.
The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.
China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers part of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if needed.
Beijing said a recent Taiwan Strait passage by a French warship, first reported by Reuters, was illegal.
China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on exercises in the past few years and worked to isolate it internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.
On Sunday, the Preble sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.
The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Wednesday that China had shown “utmost restraint”.
“With tensions between the two countries already rife, there is no guarantee that the presence of U.S. warships on China’s doorstep will not spark direct confrontation between the two militaries,” it said.
Source: Reuters
06/05/2019

China fires up drills near Taiwan Strait in test of combat strength

  • Military exercises this week meant to foster image that Beijing can win a war over the island, analyst says
The PLA is staging live-fire drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait this week. Photo: AP
The PLA is staging live-fire drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait this week. Photo: AP
Beijing is conducting live-fire military drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait as it signals its resolve to thwart “pro-independence forces” in Taiwan.
Authorities in the small city of Yuhuan, Zhejiang province, notified the public on Sunday that a “no-sail zone” and “no-fishing zone” would be in effect in the area until Friday night.
It said the drills were part of the People’s Liberation Army’s “annual regular exercise plans” and would involve “actual use of weapons”.
“According to the annual [PLA’s] regular training plan … live-fire exercises involving the use of real weapons will be organised … in the designated areas from 6am on May 5 to 6pm on May 10,” the authorities said.
Collin Koh, a military analyst from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said the stress on the live-fire manoeuvres suggested the six-day exercise would simulate real combat conditions.
The drills come hard on the heels of an annual report by the Pentagon warning that China was preparing options to unify Taiwan by force, and there was a need to deter, delay or deny any third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is bound by law to help defend the self-ruled island. Washington is Taipei’s main source of arms, selling the island more than US$15 billion in weaponry since 2010, according to the Pentagon.
Beijing ‘loses all hope for Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen’ as she rallies Washington

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the China-US relationship – along with a trade war, Beijing’s growing influence in emerging economies, and its stronger military posture in the South China Sea. On Monday, two guided-missile destroyers, USS Preble and USS Chung-Hoon passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands, drawing immediate criticism from Beijing.

In addition, Taiwan will hold its annual Han Kuang live-fire drills from May 27 to 31 and held a computer-aided one just last month.

A Taiwan affairs analyst from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the drills off Zhejiang were meant to show Beijing’s determination to defend its position on Taiwan.

“Beijing is trying to build up an image that China can win a war over Taiwan and Beijing’s key goal is to contain pro-independence forces, which are the biggest threat now to the peaceful unification process,” the analyst said.

Koh agreed, saying the drill sent a signal to external and domestic parties after the recent high-profile transits of US warships through the Taiwan Strait.

“The messaging to domestic audience is necessary because Beijing can’t be seen as weak following those reported transits by foreign warships – especially the Americans who are seen as supporting Taipei,” Koh said.

“And regarding external audience, the messaging is quite obviously to demonstrate that Beijing is ready to respond more resolutely to future such transits, following the tough verbal responses from Beijing, including its statement that it considers the strait under its jurisdiction and comprise its internal waters.”

Beijing ‘tones down’ response after US warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have plunged since Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won the presidential election in 2016 and repeatedly refused to accept the “1992 consensus”, which Beijing says is the foundation for cross-strait dialogue.

In response, Beijing ramped up pressure against the island, including conducting more military exercises and establishing diplomatic ties with Taipei’s allies.

Source: SCMP

25/04/2019

Magnitude 6.1 earthquake hits eastern Taiwan

  • Quake hits area around Hualien at 1.01pm, followed by aftershocks
  • Tremors send residents fleeing and rattle buildings more than 100km away in Taipei
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the area around Hualien in Taiwan on Thursday. Photo: CNA
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the area around Hualien in Taiwan on Thursday. Photo: CNA
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked eastern Taiwan at 1.01pm on Thursday, sending panicked residents rushing onto the streets and shaking buildings 115km (71 miles) away in the island’s capital, Taipei.
The quake’s epicentre was just over 10km northwest of the city of Hualien, at a depth of 18.8km, the island’s Central Weather Bureau said, adding that a 4.1 quake was reported 17 minutes later.
At least 17 people were injured, and a 12-storey building in Taipei was left leaning to one side, but there were no reports of major property damage.

Two Malaysian tourists – a man and a woman – were injured by falling rocks at Taroko National Park in Hualien county, with both being airlifted to a hospital in the city. Ten people in Taipei and five in New Taipei City also suffered injuries.

Train services on Taipei’s subway were suspended as were the airport subway to Taoyuan International Airport and most other metro and train systems in various parts of Taiwan, especially those around eastern and northern Taiwan, for safety inspections, the island’s cabinet said.

Taiwan Power Company said operations were normal at the island’s first and second nuclear power plants in northern Taiwan and asked the public to stay calm.

Debris outside the Legislative Yuan, in Taipei, after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the area around Hualien. Photo: CNA
Debris outside the Legislative Yuan, in Taipei, after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the area around Hualien. Photo: CNA

The strong quake sent high-rise buildings swaying in Taipei, with a number of households and offices reporting fallen objects.

“I was so panic and tried to find some place for shelter after the quake rocked for a moment. It seemed like the building was going to collapse. All the books were shaken off the shelves and glasses shattered all over the floor,” a resident of Taipei’s bustling Ximending district said.

The Daan District Office in Taipei reported that a ceiling had fallen into the middle of its office, but nobody was injured.

The quake damaged a bathroom in a men’s dormitory at Taiwan Normal University. Photo: Handout
The quake damaged a bathroom in a men’s dormitory at Taiwan Normal University. Photo: Handout

A building on Changan East Road in Taipei was reported to have tilted to one side, prompting residents to flee into the street.

Taiwanese television stations ran footage showing overturned furniture in homes and offices and at least one landslide along the mountainous and lightly populated east coast.

A bathroom at a Taiwan Normal University dormitory in Taipei was damaged in Thursday’s quake. Photo: Handout
A bathroom at a Taiwan Normal University dormitory in Taipei was damaged in Thursday’s quake. Photo: Handout

Elsewhere in Taiwan, part of the Suao-Hualien Highway collapsed but there were no injuries, the National Fire Agency said.

Near the epicentre in Hualien, more cases of damage were reported, including several supermarkets where items were shaken off shelves.

A resident said he was taking an afternoon nap when the earthquake shook.

“I felt as if my heart was spilling out of my mouth and was so panicked that I could hardly move, but I managed to rush to the street,” he said, adding that aftershocks were rocking the area.

Workers at Hualien’s main railway station were struggling to clear a flooded lobby after several water pipes burst in the quake, county authorities said.

Operations remain unaffected at Taiwan’s hi-tech industrial estates, including Hsinchu Science Park.

A landslide near Hualien. Photo: Handout
A landslide near Hualien. Photo: Handout

Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the “Rim of Fire” and is frequently rocked by tremors, including a 1999 quake that killed more than 2,300 people.

An earthquake in Hualien in February last year killed 17 people when four buildings partially collapsed. That quake hit two years to the day after a residential building in the southwestern city of Tainan collapsed in an earthquake, killing 115 people.

Source: SCMP
17/04/2019

Foxconn’s Gou throws hat in ring for Taiwan presidency, with blessing of sea goddess

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Terry Gou, chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Wednesday he will contest Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election, shaking up the political landscape at a time of heightened tension between the self-ruled island and Beijing.

Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion according to Forbes, said he would join the already competitive race, and take part in the opposition, China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) primaries.
His decision capped a flurry of news this week that began when Gou told Reuters on Monday he planned to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer to pave the way for younger talent to move up the company’s ranks.
He later announced he was considering a presidential bid and hinted he was close to a decision, and then told more than 100 people packed into a temple he would follow the instruction of a sea goddess who had told him to run for president.

The sea goddess Mazu is a popular deity in Taiwan and is believed to hold sway over one’s safety and fortune.

“Peace, stability, economy, future, are my core values,” Gou said later at the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei.

He urged the party to rediscover its spirit, the honor of its members and the lost support of the youth, and to establish a fair and transparent system for the primary race.

The KMT’s primary was already highly competitive, with contenders including a former KMT chairman, Eric Chu, and a former head of the island’s parliament, Wang Jin-pyng.

Gou’s bid, which requires KMT approval, comes at a delicate time for cross-strait relations and delivers a blow to the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which is struggling in opinion polls.

China-Taiwan relations have deteriorated since the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning DPP, swept to power in 2016.

China suspects Tsai is pushing for the island’s formal independence. That is a red line for China, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

‘VERY PRO-CHINA’

A senior adviser to Tsai told Reuters he thought Gou’s bid could create problems, given his extensive business ties with China.

“This is problematic to Taiwan’s national security,” the adviser, Yao Chia-wen, said.

“He’s very pro-China and he represents the class of the wealthy people. Will that gain support from Taiwanese?” Yao said, adding he believed Gou would face a tough battle in the KMT primary.

Tension between Taipei and Beijing escalated again on Monday, as Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around the island, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces.

A senior U.S. official denounced Beijing’s military maneuvers as “coercion” and a threat to stability in the region.
Gou has questioned Taiwan’s ties with the United States and said this week the island should stop buying U.S. weapons. He said peace was the best the defense.
William Stanton, professor at National Taiwan University and former head of the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, said he would have concerns if Gou were to become president.
“I’d be concerned about how he would behave. He did not have a positive attitude toward the U.S.,” Stanton said.
The KMT, which once ruled China before fleeing to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949, said in February it could sign a peace treaty with Beijing if it won the presidential election.
Zhang Baohui, a regional security analyst at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said Gou’s run could mark the start of the most unusual election in Taiwan history.
This is something entirely fresh for Taiwan politics – here is a candidate who sees everything through the pragmatic angle of a businessman rather than raw politics or ideology,” Zhang told Reuters.
“He has no baggage and that will be a fascinating scenario.”
Gou’s news comes as Tsai is grappling with a series of unpopular domestic reform initiatives, from a pension scheme to labor law, which have come under intense voter scrutiny.
The KMT said this week Gou had been a party member for more than 50 years and had given it an interest-free loan of T$45 million ($1.5 million) in 2016 under the name of his mother, which had signaled his loyalty to the party.
Foxconn said on Tuesday Gou would remain chairman, though he planned to withdraw from daily operations.
It was not immediately clear when he planned to pull back or if his presidential bid would require him to step down from Foxconn. There were no regulations related to a company executive running for the presidency, the island’s stock exchange said.
Foxconn’s shares closed up 2.1 percent at T$91.80 ahead of Gou’s formal declaration, the highest in six months. His Hong Kong-listed FIH Mobile closed up 28 percent, tracking the strength in parent Foxconn.
Source: Reuters
27/02/2019

Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwans’s Quemoy, Matsu islands

  • Different social systems should not be ‘a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation’, according to mainland’s cross-strait affairs office
  • After Quemoy began importing water from Fujian in August, preliminary research has been done to supply water to Matsu chain and electricity to both

News

Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwan’s islands

27 Feb 2019

Taiwan-controlled Quemoy Island – which is just 2km from Xiamen – began importing water from the mainland in August. Photo: Weibo

Beijing says it is prepared to supply electricity and water to islands controlled by Taipei in the Taiwan Strait despite escalating tensions between the two sides.

An Fengshan, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, also said their different social systems should not be “an excuse” to separate the country, and any deal between the mainland and Taipei should be struck in the interests of a “peaceful unification” agenda.

Speaking at a monthly press briefing on Wednesday, An said the mainland could supply power and water to meet the needs of residents on Quemoy, also known as Kinmen, and the Matsu island group. Controlled by Taipei, the islands are located off the mainland’s southeastern Fujian coast – Quemoy is just 2km from Xiamen – and have been on the front line of cross-strait tensions since 1949.

Taiwan’s cold war island begins to thaw

“The people of the Quemoy and Matsu islands have long hoped that the mainland could help to resolve the difficulties they face with power and water shortages, and they have made numerous appeals for gas and bridge connections [with the mainland],” An said.

“Our attitude is very clear – that in regards to these demands, the mainland will make every effort to provide opportunities and conditions to help them achieve bigger and better development.”

An said Fujian province authorities had completed preliminary research and planning to supply electricity to the Quemoy and Matsu islands, as well as water to the Matsu chain. Plans to supply gas and build bridges were expected in the future, he said, without elaborating.

Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE
Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE

Quemoy began importing water from Fujian to ease its water shortage in August, three years after it signed a 30-year agreement with the mainland province to supply water via an undersea pipeline.

But Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles cross-strait ties, asked the Quemoy county government to downplay a ceremony marking the start of the supply
because of moves by Beijing to suppress Taipei.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province subject to eventual reunification, by force if necessary. Relations across the strait soured after Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principles.

Since then, mainland China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan, suspending official communications with the Tsai government, poaching its diplomatic allies and staging war games near the self-ruled island, which is edging closer to Washington.

In an interview with CNN last week, Tsai said she would seek re-election next year and there would be no peace deal with the mainland unless Beijing ruled out using force against Taiwan.

On Wednesday, An said the different social systems across the strait should not be a barrier to unification, which President Xi Jinping sees as part of his Chinese dream of national rejuvenation but has been rejected by Tsai.

“Peaceful unification and ‘one country, two systems’ are the basic policies for us to resolve the Taiwan issues, and the best way to realise the motherland’s unification,” An said.

He was referring to a speech by Xi in January calling for Beijing and Taipei to start talks on “one country, two systems” in Taiwan – first proposed by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s – as the path to bring the island back into the China fold.

“The differences in the systems should not be a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation,” An said.

China protests against US ‘provocation’ after two American warships pass through Taiwan Straits.
Asked about Beijing-friendly Kuomintang chairman Wu Den-yih’s recent remarks that Taipei would sign a peace deal with the mainland if his party won the election in 2020, An said the two sides could explore a deal “as long as it benefits and safeguards the peace of the Taiwan Strait, increases the peaceful development of relations and pushes the peaceful unification process of the motherland”.

Source: SCMP

24/02/2019

China’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

  • Military watchers can expect ‘something new’ at this year’s National Day parade in October, Professor Jin Canrong tells forum in Hong Kong
  • As tensions rise over Taiwan, Beijing is building a naval and missile force as powerful as any in the world, he says

Beijing’s military build-up just starting – a lot more to come, expert warns

24 Feb 2019

Submarine arms race seen heating up in Indo-Pacific amid China ‘threat’

16 Feb 2019

The US could send more nuclear attack submarines, such as the Virginia-class, to the region. Photo: AFP
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 ballistic missiles take part in China’s National Day parade. Taiwan says Beijing has such missiles trained on the self-ruled island. Photo: Handout

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its arsenal of short- to medium-range ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, according to a Chinese expert on international relations.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of Hong Kong on Saturday, Professor Jin Canrong, associate dean of the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said China had made great strides in expanding its military capability, but there was a lot more to come.

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While he did not elaborate on what the “something new” might be, he said the country was gearing up for a possible conflict over Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as a wayward province awaiting reunification.

Over the next five or 10 years, Taiwan could provide the “biggest uncertainty” for Beijing, he said, especially if the United States decided to “ignite” the situation.

Known for being outspoken on sensitive issues, Jin said that while Beijing wanted a peaceful reunification, it was wary of “pro-independence factions [on the island] and right-wing American [politicians] creating trouble”.

In a speech on January 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of Beijing’s call to end military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “the political division across the strait … cannot be passed on from generation to generation”, apparently signalling his determination to bring it to an end.

Xi said China would not abandon the use of force in reunifying Taiwan, but stressed the military would target only external elements and those seeking independence for the island.

In 2017, Taipei said that it had detected the deployment of DF-16 ballistic missiles on the mainland that were aimed at Taiwan.

Jin said China was rapidly expanding its missile capabilities. The People’s Liberation Army had already stockpiled about 3,000 short- and medium-range missiles, he said, even though it had been using just 15 per cent of its production capacity.

“Just imagine if we were running at 100 per cent,” he said.

Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua
Beijing will show the world “something new” when it rolls out its ballistic missiles at its National Day military parade in October, an expert says. Photo: Xinhua

Under its plan for military modernisation China had achieved “great advancements in space, electronics and cyberwarfare”, the academic said, but its achievements to date were only the beginning.

As well as the expansion of its missile force, Beijing was investing heavily in its navy, he said.

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With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer – which some Chinese military experts have said is as good as anything in the US Navy – the balance of power was shifting, he said.

“For the first time in 500 years, the East has combat equipment that is at least as good as the West’s.”

With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout
With the deployment of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, the balance of power between China and the US is shifting, according to Jin Canrong. Photo: Handout

And as the navy continued to modernise and expand, the US might be forced to rethink its position in the region, he said.

“When we have dozens of destroyers and four or five [aircraft] carriers the US will not be able to meddle in Taiwan.”

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Jin said that China would also soon have all the scientific, academic and research personnel it needed to achieve its military ambitions.

“China had nearly 30 million university students in 2018, which is twice as many as the US. More than half of them are studying science or engineering,” he said.

“Every year we produce about 4 million science and engineering graduates, while America produces just 440,000.”

Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout
Professor Jin Canrong speaks at a forum in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Beijing also had the money to support its plans, Jin said. Based on his own calculations, he said China allocated about 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product to military spending, which was lower than “Germany’s 1.5 per cent”, and less than half the “3 per cent in Britain and France”.

“The tax paid by Chinese smokers is more than enough to cover [the country’s] military expenses,” Jin said.

According to figures from Nato, Britain spent 2.1 of its GDP on defence in 2017, France 1.8 per cent and Germany 1.2 per cent. Both the World Bank and the United Nations put China’s military spending in 2017 at 1.9 per cent of its GDP.

Source: SCMP

22/01/2019

Ma Ying-jeou appears as ‘shopkeeper for a day’ in Taipei bookstore

  • Video clip shows 68-year-old serving customers to ‘earn some money’ for calligraphy brushes and ink to write Lunar New Year couplets for supporters
  • Former Taiwanese president has been trying to rebuild his popularity, but his office says they are unaware of whether he plans to join 2020 election race
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, 7:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, 7:58pm

Ma Ying-jeou has been trying to rebuild his popularity, and the latest effort involves a video clip of the former Taiwanese president working as a “shopkeeper for a day” at a bookstore in Taipei.

More than two years after he stepped down from the top job and the helm of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang, the 68-year-old is seen in the video serving customers to “earn some money” so that he can buy calligraphy brushes and ink to write Lunar New Year couplets to give to his supporters.

The video has been viewed more than 110,000 times since Ma’s office posted it on YouTube on Friday.

But the Harvard Law School graduate is not a natural for retail work, judging from the footage. Dressed casually and wearing a face mask to hide his identity, when a customer asks to use JKo Pay – the local version of Apple Pay – Ma appears to have never heard of it.

Still, it is a chance to try to sell some copies of his book. But he fails to drum up any interest in his memoir until he removes the face mask, to the delight of some of the women customers at least.

According to his office, the video aims to show another side to Ma who, in his younger days, was known for his movie star looks and squeaky clean image.

“We want to let the public know that the ex-president is actually an easy-going person, the man next door type,” an official from the office said.

But he would not be drawn on whether the video had anything to do with Ma potentially joining the 2020 presidential election race.

“This kind of question has been around for some time, you’ll have to ask the former president because we have no idea at all,” the official said.

In a recent radio interview, Ma also deflected questions about a possible comeback, saying he had been asked about his intentions numerous times since he launched a political foundation in July and released his memoir in December. “They are much too imaginative,” he said.

Yet efforts on social media such as the “shopkeeper” video are clearly aimed at promoting his image and winning support.

On the self-ruled island, politicians such as Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, a former doctor with no political affiliation, has had the most success amassing fans on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, of the KMT, also used social media to help his campaign in the November local government elections.

Lin Ching-hung, an author and commentator, said social media campaigns were a valid way to win public support.

“To improve public understanding of serious topics or to create a laid-back image, there’s nothing wrong with politicians trying to turn around their image or do something lighthearted online – like Ma acting as a shopkeeper for a day, or President Tsai Ing-wen going to Ximending [in Taipei] to eat and shop, or former New Taipei mayor Eric Chu making a pig gesture on Facebook,” Lin said.

But he added that gaining popularity online was not the same as doing a good job in government, and voters knew that.

Ma’s popularity has risen sharply in the past year or so, in contrast with his time as president – especially during the last few years of his second term, which ended in 2016.

When he was first elected in 2008, Ma’s approval rating was at 68 per cent. But his government’s mishandling of the economy and issues such as a devastating typhoon that killed nearly 700 people in 2009, as well as the Sunflower movement – which saw hundreds of students storming the legislature in 2014 – made him highly unpopular.

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