President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday said the government is determined to strengthen its defence autonomy while inaugurating the production of Taiwan’s first self-built submarine.
Tsai said submarines are essential defence equipment for Taiwan’s Navy to develop its asymmetric warfare capabilities in a bid to intimidate and prevent enemy warships from surrounding the island.
“At a ceremony in southern Kaohsiung City, Tsai said the start of the production shows the government’s determination to strengthen the self-ruled island’s defence autonomy.
“We will also let the world see Taiwan’s strong will to safeguard our sovereignty.’’
Taiwan’s first home-built submarine, which costs over 50 billion Taiwan dollars (1.75 billion dollars), is to be delivered in 2025.
Taiwan faces a growing military threat from China.
A programme for the development of eight diesel submarines was launched in December 2016.
In May 2019, Tsai hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for the island’s first shipyard for self-built submarines.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory.
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Ali Baba-Inuwa
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday his government will ease restrictions on the import of United States pork and beef and seek to negotiate trade deals with the United States and other economies.
Speaking at the Office of the President, Tsai said the trade conflict between the United States and China and the Covid-19 pandemic had “brought major structural changes to the world economy and accelerated reorganization of global supply chains.”
Citing Taiwan’s success in controlling the pandemic, Tsai said that “we need to grasp this strategic opportunity to deepen cooperation” with the United States and other economies.
Tsai said the government will set standards for the use of the food additive ractopamine in pork products, which is currently banned for use by Taiwan pork farmers.
The president added that Taiwan will also open its market to United States beef from cattle, but only from animals aged over 30 months out of concern for mad-cow disease.
However, Tsai vowed that the government “will defend food safety and health” and establish a fund worth 340 million United States dollars to protect the interests and improve the competitiveness of Taiwan’s pork farmers.
She added that imported pork will have at most a 10 per cent market share.
Tsai denied any link between the timing of the decision and the upcoming United States presidential election.
In a statement, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei applauded the Tsai administration for “adopting international standards and taking a scientific approach” and said it hopes the United States would show a “positive response.”
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Taiwan’s government on Monday said it had amended regulations to prevent mainland Chinese citizens currently residents of Hong Kong and Macau from moving to the self-ruled island to spy or engage in other illegal acts.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top government agency on policy dealings with Beijing, said in a statement.
According to the statement, the Interior Ministry amends some regulations preventing Chinese citizens who are residents of Hong Kong and Macau from moving to Taiwan to engage in “infiltration united front propaganda, disturbance, even spying activities.”
“In the future, in accordance with newly amended regulations, the Taiwan government will convene cross-agency reviews on the relocation applications filed by residents of Hong Kong or Macau.
“Those that are originally from mainland China or who are current or former government or military officials.
“The new measures aim to enhance security and protect national security,’’ it said.
Shortly after the new Hong Kong national security law was imposed, the Taiwan government on July 1 launched a new office specialised in assisting Hong Kongers seeking asylum and opportunities to relocate to the self-ruled island.
However, the opening also induced some concerns from officials and residents that China may attempt to influence its democracy through methods such as spying.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen recently condemned the arrest of democracy activists in Hong Kong, including Next Digital media group founder Jimmy Lai, reiterating that Taiwan will keep its promise to support Hong Kong’s people and offer them assistance.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949; however, China considers the democratic island part of its territory.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
United States Health Secretary Alex Azar has praised Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as he met President Tsai Ing-wen at her office in Taipei on Monday.
Azar’s trip marks the highest-level visit by a United States Cabinet official to the island since 1979, when the two sides cut diplomatic ties.
Washington has said the trip will focus on strengthening cooperation between Taiwan and the United States, including on health.
“Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture,’’ Azar said.
As of Sunday, Taiwan, with its 23.8 million people, has reported 480 coronavirus cases and seven virus-related deaths.
The visit, which has drawn ire from Beijing, came at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China, in part regarding allegations about Beijing’s handling of the initial virus outbreak.
It also came at a time China was under pressure as to whether it tried hard enough to contain the virus after it was first discovered in Wuhan, China.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said Washington wanted Taiwan to be involved in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation, but that “China has prevented that from happening,’’ in comments last week.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan part of its territory and objects to any effort to grant it recognition at international bodies.
Tsai said she agreed the situation was highly regrettable, during the meeting with Azar.
“I would like to reiterate that political consideration should never take precedence over the right to health.
The decision to bar Taiwan from participating in the WHA is a violation of a universal right to health,’’ Tsai said.
The WHO argues that it cannot invite Taiwan to its annual meeting without a formal decision by member countries.
Tsai told Azar and the United States delegation their visit marks a huge step forward in anti-pandemic cooperation between our countries.’’
She said joint endeavors will produce even more breakthroughs and fruits of cooperation beyond pandemic management work.
“We can jointly contribute to the sustained peaceful development of the Indo-Pacific region,’’ Tsai said.
Azar said he was honoured to be in Taipei to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan.’’
Taiwan and the U.S also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation.
The event was witnessed by Azar and Taiwan Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung.
According to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which acts as the de facto United States embassy in Taiwan, the memorandum will strengthen ongoing cooperation on global health security, investigation, and control of infectious disease, research, prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
The institute added that the memorandum will also strengthen the development of drugs and vaccines,
“Taiwan has been a model of transparent, collaborative, cooperative public health and information-sharing,” it said.
In the middle of COVID-19, it is critical that we support and recognise those who share those values of transparency in health care, Azar told a news conference after the signing ceremony at the Central Epidemic Command Centre.
Azar also said that the WHO’s removing Taiwan’s observer status at the WHA deprives international public health community of the significant expertise and world class public health infrastructure of Taiwan.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Taiwan’s first female representative to the United States was sworn into the post on Monday,
hailing the countries’ strengthening bilateral relations.
Hsiao Bi-khim, 49, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, will arrive in Washington within a week.
The former legislator and National Security Council advisor was appointed as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States in June by President Tsai Ing-wen.
Hsiao served four terms as a legislator since 2002 and headed the Taiwan-United States Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association, also known as the Legislative Yuan United StatesA. Caucus.
Report says the United StatesA. Caucus facilitates exchanges between parliamentary members from the United States and Taiwan.
Hsiao said that the United States Congress’ support for Taiwan had increased in recent years, citing the Taiwan Travel Act and the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act.
“Therefore, parliamentary exchange now plays a critical role at this moment,’’ she said.
Since the latest election, 71 Taiwanese lawmakers from all parties, as well as independent lawmakers, had joined the United StatesA. Caucus.
Taiwan’s legislature has 113 seats.
Brent Christensen, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto United States embassy in Taipei, said “we look forward to partnering in this worthwhile endeavour to continue forging a shared future for the United States and Taiwan.
“ We also look forward to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to continue with military reforms after the end of a series of military exercises simulating the country’s invasion amid tensions with China.
“Only because the officers and soldiers in our armed forces hold their posts can we enjoy democracy and freedom,’’ the president said, speaking on Thursday during a military drill at Jianan beach, north of Taichung International Port.
Clad in full battle dress, Tsai promised the formation of joint force battalions, which were also featured in the simulated defence exercise combatting a presumably Chinese invasion.
“National security has never been won by falling to your knees,’’ President Tsai added, warning Taiwan’s 23 million citizens that their security “depends on the most robust defence.”
The mock landing marked the climax of a week of live-fire “Han Kuang” air, sea and land military exercises held across Taiwan.
During the exercise, the simulated invasion force disembarking at Jianan beach was first bombed offshore by IDF fighters, F-16V fighters and AH-65 Apache attack helicopters.
The mock-invaders were then shelled by two Navy frigates and M110 and M109 artillery, before being confronted by CM-33 “Cloud Leopard” armoured cars, anti-tank TOW missiles and M60A3 main battle tanks.
On Wednesday, Tsai also observed test firings of anti-missile, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles at the southern Jiupeng military base.
Tensions have recently risen over numerous incursions of Chinese military into Taiwanese airspace and Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong.
Taiwan has its own independent and democratically elected government, but Beijing claims sovereignty over the island.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
China on Monday berated New Zealand for its support for Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
China, however, said the country should “stop making wrong statements” on the issue to avoid damaging bilateral ties.
Taiwan, with the strong support of the U.S., has stepped up its lobbying to be allowed to take part as an observer at coming week’s World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, to China’s anger.
Taiwan is excluded from the WHO due to the objections of China, which views the island as one of its provinces.
Taiwan noted that this has created a dangerous gap in the coronavirus fight, and has accused the WHO of bending to Chinese pressure.
New Zealand’s finance and foreign ministers recently backed a role for the Taiwan at the WHO.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, speaking at a daily news conference in Beijing, said New Zealand’s comments were a severe violation of the “one China” principle, which states that Taiwan is part of China.
“We express our strong dissatisfaction with the statements and resolutely oppose it, and we have already made stern representations with New Zealand.
“The one China principle is the political foundation of China and New Zealand’s relationship.
“China urges New Zealand to strictly abide by the ‘one China principle’ and immediately stop making wrong statements on Taiwan, to avoid damaging our bilateral relationship,” Zhao said.
China has denounced Taiwan’s WHO attempts as a political stunt aimed at promoting the island’s formal independence, and said it would fail in its efforts.
In Taipei, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told parliament that in order to be able to break through China’s influence on the body there needed to be “even stronger international lung power”.
“This year’s international atmosphere is relatively beneficial for Taiwan’s participation, and so the pressure on the WHO secretariat and China is greater and greater,” Wu said.
Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016 when Taipei-Beijing relations were warmer.
China blocked further participation after the election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whom China views as a separatist, an accusation she rejects.
China said it has the right to represent Taiwan on the international stage, adding that Taipei has been provided with all the help and information it needs during the pandemic, something Taiwan disputes.
Taiwan has reported only 440 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, thanks to early and effective disease prevention and control work.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Secret files dating back to the four decades Taiwan spent under martial law are to be made public, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday.
Speaking at a ceremony commemorating a mass slaughter carried out 73 years ago by troops of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of Chiang Kai-shek.
Tsai said she ordered the secretive National Security Bureau to declassify its political files within one month.
“Except for a few documents which cannot be declassified for legal reasons, the NSB must finish declassifying these files within one month,’’ Tsai said.
Four decades of martial law rule under Chiang’s KMT regime followed the so-called February 28 Incident, during which thousands more were executed or imprisoned.
Tsai said the Transitional Justice Commission was to focus on declassifying and releasing files on the February 28th Incident and the period of repressive KMT rule.
Hsueh Hua-yuan, the chairman of the February 28th Incident Memorial Foundation, said an official research report on historical truth and transitional justice for the incident was to be released on March 8.
Edited By: Halima Sheji
Nearly 1.5 million people joined an online queue to buy face masks from chain pharmacy Watsons on Friday in Hong Kong.
Shortage of surgical masks has added to anxiety about the spread of a deadly coronavirus that originated in mainland China.
Watsons told local broadcaster RTHK that, though only 30,000 people were able to purchase the masks, 1.49 million people joined the queue to register for a purchase before the online page closed Friday afternoon.
At 4 pm (0800 GMT) the wait just to access Watsons Hong Kong website exceeded 15 minutes.
The Watsons queue to register to purchase a pack of 50 masks reportedly jumped to 700,000 within two minutes of the midday opening.
Those able to register submitted their ID card number, email address and mobile number and received digital instructions on how to pick up and pay for their masks.
Street queues lasting hours and in some cases overnight have attracted hundreds in recent weeks as desperation increases.
A woman in her 60s named Irene said she queued on the street for nearly three hours to buy masks last week only to find she did not make the cut-off quota.
“I feel disappointed, and sometimes I feel a little bit hopeless,” she said.
“My family of four has 40 masks left and you don’t know what is going to happen, you may come down with [the virus] tomorrow.’’
The Hong Kong government website states that “a surgical mask should be discarded after use and under no circumstances should it be used for longer than a day.”
Medical professionals often use two to three per shift.
In Taiwan too, people are keen to protect themselves against Covid-19 and leaders sought to reassure the residents that there is no shortage of protective gear.
As of Friday, Taiwan has reported 18 cases of the virus, all linked to people returning from China or transit in Hong Kong, with no fatalities.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited factories producing alcohol sanitizers and face masks respectively on Friday.
“I assure all citizens that Taiwan’s domestic production of both alcohol sanitizers and facemasks will soon meet demand.
“It’s unnecessary to hoard such products,” Tsai told a televised news conference held in southern Tainan City.
In Taiwan, a ban on the export of disposable surgical masks, imposed in late January for one month, has been extended to April 30.
Earlier this month, the Taiwanese government asked factories to boost production and rationed purchases.
Each person covered by Taiwan’s national health insurance is allowed to purchase two masks a week at a unit price of five New Taiwan dollars (0.17 dollars).
“Children’s masks will be systematically distributed to elementary schools, which are scheduled to start on February 25,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told a televised news conference in Taipei.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Ismail Abdulaziz
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday signed into a law a bill preventing China from interfering in the self-ruled island’s democracy.
“The Anti-infiltration Law is not against normal exchanges with China,’’ Tsai said during a televised news conference held at the Presidential Office.
Tsai said when the bill was passed in December 2019 that the law was established to further ensure Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, targeting infiltration rather than normal exchanges.
Under the Anti-Infiltration Law, actions backed by foreign hostile forces, such as election interference and illegal political donations, are subjected to punishment of up to five years imprisonment or a fine up to 10 million New Taiwan dollars (334,030 dollars).
The signing was conducted days after Tsai won reelection, in a victory that has been attributed to her dogged resistance to China’s expansionism and growing anti-Beijing sentiment in Taiwan.
“The Chinese government should try to understand the will and opinion expressed by the Taiwanese people in the elections and start to review its existing policies toward Taiwan,’’ Tsai said.
According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, Beijing charged that Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sought political and electoral benefits from the new law, warning that the legislation would undermine cross-strait exchanges.
During the campaign, concerns about Chinese infiltration were widely discussed, with Tsai warning in her New Year’s address that Taiwan needs “to stay alert to Chinese infiltration that is disuniting our society.”
Taiwan has had its own government since 1949; however, Beijing considers the self-ruled democracy part of its territory.
Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Isaac Aregbesola