President Tsai calls for unity amid severing of diplomatic ties

TAIPEI, (CNA).- President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday expressed regret over the severing of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Burkina Faso, calling on all parties in the country to stand united amid China's continuing "oppression."

Meanwhile, Tsai also expressed regret that the opposition party in Taiwan continues to criticize the ruling party, while remaining tolerant of China's "oppression."

"It is regrettable that an ally has chosen to leave us, but what's even more regrettable is that internally, Taiwan fails to stand up in unity," Tsai said, following Burkina Faso's decision to cut ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) on Thursday.

She said the opposition party will always remain critical of the government every time China finds a way to suppress Taiwan.

In the last two years, Taiwan has seen a significant improvement in relations with the United States, Japan, and like-minded nations in Europe, she said, trends which have made China even more agitated.

"The atrocious actions by China aimed at denigrating our sovereignty are testing our bottom line," the president said, reiterating that oppression will serve only to strengthen the country's resolve to be part of the wider world.

As President, Tsai said her most important mission is to preserve the pride and dignity of the Taiwanese people, and that the country will never back down in its commitment to strengthening relationships with its allies.

She again called on all parties in Taiwan to stand up in unity as China continues to exert pressure on the country.

"We only have one stance, and that is to unite as one when confronted with outside oppression," she said.

Earlier on Friday, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) criticized the government for the rupture of relations with the African nation, saying the political ideology of President Tsai's administration has led Taiwan into a corner and instead she should apologize to the people of Taiwan for her misguided foreign policy.

KMT Spokesman Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) criticized the ruling party for not taking the responsibility for its actions, and instead choosing to put the blame on the opposition parties, including the KMT.

"Such behavior will only let the people down," Hung said.

Meanwhile, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Spokeswoman Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) responded to the KMT's criticism by questioning how the opposition party could side with Beijing and help the enemy fight against their own country.

The KMT, however, has pointed out that prior to the DPP coming into power, Taiwan only lost one diplomatic in the eight years of KMT rule. It is believed that China at the time refrained from establishing diplomatic ties with Taiwan's allies, even when some wanted to switch ties to mainland China, because then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the KMT accepted the 1992 Consensus, under which both sides agree there is one China, with each side free to define what that means.

Hung emphasized that the DPP could not find a solution to resolving the current strained relations between the two sides of the Strait, and continues to let the country lose its diplomatic allies.

"Besides knee-jerk blaming others, can we really come up with some means to let the people understand the next steps?" Hung said. "Can't the DPP guarantee to the people that before the expiration of Tsai Ing-wen's term in office, there be no more countries breaking diplomatic relations with us? The DPP government, please face up to the problem, handle the problem, and if you fail to do so, you should take full responsibility."

(By Yeh Su-ping and Ko Lin)

'1992 consensus' key to maintaining cross-strait status quo: Ma


TAIPEI,  (CNA).- Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Wednesday that if Taiwan wants to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, it cannot reject the "1992 consensus," which allows each side their own interpretation of "one China."

Ma was speaking at a symposium on cross-strait relations, on the third anniversary of his historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore Nov. 7, 2015.

He noted that at the Singapore meeting, the first between leaders of Taiwan and China since 1949, they jointly endorsed the "1992 consensus."

The consensus is a tacit agreement reached between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 1992, when Taiwan was governed by a Kuomintang administration, that there is only one China and each side is free to interpret what that means.

Ma said his meeting with Xi achieved several important positive results, including an explicit endorsement of the consensus by the two leaders for the first time since it was reached 23 years ago and recognizing it as the common political foundation for advancing the development of cross-strait ties.

The meeting helped build a bridge of peace across the strait and establish a new model for the leaders on both sides to engage in face-to-face dialogue on an equal basis, Ma said.

However, if the current Democratic Progressive Party administration does not accept the "1992 consensus," it would mean Taiwan's unilateral abolition of the consensus, which could lead to the loss of mutual trust between the two sides, he said.

As a result, cross-strait relations could deteriorate, official interactions between the two sides could be halted completely and Taiwan could suffer adverse effects on the economic, political and diplomatic fronts, Ma said.

He said the "1992 consensus" is vital to the development of cross-strait ties and if the government does not recognize the consensus, the status quo is not likely to be maintained.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Evelyn Kao)

80 percent of Taiwanese disapprove of China's pressure

TAIPEI,(CNA).- A recent survey found about 80 percent of the public disapproved of the recent moves by China to squeeze Taiwan's international space, a consensus the pollster said was supported by people irrespective of gender, age, education level, party affiliation, ethnicity, and area of residence in Taiwan.

The survey, conducted by Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, gauged people's opinion on recent developments in relations across the Taiwan Strait, among other issues, by asking how they felt about China enticing Burkina Faso to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and demanding international airlines list Taiwan as a part of China.

According to the result, 79.1 percent of the respondents disapproved of these actions by China, with 50.2 percent expressing strong disapproval, and 11.9 percent saying the actions were appropriate. The remaining 9 percent did not give their opinion.

On the next question asking respondents whether they have confidence in President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration in terms of safeguarding Taiwan's international participation, 60.3 percent said they had no such confidence against 32.7 percent who answered positively. About 7 percent did not give their opinion.

The result showed that 68 percent of respondents in the 25-54 age group and 69 percent of respondents with a college degree or higher said they were not confident in the way the Tsai administration has handled the pressures China has been ramping up on Taiwan.

You Ying-lung (游盈隆), chairman of the polling institute, said that the results signaled a "crisis of confidence" among young and highly educated people in the Tsai administration's ability to handle diplomatic issues.

The administration needs to come up with better strategies rather than just put the blame on China or it will continue to be mired in the crisis of confidence, You said.

The survey, conducted from June 12-13, collected 1,073 valid responses. It has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

AIT chairman urges Taiwan to heed short-term defense needs

WASHINGTON, (CNA).- American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty urged Taiwan in a recent bilateral defense industry meeting to heed its short-term deterrent needs while engaging in developing long-term new capabilities.

"As friends, we remind Taiwan not to forsake the need for immediate readiness today for future capabilities tomorrow. I continue to encourage Taiwan to redouble its efforts to strengthen its preparations for effective all-out defense," Moriarty said at the Oct. 29 opening of the 2018 United States-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference held in Annapolis, Maryland through Oct. 30.

While praising Taiwan's efforts in promoting locally developed defense systems, he also urged the country to "do more" to sharpen its defense capabilities and noted the importance of the partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. in the face of unremitting pressure and the evolving security threat from Beijing.

"I mention this context simply to draw focus upon the current situation and to reiterate that the United States considers the security of Taiwan central to the security of the broader Indo-Pacific region," he said.

Although Moriarty stressed that the U.S. is committed to supporting Taiwan's self-defense capabilities consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), he warned Taiwan that its "counterpart platforms no longer possess a quantitative advantage over the PLA."

"The U.S. commitment under the TRA is firm, but that commitment alone will not secure Taiwan in an increasingly complex regional security environment," he said, adding that Taiwan must do its part to invest wisely in capabilities that deter aggression and help the country mount an effective defense should deterrence fail.

"Finally, while Taiwan should be commended for making long-term investments in potential new capabilities, it must also take steps that will increase its deterrent capability over the short-term," he concluded.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Flor Wang)

ASUSTeK y Acer ocupan quinto y sexto lugar en envíos mundiales de computadoras personales

TAIPEI, (NDT).- ASUSTeK Computer Inc. y Acer Inc., dos de los principales fabricantes de computadoras personales (PC, siglas en inglés) de Taiwan, fueron clasificados en el quinto y sexto lugar, respectivamente, en el primer trimestre de este año de la lista de envíos mundiales de PC, según la firma de investigación de mercado Gartner Inc.

Gartner señaló que según el estudio de mercado, ASUSTeK captó un 6,3 por ciento del mercado global de PC y envió 3,90 millones de computadoras personales en el período entre enero y marzo de este año, lo que equivale a un descenso del 12,5 por ciento interanual.

Entre tanto, Acer envió 3,82 millones de unidades durante el primer trimestre, con una cuota del 6,2 por ciento del mercado. Durante el primer trimestre, Acer experimentó un declive del 8,6 por ciento respecto al año anterior, indican las estadísticas de la citada firma de investigación.

La clasificación de Gartner no varió desde el cuarto trimestre del año pasado, pero ASUSTeK descendió un puesto con respecto al año anterior, mientras que la posición de Acer se mantuvo inalterada.

En el primer trimestre, los envíos mundiales de PC totalizaron 61,69 millones de unidades, un declive del 1,4 por ciento interanual, marcando el 14º trimestre consecutivo en descenso, según Gartner.

“El principal factor del descenso fue China continental, donde los envíos de PC disminuyeron un 5,7 por ciento interanual”, señaló Mikako Kitagawa, analista principal de Gartner.

El fabricante estadounidense HP Inc. se mantuvo como el mayor proveedor de PC del mundo, con 12,86 millones unidades enviadas en el primer trimestre, lo que equivale a un alza del 2,8 por ciento interanual y una cuota del mercado mundial del 20,8 por ciento, señaló Gartner. Le siguieron el Grupo Lenovo, de China continental, en el segundo puesto y los estadounidenses Dell Inc. y Apple Inc. en el tercer y cuarto lugar de la lista, respectivamente.

China fails in bid to force LCI name change on Taiwan

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Beijing's attempt to force a change in Taiwan's designation at Lions Clubs International (LCI) has failed after members from around the world at a recent meeting decided to shelve the Chinese proposal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Sunday.

At a meeting of LCI's international board of directors held in Reykjavik, Iceland Saturday, China proposed that Taiwan's designation in the organization should be changed from "MD300 Taiwan" to "MD300 China Taiwan," MOFA said, citing a report from the Washington-based Chinese-language Epoch Times.

LCI is one of the largest and most active voluntary institutions in the world.

According to MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章), on learning of China's proposal, MOFA immediately contacted MD300 Taiwan, Lions Clubs International and asked it to do its utmost at the meeting to safeguard Taiwan's designation in the nongovernmental organization.

Thanks to the efforts of Taiwan's Lions members and their counterparts around the world, it was decided that China's proposal should be put on hold, he said, thanking LCI members for their support of Taiwan based on the principles of equal participation and dignity.

MOFA has issued a public protest over China's actions and will keep a close watch on follow-up developments, Lee said.

(By Ku Chuan and Flor Wang)

Focus Taiwan.

Lee Teng-hui dies; pivotal figure in Taiwan's transition to democracy

TAIPÉI, (CNA).- Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who guided Taiwan through a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy while serving as Taiwan's president from 1988 to 2000, has died at the age of 97.

The former president had suffered from deteriorating health, which caused him to reduce the frequency of his public appearances.

On Feb. 8, he was hospitalized at Taipei Veterans General Hospital after choking while drinking milk. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and had been intubated for over five months when the hospital confirmed he died, from septic shock and multiple organ failure, at 7:24 p.m. Thursday.

Lee was born under Japanese colonial rule, educated in Japan and the United States, and cultivated as the successor to Kuomintang (KMT) President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), and the life he led in many ways reflected the competing powers and influences that held sway in Taiwan over the course of the 20th century.

Later in life, he became a prominent advocate for Taiwanese identity and statehood, founding the Taiwan Solidarity Union -- an act for which he was expelled from the KMT -- and lending support to his one-time rivals in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Lee was born on Jan. 15, 1923, the son of a police officer, in what is now Sanzhi District of New Taipei City.

After graduating from Taipei High School in 1943, Lee received a scholarship to study agricultural economics at Kyoto Imperial University, but, with World War II raging, he volunteered for service in the Japanese Imperial Army the following year, and was assigned to an artillery unit in Kaohsiung.

Lee would later remember going with his older brother, Lee Teng-chin (李登欽), who was stationed at the nearby Zuoying Naval Base, to have "memorial portraits" made, as they awaited deployment in the war's Pacific theater.

While his brother would die in the Battle of Manila in 1945, Lee was sent to officer reserve training in Chiba Prefecture, outside Tokyo, where he survived intensive American aerial bombing in the conflict's final days.

After Japan's defeat, Lee returned to Taiwan, where in 1949 he graduated from National Taiwan University and married Tseng Wen-hui (曾文惠) in a union that would last 71 years and bring the couple three children.

In between periods of government service and university lecturing, Lee continued his education, earning a master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1953 and a doctorate from Cornell University in 1968, both in agricultural economics.

Upon returning to Taiwan, Lee joined the KMT in 1971 and, in 1972, was made a Cabinet member without portfolio responsible for agriculture by Premier Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

Chiang became president in 1978, and under his patronage, Lee was appointed Taipei mayor in 1978 and chairman of the Taiwan Provincial Government in 1981.

In 1984, Lee was nominated by Chiang to serve as vice president and he then became president in 1988 following Chiang's death.

Central to Lee's political thinking at the time was the notion of a "Taiwanese KMT," led by him, as the party's first major figure not to come from a mainland Chinese background.

That was complemented by a corresponding formulation of national identity, the "Republic of China in Taiwan," which he felt would allow the country to move beyond what he saw as a detrimental focus on the past.

In 1990, Lee secured the National Assembly's approval for a full six-year term as president. Just days before his March 21 inauguration, however, a student-led pro-democracy demonstration calling itself the "Wild Lily Movement" occupied Taipei's Memorial Hall Plaza.

With the previous year's ill-fated Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing still fresh in the public's memory, Lee invited a delegation of 50 student leaders to the Presidential Office for talks, and committed to initiate a range of democratic reforms beginning that summer.

In the months and years that followed, Lee succeeded in passing constitutional changes that are credited with laying the groundwork for Taiwan's current democracy, including the introduction of direct presidential elections, reform of the since-disbanded National Assembly, and the abolition of a set of emergency executive powers known as the "temporary provisions against the communist rebellion."

As he pursued domestic reforms, Lee also attempted to address the growing international isolation Taiwan suffered at the expense of a newly powerful China.

In 1989, he set a precedent by visiting a non-allied head of state in Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), and in 1994, launched the "Go South" policy to strengthen Taiwan's investment and trade ties with Southeast Asia.

To secure meetings with regional leaders in the face of Chinese pressure, Lee found a novel solution in "vacation diplomacy," traveling in a personal capacity for talks with figures including the Philippines' Fidel Ramos, Indonesia's Suharto and the Thai King Bhumibol Abulyadej.

In June 1995, Lee attended an alumni event at Cornell University, where he delivered a speech on Taiwan's democratic reforms. The visit so angered Chinese leadership that within weeks, Beijing initiated a series of missile tests in the waters around Taiwan, which persisted through Taiwan's elections the following March.

While the tests, which are now known as the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, were intended to damage Lee politically, their effect on the electorate may have been the opposite -- Lee won re-election with a commanding 54 percent of the vote, while overall turnout exceeded 76 percent.

During his final, four-year term, Lee became more vocal in his support for Taiwan's statehood, characterizing the relationship with China as "state-to-state relations of a special nature."

After choosing not to run in the 2000 elections, Lee presided over Taiwan's first transfer of power, as the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took office, ending half a century of KMT rule.

In 2001, Lee helped to found the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union, for which he was expelled from the KMT. In the years that followed, he often made statements in support of the DPP's presidential candidates, including an October 2019 endorsement of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) re-election bid.

The final known photo of Lee Teng-hui (front right), his wife Tseng Wen-hui(front left) and President Tsai Ing-wen on Feb. 3, 2019.
While Lee's critics accused him of a pro-Japanese bias and the betrayal of his mentor, Chiang Ching-kuo, he was hailed by many in the DPP-aligned "green" camp as the father of Taiwanese democracy.

In one of his last major interviews, a talk with the BBC in 2014, Lee asserted that Taiwan is already independent, and that the country's unfinished task could be better characterized as political normalization.

Of his own historical legacy, Lee was more circumspect, saying he hoped people would remember that "life was good" during his tenure.

Lee Teng-hui in his presidential inauguration ceremony in 1996. (CNA file photo)
(By Elaine Hou, Yeh Su-ping and Matthew Mazzetta)

Photo CNA.

MAC warns against China's residence permits for Taiwanese

TAIPEI, (CNA).-  The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Wednesday accused Beijing of trying to weaken Taiwan's state sovereignty by issuing new residence permits for Taiwanese living, working and studying in China.

In a statement, the MAC said the initiative is aimed at undermining Taiwan's state sovereignty and altering cross-strait relations, and it urged Taiwanese who have applied for the cards not to enable Chinese authorities in their united-front tactics against Taiwan.

The council also warned Taiwanese of other downsides to China's new residence permits, such as increased taxes and social insurance and compromised privacy protection.

The MAC issued the statement in response to remarks earlier in the day by An Fengshan (安峰山), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who said that more than 22,000 Taiwanese had applied for the Chinese residency permits since it was launched on Sept. 1.

The MAC, however, disputed the figure, saying it has been collecting relevant information via different channels, which will serve as reference for drafting future policies.

The new residence permits for Taiwanese are different from China's resident identity cards, according to An.

He said the permits will serve as "identity cards" to allow greater convenience for Taiwanese living, working and studying in China and are not linked to any political agenda.

(By Miao Zong-han and Romulo Huang)


Military base rumors stoke Western allies’ fear of losing the Pacific to China

BEIJING, (RT NEWS).- In early April, reports began emerging that China was seeking to build a military base in the Pacific. Are these reports “fake news,” or are we witnessing the early stages of a regional showdown between Western powers and China?

The unsubstantiated rumor of a Chinese military base in the Pacific was first reported on by Fairfax media this month, which cited unnamed sources while affirming that no formal proposal had yet been made. However, the report stated that the prospect of a Chinese military post close to Australia had been discussed at the “highest levels in Canberra and Washington.”

According to the report, a “base less than 2000 kilometres from the Australian coast would allow China to project military power into the Pacific Ocean and upend the long-standing strategic balance in the region, potentially increasing the risk of confrontation between China and the United States.”

The prospective Pacific island nation in question is Vanuatu, a country with a noticeably close relationship with China. While the Western powers, especially Australia, have become increasingly concerned by China’s growing military capacity in the South China Sea through its reclaimed reefs and artificial islands, Vanuatu has been one of the very few countries who have openly supported Beijing’s island-building program. China has also donated military vehicles to Vanuatu, invested millions of dollars in infrastructure, and reportedly accounts for nearly half of Vanuatu’s $440 million foreign debt.

The Allies’ Response
As one can imagine, the report of a looming Chinese military base was not welcomed at all by US allies in the region, particularly New Zealand and Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the time that he viewed “with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific Island countries and neighbours of ours.”

“The maintenance of peace and stability in the Pacific is of utmost importance to us, to Australia — it’s one of the key priorities of the foreign policy white paper,” the prime minister also reportedly said.

In other words, Australia may seek to use this threat to justify a renewed militaristic foreign policy strategy of its own. After all, Australia has been sending warships to the South China Sea for military exercises even as recently as last year, and even felt it necessary to openly consider sending more vessels to confront China’s expanding influence just a few months ago. Australia also facilitated the proposal for a British warship, the HMS Sutherland, to depart Australia and voyage to the South China Sea to assert its so-called “freedom of navigation rights.” The US, for its part, sent warships to the South China Sea just this past month, as well as in January of this year, saber-rattling China in the process. Not to mention that Trump’s nominee for the US ambassador to Australia is a known anti-Chinese war hawk.

In solidarity with Australia, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, also voiced her opposition to what she termed the “militarization” of the Pacific, even though she hadn’t even been formally briefed on the issue at the time.

According to a prominent New Zealand outlet, the country’s government was seeking further information on the report and considering ways to respond. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, a notorious anti-Chinese politician who just about rattles Chinese people any chance he gets, also said there are a “number of players doing certain things in the Pacific that are not good for the peace and security” of the Pacific. He also believed that it was time for New Zealand to “step up” and “do a whole lot more in the Pacific.”

In March of this year, Peters spoke about the Pacific becoming a “contested strategic space” which was “creating a degree of strategic anxiety.” He also vowed to pour more money and resources in the Pacific region, further indicating that New Zealand would back away from supporting China’s monumental Silk Road project even after New Zealand’s former government had already signed a memorandum of understanding in support of the project.

All this being said, both Vanuatu and China have already heavily denied the veracity of the report, rejecting the claim that China will be building a military base in Vanuatu.

“No one in the Vanuatu government has ever talked about a Chinese military base in Vanuatu of any sort,” Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Ralph Regenvanu, told Australian media. “We are a non-aligned country. We are not interested in militarisation.”

By way of confirmation, China also referred to the statements from the Vanuatu Foreign Ministry, which China believed had “cleared the record.” China even referred to the report as “fake news.”

Washington irked by China’s purported ambitions

Some of you may be wondering, if both Vanuatu and China have openly denied the story, then so what? Case closed, right?

As of now, China maintains only one foreign military base in the world, being in the Horn of Africa’s Djibouti. Allegedly, the establishment of this base represents the “first pearl of a necklace” unfolding along a sea route that will connect China to the Middle East.

According to the Diplomat, there are also “credible reports” of further plans to establish naval or military facilities in locations such as Timor-Leste, the Azores islands (Portugal) in the middle of the North Atlantic, Walvis Bay (Namibia) in the South Atlantic, and Gwadar (Pakistan), with other initiatives that may not have come to light as yet (including, for example, Sri Lanka).

Regarding Pakistan, unnamed Chinese military officials first told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that Beijing was looking to build a naval base in Gwadar Port in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Almost immediately, both Pakistan and China rejected these reports, even though the speculation initially came from Chinese military officials and not from the Western media. Sound familiar?

Back to the issue at hand, Fairfax’s report clearly indicated that Beijing’s military ambition in Vanuatu “would likely be realized incrementally,” perhaps taking shape with an “access agreement that would allow Chinese naval ships to dock routinely and be serviced, refueled and restocked.”

The report also makes note of the fact that China has invested heavily in a major new wharf on the north island of Espiritu Santo, which allegedly “raised eyebrows in defence, intelligence and diplomatic circles” in Australia because it has the potential to service naval vessels as well as commercial ones (Vanuatu already hosted Chinese warships throughout last year).

And here is where it gets interesting. Luganville, on the island of Espiritu Santo, actually housed one of the largest military bases in the entire Pacific battle theatre during World War II. Its geostrategic significance cannot be understated. Whoever controls Vanuatu controls the air and sea route between the United States and Australia. This is a deal-breaker not just for the United States, but for its local lackey-states Australia and New Zealand, who act as regional care-takers for Washington’s foreign policy interests.

Double standards, hypocrisy and the road to war
Nonetheless, it is the United States that currently boasts approximately 1,000 military bases worldwide, including military research bases located in the Pacific region. The US also maintains a military budget so astronomical it far exceeds that of China. Despite this, one would be hard-pressed to find any instances of a New Zealand or Australian government criticizing the American military presence in the Pacific (or its presence on the wider global chessboard in general).

A report last year by Commander Thomas Shugart and Commander Javier Gonzalez at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) suggested that these US bases were becoming deeply vulnerable to attack by China’s ballistic missile capabilities, which could cripple US military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region while using only a fraction of its arsenal should a confrontation emerge.

Though little regard is paid to it by the media, there’s a reason Australia and the US continue to send warships to the South China Sea. It’s the same reason China has responded with live-fire military exercises that began in the Taiwan Strait this week, as China sets out to prove that it is a force to be reckoned with in the region.

Despite New Zealand and Australia’s fear-based position on this issue, it should be borne in mind that there are alternative options to the dispute which could prove far more beneficial for regional security than our current trajectory. As The Diplomat’s David Brewster explained:

“Whether or not this reported proposal in Vanuatu comes to pass (and it seems less likely than more), Australia needs to better understand – and deal with – China’s growing interests in the South Pacific. If Australia sees itself as a regional leader, then it needs to show leadership in avoiding militarization of South Pacific. Rather than hoping to lock China out, Australia should be exploring ways of working with China that address some of its concerns in a manner that does not adversely affect Australia’s clear strategic interests. These issues are not going to go away.”

If only the West will heed Brewster’s much needed advice, the region might avert a heavily anticipated catastrophe.

Darius Shahtahmasebi for RT

Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand based legal and political analyst. Follow him on Twitter @TVsLeaking

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

MOFA minister announces termination of diplomatic ties with El Salvador

TAIPEI, (NDT).- Diplomatic relations between Taiwan and El Salvador were terminated Aug. 21 to safeguard national dignity following the Central American country’s decision earlier in the day to establish official ties with China, according to Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu.

Taiwan’s embassy and technical missions are to be evacuated, and all cooperation programs ended immediately, Wu said. The move was necessitated by El Salvador’s repeated requests for large-scale assistance with the unfeasible Port La Union development project and heavy contributions to the ruling party’s re-election campaign, he added.

Detailed evaluation by Taiwan technical experts indicated a low chance of project success and high probability of crippling debt for both countries, Wu said. As a responsible member of the global community, Taiwan will not engage in dollar or debt-trap diplomacy, nor make illegal political contributions, he added.

According to Wu, intelligence surfaced in June that San Salvador was looking to establish official relations with Beijing. Extensive efforts were made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to preserve Taiwan’s friendship and ties with El Salvador, including numerous consultations with relevant officials and his visit to the Latin American nation last month.

China’s overtures to El Salvador are unbecoming and run counter to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, Wu said, adding that they are also causing concern among like-minded countries and international media outlets covering the perils of debt-trap diplomacy.

Taiwan is a sovereign nation and beacon of freedom and democracy, Wu said. It will never be cowed by China’s relentless suppression of its international space, and such efforts only serve to galvanize the people and strengthen the will to resist, he added. (SFC-E)

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MOFA short shows how Taiwan Can Help achieve WHO’s Health For All

TAIPEI.- A short film highlighting how Taiwan Can Help achieve the World Health Organization’s major objective of Health For All was released April 9 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The eight-minute video documents the good work of Taiwan-trained Dr. Paul Bosawai Popora in Pacific ally the Solomon Islands. Shot entirely on location, the eye-catching production is subtitled in Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.

Popora, who spent 10 years studying medicine at National Cheng Kung University in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City on a government-sponsored scholarship, was amazed by the quality of Taiwan’s medical care, the MOFA said.

The selfless efforts and dedication displayed by NCKU Hospital doctors, nursing staff and volunteers greatly inspired Popora to share Taiwan’s world-class accomplishments and spirit of volunteerism, the ministry added.

After graduating from NCKU in 2014, Popora returned home to practice and later founded a privately run community clinic. The facility receives regular donations of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals from Taiwan, which he disburses at no cost to the economically disadvantaged.

According to the MOFA, the Pacific nation has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, with only two qualified physicians per 10,000 people as compared to the global average of 14.89.

Over the past decade, Taiwan has helped train more than 70 medical staff in the Solomon Islands, the MOFA said, adding that Popora is a shining example of what can be achieved via the country’s All Hands On Deck approach to advancing global health, the ministry said. (SFC-E)

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Premier Lai best option to lead Cabinet: President Tsai

TAIPEI,  (CNA).- President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday reiterated her wish for Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to remain in his position, saying it was the best option for the nation and the consensus reached by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders.

Almost all of the DPP leaders with whom she has spoken agreed that urging Lai to stay on would be best for the current political situation, policy continuity and the nation's development, Tsai said in conversations with reporters at her residence.

Lai offered a verbal resignation to Tsai on election night to take political responsibility for the DPP's heavy defeat in the Nov. 24 local government elections.

He said then that the election result was a reflection of public dissatisfaction with the government's performance, for which he had to shoulder responsibility.

Tsai did not accept his resignation and he agreed to stay on the next day for the sake of political stability and continuity.

But on Dec. 7, Lai said he would step down "when the time is right" because he considered taking political responsibility to be the "supreme value of democracy" that should never be contradicted.

It has been widely speculated that Lai's last day as premier will be when the 2019 government budget bill passes the Legislature, potentially on Jan. 11.

According to Tsai, the DPP leaders and factions she has talked to about a possible change of premier included former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who has been rumored to be Lai's successor, and the New Tide faction, a group of which Lai is a member.

Since Lai took up the premiership more than a year ago, he has accomplished a lot and moved the nation forward, Tsai said.

"He is familiar with policies and has been working hard. At this time of difficulty, Lai Ching-te should stay on the job and continue to work hard with everybody."

Asked by reporters whether she has asked Su about his willingness to replace Lai, Tsai said she had not, relating that the only conclusion reached at her meeting with Su was to urge Lai to stay put.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

President Tsai praises Taiwan spirit at Asian Games, pledges more support


TAIPEI, (NDT).- President Tsai Ing-wen said Sept. 4 that the country’s athletes, coaches and support staff showed the world the true spirit of Taiwan at the Asian Games in Indonesia and pledged to invest more in elite sport.

The hard work of the team raised Taiwan’s profile on the global stage and contributed to the greatness of the nation, Tsai said. Accordingly, the government and the people stand humbled by this effort and are deeply grateful, she added.

Tsai made the remarks while receiving members of Team Taiwan at the Office of the President in Taipei City. The 730-plus contingent won 17 golds, 19 silvers and 31 bronzes—the country’s biggest medal haul in 20 years at the quadrennial event.

According to Tsai, a number of the golds were firsts for Taiwan in the events and saw the athletes set new national records or personal milestones. She singled out Lee Chih-kai, Tai Tzu-ying and Wen Tzu-yun for achieving such honors in the women’s badminton singles, male pommel horse and women’s karate 55-kilogram division, respectively.

Tsai, who also praised the team’s chef, dietician, medical staffers, physiotherapists and trainers for outstanding contributions to the successful games campaign, said the medal tally demonstrates Taiwan can punch above its weight as a sporting nation.

Going forward, Tsai said providing athletes with enhanced support so they can scale even greater heights for Taiwan is a top priority for the government. The Sports Administration under the Ministry of Education is working to ensure the national team receives everything it needs to outperform at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she added.

Tsai said this commitment, which includes doubling sports-related budgets and rolling out innovative policies, is expected to help athletes fully focus on earning Taiwan a place at the top table of international sport. (SFC-E)

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Taipei ranked world's 58th most livable city

LONDON., (CNA).- Taipei has moved up two places in the rankings of the world's most livable cities to 58th place, according to the 2018 Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Global Livability Ranking.

Taipei edged past the South Korean capital Seoul, which dropped one spot to 59th from last year, according to the report released Monday.

For the first time, the Austrian capital Vienna topped the list of 140 cities surveyed by the EIU, dislodging Australia's Melbourne, which had held first place for a record seven consecutive years.

Although both Melbourne and Vienna have registered improvements in livability over the last six months, increases in Vienna's ratings, particularly in the stability category, have been enough for the city to overtake Melbourne, the report said.

Vienna's top ranking also reflected improvements in stability and safety in Europe, which has had to step up security due to a higher perceived threat of terrorism, according to the report.

Vienna, with a score of 99.1, and Melbourne (98.4) were followed by Osaka in Japan (97.7); the Canadian city of Calgary (97.5); Sydney, Australia (97.4); and Vancouver, Canada (97.3).

Rounding out the top 10 were the Canadian city of Toronto and Japan's capital Tokyo, both with a score of 97.2, Copenhagen in Denmark (96.8), and Adelaide in Australia (96.6).

In Asia, after Osaka and Tokyo, the third most livable city was Hong Kong, which rose 10 spots in the rankings to 35th overall, followed by Singapore at 37th in the world rankings.

China's best ranked cites were Suzhou (74th worldwide), Beijing (75th), Tianjin (77th), and Shanghai (81st).

The survey assesses living conditions in 140 cities worldwide, scoring them on the basis of some 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories, namely stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

It gives an overall score of 0-100, where 1 is "intolerable" and 100 is "ideal."

At the bottom of the list this year was Syria's war-torn capital Damascus, with an overall score of 30.7.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

Taiwan calls on China to end hostility, restore peace: MAC chief

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) on Friday called on China to end its hostility toward Taiwan and help restore peace and prosperity across the Taiwan Strait.

"We hope China can reverse its hostile and confrontational thinking...and join us (Taiwan) in ushering a new era of reform and cross-strait relations," Chen said in his opening speech at an international conference on "Mainland China's Reform and Opening Up, 1978-2018: Prospect and Challenge."

Maintaining the status quo is a joint responsibility, but recently China has been trying to disrupt cross-strait exchanges and upsetting the stable relations between the two sides, he said.

"This has gone beyond the tolerance of all major political parties and people of Taiwan. And it is unacceptable to the international community," he said.

The country will never back down or act rashly to escalate confrontation, because maintaining the status quo is still the greatest common denominator among the Taiwanese people, Chen explained.

Taiwan's most cherished assets are its democratic system and values, and the country will go all out to defend its interests, he said.

Noting that this year is the 40th anniversary of China's launch of market-based economic reforms, the MAC chief hoped that Chinese leaders could replicate their country's economic success with reforms that embrace democracy and abandon totalitarianism and dictatorship.

Taiwan is willing to share its experience of transformation with China to promote mutual advancement and development, Chen said.

(By Miao Zong-han and Ko Lin)

Taiwan delighted to see inter-Korean dialogue easing regional tension

TAIPEI, (CNA).-  Taiwan is delighted to see tension on the Korean Peninsula ease through dialogue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Friday, commenting on the signing of an agreement by the leaders of North and South Korea pledging continued efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae In signed a joint declaration with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, in Pyongyang Wednesday, pledging denuclearization and an end to the military standoff on the peninsula.

In a statement, MOFA said Taiwan is happy to see efforts being made to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula and in the East Asian region through rational dialogue.

Taiwan hopes that all parties in the region work to build an environment of peace and stability, under the principle that the interests of all countries in the region are taken into consideration, the ministry said.

The landmark joint declaration was signed during Moon's visit to North Korea from Sept. 18-20. It contains six agreements, including that the two countries will expand the cessation of military hostilities in regions of confrontation and pursue substantive measures to further advance exchanges and cooperation.

Other agreements include one that the Korean Peninsula should be turned into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and threats. 

(By Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

Taiwan facing unprecedented challenges from China: official

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Taiwan's democracy is facing unprecedented challenges from China, Taiwan's Minister without Portfolio responsible for digital technology Audrey Tang (唐鳳) said during a trip in the United States, describing the situation as "precarious."

Tang sounded the alarm in a speech Saturday at the 31st annual convention meeting of the North America Taiwanese Women's Association (NATWA) in Detroit.

According to a summary of the speech posted on her Facebook page, Tang said Taiwan has been an important member of the global democratic camp over the past few decades and has never faced such stiff challenges in trying to maintain its status quo of freedom and democracy.

Tang said mounting pressure from Beijing against Taiwan, particularly increasing military threats, reflects Beijing's attempts to break the longstanding peaceful status quo across the Taiwan Strait, reiterating an argument made frequently recently by Taiwan's government.

Fortunately, like-minded countries and other countries in the region have displayed unprecedented concern and support for Taiwan, she said.

Tang noted, for example, that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. is taking various forms of action to prevent China from diplomatically isolating Taiwan.

Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, has said the U.S. remains committed to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and that China's "one country, two systems" formula for unification with Taiwan does not reflect the wishes of the two sides, Tang said.

Tang added that when she met with Japanese officials during her visit to Tokyo last month, they told her they will fully support Taiwan's bid to participate in the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Taking the opportunity, Tang also invited people to participate in an online event dubbed AIT@40 Digital Dialogues at which was launched by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to mark the 40th anniversary of the TRA.

The platform uses technology to promote diplomacy with the U.S. by allowing people who are concerned about Taiwan-U.S. relations to hold digital dialogues and set common cooperation goals, according to Tang.

Through the platform, some opinions such as "Taiwan can share its experience and expertise in many areas with the world" and "Taiwan is at the center of the U.S.'s Indo-Pacific strategy" have received a high approval rate, signaling that people in Taiwan and the U.S. share many common visions, Tang said.

Yet despite the support and assistance of so many world partners, the situation facing Taiwan could still be described as "precarious," Tang said.

Therefore, the government has begun to deal with issues such as the spread of misinformation that could destabilize society, meddling in Taiwan's elections through overseas funding, and the use of products presenting security threats to keep Taiwan from being taken over by the authoritarian regime in Beijing, she said.

(By Ku Chuan and Evelyn Kao)


Taiwan final 'fortress' of freedom in Chinese-speaking world: author

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Taiwan is the last fortress of democracy and free speech of the Chinese-speaking world, exiled Chinese writer Pan Yongzhong (潘永忠) said at a book launch in Taipei on Saturday.

Pan, better known by the pseudonym Tian Mu (田牧), said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has essentially cut off all Chinese-speaking channels to the outside world so that there can be no understanding of the Taiwan government or its voice of justice and conscience.

China's sharp power in the world is pervasive, Tian Mu said at the launch of his new book "The Forbidden Garden -- Censorship in China."

However, he said, not all of the 40 million overseas Chinese support Beijing's policies, and many of them care a lot about the future of Taiwan.

In particular, dissidents in exile "hope that Taiwan will stand firm" against the pressure, Tian Mu said.

The existence of Taiwan's political system, model and values puts pressure on the CCP's despotism, he said.

Also speaking at the book launch, Tienchi Martin-Liao (廖天琪), director of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), suggested that Taiwan use its wisdom and soft power to break through Beijing's lockdown.

While Beijing may seem mighty, Taiwan is an important part of the international community, and "if the international community does not recognize us or gives up on us, that is their problem, not ours," said Martin-Liao, whose center organized the book launch.

Taiwan can speak up for itself internationally through its non-governmental groups and overseas civil organizations and social media, she added.

(By Miao Zong-han and Kuan-lin Liu)

Taiwan military capable of protecting nation: defense minister

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) on Friday reiterated the ministry's ability to defend the nation.

The minister was responding to a CNN report Thursday, which said the United States is planning a show of force in areas close to Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

Yen said the Ministry of National Defense is closely monitoring the situation.

"People in Taiwan do not need to worry," Yen said at a hearing held at the Legislative Yuan. "The military is capable of ensuring national security and defending the country."

In the report, CNN cited several unnamed U.S. military officials as saying "the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the U.S. is prepared to deter and counter their military actions" in November.

According to the report, the U.S. aims to send ships close to Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in a freedom of navigation operation to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters.

The U.S. military officials said in the CNN report that the proposal, which will involve U.S. warships, combat aircraft and troops, means U.S. ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces.

However, the U.S. defense officials said the planned exercise indicated no intention to engage in combat with China.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the proposal with David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, saying in the CNN report the department does not comment on future operations of any kind.

Yen said the reported U.S. Navy operations are Washington's decision so Taiwan's defense ministry is not in a position to comment on the plan.

Nevertheless, Yen emphasized that whether in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's military is immediately aware of any change in Chinese military deployments so local people can rest assured about the security of the nation.

On Wednesday, Yen said at another legislative hearing that protecting Taiwan is in the national interest of the United States because Taiwan plays a role in maintaining regional peace.

The Wednesday comments came after the minister was asked by lawmakers to comment on U.S. veteran journalist Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," in which U.S. President Donald Trump is quoted as asking the National Security Council: "What do we get from protecting Taiwan?"

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Frances Huang)


Taiwan needs U.S. military support to defend itself: official

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Taiwan needs the United States' continuous support in the face of China's growing military threat or it will be vulnerable to being taken over by force by Beijing, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told CNN during an interview aired Monday.

Asked if the U.S.'s continuous military support for Taiwan would increase the potential risk of military confrontation with China, Wu told CNN that the reality is quite the opposite.

"What we are concerned about is that the U.S. does not support Taiwan anymore," he said.

"If the security ties between Taiwan and the U.S. are getting stronger and strengthening our ties, then that would become a barrier for the Chinese to think about future military scenarios against Taiwan," Wu said.

The comments came in the wake of a China Times report that the military's newly revised defense plan indicates that in the event of a conflict between Taiwan and China, the U.S. will not send troops to Taiwan.

Taiwan instead will ask the U.S. to provide intelligence to monitor the movements of enemy forces, said the report, which the Ministry of National Defense did not deny.

In the interview with CNN, Wu also noted the importance of the relationship with the U.S.

He said Taiwan was pleased that Taiwan-U.S. relations were growing closer under the Donald Trump administration, despite concerns raised by some Taiwanese who fear Taiwan will be used as a pawn between Washington and Beijing.

He stressed that Taiwan government has full faith in the cordial relationship.

"We (Taiwan and U.S.) both believe in the values that we share and they (U.S.) told us that they believe Taiwan is not tradeable, and democracy is not tradeable," he said.

"We feel very strongly that the Trump administration as a whole is deeply committed to Taiwan's security and its relationship with Taiwan," he added.

Wu was also asked about the mounting pressure Beijing has put on Taiwan, using military drills, aircraft fly-bys and vessels passing through the Taiwan Strait, since President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has traditionally favored independence, took power in 2016.

The foreign minister described such measures as counterproductive to Beijing's claim to win over Taiwanese hearts and minds.

"They (Beijing) say they want to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese people but what they're doing... is to create hatred among the regular Taiwanese people of the Chinese government. It is pushing Taiwan further and further away," he said.

Asked whether President Tsai would push for Taiwan independence, Wu said Tsai was determined to maintain "the status quo" with its mainland neighbor.

"We want to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait... By itself, Taiwan exists outside China, Taiwan exists by itself, so there's no need for Taiwan to go beyond what it is right now," he said.

According to Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, CNN's half-hour interview with Wu was conducted on Monday morning and is scheduled to be aired at 8 p.m. Monday (Taiwan Time).

(By Joseph Yeh)

Taiwan will not bow to China's plundering: MAC

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Taiwan will never bow to China's bullying and plundering, and what China has done will also not alter the fact that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign country, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said Friday.

Chiu made the remark after returning from visits to Japan and South Korea over the past few days, where he exchanged views on the issue with parliamentarians, political critics and think tank members.

Apart from intensified saber rattling toward Taiwan over the past two years, China has also wrested away five of its diplomatic allies and has blocked its meaningful participation in world bodies, Chiu said, adding that "this is not just an issue across the Taiwan Strait, but also a problem facing the international community."

China's growing interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and its intention to disrupt the established world order through strongarm tactics have accelerated instability across the globe, he said, urging international society to heed China's hegemonic expansion.

Citing the example of South Korea and North Korea, Chiu said that holding dialogue is the most effective method for parties at odds to dissolve tension and hostility.

He urged China to cease its bullying of Taiwan and stop political interference in Taiwan, and to examine its internal management and misjudgment of international situations.

China should look to the reality across the strait, respect Taiwan and resume talks with Taiwan as early as possible to help achieve sound development of bilateral relations, he said.

(By Lin Ke-lun and Flor Wang)

Taiwan: Foreign Minister Wu departs on 6-day tour of allies El Salvador, Belize

TAIPEI, (TAIWAN TODAY).- Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu is leading a nine-member delegation on a tour of El Salvador and Belize July 12-17 to deepen the friendships and bolster political and economic exchanges with the Central American allies.

During his four-day stay in El Salvador, Wu is scheduled to meet with President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Vice President Oscar Samuel Ortiz Ascencio and Legislative Assembly President Norman Noel Quijano Gonzalez to discuss current cooperative projects and future opportunities for collaboration.

The minister will deliver a letter to Sanchez Ceren from President Tsai Ing-wen congratulating the nation on the scheduled canonization of Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero Oct. 14, and host a ceremony for Taiwan Scholarship recipients.

Wu is also scheduled to hold talks with Central American Integration System (SICA) Secretary-General Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo and review results from Taiwan’s ongoing initiatives with the San Salvador-headquartered intergovernmental organization.

Taiwan and SICA have worked together closely since its establishment in 1991, implementing joint development programs in areas spanning agriculture, climate change management, democracy and security, economic integration, education, medical care and talent cultivation. To date, more than 120 cooperative projects have been completed, benefiting people throughout the region, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After arriving in Belize July 16, Wu is expected to meet with Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow as well as Lee Mark Chang, president of the Senate, and Omar Figueroa, deputy president of the House of Representatives. He will also tour the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System to explore possibilities for collaboration in environmental protection.

The same day, Wu will receive the Order of Distinction from Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington in recognition of his efforts to deepen bilateral ties and promote people-to-people exchanges. The prestigious honor is awarded to foreign officials or other individuals in recognition of their valuable services and contributions to the Central American nation.

This is Wu’s first official overseas tour since becoming foreign minister in February. (KWS-E)

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Taiwan: Military drill held in Kinmen following Han Kuang exercise

TAIPEI, (CNA).- The Kinmen Defense Command held a military drill Sunday to test the amphibious warfare capabilities of special forces troops and operations across multiple-position areas for the artillery regiment.

During the exercise, several scenarios were simulated by the underwater operations unit of the amphibious reconnaissance team, including close contact with the enemy, a series of assaults mounted against the enemy, and evacuations amid an exchange of gunfire, according to the ROC Army Aviation and Special Forces Command (AASFC).

The purpose of the simulations was to strengthen the key competence of the elite commandos in terms of infiltration tactics involving special forces troops advancing into enemy lines, operational training for command, and ordnance explosion, said Capt. Chu Cheng-nan (朱程楠) of the AASFC's Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion.

The exercise also featured defensive operations in combat training by simulating a scenario in which artillerymen were ordered to have four 3.5-ton heavy-duty trucks towing four 105mm howitzers installed in a designated area assigned by a commander and to have them operational within a specified time.

According to a military officer, the operation was completed in 19 minutes, two minutes ahead of the passing score of 21 minutes.

The drill followed the annual Han Kuang live-fire military drills from June 4-8 that focused on joint anti-airborne operations at Ching Chuan Kang air base in Taichung.

(By You Kai-hsiang and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

Photo: CNA

Taiwan: MOFA urges WHO to let Taiwan help combat Ebola

TAIPEI,(CNA).-The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has asked World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to let Taiwan help stop the spread of Ebola, an issue that he brought up on a social media platform the day before, according to MOFA on Friday.

Ghebreyesus posted on his Twitter account on Thursday that the "Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo required scaling up international efforts to stop it.

MOFA retweeted the post on Friday and added its own message, citing Taiwan's experience with fighting the disease.

"Taiwan fought Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. It runs an Asia Pacific infectious diseases training center and virus workshops with the U.S. under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework," the tweet read.

The ministry ended with a direct call to Ghebreyesus to let Taiwan help, noting that there is no time for China's political agenda.

This was the latest effort by Taiwan to have its voice heard on global health matters even after it has been blocked by Beijing, for the second year in a row, from attending the World Health Assembly.

The deadline to register for this year's meeting, which opens in Geneva on Monday, has passed with Taipei not receiving an invitation.

Taiwan plans to send a delegation to Geneva nonetheless and hold bilateral exchanges with other countries on the sidelines of the meeting.

MOFA's tweet is the latest move in Taiwan's attempt to participate in the World Health Organization's international initiatives to combat diseases and provide quality health care.

Taiwan has also asked its allies to voice support for the WHO to let Taiwan participate in the meeting.

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Elaine Hou)

Taiwan's goodwill toward China has its limits: MAC chief

TAIPEI, (CNA).- Taiwan will continue to show goodwill toward mainland China, but that does not mean the government will do so "without limit," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said on Thursday.

"Should Taiwan's security and social stability be threatened, we will do whatever is necessary to deal with various contingencies," Chen said during an informal meeting with reporters.

"Although China has yet to respond to Taiwan's goodwill and has even stepped-up its saber-rattling in a bid to force Taiwan to accept its political preconditions, Taiwan has its own strategy and will not yield to pressure," he said.

Stressing that "the government will not take the old path of confrontation," Chen hailed President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) efforts to maintain the status-quo across the Taiwan Strait.

He voiced hope that the two sides can sit down and work to resolve differences based on the principle of reciprocity with no political preconditions.

Chen made the comment in response to remarks made on Wednesday by Liu Jieyi (劉結一), head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, that Taiwan should support the "1992 consensus" -- a tacit agreement reached between Taiwan and the mainland in 1992 that there is only "one China" and each side is free to interpret what it means.

Beijing insists the consensus serve as the political foundation for cross-strait exchange, but Tsai, who assumed office in May, 2016, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that she leads refuse to accept it, stalling cross-strait ties.

"Given that Taiwan has had heated debate over the term for many years, it is not pragmatic to conduct cross-strait exchanges based on a controversial term," Chen said, stressing that "it is better to promote bilateral interactions based on terms contained in the Republic of China Constitution and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.

(By Miao Zong-han and Flor Wang)

Taiwan's military advantages vs. China waning: U.S. report

WASHINGTON,  (CNA).- Taiwan's military advantages are on the wane as Beijing continues to modernize its armed forces and reinforce preparations for a possible conflict in the Taiwan Strait, the United States said in a report on China's military power.

The Department of Defense's 2018 China Military Power Report released Thursday said Taiwan has historically enjoyed military advantages in a potential cross-strait conflict, such as technological superiority and the inherent geographic advantages of island defense.

But "China's multi-decade military modernization effort has eroded or negated many of these," the report contended.

Though Taiwan is taking steps to compensate for the growing disparities, they only partially address Taiwan's declining defensive advantages at a time when China's official defense budget has grown to roughly 15 times that of Taiwan.

Much of that budget is focused on developing the capability to unify Taiwan with the mainland by force, the report said, noting that China has never repudiated the use of military force despite its advocacy of "peaceful reunification" with Taiwan.

"China's overall strategy continues to incorporate elements of both persuasion and coercion to hinder the development of political attitudes in Taiwan favoring independence," the report said.

China has stressed that Taiwan must accept the "1992 consensus," an ambiguous term used by Taiwan's previous administration and Chinese leaders as a basis for engagement, according to the report.

Taiwan's incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party has refused to recognize the "consensus," a tacit understanding there is "one China," with each side having its own interpretation of what "one China" means.

Against that backdrop, the "major PLA reorganization of combat units in 2017 likely affected units responsible for a Taiwan contingency," the report said.

"Concurrently, the PLA continued to develop and deploy increasingly advanced military capabilities intended to coerce Taiwan, signal Chinese resolve, and gradually improve capabilities for an invasion."

These improvements pose major challenges to Taiwan's security, the report said, arguing that "China could pursue a measured approach by signaling its readiness to use force or conduct punitive actions against Taiwan."

"The PLA could also conduct a more comprehensive and more methodical campaign designed to force Taiwan to capitulate to unification, or unification dialogue, under PRC terms."

China will also try to deter potential U.S. intervention "in any Taiwan contingency campaign," the report said. "Failing that, China would attempt to delay intervention and seek victory in an asymmetric, limited war of short duration.

"In the event of a protracted conflict, China might fight to a standstill and pursue a political settlement," the report speculated.

The China Military Power Report, a requirement of the U.S.'s National Defense Authorization Act, describes the current status and development of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces, and also provides analysis of China's strategy in the Taiwan Strait.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Elizabeth Hsu)

Photo CNA.

U.S. drug enforcement agency plans to open office in Taipei

TAIPEI, (CNA).- A United States narcotics official said Tuesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plans to establish an office in Taipei to promote interaction with Taiwan's law enforcement agencies.

Phillip Chad Esch, narcotics attaché for the DEA Hong Kong SAR Office, made the announcement at the first-ever crime-fighting and forensic science workshop that opened in Taipei that day.

It is hoped that the future Taipei office will also help enhance cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and that the two sides will be able to further exchange information on cross-border crime, Esch said.

However, the date for the establishment of the office has yet to be determined, he added.

According to the DEA website, the agency currently has 86 foreign offices in 62 countries, of which 14 are in the Far East region including Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines and Singapore.

The two-day workshop, the first held under the U.S.-Taiwan Global Cooperation Training Framework (GCTF) since its inception in June 2015, is co-hosted by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB), and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) which represents the U.S. interests in Taiwan during the absence of the diplomatic ties between the two nations.

According to MOFA, representatives from 16 countries on three continents are attending the event in Taipei and will discuss how to deepen international cooperation and combat cross-border crime.

(By Wang Yang-yu and Ko Lin)

U.S. lauds Taiwan's democracy, blasts China's 'antipathy to liberty'

WASHINGTON, (CNA).- United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday praised Taiwan as a beacon of Chinese culture and democracy, while criticizing China as failing to honor its trade commitments and to observe the right to freedom.

In a speech at the Frederic V. Malek Public Service Leadership Lecture, Pence reaffirmed the U.S.' support for Taiwan.

The U.S. "stood by Taiwan in defense of her hard-won freedoms," he said. "We've authorized additional military sales and recognized Taiwan's place as one of the world's great trading economies and beacons of Chinese culture and democracy."

In China, meanwhile, millions of ethnic and religious minorities are struggling against the Communist Party's efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities, Pence said.

Furthermore, China has been turning up the pressure on the democracy in Taiwan over the past year, using checkbook diplomacy to induce two more nations to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, he said, referring to the Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

The international community should not forget that "its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace," Pence said. "America will always believe that Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people."

He however reaffirmed the U.S' one China policy, saying it was built on the basis of the three joint communiqués with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

It was Pence's second public criticism of China in a year, following his remarks in October 2018 at the Hudson Institute on U.S. policy toward China.

In his speech Thursday on the U.S.' relationship with China, Pence again blasted Beijing as suppressing freedom of speech and religion, engaging in unfair trade practices, and stealing U.S. intellectual property.

China has also broken its 2015 pledge not to "militarize" the South China Sea, he said, adding that China has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles at military bases constructed on artificial islands in the area.

"But nothing in the past year has put on display the Chinese Communist Party's antipathy to liberty so much as the unrest in Hong Kong," Pence said.

The vice president further said China was trying to "export censorship," as evidenced by the removal of Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise from several Nike stores in China amid a furor over a tweet by the basketball team's general manager in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"By exploiting corporate greed, Beijing is attempting to influence American public opinion, coercing corporate America," Pence said.

Nonetheless, the U.S. is not seeking confrontation with China, but rather wants to see a level playing field, open markets, fair trade, and respect for American values, he said.

"We are not seeking to contain China's development," Pence said.

"We want a constructive relationship with China's leaders, like we have enjoyed for generations with China's people. And if China will step forward and seize this unique moment in history to start anew by ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long, I know President Donald Trump is ready and willing to begin that new future."

He said the U.S is reaching out to China in the hope that Beijing will reach back, "this time with deeds, not words, and with renewed respect for America."

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed thanks for Washington's consistent support, saying Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded nations to protect democracy and international order.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

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