MOFA to “do its best” to set up APEC meets with U.S., China reps

Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will do its best to have Taiwan’s representative meet with his American and Chinese counterparts at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Wednesday.

“We would not rule out any possibility and will do our best to make it happen,” Wu told lawmakers when asked at a legislative hearing to comment on the possibility of such meetings.

Morris Chang (張忠謀), founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has been named as Taiwan’s representative to attend the APEC leaders’ summit in Papua New Guinea from Nov. 12 to 18.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), meanwhile, are expected to represent their respective countries.

Asked what Chang would discuss if he met with those leaders, Wu said Chang would probably raise Taiwan-U.S. trade and investment issues with Pence and extend some “goodwill gesture” to Xi, without elaborating on what kind of gesture could be made.

Previously commenting on whether Chang would meet with Pence, the top U.S. representative to Taiwan, Brent Christensen, did not give a direct answer.

“We anticipate that he (Chang) will, in fact, as is always the case, interact with other leaders at the summit. But at this point we don’t have specific information about how that might happen,” Christensen, the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) Taipei office, said on Oct. 31.

Christensen also praised the selection of Chang as an “inspiring choice.”

“He represents everything that is good about Taiwan, a really outstanding and very prominent figure in Taiwan society,” he said.

(By Joseph Yeh)

China Airlines mulling purchase of 6 more widebody Airbus planes

Toulouse, France, Oct. 22 (CNA) China Airlines (CAL), one of the leading international carriers in Taiwan, said Monday that it is thinking of buying another six extra wide-body A350 aircraft as part of its plan to expand its global transportation network.

CAL Chairman Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒) told the press in Toulouse that his company is studying the possibility of purchasing the long haul A350-900 XWBs or the bigger A350-1000 XWBs and will make a decision later this year or next year.

Ho made the comment on the sidelines of a ceremony at which CAL took the delivery of an A300-900 XWB, the latest addition to its fleet of 13 Airbus aircraft of that model.

CAL’s latest A300-900 XWB features a unique joint livery that combines the airline’s distinctive plum blossom logo with Airbus’ exclusive A350 XWB carbon fiber pattern.

In 2008, CAL signed with Airbus to buy 14 A350-900 XWBs, with an option of an additional six planes, which Ho said CAL is now considering.

He said either the A300-900 or the A300-1000 would be a good choice at a time of rising fuel costs resulting from a spike in international crude oil prices.

According to CAL, the A350 XWB is manufactured by means of the most advanced technology and is a lighter and safer model because of its high-end production materials.

In addition, the aircraft model is eco-friendly, which means it can cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent and lower maintenance costs, CAL said.

CAL said it is the fourth largest buyer of the A350 XWB series and that it is listed by Airbus as a customer that is likely to purchase more aircraft in that series.

Airbus has also received an order for 17 A350XWBs, five A350-900s and 12 A350-1000s from a newly established Taiwan-based carrier, StarLux Airlines, which is expected to start operations in 2020.

As part of Airbus’ promotion of the A300-1000, it flew the aircraft to Taipei in January on a demonstration tour across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Frances Huang)

Taiwan asks China to explain human rights worker’s prison transfer

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has asked China to provide an explanation as to why jailed Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) was abruptly transferred to another prison in Hebei Province, Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said on Thursday.

Lee, a Taiwanese democracy advocate, has been detained in China since March 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of “subversion of state power” in November last year.

Before his transfer, Lee was imprisoned at Chisan Prison in Hunan Province.

Chiu said the council was informed of Lee’s prison transfer by the Taiwanese business association in Hunan, which said it was notified by the Chinese government on Oct. 19 that Lee had been taken to Yancheng Prison in Hebei.

According to the association, the authorities did not provide further explanation.

Lee’s family members were unaware of his transfer, the MAC official said.

MAC and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) have already asked China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) to provide an explanation over Lee’s abrupt transfer, including information on Yancheng’s visitation regulations, Chiu said.

Founded in 2002, Yancheng is one of two prisons in China that are run directly by the central government. The facility spans 44 hectares and has the capacity to house over 1,600 prisoners, according to information published online by China’s popular search engine Baidu Inc.

(By Miao Zong-han and Ko Lin)

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

Taipei, Oct. 19 (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)

President Tsai discusses fake information with U.S. official

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) met with United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Busby in Taipei Friday to share experiences and exchange views on countering fake information, deepening democracy and promoting human rights, according to the Presidential Office.

In a press release issued by the Presidential Office that day, Tsai said the current proliferation of fake information has become a challenge facing democracies around the world that has the power to impact the stable development of countries.

“We should seek a cooperative solution in the light of current issues,” Tsai said in reference to Busby’s visit.

Taiwan, like the United States, strives to defend the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, Tsai said, adding that in addition to thanking other countries for their support and assistance with democratic reform in Taiwan, she also hopes to share that experience with the international community.

Tsai talked to Busby about Taiwan’s experience with transitional justice including passing the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice, which seeks to address injustices committed during the country’s authoritarian-era, and the creation of the Transitional Justice Commission.

The value of transitional justice is to remember the lessons of history and move towards true reconciliation, Tsai affirmed.

Meanwhile, Tsai also said that over the past two years, relations between Taiwan and the U.S. have continued to improve, adding that she looks forward to more cooperation between the two countries.

Busby, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, was a special guest at a two-day Taiwan-U.S. co-hosted workshop on defending democracy, held Thursday and Friday.

The workshop was held under the Taiwan-U.S. Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), according to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in the absence of official diplomatic ties. It was the 13th workshop since the GCTF’s inception in 2015.

(By Yeh Su-ping and William Yen)

Taiwan wants to invite China’s top cross-strait negotiator to visit

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) is willing to invite the head of its counterpart in China to visit Taiwan this year, as 2018 is a milestone for the two organizations, a spokeswoman for the SEF said Wednesday.

Although dialogue between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has been halted since May 2016, the SEF remains open to exchanges with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), said SEF Deputy Secretary-General Kuan An-lu (管安露) at a press briefing.

Therefore, the SEF is hoping that ARATS president Zhang Zhijun will visit Taiwan this year, which is the 20th anniversary of a historic meeting in Shanghai between the first heads of the two semi-official organizations, Kuan said.

She also said that SEF Chairwoman Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月) would like to visit China, if there is an opportunity.

SEF and ARATS are intermediary organizations founded in 1990 to handle cross-strait affairs in the absence of formal relations.

In October 1998 then SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and ARATS president Wang Daohan met in Shanghai and decided to resume dialogue between the two sides on economic and political issues.

Koo and Wang first met in Singapore in 1993 for the first direct cross-strait talks since 1949 when the Republic of China government relocated to Taiwan during a civil war.

Cross-strait talks were suspended by Beijing in 1995 to protest a visit by then Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to the United States.

In May 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office, dialogue between the two sides was again halted because of China’s discontent with Tsai’s cross-strait policy.

Kuan said the SEF, however, has maintained its institutional operations, and the communication mechanism between the two sides still exists, although Beijing’s unilateral suspension of the cross-strait dialogue has caused problems in the area of exchanges between the people of the two sides.

She urged Beijing not to let political factors stand in the way of cross-strait exchanges.

(By Miao Zong-han and Elizabeth Hsu)

President Tsai plans to make Taiwan an Asian hub for startups

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Tuesday that her administration will offer incentives and revise regulations as part of its plan to develop Taiwan as a regional hub for startups.

The incentives will include more tax credits, Tsai said in an address at the opening of the annual congress of the World Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.

She said the government is also moving to cultivate talent, attract more foreign professionals and abolish the outdated regulations in the Company Act.

Taiwan has already launched a startup park in Linkou District, New Taipei, which is linked to Taiwan Tech Arena in Taipei, Asia Silicon Valley in Taoyuan County, and the Hsinchu Science Park, Tsai said.

Furthermore, the recent decisions by international business giants to invest or expand their operations in Taiwan were indicative of a positive outlook on Taiwan’s future development, she said, citing companies such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco System, Amazon, Siemens, Dassault Aviation, Rockwell International, and Mitsubishi as examples.

Taiwan’s economy is on the rise, as indicated by its improved performance in the areas of economic growth, unemployment, exports, and the stock market, said Tsai.

She said her administration is also working to strengthen the cultural and creative sector, starting with two projects that are being formulated by the Ministry of Culture to drive the cultural industries.

The chamber’s opening ceremony was also attended by Director of the American Institute in Taiwan Brent Christensen, former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, and Stephen Yates, a former deputy national security adviser to Cheney.

(By Ku Chuan and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

Taiwan seeks international scientists for new research ship

Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) Taiwan is scheduled to launch a new research vessel in late October to conduct marine research in the waters south of the country that might involve scientists from the Philippines and Vietnam to enhance its research capability and increase its international visibility.

The 2,629-ton ship named the Legend (勵進), constructed in Vietnam by Triyards Marine Services, a Singapore shipbuilder, has the capacity to accommodate 19 crew members and 24 researchers. It can sail up to 30 days without refueling, according to National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs).

NARLabs will have discussions with local marine researchers in the coming days to determine topics to be researched during the ship’s maiden voyage, including such possible options as underwater exploration and combustible ice exploration, said Wang Chau-chang (王兆璋), director of the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute at NARLabs.

Noting that international cooperation is critical to marine research, as seen in the development of the field in the United States, Japan and South Korea, Wang said NARLabs has been exploring the possibility of inviting Philippine and Vietnamese researchers to sail on board with local counterparts.

The ship was procured to strengthen Taiwan’s oceanography research capabilities after the country’s 2,700-ton research vessel the RV Ocean Researcher 5 sank in waters off Penghu in 2014.

NARLabs purchased the Legend at a cost of about NT$870 million (US$28.09 million). The ship, which was delivered in Januray, has a top speed of 12 knots and was inaugurated at Kaohsiung’s Banana Pier in May.

“We have learnt lessons to prevent a repeat tragedy of the RV Ocean Researcher 5,” Wang said.

For one thing, Wang said, unlike the single-hull RV Ocean Researcher 5, the double-hull structure used for the Legend enforces its ability to withstand collision damage.

The Legend has been equipped with standby safety vessels and life rafts on both sides of the ship that can accommodate four times the number of individuals the ship can hold, Wang added.

Meanwhile, the crew members who will participate in the Legend’s missions have been selected through a rigorous screening process and have received training from the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute.

(By Chu Tse-wei and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

Taiwan thanks U.S. for approving sale of military spare parts

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Taiwan on Tuesday thanked the United States for approving the sale of a new arms package that will replenish the supply of spare parts for a number of Taiwan’s military aircraft, including its F-16s, to beef up its defense capabilities.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) under the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced Monday that the State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sales Order (FMSO) II covering requisitions worth an estimated US$330 million.

The possible sale includes the replenishment of standard spare parts and the repair and replacement of spare parts in support of the F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) and other aircraft systems and subsystems, the DSCA statement said.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) expressed gratitude for the move, saying it will beef up Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities and shows that Washington is keeping its promise to Taipei to provide defensive weapons under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances.

“It will also give Taiwan’s people more confidence in facing increasing security challenges in the region and ensure that our country has enough of a capability to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

The government will also continue to beef up its investment in national defense and develop an indigenous defense industry while maintaining close communications and cooperation with the U.S. on security issues, Huang said.

According to the DSCA, the proposed sale of spare and repair parts is required to maintain the recipient’s defensive and transport aerial fleet and will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

This notice of a potential sale to the U.S. Congress is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded, according to the DSCA.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said the deal is expected to officially take effect in one month.

According to a nine-step flow chart Taiwan’s Defense Ministry published earlier this year that shows the standard procedures used by Taiwan in pursuing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) from the U.S. government, Taiwan first decides what weapons it needs and then submits a Letter of Request to the U.S. for review.

Should the U.S. give the request a green light, it sends an answer to Taiwan detailing its offer.

Taipei then reviews the offer and completes a proposal for the procurement project that it sends back to the U.S.

Different government branches on the U.S. side then look over the proposal before the U.S. government notifies Congress of the sale and the DSCA makes the deal public.

The process is completed once the two sides sign a letter of offer and acceptance, according to the MND-released chart.

Congress does not have to approve the sale separately but it has the power to block the sale, though such a move is highly unlikely in this case.

(By Joseph Yeh)

MAC warns against China’s residence permits for Taiwanese

Taipei, Sept. 12 (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)