Should #Taiwan have #nuclear weapons? #China has threatened to invade Taiwan, and there is no mutual defense treaty between Taiwan and the US military, like there is with South Korea, the Philippines and Japan. Chris Chappell sits down with Ian Easton of the Project 2049 Research Institute to discuss the future of Taiwanese national security and what President Donald Trump and his administration could do.
Taiwan plans to ramp up punishments for those who cause a fatal accident while drink driving, including the death penalty for the most egregious cases, sparking an outcry from abolition and rights groups.
The cabinet on Thursday (March 28) approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code that would make death by drink driving an indictable murder offence, potentially punishable by death if the deed is deemed “intentional”, officials said.
The proposal needs parliamentary approval but comes after a spate of high profile deaths that have generated widespread outrage.
Currently the maximum sentence in Taiwan for causing a death while drunk behind the wheel is 10 years.
The new proposal would increase jail sentences for repeat offenders who commit a new offence within five years of their first conviction.
They face up to a life sentence for causing a death and 12 years for grave injuries.
“Cases of drink driving leading to death are rampant… drink drivers recklessly caused accidents that took lives and destroyed families to result in irreparable regret,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
In one notorious case in January, a 40-year-old man crashed his van into a taxi while driving intoxicated, killing three people and injuring three others including himself.
Very few countries employ the death penalty for drink driving cases.
China has previously vowed to execute those who have killed behind the wheel and some states in the United States retain capital punishment for such cases.
In 2014 a Texas man was indicted on “capital murder” after he ploughed his car into a crowd killing four people.
But in the end prosecutors did not seek the death penalty and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Several rights groups on Thursday, including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, issued a joint statement criticising the proposed amendment and calling for “rational legislation for irrational drink driving”.
“There is a lack of evidence and research that seeking grave penalties and legislation would truly prevent drink driving,” the statement said.
Taiwan resumed capital punishment in 2010 after a five-year hiatus, despite ongoing calls from local and international rights groups for its abolition.
Various surveys over the years have shown support from the public for keeping the death penalty.
Taiwan executed a man who murdered his ex-wife and their daughter last September, the first execution carried out under President Tsai Ing-wen’s government that took office in 2016.
Source – AFP
Taiwan’s President has urged Australia, the United States and Japan to join with her country in a “values-based partnership” to push back against growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.
- Beijing regards Taiwan as a mutinous province and is intent on poaching its Pacific allies
- President Tsai Ing-wen accused China of undermining “stability and good governance”
- Pacific nations say great powers should stop using them as geopolitical “pawns”
Six of Taipei’s remaining allies lie in the Pacific, and Beijing has been intent on poaching them as it intensifies efforts to isolate Taiwan, which it sees as a mutinous province.
President Tsai Ing-wen issued her call on the last day of a Pacific trip designed to shore up its relations with three of those nations — Palau, Nauru and Marshall Islands.
China has been ramping up investment in its Pacific allies, but Ms Tsai accused Beijing of undermining “stability and good governance” in the region.
“This is why I think it’s essential for Taiwan and like-minded countries to work through and create a values-based partnership in the Pacific,” she said.
“I believe that when given a choice Pacific states would prefer assistance and investments come from countries which share their values and interests.”
Ms Tsai said nations like Australia, the United States and Japan could better coordinate their efforts on aid and infrastructure to ensure that they could maximise their influence.
All three countries share unease about China’s rise in the region and have promised to ramp up investment in infrastructure through the Pacific in response.
Ms Tsai said “like-minded countries” needed to “share the good narrative we’ve been building, not only with their governments but also everyday people”.
Controversially, she also called for them to intensify their criticism of Chinese lending and investment in the region.
“[We will] cooperate with partners to counter the Chinese narrative and share examples of areas where the Chinese have not lived up to their promises in the region,” she said.
“We believe our values underpin each and every one of our relations in the Pacific, and we want to work actively with like-minded partners to build a broad partnership to ensure these values are protected.”
The comments are likely to anger Beijing. Several Pacific island nations have also dismissed previous warnings from Australia and the US about Chinese investment in the Pacific, accusing Canberra and Washington of patronising behaviour.
Last year Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, said that great powers should stop using Pacific nations as “pawns” in a geopolitical struggle, and respect their right to self-determination.
The new US ambassador, Arthur Culvahouse, recently said Beijing engaged in “pay day loan diplomacy” in the Pacific, accusing it of loading small nations with unsustainable debts that it could use as leverage.
China has consistently rejected the assertion. Earlier this month China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said its Belt and Road initiative was “an economic pie that benefits the local population” and not a “geopolitical tool”.
Beijing is already threatening retaliation over Washington’s expected sale of dozens of F-16s and tanks to Taiwan. But as if ties between the world’s two largest economies hadn’t already been sufficiently strained, the Navy and Coast Guard again provoked the Chinese leadership on Sunday when they sailed two ships – identified as the Navy destroyer Curtis Wilbur and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf – through the Strait of Taiwan.
According to Reuters, the gesture, which is part of a redoubled US effort to flex its muscles near Chinese waters, should be interpreted – like other ‘freedom of navigation’ operations before it – as a sign of support for Taiwan, which is struggling with an increasingly threatening Beijing. The Chinese military has been holding more military drills and missions around the island, as President Xi has made bringing the wayward province back under Beijing’s thumb a top priority for his rule.
Sunday’s mission coincided with a trip abroad by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who will stop in Hawaii later this week following a tour of the Pacific.
The US was unrepentant about the mission, saying it was intended to demonstrate that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open.
A baby girl allegedly dumped by a Singaporean couple in central Taipei was alive at birth, Taiwanese media reported on Monday (March 25).
The child’s body was allegedly disposed of shortly after her birth on Feb 26, with the placenta and umbilical cord still intact. It was found wrapped in a garbage bag by an employee from a recycling company, who had been sorting through the trash.
A 24-year-old woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend from Singapore were identified as key suspects by Taiwanese police.
The couple reportedly flew into Taiwan on Feb 19 and returned to Singapore on the afternoon of Feb 26.
Taiwanese authorities have been trying to determine whether the baby had been dead or alive at birth.
A forensic doctor conducted a test by placing the lungs and other organs in a basin of water. The doctor found that the lungs floated to the top, which he said indicated the baby had been able to breathe on its own after it was born, sources told the Liberty Times.
The lung float test, however, is seen as unreliable by some forensic pathologists, as other factors may cause the organ to float in water.According to Taiwanese law, a mother who kills her newborn may be jailed for at least six months or up to five years.
If the father had killed the newborn, he could be given the death penalty or life imprisonment, or jailed for at least 10 years, reported Liberty Times.
The forensic researchers are still investigating the cause of the baby’s death, and their report has not been released, said Taiwanese newspaper China Times.
The Taiwanese authorities may approach Singapore for help with the investigations upon receiving the report, the newspaper said.
Taiwan has requested a purchase order for 108 third-generation American main battle tanks designated as M1A2X Abrams, ITV News reports.
Washington announced it would make a final decision on the M1A2X in June.
The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense also submitted a request for 66 General Dynamics F-16V fighter jets on Feb. 27.
The China Times recently quoted a Taiwanese defense official that said, if the tanks were procured, the M1A2X would be deployed with two armored battalions under the command of the 6th Army Corps in northern Taiwan. The official said extensive training programs and a five-year supply of spare parts would also be included in the deal.
According to the Defense Blog, “the M1A2X is a special configuration of the M1A2C, the latest variant of Abrams tanks in production. This version rectifies many of the space, weight and power issues identified during Operation Iraqi Freedom and will be the foundational variant for all future incremental upgrades. In addition to having improved survivability, the Abrams M1A2C can host any mature technology the Army deems operationally relevant. Improvements focus on increasing the electrical power margin, Vehicle Health Management Systems, integrated counter-improvised explosive device protection, a new Auxiliary Power Unit, embedded training and an ammunition data link.”
At the moment, the Armed Forces of Taiwan are in urgent need of modernizing their aging main battle tank. M1A2X is expected to replace the M60A3 Patton and CM-11 Brave Tiger tanks.
Defense Blog said Taiwan would need to purchase 500 M1A2X to compete on the same level as the People’s Liberation Army of continental China.
American defense sales to Taiwan, which by the way China claims as its territory, has caused tensions to soar as a new cold war heats up in the Indo-Pacific region between the world’s two largest economies.
The war exercise followed a new report from the Pentagon outlining concerns about Beijing’s expanding military might, including a possible invasion of Taiwan.
“China … believes that U.S. military presence … in Asia seeks to constrain China’s rise and interfere with China’s sovereignty, particularly in a Taiwan conflict scenario,” the Pentagon report said.
Taiwan’s request for 108 American main battle tanks and 66 new fighter jets makes sense. The island nation is preparing for a Chinese invasion.
Earlier this year, Taiwan conducted live-fire war drills along its west coast amid mounting fears that Chinese President Xi Jinping could use military force to annex the democratic island.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will visit Hawaii next week on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Pacific, official media said on Thursday, a move likely to anger China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own amid tension across the strait.
China regards Taiwan as its sacred territory and regularly calls it the most sensitive and important issue in ties with the United States, complaining to Washington about transit stops by Taiwan presidents.
Tsai will transit Hawaii next Wednesday on her way home from an eight-day visit to three diplomatic allies, the official Central News Agency said.
Taiwan, which China deems ineligible for state-to-state relations, has formal ties with 17 countries, almost all small nations in Central America and the Pacific.
The island battles to keep its allies from switching their allegiance to China, which last year persuaded Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador to forge relations with Beijing.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
MELBOURNE, Australia — Taiwan has requested a fleet of new fighters from the United States, but it didn’t specify a type, leaving it up to the U.S. to recommend an option, according to defense officials.
Taiwanese Deputy Minister of National Defense Shen Yi-ming told reporters that the request for new fighters had been submitted, with the U.S to advise on the type and number of fighter jets that would be required to meet the country’s operational needs.
Speaking at a separate event, the head of the Taiwanese Air Force Command Headquarter’s Planning Division, Maj. Gen. Tang Hung-an, confirmed this, citing for reporters the recently submitted letter of request to the U.S. to buy a batch of fighter jets.
He was quoted by news outlet Focus Taiwan as saying that “the F-15, F-18, F-16 and even the F-35 are all among our options, as long as the jets help to strengthen our air defense capabilities.”
The defense officials were responding to an article in the Chinese language newspaper Apple Daily, which claimed that the request was to purchase a fleet of 66 Lockheed Martin F-16V fighter jets at a cost of $13 billion, as part of a package that would include missiles and related logistics, as well as the training of pilots and maintenance personnel.
The unusual nature of the request puts the onus of the decision on the U.S. and is likely designed to ensure that any Taiwanese request for new fighter jets is not rejected like previous requests, partially out of wariness of angering China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force to take back the island.
After Chinese President Xi Jinping in January pledged “all necessary measures” to reunite Taiwan with the Chinese mainland, the island democracy is redoubling efforts to buy American fighter jets. Not since George H.W. Bush has a U.S. President approved such a sale, but President Trump can help a democratic ally defend itself by allowing it to proceed.
Taiwan’s defense ministry last week requested war planes to “demonstrate our determination and ability to defend ourselves,” according to Deputy Defense Minister Shen Yi-ming….
TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will next week visit the island’s diplomatic allies of Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, a government official said on Tuesday (Mar 12), with a possible stopover in US territory that would likely anger Beijing.
The visit comes amid heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own and has vowed to bring the island under Chinese control, by force if necessary.
The aim of the eight-day visit, starting on Mar 21, was to “deepen ties and friendly relations” with Taiwan’s Pacific allies, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hsu Szu-chien told a news briefing.
Taiwan authorities were still in talks regarding a possible stopover in US territory, he added.
A person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the stopover would most likely be in Guam or Hawaii, with the chance of at least one visit to US territory “very high”.
China says Taiwan has no right to state-to-state relations. The island has formal ties with 17 countries, almost all small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, like Belize and Nauru.
Taipei has accused Beijing of offering generous aid and loan packages to lure its allies away, accusations Beijing denies.
The United States, like other major powers, maintains a “one China” policy that prevents formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but it is the island’s largest weapons supplier and most powerful international backer.
That relationship has been boosted under US President Donald Trump, whose administration is eyeing more weapons sales and encouraging official exchanges.
The US ambassador for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, during a visit to Taiwan on Monday, urged China to give its people religious freedom, which he said could help gain Taiwan’s trust.
Brownback’s visit to Taipei was viewed by some in Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration.
China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since Tsai’s election as Beijing fears she wishes to push for the island’s formal independence.
Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo but will defend Taiwan’s democracy.
On Monday evening, Tsai called a national security meeting during which she urged the administration to counter Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “one country, two systems” proposal that Beijing uses to push for “reunification” with Taiwan.
Tsai called on government officials to come up with measures to “counter” China’s renewed efforts to “interfere” and to “absorb” Taiwan’s capital and talents.
“The Beijing authorities continue to utilise our open and free system of democracy to interfere with Taiwan’s political, economic and social developments, which has become the biggest risk in Taiwan,” Tsai said in a statement.
The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula, that granted the financial hub a high degree of autonomy.
TAIPEI – A 5.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan’s eastern county of Taitung at 10.32am on Friday (March 8), the island’s Central Weather Bureau said.
The epicentre was monitored at 22.43 degrees north latitude and 121.39 degrees east longitude, with a depth of 21.3km, the bureau said according to Central News Agency.
No reports of injuries or damages had emerged as of early afternoon.
SINGAPORE – A couple from Singapore are being investigated by Taiwanese authorities for allegedly dumping the body of a newborn baby girl in a recycling bin.
Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau is also reportedly seeking help from Singapore authorities on the matter, which Singapore police confirmed on Sunday afternoon (March 3).
Taiwanese media reported last Thursday that the baby girl’s body was found wrapped in a garbage bag early on Tuesday by an employee from a recycling company, who had been sorting through the trash.
The bag had been carried by a garbage truck travelling from Taipei to Xindian.
According to Taiwanese news channel Focus Taiwan, local police believe that the body of the girl was disposed of shortly after her birth in central Taipei.
She was found with her placenta and umbilical cord still intact.
The police reviewed footage from cameras along the route of the garbage truck and said that a man in his 20s had wrapped the body in a black plastic bag and thrown it into a container for kitchen waste at around 3am on Tuesday.
They added that members of the public who claimed they had seen the man said he spoke in Mandarin with a “foreign accent”.
The man reportedly checked into a hotel “popular with South-east Asian visitors” with a woman in tow, but left on Tuesday afternoon, before authorities could locate him.
Another Taiwanese news outlet, TVBS News, identified the woman as a 24-year-old from Singapore, and said the pair had flown in to Taiwan from Singapore on Feb 19.
In response to queries, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Sunday that they have been in touch with the Taiwanese authorities.
SPF added that they are waiting for an official request from their Taiwanese counterparts on the assistance they need.
“We are unable to comment further as in investigations by the Taiwanese authorities are ongoing,” an SPF spokesman said.
The Straits Times understands that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the case.
Speaking to Chinese-language paper Shin Min Daily News over the phone on Friday, the man at the centre of the case denied that his girlfriend was pregnant and had given birth in Taiwan.
He also said that he had not left the hotel to throw the bag away at the time.
Similarly, the girl told Shin Min over the phone that if she were pregnant, she would not have been able to board the flight.
The man’s parents also told the newspaper that their son and his girlfriend were indeed in Taiwan for a holiday, but they did not know if she was pregnant.
His parents added that if their son was found to be involved in the case, he will have to bear the consequences of his actions.
On Sunday, Shin Min reported that the man and his girlfriend have not returned home since their trip and have remained uncontactable by their family members.
Malindo Air is opening a new route from KL Malaysia to Hokkaido Japan.The flight will include a single stop in Taiwan and commence on the 23rd March
Hokkaido attracts visitors mainly because of its cool weather and picturesque nature. The island is home to volcanoes, natural hot springs and world-class ski resorts.
The new route will be serviced with a Boeing 737-800NG, featuring 12 business class seats and 150 economy class seats.
The Kuala Lumpur-Hokkaido route will be available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday under flight number OD-0888. It will depart from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 7:40 a.m. local time and arrive at 12:30 p.m. local time at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).
The second leg of the flight will depart from Taoyuan at 1:45 p.m. and arrive at the new Chitose airport at 6:20 p.m. local time.
The return flight from Chitose, marked under flight number OD-0889, will depart at 07:20 p.m. and arrive at Taoyuan airport at 11 p.m.
The flight will continue to Kuala Lumpur from Taoyuan at 12:25 a.m. and arrive at 4:55 am local time.
Original story via Malindo Air announces inaugural flight to Hokkaido – News – The Jakarta Post
- Chinese ships ‘send message’ to Japan and Taiwan ahead of talks on Diaoyu fishing rights
- Chinese coastguard ships sail close to the disputed territory just days before three days of talks in Tokyo over fishing rights.
Experts say this is intended as a warning to Tokyo and Taipei
Fisheries officials from Japan and Taiwan are to hold talks in Tokyo this week over fishing rights around the Diaoyu Islands with analysts saying it is no coincidence that Chinese Coast Guard ships sailed close to the disputed territory just days before the talks were due to open.
Kyodo News reported that a joint fisheries committee made up of representatives of Japan and Taiwan will open three days of talks in Tokyo on Tuesday to reconsider the limits that were introduced last year on the two fishing fleets in waters around the islands – known in Japan as the Senkakus – ahead of the opening of the 2019 fishing season.
The two sides will discuss fishing operations in an area north of the Yaeyama Islands, while Japan has also called for all vessels operating in the area to be equipped with an automatic ship identification system.
Japan claims China is ‘escalating’ military actions around disputed islands
The two sides agreed an initial pact on joint exploitation of maritime resources in the region in 2013. Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese trawlers are permitted to operate within part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone around the
Japanese-controlled Diaoyu Islands, but there is no mention of the sovereignty issue. Taiwan also claims the islands as its territory and says they should be known as the Tiaoyutai islands.
Beijing also lays claim to the uninhabited islands, saying they have historically been Chinese territory.
Before you go checkout this video of Argentine Coast Guard firing shots at a Chinese fishing boat covered by RT
TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) – Leading Taiwan presidential candidate Eric Chu pledged to improve ties with China, casting his potential rematch against incumbent Tsai Ing-wen as a chance to reset ties with the mainland.
Mr Chu, who lost to Ms Tsai in the 2016 election, accused the president of stoking tension with China at the expense of economic growth.
The former New Taipei city mayor said he would work to deepen communication with the Communist Party in Beijing without compromising the island’s commitment to democracy.
“We will achieve economic prosperity for the whole Chinese nation through cooperation between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait,” Mr Chu said in an interview in Taipei.
Mr Chu was the first member of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to announce a run for the presidency after Ms Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a resounding defeat in local elections in November.
While Mr Chu lost by 25 percentage points three years ago, opinion polls show him now leading by a similarly large margin in a potential head-to-head race next year.
Ms Tsai’s popularity has slumped amid public dissatisfaction over a host of local issues ranging from stagnant wages to her left-leaning party’s effort to legalise same-sex marriage.
But those concerns have been overshadowed by Beijing’s effort to isolate Ms Tsai over her refusal to accept its bottom line that both sides belong to “one China.”
China has long been a central dividing line between Taiwan’s two biggest parties, with the DPP supporting legal independence and the KMT favouring closer economic ties with Beijing while maintaining self-rule.
Former President Ma Ying-jeou, a KMT member, held an unprecedented meeting with China’s Xi Jinping in 2015, just two months before Ms Tsai’s election.
Mr Chu blamed Ms Tsai for the decline in ties, specifically taking issue with her comments to CNN last week that China would have “to brace for impact on its own economy and other fronts” in the event of an attempted invasion.
“The leader of a country should protect all citizens from the danger of being trapped in a war,” Mr Chu said. “And she should not try to gain political advantage by dragging the public into a war and causing harm.”
Mr Chu has taken a more aggressive tact against Ms Tsai than in the last campaign, when the KMT put him on the ballot just weeks before election day to replace an unpopular candidate.
Still, he may have to overcome potential candidates from his own party before he gets a rematch against Ms Tsai in the general election, which could come as soon as January.
Former parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Kuomintang Chairman Wu Den-yih, and newly elected Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, who all support closer China ties, have all been mentioned as possible contenders.
Former Premier Simon Chang, who served under Mr Ma, has also declared his candidacy as an independent.
Mr Chu, who holds a doctorate in accounting from New York University, said he favoured welcoming mainland investment and talent into Taiwanese industries that aren’t deemed strategically important. The two sides have been ruled separately since the KMT moved the Republic of China government to Taipei during a civil war with the communists 70 years ago.
Mr Xi has signaled a desire to resolve the issue during his tenure, proposing last month “in-depth democratic consultations” to work toward unification. While Mr Xi stopped short of issuing a firm deadline, his remarks went further than his 2013 statement saying the political impasse “cannot be passed on from generation to generation.”
Mr Chu sidestepped a question on whether he preferred eventual unification with China, describing it as a discussion for future leaders.
“What the two sides across the Taiwan Strait need the most is peace,” Mr Chu said. “I feel right now at this stage instead of talking about the long-term goal for the next generation, it is better for us to create a more peaceful and more cooperative environment.”
WASHINGTON: The United States sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday (Feb 25) as the US military increased the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.
The movement comes as US President Donald Trump said the United States and China are “very, very close” to a deal to end a months-long trade war that has slowed global growth and disrupted markets.
The US Navy’s passage through the Taiwan Strait also comes just days before a summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement.
The two ships were identified as the destroyer Stethem and Navy cargo and ammunition ship Cesar Chavez, the statement added. The 180-kilometre-wide Taiwan Strait separates Taiwan from China.
Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is bound by law to help defend the island nation and is its main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than US$15 billion in weaponry since 2010.
China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a breakaway province of “one China.”
China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
Earlier this year the US Defence Intelligence Agency released a report describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernisation, which it said had made major advances in recent years.
Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade war, US sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.