Taoyuan Airport Metro to start operation

The recently-finished Taoyuan Airport MRT will begin commercial service on 2 March 2017, after construction first started in 2006 and was delayed multiple times. Trains run from both terminals of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (A12 & A13) northbound through New Taipei and Taipei to Taipei Main Station (A1) and southbound through Taoyuan City.

Travel time for express trains (purple, stopping at A1, A3, A8, A12, and A13) between the airport and Taipei Main Station is 30-40 minutes and are expected to run 4-5 times every hour (6 am-11 pm). Travel time for regular trains (blue, every stop) is about one hour and will run every 15 minutes. Tickets between the airport and Taipei Main cost NT$160/person. Fares to other stations start at NT$30. EasyCard, iPass, and HappyCash are accepted.

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Passengers can transfer to Taipei MRT in stations A1-A3, to high speed rail in stations A1 (HSR Taipei) and A18 (HSR Taoyuan), and to regular railway in stations A1 (Taipei Main) and A23 (TRA Zhongli, not yet open).

Taoyuan Airport MRT is the first line (Blue line) of Taoyuan Metro to open. Three more lines (Green, Orange, and Brown) are being planned and will connect stations A10, A11, A16, and A21 of the Airport MRT.

When the U.S. stopped recognizing the ROC in 1979…

As we now enter the very uncertain period in Sino-American-Taiwanese relations, I found these two gems of interview of American officials from the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, detailing the moments when ROC was first notified of the de-recognition in 1979, as well as how the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto American embassy in Taiwan, came about. They are a bit long, but both are fascinating reads.

The U.S. De-recognizes Taiwan in Favor of Communist China — January 1, 1979, interview of Neal Donnelly, then Public Affairs Officer in Taiwan.

A cable came in late at night, I’m not sure if it was 9:30 or 10:00 at night — something like that — saying that Carter was going to announce the normalization of China and the de-recognition of Taiwan. Mark immediately got a hold of Unger at the Christmas party at I think about 11:00 pm and then Unger started the wheels in motion to contact Chiang Ching-kuo who was the President of the country.

Now you don’t just go to the President of the country’s house and ring the bell and talk to him, so it took a while to go through the several people that they had to and then they got Chiang Ching-kuo at, I think, slightly after two o’clock in the morning. Unger told him that we were de-recognizing Taiwan.

Continue reading “When the U.S. stopped recognizing the ROC in 1979…”

Taiwanese culture?

If you are able to read Chinese, the comment section of the Facebook picture above provides a selection of fairly common (and ongoing) arguments used for and against Taiwan-independence and a Taiwanese identity. Essentially the comic argues that Taiwanese culture is not synonymous to Chinese culture, even though past and current policies have long given preference to Chinese culture while suppressing cultures of other subgroups that make up of Taiwan’s population.

Somewhat related, The Upper Han by The Economist provides an interesting read on how Han people in China view ethnicity, nationality, and the Chinese identity. This attitude helps explain the attachment many in Taiwan still have towards “China” and their disdain towards de-sinicization and a separate Taiwanese identity and culture.

The Economist: Taiwan a flawed democracy

The Economist Intelligence Unit today released its annual Democracy Index, ranking Taiwan to be a “flawed democracy”, a category Taiwan has been in since the inception of the index in 2006. The index ranks countries using 60 indicators across five broad categories: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties. With a score of 7.79 out of 10, Taiwan is ranked 33rd globally and 5th in Asia, behind Japan (7.99), South Korea (7.92), Israel (7.85), and India (7.71). While Taiwan scored high in electoral process and pluralism (9.58) and civil liberties (9.41), much improvement is needed in political participation (6.11) and democratic political culture (5.63). Notably, the U.S. has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy” this year after the election of Donald Trump. China, with a score of 3.14, is ranked as an “authoritarian regime”.

Also released today, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Taiwan to be the 31st least corrupt country in a list of 176. With a score of 61 out of 100, Taiwan ranks behind Singapore (84), Hong Kong (77), and Japan (72) in Asia.

Detention: horror game about Taiwan’s martial law past

Set in the 1960s, when Taiwan was still under martial law imposed by the authoritarian KMT regime, Detention is an atmospheric horror game that has players go through the life of two high school students. They have to go through the once familiar campus, avoid the evil that has seeped through the classrooms they thought they know, and try to make it to safety. The game infuses elements from Taiwan’s history, Chinese mythology, as well as East Asian folk cultures and religions. With carefully crafted graphics and original soundtracks, the game provides an experience that makes you treasure the freedom and rights afforded to a democratic society.

Detention is available on the online game platform, Steam, for $11.99.

Taiwan President to visit Central America

President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation to visit four of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, in that order. The delegation will depart Taipei on 7 January, make fueling stop at Houston on the way there, and return to Taipei on 15 January via San Francisco. EVA Airways is selected to handle the delegation visit this time.

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President Tsai is expected to meet with the head of state of each country, and also attend the inauguration ceremony of President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua on 10 January. She will also visit Taiwanese business in the region and the Secretariat of Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA, Central American Integrated System, in which Taiwan is an observer) in San Salvador. The ROC first established diplomatic relations with Honduras in 1965, with Guatemala in 1960, with Nicaragua in 1990, and with El Salvador in 1961. Other allies in the region include Belize and Panama (Costa Rica broke relations with the ROC in 2007), making Central America the most Taiwan-friendly region in the world.