Trump spoke with Taiwanese President

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U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan by phone today, breaking almost 40 years of non-contact between presidents of the two country. The U.S. broke diplomatic relationship with the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1979. Mr. Trump was criticized by State Department officials for not following diplomatic protocols, while the White House quickly reaffirmed the one-China policy. Continue reading “Trump spoke with Taiwanese President”

TransAsia Airways to be dissolved

Taiwan’s third largest airlines, TransAsia Airways (IATA Code: GE), announced today that the company will be dissolved, citing operational and financial difficulties, especially after two fatal crashes in July 2014 and February 2015. All flights were halted since yesterday, and the company will refund all tickets to passengers. Employees are being given notices and laid off, and labor disputes are expected. China Airlines has offered to assist travelers stranded overseas due to the flight suspension.

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Established in 1951, TransAsia Airways is the first privately-owned airlines in Taiwan. It started primarily as a domestic carrier, but expanded to operating international flights in in 1995 to Indonesia and flew to 6 domestic and 26 international destinations (mostly within Asia) before today. It operated 16 short- and mid-range planes. Prior to the crashes, TransAsia Airways attempted to broaden its passenger base by establishing a low-cost carrier, V Air, in 2014, only to then merge it back with the main company in August this year. TransAsia Airways also served as the ground handling agent for several international carriers, including Thai Airways, Jetstar Asia, Cebu Pacific, Xiamen Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines.

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Protest over same-sex marriage bill

Proposed amendments to Taiwan’s Civil Code that would legalize same-sex marriage by removing the gender description was under review today in the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee of the Legislative Yuan. More than 20000 people gathered in front of the parliament building in Taipei to protest the proposed changes, insisting the bill not to be reviewed by the committee and that at least 30 public hearings should be held before any parliamentary discussion. The protesters, mostly followers from different Christian denominations in Taiwan, also demanded the amendment to be put through a national referendum.

Yu Mei-nu, sponsor of the DPP version of the bill and co-chair of the committee, first refused KMT and PFP demands to hold public hearings, citing numerous hearings have been held since similar bills were first proposed in 2006. The committee review was interrupted several times during the day as MPs failed to reach an agreement on several procedural matters as well as when a few protesters attempted to storm the meeting room. At the end of the day, an agreement was reached between the parties to hold two public hearings in the coming two weeks, one hosted by KMT and the other by DPP, and that an article-by-article review must be completed by the end of this legislative session.

President Tsai Ing-wen supports same-sex marriage. An opinion poll by Taiwan Thinktank An opinion poll by Taiwan Thinktank this month shows 47.8% of Taiwanese support same-sex marriage, while 41.7% oppose; support is particularly high among people age 20-29 at 71.2%, with a 10% decrease for each 10-year age range increase. Support is uniform among DPP and KMT supporters, while particularly high among New Power Party supporters, at 71.8%.

KMT Chairperson visits China

Kuomintang Chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu begins her five-day visit to China today, first stopping in Nanjing to pay respect at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. Sun Yat-sen is widely considered to be the founding father of modern China as well as the founder of what became modern-day KMT. Hung is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his capacity as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing tomorrow.

China has welcome this visit as an important step towards peaceful development of cross-strait relations, again citing the “1992 Consensus” as the basis for cross-strait relations. Of particular importance to China is the one-China principle, while KMT believes the “China” of such principle refers to the Republic of China instead of the People’s Republic of China.

Many in Taiwan, including President Tsai Ing-wen’s government and her Democratic Progressive Party, are watching closely, as some fear that Hung will publicly commit Taiwan to a peace agreement with China, even as KMT lost both the presidency and parliament majority this January. Hung has previously publicly endorsed the idea of both sides belonging to one China without specifying the Republic of China, drawing controversy and ire from many within her party.

MPs propose same-sex marriage bill

A total of 38 MPs among the Democratic Progressive Party, Kuomintang, and New Power Party have proposed an amendment to Taiwan’s Civil Code that would legalize same-sex marriage. Marriage is currently defined in Civil Code Article 972 as between “the male and the female parties”. The amendment would remove the gender description and change it to be between “the two parties”, and adoption for same-sex couples is also likely to be legalized.

Co-Chair of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, Yu Mei-nu, is the sponsor of DPP’s version of the bill. As the bill has received the required 15 MP signatures, it will be first sent to the Procedure Committee and the full legislative floor for first reading before being referred to the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee. If the bill passes through committee deliberation, then it will be sent back to the full Legislative Yuan for a second article-by-article reading, examination, and debate. Passing that, a third reading of the bill will correct any wording mistakes and contradiction, and the bill could be voted to become law. Continue reading “MPs propose same-sex marriage bill”

How China reports “Taiwan”

Xinhua News Agency, China’s official press agency, recently released a list of rules regarding the use of certain terms in official reporting, ranging on topics from daily life, legal jargon, religion, and of course, any reporting concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. As China places tight control over its press and media, a Chinese person who has never stepped outside of his/her country is unlikely to realize that the rest of the world does not report the news the way it is done, and will probably believe whatever is written as facts.

Looking at the points concerning Taiwan, I can’t help but shake my head at how petty some of them are. But then again I guess China isn’t exactly taking any chances on anything that might suggest Taiwan is a separate country. Among the interesting points, we have the following:

Section 4: Banned terms concerning Chinese territories, sovereignty, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau Continue reading “How China reports “Taiwan””