Taiwan Travel Act signed into law

After passing the US Senate by unanimous consent on February 28, the Taiwan Travel Act was signed into law today by President Donald Trump. The act first passed the House of Representatives on January 9. While the act encourages official visits between Taiwan and the United States, its implementation is completely up to the two governments.

The act has consistently drew ire from China, ranging from threats to members of Congress to strong dissatisfaction. China threatened Taiwan with war after the act passed.



Cabinet reshuffles ahead of midterm elections

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan today announced a reshuffle of top officials in diplomacy, security, and defense. Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu will replace Foreign Minister David Lee, who will replace National Security Council Secretary-General Yen Teh-fa. Yen will replace Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan, who will head a think tank to be established by the defense ministry. Mainland Affairs Minister Katherine Chang will be replaced by National Taiwan University Professor Chen Min-tong, who was a former minister in 2007-2008 and served as President Tsai Ing-wen’s deputy when she was mainland affairs minister. Labor minister and veteran affairs ministers are also both being replaced. Continue reading “Cabinet reshuffles ahead of midterm elections”

US Senate committee passes Taiwan Travel Act

The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed H. R. 535 Taiwan Travel Act without amendment today. The bill, which encourages official visits between Taiwan and the United States, passed the US House of Representatives on January 9.


(a) Sense Of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should encourage visits between officials from the United States and Taiwan at all levels.

(b) Statement Of Policy.—It should be the policy of the United States to—

(1) allow officials at all levels of the United States Government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts;

(2) allow high-level officials of Taiwan to enter the United States, under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with officials of the United States, including officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies; and

(3) encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan, to conduct business in the United States, including activities which involve participation by Members of Congress, officials of Federal, State, or local governments of the United States, or any high-level official of Taiwan.

Continue reading “US Senate committee passes Taiwan Travel Act”

Lunar new year flights cancelled amid air route row

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced today the cancellation of 176 round-trip flights added during the lunar new year in February to meet increased passenger demand during the holidays. Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration have not approved the added flights in retaliation of the companies flying the northbound M503 and connecting W121, W122, and W123 routes off China’s southeastern coast, citing national security and aviation safety concerns.

M503 RouteWhile Taiwan and China agreed on using the southbound M503 route following negotiation in 2015, using the route northbound and the three W connecting routes are only supposed to start with consultation of aviation authorities on the two sides. M503 is close to the median line between Taiwan and China’s air-defense identification zones. China unilaterally opened the four routes on January 4. Continue reading “Lunar new year flights cancelled amid air route row”

On Happiness Road

On Happiness Road 幸福路上 is an animated film following Chi, a Taiwanese woman born in 1975, as she grew up during Taiwan’s transition to a democracy, moved to the US, but returned to attend her grandmother’s funeral. A touching tear jerker highly relatable to Taiwanese in their 30s and 40s, the film manages to “condense four decades of Taiwanese politics, economics, traditional and pop culture as well as everyday life into 109 minutes without mucking up the narrative.” The story mirrors that of the film’s director, Sung Hsin-ying, who is making her debut through support of the Golden Horse Film Project, as well as countless others who grew up in Taiwan with grand aspirations but had to come to terms with reality.

See the trailer

Labor law change sparks protests and police action scrutiny

As the Tsai administration and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) prepares to pass amendments to the Labor Standards Act, the law that governs employer-employee relationship and workers’ rights in Taiwan, protests and demonstrations have followed over remarks from officials and the proposed changes, seen as catering to business demands. Low wages and long working hours have long been the norm for the Taiwanese work force, but expectations from the younger generations seem to make the status quo untenable.

This culminated to yesterday, where over 10,000 demonstrators protested the changes at various places in Taipei. New Bloom’s detailed account is worth a read. While police declared parts of the protests illegal due to an unapproved route change, the Taipei Bar Association and rights groups have accused the police of illegally detaining and transporting several demonstrators and volunteer lawyers at the scenes of protest and demanded apologies from the government.