US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the Pentagon would continue to support Taiwan’s military, but he declined to say if US troops would defend the island against China, after US President Joe Biden said there was a US “commitment” to do so. “As we’ve done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” Austin said at NATO headquarters. “So we’ll stay focused on those things, and I won’t engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan,” he told reporters. Biden on Thursday sparked a new firestorm in relations between Washington and Beijing by saying the US had an agreement to help defend Taiwan. At a CNN town hall meeting, Biden was asked whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defense if China invaded. “Yes,” he responded. “We have a commitment to that.” The comment sparked a sharp retort from Beijing, warning that Washington “should act and speak cautiously on the Taiwan issue.” Austin said that the US is committed to the official “one China” policy, in which Washington accepts that Beijing governs China. However, that does not prevent the US from providing aid to Taiwan, including potent military hardware. Asked if Biden’s comments raised the specter of NATO being dragged into a US conflict with China, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sought to avoid exacerbating the conflict. “I would not speculate about a hypothetical situation,” he said. “I think what is important now is to reduce tensions in the area. If I started to speculate, I think I actually will contribute to the opposite,” he said. “So we should solve all disputes and differences and disagreements in the region by political and diplomatic means.” Shortly after Biden spoke, a White House spokesperson said there was no change in policy, and analysts said it appeared that
DIRECT COMMUNICATION: The bipartisan legislation would, if passed, build ties with Taiwan and prioritize a hotline with China to resolve misunderstandings in a crisis
Two US senators on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation that they said is aimed at lowering tensions and reducing the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan Actions Supporting Security by Undertaking Regular Engagements (Taiwan ASSURE) Act, proposed by Democratic Senator Edward Markey and Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, supports dialogue to mitigate misunderstandings and promote transparency, a statement issued on Friday by Markey’s office said. “We must find ways to lower tensions and avoid miscalculation in the Taiwan Strait,” said Markey, who chairs the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The proposed legislation would authorize about US$2 million annually from next year to 2025 for the US Department of State and Department of Defense to support strategic dialogues to be facilitated by independent nonprofit organizations in which participants meet to discuss cross-strait stability issues. The proposed act says that the US should engage regional counterparts in these dialogues to increase strategic awareness among all parties, as well as facilitate US-China dialogues. “Bilateral confidence-building measures and crisis stability dialogues between the United States and the PRC [People’s Republic of China] are important mechanisms for maintaining deterrence and stability across the Taiwan Strait and should be prioritized,” the statement said. The US and China should prioritize the use of a military crisis hotline so leaders of the two countries can communicate directly in order to quickly resolve misunderstanding that could lead to military escalation, the bill says. The legislation would require the US state and defense secretaries to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a partnership between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s Reserve Command, a move that has been welcomed by the Taiwanese government but criticized by China as “playing with fire” and could have the effect of provoking Beijing into taking further military action. The bill would also require the US state and defense
Days after it was banned in China, a Mandarin ballad satirizing nationalistic Chinese Internet users is trending at No. 1 on YouTube in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Fragile (玻璃心), by Taiwan-based Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) and Australian singer Kimberley Chen (陳芳語), offers a tongue-in-cheek apology to “little pink” Internet users, a disparaging term that describes patriotic “keyboard warriors” from China. After racking up more than 9 million views on YouTube, the song reached No. 3 on the site in Malaysia on Thursday, according to Kworb, a Web site that analyzes music data from around the world. It is also the only Chinese-language song on Kworb’s list of music videos trending worldwide on YouTube. The R&B duet, described by Namewee as a “romantic, sweet love song filled with pink,” takes lighthearted aim at young nationalists in China who use the Internet as a battleground for hashing out perceived nationalistic grievances. The music video for Fragile sees Namewee and Chen, decked out in pink clothes and heart-shaped glasses, pleading with easily offended Chinese social media users: “You’re a bad listener, but you can’t stop talking and retaliating. I wonder how I have offended you. You assume the world is your enemy.” The song goes on to say: “You claim that I belong to you. Don’t deny and come home. Can’t lose anything, let you win everything. It’s unreasonable. You urge me to explain to the world, our inseparable relationship, and take care of your heart of glass.” While not explicit, the lyrics are an apparent reference to China’s relationship with Taiwan, as well as Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Namewee said his inspiration came from his experiences interacting with people online when sharing his music, describing it as fascinating how some would obsess over small details and then amplify them endlessly. A day after the song’s debut,
Claims that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cofounder Chiang Peng-chien (江鵬堅) was once an informant for the government during the Martial Law era were not enough to incriminate Chiang, Transitional Justice Commission member Frank Wang (王增勇) said on Friday. The accusation was made by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德), who on Wednesday said that Chiang was trained by and worked as an undercover agent of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, which was one of the “eight agencies of secret police and intelligence gathering” during the Martial Law era. Chiang was the DPP’s first chairperson upon its founding in 1986, and later served as a legislator and member of the Control Yuan. He died in December 2000 from pancreatic cancer. Wang on Friday said that while Shih’s claim served as an oral record, it was not enough to determine whether Chiang should posthumously be considered guilty of any crimes. Wang said that the public should be cautious about engaging in a “witch hunt.” “Under the authoritarian government of the past, people were stripped of their right to a fair trial. In today’s democracy, we cannot allow anyone to be found guilty by the court of public opinion,” Wang said. Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) was among a number of DPP politicians who disputed Shih’s accusation. “Chiang has passed away ... People must not try to humiliate him,” Hsieh said in a statement on Wednesday. "No one should tarnish Chiang based on claims made by some people. The accusations could damage Chiang and his place in history. Taking up such hearsay is not respectful to Chiang and his family." The accusation came after DPP Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) last week said that he would leave the party and not seek re-election, after confirming that he was a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) informant in his student days who
SHIFTING BURDEN: Among the three most common causes of death, only the share of pneumonia deaths declined last year, Ministry of the Interior data showed
The life expectancy of people with malignant tumors was 4.02 years shorter than that of the general public last year, Ministry of the Interior data released yesterday showed. Malignant tumors were the leading cause of death in the nation last year, followed by heart diseases, which reduced the average life expectancy by 1.61 years, according to the statistics, which the ministry compiled from Ministry of Health and Welfare data. The average life expectancy was 81.32 years last year, the statistics showed. Malignant tumors have been the leading cause of death for Taiwanese for more than 39 years. Last year, 50,161 people died from the condition, the statistics showed. The share of deaths caused by malignant tumors has been rising for the past four years, the interior ministry said. Last year, 27 percent of deaths were due to the condition, it added. The third-most common cause of death was pneumonia, even though the share of deaths from the condition declined last year for the first time since 2014, the interior ministry said Pneumonia weighed on the average life expectancy by 1.06 years, compared with 1.13 years in 2019. Men were more likely to die from malignant tumors, pneumonia, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, chronic liver diseases and liver cirrhosis, the statistics showed. Women were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension-related diseases, nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and other kidney diseases, it showed.
POST HOC EXPANSION: People who were ordered to quarantine at home after May 11 can apply for the NT$1,000 per day on the ministry’s Web site
People who had COVID-19 and were ordered to stay at home amid a shortage in hospital beds earlier this year would be eligible for compensation of NT$1,000 per day, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Friday, as it had expanded the program formerly targeting only those who were ordered to quarantine in centralized facilities. The program was launched to support contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases and some incoming travelers during their 14-day quarantines, Social Assistance and Social Work Department head Su Chao-ju (蘇昭如) said. After a local COVID-19 outbreak was detected in the middle of May, some people with no or mild symptoms had been ordered to stay at home amid a shortage in beds in hospital isolation wards, Su said. Such cases would also be eligible for compensation, as they could not go to work while isolating at home, she said. The expansion would include two more groups: people who were ordered to stay at home after testing positive in a rapid antigen test, but were confirmed negative in a polymerase chain reaction test, and people undergoing seven-day home isolation after being released from an isolation ward, she said. Those who received isolation orders under those conditions after May 11 can seek compensation through the ministry’s Web Site, she said. Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported seven imported COVID-19 cases, but no domestic cases or deaths. The cases were three Taiwanese who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from the US, Cyprus or Cambodia, and four foreigners — from Malaysia, Indonesia and Mongolia — the center said. Six cases were asymptomatic, while the seventh — a Taiwanese man in his 20s who returned from Cyprus on Wednesday — was placed in hospital quarantine after upon arrival declaring that he had tested positive earlier this month, the CECC said. He reported symptoms, including
A record number of people took the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Hoklo-language exam this year, the ministry said in a news release yesterday. A total of 18,622 people, aged six to 86, tested their proficiency in the language, which is also known as Taiwanese, the ministry said, adding that among the test takers were also Americans, Japanese, Malaysians and South Koreans. This represented a 34 percent increase from last year, it added. Feng Chung-hsing (封中興), an administrator at Tainan’s Haidian Junior High School, said that offering Hoklo courses to seventh and eighth graders has led to significant improvements in graduates’ writing skills. The mother of the youngest examinee, surnamed Tsai, said that Mandarin and Hoklo are used in her family, but her daughter mostly uses Mandarin. Fearing that her daughter might lose touch with her native language, the mother said that she and her husband started telling their child stories in Hoklo and enrolled her in lessons as soon as she was old enough for kindergarten. Public schools provided guidance and materials to help her daughter prepare for the test, the mother said. Lee Ya-lin (李雅玲), 82, is a retired translator who had worked for the Taipei District Court. She said she enrolled in a course as soon as she found out that a local community college offered Hoklo classes. She has been speaking the language all her life, but hopes to achieve a higher level of proficiency, she said. “People are never too old to learn, and I love to learn new things,” she said, adding that although she believes her spoken fluency is high, she had to take the entry-level exam as a first-time test taker. Kim Han-bin, a South Korean national who studies at National Taiwan University, said he used immersion-based methods to learn the language on his own. Kim said he was confident in his proficiency and chose
AT SEVEN SCHOOLS: The program seeks to help retain local talent, as professionals often take up jobs in northern Taiwan, an expert said
Seven Kaohsiung high schools are offering courses in semiconductor and digital technologies with the aim to improve local industry and tentative plans to expand the program citywide if the pilot proves successful. The program — offered in collaboration with National Sun Yat-sen University and the National University of Kaohsiung — aims to improve students’ understanding of critical technologies and help local firms recruit talent, the organizers said at the official launch of the program on Tuesday at Tsoying Senior High School. The first semester has already begun at the seven schools in the city’s Zuoying (左營) and Nanzih (楠梓) districts, said Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), who proposed the program. This first group of 200 students is to attend a mixture of remote and in-person classes, along with visits to local businesses, Liu told the gathering via videoconference from the legislature in Taipei. The students are to learn from university professors about semiconductor manufacturing, app creation, vacuum technology and more, the Kaohsiung Education Bureau said. A flexible curriculum is to be adopted for the first year, after which more industry-specific coursework is to be developed, bureau Deputy Director Chen Pei-ju (陳佩汝) said. Through the program, even students at regular schools have the opportunity to take vocational courses, Chen said. If a student shows particular interest in a subject, they would have the chance to enter university through special enrollment, she said. Tsoying Senior High principal Chang Chien Ling-chuan (張簡玲娟) shared her enthusiasm for the program, which she hopes would help students discover their individual aptitudes. Later on, the program could also help the students find work in Kaohsiung, which she called the greatest wish of all parents. Taiwan Export Processing Zone Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association chairman Chou Kuang-chun (周光春) said that local technology parks house 70 companies employing 60,000 people. Many of them produce technologies critical to everyday gadgets such as
Scientists have discovered a new plant indigenous to Taiwan after correcting a previous identification error, the Shei-pa National Park Headquarters said on Friday. The scientists have named the thistle Cirsium taiwanense Y. H. Tseng & Chih Y. Chang, after members of the National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) research team that discovered the flower in collaboration with the national park. The newly classified plant has spider web-like hairs on the back of its leaves and was previously misidentified as a thistle discovered by Japanese botanist Shiro Kitamura, the headquarters said. During its monthly field trips to the park, the research team discovered subtle differences between the local thistle and that described by Kitamura, it said. Consulting Kitamura’s field notes, the team learned that the thistle he discovered has red flowers instead of the local thistle’s yellow ones, but the discrepancy went unnoticed during the original identification because dried botanical samples that had lost their color were used, the headquarters said. Further study revealed that the local thistle has more bracts and flowers than Kitamura’s, and that it has 32 chromosomes compared with Kitamura’s 34, based on which the plant was classified as a formerly unknown species, it said. NCHU professors Chang Chih-yi (張之毅) and Tseng Yen-hsueh (曾彥學) published a study on their findings earlier this year and were credited as the discoverers of the new species, the headquarters said. The local thistle can be found at altitudes of 2,200m to 3,100m along the park’s Syuedong Line (雪東線) path, especially near its entrance at the Crying Slope (哭坡), it said.
Widely used arts and crafts tools at kindergartens could cause pollution with airborne volatile organic compounds that exceeds safety standards up to 100-fold, the Taiwan Society for Indoor Environment Air Quality said in a study publicized on Friday. Fu Jen Catholic University public health department deputy dean Lin Yu-wen (林瑜雯), who headed the study, said that markers and wood glue are a source of volatile organic compounds. Children’s metabolic systems are not fully developed, which makes them particularly susceptible to the potentially carcinogenic compounds, she said. The researchers measured the air quality at three New Taipei City kindergartens before and after children used the supplies, she said. In one instance, the concentration of the particles had reached 138.37 parts per million, or 247 times the safety standard, 20 minutes after children started using markers, she said. The use of wood glue for 15 minutes resulted in a concentration 64 times greater than the safety standard, Lin added. The researchers also observed children applying the glue to their hands, she said, adding that the behavior poses risks. Dry or water-soluble colors and adhesives are usually safer than wet colors or wood glue, she said. Crayons, watercolors, erasable markers, glue sticks and double-sided tape should be used instead of permanent markers and wood glue, Lin added. Creations made with tools that contain volatile organic compounds should be left to dry in a ventilated place for a day before children are allowed to take them home, she said. Ninety-three percent of the world’s children aged 14 or younger are exposed to air pollution, which causes 570,000 deaths in that age group annually, Lin said, citing WTO data. Volatile organic compounds that affect the air quality are also emitted while preparing food, doing interior design work, burning incense, smoking cigarettes or mopping the floor, she said. People might develop acute responses when exposed to the
The Wangye Worshiping Ceremony in Pingtung County’s Donggang Township (東港) is this year held on a smaller scale than originally planned as part of the nation’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. The festival, held from today to Sunday next week, normally attracts tens of thousands of participants holding rituals to prevent the spread of plagues, making it one of the largest religious rituals in the southern part of Taiwan. The festival, held every three years, is this year limited to 98 groups, compared with about 200 groups that attended in 2018, said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chou Chun-mi (周春米), who is from Pingtung. The number of participants is limited to 5,000, compared with 20,000 in former iterations. Worshipping Wangye — who are believed to be divine emissaries to this world — is particularly popular in southern Taiwan. They are believed to expel disease and evil from those who worship them. Influenced by traditions brought from China’s Fujian and Guangdong provinces, Wangye worship was widely adopted at a time when epidemics were frequent and medical knowledge was lacking in Taiwan. The ceremony, centered around Donglong Temple (東隆宮), has been held for about 300 years. The highlight of the eight-day event is the burning of a King Boat built by worshiper specifically for the festival, which symbolizes the release of the Wangye. The boat burning tradition dates back about 1,000 years, and some historians think that it might have been inspired by the discovery that fire is effective at destroying pathogens, the Tourism Bureau said. Building a King Boat, which typically features detailed paintings of dragons, elephants and sages, often costs as much as a sports car, the bureau said. In 2010, the ceremony was listed as an intangible cultural asset by the Ministry of Culture. Despite its smaller scale this year, the festival is expected to attract a
Concertgoers attend a performance at the Tainan Summer Music Festival Jiangjun Fishing Harbor in Tainan’s Jiangjun District yesterday.
People dressed in traditional Japanese clothes attend an annual event yesterday organized by Downtown Recreative Association Goodot Village and other organizations in Taichung’s Central District to recreate the area’s atmosphere of100 years ago.
Staff and officials from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign missions in Taiwan yesterday pose for a picture on the soccer field at Fu Jen Cahtolic University in New Taipei City after the opening game of World Cup Taiwan, an annual soccer tournament for the foreign community. This year, 18 teams from 25 countries participate in the tournament, which ends today.
NET ZERO BY 2050: The amendment would implement a carbon tax and industry incentives to facilitate clean technology development, the agency in charge said
The government is planning to create a legal basis for the nation’s efforts to reach net carbon neutrality by 2050 by amending the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法) and renaming it the “Climate Change Response Act,” the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said on Thursday. The draft amendment changes the emissions goal stipulated in the act to “net zero” by 2050, the EPA said, adding that the act currently only aims at a 50 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels. Efficient use of energy is the key to carbon neutrality, and the draft amendment introduces mechanisms that would control and reduce emissions in the manufacturing, transportation and construction industries, the EPA said. The regulations would counter recently emerging pollution sources by using the best available technologies and step up incentives for companies, factories and local governments to voluntarily cut emissions, it said. The draft amendment would introduce a carbon tax to fund efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, develop low-carbon or carbon-negative technologies or industries, subsidize investment in technologies that decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and develop a low-carbon economy, it said. The draft amendment also introduces a standard to calculate the carbon content in products, and taxes would be levied on carbon-heavy products to increase competitiveness in the global market, it said. The draft amendment allows the government to enforce carbon footprint management, and encourages producers to provide low-carbon alternatives by increasing the responsibility manufacturers shoulder, it added. The draft amendment includes regulations for the capture, reuse and storage of carbon emissions, it said. The EPA has been in discussions with representatives of industries that would be affected by the new rules and has held public meetings, as required by law, it said. The EPA welcomes feedback from the public and the corporate sector during the next 60 days, it said.
‘TECH CORRIDOR’ LINK: The new institute would help Taiwan to defend its global leading position in the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen said
National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) Smart Semiconductor and Sustainable Manufacturing Institute will hopefully become a model of government-industry collaboration in southern Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the institute’s plaque unveiling ceremony yesterday. The institute’s establishment is expected to foster a new ecology of industry-academic collaboration and serve as a hub that connects actors in the “technology corridor,” Tsai said, referring to links between the Hsinchu Science Park, Kaohsiung’s Ciaotou Science Park, Tainan’s Southern Taiwan Science Park, the Chiayi Science Park and the Pingtung Science Park. The institute would serve to foster next-generation talent, and drive sustainable and innovative development in southern Taiwan, she said. With the institute, Taiwan would be well positioned to defend its leading position in the global semiconductor industry, circular economy and smart mechanics industry, Tsai said. NCKU president Su Huey-jen (蘇慧真) said the university had since 2016 had the nation’s highest number of graduates who pursued a career in the semiconductor sector. The institute looks forward to offering basic courses on big data and artificial intelligence (AI), which would build a solid foundation for students, Su said, adding that the institute would offer guidance to industry players in the adoption of forward-looking technologies. The institute is seeking to focus on AI and green energy to establish links to smart machinery, smart manufacturing, circular economy, carbon-neutral technologies, nano-grade material sciences, quantum computing and big data, the university said. The university is looking forward to working with 14 leading technology companies and taking industry-academic collaboration in southern Taiwan to the next level, it said. Institute dean Su Yen-kun (蘇炎坤) said that he seeks to overcome the limitations of dedicated departments. Taiwan must address the lack of homegrown semiconductor talent, which is due in part to the nation’s declining birthrate and China’s efforts to attract Taiwanese professionals, Su Yen-kun said. Retention of semiconductor talent should be regarded
Two new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 reported yesterday indicate that there are likely more unidentified community infections in Taiwan, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). “The situation will persist,” Chen said when asked at the center’s daily news briefing whether COVID-19 continues to spread. Chen’s comment came after the center reported two new local cases — the fifth and sixth domestic infections this month. The two cases were an Indonesian caregiver in her 30s and a Taiwanese in her 50s, both residents in Keelung. The women underwent COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, the CECC said, adding that the caregiver was tested as part of her employment conditions and the Taiwanese to be allowed to care for a hospital patient. The cases do not seem to be connected, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, adding that their infections are likely not recent. Despite the initial positive tests, both women have since tested negative in polymerase chain reaction tests after being isolated, Lo said. Further tests showed that the Indonesian had a cycle threshold (CT) value of 33, while the CT value of the Taiwanese was 33.2, both indicating low viral loads, Lo said. Although someone from the family that employs the Indonesian tested positive in May, she was not listed as a close contact and not tested, he said. There is no record of the Taiwanese woman having any previous contact with confirmed cases and authorities are investigating possible sources of the infection, he said. Because of their low viral loads, it is unlikely that the two cases posed significant infection risk to their communities, Chen said. Meanwhile, the CECC reported six new imported cases, five foreign nationals in their teens and a Taiwanese in his 60s. Moreover, the
Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday indicted nine men who in the middle of August allegedly smuggled 154 cats from China, saying that they face prison sentences of up to seven years. The case sparked a debate over pet smuggling and the handling of seized animals, as authorities euthanized the cats over fears of rabies. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office indicted four main suspects, as well as five others who allegedly worked on the fishing boat used to transport the animals, with breaching the Smuggling Penalty Act (懲治走私條例). The four main suspects are a 56-year-old man surnamed Cheng (鄭), who runs a fishing company; a 42-year-old pet breeder surnamed Lin (林); a 50-year-old former marine patrol officer surnamed Chang (張); and a 49-year-old associate of Chang surnamed Kuo (郭). Prosecutors recommended heavy penalties for the four, saying that they attempted to bring the purebred cats to Taiwan on the boat to evade quarantine requirements. People who illegally import or export “controlled articles” are subject to penalties of up to seven years in jail and a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$107,519). The prosecutors said that illegal importation of animals might lead to the outbreak of diseases that are not endemic in Taiwan, as well as affect regular import businesses. The 154 cats of several breeds, including Russian blue, ragdoll, Persian American shorthair and British shorthair, had a combined market value of NT$1.96 million after taxes, prosecutors said. The others indicted were the 55-year-old skipper of the fishing vessel, surnamed Lin (林); the 51-year-old chief engineer of the boat, surnamed Kao (高); and three Indonesian crew members, they said. Cheng and Lin, the breeder, allegedly began planning to smuggle the cats in June, prosecutors said, adding that Chang, Kuo and several unidentified Chinese nationals were also involved in the plot. Prosecutors said that Cheng and Lin, the breeder, allegedly leased
Swing timers installed in Taipei public parks have come under fire for poor design after many were found broken within two weeks, adding to calls for the city to abandon the policy. Seeking a solution to disputes caused by children monopolizing swings, the Taipei Parks and Street Lights Office on Oct. 9 installed timers in six parks, which emit an alarm after three minutes of use. If the trial in Daan Forest Park (大安森林公園), Youth Park (青年公園), Nangang Park (南港公園), Qiangang Park (前港公園), Bihu Park (碧湖公園) and Taipei Flora Expo Park (台北花博公園) proves successful, the office plans to implement the technology across the city, it said. However, critics were quick to condemn the plan. The Association of Parents Participating in Education led the charge, on Saturday last week launching a petition to remove the timers and interviewing 100 children about the policy. “One of the reasons for installing the timers is to promote sharing, but the parks office does not seem to understand that sharing must be spontaneous,” the association said. Forcing the matter instills fear rather than kinship as the impulse behind sharing, it said, adding that the timers would “kill children’s ability to learn to share and become spontaneous, autonomous, empathic and whole people.” Taipei City Councilor Meredith Huang (黃郁芬) said that the devices were poorly designed. She had visited Qiangang Park on Monday to check on the timer, but only found an empty metal case, Huang wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. The office told her it had been damaged because the case was not water resistant, so the manufacturer took it back for repairs, she wrote. “How long did the timer last? From installation on Oct. 9 to now, it has only been 10 days,” she wrote. The problem was not limited to Qiangang Park, Huang said, adding that nearly half of the devices were already broken, including
US President Joe Biden’s remarks about protecting Taiwan shows Washington’s policy is steering toward “strategic clarity,” although it does not change its policy toward Taiwan, observers in Taipei said yesterday. Biden on Thursday answered “yes” when asked during a CNN town hall meeting whether he could pledge to protect Taiwan. “I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views,” Biden told host Anderson Cooper in Baltimore, Maryland. Pressed on whether he would come to Taiwan’s defense if China tried to attack, Biden responded: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.” A White House spokesperson later said that Biden did not announce a change in US policy. Yen Chen-shen (嚴震生), an adjunct research fellow at National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations, said yesterday that Biden’s remarks do not show any change in the US’ commitment to Taiwan. The US would not inactively watch Taiwan fall, but Taiwan must still prepare to defend itself, he said. The US’ Taiwan Relations Act states that the US should provide Taiwan with defensive weapons, but it does not stretch to defending Taiwan militarily, he added. Yen said that the US has no obligation to defend Taiwan in an attack, given that the two sides are not bound by any security treaties. The US is only committed by treaty to defending NATO allies Japan and South Korea. Nonetheless, Washington is determined to assist Taiwan in its defense, supply the nation with defensive weapons and help with military training, Yen said. The US might also provide Taiwan with military intelligence on China when necessary, he added. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that Biden’s remarks could be viewed as a momentous announcement, signaling that Washington’s policy toward Taiwan has