Washington poised for pivot, ASEAN heaves sigh of relief

The American president, he said, would travel to Asia to attend three important summits: the APEC meeting in Vietnam, as well as the ASEAN-U.S. and East Asia summits in Manila, the Philippines. The first is that contrary to initial expectations, Mr. Trump may not be that averse to multilateral diplomacy if it suits his purpose. A hundred days into his term, there is much that Asia would wish of Mr. Trump when it comes to regional affairs. But that is the way the American system functions and we are stuck with it. Meanwhile, Asia perhaps can draw some relief that Mr. Trump is showing signs that as he settles into office, the briefings that he shied away from in his initial days are having their impact.

April 28, 2017 15:56 UTC

Cloud produces sunny earnings

The company said the US$890 million in operating income from its cloud business, called Amazon Web Services (AWS), accounted for most of its overall profits. Overall revenue at Amazon rose 23 percent to US$35.71 billion from US$29.13 billion in the same period a year ago. The company’s results were well ahead of the US$1.12-a-share average earnings estimate and US$35.3 billion revenue estimate of analysts compiled by Thomson Reuters. “We’re seeing continued strong demand for our commercial cloud-based services,” Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood said in an interview. Alphabet does not break out cloud revenues, but its “Google other revenues” segment, which includes the cloud, jumped 49 percent from the first quarter of last year.

April 28, 2017 15:56 UTC

Korean actor Gong Yoo gets warm welcome

Although he was once told by a Taiwanese fan at an event in Japan that he had many Taiwanese fans, he was still somewhat skeptical, until now. The 37-year-old model-turned-actor made his acting debut in the Korean TV series "School 4" in 2001. His breakout role came in "The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince," a 2007 South Korean TV drama that became a hit. He also starred in the Korean TV drama series "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God," which became a mega hit in 2016 and was hugely popular across Asia. Commenting on the phenomenal film and TV series, Gong said he did not expect them to be such a big success when he took on the roles and felt lucky to have gotten the parts.

April 28, 2017 15:56 UTC

A great chapel

The chapel located on Taitung City's St. Joseph Technical High School grounds is seen Thursday, April 27. The chapel was nominated into the World Monuments Fund's social media campaign "Modern Century," which starts with a gallery of 30 sites submitted by people in the architecture field around the world. The interior of the chapel is seen Thursday. Hunghsi Chao, who submitted the chapel for nomination in the World Monument Fund's Modern Century campaign, writes that "St. Joseph is a pilgrimage destination for experts, students, and scholars among the architectural circle in Taiwan."

April 28, 2017 15:56 UTC

Talks sought after Macedonia parliament riot

SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov called an emergency meeting of political leaders Friday, hours after demonstrators -- mostly supporters of the country's dominant conservative party -- invaded parliament and assaulted opposition lawmakers. But it was unclear whether opposition leaders would attend, and political tension remained high after the riot in which 77 people were injured, mostly lightly. Victims included opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev, the head of a small ethnic Albanian opposition party and 22 police. Macedonia is also increasingly divided along ethnic lines, with demonstrators protesting against opposition plans to give greater powers to the ethnic Albanian minority -- a quarter of the country's population. Conservative VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski also deplored the violence, but said his political opponents provoked it.

April 28, 2017 15:56 UTC

12-year compulsory education launch postponed a year

By Sun Hsin Hsuan -- The launch of the 12-year compulsory education system and new curriculum guidelines will be delayed by one year to 2019, Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) announced Friday. Pan cited "respect for the curriculum review committee and the democratic mechanism" as the reasons for the postponement, and said more time was needed to prepare comprehensive measures for ensuring the new curriculum guidelines can be implemented smoothly. Also delayed is a new plan for university recruitment, which has been pushed back to 2022 to coincidence with the first batch of students covered by the 12-year compulsory education system. Teachers WorriedLan Wei-ying (藍偉瑩), student affairs director of Taipei Municipal Li-Shan High School (台北市麗山高中), said the Education Ministry had itself to blame for the delay compulsory education system delay, citing the flawed selection process of the committee's original members. "We will start wondering if the Education Ministry will delay it again," she added.

April 28, 2017 15:22 UTC

NK fears, sea feud in spotlight as SE Asia meets

The ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement expressing "grave concern" over North Korea's nuclear missile tests, despite a plea from the North not to be subjected to such pressure. President Donald Trump's administration has declared that all options, including a targeted military strike, remain on the table. But a pre-emptive attack isn't likely, U.S. officials have said, and the administration is pursuing a strategy of boosting pressure on North Korea with assistance from China, the North's main trading partner and economic lifeline. North Korea has been reaching out to other nations to ease criticism amid the U.S. threats, according to a Philippine official. The ASEAN foreign ministers also discussed long-simmering territorial disputes in the busy South China Sea involving ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

April 28, 2017 11:48 UTC

British police on heightened alert after six overnight terror arrests

LONDON -- British police warned Friday they were facing an "increased level of terrorist activity," the day after a knifeman was arrested near parliament and a woman was shot in a separate police raid. "Yesterday was an extraordinary day in London," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said, after confirming six arrests overnight. A 27-year-old man remains in custody after being arrested near parliament on suspicion of terrorism offences and possession of knives, in what police confirmed had been an ongoing investigation. "Due to these arrests that have been made yesterday, in both cases I believe we have contained the threats that they posed," Basu said. "They stopped and searched him as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation," Basu said, without giving further details.

April 28, 2017 11:26 UTC

New review of infrastructure bill delayed

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The newly-set schedule to once again review the controversial draft bill detailing the government's ambitious infrastructure development plan at the Legislative Yuan next Monday has been amended, according to a caucus whip from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Instead, the review will now take place next Wednesday and Thursday, and the KMT caucus has agreed with the rescheduling, Ker said. Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), a DPP caucus whip, said it is hoped the review of the draft bill will go ahead and if the KMT has any thoughts about the bill or possible revisions, it can propose motions to introduce changes during the review. The first reading of the bill was passed at a joint meeting of six legislative committees on Wednesday without any substantive review amid fierce protests from opposition lawmakers. The draft statute will allow the Cabinet to budget NT$882.49 billion (US$29.32 billion) over eight years for infrastructure projects around Taiwan, including new light railways and several rail extension or improvement projects.

April 28, 2017 11:03 UTC

Tsai should place equal weight on US, cross-Strait ties: experts

Chao said that overdependence on the U.S. to end the current standstill in cross-strait relations would be limiting for Taiwan. Chao, however, added that the Tsai administration needed to work out its issues with Beijing, including the controversial "One China" principle. According to experts, Beijing has chosen not to notice the Tsai administration's goodwill gestures. According to Tung Lee-wen, a consultant at Taiwan Thinktank, Beijing had not acknowledged statements from Foreign Minister David Lee and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Katharine Chang denying that cross-strait relations were foreign relations. Tung said that if cross-strait relations continued to deteriorate, Taiwan must find a way to strengthen its ties with the U.S."This is what the situation dictates and not actually what Taiwan wishes to see, which is equal weight on both cross-strait and U.S. ties," Tung said.

April 28, 2017 08:37 UTC

Promising writer dies at 26 from apparent suicide

Promising writer Lin Yi-han (林奕含), who published a bestselling novel this year about a girl raped by her teacher, died at the age of 26, allegedly by her own hand, authorities said Friday. The police said a suicide note was found at the scene and initial investigations have ruled out the possibility of foul play. The novel, published in February, is about a young girl named Fang Ssu-chi who was raped by her teacher. "She wrote the book because she hoped there will never be another Fang Ssu-chi in society," the statement said. In the author's biography section of the novel, Lin introduced herself as someone with not much professional or academic experience.

April 28, 2017 08:03 UTC

S. Korea disputes Trump comments on missile system, trade

SEOUL, South Korea — Contradicting U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korea said Friday it has no plan to renegotiate a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., or to pay for the U.S. missile defense system being deployed on its territory. Woo said the trade ministry was trying to confirm the details of the media reports on Trump's remarks. The U.S.-South Korea free trade deal is not the only free trade pact that the Trump administration is reconsidering. Earlier this week the White House leaked the possibility of the U.S. abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement. Chinese backlash over THAAD has been hurting South Korean businesses in China, South Korea's largest trading partner, and many in South Korea worry that the issue could damage South Korea's economic recovery.

April 28, 2017 06:22 UTC

We didn't pose the question of a Tsai-Trump call: Presidential Office

In a statement issued following Trump's remarks, the Presidential Office emphasized that the hypothetical question was broached by Reuters and not the president herself. Tsai's intentions were clear in the full text of the interview, but subsequent media reports were "clearly inaccurate and likely to cause confusion," the statement said. In a Reuters interview published Thursday, Tsai said she wouldn't rule out directly communicating with the U.S. president — something Trump later rejected in an interview with the news agency. Presidential Office spokesman Alex Tsai reiterated that opportunities for more direct communication between the leaders depended "on the needs of the situation and the U.S. government's consideration of regional affairs." In light of the international circumstances that Taiwan faces, the government should not limit its own options when pursuing a course of action most advantageous to the country, the Presidential Office said.

April 28, 2017 06:11 UTC

Trump snubs Tsai's suggestion for another phone call: report

U.S. President Donald Trump has poured cold water over President Tsai Ing-wen's suggestion there could be a repeat of the two leaders' direct phone call in December. In an interview with Reuters, Trump responded to Tsai's suggestion in an earlier interview with the news agency by saying he did not want to create more problems for Beijing. "So I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him," Trump said regarding the possibility of speaking directly to the Taiwanese president. Trump responded by saying "I'd have to think about that. Tsai congratulated Trump last December on his election victory in their call, the first of its kind between leaders or incoming leaders of the two countries since 1979.

April 28, 2017 02:15 UTC

Terry Gou mum on White House meeting with Trump: reports

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou was seen exiting the White House after a reported meeting the U.S. President Donald Trump, according to reports Thursday. Gou, the multibillion dollar Taiwanese tech mogul would not confirm his meeting with Trump, telling reporters in English: "My memory is not good; maybe I already forgot," after exiting the White House, according to the Central News Agency. White House officials did not respond immediately to questions regarding the reported meeting. Reports of a possible meet between Gou and Trump surfaced earlier on Thursday when the Nikkei Asian Review cited unnamed sources familiar with the plan. That report also indicated that Gou met with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner in late February.

April 28, 2017 01:41 UTC

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