By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked US Senator Ted Cruz for proposing the Taiwan Symbols of Sovereignty Act (Taiwan SOS), which it said would encourage the US government to ease “obsolete” restrictions on bilateral interaction. Cruz, who is a member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, last year attended Double Ten National Day celebrations in Taipei, the first US senator to attend in 35 years, the ministry said. Taiwan-US relations are “incredibly important” in diplomatic, military and economic areas, Cruz said at that time. In November last year, Cruz’s office confirmed reports that he was preparing the Taiwan SOS bill, which was submitted on Thursday. The bill encourages the US administration to ease obsolete restrictions on Taiwan-US interaction, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement, thanking the senators for their continued support of Taiwan.
The team conducted several tests for cleaning N95 respirators, and found that a 70 percent alcohol solution, bleach, high-pressure sterilization and rice cooker were all effective sterilization methods, Lai said. Dry steaming masks for three minutes using a rice cooker can kill up to 99.7 percent of germs, he said, adding that this method lowered the mask’s filter quality by the least — about 10 percent. Lai said he also conducted a study using surgical masks and found that dry steaming them using a rice cooker was also more efficient than using alcohol or high-pressure sterilization. Dry steaming the same mask five times gradually reduced its filter efficiency to 10 percent, he said. A mask’s filter efficiency needs to be more than 80 percent to qualify, he said.
Reuters, HONG KONGChina’s property developers and realtors are turning to virtual reality salesrooms and livestream marketing to thaw a frozen market as the COVID-19 outbreak keeps physical offices closed and potential buyers are afraid to leave their homes. Property sales by floor area in China fell 0.1 percent last year, marking the first full-year decline in five years, and analysts expect that sales might drop again this year due to the epidemic. Major realtors including Centaline (中原地產) are also doing more live forums online, hosting talks with senior executives on the property market. Trying to make homebuyers more comfortable in buying online, Centaline plans to work with property developers to build virtual salesrooms for their new developments. “The online sales platform has been around for a while, but it was mostly for advertising and chats between agents and buyers,” Centaline Shenzhen general manager Alan Cheng said.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe legislative caucuses yesterday agreed to start the new legislative session on Friday next week, and have Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) give an administrative report and answer lawmakers’ questions. The Constitution stipulates that a legislative session must begin within a month of lawmakers being inaugurated, meaning that the new session must begin before Feb. 27, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said, adding that they chose from three dates: Tuesday next week, Friday next week and Feb. 25. New Power Party (NPP) caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said that if the session were to start on Tuesday next week, agencies drafting the bill could fine-tune it according to lawmakers’ suggestions during the question-and-answer session. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) caucus whip Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) echoed Chiu’s remarks. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said that starting the session on Tuesday would give lawmakers more time to review the proposal.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterDue to added production lines, the nation is poised to become second in the world in terms of mask production at the end of this month or early next month, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday. Su made the remarks while inspecting mask manufacturing facilities at Nonwoven Converting Machinery Co (權和機械) in New Taipei City. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the nation is set to finish adding 60 mask production lines to its current production capacity at the end of this month or early next month, Su said. Nine of the production lines would launch today, he added. Disease prevention is a joint effort, Su said, thanking the company and the Taiwan Machine Tool and Accessory Builders’ Association for helping to boost mask production amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in China.
By Wen Yu-te / Staff reporterA court case involving Yang Hui-ju (楊蕙如) began at the Taipei District Court yesterday. Yang is accused of heading a group that posted messages online that have been linked to the suicide in 2018 of diplomat Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠). Critics have accused the DPP of paying Yang to run the “green camp cyberarmy.”Yang and the DPP have denied the accusations. The Osaka office was responsible for the travelers. Su, who was director-general of the Osaka office at the time, committed suicide at his residence eight days later.
By Yang Hsin-hui and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs should buy Lee Lin-chiu’s (李臨秋) residence, which was listed as a historical site in 2009, to help conserve cultural assets, the songwriter’s son said on Thursday. Lee’s son Lee Hsiu-chien (李修鑑) said that the ownership issue was complicated. Lee Hsiu-chien said that he is willing to donate his father’s manuscripts and furniture, as well as help train volunteers, should the city government purchase the building. Lee Hsiu-chien said that repairs were not carried out because there were too many owners, so reaching a consensus on work and finances was too difficult. In 2010, the department said that it would pay a subsidy of NT$3.2 million (US$106,486) for the renovations, while the Lee family would pay NT$800,000, Lee Hsiu-chien said.
The price of a five-day tour to Kyushu costs between NT$18,800 and NT$61,800; a five-day tour to Keihanshin — a metropolitan region encompassing the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe — between NT$26,800 and NT$57,800; and a four-day tour to Tokyo between NT$28,800 and NT$45,800, she said. A five-day tour to the Philippine islands of Boracay, Palawan or Cebu costs between NT$16,900 and NT$31,800, association member Hsiang Chien-lun (向健倫) said. The prices of tours to Thailand in the second quarter are generally stable, with a five-day tour to Bangkok or Pattaya costing between NT$16,000 and NT$24,000, and a five-day tour to Chiang Mai between NT$19,000 and NT$31,000, he added. The peak season for tours to the US and Canada starts in April, including popular destinations such as Yellowstone National Park and the Canadian icefields, association member Tsai Chia-hsuan (蔡佳璇) said. Many Taiwanese visit Europe in April, but the outbreak has sparked some negative reactions among Europeans toward Asians, prompting several travel agencies to offer special promotions, association member Hsiao Shih-hua (蕭世華) said.
Take for instance the New York Times, the midtown Manhattan local news organization that is transforming itself into a global digital news brand. Even as recently as 2013, former publisher Arthur Sulzberger noted that it was a “very low moment” when the New York Times’ biggest rival, the Washington Post, was sold by the Graham family to Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos. Last week, the New York Times emerged from its period of digital transition as a financially stronger, editorially robust organization. Digital subscriptions have boomed as the progressive audience sees support for institutions like the New York Times as the only effective opposition to a corrupt government. The revolving door between media organizations is in constant motion, but as the layoffs in local and digital news outlets continue, the New York Times is hiring many more than it is firing.
AFP, FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GermanyGermany was yesterday to mark 75 years since the destruction of Dresden in World War II, with the far-right seeking to inflate victim numbers and play down Nazi war crimes. Police were also bracing for a large demonstration by right-wing extremists tomorrow, which is expected to be met with counterprotests. The devastation came to symbolize the horrors of war, much like the heavily bombed city of Coventry in England. “Resurgent nationalism and right-wing populism are increasingly endangering the democratic remembrance culture,” Dresden Mayor Dirk Hilbert told local radio. However, the Allied forces saw Dresden as a legitimate target on the eastern front because of its transport links and factories supporting the German military machine.
The main reason for the panic buying is the worry of having no mask to wear when community transmission of the disease breaks out, prompting people to stockpile masks in advance. As long as this mindset continues unrectified, the mask shortage will never be resolved. To solve the issue and end the stockpiling, the government should require mask manufacturers to print numerals on the inner sleeve of the mask. Following this method, the mask shortage would probably be resolved within a week. Phillipe Hsu is a public health center physician.
By Kevin RuddNo matter how bad the coronavirus epidemic gets, the crisis will not change how China is governed under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). The coronavirus crisis represents the single biggest challenge for Xi since he became CCP general secretary in 2012. To understand why, one must consider the underlying worldview that guides Xi as he seeks to realize his dream of making China the global great power of the future. Second, Xi believes that he must always maintain national unity, because that is central to the CCP’s internal legitimacy. Xi understands that the economy’s size, strength and technological sophistication are central to all dimensions of national power, including military capacity.
In a letter addressed to the editor, the doctors described the transmission of the virus from a woman who had lived in Wuhan, China, to her husband. The woman returned to Taiwan on Jan. 20, the letter said, adding that she had been living in Wuhan for about three months. “Fever and myalgia developed in the woman on Jan. 25, a total of five days after she returned to Taiwan from Wuhan,” the letter said. “This suggests transmission shortly after his wife returned to Taiwan,” the letter said. The husband “works primarily at home” and “reported that he had not traveled to any region where SARS-CoV-2 transmission was known to be occurring,” it said.
AFP, WASHINGTONIt is too early to tell the economic toll from the COVID-19 outbreak in China, but the hit to global growth should be “mild,” IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday. This virus is clearly more impactful and the world economy then was very strong,” she said. The IMF projects China’s economy to grow 6 percent this year, compared with 10 percent in 2003. US officials likewise are reluctant to provide forecasts, but said the impact on the US economy probably would be short-lived. “There’s no question it’s having a significant impact in China,” US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin told legislators on Wednesday.
BloombergChina yesterday named an official known for tearing crosses from the roofs of churches to lead the agency that oversees Hong Kong, in the biggest shake-up yet after months of unrest in the territory. Xia’s installation follows last month’s appointment of Luo Huining (駱惠寧) as head of China’s Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong. “The reshuffling at this interesting moment may point to a deep distrust from Xi Jinping toward the former faction dealing with Hong Kong affairs,” said Sonny Lo (盧兆興), a Hong Kong-based academic and political commentator. “It’s clear that Xi Jinping wants to have a clear grasp of the situation in Hong Kong — that’s the major point,” Lo added. The CCP late last year issued a communique signaling greater intervention in everything from education in Hong Kong to how the territory picks its leader.