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Taiwan Commits to Banning Plastic Items by 2030

Taiwan is the next nation to make moves against plastic pollution. The nation’s EPA announced plans to ban plastic items by 2030, and is launching a marine clean-up initiative to remove plastics from their waters.

Date: February 22, 2018
By: Kyree Leary

Taiwan has announced plans to ban plastic items in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution. As reported by EcoWatch, Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency put forward a 12-year plan that will officially begin in 2019 with a blanket ban on plastic straws in stores and restaurants. In 2020, the ban will be extended to all dining establishments.

By 2025 people will have to pay a fee to use plastic straws, bags, cups, and disposable utensils. Although the specific pricing was not disclosed, we suspect it’ll be high enough to deter people from using plastic items. The plan is to ultimately phase out all plastics by 2030, and replace them with reusable and biodegradable items.

Lai Ying-ying, an EPA official supervising
the new initiative, explained to Channel NewsAsia that the average Taiwan citizen uses roughly 700 plastic bags a year. Under the new plans, the hope is this number will be reduced to 100 bags by 2025 and 0 by 2030.    [FULL  STORY]

New labor law amendments go into effect on March 1

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 2018-02-23

The newest amendments to the labor law will go into effect on March 1. These new laws allow 15 industries to have more flexible work schedules for their employees. This includes shortening the time between shifts from 11 hours to 8 hours and having workers work up to 12 days in a row, with two days off, rather than 6 days with one day off.

These new amendments were met with many protests from labor groups. The labor ministry has cut down the number of industries qualifying for these flexible arrangements from 38 to 15. Labor official Chou Tsi-lian explains which industries can use these new schedules:    [FULL  STORY]

China appoints Liu He to lead economic team

Country faces U.S. trade hostility and aging workforce

Taiwan News 
Date: 2018/02/23
By: Matthew Strong, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States-educated 66-year-old Politburo member Liu He will

Liu He at last month’s WEF in Davos. (By Associated Press)

lead a team to manage China’s economy and probably be promoted to vice premier next month, reports said Friday.

If his appointment is approved, he could become one of the most powerful Chinese vice premiers in a long time, potentially closer to President Xi Jinping than to Premier Li Keqiang, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Liu gained international prominence last month, when he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He promised unprecedented economic reforms in China, though he will have to face the threat of sanctions from the U.S. and a host of domestic problems from runaway debt to an ageing workforce, reports said.    [FULL  STORY]

Ministry of Labor speeds up approval of migrant worker applications

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2018/02/23
By: Yu Hsiao-han and Kuan-lin Liu

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) The Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) decision to start proactively checking and verifying the results of health check ups undertaken by potential migrant workers, that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, has improved the time taken to approve employment applications by those individuals by an average of nearly two days.

Previously, employers looking to hire migrant workers were required to submit the results of potential employees’ health check ups to be reviewed by the ministry together with the rest of the employment application, a process that took an average of 7.31 days.

According to the MOL Workforce Development Agency, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s decision to create a joint platform to store the results of health check ups undertaken by foreign nationals applying to work as migrant workers in Taiwan has reduced average application approval time to 5.55 days.    [FULL  STORY]

Cabinet reshuffle not sufficient: KMT

HANG-UP: The KMT would see the big picture if it were not so fixated on scrutinizing officials’ political affiliations, but rather focus on their abilities, a DPP lawmaker said

Taipei Times
Date: Feb 24, 2018
By: Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The scope of yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle was too narrow, with the appointments likely reflecting President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) hope to ameliorate cross-strait ties, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers said.

The nation’s foreign and defense ministries and top agency for cross-strait policy all getting new leaders shows that Tsai is hoping to improve cross-strait relations, which have cooled considerably since she took office in May 2016, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.

As Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) is perceived as having a pro-Taiwanese independence stance, his appointment as minister of foreign affairs is a mistake considering the diplomatic plight the nation faces, KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said, adding that the administration should have appointed someone better suited to the position, as Wu would only further decrease the nation’s international space.

Lin also raised doubts that new Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) minister Chen Ming-tung (陳明通) — who in 2012 said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was not attempting desinicization, but ridding the nation of the People’s Republic of China’s influence — could revive cross-strait ties, adding that the DPP’s reluctance to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus” has had a negative effect on the economy and encroached on the nation’s space in the international community.    [FULL  STORY]

As China Puts Pressure on Taiwan, Signs of a U.S. Pushback

The New York Times
Date: Feb. 22, 2018
By: Keith Bradsher

BEIJING — As China ratchets up pressure on Taiwan, the self-governing island it claims

Taiwanese sailors saluting their flag after military drills in January. President Trump signed legislation in September with a provision that encourages mutual port calls by ships from Taiwan and the United States. CreditMandy Cheng/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

as its territory, the United States is cautiously starting to push back.

In recent months, Chinese strategic bombers have been conducting “island encirclement” flights, escorted by fighter jets. The Chinese government has discouraged tourism to Taiwan and imports of goods like fish over the past year and a half, hurting its economy. And China persuaded the island’s most important remaining diplomatic ally, Panama, to switch diplomatic recognition last summer from Taipei to Beijing.

Concern about Taiwan’s fate now appears to be building slowly in Washington, even as President Trump continues to seek China’s help on other issues. Through his first year in office, Mr. Trump pressed Beijing to put more pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, with limited success. He has also sought to limit China’s nearly $400 billion trade surplus with the United States, which has nonetheless continued to widen.    [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan aims to have 1 unicorn company every two years

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 2018-02-22

Premier William Lai and other top government officials announced on Thursday that the government is aiming to have a new unicorn status company every two years. A unicorn company is a privately held startup company with a current valuation of US$1 billion or more.

There are 228 unicorn status companies in the world and Taiwan currently has none. The goal is for Taiwan to have one within the next two years. In the second stage, Taiwan should have 3 more within 6 years. Taiwan also has the long term goal of having a new unicorn company every two years.    [FULL  STORY]

Why Taiwan needs to shake its prescription drug habit

Taiwanese doctors prescribe drugs to just about every patient, many completely needlessly. This is creating a nation of people with weak immune systems and also helping to fuel the global antibiotic crisis

Focus Taiwan  
Date: 2018/02/22
By: David Spencer,Taiwan News, Contributing Writer

Dealing with a nasty bout of the flu was not how I envisaged spending the first few days of

Tamiflu. (By Wikimedia Commons)

the Year of the Dog. But being ill has given me another first-hand experience of Taiwan’s healthcare system, which has left me with both positive and negative feelings.

Firstly, when you are ill in Taiwan, you can get seen fast. We called into the local doctor’s clinic at around 8 p.m. and within 10 minutes were sat with the GP. She checked me over then explained, in pretty good English, that she needed to do a quick test to see if I had flu or just a regular cold. This took another 10 minutes, after which she told me I had Type B flu and prescribed me various pills to make me feel better.

She also looked at my 3-year old daughter, who was just starting to show some of the symptoms and, without doing the tests, prescribed medication for her too. Within half an hour we were back at home and had only been relieved of around NT$200 (US$6.80) for my treatment.    [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan rejects Chinese official’s request to visit

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2018/02/22
By: Miao Zong-han and Evelyn Kao

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) Taiwan’s government has rejected a request by a Chinese official to

Li Wenhui (李文輝, CNA file photo)

visit the island, taking into consideration the controversy sparked by his previous trip here, a Taiwanese senior official in charge of mainland China affairs said on Thursday.

Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy head and spokesperson for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s top agency in charge of China policy, said that while Chinese people are welcome to carry out exchanges here, the government hopes they will not be conducted for political purposes or based on political intentions and will not spark controversy or fuel differences in Taiwanese society.

Chiu was responding to a United Daily News report on Feb. 15 that an application by the head of the Shanghai city government’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Li Wenhui (李文輝), did not receive approval from a joint review panel composed of representatives from the MAC and various government agencies.    [FULL  STORY]

Executive Yuan aims to set up unicorns

START-UP HUB: The Cabinet plans to help start-ups in early-stage funding, recruit employees, facilitate mergers and public listings, and tap into the international market

Taipei Times
Date: Feb 23, 2018
By: Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan has set a goal of creating a unicorn company in two years and

Premier William Lai holds flowers during a prayer for Taiwan at Cingan Temple in Keelung yesterday.  Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Taipei Times

increasing annual investment in start-ups by NT$5 billion (US$170.64 million) as part of a program to improve the domestic entrepreneurship environment and make Taiwan a regional hub for start-ups.

The Cabinet yesterday announced an action plan to improve the investment environment for Taiwanese start-ups and promise to help incubate the first unicorn business in two years and three other unicorn companies in the next six years.

A unicorn is a start-up that is less than 10 years old with a value of more than US$1 billion without going public.

There are 228 unicorn companies in the world and Taiwan has yet to have its own, National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said.    [FULL  STORY]