Taiwan halts chili powder imports amid carcinogen scare
Taipei’s FDA suspends chili powder imports from 21 Chinese suppliers for three months due to health concerns. The powder tested positive for Sudan III, a banned substance, prompting a recall of contaminated products. Sudan III is classified as a possibly carcinogenic substance by the WHO. The FDA warns that adding Sudan III to food violates food safety laws and could lead to severe penalties.
Taiwan detects pesticide in Japanese strawberry imports
A shipment of strawberries from Saitama, Japan has been found to have excessive pesticide residue, according to Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The imported strawberries, weighing a total of 3.5 kilograms, exceeded permitted pesticide levels. Deputy Director of the FDA, Lin Chin-fu, stated that all imported Japanese strawberries undergo 100% customs inspection. From July 15, 2023 to January 15, 2024, 2.3 metric tons of Japanese strawberries were discovered to contain pesticide residue. Out of 325 batches inspected, 14 failed the inspection, resulting in a failure rate of 4.31%. Since June 1, 2023, all shipments of strawberries from Japan to Taiwan have been subjected to batch-by-batch inspections. Japanese manufacturers failing inspections will face a one-month import suspension.
Taiwan prepares for winter’s coldest spell
Taiwan prepares for the coldest period of the winter as Lunar New Year approaches, according to meteorological expert Peng Chi-ming. If a cold surge leads to disaster, it is classified as an ＂other natural disaster,＂ potentially resulting in work or school closures. Employers are advised to implement safety measures and consider potential risks caused by cold temperatures. Failure to comply with guidelines may result in fines of up to NT$300,000. Holidays due to low temperatures are unprecedented in Taiwan, with work or school suspension only possible if low temperatures cause a disaster. In extreme cold weather conditions, transportation, water, or electricity disruptions may lead to work or school suspension based on assessment by city and county chiefs.
Candidate halts campaign after video exposes family secret
Legislative candidate Chen Kai-ning suspends her campaign activities after it was revealed that the retired air force officer turned delivery person featured in a viral video by Taiwanese stand-up comedian Brian Tseng is her estranged father. Chen confirms her father’s identity but clarifies that her mother is alive and was her primary caregiver. Chen temporarily halts her campaign activities for a week out of respect for those affected by the incident.
Taiwan’s petrochemical industry unfazed by ECFA termination
The termination of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) has raised concerns about its impact on Taiwan’s petrochemical industry. However, corporate entities in Taiwan have stated that the impact has been limited. This is due to Taiwan’s efforts to reduce its dependency on China for exports, as China increases its domestic supply of petrochemical products. Taiwanese firms are expanding into other export markets and focusing on enhancing the competitiveness of their high-value products. The move is a response to China’s accusations of discriminatory bans and restrictive measures on Chinese products, which China’s Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council sees as violating the ECFA. The ECFA’s ＂Early Harvest List＂ included 88 tax reductions on Taiwan’s petrochemical industry by China. With the suspension of tariff privileges, these corporations anticipate that the tax rate on associated products could rise from the current 0% to between 2% and 10%.
Scholars predict halt to ECFA amid suspended tariff cuts
China has announced the suspension of preferential tariffs on certain products under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), potentially impacting cross-strait trade. Li Zhenguang, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Beijing Union University, suggests that this move could lead to the complete termination of the ECFA, creating uncertainty for the future. Tang Yonghong, deputy director of the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University, considers the suspension to be moderate and emphasizes that China will respond with corresponding measures if Taiwan imposes trade bans or limitations. The development of cross-strait trade is contingent on the relationship between the two sides, with trade being affected if relations become confrontational. China’s suspension of tariff concessions for 12 imported items is seen as a warning to Taiwan in defense of the ＂1992 Consensus,＂ indicating China’s unwavering stance on cross-strait relations.
Lai-Hsiao ticket narrowly leads in tight presidential race
A new poll by ETtoday reveals a tight race in the upcoming 2024 presidential election in Taiwan. The Democratic Progressive Party’s Lai-Hsiao ticket, consisting of Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim, leads with 35.9% support, slightly ahead of the Kuomintang’s Hou-Jaw ticket, comprised of Hou Yu-ih and Jaw Shaw-kong, at 34.7%. The Taiwan People’s Party’s Ko-Wu ticket, featuring Ko Wen-je and Cynthia Wu, trails behind with 19.6% support. Despite the close percentages, 44.3% of the public expresses confidence in the Lai-Hsiao ticket’s ability to win, compared to 30.1% for Hou-Jaw and 13.8% for Ko-Wu. Conversely, 40.5% of voters are certain they will not vote for Lai-Hsiao, while 27.3% reject Hou-Jaw and 20.6% turn away from Ko-Wu. In terms of non-constituency legislators, the KMT leads with 35% support, followed by the DPP with 31.3% and the TPP at 14.5%. The poll highlights public concern over Taiwan’s economic ties with China, particularly due to recent trade restrictions viewed as trade barriers and the suspension of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) measures. Additionally, 47.1% of respondents worry that a Lai Ching-te presidency could worsen cross-strait economic and people-to-people exchanges, while 16.4% hold the same concern for Hou Yu-ih and 11.6% for Ko Wen-je. The poll, conducted from December 18 to 19, surveyed 1,224 respondents with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%. Compared to the previous poll from December 14 to 15, support for the Lai-Hsiao ticket dropped by 2.6 percentage points, while the Hou-Jaw ticket saw a minor decline of 0.4 percentage points, and the Ko-Wu ticket remained unchanged. The number of undecided voters increased to 9.8%, indicating the undecided nature of the electorate ahead of the presidential vote.
Yang Ming shares surge amid Red Sea shipping crisis
Shares of Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. experienced a surge in volume, with over 70,000 shares traded, ranking in the top five in terms of transaction volume. This follows the suspension of services through the Red Sea by major container shipping companies, including Evergreen Marine Corp., Yang Ming, and Wan Hai Lines Ltd., due to attacks by Yemeni militants. The crisis in the Red Sea has led to global shipping lines rerouting, potentially alleviating excess capacity and boosting international freight rates. The stock performance of these ＂Big Three＂ container shipping firms has drawn significant attention. Evergreen Marine’s stock exhibited volatility, reaching a post-ex-dividend high of NT$148 but later dipping to NT$144.5. Yang Ming’s stock price also reached a morning peak but corrected downwards, with a trading volume surpassing 70,000 shares. Wan Hai Lines experienced a similar downward trend. These movements in the shipping sector are closely monitored amid the ongoing situation in the Red Sea, which impacts shipping routes worldwide.
Apple Sidra returns after passing hygiene checks
Oceanic Beverages Company, previously under scrutiny for water quality violations at its Pingzhen factory, has announced that its apple cider products now meet health standards set by the Taoyuan City Government’s Department of Health (DPH). This allows the company to resume sales. Earlier complaints had alleged that the beverages produced at the Pingzhen factory contained unknown sediment and did not meet water quality regulations. Following inspections in April and May, Taoyuan’s DPH ordered a suspension of three production lines, effectively shutting down the entire plant. However, Oceanic Beverages Co. has now revealed that production lines two and three have officially recommenced operations. The company has clarified that the apple cider products currently on shelves include batches from an initial trial production on Oct. 27, as well as regular production that resumed on Nov. 16.
Evergreen halts Red Sea shipping amid Houthi threats
Evergreen Marine Corp, a Taiwanese shipping company, has temporarily suspended its shipping services through the Red Sea due to security threats posed by Houthi militants. This decision comes after a series of attacks on commercial ships by the Yemen-based group, which has escalated tensions in the region. Evergreen joins other global shipping giants, including Orient Overseas Container Line, CMA CGM, Maersk Group, Hapag-Lloyd, and Mediterranean Shipping Company, in halting passage through the Red Sea. The attacks by the Houthis, aimed at blocking ships en route to Israel, have led to the interception of drones and missiles by the U.S. Navy, British Navy, and French Navy. In response to the exacerbating security situation, Evergreen has rerouted its ships from Asia to the Mediterranean and the U.S. East Coast to avoid the Red Sea. British Petroleum (BP) has also suspended its oil transit through the Red Sea due to increased risks.
Legislative Yuan to pause sessions ahead of 2024 elections
The Legislative Yuan has decided to suspend its plenary and committee meetings from December 20 to December 31 in preparation for the 2024 presidential and legislative elections. This decision follows a proposal by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus and is in line with the parliamentary tradition of pausing meetings during the election period. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Caucus and the New Power Party (NPP) Caucus opposed the suspension proposal but their amendment was not accepted. The DPP’s proposal was passed, with Vice President of the Legislative Yuan Tsai Chi-Chang announcing the decision. The Kuomintang (KMT) caucus leader Tseng Ming-chung argued for a consensus through negotiation before arranging a recess, opposing the resolution’s forceful passage. DPP Caucus Director-General Ker Chien-ming cited a 30-year-old tradition of recessing before elections and emphasized that the decision only brings forward the suspension by 11 days.
Aaron Yan exonerated of assault, secret photography charges
Taiwanese entertainer Aaron Yan has been cleared of charges related to sexual offenses, including secret photography and assault, according to the Shilin District Prosecutors Office. The allegations were made by internet celebrity Chiu Yao-le in June, leading to the suspension of Yan’s entertainment career and side business. Prosecutors found that Yan had shared private videos of Chiu with friends, a violation of the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act. Yan will only be indicted on charges related to filming and possessing videos depicting the sexual conduct of a minor. The case is scheduled to be heard behind closed doors on December 21.
Chinese Taipei Football Association faces multiple scandals
The Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) has come under criticism from New Power Party Legislator Claire Wang for failing to make progress in paying salaries to players and facing accusations of gender discrimination. These issues have reportedly persisted since the CTFA’s appointment in March. Wang revealed that players have been owed millions in wages since 2021. The Taiwan Women’s Football Players Association has accused the CTFA of negligence, claiming that the women’s national team’s long-term training plans were abruptly halted. The association has called on the Ministry of Education’s Sports Administration to take responsibility. The Sports Administration has stated that there may be misunderstandings and has requested the CTFA to submit a comprehensive plan for international events such as the 2026 Asian Games. Wang believes that the planned suspension of training is due to the CTFA’s failure to submit a planning document on time, rather than a problem with the National Sports Training Center. Wang has called for a re-evaluation of the CTFA by the Sports Administration to prevent further damage to football development in Taiwan. Under the current chairman, Wang Lin-hsiang, the CTFA is facing a debt problem of over NT＄90 million from previous administrations, including player salaries, referee fees, and vendor costs. Chairman Wang has sent a lawyer’s letter to former chairman Chiou I-jen seeking clarification on these issues.
MOTC urges Taiwanese public to follow traffic rules
Taiwanese citizens express their dissatisfaction with the new road regulations implemented on July 1 through social media, sharing stories of the consequences of violating the rules. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) amended Section 43 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act, imposing fines and driving bans for drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 kilometers per hour. Offenders also face a six-month license suspension. Despite Taiwan’s reputation for bad traffic behavior, some argue that the previous threshold of exceeding the speed limit by 60 kilometers per hour should be reinstated. The MOTC asserts that managing speed is crucial for road safety worldwide and considers excessive speeding a serious offense. They emphasize that higher speeds limit a driver’s field of vision and reaction time, urging citizens to comply with traffic rules without presuming luck.
TRA cancels 86 train services due to staff promotion exam
Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) canceled a total of 86 train services on November 6 and 7, with an additional 13 services operating on a shortened route due to the Railway Staff Promotion Examination. As TRA prepares for corporatization in 2024, a significant staff shortage has arisen, with 297 drivers signing up for the exam conducted by the Examination Yuan. To address the shortage, TRA has adjusted the schedules of drivers who did not take the examination and enlisted reserve workforce, cross-unit drivers, and driving supervisors. Some freight train services and special train operations have been suspended. Despite these measures, the administration still faces a shortage of 60 crew members, resulting in a notable impact on railway schedules. The Jiji Line was particularly affected, with its entire service suspended on both days. To compensate, TRA launched a shuttle bus service between Ershui Station and Checheng Station.
Shih Hsin plans changes amid rumored Chinese dept. closure
Shih Hsin University is considering making adjustments between departments and may halt admissions to its Chinese Literature Department in 2025. Despite rumors that the decision is due to poor undergraduate enrollment rates, the department is not the worst-performing. The university reassured students that the department will only close its doors officially after all current undergraduate students have graduated. The decision to suspend admissions requires approval from the institution and other relevant entities, with the official suspension taking effect in the academic year of 2025 if approved this year. The Chinese Literature Department was established in 1998 as part of the university’s liberal education center, with a master’s program added in 2003 and a PhD program in 2007.
TPP suspends Hsinchu mayor’s party rights
Taiwan People’s Party temporarily suspends Hsinchu Mayor Kao Hung-an over embezzlement allegations. Mayor Kao faces indictment under the ＂Anti-Corruption Act＂ while maintaining her innocence. Get the latest updates on this political development.
Taichung’s 33-hour water suspension affects over 256K homes
A 33-hour water suspension will occur in Taichung from Sept. 19 to Sept. 20, affecting approximately 256,998 households.
Doksuri prompts more Typhoon days off in southern Taiwan
Typhoon Doksuri veered toward Kinmen on Friday (July 28) after bringing its brunt to southern Taiwan. Amid the heavy rainfall and wind gusts, Chiayi County, Kaohsiung City, Tainan City, and Pingtung County unexpectedly announced the suspension of work and classes earlier that day.