TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — November marked a third month in a row of falling exports for Taiwan, with a decline of 13.1% compared to the same month in 2021, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Wednesday (Dec. 7).
Exports for the month totaled US$36.13 billion (NT$1.10 trillion), while imports fell by 8.6% from Nov 2021 to $32.7 billion. The new data left Taiwan with a favorable trade balance of $3.43 billion for the month, a fall of $2.34 billion from Nov. last year.
For the period from Jan. to Nov. 2022, Taiwan’s exports totaled a record $396.63 billion, a rise of 14.3% compared to the same period in 2021, UDN reported. The trade surplus for the first 11 months of 2022 amounted to $47.15 billion, a decline of $11.52 billion compared to Jan.-Nov. 2021.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to severe power shortages in Ukraine caused by constant Russian attacks on the civilian power grid, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday (Dec. 7) announced that it is donating NT$30 million (US$1 million) for Kyiv to acquire power generating equipment.
In a press release issued that day, MOFA announced that Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, and Grygorii Malenko, executive director of the charitable fund Darnychany, to provide financial assistance to enable the city to buy power generation equipment. The ministry's donation of NT$30 million will be used to purchase equipment such as diesel and gasoline generators "to help the more than three million Kyiv residents suffering from electricity shortages survive the severe winter."
The ministry pointed out that it has been 10 months since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Ukrainians are "still resisting bravely." Faced with numerous battlefield defeats over the past several months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has resorted to launching missile and drone attacks on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, resulting in a number of cities facing large-scale power outages.
MOFA noted that the average winter temperature in Ukraine's capital city is zero degrees Celsius. In an attempt to cope with the situation, Kyiv has been forced to launch rolling blackouts and establish 1,000 heated shelters for its residents.
As winter sets in, snow has begun to fall on Kyiv, adding to the urgency of the city's power generation issues. The ministry stated that in order to help Kyiv deal with its power shortage challenges, Taiwan's government is providing emergency funds for the acquisition of power generation equipment.
In addition, Taiwan will donate humanitarian relief supplies, scarves, gloves, winter clothing, blankets, and rations to "convey the warmth of the people and government of Taiwan to the Ukrainian people and help them through the harsh winter."
The ministry emphasized that Taiwan and Ukraine "share the strong will and firm desire to staunchly defend their national sovereignty." It added that both Taiwan and Ukraine are on the front lines "guarding against authoritarian expansionism."
MOFA pledged that Taiwan is ready to provide assistance to its partners when in need and will "promptly deliver the warmth and caring of the Taiwan people and government to Ukraine." It closed by saying Taiwan "stands with the Ukrainian people in their time of greatest need."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Some 700 private Taiwanese surveillance cameras containing chips made in China by a subsidiary of Huawei are currently visible online due to security vulnerabilities.
Recently, Taiwanese have begun to notice that footage from their private surveillance cameras is readily accessible to the public through websites such as Insecam, where Taiwan is ranked third in the world in terms of the number of cameras viewable on the site with 700, trailing only Japan at 956 and the U.S. at 2,172. Examples of private spaces in Taiwan currently visible to the world include postpartum care homes, clinics, doorways, living rooms, and bedrooms.
One victim, an owner of a steam bun shop in Taipei City's Datong District said that when she saw footage of her store on the website, she was more frightened than surprised and said that she had never thought that video of her work would be made public. She added that the notion of people spying on her as she worked made her feel really uncomfortable.
Based on information posted about the cameras on the website, the commonality in many cases is that the devices contain HiSilicon's Hi3516 semiconductors. HiSilicon is a fabless semiconductor company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and is fully owned by Huawei.
Cha Shih-chao (查士潮), an information security expert, was cited by the news site as saying that "some network cameras made in China in the early days indeed do not have very good security." Cha said that these Chinese-made cameras appeal to consumers because they are cheap, easy to buy, simple to operate, and quick to set up.
Amid frequent reports of information security leaks, the Criminal Investigation Bureau has stated that in October alone, it received 55 reports of video footage that hackers had stolen from surveillance cameras, as well as from TVs and computers.
Legal expert Li Yu-sheng (李育昇) told the news agency that, "Peeping on or hacking into other people's non-public activities constitutes Offenses Against Privacy (妨害祕密罪)." If the content in the video consists of personal data from others, this could also represent a violation of the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法). Victims could also file suit and seek compensation under Taiwan's Civil Code.
However, because websites such as Insecam are based overseas, it is difficult to enforce the law and seek compensation. Li recommends consumers buy cameras that are certified for their safety and quality in Taiwan. Security experts also recommend camera users regularly change all the passwords used for their surveillance camera systems.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit eastern Taiwan at 12:54 a.m.Thursday (Dec. 8), according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
The epicenter of the temblor was 21.6 kilometers south of Hualien County Hall, with a focal depth of 29.8 km. Taiwan uses an intensity scale of one to seven, which gauges the degree to which a quake is felt at a specific location.
The earthquake’s intensity registered as a 4 in Hualien County and a 3 in Nantou County, Taitung County, Yilan County, Taichung City, Changhua County, and Yunlin County. An intensity level of 2 was recorded in Chiayi County, Miaoli County, Hsinchu County, Chiayi City, Taoyuan City, New Taipei City, Kaohsiung City, and Tainan City.
An intensity level of 1 was reported in Hsinchu City, Taipei City, Pingtung County, and Penghu County.
No injuries or damage from the latest quake had been reported at the time of publication.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police in Taichung announced on Wednesday (Dec. 6) that during a drug trafficking investigation, they discovered a suspect driving with a submachine gun used by the Czech military that is capable of firing 850 rounds per minute.
The Taichung City Police Department's Criminal Investigation Corps said that in order to gain a reduced sentence, a suspect told police that a friend surnamed Ho (何) was in possession of an illegal firearm. In October, police obtained a warrant for Ho's arrest and soon spotted him when he was driving through Taichung's Xitun District.
When they pulled him over, a Skorpion vz. 61 submachine gun was found in his car, along with two magazines and 38 bullets.
The weapon was manufactured by Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod during the Cold War in former Czechoslovakia. It can fire 850 rounds per minute and because the weapon confiscated from Ho had a stock installed, it is considered a military variant.
When questioned by police, Ho claimed a friend had given the gun to him and that he had never used it. He was later transferred to the Taichung District Prosecutor's Office to be investigated for breaching the Act Controlling Guns, Knives and Ammunition (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例).
Police found that Ho had no record of serious or violent crimes, nor was there evidence that he used or sold drugs. However, his possession of the submachine gun and ammunition constituted a violation of gun control laws.
Ho claimed that the street market value of the firearm was between NT$600,000 and NT$800,000 and that it had been given to him by his deceased friend for "safekeeping." According to Ho, although he kept the gun in his car, he denied ever using it to commit any crimes.
After commencing the investigation for violating gun laws, police released Ho on NT$20,000 bail.
The Skorpion vz. 61, called Skorpion for short, is an assault weapon designed for close-quarters combat for the Czech military and security forces, as well as the militaries of other former Warsaw Pact countries. Due to its compact size, it can be fired with one hand and has a maximum effective range of 100 meters.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two former legislators will organize and lead a protest in Taipei on Dec. 24 to demand the government resume the mini-three links, which were suspended due to the pandemic, before the Lunar New Year.
The mini-three links refer to direct trade, postal and transport services launched more than two decades ago between Kinmen and Matsu in Taiwan, and Xiamen, Mawei, and Quanzhou in China's Fujian Province.
Chen Chin-pao (陳清寶), a former Kinmen lawmaker, told media on Tuesday (Dec. 6) that he and former legislator Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) wholeheartedly promoted the mini-three links bill when they were in office. They persuaded the administrative agencies, including the Mainland Affairs Council, to finally sign the mini-three links into law. Therefore, he and Tsao are the most qualified to express opinions on the issue, he said.
Chen said that the sluggish relations between Taipei and China make it imperative to restore the mini-three links as soon as possible. It is hoped that the Cabinet will properly reflect public opinion and agree to restore the links soon. Otherwise, people will have to take to the streets, he added.
Our appeal is to resume transport services, Chen said, adding that the mini-three links had made great contributions to cross-strait exchanges and the economies of Kinmen and Matsu. It is a pity that the links have been suspended since the breakout of the epidemic, he said.
Now that the epidemic has eased and Taiwan has relaxed its border controls, it is high time to resume the links, he went on to say.
Chen said he couldn’t figure out why the mini-three links are still “blocked.” He added that Taiwan unilaterally suspended the links, and now with China's customs and staff eagerly standing by, it does not make sense for the Cabinet to continue blocking the links.
It is hoped that through the protest, people's voices can be heard, and the mini-three links can be restored soon, he said.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines Group, announced on Tuesday that it will continue to increase flights from January next year.
Optimistic about the Taiwan international travel market after the epidemic, Scoot issued a press release on Tuesday, announcing that starting from Jan. 2 next year, flights between Taipei and Singapore will increase from 18 flights per week to 25 per week.
In addition, flights between Taipei and Tokyo (Narita Airport) will be increased from one flight per day to 10 flights per week. Tickets are open for booking.
Scoot stated that the painted Pikachu flight, which Pokémon fans have taken great interest in, is scheduled to fly to Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 16 next year. This will be the first flight of the painted Pikachu jet officially dispatched to Taipei.
Li Yu-hsiu (李育修), general manager of Scoot Taiwan, said that North Asia has always been a key area for Scoot and that the airline expects to continue to increase flights between Taiwan, Singapore, and cities in Japan and South Korea in the coming year.
According to Li, beginning from January next year, the number of flights departing from Taiwan will reach 43 per week, more than half of the 68 per week before the COVID-19 pandemic, so the recruitment of flight attendants in Taiwan will resume in order to meet the needs of increasing Taiwanese international travel demand.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has tested positive for COVID, but he has only mild symptoms and President Tsai (蔡英文) is presently listed in "good health."
Presidential Spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) on Wednesday (Dec. 7) said Lai had suspected COVID symptoms in the morning and underwent a rapid antigen test, which came back positive. Chang said that Lai's symptoms are currently mild and he is undergoing isolation in his official residence.
His last meeting with Tsai was on Monday (Dec. 5), and Chang said that the president is "currently in good health." Lai notified Tsai of his COVID diagnosis first thing in the morning, according to Chang.
During their conversation, Tsai asked Lai to rest up and take care of himself for the country. She also wished him a speedy recovery and expressed her hopes that they can return to working together soon, according to Chang.
The spokesman said that Tsai asked the medical team to keep her apprised of the vice president's health status. During Lai's isolation period, the president will continue to maintain close contact with him to ensure the continued seamless operation of various state affairs.
The incubation period for Omicron is 3.42 days and given that it has been two days since the president and vice president met in person, Chang said that the medical team will closely monitor Tsai's health status. He then called on the public to not be overly concerned.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan will be a major center for the development of flu vaccines and mRNA technologies, said American pharmaceutical and biotech company Moderna on Tuesday (Dec. 6).
Moderna announced the establishment of a subsidiary in Taiwan in September, following similar ventures in Japan, South Korea, and Australia last year. It has yet to reveal its investment plans in Taiwan or respond to questions about whether the country will become a base for contract manufacture of the vaccines it develops.
Joyce Lee (李宜真), general manager of Moderna Taiwan, said at a press event that Taiwan is the only country in Asia that will be involved in Moderna’s clinical trials for influenza vaccines. The initiative has enrolled in eight local medical institutions, with preliminary data expected to be released in March.
The company will also be devoted to addressing other respiratory illnesses, including RSV, a virus that causes cold-like symptoms but can be serious for elderly people and infants.
Lee said Taiwan boasts a rich pool of biotech talent including clinical scientists. A focus will be placed on importing the latest mRNA technologies into the country as a hiring drive is soon to be launched.
Moderna shipped 807 million doses of its COVID vaccine worldwide in 2021 alone. It is currently working on 48 projects and 45 candidate drugs, according to Lee.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Patient health records at a hospital affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Welfare have reportedly been stolen in a series of Chinese cyberattacks.
The computer systems of the Taoyuan General Hospital (TGH) in northern Taiwan have been hit by a series of hacks since August 2020 due to malware and backdoor attacks.
The breaches have resulted in leaks of medical records and staff files, while fake prescriptions were also added to the hospital system, the report claimed. Source codes with annotations in simplified Chinese and lists of Chinese software developers have been found in the hospital’s computer systems, along with a Chinese version of a database management system not meeting the cybersecurity requirements of Taiwan’s public sector, the report suggested.
The systems are supplied and maintained by Taichung-based Shine Information Service Co., a service provider focusing on smart healthcare, whose owner appears to have ties with China, according to the report. The company has also secured deals with the defense ministry’s medical affairs agency and the health ministry-affiliated Taipei Hospital.
TGH said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec. 7) the hospital “delayed reporting of cybersecurity incidents,” but denied allegations of patient data being stolen from the compromised systems. They added that personnel had been punished amid an ongoing investigation without providing further details.
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