TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Wu Tsung-hsin (吳宗信), professor of mechanical engineering at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYMU), was announced on Monday (Aug. 2) as the new director-general of the National Space Organization (NSPO).
The inauguration ceremony was overseen by National Applied Research Laboratories President Wu Kuang-chong (吳光鐘), who thanked former acting Director-General Yu Hsien-cheng (余憲政) for his work over the past six months.
Wu said implementation of the Space Development Act two months ago now provides a legal basis for the advancement of space technology. He said he hoped to build a more comprehensive infrastructure for space technology in Taiwan and to develop the space industry and its supply chain.
Wu received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from National Taiwan University (NTU) and his doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. He specializes in modern systems engineering, hybrid-propellant rocket propulsion, rarefied gas dynamics modeling, cold plasma physics, atmospheric plasma application, and scientific parallel computing, according to NSPO.
Known by his nickname of “Rocket Uncle” in Taiwan, Wu’s life story was featured in Mayday’s music video “Tough.” He is also interested in Taiwan's history and culture, taking the initiative in 1996 to lead the “5% Taiwanese Translation Project,” in which members volunteered their time and money to translate classic world literature into romanized Taiwanese and Hakka languages.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Biden administration on Wednesday (Aug. 4) approved its first weapons sale to Taiwan, which includes M109A6 self-propelled howitzers and related equipment for approximately US$750 million (NT$20.83 billion).
The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of 40 M109A6 Paladins, 20 M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles, one Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, five M88A2 Hercules vehicles, five M2 .50 caliber machine guns, and 1,698 multi-option, precision guidance kits, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) press release. The deal also includes M109A6/M992A2 overhaul, conversion, and refurbishment services, global positioning system receivers, AN/VVS night driver’s viewers, and other technical support and equipment.
The DSCA said that the possible deal “will contribute to the modernization of [Taiwan’s] self-propelled howitzer fleet, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” adding that it will also aid Taiwan in “updating its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the U.S. and other allies.” The East Asian nation will be able to incorporate these systems into its armed forces with relative ease, and the sale will not change the regional military balance, the agency said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (Aug. 5) thanked the American government for its commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. It noted that this is the first time the Biden administration has announced an arms sale to Taiwan, adding that it shows Washington “has always attached great importance to Taiwan’s defense capabilities and has continued its policy of normalizing arms sales to Taiwan in recent years.”
The ministry also said Taiwan will resolutely enhance its national defense to “protect its citizens’ lives, property, and free and democratic way of life,” and that through close cooperation with the U.S., it will maintain security in the Taiwan Strait and “contribute to the long-term peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”
The M109A6 is operated by a four-man crew and is able to receive data, aim and fire, and move to a different location without external technical assistance, according to Army Technology. This allows the Paladin to protect itself from enemy counterfire.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's victorious Olympic badminton team made its triumphant return to the country from the Tokyo Games Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 4) and was greeted with cheers by airport ground staff.
Coaches and players from the badminton team rode China Airlines Flight CI101 back from Tokyo. Due to the team's historic achievements at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Taiwanese government dispatched four Mirage 2000 fighter jets from Hsinchu Air Base to meet the aircraft and escort it home.
To celebrate the team's historic achievements, the fighter jets fired off flares as they neared the plane. Lee Yang (李洋), a member of the men's gold-medal-winning badminton duo, posted photos on his Instagram of team members eagerly taking photos of the Mirage 2000 fighters with their smartphones, writing "Really super cool!"
Aboard the flight were nine players and coaches, one training partner, and two headquarters staff members. In addition to Lee, other athletes onboard included doubles teammate Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟), singles silver medalist Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎), and men's singles competitors Chou Tien-chen (周天成) and Wang Tzu-wei (王子維).
The flight arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:05 p.m., and when the team exited the plane, they were met by a chorus of cheers by members of the Sports Administration and Taiwan's Olympic committee, as well as EVA Air and China Airlines ground crews.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The ROG Phone 5 by computer and electronics maker Asus performed the best in the mobile gaming phone segment in Taiwan during the second quarter.
The gaming phone was introduced in March of this year and during Q2 was able to capture 90% of the market for mobile gaming devices, according to CNA. Asus said it expects sales of the ROG Phone 5 this year to be around 80% higher compared to its predecessor the ROG Phone 3.
Asus released three models of the device: the ROG Phone 5, the ROG Phone 5 Pro, and the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. All three are powered under the hood by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and have a 6.78-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED display with a 2,448 x 1,080 resolution and 144 Hz refresh rate.
The phone has a total battery capacity of 6,000 mAh divided among two 3,000 mAh cells and takes around 60 minutes to top off the battery with a 65-watt charger.
The vanilla ROG 5 can have up to 16 GB RAM and 256 GB of memory, while the ROG Phone 5 Pro comes with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB of storage. The Ultimate tops out at 18 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.
Camera-wise there is a 64 MP primary lens, a 13 MP ultra-wide, and a 5 MP marco lens. On the front of the ROG Phone 5 is a 24 MP sensor for selfies and livestreaming.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A restaurant that had been a fixture in Taipei for seven decades announced on Monday (Aug. 2) that it was going out of business for good after the pandemic inflicted too many losses on the business.
On its Facebook page on Monday evening, Genghis Kahan Mongolian Bar-B-Q (成吉思汗蒙古烤肉餐廳) announced that due to the impact of the pandemic and the "pressure of rent," it was closing its doors forever. It then thanked its loyal customers for their many years of support.
It was believed to be the longest-surviving restaurant serving Mongolian barbecue in Taiwan, having been founded in 1963, according to Taipei Expat. Its signature dish is not actually Mongolian cuisine but rather the invention of Taiwanese crosstalk comedian Wu Zhaonan (吳兆南).
Wu, a native of Beijing, opened a street stall in Taipei in 1951 and originally wanted to call a newly devised dish Beijing Barbecue. However, due to political tensions with China, he opted for the name Mongolian barbecue.
The concept is the stir-frying of a customer's choice of meat, vegetables, and sauce on an iron griddle. The idea soon took off across the city, with Genghis Khan being one of the early adopters.
The restaurant had recently relocated from Nanjing East Road in Taipei's Zhongshan District to Jilin Road. It was originally planning a new opening on May 24, but it had to postpone its plans when Level 3 restrictions were imposed in Taipei on May 15, which included a ban on indoor dining.
Taipei's indoor dining ban was finally lifted on Aug. 3, the day after the revered restaurant announced its permanent closure.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — International students who have registered to study Mandarin in Taiwan have penned an open letter to the education ministry to allow them to commence their studies amid a ban on non-resident foreigners.
On July 21, Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (HES) students, as well as non-scholarship Mandarin students, penned an open letter to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to allow them to begin their studies amid a ban on foreign visitors.
In the summer of 2020, HES students across the globe were notified that they had been awarded the competitive scholarship to study Mandarin in Taiwan, but due to the pandemic, they were never allowed into the country. On April 21 of this year, the MOE announced that after a year of waiting, the scholarship recipients soon would be able to start their studies in Taiwan.
However, as the students wrote, "what seemed to be a dream turned into a nightmare" when Taiwan reimposed a ban on foreign travelers on May 17 as COVID cases in the country surged dramatically. On June 11, Taiwan halted the processing of visas at its overseas missions in the midst of the country's Level 3 pandemic alert.
Over the next two months, Taiwan was able to bring the number of cases down substantially. On July 27, Taiwan lowered its epidemic control measures to Level 2, and these are set to end on Aug. 9.
With this progress in mind and the deadlines for the start of classes looming, the students decided to write to the MOE. In the letter, they pointed out that HES and non-scholarship students, as well as some Chinese language teachers, have been waiting since March 2020, when borders were first closed to foreigners at the start of the pandemic.
Given that the situation in Taiwan has stabilized, the students wrote that they "humbly ask MOE to honor its words and prioritize Huayu Enrichment Scholarship students so we can begin our studies this fall, alongside the degree students." They added their wish that non-scholarship students could study in the country as well.
The letter pointed out that other countries in Asia that have closed their borders, such as South Korea and Singapore, are still letting students in. The authors explained that their 12-month scholarship is only good if they begin their studies this fall.
The students stated that they would be willing to undergo any required safety measures, such as COVID tests and 14 to 21 days of quarantine. They suggested that some of the coursework could be offered online during their quarantines.
They reminded the MOE that the purpose of the scholarship is to “encourage talented young people to undertake Mandarin language courses in Taiwan and to promote knowledge, understanding and friendship of people in the global community." The students stressed that allowing students to learn Mandarin in Taiwan is beneficial to the country's image and would "fulfill the goal of turning Taiwan into an international center for the study and research of the Chinese language."
In response to the open letter, which was sent on July 25, the MOE stated that it is following guidelines dictated by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which currently bars any foreign visitors who do not have a residence permit. The MOE emphasized that it understands the "ardent expectations" of the students but said the strict border control measures are a "necessary measure to protect our national defense and epidemic security."
When asked for comment on the matter, a MOE representative told Taiwan News that students who already have a residence permit are allowed to enter the country. As for those who have not yet received such a permit, the ministry said it is closely communicating with the CECC and "under the premise of strict border control and a priority on epidemic prevention," it will assist international students hoping to study in Taiwan in a "safe and orderly manner."
The MOE added that the HES is based on an academic year and indicated that if students miss a portion of their studies because of the travel ban, the scholarship can be extended. In addition, it said that for students unable to travel this year due to the pandemic, it will ask Taiwan's overseas representative offices to give them priority consideration when processing their applications for the scholarship next year.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Cabinet is reportedly planning to release NT$5,000 (US$179) in vouchers in September to stimulate the nation's economy as it slowly comes out of a soft lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Friday (July 30) convened a meeting of relevant ministries to discuss the rollout of NT$5,000 vouchers based on a budget of NT$110 billion, reported BCC. Under the plan, members of the public would purchase the NT$5,000 vouchers for NT$1,000, with both physical and digital versions released simultaneously.
The vouchers will likely be released in late September, depending on the vaccination rate and the situation with the outbreak, reported SET News. Other ministries, such as the Ministry of Culture and Sports Administration, are expected to release their own vouchers at the same time.
On Monday (Aug. 2), some legislators expressed concerns that having people pick up the vouchers in person could lead to new cluster infections. Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Fai Hong-tai (費鴻泰) said his party has always advocated the distribution of stimulus checks directly to households to reduce person-to-person contact and to cut down on administrative costs.
Fai also questioned the logic in having people pay NT$1,000 to receive the vouchers. "Why pay NT$1,000 for NT$5,000. In fact, they only get NT$4,000. They're getting taken advantage of again."
He added that the process should be simplified and that the stimulus funds should be distributed as soon as possible. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) also argued that recipients should not be required to exchange cash for coupons to reduce the risk of group gatherings.
However, DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) pointed out that the NT$50 billion invested in the previous wave of NT$3,000 vouchers generated nearly NT$180 billion in economic benefits. Hsu argued that direct cash handouts would not have the multiplier effect that the vouchers have.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A fifth World Gym branch in Taipei announced it will be temporarily closing for disinfection after a confirmed COVID-19 case visited the fitness center while potentially infectious last week.
On Monday (Aug. 2), the Da'an branch of World Gym in Taipei announced that it will close for three days until Aug. 5 to carry out disinfection. It stated that measures are being implemented to comply with the Taipei City Government's epidemic prevention regulations.
Customers of the gym discovered the whole facility had been temporarily shut down when they arrived early Monday morning to work out. Since the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) allowed fitness centers to reopen as a part of a loosening of Level 3 restrictions that began on July 13, this marked the fifth branch of the exercise chain to close after movements of confirmed cases were tied to its gyms.
Since restrictions were eased, fitness clubs, movie theaters, and other venues have been allowed to open for customers, but there have already been a number of temporary closures after customers or employees tested positive for COVID. In the case of World Gym, there have been four other closures, including its branches at Taipei Main Station, Changchun Road, Neihu, and Dazhi.
During a press conference on Monday, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) announced the case had not told authorities that they had visited a World Gym. Huang said that authorities did not become aware that the case had been to World Gym's branch in Da'an until they reviewed the real-name registration records and found the case had visited from 5:38 p.m. to 7:07 p.m. on July 28.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on July 28 highlighted the threat that China poses to Taiwan and detailed the progress of Taiwan-U.S. relations in a virtual interview with Kuwaiti think tank Reconnaissance Research.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) revealed on Monday (Aug. 3) that the foreign minister had talked with Reconnaissance Research’s founder and CEO Abdulaziz Mohammed Al-Anjeri. Wu said that the international community has repeatedly expressed concern about the frequent incursions of Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and recognized that China’s destabilizing actions in the Taiwan Strait have “posed a serious challenge to the peace and order of the Indo-Pacific region.”
Wu said that from January 1 to June 26, 2021, “China sent a total of 354 military aircraft on 114 incursions into Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ.” He added that Beijing has been conducting military drills to intimidate Taipei and continued to suppress its participation in international organizations.
He noted that world leaders have repeatedly affirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the strait during various meetings, including the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), U.S.-Japan summit, U.S.-South Korea summit, EU-Japan summit, and G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting. This demonstrates that the strait is not only a cross-strait concern but one for the global community, Wu maintained.
Wu also called the U.S. Taiwan's “most staunch ally and strategic partner.” Since January, President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have publicly expressed their firm support for Taiwan on different occasions, the foreign minister said. Their commitment to Taiwan is "rock-solid," he added.
Additionally, Wu stated that the Middle East’s role in energy supply is extremely important to Taiwan. The East Asian nation is actively promoting cooperation and friendly relations with countries in that region, he said.
Wu’s interview was later published in Kuwaiti’s English-language newspaper Arab Times.
Research Reconnaissance was established in April 2019 and is Kuwait's first private independent research think tank.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Institute for National Defense and Security Research military analyst Ou Hsi-fu (歐錫富) has said that China’s amphibious capabilities are still insufficient for it to carry out a successful invasion of Taiwan.
In a report published July 29 titled "Amphibious operations capability of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in an attack on Taiwan," Ou said China has multiple kinds of military ships it could use to facilitate a beach landing, including its Type 075 amphibious assault ship, Type 071 transport dock, and Type 072 landing ship. Its Type 958 and 726 hovercraft could transport PLA troops to Taiwan’s shores quickly, he added.
Ou said that China’s current beach landing strategy is to deploy Type 726 hovercrafts and Type 071 transport docks carrying troops, amphibious armored vehicles, and Type 96 tanks. Meanwhile, transport helicopters such as the Changhe Z-8 would provide multi-directional, three-dimensional air support to suppress the enemy.
However, even with China’s growing fleet of amphibious warships, there are still some factors that prevent the PLA from being able to launch a successful beach assault. For example, the number of shipborne helicopters is inadequate for the time being, Ou said. Also, the Type 726 hovercraft is said to lack the required power to make it across the Taiwan Strait.
Additionally, the analyst said that if China really chooses to invade Taiwan, its first wave of amphibious forces will only number about 400,000 soldiers, which is likely no match for Taiwan’s defenses. Nevertheless, Ou said that China’s amphibious combat forces pose the greatest threat to Taiwan and are the primary reason for Taiwan’s strengthened asymmetric warfare strategy.
Ou recommended the Taiwan military continue observing developments in China’s amphibious capabilities and come up with countermeasures.
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