Tag Archives: Taiwan

Just in: China working to double nuclear warheads – Pentagon

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Report says China aims to double its arsenal from current level of about 200 warheads in next decade, US has over 6,000


China is expected to at least double the number of its nuclear warheads over the next 10 years – from an estimated figure in the low 200s it has now – and is nearing the ability to launch nuclear attacks by land, air and sea, a capacity known as a triad, the Pentagon has revealed.

The annual report to Congress on China’s military marks the first time it has put a number to China’s nuclear warheads. The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320.

The Pentagon said the growth projection was based on factors including Beijing having enough material to double its nuclear weapons stockpile without new fissile material production.

“We’re certainly concerned about the numbers … but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, told reporters.

The annual report comes as the US Congress debates the pending $700bn defence authorisation bill amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Noble Reporters Media learnt the bill amounts to three times China’s annual defence budget.

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She said US President Donald Trump’s Republican allies want some of the money to cover potential nuclear testing, which is opposed by the Democrats.

Nuclear triad capacity
In his statement, Sbragia said China was also nearing completion of its nuclear triad capacity, as it develops an air-launched ballistic missile that would have nuclear capability.

The report said that in October 2019, China publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear-capable air-to-air refuelling bomber.

Earlier this year, Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time [File: Wu Hong/EPA]

Washington has repeatedly expressed its desire to expand an Obama-era nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia to include China instead of simply extending the pact, known as New START, when it expires in February.

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China has shown no interest in joining the negotiation.

In July, a senior Chinese diplomat said Beijing would “be happy” to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations, but only if the US was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level.

Earlier this year, the Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time.

In an interview with Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on Wednesday, China analyst Andrew Leung said China’s nuclear posture was “largely defensive”, adding that even if China doubled its nuclear warheads, from 300 to 600, it would still be only a tiny fraction of the US arsenal.

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“The US is said to possess something like 6,000 nuclear warheads, and the US has much more extensive military bases, with about 800 bases in more than 20 to 30 countries around the world. And so, even if China built some bases, it’s still way behind the US.”

Russia has roughly 4,300 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-armed missile designed to evade US defences were displayed in Beijing in 2019 as the country marked the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party taking power in China in 1949 [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said China’s growing nuclear arsenal should not be used as an excuse for the US and Russia to not extend New START.

It “further reinforces the importance of extending New START and the folly of conditioning extension on China and China’s participation in arms control,” Reif added.

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Tensions have been simmering between China and the US for months.

Washington has taken issue with China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and moves to curb freedoms in Hong Kong. The increasingly aggressive posture comes as President Donald Trump bids for re-election in November.

Another source of tension has been Taiwan. China has stepped up its military activity around the democratic island Beijing claims as sovereign Chinese territory, sending fighter jets and warships on exercises nearby.

The Pentagon report, based on 2019 information, said China’s military continued to “enhance its readiness” to prevent Taiwan’s independence and carry out an invasion if needed.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Czech Senate President tells Taiwan Parliament ‘He’s Taiwanese’

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Comments are likely to rile China, which has threatened to make Milos Vystrcil pay a ‘heavy price’ for visiting island.


The president of the Czech Senate declared that he was Taiwanese in a speech at Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday, channelling late US President John F Kennedy’s defiance of Communism in Berlin in 1963, in remarks likely to further rile Beijing.

Addressing Taiwan’s parliament on Thursday, Milos Vystrcil, who is leading a delegation of about 90 politicians and business executives, said Kennedy’s declaration: “Ich bin ein Berliner,” was an important message for freedom.

“Please allow me to use the same method to express support for Taiwan’s people. Allow me to be so humble but also resolute in saying to your country’s parliament that I am Taiwanese,” Vystrcil said to a standing ovation.

Vystrcil spoke in Czech and his comments were translated into Mandarin.

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China claims the democratically ruled island as its territory and has already threatened to make Vystrcil pay a “heavy price” for his visit.

The Czech Republic, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Kennedy’s speech in 1963, telling the people of West Berlin who were surrounded by Communist-ruled East Germany that he too was a Berliner, is often seen as one of Kennedy’s greatest speeches.

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Vystrcil has said his Taiwan visit underscores the “values-based” foreign policy put in place by late President Vaclav Havel, a dissident under the country’s Communist rule and a personal friend of the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.

Vystrcil is the first senior foreign politician from a non-diplomatic ally of Taiwan to deliver a speech at Taiwan’s parliament.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil receives a medal before delivering a speech at the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan [Ann Wang/ Reuters]

Taiwan Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun said Vystrcil’s Taiwan visit not only strengthened the friendship between the two countries but would also deepen democracy.

While the Czech government has not supported his visit, it has been upset by China’s strong condemnation and has summoned the Chinese ambassador in Prague. Beijing on Monday also summoned the Czech ambassador.

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Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said earlier on Monday he expected China to explain the threat against Vystrcil.

“Of course the journey has an impact on our relationships with China, but I think this has gone too far,” he told journalists.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has labelled the statement “impertinent and inappropriate”.

Czech President Milos Zeman has sought closer business and political ties with China since taking office in 2013, but his efforts have been hit by failed investment plans and Czech wavering about allowing China’s Huawei Technologies to play a role in developing next-generation telecoms networks.

SOURCE: Noble Reporters Media, News Agencies


#Newsworthy…

China pressure: United States raise support for Taiwan.

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Washington declassifies six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, vows new economic dialogue with Taipei.


The United States said on Monday that it was establishing a new bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan, an initiative it said was aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei and supporting it in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.

Washington also said it had declassified six security assurances given to Taiwan during the era of US President Ronald Reagan – a move analysts said appeared intended to show further support for Taipei.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell, made the announcements on Monday, amid a continued deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing and increasing pressure from China on democratically-ruled Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory.

Stilwell said the US is intensifying support to the island because of the “increasing threat posed by Beijing to peace and stability in the region” and its “deepening ties of friendship, trade, and productivity” with Taiwan.

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Taiwan flexes military might amid China tensions
Washington broke off formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing, but the US is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself and is the main arms supplier to the island.

The administration of current US President Donald Trump has made strengthening its support for the island a priority, and has also boosted weapons and equipment sales.

Trump is campaigning for re-election in November with a tough approach to China among his key foreign policy platforms, accusing his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, of being weak on China.

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In August, Trump also dispatched his health secretary, Alex Azar, to Taipei – the highest-ranking US official to travel to the island in years – angering Beijing.

Among the security assurances to Taiwan that the United States declassified on Monday is that Washington, DC has not agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan [File: Wally Santana/AP]

‘Significant adjustments’
Stilwell told a virtual forum hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation that the latest US moves were not a policy shift, but part of a set of “significant adjustments” within Washington’s long-standing “one-China” policy.

“We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalise Taiwan,” Stilwell said.

“With a population of 23 million, Taiwan continues to punch above its weight in economics as well as governance, thereby making the world a better place.”

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Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed thanks for the show of support at a time when it said China was using military intimidation to damage peace and stability near Taiwan, and said it would continue to strengthen its defence capabilities.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s recent visit to Taiwan and meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen angered China, which considers the island as part of its territory [Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters]

Earlier on Monday, Beijing said that the anti-China pronouncements by certain US politicians are destined to fail, after another Trump official, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, said on Friday that the US should use its alliance in the region to cope with “challenges” posed by China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing on Monday that some officials in the US were “driven by their zero-sum game mindset” and “Cold War mentality and personal gains.”

‘Six Assurances’
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, both wearing face masks, pose for photos during their meeting at the presidential office, in Taipei

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Daniel Russel, a predecessor of Stilwell until early in the Trump administration, said the “Six Assurances” made to Taipei by the Reagan administration in 1982 had been a “loosely kept secret” at best.

He said the decision to publish them looked like a compromise response to pressure from administration hawks to abandon “strategic ambiguity” – a long-standing policy of withholding a clear-cut US commitment to defend Taiwan while still showing sufficient support to deter any Chinese military adventurism.

Among the assurances made in 1982, but never formally made public, are statements that the US has not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, nor agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on such sales, or to revise the Taiwan Relations Act that underpins US policy towards the island.

The assurances, Stilwell said, “endure today”.


• Happy New Month From Noble Reporters Media •



#Newsworthy…

Breaking: China threatens Czech republic over Taiwan visit.

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The arrival of the Czech delegation marks the second high-profile foreign visit to the democratic island in a fortnight.


Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil would “pay a heavy price” for violating the so-called “One China” principle by making an official visit to Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday with a delegation of 90 people including the mayor of Prague on a trip designed to promote business links with Taiwan, which China claims as its own and tries to isolate on the world stage.

He said the Czech Republic would not bow to objections from Beijing, which considers the democratically-ruled island a breakaway province.

China’s state media quoted Wang saying the visit was a “provocation” and that Taiwan was an “inseparable part of China”.

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It is the second high-profile visit by a foreign delegation to the island in a fortnight, after a visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Vystrcil is expected to deliver a speech in Taiwan’s parliament and meet President Tsai Ing-wen during the five-day trip, which continues until September 4.

In a post on Twitter, Tsai noted that Taiwan and the Czech Republic shared “many core values”. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who met the delegation at the airport, thanked the Czechs for “putting friendship before politics” and used the hashtag #defenddemocracy.

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China has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, ramping up pressure since Tsai came to power in 2016. A number of countries that did have formal relations with Taiwan have shifted their allegiance to China and the island now has official ties with just 15 nations.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil (left) was greeted at the airport by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (right) [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Tsai won a second term in office in January in a landslide victory.

Tsai has portrayed the island as a progressive democratic ally to other nations hoping to push back against Beijing’s authoritarianism, helped by Taiwan’s defeat of its coronavirus outbreak and its global shipments of personal protection equipment.

In a speech to an Australian think-tank last Thursday, Tsai described Taiwan as being “on the front line of freedom and democracy” as China cracks down on dissent in nearby Hong Kong and elsewhere.


#Newsworthy…

US Cabinet member trips to Taiwan.

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shower praises on democratic leader, lee teng hui


A US cabinet member visited a shrine to Taiwan’s late president Lee Teng-hui Wednesday, praising his role in steering the island’s transition to democracy, as he capped a historic trip to the island that has riled China.

Health chief Alex Azar is on a three-day visit to Taiwan that Washington has billed as its highest-level delegation since the US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979.

His visit comes as US-China relations plunge to historic lows with the two powers clashing over a wide range of issues from trade to military and security issues, human rights and the coronavirus pandemic.

On the last day of his visit, Azar visited a shrine and wrote a message of condolence for Lee, who died last month aged 97.

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“President Lee’s democratic legacy will forever propel the U.S.-Taiwan relationship forward,” Azar wrote.

Lee was a towering figure in Taiwan’s recent history.

He defied China by pushing for the island to be recognised as a sovereign nation and earned the nickname “Mr Democracy” for the part he played in its transition from authoritarian rule.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar walks out of a plane as he arrives at the Sungshan Airport in Taipei on August 9, 2020. Azar, a senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration, landed in Taiwan on August 8, 2020 for Washington’s highest-level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned. Pei Chen / POOL / AFP

Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, loathed Lee. When news emerged of his death, Chinese state media called him “the godfather of Taiwan secessionism”.

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Despite being self-ruled since 1949, Taiwan has never formally declared independence from the mainland and Beijing has vowed to react with force if it ever does.

Both Washington and Taipei portrayed Azar’s trip as an opportunity to learn from the success of Taiwan’s battle against the coronavirus.

The island has fewer than 500 infections and just seven deaths, compared with more than 160,000 fatalities in the United States.

But the visit has also been an opportunity to ruffle Beijing’s feathers at a time when US President Donald Trump is taking an increasingly hard line against China as he seeks re-election in November.

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“We will continue to support Taiwan as our friend and our partner across security, economic and healthcare issues,” Azar told reporters after a visit to a mask factory on Wednesday.

China takes umbrage at any formal recognition of Taiwan.

It called for Azar’s trip to be cancelled and Taiwan accused Beijing of sending fighter jets over a de facto border on Monday, the day the US health chief met President Tsai Ing-wen.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar waves to the journalists as he arrives at Sungshan Airport in Taipei on August 9, 2020. Azar, a senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration, landed in Taiwan on August 8, 2020 for Washington’s highest-level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned. Pei Chen / POOL / AFP

During his visit, Azar has repeatedly contrasted Taiwan’s open, democratic system with China’s authoritarian leadership.

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In a speech on Tuesday, he suggested the coronavirus might have been stopped sooner had it emerged in a more transparent and democratic place, such as Taiwan, rather than China.

He also hit out at Beijing for keeping Taiwan locked out of the World Health Organization.

China has taken an increasingly hostile approach towards Taiwan since Tsai took office in 2016.

Despite the pressure campaign, she won a second term earlier this year with a landslide.


#Newsworthy…

United States’ Taiwan visit since 1979 rise.

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A senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration landed in Taiwan Sunday for Washington’s highest level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned.

During the three-day visit Health Secretary Alex Azar will meet President Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates Taiwan being recognised as a sovereign nation and is loathed by China’s leaders.

Tsai’s office said the meeting would take place Monday morning.

Azar is the most senior US cabinet member to visit Taiwan in decades and his visit comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers plunge to historic lows.

In recent days, Trump has ordered sweeping restrictions on popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat and the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader over a tough law that curbs dissent.

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Washington has billed the Taiwan trip as an opportunity to learn from the island’s fight against the coronavirus and to celebrate its progressive values.

“This trip is a recognition of Taiwan’s success in combating COVID-19 and a testament to the shared beliefs that open and democratic societies are best equipped to combating disease threats like COVID-19,” a health and human services department official told reporters ahead of the visit.

But Beijing balks at any recognition of self-ruled Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory and vows to one day seize, by force if necessary.

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It has described Azar’s visit as a threat to “peace and stability”, while China’s defence minister warned against Washington making any “dangerous moves”.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar walks out of a plane as he arrives at the Sungshan Airport in Taipei on August 9, 2020. Azar, a senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration, landed in Taiwan on August 8, 2020 for Washington’s highest level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned. Pei Chen / POOL / AFP

As well as meeting Tsai, Azar will hold talks with his counterpart Chen Shih-chung and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

He will also meet coronavirus experts and give a speech to public health students as well as alumni of a training programme with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Taiwan has become a poster child for defeating the coronavirus thanks to a well-honed track and tracing programme as well as firm border controls.

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Despite its proximity and economic links to China it has recorded fewer than 500 infections and seven deaths.

In contrast the US has recorded the most deaths in the world with more than 160,000 fatalities.

– A cautious testing of China –

The rapidly deteriorating relationship between Beijing and Washington comes as Trump seeks re-election in November.

He is trailing in the polls to rival Joe Biden and has begun campaigning hard on an increasingly strident anti-Beijing message.

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As public disapproval has grown for his handling of the epidemic, Trump has pivoted from his previous focus on striking a trade deal with China to blaming the country for the coronavirus crisis.

The two countries have clashed on a range of issues, from trade to espionage allegations and Beijing’s human rights record such as the mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims and the political crackdown in Hong Kong.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar waves to the journalists as he arrives at Sungshan Airport in Taipei on August 9, 2020. Azar, a senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration, landed in Taiwan on August 8, 2020 for Washington’s highest level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned. Pei Chen / POOL / AFP

Washington remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan but has historically been cautious in holding official contacts with it.

Under Trump, relations with Taiwan have warmed dramatically and he has approved a number of major military sales, including F-16 fighter jets.

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Douglas Paal, a former head of the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy, said the Trump administration was still paying heed to China’s red line — that no US official handling national security visit Taiwan.

Throughout the 1990s the United States sent trade officials to Taiwan with regularity.

The difference this time, he said, is the context, with Azar travelling at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing have hit a new low.

“Sending him to Taiwan shows respect for the old framework while putting a finger in China’s eye at the same time,” Paal said.

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“The fact that they didn’t choose to send a national security advisor or someone else suggests they are trying to come as close as possible to China’s red line but don’t want to cross it.”

The last cabinet minister to visit Taiwan was in 2014 when the then head of the Environmental Protection Agency led a delegation.

Taiwan has also built broad, bipartisan support in Washington.

Tsai has been hailed not only for her decisive coronavirus response but also, among US Democrats, for her progressive views including advocacy of gay rights, unusual for an Asian leader.


#Newsworthy…

Crisis looms: Taiwan lawmakers exchange blows | Details

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Taiwanese lawmakers threw punches and water balloons inside the legislature on Friday, the third parliamentary brawl in a fortnight, over the nomination of the head of a top government watchdog.

A legislator from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was caught on camera punching an opposition party member during a vote on nominee Chen Chu.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers later threw water balloons at the speakers’ podium, forcing their DPP colleagues to don plastic raincoats and hold up cardboard shields.

The parliament in Taipei was once notorious for mass brawls, and has been the scene of frequent protests.

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Scuffles broke out over reform policies and pension cuts when President Tsai Ing-wen first took office four years ago.

Such confrontations had since subsided, but in the last fortnight they have returned with abandon over the decision to nominate Chen, 70, to head the Control Yuan, an investigatory agency that monitors the other branches of government.

Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Lu Ming-che (L) fights with ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Wu Ping-jui (C) as the KMT protest against Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of Chen Chu, former secretary general of the President Office, for the chairwoman of the Control Yuan, the country’s watchdog body of other branches of government, as scuffles broke out during voting at the parliament in Taipei on July 17, 2020. Sam Yeh / AFP

The KMT is opposed to her appointment, which requires approval from the DPP-dominated parliament.

The party also claimed that 24 out of 27 people nominated for membership of the Control Yuan have close ties with the DPP in the “worst ever” nomination list for the agency.

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“We demand a new review and we demand the nominations be withdrawn,” KMT chairman Johnny Chiang told supporters gathered outside the Control Yuan building, also in the capital.

Legislators from Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) scuffle as the KMT protest against Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of Chen Chu, former secretary general of the President Office, for the chairwoman of the Control Yuan, the country’s watchdog body of other branches of government, as scuffles broke out during voting at the parliament in Taipei on July 17, 2020.

Chen is a long-time human rights advocate and was jailed for six years when Taiwan was a dictatorship under the KMT.

Despite the morning’s melee, voting went ahead and Chen’s nomination was approved.

She has said she will quit the DPP after her nomination is approved, to maintain the impartiality of the position, and accused the opposition of smearing her with unfounded accusations.


#Newsworthy…