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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Tue, Dec 16, 1997 edition
Military will not support Independence
defence chiefs says army must defend constitution

Also in this edition . . .

1: Acer to invest in UK monitor plant
2: attack on Taiwan's consul-general
3: students appeal over SAR 'English' decision
4: Beijing denies dismantling nuclear plant
5: Taiwan on list of donors to IMF?
6: minister calls meeting to discuss regional crisis
7: Greater China better positioned to weather storm
8: news links galore


Military: military will not support declaration of independence
(source: Central News Agency) The ROC armed forces would by no means support a Taiwan declaration of independence or even a change of the name of the country, Vice Defense Minister Wang Wen-hsieh said yesterday. Wang made the remarks in response to questions raised by lawmakers at the defense committee of the legislature.

He added that all ROC territory, including Taiwan, the Penghu archipelago, and the Kinmen and Matsu island groups, would be under immediate military threat from mainland China if the ROC declared independence. The armed forces exist and act according to the ROC constitution, Wang said, adding it is the obligation of the military to defend the constitution. He stressed that even if the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) come to power, it is unlikely they would declare Taiwan independent.

The victory of the DPP in the Nov. 29 local elections has brought over 70 percent of Taiwan's population under the rule of the DPP. This drastic political change has aroused much speculation about the possibility the DPP ascending to national leadership, and some observers are now questioning the role of the military with regard to a change of the political environment.

Wang said the military ought to understand politics but should not interfere, adding that the armed forces would certainly fight for the survival of the country.

As to the question of whether the military would be loyal to the constitution if it were revised by the DPP through referendum, Wang said he believed that any responsible party would weigh in advance the consequences of making any such revisions.

See also SCMP ( Military chief will not support independenc )

Computers: Acer to invest in UK monitor plant
(source: The China Post) The British Trade and Culture Office (BTOC) warmly welcomes the announcement that Acer Peripherals Inc. (API) are to invest over US$40 million (NT$1.25 billion) in a computer monitor plant in the United Kingdom, said a statement released by the BTCO.

The plant will be at West Wenlog, Cardiff, in Wales, making API the 22nd Taiwan manufacturing investor in Britain. So far, more than 80 percent of Taiwan's manufacturing investments in Europe are in the UK. Margaret Beckett, president of the Board of Trade, welcomed the decision by API to locate in the UK and said "we are delighted that API has chosen to go ahead in the UK. This is a future endorsement of the attractiveness of all points of the UK to inward investors as a gateway to Europe."

According to a BOTC spokesperson, the UK is Taiwan's suitable economic partner for Taiwan, with currently US$5 billion in two-way annual trade and 14,000 Taiwan students. The Acer Group is much admired world-wide and API's choice of local speaks volumes for what the UK has to offer Taiwan investor, he said.

South Africa: attack on Taiwan's consul-general
Foreign Minister Jason Hu last night expressed grave concern after Taipei's consul-general in Johannesburg, Feng Tai, was hit in the head with a rifle butt by a band of three robbers in Johannesburg Sunday night.

Feng and an ethnic Chinese resident of the city were attacked by the trio near the home of an overseas Chinese community leader after they had dinner there, the Central News Agency reported. Feng was back at his post on Monday morning after getting five stitches to the back of his head, CNA said.

The bandits, who made off with 1,400 South African rand (US$288) in cash and some valuables, reportedly smacked Feng and the other man, identified only by his surname of Lin, with the back of an AK-47 rifle.

Foreign ministry spokesman Roy Wu told CNA last night that Taipei had relayed its concerns to Pretoria's foreign ministry. Ironically, the incident followed a Taipei hostage drama involving a South African diplomat, his wife and two daughters last months.

The two countries are set to sever formal diplomatic relations by month's end.


Education: students appeal over SAR 'English' decision
(source: Reuters)

Twenty Hong Kong schools have appealed against the government's refusal to allow them to use English as the medium of instruction, the Education Department said on Monday. An appeals committee would examine the appeals and make decisions by the end of next month, a spokesman from the department said.

Of 124 secondary schools which had applied to continue to use English as the teaching medium, 100 won approval. Those failing requirements will have to use Chinese from the next academic year. Under a government drive to promote education in the mother tongue, three quarters of Hong Kong schools will have to conduct classes in the local Cantonese dialect from September next year. Only half taught in Cantonese before the switch from British to mainland Chinese rule in July.

South Africa: Beijing denies dismantling nuclear plant
( China Denies Dismantling South African Nuclear Plant ) As a follow up to a report in yesterday's edition, Beijing has taken issue with reports that it was having a nuclear technology plant dismantled in South Africa. Technicians from China were discovered during a raid of the facility, "Some relevant reports do not tally with facts," Chinese Foreign Ministry been nobody in China who has gone to South Africa to dismantle the so-called nuclear reactors. "However, the people sent by the relevant companies in China to South Africa to honor a contract have been unwarrantedly harassed," he said. "We express regret concerning that," Tang added.

See also SCMP ( Reactor sale staff 'harassed' )


IMF donation: Taiwan on list of donors?
(source: Bridge News) Questions are starting to be raised about whether the bailout packages signed by the International Monetary Fund with a number of Asian governments, particularly South Korea, are generous enough to turn the ailing economies around.

With the IMF looking strapped for cash and with so many countries already participating, Taiwan and mainland China are beginning to come onto lists of possible donors, but politics look set to prevent that becoming a reality.

Taiwan has not contributed to any of the IMF packages so far due to political restrictions, primarily that Taiwan is not an IMF member and Taiwan's own stipulation that the IMF allow it to take part under its formal name, the Republic of China (ROC), or some variance thereof to clearly indicate the nation's participation. But that is not to say that the will, on the part of the ROC government, is not there.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir and Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made rare visits to Taiwan in late November to meet Prime Minister Vincent Siew. The visits were widely believed to be about financial aid, although Siew has declined to reveal details of the issues discussed.

Observers said that while Taiwan would like to see political benefits from offering aid to various countries, it wouldn't be overly concerned about not being able to take part in various packages if conditions were not right. It may prefer to hold on to its foreign exchange reserves, which stood at US$82.92 billion at the end of October, for potential local crises. These could include a spread of Asian financial instability to Taiwan or more importantly, they said, political crises that could develop again with mainland China.

Economy: minister calls meeting to discuss regional crisis
Economic Affairs Minister Wang Chih-kang has called a meeting this week with local officials, business leaders and academic experts to discuss the latest developments in the regional financial crisis, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.

In particular, the meeting will focus on South Korea, where the currency continues to decline against the U.S. dollar despite a massive international bailout package, and on mainland China, one of Taiwan's major investment destinations and trading partners.

The meeting will discuss the possible impact on Taiwan of events in those economies and steps the country may need to take in response, the spokesman said. He said the meeting is expected to take place this week, but the time has not yet been fixed.

Greater China: economies better positioned to weather storm
(source: The Associated Press) The "greater China" economies are in the best position to weather the Asian financial crisis while more suffering is expected in South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan, an economist said Monday.

William Overholt, head of economics research at Bankers Trust Co., said in a report that the Asian currency contagion probably won't spread much further, while continuing to drag down countries that are already affected. He predicted that the Hong Kong dollar link to the U.S. currency will hold through 1998.

"Hong Kong has not made the mistake that other Asian government made: trying to marry a pegged currency with an easy money policy," Overholt said in the report. But Overholt noted that currency and local interest rates have not peaked yet and that hedge funds "are currently gathering ammunition for another go at the Hong Kong dollar." Hong Kong's property bubble, which is already deflating, can weather a 50 percent decline, Overholt said. The slump in property prices is needed to keep the territory globally competitive, he added. "Hong Kong is taking its medicine with alacrity and we believe it will recover long before other Asian markets," Overholt said.


China and Hongkong

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©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day
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