Ralph's Feed
Jan 28, 2010

China Internet users use VPN servers to cross firewall

BEIJING (Reuters) – Paid virtual private networks (VPNs) are quietly catching on in China as a way to access forbidden websites, analysts say, while authorities are leaving them alone until they become more popular.

VPNs designed for secure Internet use in offices have spread over the past half year among expatriates and tech-savvy Chinese since the popular social networking website Facebook was blocked.

Jan 22, 2010

China, U.S. spar over Internet censorship

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – China hit back at U.S. criticism of Internet censorship and hacking on Friday, warning that relations between the two global heavyweights were being hurt by a feud centered on web giant Google.

In a new wrinkle to an issue that grabbed center stage after Google threatened to quit China over web hacking, an attorney for a free-speech group said U.S. trade officials have sought more information as they weigh calls to pursue a World Trade Organization case against Chinese Internet censorship.

Jan 12, 2010
via Environment Forum

Something fishy about deadly Taiwan typhoon

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Taiwan fisheries flopped to an 18-year low point after Typhoon Morakot flooded much of the low-lying south in August, the island’s Central News Agency told us, casting aquaculture as a victim. Fish farmers, swamped by the stench of their own produce a month after the storm, struggled to recover.

But were farmers also villains?

Taiwan’s Control Yuan, a central government agency that can censure public officials, says in a report  this month they were at fault, as were Pingtung county officials who had given permits to only 29 percent of them, ignoring the rest as they pumped groundwater. The use of groundwater for fish farms has sunk surrounding land, leaving villages prone to floods, the report says.

Jan 7, 2010

U.S. clears arms sale to Taiwan despite China’s ire

TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States has cleared a sale of advanced Patriot air defense missiles to Taiwan despite opposition from rival China, where a military official proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to the island.

The U.S. defense department announced the contract late on Wednesday, allowing Lockheed Martin Corp to sell an unspecified number of Patriots, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said.

Jan 5, 2010

Taiwan blocks US beef imports, strains trade ties

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan reversed a food safety law on Tuesday to ban some U.S. beef imports, sparking an angry response from its biggest ally, the United States, which said the move undermined the island’s credibility as a trading partner.

The U.S. government “deeply regrets” parliament’s decision to reinstate the ban over widespread fears of mad cow disease, Washington’s de facto embassy said in a statement, hinting at a chill in U.S. support for Taiwan’s World Trade Organization role.

Dec 25, 2009
via Changing China

Why Taiwan mentioned China’s missiles

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Taiwan and China, once bitter political rivals, jubilantly exchanged gifts after upbeat trade talks this week. But the festive atmosphere faded when Taiwan’s top policymaker Lai Shin-yuan reminded visiting Chinese negotiator Chen Yunlin of an ominous, obvious fact: Taiwan’s public feels “uncomfortable” with China aiming missiles at it.
Taiwan accuses China of pointing 1,000 to 1,500 short-range or mid-range missiles in its direction to deter any move toward de jure independence. Taiwan is self-ruled today but China claims it. Missiles, however, weren’t on this week’s can-do agenda. Taiwan’s Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou has said China-Taiwan talks for now should avoid political issues until more mutual trust accumulates through discussion of lighter topics such as trade.

And Lai’s statement did little good on the surface. Taiwan’s Chinese-language China Times newspaper said the Chinese negotiator replied that Beijing is in no hurry to discuss political issues. Another Taiwan paper, the United Daily News, reported that negotiator told Lai the missile issue would take time to solve.

Dec 18, 2009

Taiwan, China to hold free-trade talks

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan and China, political rivals for six decades, will discuss a free trade pact at formal talks next week amid protests planned by the island’s opposition parties wary of deeper engagement with Beijing.

Negotiator P.K. Chiang of export-reliant Taiwan and Chen Yunlin of economic powerhouse China will meet in central Taiwan’s Taichung on Tuesday for a fourth round of talks on the proposed Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), since ties began warming last year.

Dec 18, 2009

Q+A: What to expect from the next China-Taiwan talks

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan and China, political rivals for six decades, will hold formal talks on a free trade pact next week, extending a dialogue that analysts say will build trust for talks on sensitive political issues eventually.

The two sides hope to sign the proposed Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in early 2010, dropping trade barriers between export-reliant Taiwan and economic powerhouse China. Taiwan’s anti-Beijing opposition has planned protests through the week.

Dec 15, 2009
via Environment Forum

Rainy Taiwan faces awkward water shortage

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 Chronically rainy Taiwan faces a rare water shortage as leaders ask that people on the dense, consumption-happy island of 23 million finally start changing habits as dry weather is forecast into early 2010. 

Taiwan, a west Pacific island covered with rainforests and topical fruit orchards, is used to rain in all seasons, bringing as much as 3,800 mm (150 inches) on average in the first 10 months of every year. But reservoirs have slipped in 2009 due to a chain of regional weather pattern flukes giving Taiwan too much dry high pressure while other parts of Asia get more storms than normal, the Central Weather Bureau  says.

Dec 11, 2009

Taiwanese fans miss injured pitcher Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A chain of injuries suffered by New York Yankees player Wang Chien-ming has thrust a pair of more obscure Taiwan-born Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers into the limelight as dejected fans in Taiwan seek someone else to support.

MLB followers on the baseball-crazy island needed somewhere to turn after Wang missed much of last season with injuries.