ISSUE 96                                                                                       June 24, 2021
Taiwan Weekly
Reliable report and analysis of the most important issues in Taiwan
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● This Week in Taiwan: 
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Police Abuses Pandemic Text Message Registration System, Undermining Human Rights
A Taichung District Court judge indicated that when reviewing a request filed by criminal police for a search warrant, he discovered that the police used the text message registration system reserved for epidemic prevention to locate the suspect's whereabouts. The incident has triggered public criticism of the government's abuse of digital tools.
(Photo from: China Times)
Featured News

Judge Blew the Whistle: Text Message Registration System Abused, Used to Investigate Criminal Cases

United Daily News, June 20, 2021


After raising the epidemic alert to level 3, the government introduced a "text message registration system" to facilitate the epidemic investigation. But it raised concerns about its being abused. Judge Chang Yuan-sen of Taichung District Court exposed in an article that when reviewing the petition of the criminal investigation police for a surveillance warrant, he discovered that the police traced the suspect's whereabouts by using the text message registration system. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) should immediately review the application and ensure that such information is not used for other purposes. The CECC claimed that it would investigate the case and emphasized that the text message real-name system should not be used for criminal investigations.


The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the National Police Agency, Ministry of the Interior, declared that the police got access to the communication information in accordance with the law, and it did not ask the Ministry of Health and Welfare for any information. The police officer who investigated said that the information obtained according to the Communication Security and Surveillance Act would include the SMS of the real-name registration system, but the problem was not police’s making, and he could not explain for the senior officer.

Featured Editorial
After the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the government has employed measures like electronic fencing, skynet monitoring, marking on National Health Insurance (NHI) cards of people from specific areas, as well as a text message registration system, all in the name of epidemic prevention. They have raised doubts about infringing digital human rights.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

No Privacy: Can Human Rights Be Compromised in the Name of Epidemic Prevention?

United Daily News, June 20, 2021


After the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the government in Taiwan has adopted many measures for epidemic control. They included the prohibition of children of mainland Chinese spouses to return to Taiwan, the electronic fence and Skynet system for people who are quarantining at home, listing of tens of thousands of high-risk people who have contact with the Wanhua District in Taipei and the earmarking of their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards without their knowledge, and the controversial real-name registration by text messages. These measures by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in the name of epidemic prevention have actually damaged the privacy rights of the people again and again.


To control the pandemic situation after the current surge of the coronavirus, the government implemented the real-name registration of contact tracking by text messages on May 19. After one month, 350 million messages have been sent. While this measure may be necessary to control and eliminate the epidemic, people’s whereabouts are exposed and their privacy is wide open. A judge found out that when applying for a search warrant, the police used the real-name registration to lock in the location of the suspect. This leads us to reflect whether human rights can be disregarded in the name of epidemic prevention.


read more



Featured Opinion
According to a commentator, epidemic prevention is akin to combat, but Taiwan's preparation, war guidance, command control, logistics, and reserve mobilization have been unsatisfactory and almost entirely inconsistent with basic war guidelines and norms. The Armed Forces should take this experience as a warning.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

Epidemic Prevention Chaos A Bang to the Armed Forces

By Alexander Huang

United Daily News, June 15, 2021


Combatting the pandemic is like a war. If the current war were not against the coronavirus (COVID-19) but the defense of Taiwan and Penghu, the public can clearly see from the past two months that we probably would have already been defeated.


The emergence of the coronavirus is purely a huge accident that had a very low probability of happening. The human race had all been shockingly ambushed. Sixteen (16) years ago, during a speech President George W. Bush of the United States delivered at the National Institutes of Health, he had already reminded us to take all necessary precautions and be prepared to combat a global pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was sitting in the audience at the time, should have been touched by this speech.

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This Week in Taiwan
The Ministry of National Defense confirmed that Taiwan has signed two arms purchase contracts with the United States, including a long-range precision firepower strike system and missiles costing more than NT$39 billion (about US$1.4 billion). The types of missiles were not specified.
(Photo from: The Storm Media)
June 14: The three-day Group of 7 summit ended June 13 in Cornwall of the United Kingdom. The joint communiqué issued mentioned for the first time the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Earlier when they met on June 12, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and President Joe Biden of the United States also discussed issues including cross-strait stability. At the summit, Suga even expressed his support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. 
June 17: The Central Bank held its second quarter board of directors and supervisors meeting and decided that the interest rate will remain at a historical low of 1.125 percent, the fifth consecutive "freeze." Governor Yang Chin-lung explained that even if the domestic pandemic has surged, Taiwan's exports and investment are still booming, and economic growth this year continues to be stable and strong. The Taiwan economy is expected to grow 5.08 percent this year. 
June 17: The International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, released its 2021 World Competitiveness Report. Taiwan ranked eighth among 64 countries, up three places from last year and its best performance since 2013. According to this report, Taiwan's competitiveness ranks third in the Asia Pacific and first among economies with a population of more than 20 million. 
June 17: The Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed that Taiwan signed two arms purchase contracts with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). They include a long-range precision firepower strike system worth NT$9.6 billion (about US$343 million) and missiles costing NT$39 million (about US$1.4 billion). The models of the missiles were not specified. 
June 18: Foxconn founder Terry Gou has intended to procure vaccines from the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech but has faced administrative obstruction for 17 days. Gou issued a statement indicating that factions within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have different opinions about procuring vaccines. In the interest of the people's livelihood, Gou asked to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen. The Executive Yuan announced subsequently that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and the YongLing Charity Foundation funded by Gou would be each authorized to negotiate the purchase of 5 million doses of vaccines from BioNTech or its distributors. President Tsai then met with TSMC Chairman Mark Liu and Gou, reaching on consensus on purchasing original BioNTech vaccines, packaging by the original manufacturer, and direct delivery to Taiwan. That TSMC was suddenly pulled in to procure and donate vaccines worth NT$5 billion (about US$179 million) has triggered much speculation.
June 18: The European Union officially announced that eight countries and regions, including Taiwan and the United States, are included in its safe travel list. Member states are to gradually remove restrictions on non-essential travel, i.e. tourism, from Taiwan. However, it is up to each state to decide as a matter of policy whether to require travelers to present a negative test. The E.U. will implement a vaccine passport effective July 1. If Taiwan were to issue proof of vaccination compatible with EU certification, it would become more convenient to travel to Europe. 
June 19: The Air Force confirmed late in the evening that an anti-submarine aircraft of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered the southwest airspace of Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ). By custom, the air Force responded by dispatching patrol troops, broadcast messages to drive away the intruders, and surveillance with anti-aircraft missiles. This is the sixth consecutive day that PLA aircrafts have disturbed Taiwan. 
According to public information from the MND, the PLA has sent military aircrafts into Taiwan's ADIZ eight times in June. A total of 28 counts of fighters, bombers, and slow-speed jets were dispatched on June 15. This is the largest intruding fleet since the MND began to regularly disclose PLA aircraft movements since September last year. 
June 20: After the AstraZeneca vaccine were made available, there have been multiple reports of elderly deaths after being vaccinated. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, stated that there is a cumulative total of 49 death cases after inoculation. He stressed that these cases are related to vaccination in terms of sequence, but it remains to be determined whether the deaths have a causal relationship with vaccination. More precise retrospective examination and autopsy examination are needed to clarify the cause of deaths. 
In a Facebook post, Vice President Wang Ming-jiuh of the National Taiwan University Hospital Cancer Center stated that according to the statistics that he assembled, some 62 elderly individuals across Taiwan have died after inoculation, a figure which makes him scared and shocked. 
Wang said that in order to understand whether these elderly people who have many chronic diseases should vaccine, if vaccination carries risks, and the risk of death after inoculation, he searched for the death statistics from June 15 to 19 from the Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, but the information is becoming more and more simplified. He suspects that the CPC may be covering up the truth. 
June 20: The United States donated 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccines to Taiwan. They were delivered by China Airlines on the afternoon of June 20. This amount is three times the 750,000 doses previously announced by Washington. In a statement, the AIT indicated that this batch of vaccine donation demonstrates U.S. commitment to Taiwan, which is a trusted friend and a member of the international family of democracies. 
Through live webcast, President Tsai expressed heartfelt thanks to the U.S. government and all those involved behind this effort. She stated that this is an expression of true friendship in the face of adversity. 
Taiwan Weekly is a newsletter released every week by Fair Winds Foundation, Association of Foreign Relations, and Taipei Forum which provides coverage and perspectives on the latest developments in Taiwan.

The conclusions and recommendations of any Taiwan Weekly article are solely those of its author(s) and do not reflect the views of the institutions that publish the newsletter.

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