The new year has just begun for Taiwan as of January 28th, kicking off the Lunar Year of the Rooster. The new year is based on the Chinese zodiac calendar, and is celebrated in in both China and Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China. For those who are not aware, Taiwan is an official republic of China which China has repeatedly claimed sovereignty over.
This was briefly a hot topic of international news in recent months as the, then-president-elect, now-President of the United States, Donald Trump, turned his back on 4 years of diplomatic policy with China and tweeted about a congratulatory phone call he received from “The President of Taiwan.” The tweet was a slap in the face to China, who had, for decades, had an understanding with the United States and almost all other foreign powers that Taiwan did not have its own legitimate government, but was solely a republic of China under its “One China” concept. A spokeswoman from the Trump transition team recently said, however, that neither Trump nor anyone from the transition team will be meeting with Taiwan’s president during her upcoming stops in the Americas.
Lots of international news is currently surrounding President Trump and his recent Executive Orders, which severely limited and partially halted immigration into the United States. One news source in Taiwan, The China Post, reassures that “visitors to the United States entering under the Taiwan-U.S. visa waiver would not be affected by a recent change in US immigration policy.”
While it’s keeping its eye on new changes due to the Trump administration – as is the rest of the world – it’s relationship with/within China does not seem significantly strained as of late, and the economy is on the up. There was one issue at the very start of the Lunar New Year, when the Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted a happy new year message in Japanese and English, which many Chinese nationals took offense to. I am also interested in President Tsai Ing-wen’s role in foreign affairs and her role in the up keeping of the “One China” concept.
Transportation within Taiwan has been rocky recently, especially with increased traffic during the Lunar New Year weekend. The photo on the right is from the Focus Taiwan News Channel, who is reporting restrictions that will be in place on the Taiwan’s main Freeways No. 1 and No. 3 on Monday and Tuesday due to increased New Year traffic. Only vehicles with 3 or more people, or vehicles containing pregnant or disabled peoples, will be allowed to use the freeways from 9am-2pm both days.
The second image above is that of a closed railway ticket booth due to major strikes held by employees of the Taiwan Railway Administrations (TRA). Over 500 employees per day refused to work in protest of working conditions over the Lunar New Year. The absence of the employees caused confusion and stalling at ticket booths and station operations. the TRA says that it is currently in negotiations with the union members on strike to meet their demands for better bonuses and to hire more workers.
Air quality continues to be an issue for Eastern-Asian metropolitan areas, particularly the western side of Taiwan this weekend. The EPA reported low air quality which resulted from a lack of wind in that region of the country, which is necessary to disperse the usual toxins in the air. The country measures the amount of toxins by PM’s, or fine particulate matter present in the air. Values ranged from 8-10 in areas that usually measure around 2.5, which is still considered extremely high. Levels at 7 and above are deemed dangerous enough to cause noticeable discomfort and health problems.
Taiwan’s economy is continuing to see stable growth for the sixth month in a row according to Taiwan News. While the National Development Council says it is closely monitoring the effects of the new Trump administration’s trade policies’ and Brexit’s effects on the nation’s economy, it expects the growth to remain stable for the rest of the year.
Despite the nation’s environmental and transportation problems, Taiwan seems to be in pretty mild water both internally and internationally. It will be interesting to see if and how the pollution and transportation problems it is facing, as well as the Trump administration’s actions, will affect the nation over the next few months.