All posts tagged "taiwan"

Man attacked US church over 'hatred of Taiwan': probe

A man is being held on suspicion of murder after one person died and five others were hurt in a shooting at a California church

Los Angeles (AFP) - A man who padlocked a church and opened fire on its Taiwanese-American congregation, killing one person and injuring five others, was motivated by hatred of the island and its people, US investigators said Monday.

David Chou jammed the doors shut using chains and superglue as dozens of parishioners enjoyed a post-service banquet at the church in Laguna Woods, near Los Angeles.

The 68-year-old, an American citizen, also hid bags containing Molotov cocktails and spare ammunition around the building, before opening fire with two handguns, in what investigators say was a "methodical" attempt to inflict carnage.

"We know that he formulated a strategy that he wanted to employ," Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said.

"It was very well thought out from how he had prepared, both being there, securing the location, placing things about the inside of the room to perpetuate additional victims if he had the opportunity," he added.

Chou, who works as a security guard in Las Vegas, launched the attack out of "politically motivated hate...(and) was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan."

Sheriff Barnes said Chou "is a US citizen who immigrated from China."

Meanwhile, an official at Taiwan's trade office in Los Angeles told AFP that he was born on the island in 1953.

Taiwan has been ruled independently since the end of a civil war in 1949. It has its own democratically elected government and a powerful military.

Authoritarian China claims the island as its own, insisting it is a renegade province that will one day be brought to heel.

Details emerged Monday of the heroism of one parishioner, who tackled Chou as he began shooting.

John Cheng, a doctor, charged Chou in a bid to bring him to the ground, allowing others to hogtie him until police arrived.

"Without the actions of Dr. Cheng there is no doubt that there would have been numerous additional victims in this crime," said Barnes.

"Unfortunately, after Dr. Cheng tackled the suspect he was hit by gunshots and he was pronounced deceased at the scene."

Five other people who were injured in the attack were taken to hospital. They ranged in age from 66 to 92.

Sunday's shooting came just 24 hours after a gunman killed ten people in Buffalo, in what is being investigated as a racist attack.

Gun violence is shockingly common in the United States, where deadly weapons are readily available and a powerful gun lobby works to prevent controls on their sale and distribution.

More than 45,000 Americans died from guns -- half by suicide -- in 2021, up from just over 39,000 in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

Some 7,000 people have already died from homicide shootings or unintentional gunshots in the United States this year, with shootings in public places an almost daily occurrence.

There have been 202 mass shootings, defined as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed, so far this year, according to the archive. 

Second US delegation visits Taiwan this month

A group of US lawmakers has arrived in Taiwan on an unannounced visit

Taipei (AFP) - A group of US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan Thursday, the second such delegation this month and a fresh sign of American support just days after President Joe Biden invited Taipei to a democracy summit.

International sympathy for Taiwan having a place on the world stage is growing, especially among western nations, as China's authoritarian leader Xi Jinping takes an increasingly bellicose approach towards the island.

China claims self-ruled democratic Taiwan as its territory, to be retaken one day by force if necessary, and has stepped up efforts to diplomatically isolate it.

"When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip," Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, one of the delegates, wrote on Twitter.

Nancy Mace, the only Republican in the group, tweeted her arrival with a selfie and the words: "Just touched down in the Republic of Taiwan".

That choice of wording is significant, because Taiwan's official name is the Republic of China -- but those who favour independence often use the phrase Republic of Taiwan instead.

Beijing baulks at any use of the word "Taiwan", or any references to the island as a "country" and diplomatic gestures that might lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island.

Taiwan is only recognised by 15 other nations but it maintains de facto diplomatic relations with multiple countries.

The latest visit by the lawmakers came after Taiwan was invited to join Biden's planned democracy summit, a move which led to an angry rebuke from Beijing.

It also comes days after China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania because Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy.

'Wantonly challenging'

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Friday protested the visit and warned of consequences for "US politicians wantonly challenging the One-China principle".

"Let me offer a bit of advice to some Americans: don't play the Taiwan card. Because that's a bad one. You won't win. You will only hit a wall and suffer the consequences of your own actions," he said.

The US delegation touched down overnight after celebrating Thanksgiving with US troops in South Korea.

It is led by Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and includes Colin Allred and Sara Jacobs, as well as Slotkin and Mace. 

"Taiwan will continue to step up cooperation with the United States in order to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy, and to ensure peace and stability in the region," said Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen when meeting the delegation.

In the United States, support for Taipei and its 23 million inhabitants is a rare issue on which there is cross-party consensus.

Washington has remained a key ally and its biggest arms supplier, despite switching recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Since her election in 2016, President Tsai has tried to assert the island's distinct identity, provoking China's anger.

Beijing has ramped up military activities near Taiwan in recent years, with a record number of planes intruding into the island's air defence identification zone in early October.

Biden says 'yes' US would defend Taiwan against China

President Joe Biden says the US would defend Taiwan from China, although these appears at odds with the longtime policy of strategic ambiguity

Baltimore (AFP) - President Joe Biden on Thursday said the United States would defend Taiwan if the island were attacked by China, which considers it part of its territory.

"Yes," he responded when asked in a CNN town hall about defending Taiwan. "We have a commitment to that."

Biden's statement was at odds with the long-held US policy known as "strategic ambiguity," where Washington helps build Taiwan's defenses but does not explicitly promise to come to the island's help.

He made a similar pledge in August during an interview with ABC, insisting that the United States would always defend key allies, including Taiwan, despite the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of the victorious Taliban.

Biden said the United States made a "sacred commitment" to defend NATO allies in Canada and Europe and it's the "same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan."

The White House subsequently told reporters that US policy on Taiwan "has not changed."

Asked by an audience member at the live televised town hall whether the United States would be able to keep up with China's rapid military development, Biden also said, "yes."

"Don't worry about whether... they're going to be more powerful," he said. "China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world."

However, Biden expressed concern that rival countries may "engage in activities where they may make a serious mistake."

He referred to his longtime relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and repeated his position that he does not want "to start a new Cold War with China."

But he warned, "I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back."

China has upped its sabre rattling around Taiwan, sending waves of fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers crossing into Taiwan's air defense zone.

Biden's comments also come in the wake of a Financial Times report that China has tested a state-of-the-art hypersonic missile with nuclear capacity that flew around the planet before landing, albeit not on target.

The United States and Russia are racing to develop their own hypersonic weapons, which are more difficult to defend against than existing ballistic missile arsenals.

Fast & Furious star Cena apologizes for calling Taiwan a country

'Fast & Furious 9' star John Cena has apologised for calling Taiwan a 'country' after his comments sparked outrage in mainland China

Beijing (AFP) - "Fast & Furious 9" star John Cena made a U-turn Tuesday, apologising to Chinese fans after he called Taiwan a "country" and sparked outrage in the world's largest movie market.

Beijing sees democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory which is to be seized one day, by force if necessary, and rages at any diplomatic attempts to recognise the island as an independent nation.

But American wrestling star turned actor Cena left his diplomatic lane during a trip to Taiwan in early May to promote the franchise of action movies about fast cars, making the "country" comment during a fan meet.

On Tuesday, as outrage billowed across China's social media, he released an apology on the Weibo platform in conversational-level Mandarin.

"I did many, many interviews for Fast & Furious 9, and I made a mistake during one interview," Cena said in the video, without repeating the controversial term.

"I must say, which is very very important, that I love and respect China and Chinese people. I'm very, very sorry for my mistake. I apologise."

The video was played 2.4 million times on the strictly-controlled social media site, while Chinese media leapt on the apology.

Fast & Furious 9 smashed through the box office during its May 21 release in China last weekend, raking in $148 million, according to the nationalist Global Times newspaper.

But social media users appeared only partially appeased.

"Please say 'Taiwan is part of China' in Chinese, or we won't accept it," said one Weibo handle, while another lamented the American's apparent lack of knowledge that "Taiwan is an integral part of China".

China's vast consumer market has in recent years been weaponised against critics of Beijing.

Entities including the NBA and global fashion giants have faced boycotts and a battering on social media for speaking out on rights abuses or political issues China deems off-limits.

burs-apj/rox/qan

41 people killed in deadly train accident in eastern Taiwan

Train derailment in eastern Taiwan - Rescue members of the Keelung City Fire Department search for people who are stranded and injured in compartments after a train carrying 490 people derailed in a tunnel north of Hualien, Taiwan. At least 66 were injured and 48 others were killed, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency. - Keelung City Fire Department/ZUMA Wire/dpa

At least 41 people were killed in a deadly train derailment in eastern Taiwan, officials said on Friday.

An eight-carriage train with more than 350 passengers onboard appeared to have been hit by an engineering vehicle falling from a slope as it passed a tunnel in Hualien county in eastern Taiwan, according to Hualien County Fire Department.

Several carriages were severely damaged in the crash, according to footage aired on local TV.

Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang on Friday expressed his apologies to the passengers and sent his condolences to the victims' families.

"I want to express my deep sympathies to the victims’ families and to the passengers who were injured," Su told a news conference in Taipei, adding that he regretted the incident. He said he would immediately leave Taipei for Hualien.

According to the National Fire Agency, 41 people were killed and at least 66 were injured and are being treated in hospital.

The derailment occurred on the first day of a four-day break for Taiwan's annual tomb-sweeping tradition.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has instructed the authorities to continue their rescue activities and to comprehensively investigate the cause of the accident.

The last major train crash in Taiwan was in October 2018, when 18 people died.

Hundreds monitored in Taiwan after H7N9 strain of bird flu after infected tourist discovered

Taiwanese authorities are monitoring hundreds of people who may have had contact with a mainland Chinese tourist infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, officials said Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less

Thousands march in 'Asia's largest LGBT pride parade' in support of same-sex marriage

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Taiwan on Saturday in Asia's largest gay parade, organisers said, as the island's parliament was set to review a bill on same-sex marriages.

Keep reading... Show less

Hundreds gather in Taiwan to support same sex marriage bill

More than 1,200 Taiwanese people joined a mock "wedding banquet" on Saturday aiming to drum up support for a same-sex marriage bill due to be sent to parliament soon, organisers said.

Keep reading... Show less