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US beef deal angers lawmakers

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The government’s decision to relax restrictions on imports of US beef came under fire yesterday, with Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) facing a particularly fierce barrage in the legislature.

Legislators from across party lines and consumer groups lined up to blast the government and threatened boycotts over last week’s announcement, while Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced the formation of a trade association that would boycott certain US beef products.

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Concerns grow over press freedom, ‘self-censorship’

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Taiwan’s efforts to cement ties with China could undermine its vibrant media environment by skirting topics deemed sensitive to Beijing, observers say.

Concern has grown after Taiwan’s ranking fell 23 places to 59th place in this year’s press freedom index released by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last week.

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Premier defends policy on beef imports

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Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday defended the government’s decision to lift a partial ban on US beef, stressing that safety standards for US beef imports were on a par with imports from countries such as South Korea and Canada.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday that Taiwan would expand market access for US beef after officials reached an accord in Washington on Thursday.

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Taiwan High Court begins hearing on Chen's graft ruling

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Despite heavy rains yesterday, protesters show their support for former president Chen Shui-bian outside the Taiwan High Court as the court started to hear his appeal against his graft conviction.
PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan High Court yesterday began to hear the appeal by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who insisted his life term for graft was “illegal” and argued the evidence used to convict him was insufficient.

Chen was sentenced to life in prison by a district court last month for embezzling state funds, laundering money, accepting bribes and forgery. His wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), also received life imprisonment on graft convictions.

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AmCham calls for resumption of trade

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A staffer arranges beef products in a supermarket in Taipei yesterday.
PHOTO: PICHI CHUANG, REUTERS

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) yesterday called on Taipei and Washington to resume the long-stalled Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks now that the controversial issue of Taiwan's restrictions on US beef imports has been resolved.

In a statement issued yesterday, AmCham welcomed the announcement that Taipei and Washington had reached agreement on a protocol on the liberalization of imports of US beef products into Taiwan.

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Source says Ma in the clear over gondola

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The Control Yuan is close to concluding its investigation into the Maokong Gondola and has found President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to be responsible for problems with the project, a Control Yuan member said on condition of anonymity yesterday.

The gondola, which has been suspended since Oct. 1 last year after mudslides eroded the ground beneath a support pillar, was one of Ma’s major projects when he was Taipei mayor.

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Protester throws bottle of white paint at president

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President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was touring a night market in Kaohsiung late on Saturday night when he was confronted by about a dozen angry protesters. A man was whisked away by Ma’s security detail after he tossed a bottle of white paint that barely missed the president.

Ma spent the night in the city after he was reinstated to the post of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman earlier in the day.

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Newsflash

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of failing to open its negotiations with China to public scrutiny.

“There have been many areas in which the KMT government hasn’t been transparent when dealing with cross-strait issues,” Tsai said during a campaign stop in Taipei City.