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Presidential Office rejects Dalai Lama’s criticism

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The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed comments by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who said the Chinese Nationalist (KMT) administration appeared to be “aimless.”

Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the direction of the administration was clear.

“Our policy is Taiwan is always the focus and the people’s interest comes first,” he said.

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TSU to relaunch ECFA referendum

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The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) announced yesterday that it would submit a new referendum proposal tomorrow that aims to ask voters whether they agree with the government’s signing of a controversial trade pact with China.

Unhappy that the Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected a similar proposal earlier this month, the opposition party said it had gathered the necessary 86,000 petition forms to launch the first phase of a new referendum drive and did so faster than expected.

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Japan extends ADIZ into Taiwan space

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Japan has extended its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) so that it now overlaps with sections of a zone controlled by Taiwan, but foreign affairs officials said yesterday that would not make any difference in practice, as an understanding has been reached between the two parties on how to handle the sensitive matter.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said on condition of anonymity that Tokyo informed Taipei “one or two days ago” that its extension of the ADIZ from Yonaguni Island westwards would come into force yesterday.

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ECFA panders to large corporations at expense of small companies, DPP says

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The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday assailed the government’s landmark trade deal with China, saying the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) would benefi the interests of larger corporations at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses.

“The [government] has only taken into account the needs of large corporations. It doesn’t care about the damage to small and medium-sized businesses, which will be unable to adapt [to an ECFA],” DPP ECFA response team spokesperson Julian Kuo (郭正亮) told a press conference yesterday.

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Ma hails ‘Taiwan Province’-Texas ties

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President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) referred to Taiwan as a “province” yesterday while describing the sister-state relationship between Taiwan and Texas, rekindling the controversial issue of his perception of Taiwan’s status.

Ma told Texas Governor Rick Perry during a meeting at the Presidential Office that the country’s relationship with Texas was a close one.

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High Court extends former president’s period of custody

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The Taiwan High Court yesterday extended former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) detention by two months on the grounds that he may flee the country if released.

The ruling dashed his family’s hopes that Chen, whose current detention order expires on Wednesday, would be released following their request to Swiss banking authorities that money be sent to a bank account designated by the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. Taiwan High Court judge Teng Chen-chiu (鄧振球) has previously said the move could enhance the chances of the former president being released.

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US official denies China offered to redeploy forces

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US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg strongly denied on Thursday that China had offered to redeploy its forces facing Taiwan if Washington would stop selling arms to Taipei.

He was responding to a question about remarks made the day before by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, concerning private talks she held with Chinese leaders earlier this month.

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Newsflash

this picture taken from a cellphone shows the body of the self immolator, minutes after the fire was doused

DHARAMSALA, AUGUST 6: A Tibetan monk died minutes after setting himself ablaze near Boudhanath stupa in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu earlier today (0730 hrs local time). The monk has been identified as Karma Nyedon Gyatso. Karma was from Damshung in Tibet and had arrived at the Kathmandu Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre on 30th January 2012.

An eye witness told phayul that the monk, probably in his thirties, was sitting crosslegged when she saw his lap on fire. "I thought he accidentally caught fire while lighting butter lamps. Then I saw him pour a bottle of fluid, petrol maybe, over his head and went up in flames right before my eyes."