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MA: TWO YEARS IN OFFICE: Hard times ahead for US' Taiwan policy: academic

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Taiwan should prepare for the “possibility of a very difficult period ahead for US policy in the cross-strait area,” a Washington symposium heard on Tuesday.

Steven Goldstein, director of the Taiwan Studies Workshop at Harvard University, said he was “quite pessimistic” about the future.

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Taipei confirms ‘secret’ channels

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The Presidential Office yesterday confirmed that Taipei and Beijing have been using unofficial communication channels, adding that all matters concerning the exercise of public power must be handled by quasi-official conduits and supervised by the legislature.

Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said cross-strait exchanges and communications consisted of official and unofficial channels.

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Academics warn of danger to democracy

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Academics assessing the nation’s democratic performance during the first half of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) term yesterday urged the public “to provoke disputes” to revive the system of checks and balances that they said has been noticeably weakened under Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rule.

“The nation’s democracy has been in peril these past two years and I have been wondering on ways to resolve it, and my conclusion is that intellectuals must use [their] knowledge to provoke [public] disputes,” said Liu Chin-hsing (劉進興), professor of chemistry at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

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Groups slam Ma over 'never' comment

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Independence activists yesterday said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had disqualified himself as a national leader following his controversial remark that Taiwan “will never ask the Americans to fight for Taiwan in a war.”

The Taiwan Nation Alliance and Taiwan National Security Institute issued a joint statement, in Chinese and English, denouncing Ma for seriously compromising Taiwan's security and discrediting himself as Taiwan's head of state.

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US stays mum on Ma’s ‘never’

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Deputy US Secretary of State James Steinberg has refused to comment on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) recent declaration that he will never ask the US to fight for Taiwan.

“It’s not particularly useful to speculate what would happen in the event that conflict comes about,” he said.

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Taiwan-US FTA resolution introduced in Congress

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A new resolution formally calling on US President Barack Obama to move toward a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan has been introduced into the US Congress.

The resolution was signed by Democrat Robert Anderson and Republicans Scott Garrett and John Culberson.

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Thousands protest Chen's detention

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Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) mother yesterday said at a protest against his detention that she was saddened by the fact that for the past two years her son has been unable to call her on Mother’s Day.

Chen Lee Shen (陳李慎) came to Taipei from Tainan to join a sit-in rally on Jinan Road calling for Chen’s release that was organized by various pro-localization groups, including some Democratic Progressive Party officials from southern Taiwan.

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Newsflash

Thousands of Tibetans and supporters rally in Dharamshala to mark the 54th Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10, 2013. (Phayul photo/Tentse)

DHARAMSHALA, March 10: A Tibetan man attempted to set himself on fire today in the exile headquarters of Dharamshala during a mass protest rally marking the 54th Tibetan National Uprising Day.

Dawa, in his 30s, reportedly consumed and poured kerosene over himself.

Speaking to Phayul, Sangchu Dugbey, an eye witness said: “When I saw him, he was carrying a bottle of kerosene and some girls were requesting, ‘Please, don’t do it.”