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France to close military liaison office in Taiwan

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France said it would close a low-key military liaison office in Taiwan in retaliation over a ruling in a controversial arms deal, local media said yesterday.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported that the office, which arranges visits by military personnel and facilitates Taiwan’s acquisition of French-made weaponry, would be shut down next month.

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Students hold nationwide debate on ECFA

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The debate over a controversial trade pact Taipei intends to sign with China entered the classroom yesterday, as students from nine universities met to debate whether the government should move to sign the agreement.

The event, held at National Taiwan University (NTU) by the pro-independence Northern Taiwan Society, saw students raise concerns that an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China could have a negative impact on their future career prospects and more fragile Taiwanese industries.

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Protesters demand referendum

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Braving the rain, a group of protesters yesterday marched from Taipei’s Longshan Temple (龍山寺) to the Executive Yuan calling on the government not to prevent the rightful expression of popular will on a proposed cross-strait trade pact through a referendum.

The Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee is slated to convene a meeting on June 3 to decide whether a referendum question proposed by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) conforms to the requirements of a referendum proposal.

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New cooperation with China touted by White House

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US President Barack Obama’s administration has released a new national security strategy calling for “continued reduction in tension” across the Taiwan Strait.

The document emphasizes diplomacy over military action throughout the world and strongly promotes cooperation with China.

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World must act on South Korean ship sinking: Clinton

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday the world must respond to the sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea.

“This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea, and the international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond,” Clinton said after talks with South Korean leaders.

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Security lax at super-secret base

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Defense experts and officials in Taipei and Washington had mixed reactions to the embarrassing news, published on Monday by Defense News and Kyodo news agency, that security at a key signals intelligence facility in northern Taiwan was so lax that neighboring cows were observed walking freely around the base.

Located in Linkou (林口), Taipei County, Linyuan Base collects imagery and signals intelligence deep inside China and at sea.

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ECFA a threat to food security: experts

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Legislators and academics yesterday warned that signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China could potentially undermine Taiwan’s food security because the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate is alarmingly low, about 30 percent, and Chinese suppliers of agricultural products would be able to influence Taiwan’s food markets.

They said unless efforts are made to improve the nation’s food self-sufficiency, the trade pact the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government is seeking to sign with Beijing next month would mean China would gain significant control over wheat and corn imports and prices of wheat-derived foodstuffs, animal feed and meat products, putting Taiwan’s food security at risk.

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Newsflash

A total of 41 armed officers from the National Police Agency’s elite Wei-An Special Police Commando unit arrived in Taichung City yesterday afternoon to help maintain public order following a recent spate of serious crimes in the city.

This was the fifth time since 1999 that the unit was deployed to Taichung.