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Obama informs Congress of arms sales

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US President Barack Obama has informed Congress that he will approve the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

The White House opened discussions about the arms sale last week in a series of secret talks on Capitol Hill. Those talks are continuing this week.

Congressional sources have told the Taipei Times that a public announcement detailing the weapons involved will be made soon — possibly before the end of this month.

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Ma could cave in to PRC: opposition

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The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday questioned the government’s promise not to allow Chinese agricultural products to enter the country on the eve of the first round of official negotiations on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) today in Beijing.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) cited a study by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, which said Taiwan still bars 2,194 Chinese items from entering Taiwan — 1,360 industrial products and 834 agricultural products.

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DPP reaches decision on candidates

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The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) decided yesterday that its candidates for the year-end municipality elections would be chosen through public opinion polls, with all candidates to be announced by the end of May.

The decision was reached during the party’s National Convention held in Taipei yesterday, favoring the option supported by the party’s Central Executive Committee. DPP primaries usually take into consideration party member votes and public opinion polls. But the committee passed draft regulations on Jan. 13 stating that DPP nominees for the municipalities where the party holds power should be selected through public opinion polls.

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KMT’s King supports legislative guards

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Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) yesterday defended the party’s proposal to introduce special guards in the legislature to maintain order, saying the system would prevent fistfights and other clashes among legislators from damaging the nation’s reputation.

“There are too many violent clashes in the legislature, which damages the nation’s reputation abroad ... We looked into effective measures used in the US and Europe, and the proposal is still under discussion,” King said yesterday in Chiayi County.

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China eyes grand plan to develop Tibetan regions

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China’s top leaders say Tibet’s development must include Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces — a move likely aimed at tying the region tighter to the rest of the country after deadly riots two years ago.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) told the first high-level meeting on Tibet in nine years that the development would require hard work to prevent “penetration and sabotage” by separatists working for Tibet’s independence, Xinhua news agency reported late on Friday.

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Ma’s approval, confidence ratings drop to new low

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President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval ratings and confidence index reached new lows this month, a poll by the Chinese-­language Global Views (遠見) magazine showed yesterday.

The poll, conducted by the Global Views Survey Research Center, put Ma’s popularity at 23.2 percent, down 0.3 percentage points from last month, while his trust index dropped 1.6 percentage points from last month to 36.4 percent.

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ROC air force plane transits in US on way to Haiti

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The US allowed a Republic of China (ROC) military plane from Taiwan to transit its territory for the first time in 30 years, officials said yesterday.

The cargo plane made a stop inside US territory while carrying relief supplies to Haiti, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said.

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Newsflash

A severely burned Phuntsok

New Delhi, 29 April 2011: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is deeply concerned at the massive security crackdown in Ngaba County, Sichuan, and other Tibetan areas in present day China. The crackdown has been severe in the past 43 days in Ngaba County and Kirti Monastery has been targetted particularly.

Since the self-immolation of 20-year-old monk Phuntsok on 16 March 2011 in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet, scores of Tibetans have protested at the inhumane treatment given to him by the police while extinguishing flame. The extreme response by the Chinese security forces has led to around 37 detentions as well as four deaths (self-immolation by Phuntsok and three beaten to death) in the security crackdown.