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China has warned the incoming Trump administration that any attempt to challenge the “One China” policy could affect peace in the Taiwan Strait.

A Beijing spokesman said that interference may also damage developing US-China relations.

Under the “One China” policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

However, Donald Trump has expressed doubts about continuing to abide by the policy.

The president-elect had already angered China by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, and then tweeting about it.

On December 12, China said it was “seriously concerned” by Donald Trump’s comments, and urged sensitivity around the issue.

However, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, went further on December 14, warning of more serious consequences.

He said: “Upholding the <<One China>> principle is the political basis of developing China-US relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

“If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted.”

An Fengshan’s comments came as Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, vowed the United States will keep challenging Beijing’s “assertive, aggressive behavior in the South China Sea”.

Speaking to Australian think tank the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Admiral Harry Harris said: “We will not allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally, no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea.

“We will co-operate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must.”

Beijing has been developing artificial islands capable of hosting military planes in the region.

The Chinese government also insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, despite rival claims from its South East Asian neighbors.

Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize the claims, and has sent warships into the area to assert the right to freedom of navigation.


Donald Trump has questioned whether the United States should continue its “One China” policy.

The 1979 policy has respected China’s stance on Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province.

However, the president-elect said that without concessions from Beijing on trade and other issues, he did not see why that should continue.

The US relations with China became strained when Donald Trump took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Donald Trump went on to post a series of tweets criticizing China for its exchange rate policy and its operations in the South China Sea.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

Speaking in an interview with Fox News broadcast on December 11, Donald Trump said: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

He also said China was not co-operating with the United States on its handling of its currency, on North Korea, or on tensions in the South China Sea.

In the same interview, Donald Trump said he “doesn’t believe” a CIA assessment that Russian hackers tried to sway the presidential election in his favor.

Donald Trump’s decision to take a phone call from the Taiwanese president earlier this month was a break with US diplomatic tradition and prompted a formal protest from China.

No US president or president-elect had spoken directly to a Taiwanese leader for decades.

In the Fox interview, Donald Trump said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader.

“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me,” he said.

“It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?

“I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.”


Super typhoon Meranti has hit mainland China after battering Taiwan with its strongest storm in 21 years.

The super typhoon, with gusts of up to 140 mph, killed one person and left half a million homes without power in Taiwan.

Meranti made landfall near China’s south-eastern city of Xiamen on September 15, having lost some power.

Dozens of flights and train services in southern China have been cancelled and tens of thousands of people evacuated.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Forecaster Hsieh Pei-yun told AFP: “It is the strongest typhoon to hit Taiwan in 21 years in terms of maximum sustained wind near the centre.”

Typhoon Meranti has made landfall at the start of a three-day holiday in China for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Residents were told to stay indoors and ships ordered to head back to harbor, while people in Pingtung were told to leave their homes.

According to Taiwanese officials, one person was killed and 38 were injured.

The storm prompted warnings about possible landslides in mountainous areas.

Schools and offices were closed in most eastern and southern counties, while power cuts affected 650,000 households.

Electricity poles and trees were uprooted by winds, with trucks overturned and roofs blown off.

Taiwan is often hit by powerful storms, with super typhoon Dujuan killing three people and leaving more than 300 injured in Taiwan in 2015.

In July, three people were killed and hundreds injured when typhoon Nepartak hit Taiwan’s east coast.

Another typhoon, Malakas, is expected to approach Taiwan on September 16 and 17, but is unlikely to make landfall.


China’s foreign ministry has summoned the US charge d’affaires Kaye Lee in protest after Washington announced it would sell two warships to Taiwan.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang made “solemn representations” with Kaye Lee, the US charge d’affaires, the ministry said.

The arms deal, worth $1.83 billion, comes as tensions rise over China’s island-building in the South China Sea.

Taiwan expressed gratitude to Washington for helping with its defense needs.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland, though relations have warmed in recent weeks.

Leaders from both countries met last month for the first time since the 1949 civil war.US and Taiwan warship deal 2015

China maintains a right to use force if Taiwan attempts to gain independence.

The Chinese statement said Zheng Zenguang had told Kaye Lee at the December 16 meeting that Taiwan “is an inalienable part of China’s territory” and that it “strongly opposes the US arms sale”.

It added that the deal had “severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interest”, and pledged to sanction the US companies involved in it.

The US said the deal, the first in four years, was consistent with its “long-standing policy on arms sales to Taiwan”.

Relations between the US and China are frayed over China’s construction of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Two decommissioned US Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles, as well as surface-to-air missiles and other equipment are all included in the deal.

It will be approved in 30 days, unless Congress objects. That is thought unlikely, as there has been growing concern in the US about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from China’s military might.

State department spokesman John Kirby said the sale was consistent with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the US to provide Taiwan with sufficient weaponry to defend itself, even though the US does not recognize Taiwan as a state independent of China.

The move did not need to have a negative effect on US-Chinese relations, John Kirby said, adding: “We still want to work to establish a better, more transparent, more effective relationship with China in the region.”

McDonald’s China has sparked controversy after the opening of a outlet in the home of former Taiwanese leader Chiang Ching-kuo in Hangzhou.

Conservationists had called for the villa, a cultural heritage site, to be converted into a museum.

However, officials said the decision to lease the site to McDonald’s was made because they needed to cover maintenance costs.

Chiang Ching-kuo’s grandson and others have voiced their concern over the commercialization of the site.

McDonald’s opened the 100-seat McCafe in the lower storey of the villa, situated by Hangzhou’s West Lake tourist attraction, over the weekend.

The upper storey, also leased out by officials, houses a Starbucks outlet which opened a month earlier.

Chiang Ching-Kuo is the son of revolutionary figure and Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek, who fled to the island in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War.

He later become the leader of Taiwan in 1978.

Chiang Ching-kuo and his family stayed in the villa from October to November, 1948, and it was designated a cultural heritage site by Hangzhou officials in 2003.McDonald’s China Opens Outlet in ex-Taiwan President's Residence

The move has been criticized by Chiang Ching-kuo’s grandson, Taiwanese businessman Demos Chiang, on microblogging platform Weibo.

“I don’t understand, opening a McDonald’s in the villa… how exactly does that adhere to regulations on correct usage of cultural heritage sites?” he said in a post.

In 2000, Beijing saw a similar controversy when a Starbucks outlet opened in the Forbidden City.

It shut in 2007 after officials decided to merge and cut down the number of shops in the palace, following multiple protests over the years about the commercialization of the site.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, the decision to commercially lease out the villa was met with strong resistance, with more than 90% attendees at a public consultation in January voting against it.

Conservationists suggested that the villa be turned into a historical museum promoting China-Taiwan ties.

One of them, Zhejiang University academic Zhou Fuduo, noted that the villa was a symbol of China and Taiwan’s shared history.

“We said that the villa’s sociocultural value outstrips its commercial value, but in the end our proposal was ignored,” he told the paper.

However, officials pointed out that the local government needed money to recoup the cost of maintaining the building throughout the years.

A spokesman for the Zhejiang local government, which oversees Hangzhou city, told the newspaper: “Chiang Ching-kuo stayed in this home too briefly and what is left is just the main structure, the interiors look nothing like they used to when the Chiang family was here… there is not much point in turning it into a museum.”

Typhoon Soudelor has hit south-eastern China prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and leaving millions of homes without power.

The powerful typhoon struck Fujian province late on Saturday night, bringing rains and gale force winds, state media said.

It earlier swept across Taiwan, leaving at least five people dead.

Although it has weakened, typhoon Soudelor is expected to continue moving across the region in the coming hours.

Fujian raised its typhoon alert to the highest level in anticipation of the storm, with at least 163,000 people evacuated to higher ground. There are reports of more evacuations in neighboring Zhejiang.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Rail services and flights have been cancelled in the path of the storm, and schools and offices closed.

Taiwan earlier on Saturday saw winds of more than 142mph, when Soudelor made landfall.

It ripped up trees and tore down billboards, and triggered a landslide in at least one village.

Among the victims were an 8-year-old girl and her mother who were swept out to sea.

A firefighter was reportedly killed after being hit by a drunk driver as he tried to move a fallen tree.

Typhoon Soudelor gradually lost its strength as it crossed the island, but was still packing winds of up to 89mph over the strait between Taiwan and China.

Typhoon Soudelor has hit Taiwan with strong winds and heavy rain, leaving at least four people dead.

The powerful typhoon – with winds of more than 142mph – made landfall on the eastern coast early on Saturday and is now moving across the island.

Soudelor is ripping up trees and tearing down billboards, and triggered a landslide in at least one village.

About two million households have been left without electricity.Typhoon Soudelor Taiwan

Rail services and flights have been cancelled and all schools and offices closed.

According to Taiwan’s weather bureau, the typhoon is moving north-west, gradually losing its strength.

Among the victims were an eight-year-old girl and her mother who were swept out to sea.

Ahead of Soudelour’s arrival, the authorities evacuated thousands of people from their homes.

Typhoon Soudelor is later expected to move into the Taiwan Strait and on to mainland China.

Hundreds of people were injured when fire ripped through crowds at a party at Formosa Water Park outside Taiwan’s capital Taipei.

Saturday’s incident at the Formosa Water Park is believed to have happened when a colored powder ignited after being discharged onto the crowd.

Footage showed people panicking and screaming. Inflatable water toys were shown being used as stretchers.

According to authorities, More than 500 people were injured with 190 being seriously hurt – 182 are in intensive care.

Some of them breathed in the powder, causing respiratory problems.Taipei Formosa Water Park explosion

Local media said organizers of the Color Play Asia event had been taken in for questioning by prosecutors.

Footage of the incident shows a party in full swing when suddenly fire erupts.

The fire was quickly brought under control, but the cause of the incident is still under investigation.

The authorities believe something that caught fire caused the colored powder spray or dust – used to create a party atmosphere – to explode.

The substance is also used in other countries. It is made of dried corn and can be highly flammable.

The 519 victims were sent to 41 hospitals, and 413 are still in hospital, say municipal authorities.

The incident occurred about 20:30 local time. More than 1,000 people were near the stage at the time.

The fire department said: “Our initial understanding is this explosion and fire… was caused by the powder spray. It could have been due to the heat of the lights on the stage.”

Many people flocked to water parks on June 27 as temperatures reached 98F in Taipei and as high as 100F in other parts of Taiwan.

New Taipei City’s mayor, Eric Chu, ordered an immediate shutdown of the water park pending an investigation.


China’s President Xi Jinping and the leader of Taiwan’s ruling party, Eric Chu, have held the highest level talks between the two sides in six years.

Nationalist Chairman, Eric Chu, was in Beijing for the meeting, a sign of warming relations between the sides.

Any rapprochement is controversial in Taiwan, which has seen protests over the prospect of closer ties.

Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a brutal civil war with the communists.

In the same time, China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will ultimately return.China Taiwan talks May 2015

Many Taiwanese oppose reunification and fear that growing economic dependency on Beijing could be the first step towards that outcome, correspondents say.

President Xi Jinping said during the meeting that China and Taiwan should settle political differences through consultation, but with Taiwan’s acceptance that it is part of China, according to Xinhua state news agency. He also said Beijing will make greater efforts to open up to Taiwan and help it to develop economically.

“The two sides can consult with each other on equal basis under the principle of <<one China>>, and reach a reasonable arrangement,” Xi Jinping said.

Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) has seen its popularity decline and protests at home, dubbed the “Sunflower Movement”, over its warming ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

In March last year, hundreds of students occupied parliament for weeks to demonstrate against a trade pact that the KMT signed with China. Thousands rallied on the streets against the mainland.

Eric Chu’s party is nevertheless currently pushing to join China’s new development bank. Taiwan’s initial application to the bank was rejected by Beijing because of the name under which it applied, which implied it was an independent nation.

However, Beijing said it would welcome an application by Taiwan under an “appropriate” name.

The KMT had its worst-ever performance in local elections in November and the President Ma Ying-jeou stepped down as party chief, to be replaced by Eric Chu.


According to black box data from the TransAsia Airlines turbo-prop plane that crashed in Taiwan, power was cut to both engines, investigators say.

Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said the engines failed to produce enough thrust for two minutes after take-off.

Data suggest that the flight crew tried to stop and restart one of the engines, without success.

Flight GE235 carried 58 passengers and crew, at least 35 of whom died when the plane crashed into a river.

Fifteen people survived the crash.

According to investigators at a briefing in Taipei, the plane ran into trouble just 37 seconds after taking off from Taipei’s Songshan airport.TransAsia GE235 crash Taiwan

Thomas Wang, director of the Aviation Safety Council, said the pilot announced a “flame-out”, which can occur when the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted or when there is faulty combustion.

However, Thomas Wang said there was in fact no flame-out, and the right engine had actually shifted into idle mode without the oil pressure having changed.

“The plane flashed a flame-out signal for one of the two engines at 10:53:28 when the plane climbed to an altitude of 1,200ft, triggering a warning,” AFP quoted Thomas Wang as saying.

“Then the other [left] engine was shut down manually. The pilot tried to restart the engines but to no avail.

“That means that during the flight’s final moments, neither engine had any thrust. We heard <<Mayday>> at 10:54:35,” he added.

The plane, which had been bound for Taiwan’s Kinmen Island, crashed into the Keelung River just 72 seconds later.

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Taiwanese rescue teams are continuing to search for the 12 people who remain unaccounted for after a plane crashed in a river.

Thirty-one people are now known to have died when the TransAsia ATR-72 plane came down in Taipei’s Keelung River on February 4.

Fifteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage, including a two-year-old boy.

Taiwan’s aviation regulator has ordered all operators of ATR planes to conduct “special checks”.

Many of the passengers were Chinese tourists and China will reportedly participate in a probe into the crash.

The death toll was expected to rise as rescue teams searched the river for the missing passengers.

“This morning we have some 60 divers going underwater to search” in addition to 20 boats scouring the river, said Liu Yung-chou, from the national fire agency which is leading the rescue operation.

Aviation authorities in Taiwan said the pilot and co-pilot were among the dead.

The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen.

Dramatic video footage shot from inside a passing car showed the plane banking sharply before clipping a taxi and the edge of the elevated road with its wing.

The final communication from the pilots to air traffic control was “Mayday, mayday, engine flame out”, aviation officials confirmed on February 5, after an audio snippet was widely broadcast by local media.TransAsia plane crash Taiwan 2015

The cause of the crash has not been identified, but the message indicates that one of the engines had stopped working – one propeller appeared from the footage to be not turning.

The aircraft ended up mostly underwater in the river, broken into several pieces. Rescue teams in dinghies ferried survivors to safety, but many of those on board were trapped inside the sunken wreckage.

Overnight, a crane hauled the half-submerged fuselage from the river.

Local media have reported the story of one escape, by a couple and their two-year-old son.

Lin Ming-wei was seated next to where the fuselage broke apart, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported. Unhurt, he acted quickly to get out of his seat and help his wife scramble out of the opening.

He found his son in the water and the boy was later resuscitated. Lin Ming-wei’s wife and son are recovering in hospital, CNA reported.

TransAsia is a Taiwan-based carrier that operates domestically and on some international routes from Taiwan. Its director, Peter Chen, said the aircraft was “the newest model. It hadn’t been used for even a year”.

The plane’s flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, have been recovered.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said in a statement that all 22 ATR planes being operated in Taiwan had to undergo a variety of checks including on the engines, fuel control systems and propeller systems.

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TransAsia Airways flight GE235 carrying mostly Chinese tourists has crashed into Taiwan’s Keelung River, killing at least 23 people.

Dramatic video footage emerged showing the TransAsia Airways plane clipping a bridge as it came down shortly after take-off from a Taipei airport.

The plane, carrying 58 people, has broken up and the fuselage is lying half-submerged in the Keelung River. Rescue efforts are ongoing.

At least 15 people have been pulled out alive, with 20 still missing.

Television footage showed some passengers wading clear of the sunken wreckage and a toddler being pulled out alive by rescuers.

The dramatic moment a toddler was rescued from the sunken wreckage of the jet.

Emergency teams have cut the plane open to gain access, attempting to reach the remaining passengers trapped in the front section of the fuselage.

“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu Jun-hong, a Taipei fire department official coordinating the rescue effort, told reporters.

Wu Jun-hong said the fire department had requested heavy cranes to pull the body of the plane out of the water.

TransAsia said in a statement that one passenger had already been discharged from hospital.

The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen.TransAsia Flight GE235 crash

It is the second TransAsia ATR-72 to crash in seven months, following an accident last July which killed 48 people and injured 15.

According to a recording played on local media, the final communication from the pilots to air traffic control was: “Mayday, mayday, engine flame out.”

The recording was not immediately verified by aviation officials.

Flight controllers lost contact with the plane at 10:55 local time.

Footage of the plane filmed from inside passing cars showed it banking sharply, hitting a taxi and clipping the bridge before crashing into the river.

“I saw a taxi, probably just meters ahead of me, being hit by one wing of the plane,” an eyewitness told local media.

“The plane was huge and really close to me. I’m still trembling.”

TV footage showed rescuers standing on the tail section of the broken wreckage trying to pull passengers out of the plane with ropes.

The majority of the plane, including the front section of the fuselage and the wings, appeared to be underwater.

The plane’s flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, have been recovered.

TransAsia said it had contacted relatives of all the 22 Taiwanese passengers and was attempting to reach relatives of the Chinese nationals on board.

The company’s chief Chen Xinde offered a “deep apology” in a televised news conference, but said his planes had been “under thorough scrutiny” since mid-2014.

“Both our planes and our flight safety system are following strict regulations, so we also want to know what caused the new plane model to crash, but I don’t want to speculate,” he said.

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A TransAsia Airways plane with 58 people onboard clipped a bridge and crashed into Taiwan’s Keelung River near the capital of Taipei, killing at least 12 people.

The fuselage of flight GE235 is now half-submerged in the Keelung River and lying on its side.

Rescuers on boats have cut it open to gain access to people trapped inside.TransAsia plane crash Taiwan river

Officials say 16 people have suffered injuries, with some taken to hospital. Thirty people remain unaccounted for.

The ATR-72 turbo-prop plane had just taken off from Taipei Songshan Airport and was heading to the outlying Kinmen islands, just off the coast of the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen, CNA said.

Flight controllers lost contact with the plane at 10:55 local time.

Footage of the plane filmed from inside passing cars showed it banking sharply, hitting a taxi and clipping the bridge before crashing into the river.

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Taiwanese petrochemical company LCY has been blamed for a series of deadly explosions that killed 28 people on July 31 in Kaohsiung.

LCY failed to shut off a pipeline despite detecting a drop in pressure, officials said.

The company said it will cooperate with the investigation.

The search for two missing firemen is continuing, though there is little hope that they will be found alive.

Almost 300 people were injured in the explosions, which left a trail of devastation in the centre of the city.

Witnesses reported huge fireballs soaring into the air. Officials said there were at least five blasts.

A statement from Kaohsiung city authorities said that LCY had known about the drop in pressure but had continued to transmit propylene gas.

Taiwanese petrochemical company LCY has been blamed for a series of deadly explosions that killed 28 people on July 31 in Kaohsiung

Taiwanese petrochemical company LCY has been blamed for a series of deadly explosions that killed 28 people on July 31 in Kaohsiung

By the time it shut off the supply, some 100 tons of propylene gas had already leaked into the ground.

Officials added that LCY failed to notify authorities of the leak in time, preventing a complete evacuation of the area.

Chen Chin-der, the director of Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau, said authorities were only able to identify the gas minutes before the blasts started.

The CEO of LCY said that the company would accept full responsibility if it turned out to be at fault.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou visited the site of the explosion on Saturday, and vowed a full investigation.

“Everyone is concerned about the cause of the incident and the cabinet has set up a task force to investigate and hope to find the cause in the shortest possible time” he said.

“Even though this incident happened in Kaohsiung, every Taiwanese person’s heart is hurt” he added.

Kaohsiung’s mayor, Chen Chu, said the explosions had “shocked residents tremendously”.

“I instructed relevant units to thoroughly inspect the pipelines and call for the central government to review how to properly locate them so residents do not live under invisible threats and to prevent another tragedy,” Chen Chu said in a statement.

Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-huan announced three days of national mourning, to start on August 5.

Flags will be flown at half-mast at government buildings and schools, to mourn both the Kaohsiung blast victims as well as the 48 people who died in a plane crash last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the search for two missing firemen is continuing, our correspondent Cindy Sui reports.

Sniffer dogs and sensor equipment are being used to search the rubble on one of the streets where the explosions took place.

The area where the explosions happened is just a short distance from the Kaohsiung City Hall, the popular Guanghua Night Market, the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store and at least one major hotel.

Eyewitnesses and local residents reported smelling a strong gas odor about three hours before the explosions occurred. Many of them were worried and went outside.

One person wrote online that he called Kaohsiung City’s hotline for residents but was told that firefighters had arrived on the scene and to go back home.

As he expressed anger to the hotline operator, he saw a large explosion. Manhole covers were blown three stories high. Many people lay injured on the street.

Another resident who lived nearby said that he thought it was an earthquake at first and then he heard something like a bomb. The electricity was cut off. He immediately woke up his wife and children and they quickly left their home.

Several gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung has killed 25 people and injured 267 others, officials say.

The blasts rocked the city’s Cianjhen district, scattering cars and blowing deep trenches in roads.

The exact cause of the gas leaks is not clear, but reports say the blasts were caused by ruptured pipelines.

Images of the scene showed major fires, upturned vehicles, bodies covered in debris and streets split in two.

The explosions happened late on Thursday night, with witnesses reporting huge fireballs soaring into the air. Taiwan’s prime minister said there were at least five blasts.

“The local fire department received calls of gas leaks late Thursday and then there was a series of blasts around midnight affecting an area of two to three sq km [one sq mile],” the National Fire Agency said in a statement.

The blasts rocked the city's Cianjhen district, scattering cars and blowing deep trenches in roads

The blasts rocked the city’s Cianjhen district, scattering cars and blowing deep trenches in roads (photo AFP)

Four firefighters who were investigating reports of a gas leak were said to be among the dead.

People in the area were evacuated to schools as teams battled the blazes. By Friday morning most fires were reported to have been extinguished.

The exact cause of the blasts had not yet been identified but several petrochemical companies had pipelines running along the sewage system in the district.

“The cause of the gas leak is still not clear at this moment. We suspect the leaked gas could be propylene,” said Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-chu.

One witness told AFP news agency he saw “fire soaring up to possibly 20 storey high after a blast”.

Another told Taiwan’s Central News Agency that the “explosions were like thunder and the road in front of my shop ripped open”.

People had been ordered to stay home from school and work in Kaohsiung’s Cianjhen and Lingya districts on Friday, local media reported.

Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu wrote on her Facebook page (in Chinese): “Rescue efforts are still underway.”

She urged everyone to “follow the instructions of rescue teams at the scene, and avoid standing around and watching”.

“The local government has already requested [gas suppliers] CPC and Hsin Kao Gas cut off the gas supply,” she added, urging residents to stay calm.

The local government has set up an emergency response centre.

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Multiple gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung has killed at least five people and injured hundreds of others.

Reports say the blasts were caused by ruptured gas pipelines.

Several gas explosions have hit the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung

Several gas explosions have hit the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung

Images and footage from the scene show major fires and significant damage to roads and buildings.

“At least 212 people who were injured have been rushed to hospitals for treatment,” the National Fire Agency said.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that before the explosion, smoke with a “gas-like smell” came out of drains into the streets.

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At least 48 people died after a passenger plane crashed in Taiwan’s Penghu archipelago, amid stormy weather in the area.

The plane, carrying 58 people, crashed into buildings after a failed attempt to land at Magong airport.

The other 10 people on board were hurt. Two French nationals were among the dead, officials said. No crew members are thought to have survived.

Family members were flying to Penghu on Thursday, Taiwan media said.

Minister of Transportation Yeh Kuang-shih and aviation officials also flew to the island to start an investigation into the disaster, Taiwan’s CNA news agency said.

The ATR-72 TransAsia Airways plane crashed as it flew from Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung to Penghu, a popular tourist destination in the Taiwan Strait.

Magong is the main city in Penghu, which consists of a main island and several smaller islands off the west coast of Taiwan.

TransAsia Airways plane, carrying 58 people, crashed into buildings after a failed attempt to land at Magong airport

TransAsia Airways plane, carrying 58 people, crashed into buildings after a failed attempt to land at Magong airport (photo NY Times)

It was Taiwan’s first fatal air crash in more than a decade and came after Typhoon Matmo struck, bringing torrential rain and high wind.

The plane crashed on its second attempt to land at the airport. It lost contact with controllers after telling them it was going around again. The aircraft then came down in Xixi village outside the airport.

Images late on Wednesday night showed firefighters dousing flames at the scene and and using torches to rescue injured passengers.

Five Penghu residents were injured on the ground but by Thursday morning all had been discharged from hospital, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said.

Official said visibility at the time of the crash was one mile and within acceptable standards for landing, despite the storm.

Airline representative Phoebe Lu told the Associated Press news agency that TransAsia suspected that typhoon weather had caused the crash but was awaiting the results of the investigation.

But Jean Shen, director of the CAA, said nine flights travelled that route between 14:00 and 19:00 on Wednesday.

“The weather reports showed it was totally OK for landing. We can not say for sure what went wrong at this point,” Reuters news agency quoted her as saying.

The transport minister, meanwhile, addressed questions over why the flight was allowed to go ahead.

“Many people were questioning why the plane took off in typhoon weather… according to my understanding the meteorology data showed that it met the aviation safety requirements,” Yeh Kunag-shis said.

TransAsia, a private airline, flies domestic routes in Taiwan and international routes in North and South-East Asia. The airline has apologized and says it will compensate relatives of those on board.

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A TransAsia Airways passenger plane has crashed after a failed emergency landing in Taiwan, killing more than 40 people, local officials say.

TransAsia Airways flight crashed near Magong airport on the outlying Penghu island, reports said.

There were a total of 54 passengers and four crew on board, Taiwan’s CNA news agency reported.

The TransAsia Airways passenger plane has crashed after a failed emergency landing in Taiwan

The TransAsia Airways passenger plane has crashed after a failed emergency landing in Taiwan

Aviation officials said flight GE222 aborted its initial landing and then crashed, local media reported.

Fifty-one people were feared dead and seven were injured, CNA reported, citing fire department officials.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel are still attempting to rescue those on board.

Local firefighters say the plane did not reach the airport landing strip, but crashed nearby, losing contact with flight radars for a few moments before the crash.

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One Chinese worker is dead and at least 90 other people injured after protesters attacked a steel mill in Vietnam, amid anti-China tensions over the South China Sea dispute.

The incident took place at a Taiwanese-owned mill in Ha Tinh province.

It came a day after protesters burnt several foreign-owned factories at an industrial park.

The demonstrations have been sparked by China’s movement of a drilling rig into waters also claimed by Vietnam.

Nationalist sentiment in Vietnam is currently running very high over the South China Sea dispute

Nationalist sentiment in Vietnam is currently running very high over the South China Sea dispute (photo AFP/Getty Images)

Several anti-China protests have since taken place in Vietnam. Nationalist sentiment is currently running very high over the issue, correspondents say.

Protesters appear to have targeted businesses with Chinese characters in their signs, even if they are from other countries such as Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy in Vietnam on Thursday urged Chinese nationals to take precautions, in the second such statement in as many days.

“We once again remind all Chinese in Vietnam to take safety precautions, increase self-protection, and avoid leaving home unnecessarily,” said the statement posted on the embassy’s website.

It said that “Chinese businesses and workers have been the targets of violence” in at least seven cities or provinces across Vietnam. The embassy said it had asked Vietnamese authorities to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.

On Tuesday, at least 15 foreign-owned factories were set on fire at industrial parks in Binh Duong province, and hundreds more attacked. No casualties were reported.

Some Taiwanese have begun leaving the country.

The latest incident happened overnight at a huge steel plant owned by Formosa Plastics Group.

Taiwan’s envoy in Vietnam said one Chinese worker was killed and 90 other people injured.

A local police official also confirmed this account.

“One Chinese worker is dead. We are trying to identify the body,” he told AFP news agency.

In a statement quoted by Reuters news agency, the company said its Vietnamese and Taiwanese workers were not attacked.

Taiwan’s envoy told AFP news agency that rioters forced Chinese workers into a corner of the factory. “The rioters have gone but we are all still concerned they might come back,” he said.

Doctors at Ha Tinh General Hospital told agencies several Chinese patients were being treated for injuries.

On Wednesday, Vietnamese authorities said at least 200 people had been arrested over the violence at the industrial park in Binh Duong.

China’s tourism body has urged its nationals to “carefully consider” any travel to Vietnam.

China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig was brought into waters west of the disputed Paracel Islands earlier this month, leading to collisions between Vietnamese and Chinese ships as Vietnam sought to block the move.

China claims a U-shaped swathe of the South China Sea, including several areas that its South East Asian neighbors say belong to them.

In recent years it has started to enforce these claims more assertively, leading to severely strained ties with the Philippines and Vietnam in particular.

The Philippines is currently taking China to a UN court to try to resolve the issue.

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Hundreds of Taiwanese students have occupied government headquarters to protest at a trade deal with China.

Police used water cannon and dragged out students one by one, clearing the building by dawn on Monday.

Close to 60 people were arrested and more than 100 hurt, reports said.

The protesters say the agreement with China would hurt Taiwan’s economy and leave it vulnerable to pressure from Beijing.

Another group of students and activists have occupied Taiwan’s parliament since early last week.

The students wants more scrutiny over all future dealings with China, including any trade agreements.

Hundreds of Taiwanese students have occupied government headquarters to protest at a trade deal with China

Hundreds of Taiwanese students have occupied government headquarters to protest at a trade deal with China (photo Reuters)

They also want the current deal – which would allow the two sides to invest more freely in each other’s services markets – to be scrapped.

The governing Kuomintang party says it is determined to ratify the deal with Beijing, which it says will boost the economy and create jobs.

China formally regards Taiwan as a part of its territory, despite the island governing itself for six decades.

The protests began early last week after ruling party’s lawmakers said a joint committee had completed its review of the pact, which was signed in June 2013 but has not yet been ratified by lawmakers.

Students broke into the legislature late on Tuesday and have since defied police efforts to evict them, using barricades made of furniture.

On Friday thousands of people rallied to support the students, and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party has also backed them.

On Sunday, President Ma Ying-jeou said that the occupation of parliament broke the law, adding: “I must say that [the pact] is completely for the sake of Taiwan’s economic future.”

Late on Sunday, some protesters pushed past riot police to storm the government headquarters, pulling down barbed wire and using ladders to access second-floor offices.

Violent clashes erupted as police moved to restore order.

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Taiwan and China have begun the highest-level talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Wang Yu-chi and Zhang Zhijun, the top cross-strait officials from each side, are both attending the four-day talks in Nanjing.

No official agenda has been released for the talks, which are widely seen as a confidence-building exercise.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory. In the past, all talks have gone via quasi-official organizations.

Zhang Zhijun, head of mainland China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said: “It’s impossible to imagine in the past that we could sit here and meet [today].”

“We must have some imagination if [we want to] resolve some difficulties, not just for such a meeting, we should also have a bigger imagination for cross-strait future development,” he added.

Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, described the meeting as “a new chapter for cross-strait relations”.

“For us to simply sit at the same table, sit down to discuss issues, is already not an easy thing.”

Taiwan and China have begun the highest-level talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949

Taiwan and China have begun the highest-level talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949

Given the sensitivities, the meeting room had no flags on display, and the officials’ nameplates had no titles or affiliations, AFP news agency reported.

Beijing insists that Taiwan is part of China and has a stated aim of reclaiming the island.

Taiwan still calls itself the Republic of China and nominally claims the same territory as the Communist government in Beijing, although it does not press these claims.

The US is committed to defending Taipei, despite not formally recognizing Taiwan as an independent country.

The situation has created a decades-long military stand-off between Beijing and Washington.

But cross-strait ties have improved since Taiwan’s pro-Beijing President Ma Ying-jeou was elected in 2008.

Cross-strait flights began in 2008, and tourists from the mainland have boosted Taiwan’s economy.

Trade agreements have allowed Taiwanese technology firms to expand massively, investing billions of dollars in the mainland.

However, Ma Ying-jeou is unpopular and analysts say his governing Kuomintang party is likely to lose local elections later this year.

The talks are the first formal government-to-government dialogue since the 1949 split.

Taiwan negotiators are likely to propose the posting of permanent representatives on each other’s territories.

But they will also face pressure to talk about press freedom after China refused accreditation to several media outlets.

Many Taiwanese are sensitive to issues of press freedom, having lived under a dictatorship that tightly controlled the media until the 1980s.

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A giant yellow rubber duck on display in Taiwanese port of Keelung has burst in unexplained circumstances.

The 50-foot- inflatable duck suddenly collapsed on Tuesday, only 11 days after it had been put on display in the port at Keelung.

Organizers are unsure as to the cause of its demise, but one theory is that it was attacked by eagles.

The duck was designed by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman to be a giant version of a popular bath toy.

Last month a similar duck was damaged elsewhere in Taiwan, when an earthquake triggered a power outage that caused it to deflate.

A third Taiwanese duck was brought ashore in September because of an approaching typhoon.

The giant yellow rubber duck on display in Taiwanese port of Keelung has burst in unexplained circumstances

The giant yellow rubber duck on display in Taiwanese port of Keelung has burst in unexplained circumstances

A large crowd had been anticipated in Keelung Port for New Year celebrations, and the rubber duck was due to be an important part of the festivities.

A video footage showed the giant inflatable suddenly bursting in front of scores of people gathered on a quayside.

“We want to apologize to the fans of the yellow rubber duck,” organizer Huang Jing-tai told reporters.

“We will carefully examine the duck to determine the cause.”

The original duck designed by Florentijn Hofman has been transported around the globe since 2007, visiting cities including Sydney, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

Florentijn Hofman artist hopes the works will bring people together and encourage a connection with public art.

Despite the ducks’ misfortunes, they have been a big hit among the Taiwanese.

The duck at Kaohsiung, which had to be deflated during Typhoon Usagi, attracted four million visitors during its one-month display.

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Gambia has announced that it has severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

President Yahya Jammeh’s office said the move was for reasons of “national strategic interest”.

Gambia was one of a few African countries to recognize Taiwan, which China regards as part of its territory.

Correspondents say it is unclear if the move is linked to the development of relations with China, which has a growing influence in Africa.

Despite the announcement, Yahya Jammeh said Gambia hoped to “remain friends” with the Taiwanese people.

“This decision has been taken in our strategic national interest,” a statement from his office read, without elaborating.

“We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the Republic of China [Taiwan] for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see.

“Despite the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, we will still remain friends with the people of Taiwan.”

Gambia has decided to cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Gambia has decided to cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Taiwan said it was surprised by Gambia’s decision.

“Our government express shock and regret that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh sent a letter to our embassy in Gambia on 14 November to inform us [of] the immediate termination of ties,” Vice Foreign Minister Simon Ko said in Taipei.

“We think this is Jammeh’s personal decision,” he added.

China has been investing heavily in Africa at it relies on the continent for oil and other natural resources.

China and Taiwan split in 1949, when the Chinese Communist Party overthrew the Republic of China (ROC) and founded the People’s Republic on the mainland, forcing the ROC government to retreat to Taiwan. Beijing says Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

Initially, most African states recognized the Taipei government but their number has steadily declined.

Gambia’s decision means that Swaziland, Sao Tome and Principe and Burkina Faso are the only African countries that remain allies with Taiwan.

However, earlier this week officials in Sao Tome and Principe said China plans to open a trade mission to promote projects there.

It comes 16 years after Beijing broke off relations with the tiny Central African nation over its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.


Luc Besson has slammed Taiwanese paparazzi for disrupting the shooting of his latest film Lucy by taking photographs of leading actress Scarlett Johansson.

At a press conference in Taipei, Luc Besson said shooting had been “a nightmare” due to constant press intrusion.

“I lost a bit of my concentration,” he admitted.

Luc Besson spent 11 days in Taipei filming Lucy, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a drug mule endowed with superhuman abilities.

Luc Besson spent 11 days in Taipei filming Lucy, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a drug mule endowed with superhuman abilities

Luc Besson spent 11 days in Taipei filming Lucy, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a drug mule endowed with superhuman abilities

It had been reported that Luc Besson’s crew were nearly involved in a car accident last weekend with a vehicle driven by local press.

The alleged incident led Taipei’s mayor to call on the media to exercise restraint.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Luc Besson said it was his right to keep such details as Scarlett Johansson’s hair style and wardrobe out of the public eye until his film was released.

“We don’t want pictures with new dresses of Scarlett,” the director said while denying reports he had wanted to leave Taiwan early in protest.

Photos taken of the 28-year-old actress on set have shown her sporting a blonde bob, a leopard print jacket and a cowboy hat.

No release date has been set for the movie, which will see Scarlett Johansson appear alongside Morgan Freeman and South Korean star Choi Min-sik.

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Typhoon Soulik has hit Taiwan, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to the island.

So far one person is reported to have died while 21 have been injured in the extreme weather.

More than 8,500 people have been evacuated from mountainous and other dangerous areas and thousands of soldiers have been deployed.

Typhoon Soulik is set to arrive in mainland China’s eastern provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang later on Saturday.

Local authorities there have been asked to implement emergency response plans, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported, after recent torrential rain across large parts of the country reportedly left 200 people dead or missing.

Typhoon Soulik, a medium-force typhoon, had wind speeds of around 100 mph on Saturday morning.

It made landfall at around 03:00 local time on Saturday, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau reported.

A police officer was killed by falling bricks but other people suffered mostly light injuries, including from fallen trees or being blown off their scooters.

Typhoon Soulik has hit Taiwan, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to the island

Typhoon Soulik has hit Taiwan, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to the island

The strong winds and heavy rain have caused electricity disruptions, a run on food and essential supplies in supermarkets, and uprooted trees and signs in some areas.

This typhoon is the first to hit Taiwan this year and there had been fears of major damage because the island was the first place it made landfall.

Nearly 50,000 soldiers have been put on standby.

Schools and offices in Taipei and several other cities had closed on Friday afternoon as the tropical storm neared.

Some flights to Taiwan have been disrupted, with both Cathay Pacific and China Airlines announcing cancellations.

Precautionary measures have been taken to close the roads and bridges along areas most susceptible to disaster, officials said.

Fishing boats had been returned to the shore before the typhoon hit, and members of the public were urged to avoid mountain and coastal areas.

Evacuated residents – including 3,000 from Kaohsiung city and 2,000 from Pingtung county in the south of Taiwan – have been taken to local government buildings that have been turned into shelters, AFP reported.

More than 2,000 tourists had earlier been evacuated from Taiwan’s Green Island, near the city of Taitung, as a precaution.

Typhoons are common during the summer in parts of East Asia, where the warm moist air and low pressure conditions enable tropical cyclones to form.

In 2009, Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Morakot, which left hundreds dead in floods and mudslides.

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