Taiwan Today:N. Korea to attract Taiwanese tourists, World’s 1st android citizen Sophia in Taipei

North Korea opened an official tourism promotion center in Taipei, as the country's leader Kim Jong-un has been pushing to boost the tourism industry since coming to power in 2011.

North Korea makes push to attract Taiwanese tourists

In an effort to attract more Taiwanese tourists to North Korea, the country opened an official tourism promotion center in Taipei Thursday.

Following the opening ceremony, two tour group packages were offered to Taiwanese who now can directly book packages to visit the hermit kingdom.

The two packages, NT$30,000 (about US$1,000) for a three-night tour and NT$50,000 for a five-night stay, were the first to be offered by the center — a joint venture between a North Korean government-sponsored travel agency and Taipei-based Chung Hsing Travel Service.

According to the executive, Chinese and Russian tourists make up the bulk of foreign visitors to North Korea. Fewer than 1,000 Taiwanese tourists visit per year, he noted.

U.S. naval ships have right to traverse Taiwan Strait: official

A ranking United States official on Wednesday was reluctant to confirm whether Washington will send aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait but said it has the right
to do so in international waters.

Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs said that the U.S. has seen China stepping up its pressure on Taiwan, increasing its efforts to block Taiwan from participating in international organizations, grabbing Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, and sending its aircraft and military vessels to circle Taiwan, all of which are a far cry from “constructive” practices such as dialogue.

“I won’t talk about future plans. I will say that it is international water, and it is our right to do that,” Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said at a seminar co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy on “Opportunities and Challenges of Cross-Strait Relations.”

China’s increasingly military pressure on Taiwan will have an impact on how the U.S. should respond to improve security ties with Taiwan and on the U.S.’ own plans in the region, he said. Under such circumstances, the U.S. is considering selling weapons to Taiwan on a routine and regular basis in line with the Taiwan Relations Act, Schriver said.

Public urged to embrace development of artificial intelligence

Sophia, the world’s first android citizen, opens Taipei Digital Innovation Forum.

Attending a forum in Taipei on Thursday, digital innovators and Sophia, the world’s first android citizen, urged the public to become part of artificial intelligence (AI) development and work together to shape a future where interactions between humans and robots make the world a better place.

“We have the power to shape the future together. There is so much promise in what we can accomplish if we are both nice to each other,” said Sophia, who is Hanson Robotics’ latest and most advanced robot to date.

Sophia received citizenship of Saudi Arabia in 2016 and was named the world’s first United Nations Innovation Champion by the United Nations Development Program to promote sustainable development and safeguard human rights.

Power use hits record high for July in Taiwan

The soaring mercury pushed peak electricity consumption in Taiwan to an all-time high for July of 36.705 million kilowatts on Thursday, according to state-run Taiwan Power Co.  (Taipower).

The record high occurred at 1:50 p.m., and surpassed the previous highest for July of 36.46 million kW set the previous day, Taipower said, adding that it was also the third highest daily consumption ever recorded.

The two highest daily power consumption levels were 36.771 million kW and 36.713 million kW set on May 30 and May 31, respectively, Taipower data shows.

Taiwanese solar firms covered by proposed Indian safeguard duties

Taiwanese solar cell and solar module manufacturers have been covered by a safeguard recommendation proposed by India, which says that imports have caused or have threatened serious damage to its industry, according to the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) under Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

The BOFT said India’s Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) released a final ruling Monday after an investigation, recommending an up to 25 percent safeguard duty against imported solar cells and modules for two years.

While Taiwan ranked as the third-largest supplier to India in 2017, its sales share lagged far behind China’s US$3.63 billion, or 88.20 percent of the total, and Malaysia’s US$242.85 million, or 5.89 percent, the data shows.