Like much of the world, 2016 has been a dramatic year for Taiwan, with many momentous, tragic, and bizarre events taking place. During this year, the readers of Taiwan News have taken great interest in a wide variety of topics, from homicide to hygiene, labor laws to holiday fun, president-elects to Nazis, and typhoons to Tso's chicken. The following are the top ten most-viewed stories on the Taiwan News website for 2016:
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said on Dec. 8 that it will launch a campaign to encourage people to flush used toilet paper, instead of depositing it in trash cans as is the custom in Taiwan, as part of an effort to improve bathroom hygiene. EPA head Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said his agency will come up with a campaign to encourage the flushing of toilet paper in three months.
Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the opposition Kuomintang noted that Taiwan and China are among the few areas in the world where toilet paper cannot be flushed, which she described as an indicator of being less developed.
On the morning of March 28, a four-year-old girl was attacked randomly and beheaded by a 33-year-old man surnamed Wang, who was arrested by the police at the crime scene and was said to have medical records at a public psychiatric hospital. The attack occurred at 11 AM in an empty lot located on Huanshan Road in Neihu District, Taipei City. Authorities said that the little girl was attacked by the man while she was riding a strider bike with her mother on the street. The man kept chopping the girl’s neck from the back with a cleaver, and the brutal act caused the girl to die instantly as her head was severed from her body.
He had once sought treatment at a public psychiatric hospital, in 2014, but added that it does not prove he has a mental illness. At the time, the man admitted to taking drugs, but a drug test came up negative.
A middle-aged Canadian man pummeled his Taiwanese girlfriend to the ground in open view of many bystanders in Taipei around midnight on Sunday, Nov. 20, but the victim refused to press charges. According to police investigation, the 24-year-old woman surnamed Chen, who is a college student in Taipei, and her 40-year-old Canadian boyfriend, who was only identified by his first name "Dennis," had an argument on the street at the intersection of Keelung Road and Leye Street, which soon escalated into a brawl. There was closed circuit security camera video footage of part of the incident in which a man, who fits the description from eyewitness accounts, can be seen brutally clotheslining a woman from behind at a crosswalk.
Police said they have received reports from the couple's neighbors many times, and that Chen was often beaten by her boyfriend but has never taken legal action against him, including this time.
The Legislative Yuan passed on Oct. 21 the third reading of an amendment to the Employment Service Act, cancelling the requirement for migrant workers to exit Taiwan after working for three years.
Some 14,000 migrant workers will benefit from the new law, according to statistics of the Ministry of Labor. Under the current laws, migrant workers are required to exit the island every three years, with those receiving professional training and demonstrating “exemplary service” permitted for an extension of up to 14 years.
This requirement has meant high costs for migrant workers, since it meant that they needed to pay brokerage fees each time they re-enter Taiwan, entailing a personal cost of NT$80,000 to NT$150,000 every three years.
President Tsai Ing-wen called United States President-elect Donald Trump to congratulate him on his election victory on Dec. 2. In the first direct conversation between the leaders of Taiwan and the United States in 37 years, Tsai congratulated Trump on his victory and "they noted the close economic, political, and security ties between Taiwan and the United States," according to Taiwan's presidential office.
The Chinese government’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan quoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as describing the phone call as a “small trick” on the part of Taiwan which would not change the longstanding “One China” policy adhered to by the global community.
After much criticism from China and even from some within his own party, Trump tweeted "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call." It remains to be seen if this was an isolated incident, a substantial change in U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan, or the use of Taiwan as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with Beijing.
The Presidential Office demanded a high school apologize to Israel after pictures emerged online of its students wearing Nazi uniforms and waving swastika flags, just two days before Christmas. The photos were reportedly taken during a school celebration at the Kuang-fu High School in Hsinchu City. They showed at least a dozen students in black uniforms with swastika armbands, several of them holding Nazi flags and symbols. There was also one student who brought the stretched-armed Nazi salute from the top of a cardboard replica of a tank.
The backlash was enormous with the German Institute Taipei and the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei have expressing disappointment and condemnation over the Nazi, the teachers and students expressed remorse, the school's president has stepped down, and a student has written a letter defending his actions.
On Sep. 27, a "red alert" mudslide warning was issued to residents living in Taoyuan City and Hsinchu County Tuesday, while a yellow mudslide warning was in effect for residents in Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung. Typhoon Megi had made landfall in eastern Taiwan early that morning around 5 a.m., bringing heavy rains and strong winds across the island.
Typhoon Megi was the most destructive typhoon of the year in Taiwan, with 3.19 million households losing electricity, agricultural losses estimated at NT$1.31 billion, and four people dead, including three buried alive in a landslide in Yanchao, Kaohsiung.
Gingerbread, mulled wine and Christmas spirit were on tap at Taipei 101 dancing water square.The famed French Strasbourg Christmas Market came to Taipei from December 1 to 25 at the Taipei 101 dancing water square, featuring a wide array of delicacies and Christmas ornaments from France, which purported to bring locals the most authentic European Christmas experience. Comprised of 15 cabins, the French-style marketplace offeed delicatessen foods, confectioneries, mulled wine, beer, and crafted products.
On Nov. 16, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan confirmed rumors that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was considering building luxury hotels and resorts in Taiwan's Taoyuan City, according to media reports. A woman working for the Trump Organization came to Taoyuan in September, declaring the company’s investment interest in Taiwan’s Taoyuan Aerotropolis, a large urban planning development project surrounding the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Reports also said the meeting suggested that Eric Trump, the son of the President-elect, will come to Taiwan personally to see about the potential business opportunity by the end of the year.
However, on Dec. 3, Trump's company announced it had no plans to expand in Taiwan and squashed rumors of building luxury hotels and resorts in Taiwan's Taoyuan City.
Chef Peng Chang-kuei (彭長貴), the founder of the famous Hunan-style restaurant chain Peng's Garden Hunan Restaurant (彭園湘菜館) and inventor of the world famous Chinese dish General Tso's Chicken, died on Nov. 30 at the age of 98 from Pneumonia. Though he was a highly accomplished Hunan-style chef for the KMT in China and later Taiwan, he is best known in the West for his invention -- General Tso's Chicken -- which he named after the famous Qing Dynasty era general.
Peng had recently gained more attention from a 2014 documentary film titled "The Search for General Tso," which traced the origins of the dish from his apprenticeship in Hunan, its creation in Taiwan, and its evolution once reaching the United States.
The documentary revealed that businessmen from Shun Lee visited Peng's restaurant in Taipei in 1971 and brought back several dishes "inspired" by the menu, including General Tso's Chicken. For those that wish to have a taste of the original, authentic dish, one should visit his Hunan-style restaurant chain Peng's Agora Garden in Taipei.