Wednesday, March 29, 2006
"Andersen's Dream" was created based on 11 fairy tales by Andersen and will be performed March 29 - April 2 at the National Theater, where the Odin Theatre debuted in Taiwan in 2002.
Founded by Italian-born Eugenio Barba in 1964 in Oslo, Norway, the Odin Theatre focuses on three elements -- breath, limb and sound -- in its performances. It has been regarded in the last 40 years as "the Mecca of experimental theater" and has been based in a barn in the small town of Holstebro, Denmark since 1965.
Odin is not a conventional theater, 69-year-old Barba said, adding that he expects Taiwanese audiences to experience the performance with an open mind.
It will not be difficult, because Odin tries to communicate with audiences through sound and signals, not psychology, he said. And it's natural to do so since Odin's actors are of different nationalities, speaking several different languages.
"Much of our performances are built on signals. Music and voice play important roles, too," Barba said.
Performances by the Odin Theatre became an instant hit and a must-see for Taiwanese theater workers since its last visit in 2002, said Chung Min-der, a professor at the Taiwan National University of Art.
All tickets are sold out two months before Odin Theatre's arrival.
To give Taiwanese audiences the full experience of the theater's original atmosphere, Odin Theatre has shipped its unique audience seating arrangement, a round theater, from Holstebro to Taipei.
"Andersen's Dream" is the third of five legs of the 2006 International Theatre Festival, which takes place at the National Theater from Feb. 25 - April 30. Theaters from Hong Kong and Canada will perform after the Odin Theatre.
"Germany is one of the leading countries in environmental and ecological protection. Hopefully Taipei can learn from Germany's experience through cooperation in the future," said Taipei City director of Education Wu Ching-ji.
As a goodwill gesture, Nuremberg Zoo presented Red-necked Wallabies, a Chinese Crocodile Lizard and a Blue-headed Macaw to the Taipei Zoo as a gift, said Dr. Helmut Magdefrau, Deputy Director of the Nuremberg Zoo.
About a dozen booths representing local German companies and organizations -- such as board games, children's literature and renewable technology -- created a festival-like atmosphere during the ceremony, which was attended by 100 local German residents.
"Everybody loses in a cross-strait conflict," said Lin Wen-cheng, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, quoting U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.
"In terms of the Taiwan Strait, obviously, [if there's] a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, everybody loses. China loses, Taiwan loses, we lose, the area loses," Hadley said in mid-March while briefing the press on the U.S. National Security Strategy 2006 report.
Still, Taiwan has been regarded by most observers as the most dangerous flashpoint in East Asia and an issue that could possibly draw the U.S. into warfare, Lin said in the report entitled "Taiwan Strait: How to Avert Wars and Promote Peace."
To promote cross-strait peace under the current circumstances -- under which Taiwan and China cannot find a consensus -- scholars suggested that Taiwan look at cross-strait security in a broader sense and in a more unconventional way.
For example, Taiwan can work with China in "low politics issues" such as fighting crime and environmental protection, Lin explained.
In addition, scholars encouraged both sides to re-construct "confidence-building measures" which have stagnated for some time, and to reconsider the possibility of signing an interim agreement as suggested by U.S. scholars Kenneth Liberthal and David Lampton.
Taiwan's government should try to be more aggressive and improve its efficiency in handling cross-strait issues, said Chao Chien-min, a Chengchi University professor.
The two-day conference was organized by Taiwan Peace Foundation and Taiwan Foudation for Democracy and concludes on Sunday.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Taipei, March 24 (CNA) A month-long photography exhibition in Taipei will pay tribute to Canadian aborigines who have transformed their traditional way of life in a modern world, and also to inspire aborigines in Taiwan.
The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) is organizing "The Mi'kmaw People of Newfoundland: A Celebration, " an exhibition of 89 Mi'kmaw portraits, at the National Museum of History from March 24-April 30.
The Mi'kmaw Indians (aka Micmac, from a word in their language for "my friends") have been living in Newfoundland, off the east coast of Canada, for generations. They have maintained a traditional way of life while struggling continuously to adapt to a changing world.
One highlight of the exhibition is the six earliest known photographic portraits of the Mi'kmaw, taken on the west coast of Newfoundland in 1859 by a French naval officer, Paul-Emile Miot.
The exhibition shows people that "some of the things the Mi'kmaw people have learned can be shared throughout the world, " said Edward Thompkins, an independent archivist and curator for the event.
"Like the Mi'kmaw Indians, aborigines in Taiwan have been facing constant challenges because of changing times. Hopefully we can learn something from the Mi'kmaw experience, " said Shia Ching-tsun, secretary-general of the Council of Indigenous Peoples.
Canada and Taiwan have enjoyed constructive relations on aboriginal affairs since a memorandum of understanding was signed in 1998, CTOT Executive Director Gordon Houlden said, adding that both sides have been working together on various events such as film festivals, exhibitions and high-level official visits.
Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Britain's experience of privatization and re-structuring of its rail industry will be helpful to Taiwan in development and reform of its own rail system, said British experts at a seminar held in Taipei Friday.
Led by Jeremy Candfield, Director General of the U.K. Railway Industry Association, a mission that includes ten British rail companies discussed past experiences in railway projects in a seminar on "Railway Technologies and Expertise from the UK."
Taiwan has invested a great deal in its rail industry, which includes a high-speed train, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) systems in several major cities and an upgrade of its rail system, said Candfield.
But he also realized that Taiwan "faces problems such as its commercial future and safety [issues] in the railway industry."
Citing the U.K.'s experience, Candfield said the country's railway industry had also taken "hits" in the mid 1990's, experiencing a stable decline in the number of railway passengers. Fortunately, privatization and re-structuring changed the whole situation.
"All the charts have moved in a completely different direction after that," said Candfield. "Over the last ten years, the [number of] passenger kilometers has gone up 40 percent. We saw record-breaking infrastructure investment. And the safety performance indicators have continued to improve."
"And most expertise now is in the private sector, with much of that in the supply industry," he added.
Regarding the cases of railway sabotage that occurred recently in Taiwan, Candfield said: "We also had some serious cases in the UK, which were believed to have been carried out by somebody who knew what they were doing."
To solve the problem, Candfield said, more railway police were deployed and more close-circuit televisions set up in every station, although there's nothing much that can be done in the countryside, he said.
The seminar was organized by the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei (BTCO) and co-sponsored by a number of government organizations, including the Bureau of High Speed Rail, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. and the Kaohsiung MRT Bureau.
Taipei, March 23 (CNA) A French film festival, which is among a series of events to mark the International Day of the Francophone, will provide a rare chance for Taiwanese audiences to experience a different feel to Hollywood movies, organizers said Thursday at a press conference.
The 2006 Festival of Francophone Film will be held in two cinemas in Taipei from March 24-April 6 and will feature 49 films from more than a dozen French-speaking countries.
Approximately 175 million people in 53 countries speak French and the film festival provides a great opportunity for Taiwan people to embrace a culture that is different from American culture, said Olivier Vaysset, the counselor for culture and cooperation of the French Institute in Taipei.
Twenty-three commercial movies, mostly from France, will be shown at the Show Times Cinema from March 24-30. La Maison de Nina, which is directed by Oscar-winning director Richard Dembo, will be the opening film.
Twenty-six movies that include French commercial and independent films, animations, documentaries and African new wave films will be shown free of charge at the National Palace Museum Cinema from March 24-April 6, including films from Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mauritania and Chad, said Sally Lee, Public Relations Director of the National Palace Museum.
The International Day of Francophonie, which falls on March 20, is celebrated by over 120 French-speaking countries every year. Thirteen representative offices of French-speaking countries in Taiwan are sponsoring the events.
Taipei, March 23 (CNA) Led by Taiwanese-born principal dancer Sheu Fang-yi, the prestigious New York-based Martha Graham Dance Troupe will visit Taiwan again after a 16-year hiatus, organizers announced at a press conference Thursday.
The troupe, which made its debut in Taiwan in 1974 and a second visit in 1990, will present four performances from March 25-26 at the National Theater with Sheu as a lead dancer in four works.
Founded in 1926 by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, the Martha Graham Dance Company is the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America. It has provided a training ground for some of modern dance's most illustrious performers and choreographers.
Until her death in 1991 at the age of 97, Graham had choreographed 181 works.
"Martha loved to be in Taipei. She loved to watch modern dance training in Taipei, " said Francis Mason, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance.
With many principal dancers from the troupe teaching Graham techniques in Taipei, "It's fair to say that Graham techniques are in the bloodstream of Taiwanese dancers now, " said Mason.
All eyes will be on Sheu, who has been dubbed as "the second coming of Martha Graham." he 35-year-old Sheu became the first principle dancer from Taiwan to dance for the troupe in 1995.
Sheu has been rated by U.S. "Dance Magazine" as being among the 25 most talented dancers of 2005. She also received the Order of the Brilliant Star from President Chen Shui-bian in May 2005 and was one of the "Top Ten Rising Stars" selected by CNA in 2006.
Dances to be performed in Taipei include Errand into the Maze, Appalachian Spring, Chronicle, Cave of the Heart, Acts of the Night and three solos -- Deep Song, Satyric Festival Song and Lamentation.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
With the participation of high schools from the Netherlands and Germany, the event marks the first time in 14 years that European teams have taken part in the International High School Basketball Tournament, which this year also invited teams from Canada, Japan and Korea.
The team from Ashram College Alphen aan de Rijn of the Netherlands, with an average height of 194cm, will command everyone's attention in the men's competition. Led by 191cm center Mirijam Unger, Germany's Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium will make its debut in the women's group.
As usual, Japan and Korea are sending highly competitive teams to the tournament. Fukuoka Daiichi High School, the defending champion in Japan's domestic high school league, and Kwang Shin Information Industrial High School of Korea, will compete in the men's group.
Perennial high school basketball powerhouses from Japan's Ohka-Gakuen High School and Korea's Song Eui High School will meet in the women's group.
Kitsilano Secondary School, which is from Vancouver, represents Canada in the men's group.
Host nation Taiwan is sending its men's and women's high school All-Star teams to the four-day tournament, which will take place in the Taipei Gymnasium March 23-26.
Five men's teams and four women's teams will play in a round robin preliminary before the top two teams in each group face off in the championship on Sunday.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The International Day of Francophonie falls on March 20 and is celebrated by over 120 French-speaking countries every year. Canada's two official languages are English and French.
This year marks the fifth year Taiwan has joined the celebration, with the Association of French Teachers in Taiwan organizing events this year including a French singing competition, a free evening soiree and a French Film Festival. Thirteen representative offices of French-speaking countries in Taiwan are sponsoring the events.
The folk/jazz group Carmen & David Trio will stage four live performances of French songs in Kaohsiung and Taipei from March 21-24, with the last show held at Taipei City Hall's Family Theater at an evening party March 24.
There are an estimated 100,000 French speakers in Taiwan, with an average of 10,000 people taking up French lessons every year, said Lee Pei-hwa, President of the Association of French Teachers in Taiwan.
French is an official language in 33 countries on five continents and the second most commonly studied foreign language in the world.
Winston Churchill did believed that India was unfit for the practice of democracy, and in the past many experts predicted the country would collapse between 1953-1980.
"But India proved them wrong, " said Dr. Madhav Nalapat, a geopolitics professor at Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
"It [India] has not only become the oldest democracy in Asia but also one of the fastest emerging economies in the world," the guest speaker said at a seminar entitled "Synergy of Democracy, " the first of three panel discussions at the one-day event.
In 1947, the literacy rate in India topped 10 percent. And as late as 1967, there were an average of 6 to 7 million Indians dying of famine per year.
This is why former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that India was unfit for democracy, a claim later proved incorrect, Nalapat explained.
"Politically, India experienced a highly unstable period in the 1990's with cabinets coming and going, like Italy," Nalapat said.
People say that without political stability, the economy is unable to flourish, but once again India has proven this wrong, he said.
"It's what's unique about our democratic system, " Nalapat said.
Most Taiwanese would describe India as a "chaotic" place, which is partly true, he said. But most are unaware that Indians are law-abiding people, he said.
"Mumbai suffers from floods every year, like New Orleans, " he said. "But you don't see the breakdown of law and order [like what happened in New Orleans] after flooding."
Further, he said, India has the second largest number of Muslims in the world.
"And you don't see Indian Muslims regarded as terrorists or extremists. I'd like to credit this to our system of democracy," Nalapat said.
The Taiwan-India Forum, which was hosted by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), focused on sharing experiences of democracy and was composed of three panel discussions -- Synergy of Democracies, Economic Security and Democracy, and Democracy and Economic Prosperity.
Taiwan Thinktank and the Taiwan-India Cooperation Council (TICC), which was established in February by leaders from the industrial, government and academic sectors in Taiwan, co-sponsored the one-day event.
It is time for Taiwan to understand more about the oldest democracy in Asia and the largest potential market, said Lin Wen-cheng, vice president of the TFD, who served as moderator of the forum.
Dr. Madhav Nalapat, a professor of geopolitics at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and Vimal Shah, CEO of Akruti Ltd., were guest speakers.
India "is a very interesting country for Taiwan, " said Nalapat.
"While Taiwan has the potential to be a major player on the international stage, India has the potential to be an alternative market to replace China for Taiwan," Nalapat noted.
"Democracy should be seen as a strategy development for Taiwan," Nalapat said, adding that the linkage of sharing the experience of democracy could be a very good starting point for exchanges between Taiwan and India, and could be followed by exchanges in trade, technology and science.
In recent years, Taiwan-India cooperation has seen steady growth. Since Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade initiated the "Proposal for Enhancing Bilateral Trade with India, " bilateral trade between the two nations reached US$2.26 billion in November 2005. Both sides set the ambitious goal of raising bilateral trade to US$7 billion by 2007.
However, Lin Shih-chia, deputy secretary-general of the TICC, said Taiwan-India understanding is "too-fragmented" as the two sides have not organized the necessary many-faceted dialogues effectively.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Taipei, March 18 (CNA) A group of senior citizens who participated in a massive rally held in Taipei City Saturday to protest against China said they did it for the younger generation and urged young people in Taiwan to develop a stronger Taiwan identity and be brave enough to voice their opinions.
"We did this for the benefit -- democracy and freedom -- of our next generation and to protect them from China's annexation and suppression, " said a 65-year-old farmer surnamed Kuo, who came from Guantian Township, Tainan County -- President Chen Shui-bian's hometown.
Tens of thousands of people participated in the "Protect Democracy, Oppose Annexation" rally, with some 80 percent of them being over the age of 40.
"Unfortunately, we have to drag our old legs and hit the street today. Young people in Taiwan should step out and voice their opinions in order for the rest of the world to hear our voices, " said a 72-year-old man surnamed Chen, also from Guantian.
Scott Cogburn, one of the few foreigners who joined the rally, agreed. Cogburn, a U.S. citizen who has been living in Taiwan for more than five years, said he has participated in almost every major demonstration in Taiwan and that he was really surprised to see so many people in their 60s and 70s in the march and so few young people.
"Back in the U.S., you see a lot more young people taking part in demonstrations like this, " Cogburn said.
53-year-old Liu Kuo-song of Fongshan City, Kaohsiung County lamented the fact that Taiwan's education is lacking in the teaching of local history and geography.
"Most of our youngsters don't know much about Taiwan history because they are not taught it in schools. And that has resulted in their lack of Taiwan identity, " Liu said.
"It's ironic that a youngster knows how to take trains from point A to point B in China but doesn't know what the longest river in Taiwan is," he said.
Taipei, March 18 (CNA) Tens of thousands of people took part in the "Protect Democracy, Oppose Annexation" parade held in Taipei City Saturday, with President Chen Shui-bian giving an address at the rally.
In his address, President Chen defined the parade as a "shout-out to China" against its attempts to annex Taiwan and labeled the month of March as Taiwan's "Month of Democracy."
People from across the island and local Taiwanese awareness advocate groups participated in the parade which started at the site of the former Sungshan Tobacco Factory at 2 p.m. and ended in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard at around 6 p.m.
"The whole world is watching us. We have to let the world know our opinions. We want China to stop suppressing Taiwan, " said a protester surnamed Ke, who traveled from the southern city of Tainan to take part in the rally.
Also joining the parade was a group of local towel-makers, who have been accusing Chinese towel makers of dumping. To support the local towel industry, a large number of protesters wore towels printed with the word "Taiwan" on their foreheads.
Protesters held cardboard signs that read "No NUC (National Unification Council)," "New Constitution" and "Anti-Annexation, " and chanted slogans and waved flags during the four-hour march in downtown Taipei.
Heavyweights of the "pan-green camp" of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) who participated in the parade included President Chen, Vice President Annette Lu, Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and TSU Chairman Shu Chin-chiang.
The opposition "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) held a march along the same route last Sunday to denounce what they called the government's ignorance of "livelihood issues."
Taipei, March 17 (CNA) It takes time for the public to understand and accept wind energy technology, which can be costly at first, a group of renewable energy experts visiting from the U.K. said Friday in an interview.
Due to its availability and relatively low cost, wind energy has become the world's fastest growing renewable energy technology in recent years. However, it takes time for people to accept it, said Robert Rawlingson-Smith, Chief Turbine Designer of Garrad Hassan, a leading British wind energy consulting company.
Land use is among the most questionable topics in wind energy, since wind farms -- a collection of wind turbines in the same location used for generating electricity -- are said to be noisy, take up a lot of space and exploit the environment.
"Initially people do have suspicions. But you can utilize the area for agriculture and tourism. I found out that the best way [to pursuade people] is to take them to a wind farm," said Rawlingson-Smith.
Most people who possess doubts about the energy source fall in love with the aesthetic wind turbines after visiting a wind farm, he noted.
Any new technology in its initial stages of development is also more expensive. The cost of wind energy is currently more expensive than conventional energy, he said.
"But it [wind energy] will not be affected by fluctuations in oil prices, which means you're not at the mercy of oil prices. You will have the certainty of cost and the certainty of supply, " Rawlingson-Smith said.
Citing a program in Austin, Texas, Rawlingson-Smith said consumers initially paid more money for wind energy but ended up paying lower energy bills than those who used conventional sources of nonrenewable energy after the surge in fuel prices last year.
Taipei, March 17 (CNA) A group of experts visiting from the U.K. met with Taiwanese government officials and business representatives and advised them on wind energy, the fastest growing renewable energy technology -- a top priority in Taiwan's renewable energy program.
Representatives from the Energy Group of the British Department of Trade and Industry and Garrad Hassan and Partners Ltd. held a meeting with their Taiwanese counterparts, including officials from the Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and representatives from Taiwan Power Company, Taiwan Sugar Corporation and other private companies.
"Taiwan is an emerging market in terms of renewable energy. And the U.K. has seen significant growth in renewable energy development in recent years," said Richard Brooks, of the Department of Trade and Industry's Energy group.
Taiwan's government wants to promote renewable energy, but it's still in the process of evaluating its support system, Brooks said, adding that a lot of local private companies have expressed interest in developing wind energy and have sent staff to the U.K. for training.
In its energy white papers, Taiwan's government has made it clear that wind energy will be its top priority in developing renewable resources and has set an ambitious target of 10 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable energy by 2010.
Renewable energy captures its power from ongoing natural processes such as sunshine, wind, flowing water, biological processes and geothermal heat flows.
The U.K.'s short-term goal is to develop its off-shore wind farms and is exploring wave and tidal energy as its long-term goal, Brooks said.
"We can't say what's best for Taiwan right now, as it depends on what the government program is," he said.
Taiwan has what it takes to develop a wind energy program, given its advanced technological background and strong component manufacturing capability. It's possible that Taiwan could eventually enjoy and export wind energy, Brooks said.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Taipei, March 15 (CNA) Clinical test results in Taiwan of an anti-lung cancer drug have shown a more curative effect on East Asians -- especially female patients -- than Westerners, two doctors said at a press conference Wednesday.
A clinical trial of Gefitinib -- an oral drug marketed as Iressa -- was performed in Taiwan on 36 Taiwanese lung cancer patients, 20 male and 16 female. The results showed patients who took Gefitinib averaged a one-year survival rate of 45.1 percent, with 33 percent of the patients experiencing a decrease in tumor size.
Compared to the average survival time of 9 to 12 months among Taiwanese lung cancer patients, the survival time of those who took Gefitnib saw a 30 percent increase, up to 20.1 months.
Gefitinib has demonstrated consistently good response rates in studies of Asian patients -- between 20 to 30 percent in most Asian countries. The rates in Western countries are usually less than 10 percent, said Chen Yuh-min, a doctor at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
"Cancer is always the top cause of death in Taiwan. And lung cancer is the most common cancer among female patients," said Perng Reury-perng, President of the Taiwan Lung Cancer Society. Perng said the test results are obviously good news for Taiwanese female patients.
Gefitinib is an anti-cancer drug that inhibits an enzyme present in lung cancer cells, as well as other cancers and normal tissues, and appears to be important to the growth of cancer cells. It has been used as a single agent for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which has progressed after, or failed to respond, to two other types of chemotherapy.
Taipei, March 15 (CNA) The government and the National Baseball Federation should review and implement a total reform in order to save Taiwanese baseball's fall from grace, a group of baseball fans and two legislators said Wednesday.
"Taiwanese baseball used to be on a par with Korean baseball. Now Korea beat Japan and the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) and made the semifinal, and what about us? " said Tsai Tse-jen, a baseball fan and organizer of the "Saving National Sport Action Alliance."
Taiwan's national baseball team failed to advance to the second round of the WBC after losing to Japan and Korea in the preliminary round earlier this month. In recent years, Taiwan's performance in major tournaments has generally declined.
The alliance announced "five complaints and five demands" after collecting opinions on the Internet from more than 100 fans. Among the complaints, 92% of the fans polled said the government and the baseball federation are all talk and no action.
They also said Taiwanese baseball lacks resources, development, vision and policy and they demanded more community ballparks, budget, international exchanges and employment protection for baseball players.
Legislator Tsai Chin-lung urged the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (NCPFS) , Taiwan's highest administrative body of sports, to increase subsidies to baseball organizations, which have been declining in recent years.
Huang Chih-hsiung, an athlete-turned-legislator, said legislation for the employment of professional coaches would be a good starting point for baseball development, as well as getting more people involved in the game.
Taipei, March 14 (CNA) Taiwanese employers anticipate a decrease in hiring activity in the second quarter of 2006, but Taiwan's overall employment outlook is doing fine, according to a quarterly report released Tuesday.
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, conducted by Manpower Services Taiwan, indicated the hiring expectations of Taiwanese employers dropped slightly for the second quarter of 2006, compared to the same time period last year.
Of the 1,438 employers surveyed, 37 percent expected an increase in hiring during the second quarter, 6 percent expected a decrease in employment opportunities and 46 percent of employers polled foresaw no change in their workforces.
The results of the Net Employment Outlook (NEO), which is derived by taking the percentage the employers anticipating total employment to increase, and subtracting the percentage expecting to see a decrease in employment -- 31 percent.
"Employment has always been unstable during Taiwan's second quarter due to the high turnover rate. Therefore, it is reasonable for employers to be optimistic," said Dennis Lee, General Manager of Manpower Services Taiwan.
Among the six sectors polled, the transportation and utilities sector reported the highest expectations to hire, at 37 percent. The mining and construction industry sector saw 12 percent, while the manufacturing industry, service industry and wholesale and retail trade sector all saw bright prospects.
The finance, insurance and real estate industry sector results in 29 percent, dropping 15 percentage points as compared to the same season last year.
"The drop in the finance, insurance and real estate industries might be the result of deflation in the consumer market, which is caused by recent credit card debt issues," Lee said.
Taipei, March 14 (CNA) It is "hard for foreigners in Taiwan" to believe why a country would pass a law that authorizes it to attack another country even one year after China's passage of the Anti-Secession Law, a Japanese tourist said Tuesday.
"It's crazy, " said Miki Yamamoto on the law passed by Beijing March 14 last year to give China the authority to use "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan should the country move toward formal independence.
Yamamoto, who is a frequent visitor to Taiwan and a supporter of Taiwan independence, said: "I don't think any country has the right to attack another country. For me, Taiwan and China are two countries with different political, economical and social systems."
Woo Lee, a Korean who has been living in Taipei for over a year, said of the law that "it makes me as a foreigner very nervous and thoughts of leaving the country are always in the back of my mind."
"The fact that China does not rule out the possibility of attacking Taiwan is vexing to me. I feel it would be an extremely unjust and inhumane act and I cannot see how it will help anything. I don't think there is a citizen of any country who would enjoy that situation of having their natural freedom stripped, " Lee said.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The High School Basketball League (HBL) will hold its Final Four competition from March 14-17 at the Taipei Arena. The University Basketball Alliance (UBA) will hold its quarterfinal and semifinal competition from March 18-31 at two venues in Taipei.
For years, the term "March Madness" has been used in the U.S. to describe basketball fans' passion and the tremendous following of college basketball tournaments in the month of March. Taiwanese basketball, starting at the high school level, has been trying to transplant and integrate the American format.
"High school and university athletics are the final stages before athletes enter the professional level. It's why it's important and always exciting," said Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng at the HBL's pre-tournament press conference.
Tu is likely spot on, as almost all of Taiwan's top basketball players have played in high school and at university, where they blossomed and caught attentions. Ultimately, basketball fans follow their careers up to the professional level.
"I believe the student athletes will put on a good show and display the highest values in sportsmanship during the tournaments," Tu said.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Taipei, March 11 (CNA) The relationship between Canada and Taiwan has grown in leaps and bounds, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei has discovered as it celebrates its 20th anniversary and looks back on two decades of history in Taiwan.
Established in December 1986 as a three-member office to represent Canada in Taiwan, the CTOT now has almost 70 staff and delivers a wide range of commercial, immigration and consular services.
"Twenty years of cooperation has made people-to-people and economic ties between both Canada and Taiwan increasingly valuable for both sides," said Gordon Houlden, CTOT's Executive Director.
"The flow of people between Canada and Taiwan is a central aspect of our relationship. Over 80,000 visitor visas are issued every year for travel to Canada. This makes our Taipei office Canada's busiest visitor visa issuance center in the world. At the same time, Taiwanese immigrants continue to contribute to Canada's prosperity and enrich Canada's multicultural identity."
Houlden estimated there are now over 20,000 Canadians living in Taiwan, with each of them bringing a piece of Canada to the island, he said. And Taiwan will be spotlighted in Canada's Asian Heritage Month in May.
The trade relationship between both sides has also blossomed during the last 20 years.
"Trade now totals almost C$5 billion (US$4.3 billion) annually, and Taiwan is Canada's fourth most important trade partner in the Asian-Pacific," Houlden said.
Canadian multinationals and hundreds of smaller companies have enjoyed considerable success in Taiwan. Also, both sides are boosting their technology exchanges, Houlden added. The National Research Council of Canada is currently developing its largest bilateral R&D relationship outside of North America with Taiwan's National Science Council.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the CTOT will host various events throughout the year, including the 2006 Canada-Taiwan Evening of Music, an aboriginal exhibition at the National Museum of History starting March 24 and a Canada Cultural Month in July.
Taipei, March 11 (CNA) As the only Taiwanese nonprofit non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted exclusively to humanitarian relief work in Cambodia, the Field Relief Agency (FRA) is one of a kind although it has received little attention.
Established in July 1996 by current Secretary General Yang Wei-ling, a flight attendant-turned-philanthropist, the FRA has devoted all of its energy toward education in Cambodia, which Yang believes can change children's fate in the long run.
"What we've been doing is not emergency relief work. It will probably take years to know whether our efforts improve the lives of Cambodians," Yang said.
With only three full-time members of staff in Taiwan and about 30 voluntary workers in Cambodia, the FRA in 1999 managed to establish an orphanage in Poipet, a poverty-stricken border town in northwestern Cambodia, and a vocational training center for women in the same town in 2001.
It also built the first Cambodian-language high school in northwestern Cambodia, helping more than 1,000 youths attend school free of charge.
Currently the FRA is working on a project to purchase textbooks for 10,000 Cambodian children with a budget of NT$5 million (US$150,000) -- over 40 percent of FRA's annual budget of NT$12 million.
Yang still vividly remembers an incident that changed her life. As a young flight attendant for China Airlines, she glimpsed a group of refugees from Southeast Asia in an airport in 1989 and was stunned.
"I didn't realize until then that we are all citizens of a global village. And people are supposed to be born equal, but they're not," said Yang, who afterwards quit her job and spent the next four years in Northern Thailand's refugee camps as a voluntary worker, and seven years later founding the FRA.
"It's been hard to raise the money we've needed to fund our projects. Mostly we rely on small amounts and long-term donations because we're not as 'famous' as other groups," Yang said.
"Still, I'm always happy to know that I have sowed the seed of education in Cambodia. Helping people brings me an inner peace of mind," Yang said.
Taipei, March 10 (CNA) A concert featuring Taiwanese musicians Eric Chen and Kenneth Hsieh will be held March 13 to pay tribute to Taiwan-Canada relations and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) , the CTOT announced Friday.
Well-known pianist Chen will perform with Canadian-born conductor Hsieh and the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in the "2006 Taiwan-Canada Evening of Music," to be held at the Taipei National Concert Hall.
"Twenty years of cooperation has made people-to-people and economic ties between Canada and Taiwan increasingly valuable for both sides, " said Gordon Houlden, Executive Director of CTOT.
The concert will be a part of a dynamic program of activities throughout the year, he added.
Chen and Hsieh will honor Taiwanese and Canadian music in the two-hour program, which will present four Taiwanese folk songs and pieces by Canadian composers David Foster, Michael Conway Baker and others.
Chen, one of the most popular pianists in Taiwan, has made 21 recordings and has won numerous international piano competition awards.
The winner of the 2005 Heinz Unger Prize Award in conducting, 25-year-old Hsieh has emerged as one of Canada's rising young conductors and is currently assistant conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Human rights is an universal value and any regime which suppresses freedom of speech, religion or thought should be reprimanded, a candidate in the Kuomintang's (KMT's) primary for the year-end Taipei mayoral election said Friday.
While sitting with a group of human rights activists who launched a two-week hunger strike to protest the deteriorating human rights situation in China, Hau Lung-pin said that "for China to have a 'peaceful rising', it has to respect human rights first."
"I'm here to show my support for the universal value," the former Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration chief added.
"Over eight million people have renounced the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP) , which means even CCP members don't agree with what the party is doing. The CCP should give this deep thought, " Hau continued.
"I take my hat off to these people who are here today and are using a peaceful way to voice their protest instead of resorting to violence and bloodshed," the son of former Premier Hau Pei-tsun said.
Human rights advocates in North America, the Asia Pacific region and Europe have joined in a global relay hunger strike against China's suppression, which in Taiwan is taking place in front of Exhibition Hall 2 of the Taipei World Trade Center from March 6-19.
Taipei, March 9 (CNA) British soccer coach Alfred Galustian will conduct a youth soccer mini-camp in Taiwan from March 16-20 to help Taiwanese youngsters develop fundamental soccer skills.
A pair of two-day clinics organized by Adidas Taiwan will be held in Taichung and Taipei, respectively, from March 16-17 and March 19-20. Youngsters and youth team coaches from around the country will be instructed by Galustian on the future trend of soccer and outdoor drills.
A former player for Wimbledon in the English Premier League, Galustian is the co-founder of Coerver Coaching and has worked as a coaching consultant to soccer clubs in the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, China and Japan.
Taipei, March 9 (CNA) An annual poll found that nearly 80 percent of Taiwanese schoolchildren are happy although the sky-rocketing divorce rate and increasing academic pressures have made a strong impact on children, the monthly magazine Better Life announced in a press conference Thursday.
The survey, conducted on Grade 4, 5 and 6 students in 42 elementary schools around Taiwan, found that 79 percent of schoolchildren said they felt happy. A total of 2,107 valid samples were collected in the survey, with a margin of error of 3 percent.
Surprisingly, only 76.2 percent of schoolchildren in central Taiwan said they were happy, the lowest among the three regions and an astounding 5.8 percent drop from last year. Southern Taiwan showed the highest percentage of happy children at 80 percent.
"The deterioration of public order in central Taiwan is one of the possible reasons, " explained Chai Sung-lin, a national policy advisor to President Chen Shui-bian.
Fifty-four percent of respondents thought their parents were happy. However 33.2 percent-- up from 17.2 percent last year -- of those who felt their parents were unhappy said their parents' separation was the main reason.
"Forty years ago, Taiwan had one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. Today it's among the highest. At the current pace, in six or seven years it will be the country with the highest divorce rate, which will undoubtedly affect children," said Chai.
Meanwhile, "academic performance" and "scolding by parents and teachers" ranked as the top two reasons for unhappiness among schoolchildren, at 25.2 percent and 25.9 percent respectively.
"It tells us that, after all these educational reforms, academic pressure is still mounting and taking its toll on schoolchildren, " said Tsai Wen-che, a psychiatrist at National Taiwan University Hospital.
Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Academics expressed concern Thursday over China's military buildup and the increasing imbalance in cross-Taiwan Strait military capacities in a seminar that focused on reflection on the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996.
Some things have changed and some have stayed the same in cross-strait relations after 10 years, most of the academics agreed in the seminar titled "Retrospective and Perspective: 10th Anniversary of the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996" held at National Taiwan University Alumni Hall and organized by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Cross-strait Interflow Prospect Foundation.
China launched test missiles in March 1996, about two weeks away from Taiwan's first direct presidential election, which landed near Keelung and Kaohsiung, Taiwan's largest ports in the north and the south, and staged live-fire military exercises involving land, sea and air troops simulating an invasion of Taiwan. It was later known as the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996.
"In 10 years, China has transformed itself from 'hard totalitarianism' to 'soft totalitarianism' but has never given up the
idea of annexing Taiwan, " said MAC Vice Chairman You Ying-lung, who also urged China to speed up its democratization and stop threatening the use of military force.
Looking back, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 changed U.S.-China-Taiwan relations dramatically, said Lin Wen-cheng, a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University. "The Bush government started trying to work with China as part of its global war on terrorism instead of viewing China as a strategic competitor, which hurt Taiwan, " Lin said.
The presidential election victory of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2000 caught China by surprise and changed its mindset and approach toward cross-strait issues, Lin added.
China's armed forces have seen double-digit increases in military spending since the early 1990s, said DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung. "China targeted its military power not only at Taiwan but also Japan and the U.S., both of which would help Taiwan defend itself should China attack Taiwan. But ironically, China declares itself a peace-loving country, " Lee said.
Lee said that no matter who wins Taiwan's 2008 presidential election, China will not stop suppressing Taiwan's international
space and interfering in Taiwan's domestic affairs.
"No consensus is expected to be reached between Beijing and Taipei, " Lee said. "Taiwan will not find a solution to cross-strait relations until it is equipped with both hard and soft measures to deal with China, " he added, while implying that Taiwan should strengthen its military capacity.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Taiwanese women should fight against the standardization of beauty which is being forced upon them by the beauty industry and male criticism, a women's group said in a press conference Tuesday on the eve of International Women's Day.
Awakening Foundation (AF) has announced the launch of a contest offering a NT$10,000 prize to create a slogan that presents "a new option for Taiwanese women."
"Modern Taiwanese women -- whether young or old -- are under an unprecedented amount of pressure to 'look pretty.' At the same time, they are confronted by public criticism by men every day," said Fan Yun, Vice President of the AF.
Today's ideal of feminine beauty is becoming a set image: slim, light-skinned and chesty. The beauty industry -- which includes beauty salons, plastic surgery, cosmetics companies and fitness centers -- are responsible for most of the blame, said Fan.
"It [the beauty industry] forms an alliance with popular culture, and uses products and advertisement as weapons. Its objective, ultimately, is profit," said AF Managing Director Hu Shu-wen.
In response to the beauty industry's advertising tactics, the AF countered popular commercial slogans like "Perfect is a good idea" and "There are no ugly women but lazy ones" with "Stop diet, go play" and "Trust me, it's OK if you don't make it."
A male-dominated society and the media can't be allowed to shy away from their responsibility, said Fan.
"And it's time to liberate women from the standardization and singularity of beauty, which is fundamentally a form of gender discrimination."
"Don't get us wrong. We are not opposed to beauty as an individual value. We are trying to say that Taiwanese women have the right to define beauty in their own way, " Hu noted.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Human rights activists staged a 24-hour relay hunger strike in Taipei Monday to join the call from a Chinese lawyer to protest over the Chinese government's repeated violations of human rights.
Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer in China known for his public defiance of the Chinese communist regime, has called for hunger strikes across China in protest against the regime's persecution.
Human rights advocates in North America, the Asia Pacific region and Europe also joined the globally synchronized hunger strike, which in Taiwan began in front of Exhibition Hall 2 of the Taipei World Trade Center at 9 a.m. Monday and was scheduled to end 9a.m. Tuesday.
In an official statement, the protesters called for the Chinese government to unconditionally release all writers and reporters who have been secretly kidnapped and illegally detained, reinstate lawyers whose practices have been illegally discontinued, and stop the suppression of Falun Gong, which in China is viewed as an illegal cult.
Yan Peng, a Chinese dissident seeking political asylum in Taiwan, and former president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights Wei Chien-feng, a practicing lawyer, also participated in the strike.
Protesters will follow the strike with a two-week sit-in at the same location until March 19.
Gao wrote an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao last October criticizing the regime's persecution of Falun Gong. Gao has been constantly monitored by communist spies since his open letter, and in January survived an attempted assassination.
Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Paul Lien, a young doctor who spent 20 months doing humanitarian relief work in Burkina Faso, shared the life lessons he learned by living in the poor western African country, touching the 300 participants in a seminar held over the weekend.
Lien applied for the alternative military service program and was sent to Burkina Faso in November 2001 as a military surgeon. During his 20 months there, Lien helped build an orphanage which now houses 100 children and collected more than 70,000 articles of clothing for people living in poverty in the country.
"It was a learning experience, " Lien said at the seminar. "Since high school, I have thought a lot about 'higher values' than just focusing on academics. The experience in Africa was a starting point for me. I wanted to make the best of those two years."
Lien said he told himself there was nothing to lose before applying for the service. "I thought that there wasn't any risk to my life and that I could learn French there."
Lien did more than that, winning praise and appreciation from people in Burkina Faso and the Burkina Faso government.
"Coming from a middle-class family where I didn't have to worry about anything in life, I thought I needed to show my appreciation by helping the less fortunate," Lien said.
"Life there was not easy, and there were so many obstacles in the way when I tried to help people," he said.
Lien said that his time in Burkina Faso, where the average life expectancy is only 42 years, made him think about life and death at a younger age than most people in Taiwan.
Lien was awarded a medal of distinction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after returning to Taiwan in 2003 for his work in Burkina Faso. He also published a book detailing his life in Africa.
Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Taiwanese people and media should pay closer attention to human rights issues in China because it serves Taiwan's interests well, human rights advocates said on the sidelines of a protest against China Monday.
Dozens of human rights activists launched a 24-hour relay hunger strike to protest against China for its repeated violations of human rights, which include illegal kidnapping and detention of dissidents and suppression of Falun Gong members.
"The democratization of China will benefit Taiwan, as far as cross-Taiwan Strait relations are concerned, and it is why Taiwanese should pay more attention to human rights problems in China, " said Yan Peng, a Chinese dissident who is seeking political asylum in Taiwan.
"Taiwanese are familiar with China but not with the Communist Party of China (CPC) . People know about the 'China Rising' and visit China, but most of them don't understand what the CPC has actually done in China, " claimed Tsao Hueiling, publisher of the Taiwanese edition of The Epoch Times.
"Taiwanese may know about the suppression of dissidents, religion and media by the CPC. But they don't live there and experience it first-hand. For most people it's something that happens in another country and has nothing to do with their daily lives, " Tsao said.
"The bottom line is: It's not just 'news, ' it's about people's lives, " she said.
Taipei, March 3 (CNA) Taiwanese baseball fans lamented Taiwan's 2-0 loss to South Korea in the opening game of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Friday but were proud of Taiwan's overall performance and fighting spirit.
The loss means Taiwan's hopes of advancing to the second round are slim. Taiwan has to beat Japan on Saturday and China on Sunday to ensure a top two finish in the Pool A and a second round seed.
"We went down fighting. I'm proud of them although we lost the game, " said a fan surnamed Lan, who watched the outdoor live broadcast on a giant LCD screen in the Taipei County Plaza with more than 2,000 cheering fans.
South Korea lost to Taiwan 5-4 in 10 innings in the 2003 Asian Championship and failed to qualify for the 2004 Sydney Olympics.
But Taiwan's top pitcher Wang Chien-ming, who plays for the New York Yankees, did not join the national team this time, nor did top hitters Cheng Chin-feng and Peng Cheng-min.
In addition to the Taipei County Plaza, live broadcasts on giant screens were also set up at the Taipei Arena, Living Mall, National Taiwan University Gymnasium and various locations in Taichung and Kaohsiung. More than 6,000 fans packed the Taipei Arena.
Two television stations broadcast the game live and even the legislators became baseball fans for three hours. Yu Shyi-kun, chairman of the ruling party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), also watched the broadcast.
Taiwan had five hits, three fewer than South Korea, but had a chance to tie the game at the bottom of the ninth innings. Trailing by two with runners on first and third base, pinch hitter Chan Chi-yao failed to produce a hit.
The WBC is the first international baseball tournament to feature U.S. Major League players. Sixteen teams have been divided into four groups, with Taiwan bracketed in Pool A with China, Japan and South Korea for round-robin first-round games slated for March 3-5.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Seven performances of the rock musical that consists of 52 songs without any dialogue will be performed at the Taipei Arena. Last March it was also performed in Taipei.
The musical, which debuted in 1998 in Paris, is based upon the novel of the same name by French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Richard Cocciante and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.
Since its debut, the musical has been performed in 26 cities in 13 countries.
"Taiwan is now only at 70-80 percent of its full strength after losing its ace hitters Chen Chin-feng and Peng Cheng-min and its No.1 pitcher, Wang Chien-ming, " said King Wang, a former reporter who has been covering baseball for 15 years.
The WBC is the first international baseball tournament to feature U.S. Major League players. Sixteen teams have been divided into four groups, with Taiwan bracketed in Pool A with China, Japan and South Korea for round-robin first-round games slated for March 3-5.
"Considering the absence of some of its top players and the fact that Taiwanese baseball is still a few steps behind Japan and South Korea, I would say a third-place finish in the first round is reasonable, " Wang said.
Jason Chang, a baseball columnist, is more optimistic. "As you can see, Taiwan team is going through a rebuilding phase, bringing in young blood and dropping veterans. Younger players make up the lack of experience with hustle and competitiveness."
After facing South Korea Friday, Taiwan will meet Japan on Saturday and then China on Sunday. With Japan being the favorite to win the group, the Taiwan-South Korea matchup is widely seen as a battle for second place in the group and the right to advance to the next round.
"Both Japan and Korea are under tremendous pressure to win. And baseball is a subtle sport in which winning and losing can be decided by the intangibles. I would say Taiwan still has a chance (to advance), " Chang said.
The strongest part of Taiwan's team is its infield, said former baseball reporter Kerry Wu. "The pitchers and outfield are above average at best. And that makes hitting the key. The support of offensive firepower in a short tournament always helps."
"Let's not look at this tournament in terms of patriotism or nationalism. We need to look past that and enjoy the WBC as a baseball festival that showcases top baseball players from around the world. Winning or losing a game will not turn our baseball world upside down overnight, " Wu said.
The first round games of the other three groups will be played from March 7-11 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The final four will be played in San Diego March 18-20.
The race will have seven stages and cover a distance of 764 kilometers, setting off from the southern city of Kaohsiung and finishing in Taipei City. In between, the route covers the eastern counties of Taitung, Hualien and Yilan.
Six prizes, including Individual General Classification, Team General Classification, King of Sprint, King of Mountain, Best Asian Rider and Best Local Rider will also be awarded to individual riders.
Merida Europe of Slovakia and Giant Asia Racing Team of Taiwan are expected to challenge the team title.
The Tour de Taiwan was first held in 1987 by CTCA and has been awarded the distinguished level of 2.2 by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The destination in the race's final stage will be right next to the Taipei World Trade Center, where the Taipei International Cycle Show will be taking place. Both events end on the same day of March 11.
"We urge the legislature to pass amendments to the THPA in this session, " said Ted Chen, a professor at Tulane University who also serves as the president of the 2007 Asian Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (APACT).
If Taiwan takes the first step in setting stricter regulations on tobacco control, the other Asian countries will follow, said Dr. Judith Mackay, director of Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, who is based in Hong Kong.
The THPA, passed in 1997, provides the legal basis for Taiwan's tobacco control efforts. The Executive Yuan has already proposed amendments to the THPA based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and the bill is
currently pending in the legislature.
Aside from the amendments, Taiwan should promote the regulation and administration of a smoke-free environment, which includes all indoor public spaces and working space, said Huang Song-lih, General Secretary of the Taiwan International Medical Alliance (TIMA).
TIMA also advocates a ban on all tobacco advertisement in magazines and points of sales, the regulation of smoking scenes in films and on TV, and a ban on the sponsorship of any event by a tobacco company in order to achieve a smoke-free Taiwan.
The Regional Workshop on Women and Tobacco Control is a three-day meeting co-organized by TIMA and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).
"The last time such a meeting was held was in Kobe in 1999, " said Huang Song-lih, Secretary-General of the Taiwan International Medical Alliance (TIMA), which is co-organizing the workshop with the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).
Tobacco control experts, government officials and feminists from a dozen Asian countries are participating in the workshop to address the increasing prevalence of smoking in women and young girls, gender-specific tobacco control policy and to discuss basic issues such as why women smoke.
The goal for the meeting is that each participating country can map out an action plan that can be implemented after wide-ranging discussion and exchanges, Huang said.
"Actually, Asia has done quite well in tobacco control compared to the rest of the world, " claimed Dr. Judith Mackay, Director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, who is based in Hong Kong.
Overall, the smoking rate among women in Asia is still very low, Mackay noted. "But we have concerns for several reason. First of all, tobacco companies are targeting women in their marketing plans. Secondly, general health education is not as successful as it should be. Thirdly, there is a legislation problem, " she said.
The ratio of smoking adult Taiwanese women in 2004 was 4.54 percent, according to the latest statistics released by the Department of Health (DOH).