Sunday, April 30, 2006
"With governmental efforts suffering nine straight years of setbacks due to China's obstruction, the political side of Taiwan's WHO bid is a stalemate, " said Wu Chih-chung, a Soochow University assistant professor who also serves as secretary-general of the European Union Study Association, the organizer of the forum.
The best way to turn things around is to increase the E.U.'s understanding of Taiwan through different channels -- non-governmental organizations, research and exchange groups, media reports, and various forms of bilateral exchanges, Wu said.
"Taiwan also has to replace 'sentiment' (from China's obstruction) with confidence, showing people what it can do with its advanced medical expertise and experience in fighting SARS and avian flu to make contributions to the WHO, " said Betty Chiu, an assistant researcher of the National Health Research Institutes.
The United States and Japan have publicly voiced their support for Taiwan's WHO bid, which is encouraging news, Wu said.
"That makes winning the E.U.'s support even more critical. And there's no way we can't do it. Taiwan is the E.U.'s fourth largest trading partner in Asia and 10th largest trading partner in the world, " he added.
China is obviously the No.1 reason why the E.U. does not support Taiwan's bid in public, Wu said.
"Almost everyone we talked to said they thought Taiwan should be in the WHO, but whenever we brought up the 'one China policy, ' there was almost total silence," Wu said.
In addition, Taiwan has to make clear its objective and build domestic consensus, noted Liu Fu-kuo, a National Chengchi University professor.
"Taiwan needs to make sure whether it wants to bid for observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the WHO's governing body, or for full membership under the name Republic of China, or under the name Taiwan. This can affect Taiwan's strategy," he said.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The Hong Kong Cultural Week includes installations and cultural event information and will be held April 28 to May 11 at the Eslite Bookstore (Hsin-yi), said Jessica Huang, Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board's (HKTB) Taipei branch office.
"Hong Kong is more than a shopper's paradise," said Huang. "The campaign wants to let Taiwanese people know about cultural events and heritage they can enjoy in Hong Kong. It's a celebration of Hong Kong's popular culture."
Between April 20 and May 7, visitors to Hong Kong will be able to experience four major traditional Hong Kong festivals first-hand: The birthday of Buddha, the birthday of Tam Kung, the birthday of Tin Hau and the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival stands out in terms of uniqueness, Huang said. Youngsters dressed as mythological figures are held aloft on hidden rods in a parade. The procession ends at a temple where men and women clamber up a tower covered in buns to grab as many "lucky" ones off the top as possible.
Huang estimated the average number of Taiwanese tourists visiting Hong Kong during the month of festivities as somewhere between 180,000-190,000 -- an increase of 5,000 over other months.
The event is part of the "2006 Discover Hong Kong Year" campaign to boost Hong Kong tourism.
Ma, who is expected to run in the 2008 presidential election as a "pan-blue alliance" candidate, said the "Five Noes, five do's" pledge will be the cornerstone of his and the KMT's policy once the party returns to power.
Ma delivered a speech titled "Embracing Chellenges Ahead: Ma Ying-jeou's Vision for Taipei and Taiwan" at a monthly European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ECCT) luncheon, attended by more than 180 ECCT members.
"The five noes has become the common denominator in Washington, Beijing and Taiwan," Ma said, adding he would admit he "borrowed" this from President Chen Shui-bian.
President Chen said in his May 2000 inaugural speech that as long as China promises not to use military force against Taiwan, he will not declare Taiwan independence, will not change the official name of the country, will not include the "state-to-state" theory in the Constitution, will not promote a referendum to change the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo, and will not abolish the the National Unification Council (NUC) and its guidelines.
But the "five do's" he and the KMT have been advocating are even more important for Taiwan's future development, Ma said.
For the "five do's," Ma suggested that both sides resume talks between governments; work toward military confidence-building measures; work toward the creation of a common market; try to achieve a "modus vivendi" -- a temporary agreement between contending parties prior to a final settlement -- on Taiwan's participation in international organizations; and accelerate cross-strait cultural and educational exchanges.
Ma expressed concern that by 2015 Taiwan could be left out and "economically marginalized" when 10 ASEAN countries, including China, Japan and South Korea establish the largest economic integration in the world, representing 2 billion people with a combined US$12 trillion GDP.
This is why he and the KMT will have a "pragmatic and open" approach in dealing with China and will begin to remove legal difficulties hampering exchanges between Taiwan and China, Ma said.
"We can't wait for another two years; otherwise Taiwan will lose its competiveness," he said.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Because of modern technology such as mobile phones, handycams and the Internet, there is much more first-hand information coming to the media directly from citizens. The media needs to move with this trend but should still check and validate sources, said Gowing.
Gowing, who was invited by the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei to deliver a speech at its monthly luncheon, has been the main anchor on BBC World, the BBC's 24-hour international TV news and information channel, since 1996.
In covering the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina's damage in the United States and the London Underground bombing, the media resorted to citizens to provide first-hand information and observations, he said, adding that following the bombings in London, the BBC received more than 1,000 images, 20 video clips, 3,000 text messages and 20,000 emails from London citizens relating to the
Nowadays, he said, citizens often provide more information following major news events than the media, which in turn provides more information than government agencies most of the time.
"The job of people like me or other BBC staff is to check and validate, " Gowing said. "The media needs to produce real-time reports and react quickly, but we'd rather wait a little bit longer before reporting as the validation is going on," he said.
News reporting today has "higher impact and shorter time frame" because of the information explosion and development of technology, which makes it even more important for the media to provide correct reporting, Gowing said.
"If you don't invest now, somebody else will, " said Gopal Srinivasan, Director of TVS Electronics Ltd., in the two-day forum titled "Seize the India Trend: International Forum on Taiwan-India Commercial Exchanges."
Taiwanese businesses can duplicate their success in the 1990s in China in India, which is regarded as the next "world factory" after China and one of the fastest-emerging economies in the world, said Vijay Gokhale, Director-General of India-Taipei Association, India's de facto embassy in Taiwan.
Gokhale said Taiwan's "Go South Policy" and India's "Look East Policy" are a perfect match as Taiwan looks to shake off its economic dependency on China while India is trying to bring in foreign investment.
It makes no sense that Taiwan's trade with India is less than 1 percent of its total trade, while its trade with China, the United States, Japan and the European Union -- the other four of the world's five largest economies -- all exceeded 10 percent, said Yu Shyi-kun, chairman of the Taiwan-India Cooperation Council (TICC).
"The reason for Taiwan to increase investment in India is not just for its cheap labor. It's for the excellent brains of the Indian work force, " said Ko Chen-en, president of Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research.
And it is better to invest in India sooner than later, since Japanese and Korean corporations such as Suzuki, Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG Electronics have all made their moves and have enjoyed relative success, Srinivasan noted.
Stan Shih, founder of the Acer Group said in a keynote speech that "Taiwan is developing its knowledge economy and business innovation, both of which need a large-scale market to be successful."
TICC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan ThinkTank organized the forum, which is being attended by more than 200 government officials, business representatives and scholars from India and Taiwan.
A total of 10 speeches covering areas such as auto components, textiles, medical services and electronics will be held Friday, following seven topical lectures delivered on the first day.
"From the international law perspective, Taiwan is already an independent country with its own territory, government and people," said Shigeru Oda, a professor at Japan's Tohoku University and a former judge of the International Court of Justice for 27 years.
"There's no need for Taiwan to stress the fact of independence, " Oda said. "Instead, what Taiwan urgently needs to do is shore up its national defense."
The Oda family enjoyed a deep relationship with Taiwan when the island was under Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). During that period, Oda's grandfather and father served as doctors in Taiwan, helping to establish medical schools on the island.
Oda, 79, grew up and received most of his secondary education in Taipei before returning to Tokyo in 1945 to pursue an international law career, which has taken him to the U.S. and the Netherlands.
During the last 60 years, Oda has occasionally visited Taiwan and described himself as "nostalgic" and holding special feelings for the island.
Oda addressed a full house about how the Taiwanese were reluctant to talk about politics after the tragic Feb. 28 Incident of 1947 in which many elite Taiwanese professionals were jailed or executed by the then-Kuomintang government.
In his view, Oda continued, Taiwan was wrong to adopt an "all or nothing" approach in its battle to defend its seat in the United Nations in the early 1970s. Because of then-President Chiang Kai-shek's reluctance to make any compromise on the Republic of China's national title, the U.N. General Assembly came to adopt Resolution No. 2758 in 1971, giving the "China" seat to Beijing at the expense of Taipei.
The seminar "My perspective on Taiwan" was part of a series of activities to commemorate the late ruling Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Huang Shin-chieh. It was co-organized by the Ketagalan Institute and the International Cultural Foundation.
As a latecomer who started working on children's picture books at the age of 20, Tan is regarded as one of the most promising Australian illustrators. Tan is visiting Taiwan on a promotional tour for Australian picture books.
Tan was born in 1974 and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. His father is a Malaysian civil engineer of Chinese descent who relocated to Australia. In school, Tan became known as the "good drawer" which partly compensated for always being the shortest kid in every class.
He graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1995 with degrees in fine arts and English literature. Currently, Tan works full-time as a freelance illustrator and writer, concentrating mostly on picture books.
Tan began drawing and painting images for science fiction and horror stories in magazines as a teenager. He has won numerous awards for his work. He recently worked for Blue Sky Studios and Pixar, providing concept artwork for films, and turned down Pixar's offer of a full-time job.
Tan introduced to Taiwan two of his books, "The Red Tree" and "The Lost Thing", both of which are currently being adapted for short films. His works reflect a lot of his childhood memories and observations of life, making them suitable for both children and adults.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of an exhibition of more than 40 Australian picture books at Eslite Bookstores in Taipei Tuesday, Tan said he is proud of Australian picture books publishing and the country he comes from.
"Australia is an incredibly diverse country. And its picture books publishing is very disorganized, which is good. Artists in the field come from everywhere. There are businesspeople, school teachers, parents, people who live in the city, and people from the countryside," he said.
"And Australian picture books are being recognized for being experimental and adventurous, " Tan said.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Taipei, April 25 (CNA) A month-long exhibition of Australian picture books will showcase the creativity of illustrators like Shaun Tan, who is visiting Taiwan, and the diversity of Australian children's literature, the Australian Trade and Industry Office (ACIO) in Taipei announced at a press conference Tuesday.
More than 40 picture books authored by well-known illustrators like Alison Lester, Ron Brooks and Tan will be displayed in nine Eslite Bookstores from April 25 to May 21.
The exhibition provides a good opportunity to understand Australian children's picture book publishing, which is different from British and American picture books, said Evelyn Killick, executive deputy director of ACIO's Economic and Policy Section.
Australia is an incredibly diverse country and it shows in its picture books, with illustrators coming from all walks of life, race
and age, said Tan, who is of Chinese descent.
Tan provided two of his books -- "The Red Tree" and "The Lost Thing" -- in the exhibition and has been giving speeches on various campuses in Taiwan during his tour.
"Australia has long been known for its picture book publishing, " said Sarah Ko, a professor at National Taipei University. "But Taiwan people often mistake Australian picture books for American or British publications."
"The stories and graphics of Australian picture books are not as dramatic and eye-catching as American and British books. They are more tender and subtle, and show a profound power," she claimed.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
"If we can't say Hu's visit was a failure, it wasn't a success, either. China didn't get anything it wanted. And the protest [on the South Lawn of the White House by a Falun Gong member] humiliated Hu," said Lin Wen-cheng, a National Sun Yat-sen University professor.
The U.S. refused to consider the trip a state visit and reiterated that it would deal with the Taiwan issue based on the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, Lin explained.
China "made a huge investment in the trip but gained little in return, " said Paul Lin, a New York-based political commentator who relocated to Taiwan in March.
Lin said China had made every effort before the Bush-Hu meeting at the White House Thursday -- including signing a US$16 billion procurement deal, holding forums with Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) and setting up an international Buddhism forum -- to ensure the visit's success.
China's wishes did not materialize, Lin said, as U.S. President George W. Bush pressured China on the trade deficit, Iran and currency control, but would not make any concessions on the cross-Taiwan Strait issue.
"Obviously, the U.S. was in the offensive mode from the beginning and made Hu play defense, " said Cheng Tuan-yao, acting director of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University.
"I didn't see any major breakthrough in China-U.S. relations. Moreover, China's promise to work with the U.S. on major international issues will come on a test next week when the U. N. Security Council will begin to address the Iran nuclear controversy," Cheng said.
"Compared to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin's U.S. visit in 1997, Hu did not do a good job this time," Lo Chih-cheng, a Soochow University professor, said, adding that future U.S.-China relations will become even more complex.
"As expected, the Bush-Hu meeting was more symbolism than substance," summed up Raymond Wu, deputy chief executive officer of the Cross Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation.
U.S.-China relations are not expected to change dramatically in the near future, scholars agreed at the forum which was organized by Taiwan Thinktank to discuss Taiwan-U.S.-China relations after the Bush-Hu huddle.
"I really don't think the U.S. and China will be 'strategic partners' because the two sides don't share common values, although they do have common interests," said Raymond Wu, deputy chief executive officer of the Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation.
If Taiwan can combine its interests with those of the U.S., the two sides' relations would greatly improve, as Taiwan and the U.S. both share common values of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.
By working with the U.S. to advance "transformational diplomacy" -- a strategy advocated by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aiming to "work with our many partners around the world to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people" -- Taiwan will integrate its interest with that of the U.S., Soochow University professor Lo Chih-cheng said.
"Helping China move toward a democratic and human rights-respecting country serves U.S. and Taiwan's interests at the same time," Lo said.
Two major points of contention between China and the U.S. are coming up shortly, said Lin Wen-cheng, a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University.
The Iran issue will be discussed in the Security Council of the United Nations next week and the U.S. is seeking China's support. The annual report of the U.S. Treasury Department, which is expected to bring up China's currency control issue, will also be released soon.
The project, proposed by President Chen during a 2005 Latin American trip, budgeted NT$7.5 billion (US$250 million) and aimed at encouraging Taiwanese investment in Central and South America. It serves as a strategy to neutralize China's increasing impact in the region.
Paraguay welcomed the project and hopes to be Taiwan's "gateway" to enter the Latin American market, Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay Ramon Diaz Pereira said at the 2006 Taiwan-Latin America Forum, which was organized by Tamkang University Graduate Institute of Latin America Studies. Paraguay is one of 12 Latin American countries that have established official relations with Taiwan, which currently has 25 diplomatic allies.
"Taiwan can use this project to developing better ties with Latin American countries. For example, high-caliber Costa Rican employees will be helpful to Taiwan in developing the Spanish-version of computer software," said former ambassador to Costa Rica Mao Kao-wen.
"Every country has different needs, environment and background. Different detailed plans are needed to make the most out of the project," Mao noted.
The US$250 million pales in comparison with the US$10 billion China invests in Latin America every year, said Juan Hung Hui, a professor at Tamkang University. This is why Taiwan needs to improve its relations with China -- to avoid such diplomatic competition, he said.
China has had its sights set on Latin America since its economic boom, hoping to use financial aid and trade agreements to squeeze Taiwan's dipomatic space in the region, said Jason Ko, Director of the MOFA's Department of Central and South America Affairs, at the 2006 Taiwan-Latin America Forum.
Taiwan must hold its ground in Latin America, where 12 of its 25 diplomatic allies are located, and devise a new approach to replace the traditional way of "dollar diplomacy," Ko stressed.
"Our allies in Latin America wanted a brand new cooperation format instead of simply receiving financial aid. They hope to see more investment from Taiwanese businesses," he said.
The "Jung Pang Project," an initiative President Chen Shui-bian proposed during his 2005 trip to Latin America, may be a good start. The NT$7.5 billion (US$250 million) project is aimed at encouraging Taiwanese investment in the region and represents a new diplomatic strategy.
The project was welcomed by foreign representatives who attended the annual forum: Costa Rican Ambassador Oscar Alvarez, Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay Ramon Diaz Pereira and Guatemalan Ambassador Jorge Ricardo Putseys Uriguen.
"I would describe the relationship between Taiwan and Latin America as 'both getting what they want.' Latin America needs economic assistance while Taiwan needs help in the political arena," said Elisa Wang, Dean of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of Latin America Studies, which organized the forum.
"With a brand new thinking and approach, I believe Taiwan and Latin America can create a 'win-win' situation," Wang said.
Two-time defending champions Yulon Dinos will meet Bank of Taiwan and Dacin Tigers will meet Taiwan Beer in the best-of-five first round playoffs. The first-round winners advance to the best-of-seven finals.
Led by national team coach Lee Yun-kwang and star center Tsun Wen-ting, regular season champion Yulon will try to win its third consecutive title after finishing 24 wins and 6 losses in the regular season.
Its opponent will be Bank of Taiwan, the "cinderella team" which made the post-season for the first time in SBL's three-year history with a 15W-15L record. With Yulon regarded as a hands-on favorite, Bank of Taiwan head coach Wei Chen-ming predicted that his underrated team will at least get one win in the series.
The games will take place at the Taipei Physical Education College Gymnasium. Game days of the first-round series are April 21, 22, 23, 26 and 27.
SBL, which was established in 2003, is the most competitive senior-level basketball league in Taiwan. Currently there are seven teams in the league.
The survey was conducted by Cheers magazine to explore the top 1,000 corporations' manpower recruitment plans and their school preferences. The corporations were selected in terms of ratings compiled by the CommonWealth business monthly.
The poll found that while NCKU, located in the southern city of Tainan, leads the overall ratings in seven categories, National Taiwan University (NTU) ranks top in terms of producing graduates with leadership and global vision.
Tamkang University has the most sought-after graduates among private universities for the second consecutive year.
In the overall ratings, NTU graduates came in second, followed by those from National Chiao Tung University, National Tsinghua University and National Chengchi University. National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Taipei University of Technology, Tamkang University, National Sun Yat-sen University and Chung-yuan Christian University rounded out the top 10.
Among other findings, the survey shows that compared to five years ago, fresh graduates are better in terms of innovation, global vision and foreign language proficiency but worse in stability, problem-solving ability, professional knowledge and teamwork.
According to the poll, 73.2 percent of the companies surveyed said they will recruit fresh university graduates this year, slightly down from last year's 79.8 percent.
The service industry has replaced the finance industry as the sector with the highest hiring intentions. 86.1 percent of the service industry businesses surveyed showed hiring intention this year.
The survey polled 1,600 local businesses from Feb. 17 to March 22 and received 370 responses.
"For National Taiwan University (NTU), developing personal values through a whole-person education is one of our priorities, " said Joyce Feng, Dean of NTU's Student Affairs Division, in a press conference held to announce the survey results of local businesses' school preference in hiring fresh graduates.
"Of the three key components we look for in an employee, we think character is even more important than soft skills, which means communication skills, and hard skills -- the domain of knowledge, " said Kuo Keng-tsung, special assistant to the president of Mediatek Inc.
"We don't expect employees to change their character to accommodate the company. On the contrary, we look to place employees in the most suitable positions for them, " Kuo added.
In the days of "knowledge explosion" and "chaotic" values, professional knowledge is no longer the most important segment in business hiring and college education, they agreed, which is why NTU has declared its core elements of "TAIDA" -- teamwork, accountability, integrity, diligence and ambition/vision, Feng said.
Mediatek Inc. also looks for six characteristics it calls "TICTIC, " in its employees -- trust, integrity, courage, teamwork, innovation and continuous learning.
"People can always learn because learning takes a lifetime. We believe, however, that once the character is shaped, it's hard to change," Kuo said.
"Even today, the key to success for a person or corporation still lies in the fundamentals," Kuo said.
Friday, April 21, 2006
"People expect China to become a democratic country and responsible stakeholder after its economical development. It's a fantasy," said Ruan Ming, an advisor to President Chen Shui-bian and a former Communist Party of China (CPC) spin doctor in the 1970s before fleeing China.
The activists were responding to a 2005 statement by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in which he said: "As it becomes a major global player, we are now encouraging China to become a 'responsible stakeholder' that will work with the United States and others to sustain, adapt, and advance the peaceful international system that has enabled its success."
Chinese President Hu Jintao insisted on a policy that "opens up the economy but retains political suppression," Ruan said, adding that he calls it an "open slavery system."
"Regardless of what attention it gets or doesn't get, the CPC will not be a responsible party, and this has always been the case," said Paul Lin, a New York-based political commentator.
The world is seeking a "new definition -- economically or politically" of the current China, said Hu Ping, the chief editor of Beijing Spring since 1996. But he said the world should also look at "the dark side behind China's peaceful rising."
"Economists offer praise and are amazed at China's economic boom. However, if China does not develop comprehensive political reforms, we'll be seeing an evil superpower ten years from now," Hu warned.
"The CPC will not be responsible to anything because it's a totalitarian regime, which is not being supervised by elections or the media as it is in democratic countries. You just can't trust them," said U.S.-based political commentator Cao Changqing.
The seminar "Will the CPC be a responsible stakeholder?" was organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
"Undocumented migrant workers have become a critical concern affecting the public order in Taiwan. If employers obey the law and refuse to hire migrant workers who absconded from their legal jobs, we believe the number of unaccounted-for foreign workers and illegal recruitment agencies will gradually decrease, " said CLA Minister Lee Ying-yuan.
First-time offenders will face a maximum fine of NT$750,000, while repeat offenders within a period of five years will receive a sentence of three years or less or a maximum fine of NT$1.2 million, Lee said.
Under the current circumstances, undocumented migrant workers are easily exploited by their employers, for instance by working overtime or without labor insurance, Lee noted. And it is a problem the CLA is very concerned about.
Undocumented migrants workers are encouraged to turn themselves in to the authorities. Those who wish to do so can use toll-free telephone numbers of 0800-885885 (English) , 0800-885995 (Thai) , 0800-885958 (Indonesian) and 0800-017858 (Vietnamese).
The CLA has vowed to streamline the process of returning illegals home to their countries of origin and re-issuing missed passports for migrant workers.
"President Leonel Fernandez said that the relationship between Taiwan and Dominican Republic is beyond the diplomatic level. It's up to an ethical level, " said Jose Luis Corripio Estrada, an economic adviser to Fernandez and the president of Grupo Corripio, one of the biggest corporations in Dominican Republic.
The Associated Press reported two weeks ago that Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso said in a TV interview April 6 that his country would consider establishing official diplomatic relations with China if it serves the country's interests.
A Spanish proverb says that when one faces a crossroads, taking both routes the best way, Corripio said, adding however that "the proverb is not suitable for describing the relations between Dominican Republic, Taiwan and China."
Dominican Republic is determined to maintain official relations with Taiwan and this can easily be seen, he said.
"First of all, President Fernandez is visiting Taiwan in June and will meet high-ranking officials here. He would not come such a long way to cut the ties between two countries. Also, Dominican Republic and Taiwan are about to launch a massive cooperation plan that has been worked on for many years. Why would we give it up for the sake of establishing relations with China? " he asked.
Speaking on China, Corripio said his country has been trading with China for decades, including the years during which the U.S. imposed an embargo on China. With China's rapid economic development, it's only natural for Dominican Republic to increase trade with China.
Dominican Republic is looking to maintain relations with Taiwan, Corripio said. But "a good relationship takes more than government administration. It takes more cooperation from the private sector to form a more solid bond between us, " he added as an encouragement for more Taiwanese businessmen to invest in Dominican Republic through joint ventures.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
The exhibition is being held in connection with the just-concluded fifth plenary meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) hosted by the Taipei City Government.
Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, which was completed in September 2005, brought back the vitality of downtown Seoul, transforming an area of concrete-covered stream and elevated highway into a leading tourist attraction.
In Tokyo's Akihabara district, the birth of "Akihabara Crossfield" complex aimed at expanding the famous district of eletronic goods to an "IT (Information Technology) hub." The complex was opened in March.
The ancient Cheonggyecheon stream was concreted over in the 1960s to resolve road problems and an elevated highway was constructed on top of the road later. However it started to pose safety and environment concerns for the city.
Led by Seoul Mayor Lee Myung Bak, who launched a "Vision Seoul 2006" initiative, the city of Seoul spent 386.7 billion South Korea won (12 billion $NT) and 27 months to complete the successful project, which has been reported by numerous international media.
Akihabara Crossfield project also tried to bring a "makeover" for an old district. As a part of "Tokyo Plan 2000, " the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released "Urban Development Guidelines for the Akihabara Area" in 2001, highlighting its intent "to create a global center for the IT industry."
The complex consists of two super-highrise buildings: Akihabara Daibiru Building and Akihabara UDX. It is expected to be a new focal point for the Akihabara district, holding areas for Industry-Academia Collaboration, information networking, and attractions for visitors.
Taipei City, which is hosting the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the ANMC21, also has been devoted to various urban redevelopment projects. It has submitted the concept of "Reverse the axis of development. Redevelop the western district, " which seeks to revamp the west side -- the earliest developed area of Taipei.
The estimated budget of urban redevelopment projects in Taipei City this year amounts to NT$40 billion.
"This is the first time that experts from Taiwanese and Indian enterprises, academia, government and research institutes will have assembled on a single platform to discuss a wide range of commercial topics on India, " said Ho Mei-yueh, secretary-general of the Taiwan-India Cooperation Council (TICC).
The forum, titled "Seize the India Trend" is being organized by the TICC, the Taiwan Thinktank and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and is a response to the "Go South" policy the government advocates to shift the over-dependence of Taiwan's economy on China to South Asia, especially India.
The list of foreign guest speakers features executives from well-known Indian enterprises such as TVS Electronics, Synovate Business Consulting, and the Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT).
Acer founder Stan Shih will lead a group of local speakers from the fields of government agencies, enterprises and the media.
Taiwanese businessmen have been successful in China, the Philippines, the Czech Republic and Hungary in the past few years, and it is time for them to take a look at India -- one of the fastest-emerging markets, said Vijay Gokhale, director-general of the India-Taipei Association.
India is going full-speed for political reform and refining the infrastructure, which includes airports, ports and highways, said Gokhale, adding that "in five years you will see big changes in India."
With more than 100 million middle-class people, India will also be a market with strong buying power that will benefit Taiwanese businesses, Gokhale added. He encouraged Taiwan people to learn more about India through the exchange forum.
The speakers will address general topics such as Taiwan's trade and economic policies in response to India's emerging market and branding Taiwan enterprises on the first day. More detailed sessions on different sectors -- textiles, medical, software and automobiles, to name a few -- will take place on the second day.
A semi-government organization established in February with the help of the Taiwan Thinktank, the TICC aims at strengthening economic, trade, parliamentary, artistic and cultural ties between Taiwan and India.
The forum will be held at the International Convention Center of the National Taiwan University Hospital.
Delhi is among nine cities that participated in the "Asia TransPerforming" exhibition, a subordinate event of the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21), which ended that day in Taipei.
"Delhi's infrastructure construction is moving fast. We are reconstructing the airport and establishing a rapid transit system, and our tourism is taking off, " said Vimal Malhotra, divisional manager of the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation (DSIDC), a government undertaking.
"Most people are not familiar with Delhi -- India's capital city, " DCIDC official Sharat Kumar said. "The population of Delhi is 15 million, which is two-thirds of Taiwan's population and more than that of Australia."
"Most people don't realize that you can almost do anything in Delhi on the Internet. Everything is connected on-line, " Kumar said.
The city will host the Commonwealth Games in 2010, which will be an opportunity for Delhi to show the world what it has to offer. Malhotra said: "With the direction Delhi is going at the moment, I believe people won't be disappointed."
The Tai-Ger Vocational Training Project (TGVTP) , which is entering its third year, enjoys the cooperation of the Taishan Training Center -- a subsidiary of the Council of Labor Affairs -- the German Trade Office in Taipei and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).
The project, which covers senior vocational schools, two-year junior colleges and two-year technical colleges, requires participating students to work for three days and go to school for two days every week.
"Our objective is to change the traditional thinking on Taiwan's vocational education, which is sometimes referred as 'secondary education, ' and help produce more competent workers, " said Liao Wei-ren, research and development section chief of the TGVTP.
Students admitted to the project will receive a 50 percent subsidy on tuition from the government and their salaries are required to be not less than 50 percent of a full-time employee who works in the same position.
Graduates of the project will receive DIHK certification.
"This is a project with mutual benefit to the students and companies. Students get the on-the-job training while the companies provide a training ground for their potential employees of the future, " said Jim Chang, a senior manager of the Ruentex Group, whose company employs 22 project participants.
"These students are usually more mature, motivated and goal-oriented than those in four-year universities because they receive academic, vocational and human skill training at the same time. And they know what they want, " said Mark Chen, a professor at Nanya Institute of Technology. The school has 249 students under the project this year.
TGVTP, which was launched in 2003, will have its first graduation class of 206 students this summer. More than 1,000 students have been admitted to the project in the past three years.
The fifth Plenary Meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) is taking place in Taipei, with Beijing and Yangon the only absentees among the 12 member cities of the 6-year-old international platform.
Beijing withdrew from the organization in 2004 after Taipei was selected as the host city for the 2006 plenary meeting. The 2005 plenary meeting, which was to be hosted by Beijing, never took place.
Major Asian cities should "work together and share the same vision to fight poverty and achieve peace and prosperity, " said Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou at the opening ceremony.
Asia has been undergoing mass changes since the 1950s and this is especially true in the 21st Century, Ma said, which is why the theme of this meeting is "Asia in Transformation."
Delegates from Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo are attending the meeting that was proposed by Tokyo Mayor Shintaro Ishihara in 2000.
In addition to discussions on joint projects that range from the environment, urban planning, education, women's development, health and disaster control between member cities, they will also work on an amendment of the ANMC21 Charter and determine the host city of the next meeting before signing the Taipei Declaration.
Meanwhile, an exhibition and cultural events of all participating cities will take place at Hall 2 of the Taipei World Trade Center from April 13-16.
Since its establishment in 2000, the ANMC21 has held its plenary meetings in different member cities -- Tokyo in 2001, Delhi in 2002, Hanoi in 2003 and Jakarta in 2004.
"China continuously used its political power to hinder the meeting's progress by boycotting meeting sessions. Even worse, it disregarded the meeting's resolution, and was unwilling to allow the section giving Taipei priority as the 2006 host city to appear in the joint declaration," Chen said.
Chen praised incumbent Tokyo City Mayor Shintaro Ishihara for dealing with the matter resolutely and bringing the meeting forward to April this year. He also welcomed dignitaries who arrived from nine major Asian cities to take part in the meeting.
Cities that sent delegations to Taipei for the two-day meeting include Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.
A former Taipei City Mayor, President Chen cited past experience in which he took the proactive approach of promoting "city diplomacy" to help Taipei reach out to the world.
Taiwan is "not an isolated island, but rather, an island that embraces the world," President Chen stressed, adding that "a city charged with energy brings an influence far beyond our imagination."
ANMC21 was originally proposed by Ishihara in August 2000 in Kuala Lumpur during a joint conference involving the four cities of Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi, and Seoul. It has 12 member cities before Beijing unilaterally withdrew from the ANMC21, resulting in the 2005 plenary meeting not being held.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Dancing without hearing the instruction and compliments of a great teacher and friend takes a while to get used to, Martha Graham Dance Troupe principle dancer Sheu Fang-yi said Wednesday in reminiscing about Lo Man-fei, who passed away in late March.
Well-known choreographer and dancer Lo Man-fei, who died of lung cancer March 24, was Sheu's teacher and instructor since Sheu's freshman year in college. Sheu said the 15-year relationship "felt more like being friends" rather than a teacher/student relationship.
"I miss her voice, instruction, compliments and that simple gaze. She is always like a proud mother who would tell everyone that her daughter is the best dancer. I get confidence from her confidence in me," Sheu said while trying to fight back tears.
Lo's confidence in Sheu was not blind faith. Sheu, who left Taiwan in 1995 to pursue her dancing career in the U.S., has been rated by U.S. "Dance Magazine" as among the 25 most talented dancers of 2005.
Sheu 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.
"She is always a person who looks at the bright side of life. It seems to me there's nothing she can't handle. As late as last December, when her condition was worsening, she still worked with me and the troupe every day -- and looked energetic," Sheu said.
Playing the lead role in Lo's last choreographic work brings mixed feelings for Sheu. She feels proud to perform Lo's work but has to control her emotions carefully because the dance makes her think of Lo.
For now, Sheu plans to keep dancing. In the future she wants to be involved in choreography and production, just like Lo.
"To carry on her legacy," Sheu said.
Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Cloud Gate 2 Dance Theatre will perform late choreographer Lo Man-fei's last work in its annual presentation with Lo's proud student Sheu Fang-yi playing a leading role, the troupe announced Wednesday in Taipei.
"Pursuing the Dream," the last work directed by well-known choreographer and dancer Lo Man-fei, who died of lung cancer March 24, will be one of three programs in Cloud Gate 2's Spring Gathering 2006.
Lo, one of the most important figures in Asian dance and a New York University graduate, began her professional career in 1974 and continued her training at different schools, including the Martha Graham School. In 1979, she joined Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and was appointed artistic director of Cloud Gate 2 in 1999.
Cloud Gate 2 was founded in 1999 to foster young choreographers, and to tour campuses and grass-root communities in Taiwan. The dancers range in age from 18 to 25.
"It means a lot to me to play the lead role in [Lo's] last work," said Sheu, who is the first Taiwanese principle dancer in the prestigious Martha Graham Dance Troupe and one of Lo's favorite students. She will play the role of Tu Li-niang, the love-struck female who is willing to live or die for love.
It also means a lot to Sheu to dance in her hometown. The dance presentation premieres April 29 in Yilan, where Sheu grew up and dreamt of being a professional dancer as a young girl.
Lo's last piece was also her first collaboration with her New York-based elder sister Sophie Lo. The elder Lo, a singer, will perform Chinese traditional Kunqu opera during the program.
Sheu's long-time boyfriend Bularayang Pagarlava, a Paiwan Aborigine and up-and-coming choreographer in Taiwan, also made his presence felt in the show by his work "Gloaming." The third program is "A Dignified Joke," choreographed by Cheng Tung-lung.
The Spring Gathering 2006 will be performed April 29-30 in Yilan, May 4-7 in Taipei, May 20 in Kaohsiung and May 27
in Taichung. Ticket information is available at www.artstickets.com.tw.
Taipei, April 11 (CNA) Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of modern companies will find themselves at the forefront of the innovation war, which will be a big challenge, two Taiwanese CEOs said Tuesday.
"This is an age of competition, no matter what sector you're in. The product life cycle is as short as months. Innovation is not only inevitable but also the only way to move forward. And the CEOs are standing on the front line, " said Vincent Lin, President of Fuhwa Venture Capital and the Senior Vice President of Fuhwa Financial Holding Company.
"The CEO can't hide in his little hole. He has to embrace as many new technologies, keep making as many friends and visit as many places as possible in order to be innovative, " said Lin.
But "an innovation is more than just a crazy idea, it has to be feasible," said Charles Kao, General Manager of Innotera Memories.
To be innovative, a company has to sort out its core competence in the very beginning. "The key is know yourself. Go with what you have and what you're good at," Kao said.
"And don't be afraid of changes. Any innovation, personnel-wise or operation-wise, means you have to move in a different direction, which is against human nature of wanting to be stable, " according to Lin.
Both Lin and Kao agreed that business innovation is a "top-down" process in most companies.
"A good leader has to be someone who is optimistic, encouraging, curious, honest, always progressing, and profit-motivated," Kao said.
Taipei, April 11 (CNA) Business model innovation is the most important factor in determining the success and revenue of modern enterprises, according to responses from 765 Chief Executive Officers (CEO) in a worldwide survey released Tuesday.
Conducted by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM ) , the biennial survey "The Global CEO Study" found that 28 percent of CEOs will focus on business model innovation, relatively lower than 42 percent who said they would focus on products/services/markets innovation and another 30 percent that would stress operational innovation.
However, after a more in-depth study of the responses from 200 companies, IBM concluded that business model innovation was the key factor in helping usher in more revenue for enterprises.
"The result tells us that emerging companies are those that can master business model innovations," said Paul Liu, Associate Partner of IBM Taiwan Corporation.
Among CEOs who regard business model innovation as the priority, 66 percent said they would implement organizational reform while 53 percent said they will seek to establish a strategic partnership.
Collaborative innovation is also indispensable for businesses, the survey found; meanwhile, it takes the full devotion and planning of upper-level management for innovation to be successful.
Eighty percent of CEOs believed it was important to integrate technology and business. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would pay attention to and spend more energy on innovation in the next three years to embrace the trend of globalization.
The survey was based on responses of 765 CEOs from 200 companies representing 20 different sectors across three continents -- Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Eighty-six respondents were from the Greater China region, including 11 from Taiwan. The survey was first conducted in 2004.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
The two-day World Children's Sports Games, organized by WorldVision Taiwan (WVT) , kicked off Saturday. The games features 11 events, including soccer, basketball and the 100-meter dash.
"Taiwan received assistance from its international friends duringthe bad times in past years, and now Taiwan is reaching out a helping hand and extending its compassion to the global community, " Premier Su Tseng-chang said at the opening ceremony at National Taiwan Normal University.
The competition is part of the "Make Friends With Children in theWorld" campaign launched by WVT to support children in war-torn,less-developed and poor countries.
WVT Executive Director Hank Du welcomed children from the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mozambique, Mongolia, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Honduras and Haiti in his remarks.
"The special event tells us that there are many children in needof help in this world, but they need friendship more than just sympathy. And love does make miracles and brings us closer together," Du said.
The 2006 National Reading Campaign was officially launched Fridayat a book exhibition displaying a collection of 63 works ofliterature, the campaign's theme this year. The books were selectedand recommended by the CAA.
In addition to the book exhibition in Kingstone Bookstoresislandwide from April 7-May 19, an essay competition and acloze test will be held. Writers will also visit campuses forspeeches from April 17-June 17 to advocate the importance of reading.
"Statistics show Taiwanese college students spend only one hour aday reading, which is sad as far as I'm concerned," said CAA ViceChairman Wu Chin-fa, who is also an author.
"Great writers are the architects of society's souls, which iswhy we have selected literature as the theme for the campaign. Whenyou face a crossroads in life, the wisdom found in books can save yoursoul," Wu said.
"As a writer, I would say that reading is far more enjoyable thanwriting," said Hsu Hui-chih, whose poetry is amongthe exhibition's selected publications.
"Literature reflects the diversity of human nature. The beauty ofliterature is that it's not science and it helps you to learn moreabout people," Hsu said.
This is the third consecutive year that CAA has organized anational reading campaign.
Sony last year named American Howard Stringer as its chairman, anew development in Japanese conglomerates, and decided to re-focus onthree "core positions" in trying to build itself once again into adominant global leader, Chubachi said prior to the "2006 Sony Fair"exhibition.
"We vowed to provide products from a customer standpoint, tomaintain Sony's advantage in technology and to focus on the'frontline operation' -- given that Sony has always been amanufacturing company, " said Chubachi, who started at the company asan engineer in 1977 and became president in June 2005.
Combining Stringer's expertise in business operation andChubachi's technology background, Sony has been doing well with itsBravia televisions, digital cameras and camcorders since last yearafter losing the MP3 battle to Apple's iPod.
Looking ahead, Sony plans to develop Asian "localized markets"under the globalization theme, Chubachi said. It has set up aResearch and Development (R&D) Center in Taiwan and will probablyincrease procurement from Taiwan's LCD panel manufacturers.
"Taiwan is an important market and development base for Sony.Hopefully, with Taiwan's technology and manufacturing expertise, Sonycan push forward the local market, " said Sony Taiwan President KenjiSakai.
Sony will release a wide range of new products in the second halfof 2006, including the long-awaited PlayStation 3 and VAIOcomputers, and will keep promoting the new generation "blue-ray DVD"technology, Chubachi said.
The festival combining fireworks over the sea and musicperformances will officially start April 15. After the conclusion ofthe first phase June 18, the second phase will take place from July29-Aug. 4.
There will be fireworks displays and live performances every twodays during the first phase, while a seven-day music festival is thefocus of the second phase, organizers said. More than 300,000 tourists visited Penghu during the festivallast year, Wang said. With the Penghu county government organizingthe event for the first time in the event's four-year history, Wang expressed confident that the number of tourists will hit an all-timehigh.
Originally an idea from a travel Web site after the 2003 SevereAcute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak scared off tourists fromTaiwan, the festival has seen success during the past three years andhas become an integral part of Penghu's tourism projects.
To attract more visitors, domestic airlines will also help outwith special deals on long-weekend breaks as well as reduced-pricetickets.
The Penghu islands, also known as the Pescadores, are anarchipelago in the Taiwan Strait.
Paul Sermon, who was invited by Taipei Artist Village (TAV) for a10-week stay as a resident artist, launched his "telematic"exhibition titled "Headroom" at the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall,running from April 4-20.
"Headroom is a juxtaposition of my experience in Taipei, " saidSermon, who arrived in Taiwan Feb. 27.
Sermon said he arrived in Taiwan with a "blank canvas, " notreally having any idea in mind about what project to work on. Aftersome visits and an observation that lasted for several weeks, he cameup with the Headroom idea.
Sermon won the Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica in Austriain 1991. His work "Telematic Dreaming 05" was part of "Climax-TheHighlights of Arts Electronica" at the National Museum of Fine Artsin Taichung last year.
He will stay in Taipei and work on more exhibition projects until May 6.
The exhibition is co-organized by the British Council, the TaipeiCultural Foundation and the TAV.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Truls Mork will perform two concerts. The first, slated for May 24, will be at Chi-teh Hall in the southern city of Kaohsiung, while the second will be at the National Concert Hall in Taipei May 25.
The opportunity to see the three international musicians perform together is rare, said an official from Management of New Arts (MNA), which is organizing the event.
American violinist Gil Shaham, who is of Israeli descent, has performed with well-known orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. He won the prestigious Avery Fisher career grant and is a 1998 Grammy winner.
Russian-American pianist Yefim Bronfman, who first visited Taiwan in 1997, is a 1996 Grammy Award winner in classical music performance, while Trulas Mork, from Norway, is regarded as one of the best cellists under the age of 50. He won a Grammy in 2002.
They will perform works by Tchaikovsky and Schubert in the concerts.
The Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) submitted four demands calling for more attention to be paid to children rights and more national budget to be appropriated for children. The press conference was also attended by Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang.
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has decided to subsidize "high-risk families" by providing each child in such families with NT$ 3,000 per month, Lee said, adding that the MOI also plans to boost the number of social worker in Taiwan from 189 to 508.
Wang Yu-min, head of the CWLF, also asked that more children-friendly television programs be created and that Children's Day be reinstated as a national holiday.
In addition, the CWLF called for improvements to the educational environment and healthcare system for children, with parenting education designed to prevent child abuse.
"The results show that people are willing to give Su time to achieve his pledge, but most people realize that it will be hard to reduce crime in six months, " Tamkang University Professor Shih Cheng-feng said of the poll, which was conducted by the Institute of Public Opinion of Shih Hsin University.
Su declared March 15 that he will step down and quit politics for good if the people do not feel Taiwan's social order has improved within the next six months.
The poll results show that Su received a 40 percent approval rating, which is higher than Cabinet's 30 percent and President Chen Shui-bian's 19 percent. However, only 33 percent of the respondents expressed confidence that Su will be successful in reducing crime in six months.
Su will face a major challenge as government officials "above and under him" -- the president and the Cabinet -- both have lower approval ratings than him, said Yu Chi-lik, a professor at Shih Hsin University.
Guns and drugs were voted by respondents as the top priority in the crime crackdown. Fraud came in second, while safety of women and children ranked third.
The poll also found that the top three ministries with the highest approval ratings are the Consumer Protection Commission, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Fair Trade Commission.
A total of 1,099 valid samples were collected from March 26-28 in the telephone poll, which had a margin of error of 2.96 percentage points.
A total of 30 never-before-seen color paintings are being displayed in a month-long memorial exhibition starting Saturday in Capital Art Center (CAC) to commemorate Max Liu, one of the most celebrated painters in Taiwan modern art.
An animation which features an adventure of Liu and animal figures, his favorite painting theme, are also under way. The film that reflects Liu's love of animal and adventure is due to be released in 2008.
"As passionate as he has always been for painting, Liu was even more dedicated to giving lectures. He said that a painting can only be owned by one person, but a good speech can make much more impact to people, " CAC President York Hsiao recollected in the opening ceremony.
"He has never been an artist who looks for making money from his works. What he cares is what art can do and impact people's life, " said Hsiao.
Lin Ding-san, Liu's student at Chung-yuan Christian University and an architect, decided to remember his mentor in a different way, launching an animation project in 2002.
"It's a story that talks about Mr. Liu and all these animals he painted go on to a journey and save an island from environmental crisis. This is a best way to remember him and carry on his legacy to the next generation, " Lin said.
Max Liu (1912-2002) was an engineer throughout the first 38 years of his life. Picking up his paint and brush at 39 years-old, Liu's career as an artist boomed in the next 50 years. An adventurous and open-minded man, Liu spent a large part of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s traveling around the world, learning cultures and studying the art.
Later in his life, Liu also devoted himself in environmental protection and many charity programs.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Taipei, March 31 (CNA) For the street dancer-turned-actor Chen Hsin-hung, the character "Choco" he plays in the hip-hop movie "Chocolate Rap" was not too far of a stretch because the movie reflects his real-life experience.
"I just had to be me [in the film], although I had to learn the fundamentals of acting beforehand," said 25-year-old Chen, who played the film's lead role despite not having any film experience.
Describing himself as a late-comer who didn't start break-dancing until he was 19, Chen said he went through almost the same experience in real life as Choco did in the film.
"I had broken a wrist and fingers in practice. That's when I thought about quitting dancing, just like what Choco thought after he got injured in a car accident," Chen said.
"And my parents couldn't understand why I love dancing so much despite not making any money from it and coming home dirty after all that breaking [on the ground]," he added.
Chen was asked to audition for the film after being spotted by director Lee Chi Y in a street dance competition in Hsinchu two years ago. Chen ended up playing the lead.
Lee named the main character Choco as a tribute to the young dancer who took him to over 80 street dancing sites across Taiwan but didn't play the lead in the film.
"It feels good to know that [street dancing] culture has been gradually accepted by most people in Taiwan during the last three to four years. And I've been able to make a living out of it by establishing my own dance group and studio, giving lessons and performing at various events," Chen said.
"Dancing means a lot to me. It gives me confidence. I did this movie to salute all the Taiwanese street dancers out there, not for myself. I did this because I love to dance, not the other way around," Chen said.
"Chocolate Rap," which is billed as the first hip-hop movie in Asia, premieres April 4 and hits local theaters April 7.
Taipei, March 31 (CNA) A Taiwanese film billing itself as "the first Asian hip-hop movie" will be released April 7, giving an in-depth look at street dance subculture in Taiwan while hoping to revive a passion for Taiwanese films at the box office.
"Chocolate Rap," which is directed by Lee Chi Y., chose the uncommon theme of the break dance culture in Taiwan. In the film, a group of young men pursue the dream of being the best break dancers, and deal with the ups and downs along the way.
Lee became interested in Taiwan's street dance culture in 2004 and started to conceive of the film's concept after visiting more than 80 break dance gatherings with the help of a young dancer nicknamed "Chocolate," after whom the film was titled.
The film was produced with the cooperation of both Hollywood and Taiwanese crews, a rarity in Taiwanese film-making.
"I believe this film progresses with a faster pace and has a lighter atmosphere compared to most Taiwanese films," said Lee.
Lee said several U.S.-based film experts contributed expertise in photography, lighting and sound effects in the making of the film and helped develop an exchange between Taiwan and U.S. cinemas.
"Hopefully, a youth-oriented film will bring people back to the theaters and rekindle a passion for Taiwanese films, which has been subdued for some time," said Minister of Government Information Office (GIO) Cheng Wen-tsang at a press conference Friday.
"Chocolate Rap" received an NT$8 million subsidy from the GIO, which is trying to help local film-makers through financing.
Echoing the same line of reasoning, Lee said: "I don't want my film to be shown at film festivals or libraries so much. I want it to be received by the general public. That's why I make movies."
"Chocolate Rap" features leading actress Megan Lai, a model/singer, and lead actor Chen Hsin-hung, who is among a group of young dancers -- known as "Break Boys" in hip-hop culture -- that had no previous film-making experience. The film premieres April 4.
Taipei, March 30 (CNA) A U.S. State Department official is visiting Taiwan to learn about the status of the country's research and regulatory system for agricultural biotechnology, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Thursday.
The U.S. State Department's senior advisor for agriculture biotechnology, Madelyn Spirnak, leads the U.S. effort to build an international coalition in support of a scienced-based approach to agricultural biotechnology.
She met officials from the Department of Health (DOH) for a discussion about food safety and made a presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce on the global status of agricultural biotechnology Thursday.
"I've come to Taiwan to talk to authorities about dealing with regulatory issues," Spirnak said, adding that she is scheduled to meet with local research institutes.
"Taiwan is very well-placed to develop in this field. With Taiwan's technology background, I can't see why Taiwan can't be competitive in this area," she said.
Approximately 90 million hectares (222 million acres) of biotech crops were planted worldwide in 2005, which is an 11 percent increase over 2004.
Citing U.S. consumer confidence in Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, Spirnak pointed out the importance of providing accurate information to the public. Building a reliable regulatory system also ensures public confidence, she said.
"In 10 years of cultivation [of biotech crops], there has been no instance of harm to humans or animals," Spirnak said, claiming that it proves biotech crops are at least as safe as conventional crops.
According to handout data sheets prepared by the AIT, 63 countries are conducting biotech research on 57 different crops. Fourteen countries are listed as "Mega-Countries" in devoping biotech crops, including the U.S., China, Argentina, the Philippines, India, Canada and Spain.
Spirnak will leave for Bangkok Sunday for the ASEAN meeting on agriculture biotechnology.