Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 30 (CNA) Lenovo Group Chairman Yang Yuanqing spoke on the successful integration of Lenovo and IBM corporate cultures Wednesday, almost 20 months after Lenovo purchased IBM's personal computer (PC) division, and said he was optimistic about the company's future.

Regarding Lenovo's transition period following the US$1.25 billion acquisition in December 2004, the 42-year-old Yang said "On a scale of 1 to 100, I think I'll hand out a score of 90," after his lecture in Taipei, which was organized by Global Views Monthly magazine.

The deal made Lenovo Group, China's largest PC giant, the world's third-largest PC manufacturer behind Dell and Hewlett-Peckard.

But the integration has not been easy, "Especially because we're in a case of a Chinese company acquiring a Western company," said Yang, who asked everyone at Lenovo to call him by his first name instead of Chairman Yang or Mister Yang.

The first priority after the deal, Yang said, was to redefine the company's core values. a surprisingly easy task since two companies share the same core values, such as satisfaction-guaranteed service and integrity.

On the other hand, he tried to change some of IBM's "old ways," replacing them with basic must-haves in the fast-paced PC industry -- speed, efficiency, aggressiveness in seeking change and discipline.

Basically, Lenovo tried to preserve the strengths of both sides, Yang said, as Westerners are more aggressive and outgoing while Easterners are better at execution.

"The mix of Chinese and international staff helps everyone to adjust, respect and learn from others, which is good for Lenovo's development," Yang said.

Yang reiterated that the integration is "a cultural fusion of two corporations," not "a war of the East and the West."

The deal that has been described as "a snake eating an elephant" has shown optimistic results, as Lenovo's revenues have increased in the past 20 months, reversing a trend in previous merger cases that saw dramatic losses in the first two years following a merger.

Yang also expected an increase in Lenovo's cooperation with Taiwanese high-tech companies in future because "the IT supply chain is concentrated in the Greater China region. Our cooperation with Taiwanese corporations is natural and obvious."


Taipei, Aug. 30 (CNA) The governments of Peru and Chile are working hard to promote their local cultural industries and help boost their economies, Peruvian and Chilean officials said in a two-day international forum that concluded in Taipei Wednesday.

The two South American countries, both of which have rich histories and cultural heritages, are working through government initiatives to promote the development of their local cultural industries, Chilean official Javier Chamas and Peruvian official Madeleine Burns said during the APEC Local Cultural Industry Market Development Forum.

In 2003, the Chilean government established the National Council of Culture and Arts (NCAC), which started financing cultural projects with a US$17 million annual budget, said NCAC Secretary-General Chamas.

"The projects are selected on a competitive basis, by means of public contests, " he said, adding that approximately 20 percent of all submitted projects are annually financed.

NCAC's biggest challenge will be moving from financial aid into the promotion and broadcasting of local cultural goods, while trying to promote Chile's cultural industry in foreign markets.

The Peruvian government has also launched a campaign of establishing CITES -- technological innovation centers of handicrafts and tourism -- as the regional integrator.

"Peruvian crafts are very important, involving at least 2 million people located in rural and suburban areas and bringing women and young people into productive activity, " according to the director of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism.

There are 100,000 registered workshops and 12 CITES that have been approved or are under evaluation in Peru, she said.

To provide easier access to markets, the Peruvian government also helps the local cultural industry to establish Web sites and produce digital catalogues to promote the development of exportable offers, she explained.


Taipei, Aug. 29 (CNA) An Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) project which includes a virtual exposition and an international forum kicked off Monday, with the aim of promoting and creating small- and medium-size business opportunities in local cultural industries for its members.

The APEC Local Cultural Industry Virtual Exposition (ALCIVE) , a one-year online exhibition of cultural craft items from APEC's 14 members and one observer, will be displayed on the Internet until July 2007. The APEC Local Cultural Industry Market Development Forum is taking place in Taipei from Aug. 29-30.

The project was initiated by Taiwan in APEC's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) working group last year, receiving endorsement of the other member countries.

The initiative looks to enhance the capacity of SMEs and micro-enterprises in the local cultural industries, build a platform for local cultural industries in demonstration of their products to all APEC economies, and strengthen cross-border cooperation in the APEC region in promotion of the development of overseas markets for local cultural industries, Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Ruey-long said in the opening ceremony.

Moreover, the project helps retain cultural heritage and create more employment in remote areas for every country, Chen said.

During the two-day forum, more than a dozen speakers from Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Peru, Chile and Mexico will deliver topical speeches in five sessions of wide-ranging discussions. The topics include economic implication, policy environment, marketing strategy, market access and case study of market development of local cultural industries.

The ALCIVE Web site, at, simulates the layout of the 2005 Aichi Expo, with each APEC member country displaying its products in a virtual pavilion.


Taipei, Aug. 29 (CNA) "One Town, One Product" (OTOP) , an initiative which was born in Japan 28 years ago, has now become a global concept in developing local cultural industries, especially in Asia, representatives from Asian countries said in an international conference said Tuesday.

The OTOP initiative was the brainchild of Morihiko Hiramatsu, former Governor of Japan's Oita Prefecture. Hiramatsu started the campaign in order to raise incomes in local communities in the prefecture and make citizens feel proud of their hometown.

In Hiramatsu's own words, the initiative was aimed at boosting GNP (gross national product) as well as "GNS (gross national satisfaction)."

The success of the campaign in Oita Prefecture led other countries, including Taiwan, Thailand, Korea and China, to follow the model. Similiar programs have been implemented in more than a dozen countries to date.

Taiwan started its OTOP project in 1989 under the supervision of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and it now has over 110 towns with developed cultural products or events which helps local tourism as well.

According to a report by Global Vision magazine, "the Yilan International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival", "the Pingtung Black Tuna Season, " and "Yilan Green Fair" are the three most successful culture tourism seasons in the country.

The project is also an integral part of small- and medium-size businesses (SMEs) promotion in Thailand, which launched its "One Tambon (Town) , One Product" project in 2001, said Nitnirun Suwannagate, deputy director general of the Thailand Office of SMEs Promotion.

"The Thai government is now using the OTOP as the new tourism promotion, " she said, adding that by the end of this year, 60 OTOP villages will be developed and promoted as tourism villages.

The project has been transformed into different names and slogans in various countries, such as "One Company, One Village" in Korea, "One Village, One Treasure" in China, and "One Parish, One Product" in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

As successful as the OTOP was in Oita Prefecture 28 years ago, the worldwide OTOP phenomenon has definitely been well beyond Hiramatsu's expectations, said Kimoto Shoji, planning director of Oita's OTOP International Exchange Promotion Committee.


Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) Regulation of the law is the last line of defense in terms of gender equity and respect is the key word in solving issues like sexual crime, sexual harassment and employment discrimination, a women's rights advocate said Monday.

"In that sense, gender equity education may be the most important task for us, although women also need the protection of the law at all times, " said Ku Yen-lin, Director of the Taipei Public Service Institute, on the sidelines of an international conference of U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW.)

Since the establishment of the Committee for Promotion of Women's Rights under the Executive Yuan in 1997, Yen said, the passage of bills such as the Sexual Harassment Prevention Law, Sexual Crime Law, Domestic Violence Prevention Law and Gender Equity Education Act has provided more protection than before for women.

But those bills focus on details and punishments, she said.

"Do we really need a law to tell us which parts of a woman's body a man can and cannot touch or what a man should and should not say to a woman? " she asked, adding that there have been many problems regarding the implementation of the laws.

Integration of the law should be done as well, Yen said. For example, it is sometimes confusing that the issue of sexual harassment is regulated by three different bills.

"Government policy should be goal-oriented and priorities should be established, " she said, adding that the protection of "new immigrant women" is also an urgent task.


Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) Taiwan's devotion and success in promoting women's rights is obvious, and this is why Taiwan should be accepted as a party to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) , a women's group said Monday.

Taiwan ranks in the top 30 among 177 countries in two of the most important women's rights indexes -- 24th in the Gender Development Index (GDI) and 19th in the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) , said Mary Chen, chairwoman of National Alliance of Taiwan Women's Associations (NATWA).

"The success and hard work has been ignored as Taiwan is not yet a member state of CEDAW, which has been signed by 183 countries, because of political factors," Chen said.

Taiwan's government has made its move. Premier Su Tseng-tsang approved a proposal for Taiwan to seek to join the CEDAW in July, and the proposal will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan in the next session for ratification, Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang has said.

According to a NATWA release, the CEDAW is one of three U.N. conventions that accept non-U.N. members, which means it's possible for Taiwan to become a party of the convention barring political interference by China.

Taiwan's ratification of the convention, in the meantime, shows that the government has the ability and determination to fulfill its duties in the international community -- even if it is not a U.N. member yet, Lee said.

The CEDAW, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1979, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. The convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

To promote understanding of the convention, NATWA is conducting a two-day international conference from Aug. 28-29. Denise Scotto, vice chairwoman of the U.N.'s NGOCSW (Committee of the Status on Women) , and Nancy Wallace, main representative of World Federation for Mental Health at the U.N. headquarters, have been invited as speakers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian lamented Taiwan media disorder and urged self discipline against irresponsible journalism from "The Fourth Estate" in the founding ceremony of a media watch group Saturday.

"Media is not above the law. And self discipline is better than other discipline, " Chen addressed the crowd in the founding ceremony of a media watch group, which has not been given its English name.

Commenting on his views of how journalism should be and the current status of Taiwan media, Chen cited the cases of former CBS anchor Dan Rather and Taiwanese Major League pitcher Wang Chien-ming and expressed his concerns.

Rather resigned from his post after citing forged documents to question U.S. President George W. Bush's military service. Wang Chien-ming announced two weeks ago that he would not be interviewed by all Taiwan media thereafter, claiming the media seriously invaded his parents' privacy.

With the media nowadays replaces right and wrong with positions, there is more hatred than tolerance, more confrontation than trust in Taiwan society, Chen said.

Many people have called for media regulation, Chen said, but he always believes that "media control is the beginning of the autarchy" and the freedom of speech should be respected first and foremost.

"Maybe I was wrong. And that's why I'm a victim, " he added.

Chen, referring to the incident that former Legislator Lin Cheng-chieh assaulted Chin Heng-wei in a Formosa TV political talk show Wednesday, also described the incident as "a challenge to basic human rights and public power."

The president concluded his speech encouraging the media for reporting "the true, the good and the beautiful."

The media watch group, a coalition of former journalists and political commentators, will focus on media reform with a priority on Taiwanese identity.


Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) Government planning and support is a critical role in e-Learning industry development, experts from Japan, Korea and Taiwan agreed on in an e-Learning international forum Saturday.

Korean government offered more help to the e-Learning industry and the investment showed promising result, as Korea was ranked fifth -- top in Asian countries -- globally in a 2003 e-Learning world ranking released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Taiwan and Japan were ranked 16th and 23rd, respectively.

Starting in 1999, Korea's Ministry of Labor offered an 80% subsidy for workers' e-Learning expenditure, said Kim Young-soon, President of Korea e-Learning Industry Association. The program prompted an e-Learning fever among workers.

"It's the key reason why on-line learning surpassed traditional learning for the first time in 2004, " said Kim.

Korea's Ministry of Education also launched "cyber university" programs in 17 universities in 2000 to encourage e-Learning. There are more than 55,000 graduates already up to this year, Kim said.

In Japan, the government also set up and funded e-Learning programs in selected universities, said Toshio Okamoto, a professor at University of Electro-Communication.

More than 86.1% of Japanese corporates with more than 5,000 employees set up e-Learning programs, according to Japan's e-Learning white paper. "However, Japanese government should do more, compared to Korea and Taiwan, " admitted Hidekuni Komatsu, President of Japan e-Learning Consortium.

For Taiwan, the government also should do more, and it will, said Lin Li-chieh, Director of Taiwan's e-Park Development Center. A five-year plan is expected to be launched in 2008 to follow up the work of National Science and Technology Program for e-Learning.

Taiwan's e-Learning program will focus on bigger corporates, public servants and teachers and try to bring up the percentage of on-line learning from 4% to 30% in the future, Lin said.


Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) Taipei should look at itself and contemplate how it fits into the global cities network in order to be a better city, University of Chicago Professor Saskia Sassen said in an interview with CNA Friday.

As a "super platform" of global cities has surfaced after the "merging of major East Asian cities" and the competition between cities has become history, Taipei should think about it fits in the network, according to Sassen, a prominent sociologist and economist.

"The Global City" is a term coined by Sassen in the 1980s to describe how cities became strategic "transnational spaces in the global economy" and later "joined forces as a denationalized network."

"A global city is a platform for international investors and foreign professionals, and a partly denationalized space as well. It is far more oriented to other financial centers of the world rather than its neighborhood, " she explained.

Global cities like London, Tokyo and New York are subnational units that are key structures for a new form of power that globalization has brought with it, said Sassen, who is considered by her peers as a "leading scholar of globalization."

More and more global cities are working together, Sassen said. Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Madrid -- four of Europe's largest global cities -- have formed an alliance to "compete" with London, she added.

As an East Asian city, Taipei probably should look at the fact that there are more than 400,000 Taiwanese professionals in China and that its busiest transnational professional circuits are the Taipei-Shanghai and Taipei-Guangdong/Hong Kong flights, and think about its position in the network, Sassen said.


Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) U.S. basketball star Kobe Bryant, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, will make a whirlwind 24-hour visit to Taiwan Sept. 7, Nike Taiwan announced at a press conference Friday.

Bryant, who will be visiting Taiwan for the first time, will meet 4,000 fans in the National Taiwan University Gymnasium, where he will conduct a short basketball clinic, according to Nike Taiwan General Manager Roxanne Chiu.

Bryant will meet the local media at a press conference and will leave for Seoul the next day, Chiu said.

Taiwan is the third stop for Bryant on his Sep. 4- 9 Asia Tour, which also includes Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Beijing.

However, he is not expected to put on an extensive demonstration or competition as he is still in rehabilitation following knee surgery in July.


Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) China's military threat to Taiwan is serious and if the current situation persists, there are only two feasible cross-Taiwan Strait scenarios in the future -- the fall of Taiwan or an armed conflict -- a Japanese professor warned at an international seminar Thursday.

For all China has done, a reasonable prediction would be "if Taiwan does not accept unification on China's terms, China will unify Taiwan by force in 10-15 years, regardless of Taiwan's government policy, " said Masako Ikegami, director of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies at Stockholm University in Sweden.

Ikegami made the prediction in a lecture titled "Anatomy of Peaceful Rise: Driving Forces Behind China's Grand Strategy" at the two-day seminar on the rise of China and Beijing's strategies and implications for the Asia Pacific, which was organized by Academia Sinica -- Taiwan's top research institute.

China wants to be recognized as a world-class power, said Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu in his opening remark, adding that this is why China "wants some international problems to be there so that it can play a role in international relations. " Wu was referring to the Iranian and North Korean issues.

"We need to encourage China to be more aggressive in living up to the expectations and responsibilities as a superpower, " Wu said.

Commenting on China's military threat to Taiwan, Wu said the priority would be to increase Taiwan's military budget and shore up a defensive capability to "show China that it can't take Taiwan quickly."

On the diplomatic front, there are only 24 allies left for Taiwan now, he said, which means that working with Australia and Japan is vital in order to maintain peace and stability in the Asian Pacific region.

According to Wu, co-existence with China in a peaceful way is "a long-term goal for Taiwan, " adding that if China becomes more democratic, it will be more attractive for Taiwanese people to think about political or economic integration in the future."

The seminar will conclude Friday.


Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) A media watch group focusing on media reform with a priority on Taiwanese identity has been established and it will soon launch an attack on mainstream media to encourage accurate and fair news reporting, organizers said Thursday.

The society, which has not been given an English name, is a coalition of former journalists and political commentators and will officially announce its establishment Saturday.

Falsification and human rights abuse within journalism will be two issues the group will be keeping an eye on at all times, said group director Chung Nian-huang, an ex-reporter with a 15-year career.

"We want to make clear that people not only have the right to know but also the right not to know. And people have the right to say `no' to sensationalist news reporting as well, " Chung said, pinpointing the biggest complaints about the sorry state of Taiwan's media.

Chen Li-hung, deputy director of the group, also stressed that Taiwanese identity will be one of the main focuses of the group, which opposes the current media trend of tilting toward China.

"We're not trying to be an enemy of the media. We are trying to bring journalism back to where it is supposed to be, " Chung said.

Among the founding members of the group are former journalists Huang Kuan-chin, Hsu Chi-chih, Hsieh San-tai and political commentators Chin hen-wei and Paul Lin.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) The first e-learning exhibition showcasing the work of government agencies and the e-learning industry will be held from Aug. 25-27 in Taipei, the organizers announced Wednesday.

The "e-Learning World, Taipei" exhibition will present the latest developments in one of the fastest- growing online industries, said Wu Ming-chi of the Industrial Development Bureau under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

"The e-learning industry has taken the world by storm. In Taiwan, it went from a gross market value of NT$700 million in 2002 to NT$10 billion this year. I'm proud to say that Taiwan is doing well compared to other countries, " Wu said.

The exhibition is being held against the background of a global fever of Chinese learning. Ten governmental agencies and more than 30 companies will participate in the show of more than 250 booths and more than 25,000 visitors are expected over three days.

Local businesses have been paying attention to the trend of e-learning, Wu said. The number of top 1,000 local businesses that have implemented e-learning platforms in the past three years has increased threefold, he added.

The development in Taiwan reflects the global trend, said Yen Shan-wu, president of teh e-Learning Industry Alliance. Yen said that the global e-learning market value has gone from US$2.1 billion in 2001 to US$67 billion in 2006 and shows that everything -- even learning -- has become digital in the Internet age.

The free exhibition is being organized by the Taipei Computer Association and directed by the National Science and Technology Program for e-Learning. It will be held in Hall 2 of the Taipei World Trade Center.


Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) A group of indigenous youths said Wednesday they have learned a lot from a 10-day tour that focused on cultural exchanges and environmental protection and took them from aboriginal tribal villages to nuclear power plants and Taipei City.

The tour, which was co-organized by the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), is part of the NYC's Youth Action Plans initiative.

Seven of the eight teenagers on the tour come from the Tao tribe, which resides on Lanyu island, located 76 km off the coast of southeastern Taiwan. During the trip, they picked up a new partner from Smangus, a Taiya tribal village in Hsinchu County.

The youths from Lanyu were especially emotional when they visited the No. 1 and No. 4 nuclear power plants, TEPU secretary-general Ho Tsung-hsun said at a press conference Wednesday, as their home is used by the Taiwan Power Co. as a nuclear waste dump, he said.

They also visited Smangus, a village that has implemented a "communist" social system that has been passed down from their ancestors, to get a feel for the culture of a different tribe.

Other locations they visited on the tour included Tainan City, Chiku Lagoon, Sandimen township in Pintung County, and the Taipei Artist Village.

The culture experience tour is one of more than 40 programs organized by NYC in cooperation with non-governmental organizations to encourage Taiwanese youth participation in local affairs, according to NYC Minister Cheng Li-chiun.


Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Frank Hsieh claimed in a seminar Monday that there is "no way" Taipei cannot host the 2020 Olympic Games.

However, he then said the road to a successful bid will not be easy, and that it is highly possible that Taipei might fail. But "the last thing Taipei city needs right now is defeatism and pessimism, " Hsieh said, adding that a successful leader is the one who has vision and the ability to lead people.

In a forum titled "2020 in Taipei," Hsieh said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to decide on a host city for the 2020 Olympic Games in 2013, seven years before the games take place. Bidding cities will have to submit applications in 2011. Therefore, a country should decide in 2009 or 2010 as to which city will represent it.

History shows that many host cities have been reborn and changed because of the Olympics, Hsieh said. Since it takes the cooperation and resources of central and local governments to organize the games, organization will facilitate urban redevelopment. Tourism and employment also benefit, he said.

But the most important advantage will be national pride, according to Hsieh. Regardless of whether Taiwan wins the bid, the bidding process will be able to "bond the whole nation together for one big task" and create national identity, he claimed.

"It took Beijing three tries before winning the 2008 bid. Everything is possible, " Hsieh said.

He also said that 2009 will be an important year for Taiwan, as it will host the Deaflympics in Taipei and the World Games in Kaohsiung. If both competitions are successful, Hsieh said, it will help Taiwan in the Olympic Games bidding process.

Bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games has been one of Hsieh's most important initiatives in his mayoral campaign so far. Hsieh had challenged his opposition Kuomintang (KMT) opponent Hau Lung-pin to a public debate on the challenge was rejected.


Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) Four Taiwanese students received scholarships from the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) and will soon depart for one-year Master's courses in the U.K., a BTCO official announced Monday.

Michael Reilly, Director of the de facto British embassy, who met with the scholars and said: "Since the start of the BTCO scholarship program in 1990 nearly 200 young Taiwanese have received scholarships to study in the U.K. and have gone on to contribute to the advancement of Taiwan."

Applicants are selected on both their academic strength and their commitment and ambition to make a difference on their return. Each scholarship winner receives 15,000 to 20,000 pounds.

The four scholarship recipients include Yen Shu-yi, who will major in criminology and criminal justice at Loughborough University, Hsu Po-han (environmental technology at Imperial College) , Chan Chi-ya (global politics at the London School of Political and Economic Science), and Amy Hsieh (international political economy at the London School of Political and Economic Science).

The scholarship program is operated by the BTCO and administered by the British Council.

According to the BTCO, U.K. accounts for 28.2% of the Taiwanese overseas study market.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) A group of social workers said in a seminar Saturday that families and schools can play a key role in preventing teenagers from committing suicide, as the year's fifth case of teen suicide was recently discovered in southern Taiwan.

In fact, there are far more teens who consider committing suicide than people imagine, said Hsiao Hui-ying, President of the National Alliance of Parents' Organizations. It's just a few who really take action, he said.

"Today, the thoughts running 'round teenagers' minds are highly complicated. If you don't spend time with them, there's no way to understand them. This is why parents should be able to listen [to what their children say] and allow kids to make mistakes," said Cheng Pi-hua of the Humanistic Education Foundation (HEF).

In school, where teenags spend most of their daily lives, the importance of "life education" should be stressed and teenagers' self-respect and dignity should be protected, not abused, Chang said.

While it is almost impossible to prevent teen suicide, adults should pay closer attention to their kid's behavior and talk with them to better understand their state of mind, said Claire Teng, a psychiatrist at Municipal Wang Fang Hospital.

According to statistics from the Department of Health, between the years 2000 and 2005, suicide ranked as the eleventh greatest cause of death for those under 14 in Taiwan.

A HEF report indicated that lack of emotional control was the main reason for teenager suicide, and committing suicide is a way to express anger and seeking help for teenagers.


Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) Facing life and death is never easy, but the award-winning documentary "Doctor" tries to explore the meaning of life and death by telling the story of a Taiwanese doctor who loses his only son to suicide and then a Peruvian boy to cancer.

The documentary, which was directed by Chung Mong-hong and won the award for best documentary in the 2006 Taipei Film Festival, will premiere Sep. 29.

In the film, Chung begins with an unusual case of teen suicide occurring on July 4, 1996, in which 13-year-old Felix Wen, Wen Pi-chian's only son, hangs himself in the closet for unknown reasons.

Trying to come to terms with Felix's death, Wen -- a radiologist in Iowa, U.S. -- later spends time with Sebastian, a Peruvian boy who arrived in the U.S. with his parents to seek cancer treatment.

During the treatment, Dr. Wen looks back at Felix's short life and tries to save the boy. However, Sebastian dies the following year.

"This documentary does not try to be a tear-jerker, as I was attempting to keep a distance in this film," said Chung, who took three years to produce the work. "I think it's important to face life and death with more sense than sensibility. We need to face it, cope with it and not fear it."

He does not expect to come up with the answer to life and death with this film, because these are unpredictable events, Chung said.

"The story of Felix Wen tells us that not every case of teen suicide occurs due to a lack of attention and care from one's parents. Every teenager has his own character and different way of thinking," said Claire Teng, a psychiatrist at Municipal Wang Fang Hospital.

Chung said Wen Pi-chian and his wife were model parents and Felix Wen was a bright student with a maturity beyond his age. The only unusual thing was that he talked about death a lot.

Just as Chung demonstrated in the film, sometimes life and death are very complicated and hard to explain, Teng said.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 18 (CNA) Premier Su Tseng-chang welcomed on Friday 42 Japanese sumo wrestlers who are on a five-day visit by showing them the best Taiwan has to offer -- the Taipei 101 building, Taiwan-grown fruit and hand puppets.

This is the first visit to Taiwan by a Japanese sumo team since the end of World War II, and the first foreign visit for the Japanese sumo team in 13 years.

"That shows the strong cultural connection between Taiwan and Japan," Su said at a reception in Taipei 101 before presenting the sumo wrestlers with gifts of Taiwan-made fruit and hand puppets.

Su described the visiting wrestlers as "Japan's national treasure," and said he was glad to see exchanges between Taiwan and Japan are at an all-time high, with visitors between the two countries exceeding 2.4 million and bilateral trade exceeding US$60 billion last year.

A 42-game promotional sumo tournament will be held at the Taipei Arena on Saturday and Sunday.


Taipei, Aug. 18 (CNA) Approximately 300 overseas Taiwanese youths presented the results of their summer internships at an academic conference Friday, rounding up the eight-week Taiwan Tech Trek (TTT) 2006 program.

The TTT, organized by the National Science Council (NSC) , is a program in its second year that offers overseas Taiwanese youths hands-on internships at government agencies, non-profit organizations, private companies and special group projects.

"The NSC believes that the program not only provides internships to overseas Taiwanese youths but also helps them to know more about Taiwan, " said Lin Kwang-lung, director-general of the NSC's Department of International Cooperation.

More than 280 interns were selected out of over 1,000 applications collected by Taiwan's foreign agencies, most of whom came from the United States. The program started in late June.

Most of the members are native-English speakers but also have a basic command of Mandarin and Taiwanese, Lin said.

"By working with Taiwanese in local government agencies and companies, the members got to know more about 'the Taiwanese way' and what we are working on right now, " Lin said.

"On the other hand, their employers and colleagues have benefited from their creative ideas and new thinking, " he added.

TTT, with a budget of over NT$30 million and the cross-departmental cooperation of numerous government agencies, is designed to attract talent from overseas, which countries like India and China are also working on, according to Lin.

"We have received pleasing and promising results so far. Two of our 2005 members have been hired by local companies, " he said.

The academic conference was categorized into four groups -- natural sciences, engineering, life sciences and the humanities -- with topics such as cancer studies and Taiwan's strategy for inclusion in the World Health Organization.


Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) It will take a full-scale cross-departmental effort to promote youth employment, a growing concern and critical factor for Taiwan's future national competitiveness, a national conference concluded Thursday.

The National Youth Human Resources Development Conference, organized by five government agencies, invited more than 400 attendees and laid out a detailed conclusion that covered four topics -- employability, employment creation, entrepreneurship and equal opportunity.

A large part of the suggestions made in the conference were education-related, including a complete review of the military conscription system and better integration between vocational education and corporate needs to improve youth employability. Attendees also called for only core classes to be taught in the freshman and sophomore years at universities.

To promote entrepreneurship, universities are encouraged to establish entrepreneurship courses and facilitate more exchanges between students and corporations.

Government should also play an important role in providing more business start-up loans, re-defining underprivileged people and protecting their employment, promoting gender equality and cutting the salary gap between men and women.

Employment creation will be one of the most urgent tasks for the government, the conference concluded. To create more jobs the government should work on the development of industries such as the culture and creative industries. Young people should also be encouraged to work for non-governmental organizations and non-profit organizations.

The one-day conference gathered university presidents, academics and representatives from both industries and youth organizations. Three regional conferences were held in the north, central and south of the country before the main conference.


Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) In a time of globalization and when the college acceptance rate is nearing 100 percent, traditional thinking on university education should be re-evaluated to meet the challenges of today, government officials said Thursday at a conference.

"Several decades ago, a university graduate was almost guaranteed an upper-level position within a public or private organization, but now times have changed," said Premier Su Tseng-chang in his opening remarks at the National Youth Human Resources Development Conference.

The impact of globalization and an increasing number of universities and graduates are two key factors posing problems for youth who are seeking employment today, since everyone is facing tougher domestic and international competition, he said.

"What we need to do is create a diversified environment that allows young people to find the most suitable profession," Su said.

"Obtaining employment -- not passing a college entrance exam -- has thus become the first and greatest challenge for local university graduates," said Chen Bo-chih, an economist and president of Taiwan Thinktank.

However, the growing unemployment rate among youth is not -- at least directly -- the result of booming numbers of universities and graduates, Chen said.

The key will be closing the gap between university education and corporate needs, which currently do not fit, said Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng.

Tu stressed this does not signify that university education should and will become a form of pre-employment training for students.

"A university education should place more of an emphasis on core competencies such as humanity, responsibility, leadership, communication, teamwork and entrepreneurship," he said.

"Professional skills and expertise, the other part of employee qualifications, can be developed on and off campus," Tu said.

The National Youth Human Resources Development Conference was held to tackle four issues -- "employability," creating jobs, entrepreneurship and equal opportunity -- as proposed by U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan in 2003.

For the first time, the conference was coordinated by five governmental organizations, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Youth Commission, the Council for Labor Affairs and the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) Grief-stricken over his grandfather's death last week, Taiwanese basketball player Chou Shih-yuan said his performance in an Asia Professional Basketball (APB) tournament game Wednesday night was in tribute to his grandfather.

The Taiwanese national team lost the opening game of the second round 99-93 to the Perth Wildcats, but it was Chou's four three-pointers in the third quarter that ignited a furious rally that almost helped the home team pull off a come-from-behind win.

Chou was raised by his grandparents until his junior high school graduation in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Chou's father worked in another city at the time and was seldom at home.

For almost ten years, his grandparents were his only family, said Chou, who learned of his grandfather's death via a cellphone text message after a team practice session last week.

"Later, he was bedridden with diabetes and lost most of his vision, but he listened to almost every one of my basketball games on television. He always wanted to know if I played well," Chou said.

"I wasn't able to think about him much while I was on the court today. But I am glad I had a good game and did not disappoint him," said Chou, who scored 16 points in 22 minutes and had his best game in the tournament so far.

Chou will miss the next two games as he will be back in Kaohsiung for the funeral.

The five-team APB tournament invited four basketball clubs from Japan, Korea, Australia and the Philippines. The tournament enters the single round-robin second round Wednesday and concluded on Saturday.


Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) Taiwanese architects will offer introspection on micro cities at the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennial to confront the trend of "The Meta City" -- the main topic of the prestigious architectural exhibition.

The exhibition will take place in Venice, Italy from Sep. 8 to Nov. 9. Taiwanese architects Hsieh Ying-chun, Huang Sheng-yuan and Liu Kuo-chang will present their works in an exhibit titled "Micro Cities and Non-Meta Architecture in Taiwan" along with a pair of Nordic studios.

The meta-city -- defined as a city with a population of over 5 million people -- is the contemporary trend, said curator Roan Ching-yueh. However, the Taiwan architects want to reflect at the exhibition on the price our environment has paid for this trend and on how conventional structures, including culture, society, morality and religion, are losing out in "the global giant system."

"This is where the concept of the micro city comes from, " Roan said, explaining that "a micro city is a small, self-sufficient city with a complete cycle of food, energy, waste and information. It is able to face the individual needs of its residents."

"Such a city can also co-exist inside or outside any mega-city, " he added.

Taiwan will also host an East Asia forum in Palazzo delle Prigioni, where the Taiwanese design will be displayed, discussing the global impact of emerging East Asian cities. Forum participants will include architects from Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and China.

The architecture section of the Venice Biennale, which includes art, cinema, music dance and theater categories, was established in 1980.


Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Indian students account for 37 of the 203 students in the Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP) , the first program in Taiwan offering doctoral degrees to foreign students, more than any other country.

"Indian students make up 18 percent of our student body, which ranks No. 1 among 25 foreign countries, " said Hong Seau-feng, TIGP Executive Secretary for Student Affairs. Local students comprise 56 percent of the student body.

Behind India, Vietnam follows with eight students while Malaysia ranks third with seven.

TIGP, a program established in 2002 by Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute, is open to local and international students.

Academia Sinica currently administers eight such programs, with degrees issued by partner universities such as National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University.

All courses and seminars of the program are conducted in English, Hong said. Fellowships are granted for applicants who receive admission. In addition to providing accommodation and free Mandarin classes, a stipend of about US$11,000 per year is also provided to foreign students.

"The program offers them a great opportunity to know more about Taiwan. Hopefully, they can share the experience with their countrymen when they go home, " Hong said.

Programs offered by TIGP include chemical biology and molecular biophysics, molecular science and technology, molecular and biological agricultural sciences, molecular and cell biology, bioinformatics, nano science and technology, molecular medicine, and computer linguistics and Chinese language processing.


Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Misconceptions about India can be corrected if there are more exchanges between India and Taiwan, according to a couple of Indian students in a graduate program run by Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute.

"In Taiwan, most information on India comes from English channels, but all they show is images of flood, drought, dying people, starving skinny kids. It's not the whole picture of India, " said Vikas Saxena, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in molecular and cell biology in one of eight programs offered by the Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP).

TIGP, a program established by Academia Sinica in 2002, is open to local and international students for Ph.D programs. Currently Academia Sinica administers eight such programs, with degrees issued by partner universities.

With more exchanges between India and Taiwan, Taiwanese people will be able to see "the better parts of India, which no-one has shown you before, " according to Saxena.

Gopi Kuppuraj, who is in the chemical biology and molecular biophysics program, agreed and encouraged Taiwanese people to visit India.

"Taiwanese need to know more about India. On the other hand, most people in India do not know much about Taiwan, " he said, adding that most of his friends did not even know where Taiwan is until he showed them photos the last time he went home.

Kuppuraj said he would also like to see more collaboration between India and Taiwan, which boasts strong competition in the software and hardware sectors.


Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) The friendliness of the Taiwanese people was not why Vikas Saxena and Gopi Kuppuraj, a pair of Ph.D students from India studying in the Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP) of Academia Sinica, came to Taiwan, but it is why they gradually have come to view Taiwan as "a home away from home."

"Taiwanese are helpful in nature. They would even leave their job to try to help you, " says Kuppuraj, who comes from the southern Indian city of Chennai and has been in Taiwan for two years.

Friendliness of local people was what brought him out of his "little shell" and prompted him to start exploring Taiwan, he said.

Saxena's most unforgettable memory is similar. Saxena, a former veterinarian who was admitted to the program one year ago, recalled an incident at Moon Festival last year.

Saxena went out that night trying to find a restaurant to celebrate the festival. "Surprisingly, all the stores and restaurants nearby were closed, " he said, adding that restaurants in India would stay open all night on traditional holidays like the Moon Festival.

A family having a barbecue party, a traditional Moon Festival activity for local people, invited Saxena to join them. "Then a girl took me far away to find a restaurant, " said Saxena, who comes from a city near the Indian capital of New Delhi.

The first six months in Taiwan was hard for Kuppuraj, who experienced culture shock. "I didn't speak or read Chinese. The food was different. I was totally lost, " he said.

"I still get lost sometimes, but at least I knew how to get back to the dormitory, " said Kupperaj, who studies chemical biology and molecular biophysics.

Saxena, who has at least three more years to go in the molecular and cell biology program, is also getting comfortable with the environment as he now switches between cooking with Indian friends and eating in Indian restaurants in Taipei.

TIGP, a program established by Academia Sinica in 2002, is open to local and international students. Academia Sinica currently administers eight such programs, with degrees issued from partner universities.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) Whether President Chen Shui-bian should resign ought to be determined according to the Constitution, and there are many more tasks for the president to complete during the remainder of his term, a group of Taiwan independence advocates said at a forum Saturday.

"The president's legitimacy is regulated and defined by the Constitution. Taiwan's ongoing problems should be resolved within the framework of the Constitution, instead of by resorting to 'outside powers'," political commentator Chin Heng-wei said.

The forum, titled "2008 and Taiwan's Future, " was organized by Taiwan Society North, a Taiwan independence advocacy group, on the same day that a number of public rallies were held in several cities calling the president to step down.

"What the president should do is tell the Taiwan people what he will do in the future as a president and apologize for what he has done wrong, " said Koo Kuan-min, a former senior advisor to President Chen.

Koo further said that President Chen failed to deliver on his promises related to all-out reform and economic policies during the last six years, adding that he has been unable to "flex his muscles" because of the "Four Noes" pledge given in his inaugural speech in 2000.

On the topic of the 2008 presidential election, Koo made clear that the election will be a choice between unification with China and Taiwan independence, adding that he is still optimistic that "the local regime will not be defeated."

"The outcome of the 2008 presidential election will be a defining moment for President Chen. If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fails to win, it will be seen as a 'one-hit wonder' and Chen will be remembered for this," Chin stressed.

Chen Mao-hsiung, a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, said that both Ma Yin-jeou, the possible presidential candidate of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) , and Chen both value short-term "tactics" over long-term "strategies" because both of them have been through so many elections.

"All they want is to win (the elections). However, sometimes this does not serve the public's interests, " he added.


Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's bid to become a member of the United Nations is a joint and continuous effort, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Michel Lu said Friday.

It will not be easy for Taiwan to enter the U. N., as evidenced by the last 14 failed attempts to do so. But Taiwan has shown time and again that it is willing and capable of being a responsible member of the international community, according to Lu.

Even China, he said, spent 22 years before securing its U.N. membership -- although it was at Taiwan's expense.

"And China has been doing whatever it takes to block Taiwan from international organizations and events. That tells us we don't have any reason to stop working at a bid, which has become an annual task for us, " he said.

Taiwan shares the same values -- which Lu claimed are "democracy, human rights and development" -- with the 192 member countries of the United Nations and went from an aid recipient to a contributor that reaches out a helping hand to less-developed countries, Lu said.

The U.N. bid is always a priority issue for MOFA and every Taiwan president since 1972, when the Republic of China was replaced in the U.N. by the People's Republic of China.

Over 100 embassies and representatives offices around the world have spent countless hours delivering Taiwan's message and hope, while MOFA has been tackling the New York area, where the U.N. headquarters are located, with publicity campaigns, parliamentary lobbies and mobilizing overseas Taiwanese groups, said John Chen, director- general of MOFA's Department of International Organizations.

It is also possible that President Chen Shui-bian will discuss the bid with the U.S. media in a teleconference, which is si miliar to the one Chen had with European media when Taiwan was trying to bid for World Health Assembly observer status earlier this year, Chen said.

"It has not been and will not be easy, but the 23 million people of Taiwan have the right to participate in international affairs. We will keep working on it, " Lu said.


Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) Taiwan will again bid for a seat in the United Nations, with two proposals presented by its diplomatic allies and the bid will be a continuous effort even if it fails once again, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Michel Lu said in a press conference Friday.

The government does not rule out the possibility of applying for U.N. membership under the name of Taiwan, although the issue is still under discussion, said John Chen, director-general of MOFA's Department of International Organizations.

Taiwan's allies submitted two proposals -- the "participation proposal" and the "peace proposal" -- to the U.N. Secretariat in New York early Friday, Lu said, requesting that the General Committee put the proposals on the assembly agenda.

The participation proposal was very similar to those put forward in the past -- urging the U.N. General Assembly to ensure the representation of the 23 million people of Taiwan in the world body.

There is a modification in the peace proposal, Lu said. The proposal requests the U.N. to play a proactive role in maintaining peace in the East Asia region instead of last year's proposal, which mentioned only the Taiwan Strait.

With China's military budget showing double-digit growth for the 18th consecutive year and the latest North Korean missile test, the regional security in East Asia -- not just the Taiwan Strait -- is becoming a notable issue in global security, Lu said.

"The proposal calls for the U.N. to urge East Asian countries to settle arguments peacefully and to take necessary measures to prevent the regional tension from rising," Chen said.

Since 1993, Taiwan has failed 14 times in its bids to enter the U.N.

When the U.N. was founded in 1945, the Republic of China was one of its founding members. However, it has been shut out of the body since 1971, when U.N. Resolution No. 2758 gave the "China" seat to the People's Republic of China at the ROC's expense.


Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Five top Asian basketball teams have gathered in Taipei for the Asian Professional Basketball (APB) tournament, which will be played from Aug. 11-19, to vie for the position as the top club in Asia.

The Taiwan national team, the only non-club participant, will be joined by four teams from Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Australia in the nine-day, 18-game tournament.

The visiting teams include Niigata Albirex of the Basketball Japan League, the LG Sakers of the Korean Basketball League, the San Miguel Beermen of the Philippines Basketball Association, and the Perth Wildcats of Australia's National Basketball League.

The APB is patterned after the Asia Series of professional baseball.

The Taiwan team, which will use the tournament as part of its preparations for the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, will face the LG Sakers on the opening day, while the Perth Wildcats will take on Niigata Albirex.

The inaugural game will be played at the Taipei Physical Education Gymnasium.


Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) The British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) issued an urgent notice Thursday about new boarding arrangements for passengers at U.K. airports after a terrorist plot to blow up planes in mid-flight from the U.K. to the U.S. was foiled.

The BTCO, the U.K.'s representative office in Taiwan, said in the press release that passengers boarding flights at any U.K. airport will be asked to pass through an airport security search point carrying only a single (ideally transparent) plastic carrier bag.

And only the following items may be carried in pockets:

-- Pocket-size wallets and pocket-size purses plus contents (for
example money, credit cards, identity cards etc (not handbags).
-- Travel documents essential for the journey.
-- Prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and
essential for the flight, except in liquid form or unless verified as
-- Spectacles and sunglasses, without cases.
-- Contact lens holders, without bottles of solution.
-- For those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk and
sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight.
-- Female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight,
if unboxed.
-- Tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs.
-- Keys (but no electrical key fobs).

All passengers must be hand-searched, and their footwear and all items they are carrying must be X-rayed. Baby prams and walking aids must be X-ray screened, and only airport-provided wheelchairs may pass through the screening point.

In addition to the above, all passengers boarding flights to the USA and all items they are carrying, including those acquired after the central screening point, must be subjected to a secondary search at the boarding gate.

Any liquids must be taken from the passenger.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) The Songjiang Battle Array has been a traditional component of Taiwan's religious ceremonies for over two centuries, and will have a new and improved format in the 2006 Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival.

A pair of Songjiang Battle Array groups are among over 20 performing groups from Asian countries at the fifth annual festival, which takes place in Ilan from Aug. 12 - Sep. 3.

The Songjiang Battle Array of National Taitung University and the Creative Songjiang Battle Array of National University of Tainan will try to change society's negative impression of the ritual procession troupe, which has become a major cultural experience in Taiwan.

Over 200 years ago, Taiwanese developed the Songjiang Battle Array to fight against raiding bandits. Today, it is still a major component of religious ceremonies at many temple festivals and has evolved into a type of folk performance combining martial arts, religious dance, folk music and local literature.

Many are now viewing the event in a different light, as its performers used to be dominated by gangsters before the Tourism Bureau and locals worked together to get it back on track.

The Tourism Bureau designated the Songjiang Battle Array as one of the county's 12 major activities, while a couple of Songjiang Battle Array competitions have been held in various townships.

The results have been optimistic. More than a dozen universities have established Songjiang Battle Array groups and bring modern and creative elements to the traditional activity.

At the Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival, the group from Taitung University will showcase the 36 heavenly chieftains of Mount Liang -- characters from the Chinese epic novel the Water Margin, all carrying different weapons and dressed distinctively.

The group from National University of Tainan, the two-time winner of the Neimen Creative Songjiang Battle Array competition, will combine the elements of Songjiang Battle Array, Competitive Dragon Dance, and Lion Dance with Battle Drums, with interaction between the three elements during the show.

As one of the cultural events that attracts the most foreign attention, the Songjiang Battle Array will try to march into another century with the transformation.


Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) The historic preservation movement in New York serves as an excellent example for Taiwan, Taiwanese scholars said after a videoconference with a preservation leader Wednesday in Taipei.

Lee Chian-lang, a professor and historic buildings expert, and Ma Yi-kung, a professor at National Tsing Hua University, exchanged views and opinions with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, chairwoman of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center in a teleconference hosted by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

The program, in conjunction with the Landmarks of New York photo exhibition now on display at the National Taiwan Museum, aimed to draw upon the experience of New York landmark preservation to tackle the importance of cultural heritage and historic legacies for a city or a country, while making progress toward the contemporary.

"Among American cities, New York is the leader in the preservation of its landmarks, and in the range and quality of its surviving architectural resources," said Diamonstein-Spielvogel.

"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Law. Since its passage on April 19, 1965, the result of an awareness of the increasing loss of New York's iconic historic, architectural and cultural monuments ... New York City has been in the forefront of what has become an established worldwide preservation movement," she said.

New York boasts 1,118 landmarks, 104 interior landmarks, 9 scenic landmarks and 84 historic districts.

While New York preserves interior and scenic landmarks, it seems Taiwan only preserves "buildings" -- although the awareness of historic preservation in Taiwan has been making headway, Lee said.

Lee also mentioned Taiwan should work on "minority preservation," which the New York program paid attention to in preserving some African burial grounds and aboriginal buildings.

"The preservation of our landmarks provides a sense of continuity between the past and present, and an appreciation of the accomplishments that outlast an individual life, " Diamonstein-Spielvogel said.

Representatives from the Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei City and Taipei County asked about the problem of private property with historic value.

"It's a universal problem [dealing with private property]," she answered. "We should educate the public and let them know that we have only 'temporary custody' of the landmarks."

For compensation, the U.S. government also offers tax breaks for those who donate their private property, she added.

However, Diamonstein-Spielvogel pointed out that designated landmarks in New York's preservation program account for only less than two percent of "the buildings, property or objects that are at least thirty years old and have a special character, esthetic value or meaning" -- New York's definition of a landmark.

It means even New York has a long way to go, she said.


Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) The 2006 Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival, which starts Aug. 12 in the northeastern Taiwan county of Yilan, will try to raise awareness of the diversity of cultural heritage with more than 20 local and foreign performing groups showcasing the richness of traditional cultural resources in the Asia-Pacific region, the organizers said at a press conference Wednesday.

Taiwanese people have long valued Western culture and have "neglected" the rich cultural assets of neighboring countries, according to Lin Chao-hao, Director of The National Center for Traditional Arts (NCFTA). The event, which runs from Aug. 12-Sept. 3, will include artistic performances, demonstration lectures, special exhibits and academic seminars.

Four foreign groups highlighting the event include the Muqam Art Ensemble from China's Xinjiang Province, the Yuanshe Water Puppet Troupe from Vietnam, a group from Thailand performing Ramayana traditional dance and the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts from South Korea.

The groups will perform for three weeks in a tour that will also take them to Taipei, Taoyuan, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Taitung.

Also on the performing list will be more than a dozen local groups, such as the Ju Percussion Group, the Lan Yang Dancers and various groups of the Songjiang Battle Array.

The event will focus on the topic of "Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity" in response to "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, " which was adopted by UNESCO in 2003 and entered into force in April this year.

In addition to artistic performances, an international conference will discuss the topic of "East Asian music and modernity." An exhibition on the traditional percussion instruments of the Asia-Pacific area will also be held from Aug. 12-Sept. 30 at the NCFTA.

In the past four festivals, over 500 events performed by groups from more than 20 countries were held. The festival covers music, dance, fine arts, drama, crafts and installation art, and has become one of the biggest platforms of Asian traditional culture.


Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) China never stops its suppression of Taiwan although it talks about friendship and goodwill all the time, as can be seen in its move to induce Chad to switch diplomatic recognition, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Chairman David Huang said Tuesday.

Taiwan cut diplomatic ties with Chad Aug. 6 after learning that the African nation was ready to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Since 2001, Huang said, China has wrested five allies from Taiwan. It also did so with plotted timing to humiliate the Taiwan government.

"China always talks about its goodwill toward the Taiwanese people -- if not the government -- but what it has done has obviously hurt their feelings deeply, " according to Huang.

At the end of the day, it just shows us that China has never given up on its military threats, said Huang.

"It tells us that China will never give Taiwan any 'breathing room' internationally if Taiwan does not recognize Beijing's 'one China' policy, " he said.

He also said the MAC will pragmatically keep working on vested plans such as cross-Taiwan Strait cargo flights and allowing Chinese tourists to visit.


Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's diplomacy has been long caught up in the "myth" of the numbers of diplomatic allies, and it is probably time to adopt a new approach, academics said Tuesday.

The academics were attending a seminar organized by the Taiwan Thinktank that focused on cross-Taiwan Strait relations after Taiwan cut its official ties with the central African country of Chad, which switched its diplomatic ties to China Aug. 6.

"Theoretically, the more allies the better, because it helps us in international organizations, " Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Michel Lu said.

"If Taiwan had 60 or 80 allies, the situation would definitely not be the same, " said Lu. But he admitted that it is "almost impossible" for Taiwan to add more allies within a short period of time.

"How many allies do we need? What does an ally mean to Taiwan? Is it realistic and meaningful to offer financial aid that exceeds our capability just to keep an ally that could switch recognition at any time? It's time for us to re-visit these basic issues, " said Chen Wen-hsien, a professor at National Chengchi University.

As more and more people disapprove of the so-called "checkbook diplomacy" in which Taiwan has been engaged for the past several decades, the government will definitely change its direction to a more pragmatic route, said Lu.

"We will no longer promise our allies something we cannot do. We won't accept blackmail either, " he said.

Lo Chih-cheng, chairman of the Department of Political Science of Soochow University, offered a different perspective on the numbers of Taiwan's allies. The fact that China has wrestled away five allies from Taiwan in the past five years means that China has changed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, he said.

Lo encouraged the international community to pay attention to the decreasing numbers of Taiwan's allies and the increasing numbers of China's ballistic missiles across the Taiwan Strait -- both a sign of the change of status quo.


Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's government should increase its diplomacy budget to counter China's relentless oppression in the international community, academics said in a seminar Tuesday.

China has been pouring money in every imaginable way into Africa, South America and the South Pacific since its economic rise, said Michel Lu, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) . And one of its main objectives is to win over Taiwan's allies in those regions, he added.

The number of Taiwan's allies went from 29 in 2000 -- when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) became the ruling party -- down to the present 24. The five countries were won over by more aid and financial promises from China, and switched diplomatic recognition.

With a NT$28 billion diplomacy budget, which accounts for less than one percent of the NT$320 billion gross domestic product (GDP), it's difficult for Taiwan to counter China's influence, Lu said, adding that only half the budget -- NT$14 billion -- is designated for international aid expenditures.

"I think Taiwan should increase its diplomacy budget. A diplomacy budget under one percent of the nation's GDP, especially in Taiwan's case, is unfathomable," said Lin Cheng-yi, a research fellow specializing in European and American studies at Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institution.

The seminar was organized by Taiwan Thinktank to dicuss Taiwan's foreign relations after diplomatic ties were severed Sunday with the central African country of Chad. Taiwan cut off diplomatic ties with Chad on Aug. 6 after learning the African nation was ready to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Tsai Kuang-shen and Ho Li-lan still believe that one day they will see their missing son again, although their last glimpse of the baby boy was almost 35 years ago.

Tsai Ming-chih, who was only 2 years old when he was taken from his parents in 1972, is one of more than 3,000 missing children in Taiwan, according to National Police Agency (NPA) records. Although NPA records show one case in which a family succeeded in finding a missing child after 13 years, the Tsais have never found their
beloved son.

Still, Tsai Kuang-shen has managed to keep the faith and was optmistic about finding his son at a press conference in Taipei Monday.

"I imagine that somewhere, Ming-chih -- 36 years old by now -- has a family and a successful career. I used to hope we would have him back for a family reunion. Not anymore. The only thing I need right now is to know where he is and how he's doing," said Tsai.

According to witnesses, Tsai Ming-chih was taken away in front of his grandmother's house in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, by a woman dressed in red on the afternoon of October 3, 1972.

The Tsais would never see him again. And they were unable to identify the woman, even with the assistance of police and child welfare organizations over the next 35 years.

Thousands of sleepless nights and tears did not impede their search for Ming-chih, as numerous bits of information -- notes on tips, photographs and news clippings -- piled up in the Tsais' living room.

"You don't often find such a determined family like the Tsais. A lot of parents give up [searching for their children] after a number of years," said Wang Yu-min, executive director of Child Welfare League Foundation, an organization founded 14 years ago to help parents like the Tsais find their children again.

"After all these years, I believe it's easier if he [Tsai Ming-chih] comes to us instead of going out to find him," Tsai said, adding that media outlets would be of great help by spreading the news.

"Sometimes all parents need is a definite answer -- no matter what that answer may be. The last thing they need is a question mark in their minds," Wang said.

"If we can eventually find Ming-chih again, it will be another inspiring Taiwan Miracle," she said.


Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Of all the missing children and juveniles in Taiwan, more than 40 percent are females aged between 12 and 18, which is considerably higher than the ratio among males and a cause for concern, a child welfare organization said in a report released Monday.

According to the "Status Report on Missing Kids and Juveniles in Taiwan" released on the eve of Fathers' Day, there were 509 females aged between 12 to 18 among 1,246 missing children and juveniles reported to the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) during the last 14 years, said CWLF Executive Director Wang Yu-min.

Females also dominate most of the runaway juveniles that left home to meet Internet friends, totaling 89 cases. These cases account for 7.1 percent of all cases and have increased dramatically in recent years, Wang said.

An encouraging fact is that 872 of the 1,246 missing children -- a little over 70 percent -- were found after an average of 154 days. However, less than 50 percent of missing children under 6 years of age were found.

The months that registered the most missing cases are March and September. "The fact reminds every parents that they should pay more attention to children during the winter and summer breaks, " said Wang.

However, the report appears to be woefully inaccurate, as National Police Agency records show that the number of missing children already exceeds 3,000.

A documentary recording the life stories of two families that have not found their missing children after more than 13 years but who have never give up searching, premiered at the press conference in the hope of boosting public support in the search for missing children.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) Strategic partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, especially from U.S. allies' points of view, are a delicate issue, academics at an international seminar said Saturday.

The academics, from Australia, Japan and Taiwan, were attending the seminar, titled "The Asia-Pacific Security Environment After the Enactment of Anti-Secession Law, " organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the Cross-Strait Study Association.

A ministerial-level conference of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in March strengthened the strategic partnership between three countries, said Bill Chang, a PhD student at the University of New South Wales.

The partnership is obvious and regarded as a balance of China's growing impact in the region, as former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry once described Australia and Japan as two "anchors" of the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy.

However, South Korea, which once was seen as a U.S. ally, seems to be drifting out of the equation, said Tomohide Murai, a professor at Japan's National Defense Academy.

"It seems to me that South Korea is no longer a reliable partner for the U.S., as 40 percent of the respondents to a South Korean public opinion poll said the U.S. is the biggest threat to South Korea. Also, 60 percent of the respondents supported North Korea's nuclear program, " Murai added.

The anti-U.S. atmosphere was not only felt in South Korea but in Japan as well, especially Okinawa Prefecture, he added.

Taiwan on the other hand has never been officially seen as a strategic partner of the U.S. because of the cross-strait situation, he said.

The partnership will be even more complicated if trade relations with China are factored into the equation, said You Ji, a professor at the University of New South Wales.


Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) Australia plays an "important role" in Taiwan Strait issues and should clearly oppose any change by force to Taiwan's sovereign status because it is in Australia's best interests, according to academics who attended an international seminar in Taipei Saturday.

"It would make Beijing understand that not only the U.S. and Japan, but also Australia, will provide support, if needed, on Taiwan Strait security, " said Bill Chang, a PhD student at the University of New South Wales, in the seminar, titled "The Asian Pacific Security Environment After the Enactment of the Anti-Secession Law."

"It is inconceivable that Canberra would not become involved if a war erupts in the strait with U.S. involvement. The Australian Armed Forces has clearly been geared toward providing assistance in combat, " according to You Ji, a professor at the University of New South Wales.

"Canberra's Taiwan policy is also clearly set on war prevention through maintaining the status quo in the strait. This is totally in line with Washington's position, " he added.

Eight of Australia's top 10 trade partners and 65% of its foreign trade come from the Asia-Pacific region, Chang pointed out. If military conflict between Taiwan and China were to occur, it would have a serious impact on Australia's interest in the region, he added.

The dilemma for Australia, You said, is that it strongly disapproves of China's politico-social system but has a pragmatic need to deepen export dependence on the Chinese market, which is why Prime Minister John Howard quickly altered his initial 1996 China policy from "balance-of-power based" to "cooperation based."

"If the U.S. is in for dealing with Taiwan Strait conflict, it's hard for Australia not to be in, " said Australian Adm. Chris Barrie.

"On the other hand, it seems to be time for a proper debate in Taiwan about future security and prospects," he added.


Taipei, Aug. 4 (CNA) News-gathering organizations and the general public can both play a critical role in getting Taiwan's media back on the right track to eliminate human rights abuses, a watchdog group said in a seminar Friday.

The seminar titled "Human rights under the camera lens" was organized by Broadcasting Development Fund (BDF), a non-profit media watch group, and focused on growing cases of human rights abuse by Taiwan's media.

Cases discussed in the seminar included ignoring privacy and people's right as well as revealing the faces and names of patients with various illnesses without their prior consent.

"Most people nowadays are well aware of their own rights," said Yu Ying-fu, an attorney. "But mostly all they do is complain when they are offended by the media."

As an attorney, Yu said, he probably shouldn't encourage people to take legal action against the media.

"But by doing this, maybe the media will learn the lesson and finally understand the fine line between freedom of press and individual privacy."

"Reporters need a re-education in communication ethics, " said Paul Tsai, deputy manager of Formosa Television's news gathering center. "On the other hand, members of the public should also know their rights."

Tsai also mentioned several mechanisms that can help keep a tight rein on electronic media, including tighter supervision of the National Communication Commission (NCC) and regular human rights reviews by print media, media watchdogs and human rights groups.

"It is time to solve the [human rights abuse] problem, no matter how long it takes," BDF's CEO Connie Lin said.


Taipei, Aug. 4 (CNA) Basic human rights, including privacy and the right to refuse to be interviewed, have been seriously abused by Taiwan's media, especially in television news, a media watchdog said in a seminar Friday.

Respect for human rights has been ignored for so long because of agrowing competition in the media, and it's time to solve the problem no matter how long it takes, said Connie Lin, CEO of the Broadcasting Development Fund (BDF) , a non-profit media watch group which organized the seminar "Human rights under the camera lens."

One of several TV newsclips played before the seminar showed a six-year-old girl refusing to be interviewed but ignored by the media and the face of a mentally ill patient.

The mother-in-law, first grandson and even butler of President Chen Shui-bian were followed by media everywhere, with more than two dozen reporters camped daily outside their residence in an attempt to follow their every move, the video also showed.

The current media chaos in Taiwan can be traced back to the "media explosion" after the end of the martial law era, and the situation has worsened in recent years, said Cheryl Lai, president of Radio Taiwan International.

Lai said that besides the "survival of the fittest" dynamic, the media should shoulder most of the responsibility for the decline in journalism's professionalism in recent years, because the media has gotten caught up in the numbers game -- doing whatever it takes to get higher ratings.

Not only have viewers felt frustration toward the media but reporters have as well -- which is why Chin Yu-chung became a print media reporter after five years as a TV cameraman.

With nine 24-hour news channels competing year-round, it's hard to believe the current situation will see any dramatic improvements, although a self-restraint and self-discipline agreement has been signed by all news channels, Lin said.

The media should start respecting basic human rights before it's too late, Lai said. Otherwise, she added, the general public will one day spurn the media because viewers have the ultimate power: turning off the television.


Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) Everything in the households will be digital pretty soon in the future, the latest products in the annual Taipei Computer Applications Show, which is taking place from Aug. 3 - 7, showed.

In addition to the computer and communication devices buying and selling, to which most companies and visitors pay attention, in the distant future people will be selling and buying "digital homes".

The theme exhibition entitled "U-Life" (Ubiquitous Life) fortold a future that digital devices and applications are everywhere in an ordinary household, including FFTH (fiber-to-the-home) internet services, car multimedia system, "on-line" white goods (large household appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines), home security system and even long distance care.

All these mean you don't have to go to a hospital for a medical checkup or a refrigerator to see for yourself when to do the next shopping. Neither do you have to endure the "slow" ADSL internet connection.

And a digital home will be affordable not only for the riches but for middle class people as well, said Chao Teng-hsiung, president of Farglory Land Development. Chao added that more and more real estate buyers place the factor of "how digital it is" over other factors such as structures and interior design.

But for now, most visitors are happy just buying discount computers at the show, which is held at Exhibition Hall I of the Taipei World Trade Center. There are more than 200 companies setting up more over 1,400 booths in seven product display areas this year.

The annual show, which began in 1990, has been averaging more than 300,000 visitors every year and is one of the largest computer shows in Taiwan for domestic buyers.


Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) To go commercial or stay underground? Mainstream or independent? Is working with the government a good thing? One thing is certain: Taiwan's rock festivals are at a crossroads, a seminar concluded Thursday.

The participants in the seminar titled "Retrospect on the Independent Spirit in Indie Music" came from every field related to rock festivals, including a musician, a pair of music critics, an event organizer, a music producer and a couple of government officials.

They showed common concern about the commercialization and environmental damage created by rock festivals, which with the help from the government have become one of the most popular summer activities for Taiwanese youngsters in recent years.

There has been controversy and problems with the "big three" rock festivals -- Spring Scream, Formoz Festival and the Hohaiyan Gongliau Rock Festival -- such as political interference, fighting for the same event name by government and independent organizers, drug use at the events and over-commercialization.

"The essence of a rock festival is that it is a showcase for the music industry, but the government looks at it from the tourism perspective, which leads rock festival in different directions, " according to Freddy Lin, lead singer of the band Chthonic and the man responsible for starting Formoz.

There is a fine line between adherence to the indie rock spirit and the help from government or companies, said music critic Chang Tieh-chih, with respect from sponsors for the professionalism of the artists key.

Vanya Chung of Trees Music and Art offered a different view, pointing out that it is not only "big" rock festivals that can have an impact.

"Bigger is not always better, said Chung, who has organized many of the more interesting festivals Taiwan has to offer. Sometimes smaller music festivals provide better local attachment and cultural impact. We need to stop being caught up in the numbers game of thinking that more participants make a more successful event, "she said.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) Uneven scores and little fanfare couldn't stop their love for baseball as seven international teams battle this week in the second Women's Baseball World Cup, which runs from July 31 - Aug. 6 in Taipei.

Host team Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Cuba and the U.S. make up the field as the U.S. seeks to defend its crown in the single round-robin tournament that was inaugurated in Edmonton, Canada in 2004.

Compared to their male counterparts, who are often called "boys of summer, " these "girls of summer" haven't seen the popularity or skills of men's baseball, however.

Attendance in Tienmu Baseball Stadium has numbered less than 100 in the first three days of the competition. The fact that Japan pounded Hong Kong in a shutout by an unbelievable score of 43-0 doesn't convince anyone that this is a genuine world cup event, either.

But it shows the game of baseball is still in a promotional stage in the women's world. Cuba, which has been long known as a men's baseball powerhouse, didn't start developing its women's baseball program until two years ago, said Cuba head coach Jesus Escudero Rodriguez.

Home team Taiwan didn't have a women's national team before recruiting softball players for the tournament. Hong Kong, which dropped 86 runs in the first three games while only scoring three times, didn't even have a regular baseball field before last year, said Lee Yat-keung, Hong Kong's head coach.

On the other side of the spectrum, Japanese women's baseball ranks among the world's best, along with the U.S. and Canada. Japan has been developing women's baseball for 10 years and has a women's league of more than 20 teams.

One thing in common is they all love to play the game.

"I love the excitement of baseball compared to softball, " said 33-year-old Liu Tsu-hsin, a former softball player and one of the most senior players on the Taiwanese squad.

"I truly love this game. And we'll get better with more development of women's baseball in Hong Kong," echoed Hong Kong's Lau Tsu-chin, who is only 14 years old but has baseball experience from playing on Hong Kong boys' little league team.

Rodriguez is also optimistic about the game's future, saying that Cuban women's baseball, given time, will one day be as good as men's baseball.

The rules of women's baseball are almost the same as for men, with the same field dimensions and type of hardball. However, women are allowed to use aluminum bats and the regulation play is seven innings instead of nine.


Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Reacting to complaints from dissatisfied users, Yahoo! Taiwan further explained at a press conference Tuesday a plan to start charging transaction fees for its online auctions.

Users have been complaining about an abrupt change in the past week following the announcement by Yahoo! Taiwan -- Taiwan's largest portal and operator of online auctions -- stating that it will start charging a 3 percent transaction fee on most auction items.

Yahoo also charges users for listing and various other functions.

Yahoo! Taiwan is not the first auction Web site to charge transaction fees and its rates are lower than those in Japan and the United States, according to Charlene Hung, Yahoo! Taiwan's vice president of e-commerce.

To reassure its users, Yahoo! Taiwan will conduct seminars throughout the country and improve its services, such as the mechanism of buying and selling and promotion of its auction service, Hung said.

It will also award each seller with five free item listings per month and raise the maximum compensation fee from NT$7,000 to NT$10,000.

Hung refused to speculate on the potential loss of users after the new plan is implemented. Taiwanese users of Yahoo's auction services have established a union and plan to negotiate with the company, while other users plan to simply use other free auction services.

The auction service of Yahoo! Taiwan was launched in 2001 and boasts 3.7 million listed items. According to market research group ACNielsen Corp., Yahoo captured 57.4 percent of all Taiwanese auction users, compared to 4.9 percent for eBay, which ranks in second place.


Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Taiwan and Belize, one of Taiwan's allies in Central America, signed an agreement on cooperation in indigenous affairs Tuesday in the hope of cultivating bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

The agreement was signed by Walis Perin, Minister of Taiwan's Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Sylvia Flores, Minister of the Belize Ministry of Human Development, on Taiwan's Indigenous Day.

It is Taiwan's third such cooperation agreement with foreign countries, following the signing of similar agreements with Canada and New Zealand in 1998 and 2004, respectively.

"Indigenous affairs has gradually become a focal point of the international community and we are glad to have an opportunity to work with Belize, a country that places importance on human rights and respects different races, " said Perin.

"We must respect the original people of our countries, " Flores said on the importance of indigenous people. She also said she was deeply moved by the culture and genuine welcome of Taiwan's indigenous people after an earlier visit to a couple of aboriginal villages.


Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Five well-known international guitarists, including two Taiwanese players, will perform a series of concerts in the 2006 Formosa International Guitar Festival, the festival organizer said Monday.

Louis Tsou, the driving force behind the festival, will perform six concerts from Aug. 1-8 with the other Taiwanese guitarist, Jimmy Liu, along with Japan's Shinichi Fukuda, Pablo Marquez of Argentina and Tania Chagnot of France, starting Wednesday.

The festival, which will also include three master classes, will be held in Taipei, Taichung and Tainan, with each concert featuring two of the guitarists. The highlight of the event will be a concert titled "Hommage au Pere, " which will be held on Fathers' Day, featuring all five guitarists.

The festival is being organized by Les Cordes Vivantes Musique Ensemble, a group Tsou founded in November 2005 that aims to promote the guitar. One of Taiwan's most successful, Tsou attended two prestigious French music schools before coming back to Taiwan.