Saturday, June 30, 2007


Taipei, June 30 (CNA) Taiwan's Public Television Service (PTS) signed a collaboration memorandum at a press conference Saturday with French-German public television station ARTE for program exchanges and further cooperation in the future.

ARTE, the first transnational public television station in Europe, which was launched in 1992, serves as a great model for PTS as it has been devoting most of its energy to culture and arts during its 15-year existence, winning accolades and becoming "the hope of television industry, " said PTS President Hu Yuan-huei before signing the memo with ARTE President Jerome Clemente.

"The ARTE experience" taught Taiwanese media valuable lessons in many ways, including television production, cultural diversity and reconciliation, Hu added.

ARTE, which boasts a NT$ 16 billion annual budget that comes exclusively from the French and German governments, had set from the beginning its goal to promote arts and culture, especially European culture, and encourage viewers to understand "how very different we are, and how similar at the same time, " said Clemente.

The birth of ARTE symbolized the reconciliation of Germany and France, which have fought each other for over a century, said Patricia Kortmann, Art/Event Coordinator of German Cultural Center in Taipei.

Jean-Claude Poimboeuf, Director of French Institute in Taipei, also pointed out that the creation of ARTE has been a small part of the European integration, and revealed just how large the scale of European integration is, and how hard Europe has tried to achieve unity.

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien credited ARTE for its success in developing young film directors through funding and collaboration and hoped that the same efforts could be made at PTS, which has been collaborating with local young directors and making great efforts in promoting documentaries.

"Interaction between film makers and television during the collaboration process is still not running smoothly, but it isn't easy, and it has taken a lot for PTS to make it this far, "Hou said.


Taipei, June 29 (CNA) One cannot always be a winner, but sometimes one works harder when he or she gets rejected by others, Australian 2005 Nobel Prize for medicine laureate Barry Marshall told hundreds of Taiwanese high school students in a speech Friday.

Marshall, who concluded a four-day visit to Taiwan Friday, was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2005 along with his longtime collaborator Robin Warren for their discovery of the helicobacter pyroli bacterium and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.

In the one-hour speech, titled "Journey of a Nobel Scientist" and sponsored by the University of Western Australia, National Taiwan University and Australian Education International (AEI) , Marshall told the audience how he was "always interested in shortcuts" during the days when he developed his interest in science and "not very humble in college" in pointing out professors' mistakes.

Quoting historian Daniel Boorstin, he said, "The greatest obstacle to knowledge is not ignorance, it's the illusion of knowledge."

Marshall's discovery identified the great majority of gastritis and peptic ulcer cases, which were previously thought to be chronic infections caused by stress and dietary factors, as being caused by helicobacter pyroli and curable with antibiotics.

His findings were dismissed at first and to prove his theory, he experimented on himself, ingesting a turbid, foul-tasting solution of helicobacter pyroli.

"Taiwan is very much like me, " he said, referring to what President Chen Shui-bian told him in a meeting the previous day that Taiwan was also rejected in its World Health Organization (WHO) full membership bid, which was similar to what happened to Marshall's bold hypothesis.

In a 30-minute question-and-answer session after the speech, Marshall interacted with high school students who mostly came from Taipei City and encouraged them to always be curious about new things and work hard at "things that interest you."


Taipei, June 29 (CNA) The government should show more respect for the basic rights of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and immigrants in Taiwan, academic and social groups said in a seminar Friday.

The government of Taiwan "sees migrants as potential criminals and the cause of problems, while Canada does not," said Hsia Hsiao-chuan, a professor at Shih-shin University, at the seminar aimed at sharing Canada's experience in migrants' rights and community integration.

There have been a lot of social issues concerning the families of immigrants, namely foreign spouses, and their second-generation members, and social groups desperately need help from the government, said Chang Lai-hou, a representative from the Eden Foundation social welfare group.

Canada is a country of immigrants, which was why it has always paid great attention to its immigration law since 1869, the year the law came into effect, and to maintaining an open and discrimination-free mentality toward immigrants, said Ron MacIntosh, Executive Director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT).

Both Canada and Taiwan look at immigrants as a way to sustain the economy, but the situations of two countries are different as Canada is a vast land with small population while Taiwan is a small and densely populated country with limited resources, MacIntosh said.

"Canada recognizes the economic contributions of migrant workers. That is its fundamental difference from Taiwan, which sees migrants as potential criminals and the cause of problems, " Hsia said, noting that Taiwan has different treatment for residents and non-residents that is extremely discriminatory.

"In Taiwan, migrant workers are excluded from most laws and regulations. They are not allowed to transfer employers. The government gives the right to employers to mistreat migrant workers under the name of `management of migrant workers', " she added.

"It is difficult for immigrants to apply for residency. There are too many barriers for them to acquire citizenship. And they are not allowed to vote and work. Migrant workers don't have the rights to protest, either," she noted.

Currently, Canada accepts approximately 200,000 immigrants from all over the world annually. Half of those are temporary workers who mostly came from the U.S., Mexico, the Philippines and the Caribbean countries, said Patricia Nicoll, Director of CTOT's Visa and Immigration.

In terms of human trafficking victims, the Canadian government offers Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) , longer term permits and permanent status options to protect the victims' rights.

"What our government needs to understand is that good governance means not only effective border control but also the protection of basic human rights for non-citizens, " Hsia said.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Taipei, June 28 (CNA) Academics from more than 10 countries are taking part in a two-day international conference on culture diversity under international trade regimes that started Thursday to discuss conflicts and difficulties between preserving cultural diversity and trade practices.

Taiwan is "rich in cultural diversity as it has been ruled by Spanish and Dutch" and is currently facing the challenge of globalization at a time when it is working hard toward developing a cultural creative industry, said Minister of Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA) Wong Chin-chu in her opening remarks.

On Oct. 20, 2005, the UNESCO General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression (CCD), which became effective March 18 this year. Taiwan has been paying great attention to the convention although it is not a U.N. member, Wong said.

The debate between preserving cultural diversity and international trade practices has been going on in Geneva, where the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters are located, said Deng Chen-chung, chief negotiator of Taiwan's Office of Trade Negotiations who was based in Geneva in his previous job.

In most countries, trade and cultural officials do not talk to each other often, Deng said, adding that even in Geneva, representatives from different countries know very little about the UNESCO convention.

"Currently, the WTO is not equipped to handle this issue, " he said, urging a mechanism between the WTO and UNESCO and clearer rules of the convention to be set up.

A total of 16 theses will be presented at the conference, and new rules to address cultural policy issues within the WTO framework in future trade negotiations will be explored. The participants are from New Zealand, Canada, India, Israel, Germany, South Korea, Hong Kong, France, the U.K., the U.S. and Taiwan.


Taipei, June 27 (CNA) A women's rights advocacy group protested in front of Japan's representative office in Taiwan Wednesday on the heels of passage of a U.S. House committee resolution on the Japanese military's wartime sexual enslavement of women in Asia, demanding a formal apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

"This can be seen as a huge victory in our 15-year effort to get compensation for comfort women, " said Fran Gau, Executive Director of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation (TWRF) , on the overwhelming 39-2 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed that day, which called on the government of Japan to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility" for its coercion of young women into sexual slavery during World War II.

The foundation and two former comfort women, Cheng Chen-tao and Chen Yang, staged a 30-minute protest in front of the Interchange Association, Japan's official representative office in Taiwan, under the watchful eyes of dozens of policemen. They were not received by Japanese officials.

"At 86 years old, I can no longer work and make a living. For many years the Japanese government has refused to recognize the existence of comfort women or offer a formal apology and compensation. With the passage of the resolution, I hope for Japan's apology and compensation, " said Cheng.

Chen Yang also questioned why the Taiwan government and legislature failed to initiate a practical solution in pressuring Japan now that the U.S. has shown support for the compensation claim movement.

"The governments of South Korea and China have been very active and supportive of the compensation claim. The Taiwan government and legislature should step up their efforts as well, as the resolution has now received support from Canada, Australia, Germany, South Korea, China and the Philippines, " said Gau.

"We are not requesting Japan's apology forever. We want the truth to be recognized, " said Legislator Joanna Lei, who also attended the protest.

"The government of Japan has never taken the responsibility it should have taken. On the contrary, it has spent a lot of money lobbying in the U.S. for the resolution not to pass, " Gau said, adding that the TWRF also condemned 44 Japanese lawmakers' denial of the existence comfort women in a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post earlier this month.

The non-binding Resolution 121, which was introduced by Representative Michael Honda last January, will now be voted on in a full House.


Taipei, June 27 (CNA) Scholars from Taiwan and China discussed a wide range of topics related to political, social and economic development on both sides of the Taiwan Strait in a seminar held Wednesday.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Tung Chen-yuan briefed the participants on the status of cross-strait exchanges and the Taiwan government's policy regarding cross-strait exchanges in his opening remarks at the one-day seminar, which took place at National Taiwan University (NTU).

The government has been trying to protect national interests instead of blocking cross-strait economic exchanges because the increasingly active cross-strait economy is determined by a market mechanism that should not be obstructed by government, Tung summed up.

However, Shen Jiuyuan, secretary-general of Pudong Taiwan Economic Research Center, and Liu Xiangping, a professor at Nanjing University, said Taiwan should be more open in its economic relationship with China to prevent itself from being marginalized.

The cross-strait political interaction of the last 20 years has not helped the Taiwanese people to erase their fear and distrust of China, said Georg Gesk, an assistant professor at Taiwan's Hsuan Chuang University. China's oppression of Taiwan's diplomatic and international space and its deployment of close to 1,000 missiles pointing at Taiwan led to a collective feeling of China's "animosity and unfriendliness," he added.

Gesk said the governments of Taiwan and China should make efforts to eliminate the animosity, citing the evolution of relations between France and Germany in explaining how former enemies make peace with each other.

A thesis by NTU professor Chou Chi-hsiang focused on the analysis of the second phase of constitutional reform in Taiwan and claimed that President Chen Shui-bian's road of constitutional reform has hit the wall and that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party will have to initiate negotiations with China to build up a healthy environment for presidential candidate Frank Hsieh.


Taipei, June 25 (CNA) A documentary focusing on European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso will be aired to give people of Taiwan an inside view of European Union (EU) negotiation processes, a Taiwan-based EU official said Monday.

The 52-minute documentary titled "At the Heart of Europe, " which will be aired at 10 p.m. July 5 on Public Television Service (PTS) channel, follows Barroso for six months and seeks to discover how much scope national governments, European members of parliament, pressure groups and journalists give the president of the commission.

"Taiwanese people can see what it is like working in a big international organization and see the daily negotiation process of the EU, " said Frederic Laplanche, deputy head of the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) , the EU's representative office in Taiwan.

Viewers will be able to see and feel how difficult the negotiation process is and what the negotiation tactics are in Brussels, where an average of 50 meetings are held daily between 27 EU member states, he said.

"The documentary probably says something about Taiwan... One of the big lessons for Taiwan, in my opinion, is how the EU works and moves forward to face every crisis and find the solution, " he said.

The documentary was produced by the public television channel ARTE, which is a collaboration of Germany and France.


Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Hong Kong's "democracy and press freedom" have been continuously regressing since its return to China and there is no sign of possible improvement at this moment, scholars and journalists from Hong Kong and Taiwan said Saturday in asymposium.

As Hong Kong was the model city in Asia for its cultural diversity and economic development in the 1980s and 1990s, now it looks like Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s, political wise, said Tung Li-wen, a professor and the vice president of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, in a syposium one week before the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China.

The United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to China on June 30, 1997, signifying the end of British ruling for over 100 years.

July 1, 2003, when half a million Hong Kong residents marched on streets to protest against the Basic Law that had stripped away the basic civilian freedom, was an important date in Hong Kong history, Tung said.

"Before that day, Chinese government didn't think the governence of Hong Kong is a big problem. After that, it knew Hong Kong would be a big problem, " he said.

"The past 10 years of Hong Kong can be summed up with three characteristics: inconsistent economy, regressed democracy, and diverted media, " said Paul Lin, a political commentator who fled from China to Hong Kong and now lives in Taiwan.

China's failed experience in Hong Kong was the main reason why it had never mentioned that Hong Kong's "One country, two systems" framework would serve as a good example for Taiwan after 2003, Tung noted.

"It is also interesting that 'chief executive' has become a term of insult and "SAR" (special administrative region) basically means puppet regime in Taiwan, " he added.

Donald Tsang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, is smart to direct people's attention to economy instead of politics, Lin said. However, Hong Kong's economy was not as optimistic as it seemed since it had relied heavily on China since 1997, he stressed.

A number of Hong Kong press members lamented about self-censorship and self-restraint of Hong Kong media. Because of China's tighter control and interference, Hong Kong's press freedom has dropped to 66th in the world in 2006 in the independent Freedom House survey, said Woo Lai Wan, chairperson of Hong Kong Journalists Association.

Woo called for a "never retreat" mentality against the oppression from China for Hong Kong and Taiwan media alike.


Taipei, June 23 (CNA) A Philippine Cultural Festival that includes a parade, song and dance performances and a Miss Talent contest will be held in downtown Taipei Sunday to celebrate Philippine culture, the Taipei city government's Department of Labor announced Saturday.

The celebration, which is a part of the 2007 Southeast Asian Cultural Activities series organized by the Migrant Workers' Cultural Center (MWCC) , is held to ease the homesickness of the more-than 8,000 Filipino workers in Taipei City and to foster bilateral understanding between Taiwanese and Filipinos, said Department of Labor Commissioner Su Yin-kuei.

The first event will be a cultural parade that starts from St. Christopher's Church going to the Taipei Art Park, where the remaining activities will take place. To highlight the diversity of Philippine culture, there will be song and dance performances by various indigenous tribes, as well as a choir from St. Christopher's Church and foreign groups.

A Miss Talent contest will also take place, with the final winner getting a Taipei-Manila round-trip ticket and cash.

The Taiwan government has been very supportive of foreign workers, according to Reynaldo Gopez, labor representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

Father Romeo Velos from St. Christopher's Church, where thousands of Filipino Catholics gather every Sunday for Mass, said the international community is no loner homogeneous and that foreign workers are not only laborers and strangers.

"They are, at the same time, residents and our brothers and sisters, " Velos said.

June 24 is Manila Day in the Philippines, Department of Labor official Victoria Huang said. In addition to the Philippines, the department also organizes similar cultural events for workers from Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand every year.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Barry Marshall, Australia's most recent Nobel Prize for Medicine winner, will visit Taiwan and seek to inspire Taiwanese students' engagement in science, organizers said Friday in a press conference.

Marshall, 56, and his longtime collaborator Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005 for their discovery of the helicobacter pyroli bacterium and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. He is scheduled to visit Taiwan June 26-29 and deliver speeches to medical school students and high school students, National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) and Australian Education Center (AEC) announced.

The discovery identified the great majority of gastritis and peptic ulcer cases, which were previously thought to be chronic infections caused by stress and dietary factors, as being caused by the helicobacter pyroli and found that they were curable with just a short regimen of antibiotics.

"The real story about Marshall's visit is about the type of person he is, " said Dean Woodgate, Director of the AEC's education, science and training section.

Marshall was dismissed as "a crazy guy saying crazy things" about his hypothesis at first. To prove his theory, he experimented on himself, ingesting a turbid, foul-tasting solution of helicobacter pyroli.

The story of Marshall is one of a scientist who will do anything to prove his point, said NTUH physician and professor Lin Jaw-town.

"The achievement and story of Marshall represent two distinct characteristics of Australians: we like to give things a go and encourage friendship, " Woodgate said.

Marshall will also meet with President Chen Shui-bian, officials and scholars from the Ministry of Health, the National Science Council and Academia Sinica during his visit.


Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Australia will offer Taiwanese tourists free Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) services from July 1, the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO) announced Friday.

Taiwanese tourists who apply for ETAs -- the equivalent of visas -- will no longer be charged the NT$1,000 application fee, ACIO Visa Services Director Catherine Genn said.

An ETA is issued electronically by a computer system and there is no stamp or label in the passport. Applications for ETAs can be submitted through travel agencies or airlines.

"This is good news following Australia's approval of the import of Taiwanese mangoes last week. And the timing of the announcement is wonderful because of the summer vacation, " said Yu Teh-sheng, deputy director of the Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to an ACIO tally, Genn said, 77,000 of the 80,000 visas the office authorized to Taiwanese tourists in 2006 were ETAs. The free ETA service is expected to boost tourist numbers.

However, tourists who apply for ETAs online instead of through ACIO's visa service will still be charged the transaction fee of A$20, she noted.

Taiwan is among a limited number of countries in the Asia Pacific region, which include Japan, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, that are eligible for ETA services as "low-risk countries" as defined by the Australian government, Genn said.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Taipei, June 21 (CNA) The free trade agreements (FTAs) Taiwan has signed with Central American countries will help boost trade between Taiwan and those nations, Central American exhibitors said Thursday in an international food show.

The Taiwan-El Salvador-Honduras FTA was signed May 7 and became the third FTA established between Central American nations and Taiwan, which has inked separate FTAs with Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

With more products from both sides enjoying tariff-free incentives, El Salvador is looking to export more sugar, coffee and seafood to Taiwan, said Mauricio Chavarria, Marketing Manager of EXPORTA -- a Salvadoran government agency in charge of export promotion, which is the equivalent of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

El Salvador was among several nations, including Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, that jointly set up an FTA Nations Hall at the 2007 Taipei International Food Show, which is being held from June 21-24. The Latin American nations are showcasing products such as coffee, seafood, sauces, juices and meat.

"Taiwan manufactures high-quality machinery, which is what El Salvador needs. Once the FTA kicks in, Salvadoran industries will benefit from the lower prices of Taiwanese products, " Chavarria said.

"Without the FTA, you would not see many products displayed here, " said Rodrigo Coba, general manager of a Panamanian company that sells products made from the noni fruit. Coba's company has secured its first distributor in Taiwan.

In 2003, Panama became the first Central American country to sign an FTA with Taiwan.

"El Salvador intends to keep doing business with Taiwan, although we import a lot of products from China, " Chavarria said, adding that El Salvador's limited manufacturing capability is not capable of handling a large market like China yet.

"And we would like to trade with Taiwan because of your democracy and your assistance in fishery, agriculture and infrastructure in El Salvador. I do not see China buying a large amount of products from El Salvador at the moment, " he said.

After the FTA goes into effect, he said, El Salvador can trade coffee with Taiwan directly instead of through Japan, so that consumers in Taiwan will get Salvadoran coffee at a cheaper price.

According to Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), bilateral trade between Taiwan and El Salvador was valued at US$80.48 million for 2006, with Taiwan enjoying a trade surplus of US$62.5 million.

Central American countries can be Taiwan's gateway to the North American market, as Taiwanese manufacturers can also take advantage of the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).


Taipei, June 20 (CNA) The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) will host a series of events in Kaohsiung for the first time to celebrate Canada's 140th birthday, a Canadian official said Wednesday.

Ron MacIntosh, Executive Director of CTOT, said the Canada Day celebration will be a great opportunity for Taiwanese living in southern Taiwan to enjoy a taste of Canada's excellence and creativity in education, food, drink and culture and to experience Canada's dynamic spirit.

CTOT has been hosted the celebration in different cities in Taiwan each year to celebrate Canada Day, which falls on July 1.

From 2004 to 2006, the celebration has been held in Tainan, Taichung and Taipei, respectively.

The celebration will begin June 26 at the Kaohsiung Film Archive, where the CTOT will host the First Canadian Animation Festival in Kaohsiung until July 12.

To further promote the animation industry in southern Taiwan, the office is working with the Kaohsiung Film Archive to organize a half-day animation seminar to connect Canada's experience with Kaohsiung's animators. The seminar will feature the presence of David Baas, a Canadian animation director who won an Oscar in 2006 for his excellence in animation, and Alex Liao, a digital artist of well-known animation software company Softimage.

From June 20 until the end of July, a Kaohsiung restaurant will offer Canadian seafood. As Kaohsiung is also home to thousands of young Canadians, the office will hold a "Canadian-style party" at a Canadian-run local pub June 27.

The last and the biggest event of the celebration will be a "Canada Village" to be held in front of the Film Archive June 30, offering Canadian food and drink, building products, education counseling and tourism information.


Taipei, June 20 (CNA) A biennial international children's television and film festival that will be held next April officially launched its promotion drive and began receiving film submissions from all over the world, festival organizers said Wednesday at a press conference.

The third Taiwan International Children's TV & Film Festival will be held April 4-8, 2008 in Taipei, said Hu Yuan-huei, president of Public Television Service (PTS) , the main organizer. Submissions will be accepted until Oct. 31.

So far, Hu said, there have been submissions from Taiwan, India, Sweden, Germany, France, the U.S. and the Philippines vying for six awards -- best dramatic feature, best animation, best documentary, best TV program, Taiwan award and special jury prize.

This event has been trying to find a balance between "adults' perspective and children's height, " said Wang Gun-yu, curator of the festival.

The festival was previously held in 2004 and 2006 and received more than 230 entries each time, Hu said, adding that the organizers expect a record-breaking number of entries for the next one.

The five-day event features screenings, side events and exhibitions, and "Kids as Directors" workshops for teachers and students to learn about filmmaking, in addition to awards with cash prizes.

Ma Chih-hsiang, a young actor making his first attempt at filmmaking, became the first local entry in the category of best dramatic feature with a film titled "Wish of the 10-year-old Dina, " the story of a young Bunun girl in Hualien.

"I tried to reveal the social status and problems of the indigenous people, and at the same time reverse local people's bias against indigenous people, " said Ma, who is also an aborigine.

PTS also announced 10 nominees for the "Kids as Directors" workshop in the press conference. The nominees were selected out of more than 40 project entries, said Lin Leh-chyun, director of the PTS International Department.

All the winning projects will be assisted with production resources from PTS when the filmmaking begins and will be screened during the festival, Lin said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Taipei, June 19 (CNA) The people of Taiwan should join hands with people around the world to respect human life and human rights, Vice President Annette Lu said at a charity concert and ceremony on the eve of the U.N. World Refugee Day Tuesday.

Hopefully, the idea of the World Refugee Day will spark more participation in humanitarian work in Taiwan and extend blessings to those who are suffering so there will be no more refugees in the world in the future, Lu said in her opening remarks at the charity concert organized by the Chinese Association for Human Rights (CAHR).

The concert included performances by local groups the Physicians Chamber Orchestra and the Center Choir, and a rummage sale with all proceeds going to charity projects organized by CAHR's Taipei Overseas Peace Service (TOPS).

TOPS has been participating in international humanitarian relief and projects related to post-war rebuilding for 27 years, said CAHR President and TOPS Director Lee Yung-ran.

2007 marks the seventh year of World Refugee Day, which was established by the U.N. Assembly.


Taipei, June 19 (CNA) A 50-minute experimental film that will premiere at the Taipei Film Festival will try to create "poetry in motion, " the film's producer said Tuesday at a test screening.

The film, produced by the Public Television Service (PTS), is a collaboration of five established Taiwanese directors each of whom presents a 10-minute film inspired by famous poems and poets, said Sylvia Feng, producer of the PTS program Viewpoint and chief coordinator of the project.

The short films, directed by Tseng Wen-chen, Wu Mi-sen, Hou Chi-jan, Chu Hsien-jer and Mickey Chen will premiere June 24 at the annual Taipei Film Festival and will be played on Viewpoint June 29.

"You can find a lot of similarities between poetry and documentaries. However, it is extremely difficult to transform words into images, " according to Wu.

Other than Wu's, whose idea for his short animated film titled "Yearning" came from an assignment he gave his students years ago, all the films have been inspired by works of well-known Taiwanese poets, including Hsia Yu, Ling Yu and Sun Tse-ping.

The films include Tseng's "Keep Dancing, " Chu's "Genesis, Rehearsal, " Hou's "Shopping Cart Boy " and Chen's "Seeking Friends Along the Coast."

This is the second time PTS has produced experimental "poetry in motion" filmmaking, following huge success in 2003, Feng said, adding that the production of documentary films has seen a cross-over trend in recent years that combines the elements of animation, musical and image effects.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Taipei, June 15 (CNA) U.S. policy on Taiwan's participation in international organizations has been consistent over the last thirty years, and the U.S. continues to insist that Taiwan should be allowed to participate in various ways, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said Friday.

"Taiwan's being excluded from organizations that require the status of a sovereign state has been, from the beginning, the U.S. policy, " said Burghardt in a roundtable meeting with local press in the middle of his regular visit to Taiwan.

"The U.S. view on Taiwan's membership in the U.N. organizations has been consistent in 1979, 1982 and now, " he stressed.

However, the U.S. has also been the leading voice in supporting Taiwan's participation in organizations that do not require such status, he said, adding that "there are ways in which Taiwan can participate, in even the U.N. organization, in terms of expert participation and observership."

"We are strongly in favor of that. And we strongly oppose games that are played with a nomenclature in order to exclude Taiwan from participating is these organizations, " he said.

Responding to a question from the media on China's oppression of Taiwan in the participation of international organizations, Burghardt said the U.S. "has raised the issue with Beijing and will continue to do so."

As for China's response, "you can probably guess, " he said.

Burghardt has met President Chen Shui-bian, Legislative Speaker Wang Jyng-ping, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, and Foreign Minister James Huang during his visit, which he described as "the standard operating procedure" for the U.S. in countries all over the world in the run up to an election.

He is scheduled to meet Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh and Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou Saturday.

Burghardt was the director of the AIT's Taipei office from 1999 to 2001. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, the U.S. consul general in Shanghai, and was a staff member at the National Security Council in Washington. Currently he also serves as the Director of East-West Seminars at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Taipei, June 15 (CNA) It is important for Taiwan's leader and presidential candidates to be careful what they say and do in the 11 months leading up to the 2008 presidential inauguration, American Institute in Taipei (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said Friday.

The next president will have an opportunity to make progress in cross-Taiwan Strait relations, said Burghardt, who is in Taiwan for a regular visit during which he is scheduled to meet presidential candidates Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Ma Ying-jeou of the main opposition Kuomintang.

"The inauguration of the new president in Taiwan in May 2008 will obviously be an important event. And regardless of who wins, it will present an opportunity for some improvement in cross-strait relations and hopefully for progress on some practical matters to the people of Taiwan, " he said in a roundtable meeting with local reporters.

He said the inauguration of the next president will offer a new start and expressed hope that the new leader will take advantage of it.

As Taiwan's media is notorious for its groundless speculation, the former AIT Taipei Office director urged the candidates to be careful with what they say and do and be ready to experience "scrutiny and over-analysis" from the media, adding that as the 2008 election has attracted international attention, "anyone could poison the atmosphere of cross-strait relations."

Regardless of who wins, he said, the U.S. is confident that "Taiwan-U.S. relations will be in good hands on the Taiwan side."

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Taipei, June 13 (CNA) More than 30 Canadian companies will participate in the 2007 Taipei International Food Show in the hope of boosting declining food-related Canadian exports to Taiwan, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) said Wednesday.

The Canadian companies will present ginseng, Saskatoon berries, organic blueberries and high-protein nutrition supplements, as well as other products from Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and other provinces at the food show, which will take place at the Taipei World Trade Center June 21-24 with 589 exhibitors from all over the world displaying their wares in 1,600 booths.

Canadian agri-food, fish and seafood exports to Taiwan were valued at US$200.6 million in 2006, a significant decline of 17 percent from the 2005 value of US$249.2 million, according to the statistics of the "Agri-food: Past, Present and Future Report" released by the Canadian government in February 2007.

The decline was due to decreased shipments of many of Canada's most important agri-food exports such as cowhides, swine, canola oil and fish and crustacean exports, the report states, noting that goods such as cowhides, canola oil and colza oil make up the majority of exports to Taiwan.


Taipei June 13 (CNA) Taiwan's efforts to combat human trafficking have been recognized but it must demonstrate greater political will in dealing with the problem, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Wednesday in a statement after the release of the U.S. State Department's 2007 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.

For 2007, Taiwan is classified as a "Tier 2" country and has been removed from a U.S. watch list because of its significant efforts to eliminate trafficking, the AIT said, adding that the most notable achievements are "the development of Taiwan's first comprehensive plan of action that covers all forms of human trafficking, plus the formation of an inter-ministerial committee to implement the plan in coordination with non-governmental organizations."

It pointed out, however, that trafficking victims should be granted formal protection, including access to justice, in order to obtain compensation from those who have exploited them, while victims should also have the right to work while awaiting the outcome of court cases.

It called for the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to stop addressing instances of involuntary servitude with administrative penalties. Instead, it should refer such cases for criminal investigation and possible prosecution. It also said the Taiwan authorities should do more to eliminate the ability of labor brokers and employers to deport workers against their will.

Taiwan was placed on the list of "Tier 1" countries in the 2003 and 2004 reports but was downgraded to "Tier 2" in the 2005 report. In 2006, Taiwan was placed on the "Tier 2 Watch List" for not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.

AIT said it will continue to increase public awareness of the suffering caused by trafficking by working with Taiwan officials and non-government organizations.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Taipei, June 11 (CNA) The U.S. Major League baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, has signed 19 years-old Taiwanese outfielder Lin Che-hsuan to a minor league contract, the team announced at a press conference Monday.

"From now on it will be another new chapter in my life and a new level on the field, " said Lin, who graduated from Nan Ying Vocational High School of Business and Technology last week. Lin also said he hopes to make the major league in four years.

"We wish him well. We think he is a very special player, " Boston Red Sox's Coordinator of Pacific Rim Scouting Jon Deeble said, adding that Lin has "four pluses as a runner, a defender, a thrower and playing with great range."

Lin has all the tools to succeed, Deeble said, "but it's important not to push him too hard."

Taiwanese-born Lin will be the fourth Taiwanese player to play in the current Red Sox farm system, following in the footsteps of pitcher Lin Wang-yi and outfielders Huang Chih-hsiang and Chiang Chih-hsien.

The signing bonus was not disclosed but was estimated at around US$400,000, making it one of the highest signing bonuses for a Taiwanese baseball player in recent years, according to staff of Bros Sports, Lin's sports agency.

The highest signing bonus on record for a Taiwanese baseball player is pitcher Tsao Chin-huei's US$ 2.2 million, while the record bonus for a positional player is current La New Bears player Chen Chin-feng's US$680,000.

Lin is expected to depart for the U.S. on June 15 or 16 and begin his training with the Gulf Coast Red Sox rookie league team.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Taipei, June 9 (CNA) Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who has long been regarded as one of the greatest living architects in the world, delivered a charity speech on architecture in front of an audience of more than 11,000 Saturday in Taipei.

Ando talked about achieving the harmonious balance between human and architecture, architecture and environment, and the social responsibility of architects in the two-hour speech and forum at Taipei Arena. All the proceeds of the speech will be donated to various charities in Taiwan.

Highlighting the idea of "One Asia, " the 66 years-old architect said modern day architects should pay more attention to environmental protection as environmental issues such as global warming has become a serious concern of all mankind.

"Asia, as a whole, is a unity. While the majority of 6.6 billion global population live in Asia, we have to take the responsibility [to protect the environment], " he said.

Ando underlined the importance of forestation and planting more trees in cities a number of times during his speech and pointed out that more people will visit Taiwan if it decided to do so.

What surprised Ando was his popularity in Taiwan, which has been described as the "Ando fever, " as more than 30,000 people had registered for tickets. Architects, designers, students and professors of Architecture departments, even political heavyweights such as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin were all in

An audience of 2,300 when he had his first speech in Taiwan in 2004 was already impressive, Ando said, adding that the number of attendance he had in Japan was 2,000 at best.

Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1941, Ando has worked as a truck driver and professional boxer prior to launching his architectural career. He has never received formal school education in architecture.

Ando was well-known for his habitual use of fair-faced concrete in most of his works, his ability to develop a unique spatial aesthetic with the combination of Japanese tradition and Modernism elements, and his special way of creating space with concrete, wood, water and lighting.

In 1995, Ando won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is generally considered to be the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in architecture.


Taipei, June 9 (CNA) The Taiwan-born co-founder of the popular video sharing Web site YouTube said in a "Web 2.0" summit in Taipei Saturday that the "user first" philosophy has always been his and his company's priority.

Steve Chen said the philosophy could very well be the reason for the success of YouTube. The summit invited heavyweights in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry to discuss various topics such as Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web services and software/hardware in the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

Chen, who was visiting Taiwan for the first time in two years, questioned the terms of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, however, saying that while it is difficult to define Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, personalization is the real Web trend.

This, he went on, is why YouTube has always maintained a user-first mentality and why he and his other co-founder Chad Hurley decided to sell the company to Google last year -- because Google also shares the same value and is capable of providing YouTube with solid technical support.

Chen and Hurley sold the company to Google for US$1.65 billion in October 2006.

However, the 29-year-old did not lose his motivation after becoming a billionaire overnight. Chen said his motivation came from always believing in the product and always trying to improve it.

He also predicted that by the end of 2008, a lot more videos will be viewed on mobile devices and said YouTube has been working toward this direction as well.

Chen, who currently holds the position of Chief Technology Officer for YouTube, was born in Taiwan and emigrated to the U.S. with his family aged 15. He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign without graduating to work for online e-commerce Web site PayPal, where he met Hurley and Jawed Karim. The three founded YouTube in 2005.

In 2006, he was named by Business 2.0 magazine as one of the "the 50 people who matter now" in business. Earlier this year, he was named by Time magazine as one of the world's most influential people.

The summit participants also included Chunghwa Telecom Chairman Ho Chen Tan, Intel's Director of Marketing and Technical Services in Taiwan Stanley Huang, Google Taiwan's Head of Sales and Business Development Rebecca Kuei and Institute for Information Industry Executive Director Chen Ming-syan.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Taipei, June 8 (CNA) The Philippines government is rolling out a series of promotions in the hope of attracting more Taiwanese tourists, an official from the Philippine Department of Tourism said on the sidelines of a Philippines travel guide launch ceremony Friday.

"We will try to present various tour packages to attract different types of Taiwanese tourists. Some of them visit the Philippines purely for sightseeing, while some come to play golf, " said Ireneo H. Reyes, Senior Tourism Operation Officer of the Department of Tourism.

Reyes estimated that more than 100,000 Taiwanese tourists visited the Philippines last year. The latest statistics from this year show a 7 percent increase in the number of tourists from the same period of last year, he said, adding that the bureau is expecting a record-breaking year in 2007.

However, there should be a lot more Taiwanese tourists visiting the Philippines, he said, adding that the low number of tourists is due to Taiwanese lack of understanding about its closest neighbor to the south.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office collaborated with the China Times Publishing Company to publish the Chinese-language guide titled Inside Guide: Philippines. "We hope that the readers will gain a better understanding of Filipinos," he said.

The book contains features on Philippine history, culture, traditions, faith, way of life and other information collected by the Discovery Channel and Inside Guides -- two of the world's best information providers, he said.

Reyes noted that some of Taiwan's media reports have brought the Philippines a lot of negative publicity and have affected Taiwanese people's views of the Southeast Asian country.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Taipei, June 7 (CNA) A business matchmaking event will take place in Taipei July 12 - 13 in hopes of boosting trade relations between Taiwanese and German companies from the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg, a German Trade Office spokesman said Thursday.

Several German companies in the selected health care, environmental protection, renewable energy and automotive industries will come to Taiwan seeking strong and reliable business partners at the event, which is jointly organized by the German Trade Office, DE International (The German Chamber Network) and Baden-Wurttemberg International, the spokesman said.

Baden-Wurttemberg, located in Southwest Germany, is the third largest of Germany's 16 states in terms both of areas and population (10.7 million) . The capital city, Stuggart, the University City, Heidelberg, as well as the Rhine river are all well-known to Taiwanese.

Economically, Baden-Wurttemberg is the No. 1 export state in Germany. Over 40 percent of Germany's domestic production comes from this federal state alone. Not surprisingly, the state boasts the highest economic growth rate in Germany.

One in five machines in the world are produced in Germany and the majority of them come from Baden-Wurttemberg. Global players such as Daimler-Chrysler, Bosch, Porsche, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, SAP and many others are based in the state.


Taipei, June 7 (CNA) The collection of biometric data -- finger scans and digital photographs -- will be required for all U.K. visa applicants in Taiwan from July 26, the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) in Taipei announced in a press conference Thursday.

The introduction of the new visa application process is to help combat visa fraud, the abuse of the U.K.'s immigration and asylum system and a part of anti-terrorism measures, BTCO Director Michael Reilly said.

The new process means two changes in the way BTCO deals with visa applications. All applicants will have to lodge their applications at new visa application centers in Taipei and Kaohsiung and applications will not be accepted at the BTCO in Taipei after July 20, said Reilly.

Second, all visa applicants, regardless of nationality, will need to apply in person to have their fingerscans and digital photographs taken. The whole procedure should take no more than five minutes, he said.

"Biometric visa data provides a higher standard for security and will in time make entry clearance into the U.K. simpler and easier. We have introduced the new process in 64 countries and are confident it will work smoothly here in Taiwan, " Reilly said.

Applicants will be able to track their application status online and will have shorter waiting times and more payment options, he said.

Current valid U.K. visa holders will not be asked to provide biometric data when they enter the U.K., Reilly added.

Taiwan and the Philippines are among the first Asian countries to implement the new application process, he said, adding that by the end of the year, the process will be rolled out to other Asian countries such as Japan, China and South Korea.

All member states of the European Union are expected to implement biometric visas in the spring of 2008, he noted.

The U.K. issued about 36,000 visas to Taiwanese visitors in 2006, including 9,653 Taiwanese student visas, Reilly said. The U.K. accounts for around 30 percent of the Taiwanese overseas study market.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Four Paraguayan soccer coaches started their 10-day training program schedule Wednesday in the eastern county of Taitung in hopes of developing more professional grassroots coaches to establish asolid foundation for Taiwanese soccer.

These coaches will provide their expertise in conditioning, techniques, tactics and psychology in the three-day program, which will be held in Taitung, Pingtung and Taichung from June 6 - 16.

The coaching clinic is the result of collaboration between the Embassy of the Republic of Paraguay, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and National College of Physical Education and Sports (NCPES).

Paraguay is proud of its long soccer history and achievement, the Paraguayan Embassy said, and believes the program will help the development of Taiwanese soccer thanks to the efforts of coaches Gustavo Alcibiades Blaires Ucedo, Ramon Duarte, Julio Vera Torres and Guido Armoa.

Taiwan currently ranks 167th in the FIFA (Federation of International Football Association) global ranking while Paraguay ranks 35th. The Central American country boasts seven World Cup appearances and has advanced to the final sixteen on three occasions.

According to a MOE statistics, there are more than 600 soccer teams of all levels in Taiwan, with more than 500 of them being primary school teams.


Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Japanese figure skater Shizuka Arakawa, the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics gold medallist in the Women's Singles event, and the 2004 World Champion, will perform in Taiwan for the first time in August, organizers announced in a press conference Wednesday.

Arakawa and other well-known Japanese figure skaters, including Takeshi Honda and Junko Yaginuma, will skate in six shows of the Prince Ice World 2007 Tour in Taipei, to be held Aug. 3 - 5 at the Taipei Arena.

Arakawa, 26, is the first female skater born in Asia to win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating, and the second oldest woman to win the Olympic figure skating gold. She announced her retirement from amateur figure skating and turned professional in May 2006, joining the Prince Ice World Team.

Speaking to a large group of reporters, Arakawa said she would like to promote the beauty of figure skating to the people of Taiwan through this tour. She also encouraged young Taiwanese skaters to "endure the pain and handwork in daily practices with a positive attitude."

"The basic approach to sports is to enjoy the happy side of it and forget the pain and sorrow, " she said.

Arakawa, one of the tallest female figure skaters at 5 feet 6 inches, is known for her spins and jumping ability, especially her triple-triple combination.

By winning the gold medal in Turin, the Prince Ice World Team said, Arakawa helped once again make ice skating one of the most popular sports in Japan.


Taipei, June 4 (CNA) Citizen participation has been long overlooked but will be an important factor in our living in the new millennium as well as an integral part of urban design and community infrastructure establishment, a German architect said Monday in an international workshop.

Three groups of workshop participants presented their ideas and plans on the themes of rivers, garden city and community public spaces in the final presentation of a five-day workshop titled "Living and Housing in the 3rd Millennium: Ideas and Strategies for Better Living in Taipei" that was guided by German architect Klaus Luig.

"All human beings are responsible for our future with the objective of enhancing quality of life. While nature and sustainable growth know no borders, it's essential to exchange ideas, " Luig said, adding that modern day urban development often ignores the citizens.

The workshop, organized by the German Cultural Center in Taipei, brought together participants from different generations, nationalities and professional backgrounds to work on ideas for Taipei's future during five days of discussions and brainstorming.

"Taiwanese architecture and urban design are dominated by elitism and ignore civic participation, " said Janice Chen, who was in a group that developed a plan to better make use of the riverside park on the Hsintien river.

"It's time to let the real users -- the citizens -- participate in the development, management and design of their communities and environments, " she added.

The other groups worked out plans to redevelop New Garden City, an old community in suburban Taipei, and the sustainable utilization and management of community public spaces in Taipei.

"Some of the ideas these participants came up with are actually workable and will be a very good source and reference for the government, while some of them are pretty idealistic, " Luig commented after the presentation.

"Don't forget, however, the building of a wall starts with the first brick. This is a good start, " he said.


Taipei, June 4 (CNA) Computex Taipei 2007, the largest computer trade show in Asia and the second-largest in the world, will open Tuesday for a five-day run with more than more than 1,300 domestic and international exhibitors showing off their latest products, organizers said Monday in a press conference.

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) , one of two main organizers, estimated that over 130,000 visitors and buyers will attend the annual exhibition, whose 2,926 booths will occupy four Taipei World Trade Center halls and will run from June 5 - 9.

The exhibition is aimed at providing buyers with their ideal source for the best products. It is ranked alongside CeBIT Germany as the world's top two information and communication technology (ICT) events.

The primarily professional business-to-business (B2B) exhibition is targeting on-site orders and sales that organizers hope will exceed US$14.5 billion, said TAITRA Executive Vice President Walter Yeh, adding that the show will highlight Taiwan's position as "the world's leading ICT procurement platform."

"It was not easy to achieve the 2 percent growth in the number of exhibitors for this year's event, " said Li Chang, Deputy Secretary-General of the Taipei Computer Association (TCA), who also described the show as "the Golden Week" for Taiwan's information technology (IT) industry.

The year opened a new era for global 4C (computers, communications, consumer electronics and digital content) products in the IT industry, as all four major categories have been upgrading, according to a COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2007 press release.

The show is reserved exclusively for international buyers, Yeh said, adding that it will only be open to the general public on the last day.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Taipei, June 2 (CNA) More than 80 volunteers will start paying home visits in July to new immigrant families in Taipei City and Taipei County in a program that seeks to help new arrivals adjust to Taiwan's environment and culture, organizers said Saturday.

The volunteers, who are mostly retired workers, will try to collect information and learn about the problems that foreign spouses face and tell stories to children in their upcoming home visits under the program organized by the Eden Social Welfare Foundation, said Huang Juo-sung, executive director of the foundation.

Four foreign spouses -- three from Vietnam and one from Indonesia -- and two men who are married to Vietnamese women are among the most notable volunteers in the program.

Huynh Trang Phuong Thuy, who came to Taiwan five years ago when she was just 20, said she decided to join the program because she understands how difficult it is adjusting to a new environment. As happy and comfortable as she is now, Huynh said she felt the urge to reach out a helping hand to her "Vietnamese sisters."

Lin Jian-chung, who is married to a Vietnamese women, also joined the program, determined to help thousands of new immigrant families like his own.

Meanwhile, Yen Wei-te, a graduate student at National Taiwan University, said he joined the program "to involve myself more in social activities, rather than just focusing on studying."

Volunteers like Huynh Trang, Lin and Yen will be assigned to different regions, such as Sanchong and Sindian, and provide counseling, story-telling and Chinese-language learning book distributing services. Having received just three days of training and being fully aware of the possibility of being turned away at the door on their visits to the homes of new immigrants, the volunteers said they are still upbeat about the task they will embark upon Saturday.

"This is only the beginning of a massive and important project that tries to respond to a national issue, " said Huang.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) statistics, an estimated average of 12,000 Vietnamese women arrive in Taiwan every year in mixed marriages, Huang said, adding that currently, one out of every four babies born in Taiwan is born into a new immigrant family.

"The new immigrant issue has been ranked in the top three of the ten most important social issues of the future by analysts and observers, which means the government and civil groups have to look at and deal with the issue seriously as soon as possible, " he noted.

The program is mainly being sponsored by Cathay Life Charity Foundation.


Taipei, June 2 (CNA) To promote the idea of a "Car-free Asia" and environmental awareness, 20 people from around the world, including eight from Taiwan, will launch a four-month "car-free" tour from Beijing to Paris, traveling on bicycle most of the way, on June 10 at Beijing's Tiananman Square.

The "Beijing to Paris (B2P) Car-free" tour is about "celebrating better mobility, " said Wu Yi-ting, one of the participants in the event, along with New Zealander Olly Powell, at a press conference. As the first group of participants have already started their tour, in April, Wu said, the second group will start the 100,000-kilometer expedition June 10, adding that they expect to arrive in Paris in October.

In 1907, three Italians completed the first Beijing-Paris trip by automobile. Wu and Powell came up with the idea of traveling the same route because "automobile transportation has changed the world in many ways and changed people's way of life, led to over-consumption of energy, and destroyed the environment, " said Wu, who has been living a carefree life and who has cycled across South America.

"This event will draw attention to one of the most important issues today. Nothing is more important than the issue of global warming. If we don't change the way we live, we'll have to build a memorial hall for the life we lost, " said Canadian composer Matthew Lien, who has been vocal on environmental issues and who has voiced support for the event.

The goal of this activity is to travel without cars or "support vehicles, " but it's up to the individual participants to make their travel plans and choose their routes. Most participants have indicated they will cycle all the way. Others will take trains and ferries on some sections of the journey.

Thus far, there are three likely three routes that will be traveled. Some participants are planning to go via the "middle route" -- through China, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Poland. Wu and the other participants from Taiwan will take a more northern route to avoid visa complications in Eastern Europe and will enter Europe via Finland. Some participants have suggested that they will take the classic Silk Road route, via Central Asia, Iran and Turkey.

"This event gives me the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of cycling from Asia to Europe and to raise environmental awareness among Taiwanese, " said 32-year-old Aaron Huang, who quit his job of 15 years as an Air Force mechanic to take part in the activity.

"Hopefully, I can arrive in Paris on September 22 -- which is World Car-free Day, " Huang said.

A number of representatives of environmental groups, as well as the chairman of Mongolia's Green Party Erdenechuluun Zorigt, also attended the press conference to show their support for the event.

"This initiative by a Taiwanese girl gives us a perfect example of Taiwan's meaningful participation in international affairs, " said Pan Hen-sheng, secretary-general of the Green Party Taiwan.


Taipei, June 1 (CNA) The ban on interracial marriage brokerage to be implemented by the government is "the right thing to do, " but accompanying measures and enforcement of the law are even more important, a Vietnamese representative in Taiwan said Friday.

The Vietnamese government has always opposed interracial marriage brokerage, said Nguyen Cong Manh, deputy head of the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (VECO) -- the Vietnamese representative office in Taiwan.

Nguyen was responding to an amendment to the Immigration Law in which legislators agreed Thursday to put an end to the controversial interracial marriage brokerage industry. Effective immediately, cross-border marriage brokers will be banned from doing business and offenders will be subject to punishment.

There are approximately 100,000 Vietnamese women married to Taiwanese men living in Taiwan at present, and one in three foreign spouses in Taiwan comes from Vietnam, Nguyen said.

"While most of them have happy marriages, there's no denying that problems such as abuse, fraudulent marriages and human smuggling are happening, which is why we, as a government, agree with the amendment, " he said.

The number of cross-border marriages between Taiwan and Vietnam reached a very high level from 1993-2003 before the Taiwan and Vietnam governments started implementing stricter regulations on marriage applications, Nguyen said, adding that the number has been stable ever since.

However, the demand was always there and Nguyen stressed that the governments of both sides will have to cooperate and work out a solution for those Taiwanese men who want to legally marry Vietnamese women.

"Otherwise, most of the brokerage companies will go `underground' and still do the same things under the guise of travel agencies or friendship societies," he said.


Taipei, June 1 (CNA) A visiting British education official said Friday that he was impressed by the high levels of performance of Taiwanese students and encouraged more Taiwanese students to go to U.K. to pursue higher education.

Taiwanese students can attain high levels of performance, particularly in mathematics and science subjects, said Andrew Adonis, U.K. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools.

Adonis was speaking during a private visit to Taipei to look at the strengths of the Taiwanese education system, in particular the factors that explain the sustained high attainment of Taiwanese children in standard international tests.

The schools he visited -- Jianguo Senior High School and Renai Junior High School -- have seen substantial increases in creativity education in their curricula, as well as self-directed learning and life skills learning, Adonis said, adding that this is something the U.K. education system can learn from.

He also spoke at National Chengchi University about the U.K. experience of education reform, noting that there are moves to give schools greater autonomy in school management and to give parents greater choice in terms of the types of schools on offer.

The U.K. government has placed "great emphasis on education" since Prime Minister Tony Blair assumed office 10 years ago, he claimed. One of the key priorities in U.K. education reform has been to "get the right leadership and teachers in schools, " Adonis said.

Among the practical measures taken are increasing teachers' salaries by 20 percent and those of principals by 25 percent, he said. Currently there are 40,000 more teachers than there were 10 years ago, he added.

In terms of higher education, the U.K. government is seeking to expand the numbers of universities and work-related degree courses and to increase funding and investment on leading-edge science.

Adonis visited Hong Kong and Singapore prior to his arrival in Taiwan. On Saturday he is scheduled to discuss aspects of Taiwan's education reform with academics and experts.