Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Foundation looks to duplicate success of English Village nationwide

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) An education foundation aims to duplicate the success of the first English Village in Taoyuan County and take it to other cities in Taiwan by setting up more English Villages by mid-2008, providing better English learning environments for students, a foundation executive said Wednesday.

"With the experience and success of the Taoyuan English Village, we are looking for establishing two to three villages by summer 2008. We are also calling for more corporate sponsors to join us in developing better English learning environments for the next generation, " said Morgan Sun, General Director of King Car Education Foundation.

The foundation established the first English Village in Taiwan, which began operation in September. The village has 12 situational classrooms and employs volunteer American English teachers. It has received much praise and has been popular among students, Sun said.

The village creates all-English situational environments, such as an airline passenger compartment, a bank and a restaurant. Students are able to enjoy a virtual flight in the cabin, withdraw money from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine), and order meals in the restaurant with the help and an introduction from foreign teachers.

"All counties and cities interested in building up a program are welcome to talk to us by Nov. 15, " Sun said, adding that it will only take an estimate of NT$6 million to establish an English Village because the foundation planned to utilize abandoned classrooms across the country and turn them into situational classrooms.

Expenditures to hire 10 English teachers will cost around NT$2 million annually, he estimated.

Sponsorship from corporations will definitely ease the financial burden in setting up these institutions, Sun said. Currently, EVA Air and the International Commercial Bank of China's Cultural and Educational Foundation have pledged to sponsor the situational classrooms.

Sun encouraged more local companies from the hotel, high tech, and other industries to contribute to Taiwan's English education. However, Sun insisted on undertaking the project with "civil effort" rather than directly cooperating with governments because going through the endless official procedures would be a "waste of time."

English Villages will be financially supported by the local government, corporate sponsors, visitors and the foundation itself, Sun noted.

Japanese, Taiwanese NGOs establish alliance for humanitarian work

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) A Taiwanese non-government organization (NGO) Tuesday established an alliance with a Japanese NGO to strengthen the capabilities of both to further pursue international humanitarian works and deepen their global impact through collaboration.

Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps (TRMPC) , an NGO devoted to humanitarian relief and emergency medical services, signed a memorandum of agreement with Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) , which is operating more than 50 relief projects around the world.

As the majority of its members are physicians and surgeons, TRMPC will be able to provide medical assistance which PWJ cannot, said TRMPC President Liu Chi-chun in a press conference.

PWJ will be able to help its Taiwanese ally to obtain visas to countries that do not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan through foreign embassies in Tokyo, PWJ chief executive officer Kensuke Onishi said, adding that Taiwanese humanitarian workers could join PWJ missions in the future to avoid political interference.

TRMPC missions have failed to enter Tanzania, Lebanon and Pakistan in the past for political reasons, which was unfortunate because international humanitarian works should know no borders, Liu said.

The alliance is expected to begin collaborating on emergency relief work in the wake of earthquakes and on several projects in Africa, Liu said. Onishi added that PWJ, with an annual budget of 1.5 billion Yen, will be able to provide help with funding as the TRMPC does not conduct public fund-raising events.

Onishi said he would describe the alliance as the "integration of Japanese and Taiwanese civil societies", and therefore deeper than the simple collaboration of two NGOs.

The two parties will strengthen their mutual relations and promote cooperation for organizational interaction with international institutions. Staff exchanges will be carried out on all organizational levels through field visits, training seminars, internships, conferences, and consultations, Liu said.

TRMPC was established in 1995 and has participated in relief works in Kosovo, Macedonia as well as Taiwan. PWJ, one of the largest NGOs in Japan, was established in 1996 and currently employs about 50 paid staff members and 1,000 volunteers around the world.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Businesses encouraged to advert to Middle East, Latin America

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) As the majority of Taiwan's foreign investment went to China and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) had been the "media darlings" in recent years, it's time for Taiwanese businesses to turn their focus to the Middle East and Latin America, two regions with vast potential, financial researchers said Monday.

Economic development of six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Qatar -- has been so phenomenal that Taiwan has to be a part of it and take advantage of the great opportunity, said Wang Mei-ling, a researcher of Polaris International Securities Investment, in a forum which focused on investment opportunities in developing nations.

GCC member nations are expected to have high demands in information technology (IT) services, which is one of Taiwan's strengths. Therefore, it will be Taiwan's great opportunity to make its way into the Middle East market, she said.

For example, Qatar is seeking help from Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry (III) to plan for a science park. Taiwan will be able to provide with its top-caliber engineers, which are among the most sought-after work force in these Gulf nations, Wang said.

These countries knew very well that they need to take advantage of the current oil price surge and seek multi-faceted development to prepare for potential price downfall or oil depletion. And that's why they will increase investments in Asia dramatically while keep investing in the Western countries, Wang said.

Investors in the region has shifted their priority to Asia following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and deteriorating U.S.-Middle East relations, she claimed.

A survey of more than a dozen Gulf investors found that they were planning to place 10-30 percent of their assets allocation in Asia, she said, adding that the amount could reach US$ 250 billion in the next five years and Taiwan should try to attract some of the Middle East investors.

The future of Latin America is intriguing as it has the advantages of large markets, rich resources and rapid-developing labor skills, but the economic integration and political stability in certain countries are still in doubt, said Hsieh Ming-jui, a professor at National Open University's Department of Business.

Given the region's uncertainties, Taiwanese businesses will probably hesitate in investing in Latin America, Hsieh said. However, the economic integration and development of Latin America is expected to be a factor in Taiwan's global competitiveness. Taiwan needs to understand more about the market and increase bilateral cooperation, he said.

The forum was organized by Taiwan Research Institute. Former president Lee Teng-hui served as the Honorary Chairman of the institute.

Researchers concerned by investment in India, Vietnam

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) In the midst of massive media coverage and interest in investing in India and Vietnam, researchers expressed concern with that frenzy in a forum that focusing on opportunities in the rapid-developing countries Monday.

Taiwan's manufacturing industry has been doing well in Vietnam, which opted to open its domestic market in late 1980s, but it is still risky to invest in Vietnam's stock market, said Ben Chang, General Manager of AEGON Securities Investment Consulting Co., in the forum organized by Taiwan Research Institute.

Vietnam's economy has shown robust growth during the last decade, during which it has registered an average gross domestic production (GDP) growth rate of more than seven percent, he said. However, given the small scale of its stock market and foreign investment restrictions, it's still a risky market for foreign investors.

India has been lauded as another promising market for investors all over the world, but opinions on its future economic development remain mixed, said Ma Daw, an assistant researcher of Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research.

India possesses a number of advantages for investors. The strength of its information technology (IT) sector, work force structure and large population are expected to be the driving force behind its strong growth in the future, Ma said.

On the other hand, Ma warned, investors have to be willing to take risks given the state of the infrastructure, complicated taxation code, government inefficiency and foreign investment restrictions.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chechnya issue discussed at Taipei seminar

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) Hundreds of Taiwan citizens attended a forum Saturday that focused on Chechnya, an autonomous republic of Russia that sought independence, and went home with a better understanding of events in the Central Asia and the cruelty of war.

The forum, titled "The Chechnya You Don't Know, " screened a documentary on Chechnya before a speech by Erkin Ekrem, who once taught in Taiwan and is now a history professor at Turkey's Hacettepe University.

The independence movement in Chechnya spans over 200 years against a complicated background of ethnicity, religion, geopolitics and political control of the Russian Federation, said Ekrem.

Russia will not tolerate Chechnya independence because of the autonomous republic's important strategic location and its rich oil resources, Ekrem said. Russia also fears a "domino effect" of independence movements among its 21 autonomous republics, he added.

He said international support of the Chechnya independence movement took a downturn after Chechen separatists began a string of suicide attacks and bombings in Moscow in recent years.

Since the first and second Chechen wars from 1994-2000, during which an estimated 300,000 Chechens were killed, there has been reconstruction and rebuilding in Chechnya, and the Russian government has regained control of the region. However, future unrest remains an issue, said forum moderator Wang Sing-shu, a professor at the Graduate Institute of Russian Studies of National Chengchi University.

Responding to a question from the audience, Ekrem doubted that a better economy will stop Chechnya from seeking independence because " nowadays, terrorists come from all walks of life, not just from poor families."

"It's all about survival. For the Chechens, survival means an independent country. For Russia, it means the federation cannot afford to lose Chechnya, " Wang summed up.

The forum was among a series of events organized by the Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation, which tries to raise Taiwanese citizens' understanding of international affairs. Upcoming forums are scheduled to discuss Cuba, Israel-Palestine relations and the Malay peninsula.

Festival celebrates lifting of import ban on Canadian beef

Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) A Canadian beef festival opened in Taipei Friday to officially celebrate the lifting of an import ban of more than four years on Canadian beef out of concern over mad cow disease.

The Taiwan government's decision to lift the ban is very much appreciated, said George Groeneveld, minister of agriculture and food of the government of Alberta, the province from which 95 percent of Taiwan's imported Canadian beef came from prior to the ban.

Taiwan re-opened its doors to Canadian boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age in a partial lifting June 23, more than four years after an import ban on beef from Canada, the United States, Japan, Britain and several other European countries was announced Dec. 31, 2003 amid fears over the threat of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.

"The safety of meat products is ensured by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of the government of Canada, based on scientific principles and consistent with applicable international standards and rules, " said Ron McIntyre, director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

In 2003, Taiwan was Canada's fifth-largest export market for beef. Overall, Taiwan is Canada's fourth-largest market in Asia for agriculture products, said McIntyre.

New political party laments oppression from powerful counterparts

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) The more powerful political parties in Taiwan -- the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) -- are trying to oppress emerging political forces, which will be detrimental to the development of Taiwan's democracy, the leader of a newly-established party said Thursday.

"As the two-party political system is taking shape and the number of legislators will be halved from 225 to 113, the maneuvering space for a small political party like us has been shrinking because powerful parties are trying to limit the development of other parties through regulation of the electoral system, " said Jou Yi-cheng, leader of the Third Society Party (TSP) which was established in

As a new party, the TSP will have a hard time fielding candidates in the upcoming legislative election. That could become still more difficult, Jou said, referring to the latest rumors that the Central Election Committee (CEC) is considering raising the guarantee deposit of each candidate from NT$200,000 to NT$500,000, and the minimum number of regional legislative candidate nominations from 10 to 20 to be listed in the party lists.

If the rumors are true, the amendment of the Public Officials Election and Recall Law will deal devastating financial and political blows to small parties such as TSP, Jou said.

The new legislature to be elected under the new "single-member constituency, two ballots" electoral system Jan. 12, 2008 will comprise 73 regional seats, 6 seats for aboriginals, with the remaining 34 seats to be filled from party lists. The 34 legislators-at-large will be elected from the lists of political parties in proportion to the number of votes won by each party that obtains at least 5 percent of the total vote cast in the election.

The more established parties should nurture emerging political forces to cultivate a sound democratic environment, former CEC Chairman Huang Shih-cheng said, adding that currently political parties placed their own benefit above the welfare of the people and the country.

"I would blatantly say that they are not real political parties. They are gangs. And why would people pay taxes to subsidize gangs? " Huang asked.

Taiwan needs to make up its mind to determine what is the best electoral system for the country, said Pan Han-shen, Secretary-General of Green Party Taiwan, another smaller political party. Pan said that most European electoral systems, which are dominated by proportional systems, stress negotiation and consensus-seeking while the American system is more like a "cowboys' dual."

"Taiwan has to know what it wants to be, " Pan said.

Taiwan's flower exports aim to surpass US$100m next year

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's floral exports are expected to surpass US$100 million next year, boosting the fast-growing industry already substantial contribution to Taiwan's agriculture, Council of Agriculture (COA) deputy minister said Thursday.

"While the domestic floral consumption leaves a lot to be desired, I'm proud to say that we're looking at surpassing a US$ 100 million mark in floriculture exports next year, showing the robust development and competitiveness of Taiwan's floriculture industry, " said Lee Chien-chuan at the press conference announcing the upcoming 2007 Taipei International Flower Exhibition (TIFE).

Taiwan's Phalaenopsis Orchids, which are commonly known as Butterfly Orchids, have been especially popular as one of the world's two Butterfly Orchids varieties come from Taiwan, Lee said.

Led by the orchid-growing industry, floriculture has been an unsung hero of Taiwan's agriculture, he said. From 1985 to the present, market output has increased from NT$9.5 billion to NT$12.5 billion and exports have increased from US$9.5 million to US$77 million, he said.

Visitors will be able to see for themselves what Taiwan has to offer in the 2007 TIFE, which will be held in Exhibition Hall I of the Taipei World Trade Center from Oct. 31-Nov. 4, alongside an exhibition of foreign floriculture products from Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan and the Netherlands.

The exhibition will be a "warm-up" for the 2011 International Flower Exposition, which is scheduled to be held in Taipei, said TIFE chief executive Wang Tien-shou.

German professor advocates `cradle to cradle' design

Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) Rather than the traditional linear method of production, consumption and recycling, a different approach that makes products economically successful, healthy for users and supportive for the environment and future generations is making its mark, visiting German professor Michael Braungart said Wednesday.

Braungart, a chemistry professor and entrepreneur, is scheduled to conduct two workshops on the "Cradle to Cradle Design" idea during his stay in Taiwan, which is being organized by the German Culture Center.

"Instead of being less bad, we can be good, " is how Braungart sums up his concept, on which he collaborated with U.S. architect William McDonough and which calls for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design.

Braungart's idea is a "wake-up call" to mankind, said German Culture Center Director Jurgen Gerbig.

The design advocates two types of products that can be conducted safely, either as "products for consumption," into biological systems or as "products for service, " into technical systems for future product generations.

Products can be used, recycled, and used again without losing any material quality in the "cradle to cradle cycle, " he said. It's called "cradle to cradle" because the whole process is different from the traditional product cycle of "cradle to grave."

"The design is not all about the environment. It's first about human rights, " said the former environmental protection activist, who added that "it's not about overpopulation or the ethical problem unlike what former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has said."

What the world has been doing is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advocating recycling, but this is like "asking you to beat your children less often, " according to Braungart.

There are more than 600 products with zero pollution on the market using the design process, Braungart said. An international congress and exhibition will be held in Frankfurt, Germany Nov. 12-14, 2008, showcasing 2,000-3,000 "cradle to cradle" products.

U.S. Internet pioneer talks on Web's future, challenges

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) The Internet of the future will present as many opportunities as challenges, all of which will definitely go beyond anything he imagined in the 1970s, a U.S. Internet pioneer said in a keynote speech delivered during a conference in Taipei Monday.

In the future, one will be seeing a lot of Internet-enabled devices, one will be buying clothes for oneself in the virtual world with real world cash, and communicating with the Mars via Internet, said Vint Cerf, an American computer scientist regarded as one of the founding fathers of the Internet, in the speech titled "Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century".

At the same time, the vice president and chief Internet Evangelist of Google also told thousands of conference attendees that the development of the Internet faces enormous challenges, including intellectual rights, the semantic web -- also called Web 3.0 -- preserving interpretive programs, operating systems and hardware.

With the rapid development of communications technology, such as RFID (Radio-frequency identification), devices such as refrigerators, picture frames, telephones, automobiles and clothing will all be Internet-enabled and dramatically change one's life, he said. "You could get e-mail or SMS (Short message service) from your refrigerator, " he said.

The best aspect of the future Internet is that it will involve the exploration of a completely different mode of advertising in which "everything is decided by the users -- whether they want to watch [the advertisement], what they want to watch. They will not be forced to watch them," he said.

InterPlanet (IPN), the interplanetary Internet, is Cerf's latest project.

Taiwan gears up development of WiMAX technology, network

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) Taiwan is keen to leverage strong development in its information and communication technology (ICT) industry to turn the local WiMAX industry into one of the best in the world, said developers and officials at an international WiMAX conference Monday.

The M-Taiwan WiMAX Application Laboratory (MTWAL) recently became the first application lab to be selected by the WiMAX Forum, according to an announcement by forum president Ron Resnick at the 2007 WiMAX Forum Taipei Showcase and Conference.

The forum is being held in Taipei Oct. 22-23, with 76 companies from all over the world participating. The MTWAL was established at the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) campus in Hsinshu.

MTWAL, established to provide an environment in which to create innovative WiMAX applications, was already in operation ahead of the announcement, with seven companies and universities testing their applications at the campus, including Korean company IntroMobile's "NetMirror", Israeli company NDS's "WiMAX TV" and Rock Mobile's "Mobility Karaoke".

WiMax, the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a telecommunications technology designed to provide wireless data over long distances in a variety of ways. The WiMax Forum was formed in June 2001 to promote standardization and interoperability.

Taiwan's government has put in a great deal of effort establishing the WiMAX network over the last three years, investing over US$664 million (NT$21.8 billion) -- the second highest level of investment in the industry worldwide, Minister of Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Minister Chen Ruey-long said, adding that the MOEA estimates that the total output value of the industry will reach NT$128 billion.

In addition to the MTWAL, a WiMAX Forum Certification Laboratory will be established in Taiwan in November.

The establishment of the laboratories and showcase couldn't have come to Taiwan at a better time, said ITRI President Johnsee Lee, who claimed that "this is a historical opportunity to witness the rapid growth of the WiMAX technology and applications."

Lee said Taiwan, which has been recognized by the global WiMAX community as a leader in the WiMAX ecosystem, finds itself well positioned in the critical period from 2007-2008, when the industry is expected to take off.

The showcase features demonstrations by the latest WiMAX system and chipset vendors, and firsthand insights into emerging end-to-end solutions.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

U.N. membership needed for inclusion on UNESCO heritage list

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) Gaining U.N. membership would allow Taiwan to include its 12 nominations on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List, the head of the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) said Saturday.

U.N. membership is a prerequisite for a country to nominate its natural and cultural heritage sites for inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List because only signatories to the State Parties of the World Heritage Convention are allowed to submit nominations, CCA Chairwoman Wong Chin-chu said.

"Lack of U.N. membership limits Taiwan's international space not only in politics but also in terms of cultural exchanges and cultural heritage preservation," she said.

A group of international scholars and experts were commissioned by the CCA in 2003 to inspect, survey and review potential cultural heritage sites in Taiwan. The list they came up with includes 12 sites around the island, and it can be submitted to the World Heritage Committee any time, Wong said.

Wong urged the people of Taiwan and the presidential candidates of the opposition Kuomintang and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to support Taiwan's U.N. membership bid for the sake of Taiwan's cultural assets preservation.

The 12 sites are Fort San Domingo in Tamsui and surrounding historical buildings, the Datun volcanic group, Jin-qua-shi community, Kinmen and Liehyu, Chilan-shan cypress forest, the old mountain line railway, Taroko volcanic group, Yushan National Park, Alishan forest railway, Peinan and Mount Dulan, Orchid Island, and Penghu columnar basalt nature reserve.

Film festival organizers call for Taiwan to abolish death penalty

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Taiwan should follow the global trend and abolish the death penalty, human rights advocates said at a film festival screening death penalty-related movies from various countries.

"The government always said death penalties were imposed in the name of the people, which means each and every one of us played a role in the execution of death row inmates. But did we really authorize the government to do that for us? " said Kao Yong-cheng, a lawyer who represented Human Rights Protection Committee of the Taipei Bar Association on the sidelines of the second "Murder by Numbers" film festival.

The festival, which was organized by Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) , screened nine documentary films from Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark, India and the U.S., which all focused on the issue of death penalty.

There is a global trend to abolish the death penalty, said Italian director Mario Marazziti, whose film "Thou Shall Not Kill" is being screened. He noted that the death penalty has been abolished in more than 90 countries, and that there are 43 countries where there has not been a single execution in the past 10 years.

One of the films, "Un Abolistionniste: Robert Badinter, " documents the life story of Badinter, a high-profile French criminal lawyer, university professor and politician known for his struggle against the death penalty. The death penalty was abolished when Badinter served as Minister of Justice in 1981.

It took France almost 200 years to abolish the death penalty, showing that how difficult it is to tackle the issue, said Jean-Claude Poimbeouf, director of French Institute in Taiwan.

The penalty has always been a political issue, which is why it will take political measures to deal with the issue, Poimbeouf said, adding that most Taiwanese political leaders have a background in the practice of law and that they should reconsider abolishing the ultimate punishment given their expertise in both politics and law.

Most people think that crime rates will increase once the penalty is abolished, but this idea is false, said Go Yu-ling, Secretary-General of Taiwan International Workers' Association. In fact, surveys in various countries showed that crime rates did not rise after the abolition of the death penalty.

The festival, which was previously held in 2004, has been relatively successful, having doubled its viewership, said TAEDP executive director Lin Hsin-yi. The films are being shown in Kaohsiung this week after having been first shown in Taipei last week.

Picture book, exhibition to help Taiwan children understand Europe

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Explaining what the European Union (EU) is to adults is difficult enough, let alone explaining it to children, but there is no better way to introduce the EU to children in Taiwan than with a picture book, an EU official in Taiwan said Friday.

Speaking to a group of kindergarten children at the Taipei Public Library, Guy Ledoux, head of the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) in Taiwan, described the EU as "a big family of 27 children with different habits, but they have to obey the same rules."

Ledoux and French Institute in Taiwan Director Jean-Claude Poimbeouf were among a group of European representatives who launched an exhibition featuring the children's picture book "Petits Europeens (Little Europeans)", by French illustrator Nicole Lambert.

In 60 boards with texts in Chinese, Taiwan citizens will be able to explore the work of Lambert, an illustrator best known for her devotion to children's picture books.

"I hope that many children from Taiwan will visit the exhibition and will learn more about Europe. I hope that when they grow up and become students, some will come and study in Europe and see for themselves the great diversity of European countries and enjoy the various landscape, food and tradition, " Ledoux said.

The book tried to introduce background information, stories and traditions of the 27 EU member states to children around the world. The educational effort is part of a series of events the EETO has organized to help the people of Taiwan understand more about Europe, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the EU.

The EETO will organize a European Film Festival in 12 universities later this year.

Taiwan urged to stop investing, offer support to Myanmar democracy

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) The democratic movement will be successful in its push to overthrow the 43-year-old tyranny in Myanmar, and Taiwan can show its support by reviewing its investments in the country, a visiting Myanmarese opposition representative said Thursday.

Unless Asian countries, including Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, stop investing in Myanmar, U.S. economic sanctions on Myanmar's military junta will not work because Myanmar economy remains stable, said Nyo Ohn Myint, the Global Burma Campaign coordinator of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the main opposition in Myanmar.

Myint made the appeal at a Taipei conference, titled "Beyond Rangoon: Burma's yesterday, today and tomorrow, " which was co-sponsored by Taiwang's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Thinktank.

Myint, who prefers to refer to his homeland as Burma rather than Myanmar -- the name coined by the military junta -- said foreign investment in the country has not been helping the people. Myanmar does not have an open market economy as most of the companies were controlled by junta generals, he said, which means that most of the money goes to their pockets instead of to the people.

Taiwan can do more to support democracy in Myanmar, he said. Taiwan, especially the DPP which brought an end to the Kuomintang's (KMT's) long-time authoritative regime, can offer the benefits of its experience in democratic transition to the NLD, which Myint believed "will collapse within two years even if it wins the power tomorrow" due to a lack of democratic experience.

"We will win pretty soon. This is the final push, " said Bangkok-based Myint, whose older brother was declared missing during recent demonstration in Yangoon. The college professor-turned-activist said the most encouraging sign for Myanmar's democratic movement is the participation of the younger generation.

"Before, these young men only heard about the 1988 demonstration and crackdown. But now they have experienced what it was like, " he said of the junta's recent crackdown and killing of unarmed demonstrators and monks.

Myint pointed out that the "China factor" has played an important role in the military junta's hardline stance because the junta received financial, military and political support from China, which also has a veto as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Local professors also called on the Taiwanese government to do more to support Myanmar democracy. Once the Refugee Act is passed in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan will be able to offer political asylum to Myanmarese dissidents, said Shih Cheng-feng, a professor at Tamkang University.

However, Soochow University professor Wu Chih-chung questioned the actual impact of reducing foreign investment in Myanmar on the junta because it will probably just "bring the junta closer to China."

Taiwan encouraged to plug into international carbon trading scheme

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) Taiwan's government should be encouraged to address the issue of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by plugging into the international carbon trading scheme and leveraging its status as a non-Kyoto Protocol signatory, a visiting Britain energy consultant said in an interview with the CNA.

"Your government can decide how far and how fast you want to go [in dealing with GHG emissions]. Taiwan can take part in the international trading instruments, trade for allowances of carbon dioxide and manage those on its own, " said Liz Bossley, chief executive of Consilience Energy Advisory Group (CEAG) , a U.K. consultancy specializing in oil, gas, power, coal, weather and emissions trading issues.

Taiwan is not a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, a United Nations framework setting mandatory emission limitations for the reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases because participation is limited to U.N. signatories. In some ways, that framework has isolated Taiwan's efforts from the global effort, Bossley said, but it has also provided Taiwan with an opportunity to "observe and avoid errors."

Taiwan will be able to take the best of both world, said Bossley, who was invited to visit Taiwan by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

Emissions trading, she said, is an administrative approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives to achieve reductions in the emission of pollutants. The market reached 30 billion Euros this year alone, she said.

Under current directives of the U.N. and European Union (EU) , Taiwan, as a third party, is allowed to trade emission allowances with anyone, Bossley said.

Bossley, a former emissions allowance trader, said Taiwan's government is encouraged to first educate the people on the impact of climate change and explain to citizens what the problem is before measuring the sources of GHG emissions.

"Since your industry is very concentrated, that will not be difficult to do. And finally your policy can be formulated and implemented, " she said.

Philippines can serve as Taiwan's gateway to ASEAN market: official

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Taiwan is facing the prospect of a block of high tariffs in the AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area), but the Philippines could serve as its gateway to the Southeast Asian market given further bilateral economic cooperation, officials from Taiwan and Philippines said Wednesday.

Taiwanese products will be put at a disadvantage in the AFTA market as tariffs on all products within the 10 ASEAN member countries are to be completely eliminated by the year 2015, said Berton Chiu, Director General of Taiwan's Department of Investment Services, in a Philippines investment seminar.

If Taiwanese businesses intend to make a breakthrough, setting up production bases in Southeast Asian countries will be a must, and the Philippines is a good place for investment, Chiu said.

Having established a Taiwan-Philippines economic corridor linked by three economic and export processing zones, Taiwan's closest neighbor in the South is hoping to attract more investment from Taiwan. With that goal in mind, a delegation of officials from Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) , Calabarzon Regional Development Council and Philippines Ecozone Association (PHILEA) are visiting Taiwan.

The Philippine government has been encouraging private sector businesses to invest in its economic zones by offering incentives and assistance. Currently, there are 132 special economic zones operating in the country, said Lilia de Lima, Director General and chief executive of PEZA.

"As of now, there are 40-50 Taiwanese businesses operating in ecozones in the Philippines, including 18 in the Calabarzone, which comprised of five Luzon provinces...Among Taiwanese companies, 14 are in the apparel sector, seven in electronics sector while six are in textiles, " she said.

Taiwanese companies, especially those in the food industry, are encouraged to establish production bases in the Philippines and take advantage of the Philippines' high-quality pool of labor, Lima added.

The Philippines' infrastructure is probably not be as developed as others, but it provides businesses, especially the electronics industry, with a better turnaround time due to its proximity to Taiwan and strategic position in the Asia Pacific region, she said.

To strengthen bilateral economic cooperation, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Minister Chen Ruey-long will be leading a delegation to Manila for a ministerial level meeting in November.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Taiwan encouraged to open up linguistically, culturally

Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) Taiwan society can achieve higher goals by opening up linguistically and culturally, and it's time for Taiwan and China to "start talking to each other", one of the most respected Sinologist in Europe said Saturday.

Taiwan has achieved amazing things, including the peaceful democratic transformation, but its society will be able to do much more if it opens up linguistically and culturally, and understand what happens in the world today, said Rudolph Wagner, a professor at Germany's Heidelberg University, in his speech.

The speech, titled "German Unification: Popular Culture, Maoist Students, and the Socialist Disneyland, " was scheduled for last Saturday but was postponed because of Typhoon Krosa. The speech was one of an international lecture series organized by Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation.

Focusing on German unification in his speech, Wagner was asked about the Taiwan-China situation in the question and answer session. He said Taiwan and China should start talking to each other for a civilized communication rather than political rhetorics of nationalism.

Commenting on the "dignity" factor in Taiwan independence movement, Wagner said that the sense of dignity does not neccessarily have to bundle with sovereignty because Taiwan has won its dignity in its bloodless democratic transition and economic growth.

As for the Taiwan identity, he said that "the world just doesn't respect that very much."

Wagner said the Chinese government has been amazingly successful in managing its economic development in recent years and has actually showed substantial amount of restraint in the Taiwan issue.

He also believed that China had pushed for hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics to repress the internal hawkish military force which has been anxious to take Taiwan by force. China knew very well that, in order to maintain the current economic growth, peace in the next 15-20 years was a priority, Wagner claimed.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Munich, Wagner has done extensive research on Buddhism, Taoist philosophy, and contemporary Chinese politics and the media. In 1992, he was awarded the Leibniz Prize, Europe's most prestigious prize in the humanities.

Friday, October 12, 2007

International symposium discusses `glocalization' developments

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) If Taiwan is serious about connecting with the international community, it needs to pay attention to education, the media and the general mentality, foreign representatives said in an international symposium Thursday.

Representatives from Japan, Singapore and South Korea and foreign representatives stationed in Taiwan participated in the two-day symposium organized by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) of the Executive Yuan to discuss "glocalization, " an invented term used to describe the tempering effects of local conditions on global pressures.

As globalization integrates economies and societies around the world, the process has been affected by each country with its own special character, said RDEC Minister Shih Nun-jeh.

Because of this, the government and people should "think internationally, act both internationally and locally" and create an English-friendly environment, Shih added.

Richard Vuylsteke, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce, encouraged Taiwan to welcome immigrants rather than marginalize them. Taiwan's traditional teaching methods should be revised and the media should stop focusing on Taiwan alone, Vuylsteke also suggested in his presentation.

Singapore's approach to glocalization can be summed up with a simple "three pro's" -- pro-growth, pro-talent and pro-harmony -- said Raymond Tan, International Manpower Division Assistant Director of Singapore's Ministry of Manpower.

The keys are to create an investment-friendly environment, attract international talent and maintain cultural diversity and social harmony, Tan explained.

Promoting multiculturalism, which enhances "connectedness, " is essential in the development of glocalization as well as public education, because resistance to immigrants and other cultures can be expected, said Ron McIntyre, executive director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

British design exhibition shows creativity, commercial success

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) A collection of 20 outstanding British designs from various fields are being displayed at Taipei 101 to showcase the United Kingdom's creative industries and highlight their combination of creativity and commercial success.

The exhibition, titled "Love and Money, " features 20 projects and designers that balance business ambition and commercial success with the invention and experimentation for which Britain's creative industries are internationally renowned, said Michael Reilly, Director of British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) in Taipei.

From Oct. 11-21, design projects of well-known architect Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, Tom Dixon, Jamie Hewlett, and other design companies and studios will try to showcase the U.K's very best in a number of categories, said curator Christine Losecaat in the opening ceremony.

"British design still values money, which means investment and returns, before emotion, " Hanif Kara, who founded the structural engineering firm Adams Kara Taylor (ATK) , stated matter-of-factly. However, he added, the degree of creativity and quality of production are what differentiates good designs from "just designs."

A series of events will also be held during the exhibition, including an architectural design symposium, a design forum, and a "Pecha Kucha Night" at which invited designers will get together to present and exchange ideas in a casual setting.

The exhibition, which is jointly organized by UK Trade and Investment and the British Council, has been held in Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and following its visit to Taipei will travel to its last stop Seoul, South Korea.

Map brings Britain artist to Taiwan

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) Repeated claims that "Taiwan is a part of China", made by Chinese friends after seeing her creation of a China map without Taiwan, encouraged visiting artist Susan Stockwell to gain first-hand experience of the island.

That was what brought Stockwell, a British artist, to Taiwan last week for a three-month stay through the "Taiwan-U.K. International Fellowship Program," an artist-in-residence program run at the Taipei Artist Village.

Stockwell, who has been doing extensive international work, created a paper map of China during her last residency in Nanjing, China. The response from her friends were unexpected, she said, as almost all of them pointed out that she left out Taiwan, but never mentioned Macau and Hong Kong, neither of which were on the map.

Her friends repeated to Stockwell over and over again that Taiwan is a part of China, which made her very angry, she said.

The U.K. Royal College of Art graduate said she had learned a little about China-Taiwan relations before, but the incident dramatically boosted her curiosity. She jumped at the opportunity upon learning an opening at the artist exchange program.

"I think it was fate that brought me here, " she said.

Stockwell will stay in Taiwan until Dec. 22, after which she will present her work in an open exhibition. She plans on visiting old buildings, Taipei's MRT, and computer factories in Taiwan in the coming week as she seeks inspiration before coming up with artistic ideas.

The fellowship program, co-sponsored by the Council for Cultural Affairs and U.K's Visiting Arts and Arts Council England, is entering its third and last year. Seven Taiwanese artists went to United Kingdom while six U.K. artists have come to Taiwan.

Taiwan urged to do more to support Myanmar democracy

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) Taiwan should do more to help democratic development in Myanmar and thereby demonstrate its unyielding support for universal human rights and advance its democracy-promoting diplomatic policy, participants of a forum said Monday.

"For example, Taiwan should pass the Refugee Act as soon as possible and help establish a Myanmar refugee settlement regime here to show our support of democracy in Myanmar, " said Lai I-chung, Director of ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's) Department of International Affairs, in a forum focused on the latest political developments in Myanmar following the recent massive protests.

More than 100,000 persons of Myanmarese descent currently living in Taiwan are also welcome to voice their opinions to the international community on the democratic development in their home country, said Joyce Lin, a professor at Tamkang University.

Taiwan should also seize this opportunity to increase its exchanges with Myanmar, the only Southeast Asian nation that does not trade with Taiwan, Lin said.

Discussants of the forum, which was organized by Taiwan Thinktank, agreed that the effect of global condemnation of Myanmar's ruling junta will be limited since the regime enjoys the support of China and Russia in the United Nations' Security Council. However, Taiwan should keep sending strong messages that it sides with the people.

"We don't want people to get the impression that whenever Taiwan speaks or makes the international headlines, we only do so out of concern with our own problem, which is the Taiwan Strait issue. We should keep communicating to let people know that, as a member of the international community, we do care about what happens elsewhere, " Liu noted.

There are so many things Taiwan can do with the Tibet and Myanmar issues to act as a "guardian of democracy" in the Asia-Pacific region, Lai said, adding that Hong Kong relinquished that role after the 1997 handover to China.

Political parties, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the legislature can all act to show Taiwan's support of the people of Myanmar, Lai added.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Local civic groups rally to support democracy movement in Myanmar

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Several Taiwan civic groups held a parade in downtown Taipei City Saturday amid heavy rains and strong winds triggered by Typhoon Krosa to show their support for the democracy movement in Myanmar on the Global Day of Action for Myanmar.

Myanmarese in Taiwan and members of several Taiwan civic, religious and human rights groups gathered to express their support for Myanmar's "Saffron Revolution" and to urge the military junta to stop oppressing demonstrators and the democracy movement.

Participants in the rally called for the international community to keep pressuring the junta and to take necessary diplomatic steps to negotiate with the Myanmar government on the release of Myanmar dissidents. It also urged people to support protests of any form to help Myanmar become a democratic country.

The Taiwan Aung San Suu Kyi Network, the main organizer of the parade, also voiced support for the pro-democracy activist and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been under house arrest for the past decade, said Sun Yo-lien, the network's spokesman.

"We also urge China and Russia, which are among Myanmar's few allies, to stop associating with and assisting the junta. We do not rule out pushing for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics if China fails to respond, " Sun said.

About 200 people took part in the parade. Similar parades were held in many countries the same day, including Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, United Kingdom and the United States, Sun said.

The civic groups also paid tribute to Kenji Nagai, a Japanese photojournalist who was shot dead by Myanmar soldiers in the anti-government demonstration Sept. 27.

"I'm glad there are many young people among us. Their presence today shows that the younger generation in Taiwan does care about what is happening in other parts of the world, " said Huang Wen-hsiung, a senior protester.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

University students share international volunteering experience

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) Students from National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) who took part in an international volunteer program said Friday that it expanded their visions, changed their perspectives on the world and helped them cherish what they had back home even more.

The program, launched by NTHU this summer for the first time, sent 32 students to five countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Nepal and Poland -- to do social and educational work from July to September.

"Now I know that even electricity and clean water are blessings, "said Tseng Chia-hsing, one of 15 students who helped teach basic medical knowledge, hold an English summer camp and a garden party in the remote village of Jugedi, Nepal during a 45-day stay.

Kerwin Cheng, a material science and engineering graduate student, taught computer operation in eight training camps in Medan and Aceh, Indonesia, which were hit by a tsunami in 2004 and are still recovering. Cheng said he was inspired by the bright and passionate spirit of the Indonesians, who lost almost everything in the disaster but never gave up.

Liao Ching-yi spent more than two months in Poland living with drug addicts under treatment. The program was a collaboration with the Monar Association, one of the largest non-government organizations (NGOs) in Poland and Europe.

The other two groups went to Qinghai, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to teach high school students.

The program is a variation of the school's mandatory course on labor services, which in the past usually required students to help clean the campus, said Hocheng Hong, dean of student affairs. Judging from the results, the program is a good learning experience for students, he said.

NTHU will collaborate with organizations in Haiti, Nigeria and China next year, Hocheng said.

Taiwan's contribution to APEC appreciated: APEC Secretariat

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) Taiwan's contribution to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is very much appreciated and Taiwan is encouraged to keep up its engagement in APEC activities, APEC Secretariat Executive Director Colin Haseltine said Friday.

Taiwan has submitted initiatives and participated in various APEC projects over the years, said Haseltine, the 15th executive director of the APEC Secretariat for the 2007 APEC Year hosted by Australia.

"My suggestion for Chinese Taipei would be keep doing what you're doing, " he said in a round table discussion organized by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research and attended by local government officials and academics.

The Australian diplomat talked about APEC's present achievements and future prospects. What APEC has done, especially at the working group and ministerial level, has been underpublicized, underestimated and underappreciated, he said.

The leadership meeting of the heads of 21 member economies has always been the public focus, but it is lower-level meetings and projects that have made differences and promoted what APEC sets out to do -- promote fair and open trade, Haseltine said.

In the future, APEC plans to keep promoting regional economic integration and a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region, although the latter will be difficult to accomplish, he said.

The organization will undertake internal reform to improve its efficiency and push for domestic economic structure reform among member economies as well, he said, noting that better domestic economic structures serve the interest of all APEC members.

Haseltine formerly served as head of the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei from 1992-1997.

German nationalism history something for Taiwan, China to consider

Taipei, Oct. 4 (CNA) Germany's tragic experience of nationalism spanning from 1930s to 1940s offers something for Taiwan and China to consider as a responsible government should be more rational than its citizens, a visiting German professor said Thursday.

Germans abandoned their "nationalism dream" after the nightmare of the Nazi era and World War II, which provide them with a better reading of nationalism, said Rudolph Wagner, a professor at Germany's Heidelberg University.

Responding to a reporter's question about the development of nationalism on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, especially in China, Wagner said that the Chinese government is very much aware of the dangers of whipping up nationalistic fever.

China has used nationalism as a political tactic against other countries, such as Japan, but always knows when to stop and pull people out of the streets because it is a two-sided blade which might very well turn against the Communist government itself, he said.

"Neither China nor Taiwan has anything to gain [from whipping up nationalism], " he claimed.

Wagner said he didn't want to elaborate on Taiwan's situation since he is not an expert, and the future of any country is difficult to predict. However, he noted that there are many things happening simultaneously in Taiwan right now, including Taiwan's huge investment in China and the call to normalize Taiwan's status as an independent country.

"A responsible government has to be more rational than its citizens, " he said, adding that a responsible government will not tolerate age-long political or military standoff.

Wagner is scheduled to deliver a speech, titled "German Unification: Popular Culture, Maoist Students, and the Socialist Disneyland, " Saturday in an international lecture series organized by Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Munich, Wagner has done extensive research on Buddhism, Taoist philosophy, and contemporary Chinese politics and the media. In 1992, he was awarded the Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious European prize in the humanities.

Peace the most important aspect of German unification: academia

Taipei, Oct. 4 (CNA) The most important aspect that the experience of German unification might offer Taiwan is that there was not a single incident of bloodshed, a visiting German professor said Thursday in Taipei.

"There was not a drop of blood shed during the process of German unification. I think it's the most important part of the experience," said Rudolph Wagner, a professor at Germany's Heidelberg University and one of the most respected sinologists in Europe, during a roundtable with press.

Wagner is scheduled to deliver a speech, titled "German Unification: Popular Culture, Maoist Students, and the Socialist Disneyland, " Saturday in an international lecture series organized by Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation.

The background to and process of German unification was unique, as is the Taiwan Strait issue, which is why the experience cannot be duplicated, he said, adding that it's not suitable to compare these two cases.

Most West German citizens neither talked about unification, nor saw it coming six weeks before the 1989 unification. In fact, it was East German citizens who pushed for unification. And the German unification essentially defied post-Cold War common sense, which postulated that continued separation, rather than unification, was more likely he pointed out.

Wagner described German unification as an "accident" of history amid the unpredictable and rapid changing international situation of the late 1980s.

"Wait for the historical moment, then something will happen, " he said in a comment on the future of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Munich, Wagner has done extensive research on Buddhism, Taoist philosophy, and contemporary Chinese politics and the media. In 1992, he was awarded the Leibniz Prize, Europe's most prestigious prize in the humanities.

UK official promotes European directives on producer responsibility

Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA) A visiting Britain official is promoting European directives, which set targets on the collection, recycling and recovery of all types of electrical goods, to Taiwanese companies and government agencies.

The directives apply to all electrical products in the European market and focus on producer responsibility, extending the "polluter pays" principle, said Steven Andrews, an official who came from U.K.'s Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

Andrews is promoting the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directives, both of which were adopted by the European Union in 2003 to regulate the production of electrical products, in this, his first visit to Taiwan.

Taiwan is a must-go stop because of its leading position in the electrical and information communication technology (ICT) industries, said Andrews, who had visited Japan and North America to promote the regulations.

WEEE directive asked all EEE producers who sell their products in Europe to finance the collection and treatment of WEEE. The RoHS directive also seeks to reduce the environmental impact of EEE by restricting the use of six hazardous substances during manufacture, Andrews summed up.

According to statistics provided by the Industrial Development Bureau of Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, he said, more than 90 percent of Taiwan products are in compliance with the RoHS directive.

Implementing the directives means short-term production cost increases for companies, which must re-design products to meet the requirement, he said. In the long term, he noted, prices for ICT products will invariably go down with time, and by using fewer resources, the industry will see its costs drop.

Several countries, including Japan and the United State, have described the directives as "a European way of excluding other countries' products in the EU market, " he said, adding that the U.S. also claims that it is a breach of World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.

But Andrews stated, "It's not true, since the directives applied to all 27 EU member states as well. And the WTO has issued a clearance [of the directives]."

By launching the initiate, Europe is taking the lead to protect environment, reduce resources consumption and promote energy efficiency. And it's being recognized as the right thing to do, by the many countries copying the European initiate, he said.

Andrews is scheduled to speak at the 2007 Resource Recycling Forum, which is taking place in Taipei from Oct. 3-5.

GBT communities expect more than words from local politicians

Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) Election candidates are welcome to do more than speak up for gay rights so they can secure votes from members of the gay, bisexual and transgender (GBT) communities, representatives from these communities said Tuesday.

"Taiwan society has been more open for the awareness of gay rights, and many election candidates want votes from this specific group. However, they have to submit their `beef' rather than just offering lip service, " said the president of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association (TTHA), who goes by the alias Gofyy.

The U.S.-based Kinsey Institute estimates that 10 percent of the human population are gay, bisexual or transgender, he said, adding that this fact makes such communities a focus group politicians cannot afford to ignore.

More often than not, however, Gofyy said, politicians and candidates say they support gay rights but fail to come up with substantial opinions and policies.

"GBT communities welcome any support, but these people are not fools either. They know very well who are for real and who are not. Candidates cannot expect to win votes by simply participating in gay pride parades and offering vocal support, " he said.

The annual "Taiwan Pride Parade, " organized by TTHA and more than a dozen GBT groups, is set for Oct. 13 in downtown Taipei to raise gay rights awareness.

GBT communities in Taiwan have been establishing "observation groups" in past elections to examine candidates' opinions and positions on gay rights, Gofyy said.

"Some candidates who have shown support for GBT groups during their campaigns never did anything after being elected. Some did push for new legislation or amendments but in the end they were stuck in the Legislative Yuan due to opposition from conservative legislators, " he said.

Two major elections are coming up in Taiwan, while legislative elections scheduled to be held at the end of 2007 and the presidential election set for next March.

Taiwan Pride parade to showcase `rainbow power'

Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) An annual parade of the gay, bisexual and transgender (GBT) communities will be held Oct. 13 in downtown Taipei to showcase the "rainbow power" of these communities whose members are often discriminated against, parade organizers said Tuesday.

The parade, which is entering its fifth year and is expected to draw over 10,000 participants, will make its way down Zhongxiao East Road and end in the square behind Taipei City Hall, where a stage will be set up for music performances, said Wang Ping, chief convener of the parade.

Taiwan's GBT communities ask for anti-discrimination, equality, diversity and respect with the parade, which can also be seen as a platform for them to directly dialogue with other citizens, Wang said.

From a humble beginning of only 1,000 participants in the inaugural 2003 parade to more than 10,000 participants last year, the parade has established itself as the biggest of its kind in Asia, said the president of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, who uses the alias Gofyy.

"It's true that the movement in Taiwan still has a long way to go, but we are very proud at the same time to say that it plays a leading example compared to other Asian countries, such as Japan and Thailand, " said Gofyy.

To boost the visibility of the event, popular local singer A-Mei has been named the rainbow ambassador of the parade, Gofyy said.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Taiwan national baseball team eyes on Beijing Olympics ticket

Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) A 24-man roster for the 2007 Baseball World Cup and a preliminary 60-man roster for the 2007 Asian Baseball Championship were announced Monday as Taiwan eyed on the lone Asian seed in the hopes of representing the nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Taiwan will enjoy home park advantage throughout as both tournaments will be held in Taiwan. However, priority will be given to the Asian Championship, which is the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifier, said Tsai Huang-lan, Deputy Director of the Sports Affairs Council (SAC).

The home team will have to beat Japan, South Korea and the Level-B winner for the title in the Asian Championship, which will be held in Taichung Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, to take the tournament championship and seize the only Asian seed in the 12-team field of the Beijing Olympic baseball event.

Kuo Tai-yuan, head coach of Taiwan's national baseball team, announced the 60-man roster, which included U.S. Major League pitchers Wang Chien-ming, Kuo Hong-chih, Tsao Chin-huei and infielder Hu Chin-lung, which will be trimmed down before the tournament.

Former Major Leaguer Chen Chin-feng, generally seen as Taiwan's top hitter, and others who currently play in the U.S. Minor League and Japanese professional league were also included.

The 2007 Baseball World Cup, which will be held from Nov. 6-18 in Taichung, Xinjhuang and Tianmu, is still important, but it will be regarded as a "warm up" series for the Asian Championship, said Kuo.

"By saying that, we're not giving up on the World Cup though. It's a special event for Taiwan, " Kuo said. It was after winning the bronze medal in the 2001 Baseball World Cup, which was also held in Taiwan, that Taiwan's professional baseball blossomed again and emerged from the shadow of the game-fixing scandals of the late 1990s, Tsai said.

Taiwan finished in fourth place in the 2004 Athens Olympics and 11th in the 2005 Baseball World Cup.