Tuesday, July 31, 2007

DPP presidential candidate talks sports

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh took time out Tuesday to talk on one of his favorite topics -- sports -- saying that good sport performances naturally bring out identification with Taiwan.

"When I was in New York last year for Chien-ming Wang's Major League baseball games and saw all those Taiwanese waving flags and chanting in the stands, I didn't see green, blue, orange or yellow on their faces. It was a non-partisan passion, " Hsieh said, referring colors representing Taiwan's political parties, speaking during a biennial summit on Taiwanese sports.

Hsieh, a former gymnast who won a gold medal in a provincial high school sports competition, said that sports competition is a form of modern day warfare as there have not been that many military wars nowadays, and that sports is a new way to showcase national prowess.

He also mentioned his experience of attending the World Baseball Classic in Japan last year, saying that "a good performance on the field brings out the Taiwanese identity naturally."

Hsieh further pointed out that annual sport budgets, which now stand at NT$4.7 billion, should take up at least one percent of the annual national budget, which stands at NT$16 billion.

Budgets and venues will be two of the most important factors in the development and promotion of sports, he said, adding that Taiwan should also do everything it can to host as many international competitions as possible.

Sports is a good way to teach the youngsters to do their best in pursuit of victory, and at the same time learn how to deal with defeat, he said.

"The experience of participating in sport has taught me many life lessons. I have been, and will always be proud of having been an athlete, " he said.

Taiwan to establish Austronesian Forum with allies

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Taiwan will establish an Austronesian Forum with its six South Pacific allies and the Philippines to share, preserve and promote Austronesian cultures that the eight countries have in common, as well as strengthening relations, Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) officials said Tuesday.

The forum, which includes Taiwan, the Philippines, Nauru, Kiribati, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, aims to hold academic conferences, increase Austronesian participation in Asia-Pacific and international organizations, and demonstrate commitment in indigenous development, said CIP Minister Icyang Parod in a preparatory committee meeting.

One of the forum's priorities is to stop China's attempt to include Austronesian cultures on the list of its World Cultural Heritage in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) , said Awi Mona, an indigenous Taiwanese law professor.

As Taiwan has stepped up its efforts to preserve and promote its Austronesian culture and ethnicity in recent years, China came to realize that this will further alienate and distance Taiwan from China, Mona said.

This is why China is said to be planning to submit an application to UNESCO next year to list Austronesian culture as its own cultural heritage, even though Austronesian culture was never a part of Chinese culture, Mona said.

"If China succeeds, it will be not only a devastating blow to Taiwan but also to every country that shares the culture, " he claimed.

The idea of building up stronger ties among Austronesian nations was mentioned as early as 2002, when an assembly of Austronesian leaders was held in Taipei and began to materialize as a regional forum last year in the first Taiwan-Pacific Allies summit in Palau, during which President Chen Shui-bian signed the Palau Declaration with various allies, Parod said.

Chen will unveil the preparatory office of the forum Wednesday and the secretariat of the forum is expected to be established next year in Taiwan, which will provide the majority of funding for the forum, said Parod.

The forum is hoping to invite more countries, such as New Zealand, to be members and it welcomes the participation of government officials as well as academics and non-government organization workers, he added.

Taiwan returns to final eight in Asian Men's Basketball Championship

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Taiwan Men's basketball national team defeated Hong Kong 98-81 Monday to wrap up the preliminary round of the 2007 Asian Men's Basketball Championship and advance to the quarterfinal round for the first time in six years.

Taiwan finished with two wins and one loss in the round-robin Group D preliminaries, which was led by undefeated South Korea. Taiwan and South Korea advanced to the quarterfinal stage of the biennial tournament, which is being held in Tokushima, Japan.

It was not easy for Taiwan to make it this far, playing without injured starters Tien Lei and Tsun Wen-ting.

This is the first time since 2001, when Taiwan ranked 7th place, that Taiwan men's basketball team made it past the first round. Taiwan fell to 11th place in 2003 and had a 9th place finish in 2005.

In the quarterfinal round that also adopts a single round-robin format, Taiwan was placed in the same bracket with three West Asia teams: Iran, Qatar and Lebanon. South Korea, Japan, Jordan and Kazakhstan were in the other bracket.

The 2007 Asian Men's Basketball Championship is the qualifying tournament of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The winner of the tournament will win the lone Asian seat in the 12-team men's basketball event. Host country China is automatically guaranteed a spot in every event.

In the victory over Hong Kong, center Wu Tai-hao had a game-high 24 points. Forward Lin Chih-chieh followed with 23 points and Chen Hsin-an added 17 points and 7 rebounds.

Taiwan beat Syria, 90-66, and lost to South Korea, 85-70, in the first two preliminary games.

China opted to send its second national team to Tokushima since it did not need to play for a seat in the Olympics. However the Chinese embarrassingly crashed out of the tournament with three straight losses, which has been the biggest surprise of the tournament so far.

NTU, III set up research center to work on ICT innovation

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) The Institute for Information Industry (III) and the National Taiwan University (NTU), one of Taiwan's top universities, set up a jointly-operated research center Monday to collaborate on innovation in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector aimed at creating "a second Google".

In a time of fierce global competition among the ICT industry, it's important for academia and business sector to work hand in hand to bring out the cutting-edge technologies and innovations, said Chen Ming-syan, chief executive officer (CEO) of III, one of the most important think tanks for government's ICT policy-making, speaking on the sidelines of the ceremony.

The founders of Google started innovating in university, Chen pointed out, adding that the NTU is also capable of achieving the same success in ICT innovation.

"NTU ranked around 30th in the global university ranking in terms of electrical engineering and computer science. The placing was considerably higher than the overall ranking of the university, which was somewhere between 100th to 150th in the world, " Chen said.

The III will mainly work with NTU's College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which is regarded as Taiwan's best talent pool of more than 200 professors and 2,500 students, in fields such as digital contents, multimedia, wireless sensor networks, data-mining, long-distance medical care, chip design and user interface development, among others.

Both sides have started working on a number of projects, including internet television and interface design, Chen said, half-jokingly adding that "So someday everyone will get to watch [Taiwanese pitcher in the U.S. Major League] Wang Chien-ming pitch on the internet, probably using their cell phones".

With NTU's rich talent, resource and research performance, the university is confident that it will achieve great success in the future, said NTU President Lee Si-chen.

"For example, we have students from the Department of Drama and Theatre and Department of Psychology on an interface design team, because the team needed to study the human facial, emotional expression and psychology, " Lee said.

The NTU is the fourth university to collaborate with the III, which has established research centers with the National Cheng Kung University, National Chiao Tung University and the National Tsing Hua University.

Different cases of transitional justice examples for Taiwan

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Scholars and officials from various countries shared their experience in advancing transitional justice, which became a popular term in Taiwan in recent years, with their counterparts from Taiwan in an international conference Saturday.

The "International Conference on the Comparative Studies of Transitional Justice" gathered participants from Germany, Hungary, Mongolia and Hungary, including former Prime Minister of East Germany Lother de Maiziere with a focus on the handling of illegally-gained party assets.

Maiziere explained in his speech how former East Germany worked on a full-scale transformation on various fronts after overcoming the communist dictatorship and the unification of Germany. One of the most important steps was the liquidation of the assets of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), former East Germany ruling party.

Transitional justice is more than handling party assets, he said. Maziere also went on details about how Germany re-established traditional provinces, which were abolished during the communist era, worked on judiciary transformation, reviewed the criminal and civil law, reviewed the sentences of all prisoners, and re-organized the police force.

The same effort could also be found in Poland, said Lo Chih-cheng, a professor at Soochow University. The success of transitional justice in a number of Eastern European countries came from positive dialogues between the opposition and the ruling parties, he said.

The transition in Poland was initiated by a compromise, negotiated in a round table by members of the state party PZPR and the democratic opposition, said Andrea Genest, a research fellow at the Center for Research of Contemporary History Potsdam.

The handling off the former Hungarian communist ruling party HSWP (Hugarian Socialist Workers' and Peasants' Party) has not been very successful as there was no overall settlement, said Krisztian Ungvary, advisor of Hungarian Ministry for Culture and Education.

In Mongolia, a country that has been trying to walk out of the shadow from the former Soviet Union since it declared independence, the focus has been placed on the privatization of state properties, said Nemekhbayar Dashbaljir, an officer of Mongolia's State Property Committee.

The one-day conference, which was organized by Taiwan Thinktank, discussed the theme of transitional justice in three sessions on the global experience in dealing with party assets and the interdependent relationship between transitional justice and democratization.

Legislative majority key to handling KMT 'ill-gotten' assets: Chen

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Winning a legislative majority is the key to effectively handling the issue of the main opposition Koumintang's (KMT's) "illegally-acquired" assets, President Chen Shui-bian said Saturday.

Addressing the International Conference on Comparative Studies of Transitional Justice held in Taipei City, Chen said that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gaining a majority in the legislature in the next legislative elections is essential for related bills to be passed.

The president called the issue of the KMT's "illegally-acquired" assets "the biggest cause for regret" on Taiwan's road to democratization and normalization as a country.

"The issue of the ill-gotten assets is not an internal KMT matter, but instead a national issue" Chen said.

Noting that the DPP has not been able to deal with the issue since coming to power in 2000 due to the KMT's ability to consistently block related bills in the legislature because of the slim majority that it holds with its "pan-blue" ally, the People First Party, Chen said that an alternative way, namely a referendum on "ill-gotten" party assets, has to be worked out to force the KMT to return the assets to the national coffers.

In 1994, the KMT listed the total value of its assets at NT$38.5 billion (US$1.16 billion), with the figure skyrocketing to NT$80.8 billion in 2000 before slipping to NT$25.5 billion as of July of this year, Chen pointed out.

"Where has the other NT$55.4 billion gone?" Chen asked.

The president claimed that Ma Ying-jeou had stepped up efforts in selling off part of the assets through secret deals during his time as KMT chairman between 2005 and 2007, adding that Lien Chan, who is now an honorary KMT chairman, has not fulfilled his promise made when running for the presidency in 2000 and 2004 to return the assets to the national coffers.

The one-day conference, which was organized by Taiwan Thinktank, brought together scholars and officials from Germany, Mongolia, Hungary and Lithuania to discuss the experiences of countries around the world in dealing with transitional justice, with the focus being on handling party assets.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Civic groups launch campaign to protest rejection of U.N. bid

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) Civic groups in Taiwan launched a "Mail U.N. (United Nations) " campaign Friday to encourage Taiwanese people to send protest letters to the world body in protest over its rejection of Taiwan's application for U.N. membership.

"To express Taiwan's earnest will to join the global community, people can download a protest letter from our Web site, sign it, and mail it back to our office, " said Lo Chih-cheng, secretary-general of the Taiwan Society.

Taiwan applied for U.N. membership under the name of Taiwan for the first time this year. Earlier in the week, the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs rejected the application based on U.N. Resolution 2758 adopted in 1971, which replaced the Republic of China with the People's Republic of China as the sole representative of China in the United Nations.

The Taiwan Society, a pro-independence group that collaborated with Taiwan Society North, Taiwan Central Society and other groups in the campaign, hopes to collect more than 100,000 letters and send them to the U.N. Secretariat before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in September, said Lo.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did not abide by the U.N. Charter in rejecting Taiwan's application without referring it to the Security Council or the General Assembly, according to Wu Shuh-min, president of the Taiwan Society.

Wu said Taiwan's voice should be heard in the international community so the world will know what the country wants.

"U.N. membership under the name of Taiwan is an important issue. Should Taiwan gain a U.N. seat, it should be allowed to participate in most international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, " he noted.

"It is understandable that the U.N. is facing considerable pressure from China. Still, it is a shame that an international organization advocating the principles of universality, fairness, democracy, freedom, human rights and dignity, would take the side of an authoritarian and abusive regime, " the groups said in a written statement.

The groups plan to keep advancing the idea of a U.N. referendum and to call for the people of Taiwan to voice their protest against the U.N. decision.

Taiwan aims to repeat World University Games success

Taipei, July 26 (CNA) Riding high on the success of two years ago, the Taiwanese delegation is confident of a repeat performance in the upcoming biennial World University Games (WUG) , which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, a spokesman for the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation (CTUSF) said Thursday.

In 2005, Taiwan won six gold, two silvers and three bronzes -- its best performance in WUG history -- in Izmir, Turkey, CTUSF Secretary-General Wei Shiang-ming said, adding that not many expected the delegation to do so well prior to the games.

Taiwan is sending 16 men's and women's teams and a total of almost 200 university athletes to participate in 14 categories of sport in the WUG, which will be held from August 8 - 18, in various venues throughout the Greater Bangkok area.

Women's softball, table tennis, badminton and tennis are among the categories in which Taiwan is hopeful of winning medals, Wei said.

"Two thirds of the women's softball team members came from the national team. They are experienced. And most of the top local tennis, table tennis and badminton players are included in the delegation this year. That's why we're optimistic, " he said.

This year, for the first time, the biennial meet has introduced an age limit of 25 years-old on all participating athletes. The new rule is expected to benefit Taiwan, Wei said, as most Taiwanese athletes peak during their college career.

Civil groups team up to advance Taiwan's U.N. bid

Taipei, July 26 (CNA) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and five former advisors to the president, civil groups and individual advocates teamed up Thursday to establish an alliance which aims to support Taiwan's U.N. membership bid.

"The government is now doing the right thing. The objective of this alliance is to assemble groups that support Taiwan's U.N. bid and tell the world what the people of Taiwan want, " said Chen Lung-chu, one of the 15 co-founders of the "Taiwan for U.N. Alliance."

The alliance will waste no time, but devote itself to planning a series of events in support of Taiwan's U.N. bid, including a rally expected to draw a million participants, collecting signatures in support of a referendum on the U.N. bid, and organizing promotional events in Taiwan and overseas, Chen said.

"Nothing that is impossible. The lifting of Martial Law and direct presidential elections were once considered impossible to achieve, but look at what we have accomplished now, " he said in reference to making a bid for the U.N. under the name of Taiwan.

The attitude of the U.S. is critical to Taiwan's U.N. bid, said former advisor to President Chen Shui-bian Koo Kwang-min, who also questioned the U.S.'s reasoning and right to oppose Taiwan's bid.

The U.S. is now trying to persuade Taiwan's president to give up on a task which over 70 percent of Taiwanese support, Koo said. If the president turns his back on the people under U.S. pressure, Koo warned, an anti-U.S. sentiment in Taiwanese society will probably prove inevitable.

"We are aware that there will be many legal disputes and different opinions on the issue. We hope that the people of Taiwan and the international community will be able to face this issue together," said DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung, who attended the ceremony on behalf of party chairman Yu Shyi-kun.

The U.N. bid is key for Taiwan's survival and recognition on the international stage, former advisor to the president Wu Li-pei said, adding that Taiwan has relied too much on the support of foreign governments in the past and "it is now time to voice our own opinion."

Co-founders of the alliance also lambasted U.N. Secretariat and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for failing to follow the U.N. Charter in dealing with President Chen Shui-bian's letter to join the world body, describing Ban as one "who sees no people in Taiwan and operates without the U.N. Charter in his heart."

Co-founders of the alliance include Chen Lung-chu, Koo Kwang-min, Wu Li-pei, Chen Chi-sheng, Reverend Kao Jun-ming, Peng Ming-min, Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, Lee Hong-si, Yu Shyi-kun, Huang Chiau-tong, Reverend William Lo, Wu Shu-min, Chen Bo-chih, Tsai Ting-kuei and Allen Houng.

Groups that have signed up to the alliance included the DPP, Peng Foundation for Culture and Education, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the Taiwan United Nations Alliance, Constitution Reform Alliance, Taiwan New Century Foundation, and Taiwan Association of University Professors, among others.

Indulgence of communism beyond imagination: ex-Bulgarian president

Taipei, July 25 (CNA) Former Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, who is visiting Taiwan for the launch of a Chinese translation of his book, said Wednesday that fascism and communism are "uterine but not identical twins" and that people's indulgence toward communism was beyond his imagination.

"It has always struck me that our attitude toward communism has been more indulgent and benign than that toward fascism. In the past fascism was condemned morally, legally and politically... However, no such thing happened to communism, " he said in a speech at the book launch ceremony.

The Chinese edition of Fascism, which was written by Zhelev in 1967 and has been translated into various languages, was published by Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in June. The book is a comparative analysis of three classic fascist states -- Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain.

Fascism and communism are two varieties of totalitarianism, as the former is the less complete and less perfect form of totalitarianism, said Zhelev, who served as the first democratically elected president of Bulgaria from 1992 until 1997.

During communism the monopoly of the party-state was spread out over the economy and civic society was completely eliminated, he said, adding that it was for this reason that communism survived much longer than fascism, which allowed private ownership.

Communism should be condemned because it elevated terror against its own people, Zhelev said. Because of the younger generation's lack of personal impressions and experience of either fascism or communism and the memory of the tens of millions of victims that perished for political reasons, it should be condemned, he added.

In his speech, Zhelev also said that Taiwan should be accepted as a member of the United Nations (U.N.) and be recognized by other countries.

"Taiwan should be a U.N. member and it should be recognized by many countries, " Zhelev said, offering his opinion on the fact that many countries have severed ties with Taiwan in recent years and established relations with China to exchange for economic welfare.

"Good politics should adhere to a set of strict principles rather than being guided solely by national interests... And there's no logic allowing countries to deprive Taiwan of its rightful position in the international community, " Zhelev said in a speech titled "Fascism and Communism: Fraternal but Not Identical Twins."

Zhele also offered his observations on China, saying that "Communism in China is undergoing a revolution in a way that resembles the development of the former Soviet Union."

China's economic reforms have reduced domestic tensions, he said, but the difference between its economic and political status may lead to an explosion.

"China so far has been a unique case of communism and an exception in history, " he said, adding that it's possible for China to develop "an alternative way" forward.

Zhelev, 72, was Bulgaria's first democratically elected president after winning the 1992 presidential election. He served his full five-year term and left office in 1997. He gained a reputation as a dissident before entering politics.

Speaking on the same occasion, Wu Yu-shan, director of Academia Sinica's Institute of Political Science, said that if the current Chinese regime can be described as fascists, so was the Kuomintang (KMT) regime in Taiwan up to the end of the 1980s.

China has moved into a historical phase from which Taiwan has moved out, Wu went on. The KMT regime was able to lead Taiwan to economic prosperity, like the fascists did, while the logic of democratic competition eventually led to the transfer of power in 2000, he said.

The question of whether the current party-state developmental regime in China can evolve into multi-party democracy remains, Wu added.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Taiwan's non-government organizations (NGOs) can contribute to the country's attempts to break through its diplomatic hardships amid China's oppression by participating in international and regional dialogues and organizations, NGO workers said in a seminar Tuesday.

The power of the civil society has been gaining steam in impacting the outcome of global affairs, and Taiwan's NGOs can make an impact in the country's limited diplomatic space by engaging in dialogues with NGOs all over the world on regional and global issues, said Chen Yao-hua, a professor at Soochow University and trustee of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan.

The Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan was among 13 civil groups and NGOs that established the Taipei Community of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GAPPC) in 2005. GAPPC is an initiative of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and currently has 15 regional sectors all over the world.

The Taipei Community is a member of the Northeast Asia sector, which also includes North and South Korea, Russia, China, Mongolia and Hong Kong.

During the past two years, the community has sent delegations to GAPPC regional meetings in New York, Seoul, Mongolia and North Korea. Taiwan's NGO workers discussed a wide range of regional and global issues, such as the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, Japan's constitutional amendments and the cross-Taiwan Strait issue, said Hsu Szu-chien, a trustee of the foundation.

By showing Taiwan's concern about and attention to various issues in the Northeast Asia region, people in other countries will respond with support for Taiwan, Chen claimed, adding that it will be Taiwan's "alternative diplomacy."

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official Wang Chih-fa, executive secretary of the NGO Committee, said the government recognizes the efforts made by the numerous NGOs and welcomes local NGOs' participation in international affairs.


Taipei, July 24 (CNA) The APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC), an initiative submitted by Taiwan in 2003 at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, has been helping bridge the digital divide in APEC countries, representatives from seven APEC economies said Tuesday at the 2007 ADOC Plenary.

The plenary is a part of "ADOC Week, " which is taking place in Taipei from July 24-27. Delegations from Chile, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will also attend an ADOC forum and an ADOC award ceremony.

Taiwan took on a "daunting challenge" in helping bridge the digital divide in various partner countries by establishing ADOC centers, representative from the Philippines said. Delegates said over 1,100 people in Papua New Guinea and 5,000 people in Peru have been trained by the center.

IT use and language skills are important elements for developing countries and Taiwan is helping with the former, said Juan Carlos Capunay, deputy executive director of the APEC Secretariat from Peru.

"ADOC's contributions over the past three years are both impressive and significant with the establishment and operation of 19 ADOC partner offices in seven economies and a focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises and education, " Capunay told more than 200 delegates in his remarks.

The ADOC initiative was submitted by former Academia Sinica President and Nobel laureate Lee Yuan-tseh as the Taiwan representative at the 2003 APEC meeting in Bangkok, that looked to transform the digital divide into digital opportunities in the first stage from 2004 -- 2006. In the second stage from 2007 -- 2008, the initiative aims at developing e-commerce and e-trade in various countries.

The one-day forum slated for Wednesday will focus on the theme of "bridging the digital divide" and a number of international and local speakers will be invited to share their thoughts and experiences.

The ADOC awards consist of trophies to recognize the best information and communication technology practices from 18 cases selected from six countries.

Taiwan's devotion to the initiative is beneficial to local businesses as well, said officials from the Institute for Information Industry -- the main organizer of the event. The platform provides Taiwanese IT companies with opportunities to work with ADOC members.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Taipei, July 21 (CNA) Taiwan's normalization has been and will continue to be a difficult task, Taiwan independence advocates said in a seminar Saturday, urging ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh to pay more attention to the issue.

"Taiwan is already a de facto sovereign state, but its status as a normal state has not been achieved yet, " said Chen Lung-chu, president of the pro-independence Taiwan New Century Foundation, in the seminar titled "Psychological Construction of Taiwan's Normalization as a State."

To be a normal state, Taiwan needs to work on a full-scale name-change campaign, adopt a new constitution and participate in international organizations such as the United Nations under the name of Taiwan, said Chen.

"Frank Hsieh has not made enough effort. We encourage him to pay more attention to the issue, " said Michelle Wang, vice president of the pro-independence group Taiwan Society North.

The main resistance to the campaign comes from China and the United States, Wang claimed, adding that the U.S.'s Taiwan policy between 1945 and 2000 has focused on "controlling the Taiwan president."

"The U.S. did not care about the people of Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the CIA did not say a word to the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) government during the White Terror era, " she said, adding that the U.S. did not change its attitude on Taiwan until after the 2000 presidential election because "the people of Taiwan had spoken."

Lee Min-yung, a well-known Taiwanese poet, said Taiwan should be a sovereign state that embraces human rights.

"More importantly, we want to have a small but beautiful country. We want Taiwan to be a welfare state. And Taiwan should be a state that is not only built upon its own unique culture but also blessed with a well-educated culturati, " he said.

"It's a pity that modern day Taiwanese have been fettered by materialism, " he added.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Taipei, July 20 (CNA) The government will tackle the human trafficking issue with comprehensive legislation that seeks to identify victims and provide them with better protection, an official said Friday in a video conference with U.S. officials.

A draft bill that focuses on the protection of human trafficking victims has been in the works and is expected to be placed on the agenda of the Legislative Yuan in September, said Chien Hu Hui-juan, Immigration Affairs Division director of the National Immigration Agency (NIA) , in the conference, which was titled "Preventing Trafficking in People Crimes through Comprehensive Legislation" and organized by the American Cultural Center.

Chien said the bill is expected to be the first legislation in Taiwan that coordinates inter-agency collaboration by the Council of Labor Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police Agency, the Coast Guard Administration, and various social groups and non-government organizations that aims to identify criminals and victims of human trafficking.

The initiative was welcomed by the U.S. government as Mark Lagon, director of the State Department's Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons, praised the government's response to multi-dimensional trafficking since last year, which included the creation of a national plan of action and an inter-agency committee; the drafting of legislative amendments to the immigration law; and increased prosecution of trafficking crimes.

Lagon, who spoke to about 100 conference attendees in Taipei and Kaohsiung from Washington, D.C., stressed the importance of adequate legislation that addresses all of the elements found in modern day slavery, saying that a comprehensive law is the "gold standard" and a "critical tool."

Criminal law is not enough to cover all facets of the trafficking problem, because "it only punishes the criminals, " said Mohamed Mattar, a professor at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Collaboration between law enforcement and social care groups is instrumental in combating human trafficking and rescuing victims, said March Bell, senior special counsel for trafficking issues in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The comprehensive bill is looking to do just that, Chien said. However, all the agencies involved in the program have to avoid departmentalism and prosecutors need to take the leading roles, which is not the case at present, she said.


Taipei, July 19 (CNA) The textile industry is among a number of Taiwanese industries expected to be hit by the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and the government and industries will have to take precautionary measures to mitigate its impact, researchers said Thursday.

Taiwanese industries that are expected to be hardest hit by the South Korea-U.S. FTA include textiles, machinery, liquid crystal display televisions (LCD TV), plastics and auto components industry, researchers from the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) said in a seminar discussing relevant issues.

The textile industry, especially clothing sector, is expected to take the hardest hit among all industries, said researcher Lin Jun-fu. Lin said the industry is being encouraged to cultivate its global logistics by developing new markets. For example, 95% of all South Korea-U.S. clothing products will be listed as duty-free once the FTA takes effect.

Taiwan's mid- and lower-priced machinery products were also encouraged to work on product differentiation and value-added aspects to mitigate the impact of the FTA, researcher Chen Jia-le said.

Facing a lesser impact will be the LCD TV and auto component industries, researchers said, as Taiwanese LCD TV manufacturers already have a presence in Mexico and Eastern Europe, and Taiwan's auto component products do not overlap with South Korean products in the North America market.

In general, Taiwan is facing a twofold threat after the South Korea-U.S. FTA, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Shih Yen-hsiang said. Not only are Taiwanese products disadvantaged by competition from duty-free and low-tariff Korean products, he said, it's also possible that Taiwanese companies will increase their investments in countries that have signed a FTA with the U.S. -- such as South Korea.

Taiwan's government is still trying to work towards a FTA with the U.S., Shih noted, adding that it will take a different approach from South Korea since Taiwan finds itself in a unique political situation.

The FTA agreement has not been ratified by the U.S. and South Korea, giving Taiwan some time to "think and react" before it takes effect, said researcher Liu Da-nien.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Taipei, July 18 (CNA) The increase of new immigrants, most of whom come to Taiwan through international marriages, is a new phenomenon and a social issue, not a "problem, " academics said at a forum Wednesday, encouraging the people and government of Taiwan to accept new immigrants with open arms.

The number of marriage migrants to Taiwan has surpassed 390,000, including 140,000 coming from Southeast Asian countries and 250,000 from China, making new immigrants a "fifth ethnic group" that Taiwan's government and society cannot afford to overlook, said Michael Hsiao, a researcher at Academia Sinica.

The 390,000 new immigrants, who are often called "foreign spouses, " and 330,000 foreign workers add up to 720,000 persons, Hsiao said. That number exceeds the number of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, one of the so-called "four ethnic groups" in addition to the Hoklo, Hakka, and mainlanders.

Immigration is a global phenomenon, with an all-time high record of 200 million people worldwide now living in foreign lands, Hsiao pointed out, saying that "Taiwan is not alone."

In Taiwan, Hsiao said, the phenomenon to emerge in the early 1990s as more and more immigrants, mostly Vietnamese, relocated to Taiwan through cross-border marriages. But this should be seen as an issue, and a "new chapter" in Taiwanese society instead of a problem, he stressed.

"Who knows? In 20 or 30 years, we may elect a president whose mother is Vietnamese. And believe it or not, new immigrants will make huge impact to future elections in Taiwan as a focus group," he said.

There are still many stigmas to be eliminated in Taiwan about new immigrants, for instance that most children with "foreign mothers" have learning difficulties -- a false concept that has been proven incorrect by numerous surveys, said Hsiao.

As the most experienced Asian country in dealing with immigrant issues, Taiwan still has a large room of improvement, he said. The government and non-government organizations (NGOs) should be offering counselling to whole families rather than individuals, and communities and neighborhood should play supportive roles.

"I would say that Taiwan's government has been trying to tackle the issue head-on. However, it has sometimes rushed to find solutions. What it should do, I think, is relax and seek to understand the issue before acting, " Hsiao said.


Taipei, July 18 (CNA) The pork hormone found in U.S. pork shipments that came under scrutiny by Taiwan opposition legislators present no health concerns and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) did not pressure Taiwan authorities on the matter, AIT spokesman said Wednesday.

"The shipments in question -- under the brand name Paylean -- is made by a U.S. company Elanco. Paylean has been used in the U.S. since 1998, " AIT spokesman Thomas Hodges said, adding that Elanco applied for the use of Paylean to Taiwan's Department of Health (DOH) in 2001.

Agricultural staff at the AIT have confirmed that there is "no health issue with the brand Paylean, " Hodges said.

"We in the U.S. believe Paylean -- the pork hormone -- is safe. And we have conveyed that conviction to the DOH, " Hodges responded to Taiwan opposition legislators' accusation that the AIT had pressured Taiwan authority on the issue.

"We would not characterized it as pressure, " he noted.

People First Party (PFP) Legislators Lin Hui-kuang, Liu Wen-hsiung and Tsai Sheng-chia said in a press conference Wednesday that U.S.-exported pork have been contaminated by banned veterinary drug ractopamine, and urged the DOH to start an investigation immediately.

They accused the government of failing to act responsibly to protect the health of the citizens of the country but seeking to "appease" the United States by allowing the import of American agricultural products "whose safety is in doubt."


Taipei, July 16 (CNA) Austria's Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper), one of the best known opera houses in the world, will be making its Taiwanese debut in September, organizers announced Monday in a press conference.

Led by Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, the 130-member visiting group will perform "The Marriage of Figaro" (Le nozze di Figaro) , which was composed by Wolfgang Mozart in eighteenth century and has been one of his most popular operas, during three performances in Taiwan, including two shows in Taipei on Sept. 22 and 23 and one in Kaohsiung on Sept. 24.

However, the performances will be in the form of a concert instead of an opera, meaning performers will not be acting, nor in their operatic costumes, said Niu Hsiao-hua from the main organizer The Management of New Arts (MNA).

"It's unusual for Vienna State Opera to bring its full complement of musicians -- choir, musicians and soloists -- on tour and Maestro Ozawa does not conduct every performance, which indicates that the shows in Taiwan will be extraordinary and a great opportunity to appreciate world-class music, " Niu said.

The Vienna State Opera, Niu said, has been widely regarded as one of the four best opera houses in the world, along with Italy's La Scala, Paris Opera and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Seiji Ozawa, 71, has worked with famous symphony orchestras in Berlin, Boston and Vienna throughout his career and has been music director of the Vienna State Opera since 2002. Ozawa, India's Zubin Mehta and Singapore's Choo Hoey have been described as the three best Oriental conductors, Niu said.

The group consists of about 60 choir members, 50 musicians and a dozen soloists. They will also stage performances in South Korea and Singapore on its Asian tour.


Taipei, July 16 (CNA) The Council for Hakka Affairs (CHA) launched an international architectural competition Monday to design a Taiwan Hakka Cultural Center (THCC) -- a NT$1.8 billion (US$54.54 million) project -- in Tongluo, Miaoli County.

The 11.2-hectare cultural center, which will be located at the south entrance of the Tongluo Science Park, and the Liouduai Hakka Cultural Center in Pingtung County, are both important projects in the government's plan for cultural facilities. The two state-level cultural centers will underline the richness of Hakka culture in northern and southern Taiwan, according to CHA Deputy Minister Chiu Yi-ying.

Architects from around the world are eligible to enter the two-stage open competition to secure a NT$119 million contract (US$3.62 million) with the best design. The winner will be announced next January, said an official from the THCC preparatory office.

Unlike the Liouduai project, which focuses on introducing Hakka culture in southern Taiwan, key elements of the Miaoli project will be a museum and a research facility, Chiu said. The Miaoli project looks to be a platform that encourages locals to understand Hakka culture.

There are an estimated 4 million Hakka people in Taiwan, which represents about 17 percent of the population. Not until four or five years ago did people start to work on the preservation and promotion of the unique culture, Chiu said.

The THCC Miaoli branch is expected to be completed in 2010 and to open in 2011.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Taipei, July 13 (CNA) Taiwanese businesses have been lacking in awareness of the impact of AIDS on their workforces and production, and have been encouraged to play an integral role in HIV/AIDS prevention along with the government and civic groups, AIDS prevention advocates said in a summit Friday.

In comparison with other developed countries, businesses have been absent in Taiwan's AIDS prevention and Taiwanese employers lack awareness of the impact of AIDS, according to a number of public surveys, said Tu Shiing-jer, president of the Taiwan AIDS Foundation.

The summit was organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Taiwan AIDS Foundation and the Chinese National Federation of Industry (CNFI).

A 2005 Global Health Initiative survey conducted by the World Economic Forum found that only 17 percent, far below the 37 percent average in Asia, of Taiwanese employers were aware of the impact of AIDS on production in the next five years. A United Nations program on HIV/AIDS survey in 2006 found that 80 percent of Taiwan companies do not consider HIV/AIDS to have an impact on their businesses.

However, Taiwan's Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that there are 14,563 AIDS patients currently living in Taiwan. Taiwan NGOs estimate that the figure may be five times higher than that. It will cost Taiwan NT$31.8 billion in medical care for AIDS patients and NT$220 billion in production losses by 2010, Tu predicted.

Therefore, a group of advocates, including Tu, Health Minister Hou Sheng-mou, Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Chairman Ho Mei-yueh and CNFI President Chen Wu-hsiung, called for the establishment of a Taiwan Business Coalition (TBC) on HIV/AIDS at the summit.

"Taiwan, with its well-educated population and formidable scientific establishment, is better situated than most places to meet this challenge. Workplace programs targeted at fighting the infection and the discrimination of its victims, and which ensure better medical treatment, can produce significant results, " said AIT Director Stephen Young.

Young encouraged local businesses to establish HIV/AIDS workplace policies, set up workplace intervention programs that include training on prevention of HIV/AIDS, and take action to stop discrimination against HIV-positive people.

Regan Hofmann, editor-in-chief of POZ magazine -- a magazine that promotes the idea that surviving AIDS and living a full life with HIV is possible, and Anthony Pramulratana, president of the Asian Business Coalition on AIDS, were guest speakers at the summit.

The first AIDS case in Taiwan was reported in 1984 and the number of patients has been increasing at a rate of between 15 percent and 20 percent annually. 2005 showed a 124 percent growth but in 2006, the growth rate was negative for the first time since 1984.


Taipei, July 13 (CNA) A Brazilian product exhibition is being held to promote bilateral trade between Taiwan and Brazil, which still has a lot of room of growth, the Brazilian Business Center in Taipei (BBCT) said Friday.

The exhibition, which features Brazilian products including organic foods, juice, wine, jewel, shoes and handicrafts, is taking place at The Mall in Far Eastern Shopping Center from July 13 - 18.

"This annual event can be seen as a two part promotion. It's for the promotion of those Brazilian products that are already being imported, as well as a means of attracting Taiwanese investors to do more business in Brazil, " said Sergio Caldas Mercador Abi-sad, Director of the BBCT.

Taiwan-Brazil trade has been growing steadily, but there is still so much can be done from both sides, he said, adding that Taiwanese businessmen who are interested in investing in Brazil are always welcome.

There have been more Taiwanese businesses, mostly from the electrical and mechanical industries, investing in Brazil, BBCT Senior Commercial Officer Suzana Yu said.

One should be optimistic about possible future collaboration between Taiwan and Brazil, Yu said, pointing out that a number of Taiwanese companies are trying to establish partnerships in Brazil to develop biofuels.

Over the past ten years, Brazil has emerged as a world leader in the biofuel industry.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Jordan's national team won the 2007 William Jones Cup basketball tournament Tuesday with a record of seven wins and two losses in the 10-team men's group, with Jordanian guard Rashiem Wright named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Lebanon finished runner-up with six wins and three losses under the single round-robin format. Home team Taiwan tied with four other teams at five wins and four losses but ranked seventh after the tie-breaker rule was used to decide the final placings.

The Philippines, Iran, South Korea and Athletes in Action from the U.S. ranked from third to sixth place, respectively, in the tournament that is regarded as a warmup for the Asian Basketball Championship for Men, which will be played in Tokushima, Japan from July 28-Aug. 8. Eight of the 10 participating countries fielded their national teams.

Qatar, which had three wins and six losses, ranked eighth. Kazakhstan and Japan, both with two wins and seven losses, ranked ninth and 10th.

Athletes in Action, a team consisting of mostly U.S. college players, failed to defend the championship they won last year.

The tournament was created in 1977 to honor Dr. Williams Jones, who was FIBA secretary-general at the time and had been supporting Taiwan in the international basketball community. Because of cross-straight disputes with China, Taiwan was barred from the international basketball competition until 1986.

The seven-team women's group will start play Wednesday in a competition that will run through July 17.


Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Eighty foreign missionaries with a combined experience of 2,938 years in Taiwan were commended by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) in a ceremony Tuesday for their charitable contributions to the country.

Foreign missionaries have played important roles in comforting and supporting those in need of help, especially in remote areas, over the past 10 years in which Taiwan experienced the Sept. 21 earthquake of 1999, dramatic changes in social evolution and family dynamics, and an economic slump, said Premier Chang Chun-hsiung.

The Taiwan government recognized their contributions to Taiwan after 54 foreign missionaries were commended in 1997 for the first time, he said, adding that the government also granted permanent residency to 98 Catholic missionaries in 2004.

The commended missionaries had an average working experience in Taiwan of 37 years, with Spanish Jesuit missionary Jesus Zarandona the oldest at 95 years-old and Canadian priest Steven Beauregard with arecord 59 years of service in Taiwan, said Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang.

Most of these missionaries, who have been performing medical, educational and humanitarian work in small towns throughout Taiwan, have special and unique stories to tell. While most of them came to Taiwan in their early twenties, now they are aged between 50 and 90. Almost all of them are fluent in either Mandarin, Hoklo or Hakka, Lee said.

Zarandora, the son of a Spanish naval commander, came to Taiwan in 1953 and has never left. He helped establish St. Aloysius Technical High School in Hsinpu, Hsinchu County.

Sister Gloria Joan Watts, who first came to Taiwan in 1956, helped establish the first and only 24-hour clinic in Alishan and St. Martin De Porres Hospital, where she now serves as president, in Chiayi City. Father Brendan O'Connell, who came from the U.S., has spent 52 years in Taiwan and is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Taiwan's special education.

Donald McGinnis, who came to Taiwan in 1953 and speaks fluent Hakka, Hoklo and Mandarin, described Hakka people and culture as his "first love." He was expelled from Taiwan by the Kuomintang government, and later from China by the Chinese government.

French missionaries Louis Pourrias and Claude Gagelin, who have been living in Hualien for over 40 years, love the indigenous culture and people so much that they spent 40 years compiling the first Amis-French Dictionary.

Swiss sister Germana Retzetter, who came to Taiwan in 1954 from China, has devoted all her energy to helping people in various small towns in Pingtung County.

Of the 80 religious workers, more than half come from the U.S., while 10 each come from France and Switzerland. The others come from Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, Finland, Japan, Spain, the U.K., Congo, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Taipei, July 7 (CNA) A group of U.S.-based young Taiwanese scholars will assist and instruct local youngsters in a series of workshops which aim to bring cutting edge technology to Taiwan and inspire an adventurous spirit among its young people, organizers said Saturday.

The workshop, entitled "Taiwan Workshop, " includes three mini-workshops -- IT (Information Technology) and Democracy, Social Entrepreneurship and Night Market Workshop 2007 -- that will take place in Taipei and Taichung from July 29 - Aug. 26. An estimated 140 registrants will attend the workshop.

"The goal of this foundation is to encourage Taiwan's young people to reach out to the world. At the same time, we try to pull the world into Taiwan. Who would be better candidates to do this than thousands of 'Taiwan's favorite sons' who currently study and conduct research at prestigious institutions in various countries?" said Wang Hao-wei, President of the Club V1492 For Traveling and Reading, the main organizer of the event.

More than a dozen of Taiwanese PHD candidates from the U.S. universities of Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) , Harvard, Boston University and U.K.'s Royal College of Arts, will participate in the workshop. A number of foreign scholars are also invited for topical speeches and instructions.

Issues such as the restrictions and limitations of technology and citizen participation will be discussed in the IT and Democracy camp, while the Social Entrepreneurship camp will focus on solving social problems through business and changing conventional thinking to create new business models and establish social enterprises, curators said.

The Night Market Workshop, which is entering its third year, will be headed by Jackie Lee, who currently works in MIT's Media Lab. The four-day workshop will try to integrate artistic creation and digital mobile technology with local material and themes under one of the best symbols of Taiwanese culture -- the night markets, Lee said.

"We hope that this event will continue to be held. Hopefully, more overseas scholars will return to make contributions to our home country, and more local young people will participate in the future," said Hsueh Chiao-jen, a MIT researcher who is one of the curators of the Social Entrepreneurship camp.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Taipei, July 5 (CNA) The Taiwan government's efforts to combat human trafficking have been recognized and the U.S. welcomes the more proactive and concrete actions being taken in the coming year, a visiting U.S. State Department official said Thursday.

"Taiwan faces a multi-dimensional threat in the trafficking of persons, in part by virtue of its progress in creating a free and prosperous society. Once primarily a source of trafficked persons, Taiwan is now largely a destination, " said Mark Taylor, Senior Coordinator for Trafficking in Persons.

Taiwan was classified as a "Tier 2" country in the 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. State Department in June 12, upgraded from a "Tier 2 Watch List" country in 2006.

The positive actions of the Taiwanese government were largely responsible for its removal from the watch list, Taylor said, noting that an inter-ministerial task force has been set up, and a comprehensive plan of action drafted and enacted. Revisions of Taiwan's laws, aimed at dealing effectively with all modern forms of slavery, are being drafted, passed by the Legislative Yuan, and
implemented by Taiwanese authorities.

"This preliminary progress, however, needs to be accompanied by even greater efforts to protect exploited migrant laborers and foreign women who have come to Taiwan legally or illegally, as wives or workers, but who have ended up in slave-like conditions, " said Taylor.

Debt that contract migrant workers owe to recruitment agencies or brokers is often overlooked, resulting in substantial debts that agencies or employers use as a tool to enforce what effectively amounts to involuntary servitude, Taylor noted.

Taylor encouraged the Taiwanese government to be proactive in identifying victims and traffickers, and offering victims clear legal and financial incentives to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement officials.

For Taiwan to move up to "Tier 1, " Taylor said it should have more victims identified, more criminals prosecuted, and make improvements on the legislative front. Equally important will be providing victim with both governmental and non-government organization (NGO) services.

Taylor, who is on the last leg of his Asian visit, is scheduled to meet with officials from the Ministry of Interior, legislators and representatives of local NGOs before returning Washington July 7.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Taipei, July 4 (CNA) A total of 80 foreign religious workers, with a combined experience and devotion of 2,938 years in Taiwan, will be commended for their charitable contributions to Taiwan next week, Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced in a press conference Wednesday.

"With an average working experience in Taiwan of 37 years, these foreign religious workers have come to see Taiwan as their second home and devoted their time and energy to charitable works, with or without recognition. Truly, I can say that they love Taiwan more than some of us do, " said Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang.

The last time fathers, nuns and physicians, who come from various countries, churches and organizations were commended was 10 years ago, he said.

Most of those to be commended have been performing medical, educational and humanitarian works in small towns throughout Taiwan, including Syuejia, Tainan County; Alishan, Chiayi County; and Miaoli City.

Three of these devoted persons -- Father Donald J. McGinnis, Father Brendan O'Connell and Sister Gloria Joan Watts -- attended the press conference and shared their stories of their time in Taiwan. Watts, who first came to Taiwan in 1956, helped establish the first and only 24-hour clinic in Alishan, and St. Martin De Porres Hospital, where she now serves as president, in Chiayi City. Brendan O'Connell has spent 52 years in Taiwan and was widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Taiwan's special education.

McGinnis, who came to Taiwan in 1953 and speaks fluent Hakka, Hoklo and Mandarin, described Hakka people and culture as his "first love". He spoke of his unique experience of being expelled from Taiwan by the Kuomintang government, and later from China by the Chinese government.

Of the 80 religious workers, more than half came from the U.S. while 10 each came from France and Switzerland. The others came from Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, Finland, Japan, Spain, U.K., Congo, the Philippines and the Netherlands.


Taipei, July 3 (CNA) The idea of a "China Union" modeled on the European Union (EU) to integrate Taiwan and China is unlikely to happen, a French scholar said Tuesday in Taipei.

The problem of the "China Union" idea lies in the size of China and its 1.3 billion population, which is a huge difference compared to Taiwan's territory and its 23 million population, Thierry de Montbrial told businessmen in a speech at the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ECCT) that examined the EU-China and future Taiwan-China relations.

De Montbrial, who is on his third visit to Taiwan, founded the French thinktank French Institute for International Relations (IFPI) in 1979 and has been its president since then. He is scheduled to meet President Chen Shui-bian and other high-ranking local officials during his visit.

Cross-Taiwan Strait relations have been deadlocked mainly because of the rhetoric used by each side, he said, adding that the situation could be different 20 years from now if prudent conscience can be developed on both sides.

Citing research conducted by the IFRI on China's future as a global player, de Montbrial observed that China wants peace for its domestic development and wants to avoid any conflict -- including its relations with Taiwan. The only exception will be a Taiwanese declaration of independence, he pointed out.

"China will be open to any arrangement other than that, " he said.

The EU model cannot be replicated. In fact, there is no so-called "model" that can be duplicated because the EU was born under a specific atmosphere, environment and set of circumstances, de Montbrial said.

One possibility for that to happen would be a division of China, he added.

"The EU structure is a process, not an architectural plan that was drawn up and built up according to the plan, " he said.

To build up a union, there should be political and economic integration, he said.


Taipei, July 3 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian lauded the firm friendship and ever greater exchanges Taiwan enjoys with Central American countries Tuesday, and expressed hope that they will continue supporting Taiwan's international participation in the future.

Central American countries have been supportive of Taiwan's participation in international organizations and cooperated with Taiwan on political, social and economical development for a long time, Chen said at the opening ceremony of the 22nd conference of the Forum of Legislative Presidents of Central America.

The conference was held in Taipei for the second time in its 12-year history and the first time since 2000 with 31 parliamentary heavyweights from seven Latin American and Caribbean countries participating.

Taiwan's evident friendship with Central America can be seen in its active involvement in the region's processes of integration, Chen said, citing as examples Taiwan's membership in Central American Bank for Economic Integration in 1991, Taiwan's summit with its Central American allies that has been alternately held between Taiwan and Central America since 1997, Taiwan's observership in Central American Parliament and the Forum of Legislative Presidents of Central America since 1999, and its membership in the Central American Integration System in 2000.

Starting in 2003, Taiwan also signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with five Central American allies, he added.

The sustained development of a democratic Taiwan importantly contributes to stability and security in the Asian Pacific region and world peace, he said, stressing that the only path leading to Taiwan's continuing prosperity and development is democracy, which is also its best weapon against China's authoritarian regime.

Julio Cesar Valentin, speaker of the House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic and current chairman of the forum, led a delegation from other countries, include Phillip Zuniga of Belize, Ruben Orellana of El Salvador, Ruben Dario Morales Veliz of Guatemala, Roberto Micheletti of Honduras, Rene Nunez of Nicaragua and Susana Richa de Torrijos from Panama.

The biannual forum, founded in Honduras in 1995, is composed of presidents or legislative representatives of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. Parliamentary leaders from the Dominican Republic were first admitted to the forum in 2000.

Taiwan applied to be an observer of the forum in 1999 when Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng was approved as a permanent observer of the group.


Taipei, July 2 (CNA) The William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament, one of the most popular basketball events in Taiwan, began Monday at the start of 16 days of basketball action that includes 17 men's and women's teams from 13 countries.

Ten teams are in the men's competition, which runs through July 10 with Athletes in Action (AIA) , a team from the U.S., looking to defend its title from last year. Seven women's teams will compete in the women's competition from July 11-17 at the Sinjhuang Stadium in Taipei County.

Close games highlighted the opening day with the Philippines upsetting defending champion AIA 72-67. Jordan beat Kazakhstan 63-61 on a last shot and South Korea edged out Qatar 70-69. Lebanon defeated Iran 80-71.

This year's men's competition is regarded as a warmup for the Asian Basketball Championship for Men, which will be played in Tokushima, Japan from July 28-Aug. 8. Eight of the 10 participating countries, including Taiwan, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, South Korea, Kazakhstan and the Philippines, are fielding their national teams.

Japan sent its World University Games national team, while the AIA consists of mostly U.S. college players.

Participating teams in the women's group include New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Athletes in Action and two home teams -- Taiwan Blue Team and White Team.

The tournament was created in 1977 to honor Dr. Williams Jones, who was FIBA secretary-general at the time and had been supporting Taiwan in the international basketball community. Because of cross-straight disputes with China, Taiwan was barred from the international basketball competition until 1986.


Taipei, July 2 (CNA) The largest flat panel display exposition in Taiwan and an international display manufacturing conference will be held July 3-6 in an attempt to examine and discuss the latest technology in the industry, organizers said in a press conference Monday.

The Flat Panel Display (FPD) Expo Taiwan 2007 and International Display Manufacturing Conference (IDMC) 2007 will be held in Taipei World Trade Center Hall I and the Taipei International Convention Center. More than 150 exhibitors will display the latest FPD technology in 460 booths, the organizers said.

The global electronic display market is expected to surpass US$100 billion in revenue this year, said Terry Tsao, president of Semiconductor Equipment and Material International (SEMI) Southeast Asia, which is the main organizer of the exposition.

TFT-LCDs represent some 73 percent of all displays and Taiwan is the world's largest producer, with a 2006 market share of over 40 percent, Tsao said.

The government is promoting the display industry, along with the semiconductor industry in the hope that between them they can reach revenue of US$30 billion before the end of the year.

In addition to the expo, a workshop and dozens of technology sessions will be held at the IDMC 2007. A total of 260 theses on information display will be presented to more than 1,000 attendees.