Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taiwan has high hopes in World University Baseball Championship

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Taiwan's university national baseball team will open the 2010 World University Baseball Championship Friday in Tokyo, hoping to win the tournament for the first time in its five appearances at the event.

The team's confidence is high after two wins and one loss in a three-game warm-up series in Taipei July 25-27 against defending champion the United States. The U.S. was 9-0 in the summer prior to the series.

However, Taiwan's manager Yeh Chih-shien refused to be too optimistic. "At the college level, I don't think you can find any team that is better than this U.S. team, which is well-balanced from top to bottom, " he said.

Taiwan is scheduled to meet Canada Friday at the Meiji Jingu Stadium in the opening game. It has never lost to Canada in the tournament, winning 6-4 in 2008 and 15-0 in 2006.

Taiwan has fared well in the past four championships but has never won, finishing fourth in 2002 and 2004, second in 2006 and third in 2008.

The U.S., which is seeking its fourth consecutive title in the championship, and Sri Lanka will meet Taiwan Sunday and Monday, respectively, to round up the preliminary group A.

Bill Kenneberg, the U.S. manager, said his team has found its offensive rhythm later in the series but still has much to improve if it wants a strong performance in Tokyo.

China, South Korea, Cuba and host Japan are placed in a much tougher Group B.

Taiwan beat the U.S. 3-1 and 1-0 in the first two games before dropping the last one 6-3 in the exhibition series. The U.S. pounded amateur Taipei County 9-1 in the fourth and last warm-up game in Taiwan Wednesday. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan to host international food security, fishery forums

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday that plans for international forums on fishery and food security in Taipei next month are a sign that Taiwan is engaging itself more with the international community.

The International Fishers' Forum (IFF) will gather officials and scholars from 25 countries from Aug. 3-5, while the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Security Forum will be held in Taiwan for the first time from Aug. 18-20, according to Lily Hsu, director-general of MOFA's Department of International Organization.

The IFF will be co-hosted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC), a U.S. federal organization tasked with managing and implementing laws governing fishing activity, and Taiwan's Fisheries Agency under the Council of Agriculture (COA), she said at a press briefing.

As Taiwan has one of the largest fishing fleets in the world, its engagement in the international fishery community is welcomed, Hsu said, adding that the fact the WPRFMC invited Taiwan to co-host the forum shows that Taiwan's efforts in fishery conservation have been recognized.

The central objective of the IFF is to bring the fishing industry into the relatively recent dialogue of marine spatial planning and management.

Food security, a pressing issue for Taiwan, will be discussed in the APEC Food Security Forum, which is seen as a prelude for the Ministerial Meeting on Food Security to be held in October in Niigata, Japan. Chinese officials are expected to attend the meeting, she said.

A U.S.-hosted workshop on "Ease of Doing Business in the Agricultural Sector" will be held alongside the Food Security Forum. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

All eyes on Yao, Lin in charity basketball game

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) All eyes were on Chinese star center Yao Ming and Taiwan' s newest hero Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese-American player to join the U.S. National Basketball Association, as a charity game got underway Wednesday night in Taiwan.

The 48-minute game, organized by the Yao Foundation as a part of a charity tour in Taiwan, was played between two teams composed of active NBA players and players from China and Taiwan. All proceeds will be donated to local charities.

Hometown favorite Jeremy Lin, who signed a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors last week, drew a standing ovation when he took the court with 6:45 to go in the first quarter.

Lin was a late addition to the team, returning to Taiwan early Wednesday for a whirlwind two-day visit after he received a phone call from Yao.

With his parents and brothers watching on the sidelines, Lin shot a three-pointer late in the quarter but also committed a 24-second shot-clock violation, which showed that he still has to adjust to the professional game.

Yao Ming did not play in the game because he is still recovering from a foot injury. However, the 2.29-meter tall center was the reason the game took place.

The Yao Foundation, established in 2008, organized the charity tour during which Yao visited underprivileged children in southern Taiwan.

Team Love, which consisted of NBA players, matched up against Team Heart, which was made up of players from the Shanghai Sharks and an All-Star team in the local Super Basketball League. The Sharks played in the first and the final quarter, while the SBL All-Stars took the court in the remaining two quarters.

The NBA team, included active NBA players Lin, Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hasheem Thabeet of the Memphis Grizzlies, DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons, Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors, Luke Babbit of the Portland Trail Blazers and a pair of Yao's Houston teammates, Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger.

They opened the game against the Sharks with a 23-5 run and quickly established a 20-point lead.

Taiwan's All-Star team was unable to contain the stronger taller U.S. visitors, who scored in runs on easy baskets, in their designated two periods.

Team Love beat Team Heart 137-103. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Jeremy Lin attributes achievements to family, faith

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Jeremy Lin, the first player of Taiwanese descent to sign a regular season contract with a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, attributed his achievements to his passion for the game, support from his family and Christianity during a press conference in Taipei Wednesday.

The 21-year-old told about 100 reporters and more than 30 television cameras that he was thankful for the overwhelming support and attention he has received in Taiwan, where his parents lived before emigrating to the U.S. in the 1970s and where he still has many relatives.

Lin, who signed a partially guaranteed two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors worth approximately US$500,000 last week, arrived in Taiwan early Wednesday with his family to participate in a charity game hosted by Chinese star player Yao Ming.

He will also attend a children's basketball camp Thursday -- part of the Junior NBA program sponsored by Amway -- before flying back to California to prepare for the upcoming season.

Lin burst onto the scene this past year as he was named Ivy League Player of the Year, averaging 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. He was passed over in the NBA Draft in June, but his strong performance in the summer league caught the attention of several teams.

The Warriors signed him on July 21, making him the first Harvard graduate in 57 years to formally sign with an NBA team.

He said he chose the Warriors because of many factors, including the size of the contract, the style of play, roster space and location -- the Lins live in the Bay area.

Being an Asian-American player out of Harvard was never an advantage, he said, because of stereotypes that Asians are weaker than other players and that Ivy League graduates are better at academics than basketball.

About the possibility of representing Taiwan in international competition, Lin said he knew that many rumors "are flying around, " but "no decision has been made."

Meanwhile, religion has been a major part of life for Lin, who has said he would like to be a pastor someday and help underprivileged children in urban areas -- the reason he chose to major in economics and sociology at Harvard.

Lin, who idolized Michael Jordan growing up, said the transition from the college game to the NBA will require work on "almost everything, " from ball-handling to strength to a different shot- clock.

His goal for the upcoming season will initially be getting "in the rotation, " and then becoming the starting point guard. Longer term, he said he wants to win an NBA championship. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chinese basketball star Yao charms Taiwanese fans

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) Chinese basketball center Yao Ming entertained a local audience Tuesday with his famous one-liners during the first press conference of his charity tour and his first visit to Taiwan since 2007.

When asked about his financial plans, the 2.29-meter National Basketball Association All-Star said, "Give all my salary to my wife."

Asked about changes in his personal life between 2007 and 2010, during which he got married, became a father and bought the Chinese Basketball Association's Shanghai Sharks, Yao quipped: "I'm driving much slower now (because of a child in car)."

Yao's quick wit is one of the few things that have not changed since his first visit to Taiwan in 1997, when he was an unknown and unusually tall teenager player who did not even get the chance to play for the visiting Sharks.

Entering the NBA in 2002 as the top pick in the draft, he is now a symbol of Chinese basketball, a seven-time NBA All-Star and is in the middle of a five-year, US$76 million contract with the Houston Rockets.

The 30-year-old, who sat out last season due to a foot injury, said that his rehabilitation has gone well and that he is excited to be able to participate in scrimmages in the Rockets training camp to prepare for the new season.

He will not play, however, in a charity game Wednesday that will see NBA players including Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hasheem Thabeet of the Memphis Grizzlies, DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons and Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors meet a mixed team of Taiwanese and Chinese players at the Taipei Arena.

The game is part of a charity tour organized by the Yao Ming Foundation, which the star center established in 2008 as the "headquarters" of his philanthropic work. In addition to his quick wit, Yao's agent Bill Duffy said the player's humanity has been one of his most consistent characteristics.

A total of 4,000 tickets to the charity game will be donated to disadvantaged children and various social organizations.

Yao said he was always happy to be involved in charity events. The deadly Sichuan earthquake in May 2008 expedited the establishment of the Yao Ming Foundation, which lists its first priority as child education.

"Education is the best gift we can give to children, " said Yao, adding that the foundation plans to use donations to establish elementary schools, offer scholarships and focus on schoolchildren's nutrition.

Yao told the crowd he still wants to accomplish great things on the basketball court, devote as much time and energy as possible to his charity work and take care of his family -- enough to keep him pretty busy.

Yao gave a parting shot when he answered a question about his personal plans beyond basketball, saying: "Forget television commercials. I know I'm not as good-looking as David Beckham." (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Pursuit of Taiwan-Iran trade ties legitimate: officials

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) The government is not against commercial activity with Iran that benefits Taiwan's businesspeople, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) officials said in the wake of a new round of international sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The remarks also come after the Israeli representative in Taiwan told the Central News Agency that it would be imprudent for Taiwan to deepen its relations with Iran at this moment.

Rafael Gamzou, the head of the Israel Cultural and Economic Office in Taipei, said in an interview published Sunday that Israel has no objection to Taiwan fostering a better relationship with the Arab world, but that it would frown on closer Taiwan-Iran ties. He pointed out that many countries are condemning the Iranian regime for its nuclear power program.

MOFA spokesman Henry Chen, however, said the government would not interfere with economic affairs.

"The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not seeking to establish official diplomatic ties with Iran...Business is business, " he said. "We're not against anything as long as it creates commercial profitability for our people."

"Taiwanese businesspeople have been doing business with Iranians for a long time. The bilateral relations were not developed overnight. Businesspeople will do whatever they think is profitable even if they have to do so without help from the government, " he added.

While Taiwan does not rule out developing closer trade relations with Iran, setting up a trade office in Taipei would require much more consideration, he said without elaborating.

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council, a semi-official agency in charge of foreign trade promotion, established an office in Tehran in 1992.

Hoping to curb Tehran's nuclear enrichment activities, the United States is leading a drive to add further sanctions to four sets of sanctions the United Nations has imposed on Iran since 2006. The U.S. and the European Union (EU) have added to those sanctions and are set to impose additional sanctions targeting foreign trade, financial services and companies that do significant business with or invest in Iran's energy sector.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) declined to comment on another foreign representative's remark, AIT spokesman Sheila Paskman said. She said the U.S. position was clear following a statement made by U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on June 10 after the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929.

"There's a lot in that resolution and it provides broad international responsibility and authority, " he said. "And now, a number of countries can look at what can be done bilaterally, unilaterally... We are looking for a strong, united international response to make it clear to Iran that it will pay a price for its current course and that it should -- based on this pressure, that it will begin to feel -- very quickly change course."

Crowley also said in a press briefing Monday that "We've already begun to see the impact of these sanctions as companies around the world refuse to do business with Iran rather than risk becoming involved in Iran's nuclear program and other illicit activities."

Harry Tseng, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of North American Affairs, said that U.S. concern over Iran is not a secret, but that Washington also clearly realizes that Taiwan is a sovereign country.

"It may point out the sensitivity of the region and its concerns, but the U.S. usually doesn't force its policy on other countries because the approach would lead to results that don't necessarily serve U.S. interests," Tseng said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Monday, July 26, 2010

NBA centers Yao, Howard arrive in Taiwan for hoop charity events

Taipei, July 26 (CNA) Yao Ming and Dwight Howard, star centers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) , arrived in Taiwan Monday for separate charity events.

Howard, a 2.11-meter four-time All-Star selection who plays for the Orlando Magic, returned to Taiwan for the first time since 2005 and met fans Monday in downtown Taipei before heading a children's basketball camp from July 27-30.

"I miss you guys. It's been five years, " Howard told more than 300 screaming fans in a meet-the-fan event held in the plaza outside Vieshow Cinemas in eastern Taipei.

He also pleased the crowd by promising to persuade NBA commissioner David Stern to bring a regular season NBA game to Taipei.

Howard is visiting Taiwan as an ambassador of the 2010 Junior NBA Challenge, which is a part of the NBA-initiated charity program NBA Cares.

He is scheduled to personally train 60 schoolchildren aged 7-12 at a four-day camp, sponsored by Amway, before selecting six children for a special prize. The selected children will play two games with teams from China in August for a free trip to the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

Yao, a 2.29-meter center who was the first Chinese player in the NBA and currently plays for the Houston Rockets, is visiting Taiwan for the first time since 2007 to play in a charity game at Taipei Arena on July 28 as part of his Yao Foundation Charity Tour.

After arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, the 29-year-old seven-time NBA All-Star headed directly to Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan by high speed railway to meet with a group of children who suffered from the devastation of Typhoon Morakot.

The typhoon, which pummeled much of southern Taiwan last August, left more than 450 people dead and more than 190 others missing.

Yao shared his expertise at a basketball clinic and offered words of encouragement to the children, whose homes were wiped out by the worst typhoon to impact Taiwan in half a century.

Yao will be joined in the charity game by six active NBA players -- Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hasheem Thabeet of the Memphis Grizzlies, DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons, Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors and a pair of Yao's Houston teammates, Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger.

Also participating in the event will be 14 players from the Shanghai Sharks, a team in China's professional league owned by Yao, and Taiwanese entertainers, including popular singer Jay Chou. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taiwan, U.S. teams to meet ahead of world university baseball series

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Taiwan's university baseball team is scheduled to play the United States in a four-game warmup in Taipei starting Sunday as the final preparation for the World University Baseball Championship in Japan next week.

The U.S. team, which arrived in Taipei Saturday, will play its Taiwan counterpart from July 25-27 at Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in Taipei County and will wrap up its Taiwan tour on July 28 with a friendly game against the amateur Taipei County baseball team.

Team Taiwan will depart for Tokyo, Japan July 28, one day before the U.S., for the world tournament, which will take place July 30-August 8.

Seeking its fourth consecutive title in the championship, the U.S. team features a strong pitching rotation, headlined by Gerrit Cole of UCLA, Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt University and Kyle Winkler of Texas Christian University. It boasts a 9-0 record in previous warmup games, having swept a powerful South Korean national team in a five-game series.

Among the top U.S. players are the 2010 College World Series Most Outstanding Player Jackie Bradley Jr. (South Carolina), 2010 Baseball America Player of the Year and Dick Howser Trophy Winner Anthony Rendon (Rice) and infielder Brad Miller (Clemson).

Taiwan has fared well in the past four championships, finishing fourth in 2002 and 2004, second in 2006 and third in 2008. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Taiwan's technology success underappreciated: Canadian scientist

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) The success and degree of sophistication of Taiwan's science and technology development is much better than the credit it receives, a Canadian scientist said in a recent interview.

"Taiwan's strength sometimes is not recognized by others... perhaps because it lives in the shadow of a large neighbor (China), " said Arthur Carty, who was appointed as a science adviser to Taiwan's premier and a member of the board of Taiwan's Executive Yuan Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG) in September 2008.

Taiwan has almost all the elements of a technologically advanced country, including fine universities, innovation and leading companies, said Carty, who is also the executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Carty jokingly said Canada has been suffering from the same lack of attention because of a powerful neighbor -- the United States.

Most people don't recognize Bombardieur, the world's No.1 air and railway technology company, as a Canadian enterprise, and the same goes for Blackberry smartphone developer Research in Motion (RIM), he added.

As an observer of Taiwan's technology development and a scientist who has collaborated with Taiwan's universities and research institutes for over a decade, Carty said Taiwan's investment in science and technology in the past 10 years has been "by and large very wise" and the vast investment has paid off.

Taiwan's decision to focus on computer and information technology development 20 years ago has turned out to be a brilliant policy as a number of its companies have had global success, he said.

Taiwan's investment in nanotechnology will also pay off in the future and will benefit all sectors, he said.

However, the development of biotechnology in Taiwan has been "largely unsuccessful" despite the resources and investment the government has poured into it, Carty said. This is probably because the basic research is "not solid enough," he said.

Another impressive aspect of Taiwan's development in the field of science is its integrated approach and formulation of national policy, he said.

For example, at a one-week STAG meeting, government officials, industry professionals, research and development experts and academics reviewed and discussed a number of proposals before throwing out the bad ones, he said.

"We don't have anything like that in Canada, " said Carty, who served as the first science advisor to the prime minister and the government of Canada from 2004-2008.

He said that Taiwan and Canada will be able to complement each other in the area of nanotechnology. In Taiwan's case, it can carry out clinical trials of nano medicine to help Canada in related research fields and provide expertise in solar cell development, he said.

The University of Waterloo, one of the top Canadian universities in nanotechnology, has signed partnership agreements with two Taiwanese universities and will seek to do the same with three others, he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Friday, July 23, 2010

Belgian innovator encourages young Taiwan entrepreneurs

Taipei, July 23 (CNA) A Belgian innovator promoted his "Blue Economy" initiative at a forum in Taipei Friday, encouraging Taiwan's businesspeople to use their ambition to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Speaking to around 300 guests at the Blue Economy Forum, hosted by Common Wealth Biweekly magazine, Gunter Pauli said, "Taiwan needs to have the next-generation (entrepreneur) of Stan Shih, " referring to the Acer Group founder who attended the forum as a panelist.

Shih, whose company grew from a US$172 million business in 1983 to a US$50 billion firm today, was the first generation of Taiwanese entrepreneurs, but there is a new way to look at business opportunities now, said Pauli, an entrepreneur himself and founder of the ZERI Foundation (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives).

Led by Pauli, the Blue Economy began as a project under the global think tank Club of Rome aimed at finding 100 of the best nature-inspired technologies that could affect the economies of the world and create 100 million jobs within the next 10 years. To date, Pauli said he and his team have found 340 innovations that can be bundled into systems that function the way ecosystems do.

Pauli advocated the "Blue Economy" as an idea to go beyond the "Green Economy." The green economy, he said, serves as an economic development model that stresses green energy and efficiency and preventing environmental pollution, global warming, resource depletion, and environmental degradation, but it requires companies to invest more in order to save the environment.

The blue economy tries to replace that framework by bringing innovations to the marketplace, securing the basic needs of all, and making sustainable businesses competitive, he explained.

One of the keys will be "how we rethink the traditional way of doing business, namely, innovations... because wisdom of the past doesn't take you to the future," he said.

Pauli said that innovations should firstly be based on physics, because basics in physics never change. They should then target blatant models of unsustainable production and consumption. Innovation should always generate multiple benefits and evolve from scarcity to abundance. Finally, he said, "Are you simply looking to reduce costs to compete against China?"

The idea of the blue economy is not difficult to understand, he said, citing an example in his Belgian company where every employee who rides a bicycle to work is paid half a euro for every kilometer. While the employees earn extra money and produce less pollution, he saves parking space and has healthier workers, Pauli said.

Another example is the innovation used in wind turbines to convert wind power to electricity, he said.

With innovation, "business opportunity is here, there and everywhere, " he said, adding that while "some dream to escape from reality, some dream to change reality." (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Taiwan wins Asia-Pacific title in 12-and-under Pony baseball tourney

Taipei, July 22 (CNA) Taiwan rallied to beat South Korea 4-3 Thursday in Taipei to win the 2010 Pony Baseball's Bronco League Asia-Pacific Zone tournament and a berth in the Pony Baseball World Series next month.

Trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning, the home team from the central city of Taichung took advantage of a South Korean nervous breakdown to score two runs to secure the title.

Liang Chia-feng's leadoff single kicked off Taiwan's rally in the bottom of the sixth as Taiwan scored the tying run on three wild pitches by Korean pitcher Jeong Jae-hyeok, and added the go-ahead run with a steal and a base hit.

Taiwanese left-hander Chen Shih-peng, who had 10 strikeouts in the game, shut out South Korea's final hope in the top of the seventh. A packed crowd of more than 1,000 fans at the Youth Park Baseball Field gave the home boys a standing ovation after the win.

Thirty minutes earlier, it had looked like South Koreans would walk away with an upset win after Lee Jae-kyeong blasted a two-run single off the middle with bases loaded to help South Korea take a 3-2 lead.

Now Taiwan will be looking for a redemption in the 12-and-under World Series, which will take place from Aug. 5-12 in Monterey, California. It has failed to win any World Series titles since 2000, finishing with four silvers, two bronzes and a fourth place.

The title was another confidence-booster for Taiwan's youth baseball, which has been doing well this summer in general. Taiwan national baseball teams won the titles of both the 2010 Asia-Pacific Junior League Baseball Tournament and the 2010 Little League Baseball Asia-Pacific Regional Tournaments earlier this month.

The only setback came when the 14-and-under national team failed to defend its title in the Pony's Asia-Pacific championship in the 13-14 age bracket in the Philippines Monday.

In other games Thursday, Japan blanked the Philippines 18-0 to win third place in the seven-team tourney. Hong Kong defeated Indonesia 6-4 for fifth place, while Vietnam, fielding a team in Pony baseball for the first time, finished last. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Air controversy shows many hurdles in wake of ECFA signing

Controversy this week surrounding an increase in the number of direct cross-strait flights has created an uncomfortable atmosphere for both sides of the Taiwan Strait and has added to the complexity of bilateral negotiations surrounding the recently signed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).

Due to differing interpretations and understanding of a deal signed in May, Taiwan called off 36 flights Tuesday, while China put the stops on 31.

This can be seen as a sign that while the ECFA has won praise for long-overdue trade liberalization between the two former rivals and for reducing cross-strait tension, there are still many hurdles to clear.

The government is convinced that the ECFA will boost Taiwan's economy by eliminating tariffs, relaxing regulations and allowing more access to each other's markets.

However, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) have claimed repeatedly that the deal will increase Taiwan's dependence on China and jeopardize local employment and small and medium-sized businesses.

Even though the agreement has already been signed, consensus on how the pact should be reviewed by the legislature is still lacking, and the DPP walked out of a July special session of the Legislative Yuan when the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) refused to accede to the opposition's demand that the agreement must be reviewed clause-by-clause rather than as a whole.

Nevertheless, the pact is expected to clear the legislature in an August special session as the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) holds a majority of over 60 percent of the seats.

According to the opposition, the public should have the final say on an agreement as important as the ECFA through referendum. However, its referendum proposal was thrown out by the Cabinet's Referendum Review Committee June 3 on the grounds of "a conflict between the reasoning and the question itself." The opposition followed that rejection with another referendum drive, which is currently being screened.

Another challenge comes from Article 11 of the ECFA, which stipulates that Beijing and Taipei must establish a cross-strait economic cooperation committee to handle negotiations, as well as the implementation and interpretation of the ECFA or disputes arising from it.

The opposition suspects that this will create a supra-governmental body without accountability, while the government has given its assurance that the committee will be monitored, since most of its members will come from different government agencies. To date, the committee members have not been named.

In addition to the ECFA's positive effect on Taiwan's economy, whether Taiwan will be able to pursue free trade agreements (FTAs) with its major trade partners is seen as one of the barometers of the deal, with the government insisting that such deals are vital to prevent Taiwan from being marginalized in the ongoing regional economic integration.

China has said publicly that it acknowledges Taiwan's wish to negotiate FTAs with its partners, but has refused to guarantee that it will not interfere with Taiwan's attempts to do so.

How the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to handle the trade pact has also ignited domestic debate. The government has pledged that since both parties agree that the ECFA was negotiated "under the spirit of the WTO" and that both Taiwan and China are WTO members, the full text of the deal in English will be submitted to the WTO's Committee on Regional Trade Agreement as a required notification.

The opposition has raised concerns about the translations for certain words in the English version, including the name that will be used to designate Taiwan. It has also expressed concern over the signatories of the agreement.

Taiwan joined the WTO in 2001 under the name "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, " but the WTO often refers Taiwan as "Chinese Taipei." Meanwhile, the ECFA was signed by the heads of the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, unofficial organizations set up by Taiwan and China, respectively, to handle cross-strait negotiations in the absence of official ties.

Taiwan and China are scheduled to hold further rounds of talks every six months to build on the ECFA through a "block-building" process. Both sides have agreed that second "early-harvest" lists could be included in such talks.

Under the June 29 agreement, the two sides will phase out tariffs on a number of items and services -- 539 on the Chinese side and 267 on Taiwan's -- by January 2013. With the extensive domestic debate and attention paid to the first "early-harvest" lists, further public discussion on future rounds of talks are likely to take center stage again. By Chris Wang CNA Staff Reporter ENDITEM/J

Iran retains Jones Cup basketball tourney championship

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) Iran beat Taiwan 92-82 Tuesday to go undefeated and retain the championship in the 2010 R. Williams Jones Cup basketball tournament, further solidifying its position as an Asian basketball powerhouse.

The West Asian country also won back-to-back champions in the 2007 and 2009 Asian Men's Basketball Championship, which was in the past traditionally dominated by China and South Korea.

Trailing at one point by as many as 14 points, Iran rallied from 11 points down at half-time and used a 54-33 run in the second half and its height advantage in the paint to turn the game around, finishing the single round robin men's competition with a perfect 6-0 record.

Lebanon beat the Philippines 73-62 and finished runner-up with five wins and one loss, while Japan came third with four wins and two losses after an 83-67 win over the Taiwan University All-Stars.

Taiwan's national team and the Taiwan University All-Stars finished the tournament, Taiwan's most popular annual international competition, 2-4 and 1-5, respectively.

The Philippines (3-3) and the Crocodiles from Australia (0-6) ranked fourth and seventh in the men's group.

South Korea's Sinsegae Coolcats beat the Taiwan women's national team 80-68 to win the women's competition a day earlier. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

U.S. position on bilateral FTA `more than ironic': U.S. think tank

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) It is important for the United States to support Taiwan's efforts to pursue free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries, but it is "more than ironic" that the U.S. has made clear it does not intend to sign a FTA with Taiwan, the chief executive of a U.S. think tank said Tuesday.

"It's more than ironic that we wouldn't do it ourselves," Randall Schriver, chief executive officer and president of the Project 2049 Institute, a non-profit research organization dedicated to the study of security trends in Asia, said at a press round-table in Taipei.

Schriver, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs during the George W. Bush administration, was in Taiwan to attend a two-day international conference organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust on the influence of a rising Chinese hegemony and challenges to the region.

He said he has been a long-time supporter of trade liberalization, which is why he also supported the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that China and Taiwan signed June 29, as well as a possible Taiwan-U.S. FTA.

However, the U.S. government has publicly stated that it does not intend to negotiate an FTA with Taiwan, because it believes Taiwan is not ready for a fully open market. Instead, the U.S. hopes to strengthen bilateral trade ties through the trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) process.

On the current U.S. administration's Taiwan policy, Schriver said he did not think President Barack Obama will "abandon the Taiwan Relations Act" as some people have suggested, or make any dramatic policy shifts, but he would like to see high-level official visits, a resumption of trade talks and forward movement in the arms sales program.

He also urged the U.S. to pay more attention to Asia. Despite talking about a "Pacific century, " he said, the U.S. has not engaged in the region enough to cope with the growing strength of China and the relative decline of U.S. influence in the region.

Asked about the possibility of China's removal of missiles targeting Taiwan, Schriver said Taiwan should still be careful even if China removes them, because the missiles could be easily redeployed very quickly.

More importantly, China has never renounced the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue, he went on, adding that if the missiles are removed, it should be accompanied by a statement from China about its policy on the use of force.

In terms of the future, Schriver said some senior Chinese officials and researchers he has spoken with have expressed concern over a possible return to power of the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2012.

Citing the example of U.S. policy on China and Taiwan, which over the years has been bi-partisan, Schriver said he hopes China "understands that in a two-party democracy, there will be a trade of power from time to time and they need to work with both sides."

On the issue of Taiwan's desire to purchase diesel electric submarines from the U.S., Schriver said the U.S. made the commitment in 2001 to help Taiwan acquire the submarines. However, the U.S. does not manufacture the submarines anymore, so it then proposed a indigenous production program with assistance from the U.S. and defense companies in other countries.

Given the obstacles to the submarine sales over the last decade, he said, a domestic program is the most likely way for the submarine project to proceed. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Iran outduels Lebanon to go 3-0 in Jones Cup basketball tourney

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Iran came from behind to beat Lebanon 79-71 Saturday in the battle of two undefeated teams in the 2010 R. William Jones Cup basketball tournament, while host Taiwan was handed its first defeat after a 94-85 loss to Japan.

Defending champion Iran is now 3-0 after the win as Lebanon and the Philippines are one step behind at 2-1 respectively in the seven-team single round-robin men's competition. Taiwan tied with Japan at 2-2.

Iranian forward Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami scored 30 points, including 17 in the first half, in the much-anticipated game between the defending Asian champion and its West Asian opponent Lebanon, which finished 4th in the last Asian Championship. The team's 2.10-meter center Asghar Kardoust Poustinsaraei added 14 points for Iran.

After see-sawing the first three quarters, Iran finally took advantage of the absence of Lebanese big man Jackson Vroman, who fouled out of the game with four minutes to go, in the last period during which it outscored Lebanon 26-7 to go from behind.

Vroman led Lebanon with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Japan did not panic when Taiwan opened the game aggressively and led by double-digits after five minutes. Led by point guard Yuta Tabuse and Takuya Kawamura, who had a team-high of 25 points, Japan toughened up its defense and answered with fastbreaks of its own to lead by three, 48-45, at the half and never looked back.

Taiwan University All-Stars beat Australia Crocodiles 88-77 for its first win. The Crocs suffered its fourth straight setback.

In the women's competition, South Korea edged Taiwan's national team 80-78 to go 3-0 in the preliminary round. Taiwan University All-Stars routed Kazakhstan 149-55.

South Korea will meet Kazakhstan and Taiwan will meet Taiwan University All-Stars in the semifinals.

The Jones Cup started in 1977 as an invitational tourney featuring national teams, club teams and university teams mainly from the Asian region. It was named after Renato William Jones, one of the founders and former secretary-general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Men's Standings:
Iran NT 3-0
Lebanon 2-1
Taiwan NT 2-1
Philippines NT 2-1
Japan NT 1-2
Taiwan University 1-2
Australian Crocs 0-4

Women's Standings:
Korea 3-0
Taiwan 2-1
Taiwan University 1-2
Kazakhstan 0-3

(By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Vietnam to develop youth baseball: coach

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Vietnam, where most children did not know what baseball was until two years ago, is keen to develop its youth baseball and use the sport as a tool to foster good relationships with other countries in the world, a Vietnamese youth baseball team's coach said Saturday.

"Baseball is new in Vietnam with only two years of history... but we hope to establish a senior national team to represent the country in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, " said Team Vietnam's American manager Thomas Treutler, at a press conference held on the sidelines of the Pony Baseball 2010 Asia-Pacific zone Bronco Tournament.

Pony Baseball is a U.S.-based, non-profit organization which is devoted to youth baseball and organizes tournaments for different age groups, including Pinto for players eight and-under, Mustang for players 10 and-under, Bronco for players 12 and-under, Pony for players 14 and-under, Colt for players 16 and-under and Palomino for players 19 and under.

Treutler, who has lived in soccer-crazy Vietnam for 18 years, said he started a weekly youth baseball program with his wife two years ago in Hanoi. Before long, children became interested in the sport and joined the program, which started out with six children and now has more than 70.

However, they had to practice on a soccer field because there was not a baseball field in Vietnam.

"And the field is rocky so the kids couldn't slide, " said Treutler, whose son Ben Nguyen Treutler is also on the team.

The trip to Taiwan, Treutler and the Vietnamese children's first, is like a dream come true, he said, adding that the children were amazed at the electric scoreboard, the dugout and the beautiful field after visiting the venue Youth Park Baseball Stadium Saturday.

"They could only see those things on the ESPN. Now they can play in a real ball park, " he said.

The Vietnamese government has shown its interest in supporting the development of baseball, said Treutler, who is now head of Pony Baseball Vietnam. His wife, who is Vietnamese, now heads the Vietnamese Baseball Association.

"We will try to build a baseball field in two years. And we will come back to this tournament every year. Hopefully, we will field a team for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, " he said.

With Taiwan's success in baseball and many direct flights between Taiwan and Hanoi, Taiwanese baseball coaches are welcomed to conduct clinics and provide help with Vietnam's development, Treutler said.

Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines are participating in the seven-team tournament, which will be held from July 18-22 in the Youth Park Baseball Stadium in Taipei. The winner of the tourney will represent the Asia-Pacific zone in the World Series from Aug. 5-12 in Monterey, California.

Treutler and a coach from the Philippines both observed that Taiwan and Japan are favorites to win the tournament. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Friday, July 16, 2010

Iran, Lebanon undefeated in Jones Cup basketball tourney

Taipei, July 16 (CNA) Defending champion Iran and Lebanon are the only undefeated teams left among seven entrants after three days in the William Jones Cup, Taiwan's most popular international hoop event.

Lebanon beat host Taiwan's national team 93-84 and Iran beat Japan 81-68 Friday to keep both West Asian teams ranked atop the standings in the single round robin men's tournament, which is taking place in Taipei from July 14-20.

Taiwan opened the game with a brilliant 29-18 first quarter but with only one player taller than 2 meters, it was eventually worn down by Lebanon's towering front line.

Lebanon hit the offensive boards and ignited a 23-6 run in the second half for a double-digit lead with just over four minutes to go in the game.

Almost half of Taiwan's national team players -- and four-fifths of its starting lineup -- are sitting out the tournament due to injuries to rehab for the upcoming Asian Games, which will be held in Guangzhou, China in November.

Sharp shooter Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami had 34 points for Iran in its hard-fought win. Japan's Takuya Kawamura had 25 points and Yuta Tabuse added 20.

Marcus Douthit, an American-born naturalized 2.11-meter center, had 17 points and 13 rebounds and led the Philippines to a 90-64 victory over the Townsville Crocodiles of Australia, which remained winless after three games.

Taiwan national team and Korea's Sinsegae Coolcat are leading the four-team women's competition, which will have a cross-over semifinal after a single round robin preliminary round.

The Jones Cup started in 1977 as an invitational tourney featuring national teams, club teams and university teams mainly from the Asian region. It was named after Renato William Jones, one of the founders and former secretary-general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Men's standings:
Iran 2-0
Lebanon 2-0
Taiwan 2-1
Philippines 2-1
Japan 1-2
Taiwan University All-Stars 0-2
Australia Crocodiles 0-3

Women's standings:
Taiwan 2-0
Korea 2-0
Taiwan University All-Stars 0-2
Kazakhstan 0-2

(By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NBA players to visit Taiwan for charity events

Taipei, July 14 (CNA) Chinese basketball star Yao Ming will be among a group of players from the National Basketball Association (NBA) who will visit Taiwan later this month for various charity events.

Yao, a 223-centimeter who was the first Chinese player in the NBA and currently plays for the Houston Rockets, is scheduled to arrive in Taipei for a July 28 charity game in Taipei Arena as part of his Yao Foundation Charity Tour.

Joining Yao, who will be coming to Taiwan for the first time since 2007, will be seven NBA players -- Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hasheem Thabeet of the Memphis Grizzlies, DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons, Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors and a pair of Yao's Houston teammates -- Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger, organizer Bros Sports Marketing announced.

Eight players from Taiwan's Super Basketball League, including Chen Hsin-an, Lin Chih-chieh and Tien Lei, and popular singer Jay Chou, will also be involved in the charity event.

Fourteen players from the Shanghai Sharks, a team owned by Yao in China's professional league, will play in the game as well, said Bros Sports spokesman Chen Han-chuan.

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will visit Taiwan separately from July 26-30 for an Amway-sponsored event to select six children aged 7-12 in a basketball training camp for a special prize.

The selected children will play two games with teams from China in August for a free trip to the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 Jones Cup basketball tourney to begin

Taipei, July 13 (CNA) Four local teams are among 11 men's and women's basketball teams competing in the 2010 R. William Jones Cup International Invitational Basketball Tournament, Taiwan's top international hoop event, from July 14-20 in Taipei.

Taiwan is fielding a national team and a university all-star team in both the men's and women's competitions in the tournament, which will be played in Sinjhuang Stadium, Taipei County, with the aim of providing young players with more experience in international competitions.

Iran will be defending its title in the men's group, which will be played in a single round robin. Yuta Tabuse, a 173-cm point guard who appeared in four games with the Phoenix Suns of the U.S. National Basketball Association as the first Japanese player in the league, is regarded as one of the most high-profile players in the tournament.

The other men's teams are the Townsville Crocodiles of Australia's National Basketball League, the Lebanon national team and the Philippines national team.

In addition to the two host women's teams, the Shinsegae Coolcats of the Women's Korean Basketball League and the Kazakhstan national team will compete in the women's competition. The four teams will play a cross-over semifinal after a single round robin preliminary round.

The Taiwanese men's national team is scheduled to meet the Townsville Crocodiles in its opening game Wednesday, while the women's national team will meet the Kazakhstan national team Thursday.

The Jones Cup started in 1977 as an invitational tourney with national teams, club teams and university teams mainly from the Asian region. It was named after Renato William Jones, one of the founders and former secretary-general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Saturday, July 10, 2010

No TIFA meeting proposed yet: AIT head

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) The United States hopes to resume trade talks with Taiwan as soon as possible after a setback over imports of U.S. beef, but no meeting has been proposed by either side yet, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director William Stanton said Saturday.

"We need to move forward, especially now that the ECFA is behind Taiwan, " Stanton said, referring to the economic cooperation framework agreement which Taiwan and China signed on June 29 that the government says will boost trade between the two countries.

Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung said Friday that Taiwan will continue to communicate with the U.S. on the row over beef imports through bilateral consultation channels and under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

The TIFA framework has provided an official channel for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues since the agreement was signed in September 1994.

The U.S. hopes to resume talks but there are many factors to take into account, Stanton told reporters on the sideline of a forum, adding that there's no plan to get together for a meeting until both sides are well prepared and have a clear idea about the agenda.

"Nobody has proposed a meeting yet, " he said. "I think everybody knows we have this dispute over beef imports with the amendment over the beef agreement. That obviously has set us back."

Taiwan's Legislature passed an amendment in January to the Act Governing Food Safety that bans imports of various beef products from countries with documented cases of mad cow disease in the past decade.

The amendment effectively bars U.S. ground beef, beef offal and other beef parts from Taiwan's market, in contravention of a bilateral beef trade protocol signed last October.

Because of the disagreement over U.S. beef, the TIFA negotiations scheduled to take place early this year in Taipei were delayed. However, Stanton stressed that the U.S. is not setting any preconditions to reopen the TIFA talks.

Meanwhile, Stanton reiterated the U.S. position that it has no intention of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan at present, saying that it's a different issue from the TIFA talks.

"As you noticed, Taiwan has been very careful with which products to put on the early harvest list... which agricultural products to be included, " he said, noting that agricultural commodities would inevitably be a difficult issue if the two sides were to negotiate an FTA.

The FTAs the U.S. has signed with other countries, such as South Korea and Australia, are always "very inclusive" and usually "include everything."

"So I'm not sure that we are at that stage yet, " he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Arms sales highlight U.S. foreign policy idealism: AIT head

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Washington's arms sales to Taiwan shows that the United States' foreign policy still upholds idealism over pragmatism, the top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan said in a speech Saturday.

"From the Machiavellian point of view, it's easy to say we're not selling arms anymore to Taiwan, " said William Stanton, director of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S. representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

But he said arms sales to Taiwan went beyond such geopolitical calculations and reflected the U.S.' continued efforts to strike a balance between idealism and pragmatism.

"In some people's point of view it's an issue of law (Taiwan Relations Act)... but it's also a commitment, as some would say it's 23 million people (who live) in a democracy" that the U.S. couldn't walk away from.

Stanton spoke of the commitment during a question and answer session after delivering a speech titled "The Paradox of the America" to around 300 local students at "Taipei Salon, " in an event organized by the Lung Ying-tai Cultural Foundation.

In the speech, Stanton highlighted several paradoxes and characteristics the U.S. has faced in its history and social development, such as diversity and individualism vs. collectivism and the "American Dream."

Stanton said he believes that the idea of the "American Dream, " which means one can achieve great things if he or she works hard, still prevails and holds Americans of different religions, races and cultures together in a time of chaos.

He also recognizes immigrants' contribution to the U.S. and their home countries after their return, pointing out that many Taiwanese, including Morris Chang, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Lin Hwai-min, founder of the renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh, made Taiwan proud after finding success in the U.S.

Having previously served in Pakistan, Lebanon, South Korea and Australia, the seasoned diplomat said that if there's one thing he has learned during his public service career, it would be that people tend to stress differences too much rather than looking at the "commonality we can share." (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Paul who? Dutch envoy still backs his country to win World Cup

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) The Netherlands' top representative in Taiwan is standing by his pick that his country will win the World Cup, bucking the choice of a "psychic" octopus that sees Spain taking the title in South Africa Monday morning Taiwan time.

Menno Goedhart, representative of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office (NTIO) , the main Dutch office in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, said he predicted a Netherlands-Spain final and picked his home country to win its first ever World Cup in an online pool ahead of the quadrennial tournament.

"It's an online pool participated in by tens of thousands of soccer fans that requires you to make picks of results of all the 64 games before the tournament, " Goedhart explained.

The Dutch representative said he was standing by his choice even though Paul the Octopus, an octopus at a German sea life center, has predicted the opposite.

Paul has gained fame by correctly predicting the result of all six matches played by Germany in this World Cup, and on Friday, it took Spain in the final to defeat the Netherlands and Germany to win the third place game against Uruguay.

Undeterred, Goedhart said the Dutch office will host a party in a Taipei bar early Monday morning and all NTIO employees and fans in the Dutch and Taiwanese community are encouraged to go and cheer for "The Oranje," the Netherlands' national color.

"You don't need to be a soccer fan to be crazy during the World Cup. Those who go to the party will be allowed to take Monday morning off," he said.

Goedhart, a dedicated soccer fan who supports the Dutch professional club Feyenoord, said he didn't watch the Netherlands-Uruguay semifinal, the only match played by his country that he has missed in this World Cup.

But his mother in Holland, he said, made sure to see it.

"After we beat Uruguay 3-2 and made the final, my mother, a 98-year-old PSV Eindhoven fan, was so excited, she went to the kitchen and started shouting, " he said.

The Uruguay game was the most watched television program ever in Dutch history and the whole country was jubilant with the win, he said.

Goedhart said he was most worried about the quarterfinal encounter against perennial soccer powerhouse Brazil, which the Dutch eventually won 2-1, because the Dutch knew from day one that they would likely meet Brazil in that game.

"But we have a strong team of course. They didn't lose for a long time and expect to at least make the second phase of 16 teams. We knew if we beat Brazil, there was a chance to go to the final, " he said.

The diplomat is hoping that this year's final will reverse his previous two World Cup finals heartbreaks, when the Netherlands lost to Germany 2-1 in 1974 and 3-1 to Argentina in extra time in 1978.

"Both times, we were this close to victory," he lamented.

Goedhart, who's retiring in August and has decided to make the southern city of Tainan his permanent home because of his love for Taiwan, said he played soccer until he was 30.

He started out as a midfielder and later became a defender because he was "stronger and fatter."

"When I was young I was not bad, quite frankly. But when I was in university I started drinking beer with friends and you know what happened after that," he said.

(By Chris Wang)


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Taiwan to meet Philippines in Davis Cup Zonal Group playoffs

Taipei, July 8 (CNA) Host Taiwan will meet the Philippines in the 2010 Davis Cup men's tennis tournament playoffs in the southern city of Kaohsiung Friday, in a match that will determine Taiwan's place in the Asia/Oceania Group.

Taiwan, which was whitewashed by Australia 5-0 in the previous round, will have to battle against either Uzbekistan or South Korea to avoid relegation to Group II if it loses to the Philippines in the best-of-five ties, which take place from July 9-11.

The matchups of five rubbers were decided after a draw Thursday. Taiwan' s 19-year-old Yang Tsung-hua, who is No. 295 in the latest Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world ranking, will take on No. 773 Treat Conrad Huery in the first singles.

In the second singles match, Chen Ti, ranked No. 423, will face No. 513 Cecil Mamiit, a 34-year-old veteran.

Yi Chu-huan and Yang will play Johnny Arcilla and Ruben Gonzalez Jr. in the doubles Saturday. In the Sunday's reverse singles, Yang is scheduled to meet Mamiit, while Chen will play against Huery.

Playing in front of a home crowd, Taiwan will be trying to pull back from its loss in all four previous meetings with the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippines said it will not be taking the challenge lightly.

"This will not be a walk in the park for us, but we're more than ready to fight for victory," Huery said.

Ho Kuo-lung, coach of the Taiwan team, said the tie will be a tough battle, although observers have said that Taiwan should have no problem winning given its players' higher world rankings.

Taiwan has never advanced to the World Group, the tournament's top tier in which 16 countries compete. Taiwan's best Davis Cup performances were in 2005, 2006 and 2009 when it reached the second round in Group 1 of the Asia/Oceania Zone. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Japan cautiously reviews Taiwan-China trade deal

Taipei, July 7 (CNA) The historic trade agreement that Taiwan and China signed late last month will give Taiwanese businesses an advantage in the Chinese market and force Japan to rethink its strategy in the East Asian region, according to Japanese newspapers and experts.

But some of them also warned of a hidden political agenda on China's part.

Under the economic framework coopertion agreement (ECFA), zero tariffs, deregulation and greater market access will give Taiwanese businessmen an edge in China, editorial writers in Japan said, urging their government to react before it's too late.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, which focuses on economic news, said in an editorial July 4 that the ECFA is the first free trade agreement (FTA) in Northeast Asia, and the pact will give Taiwanese businessmen an advantage over their competitors from Japan and South Korea in the Chinese market.

President Ma Ying-jeou has been trying to normalize a hostile cross-strait situation and has achieved a status "beyond normalization," it said.

In the wake of the ECFA, there is stronger push for South Korea to secure an economic partnership agreement with China over Japan, the newspaper wrote. Tokyo should also consider such a pact with Beijing, given the importance of the Chinese market, it said.

On July 1, Yomiuri Shimbun in its editorial warned Japan's petrochemical, electronics and autoparts industries that they could be affected negatively by the ECFA.

However, Japan's computer component makers could benefit because "computers produced in Taiwan use many components made in Japan, it said. If Taiwan products become more price-competitive in China and therefore sell better, Japanese parts makers could reap the windfall, the editorial said.

According to Asahi Shimbum on July 2, a broader Taiwan-China economic partnership will be a threat to Japanese firms in the global market. It said China sought to meet the expectations of the Taiwanese people and reassure them as part of its efforts to lay the groundwork for eventual unification.

Those policy measures apparently reflect Beijing's strategy to promote bilateral economic integration to set the stage for future political talks on unification, the paper said.

Three newspapers -- Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun -- said that China made more concessions than Taiwan in the deal. China and Taiwan will phase out tariffs on 539 and 267 items, respectively, by January 2013 and China has agreed not to ask Taiwan to open its labor market to Chinese workers, they noted.

Sankei Shimbun wrote June 25, the day the "early harvest" lists of items from both sides were released, that China's concessions in the ECFA were meant to give leverage to Ma, its preferred candidate, in Taiwan's 2012 presidential election.

According to Japanese government officials, Japan will closely watch whether more items will be added to the early harvest lists. It might be necessary to promote a free trade agreement among Japan, China and South Korea, and to resume talks on an economic partnership agreement with South Korea, they said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan said it is seeking to sign FTAs with its other major trade partners, including Japan, U.S. and the European Union.

Taiwan will liberalize its trade relations with Japan through a "block-building" approach which starts with investment protection and intellectual property rights protection, Nien Shinn-shyh, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Association of East Asian Relations, told reporters Tuesday.

Kenichi Ohmae, a Japanese corporate strategist, said June 22 in Taipei that the ECFA will be a "vitamin" for Taiwan's economy.

The ECFA, coupled with Taiwan's airlinks with China - 370 weekly round-trip flights -- and its lower corporate income tax of 17 percent will give it an advantage and attract more overseas companies, including Japanese ones, he said.

According Lo Fu-chen, a former Taiwan representative to Japan, some Japanese experts think that President Ma pushed hard for the deal and that it would benefit Taiwan in the first two to three years after its signing without having any immediate political implications.

"They assume that it (the deal) would be the beginning of economic unification with China which will lead to eventual political unification, " he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Taiwan national team departs for Dutch baseball invitational

Taipei, July 7 (CNA) Taiwan's national baseball team left for the Netherlands Wednesday to compete in the Haarlem Baseball Week, a biennial invitational tournament.

Highlighted by the addition of Hsiao Yi-chieh, a right-handed pitcher who's currently playing for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, the 24-member national team will participate in the tournament from July 9-18.

Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Venezuela are also in the six-team field. The top four teams will meet in cross-over semifinals after a single round robin preliminary round.

The unofficial tournament, which started in 1961, is usually used as a stage for Taiwan's amateur players to gain experience in international competitions. According to the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, this year's tourney will also be used to help prepare the national team for September's Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Taiwan won bronze in the previous Haarlem tournament in 2008, its best finish in eight appearances. The U.S. has dominated the invitational with 13 golds, seven silvers and nine bronzes, followed by Cuba's four golds. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Taiwan-Canada working holiday program launched

Taipei, July 7 (CNA) A total of 200 young Taiwanese were selected Wednesday as the first participants in a working holiday program between Canada and Taiwan.

"I had expected the applications would be overwhelming, " said Scott Fraser, Executive Director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) , after a draw to pick 200 names from a pool of 516 applicants.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that took effect July 1, the administrative process will be simplified for people aged 18-35 from Canada and Taiwan who wish to travel and work in each other's territory for up to one year. Each side has offered a quota of 200 of multiple entry visas in the first year of the program.

Toby Schwartz, CTOT's deputy director of general relations, encouraged the Taiwanese whose names were drawn to take advantage of the range of travel opportunities Canada offers.

"It's a big place with different specific characters in each area, such as the west coast and the east coast, " she said.

Schwartz said she hopes the Taiwanese who take part in the program would make friends with Canadians and "go back to study in Canada, taking short courses or learning either English or French."

The 200 candidates selected in the draw will be screened further and 20 standby names have been drawn in case of any of the candidates fail to meet the requirements, Schwartz said.

Canada was the fourth country to sign a working holiday agreement with Taiwan, while Taiwan was the 22nd country to do so with Canada.

"This is a great opportunity for Canadian and Taiwanese youth. Canadians can travel and work in Taiwan for up to a year, gaining valuable work and professional development experience. Taiwanese young people can do the same in Canada, " Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a press release earlier in the day.

Taiwan also has working holiday agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Japan and was the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region to make such an arrangement with Canada, after Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

In 2009, the number of Canadians who traveled abroad under the working holiday program was 19,000, while Canada hosted 53,000 youth from other countries.

With regard to Taiwan's hope of being included in Canada's visa waiver program, Fraser said the relevant authorities in her country looked at the technical aspects of the issue several months ago and found no problem, but a final decision has not yet been made.

"It would be a good thing if Taiwan is included, but there's no schedule yet at this point," she said. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Taiwan’s tennis hero sets higher ambitions after Wimbledon

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) After a historic victory in the Wimbledon Championship this week, Taiwanese tennis player Lu Yen-hsun said Saturday his next goal will be the upcoming U.S. Open and making it into the top 20 in world ranking.

"Now that I've made it into the top 50, my next goal is to make it into the world's top 20," Lu told reporters at the second press conference in the last 24 hours upon his return from London, where the tournament was held.

Lu, who was ranked 82nd in the world, shocked the tennis world when he defeated world No. 7 Andy Roddick of the United States during a match in the fourth round of the Wimbledon men's singles on Tuesday.

Lu became the first Taiwanese player ever and the first Asian since 1995 to make the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam tournament before losing to world No. 3 Novak Djokovic.

Despite his later loss to Djokovic, international and Taiwanese media have been showering him with attention since his defeat of Roddick.

As experienced as Lu is on the tennis court, he said he was“ somewhat in awe”of the media coverage. He was mobbed by journalists and fans at the airport Friday night. More than two dozen television cameras and around 100 reporters attended the Saturday press conference.

The“newest hero”of Taiwan, as a story on the official Wimbledon Web site wrote, described the win over Roddick as something that“ would probably be a career-changing victory for me because now I am convinced that I can compete with the best.”

The confidence-boosting victory, which is expected to raise his world ranking from No. 82 to the top 50, became a catalyst for Lu to set his eyes on the world's top 20. It is also why he has a higher expectation for the upcoming U.S. Open, which will take place from Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in New York.

“I’m always excited whenever I have a chance to meet the top players because it’s an opportunity to compete against the best,”Lu said, adding that he always has a mentality that“as long as you work hard, your dreams will come true one day.”

Under the guidance of German coach Dirk Hordoff, Lu hopes that he could add another 200 points in the summer to help him earn a U.S. Open seed in the men’s singles. He is also considering focusing on the singles competition in New York, rather than playing both singles and doubles, which some analysts said was too much a burden and played a role in his loss to Djokovic.

Off the court, Lu, 26, is planning a year-end wedding, a“ goal”he declined to elaborate on.

Lu said he was surprised to know that his wedding plan was published by the media, but he did plan to wed his longtime girlfriend, whose parents are both local politicians, in December.

Lu’s epic win sparked a tennis frenzy in the midst of the World Cup soccer fever and resulted in a heated public discussion and political debate in Taiwan over the lack of government support for elite local athletes like Lu, who has been having financial difficulties traveling between tournaments after turning professional in 2000.

Lu entered the men’s tennis tournament in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the only player without a coach and a trainer before posting one of the major wins in his career when he defeated British then-world top 10 Andy Murray in the first round.

Lu played down the“controversy”in the press conference Saturday, but acknowledged that he spends much of his time off-court looking for cheap flight tickets, hotels and calculated when was the best time to hire coaches and trainers“so I can save money.”

“I understand that professional athletes probably shouldn’t ask for government support. However, as much assistance as possible from the government would be appreciated... It’s not exactly money we’re talking about,”he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Friday, July 02, 2010

AIT celebrates U.S. Independence Day

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the United States representative office in Taiwan, celebrated the 234th birthday of the U.S. with a cocktail party Friday in Taipei.

"On July 4, 1776, our founding fathers came together and risked their lives for the ideals of democracy and freedom," said AIT Director William Stanton at the function. "Each year, Americans gather together in their hometowns with their friends, family and fellow citizens to celebrate the sacrifice of our founding fathers."

Stanton said while he was far away from his hometown of New Jersey, he couldn't think of a better place than Taiwan to celebrate U.S. Independence Day, as Taiwan and the U.S. "share similar goals."

"We are both democracies where the people cherish their freedom and have reason to be proud of all their accomplishments, " he told the guests, who included Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and Secretary-General of the National Security Council Hu Wei-jen.

In his remarks, Yang reiterated that both countries share the same values and traced his long friendship with the Stanton. Yang and Stanton both served as diplomatic representatives in Australia during the period 2003-2006.

Yang said that Stanton's knowledge of the local culture has contributed to the steady development of ties between Taiwan and the U.S.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet Jazz Combo entertained the guests at the party with selections of American music. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

U.S. group of murder victims' families argues against death penalty

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) State execution of convicted murderers does not guarantee peace of mind for the families of the victims, an international non-governmental organization said in Taipei Friday.

"Executing someone helps no one... Killing another human being does not undo that act of violence," said Robert Meeropol, vice-chair of the board of directors of the Murder Victims' Families For Human Rights (MVFHR).

Meeropol's parents were executed by the U.S. government in 1953 during the anti-Communism period which was later known as the McCarthy era.

A seven-member delegation from MVFHR, a U.S.-based organization of family members of victims of criminal murder, state execution and extra-judicial assassinations, is visiting Taiwan on the last leg of its Asian tour to advocate abolition of the death penalty.

The visit came nine weeks after Taiwan's execution of four prisoners April 30, ending a five-year moratorium on the death penalty and drawing criticism from various contries and international organizations such as the Amnesty International.

"Our hearts were heavy when we learned the news on April 30, " said MVFHR Executive Director Renny Cushing, whose mother witnessed her husband being shot in front of their house in Hampton, New Hampshire 22 years ago.

Cushing said he was opposed to the death penalty before his father's death and did not change his position after because he would have lost his values along with his father.

"I don't want to live in a world where the government kills people. And we shouldn't kill people in the name of the victims," he said.

While in Taiwan, the MVFHR is joining forces with the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) to share their experiences and explain their reasons for opposing the death penalty.

"We're not here to tell the families of victims whether or not to oppose the death penalty, " said Lin Hsin-yi, executive director of the TAEDP. "We're not in any position to speak for them, but we want to stress that a system should be in place to take care of these families."

MVFHR's Aba Gayle, whose 19-year-old daughter Catherine Blount was murdered in 1980, said she had lived through "eight years of darkness" and a period when all she wanted was revenge.

One night in 1992, Gayle said, she was driven by an inner voice to write a letter to Douglas Mickey, the convicted perpetrator, in which she said that although she had forgiven him, it did not mean he was innocent or blameless.

Gayle said that after she mailed the letter, she found inner peace because she "did not need anyone to be executed to be healed."

"I learned there's another way to live," she said.

The MVFHR delegation has asked to meet with Pai Ping-ping, a Taiwanese entertainer whose daughter was tortured and murdered in 1997 and who has since become an advocate of the death penalty.

"We hope that she can find peace within herself and get the most out of her daughter's death, " said Toshi Tazawa, a U.S. -based Japanese photographer who has visited Taiwan to photograph juvenile death row inmates and is also an MVFHR board member. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc