Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taiwan disinclined to incite controversy over Tiaoyutais: MAC

Taipei, Sept. 30 (CNA) The Republic of China claims full sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai Islands but has no intention of inciting controversy over the disputed islets amid rising tension between China and Japan over the issue, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said Thursday.

The latest incident in the longstanding dispute over the islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern tip in the East China Sea, was set off by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard vessels collided Sept. 7. The incident led to a diplomatic row between China and Japan, with the United States also involved.

"Taiwan's position is clear, in that we claim full sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais... as the Constitution and the territory of the Republic of China remain unchanged, " said MAC Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun in a press conference.

Liu said President Ma Ying-jeou has stated that Taiwan will not "incite unnecessary controversy" with Japan and China, both of which also claim sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais, known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

"We do not seek cooperation with other countries on the issue, nor do we define the issue as a dispute, " Liu said.

Liu did not respond to a reporter's question on whether Taiwan has been "omitted and marginalized" in the international dispute. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

SEF chief forecasts tougher cross-Taiwan Strait talks

Taipei, Sept. 30 (CNA) Taiwan's top cross-Taiwan Strait affairs negotiator urged European businessmen Thursday to take advantage of warming Taiwan-China ties and enhance their economic relations with Taiwan but warned of difficulties ahead in cross-strait talks.

Speaking at a luncheon organized by the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei with a theme titled "Trading with Taiwan after ECFA: Lessons from the EU's FTA with Korea, " Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said, however, that cross-strait negotiations on investment and trade in services will be difficult and there might not be enough time to complete agreements in these areas by the end of 2011.

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed June 29 to liberalize Taiwan-China trade relations will benefit Taiwanese businesses, as well as foreign businesses in Taiwan, with reduced tariffs and relaxed regulations, he said, adding that Taiwan and China are scheduled to begin negotiations on four follow-up agreements within six months.

However, agreement on the service sector is facing challenges from both sides of the strait, especially from the Chinese side, Chiang said. Agreement on investment is expected to be difficult as well, he continued, given that Taiwan allows only limited investment from China at present.

"With the complexity, combined with the political considerations of the upcoming presidential election campaign in the second part of next year, I'm not sure we can get those two agreements done by the end of next year, " he said.

"Agreements on investment protection and a mechanism for dispute settlements will be the easier ones (to negotiate), " he added.

Chiang also said that booming cross-strait tourism has contributed greatly to Taiwan's economy. As both sides continue to engage in economic talks, he said, increased direct flights, a streamlined visa application process and improved infrastructure in Taiwan will attract even more Chinese tourists in the future.

Guy Ledoux, head of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taipei, the EU's representative office in Taiwan, said on the same occasion that regardless of how Taiwan-China relations evolve, the European Union intends to boost its already "sound and thriving" economic ties with Taiwan, with various possibilities for trade enhancement.

Government procurement, implementation of international standards and investment will be the EU's three priorities in seeking closer cooperation with Taiwan, he said.

Ledoux also said that a large segment of EU-Taiwan trade will remain unaffected after the EU-South Korea free trade agreement is signed and takes effect, noting that 40 percent of Taiwan's exports to the EU consist of telecommunication and information technology products that already enjoy zero tariff treatment. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan, U.S. to resume suspended trade talks: AIT (update-1)

Taipei, Sept. 30 (CNA) The United States and Taiwan will resume suspended trade talks and negotiations could take place as early as this year, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and Taiwanese officials said Thursday.

"The two sides are working to finalize mutually agreeable dates for the meeting, and are targeting late 2010 or early 2011, " the AIT, the U.S. representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic ties, said in a press release, referring to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

The press release came after a U.S. delegation's two-day visit to Taiwan from Sept. 28-29.

Led by Claire Reade, U.S. assistant trade representative for China affairs, the delegation from the United States Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce and AIT Washington were in Taipei for meetings with Taiwanese counterparts to discuss economic issues, according to the AIT.

The TIFA framework has provided an official channel for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues since it was signed in September 1994, but the two sides have not held TIFA talks since 2007.

Bruce J.D. Linghu, director-general of the Department of North American Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) , confirmed the news at a press briefing later in the day.

"The U.S. side has touched upon a wide range of issues including agricultural products and intellectual property rights, " he said. "Both sides have narrowed their differences in certain areas."

The two sides have agreed to hold the next meeting of the TIFA Trade and Investment Council, which will be chaired on the U.S. side by Demetrios Marantis, deputy trade representative, and on the Taiwan side by Francis Liang, vice minister of economic affairs.

The new round of talks will be held in Taiwan, according to a press release made public Thursday by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The U.S. has said that a full-fledged free trade agreement with Taiwan is not possible at this time because it does not think Taiwan is fully prepared to open its market.

The U.S. and Taiwan have been trying to use a "building-block" format that relies on a series of specific deals under the TIFA framework, such as a bilateral investment agreement and an agreement on avoidance of double taxation, to enhance cooperation. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Taiwan, U.S. to resume suspended trade talks: AIT

Taipei, Sept. 30 (CNA) The United States and Taiwan will resume suspended trade talks and could begin as early as this year, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said in a press release Thursday.

Bruce J.D. Linghu, director-general of the Department of North American Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the news at a press briefing later in the day.

A delegation of officials from the office of the United States Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce and AIT Washington headquarters visited Taipei earlier this week for meetings with Taiwan officials to discuss a full range of economic issues, the AIT said.

The group talked about how to broaden and deepen the strong bilateral trade and economic relationship under the auspices of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the AIT -- the U.S. representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic ties -- said in the press release.

The TIFA framework has provided an official channel for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues since it was signed in September 1994, but the two sides have not held TIFA talks since 2007. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taiwan advances to FIBA Asia U18 basketball tourney semis

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Taiwan beat the Philippines 81-64 in the quarterfinal of the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men Wednesday in Sanaa, Yemen to advance to the tournament's semifinals for the first time in four years.

Taiwan, which will play either Japan or South Korea in the semifinals, will at least duplicate its fourth place finish in 2006 and have a chance to surpass its record in the biennial tourney -- silver medal finishes in 1972 and 1989.

Defensive-minded Taiwan limited the Philippines to 38 percent field goal percentage, including 1 for 12 behind the three-point line, and controlled the boards (46-33) for the victory. On the offensive end, Taiwan had five players scoring in double-figures as Hu Lung-mao paced the team with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Chen Ying-chun also contributing 13 points.

"I think the boys were nervous early on. But once we found our rhythm, there was no stopping us, " Taiwan head coach Huang Wan-lung was quoted as saying on the FIBA Asia website.

Taiwan closed out the third quarter with an 8-2 run before scoring the first six points in the fourth to put the game away, leading by 17 with five minutes remaining.

The top three teams in the tournament will represent Asia in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be played in Latvia from June 30 to July 10, 2011. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MOFA reiterates sovereignty over disputed Tiaoyutais

Taipei, Sept. 28 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Tuesday reiterated Taiwan's claim to sovereignty over the disputed Tiaoyutai islands amid rising tensions between China and Japan over the issue, and urged the involved parties to peacefully resolve the issue.

"We don't want to see any unilateral behavior that would worsen the dispute. The Republic of China (ROC) government urges all parties involved to set aside disputes and collaborate on the development of the region, " MOFA spokesman James Chang said at a press briefing.

Chang's comment came after China and Japan were reportedly planning to step up efforts to solidify their sovereignty claims over the islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeast tip in the East China Sea.

According to media reports, China is planning to send vessels to execute regular patrols and strengthen its presence around the Tiaoyutais, known as the Diaoyutais in China and the Senkakus in Japan.

Japan's Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima urged the Japanese government Monday to strengthen security in waters around the Tiaoyutais, saying they are part of the prefecture's territory and adding that he would like to inspect the uninhabited islets.

The longstanding dispute over the islands was set off by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard vessels collided on Sept. 7. The incident led to a diplomatic row between China and Japan, with the United States also involved.

Responding to a reporter, Chang denied that the ROC's claim was compromised by the international incident, saying that Taiwan's position has been firm on the issue and that the islands are "indisputable ROC territory."

Asked what concrete action Taiwan will take to "avoid being marginalized in multilateral discussion, " Chang said: "We have issued five statements and have held high-level inter-agency meetings since the incident. We have also been monitoring every development, including the remarks on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and military drills in the region."

Taiwan recognizes that the spirit of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region, but "to our knowledge, the U.S. does not take any position on the issue of sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai Islands, " he added.

After the Sept. 7 incident, Taiwan summoned Japan's top envoy, Tadashi Imai, on Sept. 13 to address the dispute. The MOFA said Sept. 14 that Taiwan "is not siding with China" on the issue after two Taiwanese activists abandoned their protest near the disputed islands when their action was thwarted by Japan's coast guard. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Taiwanese basketball junkie lives her dream in Europe

Nancy Liu has often woken up during the past six months not knowing where she was. All she knew was she was somewhere in Europe -- and that's exactly how she wanted it.

Liu is an uncommonly dedicated sports fan, even by basketball junkie standards. She quit her job and visited 33 European cities in in 63 days from March to May this year to watch professional basketball games in person.

"I love the swishing sound of a basketball going through the net. And I'm uncomfortable if I don't play basketball for two or three days, " said Liu, who started playing basketball in fifth grade when she attended an international school in Beijing, China.

Already familiar with the American basketball scene, including the professional National Basketball Association (NBA) and the college game, Liu said her passion for the sport took her to the other side of the Atlantic to explore an area she was less familiar with the game played.

Liu quit her job at an international trading company and started to map out her plan to visit as many European teams and leagues as possible.

Helped by the many friends she made while volunteering at various local sporting events, including the Jones Cup basketball tournament, the Kaohsiung World Games and the Taipei Deaflympics, Liu set up about 70 percent of her itinerary before departing on what she called, "A Basketball Dream -- Ballin' Europe."

The basketball-loving girl, who majored in applied chemistry at Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University, began her basketball pilgrimage at a Swiss professional league game in Geneva less than 24 hours after arriving there.

In the following two months, the journey took Liu to numerous cities in eight countries -- Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Greece.

In all, Liu attended 25 games and watched 50 teams play in various European domestic leagues as well as the Eurocup Finals and the Euroleague Final Four, both top-tier European basketball competitions.

Liu estimated that she slept an average of less than three hours a night during her stay in Europe and visited as many as three cities in one day.

After the two-month trip, she spent three months in Beijing to work as an intern at NBA China and returned to Taiwan for a day before resuming her travels.

This time she visited Turkey for the 2010 FIBA Men's World Championship and attended all of the tournament's games, while getting to see her favorite player -- Rudy Fernandez of Spain -- perform in person.

To save money during her European travels, Liu said she spent all but one night staying at friends' places, and ended up spending only around NT$200,000 (US$6,377) for the trip.

"Most of my budget was spent on transportation -- flight tickets, train tickets and bus fare, " Liu said. She also had to overcome "the unthinkable" in Europe, such as a French railway strike and the disruption of Euro air traffic by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland that left European skies bathed in inpenetrable ash.

Though basketball was at the center of her trip, Liu said it had even greater significance because she used every opportunity to let everyone know she's from Taiwan.

"This was my way of promoting Taiwan to the world, " she said.

Newspapers in Serbia and Greece gave extensive coverage to her ambitious trip, according to Liu. She was also interviewed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) during the World Championship.

Liu recalled that her parents expressed concerns about the trip when she first brought up the idea, but her father finally gave the go-ahead because "he didn't want me to miss the opportunity to realize my dream."

Her European trek has not brought her dream to an end. If anything it was only the beginning of loftier ambitions, including a return to Europe for the 2011 European Championship, which will be held in Lithuania next summer.

Liu's dream now extends beyond watching basketball games.

"I want to be involved in and initiate basketball-related nongovernment organization (NGO) projects which inspire children and the underprivileged through the sport, " said Liu, who described herself as being "broke" and is looking for a job to support her future plans.

"Basketball has been the inspiration to lift myself out of bed every morning since I was 13. I hope that the sport -- and my journey -- would be an inspiration for other people as well, " she said. By CNA Staff Reporter Chris Wang enditem/ls

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taiwan advances to Asian U18 basketball quarterfinals

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Taiwan beat Kazakhstan 79-61 in the second round of the FIBA Asia U18 Men's Championship at Sanaa, Yemen Monday to advance to the tournament's quarterfinal.

The team finished second-round play in the six-team Group E with a 3-2 record, good enough to clinch a spot in the final eight.

It will have a day off on Tuesday before taking on either China, the Philippines or Japan Wednesday in a knockout quarterfinal matchup (depending on the result of the final second round game later Monday between China and Japan) to vie for a berth in the semifinals.

"It doesn't matter who we play in the quarterfinals. What is important is that we qualified," Taiwan head coach Huang Wan-lung was quoted as saying by FIBA Asia's website.

Huang Po-wei had 19 points and Chen Ying-chun had 16 points for Taiwan, which shot 52 percent from the field. But it was Taiwan's defense that was the key, as it limited its opponent to 30 percent shooting from the field and forced 12 turnovers.

Regardless of what happens in the quarterfinal, Taiwan will finish better than it did two years ago in the biennial tournament. Taiwan ranked a disappointing ninth place in 2008 after finishing fourth in 2006. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Indonesian caretakers meet loved ones in Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Seven Indonesian caretakers on Saturday met relatives they had not seen for years, at an emotional reunion in Taipei.

The seven female caretakers, selected from more than 100 applicants to take part in the event organized by Radio Taiwan International to reward hard-working migrant workers, hugged and kissed their husbands and fathers with tears streaming down their faces.

The families were flown in Friday from Indonesia for a six-day trip, during which they will share rare private moments and visit places of interest such as the Taipei 101 tower, mosques and scenic spots in the Taipei area.

Sunday, 33, finally had a chance to give her husband Datas Henry Gulton a kiss, something she was unable to do since she left her home country for Taiwan at midnight two years ago.

An employer surnamed Chung told the 200-odd guests at the ceremony that his family's caretaker, 44-year-old Masrikin, knew almost everything about his 95-year-old mother-in-law, even more than he did. Chung said he was happy to see Masrikin finally have an opportunity to meet her husband Kademin again after eight years.

Muryati, 39, was praised for saving her employer's life when she took the 90-year-old woman to a hospital emergency room without waiting for an ambulance, which arrived late.

Muryati's employer was so determined to accept her into the family that the family stopped eating pork out of respect for her Muslim faith.

Despite the occasional negative report in the headlines about migrant workers abuse, the seven inspiring stories related at the ceremony Saturday said a lot about what is happening in most people's daily lives, said Lin San-quei, director-general of Taiwan's Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training under the Council of Labor Affairs.

One such story, which was reported earlier this year, was about a Taiwanese employer forcing Indonesian workers to eat pork.

At the event Saturday, Taiwanese employers took pictures of their employees on stage and told everyone how proud they were of their Indonesian employees.

"My compatriots left their homes to take care of Taiwanese employers -- I hope that the people of Taiwan will look after my fellow Indonesians," said Harmen Sembiring, the representative at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei.

Four members of the Indonesian Parliament and staff members of the Indonesia's Antara news agency and Indonesian public television also joined the six-day tour.

According to Harmen, there are 151,723 Indonesian workers in Taiwan, accounting for more than 40 percent of all migrant workers. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Taiwan lost to Korea in Asian U18 basketball tourney

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Taiwan trailed from start to finish in a 99-90 loss to South Korea in the first game of the second round Saturday in FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men held in Sanaa, Yemen.

The Taiwan team dug themselves a big hole in the first quarter when they were outscored by the Koreans 38-22. From that point on, all they could do was try to catch up but in the end failed in the attempt.

Chen Ying-chun led Taiwan with 19 points while Hu Lung-mao had 18. Lee Seounghyun led South Korea with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

"We were caught napping early. The early deficit proved a little too much," Taiwan head coach Huang Wan-lung was quoted by FIBA Asia Web site as saying.

Sixteen participating teams in the biennial tournament are pooled in groups of four in the preliminary round. The top three teams in each group advance to the second round, with two groups of six teams each.

Taiwan, which is now 1-2 in the second round, is scheduled to meet Lebanon Sunday. It ranked ninth in 2008 and finished fourth in 2006. (By Chris Wang) enditem

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cross-strait talks could follow U.S.-China example: scholar

Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) Future cross-Taiwan Strait talks should be institutionalized and could follow the example of the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) between the United States and China, a Chinese scholar said in Taipei Friday.

"Both sides should seize the opportunity and pre-emptively work out a road map for future talks following the signing of the economic cooperation framework agreement, " Sun Zhe, a professor at Beijing's Tsinghua University said in a seminar on the development of "post-ECFA" cross-strait relations. "The current U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue could serve as a good example."

The mechanism would provide a platform for China and Taiwan to continue their dialogue regardless of domestic political atmosphere and the ever-changing dynamics of international politics, he said.

Cross-strait relations have been at an all-time high since pro-unification President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008. That was not the case during 2000-2008, however, during which pro-independence Chen Shui-bian was president and China shut down almost all the negotiation channels with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

Citing the example of the SED, Sun said China and the U.S. never stop talking to each other within the framework despite occasional tensions. The establishment of such a platform would take bilateral exchanges beyond the current Kuomintang-Communist Party of China (CPC) platform in case the DPP comes back to power, he said.

Sun said there are still concerns over the future development of cross-strait relations, which have always been affected by international politics, especially the triangular relations between China, Taiwan and the U.S.

"A rising China is still gauging its relations with the U.S. Given Taiwan's strong ties with the U.S., cross-strait relations will be inevitably impacted," he said.

A stronger China also speaks louder in the international arena and has "fallen in love with drawing red lines," Sun said.

"But I don't think China should draw a red line in its relations with Taiwan," he added.

Scholars at the seminar agreed that China's view on Taiwan and its one-China principle has changed with time, but it will likely be the key in future political negotiations and talks on military confidence-building measures (CBMs) after extensive bilateral economic exchanges.

It will be important for both sides to decide how to interpret the "one-China principle" and explain the legal status of the Republic of China at that stage, Sun said.

Shaw Chong-hai, a political professor at Taipei's Culture University, said: "Beijing should be able to accept new ideas and mechanisms as long as they're not based on a 'country-to-country' principle."

He also called for China to replace its one-China principle with a more flexible description of the "integrity of sovereignty and territory."

Taiwan and China should set aside their arguments on sovereignty and view each other as "different governing powers" so that dialogue can continue, said Yang Kai-huang, a political scientist at Ming Chuan University. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Taiwan grabs first win in Asian U18 men's basketball

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) Taiwan routed Malaysia 96-47 for its first win in the 2010 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men Thursday in Sanaa, Yemen.

Rebounding from a loss in overtime against defending champion Iran the previous day, Taiwan locked down Malaysia with a strong defense, limiting opponents' field goals to 28 percent and jumping out in front with a 39-18 halftime lead.

"I am pleased about the way we played defense throughout, " said Taiwan head coach Huang Wan-lung after the match.

Eleven Taiwanese players played in the lopsided game as Huang tried to gave his bench more playing time, saying that he felt the team lost to Iran "because the bench lacked experience."

Chien Wei-ju scored a team high of 20 points, while Hu Lung-mao added 16 points, bringing Taiwan to one win and one loss in Group A of the competition.

Sixteen participating teams in the biennial tournament are pooled in groups of four in the preliminary round. The top three teams in each of the four groups will advance to the second round, where they will be divided into groups of six teams each.

Taiwan ranked ninth in 2008 and finished fourth in 2006. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Nobel prize winner lauds Taiwan's economic policy

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) A Nobel prize-winning economist from the United States praised Taiwan's policy for tackling the global financial crisis Thursday, saying it is the main reason the country has been recovering well in the post-crisis era.

Edward Prescott, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2004 and who now teaches at Arizona State University, said during the two-day International Economy Finance Forum in Taipei that Taiwan's gross domestic production (GDP) growth rate of 12.5 percent in the second quarter of this year was "impressive. "

There were a number of things Taiwan did right, he said, including cutting the corporate income tax rate from 25 percent to 17 percent, providing research and development tax credits to locally based enterprises and signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China, which will foster direct foreign investment.

However, Prescott said that the best indicator of the global economic situation is market hours, which means the hours worked per week or per month, rather than GDP, because "while GDP is only part of output and is revised in major ways as more data becomes available, market hours are monthly and are not revised."

Prescott argued that failure of the central government, not market failure, was the main reason for the most recent recession and for the Great Depression of the 1930s. To make the economy boom, he said, countries need to cut marginal tax rates, be open, control government spending and avoid catering to special interest groups as this can erect barriers to the use of better production processes.

The Nobel laureate also called for governments to eliminate tax on capital income. Prescott said that eliminating this tax would increase market value by increasing the share of capital owned by the private sector and increasing the stock of capital, which in turn increases wages and salaries.

The idea of the imposition of such a tax as an attempt to reduce the widening wealth gap in Taiwan has led to recent fierce debate.

Prescott, who met with President Ma Ying-jeou earlier in the day, was scheduled to attend further forums Friday to discuss investment in sustainable economic responsibility and the global economic opportunities and challenges for young people. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan, U.S. likely to resume TIFA talks soon: U.S. scholars

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States are likely to resume talks in the next few months on their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) after a hiatus of three years, Washington-based U.S. scholars said Thursday.

"It's likely that in the next few months we will see the resumption of the negotiations on the TIFA process, " said Bonnie Glaser, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a video conference organized by the American Cultural Center to discuss recent cross-Taiwan Strait developments.

The TIFA framework has provided an official channel for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues since it was signed in September 1994. However, the two sides have not held TIFA talks since 2007.

The TIFA process, as well as an extradition agreement and Taiwan's inclusion in the U.S. visa-waiver program, is on a "rich agenda" for both sides to work on, in addition to military and security issues, Glaser said.

Taiwan and the U.S. hope to conclude the extradition agreement "some time next year, " she added.

Glaser encouraged Taiwan to engage in talks with China, especially on possible military and political matters, with the confidence it has built up during the negotiation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) , which was signed in June to liberalize bilateral trade.

On the U.S. side, it should continue its arms sales to Taiwan, in light of the increasing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait, said Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.

However, not much is likely to be done in the U.S. at the moment in terms of free trade agreement talks or arm sales because its mid-term elections are approaching, he said.

Cheng said he is concerned that there has been so little discussion on how Taiwan's military capabilities line up against China's.

Responding to a question from the audience, the security expert said that the U.S. "never left Asia" but it is now refocusing on the region.

The U.S. commitment has been seen as a stabilizing force in the Asia Pacific region, he said, so that any reduction of American commitment would be probably viewed as "destabilizing." (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taiwanese-American pole-vaulter to represent Taiwan at Asian Games

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Taiwanese-American athlete Alec Hsu is expected to represent Taiwan in the pole vault competition at the upcoming Asian Games once he obtains a Taiwanese passport and citizenship, an official of the Chinese Taipei Athletics Association (CTAA) said Wednesday.

Hsu, 19, is currently a sophomore at Rice University in Houston, Texas and is on the school's track and field team. He contacted the association in July, expressing his interest in competing for Taiwan in Guangzhou, China in November, CTAA Secretary-General Wang Ching-cheng told CNA.

"At the time, I didn't know where this kid came from," Wang said. "I didn't know where he learned about our selection criteria -- I was totally surprised. "

However, the CTTA is happy that Hsu saw the selection criteria on the CTTA Website and is seeking an opportunity to represent his mother country, Wang said.

At 1.88-meters tall, Hsu has a good athletic build and a bright future, according to Wang.

Hsu's personal best of 5.22 meters in an outdoor setting is much better than the CTTA's criteria of 5.10 meters to qualify for the men's pole vault, but competitors will need to vault at least 5.40 meters to be in line for a bronze medal at the Asian Games, Wang said.

"Hsu will have a much better chance of winning a medal at the 2014 Asian Games, which will be held in Incheon, South Korea, " Wang said.

Nonetheless, the CTTA has asked Taiwan's representative office in Los Angeles to issue Hsu a passport as soon as possible, Wang said. After that, the association will help Hsu to obtain Taiwan citizenship.

Dual citizenship is allowed in Taiwan and in the United States.

Hsu is from Phoenix, Arizona, where he led Desert Vista High School to three straight Arizona State championships. He also competed in the 110-meter hurdle event in high school and university, Wang said. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Taiwan loses to Iran in Asian U18 men's basketball tournament

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Taiwan lost to defending champions Iran 56-67 in overtime in the opening game of the 2010 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men Wednesday in Sanaa, Yemen.

Taiwan was trailing by 15 points in the second quarter but bounced back to take a six-point lead in the last three minutes of the game, and at the end of regulation time, the score was tied 51-51, Taiwan head coach Huang Wan-lung said by telephone.

However, in overtime play, three of Taiwan's main players -- Hu Lung-mao, Hung Kang-chao and Chen Ying-chun -- all fouled out of the game, Huang said. The height advantage of the Iranian players proved a problem for the Taiwan players, and the game ended 67-56 in favor of Iran, he added.

Taiwan, which dropped to ninth place in 2008 after finishing fourth in 2006 in the biennial tournament, is scheduled to meet Malaysia Thursday and Sri Lanka Friday to complete the preliminary round.

The Taiwan team is seen likely to place second in the Group A, behind Iran.

In the preliminary round, the 16 participating teams are pooled in groups of four. The top three teams in each of the four groups will advance to the second round, where they will be divided into groups of six teams each.

In the second round, each team will carry forward the results against the other qualifying teams. The top four teams in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals, after which it becomes a knockout competition. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taiwan, Mongolia in charter flight talks: MOFA

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) Taiwan and Mongolia are contemplating setting up direct charter flights to promote bilateral tourism and trade relations, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Tuesday.

"Both sides are keen on developing closer exchanges and boosting tourism. Currently we are in talks on possible charter flights, which would benefit tourists from both sides if the deal goes through, " Lin Jinn-jong, director-general of the MOFA's Department of West Asian Affairs, said at a press briefing.

The direct charters would lower airfares between the two destinations to around US$500 from the current US$1,000, Lin said. At present, visitors must enter Mongolia via third countries, such as South Korea and China.

About 2,000 Taiwanese tourists visit Mongolia annually, Lin said. Charter flights would not only benefit tourists but also 400 Mongolian students in Taiwan.

According to Lin, although bilateral trade volume is small, the US$8.02 million in trade between Taiwan and Mongolia in the first half represented 207 percent growth compared to the first six months of 2009.

As of 2009, Taiwan is Mongolia's 15th largest trade partner and Taiwanese companies had invested US$19.65 million there.

Taiwan does not have official diplomatic ties with Mongolia, which declared independence in 1911, the year that the Qing Dynasty fell.

However, Lin said, the central Asian country is intent on improving its economy through tourism and attracting foreign investment from foreign countries, including Taiwan.

That was why the charter flight issue was raised during the 9th Taiwan-Mongolia Joint Economic Meeting, which was held in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on Sept. 9, he said.

More than 100 participants from Taiwan's Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association and its counterpart the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry attended the meeting, which will be held in Taiwan next year. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwanese entrepreneur named deputy head of Russian academy

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin has been named vice president of the Russian Academy of Engineering (RAE) , becoming the first individual from a non-former Soviet Union country to receive the honor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Yin, president of Taiwan's Ruentex Group, was named to the position and received the prestigious institute's "Engineering Courage Award" on Sept. 15, Lin Jinn-jong, director-general of MOFA's Department of West Asian Affairs, said at a press briefing.

The well-known entrepreneur and engineer, whose business interests include textiles, education, retailing, medical services and construction, became an RAE member in 2008 and received an Engineering Glory Award the same year.

The 60-year-old Yin is best known for introducing prefabricated construction to Taiwan in the mid-1990s, and he helped build Taipei 101, the world's tallest building from 2004-2010, using the method.

The RAE established a branch in Taiwan in June 2009. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwan announces Asian Games baseball roster without Kuo

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) Taiwan announced Tuesday its 24-man national baseball team roster for the upcoming Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, dashing hopes that Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Kuo Hong-chih would join the squad.

The major league team rejected the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association's request to release Kuo, but agreed to let infielder Hu Chin-lung play for the team, which will defend the gold medal it won in Doha, Qatar four years ago, Taiwan national team manager Yeh Chih-hsien said Tuesday in a press conference.

After a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with the national team selection committee, Yeh unveiled a final roster in which half of the members play in overseas leagues -- the United States minor league system and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.

Nine players came from the local Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) , including five from the Sinon Bulls, which won the pennant in the first half of the season. Only two amateurs were recruited.

"We try to recruit the best players available for the Asian Games without thinking too much about other tournaments, " Yeh said, referring to roster problems Taiwan could face in a pair of tournaments to be played in Taiwan before the Asian Games.

The 2010 Intercontinental Cup will be held in October, and a two-game series between the 2010 CPBL champion and the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) title team will take place Nov. 4-5. The Asian Games are scheduled for Nov. 13-19.

In addition to Kuo, notable omissions from the squad included two sluggers -- Lin Wei-chu of Japan's Hanshin Tigers and the La New Bears' Chen Chin-feng, Taiwan's core hitter in the past decade.

Yeh said Chen decided to sit out the tournament because he was experiencing the worst slump of his career, while Lin was left out because of his lower batting average against left-handed pitchers.

The team will try its best to defend the title, Yeh said, adding that "the infield defense needs a little tweak" before the tourney. Yeh noted that he could still make minor adjustments to the roster if players are injured.

The complete 24-man roster is as follows:

Pitchers (10) : Cheng Hung-wen (Chicago Cubs) , Yang Yao-shun (Softbank Hawks) , Huang Chih-lung (Yomiuri Giants) , Lin Yi-hao (Yomiuri Giants) , Hsu Ming-chieh (Seibu Lions) , Hsiao Yi-chieh (Hanshin Tigers), Yang Chien-fu (Sinon Bulls), Lin Ying-chieh (Sinon Bulls), Pan Wei-lun (Uni-President Lions), Chen Kuan-yu (Taiwan Beer)

Catchers (3): Chen Chun-shiou (Cleveland Indians), Kao Chih-kang (Uni-President Lions), Lin Kun-sheng (National Preparatory Team)

Infielders (7) : Hu Chin-lung (LA Dodgers) , Chen Yung-chi (Pittsburgh Pirates), Lee Pin-yen (Softbank Hawks) , Peng Cheng-min (Brother Elephants) , Lin Yi-chuan (Sinon Bulls) , Chang Tai-shan (Sinon Bulls), Lin Chih-sheng (La New Bears)

Outfielders (4) : Lin Che-hsuan (Boston Red Sox) , Lo Kuo-hui (Seattle Mariners) , Yang Tai-kang (Nippon-Ham Fighters) , Chang Chien-ming (Sinon Bulls) (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mosque shooting to impact Taiwan-India tourism: Indian office

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) The Sunday attack of a major New Delhi mosque that injured two Taiwanese men is expected to have a short-term impact on Taiwan-India tourism, an official at India's representative office in Taiwan said Monday.

"The incident will definitely have a negative impact on tourism for at least a short period of time. But our minds are with the victims of the unfortunate incident now. We are glad to know they're doing well, " said You Shiou-yun, Tourism and Culture Section chief at the India-Taipei Association, India's representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles on a tourist bus outside Delhi's Jama Masjid mosque Sunday morning, injuring Ke Chiang and Gu Tse-wei, cameramen with a TVBS television team that arrived in India Saturday to film a travel and cuisine show.

Ke was shot in the stomach and underwent a four-hour operation at Lok Nayak hospital where he remains under observation. Gu had a bullet graze his head. They were reported to be in stable condition.

The association was aware of the trip of the TV crew before their departure and immediately contacted the group to express its concerns after the shooting, You said.

The number of Taiwanese traveling to India has been growing steadily in recent years, although the figure dropped from a peak of almost 30,000 annually to around 24,000 in 2009 due to the global financial crisis, according to You.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is not expected to raise its travel alert level for India, which is currently at yellow level -- the second lowest on the ministry's four-scale system, asking travelers to take extra precautions and make a careful evaluation of the necessity of traveling to the destination. The shooting appeared to be an isolated incident, said Ger Baushuan, deputy secretary-general of the MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Travel alerts will not be elevated to orange unless the political situation in a country is considered unstable and poses a significant threat to tourists, Ger added.

The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to the Press Trust of India and other media outlets. According to reports from Indian portal Web site, Indian police suspected that disgruntled youths or a gang of local criminals, rather than a terrorist group, could be behind the incidents.

You also told Central News Agency that the government of India has not identified the gunmen.

Indian Federal Home Minister P. Chidambaram visited the two Taiwanese men in the hospital after the shooting. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday that a representative of the Indian government expressed regret for the incident and promised that Indian authorities would catch the assailants. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Activists tout anti-nuclear policy, renewable energy at forum

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) Nuclear power is not a good option for energy production, even as some advocate a "nuclear renaissance" to curb carbon emissions, anti-nuclear activists and scholars said at a forum Saturday.

Speaking on the first of the two-day No Nuke Asia Forum, Lee Heonseok, a representative of South Korea's Energy Justice Action, said that due to concerns over climate change, countries around the world are promoting carbon emission reduction and renewable energy.

Nuclear power, once seen as a threat to the environment, has resurfaced as a feasible option for some, including Japan and South Korea, because it does not generate high emission levels.

According to Lee, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced in 2008 that the country would increase nuclear power's share of total energy production in Korea to 59 percent by 2030 even though that share has steadily declined since its peak of 58 percent in the 1980s to 35 percent today.

Nuclear power, however, still presents a wide range of problems, argued Kao Cheng-yen, a professor of environmental engineering at National Taiwan University.

Citing Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, Kao said that the construction of a nuclear power plant was the most costly and time consuming of all power generating methods.

"The construction of (Taiwan's) Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has cost NT$273.7 billion (US$8.6 billion), " far exceeding the project's original budget of NT$169.7 billion, he said.

"A nuclear power plant carries its own security management risks and increases the risk of nuclear proliferation," he contended.

Kao also asserted that while pro-nuclear advocates say nuclear power does not release carbon dioxide and does not contribute to global warming, its radioactive waste creates many environmental and safety issues because it cannot be treated with existing technology.

In a poll conducted by Shih Hsin University last December, nearly 70 percent of Taiwan's population favors the notion of replacing nuclear power with renewable energy, a view echoed at the forum by Chance Wu, the research and development director of Hi-VAWT Technology Corp.

In a keynote speech examining Taiwan's alternative energy policy, Wu urged the government to step up efforts in the field.

The industrial sector, he said, consumes more than half of the energy in Taiwan, which depends on fossil fuels for more than 90 percent of its total energy supply and renewable energy for less than 0.5 percent of the total.

Biomass is Taiwan's first alternative energy priority, followed by wind and solar power, Wu said.

"But we still need to adjust the industrial structure and eliminate high energy-consuming industries, " he argued.

Taiwan's government has pledged to start implementing its renewable energy policy this year and plans to invest NT$45 billion (US$1.42 billion) over the next five years to boost the green energy industry, but there remains plenty of work to be done.

According to the fifth Climate Change Performance Index released Monday by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe last December, Taiwan ranked 47th among 57 countries, down from 32nd the year before. Taiwan's performance was rated as "poor" for both years. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Friday, September 17, 2010

U.S. congressman urges sale of F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) United States Congressman Edward Royce has urged his government to agree to sell F-16 C/D fighter jets to Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a Friday press release.

The Republican representative from the state of California said in remarks to Congress Sept. 14 that as "Taiwan faces one of the most complex and lethal military threats in the world... Moving forward with the F-16 sale would be an appropriate signal to Taiwan" and the region, according to the MOFA.

Citing the Pentagon's annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities released last month, Royce said the report found that "there have been no meaningful actions" on the Chinese side to reduce its military presence, despite the leaders on both sides having been promoting cross-Taiwan Strait engagement.

"If we want cross-strait detente to succeed, Taiwan will have to (operate) from a position of strength, " Royce, who sits on the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, told Congress.

Royce was among over 130 congressmen who wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama in May to ask his administration to "move immediately" on the fighter jet sales as the cross-strait military balance continues to shift in China's favor. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Civic group to appeal in New York for Taiwan's U.N. bid

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) A pro-Taiwan independence civic group embarked Friday on a weeklong journey to New York City -- site of the United Nations General Assembly -- to advocate the country's right to bid for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan.

"The annual trip to New York marks a continued effort by the people of Taiwan since 1979 to express their wish to be recognized by the U.N., " said Cheng Ing-erh, a Presbyterian pastor and the leader of the 22-member group, said at a press conference.

Cheng said the trip, organized by the Taiwan United Nations Alliance and backed by Taiwan's Presbyterian Church, also represents opposition to President Ma Ying-jeou's current U.N. policy.

On Sept. 2, Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Ssu-tsun told a press conference that Taiwan is maintaining its goal of "meaningful participation" in international organizations, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) , this year, the third year Taiwan has implemented the policy since Ma took office in 2008.

Shen said Taiwan will keep appealing for continued global support for its bids to join international organizations rather than raising tension by directly bidding for U.N. membership. The policy shift, according to Shen, has paid dividends, evidenced in the dramatically reduced tension across the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly in the past two years.

Taiwan has not been represented in the U.N. since 1971, when the Republic of China's seat was given to the People's Republic of China. Taiwan has tried unsuccessfully to have the world body consider the issue of its representation since 1993, but these efforts have always been blocked by Beijing.

The group is scheduled to stage a rally in New York, where the 65th U.N. General Assembly began Sept. 14, in which it will deliver speeches and distribute fliers to let more people understand the pro-independence group's position.

"The mission cannot be seen as a failure simply because Taiwan's U.N. bid has been denied over and over again, " said Yao Chia-wen, convener of the pro-independence Taiwan Nation Alliance, one of the protest group's supporting organizations.

The group is scheduled to return to Taiwan Sept. 25. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan wins world outdoor tug-of-war women's gold

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) A Taiwanese women's team won its first gold in international outdoor tug-of-war in the 500 kg open of the 2010 Tug of War World Championship Friday in Pretoria, South Africa, the Chinese Taipei Tug of War Association said in a press release that day.

The team of athletes from four high schools and universities added a gold to the silver medal it took in the 540 kg category the previous day by going undefeated in the 11-team round-robin competition before sweeping England 2: 0 in the semifinal and blanking Germany 2:0 in the final.

Following the open phase of the competition, the team still had an opportunity to collect more gold in the world championship phase, scheduled to begin Saturday.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's under-23 men's team narrowly missed the chance of standing on the podium after losing to host South Africa in the bronze medal game of the men's 600 kg category. The fourth place finish, however, ranked as Taiwan's best performance in men's outdoor competition history. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan carefully manages Dongshas amid sovereignty disputes

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) While news of a Taiwanese fishing boat being chased by Japanese patrol vessels near the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands made headlines recently, Taiwan plays the opposite role with regard to the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea.

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) is tasked with protecting the country's claims on the Dongsha Islands, located 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung and also known as the Pratas Islands. Taiwan has claimed sovereignty over the islands and occupied them since 1946.

The island group includes Dongsha Island, which is 2.8 kilometers long and 865 meters wide, the Dongsha Atoll, and two underwater banks. The atoll is round in shape with a diameter of 25 kilometers.

While the Tiaoyutai Islands and the Dongsha Islands are both disputed territories, issues associated with the two are different, Yu Sy-tue, a spokesman for Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, said Thursday during a press visit to the Dongsha Islands.

The Tiaoyutais are 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeast tip in the East China Sea and are under Japanese control, while control over islands in the South China Sea is more complicated.

Taiwan controls Dongsha Island, the largest island in the entire South China Sea, and Taiping Island, the largest island in the Spratlys.

The Dongsha Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Macclesfield Bank have been claimed by as many as six countries:
Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia.

In 2008, former President Chen Shui-bian visited the Spratlys to inaugurate an airstrip, sparking protest from the Philippines and Vietnam.

Taiwan, however, has been trying to tone down its military presence and reduce tensions by promoting peaceful development and ocean conservation in the region -- both key elements in a "Spratlys initiative" Chen proposed in 2008.

In the Dongsha Islands, the Coast Guard replaced the Marine corps in 2000, establishing a Dongsha Command Post under its Southern Coast Patrol Office. Dongsha Island is closed to the public except for academic research groups. The Dongsha Atoll National Park was established in 2007 as one of Taiwan's eight national parks.

Today, the Dongsha Command Post and park officials say their core missions are rescues and biodiversity conservation, although the Coast Guard is also in charge of keeping fishermen from China, Vietnam and Hong Kong from entering territorial waters around the islands.

There are 100-200 people stationed on the island, including staff of the Coast Guard and the national park service, said Sung Tse-yang, deputy commander of the Dongsha Command Post. He declined to give an exact number.

Coral reef restoration is the most important task for the national park, and researchers have been working to restore coral inside and outside the atoll since destruction caused by El Nino in 1998, the administration said.

More attention has been focused on the South China Sea since United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted in late July that the U.S. "has a national interest" in the region, said Ger Baushuan, deputy secretary-general of the Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

While the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands and the China-controlled Paracel Islands are relatively stable, the Spratlys are still the most controversial in the South China Sea, as Vietnam currently occupies 25 islands, Taiwan controls two and China, Malaysia and the Philippines have eight or nine each.

Ger said that he doesn't expect major conflict in the region in the near future and that Taiwan hopes all claimants will set aside disputes and collaborate on management and conservation.

"Our appeals remain the same, " he said. "We claim full sovereignty over the South China Sea and hope to resolve the issue through peaceful dialogue. The Taiwan government maintains channels for dialogues with all parties involved in the issue -- although they're mostly unofficial." (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Thursday, September 16, 2010

EU mulling measures against Taiwan over wine prices: envoy

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) The European Union's (EU's) top representative in Taiwan said that the EU was reviewing options against what it called a violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations by Taiwan after rice wine sold for about half its previous price in local shops on Thursday.

"We regret that not enough time was given to allow advance consultation with Taiwan's main trading partners about the change, which we think is not in conformity with Taiwan's obligations, " Guy Ledoux, head of the European Economic and Trade Office, said in an e-mail.

He was referring to the Legislative Yuan's passage of an amendment last month to reclassify rice wine as a cooking ingredient rather than an alcoholic drink.

As a cooking ingredient, the wine is taxed at a much lower rate than alcoholic beverages, enabling the red wine made by the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. to go on the market Thursday at NT$27 per 0.6 liter bottle, compared with the previous price of NT$50.

"We are completing our legal analysis of the tax reform in light of Taiwan's WTO obligations, " Ledoux added. "Once we have been able to evaluate the changes and their implications fully, we will take the matter up again with the authorities of Taiwan and review our options to see how best to take the matter forward."

The EU and the United States have expressed concern about the new classification, saying that the WTO does not accept the idea of different treatment for domestic and imported products.

The Taiwan government has said it will continue to communicate with the WTO, the U.S. and the EU about the issue.

(By Chris Wang)


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No comment on reported Taiwanese spies in Myanmar: MND

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) declined to comment Tuesday on a media report that Myanmar's junta has allowed Taiwanese spies to operate in the Southeast Asian country for nearly two decades.

"As usual, we will not comment on any media report related to intelligence, " MND spokesman Yu Sy-tue said of the story titled "Taiwanese Spies on Burmese Soil? " that was published Sept. 11 by Myanmar's The Irrawaddy online newspaper.

The website quoted unnamed sources saying that dozens of Taiwanese agents have been working in Myanmar with the regime's knowledge since the early 1990s.

The network was not uncovered until a colonel named Win Naing was arrested, The Irrawaddy reported, adding that Naing was later released under orders from the office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army) , which instructed officials to keep quiet about the case in exchange for Taiwanese information on China. The network is still active, it reported.

Taiwan severed diplomatic ties with Myanmar in 1950 and does not have a representative office there, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Henry Chen. However, he added, Taiwan does have trade relations with Myanmar.

According to the report, despite Myanmar's adherence to a "one China" policy, the junta has been trying to keep a distance from Beijing so that the country does not become too dependent on China.

It added that exchanges between Taiwan and Myanmar have been active in recent years, evidenced by a trade agreement signed in 2009. Bilateral trade totalled US$136.6 million in that year, according to statistics compiled by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan not siding with China on Tiaoyutai issue: MOFA

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) The Taiwan government said Tuesday it is not siding with China in an incident involving the collision of a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol vessels in the area of the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands on Sept. 7.

The presence of a boat carrying two Taiwanese activists in the area Monday was the result of "a spontaneous reaction by Taiwanese nationals" to make clear their opinion that Taiwan holds sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai Islands, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman James Chang said.

"The Taiwan government is responsible for protecting their safety, " Chang said at a press conference, in reference to Taiwan's decision Tuesday morning to dispatch 12 Coast Guard vessels to the area.

"Taiwan is not teaming up with China in the controversy," Chang said.

However, he said, the Taiwan government is against the action by Japan's Coast Guard to prevent the Taiwanese boat from further approaching the disputed islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeast tip in the East China Sea.

All activities by boats in the vicinity of the Tiaoyutais are under Taiwan's jurisdiction, Chang said, reiterating Taiwan's sovereignty over the islands.

Known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, the uninhabited islands are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan, but are controlled by Japan.

The latest dispute was set off by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard vessels collided on Sept. 7.

The fishing boat crew was questioned on suspicion of violating the fisheries law and on their alleged rejection of a request by the Japan Coast Guard to inspect the boat, according to international wire reports.

On Monday afternoon, two Taiwanese activists set off for the Tiaoyutais to show support for Taiwan's claim to the islands, but their action was thwarted Tuesday morning by Japan's Coast Guard.

Also on Monday, Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-hsun summoned Japan's top envoy to Taiwan Tadashi Imai and reiterated that Taiwan held sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais.

In response to reporters' questions, Chang said Shen's move had nothing to do with China, which also summoned the Japanese ambassador there to express concern over the detention of the fishing boat skipper.

In terms of the fishing rights in the Tiaoyutais, Chang said, Taiwan advocates "collaboration" between Taiwan and Japan through bilateral consultation.

He declined to answer a question on whether Taiwan had consulted with China on the latest Tiaoyutai dispute.

Chang said that Taiwan hopes the issue of fishing rights, which has been discussed in the last 16 fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan, will not jeopardize the ties between them, which have been growing since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The latest Tiaoyutai dispute spurred a protest in Taiwan by about 100 people, who gathered Tuesday in front of the Interchange Association, Japan's representative office in Taipei in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic relations. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tiaoyutais controversy heats up

Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) Activists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao said Saturday that they plan to protest to demand Taiwanese fishing rights around the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands amid a fresh confrontation between China and Japan over the group of islets.

Activists could set sail from a fishing port in northern Taiwan "within days" -- as early as Sunday -- for the islands, located 190 km east of Taiwan, said Huang Hsi-lin, executive director of the Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance, a local organization supporting Taiwan's sovereignty over the territory, on the sidelines of a forum on the Tiaoyutai issue.

Taiwan, China and Japan all claim sovereignty over the islands, known as the Diaoyutai in China and as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, which administers the island group. A Sept. 7 collision between a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol ships near the disputed area sparked a new wave of controversy and diplomatic tension between China and Japan.

Despite Taiwan's claim and support from President Ma Ying-jeou, who sent a congratulatory message to the forum, Huang said that it appears the Taiwanese government is trying to prevent activists from staging a protest.

"Security checks in several fishing ports have been tightened and boat owners have been discouraged by the authorities from chartering their boats to us, " he said, adding that the activists have been "forced to keep their plans private."

Huang said the protest aims to "highlight the fishing rights of Taiwanese fishermen in Tiaoyutai waters" rather than sovereignty, an issue which he said can only be resolved by official multilateral negotiations.

Given that some ports have been "basically sealed off, " along with heavy seas in the area, the protesters decided to announce the time and location of their departure only at the last minute, Huang said, adding that the protest could be canceled altogether if the government prohibits vessels from leaving port.

Seven members of Hong Kong's Diaoyu Protection Action Committee and activists from Macao plan to join their Taiwanese partners for the protest, said Miutak Chan, president of the committee.

Meanwhile, Chinese activists were scheduled to leave the southeastern Chinese port of Xiamen for the islands Sunday for a protest, according to Chan.

Activists at the forum called for Ma and Chinese President Hu Jintao to take a "stronger stance" against Japan over the disputed islands. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Friday, September 10, 2010

Brother Elephants reach milestone in Taiwanese pro baseball

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) The Brother Elephants beat the Sinon Bulls 3-2 Friday for its 1,000th win in team history, becoming the second team to achieve the milestone in Taiwan's professional baseball history.

The Elephants, one of only two Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) teams that have been part of the league since it was established in 1990, has now registered 1,000 wins, 963 losses and 75 draws in its 21-year history.

The Uni-President Lions, the other original member, was the first team to reach the 1,000-win mark in June 2009.

The Elephants blanked the Lions 4-0 Thursday to win its 999th game on Sept. 9, leaving it one win away from the 1,000-win milestone.

Arguably the most storied and popular team in the league, the Elephants suffered a devastating blow after losing almost 20 players and staff to a major game-fixing scandal that broke out last October. It involved more than 40 retired and active players and coaches.

Despite the roster overhaul, the Elephants lead the four-team league's second-half standings with a 26-18 record, after finishing the first-half standings in third place with a 25-33-2 mark.

Uni-President leads the four-team CPBL with seven championships, followed by Brother with six titles. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwan makes strides in World University Badminton Championship

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) Nine Taiwanese players stormed into the quarterfinal round of singles and doubles events Friday in the 2010 World University Badminton Championship in Taipei after Taiwan scored its best ever finish in the team event a day earlier.

Taiwanese players took three of the eight spots in the women's singles quarterfinals, two places in the men's doubles quarterfinals, and one spot each in the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles and men's singles in the competition that runs through Sunday.

Cheng Shao-chieh, Pai Hsiao-ma and Hung Shih-han all took two wins in straight sets Friday in the women's singles to reach the final eight.

Pai, the gold medalist in Taiwan's latest national tournament after sitting out for one and a half years due to injury, is scheduled to meet 19-year-old Asian Championship gold winner Li Xuerui of China in the quarterfinals.

Fang Chieh-min and Lee Sheng-mu, Taiwan's most competitive men's double pairs, defeated the Chinese pair of Huang Haitao and Wei Tingxiang to make the quarterfinals along with compatriots Chen Hung-lin and Lin Yu-lang.

Chen Hung-lin and Hsieh Pei-jung advanced to the mixed doubles quarterfinals while third-seeded Hsueh Hsuan-yi became Taiwan's lone men's singles quarterfinalist.

On Thursday, Taiwan lost to China 3-2 in a dramatic team final to take silver, its best finish in history in the team category. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Foreign health workers pay tribute to Taiwan counterparts

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) A group of foreign healthcare workers in Taiwan highly praised the country's medical service personnel, upon completion Friday of a training program for health professionals mostly from nations with diplomatic links to Taiwan.

The two-month program, now in its fifth year, provided training in the fields of medical laboratory science, biomedical engineering and hospital management for a record 41 participants from 17 countries.

Bakary Sanneh, a supervisor and laboratory scientist from Gambia's provincial Basse Major Health Center, said at the closing ceremony that he was impressed with the level of expertise, discipline and friendship that was shown by the Taiwanese professionals with whom he and the other group members worked.

"After five days of hard training, they would take us out on weekends to eat and to visit scenic spots, and they did so with smiles all the time," Sanneh said.

Sanneh's training was carried out at Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital in southern Taiwan, while the other participants were assigned to 18 other hospitals across the country.

With the help of his Taiwanese friends, Sanneh said, he was able to make contact with a company that sells secondhand medical laboratory equipment, which is exactly what Gambia needs.

In keeping with the "Sharing" theme of the 2010 Healthcare Personnel Training Program, Taiwan's medical professionals shared their experience with the participants, who in turn will pass on that knowledge when they return to their countries, said Ileana Joy Downs Gonzalez of Nicaragua.

The program is managed by the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF), the principal body that administers Taiwan's development projects abroad, and is geared toward improving human resources and medical services in the allied countries.

Since the launch of the program five years ago, it has trained 117 foreign healthcare workers, the ICDF said.

It has been held in collaboration with the International Healthcare Cooperation Strategic Alliance, a coalition of 37 hospitals. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Forum examines Taiwan's role in possible East Asia community

Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) The European Union (EU) can be used as reference for regional integration in East Asia, and as a member of such a community, Taiwan would be better positioned to have an influential global role, scholars said at an international forum in Taipei Wednesday.

A contemporary East Asia is likely to build a common framework with a rising China, and if Taiwan joins the regional community, its security will be guaranteed over the long term in a peaceful multilateral mechanism, said Ken Endo, a professor of International Politics at Japan's Hokkaido University.

Taiwan would also find itself "better positioned in a more peaceful international environment, equipped with more resources and channels to tame Beijing and to exert influence in the world, " Endo said.

The discussion among scholars from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan focused on "Regional Integration in East Asia: with the European historical experience as a reference point."

The forum, organized jointly by Hokkaido University and the thinktank Taiwan Brain Trust, examined the idea of an East Asian community (EAC), which was promoted by Japan's former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama during the country's 2009 general election campaign.

Hatoyama proposed a trade and security bloc comprising 16 member countries of the East Asia Summit, including Japan, Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.

In a keynote speech at the forum, Endo challenged a number of conventional views, including the idea the EU's supranational model would alienate or bypass Taiwan as it favors and is based on the rapprochement between Tokyo and Beijing, and Taiwan's sovereign rights will be compromised.

Citing the EU as an example, Endo said that inclusion in an EAC would actually enhance Taiwan's sovereignty, although Taiwan's legal status is always subject to dispute and Taiwan would probably have to apply for EAC membership under the name Chinese Taipei.

Like EU, the EAC will collaborate with the United States and will not be a bloc to offset the U.S.' influence, he said, adding that this would serve Taiwan's interest because its security heavily depends on the U.S.

But some of the other scholars said the EU model is not appropriate for implementation in East Asia.

Historical disputes between East Asian countries still run deep, which makes it extremely difficult to achieve regional integration, said Ohn Daewon, associate dean of the Graduate School of International and Area Studies at South Korea's Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Wu Chih-chung, Secretary-General of Taiwan's European Union Study Association, and Wang Szu-wei, an assistant professor of European studies at Nanhua University, both agreed that, unlike European countries, East Asian countries do not share the same values, religious rights or political systems and it will therefore be very difficult to establish a regional bloc.

However, "we can at least try to learn from the spirit of EU member states and their strong political will to create a better future for their children, " Wu said. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Taiwan helping diplomatic allies with ICT expertise

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) Taiwan is helping its Central American and Caribbean allies using its best-known expertise -- information communication technology (ICT) -- with the goal of boosting their e-commerce economies, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Tuesday.

The National ICT Center of Belize, which officially opened Aug. 27 in Belmopan, Belize, marked Taiwan's latest effort in helping its four Caribbean allies promote "information societies, " said Valentino Ji Zen Tang, deputy secretary-general of the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF).

The ICDF is the principal body overseeing Taiwan's cooperative development programs abroad.

The ICT technical cooperation project was launched in 2005 as part of a three-phase initiative to reduce the "digital divide, " develop systems of e-government and develop e-commerce economy, Tang said.

The construction began in May 2009 following a groundbreaking ceremony attended by both President Ma Ying-jeou and Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

In return, Tang said, the projects in Central America and the Caribbean will bring business opportunities for Taiwan's hardware and software industries.

Design concepts for the centers were eco-friendly, he said, adding that the ICT center in Saint Kitts and Nevis operates by solar energy.

In Central America, Taiwan has been helping Guatemala develop an e-commerce website that integrates tourism information, online booking and reservations, and an online payment mechanism.

"The project aims to help Guatemala, which arguably attracts the most tourists with the richest tourism resources in Central America, to boost its local economy as its tourism industry will be able to receive direct payments rather than remittances from brokers in North America," Tang said.

Taiwan is also planning to duplicate its success in the community empowerment program and One Town One Product (OTOP) program on foreign soil to help less developed areas in its Central American allies stimulate their economies, Tang said.

Taiwan, which has previously been accused of "checkbook diplomacy, " is attempting a more pragmatic approach, according to the MOFA. The country's projects in Central America and the Caribbean serve as an example of the new policy, the ministry said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Monday, September 06, 2010

Culture up next on Taiwan-China exchange agenda

Taipei, Sept. 6 (CNA) Officials from Taiwan and China have recognized culture as the next area for the two sides to focus on, now that a historic trade agreement has been signed earlier this year, officials said Monday.

At the first ever Cross-Strait Cultural Forum, which gathered more than 130 cultural officials and personnel from both sides of the Taiwan Strait in Taipei Monday, officials agreed that Chinese culture is a basis for exchanges between the two sides.

"Chinese culture is the 'greatest denominator' in cross-strait relations, given that it's not as sensitive and both sides do share similar culture, " Liu Chao-shiuan, president of the National Culture Association and Taiwan's former premier, said in the opening ceremony.

Liu said Taiwanese people are proud of their preservation of traditional Chinese culture, as well as their Taiwanese culture, which has been known for its diversity and mixed influences from Japan, Western countries, and more recently, Southeast Asian countries.

Liu told the one-day forum that Taiwan would gladly share its distinctive culture with mainland Chinese people.

Chinese Minister of Culture Cai Wu, who is leading a delegation of more than 40 officials for a visit here from Sept. 2-8, urged Taiwan and China to work together to "create a positive atmosphere for the signing of a culture agreement."

He is only the second cabinet-level Chinese official to visit Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council.

Quoting Chinese President Hu Jintao, Cai said that "no misunderstanding between both sides of the strait is irremovable" and Taiwan and China should "deepen cultural exchange as soon as possible, after the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (the trade agreement) in June."

He also offered a four-point plan from the Chinese side which includes the institutionalization of bilateral cultural exchanges, collaboration on development and promotion of Chinese culture, establishment of a platform for further exchanges, and strengthening cooperation between Taiwan and China's creative industries.

The appeal echoed Hu's six-point proposition to Taiwan, which he announced in his public address on Dec. 31, 2008. They included "stressing common cultural links between the both sides."

While analysts believe China intends to push Taiwan to discuss political matters after the signing of the trade deal, which aims to liberalize trade, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has stated that no political talks will take place during his current term or a possible second term.

So far, China has instead focused on cultural exchanges on its cross-strait agenda. Several cross-strait cultural creative exhibitions and seminars have been held in China, including the first-ever joint exhibition by the two sides national museums in 2009, and another upcoming joint exhibition by the museums.

Emile Sheng, Minister of Taiwan's Council for Cultural Affairs, acknowledged that "unlike politics most of the time, culture would not be a 'zero-sum game'" and suggested that Taiwan and China should establish official cultural offices on each other's territory.

However, Sheng pointed out that Taiwanese culture has developed over the years as "Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics" and "certain values should not be forced upon others."

He added that the two sides' governments have different approaches toward cultural development, with Taiwan's government viewing itself as the supporting cast and helping hands of cultural creative industries while its Chinese counterpart takes a front-seat role in cultural development.

Sheng told the media after the opening ceremony that there is no timetable on setting up official cultural offices and negotiations of a culture agreement, because bilateral culture exchanges take time.

(By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Former basketball star urges athletes to prepare for life after sports

Richard Chang no longer plays basketball for a living, but he carries his hoop memories with him everywhere -- on an iPhone.

For the general manager of the Costco Taiwan, one of the biggest wholesale clubs in Taiwan, the photos and video clips stored on his smartphone remind him of the earlier part of his life when he played college basketball in the United States, represented Taiwan in international competitions and became a "legend" in local hoop history.

In a recent interview with the CNA, Chang said his cross-Pacific experience was why he was able to relate to the success of Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese-American player to sign a contract with a ball club in the U.S. professional league National Basketball Association (NBA).

"Jeremy Lin serves as a good role model for Taiwanese athletes, " Chang said of the Harvard graduate of Taiwanese descent who signed with the NBA's Golden States Warriors in July and became the first Harvard basketball player to make it to the NBA in 57 years.

Chang's experience was also why he encourages local players to strive for their best on the basketball courts while at the same time make plans for their lives off the courts.

Chang said the inspiration of Lin lies not only in the fact that he made the league with a height of 190 centimeters - considered relatively short by NBA standards - but that he has been able to successfully balance his academics and basketball career.

"Eight out of 10 Taiwanese players have no goals in life. Playing basketball is all they know and all they do," said Chang, who played college basketball for the University of California at Berkeley in the mid 1980's.

"Coupled with local basketball’s lack of management and commercial success, it’s not surprising that most Taiwanese parents do not want their children to play basketball."

Chang said he never thought about playing in the NBA when he was young, because "times were different back then."

He was invited to play for Taiwan's national team in the annual Jones Cup invitational tournament in 1985 and did well, helping the team to victories over Japan and South Korea and leaving local fans with a strong impression of his "power play" style of American basketball.

Soon, Chang found himself playing for the McDonald's team in the local league. Being able to play ball and get paid "was pretty cool for me at the time, " he said, adding that he also had a day job working at a trading company.

After a little more than two years, Chang felt that something was wrong. With the lack of competition in the league which was going nowhere, he learned that playing basketball "was not fun anymore."

Chang decided that his basketball career was over at age 25 and returned to the U.S. to look for work. He was sent to work in Southeast Asia by an American company before coming back to Taiwan to establish Costco Taiwan in 1995. The discount megastore now has six branches across the country.

For Taiwanese athletes, "a bad goal is better than no goals because at least you can work toward a certain direction, " Chang said.

Chang added that he has hired a lot of former athletes at Costco because he wanted to give them an opportunity to excel and athletes are often better at persevering than others are.

Playing sports and running a megastore might seem like completely different jobs, but Chang said there are many lessons in sports that one can apply to other fields, including business management, perseverance, time management, integrity, teamwork, and the belief that "practice makes perfect."

Sports management is also similar to business management in a lot of ways, Chang said. To vie for modern day consumers' "entertainment dollars, " people who run sports leagues are advised to have a "consumer first" mentality and produce the "best product, " which means the best sports competition and consumer service.

"You have to try to manage your sports like managing a brand, " he said.

The 2.0-meter tall executive from Huntington Beach, California also urged Taiwanese children and athletes against viewing basketball stars Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant as their role models.

"Let's face it, you're never going to be the next Jordan or Bryant because they are 'one in a million' type of athletes. But if you work hard, you can be a successful accountant or surgeon like your neighbors. That is a more realistic goal, " he explained.

Chang lamented that the sports scene in Taiwan remained unchanged after all these years as sports associations and ball clubs "had not done anything" to improve sports development to benefit athletes, especially professional ones.

As a result, most unprepared athletes can only find work as physical education teachers or coaches when they retire.

"But do we need so many coaches and PE teachers? " Chang questioned. By CNA Staff Reporter Chris Wang Photo No. 48 enditem/cs

Friday, September 03, 2010

Forum discusses ECFA, Taiwan's priorities for economic integration

Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) Taiwan is focusing on Asian regional economic integration after its historic trade agreement with China, panelists in a forum agreed Friday, but they had different opinions on Taiwan's priorities in the process.

Taiwan is able to leverage on the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), which was signed in June to liberalize cross-Taiwan Strait trade ties with its largest trade partner, and prevent the country from being marginalized in Asia's economic integration, said Francis Liang, deputy minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

"This is the first step, but we know that it is not enough, " he said at a forum co-organized by the ministry and the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) with a theme of Taiwan's role in regional economic integration.

Taiwan is hoping that it will be able to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with other trade partners after it liberalizes trade relations with China. It received a boost of confidence when Singapore announced last month that it would study the feasibility of signing a trade pact with Taiwan.

Southeast Asia should be the first region Taiwan sets its sights on after the ECFA, said Yang Yung-ming, a professor at National Taiwan University and former consultant of the National Security Council, adding that Taiwan should seek to strengthen its relations with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The ASEAN is Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner after China, the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU).

With stalls in the WTO's Doha talks, which tried to establish a multilateral free-trade mechanism, countries have been looking to establish a free trade system bilaterally and regionally, Yang said.

The Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and the East Asia Summit, a forum held annually by leaders of 16 countries in the East Asian region, are not likely to be the solution because there are too many differences between member states in terms of political systems, religions and the size of their economies, he said.

Despite a Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research study concluding that a Taiwan-Japan FTA would benefit Taiwan the most, a lot of factors will have to be taken into account in FTA negotiations, including social factors, political situations and the impact on local industries, Yang said.

That appears to make the ASEAN market a realistic goal for Taiwan as the next target of regional economic integration, he added.

Yang's remarks reflected a similar mentality to Taiwan's government, which has stated that Southeastern Asian countries will be at the top of its FTA-seeking agenda.

Many local businesspeople, however, still view the U.S. and the EU as the preferred targets in the "FTA drive" because of the large trade volumes, said Rock Hsu, CNFI vice chairman and chairman of Kinpo Group, one of the largest electronics groups in Taiwan. Most Chinese products end up selling to the American and European markets, he noted.

Hsu also urged the government to lay out a vision and long-term plans so local industries will have a clearer view of the future.

"Do we want to be a 'Free Trade Island' in the future? If the answer is yes, what preparation should we be doing to achieve that goal?" he said.

Panelists in the forum praised the ECFA, with Leslie Koo, chairman of Taiwan Cement Co., saying that the deal "has helped Taiwan to regain its economic vitality and momentum and has opened a window of opportunity for a prosperous future."

"We have to grab the opportunity because it will be gone in three to five years," Koo said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Taiwan reiterates goal of joining U.N. organizations

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) Taiwan reiterated Thursday that it is aiming to achieve "meaningful participation" in international organizations and it appealed for continued global support for its bid to join two such organizations, two weeks ahead of the United Nations' annual General Assembly.

Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Ssu-tsun said at a news conference that the Taiwan government's strategy remains steady as it seeks to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Taiwan has secured the support of various countries and organizations since last year, when the government listed entry to the UNFCCC and ICAO among its goals, he said.

International support for Taiwan's efforts in this direction has come from the European Parliament, the Australian Parliament, the United States Senate and 19 representatives of the U.S. Congress, he said.

Taiwan will also ask its diplomatic allies to state its case in the 65th session of the U.N. General Assembly, which is scheduled to open Sept. 14 in New York City and at the 37th ICAO Assembly which will be held in Montreal, Canada from Sept. 28-Oct. 8, Shen said.

The allies will also make a similar effort at the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will be held from Sept. 20-22, and the at ICAO Assembly, he said. An appeal will be made for Taiwan to be included in these bodies as part of the global cooperative effort on various issues, he added.

With respect to the 16th UNFCCC Conference of Parties to be held in Cancun, Mexico from Nov. 29-Dec. 10, Shen said, the ministry is still studying a proposal for that bid and will make an announcement at a later date.

Shen did not answer a question on whether Taiwan has a timetable for its entry to the UNFCCC and whether China has been putting up any roadblocks.

Taiwan has not been represented in the U.N. since 1971, when the Republic of China's seat was given to the People's Republic of China. Taiwan has tried unsuccessfully to have the world body consider the issue of its representation since 1993, but its efforts have been blocked by Beijing, which claims that Taiwan is part of China.

During the UNFCCC Conference in the Danish capital of Copenhagen last December, a China official voiced opposition to Taiwan's inclusion in the organization, citing Beijing's "one China principle."

He said that the initiatives by some nations in favor of Taiwan's bid to join the UNFCCC as an observer had "hurt the feelings of the 1.3 billion Chinese people."

However, since then, tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased, particularly after the two sides signed a historic trade agreement in June -- a move that was welcomed by the international community.

Last month, Singapore and Taiwan jointly announced that they were studying the feasibility of a free trade agreement, which signaled a willingness on China's part to allow Taiwan more international space.

Shen said that in the wake of the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement, he thinks China has a better understanding of Taiwan's position. Nonetheless, Taiwan will seek to win as much international support as possible before heading into the next phase, he said.

The Taiwan government said last September that the UNFCCC and the ICAO are the first two international organizations it will seek to join and that it has a three-phase plan toward that goal.

Shen did not elaborate on Taiwan's timetable or details of its phased strategy, saying only that it will be a continuing effort and that the foreign ministry will implement its plans based on the situation as it develops. (By Chris Wang) enditem /pc

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Former high school MVP No. 1 in Taiwan basketball draft

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) Nineteen-year-old forward Sang Yi-ching was in the limelight again Wednesday when he was selected by Bank of Taiwan as the No. 1 pick in the annual draft for Taiwan's top basketball league, 18 months after winning Most Valuable Player as a high school senior.

"Today is an important day in my basketball career, but I know I have a lot to learn," Sang told the media after the 2010 Draft of the Super Basketball League (SBL), Taiwan's seven-team semi-professional league.

Sang, who led Song-shan High School to win the 2009 Taiwan men's high school championships and is currently a sophomore at National Taiwan Normal University, was joined by 10 others out of 23 total applicants who heard their names called by team representatives.

According to league regulations, university students must choose between playing exclusively in the university league or the SBL, which means Sang will not be able to play for Bank of Taiwan -- which finished last season ranked at the bottom -- before 2013 if he stays in school.

He said, however, that practicing with professional players will be a valuable experience and help him make the transition from center to small forward.

"I grew another two centimeters after high school, but I'm still too small to play as a center at the professional level, " said Sang, who is 1.95-meters tall and listed Lebron James, who plays for the Miami Heat in the U.S. National Basketball Association, as his favorite player.

Sang said he was very surprised about his No. 1 selection, which was expected to go to Taiwan national team member Chou Po-chen. Chou, a 1.98-meter forward who also came from Song-shan High School, was picked second by Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor, with 2.02-meter Lee Te-wei picked third by Taiwan Mobile.

Defending champion Yulon Luxgen picked up two young players -- 2.05-meter center Liu Yuan-kai and guard Chen Che-yu.

Under regulations reached between Taiwan's university athletic governing body and the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, only two of the 11 draftees will be able to play in the SBL next season.

The 2010-11 season, which is the league's eighth, is scheduled to open Dec. 25. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc