Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cuba wins 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tourney in Taiwan

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) Cuba defeated the Netherlands 4-1 in Taichung on Sunday to win its third straight Intercontinental Cup baseball title and its 11th since the tournament began in 1973.

The Caribbean country showed why it is considered to be one of the best baseball countries in the world, going undefeated in eight games in the tourney.

The win, however, did not come without some drama for the defending champion, which seemed to have little to worry about with a 4-0 lead entering the top of the ninth inning.

The Dutch hitters, who had only produced two hits in eight innings against Cuban starter Miguel Martinez, punished closer Yadier Pedroso with three hits to score their first run and threatened to narrow the gap further by loading the bases.

But right-hander Jonder Martinez finished off the next three batters, striking out two of them, to end the suspense.

Cuba had 10 hits in the game, including a solo home run by Alexeis Bell, to the Netherlands' five.

It was Cuba's second consecutive victory over the Netherlands in the Intercontinental Cup title game. It beat the Netherlands 6-3 in the 2006 championship game, which was also held in Taiwan.

Italy beat host Taiwan 4-3 in the bronze medal game earlier Sunday for its first ever medal finish in the tournament. Japan beat South Korea 2-1 in the fifth place game.

Nicaragua, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Hong Kong took the seventh- to 10th-place spots in the 10-team tournament.

According to the official Web site of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), the 2010 Intercontinental Cup played in Taiwan may be the final edition of the tournament. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwan finishes fourth in Intercontinental Cup baseball tourney

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) Taiwan suffered its second heartbreaking loss in two days Sunday, a 4-3 defeat to Italy, to finish fourth in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament in Taichung

The game was not decided until Taiwan's final at-bat, when, trailing by a run, it loaded the bases with two outs. But Kao Kuo-ching could not bring the tying run home, being thrown out at first after hitting a weak grounder to the pitcher.

On Saturday, Taiwan missed out on playing in the tournament's title game when it lost to the Netherlands 5-3 on a two-run walk-off home run.

Italy, whose third place finish was its best showing ever at the Intercontinental Cup, set the tone early when it took advantage of two errors by the home team and stole a base to jump to a 2-0 lead.

Taiwan added a run in both the first and second inning to tie the game, but Italy answered with timely hits and took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Taiwan cut the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the inning, setting up the tense finish.

Taiwan manager Yeh Chih-hsien apologized to Taiwan's baseball fans in a televised post-game interview, saying the team "had let the fans down and didn't get the job done."

He also said Taiwan's 12-6 advantage in the hit column was misleading.

"Our lineup failed to put together consecutive hits. Seven of our 12 hits came from only two batters, the second and fourth batters in our lineup," Yeh lamented.

Taiwan failed to duplicate its third place finish in the previous Intercontinental Cup, when the tournament was also held in Taiwan in 2006.

In other games, Japan beat South Korea 2-1 at Douliou Baseball Stadium in the central city of Douliou, Yunlin County, on Sunday to finish fifth in the 10-team tournament.

Nicaragua, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Hong Kong finished the tournament in the seventh to 10th spots.

Cuba and the Netherlands were playing for the Intercontinental Cup title Sunday night. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Extra-inning loss keeps Taiwan out of Intercontinental Cup final

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Taiwan lost to the Netherlands 5-3 in 10 innings Saturday, missing an opportunity to vie for gold in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament in central Taiwan's Taichung City.

Mariekson Gregorius' two-run walk-off home run off Taiwanese closer Lo Chin-lung in the bottom of the 10th inning clinched victory for the Dutch and sent them to the title game Sunday against Cuba.

Both Taiwan and the Netherlands tied for second in the six-team semifinal group with 3-2 records, but the Dutch won the tiebreaker because of their victory over Taiwan head-to-head.

Taiwan will play for third place against Italy on Sunday.

Lin Chih-sheng's RBI single helped Taiwan pull ahead 3-2 in the top of the first extra inning, when runners were placed on first and second at the start of the inning based on international rules to help decide games more quickly.

But Taiwan's pitcher and catcher were suddenly out of synch in the bottom of the inning as the Dutch scored the tying run on a wild pitch and a passed ball, before Gregorius finished the host team off.

Taiwan's manager Yeh Chih-hsien said after the game that the players did their best, but he admitted there were problems at the plate and with player chemistry, referring to the wild pitch and passed ball in the bottom of the 10th and a base-running error that prevented Taiwan from scoring more runs in the top of the inning.

Taiwan was limited to six hits for the game while the Netherlands had nine.

Taiwan rallied to tie the score 2-2 in the seventh inning on a Kao Kuo-ching two-run double that chased Dutch starter Diegomar Markwell, who held Taiwan to one hit in the first five innings.

Taiwan's amateur left-handed starter Chen Kuan-yu, 20, yielded only five hits in 5 2/3 innings, but one of those was a home run by Curt Smith in the sixth that increased the Dutch lead to 2-0.

The Netherlands will meet undefeated Cuba in the championship game for the second straight time. Cuba beat the Netherlands for gold in the 2006 Intercontinental Cup, which was also held in Taiwan. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwan makes Asian Games baseball roster changes

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Taiwan made two minor adjustments to its 24-man roster for the Asian Games baseball tournament in November, replacing two players who perform professionally in Japan.

Right-handed pitcher Lo Chin-lung and infielder Kuo Yen-wen were added to the roster to replace Seibu Lions pitcher Hsu Ming-chieh and Nippon-Ham outfielder Yang Tai-kang, according to national team manager Yeh Chih-hsien in Taichung City, where Taiwan is currently competing in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup.

Lo, who plays for the Triple-A team of the Colorado Rockies, was added because of his stellar play in the Intercontinental Cup, Yeh said. Yang withdrew from the team because of an elbow injury sustained during the Japanese professional baseball season.

Taiwan, which won the baseball gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, was left with only three outfielders following the roster changes.

But Yeh said he was more concerned with the infield defense and believed that several players on the team could double as outfielders.

Taiwan will not field any players currently active at the Major League level in the United States, but eight members of the team play in the minor leagues, and one (Kuo Yen-wen) played in the Cincinnati Reds' organization before being released recently.

The Asian Games will take place in Guangzhou, China, Nov. 12-27. The baseball competition is scheduled for Nov. 13-19.

The complete 24-man roster (with team affiliation in parentheses) after the changes 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) , Lo Chin-lung (Colorado Rockies) , 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 (8) : 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), Kuo Yen-wen (formerly Cincinnati Reds)

Outfielders (3): Lin Che-hsuan (Boston Red Sox), Lo Kuo-hui (Seattle Mariners), Chang Chien-ming (Sinon Bulls) (By Chris Wang) Enditem/ls

Taiwanese-American Jeremy Lin makes NBA debut

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Jeremy Lin, the first person of Taiwanese descent to make the roster of a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, made his regular season debut with the Golden State Warriors Saturday Taiwan time.

The 22-year-old point guard -- the first Harvard graduate to play in the NBA in 57 years -- received a standing ovation when he entered the game with 2: 32 left and the Warriors well out in front of the Los Angeles Clippers on their way to a 109-91 home victory.

Lin did not attempt a field goal or dish out an assist in his limited appearance, but he did register a steal, taking the ball away from Clippers backup center Brian Cook with 47.1 seconds left to play.

The Warriors turned the close game into a rout with a 32-13 third quarter and led by as many as 20 points in the final period, giving Lin a chance to get game experience.

The 1.90-meter player, who did not play in the Warriors' 132-128 season-opening win over the Houston Rockets, was kept on the team's roster to provide depth at point guard behind starter Stephen Curry.

Lin is behind both Curry and Charlie Bell on the team's depth chart at the position, but when Curry suffered an ankle injury during the game, neither Bell nor Lin replaced him. A group of small forwards filled in instead.

Lin, who grew up in nearby Palo Alto, California, was not selected in the NBA Draft in June but was signed by the Warriors to a two-year contract after his strong performance in the summer league.

His parents emigrated to the United States from Taiwan in the 1970s.

Lin has already become a celebrity in Taiwan, a status cemented during a trip to Taipei in late July for a charity game featuring NBA players. The July charity game was organized by Chinese All-Star center Yao Ming, who plays for the Houston Rockets. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taiwan one win away from Intercontinental Cup title game

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) Taiwan beat Italy 6-2 in the semifinal round of the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament in Taichung City Friday night to move within one win of the competition's championship game.

The home team, which is now 3-1 in the semifinal round, will earn its chance at revenge against perennial powerhouse Cuba in the title game if it beats the Netherlands (2-2) Saturday at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.

Cuba clinched a berth in the championship game with a 4-1 win over Japan on Friday to stay undefeated at 4-0 in the six-team semifinal round. It handed Taiwan its only loss in the tournament with a 2-0 victory in the preliminary round.

The top two teams in the semifinal round will meet in the championship game while the third-place and fourth-place teams meet in the bronze medal game.

Powered by another solid performance at the plate and a dominant outing by starter Pan Wei-lun, who struck out eight Italian batters and yielded only five hits in seven innings, Taiwan jumped to a 5-2 lead after two innings and never looked back.

Though the home team committed three errors, it made up for the defensive lapses by outhitting Italy 11-7. It has had double-digit hits in all but one game in the tournament so far.

The Netherlands beat South Korea 3-1 to tie Italy (2-2) , which will meet Cuba Saturday. South Korea remained winless in the semifinal round while Japan was 1-3 after four games. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls 

To leverage ECFA, Taiwan advised to 'de-politicize' relations

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) The true benefit of a cross-Taiwan Strait trade pact was the momentum it provided for Taiwan and East Asian economies to move toward regional integration, scholars said at a symposium Friday, but they advised Taiwan to "de-politicize" its relations to take the next step forward.

"Taiwan can play a more effective role in the process of Asia-Pacific integration by taking the path of de-politicization, " said Daniel Rosen, adjunct associate professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, at a forum titled "Beyond ECFA: Taiwan and Regional Integration in the Asia-Pacific."

The symposium, organized by Taiwan's Institute for National Policy Research, aimed to define Taiwan's future role following the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China in June to liberalize and institutionalize cross-strait trade ties.

Beijing's readiness to cease impeding Taiwan's links to other economies depends in part on Taiwan's willingness to de-politicize the significance of those external links, Rosen observed.

If the function of those links is to maximize Taiwan's prosperity, then Taiwan would be advised to sidestep Beijing's anxiety, the scholar said.

Rosen also urged Taiwan to empower private enterprises and serve as a bridge in Asia between East and West, grasping opportunities to deepen economic relations across the Pacific and with Europe at the same time.

The scholar did express some concerns over Taiwan's future course mainly because of its internal situation, which he said seemed to "get more politicized every year, and this is not good news."

John Ravenhill, a political scientist at Australian National University, argued that the ECFA would have at best a marginal impact on Taiwan's aggregate welfare but said it would be significant in other ways.

He believed the pact would affect the dynamics of negotiations on preferential trade agreements among the four large economies of Northeast Asia -- China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

"The significance of ECFA may lie less in its contents -- or in its welfare effects -- than in the momentum it will provide for the negotiation of further agreements in the region, " Ravenhill said.

"But whether Beijing will permit Taiwan to participate independently in bilateral or region-wide negotiations remains to be seen," he added.

Cho Hui-wan, a professor at National Chung Hsing University, said Taiwan's government will face many challenges once the agreement takes hold.

Liberalization means promoting competition and the elimination of weaker sectors, which is why Taiwan should transform its economy from high-polluting industries to innovative and value-added industries, Cho said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taiwan routs Japan in Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Taiwan routed a young Japanese national team 12-5 Thursday to win its first game in the semifinal round of the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament in the central city of Taichung.

Japan could not hold off Taiwan's offensive as the home team blasted 14 hits against the young Nippon Professional Baseball pitchers, while its reliever Lin Yu-ching became the unlikely hero of the game.

Lin came up to the mound after starter Chen Hong-wen and the first relief pitcher Liao Wen-yang had failed to contain the opposing hitters. The amateur right-hander pitched 5 1/3 strong innings and gave up only one hit.

Taiwan, scheduled to meet Italy (2-1) in Taichung the following evening, was 2-1 and ranked second behind Cuba (3-0) in the six-team semifinal round. Japan was 1-2.

Unfazed by a 4-0 early deficit, Taiwan punished Japanese starter Takahiro Iwao with four hits in the bottom of the second inning, including two doubles and a triple by Lo Kuo-hui, to tie the score.

After Japan regained a 5-4 lead, the home boys again took advantage of Japanese reliever Hideki Sunaga's inconsistency and his teammates' shaky defense. Chen Chun-hsiu's double was followed by a deadball and an error as Taiwan tied the game and added two more runs by consecutive sacrifice flies to bring the score to 7-5.

The situation almost got out of hand in the top of the fourth inning, when Lin Yu-ching's consecutive hit batsmen came close to turning the game into a bench-clearing brawl as players from both teams exchanged heated words on the field before the umpire managed to regain control.

Japan, which had an average age of less than 23 as a team, was hurt by five defensive errors, four of which came in the first four innings, a rare showing for any Japanese national team. The first baseman Taishi Ota and shortstop Shota Ohmine committed two errors apiece.

Taiwan had six consecutive hits with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to add four runs and turn the game into a rout.

In other semifinal round games Thursday, Cuba beat the Netherlands 6-3 and Italy defeated South Korea 5-2.

Semifinal standings: Cuba 3-0, Italy 2-1, Taiwan 2-1, Japan 1-2, Netherlands 1-2, South Korea 0-3 (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Ability to swim crucial for Taiwanese military: official

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Learning how to swim is a crucial aspect of Taiwanese soldiers' training, to help them meet the requirements of serving the country, a Taiwanese military official said Thursday.

"There is no doubt that we would require our soldiers to know how to swim so they are able to function better for the two most important aspects of the Republic of China's (Taiwan) armed forces:
combat and disaster relief, " said Wang Shih-tu, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operation and Planning of the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

Speaking on the sidelines of a news conference about a national action plan to promote swimming, Wang said that a military force with around 40 percent of its soldiers who don't know how to swim "will not be able to do combat in Taiwan, where there are plenty of rivers, ponds and fish farms."

"Nor will they be able to execute disaster relief operations when most of the time they have to wade into the water to rescue people in need and protect themselves at the same time, " he said.

The last thing the MND wants to see is the loss of soldiers during disaster relief operations when the troopers are sent out to rescue people's lives, he said. "Fortunately, we haven't lost any up to now," Wang said.

The lieutenant general's remarks came hours after a legislator questioned the MND's five-year budget of NT$5.4 billion to build and renovate swimming pools in a legislative session on Thursday morning.

Taiwan's military had started to implement extensive swimming training since last May and the results have been fruitful, Wang said, adding that 62.4 percent of its troops have now met the requirement of 50-meter tests, up from 47.7 percent last May.

"We see it as a combat skill rather than only a recreational activity. And I'm glad the commander-in-chief of the armed forces -- President Ma Ying-jeou -- has recognized the importance of this crucial skill, "Wang said, referring to the president's assertiveness in promoting swimming. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Taiwan to launch national plan to promote swimming

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) An inter-agency national action plan will be launched to teach more Taiwanese students and servicemen how to swim, a government official said in a press conference Thursday.

The ambitious 12-year plan, supervised by the Executive Yuan, hopes to teach at least eight out of 10 Taiwanese students, soldiers, policemen and firemen how to swim, which will dramatically reduce cases of drowning, said Tai Hsia-ling, minister of the Sports Affairs Council (SAC).

"In an island country like Taiwan, it is difficult to fathom why there are so many drownings and why so few people know how to swim, " Tai said, adding that President Ma Ying-jeou, an avid swimmer, is the driving force behind the scheme.

Almost all major developed countries, such as Japan, France and the United Kingdom, have public policies to promote swimming, she said.

According to Tai, the ratio of swimming pools per 100,000 students between Japan and Taiwan is an eye-popping 188 to 9.6. Citing a World Health Organization study conducted in 2001, she added that the ratio of drownings per 100,000 children under the age of 14 in Japan and Taiwan is 0.6 to 1.8.

Under the project, swimming pools will be built, personnel will be trained and pool management will be improved from 2010-2022 so that local people will have better access to swimming facilities.

Joining the SAC will be the Ministry of National Defense, the National Police Agency, the Coast Guard Administration, the National Fire Agency, the Ministry of Education and 25 municipalities around the country.

A supervisory committee under the Executive Yuan will set targets for different groups. Among them, 80 percent of school children, 85 percent of military servicemen and 80 percent of police officers will have to be able to swim for at least 50 meters, while 90 percent of firemen and all Coast Guard Administration staff will be required to pass a 200-meter test.

With more people participating in swimming, Taiwan will be able to select athletes to represent the country in international competitions, said Thomas Tsai, President of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.

Educators also hope the project will be able to help bridge the huge gap in the balance of resources between the north and the south, where only around half of the townships have swimming pools, said Cheng Mei-nu, an elementary school principal in the southern county of Yunlin. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Ex-Japanese prime minister to visit Taiwan: legislator

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Taiwan and meet President Ma Ying-jeou, Legislative Yuan sources said Thursday.

Abe is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan for a two-day visit Oct. 31-Nov. 1 with more than a dozen Japanese parliamentarians aboard the maiden flight that will kick off direct flights between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, said a ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislator who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Abe, who served as the 57th prime minister of Japan from September 2006 until September 2007, is scheduled to meet Ma Oct. 31 and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng the following day, the legislator said.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied all knowledge of any such visit.

"Visits of any former foreign dignitaries are welcomed and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) believes such visits are beneficial to bilateral relations. However, we have no information about any forthcoming visit by the former Japanese Prime Minister, " MOFA spokesman James Chang said.

The Japan Interchange Association (JIA) which acts as Japan's representative office in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, declined to comment. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Travelers should be aware of Bali, New Delhi health risks: MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Taiwanese nationals visiting parts of India and Indonesia are advised to be alert for contagious diseases that have been spread locally, the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release Thursday.

Cases of chikungunya fever, a disease affecting joints, have increased in the New Delhi area during the past two weeks. These come on top of dengue fever epidemics in India's capital. Meanwhile on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, a rabies epidemic has not been effectively controlled, according to the BOCA.

Taiwanese nationals visiting these areas are advised to be careful and check information on the Center for Diseases Control website (, the bureau said. (By Chris Wang) Enditem/MH

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in Taiwan, Kuo reflects on breakout season

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) Back home for the first time since the end of the Major League Baseball season, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kuo Hong-chih attributed his record-setting season to "pure luck" and said he hoped to help his team get back into the playoffs next year.

"I would like to return to Taiwan at a later date next year," Kuo said at a press conference attended by some 100 reporters, alluding to his desire to have the Dodgers remain active into the post-season in 2011.

The Dodgers finished the season 80-82, fourth in the five-team National League West Division, after having made the National League Championship Series the previous two seasons.

But the team's drop-off was not because of Kuo. The 29-year-old left-hander had his best year since first making the Dodgers roster in 2005, finishing with a 3-2 record and 12 saves in 56 appearances and becoming the first Taiwanese player to earn a spot in the All-Star Game.

His ERA of 1.20 was also the lowest in franchise history for pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, and he was nominated for the "Setup Man of the Year" award.

Responding to questions posed by fans in an online Internet chat room, which was opened at the same time as the press conference, Kuo politely attributed his success to "pure luck" and said he was happy as long as he was able to play the game after nearly having his career ended by four elbow operations.

Kuo said his most memorable performance of the year was a two-inning outing in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 4, when he struck out all six batters he faced.

Reflecting on his experience in the All-Star Game, Kuo said he was nervous because he didn't know what to do and where to go.

"I felt like I became a fan again and was busy taking photos with those big-name players, " he said.

The 29-year-old gave credit to first baseman James Loney and pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathon Broxton for their friendship, which helped him get through the long season. He added that fan support was also a big help.

"I thought of giving up, honestly. But I'm not a person who gives up easily, and I always tell myself that I have to keep fighting because I represent my country of Taiwan in the MLB to some extent, " Kuo said.

The left-hander, who started the 2010 season as a setup man but was installed as a closer in mid-August in place of the struggling Braxton, said he would not mind shifting between the two roles next year, even though "being a closer brings you so much pressure because you're supposed to finish it off."

Kuo said he hopes to continue playing in the United States for another 5-10 years, but "the most important thing for me, first and foremost, is to help my team win." (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Tiaoyutai issue flares up again

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) Premier Wu Den-yih said Friday that the Executive Yuan will respect a legislative resolution for a visit by legislators to the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands next month that could add a new twist to an already-tense controversy over the islets.

The internal administration committee of the Legislative Yuan passed a resolution Thursday to launch an inspection visit Nov. 4 to the Tiaoyutais, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern tip in the East China Sea. The islands are controlled by Japan and also claimed by China and Taiwan. They are known as the Diaoyutais in China and as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Responding to a question in a legislative session the previous day, Wu said the Executive Yuan will respect the decision. However, he added, given the complexity of the issue, the visit should be confined to waters within the "temporary enforcement line," as suggested by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.

As the claimed exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Taiwan and Japan overlap near the islands, Taiwan established the temporary enforcement line for the EEZ in 2003 in order to provide safe fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen and gain an area of maritime jurisdiction.

The planned visit comes amidst a diplomatic row between China and Japan sparked by Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels in the area Sept. 7.

Wu reiterated that Taiwan claims full sovereignty over the islands, but has no intention of becoming embroiled in the issue, which could affect its overall relations with Japan and the United States.

He said Taiwan does not recognize Japan's administrative jurisdiction over the islands and that the government considers them to be under the administrative jurisdiction of Toucheng Township in Yilan County, although he conceded that in fact, the islands are indeed controlled by Japan.

He was responding to a local media report that Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang said in a legislative session of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Oct. 14 that Japan has administrative jurisdiction of the Tiaoyutais, which was handed over by the U.S. to Japan in 1972.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) responded to the report in a press release Thursday, saying that the ministry filed a protest after the U.S. handed the administrative jurisdiction of the archipelago to Japan and that its position has remained consistent over the years. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Intercontinental Cup baseball tourney to open Saturday in Taichung

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) Defending champion Cuba and host Taiwan are among 10 teams that will battle it out in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament, which opens Saturday in Taichung City.

Cuba, Taiwan, South Korea, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Italy and Nicaragua will compete in the IBAF (International Baseball Federation) tournament, which will be played at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium until Oct. 31.

Cuba, which has won 10 of the past 16 Intercontinental Cups, enters the competition as one of the favorites. It will be joined by Taiwan, South Korea, Czech and Hong Kong in one of the two round-robin groups.

Taiwan, which also hosted the tournament the last time it was played in 2006, is scheduled to meet perennial rival South Korea in the opening game Oct. 23.

Kuo Hong-chih, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Taiwanese pitcher, will throw out the ceremonial first ball.

Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Italy and Nicaragua are in the other preliminary group.

Taiwan finished third in the 2006 tournament, matching its best previous showing in the tournament, a bronze medal performance in 1983. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taiwan well-positioned to benefit from low-carbon economy: BTCO

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) Taiwan is in good position to benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy because of its highly educated population, technological expertise and leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, a visiting British official and the top British diplomat in Taiwan said Thursday.

The United Kingdom is keen to share its experience with Taiwan since both sides are expected to benefit from collaboration in the climate-change issue and in the green-energy sector, said David Campbell, director of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan (BTCO) , the de-facto embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties, at a press briefing.

In terms of Taiwan's desire to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , Campbell said the European Union has always supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, but that it will not be solely the U.K.'s decision.

The important question, however, is not just about participation in the UNFCCC, Campbell said. If Taiwan-- which accounts for about 1 percent of global emissions of climate-change gases -- carefully formulates and implements its energy policy, it will be able to transform into a low-carbon economy with reduced carbon emissions, and this would benefit the nation's employment, he continued.

The green-energy sector is one of few sectors able to maintain positive growth and create new jobs during the economic downturn, Campbell said.

Though the U.K. is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, it was not until the country decided to tackle the climate-change issue head-on with thorough reviews, dialogues, policy-making and legislation that things started to change, he said.

By 2012, U.K. emissions will be down 23.5 percent from their 1990 level, which will be a greater decrease than committed to in its Kyoto pledge, said Thomas Phipps, policy officer of the Climate Change and Energy Group under the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Phipps said he has seen positive signs and developments during his stay in Taiwan, where he met with Frances Liang, deputy minister of economic affairs, and Stephen Shen, minister of the Environmental Protection Administration. He also visited the Taiwan Power Co., the state-owned power-supply company.

"I feel like they wanted to know more about how to turn energy-intensive sectors into a part of low-carbon economy, " Phipps said of his hosts, adding that he also saw positive signs in the legislation and passage of Taiwan's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, because parts of the act are similar to the U.K.'s regulations.

It took the U.K. a decade to make significant progress in cutting carbon emissions, Phipps noted, but added that Taiwan could take much less time to achieve the same result by sharing the U.K.'s experience. (By Chris Wang) enditem/MH

Game 4 of Taiwan Series rained out again

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) Game 4 of the Taiwan Series between the Brother Elephants and Sinon Bulls scheduled for Thursday in Sinjhuang City, Taipei County, was postponed due to heavy rain, according to Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).

The potential series clincher, originally scheduled to be played Wednesday, had been rescheduled for Thursday in Sinjhuang. The Elephants are seeking to complete a sweep of the Bulls in the best-of-seven series and thereby win the seventh CPBL title in the team's history.

American Jim Magrane, winning pitcher of Game 1 of the series, will start for the Elephants, while Dominican left-hander Juan Pena will take the mound for the Bulls.

Games 5, 6 and 7 would be played in Taoyuan County Sunday and Kaohsiung County Monday and Tuesday if necessary, announced the CPBL. (By Chris Wang) enditem/MH

Panama president arrives in Taiwan for state visit

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) Panama President Ricardo Martinelli arrived in Taiwan Thursday for a three-day state visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a press release.

Martinelli is the first president from Panama to visit Taiwan in six years, according to the MOFA.

The 58-year-old president is leading a high-ranking delegation which also includes vice president Juan Carlos Varela, who also serves as the Central American country's foreign minister, and Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries Jose Domingo Arias.

The delegation is scheduled to meet President Ma Ying-jeou, Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan and other government officials, as well as local businessmen, the MOFA said.

It added that the delegation will also visit the Taipei International Flora Exposition, which will officially open in early November, and Nangang Software Park. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Former U.S. President Clinton to visit Taiwan in November (update)

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will visit Taiwan in mid-November, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official confirmed Wednesday.

The former president is scheduled to deliver a speech in Taipei Nov. 14 as part of an invitational tour of Asia, organized by a Singaporean firm, MOFA spokesman James Chang said.

Clinton, who was U.S. president from 1993 to 2001, will arrive in Taiwan for a private business trip, Chang said, but the foreign ministry will provide necessary assistance and security during his stay based on a request made by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) , the U.S. representative office in the absence of official bilateral ties.

Chang said that he was not aware of the details of the tour and declined to comment on whether Clinton, husband of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will meet with President Ma Ying-jeou or other Taiwanese officials.

The ex-president will share with the audience his views on Taiwan's economic development and preview the country's economic outlook beyond 2010 in a topical speech, to be delivered at Taipei International Convention Center, the organizer UNI Strategic (Taiwan) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Singapore-based Universal Network Intelligence, said in a press release late Wednesday.

A moderated question and answer session will be conducted after the speech, the organizer said, adding that 10 percent of the total proceeds of the event will be donated to the Clinton Foundation, which was established by the former president to tackle issues including fighting AIDS, climate change and promoting democracy throughout the world.

Members of the public will be charged between NT$1,800 and NT$12,000 to listen to the speech.

It will be Clinton's sixth visit to Taiwan and his first since February 2005, when he first came to Taiwan after stepping down as president. He met with then President Chen Shui-bian and then chairman of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Lien Chan during a 22-hour whirlwind tour, which was sponsored by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

Clinton also visited Taiwan four times when he was Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1992.

The AIT declined to comment on the upcoming visit. (By Chris Wang) Enditem/jc

Dodgers reliever Kuo to return to Taiwan for vacation

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kuo Hong-chih, who is coming off the finest season of his Major League Baseball (MLB) career, is scheduled to return to Taiwan Thursday, the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA) has announced.

Kuo will arrive in Taipei Thursday and attend an international baseball competition Saturday as a VIP, the CTBA said in a press release.

He will throw the first pitch of the opening game between Taiwan and South Korea Saturday in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament, which will be played at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung, according to the CTBA.

The lefthander finished the 2010 season with three wins, two losses and 12 saves in 56 appearances and became the first Taiwanese player to earn a spot in the MLB mid-season All-Star Game.

Kuo, who had four surgeries on his elbow, also broke the Dodgers franchise record of the lowest ERA (earned run average), finishing the season with an ERA of 1.20. He struck out 73 in 60 innings.

Kuo will enjoy a competition-free off season in Taiwan after the Dodgers rejected the CPBL's request to include the 29-year-old in the Taiwan national team roster for the upcoming Asian Games, which will be held in Guangzhou, China from Nov. 12-27. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Game 4 of Taiwan Series rained out

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) Game 4 of the Taiwan Series between the Brother Elephants and the Sinon Bulls scheduled for Wednesday in Taipei County's Sinjhuang City has been postponed due to heavy rain, according to Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).

The potential series clincher has been rescheduled for Thursday in Sinjhuang, weather permitting. The Elephants will be trying to complete a sweep of the Bulls in the best-of-seven series and win the seventh CPBL title in the team's history.

Jim Magrane, who won Game 1 of the series, will start for the Elephants while Dominican left-hander Juan Pena will take the mound for the Bulls.

The CPBL said that if a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played in Taoyuan County Friday. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elephants one win away from seventh Taiwan pro baseball title

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) The Brother Elephants shut out the Sinon Bulls 3-0 Tuesday in game three of the 2010 Taiwan Series of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in the northern city of Taoyuan to move within one win away from its seventh title and a new record.

The Elephants, which lost its manager and almost half of its players to a major game-fixing scandal that came to light in October last year, could wrap up the best-of-seven series as early as Wednesday night, when game four is played in Sinjhuang City, Taipei County.

A title win would be a special one for first-year manager Chen Jui-chen and his team, which consists mainly of young and inexperienced players brought on board after the scandal last year. At one point, owner Hung Jui-ho said that he was considering whether to disband the team.

Starting pitcher Orlando Roman shut out the Bulls in nine strong innings with seven strikeouts and allowed only three hits.

Yeh Chun-chang, who played for Sinon for 10 years before being released in 2009, had an RBI (runner batted in) single in the bottom of the third inning as Chang Chih-hao, who had a double in the previous at-bat, scored.

The Elephants added three hits, including Huang Shih-hao's triple to the centerfield in the bottom of the eighth.

Arguably the most storied franchise in the four-team CPBL, the Elephants is making its third straight run at the title after losing in 2008 and 2009, both times to the Uni-President Lions. It has won the title six times, a record among the CPBL teams, with the last one coming in 2003.

The Bulls' starting pitcher Lin Ying-chieh suffered his fourth straight loss in the Taiwan Series. The Bulls won the series in 2004 and 2005. (By Chris Wang) enditem/jc

Quality of future leaders key to Taiwan-China relations: scholars

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) The abilities and experience of the next generation of political leaders on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would be key to future relations, a scholar said Tuesday in Taipei following indications of Vice President Xi Jinping as likely successor to China's incumbent President Hu Jintao.

Xi was appointed Monday as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission at the fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He and other members of the party's "fifth generation" had been cultivated for decades as potential leaders, said Alexander Huang, a professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.

Huang's comments came during a discussion that followed a live webcast that featured the United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and was hosted by the U.S.-based National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Local scholars, journalists and business leaders were invited to the Taipei discussion by the local American Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event.

Huang predicted this new generation would be tough in its negotiations with Taiwan and the U.S., because they grew up in the era of Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution, and had experienced posts at different levels of government before taking on greater responsibility.

This was a different picture from that in Taiwan, which was characterized by a shorter career span for government officials, especially at Cabinet level, Huang said. He predicted that Taiwan's next president would probably be one of the five special municipality mayors who would be elected in November.

Huang said he was not against a democratic system, but worried that Taiwan's future leaders could lack the time and experience needed to train them to a higher level.

Speaking at the same occasion, Bruce J.D. Linghu, director-general of the Department of North American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was optimistic about the quality of Taiwan's leaders.

"The current leaders are highly-educated and full of democratic ideas. I believe they will have no problems dealing with their rivals across the strait. But for the next generation of leaders, I'm not quite sure, " Linghu said.

In the 45-minute webcast, Huntsman talked about various issues including the strategic mistrust and potential currency war between the U.S. and China, as well as U.S. concern for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's well-being. (By Chris Wang) enditem/MH

Taiwan investigating reported China-Japan deal on disputed islands

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday it was not aware of a reported "secret deal" between China and Japan on the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, but confirmed that it was gathering information on the matter.

The ministry has instructed its office in Japan to follow-up on the report that Japan had an agreement with China on the islets as early as 2004, said Huang Ming-lung, secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of Taiwan-Japan ties.

"We have not heard of the deal but we're now investigating and trying to gather information, " he said of the report, which appeared in the Japanese weekly magazine AERA, published by Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The Tiaoyutai Islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern tip in the East China Sea, are controlled by Japan and claimed by China and Taiwan. They are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and Senkaku Islands in Japan.

According to the magazine report, Japan and China agreed in principle following a conflict in 2004 that China should keep activists from sailing out to the islands and that Japan would not detain those who land on the islets.

But if the agreement between Japan and China does exist as reported, it was still not able to prevent a recent skirmish in the area.

Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels on Sept. 7. The incident led to a diplomatic row between the two countries, and the United States also became involved.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry took a long-term view of the Tiaoyutai dispute Tuesday.

"The Tiaoyutai issue is not an issue that can be solved immediately, but we believe that its impact on Taiwan-Japan relations will be limited. And I assure you that Taiwan will not cooperate with China on handling the issue, " Huang said in response to a reporter's question at a press briefing. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Elephants take opening game in Taiwan Series

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) The Brother Elephants barely survived a game-fixing scandal at the end of the 2009 season but are now just three games away from completing a truly improbable ascent to the top of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).

The Elephants defeated the Sinon Bulls 3-2 in the opening game of the best-of-seven 2010 Taiwan Series in Taichung Saturday, led by strong performances from leadoff hitter Chang Cheng-wei and starting pitcher Jim Magrane.

Chang was 3 for 4 and made spectacular catches in the seventh and eighth innings to hold off the Bulls' furious rally and lift the Elephants, making their third consecutive appearance in the Taiwan Series, to the win at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.

Magrane, a former American minor leaguer, scattered eight hits over 7 2/3 solid innings.

The Elephants, who lost the Taiwan Series in 2008 and 2009, are scheduled to meet the Bulls in Game 2 in Douliou, Yunlin County on Sunday.

That they are in this position at all is nothing short of amazing. The team lost almost half of its players before the start of the regular season to a major game-fixing scandal that came to light in October last year, which involved more than 40 retired and active players and coaches.

The team's owner even hinted that he might disband the franchise, but he instead decided to proceed with a roster largely composed of inexperienced players.

After a poor first half of the season, the Elephants rallied to win the second half race with a 36-24 record to earn a berth in the championship series.

In Saturday's game, a two-run seventh inning, paced by RBI doubles from pinch-hitter Wang Ching-yung and Chang, helped the Elephants open up a 3-0 lead.

The Bulls, who outhit the Elephants 11-7 in the game, fought back with three hits each in the eighth and ninth innings to pull within 3-2, but could not find the key hit to pull them even.

Sinon's Japanese left-handed starter Itsuki Shoda, who was 11-5 in his second season with the team in 2010, gave up six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

The Bulls, who reached the Taiwan Series by winning the first half race with a 36-23-1 record, had the best overall regular season record in the league at 65-53-2. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Google, YouTube launch websites for Taiwan elections

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) Search engine giant Google and its video-sharing subsidiary YouTube launched websites Friday for Taiwan's five upcoming special municipality elections, the companies' latest effort to highlight the Internet's role in modern political elections.

The Google website and YouTube channel dedicated to the Nov. 27 elections in the special municipalities of Taipei, Xinbei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan were launched as "online platforms to help Taiwanese voters and candidates interact online, " said Google Taiwan general manager Chien Lee-feng in a statement.

In addition to basic information on each municipality and its election, the website also presents each candidate with a Web page that compiles news stories, blog posts and information from social networking sites such as Facebook and Plurk.

Internet users can also post messages on the page's chat board.

A graphic on the municipality page shows how many times the two candidates were searched on the Internet during the day, a tool for voters to compare the candidates' popularity.

The YouTube channel allows users to upload videos to voice their opinions and questions for candidates.

Google and YouTube have previously launched websites for political elections in various countries, including Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama became the first U.S. presidential candidate to successfully utilize the Internet and social networking sites to interact with voters during his 2008 presidential campaign, Google Taiwan associate marketing director Richard Li said.

He added that the Internet has now also become an important aspect of political campaigns in Taiwan.

For more information, visit and (By Chris Wang) Enditem/ls

Friday, October 15, 2010

Groth, Date Krumm to headline OEC Taipei Ladies Open

Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) Twelve players ranked in the WTA's (Women's Tennis Association) top 100, including Jarmila Groth of Australia and Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, have entered the 2010 OEC Taipei Ladies Open, organizers said Friday.

The top-seeded Groth, who won the tournament in its first year in 2008, has the highest ranking of any player in the field at No. 42, followed by Date-Krumm at No. 56.

They will be joined by local favorites Chan Yung-jan, Chang Kai-chen, Hsieh Su-wei and Chuang Chia-jung in front of hometown crowds at Taipei Arena.

The total purse for the ITF (International Tennis Federation) event is US$100,000, according to the Chinese Taipei Tennis Association (CTTA), which is organizing the tournament.

ITF tourneys are a tier below WTA events, which have minimum purses of US$220,000 and attract higher seeded players.

Forty-year-old veteran Date-Krumm, who retired in 1993 and returned to tennis in 2008, and Alicia Molik, the women's singles bronze medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, who ranked as high as 8th and is now 98th, are among a competitive group of players capable of winning this year's event.

Germany's 21-year-old rising star Sabine Lisicki, a women's singles quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 2009, is expected to wow crowds with serves that can reach nearly 200 kilometers per hour.

Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, Romani Oprandi of Italy, Ayumi Morita of Japan and China's Peng Shuai are among other notable foreign competitors.

Chan Yung-jan, the highest-ranked Taiwanese player on the women's tour at No. 81, enters the tournament as the defending champion after defeating Morita 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the women's singles final last year. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Women's rights activists blast sex industry policy

Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) Women's rights activists accused the government Friday of having failed to make its position clear with regard to its sex industry policy and of making rushed decisions without public consensus.

"We're not sure about the government's position on the sex industry -- does it have an open attitude on adult sex transactions or does it intend to prohibit such activities? " asked Tsai Wan-fen, secretary-general of Taiwan Women's Link, at a press conference organized by the Anti-Sexual Exploitation Alliance, a league of more than a dozen human rights non-government organizations (NGOs).

The alliance voiced its opinion two days after Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah said his ministry will not approve the establishment of red-light zones anywhere in the country and agreed that adult sex transactions should be decriminalized.

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) will start formulating its final policy and submit its recommendations to the Executive Yuan before the end of the year, Jiang was quoted as saying.

Tsai said the alliance is firmly opposed to the legalization of adult sex transactions, adding that the government should crack down on the sex industry and penalize those caught running prostitution rings.

The MOI "acted on its own discretion, " with only four public hearings held on the controversial issue. The majority of the six scholars who spoke at those hearings appear to favor the legalization of prostitution, Tsai said.

According to a public opinion survey conducted by the MOI last year, 83 percent of the respondents said they favored the establishment of red-light zones and over 90 percent of the respondents said they disagreed with the legalization of adult sex transactions in private homes, said Cheng Kai-jung, secretary-general of the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women's Rights.

The results of the survey show that there is no public consensus on the controversial issue and that more dialogue is needed before finalizing the national policy, Cheng added.

Legalization of the sex trade could lead to serious threats to social order and human trafficking due to the potential involvement of organized crime, said Justine Wang of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation.

Until a final consensus is reached, Wang said, the government should not set a timetable for the issue. If it does decide to legalize prostitution, she went on, it should also consider levying "a social tax on whoremasters, " since their behavior brings extra costs and threats to society. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elephants to meet Bulls in Taiwan Series final

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) The Brother Elephants will meet the Sinon Bulls in the best-of-seven Taiwan Series of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) after surviving a franchise-threatening game-fixing scandal and winning the second half of the season for a shot at the series title.

The Elephants, which lost its manager and almost half of its players to a major game-fixing scandal that came to light in October last year involving more than 40 retired and active players and coaches, won the second half-season championship, finishing with 36 wins and 24 losses, with a team of young and inexperienced players.

It came as a surprise for baseball fans, and even for the first-year Elephants manager Chen Jui-chen, who said in a press conference Thursday that he was nervous on the eve of the finals, which match the winners of both halves of the regular season and will be played Oct. 16-24.

"What I want from my players is for them to do their best, period, " Chen said. Peng Cheng-min, the most popular player on the most popular team in Taiwan, gave credit to the young players, who he described as "playing their hearts out."

For the Elephants to accomplish a dream season, it has to conquer one more opponent -- the Bulls, which won the first half season with 36 wins, 23 losses and one draw, and won the 120-game 2010 regular season with an accumulated record of 65 wins, 53 losses and two draws.

The Elephants is making its third straight run at the title after losing in 2008 and 2009, both times to the Uni-President Lions. It has won a total of six titles, the most among the CPBL teams, in two runs of 1992-94 and 2001-03.

In a joking and symbolic move, Bulls manager Hsu Sheng-ming ate bananas at the press conference, as yellow represents the Elephants' team color. The veteran manager, who is coaching in his sixth Taiwan Series, said he and his team were determined to win and that he "never gave up an opportunity to win since he first put on a baseball uniform as a 10-year-old."

His team won the series in 2004 and 2005.

La New Bears, which also suffered heavy personnel losses to the game-fixing scandal, ranked third with 55 wins, 62 losses and three draws, while three-time defending champions Uni-president Lions finished a disappointing season with 54 wins, 63 losses and three draws to rank last in the four-team league, which was established in 1990.

The Taiwan Series schedule is as follows:
Game 1 Oct. 16 17:05 Taichung City
Game 2 Oct. 17 17:05 Douliou City, Yunlin County
Game 3 Oct. 19 18:35 Taoyuan County
Game 4 Oct. 20 18:35 Sinjhuang City, Taipei County:
*Game 5 Oct. 21 18:35 Taoyuan County:
*Game 6 Oct. 23 17:05 Kaohsiung County:
*Game 7 Oct. 24 17:05 Kaohsiung County:
* - If necessary (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan won't negotiate international space with China: MAC

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's quest for international space and President Ma Ying-jeou's call for "mutual non-denial" will not be on the agenda of any cross-Taiwan Strait negotiations, a senior official responsible for China policy said Thursday.

Liu Teh-shun, vice chairman of the cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) , made the remarks after Legislator Kuan Bi-ling urged the government to negotiate with China on these matters in the next round of high-level talks, to be held before the end of the year.

Kuan, a member of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) , said Wednesday that the negotiation was necessary because of China 's continued interference in Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

At a weekly press conference, Liu said that the Taiwan side has stated the country's position in past meetings between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) President Chen Yunlin, and will continue to do so.

"As both sides have now deepened relations and institutionalized bilateral exchanges, we hope China understands that if we cooperate in our international participation, both sides will be able to enjoy stronger global influence," he added.

With respect to President Ma's call for "mutual non-denial" between Taiwan and China, Liu said that the two sides have established a "fundamentally solid foundation" on the appeal and have "almost reached" a phase of mutual non-denial, an issue which Liu described as non-negotiable and something which could be carried out in practice.

"Mutual non-denial" is a principle advocated by Ma in a bid to win more international room for Taiwan in the face of Beijing's success in blocking Taiwan from most international organizations.

The president repeated the call on Sunday in a speech marking the National Day.

"Although at this stage the two sides of the Taiwan Strait cannot accord de jure recognition to each other, we should nevertheless adopt a pragmatic policy of de facto 'mutual non-denial,'" he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/jc

France not opposed to Taiwan gaining visa-free entry to EU: FIT

Note: Recasts earlier story with comments from France's representative office in Taiwan

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) The French Institute in Taipei (FIT), which is the French government's representative office in Taiwan in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic ties, said Thursday that France is not opposed to Taiwan's inclusion in the Schengen visa-waiver program, which would allow Taiwanese citizens visa-free entry to the EU.

The (Schengen visa-waiver) program, which is now in the midst of a screening process in the EU, involves a negotiation between the EU and Taiwan, not between France and Taiwan, the FIT said.

The institute was responding to an issue raised by Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who said in the Legislative Yuan earlier in the day that France has expressed its hope for Taiwan to make concessions on the Lafayette dispute in exchange for French support for Taiwan's visa-exemption in 28 European countries.

The International Court of Arbitration ruled May 3 to order contractors Thales and the French government to pay a penalty of more than US$591 million to Taiwan for paying commissions on the sale of six Lafayette-class frigates to the country's Navy in 1991, in violation of the contract on the deal.

Lin questioned whether France had used its position in the screening process of the visa-waiver program in the European Parliament as retaliation over Taiwan's refusal to accept an offer for an out-of-court settlement on the Lafayette dispute.

He also suggested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) should collaborate with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on the matter.

The Lafayette court case was launched in 2001 by Taiwan's Navy to investigate claims that much of the US$2.8 billion paid for the warships were for commissions to middlemen, politicians and military officers in Taiwan, China and France, in violation of the procurement contract.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang told the legislature Thursday that France has not attempted to use the Lafayette frigate dispute to interfere with Taiwan's efforts to be included in the European Union's (EU's) list of countries whose citizens can enter the EU visa free.

"France did express concerns over the percentage of e-passports (electronic passports with fingerprint data) among all Taiwan-issued passports, but it did not formally make additional requirements in Taiwan's Schengen visa-free program, " Yang said in a session of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

France did not raise the issue again at the European Parliament's Visa Working Group (VWG) meeting Sept. 15, he added. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

France not using Lafayette case to deny Taiwan visa waiver: MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) France has not attempted to use the Lafayette frigate dispute to interfere with Taiwan's efforts to be included in the European Union's (EU's) list of countries whose citizens can enter the EU visa free, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Timothy C.T. Yang said Thursday.

"France did express concerns over the percentage of e-passports (electronic passports with fingerprint data) among all Taiwan-issued passports, but it did not formally make additional requirements in Taiwan's Schengen visa-free program, "Yang said in a session of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

France did not raise the issue again at the European Parliament's Visa Working Group (VWG) meeting Sept. 15, he added.

Yang made the comment in response of a question posed by Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who said that France has expressed its hope for Taiwan to make concessions on the Lafayette case in exchange for French support for Taiwan's visa-exemption in 28 European countries.

The International Court of Arbitration ruled May 3 to order contractors Thales and the French government to pay a penalty of more than US$591 million to Taiwan for paying commissions on the sale of six Lafayette-class frigates to the country's Navy in 1991, in violation of the contract on the deal.

Lin questioned whether France had used its position in the screening process of the visa-waiver program in the European Parliament as retaliation over Taiwan's refusal to accept an offer for out-of-court settlement.

He also suggested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) should collaborate with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on the matter.

The Lafayette court case was launched in 2001 by Taiwan's Navy to investigate claims that much of the US$2.8 billion paid for the warships were for commissions to middlemen, politicians and military officers in Taiwan, China and France, in violation of the procurement contract. (By Chris Wang) enditem/cs

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Delegation to explore co-development offer on Indonesian islet

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) A delegation departed for the Indonesian island of Morotai Tuesday as Taiwan mulls the Indonesian government's offer to have Taiwan help develop the island, officials of the two countries said Tuesday.

The Southeast Asian country has contacted Taiwan to participate in developing in the island, which is located between the Philippines and New Guinea and has a population of 50,000 people, confirmed Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman James Chang on Tuesday.

Taiwan welcomed the offer, he said.

Indonesia's representative to Taiwan Harmen Sembiring, officials from the MOFA's Department of Asian and Pacific Affairs and a group of Taiwanese businessmen embarked on a trip to the underdeveloped island Tuesday to conduct a preliminary evaluation, said Irene Pan of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei's Investment Department.

The delegation is scheduled to return to Taiwan Oct. 19, she said.

Pan said Indonesia's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries first made contact with Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in September when Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang was in Indonesia at the head of a trade and investment delegation.

"The Indonesian side hopes to attract Taiwanese investment in the sectors of seafood production, fishing, aquaculture and tourism, " said Kuo Fu-chuan, a senior technical specialist in the MOEA's Department of Investment Services.

The evaluation is still in its initial stages, Kuo said, and the Fisheries Agency still needs to gather data on Morotai's hydrology, fish species and fishing regulations before conducting its evaluation.

After that, government agencies will be able to brief local businessmen on investment opportunities.

Indonesia has also offered Taiwan Sugar Corporation and state-run oil refiner CPC Corp. Taiwan the opportunities to establish an oil refinery and development land in other parts of the archipelago country, respectively, Kuo said.

Premier Wu Den-yih said at a legislative hearing Tuesday morning that there is no timetable yet for the development project because further assessment is needed.

The MOEA's Shih said it was still too early to go into the specifics of the project, but he noted that there has been a lot of interest among local businesses to invest in Indonesia.

Taiwan's accumulated investments in Indonesia total US$13.95 billion, according to the ministry.

Morotai is best known as the site of the Battle of Morotai in World War II in 1944 and was used as a springboard for the Allied invasion of the Philippines in 1945. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Southeast Asia should be Taiwan's strategic focus: scholars

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Southeast Asia rather than Northeast Asia should be high on Taiwan's strategic radar in the wake of the historic cross-Taiwan Strait trade pact signed earlier this year, scholars said Tuesday.

"Taiwan should focus its strategies on Southeast Asia because its participation and impact in Northeast Asia will be limited, " said Alexander Huang, a professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.

Huang made the comment in a forum that examined Taiwan's economic and political positions and strategic choices following the June signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is likely to be the axis and driving force of Asian economic integration, which is why Taiwan cannot afford to overlook the region, said economist Liu Da-nien, who serves as a researcher at the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research.

Although the ECFA has given Taiwan some leverage, South Korea, Taiwan's fierce trade competitor, is also active in Northeast Asia, Liu said, adding that a South Korea-European Union free trade agreement (FTA) is expected to take effect this year and it could also launch FTA talks with China soon, which would pose a major challenge for Taiwan.

China has put a lot of resources into Southeast Asian countries, said Lin Chien-fu, an economist at National Taiwan university. He added that Taiwan could either develop bilateral relations with ASEAN countries or do so via China's integration with ASEAN. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Monday, October 11, 2010

Germany, Taiwan launch working holiday program

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) Germany became the fifth country to sign a working holiday program with Taiwan when representatives from Germany and Taiwan completed the signing of a joint statement Monday in Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement.

According to the statement, Birgitt Ory, director of the German Institute Taipei, signed the joint statement Monday while Wei Wu-lien, representative of Taiwan's office in Germany, signed the statement Sept. 28.

Under the joint statement that took effect immediately, people aged 18-30 from Germany and Taiwan can travel and work in each other's territory for up to one year. Each side has offered a quota of 200 multiple entry visas in the first year of the program.

Taiwan also has working holiday agreements with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

Last year, more than 12,000 Taiwanese youths took part in the program, with more than 9,000 going to Australia, which has not set a quota for Taiwanese participants.

Canada has a quota of 700, up from the original 200 due to the popularity of the program, and Japan has a quota of 2,000. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Plans for all-volunteer military hit snags

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) Legislation and funding are crucial if Taiwan is to realize its goal of implementing a completely volunteer-manned military service system by 2014, the premier said Monday.

The volunteer military -- pledged by President Ma Ying-jeou during his 2008 presidential election campaign -- will change the existing military system, which consists of voluntary service and conscription, to a completely voluntary program.

It is "extremely difficult" to turn a civilian into a professional soldier in the current one-year conscription period, which is why an all- volunteer system is the right track, Premier Wu Den-yih said in an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan.

Wu said the system will only be successful if the Ministry of National Defense (MND) secures sufficient funding and is able to train elite soldiers, to maximize military capability with minimum personnel.

Meanwhile, National Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said an amendment to the Act of Military Service System will also be necessary if the plan is to advance. He added that the new system would still require males of conscription age to go through four months of basic military training.

Funding appears to be the most serious problem for the new program. In March, the MND's Department of Manpower estimated that the volunteer military service system will increase personnel costs by NT$210 million (US$6.81 million) for every 10,000 servicemen.

Taiwan's 2011 military budget accounts for only 2.6 percent of its national gross domestic production, according to the Executive Yuan.

According to a Control Yuan report in 2008, the MND had planned to cut its military personnel from 275,000 to 215,000.

Last month, Kao told a legislative session that the progress of the program has fallen behind schedule because of recruiting difficulties and insufficient funding. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Taiwanese vessel 'Feng Guo 168' confirmed safe: MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) A Taiwanese fishing vessel suspected of being hijacked in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius has been confirmed safe, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Monday.

The "Feng Guo 168" has not been seized and arrived in the Mauritius capital Port Louis on Sunday afternoon with all 14 crew members confirmed safe, said Samuel Chen, director-general of the Department of African Affairs under the ministry.

"It was misidentified as a piracy case at first because the vessel's sailing course was strange. There were probably some quarrels between the captain and the crew, " Chen said of the boat with a Taiwanese captain, eight Vietnamese, two Indonesians and three Chinese on board. The vessel headed south to Mauritius after sailing north toward Somali waters.

The crew members contacted their families and the boat owner after reaching Port Louis, Chen said.

The ministry said it was informed by the Council of Agriculture's Fishery Agency at noon on Oct. 6 that the fishing boat, which is registered in the southern port of Tungkang, Pingtung County, could have been hijacked in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Mauritius.

The case was reported as the most southerly hijacking case by Somali pirates since the European Union's anti-piracy mission began in December 2008.

The European Union Naval Forces Somalia, which was established to fight Somali piracy, protect vessels and monitor fishing activities off the coast of Somalia, had reported the boat as safe Oct. 8 after sending out a false report the previous day saying the vessel had been hijacked.

MOFA spokesman James Chang said on the same day that the ministry was still unsure whether the boat had been hijacked by pirates or its own crew. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sparkling night concludes Taiwan's National Day celebration

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Fireworks lit up Taipei's sky as Taiwan concluded the celebration of the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China (ROC) on an eventful Sunday that also saw one of the largest parades in years.

Organizers fired more than 51,000 rounds of fireworks into the sky Sunday night, wowing thousands of spectators who crowded the banks of the capital city's Tamsui River.

The main evening celebration of the country's birthday took place on the outlying island of Penghu and featured a full line of pop artists, aboriginal singers, and bands and a 30-minute fireworks display.

Also Sunday night, more than 4,000 guests, including foreign dignitaries and local government officials, attended a party being held at the Taipei Guest House, which was built in the Japanese colonial era and was used to receive foreign guests.

President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Wu Den-yih received foreign visitors and highlighted the only foreign head of state attending the anniversary, President Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe, at the evening party, which featured traditional Taiwanese cuisine and cultural performances.

A grand parade, organized by Council for Cultural Affairs and the Centenary Foundation, was held in Taipei in the afternoon and was described as the biggest celebration parade in years.

It featured 35 decorative floats sponsored by the government and private companies, 20 performance troupes, honor guards and high school bands, and larger-than-life inflatables.

The parade started from National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at 2 p.m. and proceeded 4.8 kilometers along Renai Road before reaching its final point, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, at 6 p.m.

In his National Day speech Sunday morning, Ma pledged comprehensive reform focusing on bringing about social justice and fighting poverty.

Sunday's festivities were Taiwan's first birthday celebration in two years. The country suspended the celebration in 2009 after a deadly typhoon wrecked havoc in southern Taiwan in August 2009, leaving more than 700 people dead.

Taiwan's government is planning a mega celebration next year for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ROC, which was established in 1911. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

President pledges to seek social justice, fight poverty

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said in his National Day speech Sunday that while Taiwan has achieved feats that were unprecedented in the global Chinese community, comprehensive reform focusing on social justice was still necessary and would continue.

"We cannot put off reform for the sake of winning elections. Reform will not be put aside for elections, " Ma told the country during the National Day celebration ceremony. "I believe that only reform can secure our future, and that by securing our future we can win people's hearts."

Ma also announced that a human rights consultative committee, headed by Vice President Vincent Siew, will soon be established under the Presidential Office to monitor human rights development and publish a human rights report annually.

The president said that Taiwan's democratization and economic development were achievements never seen before in the global Chinese community but that plenty remained to be done.

With fewer than two years left in his four-year term, Ma said his main policy focus in the future will be to promote social, environmental and judicial justice while also tending to economic growth in response to incidents that have indicated the desperate need for reform.

"Strategies for Taiwan's economic development will not focus exclusively on growth, but must place equal importance on growth and fairness, " Ma said. "Though we must pursue economic growth, it is even more important to protect our environment and health."

He promised to fight poverty, reduce unemployment, adopt fair tax regulations and continue judicial and educational reforms as Taiwan has "begun a robust economic recovery" from the global financial crisis.

In cross-Taiwan Strait relations, President urged China to remove missiles directed at Taiwan as soon as possible and reiterated his "mutual non-denial" approach.

Both sides belong to one Chinese community and engage in exchanges under the basis of the "1992 consensus, " he said, also lauding 14 agreements he has signed with China since his inauguration in May 2008, including an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).

In foreign relations, Ma said Taiwan has been able to rebuild its ties and mutual trust with the United States as arm sales and negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) have resumed.

It has also established a special partner relationship with Japan, and was granted visa-free treatment by countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland and Fiji, among others, he said.

Taiwan intends to be an active participant in the international community as "a peacemaker, a provider of humanitarian aid, a promoter of cultural ties, and as a creator of new technologies and business opportunities," Ma said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Friday, October 08, 2010

Status of hijacked Taiwanese boat remains unclear: MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) The status of a Taiwanese fishing boat suspected of being hijacked in the Indian Ocean not far from Mauritius remained unclear as of Friday evening, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official has said.

The ministry was informed by the Council of Agriculture's Fisheries Agency at noon Wednesday that the vessel "Feng Guo 168, " with a Taiwanese captain, eight Vietnamese, two Indonesians and three Chinese on board, might have been hijacked in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the island country.

The ministry was still unsure whether the boat had been hijacked by pirates or its own crew on board, MOFA spokesman James Chang said.

France, which sent a reconnaissance aircraft to locate the ship and has monitored its course since Wednesday, has agreed to continue its assistance, Chang said.

The vessel is now heading south to Mauritius after sailing north Thursday.

The MOFA also officially requested the assistance of Mauritius' government to ensure safety of the longliner in the country's EEZ.

The ministry said it has been trying to gather information about the ship through its representative offices in South Africa and France as well as Taiwanese fishery officials in Mauritius.

It has also sought the assistance of the Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau and the maritime liaison office of America's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Taiwan congratulates Liu Xiaobo on winning Nobel Peace Prize

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's government on Friday congratulated Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo for winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize and urged the Chinese government to engage in the promotion of human rights as its economic power grows.

President Ma Ying-jeou said in a press release Friday that Liu's award was "not only an individual honor but also has great historical significance for the development of human rights in China."

Quoting his own speech of June 4, Ma urged China to treat dissidents with lenience because "it would convince people throughout the world that the rise of mainland China contributes not only to the cause of peace, but is also a positive development from the standpoint of the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights."

Premier Wu Den-yih told reporters that Taiwan and Liu Xiaobo both promote freedom and human rights.

"With China's economic development and integration into the world, the ideals of freedom, the rule of law and human rights will be accepted by the majority of its people in the future, " he predicted.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said Liu's honor underlined the importance of human rights as a universal value.

Taiwan "looks forward to China's good faith in promoting human rights and advancing political reform," she added.

The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called for the immediate release of Liu and voiced its support for China's democratization.

Political commentator Paul Lin, formerly a Chinese professor who specialized in the history of China's Communist Party of China and now a naturalized Taiwan citizen, also praised the award.

"Justice has prevailed. And Liu Xiaobo has now become the new-generation torchbearer of China's democracy and freedom movement," he said.

Liu's award is indicative of the global trend of most countries believing that a rising and powerful China still needs thorough reforms, Lin said.

He praised the Norwegian Nobel Committee for upholding the true value of the award and fending off Chinese pressure.

"The ball is now back in China's court. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who pledged political reform, should publicly voice his support for Liu, who also called for reform 'within the system' rather than a flat-out revolution. If not, Wen's pledge was questionable, " he said.

Lin said he did not expect the Chinese government to release Liu in the near future. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Chinese basketball team pulls out of tourney over Taiwanese flags

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) A visiting Chinese university basketball team withdrew Friday from a tournament being playing in Taoyuan County after seeing hundreds of Taiwanese national flags displayed outside the arena.

After arriving Friday afternoon at Kainan University Arena, where the 2010 Asian University Basketball Championship was being held, the bus carrying the Tianjin Polytechnic University basketball team turned around and left.

The team missed its game against a Mongolian All-Star team, and was officially credited with a 20-0 loss.

Though nobody from the Chinese delegation commented on its pull-out, the team may have been angered by the hundreds of Taiwan national flags displayed in and around the parking lot and along the road leading to the arena that greeted their bus.

They were put there by a "national flag rally" organized by two local university students in protest of a move the night before by an official from the tournament's organizer, the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation (CTUSF) , to stop a fan from displaying the country's national flag in the stands.

The students were incensed by reports that the CTUSF official, Lee Hung-chi, clamped down on the fan at China's insistence, though subsequent reports indicated Lee acted of his own volition.

"This is a silent protest to the Chinese team that made the flag issue a big deal, " said one of the two student protest organizers identified only by his surname Hsieh.

The other organizer, surnamed Hsu, said the protest was "non-political" and was held to express "freedom of speech."

Lee described the Chinese team's withdrawal as "silly, " but he himself was criticized by the Sports Affairs Council (SAC), Taiwan's top sports administrator, for going after the fan.

In a statement released Friday, the SAC called Lee's move inappropriate and said he had misinterpreted the "Chinese Taipei" formula, devised in 1981 by the International Olympic Committee to enable Taiwan to participate in the Olympics after the People's Republic of China was admitted to the Olympic movement.

Under the convention, Taiwan participates in international competitions under the name "Chinese Taipei, " and uses an Olympic flag that differs from its national flag.

Organizers of competitions in Taiwan are not allowed to fly the country's national flag at competition venues, but the convention does not regulate spectators and what happens in the stands unless organizers announce specific restrictions prior to a competition.

Previous sporting events in Taiwan against Chinese teams have seen fans wave small national flags during the competition, generally without incident.

Meanwhile, Taiwan beat Universite Saint-Esprit De Kaslik of Lebanon 85-77 Friday, the tournament's final day, to capture the title. Even with its forfeit to Mongolia, China finished third in the seven-team tourney.

(By Chris Wang)

Keeping fans from displaying national flag inappropriate: SAC

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) The organizers of an international basketball tournament who stopped fans from displaying Taiwan's national flag at a game Thursday night acted "inappropriately" and misinterpreted the "Chinese Taipei" formula, Taiwan's top sports administrator said Friday.

The Sports Affairs Council (SAC) said in a statement that it was a "pity" to learn of the action taken by officials of the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation (CTUSF) at a game between Taiwan University All-Stars and China's Tianjin Polytechnic University at the 2010 Asian University Basketball Championship.

It described the handling of the incident by the CTUSF, the tournament's organizer, as inappropriate.

The competition, being held in the northern township of Luzhu, Taoyuan County, from Oct. 3-8, is an official international tournament and must follow the "Chinese Taipei" formula set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The formula was devised in 1981 by the IOC to enable Taiwan to participate in the Olympics under the name of "Chinese Taipei" after the People's Republic of China was admitted to the organization in 1979.

Since then, Taiwan has participated in almost all international sporting events and some international organizations under the name.

"Though the formula has been in place for years, some sports administrators still don't quite understand the regulations and principles. We want to make sure this will not happen again, " said Chou Jui, head of the SAC's International Sports Department.

Chou explained that the Chinese Taipei formula regulates protocols in areas such as competitions, training, meetings and ceremonies and also covers personnel, including athletes, officials and staff.

Taiwanese event organizers, for example, are not allowed to hang the country's national flag (which differs from Taiwan's Olympic flag) at competition venues.

The formula, however, does not regulate spectators and what happens in the stands unless organizers announce specific restrictions prior to a competition.

SAC Deputy Chairman Chen Hsien-tsung said the council has contacted the CTUSF to explain the regulations. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Taiwanese fishing boat feared hijacked in Mauritius: MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) A Taiwanese fishing boat might have been hijacked off Mauritius waters in the Indian Ocean, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a press release Thursday.

The ministry said it was informed by the Council of Agriculture's Fishery Agency at noon time Wednesday that the Feng-guo 168, which registered in the southern port of Tungkang, Pingtung County might be hijacked in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the island country.

Crew members of the longliner included a Taiwanese captain, eight Vietnamese, two Indonesians and three Chinese, the MOFA said.

In addition to trying to gather the latest information about the ship through its representative office in South Africa and France as well as Taiwanese fishery officials in Mauritius, the foreign ministry said it has also sought the assistance of the Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau, a subsidiary under the International Maritime Organization, and the maritime liaison office of America's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.

A France patrol aircraft has arrived at the scene and has located the boat, according to the ministry.

The incident was believed to be the first hijack case in the Mauritius EEZ, the MOFA said. (By Chris Wang) Enditem 

Canada to facilitate trade with Taiwan: Canadian representative

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) Canada is trying to facilitate stronger business exchanges with Taiwan through a "block-building" process and to take advantage of the favorable environment following the signing of a cross-Taiwan Strait trade pact, Canada's representative in Taiwan said Thursday.

Canada has "re-positioned Taiwan as an ideal partner in light of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) , " said Scott Fraser, Executive Director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), the North American country's representative office in Taiwan.

With direct flights and liberalized trade across the Taiwan Strait, "a lot of people are taking a second look at Taiwan's regional relevancy... (the ECFA) certainly makes Taiwan a much more attractive investment location for Canadian companies and a good base for doing business with China, " Fraser said at a media briefing.

Responding to a reporter's question about the possibility of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and Taiwan, Fraser said neither side has ever raised the issue. He added, though, that Canada is pursuing FTAs with several other countries, including the European Union, South Korea and Singapore.

Speaking on the issue of visa-free privileges for Taiwanese entering Canada, he said that "consultations in Canada are still continuing and we hope a final decision will be made fairly soon." He also noted that the issue is not linked to Taiwan's ban on imports of Canadian beef.

In terms of the beef ban, Fraser said that since the Canadian authorities have provided data and scientific evidence that guarantees the safety of the beef, his office does not understand the ban.

He said Canada hopes to foster closer collaboration with Taiwan, particularly on energy, which could help reduce Taiwan's dependence on foreign energy imports.

Fraser added that Canada also hopes to see positive results on negotiations for avoidance of double taxation and for customs cooperation. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Anti-death penalty group organizes film festival to seek change

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) An anti-death penalty group announced an annual film festival Thursday and called for the abolition of capital punishment, three days before the Oct. 10 World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) Executive Director Lin Hsin-yi announced that the 2010 Murder by Numbers Film Festival will screen nine death penalty-related films from Germany, Japan, Iran, Hong Kong, France, India, Taiwan and the United States in Taipei, Hsinchu and on university campuses around the country from Oct. 8-24.

"We would like to call for an immediate moratorium on executions and implementation of reasonable punishment and victim protection, as well as call attention to the importance of judicial justice and scientific analysis, " she said.

The film festival will serve as a platform for dialogue between those who support and those who oppose the death penalty, Lin said, adding that the dialogue mechanism is especially needed after heated debate about the issue earlier this year.

Taiwan's execution of four prisoners April 30, which ended a five-year moratorium on the death penalty, drew criticism from various countries and international organizations and ignited nationwide discussion on the Internet and in the media, she said.

The festival is also intended to focus on the issue of state violence by reviewing the triangular relations between the government, its people and the death penalty, Yen Chueh-an, a professor at National Taiwan University, said in a press conference organized by the TAEDP and other civic groups.

Kao Yung-cheng, head of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said he was happy to see that discussion of the issue has become more intense.

According to Kao, "executions have been halted for now, but I'm not sure what will happen after the European Union approves visa-free privileges in the Schengen Area for Taiwanese travelers," he said.

The EU expressed disappointment with Taiwan after the April 30 executions. It has said that the visa-free treatment and the death penalty are separate issues, but there have been assumptions in Taiwan that the prolonged review process of the privileges is related to the executions.

World Day Against the Death Penalty was launched in 2003 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. The program this year focuses on the United States, one of the few developed countries that has refused to abolish capital punishment. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

Foreign ministry issues low-level travel alert for Sweden

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a low-level travel alert for Sweden over concerns of possible terrorist attacks, a ministry official said Thursday.

The gray alert -- the lowest on the ministry's four-color system -- came after the Swedish Security Service changed its five-scale terrorist attack threat from the second grade of "low threat" to the third level of "elevated threat, " Thomas Chen, director-general of the Bureau of Consular Affairs under the ministry, said in a press briefing.

A gray level alert advises tourists to "travel with caution."

Threat of a terrorist attack in Sweden is still lower than that in some European countries, and an "elevated threat" doesn't mean a terrorist attack is imminent, Chen said, adding that "however, Sweden has never been considered the target of a terrorist attack before."

In related news, the ministry said the travel alert for Thailand remained at the second-lowest yellow level, which advises tourists to travel with caution and reconsider their itinerary.

According to the ministry, four Thai provinces -- Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Prathum Thani -- were still in a state of emergency and the possibility of an extremist attack in the Southeast Asian country remains high. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Interior minister underlines new mentality of spatial planning

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) The Taiwan government needs a new mentality to tackle the vital issue of spatial planning in a challenging time of climate change and financial crisis, Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah said Wednesday.

"Taiwan, like any other country in the world, is now at the juncture of having to deal with extreme weather caused by climate change and the task of boosting its economy after the financial crisis, " Jiang said in a speech at Shih Hsin University.

It is a massive challenge from which Taiwan cannot shy away, he told around 200 university students, especially after a series of recent disasters caused huge damages to Taiwanese people, including Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon in the country's history, widespread flooding caused by torrential rains in southern Taiwan last month.

The cases of controversial farmland expropriation in the central town of Dapu, Miaoli and disputed land takeover in the Central Taiwan Science Park this year have both brought nationwide discontent, the minister said.

"That's why we have to embrace the future with a brand new mentality. It will be difficult, but we have to get it done, " he stressed.

After the disasters and incidents, Taiwan's government has taken a step back to review its national spatial planning policy, which in the past was doomed by administrative failure, systematic errors and negligence, according to Jiang.

To avoid the same mistakes, the ministry has laid out priorities. Jiang said the first priority would be to protect farmers and agriculture with measures such as requiring agricultural agencies to give approval before farmland can be developed for commercial use.

One of the new mentalities also includes more civic participation in the policy-making process, which would ensure all policies are well thought-out before being implemented, he said.

"National spatial planning is important because it always involves people's lives and property, " he said, but lamented that the National Spatial Planning Act has not been screened by the Legislative Yuan.

Government officials will have to make things happen even without the appropriate legislation, he said.

"If we think it's the right thing to do, we will do it and we should do it within our administrative power."

In the future, land development and land expropriation plans will all be reviewed on the basis of fairness, justice and public interest, he said. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc

Chien-Ming Wang to pitch in instructional league

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang of the Washington Nationals is scheduled to pitch an inning in an instructional league game in Viera, Florida Thursday Taiwan time in what could be one of the most important outings of his U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) career.

Wang, who has been under rehabilitation for a shoulder injury that occurred before signing with the Nationals for a one-year, US$2 million deal this April, is slated to pitch one inning against the Detroit Tigers minor league team in the Florida Instructional League, a league for minor leaguers to hone their skills.

The 30-year-old veteran was quoted by the Chinese-language Liberty Times newspaper as saying that he will try to work mainly on sinkers -- his most effective weapon -- in the inning. His fastball is now clocked at around 85 miles per hour.

After a rehabilitation of almost 15 months, the right-hander will pitch under the watchful eyes of Mike Rizzo and Jim Riggleman, general manager and manager of the Nationals, which hasn't enjoyed Wang's service since he signed with the team.

Wang's performance Thursday appears to be important for his future with the Nationals, which finished with 69 wins and 93 losses and ranked last in the five-team National League East Division this season. If the team chooses not to offer him a new major league contract, he will become a free agent.

The Nationals had originally hoped Wang, who will be eligible for arbitration this offseason, would make his 2010 debut in mid-June. However, Wang has suffered a shoulder injury that, according to Rizzo, occurred more often to American football players than pitchers, citing New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who underwent the same surgery as Wang, as an example.

Wang signed with the New York Yankees in 2001 and was first called up to the mound of a major league game in April 2005.

He was the third player from Taiwan to make it into the MLB after Dodgers outfielder Chen Chin-feng and Rockies pitcher Tsao Chin-hui.

Wang shot to fame in 2006 with his powerful sinkers, scoring 19 wins to tie with Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins and put him above all other Asian pitchers in the MLB. He secured another 19 wins the following season.

While with the Yankees, Wang suffered a torn right shoulder capsule that was repaired in July 2009, but he has been slow to recover from the injury. (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc