Ralph's Feed
Dec 5, 2009

Anti-China opposition gains ground in Taiwan local election

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s China-friendly ruling party lost a county vote to the opposition on Saturday in elections seen as a first test for President Ma Ying-jeou’s policy of engagement with Beijing.

The Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the magistrate job in Ilan county to the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which supports Taiwan’s formal independence from China and upset Beijing when it controlled the presidency from 2000 to 2008.

Dec 5, 2009

Taiwan’s China-friendly party on test in local poll

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan voters went to the polls Saturday to elect local officials in the first test of China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou’s popularity since he took power a year-and-a-half ago.

If Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) holds its current majority or gains seats, it strengthens the president’s already firm mandate to govern and adds momentum to his efforts to broker peace with China through trade pacts.

Dec 1, 2009

China appeals to rival Taiwan with ancient treasures

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A state-run academy in China is hosting the biggest show of treasures to reach rival Taiwan in 60 years, offering a plethora of works including wedding sedans and music to teach the island about its Chinese roots.

The Chinese National Academy of Arts displayed 230 rare items in ethnic Chinese Taiwan this week so the public could take a closer look at its neighbor, often regarded as a military threat, and consider helping save their common heritage.

Nov 13, 2009

Q+A-Provisions, consequences of China-Taiwan trade deal

TAIPEI, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Top negotiators from Taiwan and
China plan to hold initial talks next month on a free trade
deal that would bring the two rivals closer while opening the
often isolated island to trade pacts around the world.

After senior leaders from both sides touch on the pact this
week at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in
Singapore, negotiators will meet in Taiwan next month for
further talks. They are due to sign the pact, dubbed the
Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), by May.

Nov 13, 2009
via Changing China

Gritty blast from Taiwan’s gravelly past

Taiwan Premier Wu Den-yih has sued a former opposition legislator for defamation this week, seeking compensation of T$3 million ($92,715), the government news office said.It’s not just another lawsuit. Lee Wen-chung, the former lawmaker who is now running for county chief executive in central Taiwan, has publicly accused the premier of going to Bali in December with a man involved in a Taiwan gravel mine to protect the operation while benefiting from it himself. Wu, a legislator in December, acknowledges the Bali trip but says he committed no crime.Taiwan’s public will hope the accusations against the premier are false as their island lags developed Asian peers in surveys about public perceptions of corruption despite more than 20 years of democratic reforms. Graft is still classified as a risk to business on the island (see Reuters report ). Gravel mining was particularly suspect in Taiwan’s history, with local officials feared to be cutting special deals for contracts.”When you watch the Wu Den-yih saga, it’s really ridiculous,” said Shane Lee, political scientist at Chang Jung University in Taiwan. “It’s people’s desire (to change), but people feel so helpless.”

Nov 9, 2009
via Environment Forum

Coral erodes off Taiwan as divers take it home


Taiwan tourists are destroying a piece of exactly what they travel to see on an outlying mid-Pacific islet known — at least at one time — for its abundant coral reefs.A pair of Taiwan environmental groups that marshaled 56 people to check the coral supply near Orchid Island, which is southeast of Taiwan proper, for the first time since 2004 found that the sensitive but colourful marine species covered only 18 percent of the surrounding ocean floor, down from 65 percent, said the Taiwan Environmental Information Center .The Taipei-based information centre and its research partner the Taiwan Association for Marine Environmental Education suspect that the aftermath of a long-lasting August typhoon may have caused parts of the reef to break apart.But they’re more concerned about a long-term influx of overeager Taiwan tourists who visit the sparsely populated island for diving or snorkeling in its azure waters.  Humans are taking too much coral or other aquatic life out of the water, hurting the ecosystem, said information centre special projects manager Kung Lu.”Tourists have been taking too much out of the ocean,” Kung said. “Some of them just don’t know.”Green Island, a neighbouring islet off the same subtropical coast and arguably northeast Asia’s top diving spot, is fighting an epidemic of diseased coral  as tourist traffic surges to nearly 400,000 visits per year . Orchid had gotten off easier because it’s farther from Taiwan’s main island, with fewer flights and hotels.Coral reefs, delicate undersea structures resembling rocky gardens made by tiny animals called coral polyps, are nurseries as well as shelters for fish and other sea life. It will take 50 to 100 years before Orchid Island’s coral grows back to even 40 percent of the offshore ocean floor, the information centre estimates.

Nov 4, 2009
via Left field

Taiwan set to strike baseball ‘mafia’ as fans sulk

Taiwan’s flagship sport is unravelling like an old rotted baseball, a university graduate said, reflecting the public mood of the moment, as she and I waited at a news conference for the cabinet spokesman to emerge with an official response to an illegal betting scandal.The case, far from over, has put six people in jail and pointed fingers at eight more, including two of the island’s best known pitchers, since it was announced in the final days of October after months of investigation.Taiwan, population 23 million, wants to be an international player, rivalling South Korea and Japan in Asian baseball. Then from 2008 it lost twice to baseball upstart and political rival China, prompting calls for reform. As part of a broader baseball reform package, the government pledged to stamp out illegal gambling rings that pay players to throw impossible pitches or drop easy fly balls to make bets come true as the Chicago White Sox players did in 1919.As the anti-gambling campaign got underway, a massive mafia-driven betting scheme unfolded throughout the Chinese Professional Baseball League (www.cpbl.com.tw) summer season, a local prosecutor said. Among the eight suspects are former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tsao Chin-hui, a household name among Taiwan fans, and former Chinese Taipei (effectively a national team) pitcher Chang Chih-chia.Fans stunned by nonstop broadcasts of the latest betting scandal and put off by the losses to China have turned to televised U.S. major league games, killing off the local league’s TV viewership. Basketball is on the rise among younger folk who haven’t picked a favoured sport. “Some fans might even start watching amateur baseball,” said Yu Jun-wei, author and assistant professor at a Taiwan sports university. “This case could have a huge impact on the whole professional league.”The college grad waxed on about the Red Leaf Junior Baseball Team, legendary for beating a Japanese rival in 1968 and giving the sport’s first big boost in Taiwan. Glory days that are gone for how long?Cabinet spokesman Su Jun-pin said they’d come back as the government begins to strike at the dark heart of the “black channel,” a literal translation of the Chinese term for mafia. “It’s not just about players. What’s important is that if we can’t strike the leaders, the origin of the problem can’t be exhausted,” Su told the news conference.

Nov 3, 2009

Direct marketing gains new clout in Asia

TAIPEI, Nov 3 (Reuters) – For hundreds of diners in Taiwan,
22-year-old Sheena Tsai is the billboard for Carlsberg, a
Danish beer vying for a slice of Asia’s competitive lager

The university student brings beer straight to tables at
packed Taipei seafood restaurants with handy facts about
Carlsberg’s <CARLb.CO> origin and flavour.