Wed, Jul 02, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Taipei 101 `a monument': Chen

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President Chen Shui-bian inserts a bolt into a steel beam yesterday at a ceremony marking the fixing of the last beam on the top of the world's tallest skyscraper, the Taipei 101 building in Taipei's Hsinyi District.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said the world's tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101, is a monument to the nation's can-do spirit amid an economic slowdown, a SARS epidemic and persistent friction with China.

The 101-story, NT$58 billion (US$1.7 billion) Taipei 101 building will stand a 508m when it is finished next year, lofting over the 101-story Mori Building under construction in Shanghai by only 16m.

"This building will lead Taiwan to the top of the world, giving Taiwan the drive to fulfill its dreams," said Chen , who approved its construction in 1997 when he was mayor of Taipei.

He made the remarks yesterday at a ceremony marking the fixing of the last steel beam on the top of the structure.

Chen may need more than bricks and mortar to rebuild public confidence. The nation's near-record jobless rate means weak demand for office space and slower consumer spending.

Taipei 101 will have the world's fastest elevators, according to skyscrapers.com Web site, and is one of the few super towers in the world to draw on traditional Chinese design. The building, which has been variously described as a growing bamboo shoot or an inverted pagoda, will contain 379,033 square feet of office space.

A shopping mall on the ground floor is due to open in November.

"Taiwan needs to find new growth industries that can sustain economic growth and fill the office spaces it is creating," said Simon Chao (趙永宏), who manages IS$17 million at President Investment Trust Corp (統一投信).

A place in the record books is lost on city residents who are looking for work.

"Taiwan's economy will not be revived even if they build 10 more skyscrapers," said Taipei taxi driver Chang Shu-mu, 49, who turned to taxis four years ago when house-painting jobs dried up.

"Unless the government can attract companies to make investments that can create jobs, all it is doing is creating more empty space," he said.

China Development Financial Holding Corp (中華開發金控) and China United Trust & Investment Co (中聯信託), main developers of the building, said they plan to fill 65 percent of the skyscraper by the end of next year and achieve full occupancy by 2005.

The Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp (證交所), an investor in the project, may take as many as seven floors.

Construction has not been smooth. The skyscraper was canceled in 1999 after aviation authorities told the group to slash the height to 60 stories stories because of flight-safety concerns. Flight paths were later altered to allow the project to restart.

Construction was suspended for weeks in March last year for safety checks after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake shook loose two cranes atop the building, killing five people.

Financiers of the skyscraper also include Walsin Lihwa Corp (華新麗華), China Life Insurance Co (中國人壽), Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), Shin Kong Financial Holdings Co (新光金控), Chinatrust Financial Holding Company Ltd (中信金控) and Chunghwa Tele-com Co (中華電信).

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