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Wed, Nov 20, 2002 - Page 7 News List

Interesting facts about Belgium

, BELGIAN TRADE OFFICE

In this World Pigeon Center pigeon fanciers from all over the world can house their own pigeons and can have their pigeons enter Belgian and international contests to play their own pigeons with those of their world-famous counterparts.

The Belgian cartoonist Herge invented Tintin, whose adventures were published in 22 albums sold more than 120 million volumes translated in 52 languages. It was already translated four times in Chinese both in Taiwan and in China. The adventures of Tintin in Shanghai, under the title "The Blue Lotus" were inspired by a Chinese art Student Studying in Brussels in 1935, Tchang Chong-ren, whose work are presently exhibited in the History Museum in Taipei. He was also inspired by Lou Tseng-tsiang, former minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of China and signed the treaty of Versailles on behalf of China in 1918. He became a Benedictine monk in Bruges after the decease of his Belgian wife. The former statesman and diplomat spent the rest of his live in the abbey of Saint Andrew.

Thanks to these two sources the Belgian cartoonist Herge depicts in "The Blue Lotus" the Chinese reality in Shanghai of the 1930s. It becomes obvious that some details in the story are not as accidental or innocuous as they seem to be at first sight.

In one of the wall posters in Shanghai in the background of a picture is a call for the boycott of Japanese goods and the Chinese characters on the wall poster behind them read "Down with imperialism." It caused the Japanese embassy to introduce an official protest to the Belgian government after the publication of what became a masterwork of European cartoon literature. The adventures of Tintin albums were recently published for the first time in China in 2001.

Belgium has had and still has some long serving compatriots in Taiwan. The first consul and representative of Belgium in Taiwan, Edgar Roux was the longest serving diplomat in Taipei from 1953 to 1987. Father Pierre Mertens celebrated 50 years of duty in Taiwan from 1952 to 2002.

In lieu of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees he helped among others to assist the Vietnamese boatpeople who arrived in Taiwan to be relocated to Europe or the United States.

Also is Father Georges Massin from the city of Verviers in the south of Belgium who came to Taiwan in 1955 and built the first hospital for prematurely born babies in Huwei in central Taiwan.

The Begonia is to Belgium what the Tulip is to Holland, and Belgium is the world's largest producer of Azaleas. Since the end of the 19th century the region of Ghent (Belgium) became Europe most important center of ornamental production of Azalea and Begonia flower.

The Azalea flower is actually originating from China but Belgium became the most important producer of azaleas in Western Europe, with a production of more than 40 million pieces and also remained the most important exporter of these flowers including to Taiwan, where you can find them on the Sunday flower market of Jiang Kuo Boulevard in Taipei.

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