Sat, Mar 22, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Taiwan quick take

Identity

Chien pressed on name

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) said yesterday changing the name of the country to "Republic of Taiwan" would not help the nation's bid to join the UN. "With China enjoying veto power on the UN Security Council, Taiwan cannot be expected to be allowed to join the UN under any designation," Chien said. The minister made the remarks while fielding questions at the Legislative Yuan. During the meeting, KMT Legislator Kwan Yuk-noan (關沃暖) grilled Chien for his views on former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) recent appeals for Taiwan to scrap its current title and enact a new constitution to signify its separate identity from China. Kwan asked whether Taiwan would be able to secure UN membership and win recognition from major foreign countries should it rename itself "Taiwan" or "Republic of Taiwan." Chien initially declined to answer Kwan on the grounds that he is the minister of foreign affairs and not in a position to comment on Lee's remarks. Pressed by opposition lawmakers, however, he said that the ROC could not obtain UN membership even if it changed its designation.

Society

Tzu Chi to aid Iraq refugees

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Compassionate Relief Foundation (慈濟功德會) is preparing to dispatch a shipment of relief goods to the Middle East in a bid to help the refugees from the US-led war in Iraq, a foundation spokesman said yesterday. Tzu Chi sent 300 gas masks to Jordan via express delivery that day to meet the needs of medical personnel and personnel responsible for coping with a possible influx of refugees from the fighting in Iraq as the military campaign to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein entered its second day, the spokesman said. The Tzu Chi relief goods that are expected to be delivered to Jordan from the end of this month will include a further 200 gas masks, 15,000 blankets, medicine and canned foods, the spokesman said. The canned food will be sourced entirely in Taiwan and is expected to arrive in Jordan in early April, while the medicine has already been purchased in Jordan and is being prepared for distribution, the spokesman said.

Religion

Scientology gets recognition

The central government has recognized Scientology as a religion, the Church of Scientology said on Thursday. "At this time of world peril, our recognition in Taiwan reflects a country where diversity is celebrated rather than politicized," said Reverend Heber Jentzsch, president of the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology International, adding that Taiwan is the 100th government to acknowledge Scientology as a religion.

War

Hotels report cancellations

With heightened alert around the world following the outbreak of the war, five-star hotels in Taipei reported cancellations of around 10 percent. The US-led Iraq war, coupled with the scare over severe acute respiratory syndrome, has dealt a blow to the domestic tourism market, especially as the specter of terrorist activities has made some Western tourists delay trips. The hotels reported that most of the cancellations over the past few days have been made by residents from the US and Europe. The hotels said most travelers are delaying their trips rather than cancelling them altogether.

Agencies

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