President Chen Shui-bian (
"Experiencing this trip confirms that the whole eastern coast of Taiwan is a national treasure, which has the best potential for developing international trade as well as tourism businesses," Chen said when his boat arrived in Hualien.
"Moreover, Hualien County will be the government's choice to establish Taiwan's first free trade zone, which would realize the late county commissioner Chang Fu-hsin's (
Accompanied by Deputy Secretary-General to the President Chen Che-nan (
Chen said he had visited Hualien a few weeks earlier to mark the completion of the electrification of the North Link railway line between Hualien and Keelung, and he was now back again to open the "blue highway," both of which were projects carried out to boost the economy of the eastern part of the island.
The president said Hualien is one of five international harbors in the country to be designated as free trade harbors in terms of the Free Trade Harbor Zone Statute enacted by the Legislative Yuan last week.
Furthermore, the construction of a Hualien-Ilan freeway will begin later this year, which, coupled with the expansion of Hualien Airport, will transform Hualien into an international city, Chen said.
Recounting that his eyes feasted on the beautiful scenery along the eastern coastline of Taiwan during his one-and-a-half-hour voyage from Ilan to Hualien, Chen urged his compatriots to love their beautiful country.
After the ceremony, Chen also attended campaign activities to promote You Ying-lung (
Meanwhile, Chen's opponents in the upcoming presidential election, KMT chairman Lien Chan (
Lien and Soong will tomorrow lead their supporters in campaigning for the KMT-PFP alliance's nominee, Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山).
Though the KMT enjoyed firm support in the county during the past decades, Hsieh is now facing severe pressure because the traditional KMT support base has been split due to former commissioner Wu Kuo-tung (
Lien and Soong yesterday refused to comment on whether they will privately meet Wu to try to persuade him to withdraw from the election. A few KMT grassroots leaders said they would try anything to have Wu withdraw from the election.