Sun, Jul 13, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chen opens new sailing route

SCENIC SPLENDOR The president was impressed with the natural beauty of the eastern coastline and said Hualien County is to become a tourist mecca

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

President Chen Shui-bian, second right, accompanied by Ilan County Commissioner Liu Shou-cheng, left, Lin Chyi-shan, head of Hwa Chyi Shipping, second left, and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san, yesterday launches the ``blue highway'' sailing route between Ilan County and Hualien County.

PHOTO: LEE CHEN-HUA, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday made the maiden voyage of the much-hyped "blue highway" sailing route between Ilan County and Hualien County, established for sightseeing between Suao harbor in Ilan County to Hualien harbor in Hualien.

"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 (張福興) wishes," he said.

Accompanied by Deputy Secretary-General to the President Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三), President Chen arrived at Hualien Harbor at noon to a fanfare staged by members of the coast guard.

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 (游盈隆), the DPP's candidate in the Hualien County commissioner by-election, which is scheduled for August 2.

Meanwhile, Chen's opponents in the upcoming presidential election, KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), took the train to Ilan County to attend the Fishermen's Festival.

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 (吳國棟) announcing his candidacy as an independent in defiance of the KMT.

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.

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