Top contest comes to Taipei
The fourth World Chinese Vocalist Competition will be held in Taipei from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30, competition founder Ren Rong (任蓉) announced yesterday. Ren, a noted vocalist who rose to prominence in Rome and is now a professor at National Taiwan Normal University's Department of Music, said that the top prize of the contest will be US$5,000, with a second prize of US$4,000 and a third prize US$3,000. There will also be various special awards. Ren noted that the biennial competition, which was first staged in Rome in 1997, has attracted musicians from Taiwan, China, Asia, Europe and the US and has provided a rare chance for exchanges among Chinese musicians. There will be four special awards this year -- a Chinese artistic music vocalist award, a folklore music vocalist award, an opera vocalist award and an artistic music vocalist award, with the winners receiving US$1,000 in each category, Ren continued.
■ National security
Used sub idea doesn't float
A navy official said yesterday that the government has no plans to buy used submarines from Europe. "The US is in charge of Taiwan's acquisition of eight conventional submarines," said the official, who asked not to be named. "Our navy's priority is to acquire brand-new subs. Currently, we have no plans to buy second-hand subs. If the US formally notifies us to buy used subs, then we will make an evaluation and submit the purchase plan to the parliament," he said. The official said that one reason the government does not want to buy used subs is because they may not meet the nation's needs. In addition, the sales would certainly earn the anger of China for the sellers and the government would have to find the money for the subs.
Ortega planning a visit
Nicaragua's pro-Beijing Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega will visit Taiwan by the end of this year, a move seen as reflecting improved ties between his socialist party and Taipei, it was reported yesterday. "Ortega has accepted Taiwan's invitation for a visit before the year's end," a Chinese-language newspaper said in a dispatch quoting Ambassador to Nicaragua Antonio T.S. Tsai. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs kept a low profile when asked to comment on the report. "Leaders from that country, either ruling or opposition parties, are always welcome to visit Taiwan," ministry spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) told reporters, declining to elaborate. The paper also noted that the Chinese Communist Party was not invited to Managua this week when the Sandinista party, its staunch ally, celebrated the 24th anniversary of Nicaragua's liberation.
■ Foreign affairs
Sao Tome alliance at risk
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said yesterday that Taiwan was keeping a close eye on the military coup in Sao Tome for fear China could sabotage the nation's diplomatic ties with the tiny western African state. "The Chinese communists have used every possible occasion to drive a wedge between the Republic of China and its allies," Shih told said. "We're keeping a close watch on the situation there," Shih said while declining comment on the coup itself. The bloodless coup Wednesday saw a military junta seize power in the oil-rich west African island nation while President Fradique Bandeira de Menezes was visiting Nigeria.