China breaks Kiribati ties
China broke diplomatic relations with Kiribati yesterday, about three weeks after the tiny island nation recognized Taiwan. Beijing decided to sever ties with Kiribati and cease all bilateral agreements after Chinese Ambassador Ma Shuxue (馬書學) lodged a strong protest over its recognition of Taiwan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its Web site. Kiribati's establishing relations with Taiwan brought the number Taipei's diplomatic allies to 27. Kiribati is a group of small islands in the South Pacific with a population of 90,000.
■ Legal system
The number of executions has decreased in recent years, according to statistics released yesterday by the Ministry of Justice. The statistics showed that there were 32 executions in 1998, with the number dropping to nine last year and to five over the first 10 months of this year. Ministry officials said that the average time in a capital punishment case between a suspect being turned over by police to the district prosecutors' office to sentencing and execution is about five-and-a-half years, or almost four to five times longer than that of a regular criminal case. There have been a total of 97 executions over the past six years, with 35 people executed for violating racketeering regu-lations, 34 for murder, 13 for kidnapping and extortion, seven for narcotics viola-tions, six for rape and murder, and two for burglary and murder. All of those executed over the past six years were males, with 64 percent of them having prior criminal records.
Feitsui's level a year high
Due to the heavy rains in recent days, the water line in Feitsui Reservoir has risen to 158.43m, its highest level so far this year. An official of the Feitsui Reservoir Ad-ministration said yesterday that the water in the reservoir should be suffi-cient for the greater Taipei area until March but that residents still have to use water sparingly. He said there usually was an average of 162m of water in the reservoir at this time of the year. The reservoir is the main source of water supply to the greater Taipei area.
Chen opens IT show
Under the government's "Challenge 2008" program, the telecommunications industry is expected to become the country's third industry to reach production value of over NT$1 trillion (US$29.4 billion), President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday. Presiding over the opening of the 2003-2004 Information Technology Month, Chen said the "M-Taiwan" program is part of his administration's "10 New Major Construction Projects to be carried out over the next five years. He said the government wants to see 5 million wireless Internet users in Taiwan by the year 2008. The IT Month is expected to draw more than 700,000 visitors before it ends Dec. 7, according to its organizers.
Government seeking FTAs
Taiwan will continue to do its utmost in seeking to sign free-trade agreements with its trading partners, Liang Kuo-hsin (梁國新), deputy director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade
said yesterday. The Ministry of Economic Affairs will
do what it can to negotiate with the nation's trading partners for the signing of free-trade agreements in order to avoid the country being marginalized, Liang said.