Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ Cross-Strait Ties

China urged to improve

The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday urged China to strengthen its human rights protection and make human rights its top national development goal. Council Vice Chairman Johnnasson Liu (劉德勳) made the call after the US State Department's latest human-rights report said human-rights conditions in China have regressed in the past year. Liu said the council hopes that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can make human rights their ultimate national development goal and cooperate in realizing this noble goal.

■ Politics

Vote-buying widespread

Nearly 300 cases of alleged bribery and election-related violence have been reported to authorities ahead of the March 20 election, a high-ranking justice official said yesterday. Ministry of Justice Chief Secretary Wang Tien-sheng (王添盛) told reporters that 294 cases had been reported so far. The ministry is offering a reward of up to NT$15 million (US$455,000) to anybody who can prove a presidential candidate is buying votes. The government is running a series of TV ads to highlight the issue, including warnings to the public not to accept gifts, free trips or meals from anyone linked with a campaign. Publicity packages handed out at political events that include gifts worth more than NT$30 are also considered to be bribery, Wang said.

■ Business

Helicopter parts deal inked

Bell Helicopter Textron of the US signed a contract with two Taiwanese plane makers yesterday to make spare parts for Bell AH-1Z and UH-1Y military helicopters. The contract was signed at the Ministry of Economic Affairs by Bell's chief executive officer Mike Redenbaugh and the chairmen of Aeronautics Industrial Development Center (AIDC) and Topkey Corp. Under the contract, AIDC will make tail booms and Topkey will make engine cowlings for the US Marine Corps' AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters. The two contracts are worth US$10 million. "This is the first time the US government has agreed to outsource military helicopter parts used by US Marines to Taiwanese suppliers. This shows that our capability has been recognized by major aerospace companies," said Chen Chao-yi (陳昭義), director of the Industrial Development Bureau, at the signing ceremony. The deal is the second technology agreement between Bell Helicopter and Taiwanese aeronautics firms. In 1999, Bell moved its assembly line for OH-58D military scout helicopters and commercial Bell 406s to AIDC.

■ Human Rights

US gives Taiwan high marks

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) expressed satisfaction yesterday with a US government report on Taiwan's human rights situation. Chien said that the annual report released Wednesday by the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, which gave Taiwan good grades, represents US affirmation of Taiwan's democratic development. It also serves as evidence that Taiwan's democracy and human rights are as mature as those of advanced nations, according to Chien. According to the US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practice 2003, Taiwan is a multiparty democracy and its authorities generally respect the human rights of the citizens. Taiwan's Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the authorities also generally respect these rights in practice, it states.

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