■ DefenseArmy simulates invasion
The army practiced fending off a Chinese invasion force by staging a street battle for the first time yesterday, conducting a drill that had only been simulated on computers in the past. Some 1,700 soldiers took part in the exercise. "The main purpose of the drill is to examine our command and fighting capabilities," said an army spokesman. The drill consisted of one group of soldiers forging their way northwards from Pingtung County to meet another group coming from Taichung. They staged a mock battle across a bridge in Tainan County. The two groups were identified only by the colors red and blue, which traditionally represent the Chinese and Taiwan armies, respectively. The spokesman said such roles were not specifically assigned for this exercise and denied media reports that the military had assumed that China's People's Liberation Army was forcing its way north after making a successful landing in the south.
Foreigners turn up safe
A French national and two Britons turned up safe late yesterday, just as police were about to start a search for them in the southern stretch of the Central Mountain Range. The trio walked out of the mountains around 7pm, one day later than their schedule, police said. The police said that 47-year-old Philippe Desgran, and 63-year-old Colin Snow work for the Taiwan High Speed Rail Co while Tim Boyle, 46, was a friend of theirs. The trio started their trek from Hsiangyangshan last Thurs-day and were scheduled to finish their journey at Hsiaokuanshan in eastern Taitung County on Sunday, police said. When Desgran and Snow did not show up for work yesterday, their company filed a report with the police.
■ Cross-strait ties
Red Cross visits Xiamen
A 30-member delegation of the Kinmen chapter of Taiwan's Red Cross Society sailed from Kinmen yester-day to Xiamen, for a five day visit. Wang Shui-chang (王水彰), president of the chapter, said the group will preside over the inaugura-tion of a liaison office in Xiamen on Thursday, as well as visit Red Cross organizations in several cities in Fujian to discuss humanitarian aid. Wang said services need to be expanded since more prob-lems are emerging from the growing contacts between people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since the "small three links" were opened in 2001. The group will return home on Friday.
■ Foreign aid
Money for quake victims
The government donated ¥8 million (US$75,902) yesterday to help Japanese people affected by the recent earthquakes and aftershocks in Niigata Prefecture. Representative to Japan Ko Se-kai (許世楷) presented the donation to Masaji Takahashi, president of the Japanese Interchange Association (JIA). Major Japanese news media, including NHK and the Mainichi Shimbun, sent reporters to cover the donation ceremony. The JIA will forward the fund to the relevant authorities for various post-earthquake relief programs. Deputy representative to Japan Chen Hung-chi (陳鴻基) donated ?2 million shortly after the Oct. 30 quake on behalf of the government. Chen also traveled to the disaster zone to convey President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun's concern for the earthquake victims.