■ Cross-strait Ties
China more dangerous
Taiwan businessmen operating in China as well as their family members are at high risk of being robbed, kidnapped or even murdered, police authorities said yesterday. According to statistics provided by the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to police, a total of 72 Taiwan businesspeople or members of their families have been killed in China since 1991, while 167 others remain missing. In 1998 alone, a record high of 13 Taiwan people were murdered in China, while another nine were killed in 1999. So far this year, eight Taiwan citizens have been killed in China, including a recent case in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. Among the 167 missing persons, 34 were reported last year, with the same number having been reported already this year, police said. In addition, a total of 57 Taiwan citizens have been kidnapped or abducted in China over the past 13 years, while 82 others have been shot, wounded or blackmailed, according to the SEF statistics.
TAITRA to help sell oranges
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is lending a hand to help promote the sale of oranges in a bumper harvest year. The Council of Agriculture (COA) estimated that total production of oranges is expected to reach 208,652 tonnes this year, up 13 percent from last year. Although the COA has activated its purchase mechanism to deal with the overproduction, the move has not been sufficient to offset the losses to orange growers caused by slumping prices. The TAITRA, which is mainly responsible for export promotion, has therefore decided to pitch in by helping sell oranges at home and overseas.
Men die after eating snails
Two Thai men have slipped into deep comas after catching a form of meningitis from eating snails in Taiwan, it was reported yesterday. They were among four Thai construction workers who checked into the hospital with headaches, vomiting and sore necks two weeks after eating snails they had found in the wild, a local newspaper said. It added that the two, who are hospitalized in Ilan County, will suffer permanent brain damage from invading worms. The other two workers, who only had one snail each, were discharged. At least 15 people have died from brain diseases triggered by eating snails in Taiwan and experts warn that snails must be fully cooked to kill the worms inside, the newspaper said. Fried snails is a popular dish available in many night markets.
Premier inspects project
Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday expressed the hope that the Peiyi Expressway project could be completed two months ahead of schedule. Construction work on the 31km Peiyi Expressway, which connects Shihting in Taipei County and Suao in the northeastern county of Ilan, is scheduled to be completed in December next year. While inspecting the project in Ilan County, Yu pointed out that he had always demanded during his term as Ilan magistrate that public construction projects be completed three months ahead of schedule. Yu said he hopes the engineering team of the Peiyi Expressway project will step up the pace and have the project completed two month earlier in order to provide time to deal with any problems that may arise. The 12.9km Shueishan Tunnel, the centerpiece of the project, was bored through in September.