EU embargo not on agenda
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday the lifting of the Chinese arms embargo is not on the current working agenda of the EU under the six-month presidency of Austria, which started on Jan. 1. Director of MOFA's European Affairs Department Larry Wang (王豫元) said yesterday in a press briefing that Austria's priority in commanding the EU does not include lifting the arms embargo on China, but the EU has put human rights as a priority for its foreign policy. Wang said the EU will pay particular attention to its dialogues with China regarding the human rights situation there. In addition, Wang said the EU will seek to reinforce cooperative relations with China, India and Japan.
Professors back Wong
A group of female professors visited the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Headquarters yesterday morning to voice their support for the only female candidate in the party's chairperson race, Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠). They wanted to hand the letter, bearing the signatures of a dozen female professors, to acting chairwoman Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), hoping Lu could pass on their letter to all DPP members. But Lu did not show up yesterday morning and DPP Secretary-General Chang Yu-jen (張郁仁) said he would pass the letter on to Lu first. Chiang Wen-yu (江文瑜), associate professor at National Taiwan University's Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, said that there is a growing global trend of women taking up important positions in all walks of life and she hopes the DPP can follow this trend and elect Wong in the chairperson by-election.
Ilan freeway opening soon
Head of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said yesterday that the MOTC aims to have all sections from Nankang to Suao of the Taipei-Ilan freeway open before the Lunar New Year. Lin said that the key to the openings was whether the Hsuehshan tunnel meets safety regulations. Checks will be carried out on the 13th and 14th of January. "If safety checks conform to the regulations, then a date will be set for the opening of the tunnel. If checks don't meet safety regulations, further work will be carried out in relevant areas, and the tunnel will be open at a later date," he said. A number of checks have already been carried out on the tunnel which was originally due to open at the end of last year.
Lu's chiefs meeting delayed
Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) idea of inviting mayors and commissioners to exchange opinions with Cabinet officials tomorrow at the Presidential Office will be not be realized until early next month. The Presidential Office announced yesterday that the gathering for local chiefs would be postponed to after the Lunar New Year holidays because of scheduling conflicts. Some Cabinet members will not be available to meet tomorrow because they have to be present at the legislature to discuss budget proposals. Lu's invitation has been criticized by the opposition, who said Lu may intend to interfere in administrative affairs at local levels. Some local chiefs from opposition parties even wanted to jointly boycott the gathering. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he would be too busy to accept Lu's invitation but would nevertheless send his deputy.