Shooting help promised
Taiwanese and Philippine judicial authorities will jointly probe the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman, reportedly by two Filipino maritime policemen, in Philippine waters last Sunday, the Philippines' representative to Taipei said yesterday. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) met yesterday with Manila Economic and Cultural Office Director Antonio Basilio, who promised that police officials on both sides would work together to probe the case. Basilio said they will try to produce their findings in two to three weeks. He said an investigative team headed by Philippine vice interior minister is conducting the investigation and Manila authorities will invite prosecutors from Taitung County as well as Taiwanese police officials to participate in the shooting probe. "A life was lost. We take that very seriously and we regret it happened," the envoy said.
New visa program set
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced a 180-day visa program for retired Japanese 55 and over beginning on Feb. 1 in a bid to boost bilateral relations as well as the local tourism industry. The 180-day visa allows multiple entries over a period of six months. Ministry Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday that the visa-waiver program is a reciprocation of Japan's offer of visa-free status to all Taiwanese last September and to promote tourism in Taiwan. "The average Japanese citizen's life expectancy is among the highest in the world. They're well suited for such visa benefit that Taiwan is offering," Lu said. Applicants must not have a felony record in Japan. They must also possess valid proof of a national pension, a financial statement of more than US$50,000 and valid overseas insurance coverage of more than six months. Currently Japanese receive visa-free status for stays up to 30 days.
■ Cross-strait ties
Trade piracy to be fought
Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday that the government will assist farmers to fight Chinese trademark infringement of renowned Taiwanese agricultural products. "The Straits Exchange Foundation sent a letter to China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait yesterday, asking it to revoke all imitations," Wu said. If the Beijing authority is loath to respond to the request, Wu said the government might provide money for farmers to appeal to Chinese courts or the WTO to resolve the problem if necessary. According to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Yun-sheng (林耘生), the infringement of Taiwanese trademarks in China includes wine from Puli, Hsinchu rice noodles, Hsiluo soy sauce, Tungting oolong tea and Tungkang seafood.
■ Cross-strait ties
Pandas get Minnan lessons
Two pandas chosen by China to offer as a gift to Taiwan are having language lessons, China's official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Keepers in charge of the two pandas have been singing to their charges in Minnan, a dialect commonly spoken in Taiwan, Xinhua said. "We began our language training with songs because music is a language with no boundaries," said Li Guo, the 25-year-old keeper who has taken care of the male cub, known as No. 19, since the panda was born, Xinhua reported. Li said the female cub, now known as No. 16, was a good student, while the male cub was more interested in munching on bamboo shoots.