Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ Diplomacy

US losing patience: official

A high-ranking official speaking on condition of anonymity yesterday said that Washington has warned Taiwan to pass the arms procurement package within six months, or else the US may lose interest in Taiwan's affairs. The official said that the US' acting National Security Council director for Asia Dennis Wilder and the US State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs revealed this position to Taiwan during Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-Pyng's (王金平) recent visit to the US. The US officials told Wang that people who have always taken Taiwan's side in cross-strait disputes are losing sympathy and are starting to doubt Taiwan's determination to defend itself.

■ Culture

Ma lauds traditional script

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has urged the UN to declare traditional Chinese characters a world cultural heritage, fearing they are fading into oblivion. At a meeting with Taiwanese in Geneva, Ma said the adoption by China of simplified characters has rendered them less and less recognizable in the Chinese-speaking world. Ma said he was barred from applying to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to preserve the traditional characters because Taiwan is not a UN member.

■ Diplomacy

`Hongbao' faux pas denied

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) yesterday dismissed claims in the local media that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) insulted foreign dignitaries by giving red envelopes to foreign ambassadors and representatives on Thursday. Huang said the foreign dignitaries all responded very positively to the president's gesture. During a Lunar New Year gala on Thursday night, Chen offered each of the ambassadors and representatives a specially designed red envelope containing a NT$10 coin. Local media claimed yesterday that since older people give traditionally give red envelopes to young people, the action of giving red envelopes to foreign dignitaries acquires a condescending meaning.

■ Security

Airport security fails again

Premier Su Tseng-chang yesterday (蘇貞昌) ordered the creation of an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism to beef up the government's management of CKS International Airport, which recently saw a passenger slip through unstopped during customs inspection. Su instructed Minister without Portfolio Lin Si-yao (林錫耀) to get all the relevant authorities together to upgrade security and efficiency at the airport. Meanwhile, another passenger slipped through customs yesterday afternoon. Canadian Robert George flew to Taipei from Hong Kong in possession of an overdue passport and decided to make a run for the airport exit, according to a CNA report. He was caught as he tried to hail a taxi and deported last night.

■ Culture

Gifts overpackaged: EPA

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday released the results of a survey showing that 70 percent of the Valentine's Day gifts sold locally come with excessive packaging. A total of 450 packaged gifts from five department stores were sampled for the survey, EPA officials said. Of 250 processed food products surveyed, less than 20 percent passed the inspection, while about half the 200 cosmetics products surveyed passed the inspection, the officials said.

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