■China rebuts spy report
China yesterday denied any involvement in a spy case linked to an employee at the Presidential Office, calling the allegations pure fiction. A court last week ordered the arrest of Presidential Office staffer Wang Ren-bing (王仁炳) on suspicion of leaking information to China. Another man, Chen Pin-jen (陳品仁), a former assistant to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟), was also arrested on suspicion of leaking secrets. Media said they were suspected of leaking information related to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration in May. Documents went to China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, media reported. “As for Taiwan media reports that people handed over some secret documents to the association, I can tell you extremely responsibly that this is total fiction and that it never happened,” Taiwan Affairs Office Spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) told a news conference. He did not elaborate.
College dropouts up
The number of college students that suspended their schooling or dropped out of school has increased by 35,881 over the past four years, the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Education said. The statistics said a total of 153,132 students took non-academic leave or quit school in the 2007 academic year, up from 117,251 in the 2004 academic year. The figure had been on the rise over the past four years, with the majority of dropouts and suspensions at private universities, the information showed. The number of students at public universities who suspended their schooling rose by 10,963 to 41,295 in the 2007 academic year, while the figure at private universities increased by 24,918 to 111,837 in the same academic year.
French scholarships offered
The French Institute in Taipei is accepting applications for the Joseph Fourier scholarship program for Taiwanese students studying in France. Three awards will be handed out for students pursuing a doctoral degree and five for those studying at the master’s level. All courses of study are eligible, but the sciences, engineering, economy, management, law and political science are preferred. Recipients will be selected based on academic performance, motivation and French or English proficiency. More details are available on the institute’s Web site. Applications are due on Jan. 31.
Taiwanese like Obama
A media survey released yesterday suggested that more than half of Taiwanese had a positive view of US President Barack Obama. Fifty-four percent of the respondents in a survey conducted by the Chinese-language United Daily News said they liked Obama, while only 4 percent said they did not. In comparison, the poll found that only 21 percent of respondents liked Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, while 29 percent said they did not like him. A total of 66 percent of respondents said Obama’s election as the first African-American president of the US would help alleviate problems of ethnic discrimination around the globe, while 14 percent said it would not help the issue. The newspaper conducted the poll of randomly selected adults by telephone on Thursday and Friday and obtained 1,026 valid responses. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.