Officials to meet on talks
A preparatory meeting for the upcoming high-level cross-strait talks will be held at the Grand Hyatt Taipei tomorrow, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said yesterday. The Chinese delegation will arrive in Taipei this afternoon, and SEF Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) will host a dinner party at the hotel to welcome the guests tonight, the foundation said. The SEF and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) did not reveal the information to reporters until last night amid concerns that pan-green supporters would protest against the meeting at the hotel. The preparatory meeting will be used to discuss the time, place and agenda for a meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林). ARATS Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) would lead a delegation of about 20 officials to attend the meeting, MAC Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said. Chiang will host a dinner party with the Chinese delegation following the meeting tomorrow. The delegation will leave on Sunday morning, he said.
Ma to talk about TRA
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been invited to deliver a keynote speech by video conference from Taiwan at a seminar to be held in Washington on Wednesday on the role of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in Taipei-Beijing-Washington ties 30 years after its enactment. Ma will be introduced by former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, according to the host, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Other China affairs experts such as Bonnie Glaser, Douglas Paal, Alan Romberg, Randy Schriver and Kerry Dumbaugh will take part in discussion panels at the seminar, titled “US-Taiwan Relations in a New Era: Looking Forward 30 Years After the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Blossom festival ends
The Alishan cherry blossom festival came to an end after a month during which it attracted 304,485 visitors to view the wide range of flower species in the Alishan Forest Recreation Area in Chiayi County, officials said yesterday. The single-day visitor total peaked at 27,186 on March 22 during the festival, which ran from March 15 until Wednesday, officials of the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau said. Although the festival has ended, a variety of flowers, including the Cerasus sieboldii cherry, Oshima cherry, Prunus lannesiana, camellias, azaleas and daisies, are still in full bloom, the officials said.
Kaohsiung pumps up volume
The container handling volume at the port of Kaohsiung made a slight recovery last month, signifying that the global economy was slowly warming up, the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau said yesterday. Officials at the bureau said the port handled 718,800 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, up from 551,000 in February and 619,100 in January. However, last month’s figure was still lower than the monthly average of 800,000 TEUs in recent years. In the January-March period, Kaohsiung handled a total of 1.89 million TEUs, lower than the 2.46 million TEUs recorded in the same period of last year. Kaohsiung’s container-handling volume saw a year-on-year decline for the fifth consecutive month in February, mainly because of the global economic downturn and partly because of the Lunar New Year holiday, officials said. They attributed the moderate increase last month to growing exports.