US visa-waiver stalled
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday said the ministry has been working to persuade the US to grant Taiwanese visa-free treatment, but so far, “there is no timetable for its implementation.” The US wants Taiwan to increase its percentage of in-person passport applications and to make applicants have their passport photographs taken when they apply, Yang said. Accordingly, the ministry has recently launched a trial drive to get more Taiwanese to apply for their passports in person, he said. From next month, at least one household registration office in each city and county will be opened to in-person passport applications on a trial basis, Yang said.
Swedish singer to visit
Disabled singer Lena Maria Klingvall from Sweden, who has been invited to visit Taiwan to attend the Republic of China centennial celebrations next year, presented a video to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in which she expressed her appreciation for the invitation, the Presidential Office said yesterday. The singer said in her 90-second clip that she was willing to accept the invitation and was looking forward to attending the celebration. Ma officially extended the invitation in a message broadcast in September on Swedish TV during a program about Klingvall. Although the singer and artist was born without arms and her left leg is only half the length of her right, she enjoys life just like other people.
Chefs to visit Belgium
Six award-winning Taiwanese chefs will visit Belgium to showcase some of the country’s delicacies this week, according to the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium. The six chefs, who won a team award at the Food and Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge in Singapore in April, will present cuisine that integrates Taiwanese and local ingredients at a Brussels hotel from Wednesday to Friday. The first dish on their scheduled menu is rice wine chicken soup, which is believed to warm the body and improve the circulation and energy flow. For appetizers and cold dishes, the chefs will prepare drunken chicken with goji berries, mussels in a five-flavor sauce, tomato slices in ginger thick soy sauce and celery salad with sesame sauce and wasabi. Soybean crumbs, an ingredient unique to Taiwan, will be spread on steamed cod from northern European waters for a combined taste of Taiwan and Europe.
Folk dances showcased
A two-day event showcasing Taiwanese and Japanese folk dancing, held in celebration of the friendship between the two countries and the growing bilateral tourism ties, concluded yesterday. In its eighth year, the dance festival held in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) was aimed at promoting cultural exchanges through performances of drumming, lion dancing and Japanese folk dance, a Tourism Bureau official said. According to statistics, the 10 Japanese dance troupes with a combined 120 performers also boosted foreign tourism in Taiwan by attracting more than 1,000 Japanese tourists to the annual extravaganza. According to the bureau, in the first 10 months of this year, about 885,000 Japanese visited Taiwan, a 6.5 percent rise compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, around 1.11 million Taiwanese visited Japan in the same period, representing a 25.3 percent year-on-year increase.