Reporters freed in China
Two television reporters working for SET-TV have been released after being held by authorities in Beijing yesterday, Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said last night in a statement released by his office. Chiang said that as soon as the Mainland Affairs Council received news of the pair’s detention, it got in touch with the Straits Exchange Foundation, which contacted its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and negotiated the release. Saying that Taiwan attaches great importance to press freedom, Chiang expressed regret over the incident, and said he hoped the Beijing authorities would respect journalists’ rights to cover events and avoid similar incidents from happening again. At press time, it was not immediately clear why the pair had been detained.
Naturalization figures fall
A total of 7,692 foreign nationals became citizens of the Republic of China (ROC) last year, nearly 22 percent fewer than the year before, according to statistics released on Saturday by the Ministry of the Interior. Of the newly naturalized citizens, 96.5 percent are foreign spouses of ROC nationals and 97.78 percent are female, the figures show. More than 99 percent of the new citizens came from Southeast Asia, with three in every four, or 5,887, from Vietnam. The second-largest group were from Indonesia, at 913, followed by the Philippines with 280. The number of cross-border marriages has seen a decline since 2005, when Taiwanese diplomats started on-site interviews with would-be brides of Taiwanese men in order to prevent fake marriages. Meanwhile, 838 people lost their ROC citizenship last year. Of these, 685 gave up their passport voluntarily to obtain citizenship of another country.
Congestion mars festival
A record number of people visited the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Miaoli on Saturday, but there were complaints about traffic jams and crowd congestion at the venue, the organizers said yesterday. More than 1.54 million people flocked to the event on Saturday, the first day of a three-day holiday that started with warm sunny weather, the Miaoli County government said. This resulted in severe congestion in Jhunan (竹南) and Toufen (頭份) townships, the organizers said. Jhunan Railway Station was packed with people. One family said they had to wait for more than two hours before they managed to get on a train. Organizers said they would ask the railway administration to provide more trains to help alleviate congestion during the last two days of the festival, which ends today.
Taiwan art goes to Europe
The works of Taiwanese artists will reach a wider audience in Europe when an exhibition titled “Arte da Taiwan” opens in an Italian museum next month, organizers said yesterday. The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, one of the organizers, said works by 14 young artists were chosen to be displayed at the Museo d’ Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce in Genoa, from March 8 to April 24. The Centre Culturel de Taiwan a Paris and the Italian museum are jointly hosting the exhibition. Council of Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁) said the selected pieces will demonstrate the development and trends of new-generation art in Taiwan.