Ma to visit allies next month
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning a trip for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to the nation’s diplomatic allies in South America and the Caribbean next month, sources familiar with government affairs said on Sunday. If the arrangements go according to plan, the trip will mark Ma’s first visit to Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. The visit will be part of Ma’s itinerary when he travels to attend the Aug. 15 inauguration of Paraguayan president-elect Horacio Cartes, the sources said. Taiwan is in talks with the US government regarding transit issues, as Ma will have to pass through US territory on his way to and from the countries on his itinerary, the sources said. Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said the trip was still in the planning stage and nothing has been finalized.
Taipei vulnerable to quakes
Taipei would be devastated if a magnitude 6.3 earthquake — which struck Nantou County last month — hit the capital, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday. The quake could bring down 4,000 buildings in Taipei, Lee said during a speech on coping with and adjusting to climate change at Taichung City Hall. On June 2, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Nantou’s Jhushan Township (竹山), killing four people. Lee also cautioned the public to be prepared to deal with the effects of climate change. A former civil engineering professor, Lee said the nation’s average temperature increases by about 1.5 percent a year, which is double the global rate.
Australia exhibit in Taitung
An Australian touring art exhibition will visit Taitung County from Friday through Aug. 25, making Taiwan the only East Asian country to host the program that highlights Aboriginal identity, event organizers said yesterday. The exhibition, titled “Message Stick: Indigenous Identity in Urban Australia,” will feature a selection of significant works by 11 aspiring Aboriginal Australian artists, the National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung County said. “It will be a great opportunity for Taiwanese to get to know about Australian arts,” museum official Chiu Chiung-i said by telephone. The works will represent the artists’ ties to Aboriginal culture and their response to the growing momentum of the Aboriginal rights movement in Australia since the 1967 national referendum that gave Aboriginal people full citizenship rights, she said. Through their works, artists living in urban areas reconnect with their heritage.
Temple opens in France
The largest Buddhist temple in Europe opened in suburban Paris on Sunday, according to Fo Guang Shan Monastery, which built the facility. The monastery said the temple, built over an area of 0.68 hectares, is a “green” building designed to fit in with its natural environment. As a building combining Buddhist and Western philosophy, the temple is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture, the monastery said. Fo Guang Shan abbot Hsin Pao and about 3,000 guests, including religious representatives, politicians and local residents, attended the inauguration ceremony for the temple in the Parisian suburb of Bussy Saint Georges. The new temple’s abbot, Man Chien (滿謙), expressed hope that the temple would serve as a bridge for cultural exchanges between East and West, and would spread awareness about the Buddhist way of life, in line with the goals of Fo Guang Shan.