Chen Guangcheng plans visit
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), who is studying law at New York University, said on Tuesday that he plans to visit Taiwan this year, but has not decided when. “Definitely this year,” Chen said on the sidelines of a human rights award ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he was honored with the 2012 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize. Chen was invited to visit Taiwan last year by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) when Lin visited New York. Lin also invited Chen, who suffered years of persecution for his legal actions against forced abortion and for citizens’ rights, to deliver a speech at the Legislative Yuan. Chen caused a diplomatic tussle in April last year when he fled house arrest in China and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing. Chinese authorities later let him leave for the US.
Taiwanese dies in Australia
A Taiwanese man on a working holiday in Australia died in recent flooding near Brisbane, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Australian police found the body of the man, identified only by his surname, Pan (潘), yesterday, ministry spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said. Police reports said the body was recovered from a submerged car in a river in the town of Laidley. Pan, 26, was reported missing by his girlfriend on Sunday after he failed to show up at the farm where he was working, the ministry said. Members of his family were scheduled to depart for Brisbane today to handle funeral arrangements. Pan went to Australia in May 2011 and was scheduled to return home in May, the ministry said.
Ma attends book fair
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday attended the opening of the Taipei International Book Exhibition and promised to support Taiwan’s publishing sector and give local publishers more opportunity to thrive. Taiwan may be small, but it is the world’s Chinese-language publishing hub, producing between 40,000 and 50,000 titles annually, he said. China publishes only between three and four times that, despite its much larger population, he said. Ma said the publishing sector was an important part of cross-strait cultural talks, and he hoped “there will be some breakthroughs soon.” Taiwanese publishers are not allowed to set up independent companies in China.
Otter sighting verified
Officials confirmed an otter sighting in the western part of Kinmen, where the animals have been struggling to survive. Kinmen otters are an endangered species, although efforts are being made to preserve them on the eastern side of the island, Chung Li-wei (鐘立偉) of the Kinmen County Government’s agriculture and forestry section said on Tuesday. The spotting of the otter in Wuchiang River (浯江溪) has given a boost to local conservationists fighting to save the animal, Chung said. On Dec. 31 last year, a resident saw the animal in the river next to the county stadium and took a picture of it, which he later sent to the county government for identification. Otters are usually only found around Gugang and Houfeng Port, said Chuang Hsi-ching (莊西進), who has been tracking and studying Kinmen otters for a long time. They have not been spotted around Gugang for five years, but otter excrement was found in that area this year, Chuang said.