As the US began its military campaign against Iraq yesterday, Kuwait-based Taiwanese students fled the Middle East while hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Taipei to protest against the war.
"We've booked a flight and we'd like to leave here as soon as possible," student Wei Hsiou-jiun (
"A majority of foreign students here in the university have left. Less than 10 are still in the dormitory," Wei said, adding that the dorm used to house hundreds of foreign students.
PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES
While the atmosphere was relatively calm in Kuwait yesterday, Wei said the university had already urged foreign students to leave the country in a timely manner.
"Yesterday when we went to the airport, things were very chaotic. Many people simply wanted to get out," Wei said.
The lack of available flights forced Wei and her schoolmate to stay another day and the two students were scheduled to leave the country yesterday evening.
Taiwan's representative offices in Kuwait, Jordan and Israel have been authorized to help evacuate nationals should the war in Iraq affects security in these countries, officials said yesterday.
"We've mapped out evacuation routes," Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (
An official from the Ministry of Education said all six Taiwanese students in Kuwait had either returned home or were on their way.
Two returned home last month and two more flew back to Taipei on Wednesday, said Li Chen-ching (李振清), director of the ministry's Bureau of International Cultural and Education Relations.
According to Li, few Taiwanese students are seeking advanced studies in the Middle East because of the religious and cultural conditions in that part of the world.
Although Taipei maintains an education cooperation pact with Jordan, no Taiwanese were studying in that country. There are several Jordanian students studying in Taiwan.
Despite the government's support for the US-led invasion of Iraq, peace activists took to the streets in Taipei yesterday to voice their opposition to the war.
Four members of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan gathered in front of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to submit around 4,000 anti-war signatures to AIT spokeswoman Judith Mudd-Krijgelmans.
Another anti-war demonstrations took place in front of AIT last night as around 30 protesters stood in the street holding torches, blocking traffic on Hsinyi Road.
Holding placards reading "Defending Iraqi People," and "1.26 Million Iraqi Children are Dying," more than 150 Taiwanese and expatriates took part in the evening protest. The demonstration was endorsed by more than 30 student, labor and women's rights groups.
Demonstrators ridiculed US President George W. Bush as a "killer." while calling the US to stop the war in order to save Iraqi lives.
"We are here to express our anger toward the US' launch of this unjust war," a demonstrator said through a loudspeaker.
Aboriginal independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) also spoke at the demonstration through a loudspeaker, accusing the government of having promised to spend taxpayers' money to finance US-led humanitarian aid to Iraqis.
Earlier in the day Chien said that the government has yet to forge any concrete plan to help with any humanitarian aid or post-war reconstruction
"The situation is still unfolding," Mudd-Krijgelmans said.
"Sometime in the future there'll be some kind of cooperation or some kind of discussion," she said of any US move to discuss Taiwan's role in helping with humanitarian aid or reconstruction.
"We take note of people's reaction," Mudd-Krijgelmans said of the protests, adding she respected the demonstrations as a form of freedom of expression.
After wrapping up the AIT rally, hundreds of demonstrators moved to the British Trade and Cultural Office to protest against British involvement in the war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is aware that Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong has weakened any possible sentiment for a “one country, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan, and has instructed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politburo member Wang Huning (王滬寧) to develop new ways of defining cross-strait relations, Japanese news magazine Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday. A former professor of international politics at Fu Dan University, Wang is expected to develop a dialogue that could serve as the foundation for cross-strait unification, and Xi plans to use the framework to support a fourth term as president, Nikkei Asia quoted an anonymous source
CHAMPION TREES: The team used light detection and ranging imaging to locate the tree, and found that it measured a height of 84.1m and had a girth of 8.5m A team committed to finding the tallest trees in the nation yesterday said that an 84.1m tall Taiwania cryptomerioides tree had been named the tallest tree in Taiwan and East Asia. The Taiwan Champion Trees, a team consisting of researchers from the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Forestry Research Institute and National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), in June last year used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) imaging to find the giant tree, numbered 55214, upstream of the Daan River (大安溪). A 20-member expedition team led by Rebecca Hsu (徐嘉君), an assistant researcher at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, set out to find the
SELF-RELIANCE: Taiwan would struggle to receive aid in the event of an invasion, so it must prepare to ‘hold its own’ for the first 70 days of a war, a defense expert said Taiwan should strengthen infrastructure, stock up on reserves and step up efforts to encourage Taiwanese to fight against an enemy, legislators and experts said on Tuesday last week. The comments sought to summarize what the nation should learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exceeded 300 days, since Feb. 24 last year. Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that the war in Ukraine highlighted the importance of being ready for war. Taiwan’s development of an “asymmetrical warfare” doctrine and extending mandatory conscription to one year is a good start to preparation of defense against a
The Tourism Bureau plans to offer incentives to attract international tourists as the nation plans to gradually lift all travel restrictions to contain COVID-19, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday. The incentives would be funded by surplus national tax revenue from last year, Wang said. The funding could be appropriated after the legislature passes draft special statutes governing the use of the surplus tax revenue in the upcoming legislative session, he said. Of the NT$450 billion (US$14.97 billion) in surplus tax revenue, the government plans to spend NT$100 billion on seven categories of projects to bolster Taiwan’s