Yilan Headlines

Snapshots November / December 2016
Date: 2016-11-01    
Leadership program for Pacific Islanders wraps up

The 2016 Pacific Islands Leadership Program (PILP) with Taiwan concluded Oct. 26 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei City, highlighting Taiwan’s role in facilitating development across the region. Twenty-five participants from 12 Pacific island nations took part in seminars, tours and workshops during their five-week stay in country. PILP with Taiwan is co-hosted by the Republic of China (Taiwan) government and the East-West Center, a Hawaii-based education and research institute dedicated to boosting relations among the peoples and nations of the U.S., Asia and the Pacific. PILP with Taiwan has offered training to 96 officials and professionals from the Pacific islands region since its launch in 2013, and aims to cultivate 125 young leaders by the end of 2017.


Tsai makes 1st Double Tenth National Day address

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) delivered her first Double Tenth National Day Address since taking office in May during a ceremony staged outside the Office of the President Oct. 10 in Taipei City. Made before dignitaries from home and abroad, as well as thousands of local well-wishers, the speech was broadcast live on the internet and TV. Tsai touched on numerous issues such as promoting social justice for Taiwan’s young people, boosting the country’s participation in international affairs, and maintaining peaceful, stable cross-strait relations. But the main theme of her address marking the 105th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was reform. Tsai said there can be no shortcuts and vowed to transform the nation by moving forward with pragmatism and unwavering purpose. “Our mission now is to instill in the people of Taiwan the belief that, through reform, this country will achieve greatness.” A video of the president’s speech and its transcript in English are available at www.president.gov.tw.


European lawmakers urge Taiwan role in ICAO, Interpol

European lawmakers joined Oct. 6-7 the growing chorus of support around the world for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. Messages and statements highlighting the need for Taiwan to play a role in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)—a U.N. specialized agency overseeing information exchanges in aviation safety, navigation and environmental protection—were made by Taiwan friendship groups in the Belgian, French, German and European parliaments. In addition, Viviane Reding, a member of the European Parliament (EP) and honorary chairwoman of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group, called for Taiwan’s inclusion in Interpol.


Youth ambassadors bring Taiwan to the world

Participants in the 2016 International Youth Ambassador Exchange Program were honored for their outstanding performances and contributions to Taiwan’s public diplomacy during a ceremony at National Taiwan University of Arts Oct. 15 in New Taipei City. The event was attended by Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and around 600 foreign dignitaries, officials and other guests. Launched in 2009 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program seeks to enhance local youths’ international perspective and encourages them to explore the world and cultivate relationships. A total of 100 university students took part in this year’s edition, which involved three-week visits to 17 cities in 16 countries.


E-visa program expanded to attract Muslim visitors

Nine countries, including six in the Middle East, have been added to Taiwan’s e-visa program with immediate effect, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oct. 7. Passport holders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Montenegro and Dominica, can now apply online for visas to Taiwan. The Philippines has also been added to the program on a 12-month trial basis. Launched Jan. 12, the e-visa program is part of government efforts to increase the scale and diversity of international visitors to Taiwan.


VP Chen lauds success of Vatican trip

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said Sept. 8 that his official trip to the Vatican for the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta helped strengthen relations between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Holy See. Chen, who visited the nation’s diplomatic ally Sept. 2-8 as the representative of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), met with leading Vatican officials, Italy-based ROC diplomats and members of the Taiwan expatriate community. He also donated 100,000 euros (US$111,969) on behalf of Taiwan to assist those affected by a major earthquake that struck central Italy the month before, and took part in a Mass for global and cross-strait peace. The nation established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1942, with the two sides enjoying close ties in many areas.


Premier Lin ups tempo on New Southbound Policy

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) directed 19 ministries and agencies to immediately draft key performance indicators (KPI) for evaluating the effectiveness of New Southbound Policy implementation measures during an Oct. 21 Cabinet meeting on the government initiative. One of the first areas in which the KPIs will be used is economic collaboration. The government is creating a dedicated industry collaboration platform for each country covered by the policy. This involves producing risk analysis assessments so as to assist local firms evaluate investment environments. Another KPI priority area encompasses promotion plans for partner countries based on their individual economic conditions, interest in concluding bilateral investment agreements and willingness to offer favorable market access. A central plank in the national development strategy of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the policy aims to create fresh economic impetus and deepen business, cultural, education and trade links between Taiwan and Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand. The primary focus of the people-centric policy includes building economic collaboration, conducting talent exchanges, forging regional links and sharing resources between Taiwan and Southeast Asia.


Taiwan ranks 11th in World Bank doing business report

Taiwan’s steadily improving business climate saw it maintain 11th place among 190 countries in the Doing Business 2017 survey released Oct. 25 by the Washington-based World Bank. With an overall score of 81.09, up 0.01 from the previous year, Taiwan ranked fifth in the Asia-Pacific behind New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. The top three global spots went to New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark in that order. Among the 10 categories covered by the annual report, Taiwan fared best in getting electricity. With a score of 99.44 out of 100, it maintained second place globally behind South Korea. Additional areas of progress for Taiwan include paying taxes, up nine spots to 30th; starting a business, up three spots to 19th; and protecting minority investors, up three spots to 22nd.


Delegation inks pacts on talent recruitment in India

A delegation of more than a dozen Taiwan officials and experts organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) successfully concluded a weeklong visit to India Oct. 23 as part of government efforts to recruit international talent. The delegation signed memorandums of understanding on fostering cooperation in talent recruitment with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai and four other Indian universities, as well as the Telecom Sector Skill Council in Gurgaon, a nonprofit organization providing training and certification services in the telecoms sector. Under the memorandums, the Indian signatories will help promote Taiwan’s recruitment projects such as Contact Taiwan, a Chinese-English bilingual website launched in June by the MOEA. The group also signed its seventh memorandum on recruitment promotion with the Taiwan Alumni Association in India. At present, about 1,300 Indian professionals are working in Taiwan, up from around 850 in 2012.


Green energy technology park plan OK’d for Tainan

A plan to establish a green energy technology park in the Shalun area of southern Taiwan’s Tainan City was approved Oct. 27 by the Executive Yuan. Proposed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the plan calls for the green energy technology park to be built next to the Taiwan High Speed Rail Tainan Station. Estimated to cost NT$10.5 billion (US$323.1 million), the site will span 22.3 hectares and include renewable energy R&D centers, testing sites, as well as conference and exhibition facilities and a new campus for the College of Photonics at Tainan’s National Chiao Tung University. The park is expected to attract NT$1.2 trillion (US$37 billion) in investment and create 100,000 job opportunities by 2025, according to the MOST.


THSRC wins Asia-Pacific smart transport award

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC) was named winner Sept. 6 of the prestigious Asia-Pacific Industry Award for its smart systems. THSRC won for its disaster warning, passenger service and ticketing systems, as well as its provision of integrated i-traveling information for passengers. The operator of Taiwan’s 348.5-kilometer high-speed rail line running north-south from Taipei to Kaohsiung cities in the west of the country beat out two rivals from Australia and Hong Kong to claim the honor. The affordable and convenient service can reach speeds of up to 300 kph. THSRC began work on the high-speed rail in 2000 and commenced operations in January 2007. About 50.5 million trips were made on the system last year, up from 48 million in 2014. As of year-end 2015, more than 347 million trips have been made on the rail, which is a key driver of Taiwan’s economic development.


Number of female breadwinners hits record high

Nearly 2.45 million households in Taiwan, or 29.2 percent of the national total, were supported primarily by female income earners in 2015, up 130,000 year on year, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics in its latest national family income and expenditure survey. A total 45 percent of families in the bottom 20 percentile were supported mainly by females, up from 34 percent 10 years ago. The same pattern is present in the other four percentiles as well. According to the survey, Taiwan’s average household income inched up 0.9 percent to NT$1.22 million (US$37,540) in 2015, with disposable income rising 0.8 percent to NT$964,895 (US$29,690) per household and 2.5 percent to NT$311,256 (US$9,580) per capita. On average, each household saved NT$205,248 (US$6,315), up 1.8 percent year on year.


5 Taiwan municipalities make Smart21 Communities list

Keelung and Taoyuan cities in northern Taiwan, Chiayi and Tainan cities in southern Taiwan and Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan were recently named among the 2017 Smart21 Communities by the New York-headquartered Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). Nominees for the forum’s intelligent community awards are evaluated based on six indicators: advocacy, broadband, digital equality, innovation, knowledge workforce and sustainability. Selected from nearly 400 entries, the 21 communities will vie for a place in the forum’s Top7 Intelligent Communities. One of the seven will then be named Intelligent Community of the Year at the Intelligent Community Summit and Awards Dinner June 8 in New York. ICF is a global movement of nearly 150 cities, counties and urban regions.


Asia’s 1st arthroplasty registry gives Taiwan edge in orthopedics

Taiwan’s National Arthroplasty Registry, the first of its kind in Asia, is helping increase the success rate of local joint replacement procedures and cementing the country’s position as a regional leader in orthopedics. Containing information on implants, cases and surgery techniques, the registry assists health care professionals and administrators in tracking trends impacting patient recovery and identifying problematic joints. It was launched in January by the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in conjunction with medical institutions around Taiwan. The registry, which is used in more than 20 countries such as Australia, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K., is the latest NHIA initiative aimed at heightening awareness among medicos of personal surgery histories.


Smart toll collection system wins global recognition

Taiwan’s electronic toll collection (ETC) system won the Traffic Management and Intelligent Transportation Systems prize awarded by the Washington-headquartered International Road Federation at the 2016 Global Road Achievement Awards Oct. 18 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Developed by the Taipei City-based Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co., the system was recognized for advancing cutting-edge smart transportation technologies. Taiwan became the first country in the world to fully convert to free-flow tolling on all of its national freeways in 2013, as well as the first to install universal distance-based pay-as-you-go tolling the following year. First launched in 2006 as an optional payment method using onboard infrared units, the ETC system converted to e-Tags based on radio frequency identification technology in 2012. It boasts tolling accuracy and usage rates of 99.99 percent and 92.75 percent, respectively.


Long-term Care Plan 2.0 rollout approved

The Long-term Care Plan 2.0 is expected to begin trial operations by year-end, offering enhanced services to greater numbers of disabled and elderly people, according to the Executive Yuan Sept. 29. Utilizing a network of community-based service centers, the plan integrates medical, long-term and preventative health care resources. Under the scheme, a variety of services such as meal delivery, rehabilitation, transportation, and barrier-free home modifications will be made available. The government has also expanded long-term health care coverage to include disabled persons under 49, people with mild dementia over 50, disabled indigenous residents over 55 who live in low-lying areas and infirm seniors over 65. These new categories will increase the number of potential long-term care beneficiaries from roughly 511,000 to 738,000.


Amis village, coastal area listed among world’s top green destinations

Taiwan’s Cihalaay Cultural Landscape Area and Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area have been included in the 2016 Sustainable Destinations Top 100, a global ranking conducted by some of the world’s leading authorities on environmentally responsible tourism. Located in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County, the Cihalaay Cultural Landscape Area, a village inhabited by members of the indigenous Amis tribe, was selected primarily due to rice farmers’ commitment to eco-friendly practices. The Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area was chosen for “offering its visitors green mountains, clear waters as well as cultural heritage sites,” the website said. “The destination develops eco-friendly tourism and its effective use in tourism.” A follow-up to the inaugural 2014 Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100, the rankings assessed destinations’ performance across five themes: nature and scenery; environment and climate; culture and tradition; people and hospitality; and sustainable destination management.


Taiwan efforts to combat Zika shine on international stage

A Taiwan team’s efforts to combat the Zika virus have been realized in a device designed to provide timely point-of-care analysis that will contribute to the battle against contagious diseases. The device, dubbed BluBox and characterized by its capacity to analyze blood for the presence of the Zika virus in roughly 10 minutes, is the result of collaboration between the National Taiwan University Germination Program and Technical University of Denmark. It was honored in August by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of its Combating Zika and Future Threats: A Grand Challenge for Development initiative. Slated to enter the market in 2017 and featuring cutting-edge Blu-Ray optical technology from Taiwan, BluBox requires only a drop of blood for Zika screening. Unlike most other systems, BluBox is simple, low-cost and portable.


Director Ang Lee honored at 2016 Britannia Awards

Taiwan-born filmmaker Ang Lee (李安) received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing at the 2016 British Academy Britannia Awards ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Oct. 28 in California. Lee was the first person of Asian descent to be bestowed the prestigious honor. Born in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County in 1954, Lee won an Academy Award for best director for his film “Brokeback Mountain.” He picked up his second Academy Award in 2013 for directing “Life of Pi.” His latest offering “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” premiered Oct. 14 in New York City. Established in 1989, the Britannia Awards recognize individuals and companies who have dedicated their careers or corporate missions to advancing film.


National Palace Museum treasures go on display in Paris

A total of 96 artifacts from the Taipei City-based National Palace Museum (NPM) are on display at Paris’ Guimet Museum, marking the largest exhibition of NPM treasures in the French capital for 18 years. The pieces comprise the bulk of the 330 items from 15 museums worldwide in the “Jade, from the Emperors to Art Deco” exhibition, which runs until Jan. 16, 2017. Showcasing items spanning the Neolithic period to the 1920s, the event examines the significance of jade in various civilizations throughout history. Among the artifacts provided by NPM is a jade tablet dating back to the period of China’s Neolithic Longshan culture from 2,300-1,800 B.C. Established in Taipei in 1965, NPM is home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese imperial art, boasting 650,000 antiquities spanning 7,000 years from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).


Art exhibition promotes casino-free Penghu

An exhibition by local and foreign artists is underway at Xue Xue Institute in Taipei City’s Neihu District, highlighting opposition to the construction and operation of casinos in Penghu County. Titled “A Sea to Our Children,” the exhibition runs until Nov. 20 and includes art, sound and film installations expressing the artists’ anti-gambling views, as well as their desire to protect the environment. One of the installations is a short film titled “Childhood of an Archipelago,” which was previously screened at the 2016 Biennale of Sydney art festival. Residents voted against greenlighting casinos in a referendum staged Oct. 15 in the outlying county.


National Taichung Theater opens in central Taiwan

National Taichung Theater (NTT), central Taiwan’s newest architectural landmark, was officially inaugurated Sept. 30. Designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the striking NTT building has a unique curved wall structure that produces a free-flowing interior space. Ito, who won the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2013, has created other landmark buildings in Taiwan including the National Stadium in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City, the main venue of the 2009 World Games. The theater operates under the Ministry of Culture’s National Performing Arts Center, which also consists of the National Symphony Orchestra, National Theater and Concert Hall in Taipei City, as well as the under-construction National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, scheduled to open in 2017.


International stamp championship staged in Taiwan for 1st time

The World Stamp Championship, or PHILATAIPEI 2016, opened Oct. 21 for the first time in Taiwan, serving as an outstanding platform for international philatelic exchanges and raising the country’s profile on the global stage. Organized by state-owned Chunghwa Post Co., Chinese Taipei Philatelic Federation and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the six-day event at Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1 brought together philatelists, stamp dealers, and representatives of philatelic federations, postal service providers and publishers from 80 nations. It also featured 2,450 frames of competitive and noncompetitive stamps from 101 countries. Other highlights of the show included a collection of mailboxes adorned with images from Taiwan’s 16 indigenous tribes, animations, augmented reality stamps, audio-visual and virtual reality interactive displays, and creative design demonstrations. Chunghwa Post, which is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its founding this year, has organized five well-attended Asian international stamp exhibitions since 1993.


World Design Capital 2016 Taipei shifts into overdrive

The Network of Cities Meeting and International Design House Exhibition kicked off Oct. 13 in Taipei, the most high-profile events of the city’s tenure as World Design Capital (WDC), an international biennial project recognizing the accomplishments of cities in the realm of design. Officials and policymakers from around the world, notably Jussi Panjunen, mayor of WDC 2012 Helsinki, gathered for the one-day network meeting to discuss design-based solutions to the challenges of urban development. Scheduled to run until Oct. 30 at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, the exhibition will explore the impact of WDC initiatives in Taipei. The city was designated WDC 2016 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, a nonprofit organization based in Montreal, Canada. Before Taipei’s naming as WDC 2016, the country had already developed a reputation for innovative design. For example, a total of 98 submissions from Taiwan earned prizes at this year’s Red Dot Award, a distinguished Germany-based industrial design competition.


Photos: Central News Agency, Chateau de Chine Hotel Xinzhung, Chin Hung-hao, Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co., Fengnan Community Development Association, Huang Chung-hsin, Hwu En-te, Intelligent Community Forum, Liberty Times, Ministry of Economic Affairs, National Palace Museum, Office of the President, Taipei City Government and Xue Xue Institute

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