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Taiwan Church News
3186 Edition
March 18-24, 2013
Headline News

Experts evaluate government’s reforestation policies

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

March 12 is National Tree Planting Day in Taiwan and the government usually spends a lot of money on this day to raise awareness and encourage citizens to plant trees because trees can absorb carbon emissions. However, environmental organizations such as the Citizens of the Earth Taiwan Foundation have discovered that the government’s tree-planting policies in the past 10 years are misguided. They claim that these policies that allow big trees to be cut down as long as they are replaced by small plants or foreign plants are not only ineffective, but also harmful to the environment and conducive to worse landslides. These experts say that the soil has its own natural and effective ways of healing itself and Taiwanese mountains and forests don’t need artificial reforestation.

“If we’d only give nature some time, forests will come back to us in their own time,” said Yang Kuo-chen, Taiwan Academy of Ecology CEO. He added that forests and trees use natural mechanisms such as winds and animals to disseminate seeds. Yang explained that herbal plants are the first to grow out of the grown after seeds germinate. Following this, small to medium sized trees will cover the ground. Finally, bigger and stronger trees will emerge to create a forest.

Environmental protection agencies used an example to illustrate their findings on the superiority of natural reforestation. They said that an 8-hectare parcel of land in Shenkeng Village, Chiayi County, was once used to grow betel nuts for as long as 40 years. However, 20 years ago, the owner hoped to leave a good legacy for his descendants and discontinued his family business of growing betel nuts on that land. He decided to leave the land barren and see what would come of it. To his surprise, a few years after the land was left barren, little plants began to sprout out and in less than 10 years, the parcel of land that had once been barren became a dense forest. This story testifies that nature is able to restore itself and now serves as nature’s classroom for many people who go there to observe. Yang hopes that it will become a live classroom or base for research and study in the future, helping Taiwanese to better understand the environment.

Citizens of the Earth Foundation urged the government to reflect on the reason why it wants to create forests and to separate forests it wants to develop for conservation purposes and those it wants to develop for economic purposes. The organization hopes that only the latter will employ artificial reforestation.

The Citizens of the Earth Foundation compares photos of natural and artificial forests.

Photo provided by the Citizens of the Earth Foundation.

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Taiwan Church News
3186 Edition
March 18-24, 2013

Editorial: The Jesuit Knight

Translated by Lydia Ma

The much-anticipated white smoke finally emerged from the Sistine Chapel, signaling the selection of a new pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, is the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit and Latin American pope. A Jesuit magazine published in Taiwan describes Jesuits as people who will go to great lengths and endure many hardships for the sake of promoting justice and peace and sharing the Gospel. Jesuits live and work among people and they do not feel at home in elegant cathedrals or palaces. Hence, when Pope Francis insisted on catching a ride back to his hotel along with all the other cardinals soon after his election instead of travelling in a limousine, he was simply doing what a Jesuit would do.

Ignacio de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, is known for saying that he has no other desire than seeing God receive greater glory and praise. Ironically, his devotion to the Catholic Church was also characterized by absolute obedience to the Pope. In the half century that Jesuits have been in Taiwan, what this order stands for has been evident because it has been in the front-lines of social justice, founding educational institutions, and communication ministries, and helping those who are suffering. For this reason, Taiwanese society owes a debt of gratitude to Jesuits and Taiwanese Protestants have a lot of respect for Jesuits.

How will the relationship between the Vatican and Taiwan change now that Pope Francis is in charge? According to some Chinese scholars, Beijing and Rome will continue to clash over two issues, namely, recognition of Taiwan and the right to appoint Cardinals. Based on Pope Francis’ background, we can expect that he will not put up with Beijing’s tactics. We hope that when this happens, Taiwanese churches will see through Beijing’s façade and realize that religion is merely its political tool. We also hope that this realization will help Taiwanese churches to truly understand the essence of the Gospel and stop berating the PCT for its social activism while at the same time hosting conferences with a very political Three-Self Church.

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Taiwan Church News
3186 Edition
March 18-24, 2013
General Assembly News

Taiwan Communiqué General Editor meets PCT leaders and shares thoughts on Taiwan

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

Written by Lydia Ma

The General Editor of Taiwan Communiqué, Gerrit van der Wees, has been a supporter of Taiwanese democracy for many decades. During a recent trip to Taiwan, Gerrit and his wife Chen Mei-chin visited the PCT General Assembly Office (PCTGAO) and met with past, present, and future PCT leaders, including former PCT General Secretaries C.M. Kao, C.S. Yang, and J.K. Lo, current General Secretary Andrew Chang, and General Secretary-elect Lyim Hong-tiong.

During his presentation at the PCTGAO on March 11, Gerrit gave a brief overview of some of the major stories that the Taiwan Communiqué had covered over the past 30 years. He also gave a brief analysis on some issues that the US Congress has been tracking concerning Taiwan, including US-Taiwan arms sale, free trade agreement, Taiwan’s media monopoly, the Ma administration’s China-leaning policies, the Senkaku/Tiaoyutai Islands dispute, etc. Gerrit also shared his views on the future of Taiwan as a beacon of democracy in the East Asia region.

When he spoke about the state of cross-Strait relations, Gerrit said that the current warming of relations between Taiwan and China is a false appearance. He warned that the China-Taiwan relationship will likely grow closer and stronger in the future because China has always wanted to annex Taiwan. However, this rapprochement will in turn lead to more tension between Taiwan and the US. Gerrit suggested that Taiwan consider formulating a strategy conducive to the creation of permanent peace between China and Taiwan. He added that though such a strategy might antagonize people from both sides of the Strait at first, it is nevertheless necessary because it will secure peace for Taiwan in the long run.

Former PCT General Secretary C.M. Kao commented that the PCT had issued a statement in 1977 concerning the future of Taiwan and the statement had called on the government to promote a “new and independent country”. This statement, also known as “A Declaration on Human Rights by the PCT”, was issued 37 years ago. Kao said that Gerrit’s presentation is an indication that the problems and demands made in 1977 are still relevant to Taiwan today.

Gerrit van der Wees and his wife visited the PCTGAO on March 11.

Photo by Lin Yi-ying



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