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Japanese speaker wins Mandarin speech contest

Ayana Shirai of Japan claimed the top prize of NT$100,000 (US$3,317) after beating other foreign contestants in an annual Mandarin speech contest on Saturday.

Contests dressed up in the uniforms of various professions in the final round of Radio Taiwan International (RTI)'s 10th Mandarin speech contest for foreign nationals, which kicked off in Taipei.

Contestants came dressed as traffic police, taxi drivers, fruit vendors, pilots, weather presenters, cleaners and representatives of other professions they felt defined Taiwan.

Twenty-one individuals and groups were selected for the final round of the competition, where they showed off their Chinese skills while showcasing their innovative uniforms.

Ayana Shirai was the only non-resident contestant who made it to the final round. Learning Mandarin for six years, Shirai made a speech about Taiwan's health industry.

Sergiy Popovych of Ukraine won the second prize of NT$50,000 with a speech on delivery professionals. Charlotte Oke of Canada took the third prize of NT$30,000 for her speech about a fruit parlor owner.

Michael Hoffman of the U.S. took home NT$10,000 for winning the best dressed award while Li Thi Phuong from Vietnam was voted the most popular contestant at the competition.

Dressed as a mechanic, Dante Benson, winner of the 2011 competition, also participated in this year's contest.

“Everyone wants to win, and I'm no exception,” the 25-year-old American told CNA in fluent Mandarin before the event. “What I care about most this year is whether I have improved,” he added.

RTI has been hosting the speech contest for foreign residents in Taiwan since 2004, but this year was the first time the event has been expanded to include non-resident foreigners who were willing to travel to Taiwan for the contest.

Hanguang Education Foundation, a co-organizer of the contest, said the contestants who made it to the finals were also eligible to enter a poetry recital competition offering a top prize of NT$30,000. That prize went to Suzuki Yudai of Japan.

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Ayana Shirai of Japan, left, receives a NT$100,000 cheque from a Radio Taiwan International official after winning the radio station's 10th Mandarin speech contest for foreign nationals in Taipei, yesterday.

(CNA

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