President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a keynote address at the Yushan Forum: Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress Oct. 8 in Taipei City. (Staff photo/Chin Hung-hao)
President Tsai Ing-wen said Oct. 8 that Taiwan is working with regional partners to foster sustainability and share responsibilities in an effort to forge a resilient future.
This year has been challenging given COVID-19, Tsai said. The pandemic fundamentally changed the way people live, think and behave, presenting unprecedented challenges to shared prosperity and ways of life, she added.
In the face of consequent industrial supply chain restructuring, stagnant economic growth, constrained movement of people across borders and lack of market confidence, Tsai said, Taiwan has maintained a relatively strong position in Asia and the world. This is due to the concerted efforts of the country’s compassionate and resilient people, as well as a strong Taiwan Can Help ethos, she added.
Tsai made the remarks during a keynote address at the Yushan Forum: Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress. Organized by Taipei City-based think tank Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation, the daylong event themed Forging a Resilient Future Together also features addresses by thought-leaders such as Vice President Lai Ching-te; Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden; Malcolm Turnbull, former prime minister of Australia; and Keiji Furuya, chairman of the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council.
According to Tsai, Yushan is a world-class platform for promoting deeper cooperation between Taiwan and the New Southbound Policy target countries. A key plank in the government’s national development strategy, the NSP seeks to deepen the country’s agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.
The goals and ideals of the NSP dovetail with those of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and India’s Act East Policy, Tsai said. Cooperating closely, these initiatives can achieve mutual benefits with complementary economic and social successes, she added.
Tsai said one of the most important objectives of the NSP is to ensure sustainable prosperity for the region. Since 2016, Taiwan has signed more than 70 agreements and memorandums of understanding with NSP target countries to bolster cooperation in agriculture, economy, education, and science and technology.
Last year, trade between Taiwan and the NSP target countries totaled nearly $US112 billion, Tsai said, adding that the figure for the first half of 2020 reached $US52 billion, holding steady year-on-year despite coronavirus.
According to Tsai, people-to-people exchanges are another area of NSP success. More than 53,000 students from the region studied in Taiwan last year, and the number of students in industry-academia collaboration programs increased significantly, she said.
In addition, there were 2.8 million visits to Taiwan from NSP tourists in 2019, up 6.8 percent from year before, Tsai said. Taiwan travelers reciprocated with 3.2 million visits for growth of 15.1 percent during the same period, she added.
On the health care front, Tsai said, Taiwan donated millions of face masks and an array of coronavirus-combating medical items to NSP target countries. Another important example of related cooperation was the establishment of a strategic alliance to ensure the supply of raw materials for pandemic prevention products, she added.
Tsai said Taiwan is committed to contributing to the creation of a region that is open, free, inclusive, transparent, equal and operates under rules-based order. Taiwan has demonstrated time and again it is an indispensable friend and partner for the NSP target countries, she added. (YCH-E)