President Tsai, General-Secretary Lee, Minister Wu and all the distinguished guests: good day.
First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone attending today’s event, which has once again made me feel the importance that our society has attached to the New Southbound Policy (NSP) and the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF). As the NSP initiated since President Tsai’s inauguration is about to deepen partnerships with regional neighbors and like-minded countries, I would especially like to convey my gratitude to the foreign envoys in Taiwan whom are present at today’s opening ceremony.
- Representative Tran Duy Hai from the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office;
- Representative Gary Cowan from the Australian Office in Taipei;
- Acting Director Raymond Greene of the American Institute in Taiwan;
- Deputy Representative Nishiumi Shigehiro of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association;
- Deputy Representative Jeff Khoo of the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei;
And I would also like to extend our sincere welcome to all the distinguished guests representing different foreign offices.
Today is a great day not only as the TAEF’s inauguration day, but also as the 51th anniversary of ASEAN. On this day, August 8th in 1967, ASEAN was given birth in the spirit of “cooperation”, “amity” and “peace”. Till this day, “cooperation”, “amity” and “peace” are still important goals for Asian development, and crucial pillars for consolidating the current Indo-Pacific regional order.
The TAEF’s establishment, marks a brand-new phase in the implementation of Taiwan’s NSP. In the same regional cooperation spirit as ASEAN, we have set a clear and specific development goal: that is to deepen comprehensive cooperation with regional partners and like-minded countries, to commonly promote a “people-centered” community. This is the objective of the NSP, and also the direction which TAEF will wholeheartedly contribute to too.
In compliment to the government effort in focusing economic, investment, science-technological and educational links between Taiwan and Asia, our Foundation will expand the relations to a people-to-people, organization-to-organization, society-to-society comprehensive connectivity.
Such policy orientation may not be easy for the government to shoulder by itself. It certainly needs more civil society input to move forward. The TAEF represents a platform for cohering the energy of the civil society and the government, to open a new cooperation phase for Taiwan’s relations with-Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand. And most importantly, the NSP is related to Taiwan’s societal transformation, related to Taiwan’s regional linkages, and also related to Taiwan’s external strategy.
While the NSP is initiated by the government and executed by related governmental ministries, the depth and width of civil support will be the key to whether such policy can continue to progress. Today, in 2018, our region has encountered many new challenges, many sectors in Taiwan all are willing to work with our partners in overcoming the difficulties.
In the Philippines, as the reconstruction of Marawi needs supports from the global community, Tzu Chi Foundation has offered to provide 10,780 tons of white rice and 400 assembled houses to help locals in meet their pressing needs.
In Southern Laos, as the recent tragic collapse of a hydroelectric dam has caused thousands to become homeless, Taiwanese businessmen in Laos have also quickly organized to raise funds and supplies for the disaster-affected residents most in need, again showing the care of Taiwan. These are but two latest deeds of Taiwan’s civil society, which has always have their concerns on the region’s well-being.
The civil society has been, and will continue to be a crucial promoter of Taiwan’s NSP, deepening Taiwan and Asia’s friendly mutual-supporting transnational network. Before the first wave of the Southbound Policy, even in the early 1990s, our civil society and NGOs have already started to take root in Southeast Asian countries. The current New Southbound Policy, the third wave as such, aims to highlight the achievements that our civil society has already accumulated, and provide more policy assistance and resources through several government flagship programs.
I want reiterate here that the TAEF aims to play the role of a competent and effective platform, which provides the government, and the civil society and organizational forces which have struggled alone in the past, a full opportunity for cooperation. They can learn from each other and empower each other, so as to jointly promote Taiwan’s contribution in Asia.
The TAEF is comprised of the Department of International Collaboration, the Department of Research and Planning and the Department of General Affairs. We have invited young and energetic professionals to develop new transnational cooperation teams and action plans. The TAEF will host the annual Yushan Forum: Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress every October, to present the prosperity and development results of Taiwan and Asian countries. Besides the Yushan Forum, TAEF will also promote and execute 5 regular action programs, which are respectively, the “TAEF Program on Think Tank Collaboration”, the “TAEF Program on Asian Young Leaders”, the “TAEF Program on Civil Society Connectivity”, the “TAEF Cultural Exchange Program” and the “TAEF Program on Regional Resilience”. We hope to further close cooperation between Taiwan society and Asian states and societies, to share experiences and know-how together for the betterment of Asia as a whole..
In addition, we are also taking a first step together with 6 partner institutions in Taiwan today to formally launch the “Asian Engagement Consortium (AEC)“ （亞洲深耕聯盟）. The 6 partner institutions are the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the National Culture and Arts Foundation, the Prospect Foundation, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, National Chengchi University, the Taiwan Alliance in International Development, Taiwan ASEAN Studies Center, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research. The AEC will be a multi-sectoral, multi-issue think tank and NGO network that is designated to enable a new form of strategic alliance to join hands with international partners in deepening Taiwan’s cooperation with Asian countries.
I am confident that TAEF will become stronger and stronger in the future to build bridges for Taiwan’s civil society and other Asian neighbors and like-minded countries. I also believe that more and more of our neighboring countries will understand and appreciate Taiwan’s long-term contributions to regional stability and prosperity.
Finally, I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for joining us today, and I here again convey my deep appreciation for all your support to TAEF now and in the future. Wish you all good health and peace.