There is widespread regional and international support growing for the inclusion of Taiwan in the global scene. Canada and New Zealand are only the latest major members to publicly support and call for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly. This comes despite pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) resulting in Taiwan not participating in the World Health Organization as an observer since 2017. Taiwan’s rapid development has seen great strides in the medical field placing the small country at the very forefront of medical innovation. Twenty (20) international Airlines however have bent to growing pressure from Beijing to refer to Taiwan as a part of the People’s Republic of China exclusively, or face possible ramifications that threaten to cripple the airlines’ PRC operations. Despite the current atmosphere, there is still strong support for Taiwan global participation.
On the Press Tour to Taiwan, I met with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lincoln Y. C. Ting, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, and Amb. Henry M. J. Chen, Director-General of the Department of International Information Services. We discussed leading Taiwan issues in the current global political climate, including flourishing private sector which depends heavily on trade relations between the United States and the PRC and how Taiwan maintains its economic independence. Due to current international political atmosphere, Taiwan must ensure that both its official and unofficial diplomatic ties and relationships strike the correct balance between substance and symbolism; in this area Taiwan has achieved great feats in remaining apart from the PRC’s influence but maintained a peaceful status quo.
Other meetings included several talks regarding peace policies and theories with regards to the “Cross Strait Policy”, as well as in-depth discussions of their implication for the PRC and Taiwan. Taiwan has always strived for a different identity from the People’s Republic of China and has long lobbied to secure a seat in the United Nations. As imaginable, this political struggle is wont to cause for intermittent tense relations between the two countries separated by a strait. This necessitates the sort of strong Cross Strait Policy pushed by both governments to foster healthy and friendly international relations despite the differing political atmospheres.
Taiwan advocates that the two governments should maintain the status quo of peaceful development and nurture sustainable inter-governmental relationships with goodwill gestures and pragmatic, proactive efforts to avoid miscommunications and confrontation. Taiwan has been placating the PRC, while focusing on safeguarding its democracy, developing its own separate economy and breeding independent regional and international relations. Deputy Minister Chiu-Cheng Chiu, Ph.D., of the Mainland Affairs Council shared his support of this policy.
Under the present leadership of Taiwan President Tsai, Ing-wen, Taiwan has held firm to its democratic values and has refused to bend under external political pressures from mainland China. She has consistently advocated for a mutual respect and trust model, further establishing stability and sustainability. Under the President Tsai’s leadership, Taiwan has strived to create a legal framework for maintaining the peaceful status quo.
Throughout this process, Taiwan has shaped its “Cross Strait Policy” to conform to popular public opinion. Its current policy has an impressive eighty percent (80%) approval rating. Mutual respect and trust garners an even higher 89.4% approval rating among citizens. Taiwan has been a key partner to the Asia-Pacific Region. The nation has strived to build and maintain friendly, supportive relationships with its surrounding countries and neighbors, while harboring the goodwill to the PRC.
Taiwan’s impressive medical advances were showcased by the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, founded in 1995. We met with Annie Liu, International Affairs Coordinator, and Salli Liao, Special Assistant to the President of the Corps. Their motto is “Time for Taiwan to feed back its love to the World”, this motto is realized in the many philanthropic international medical missions by Taiwan to its smaller regional neighbors and other international countries in need. Taiwan Root has made medical missionary trips to Haiti after its disastrous earthquake to help with its rehabilitation plans. The non-profit organization conducts 18 yearly medical missions which include 12 domestic and 6 overseas missions. It has been to 46 countries in the past 22 years, and has been featured on TED Talks as a speaker. Taiwan’s acute ability to balance economic, social, and infrastructural advancement while maintaining its ties to its culture and heritage are astounding and commendable, and its regional neighbors with similar rich histories would do well to emulate its example.
The Tour also included a visit to Taiwan’s Heritage Sites, one of note being the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, which has a rich history stemming from the times of Japanese colonization of Taiwan in the 1930s, and was later converted into the first modernized tobacco factory in Taiwan. It has since been reopened as the creative hub of Taiwan in 2011 as the No. 99 cultural heritage site of Taipei. (PR)