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Remarks by H.E. Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of Taiwan, at the Taiwan/ROC – PIF Forum Dialogue

  • Data Source:Public Diplomacy Coordination Council
  • Date:2018-09-06

Chairs of the Dialogue, His Excellency President Baron Waqa and Deputy Secretary-General Madame Cristelle Pratt, Excellencies, distinguished representatives, ladies and gentlemen: Good morning!

It is a great pleasure to be in Nauru. This is my very first trip here as Foreign Minister and it is great to be amongst friends. I haven’t been this relaxed for a long time – especially not since becoming Foreign Minister. And, of course, it helps that formal wear here consists of aloha shirts and slacks. This means I can eat as much as I want of the wonderful food in Nauru. And trust me, I have.

But I am truly happy to be here. Taiwan has been invested in the Pacific Island Forum since 1993. Our commitment to supporting the development of all countries in the Pacific – and especially the countries represented by those of you here today – has never wavered. I hope that our accomplishments have been recognized and felt by you and the people of the Pacific.

This is the first time that our Foreign Minister has participated in this forum in recent years. It reflects my President’s willingness to engage more seriously with our Pacific partners, and think about ways we can do more. We are, in many senses of the word, family. We are connected through our heritage and our history – and even today, many traces of that still exist. And for us, family means helping and supporting one another.

In particular, I am excited to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals, which is an important topic in the Pacific. In many areas, what we have been doing here is a reflection of our commitment for sustainable development.

For example, as most of you know, we have agricultural missions in many Pacific countries. From the provision of eggs, to corn and fruits, they have made healthy and balanced diets more accessible for the people. They have also created local jobs and enhanced the pride many people feel towards their local communities. The mushroom farm pilot project, which was initiated by the idea of President Waqa, is an example of this; and it is an example we are very proud of.

Another area of the SDGs, and this is an area our administration is particularly interested in expanding, is education. Taiwan’s own experience as an island country without many natural resources, shows the importance of investing in human capital. Education is one of the building blocks for national development. We all know that the latter cannot exist without the former.

Beginning last year, we have increased the number of Taiwan scholarships available to talented students from our diplomatic allies. We want more of them to have the experience of studying in Taiwan, and bringing back what they’ve learned here, to the Pacific islands. We are also shifting the emphasis of our Taiwan/ROC-Pacific Islands Forum Scholarship Scheme to focus more on agriculture, aquaculture, and vocational training. We will tailor programs to the individual needs of each participating country.

And speaking of vocational training, this year, we’re starting a new program to provide 520 short-term vocational training opportunities for young people from our diplomatic allies. We will provide hands-on training in areas including electrical engineering, ICT, and more, with an aim of teaching skills that are in demand back here. I have every confidence that this program will be a success.

In terms of infrastructure, we recognize that there is an infrastructure deficit in the Pacific. We know that infrastructure is key to economic development – you can’t bring people in if you don’t have airports, and goods out if you don’t have seaports. Last year, our administration launched a new 3.5 billion US dollar Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. Under this program, we will work with you on infrastructure projects that are both viable and sustainable, without leaving countries saddled with debt.

With regards to public health, I’m sure many of you will agree, this is one area Taiwan does very well. We have medical teams on the ground in many PIF member states – and many of these teams are from Taiwan’s most prestigious hospitals. We are also engaged in mobile medical missions and nutritional projects that focus on issues of diet and exercise. Further to this, as I announced yesterday, we are pleased to launch a new special medical fund this year for all PIF states. This program, which is something we are already doing in our Pacific allies, will provide chartered medical teams targeting the unique need of each applicant country. Application will be open to all PIF members through our embassies and representative offices.

One final area I want to talk about before we begin the program is capacity building. We’re pleased that the Pacific Islands Leadership Program, which is held in conjunction with the East-West Center, has continued to be a success. 122 participants from 15 countries have already graduated. And in the future, we’ll also be looking to do more under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), which is held together with the United States government.

With the support of all of you seated with us today, I want to emphasize that as a Pacific nation, Taiwan’s presence is here to stay. It is a force for good. It is a force for stability. And it is a force for development. I trust that our embassies all across the Pacific, as well as our mission in Fiji, will continue to coordinate closely with you to ensure that our contributions are felt across the blue Pacific.

As I conclude my remarks, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the chairpersons, His Excellency President Waqa and Deputy Secretary General Pratt, as well as all delegations attending our dialogue. I would also like to convey my utmost gratitude to the PIF Secretariat, for your efforts putting this together. I hope we will continue to work hand in hand to achieve our common goal of a prosperous and sustainable Pacific region. Thank you!