Sat, Feb 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan has a future as a sea power

By Chiau Wen-yan 邱文彥

Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has been appointed premier. We hope he will use the political experience and tolerance that turned Kaohsiung into a "maritime capital" to achieve the new Cabinet's goal of compromise and peace, and that he will put Taiwan on the road toward becoming a maritime nation.

A maritime people are characterized by being flexible, enlightened, adventurous and ready to open up new vistas, and maritime management is closely connected to foreign affairs.

In his The Freedom of the Seas, published in 1609, Hugo Grotius (Huig de Groot) defended the right of his country Holland to navigate the oceans, and established the concept that the seas were open to all, and made every nation treat the ocean as something important and something shared with all other nations.

The US has recognized the importance of this. In the 1940s and the 1970s, and today, the US either announced important maritime policies or passed major legislation establishing relevant committees, all stressing the nation's maritime rights in order to be able to maintain its global status.

We hope that the new Cabinet will continue to work to make Taiwan a maritime nation, while at the same time developing a maritime vision, new thinking and new vistas.

Sea travel and trade have always led to the development of innumerable ports and flourishing civilizations. Ocean settlements have been characterized by a melting together of different societies and cultures.

Over the past 400 years, Taiwan has been influenced by many disruptive forces, which have led to the creation of a multilayered and diversified culture. The question of how to extend these tangible and intangible cultural resources is closely connected to the perpetuation of Taiwan's appeal.

If we want the maritime concept to become deeply planted in the minds of people, people's lifestyles and the ocean must be integrated with each other. In future, the government should set up a corresponding system that continues to explore, re-interpret and nurture a new ethic and culture of "love for the ocean."

The role of ocean produce in a nation's economy cannot be ignored. Using Australia as an example, it has reported 8 percent growth in ocean produce annually, and by 2020, the annual production value of Australia's ocean produce will reach almost A$100 billion.

Kaohsiung harbor, originally built for the ship-breaking and yacht construction industry, has been developed into a harbor for the loading and unloading of containers and oceangoing fishing boats. The question of how Taiwan will be able to continue to display its strength in the fishing, foreign trade, shipping, tourism and biotechnology industries in the future is indeed a difficult issue for a maritime nation. The new government must consider and work hard to find out what Taiwan's maritime niche is.

However, any development of national land and industry must be able to sustain the environment.

Taiwan needs to gradually eliminate pollution and waste emissions, and move toward the goal of creating a sustainable, high-quality environment. Taiwan can start by working with industrial structural adjustments and purification technologies, and choose industries that have low pollution, low water and energy consumption, with high value.

Coastal developments must take environmental concerns into consideration. Concerns for reasonable land-use planning, and ideas such as green national income, or a public suffering index, as well as effective use of incentives, regulations and substitution programs should be encouraged, and thinking should not be stuck inflexibly on industrial technology or a single industry.

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