Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Bountiful South: Soaring sky high:Taiwan-Vietnam ties

With the support of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, the dynamic relationship between the two countries is expanding through tourism, education and exchanges

By Liam Gibson  /  Contributing Reporter

Yet, deeper than business ties, over the last 30 years, Vietnamese have become part of Taiwan’s kin.

TIES THAT BIND

According Ministry of the Interior data, starting in 1996, Vietnamese became the largest contingent of foreign spouses, a trend that has continued to this day. As of last August, there were 100,000 Vietnamese spouses married to Taiwanese, contributing greatly to the nation’s cultural life.

Vietnamese cuisine has now become ubiquitous around the country. Evolving from simple family-run eateries to a mainstream food court staple, with restaurant conglomerate Wowprime launching its new Mu Viet (沐越) chain last year.

Entertainers such as traditional opera singer Annie Nguyen and actress Helen Thanh Dao (海清清桃) from Formosa Televisions’ hit drama series Tan Nuong Gia Dao (新娘嫁到), have become household names.

Yet possibly the most influential cultural asset Vietnamese migrants have brought is their language, raising a new generation of bilingual children.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, since 2011, children of Vietnamese nationals have been the highest group of second generation migrants, making up roughly 40 percent of the total.

Each year approximately 10,000 of these students graduate from middle high school, some entering the workforce. This cohort is now reaping the benefits of their Vietnamese cultural and linguistic background with a great number of opportunities across a range of industries, under the New Southbound Policy, of which tourism is the latest to boom.

TOURISM

Thanks in part to the introduction of visa-free travel, the number of Vietnamese tourists traveling to Taiwan as of November increased by 101 percent, or roughly 350,000 Vietnamese visitors.

Around the country, second generation Vietnamese speakers are involved in tour operations, marketing and acting as tour guides for the booming number of Vietnamese tourist groups coming to sightsee. Vietnamese speakers are now highly sought out by the Tourism Bureau to accommodate the growing number of tourists.

Short-stay tours may just be the beginning. Last week, in response to the growing labor shortage in the agricultural sector, the Council of Agriculture announced it is planning to extend Working Holiday visa programs to several Southeast Asian nations, with an eye to allotting Vietnam the largest quota. It is reported the Vietnamese government has responded positively to the idea.

Over the last 30 years, ties between Taiwan and Vietnam have gone from strength to strength, broadening into a wider range of fields.

Rather than the cheap labor, Taiwanese companies now aim to tap into Vietnam’s booming consumer market, while educational exchanges are also increasing.

The greatest asset Taiwan has for developing its relations with the country further is the demographic dividend of its own Vietnamese diaspora, whose contribution to bilateral ties will only increase as they age and take on higher positions in both the public and private sector, as well as civil society. Add to this the latest efforts of the New Southbound Policy to foster greater cooperation across these areas and the upward trend between the countries seems set to continue into the years ahead.

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