Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan, Vietnam boost research ties

COOPERATION The two countries agreed on marine science research projects, and Taiwanese scientists said they have a lot of expertise to offer to Hanoi

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cooperation between Taiwan and Vietnam on marine science research was strengthened last week in Hanoi when the two countries agreed to carry out studies in coastal waters and the South China Sea, the Taipei Times learned yesterday.

According to Lee Chung-pan (李忠潘), a professor of marine environment and engineering at National Sun Yat-sen University, scientists of four leading universities in Taiwan will soon work with their counterparts in Vietnam in diverse fields related to marine sciences. The decision was made at a Taiwan-Vietnam workshop on marine geology held by Taiwan's National Science Council (NSC) last week in Hanoi.

At the workshop, dozens of scientists from both sides, which share no official diplomatic ties, presented research articles on themes ranging from seismology, hydrographic surveys, coastal management, unmanned underwater vehicles for monitoring of coral reef habitats and sustainable development.

Lee said that the Hanoi University of Science agreed to launch collaborative projects with four Taiwanese universities, including National Sun Yat-sen University, National Taiwan University, National Central University, and National Taiwan Normal University. Through collaborative projects, Taiwanese universities will offer talented Vietnamese researchers scholarships for doctoral degrees and post-doc positions. Contracted universities said they welcome Vietnamese scientists to come to Taiwan to use equipment and research ships.

"They are also welcome to work at an international marine research station on the Dongsha Islands (東沙島, the Pratas Islands). Coral reef conservation should be done internationally in order to ensure the sustainability of marine resources," Lee told the Taipei Times.

Since the end of World War II, the Dongsha Islands, which include Dongsha Island itself and and two coral reefs, the North Vereker Bank and the South Vereker Bank, have been administrated by Taiwan. However, the archipelago, located in a strategically important position along the major sea route connecting the Pacific and Indian oceans, is one of the disputed island groups in the South China Sea.

Lee said ecological conservation on the Dongsha Islands had been a challenge because of inappropriate activities involving Chinese fishermen, who sometimes use dynamite to catch fish.

Lee said Taiwan can also offer coastal management experience to Vietnam, which has a 3,200km coastline that will soon be ecologically affected by numerous harbor development projects. Next year, a conference on coastal pollution prevention will be held by the NSC and local universities to allow Taiwan to share its experience with Vietnam.

According to Wang Yu-lung (王裕隆), director of the Science and Technology Division in Vietnam under the NSC, in a knowledge-based economy, Taiwan has the potential to influence Vietnam's academic communities, as well as those in other southeast Asian countries.

"By taking advantage of our science and technology achievements, Taiwan can offer knowledge to promote sustainable development in the region," said Wang, who spoke with the Taipei Times yesterday from Hanoi.

To further boost collaborative scientific projects between Taiwan and Vietnam, the first bilateral agreement on science and technology will be signed by governments by the end of the month, Wang said.

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