I am proud to commence my term as Australia’s representative this year, the 40th anniversary of the Australian Office in Taiwan.
As is customary in Australia, I would first like to acknowledge Australia and Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, and pay my respects to their leaders past, present and future.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived on the Australian continent for more than 60,000 years, but we have also welcomed millions of people from around the globe, and Australia is the most successful multicultural country in the world.
We define ourselves and our country not by our background, but by our commitment to fairness, democracy, freedom and the rule of law, united by mutual respect, dignity and equality of opportunity: values that are shared by Taiwanese and many Taiwanese-Australians whose contribution we regard so highly.
I am delighted that more and more Australians are coming to know Taiwan. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, record numbers of Australians visited Taiwan, attracted by its history, culture, beautiful landscapes and amazing food. We also welcome thousands of young Taiwanese to Australia each year to study or work, building life-long friendships and connections between us. Our immensely popular Working Holiday Maker scheme and New Colombo Plan continue to take these links forward.
Taiwan’s remarkably successful management of the pandemic has won it even more acclaim. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe, but Taiwan and Australia have all but eliminated local transmission. They have supplied each other with key medical supplies, joined COVAX and provided support to their Pacific neighbors.
Their economies are also showing incredible resilience: Taiwan was one of few economies in the world to grow at all last year, and Australia’s recovery is in full swing.
The vast majority of Australians who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 have now returned to work, and Australia is one of only nine economies to have retained its “AAA” credit rating.
Australia and Taiwan also share a commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system — particularly the WTO — and to a climate-resilient future underpinned by scientific and technological advances. These will be vital to global economic recovery.
Taiwanese are also discovering that Australia is much more than beautiful landscapes, unique wildlife, amazing food and wine, friendly people and a relaxed lifestyle — and, of course, we cannot wait to welcome you back soon.
However, we are also one of the strongest economies in the world — the world’s 12th-largest.
We are a great agricultural, energy and resources producer that underpins the economic growth and food security of the region. Our living standards are among the highest in the world, with world-class education, healthcare, science, technology and innovation.
Australians come from every corner of the Earth and have strong links with the world. We have a proud record of international engagement, working together with our partners to build a rules-based world and promote freedom, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
This year, as we continue to promote trade liberalization, economic integration and resilient global value chains abroad, at home we will prioritize COVID-19 suppression and vaccine delivery, job creation, maintaining our world-class essential services and caring for our environment.
I look forward to working with you to achieve our common goals and build a better, more prosperous future for our peoples and the world.
Wishing you a happy new Year of the Ox!
Jenny Bloomfield is Australian Representative to Taiwan.
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