A special task force has been created to help promote President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “new southbound policy,” with an emphasis on using existing city-to-city relations to encourage bilateral visits and economic cooperation agreements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
China’s efforts to marginalize Taiwan in the international community remain the nation’s greatest challenge, but non-traditional solutions, such as the “new southbound policy,” might provide alternative opportunities to enhance cooperation with other nations, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said.
Regional missions have been asked to submit plans to establish city-based channels of communication between Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations on issues such as mutual visits, multilateral diplomatic visits involving the legislatures of each nation, setting the groundwork for economic cooperation agreements, stepping up medical interaction and expanding mutual training programs, the ministry said.
Taiwan’s advantage lies in its emphasis on democracy, freedom and human rights, Lee said, adding that since his appointment he had met with officials from nations that share the same values as Taiwan and found that they were sincerely interested in pursuing further cooperation.
Lee said he is “more optimistic than ever” about the policy and he has revised his views toward several nations with which Taiwan might pursue further ties.
In response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang’s (江啟臣) concerns that the policy is vacuous, Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Winston Chen (陳文儀) said the ministry plans to enhance existing sister-city ties.
Many local governments have sister-city relationships with Southeast Asian cities, but lack the motivation for further interactions, Chen said, adding that the ministry’s missions in the region could help bridge the gap between city governments.
On the ministry’s plans to shutter some of its missions, Lee said the ministry has decided to consolidate the nation’s diplomatic resources, adding that it would reallocate any freed-up resources to Southeast Asian nations.
In related news, Sports Administration Secretary-General Wang Han-chung (王漢忠) said the government has allocated NT$72.7 million (US$2.2 million) to encourage sports as a medium for international exchanges, particularly in Southeast Asia.
The agency is increasing its funding to local sports organizations for training and applying to join international competitions, while looking to invite Southeast Asian nations to Taiwan to participate in international friendlies, Wang said.
The agency plans to invite both private and government representatives from Southeast Asian nations to participate in meetings on sports policies in the hope of increasing bilateral talks between sports organizations, Wang said.
Additional reporting by Lin Tsung-wei
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’: Taipei prosecutors said that cooperation agreements between Taiwan and the Czech Republic grant Czech officials protection against prosecution The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday reaffirmed that it would not charge a Czech official with sexual assault because he is protected by diplomatic immunity. The office released a statement saying it has verified that the man works for the Czech Economic and Cultural Office Taipei’s foreign affairs corps and is thereby protected from criminal prosecution. A foreign graduate student in Taiwan had filed a complaint alleging that the section head of the Czech Economic and Trade Section had sexually assaulted her on April 21 last year. The woman said the Czech official had invited her to his home and then forced her