Members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Taiwan were practicing the slogan “Taiwan can help” across the world long before it became popular, and the nation’s “warm power” has led to the establishment of ties with Somaliland, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said at a ceremony yesterday.
Held at the Taipei Guest House, the ceremony was part of week-long activities that the ministry is holding to mark the 20th anniversary of its Department of NGO International Affairs.
Taiwan faces “special” diplomatic surroundings, but its NGOs have long developed the nation’s warm power and clout in areas such as healthcare, gender equality and humanitarian aid, Wu said.
Photo: Peng Wan-hsin, Taipei Times
While the slogan “Taiwan can help” went viral over the past few years, its spirit was long been practiced by NGO members in various areas, he said.
For example, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy is the first nation-level foundation for democratic aid in Asia and has made great contributions to promoting democratic achievements and human rights, he said.
In the field of gender equality, where Taiwan has won global acclaim, the Garden of Hope Foundation has performed outstanding work improving movements supporting women’s rights and gender equality, he added.
In environmental protection, the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy has since 2018 been hosting the annual Global Corporate Sustainability Forum, the biggest of its kind in Asia, allowing Taiwan to keep abreast of global trends in related issues, he said.
Wu also named the Tzu Chi Foundation and Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps as forerunners of relaying humanitarian aid to other countries.
The corps also played a key role in helping Taiwan and Somaliland build relations, he added.
The corps conducted medical visits to the east African nation more than a decade ago.
Taiwan and Somaliland established representative offices in each other’s capitals this year.
Corps chairman Liu Chi-chun (劉啟群) said that NGOs should play three roles: collaborators or competitors with the government, or agencies helping monitor government activity.
NGOs can work with the government if they share the same goals, but they can also compete with the government if their positions differ, he said.
While many Taiwanese tend to donate to religious organizations, Liu expressed the hope that people would lend more support to non-religious NGOs.
Officials at the ceremony presented awards to outstanding NGOs in six areas: healthcare, humanitarian aid, social welfare, environmental sustainability, sports and culture, and public policy.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) and St Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to Taiwan Jasmine Elise Huggins also attended the ceremony.
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