Representative of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, David Yung-Lo Lin, writes on the anniversary of the 106th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
n 10 October 2017 we celebrate the 106th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China. Today, as we all know, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has a vibrant democracy, a strong high-tech based economy and an open society. This is indeed a success story.
Since taking office as Taiwan’s first female president in May last year, President Tsai Ing-wen has promoted broad reform, pledging to further enhance freedom, democracy, prosperity and justice in Taiwan. In particular, our government is committed to advancing Taiwan’s economic transformation and expanding substantive cooperation with other countries across the world.
Taiwan is now the twenty-second largest economy in the world, with a GDP of US$529 billion in 2016. It plays a major role in the global ICT industry supply chain. By promoting the 5+2 Innovative Industries initiative, the government seeks to strengthen the key industries in Taiwan, including an Asian Silicon Valley, biomedicine, green energy, smart machinery and defence. Taiwan has also promoted the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Programme to further upgrade Taiwan’s economic competitiveness.
In foreign policy, Taiwan has continued to implement steadfast and pragmatic diplomacy, in order to strengthen relations and promote partnerships with our diplomatic allies and likeminded countries. The government has also promoted the New Southbound Policy, with a focus on broadening trade and people-to-people links across South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. This has already begun to yield concrete results—trade with partner countries rose more than 20 per cent over the last year, while tourists from these countries coming to Taiwan increased by nearly 30 per cent.
At the same time, we continue to actively pursue meaningful participation in international organisations and mechanisms such as the WHA, ICAO, Interpol, ILO and UNFCCC, in order to fulfil our responsibilities in the international community.
On cross-strait relations, Taiwan aims to maintain the status-quo of peace and stability by building communication and dialogue with mainland China. Our goal is still to pursue a more stable, predictable and sustainable relationship.
Over the past year, Taiwan-UK relations have continued to grow steadily. We have been able to welcome to Taipei both Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, and Lord Faulkner, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Taiwan. In addition, three parliamentary delegations from the UK have visited Taiwan.
The UK remains our primary destination for investment in Europe, with accumulated investment from Taiwan reaching US$3 billion in 2016. The UK is also Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner in Europe, with two-way trade volume totalling US$5.85 billion last year.
Developments in tourism and education also paint a very encouraging picture. Last year, Taiwanese visitors to the UK reached a record high (almost 100,000), while the number of Taiwanese students in the UK has risen to 12,000. This has been complemented by the Taiwan-UK Youth Mobility Scheme, under which over 10,000 young people from Taiwan and the UK have travelled or worked since 2011.
Moreover, we have now seen increasing collaboration on smart cities, renewable energy, and the railway industry. For example, the Taiwan-UK Smart City Forum was launched in Taipei in February this year, enabling direct exchanges between seven cities in the UK and Taiwan.
I am also delighted to announce that Taiwan’s China Airlines will resume direct flights between Taipei and London from December 1 this year, a clear sign of our growing economic partnership.
Looking forward, I will continue to promote our substantive relations—not only in trade and investment, but also people-to-people exchanges such as tourism, culture and education. Moreover, I hope we can explore the possibility of pursuing a free trade or bilateral investment agreement in the near future to further enhance our economic partnership.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to all those who have worked so tirelessly to ensure the continued progress of our bilateral relations. I very much look forward to working with you over the coming year.