【Building for the Future】
On Oct. 10, the Republic of China (Taiwan) celebrates the 106th anniversary of its founding. This milestone, which will be marked by citizens and friends of the country with a series of colorful and joyous events at home and abroad, takes on even greater significance this year. In the face of shifting geopolitics and the relentless tide of social change, it is reassuring to know the nation remains as much of a symbol of hope, stability and vitality today as at its birth in 1912.
Ensuring Taiwan continues carrying this torch and meeting new challenges and emerging responsibilities is a core policymaking consideration of the government. Since taking office in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has led efforts aimed at revitalizing the country’s structures and putting it on a sounder footing to continue advancing for the benefit of all. A strong Taiwan engaging actively and confidently in the international arena is good for the people, as well as peace, prosperity, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
This approach encapsulates all the finest traditions of courage, excellence and sacrifice recently displayed by athletes, support staff and volunteers at the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade—the largest global sporting event ever staged in Taiwan. It also epitomizes the country’s signature can-do spirit, which helped transform it from a recipient to provider of foreign aid, achieve unprecedented economic growth as an Asian tiger and adopt the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
At the heart of the government’s strategy is the New Southbound Policy, a comprehensive initiative aimed at deepening mutually beneficial ties between Taiwan and the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member economies, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand. The latest focus of the policy comprises five flagship projects and three potential-laden fields for collaboration. The former is innovative industries; medical cooperation and industrial supply chains; policy forums and youth exchange platforms; regional agriculture; and talent cultivation, while the latter is e-commerce; infrastructure; and tourism.
Alongside the policy is the Forward-looking Infrastructure Program. The special budget for the first term of the NT$420 billion (US$14 billion) four-year initiative was approved in July by the Cabinet, signaling the commencement of projects in railway development, digital infrastructure, aquatic environment, food safety, green energy, urban-rural development, birthrate promotion, child care facilities, and talent and employment.
Although making sure the country is not left on the sidelines as regional neighbors forge closer relations is of the utmost importance, this does not come at the expense of other issues in society. As Taiwan continues moving ahead, interests spanning generations, classes and ethnicities are being adroitly addressed by the government.
Case in point is the launch last month of the country’s first radio station broadcasting in the languages of the 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes. The service is part of the June-promulgated indigenous languages development act, which seeks to raise awareness of and preserve Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures, history and languages while assisting in the attainment of historical and transitional justice. Others include rolling out changes to pension schemes, enacting concrete measures aimed at achieving gender equality and bolstering the defense capabilities of the armed forces.
As the pace of reform and renewal accelerates in Taiwan, great pride can be taken in the government’s strategic vision and ongoing efforts to build for the future. Double Tenth National Day is a time to celebrate this commitment and the social bedrock making it possible: a shared belief in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.