Taiwan up close

Koror— Lacking formal government-to-government relations, Taiwan has relied on non-official interaction, that is people-to-people exchanges to provide an extensive perspective on the country from governance to its culture and fostering lasting links between people of different cultures.

As the new year rolled in, I embarked on a three-week study trip to Taiwan as part of the prestigious National Development Course sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My study course was Session 155 – indicating the number of such courses since inception in 1971. Previous participants include an impressive list that includes others who have gone on to become head of governments or hold senior government positions in their own countries.

At the National Defense University - Fu Hsing Kang College, I joined a group of 24 government and military officials and researchers from around the world billeted at the military campus for an enriching series of lectures and field trips throughout the entire stay. My participation was directly through an invitation from the Taiwan embassy in Koror, in my capacity as a journalist and an eager observer of my country – Palau’s national development.

In June, five Palauan students will be graduating at various universities in Taiwan. They joined five others along with two medical students who graduated last year bringing to over 40 Palauans who have graduated since Palau and Taiwan established diplomatic ties on Dec. 29, 1999. More than 80 Palauan students have graduated or are currently attending school have availed the full educational scholarships provided by the Taiwan government.

Educational scholarships are one of the many forms of development assistance provided by the Taiwan government (officially Republic of China) to Palau, which is one of the only 20 countries holding diplomatic ties with Taiwan. In return, Palau has been a steadfast partner supporting Taiwan in the United Nations and other international fora.