The government of Taiwan reaffirmed its commitment to the Pacific when it handed over US$2 million of cooperation agreement funds for the years 2022 and 2023 to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
The Representative of the Trade Office of Taiwan/Republic of China, Joseph Chow said at the handover that, “The ceremony reaffirms Taiwan’s unwavering dedication to the progress of Pacific Island countries; it symbolises a pivotal step in deepening Taiwan’s partnership with PIF and reflects our longstanding support for regional development, particularly the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.”
The Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dr Filimoni Manoni, received and acknowledged the contributions of the government of Taiwan over the years.
Dr Manoni said, “The development cooperation assistance will ensure the continued support of the Pacific region’s efforts to respond to the development priorities as articulated in our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent.”
In response, Chow said, “We are delighted to extend our resolute support to PIF under this strategy, wholeheartedly embracing the Pacific Way of fostering continuous communication and collaboration for the betterment of the people in the island nation.”
Taiwan has been a developing partner of the PIF cooperative project since 1993, and as of 2023, the accumulated sponsorship funds injected into the project amount to approximately US$27,770,000. The cooperation project provides support for regional development assistance programmes and the Taiwan/Republic of China-PIF scholarship programme.
The regional development assistance supports the ‘2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent’ by addressing the special needs such as sustainable ocean development, climate change resilience programmes, and the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on the COVID-19 project in line with the aim to enhance Pacific regionalism, and align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In his speech at the ceremony, Representative Joseph Chow stated, “When compared to other island nations, Pacific small island countries are more susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change, natural disasters, and global pandemics. They deserve our heightened attention and support.”
According to Chow, CROP established the Smaller Island States (SIS) attachment programme in 2018, with Taiwan contributing US$500,000 to the programme as part of their Regional Development Assistance.
“We firmly believe that the SIS-CROP attachment programme has played a vital role in empowering small island countries to enhance their capacity to address the challenges of survival and development,” he said.
Taiwan is renowned for its advanced high-tech and semiconductor industries, as well as being home to several prestigious universities. In their continued effort to share their knowledge, the project also offers Pacific Island students a Taiwan scholarship programme to further enhance the bright minds of Pacific Islanders.
“We take immense pride in its positive impact on hundreds of young individuals in the Pacific region since its inception in 2000, and as the pandemic situation improves, I would like to encourage students from Pacific Island countries to actively apply for Taiwan scholarships and pursue higher education in Taiwan.
However, for those who prefer to remain closer to home, students can also avail themselves of Taiwan scholarships to study at the University of the South Pacific and other esteemed universities in the region,” he adds.
The scholarship is only applicable to all citizens of the forum island countries and full-time studies, from certificates to postgraduate levels. It covers tuition fees, textbooks, living and accommodation allowances, a medical allowance, and one return economy airfare to the country of study. Students are encouraged to download or collect forms from the Pacific Island Forums website.
Taiwan’s commitment to the Pacific Islands through shared principles of democracy, trust, human rights, freedom of the individual, values, and the importance of the Pacific Way has led to many collaborative projects between Pacific Island countries. This includes Taiwan’s willingness to share their knowledge, give a helping hand through development projects, and share their resources with the genuine intention of fostering a genuine relationship with the Pacific.