Representative of Taiwan: 'We want to establish extensive cooperation with Azerbaijan' - INTERVIEW


Interview of representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission in Ankara, Republic of China (Taiwan), Chih-Yang Huang, to Report's Ankara Bureau:

- Since when did the Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission start work in Ankara?

- In order to strengthen bilateral relations and further promote exchanges of economy, trade, culture, and tourism, the Taiwan government established the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ankara in August 1989, and since 1993, the office has been upgraded and renamed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission in Ankara according to the agreement of establishment of mutual representative offices in both the capital cities of Taiwan and Türkiye.

- What kind of relations do you have with Türkiye?

- Our bilateral relationship is comprehensive and mutually beneficial, especially in the fields of trade, humanitarian aid, education, technology, tourism, and many more.

We all know that Türkiye is a business-friendly country located between Europe and Asia. With its good infrastructure and skilled workforce, Türkiye has been a good heaven for foreign investment and trade partnerships. Hence, we also encourage Taiwanese investors coming to Türkiye and now we are glad that there are already some well-known Taiwanese enterprises, such as Taiwan Cement Company, Evergreen Shipping Lines, ASUS Computer Co., Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp, TECO, Yeong Chin Machinery Industries Co. Ltd., YC INOX Stainless Steel Manufacturer, and so on, investing and establishing companies or factories here.

Taiwan and Türkiye are complementary in many fields of industries, however, the trade volume between our two countries was only $2 billion in 2022, which shows that there is still much room for improvement in bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. Frankly speaking, in addition to existing cooperation in the fields of ICT, electronics, machinery, hand tools, and auto parts, the other potential fields are electric cars, the circular economy, green cities, e-commerce, medical biotechnology, and artificial intelligence. We also hope to continue to work with the Turkish government and private sectors to develop and facilitate possible business opportunities and technological development between the two countries. For instance, Taiwanese company GEOSAT Aerospace and Technology just signed with Flyby Technology to procure 160 made in Türkiye UAVs.

In addition, Taiwan offers annual “Taiwan Scholarships," “Huayu (Mandarin) Scholarships” to Turkish students, and the “Taiwan Fellowship” program for Turkish scholars to conduct research in Taiwan. We also help increase the education quality and reduce the digital gap by building schools and community centers and donating computers.

We also work together in the humanitarian aid field, which I will elaborate on later. Moreover, Türkiye is always one of the most favorite travel destinations for Taiwanese people. The E-visa system is quite convenient for citizens from two countries to travel to both countries, and we look forward to seeing more Taiwanese people here in Türkiye and more Turkish people in Taiwan as well.

- How would you like to establish a relationship with Azerbaijan?

- Although Taiwan and Azerbaijan do not have formal diplomatic ties, trade relations between the two countries have been ongoing for many years, and both sides have witnessed a significant increase in bilateral trade volumes in recent years. We hope to continue fostering deeper bilateral exchanges between the two countries in the realms of economy, culture, education, tourism, energy, and petrochemicals. There are similarities between our two peoples, diligence, friendly characters, and sincerity are our common languages, even though we are thousands of miles away from each other geographically, our hearts can be close. We wish to have an appropriate representation in Azerbaijan, like in Türkiye, so we can work together to enhance our exchanges and cooperation.

- It was revealed that you supported the devastating earthquake that occurred in Türkiye on February 6 of this year. What other activities do you do in Türkiye?

- The scope of our activities here in Türkiye is quite extensive, including humanitarian aid, education support, trade promotion, cultural exchanges, scholarship program, fellowship programs for Turkish scholars, and many more.

Take humanitarian aid for instance, in order to help new immigrants here in Türkiye, our Mission, on behalf of the Taiwanese Government, donated 80 tons of 'Love from Taiwan' rice to refugees and vulnerable Turkish people in Gaziantep province and North Cyprus this year and sponsored Migrant TV project, which was put forth by ASAM in order to offer refugees and new immigrants in Türkiye a better understanding about the environment they are living in.

In response to the deadly earthquake in southern Türkiye this February, the Taiwanese government and its people felt the same impact and suffering of such a disaster for our Turkish friends and actively donated money to provide assistance. In addition to the $2 million donation from the government, civil society’s donations exceeded $41 million in just one month, including the President, Premier, and many ministers donating their 1 month’s salary for support.

At the same time, the people of Taiwan also quickly donated and sent more than 400 tons of relief materials. More importantly, Taiwan’s government dispatched a specially chartered plane carrying a large professional search and rescue team of 130 people and 5 dogs, flying 8,000 kilometers over to immediately provide rescue assistance. I myself also went to Adana to join our search and rescue team. Taiwan was the first large search and rescue team to arrive in Adıyaman.

On the other hand, to make the best use of the donations for earthquake relief, Taiwan has cooperated with the central and local municipal governments, as well as NGOs, to implement 10 disaster relief aid projects since this February, covering emergency assistance, shelter, food, health, hygiene, education, and disability.

In addition to earthquake projects, our mission also represented two Taiwanese NGOs, PuShien Education Foundation and Cao Zhongzhi Foundation, to donate 158 sets of wheelchairs for adults, 20 wheelchairs for kids, and 100 walkers to the Turkish handicapped confederation to help improve the living environment and quality of the vulnerable and handicapped people.

Furthermore, in response to the Turkish government’s effort to help Ukrainian refugees, we also launched a program together with SGDD-ASAM to help Ukrainian refugee children reconnect to education by donating computer rooms. We also donated 1 million US dollars to help those earthquake victims in Afghanistan through Türk Kızılay’s on-site assistance.

- What other countries do you operate in?

- We have embassies, representative offices, or consular offices in 73 countries across five continents. In the Middle East, Taiwan has set up missions in Türkiye, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman.

- What other features are there in the Republic of China (Taiwan), which is an island country?

-Taiwan holds unique positions across various fronts, including its global political and economic standing as well as its influence in the semiconductor industry and global supply chain. With the current global economy under a multitude of disturbances, including inflation, wars, and the US-China wrestling match, Taiwan matters even more.

Located at the center of the first island chain of the West Pacific, Taiwan’s pivotal location in the Indo-Pacific serves several strategic purposes for regional powers. The waters surrounding Taiwan are home to the busiest shipping lane in the world, making Taiwan also a thriving hub for international trade. Taiwan has the advantage of having an ecosystem of friendly industrial clusters, which allow for a highly effective industrial supply chain that are able to quickly respond to market changes.

As a global tech nucleus, Taiwan leads in semiconductors and electronics, spearheading technological innovation with entities like TSMC. We account for 80% of the global market’s share of laptops and motherboards and possess a complete semiconductor supply chain, with our production capacity for advanced processes accounting for over 92% of the global market. Because of these advantages and close trade relations with all countries around the globe, Taiwan has become the 17th largest exporter of merchandise in 2022.

Taiwan is a democratic country which was ranked as the No. 1 "full democracy" in Asia in the 2022 Democracy Index. Taiwanese people embrace freedom, democracy, and human rights, and those are the important values of life.

- The passports of Taiwanese citizens rank 29th in the world in terms of freedom of travel. How did you achieve this?

- Thanks to the positive image, well-educated behaviors, and strong consumption power of our nationals internationally, most countries have a favorable impression of the quality on our citizens, which has facilitated our government's successful advocacy for visa-free or landing visa arrangements in 145 countries or regions now.

- What are the characteristics of Taiwan in terms of tourism?

- Taiwan exhibits diverse characteristics across various domains. From stunning mountains like Mt. Jade, Alishan, and Taroko Gorge to beautiful beaches and lush forests in places like Kenting National Park; from rich cultural heritage to modern Taipei 101 skyscraper; from tranquil countryside to bustling metropolitan cities; from local cuisines like bubble tea and oyster omelet to a variety of international foods. Taiwan has a diverse and tantalizing cuisine and offers a gastronomic adventure like no other. From sizzling night markets to acclaimed restaurants, Taiwan’s culinary scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors and aromas that beckon us as food enthusiasts.

Taiwan also has a well-connected transportation system, including high-speed rails, efficient metro systems in major cities like Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, and buses, making it convenient for tourists to explore the country.

And the most important one is, I believe when we consider where do we go for vacation, safety is usually one of the most important facts that we will think about, I am very proud to say that Taiwan’s safety index ranks third in the world according to the 2023 crime index of various countries in the world released by the website "Numbeo". In such a safe travel environment, tourists visiting Taiwan can fully enjoy the beauty of Taiwan.

I believe with the unique fusion of cultures, breathtaking scenery, diverse cuisine, exciting city life, and well-developed hospitality industry, Taiwan is an ideal destination for many types of travelers. One thing I wish to point out is that Taiwan is a friendly country, especially a Muslim-friendly country. All religions are respected and freedom of religion is cherished. We have mosques, restaurants with halal foods, and prayer rooms for Muslims, so our Muslim friends feel comfortable in Taiwan. We sincerely welcome Azerbaijanis to visit Taiwan.

- While inviting Azerbaijanis, we also have a country with a mysterious nature. Reconstruction works are currently being carried out in Karabakh, and many countries around the world are taking the initiative to participate in these projects. In what case is it possible for you to participate in these projects?

- Taiwan has a complete supply chain, operates at different levels in the construction-related industry, and is also involved in various internationally important infrastructure projects and reconstruction plans. We hope to facilitate the participation of our country's relevant businesses in the reconstruction opportunities, including Karabakh’s market. However, we wish to have more information and creditable contacts, so that a feasible and solid plan can be made and implemented soon.