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  • President Ma attends opening of 2011 Conference of Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission
  • Date
2011/11/07
President Ma attends opening of 2011 Conference of Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission. President Ma delivers remarks at 2011 Conference of Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission.
President Ma Ying-jeou on the morning of November 7 was accompanied by Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) Minister Wu Ying-yih (吳英毅) in attending the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Conference of the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission. The president extended a welcome to overseas compatriots from throughout the world who have returned to Taiwan and taken enthusiastic part in the ROC's centenary celebrations, thus displaying their strong support for the country.

President Ma commented that as this year marks the ROC's centenary, the OCAC has specially held a series of activities here and abroad, inviting overseas compatriots to witness the achievements of the ROC over the past century. The theme of this year's conference is "Innovation and ChallengesNew Areas and Approaches to Overseas Compatriot Affairs amid Globalization," which highlights the government's determination to take its work with overseas compatriots to a new level, he said.

The president remarked that Taiwan's economy has recovered from the global financial tsunami, outbreak of the H1N1 strain of influenza, and the devastating floods and landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot two years ago. Last year, he pointed out, Taiwan's economic growth reached 10.88%, which was a 24-year high. Even more importantly, the domestic consumer price index has remained quite stable, rising at an annual average of about 1.5%. Only Japan has posted slower growth in consumer prices among Asian nations. The president stated that the government has encouraged overseas compatriots from throughout the world to invest in Taiwan, and the number of investments by these individuals continues to increase. In response, the government is proactively planning to develop even more industrial zones to meet the demand, he said.

President Ma stated that Taiwan and mainland China last year signed the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), and this has helped to gradually create more space for Taiwan in the international community. Presently, Taiwan and Singapore are negotiating an economic partnership agreement (Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership, ASTEP ), and in September of this year Taiwan and Japan signed a bilateral investment agreement (Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement ). In addition, just last month Taiwan and New Zealand jointly announced that the two sides would engage in research to assess the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement between the two. All of these developments constitute new opportunities that have arisen in the wake of the signing of the ECFA, and this demonstrates that the government has adopted the correct policies, he said. The president added that this proves that an improvement in cross-strait relations and international relations are mutually complementary and form a virtuous circle.

President Ma said that the government has implemented policies on overseas compatriot students for over 50 years and that this has been one of the ROC's most successful policies in the field of education. Quite a few overseas compatriot students are very grateful for the concern shown by the ROC government, and they have become one of the strongest bases of support for the ROC in many countries around the world. Presently about 50,000 students from overseas are taking classes here and the government hopes that this number will rise to 130,000 by 2020, he remarked. This policy is aimed at attracting more talent from overseas and also fostering greater internationalization of Taiwan's campuses. The president added that presently Malaysia and Taiwan have agreed to mutually recognize degrees issued in each other's country. In addition, over 4,100 faculty members from schools in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian nations will receive public funding to come to Taiwan over the next decade to do research in the field of vocational education. This, he said, shows that Taiwan has a golden opportunity to become an Asia-Pacific hub for higher education, and that there is unlimited potential in this area.

Addressing the OCAC's initiative to promote the emergence of an "all-inclusive overseas compatriot community," the president also stated that four main principles governing the work carried out related to overseas compatriots is to "forge friendships," "communicate and serve," "create unity and harmony," and "achieve dignity and equality." The government has already established "Taiwan Academies" in New York, Houston, and Los Angeles in an effort to promote Chinese culture with Taiwan characteristics. He cited the development of Buddhism here as an example, saying that Buddhist organizations in Taiwan are actively engaged with society, are professionally run, emphasize volunteerism, have locations set up all over the world, and practice gender equality. This is an instance of culture with Taiwan features, and is also an important example of Taiwan's soft power, he said, adding that accomplishments such as these are worthy of being promoted internationally through the Taiwan Academies.

President Ma also mentioned that when he was a student in the United States he interacted with local overseas Chinese associations and got a strong sense for the patriotism of the overseas compatriots. This year, he said, 22,000 overseas compatriots returned to Taiwan to participate in the Double Tenth National Day festivities, which was unprecedented. This demonstrates the enthusiasm that overseas compatriots have for the nation, which he finds extremely moving. The president stressed that the government will make every effort to accommodate the needs of overseas Chinese associations, and called for their continued support for the ROC in its efforts to achieve greater visibility throughout the world.
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