President Ma Ying-jeou attended an event on the morning of September 29 where participants in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' International Youth Ambassador Exchange Program shared their experiences in the program. In addition to presenting certificates to the students, the president applauded the program's results and the enthusiasm and creativity of the youth taking part. Besides promoting cultural diplomacy, the president remarked that these individuals represent Taiwan's soft power, extending friendship and compassion to the nation's allies.
President Ma stated that this program has enabled participating students to understand the people and culture of allied and friendly nations. In addition, preparations prior to traveling overseas helped them better understand and gain an awareness of their own culture, he said, adding that he holds the program in great esteem.
The president said that Taiwan currently acts in the role of peacemaker in the world rather than that of a troublemaker. He noted that Taiwan is a provider of international humanitarian assistance and of international business opportunities, and furthermore, a promoter of international cultural exchanges. These are the essence of Taiwan's soft power, and should be vigorously promoted.
President Ma stressed that youth play a vital part in promoting understanding among nations. Consequently, youth should at a relatively young age build friendships with peers from other nations with different cultural and historical backgrounds. Youth acquire an attitude of mutual respect, tolerance, and admiration through cultural exchanges, he said, which is an important principle in fostering international peace.
The president stated that the government encourages young people here to go overseas to pursue degrees and take part in short-term studies, thereby expanding their international horizons and building international ties. The government also hopes that foreign students will come to Taiwan to study, he said, pointing out that foreign students previously comprised only 1.3% of university students here, but the percentage rose to 1.5% in the 2009 academic year and he hopes to see their presence double to 2.6% in the future, which will enable Taiwan's campuses to become more international and global in nature.
President Ma expressed his hope that youth will spread Taiwan's soft power throughout the world, enabling the people of the world to sense the warmth and enthusiasm of Taiwan and to understand the nation's determined pursuit of freedom, democracy, and peace. He also encouraged everyone to do their part to help others understand and develop an appreciation for Taiwan, thereby enabling Taiwan to gain a stronger foothold in the world.