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President Tsai attends Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation inauguration and Asia Engagement Consortium reception
President Tsai attends Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation inauguration and Asia Engagement Consortium reception

On the morning of August 8, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the inauguration ceremony for the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), and a reception marking the establishment of the Asia Engagement Consortium. She expressed hope that the TAEF will give best efforts to organize the annual Yushan Forum, increase the New Southbound Policy's international connectivity and visibility, and become a key think tank helping promote and implement that policy.

President Tsai stated that she was delighted to attend the TAEF inauguration and witness this historical moment together with the attendees. Over the past two years, she said, the government and private sector have worked together to promote our New Southbound Policy. Thus far, we've upgraded our communication and interaction with New Southbound countries at all levels, and continue to deepen exchanges and cooperation in economics and trade, tourism, medicine, agriculture, technology, and education. So our New Southbound Policy implementation, she said, is clearly on the right track.

The president mentioned that the New Southbound Policy is also reshaping Taiwan's Asia strategy, which is people-centered, highlights regional inclusiveness, and is devoted to deepening multilateral partnerships.

The government, President Tsai stated, hopes to uphold a people-centered spirit--especially in terms of people-to-people understanding and friendship--to promote regional peace and prosperity. We also hope to emphasize the inclusiveness of Asian culture so that Taiwan's New Southbound Policy can work in tandem with the regional strategies of our neighbors. Even more important, she said, is that we're willing to work together with our neighbors, and other like-minded countries, to deepen partnerships that benefit our region and its people.

To achieve these goals, she said, we held our first New Southbound Policy regional forum—the Yushan Forum—last October. We hope that the forum will grow into a new, pluralistic, and diversified dialogue platform for the Asian region, with participants from both the private sector and government.

At the Yushan Forum last year, the president said, she announced that we would set up a permanent foundation, the TAEF, to organize and regularly host the forum, which will also give regional opinion leaders from different fields, youth representatives, NGOs, and think tanks a platform for exchanges and cooperation.

President Tsai emphasized that the formal inauguration of the TAEF represents another important milestone for our New Southbound Policy. We're taking the next step, integrating private sector forces and investing more resources to continue extending that policy's impact.

The president expressed hope that the TAEF will take on two important tasks after officially commencing operations.

The first task is to give best efforts to organize the annual Yushan Forum, and increase the New Southbound Policy's international connectivity and visibility.

The forum will help more of our international friends see the importance of Taiwan, and hear our success stories, she said. At the same time, more frequent exchanges will help Taiwan and other countries learn from and share with each other. That way, whatever will help us build a better Taiwan will also promote collaborative thinking about a vision for Asia's future.

President Tsai stated that the Yushan Forum is a platform to share resources where Taiwan and other countries can also collaborate to embrace the future together. Last year, over 800 opinion leaders from home and abroad participated in the forum, and this year, our theme will be Working Together for Regional Prosperity. She then said she hopes that this year's event will see even more domestic and international friends working together to draw up a vision for the future, and formulating action plans for regional cooperation.

The president then explained that the second task of the TAEF is to become a key think tank to help promote and implement the New Southbound Policy.

The continuing transformation of politics, economics, and societies in Asia means that Taiwan has to be very aware of new and emerging models of regional development. We also need a think tank that will help make our partnerships more dynamic, and actively participate in regional integration.

President Tsai emphasized that the TAEF will work on the front lines to implement our New Southbound Policy, and strengthen Taiwan's overall engagement with Asian society, including cultivating relationships with civil society, young people, and think tanks in other countries. That will help create a dynamic image for Taiwan while promoting institutional links, and initiating new social practice projects between Taiwan and other Asian countries.

The president pointed out that in response to an appeal by TAEF Chairperson Michael Hsin-huang Hsiao (蕭新煌), the TAEF and six other representative domestic organizations have formed an Asia Engagement Consortium, a mechanism to consolidate private sector cooperation across different areas and disciplines. She sincerely hopes that the consortium will flourish and grow, highlighting Taiwan's tangible contributions to Asian development. It can also show how the concerted efforts of Taiwan's government and private sector promote stability and prosperity in Asia.

President Tsai specially thanked Chairperson Hsiao, TAEF Executive Director Alan Hao Yang (楊昊), and their professional team for doing all the groundwork to establish the foundation. She then singled out Chairperson Hsiao, citing his contributions to Taiwan's academic circles for 40 years, saying that the government will continue to rely on his expertise and wisdom going forward.

In closing, President Tsai wished the TAEF a smooth start, and said she hopes that the foundation will continue to expand Taiwan's partnerships with countries throughout Asia and create more long-term, mutually beneficial friendships. 

Afterwards, President Tsai joined other distinguished guests on stage for an unveiling ceremony. Also attending the event were Michael Hsin-huang Hsiao, Senior Advisor to the President and the TAEF Chairperson; TAEF Executive Director Alan Hao Yang; National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維); NSC Advisor Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成); John C. C. Deng (鄧振中), Executive Yuan Minister without Portfolio; Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮); American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Deputy Director Raymond Greene; Gary Cowan, Representative of the Australian Office Taipei; Shigehiro Nishiumi, Deputy Representative of Taipei Office of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association; Tran Duy Hai, Representative of the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei; Jeff Khoo, Deputy Trade Representative, Singapore Trade Office in Taipei; and other ambassadors and representatives stationed in Taiwan.

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