In celebration of the 105th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines held a reception on October 10 at the Grand Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.
The event was attended by a large gathering of over 1,000 guests and brought together many dignitaries from the Senate, House of Representatives, representatives of various government departments, political parties, media, academia, diplomatic corps, as well as local communities.
Former President Fidel Ramos also attended the said reception and extended his blessings and support for the enhancement of the cordial bilateral ties between the Philippines and Taiwan.
In the opening remarks, Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Representative of Taiwan to the Philippines, expressed his appreciation and thanks to all the guests for coming to join in the celebration.
Representative Lin pointed out that on January 16, in a general election, the Taiwanese people elected the first female president, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, as the new President of Taiwan. President Tsai’s inauguration on May 20 heralded the third peaceful transfer of power since the first direct presidential election in 1996.
Representative Lin highlighted that President Tsai has decided to launch the “New Southbound Policy” since September 5. Taiwan government will focus on forging long-term comprehensive, multi-faceted, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with 18 countries—including members of ASEAN, South Asian countries, New Zealand, and Australia—in the areas of economic and trade cooperation, personnel exchanges, resource sharing, and regional linkages.
Representative Lin further mentioned the growing bilateral relations between Taiwan and the Philippines, in which include cooperation in many areas ranging from trade, investment, industry, technology and science, agricultural, fishery, labour, tourism, aviation, shipping, and even weather forecasting etc. In terms of bilateral economic ties, Taiwan and the Philippines are important trading partners to each other.
In 2015, Taiwan is the Philippines’ 5th largest trading partner, 9th export market, and 4th import source. In terms of investment, in 2015, the total recorded Taiwanese investments in the Philippines has jumped to P5.46-billion, an 83.4-percent increase—making Taiwan the Philippines’ 3rd fastest growing investment source.
In terms of tourism, Representative Lin also stressed that both countries have made tremendous efforts to relax and facilitate the bilateral visa arrangements and have implemented the Online Visa Application (E-Visa) and the Online Application for the Taiwan Travel Authorization Certificate.
The relaxation of visa have not only made the two countries more accessible, but also facilitate travels, investments, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and Taiwan.
He also mentioned that the Asia-Pacific Cultural Day will be held on November 5 to 6 and with that there is an offered special promotional package to tour Taiwan’s cultural and historical heritages in which Representative Lin strongly encourage the Filipino nationals to take advantage of this special promotional offer.
As for the Philippine-Taiwan Educational Academic Networking, Cooperation and Exchanges, he elaborated that the a networking platform has been established between the University of the Philippines System and Southern Taiwan Universities Alliance, and academic cooperation and educational exchanges between various Universities are gradually starting to happen. This will surely enhance our mutual understanding and friendship.
Another highlight of this reception, Representative Lin also awarded the winners of the “Amazing Short Break in Taiwan Essay, Photo and Video Contest” in which more than one hundred Filipino participants have joined. Representative Lin lauded these participants whose essays are well-written, insightful and articulate. Their views about Taiwan enable them to be qualified as “Taiwan’s Goodwill Ambassadors”.
In his concluding remarks, Representative Lin reiterated that now is the best and opportune timing for Taiwan and the Philippines to work together to enhance the two countries bilateral relations. He mentioned that “By broadening multifaceted cooperation, we will eventually create a mutually beneficial win-win situation.”
He also re-emphasized former President Fidel Ramos’ views on the opportunities between Taiwan and the Philippines as he mentioned that “the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Taiwan and the Philippines will be beneficial to the Philippines. The coincidence-nay, convergence of the two new administrations in the Philippines and Taiwan in mid-2016 could not have come at a better time. Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy” of President Tsai Ing-wen and Philippines “new more inclusive policies” under President Rodrigo Duterte do complement each other synergistically, and may prove to be the “good fit” for which the two close neighbors have been searching.”
Representative Lin concluded that with the backing of President Tsai’s “New Southbound Policy”, he is optimistic that the substantive bilateral relations between Taiwan and the Philippines will grow from strength to strength in the years to come.