Friendship and Goodwill: Revisiting Philippine-Taiwan Relations

Manila Bulletin, April 8, 2017 | Go to article overview

Friendship and Goodwill: Revisiting Philippine-Taiwan Relations


By Fidel V. Ramos

Former Philippine President

(First of Two Parts)

Last 29 March to 01 April 2017, FVR led a delegation of 50 sportspeople, businessmen, and professionals, along with members of the Taiwanese Chamber of the South Philippines (TCSP) headed by its founding president, Chen Wen-Ju ("Tiger" Wood Chen), that visited Taiwan.

The combined Philippines-Taiwan delegation also participated in the 9th Taiwan-Philippines Friendship Golf Tournament (FVR Cup), an annual event that provides opportunities for business networking, new products search, as well as for sports competition, and people-to-people bonding.

It was a propitious time for this particular goodwill renewal visit to our closest neighbor because of changes in government administration with the:

(1) Installation of new Taiwan President (Ms.) Tsai Ing-wen last 20 May 2016 to replace former President Ma Ying-jeou.

(2) Inauguration of new Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last 30 June 2016 to replace former President Benigno S. Aquino III.

(3) Replacement by Chairman Angelito Banayo of former Chairman Amadeo Perez, Jr. of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

Per records from MECO in Taipei, our good neighbor Taiwan has remained a major investor throughout Southeast Asia with a strong presence in the Philippines, particularly in the electronics, telecommunications, information technology, construction, textiles, mining, banking, electric power, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and tourism industries. According to the World Trade Organization, Taiwan is the world's 24th largest economy, and the Philippines' 6th largest trading partner.

Taiwan currently hosts some 135,000 Filipino workers (compared to 120,000 in 2016) and has consistently been a source of substantial development cooperation assistance, particularly in industrial design, agriculture, aquaculture, weather forecasting, and technical skills training.

As usual, we rendered courtesy calls in Taipei on high-ranking government officials, notably President (Ms.) Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister David Lee, former president Ma Ying-jeou, former vice president Vincent Siew, incumbent Kuomintang Chairman (Ms.) Hong Hsiu-tsu, and the Taiwan External Trade Council (TAITRA).

These manifestations of respect and goodwill are in accordance with modern practices in socio-economic-environmental-security diplomacy as globalization steadily moves the 21st century forward to a "one-world community of nations" as envisioned in the 2030 united nations' 17 sustainable goals approved by 195 nations - including the US, China, Russia, the EU and ASEAN.

Brief History of Taiwan

The island of Taiwan (formerly known as "Formosa") was mainly inhabited by Taiwainese aborigines until Han Chinese began immigrating thereto. In 1662, the kingdom of Tungning, the Pro-Ming loyalist warlord Koxinga established the first Han Chinese polity on the island. Later, the Qing dynasty of china defeated the Tungning kingdom and annexed Taiwan.

By the time Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895, the majority of Taiwan's inhabitants were Han Chinese either by ancestry or by assimilation. Under the leadership of national hero, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Republic of China (ROC) was established in China in 1912. After Japan's surrender in 1945, the ROC assumed control of Taiwan. As a result of the Chinese civil war in the 1940s, the Communist Party of China took full control of the mainland, and founded the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. The ROC under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek relocated its government to Taiwan, and its jurisdiction became limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands. In 1971, the PRC assumed ROC's seat, thus establishing the "One-China" policy in the UN However, 21 UN member states currently maintain official diplomatic relations with the ROC. It also has unofficial ties with most other states via its representative offices like the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines. …

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