Southbound Through Cooperation:

TAEF Demonstrates Taiwan’s “Warm Power”
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2019 / September

Sharleen Su /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Robert Fox


At the 2018 Yushan Forum of the Taiwan–Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), ROC president Tsai Ing-wen noted that Taiwan could help Asia, and Asia could help Taiwan. Engage­ment in regional reciprocity is a joint effort—in tandem with the government’s “New Southbound Policy,” Taiwan NGOs are quietly making friends in countries the world over in a variety of ways.

 


 

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck near Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The quake also shook the Boudhanath Stupa, a Buddhist shrine in the eastern part of Nepal’s Panyu Valley. Panicked residents rushed to the stupa, believing that it would protect them at that critical time.

The devastating quake claimed more than 8000 lives and caused widespread devastation. Roads were destroyed, cutting off remote mountainous areas from the outside world, while old buildings collapsed and famous monuments suffered irreparable damage.

Earthquake relief efforts: Taiwan is second to none

Six months later Rebecca Wang, chairperson of the Taiwan Alliance in International Development (Taiwan AID), proceeded with a team of rescue workers to Nepal’s hard-hit Dhading District. Located in the mountains, Dhading is a four-hour drive from Kathmandu, and road conditions were hazardous. Wang recalls: “There were tents all along the way. Half a year had passed since the earthquake, but many people were still living in tents. There was no clean water and no toilets.”

Taiwan AID took part in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) disaster relief program, helping to rebuild Nepal with donated funds. “Taiwanese are truly warmhearted,” says Rebecca Wang, her eyes brightening. “At the time, the Ministry of Health and Welfare set up a donation hotline. With no special promotion, it raised NT$100 million.” In partnership with Chang­hua Christian Hospital and with the assistance of the Ecological Protection Forum (EPF), a Nepalese nonprofit organization, Taiwan AID used some of this reconstruction funding to build a multipurpose community development center in Dhading. Thanks to Taiwan AID and EPF’s joint efforts, MOFA-provided relief supplies were conveyed directly to those suffering in the wake of the earthquake.

The community development center has since become part of local villagers’ lives. Equipped with solar panels, it is self-sufficient in electrical power. Nepalese women’s groups offer computer and cooking classes at the center, energizing the entire community. Here, they undertake tasks such as health education and medical training, and hold village activities. Outside the two-story building, the national flag of the Republic of China proudly flies, and a signboard proclaiming “Love from Taiwan” lets every­one know that this is how the Taiwanese people show their compassion.

Taiwan’s “warm power” moves its Asian neighbors

Dr. Michael Hsiao, presidential advisor and chairperson of the Taiwan–Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), calls Taiwan AID “warm power.” Taiwan AID is one of TAEF’s many collaborative partners. Since TAEF was established in 2018, the foundation has actively promoted multifaceted exchanges between Taiwan and other Asian countries. Functioning as a nongovernmental think tank, TAEF has deepened Taiwan’s partnerships with its Asian neighbors.

“TAEF’s role is to expand the government’s New Southbound Policy,” Hsiao says. Initiated in 2017, the Yushan Forum is a pioneering event, and has already become an established platform for regional dialogue. The 2018 forum, with the theme “Creating Regional Glory,” showcased the New Southbound Policy and NGO activities, focusing on regional prosperity and stability. Speakers at the event included Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and former South African president F.W. de Klerk, himself a peace-prize laureate.

International exchanges move forward

To augment the New Southbound Policy, TAEF has launched a “Five Major Cores Project,” encompassing citizen cooperation, think-tank exchanges, youth leadership training, and artistic and cultural exchanges, as well as an Asian regional resilience plan focused on disaster preparedness. Private-sector cooperation and partnerships can extend into areas that government agencies find hard to reach.

In short, TAEF’s mission is to make friends for Taiwan and promote regional exchanges.

“The government has always been pushing a people-centered approach; our ‘Five Major Cores Project’ is for people,” says Micheal Hsiao. Disaster preparedness saves lives, and young people are our future. Other activities, such as think-tank exchanges and links to civil society, are all intimately related to people. “We’re not meeting challenges alone.”

TAEF’s many projects have connected Taiwan AID, the Prospect Foundation, the National Culture and Arts Foundation, the American Institute in Taiwan and other partners. TAEF conducts in-depth exchanges with think tanks that share the ideals of the New Southbound Policy, as well as policy experts, foreign diplomats stationed in Taiwan, and current and retired government officials. Going beyond more rigid govern­mental policies, flexible NGO strategies are allowing Taiwan to win many new friends.

Regional dialogue and cultural exchange

In October 2018 TAEF invited six Vietnamese visual artists to come to Taiwan to engage in dialogue with Taiwanese artists, painters, photographers, and sculptors.

In May 2019, TAEF held a special summit with mid-level officials from Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines to share disaster prevention and preparedness experience and explore disaster preparedness initiatives.

Sharing equally and telling Taiwan’s story

Michael Hsiao believes Taiwan’s exchanges with other Asian countries are based on sharing experience. “We want to share; moreover, we can tell Taiwan’s story,” he says.

Rebecca Wang’s overseas assistance experience mirrors this ideal. When Taiwanese NGOs provide aid to other Asian countries, “Our only intention is to sincerely help, offering long-term support, never abandoning others,” Wang says. 

At a time when the international community is growing wary of “sharp power,” the island of Taiwan is radiating warmth and friendship through the New Southbound Policy’s cooperative endeavors, transmitting Taiwan’s unique “warm power” and showing to the world our nation’s outstanding contributions to the Asia‡Pacific region.          

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民間協力新南向

台亞基金會:看見台灣暖實力

文‧蘇晨瑜 圖‧林旻萱

去(2018)年在臺灣亞洲交流基金會舉辦的「玉山論壇」中,總統蔡英文提到台灣可以幫助亞洲,亞洲也能幫助台灣。區域互惠不只落實在台灣的新南向政策,台灣的民間也正默默地以各自的方式,與世界各國做朋友。

 


 

2015年4月25日,尼泊爾首都加德滿都附近發生規模7.9強震。地震來襲時,盤踞谷地東方的博達納特佛塔(Boudhanath Stupa)也震感強烈。驚慌失措的人們奔向佛塔,他們相信在這種危急時刻,佛塔可以保佑他們。

這場強震在尼泊爾造成重大傷亡與破壞,偏遠山區對外連繫中斷,道路震得肝腸寸斷,超過8,000人喪生。災後老舊建物倒塌,連知名古蹟也毀於一旦。物資、水、救難工具非常缺乏,就在最需要救援的時刻,尼泊爾政府卻祭出嚴厲的救災物資管制措施,物資很難進入尼泊爾,對救災工作相當不利。

震災救援,台灣不落人後

半年後,台灣海外援助發展聯盟(Taiwan Alliance in International Development,簡稱Taiwan AID)理事長王金英與團隊挺進重災區「達丁」(Dhading)。達丁位於山區,距離加德滿都車程四小時,路況極差。王金英回憶:「沿途所見都是帳篷,地震都半年了,許多人還是住在帳篷裡,沒有潔淨水源,沒有廁所。」

此行是Taiwan AID配合外交部的救災計畫,將募得款項用於尼泊爾的災後重建。「台灣人真的很有愛心,」王金英提到台灣人的善心,眼睛瞬時發亮,「那時衛福部設立捐款專線,沒有特地宣傳,就募得新台幣一億元。」有了重建經費,Taiwan AID與合作夥伴彰化基督教醫院進入達丁山區,並透過當地非營利組織EPF(Ecological Protection Forum)的居中協助,重建了一座多功能社區發展中心(Community Development Center, CDC)。外交部的物資,也透過Taiwan AID與EPF非營利組織而順利進入尼泊爾,真正送到災民手上。

多功能社區發展中心興建完成後,已成為當地村民頻繁使用的場所。採用太陽能發電的社區中心,電力自給自足,活躍的尼泊爾婦女團體在中心內開設電腦班、烹飪班,讓整個社區動起來,而這裡也承擔衛教、醫療訓練及村民活動等多種任務。

台灣「暖實力」令國際動容

第二期的援助Taiwan AID打算興建綠能民宿,創造就業機會,並引進德國技術,讓當地人學習製作更適合防災的環保磚。令人感動的是,這座位於喜馬拉雅山麓兩層半的低矮建築外,飛揚著中華民國的國旗,並豎立告示牌讓眾人知道,這是Love from Taiwan,是「來自台灣的愛」。

類似Taiwan AID這樣的亞洲援助,被臺灣亞洲交流基金會(簡稱台亞基金會)董事長暨總統府資政蕭新煌稱為台灣的「暖實力」(Warm Power)。Taiwan AID是智庫台亞基金會眾多的合作夥伴之一,而台亞基金會自2018年成立,便不斷推動台灣與亞洲各國的全方位交流,以民間智庫角色,深化台灣與亞洲各國的夥伴關係。

「台亞基金會希望扮演的角色,是把台灣新南向的政策擴大。」蕭新煌指出,政府推動的新南向政策當中,有五大旗艦計畫,包括人才發展、創新產業合作、區域農業合作、醫衛合作及產業鏈發展,以及新南向論壇及青年交流。其中「玉山論壇」的舉辦便是一項創舉,這項論壇自2017年開始舉辦,已成為常態化的區域對話平台;2018年玉山論壇以「共創區域榮景」為主軸,聚焦於區域的繁榮與穩定,也讓亞洲各國看見台灣「新南向政策」和民間社會的區域行動力。當時邀請的講者包括有諾貝爾和平獎得主沙提雅提(Kailash Satyarthi),以及同為諾貝爾和平獎得主前南非總統戴克拉克(Frederik Willem de Klerk)。

民間交流走出去

此外,台亞基金會在新南向政策之外,推出五大核心計畫,範圍涵蓋社會公民合作、智庫交流、青年領袖的培養、藝術文化交流,以及亞洲區域韌性計畫,也就是防災。其中公民社會鏈結計畫便是與Taiwan AID合作,藉由Taiwan AID與國際非營利組織間的密切交流,把觸角伸向政府無法深入的角落。

總的來說,台亞基金會的任務,就是在替台灣「交朋友」,並促進區域之間的交流,也就是四個M,「Make Money、Make Jobs、Make Friends,以及Make Family。」在經濟上,促進雙邊甚至多邊的貿易,創造兩地更多的工作機會,照顧80萬名台灣移工與近18萬的外籍配偶。

「政府一直在講以人為中心,我們的五大核心計畫都是為了人。」蕭新煌說,防災是為了救人,青年是未來的主人翁,其他如智庫交流、公民社會鏈結等等,也都是與人息息相關,「而且我們不是單打獨鬥,只靠一個基金會,沒辦法做這麼多事情。」

台亞基金會的多項計畫,串聯台灣的Taiwan AID、遠景基金會、國家文藝基金會、臺北醫學大學、美國在台協會等合作夥伴,並與新南向國家當中理念相同的重要智庫、政策專家、駐台使節、現任及退休官員等進行深度交流,而很多事情都是默默在做,在政府的剛性政策以外,以民間柔性的力量,讓台灣廣結善緣。

區域對話,文化交流

今(2019)年9月16日,台亞基金會與台灣民主基金會、英國智庫Chatham House舉辦研討會,探討亞洲移民與人口販賣問題對策;4月時則是與菲律賓麥格賽賽獎基金會、美國在台協會共同辦理「亞洲對話:轉型領導權的行動實踐」(Asian Dialogues: Transformative Leadership in Action),針對民主赤字、發展赤字、信任赤字等亞洲重大議題進行交流與對話。去年10月基金會邀請越南六位視覺藝術家來台灣與在台的藝術家、畫家、攝影家、雕刻家交流。基金會也與越南國家藝術文化研究院(VICAS)簽訂備忘錄(MOU),讓藝術文化交流在智庫交流結束後,仍能持續下去。

在防災方面,台灣與印尼、菲律賓等地常年遭受地震、風災、水災等侵襲,地理上屬同一個災難圈。今年5月時,台亞基金會便特別舉辦高峰會議,與越南、緬甸、印尼、菲律賓中級官員交流防災經驗,探討防災倡議。另外為了提升台商在世界各地的整體形象,台亞基金會也會與東南亞各國的當地人士深入訪談,並把訪談結果提供予台商商會,作為塑造台商形象的參考,或許能幫助台商在東南亞以全新面貌出發。

平等分享,訴說台灣的故事

當台灣與亞洲區域各國在經貿上的鏈結越來越深,需要更為深廣的對話,才能帶來區域的和平穩定及繁榮發展。在這部分,蕭新煌認為,台灣與亞洲各國的交流,是基於平等的經驗分享,「我們願意分享,我們不小氣,而且我們能替台灣政府說台灣的故事。」

誠如王金英在海外援助的經驗一樣,當台灣的非營利組織前往亞洲援助時,「我們沒有任何其他意圖,不是為了去賺誰的錢。我們是真心想幫助對方,長期援助,真正做到不離不棄。」

當國際社會正對「銳實力」(Sharp Power)引以為戒的同時,台灣這座島嶼所散發的溫暖、友善,正藉由公私協力的新南向政策,傳達台灣獨有的「暖實力」,讓世界看到台灣對亞太區域的卓越貢獻。 

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