Editor’s note:Taiwan’s Foreign Assistance in 60 Years

At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.- Confucius, Analects

A little over sixty years ago, Taiwan dispatched its first team of agricultural specialists to Vietnam to improve agricultural production and initiated overseas assistance. Then in the 1960s, Taiwan began sending technical missions to African countries to develop agricultural technology. During this period, the evolution of aid tools and development needs of recipient countries shaped Taiwan’s foreign aid agencies.

In 1996, the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) was founded as Taiwan’s professional development assistance organization, bringing the country’s foreign aid into an era of specialization and legalization. Our foreign aid projects have continued to adapt to the ever changing developments of the economic and technological environments over the past 60 years. Initially focused on agriculture, Taiwan’s overseas aid has gradually expanded to include the fields of economy, trade, public health, information and communications technology (ICT), and education, and has centered capacity building in addition to technical assistance.

Taiwan aligns its foreign aid policies and practices with national development and international aid trends. In the face of a dynamic global environment, the TaiwanICDF has published Development Focus Quarterly- Taiwan’s first quarterly magazine discussing trends and issues in international development aid. Through the publication of this quarterly, we construct a platform to engage readers interested in development assistance and facilitate discussions on Taiwan’s foreign aid policies in order to inspire innovative ideas for future international cooperation.

The inaugural issue of this quarterly is themed “Sixty Years in Foreign Aid: The Past and Future of Taiwan’s Foreign Aid” and includes articles on various topics concerning foreign aid to review the history of Taiwan’s development assistance and provide new and different perspectives.

This issue contains a special report titled “Sixty Years in Foreign Assistance: Taiwan’s Challenges and Opportunities.” Through interviews with experienced foreign aid professionals such as Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and TaiwanICDF Chairman Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu, TaiwanICDF Secretary General Ambassador Timothy T.Y. Hsiang, Deputy Secretary General Dr. Pai-Po Lee, and Deputy Secretary General Alex L.J. Shyy, we examine the historical meaning behind each stage of international aid. We also interview key figures with deep ties to the TaiwanICDF including Taiwan

Institute for Sustainable Energy Chairman Dr. Eugene Chien and Legislator Dr. Chih-Cheng Lo to provide their thoughts on the opportunities and challenges for Taiwan’s implementation of foreign assistance, and bring a forward-looking, diverse, and in-depth vision to the report.

In addition to the special report, three experts were invited to write articles on the course of

Taiwan’s foreign aid in agriculture, public health, and ICT.

The first article titled “Review and Prospect of 60 Years of Taiwan’s Agricultural International Cooperation” is written by TaiwanICDF Deputy Secretary General Dr. Pai-Po Lee, an expert in agriculture with long-term practical experience in development assistance. In this article, Dr. Lee reviews the 60 years of Taiwan’s agricultural assistance, and states that the application of new agricultural science and technology should be strengthened in the future to demonstrate Taiwan’s technical capabilities in foreign aid.

The achievements of Taiwan’s public health are well known in the international community and accordingly, public health assistance is an important tool of Taiwan’s foreign aid policy. The enhancement of the aid over the years shows that Taiwan attaches importance to the international trend of sustainable development. Therefore, we invited Dr. Hung-Yi Chiou, professor at Taipei Medical University, and colleagues from the TaiwanICDF’s Humanitarian Assistance Department to write the article “The 60 Years of Taiwan’s Public Health Assistance” to analyze the significance of the transformation of Taiwan’s medical aid, and discuss the challenges that we might face when implementing international public health cooperation.

In addition to agriculture and public health, Taiwan’s ICT development is internationally renowned. Our technological assistance has therefore focused on utilizing Taiwan’s ICT advantages to help partner countries reduce the digital gap and improve government efficiency.

For the article “The History of Taiwan’s ICT Foreign Aid and Future Development,” Dr. Kenny Huang, chairman and CEO of the Taiwan Network Information Center, discusses the connection between Taiwan’s ICT development and the use of ICT to assist countries around the world. Based on his expertise in the field and his experience participating in numerous ICT aid programs of Taiwan, Dr. Huang identifies ICT as a key factor in overcoming various challenges and guiding the future development international assistance.

Foreign aid is a vital tool in Taiwan’s foreign policy implementation, especially given our special international environment and has strengthened the substantial relationship between Taiwan and many partner countries. This quarterly seeks to awaken Taiwanese society to international development assistance issues and we invite experts, and scholars who are interested in this field to actively contribute articles. Through broader public discourse, we aim to enhance Taiwan’s foreign aid and deepen the effectiveness with which we implement international development assistance.

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