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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Taipei Times > Taiwan's isolation must end: academicsCOOPERATION:

At seminars presented as part of the Democratic Pacific Assembly, which started in Taipei yesterday, panelists urged regional bodies to invite Taiwan into the fold
By Huang Tai-lin and Evelyn Shih
Saturday, Aug 14, 2004,Page 3
Foreign and local academics yesterday agreed that Taiwan should be involved in regional cooperation to enhance peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The more regional cooperation bodies we have, the better we can provide venues and opportunities for dialogue on the peaceful resolution of conflict," said Cho Woong-kyu, chairman of the Korea-America Society, citing ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Asian Monetary Fund as examples.
Cho was speaking at a seminar on Regional Security Mechanisms yesterday at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. The seminar was part of the second Democratic Pacific Assembly, which started yesterday.
"But Taiwan, North Korea and Mongolia, which satisfy most of the membership criteria of these regional cooperation bodies, are still excluded from them," Cho said.
"If all the countries in the region are looking forward to having peace and prosperity, there must be extra efforts by the members of the regional organizations to invite these three countries," he said.
In the face of obstruction from China, Taiwan should still seek a breakthrough by cooperating with non-governmental organizations, Cho added.
Panelists at the seminar stressed the importance of establishing multilateral security dialogue and creating confidence-building measures to be able to deal with security issues in the region, such as the drawn-out dispute between China and Taiwan, ideological confrontation between South and North Korea and persistent military competition among the nations in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as non-conventional security issues such as human trafficking, HIV/AIDS and international terrorism.
"Bilateral talks and multilateral forums could serve as a very useful platform for promoting mutual trust, enhancing conflict prevention and eventually achieving the resolution of conflicts," said Vincent Chen (³¯¤å½å), research fellow in the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University.
"Multilateral forums such as the ARF should let Taiwan become a dialogue partner, as well as encouraging dialogue between China and Taiwan to solve their differences," Chen said.
Fadi Essmaeel, homeland security assistant to US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, said the World Health Organization should end its isolation of Taiwan in order to allow transnational cooperation over non-traditional security issues.
At a related seminar entitled "Industrial and Economic Development of the Pacific," panelists emphasized the unexploited potential of small or resource-poor countries.
"Small countries have a lot of opportunities in the Pacific Basin," said Ecuadorian Congressman Luis Fernando Torres.
Torres discussed his own nation's efforts to first take advantage of regional economic prospects and then widen trade relations across the ocean.
He cited Taiwan as a positive model of a small country with a relatively strong economy.
"The initiative of the Taiwanese government [to hold the Democratic Pacific Assembly] should be acknowledged and applauded," he said.
Professor Gerard Mangone of the University of Delaware said Taiwan's efforts to improve its tourism industry were commendable.
He cited Bermuda as an example of a small island nation that has fostered a successful tourism-based economy without the benefit of abundant natural resources such as oil or mineral reserves.
"Modern society has reached a level of affluence that allows a large population the leisure of travel. That opportunity for economic exploitation will continue to grow as it has grown already," Mangone said.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun's Challenge 2008 National Development Project is aimed at increasing the number of tourists visiting the country.
When Yu announced the project in 2002, he put the target at 5 million tourists in 2008. The Tourism Bureau has promoted this year in the international media, including the National Geographic Channel and Time magazine, as "Visit Taiwan Year."
Another way to create economic growth is through security, Mangone said.
Switzerland, another resource-poor nation, has made its way in the world by promoting an image of monetary security and political neutrality. Security is also important in developing tourism industries, and essential in cultivating an investment-friendly environment, he said.
Chou Yan (©PÄY), director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Economic Processing Zone Administration, asked Torres if there were any possibility of forming a free-trade agreement with Ecuador, considering Taiwan's heavy investments in the country's oil industry.
Torres said that he could not officially represent the Ecuadorian government, because his visit to this year's Democratic Pacific Assembly has not been formally endorsed by congress.
Since Ecuador has formal diplomatic ties with China, any treaty with Taiwan, including free-trade agreements, can only be achieved in the long term, he said.
"Ideally, we should work for our mutual benefit, and should not be limited by the selfish demands of a certain nation," he added.

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