20thTAIWAN/REPUBLIC OF CHINA – FORUM COUNTRIES DIALOGUE
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The 20th Taiwan/Republic of China – Forum Countries Dialogue was held at the Muri Beach Hotel in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The Taiwan/Republic of China delegation was led by H. E.Kuo-Yu Tung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Forum Island Countries were represented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs of the Solomon Islands, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Minister of Justice of Palau and the Minister of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development of the Republic of Kiribati. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu was the Moderator of the Dialogue
2. Representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), and the University of the South Pacific (USP) were also in attendance as Observers.
3. In his opening remarks, the Moderator welcomed the Head of the Taiwan/Republic of China delegation and distinguished members to the 20thTaiwan/Republic of China-Forum Countries Dialogue. The Moderator commended the hospitality and the excellent meeting arrangements provided by the people and Government of the Cook Islands.
4. The Moderator reaffirmed the continued support and commitment of the Governments of Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan/Republic of China. Healso acknowledged the valuable regional assistance provided by Taiwan/Republic of China through the annual contribution to the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific (CROP) and the Taiwan/Republic of China – PIF Scholarship Scheme. The Moderator reiterated the region’s position in supporting the continuation of the Scheme.
5. In light of priorities and emerging issues identified at the 43rd Forum Leaders Meeting andat the21st SIS Leaders Meeting, the Moderator called on the Government of Taiwan/Republic of China to align their assistance to the key areas ofclimate change, sub-regional transport services, in particular sub-regional shipping and aviation services,, energy with respect to renewable energy, and climate change financing and adaptation activities. The Moderator also highlighted emerging issues offood security, strengthening development coordination,and gender equality.
6. In his opening remarks, the Deputy Minister welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers of the Forum Island Countries and offered congratulations to a successful completion of the formal session of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum. He highlightedthe longstanding partnership between Taiwan/Republic of China and the Pacific diplomatic allies in particular on this twentieth year of collaboration. He also emphasised their continued areas of cooperation in health and medical care, fisheries vocational training, clean energy and cultural exchanges which have been ongoing over the last two years.
7. He highlighted Taiwan/ROC’s commitment to the four pillars of the Pacific Plan and their support to the effective implementation of the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination in the Pacific which has included funding support to a regional workshop on strengthening development coordination.
8. In recognition of the importance placed on strengthening their commitment to the Pacific, Taiwan/Republic of China announced the establishment of a USD53 million leadership development programme titled the Pacific Islands Leadership Partnership (PLP) over five years. This support will provide one hundred and twenty-five (125) leadership training fellowships aimed at enhancing the capacity of young leaders in the Pacific. The PLP will be developed and implemented under the auspices of the East-West Centre in Hawaii.
9. Taiwan/Republic of China expressed concerns with regard to their treatment in the formal arrangements of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum including not being formally invited to the Post – Forum Dialogue plenary session.
10. The meeting acknowledged the important contribution of Taiwan/Republic of China to the region and Pacific diplomatic allies. They further reaffirmed their strong commitment to their partnership with Taiwan/Republic of China at the bilateral, regional and international level. Forum Island Countries reiterated their continued support for the aspirations of the Government of Taiwan/Republic of China within the context of the Pacific Islands Forum as well as the latter’s aspirations to effectively participate in international meetings.
11. The meeting discussed the reports on Taiwan/Republic of China’s assistance to the region which included a presentation on Taiwan’s International Cooperation Development Fund (Taiwan/ICDF) work programme, the Regional Development Assistance and Taiwan/Republic of China-Pacific Islands Forum Scholarship Scheme.
12. Taiwan/Republic of China outlined its ICDF activities in the Pacific under its Regional Development Assistance programme, which emphasized efforts in technical cooperation, education and training, lending and investment, and international humanitarian investment.
13. The meeting also acknowledged the importance of a multi-year funding arrangement under the Regional Development Assistance Fund to enable more predictable resources to improve forward planning of support by the CROP agencies to the region.
14. The meeting recognised the immense contribution the regional scholarship scheme had made in meeting the training needs of the region. The Secretariat acknowledged that increased pastoral support was needed to ensure the successful completion of awardees under the scheme and ensured that concerted efforts will be undertaken with relevant tertiary providers to enable this. The meeting noted that clarification on the selection criteria was important to also include in the information provided to Forum Island Countries to assist with their administrative processes.
15. In terms of regional assistance for 2012/2013, Taiwan/Republic of China announced that USD500,000 would be made available for regional projects. The list of approved CROP projects for 2012/2013 is attached as Annex I. In support of the Taiwan/Republic of China-PIF Scholarship Scheme, an additional allocation will be made available.
16. The Pacific Island Countries representatives expressed their overwhelming gratitude to Taiwan/Republic of China for their continued support of the Scholarship Scheme and regional development assistance to the region.
17. In conclusion, the meeting expressed appreciation to the Honourable Apisai Ielemia, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Tuvalu for his guidance of the Dialogue. In his closing remarks, the Moderator acknowledged the continued assistance of Taiwan/Republic of China to the region and thanked the distinguished delegations for their constructive contribution and participation.