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Time to carry Türkiye, Taiwan ties to higher level: Representative

Pointing out that the potential between Ankara and Taipei remains unexplored, Taiwan’s representative to Türkiye emphasized that cooperation on green energy, tackling climate change, culture, trade and technology must be enhanced.

It is time to carry relations between Türkiye and Taiwan to a higher level, the representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission, Volkan Chih-Yang Huang, said, highlighting the unexplored potential for further cooperation.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah, he said: “We feel it is the time for Türkiye and Taiwan to look for a more flexible and pragmatic way to boost our bilateral relations and raise them to a new level.”

“Following the pandemic, we have seen this war in Ukraine as well as competition between big powers in trade and technology. All countries are looking for strategic development according to their national interests,” he underlined.

“Besides the U.S., Japan and Asian countries, now countries of the European Union have started to strengthen and upgrade their substantial relations with Taiwan. It is a new situation and new trend,” the representative continued.

He reiterated that both governments have maintained an official interaction and establishments in both capitals since 1993. Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission in Ankara while Türkiye has a Turkish Trade Office in Taipei.

Although Türkiye has no political relations with Taiwan and adheres to the “One China” policy, Ankara and Taipei maintain economic, cultural and commercial contacts. There has been no official leader-level visit from Taiwan to Türkiye since ties were established in 1993.

“Since then, the relations have grown little by little. However, the current economy and culture are the main components of our relations,” the representative said.

“Economically, we have a lot of trade interactions and investment,” he pointed out, indicating that both country’s business sectors continue to find more areas of cooperation.

In terms of culture, academic, education, scholarship and research exchanges are frequent, according to the representative, with activities resuming and delegations coming after the pandemic.

“We have seen relations being overshadowed by an old political constraint. It is unnecessary,” he said. “Both of us need a strategic partnership, based on this concept, we are optimistic and see an opportunity to promote these relations.”

New fields of cooperation

He also said that new cooperation agendas are emerging. A new field of interaction between Ankara and Taipei is humanitarian assistance, the representative highlighted.

Saying that Türkiye is shouldering the burden of migration, he said: “As a member of the international community, we feel it is our duty to contribute.”

“We have worked with the Turkish government, with municipalities as well as NGOs,” he said, indicating that it included aid for migrants, women’s empowerment and children’s education.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission has closely worked with Turkish organizations, especially with the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), even abroad, one example of which was the support given to earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

Another area of cooperation is green and smart city initiatives as well as combatting climate change.

“We have opportunities to share our experiences and also through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development mechanism, we have supported the green city action plan both in Ankara and Istanbul. We also supported a program in Ankara which was 350,000 euros ($377,640) and 1 million euros in Istanbul with our fund in the EBRD.”

He also said that Taiwan would work with related authorities and praised the zero-waste program of first lady Emine Erdoğan.

He underlined that both countries pay serious attention to green transformation and reaching climate goals.

Both Taiwan and Türkiye as two big manufacturing countries are facing similar challenges in their path toward net-zero goals, he elaborated further.

“We have strong manufacturing sectors and these sectors will encounter a big challenge when new measures are imposed like the carbon tax and net-zero requirements on supply chains. I believe Türkiye and Taiwan face the same issues. The two countries have a similarity in economic structure – which are small and medium-sized enterprises. In Taiwan, around 95% are formed or supported by SMEs, with a similarly high percentage in Türkiye.

“They (SMEs) do not have strong financial means to assume these challenges, which is why the government must help to transform them and upgrade to face the challenges,” the represetative said, adding that there is a memorandum of understanding between Ankara and Taipei on SMEs.