The Taiwan experience
July 9, 2004
The Taiwan experience

My visit to Taiwan, the Republic of China, nine months after a trip to Mainland China, can be compared to a lesson in Oriental drama.
A latent cold/hot peace exists between the neighbouring territories, and only a final dramatic rapprochement seems likely to resolve the animosity. {{more}}
How soon that will happen may stretch your imagination depending on which side of the pendulum your emotion swings.
The measure of trade between the two communities is high, given the dispute that separates them ideologically.
An uneasy calm pervades between the straits, and threats by Mainland to invade Taiwan any time it attempts to take independence illuminates the tense nature of the impasse.
Taiwan has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and that country, with a population of 23 million, stands out as a symbol of hope for developing nations.
Intricate road networks, precise train schedules and domestic airfields complementing the main Chiang Kai Shek International outlet add to Taiwan’s bustling economic platform.
Fourteen days in Taiwan, absorbing aspects of the nation’s planks of development fortune were enough to acknowledge the factors that have contributed to the country’s success.
The work ethic is something to marvel at, given the carefree approach of the Caribbean region. Even students grow up with the discipline of long hours in the classroom. And when classes are dismissed late on afternoons, numbers of students attend night lessons in various fields.
I was among a group of 25 participants at a Workshop on International Broadcasting and Media for Central and South America, and the Caribbean Region.
It was sponsored by the International Cooperation and Development Funds and run by the Kuangchi Programme Service. The itinerary featured broadcasting concepts, script writing and programme planning for television.
It was a new area for me, but the interaction with the participants and tips from the instructors proved invaluable in shaping my versatility. Field visits to areas of research and productivity, combined as models in practical and theoretical approaches.
By the time the three groups made their two five-minute long presentations on the final day of the Workshop, I had gained sufficient insight into television production to justify my attendance.
Visits to the Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and the Tanshui Animal Health Research Institute wound up the exercises.
Trips to the National Taiwan Ocean University and Taipei Fish Market highlighted aspects of marine biology as far as the seawater and its resources went. And the fresh water version of marine research took us to the Lukang Fisheries Research Institute.
Taiwan has pledged to be self-sufficient in food production, and sea-food and aquaculture programmes have contributed to that fulfillment.
But agricultural and horticultural aspects have not been overlooked and research into animal health was part of the programme.
The visit to the Taipei Fish Market showcased the depth and variety of Taiwan’s supplies. And the trip to Ilan to the Yuanshan Farmers’ Cooperative showed the result of farmers getting together. Then preservation of fruits at a family-run factory ensured that the visit was a worthwhile endeavour.
By June 22, postproduction of group projects saw the participants, in three different groups, entrenched in their activity.
The final day, Wednesday, June 23, was for presentations and evaluations.
The closing ceremony was marked by a farewell luncheon.
Fourteen days before that, persons hardly knew one another and the rapid acceptance of the varying cultures saw a meshed entourage.
It was not strictly hard work. A mixture of cultural and leisure tours lent to a blend.
Trips to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and the Sun Moon Lake spiced up the Taiwanese experience, and an excursion to a paper making outlet provided on-the-spot training in paper making.
Besides the practical and theoretical lessons, observations of the Taiwanese way of life are sufficient to alert you to the reasons for the success of that nation.
There is a sense of urgency especially among the youths and they move in a positive direction. Tribute must be given to the elders of the population, for they must have guided the youngsters to a sense of reality with proper examples. And there is a healthy respect for the experienced, so the passage of ideals will always permeate the society.
Taiwan is a model for Third World countries, and their pattern of development can be emulated. But the discipline will have to be infused in whatever state or country that will benefit from the Taiwanese experience.