Alexa

Taiwan honors technicians on 50th anniversary of aid missions

Taiwan honors technicians on 50th anniversary of aid missions

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) Foreign Minister Timothy C. T. Yang honored the diplomatic contributions of the country's aid technicians Wednesday, as the country marked the 50th anniversary of the first farming aid mission sent overseas.
"These specialists overcame great difficulties to improve the locals' livelihoods and lay solid foundations for relations between Taiwan and other countries, " Yang said at a ceremony in Taipei.
"They also helped raise Taiwan's international profile, " he added.
Taiwan, which has enjoyed economic prosperity over the past several decades based on its agricultural and high-tech industries, has only limited space in the international community due to China's suppression.
The country at present maintains official ties with 23 countries, mostly in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa.
The country sent its first mission of farming experts, hailed as "grassroots ambassadors, " to Vietnam in 1959. Today, however, the scope of these missions has moved beyond the agricultural sector.
"We now have missions made up of experts from the high-tech, medical, solar energy, environmental protection, business marketing and computer engineering fields," Yang noted.
Thirty-three of these original experts -- who went on their missions in their 20s and now have gray hair -- attended a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) to unveil a book featuring their stories.
The ICDF also launched a special English-language section of its Web site on the history of the country's foreign aid.
The 287-page Chinese-language book details missions carried out in Southeast Asia, the Pacific region, Africa, Central America and the Middle East from the 1960s to the 21st century.
At the peak period in the 1970s, Taiwan had 1,000 specialists posted overseas, with 47 overseas missions in the 1990s, according to the book. However, the number had decreased to 33 missions in 28 countries, with just 225 specialists, as of 2009.
A total of 38 people have died on mission over the years, either due to war, disease or car accidents.
Yang Wu-jiun, who was sent to Sierra Leone in the late 1970s at the age of 28, told CNA at the ceremony that he joined the mission with seven others because it was difficult for Taiwanese to travel abroad at that time.
"I wanted to take the opportunity to go overseas, even though I had been married for just five months at the time," he recalled.
During his one-month training session before setting out on the mission, he and others had to be equipped with language, rescue, haircutting, cooking and mechanical skills besides their farming know-how.
The 72-year-old said he stayed in the African country for two years on a monthly salary of US$200.
He added that although he enjoyed those days and wanted to join another mission after returning home, things did not go according to plan, "thanks to opposition from the family." (By Alex Jiang)




Updated : 2021-03-02 10:14 GMT+08:00