TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan NextGen Foundation CEO Chen Kuan-ting (陳冠廷) on Friday (Nov. 4) stressed the importance of the proposed Taiwan Fellowship Program, which was included in the Taiwan Policy Act introduced by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September.
In an opinion article published in The Diplomat, Chen described the program as having “the power to bring about a new era of Taiwanese-American diplomacy.” While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already has a similarly named program that is open to all foreign scholars, this would be targeted at U.S. government staff and aims to bolster government-to-government exchanges, Chen said.
Originally, the program was introduced as a separate bill called the Taiwan Fellowship Act, but it was later included in the Taiwan Policy Act and America COMPETES Act. Currently, the House and Senate have both passed their own versions of the bill, with different versions of the Taiwan Fellowship Act.
The program would enable qualifying government workers to come to Taiwan for at most two years for intensive Mandarin courses and study “the people, history, and political climate,” Chen said. After one year, fellows are assigned to work in Taiwan government-affiliated offices or NGOs.
The CEO said launching the program would symbolize America’s recognition of Taiwan as “a thriving democracy in East Asia” and reinforce the fact that “Taiwan has a value of its own.” “This program has the potential to overhaul Taiwan-U.S. relations as we know it,” he said.
Chen urged major supporters of the America COMPETES Act, such as the Western Pacific Fellowship Program and the Taiwanese-American Foundation, to continue lobbying for the bill as it reaches its final review stages. This is vital for the future protection of “intergovernmental and educational cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” he said.