Since beginning our partnership two years ago, the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF) and Pacific Forum have provided meaningful exchanges under our organizations’ youth engagement programs, the Taiwan-Asian Young Leaders Engagement (TAYLE) and the Young Leaders Program respectively.
Seeing the potential behind youth-led initiatives and the value of diverse perspectives on contemporary international issues, the TAEF and Pacific Forum hope to broaden the exposure of young leaders from the Asia-Pacific to pressing matters that affect their respective communities and the region at large. Under the TAEF’s TAYLE program, select Pacific Forum Young Leaders and peers from Southeast and South Asia are invited to Taiwan to participate in the annual Yushan Forum: Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress, which takes place in October and coincides with the country’s National Day celebrations. The theme, “Deepening Progressive Partnerships in Asia,” focused on the progressive partnerships and achievements in the areas of economic and technological exchange, talent cultivation, sustainable development, civil society development, think tank collaboration, cultural exchange and youth leadership within the region.
2019 was a very meaningful year for Taiwan and its people. It marked the third Yushan Forum, which has been a successful platform to communicate Taiwan’s commitment to promoting lasting partnerships and cooperation with the 18 New Southbound Policy countries—the 10 ASEAN member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand—and other like-minded states. It also marked the 20th anniversary of the 921 earthquake and the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Morakot, events that heavily impacted the island and other countries in Asia. In commemoration, a special event, “Facilitating Asian Partnership for Disaster Preparedness” was held in conjunction with the 2019 Yushan Forum. It showcased regional efforts in disaster preparedness, management, and relief, and stood as a testament that, in times of disaster, the countries in the region stand as one.
For the 2019 TAYLE-Young Leader cohort, nine promising youths from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States, were given the opportunity to attend the Yushan Forum’s seven thematic sessions over a span of two days, affording them the opportunity to engage international leaders and subject matter experts, as well experience Taiwan from a different lens. Before returning to their countries, the Young Leaders discussed among themselves their key takeaways from the experience as well as possible areas of cooperation between Taiwan and their countries.
In her speech during the Yushan Forum, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized the importance of exposing young minds to experiences that will broaden their horizons and allow them to help address regional issues from a regional perspective. Answering this call, the following essays offer rich perspectives and pressing concerns from the region’s emerging leaders.
Under this partnership between the TAEF and Pacific Forum, we hope to continue providing young professionals and scholars the opportunity to better appreciate Taiwan and its growing role in the Asia-Pacific, as well as to help them realize their potential as leaders and build connections with peers early in their careers. In the spirit of the 2019 Yushan Forum, we look forward to seeing their partnerships deepen to ensure continued regional innovation and progress.