Kaohsiung aiming to serve as base for Taiwan’s southbound policy

Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan, is positioning itself as a base for Taiwan's "New Southbound Policy," a central government initiative to build new partnerships with South and Southeast Asian nations, city officials said Wednesday.

With its advantage as a sea and air transportation hub, Kaohsiung is well poised to become a central player in the country's southbound policy, officials at the city's Economic Development Bureau (EDB) said.

Furthermore, Kaohsiung is located in southern Taiwan, which gives it the additional advantage of proximity to Southeast Asia not just geographically, but also in terms of industrial development and living environment, the EDB said.

Kaohsiung will seek to integrate its resources to become a springboard for Taiwan to launch further into the markets of South and Southeast Asia, the bureau said.

The "New Southbound Policy" is an initiative by the Taiwan government to expand its trade and investment ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and countries in South Asia.

Since the Democratic Progressive Party government took office in May, it has set up a Southbound Policy Office to implement the five-year plan amid concerns that Taiwan has grown too economically dependent on China.

The idea of Kaohsiung playing a central role in the initiative was put forward by the EDB at a Global Harbor Cities Forum that opened Tuesday in the southern city and is being attended by delegations from Selangor in Malaysia, Jakarta in Indonesia, Cebu in the Philippines, and Danang, Haiphong and Ho Chi Minh cities in Vietnam.

They are among the 100-plus delegates from 49 cities in 25 countries, including 5 cities in Taiwan, who are taking part in the forum Sept. 6-8.

On Wednesday morning, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??) took the Danang and Haiphong delegations on a visit to Jhong-Jheng Elementary School, which has Vietnamese language and culture classes on its curriculum.

Chen said the introduction of such classes in Kaohsiung schools is supported by subsidies from the city government as part of its efforts to cater to its growing population of new immigrants and position itself as a base for the central government's southbound policy.

The new immigrant population in Kaohsiung currently stands at 60,000, with Vietnam being the largest source, according to the city's data.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel