Belize prepares to receive Taiwanese President Print E-mail
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Friday, 10 August 2018 00:00

For a fourth time since Belize established relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1989, a head of state of that country will be visiting Belize. The most recent visit by a Taiwanese president was in March 2016 when outgoing president Ma Ying-Jeou paid a visit to Belize. He had previously visited in May of 2009. Previous to his visit Belize welcomed President Chen Shui-Bian in 2004.

Over the years Belize has hosted numerous high level government officials from Taiwan including foreign ministers as well as on one occasion the Vice president Wu Den-Yih who called on Belize in 2012. Now once again the country is making preparations for the visit of President Tsai Ing-Wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.

The president will arrive in Belize on August 16th for a three-day visit. As part of her itinerary the president is scheduled to hold meetings with the Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young and Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow. She will also be addressing the National Assembly and will engage the Taiwanese community in Belize. More importantly President Tsai will reaffirm and enhance mutual understanding of cooperation between Taiwan and Belize in areas of agriculture, education, information and communication technology, healthcare and vocational training.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) is among Belize’s top three development partners and has seen the country assist Belize’s development in some of the most important aspects of nation building. Among these are projects like the Capacity Building for the prevention and control of chronic renal failure in Belize which is being financed by the ICDF.

This program which is currently being implemented is establishing basic prevention and control systems for chronic renal failure in Belize. It has seen training of a number of personnel including 9 instructors, 118 medical officers, 17 dialysis nurses and 305 community health workers. The project is being implemented over a period of 4 years and is expected to create an enhanced tracking and management system for chronic kidney disease. So far there have been 7,834 persons screened for renal conditions with this data currently being analyzed.

In the area of agriculture the Taiwanese government is in the process of assisting Belize in improving the genetic stock of sheep and goat. The aim is for an expansion of the small ruminant industry. So far they have upgraded facilities for the housing of the animals as well as invested in pasture improvement. Alongside the physical upgrades there has been a focus on capacity building and imparting knowledge on breeding animals to increase productivity of the livestock. This project alone has had at least 400 persons express interest and the objective is to have enough of the small ruminants to be able to export to neigbouring Mexico and the Caribbean.

There has also been assistance in the area of E-government with Taiwan’s assistance being crucial in establishing government’s CITO and in 2015 assisting in implementing the Information Security Management System (ISMS) which maintains and improves government’s information security services. Under the very same program the Belize electronic license and permits systems was implemented to offer online services for processing import and export licenses. There is also now a move to integrated and centralized the transport system with a 4 year project which started in 2017. This program will implement a motor vehicle registration and license system for drivers licenses, learners permits, vehicle registration, traffic tickets and revenue collection.

Infrastructure has also seen significant improvements as a result of Taiwan’s assistance. The Southern Highway for instance was built through a loan as far back as in 1997. And they continued with their assistance throughout with financing for a Tourism Development Project that saw improvement in archaeological sites, access roads and strengthening of the department of archaeology. Ongoing right now is the implementation of the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation project with the intention of preserving the historic and colonial heritage of the downtown area of Belize City.

In the area of Education there have been 245 Belizeans who have received scholarships to further their studies in Taiwan. This year alone there are 59 Belizeans who are currently on scholarships and are studying in our friendly country.

All told, Taiwan has indeed been one of the greatest development partners in Belize with more programs being implemented that have yielded long-term improvements in Belizean society.