Taiwan`s Foreign Aid Policy in Transition Teh

Taiwan’s Foreign Aid Policy
in Transition
Teh-chang Lin, Ph.D.
Director, Institute of Mainland China Studies
Director, Center for International NGO Studies
National Sun Yat-sen University
Kaohsiung, Taiwan
[email protected]
Two features of Taiwan.
1. Taiwan has grown strong through
successful economic development, in
terms of its foreign reserve, foreign
investment, foreign trade and gross
national product.
2. Taiwan has been diplomatically isolated
in the international arena ever since 1971,
when it lost its seat to Beijing in the
United Nations.
• Until June 2006 only twenty-five countries
recognized Taiwan diplomatically.
• Taipei launched a policy of pragmatic
diplomacy in the end of the 1980s, employing
its economic strength to foster its interaction
with friendly countries and enlarge its web of
connections with international community.
• One important instrument that has been
frequently utilized by Taiwan to pursue its
foreign policy goals is bilaterally official
development assistance (ODA).
• The transformation of traditional
bilateral ODA
1. UN Development Program
2. The Millennium Development Goals—(a)
to tackle with the issues of poverty, health
and education in the developing countries;
(b) to call on the collaboration among
international organizations, regional
organizations, national governments, local
governments, non-governmental
organizations and communities
• The issue of human development has
gradually received more attention by the
donors and the recipient governments since
the 1990s.
• The emergence of non-state actors inevitably
singles out the priority of the poverty
reduction and human development.
• The nature of foreign aid has been gradually modified
from a state-center to a society-center perspective.
• A state-center aspect underlines the features of ODA
which mainly relies on governmental transaction, with
political motivation, between the donor and the
recipient countries.
• The society-center approach highlights the core value
of human development and cooperation, which
illustrates the importance of poverty eradication,
human rights, health, sanitation, technical support,
education, environmental protection and women
rights for those people who living in a poor condition
in developing countries.
• Taiwan’s foreign aid has entered into its
transitional stage.
• The sophisticated concept of international
development and cooperation implies that the
central government is no longer able to
monopolize its foreign aid program, in terms
of aid design and implementation.
• The complexity of the issue of development
has also transformed the traditional aid
program into a more diversified and
specialized one.
• The non-governmental organizations, with its
adeptness at grass-root and with the formation of
international advocacy networks, have greatly
enhanced their importance in undertaking
international relief and development projects
toward the recipient societies.
• The mixture of state-centered and society centered
approaches can be discerned by the newly concept
of “people’s diplomacy”. The concept has been
frequently emphasized by Taiwan’s government, with
its intention to supplementary the ineffectiveness of
so-called “track-one diplomacy”.
• Taiwan’s NGOs have gradually been encouraged to
move a further step to the international community,
either by their own projects or by the projects
assigned or sponsored by the government.
• The organizational nature of the NGOs always tends
to work independently, either domestically or
internationally. This further hampers Taipei’s effort in
encouraging NGOs collectively to facilitate their
international activities.
• Taiwan’s attempt to increase its effectiveness of
“people’s diplomacy” would be constrained, due to
limited resources and less information-sharing among
• How to coordinate or integrate these NGOs
into a coalition for both diplomatic and
humanitarian purposes becomes a crucial
task for government.
• Most NGOs in Taiwan argue that their
international activities must exclude any
political motivation.
• The government does expect that its
performance of relief and international
development can make an additional value
for country’s foreign policy.
• The studies on Taiwan’s bid for the United
Nations and the World Health Organization
not only underscore the aforementioned
contradicted trend, but also highlight the
dilemma currently encountered by Taiwan’s
• By mixing NGO functions with track-one
diplomacy, Taiwan has placed itself in an
even awkward position given the current
international situation.
• If Taiwan uses NGOs as a tool for pursuing
instant diplomatic goals, it will obviously have
misused the unique qualities of these social
• Faced by Taiwan’s unique international situation,
Taiwan’s NGOs have played their crucial roles since
the 1990s when Taipei endeavors to make a
feedback to international community, to expand
Taiwan’s foreign relations and to complementary the
inadequateness of official foreign policy.
• Taiwan’s NGOs may need to enhance their
cooperation or partnership with foreign NGOs,
expecting to expand their sphere into some more
Third World countries.
• Due to political animosity and diplomatic competition
across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan has still needed to
heavily rely on the ODA to pursue its diplomatic goals
in the years to come.