Port of Hueneme Board President Mary Anne Rooney made her official report to the World Affairs Council (“WAC”) of the Central Coast on the national leadership mission to Taiwan ROC, attended by her and nine other WAC representatives representing New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Washington, DC.
“It was an honor and privilege to represent the United States on this leadership mission and I developed valuable insights about Taiwan.” Rooney said.
The World Affairs Councils of America represents and supports the largest national non-partisan network of local councils dedicated to educating, inspiring and engaging Americans in international Affairs and the critical global issues of our times.
The recent Taiwan trip allowed members of the mission to learn firsthand about Taiwan, its recent history, politics, cultural and economic development, and included site visits to factories and the Port of Taipei.
Taiwan sits a mere 118 miles off China’s south coast across from Fujian province. A little larger than the State of Maryland, Taiwan has a population comparable to Australia and is one of Asia’s economic ‘Tigers’ boasting the world’s 19th largest economy.
Commission President Rooney shared with the Council that of particular interest was Taiwan’s growing relationship with mainland China. According to President Rooney, “there have been 19 separate agreements between Taiwan and China since 2008 focusing on economic trade and tourism. Prior to 2008, there were no direct flights between Taiwan and China and today there are 670 weekly flights connecting the two as well as a vibrant Taiwanese population living and working in Mainland China”.
According to President Rooney’s report, there is a lively competition between the two main political parties in Taiwan, the Nationalist (KMT) party which arrived in 1949 as the result of the Civil War with the Chinese Communists and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP has its roots in liberal opposition to the Kuomintang’s one-party rule. This movement culminated in the formation of the DPP as an alternative party in 1986. Today’s DPP is Taiwan’s progressive, liberal party and a viable political opponent. Traditionally associated with strong advocacy for human rights the DPP has a distinct Taiwanese identity, including promotion of de jure Taiwan independence as opposed to the KMT’s policy of eventual reunification with China.
Education still remains a priority for Taiwan which boasts more than 23,000 students studying in the U.S. and 87% of all Taiwanese students attending college.
President Rooney concluded her presentation with targeted actions to better connect with Taiwan including, governmental visits, educational outreach with Ventura County’s educational community, expansion of Foreign Trade Agreements and agricultural agreements connecting our local growers with Taiwan’s marketplace.
The Port of Hueneme is one of the most productive and efficient commercial trade gateways for niche cargo on the West Coast. The Port is governed by 5 locally elected Port Commissioners. The Port moves $7 billion in goods each year and consistently ranks among the top ten U.S. ports for autos and fresh produce. Port operations support the community by bringing $1 billion in economic activity and creating 9,448 trade-related jobs. Trade through The Port generates more than $63 million in annual state and local taxes which funds vital community services.
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