29 Jul 2016

Solomons and Taiwan bond solidifies

12:22 pm on 29 July 2016

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Taiwan's President, Tsai Ing-wen, say they intend taking links to a higher level.

The two leaders made the assurances this week in their first ever face-to-face dialogue in Taipei where Mr Sogavare has been on a nine-day state visit, discussing further aid development in education, health and agriculture.

Manasseh Sogavare

Manasseh Sogavare said Taiwan's economic success provided models for his country to follow Photo: RNZI

One of around twenty states which recognise Taiwan diplomatically, Solomon Islands has had diplomatic links with Taipei for 34 years.

Mr Sogavare said Taiwan has been "a true friend" of Solomon Islands and that his country had much to learn from Taiwan's economic success.

Commercial farming

One of the outcomes of this week's trip to Taiwan by Mr Sogavare is a proposal for the Taiwanese Government to send a technical expert to Solomon Islands to assist in organising local farmers to begin commercial farming.

This was discussed in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung where the Solomon Islanders met with the General Manager of the Kaohsiung Agriculture Development Company at the company's office premises.

Hsiao Han Chun explained his company's efforts to help local farmers get their produce to markets through a collective group.

"Through the Kaohsiung farmers' association, our farmers' interests are safeguarded and the quality of their products is guaranteed," he said.

"Through the farmers' association, farmers are able to save money, borrow money at a low interest rate whilst the rest of it is subsidized by the government."

The proposal was met with interest by the Solomon Islands Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Duddley Kopu, who said Solomon Islands was eager to progress further in terms of food security by aggressively pursuing commercial farming.

He acknowledged the assistance provided by the Taiwanese Government for agriculture through its International Cooperation for International Development Fund, saying the assistance, particularly in training, is a significant help to the development of the agricultural sector.

Mr Sogavare meanwhile, highlighted the success of the Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone as his government signals its intentions to introduce a Special Economic Zones concept in Solomon Islands in a bid to stimulate economic growth.

A bird's eye view showing Taipei City on 6 September 2013.

A bird's eye view showing Taipei City on 6 September 2013. Photo: AFP / Xinhua / Lu Peng

Medical education and health collaboration

Mr Sogavare visited the Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital of Taiwan which has a medical education and health collaboration exchange programme with the Solomon Islands National University.

The President of KMU Hospital, Professor Ching-Kuan Liu, told the Solomon's delegation that without the engagement of the two governments, their exchange programme would be difficult to conduct.

He described the collaboration as very close.

"Just in June this year, two lecturers from SINU attained their master degree in nursing here at the Kaohsiung Medical University, whilst another lecturer is

undertaking his PHD studies," said Professor Liu.

"Furthermore, another three lecturers from SINU would be undertaking masters degree courses. All these lecturers are studying here under the KMU scholarship for SINU."

The KMU Hospital has also been collaborating with Solomon Islands National Referral Hospital and the pacific country's Ministry of Health and Medical Services under an affiliation agreement.

The hospital's superintendent, Professor Inn-Wen Chong said that affiliation agreement, signed in 2006, manages and implements the 'Taiwan Health Centre in

Solomon Islands Project' which sees these two signatory institutions collaborate in various aspects.

These include KMU sending professors and staff to Honiara for a range of workshops and missions.

"This coming August, Taiwan will send a health delegation to Solomon Islands to review and strengthen our collaboration on this front," said Professor Liu.

"Also, later this year, KMU Hospital will hold workshops on medical care-related topics for the staff of the National Referral Hospital and provincial hospitals and we hope we can help improve the health sector of Solomon Islands through our collaboration."

For the remainder of Mr Sogavare's visit to Taiwan, he is to visit the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan, and the Taipei Municipal Government's Department of Sports.