Brad Gatlin, assistant professor of business, recently visited the Republic of China (Taiwan) as part of a U.S. Young Scholars program arranged by the Republic of China’s (ROC) Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Gatlin said the delegation included academics in the fields of economics, business and political science and was designed to increase understanding of the ROC’s cultural, economic and political situation. The group spent a week meeting with Taiwanese government, university and private agencies, and visited the island of Kinmen, formerly known as Quemoy).
“We came away with a better idea of what’s happening in Taiwan,” Mr. Gatlin said. “The main issue is their relationship with mainland China. The People’s Republic of China views Taiwan as a rogue state, and has never declared that they will not use military force for the purpose of unification. Meanwhile, since the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement last year, the countries have become important trading partners for each other. They share a complicated relationship that now includes an increasing economic interdependence.”
Delegates had briefings with the ROC’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication, Ministry of National Defense, Mainland Affairs Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, the Tzu Chi Foundation, National Taiwan University, and the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan, which functions as an embassy for the United States.
The visit to Kinmen was a moving experience, Mr. Gatlin said. “It’s one thing to know the situation (the ROC faces) but it’s another to be on Kinmen and see the shells still on the island 20 years after they were fired by PRC forces. It really helped me internalize the urgency of the situation Taiwan faces.
While he was primarily on the trip to learn about the situation in Taiwan, he also was able to make contacts with educators at National Taiwan University and to discuss the possibility of developing exchange programs which might be of interest to Bryan students.