Renowned New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman praised the 23 million people of Taiwan for having accumulated the world’s fourth-largest foreign exchange reserves despite their nation’s lack of natural resources and the high frequency with which they suffer from the effects of natural disasters. Attributing the achievement to the wealth of talent found on the island, Friedman said innovation is the most crucial renewable resource that Taiwan possesses, as invention, know-how and entrepreneurial spirit follow closely behind. The three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who is currently on a two-day visit to Taiwan, made these remarks during a January 11 speech at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
Noting that Taiwan is an expert in the field of renewable energy, the columnist encouraged the nation’s people to make the most of this advantage and develop more clean-power initiatives, so that they can continue to play a leading role in this new green revolution.
Friedman went on to say that Taiwan has the lead in information technology, but that now is the time to step up efforts to develop energy technology in order to “outgreen” competitors. As geographically proximate “Red” China looks one day to become “Green” China, Taiwan is well-poised to take advantage of the opportunities presented by this huge market.
During Friedman’s time with President Ma Ying-jeou, the president praised him as a global opinion leader. Through his books and articles, Friedman has brought about a greater consciousness of the problems posed by global warming and the solutions presented by the use of “green” forms of energy that reduce CO2 emissions. The president also stated that Taiwan has seen concrete results in implementing policies that address these two issues, which helped reduce CO2 emissions by 4.4 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year, bringing them back down to their 2005 level. In addition to promoting related legislation, Taiwan has also revised its goals for reducing CO2 emissions, and now seeks to have emissions in 2020 be at the 2005 level and those in 2050 be at half of the 2000 level.
While meeting with Premier Wu Den-yih, Friedman noted that at the time of his first visit to Taiwan 13 years ago, the region was one of the world’s hottest flashpoints, but that the situation today is completely different. Cross-strait relations have undergone a silent revolution thanks to interaction between the people on both sides. Such an experience can serve as a reference for many other nations across the globe. Moreover, the two sides have achieved significant progress without needing the intervention of other nations. Friedman concluded that mixing person-to-person contacts with mutual economic complementariness is a recipe for long-lasting peace.
- The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.
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