Acting Tainan mayor outlines New Southbound plans

Acting Tainan mayor Lee Meng-yen (RTI photo)

Acting Tainan mayor Lee Meng-yen has outlined his city’s local initiatives to further the New Southbound policy.

The New Southbound policy is the government’s program seeking closer ties with countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. Lee told RTI on Monday that Tainan’s contributions to the policy include efforts in the areas of education, tourism, and marketing local products.

Lee said work to expand educational ties with Southeast Asian countries began under his predecessor, William Lai. Lai stepped down as mayor last year to take up the post of premier. This work included helping to reach agreements that will make it easier for universities to market their programs in Southeast Asia. The goal is to attract students from local ethnic Han Chinese populations.

In the area of tourism, Lee said Tainan has secured direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and taken steps to make local restaurants and hotels more acceptable to Muslim visitors.

Lee also said that Tainan businesses have been marketing local products to Southeast Asia with guidance from the external trade council. He said the biotech and food sectors are two areas that have seen products marketed in the region.