Pact on strengthening Austronesian exchanges signed by Taiwan, Marshall Islands

The Agreement for Cooperation on Austronesian Peoples' Cultural Affairs was concluded by Taiwan and the Marshall Islands Jan. 3 in New Taipei City, underscoring the allies' commitment to deepening bilateral ties through exploration of their shared heritage.

Inked by Icyang Parod, minister of the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Amenta Matthew, minister of culture and internal affairs of the Marshall Islands, the pact paves the way for closer collaboration in a variety of areas including culture, education, the environment, languages and sports.

Icyang said this is the first accord signed with a Pacific ally on indigenous issues since the Austronesian Forum last August, which brought together leaders and high-level officials from 13 Pacific countries and territories. The agreement will deepen bilateral exchanges on traditional culture, strengthen cooperation on tackling climate change and bolster academic links across such fields as indigenous language research, he added.

Matthew credited the nations' close relations since the establishment of official ties in 1998 to their shared values of democracy and freedom as well as their common Austronesian heritage. The Marshall Islands is committed to working with Taiwan in supporting the preservation of indigenous cultures, she said.

Indigenous peoples have lived in Taiwan for millennia, with archaeological evidence confirming their presence dating back 12,000 to 15,000 years. The latest CIP statistics peg the population of the country's 16 officially recognized tribes at around 530,000 or 2.3 percent of the nation's total.

Source: Taiwan Today