For immediate release:
July 15, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City reported today on his recent, week-long visit to the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. As part of a delegation of Midwest Political Leaders, Pelath was invited by the island nation to observe its geopolitical and economic importance to the United States.
"Despite decades of tension and conflict with mainland China, Taiwan remains a defiantly free society and a credible economic player on the world stage," reported Pelath. "Their respect of human rights, their pursuit of fair trade, and the stability of their democracy are models in the Pacific rim. Should the 'two Chinas' ever reunify, mainland China and other nearby nations would have much to learn from the Taiwanese.
"Likewise, we might have a thing or two to learn from their state-of-the-art system of public transportation and their hard-earned experience in urban development,” he added. “They do a number of things well."
A dozen lawmakers from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota comprised the delegation for the mission, which took place from July 2-8. The group of Midwestern lawmakers was immediately preceded by a visit from Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who arrived in Taiwan on June 22.
"Fortunately for Hoosiers, densely populated and resource-thin nations like Taiwan are lucrative customers for Indiana's agricultural products," said Pelath. "And given the international reputation of our state's universities and research institutions, we remain a powerful lure for Taiwanese students willing to pay top dollar to attend Indiana's public and private universities.
As part of an ambitious itinerary, Pelath received formal briefings from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan’s national legislature, the American State Offices Association, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Taiwanese Provincial Consultative Council, the Mainland Affairs Council, and the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation.
"While I learned a great deal, an ongoing lesson of mine is that more often than not, other countries have the same worries, struggles, and fundamental disagreements that we have," said Pelath. "What matters is that a society has stable, democratic, and peaceful means for addressing them. A nation that can do that will always have hope, and a nation with hope can be a valued friend."
As of 2011, Taiwan ranked 20th in the world in gross domestic product.
"It is an honor to represent Indiana abroad," said Pelath. "My only regret is that this is the first time in years that I had to miss Michigan City's Big Parade. I missed seeing everyone, and I am glad to be home."