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Soft Diplomacy & the Taiwan Public Policy Internship Program at the Australian National University

In the second semester last year, three politics students at the Australian National University (ANU) – Eric Chen, Mike Cheung, and Bessie Zhang – were selected to take part in the Taiwan Public Policy Internship Program, the university’s first internship program with partner institutions in Taiwan.
The Taiwan Public Policy Internship Program is funded under Australia’s New Colombo Plan mobility program. It is coordinated by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government in the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU with the support of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia. The program is open to ANU undergraduate students aged 18-28 in the third year of their studies or in their honors year.
Completing and presenting an 8,000-word report is a requirement to complete the internship and on the 10th of June, a seminar was hosted by Professor John Want to at the ANU for the three students to give their presentations, and share some of what they had learnt and discovered in Taiwan.

Eric Chen is in the final year of a double degree, doing a Bachelor of Asian Pacific Studies course and a Bachelor of Economics course. He presented a paper on his work critically investigating the export strategies for Taiwan’s small and medium enterprises, their challenges, and policy suggestions.

Mike Cheung did his internship at the Institute of International Relations in Taipei. He covered events associated with the 2016 Taiwan presidential election, and this included attending diplomatic functions, symposiums, and political rallies. Mike’s research paper analyzed some of the key factors that have underpinned Taiwan's status quo at different historical stages.

Bessie Zhang is a double degree student, doing a Master of Asia Pacific Studies course, and a Master of Diplomacy course. She talked about her six-weeks undertaking research on the topic of Taiwan’s 2016 elections, with the assistance of professors at National Chengchi University and National Taiwan University. She interviewed professors, political science students, and members of the general public and analyzed how the Taiwanese campaign differed to Australia’s to outreach to potential voters.

Andy Bi, Executive Director of TECO, was invited to attend the seminar representing the Ministry of Education in Taiwan and participate in the talks, along with Dr Andrew Banfield, head of the School of Politics and International Relations, and staff members Ms Shellaine Godbold, and Mr Martin Heskins. It was an excellent seminar, with stimulating ideas, questions, and discussion.

Information about the ANU’s Taiwan Public Policy Internship Program is available at