Taiwan’s new president ‘amazed’ by Israel
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Taiwan’s new president ‘amazed’ by Israel

Tsai Ing-wen hailed Jewish state’s achievements as source of inspiration for her country after 2013 visit

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Tsai Ing-wen (center), then president-elect of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), waving after her victory in the presidential election in Taipei, January 16, 2016. (AFP/Sam Yeh)
Tsai Ing-wen (center), then president-elect of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), waving after her victory in the presidential election in Taipei, January 16, 2016. (AFP/Sam Yeh)

Saturday’s elections in Taiwan catapulted a major Israel fan into the presidency.

Tsai Ing-wen, 59, of the Democratic Progressive Party, became the 14th president and vice president of the Republic of China on winning 56% of the vote. She will start her new job on Wednesday.

The new president visited Israel in 2013, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday, and on returning to Taiwan, published a glowing article in the island’s main newspaper.

She expressed amazement at Israelis’ ability to maintain normal lives despite terror, and admiration for Israel’s high-tech industry, its social protests of 2011 and the determination of Israeli diplomats to fight for their country abroad.

Taiwan could learn much from the Israeli experience and philosophy, she wrote.

She even uploaded a photo to her Facebook page of an armed, female Israeli soldier, expressing wonder at the level of women’s integration into Israeli society.

Tsai has maintained close relations with the head of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, Simona Halperin, who ended her five-year service in the country last year, the paper said.

During Halperin’s tenure, bilateral trade rose by 9 percent, reaching US$1.33 billion in 2014, with bilateral cooperation agreements in industrial R&D and deals covering aviation, tourism, science and technology, customs affairs, environmental protection, education, sports and youth exchanges.

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