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Austronesian Forum key topic at indigenous committee meeting hosted by Premier Su

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Wednesday convened the 11th meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Promotion Committee, where he said that the government places great importance on indigenous peoples' affairs, passing related legislation and significantly increasing the available budget. The premier also expressed hope that by working together with respect for the many diverse cultures, the government and indigenous peoples could help promote indigenous issues, as well as complete the reworking of rules and regulations to ensure indigenous peoples' rights.

In reference to a report on Taiwan's Austronesian Forum, Premier Su said that according to the "out of Taiwan" theory advocated by some linguists and archeologists, Taiwan is the birthplace of Austronesian peoples and languages. If correct, this would confer upon Taiwan an important and unique status among the world's Austronesian communities, and serve as an ideal basis for expanding Taiwan's international presence by pursuing diplomacy through shared cultures.

On March 19 of this year, said the premier, the Executive Yuan approved a plan for the Austronesian Forum to run from 2020 to 2025. The plan clearly lays out concrete action items, including building a foundational structure, holding additional Austronesian Forums, and developing both resources and people. Also included are linguistic and cultural exchanges as well as industrial development with the Austronesian region.

Taiwan's Council of Indigenous Peoples said that with the support of President Tsai Ing-wen, a standing organization for the Austronesian Forum was established on August 1 last year as a means of realizing international exchanges among indigenous peoples as required by the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law. The organization also serves as a platform for cooperation and exchanges among Austronesian peoples worldwide.

Among the priorities for this year's Austronesian Forum are establishing the forum's headquarters in Palau and secretariat in Taipei, the hosting of the 2019 executive committee meeting, sponsoring a seminar on Austronesian crafts, and conducting training for Austronesian youth in international affairs. In the future, the organization will steadily push forward with forum action items, fully ensure ongoing communication among all members, and continue to participate in important Pacific-region meetings and activities, such as the 2020 Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture and a summit meeting of traditional Pacific leaders.

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