Taipei, Dec. 9 (CNA) Taiwan and the Philippines held a meeting under their Joint Science and Technology Commission in Taipei Friday, in an effort to boost cooperation in natural disaster prevention and personnel exchanges, officials said.
During the fifth meeting under the commission, the two sides officially launched three projects to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of volcanoes, oceans, typhoons and earthquakes.
The four areas are the focus of bilateral science and technology cooperation, said Philippines' Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena, who is visiting Taiwan to attend the meeting.
The projects are aimed at strengthening forecasting of extreme conditions, studies of natural hazards and seismic monitoring along the Manila Trench, he said.
The oceanic trench located west of the Philippine islands of Luzon and Mindoro is associated with frequent earthquakes that affect both Taiwan and the Philippines. It reaches a depth of about 5,400 metres, compared with the average depth of the South China Sea of about 1,500 metres.
In addition, de la Pena also expressed hope for greater cooperation in academic research, agriculture and health.
He said the Philippines is planning to send fulltime students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to pursue doctorates in universities in Taiwan, as part of efforts to strengthen education exchanges.
The initial goal is to send 10 such students each year to study in Taiwan, probably starting next year, he told CNA.
In the area of health, he expressed hope that the two sides will strengthen cooperation in dealing with infectious diseases.
The meeting was attended by delegations from Taiwan and the Philippines, including heads of both sides' science departments and scholars in related areas.
Speaking at the meeting, Taiwan's Minister of Science and Technology Yang Hung-duen (楊弘敦) expressed hope for greater cooperation with the Philippines, saying that the government's "New Southbound Policy" is also conducive to promoting bilateral exchanges in volcanoes, oceans, typhoons and earthquakes.
Both Taiwan and the Philippines face threats of similar natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, he said.
To implement the three projects, Yang said that Taiwan has allocated NT$12 million (US$376,979) next year, he said. The Philippine government will also contribute an unspecified amount of money to the projects.
At a news conference, Yang noted Taiwan's advances in medicine, saying that he is confident Taiwan has the ability to make a great contribution to combating tropical infectious diseases.
Meanwhile, Taiwan is also hoping to advance cooperation in health, agriculture and personnel training, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which said that Taiwan and the Philippines began cooperation in science and technology about a decade ago in the area of meteorology and have now expanded to other areas such as earthquakes.
In addition to attending Friday's meeting, de la Pena visited the World Vegetable Center, an institute for vegetable research and development that is based in Tainan, southern Taiwan.
He was also scheduled to visit the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction in New Taipei later Friday to learn more about the development of disaster prevention in Taiwan.
He will wrap up his three-day visit on Saturday.
(By Elaine Hou and Huang Li-yun)