As Taiwan pursues broader regional economic integration, the country’s leaders have taken significant steps to ensure that the island can handle the expected growth. Infrastructure development is central to those plans.
Early this year, the Ministry of Finance unveiled a massive 6.6 billion dollar infrastructure development package that aims to bring Taiwan closer to its objective of becoming a regional trade and logistics hub.
Tasked with upgrading the country’s road and transport network, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has identified ways to improve Taiwan’s railways, mass rapid transit, roads, highways, airports and seaports, as well as telecommunications and tourism-related infrastructure.
As it stands, Taiwan already boasts a highly advanced road and rail network, which includes a mass rapid transit system in the two largest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, with plans for a third system in another city to begin operations in 2017.
The immensely efficient High Speed Rail (HSR) system, which carried 268 million passengers in 2014, has eight stations and will add another four by the end of 2015.
Six major harbors, the airports, and a growing number of free trade zones make up an efficiently planned engine for economic growth. Today, each major city on the island is reachable within 3.5 hours from each other.
As far as international connectivity is concerned, Taiwan continues to push forward.
“We have many projects to enhance our capabilities to handle the overseas freight transportation,” said MOTC Deputy Minister Wu Meng-Feng.
Taiwan International Ports Corporation President Lee Tai-Hsin shares a similar position: “We can be an excellent trans-shipment partner in bridging the United States and mainland China.”
Amid a thaw in cross-strait relations, tourism in Taiwan has also experienced record-breaking success.
According to MOTC statistics, 4.82 million tourists traveled to Taiwan as of the third quarter of 2014, up 26.7 percent and the highest figure on record. Air transportation also posted record arrivals, with more than twenty-six million travelers passing through Taiwan’s airports as of last August, the highest level in fifteen years.
In anticipation of this upward trend, Taiwan’s legislative body recently approved the urban plan for Taiwan’s flagship megaproject, the Taoyuan Aerotropolis, which stands as the centerpiece of the island’s aim to be a global leader in transportation and logistics.
“In many ways, the destiny of Taoyuan will also determine the destiny of Taiwan,” said Taoyuan Mayor Wu Chih-Yang.