Polish envoy to Taiwan praises strong bilateral ties

Polish exports to Taiwan are up 40% during the last year. And The acting head of the Polish Office in Taipei, Bartosz Ryś, described bilateral relations as strong and said he is optimistic about post-COVID Poland-Taiwan ties.

Ryś spoke about his nation’s upcoming celebration on May 6 that commemorates the Polish constitution, which was ratified on May 3, 1791. This year will be the 230th anniversary of its ratification, he said.

He went on to describe the document as a “symbol of the boldness and innovation” of the Polish people. He added that it was the world’s second modern constitution, after that of the U.S. (ratified in 1789).

The acting head said his office is also planning another Chopin musical event in the second half of the year, following the success of last year’s outdoor Chopin recital.

Ryś said he was “very satisfied” with bilateral ties despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The two countries established direct cargo and passenger charter flights between Taipei and Warsaw in 2020 to facilitate the movement of people and goods during the pandemic, and subsequent charter flights are planned for later this year.

He also praised the growing volume of trade between Poland and Taiwan, which increased by 13 percent last year. Polish exports to Taiwan rose by 40 percent, while imports grew by 10 percent.

The two nations also held economic consultations in September 2020 on trade and investment, smart cities, electromobility, and cybersecurity, resulting in the inking of two agreements — one on small and medium-sized enterprises, and another on cooperation between accreditation bodies.

Ryś pointed out that in January 2021, Poland and Taiwan finalized a legal and criminal matters agreement. The Taiwan-Poland Criminal Justice Cooperation Agreement was signed by representatives from both sides in June 2019, but it needed the approval of Polish President Andrzej Duda, Ryś explained, noting that Poland is the first EU country to sign such a comprehensive agreement with Taiwan.

He added that five Polish cities attended the Taipei Smart City Summit and Expo in March, which discussed how to utilize artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things when managing urban spaces. The participating cities were: Lublin, Pila, Rzeszow, Gdynia, and Lodz.

The representative said he is confident the two countries can collaborate further in areas such as startups, smart cities, and electric cars. For example, Poland is the largest EV battery producer in the EU and has stepped up investment in electromobility.

Ryś added that “Poland is one of the most attractive countries for foreign investors in a variety of sectors, and could be a great fit for Taiwanese companies.” He pointed out that Poland benefits from its attractive location in the very center of Europe, decent infrastructure, and highly skilled workers. The central European nation also stands out for its advanced tech startups and programmers that design and develop high-quality solutions for global giants, he added.

As for education, Ryś said approximately 1,500 Taiwanese currently study and live in Poland, with the numbers steadily growing. Most of these students are enrolled in medicine and dentistry programs, he said, describing the courses as very demanding but affordable.

Meanwhile, there are about 400 Polish living in Taiwan. The nation has become a popular destination for Poles who want to explore Asia, according to the diplomat. Taiwan is known in Poland as a safe, friendly, and beautiful country – altogether a “good brand.”

Conversely, Poland has become an increasingly popular vacation hotspot for Taiwanese. Ryś described the European nation as having “castles, beautiful old towns, and landscapes.” He noted that Poland offers 16 UNESCO heritage sites, including Bialowieza Forest, Krakow’s historic central district, and Malbork Castle.

Ryś stated that he had a positive outlook on Poland-Taiwan ties in the near future. He said the two sides are currently talking about increasing the number of flight connections and discussing possible high-level visits after the pandemic.

On a personal note, the diplomat said he loves Taiwan’s pristine nature — particularly its mountains. He often goes to Elephant Mountain and has hiked Yushan and Hsuehshan, the East Asian nation’s two tallest mountains. He also enjoys traditional Taiwanese food, especially stir-fried dishes and gua bao.

Taiwanese and Poles have a lot in common, Ryś concluded. “Poland and Taiwan share fundamental values, such as democracy, rule of law, and human rights. These values create solid foundations for our future partnership.”

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