Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

Canada is represented in Taiwan by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), a locally-incorporated entity staffed by Canadian government and local Taiwanese personnel. The CTOT facilitates cooperation on trade and investment, science and technology, public policy issues, education and youth exchanges, arts and culture, and aboriginal affairs.

2016
Caroline Wesley
2015
Annie Xie
Thomas Collin-Lefebvre


Past Interns

2016 Summer Intern: Caroline Wesley, BA Political Science and International Development Studies

Caroline will be interning at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which represents Canadian interests and citizens living in Taiwan. Her research interests have constellated towards Comparative East Asian Politics and Diplomacy, and so she is elated to work alongside the General Relations Division of the CTOT as their General Analyst. She is impassioned by the United Nations and as such, speaks four of their six operating languages: English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. She is an active leader within the Model United Nations community and will be on the dais for the upcoming SSUNS 2016 and McMUN 2017 conferences. Caroline is excited to employ her passion for Taiwanese diplomacy, politics, culture, and language as she broadens her insight into Canadian-Taiwanese relations.

Reach Caroline caroline.wesley [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

During the summer of 2016, I was honoured to work alongside the team of dedicated and passionate Canadians and Taiwanese working at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), Taiwan, for an internship as their Political Analyst Intern. As a BA student majoring in Political Science and International Development Studies with a minor in East Asian Language and Literature, I have had a passion for international affairs and cultural exchange from a young age. I have a strong interest in Canada’s Global Affairs as well as the United Nations, and thus hold the long-term goal of learning the UN’s 6 operating languages in order to complement my career goal of working in the diplomatic field.

These past two summers, I was also incredibly fortunate to have received scholarships to participate in intensive Chinese-language learning programs in Taipei and Shantou, China, which have further complemented my Mandarin studies at McGill as well as my interests in the Asia-Pacific region. In undertaking this position at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, I hoped to broaden my insight into Canadian relations with Asia, as well as to gain meaningful experience in the day-to-day process of working in Canada’s Global Affairs Division as well as to expand my knowledge on a variety of local and international issues.

In the absence of formal diplomatic ties with the Taiwanese government, Canada maintains a strong relationship with Taiwan through the CTOT. It is a crucial organization due to its facilitation of cooperation in a host of sectors, including but not limited to: trade and investment, educational exchanges, arts and culture, aboriginal affairs, and public policy issues. As is evidenced by the large variety of matters in which CTOT works with, my position as Political Analyst Intern was equally varied in my duties. Having arrived on the tail-end of a historical presidential election cycle, in which the new president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party was elected, one of my first tasks was to create and routinely update briefing documents on all administrative appointments and legislative proposals made by the new leadership. My academic background in East Asian and comparative politics at McGill was essential in my ongoing research for these briefing materials.

I was also tasked with attending academic and cultural conferences for the CTOT, and drafted several informational reports on their subject matters’ relevance for the Global Affairs division, some of which were distributed to Canadian embassies Asia-wide. A learning objective I achieved during this internship was the development of research skills in both French and Mandarin, as well as interviewing skills for the subjects I would report on. I was delighted to report on topics that were both within and beyond my research interests, such as LGBTQ rights, Aboriginal affairs, human rights, maritime security, and internet governance. Reports and briefings were complemented by meetings and events with Taiwanese and Canadian academics, governmental officials, legislators, and business owners during the course of my internship.

In fact, one of the highlights of my internship was my participation in two Taiwanese legislative assemblies, in which I represented Canada alongside diplomats from various other embassies. Participating in political events was an initial challenge for me, as my knowledge of political terms in Mandarin was limited, but I learned the lesson that flexibility and determination to improve through practice is key. Ultimately, I became comfortable meeting Taiwanese politicians after a few meetings, and subsequently made meaningful contributions to these sessions.

The CTOT also strongly values creative endeavours, and tasked me with the revitalization of their project in which they highlight the stories of long-standing Canadian residents of Taiwan. I created a refreshing and visually compelling website to best tell these important stories. As Global Affairs Canada is increasingly aware of the importance of visual media in storytelling and information-sharing, I created several videos documenting CTOT events, as well as a video calling attention to Canadian technology being used in Taiwan. These videos were widely disseminated, and had a reach of an audience of over 25,000 people.

For my participation in this internship, for which I will receive three credits, I will also be preparing a research paper under the supervision of Professor Richard Schultz on the topic of the Politics of Internet Governance and Human Rights. This internship has been an invaluable contribution to my pursuit of an education in international affairs and human rights, and for that, I am immeasurably grateful to those who have made my internship such a success. Due to the high cost of short-time living in Taipei, my unforgettable experiences at the CTOT would not have been possible without the generous International Experience Award provided by Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang. Their dedication to this internship program has played a pivotal role in enriching the educations of so many students like me, and I am forever beholden to their generosity.

Caroline stands up as her name is called at the Inter-Parliamentary Association on Digital Economy and Social Economy.

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2015 Summer Intern: Annie Xie, BA Economics and Political Science

Annie will be interning in the Trade and Investment Section of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which represents Canadian interests in Taiwan. She is excited to gain experience in market development analysis and to learn about the ways in which the CTOT promotes Canadian economic interests in the region. Annie is fascinated by Taiwan's economic history and economic development, and looks forward to broadening her understanding of Canada-Taiwan relations.

Reach Annie annie.xie [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which is Canada’s representation in Taiwan. I worked in the Trade & Investment section, which falls under the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). TCS’s mandate is to promote Canadian economic interests globally, and it helps Canadian companies expand into international markets by providing market intelligence, partnership opportunities, and more. It also assists foreign companies looking to invest in Canada or partner with Canadian companies and organizations.

The CTOT was an ideal setting to explore my interests in market and economic development as well as government involvement in it all. I was – I am – fascinated by Taiwan’s tremendous economic development and the impressive IT industry it has built in the past few decades. Both Canada and Taiwan have advanced economies that place a great deal of emphasis on trade and export-driven growth. I hoped to learn about what exactly governments did to promote innovation and international trade on the ground and to gain experience in the market analysis they did to support their activities.

During my internship, I was involved in dozens of projects across different sectors, from aerospace to agriculture to high-tech, assisting with market research, market reports, and event planning. I spearheaded a quarterly report on Canada-Taiwan trade. I also worked with our Agriculture team to prepare for the Canada Pavilion at Food Taipei, a massive trade show featuring food and agricultural product exhibitors from around the world. I produced a bilingual English-Chinese Canada Pavilion Guide and worked with the Canadian exhibiting companies to write concise company profiles for prospective buyers and partners.

One of the highlights of my internship was the actual week of Food Taipei, when I worked the CTOT booth and engaged with such a diversity of visitors, pitching to them Canadian food and agricultural products, companies, and business advantages. Among the many reasons for applying to the Taipei office was my desire to be in a Chinese-speaking city and work in a bilingual environment. Sometimes it was challenging to learn all the industry terms I needed to understand and use. However, I quickly picked up a lot of vocabulary, which gave me the confidence to provide translation for business-to-business meetings when needed.

What I learned in the McGill course Health Economics (ECON 440) proved incredibly useful by giving me a working knowledge of Canadian healthcare funding and reimbursement systems, drug approval processes, and hospital technology adoption practices. In reviewing Taiwan health industry-related reports that our office was producing for Canadian clients, it was valuable to know the relevant terminology and the Canadian context that our clients would be coming from. Life sciences are a growing sector in Taiwan, and Taiwan is drawing many Canadian businesses in the sector looking to expand or to find partners. When visiting Canadian clients from the life sciences sector asked me questions about the healthcare system in Taiwan, I was able to use my knowledge of Canadian healthcare to draw comparisons that enhanced their understanding.

With this summer internship completed, I am now entering my fourth year at McGill to finish my Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science. I will be receiving academic credit for my internship, with Professor Mark Brawley supervising my political science research paper on international trade.

As a recipient of the McGill International Experience Award, I would like to thank Mr. Joseph Schull (BA ’82, MA ’85) and Ms. Anna Yang (BCL, LLB ’88), who made this incredible experience possible with their generous financial support. I am very grateful.

Annie with Deputy Director of Trade and Investment Thomas Cumming.

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2015 Summer Intern: Thomas Collin-Lefebvre, BCom International Business

Thomas will be interning in the General Relations Section of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei. He is extremely keen to learn more from the political, economic, and security sectors that relate to Canada's presence in Taiwan. Thomas is also excited to work for the first time in a diplomatic environment as it aligns with his future professional career objective to work in an Embassy. Thomas thinks that the singular position and relations that Taiwan has on the international scene will make this internship one of the most interesting.

Reach Thomas thomas.collinlefebvre [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

This internship opportunity was a great occasion to deepen my knowledge in the way the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development operates abroad. As a student with an interest in foreign affairs, foreign policies and international trade, the opportunity to intern at the CTOT represented the perfect occasion to understand more the importance of Canadian offices in foreign territories. As a General Relations Intern, my responsibilities were to monitor Taiwan’s political and economic landscapes through the draft of timely reports as well as to conduct analyses on domestic policies and regional security, governance and democratic development issues. Through the various reports and meetings with distinguished scholars and other influencers of Taiwan, I have been able to broaden my understanding of foreign politics and international relations. However, during my internship, I also had the chance to work on a special project which was to conduct interviews with long standing Canadian residents in Taiwan and write a biography about them, in order to highlight the involvement and impact Canada had on Taiwan since many years. This project was clearly the one I favored as I had the chance to encounter Canadian individuals who lived for many decades on the island and thus had incredible stories and anecdotes to share.

Furthermore, my learning process was not limited during my working hours at the office as I was also enhancing my Mandarin Chinese skills with Taiwanese individuals I encountered during my stay. Even though it sometimes appeared as a challenge, the fact of working and living in an environment where Mandarin is the official language inevitably made me learn new words every day. Taiwan is an island full of wonderful and interesting individuals with whom it is always a pleasure to exchange. Moreover, Taiwan is extremely dynamic with events and activities throughout the island, whether it be a music concert in Taipei, a religious festival in Keelung or a river-tracing expedition in Hualien.

This internship was also a great opportunity for me to receive university credits. As a part of my work at the CTOT, I had the chance to attend a conference on the international sea transportation systems which inspired me to write a paper on the Role of Taiwan in the Internationalization of the Chinese Investments on Transportation Logistics, supervised by Professor William Polushin. The position that I held at the office have allowed me to meet individuals who enhanced my knowledge on the subject and allowed me to write the paper with clear information.

Also, the internship has been extremely formative and helpful in developing an irreproachable work ethic. Working alongside motivated and experienced individuals who mentored me throughout my work has been useful in shaping my professional skills and other competencies that cannot be learned in textbooks. I am extremely grateful to every single employee at the CTOT who made me feel welcome at the workplace the first day I stepped in, and who took my work seriously during my three months as an intern. Not only did this experience strengthen my skills and comprehension of foreign affairs, but it has also forged a solid basis for my future education and career path.

Moreover, I have been extremely lucky to receive the McGill International Experience Award during my internship, which financially helped me tremendously. The Award assisted me in the purchase of a roundtrip flight, as well as covering my basic needs such as accommodation, food and leisure.

I would finally like to extend my sincere gratitude to McGill University, to the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, but more specifically to the donor who funded my internship and gave me an opportunity to pursue my interests in international and foreign affairs, making of this experience a reality for me. None of this would have been possible without your precious help. Many thanks.

Thomas and participating members of the Mine Action Conference in Taipei.

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