The maritime lawyer came into leadership in May last year, amid a rocky road to succession, overthrowing the 50-year reign of the then-ruling party in the first democratic transfer of power in Taiwan’s history.
Barely a month after coming to power, the son of a poor sugar-cane farmer took the opportunity to kick off the World Congress on Information Technology, and announced his objective to transform the country into a "Green Silicon Island" – a high-tech, environmentally friendly Taiwan by striking a balance between developing technology and protecting the environment.
Taiwan is the world's top supplier of a number of IT hardware items, including notebook computers, motherboards, modems, scanners, keyboards and hubs. Its semiconductor industry is the fourth largest after the US, Japan and South Korea.
The Taiwanese economy grew 5.7% in 1999, and was projected to grow 6.1% for 2000.
Chen said that the government would move forward into keeping policies concurrent with global trends, and also hoped that future generations would not just enjoy technology, but also a clean, healthy environment.
The maritime lawyer came into leadership... in the first democratic transfer of power in Taiwan's history
He proposed to counter the natural tendency for humans to conquer nature through technology, and said that the country is planning to encourage environmentally friendly high-tech industries by offering them preferential taxation as an incentive.
President Chen had the opportunity to meet with IT industry heavyweights such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), John Chambers (Cisco), and Carly Fiorina (Hewlett Packard) while the Congress was in progress.
Taiwan's information industry is the world's third largest after the United States and Japan, with production worth US$39.9 billion in 1999, according to the Institute for Information Industry. - Samuel Quek, ZDNet Asia