The overseas Taiwanese in Belize: An exploration of a South-South development project in a Belizean context

  • The overseas Taiwanese in Belize: An exploration of a South-South development project in a Belizean context

by Marissa Popma and Carel Roessingh



Purpose – The paper aims to give an account to describe the way the South-South development programme is realized between Taiwan and Belize. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is the result of ethnographic fieldwork research combined with a literature study. Findings – The development of the newly industrialized country Taiwan can be characterized by a drastic transformation from an impoverished agrarian society towards an affluent industrial economy. Now, Taiwan is aiming to help other developing countries to walk the same path by drawing lessons from their so-called “Taiwan experience”. In order to transfer their experience, Taiwan has established an overseas development organization, the International Cooperation and Development Fund. This organization offers development assistance to countries of which Taiwan receives political recognition. Central and South America are the regions where most of Taiwan’s diplomatic ties exist. One of the recipients of Taiwanese assistance in this area is Belize, a small English speaking, Central American country in the Caribbean Sea, with a multi-ethnic, densely populated, relatively poor population. Research limitations/implications – Future research might examine the ways in which these Taiwanese farmers have integrated in Belize and how their entrepreneurial activities contribute in this process. Practical implications – After visiting Taiwan’s project sites in Belize and interviewing government officials, Taiwanese-Belizeans, Belizean farmers, and non-farmers, it was found that much of what the Taiwanese brought was indeed considered beneficial, although incomplete. The links between the Taiwanese development organization and the wider society, Belize, were not clearly developed at the time, not least because of the problems in communicating with the Taiwanese development workers(for instance due to language issues). It would be wrong to suggest, however, that Taiwan’s development project was only perceived as raising problems for it did have a positive impact. Originality/value – Although the first Taiwanese project in Belize was launched in 1989 it has until recently received little attention. This paper explores the social impact of this development project from the Taiwanese in Belize.


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Keywords: Developing countries, Economic development, International cooperation, Project management, Taiwan, Belize


Suggested APA reference: Popma, Marissa & Roessingh, Carel. (2010). The overseas Taiwanese in Belize: An exploration of a South-South development project in a Belizean context. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 120-141.

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