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April 30, 2017

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Keelung, a city remodeled

When you hear the word "Keelung," what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the exquisite geographic landscapes the region has? Or the valuable commercial and fishing ports and marine cultures that the city is renowned for? Keelung is one of the most distinguished harbors in Taiwan and it has been crucial for connecting Taiwan with markets across the Pacific Ocean.

Since Keelung's first developments, which date back to the 19th century during the Dutch and Spanish colonial era, Keelung Harbor has been a strategically important hub for Taiwan. Over time, it has gone from hosting military convoys and commercial vessels to becoming the home of luxuriously appointed cruise liners.

City-Harbor Strategic

Development Collaboration

Because Keelung is limited in its ability to hold large cargo ships, its rapid growth, which continued for many decades, eventually tapered off as it entered the 21st century. In this new era, the city of Keelung and its surrounding area developed unevenly, with unequally distributed infrastructure and several important historic sites and nature's treasures scattered throughout the region. This was the case until Keelung-born-and-raised Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) won election as the mayor of Keelung.

Lin, a graduate of National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of Building and Planning (國立臺灣大學建築與城鄉研究所), has strived to apply his expertise to Keelung and to breathe new life into the city. In 2014, he was able to reach a consensus with Taipei Mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) over establishing an intercity transportation commission to connect Taiwan's northern region.

Lin believes that the revitalization of Keelung must begin from its heart: Keelung Harbor. Therefore, his first step was to form a City-Harbor Strategic Development Collaboration (市港策略發展聯盟) with Taiwan International Ports Corporation (臺灣港務公司).

"In the past, the municipal office of Keelung and the port company overseeing the management of Keelung port always worked independently," Lin said.

"But no more. An ongoing and successful city development has to be a joint effort from every company and citizen of Keelung," he added.

In a series of project plans under its first and foremost blueprint — City and Port Revitalizing Benchmark Project (基隆市港再生標杆計劃) — Lin and his team have put uncompromising thought and effort in outlining the revisions needed by a handful of the city's ports and their surrounding areas. They aim to redefine the essential daily functions the city's lands and waters will be serving for both its residents and the growing number of travelers and tourists from abroad.

"We want to promote an environment that can foster a creative economy, and in turn, pave the way for Keelung to apply its commercial, technological and economical capabilities to across the nation and further beyond the Pacific," Lin said.

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