HIGHLIGHTS

  • A physicist by training, he became a leader of China’s postwar industrial rehabilitation. When Communist armies seized the mainland, LI transferred his efforts to Taiwan and in 1958, coordinated U.S. economic assistance so efficiently that in about seven years’ time, aid was no longer needed.
  • He created policies that attracted private domestic and foreign capital and managed international loans to create an ever-expanding economy based on balanced encouragement of both agriculture and industry.
  • Taiwan ably helped other developing countries by training thousands of foreign technicians to learn on Taiwan’s farms and in factories. Also, teams of Chinese specialists were sent to some 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, to share their experience.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his vigorous, rational guidance of Taiwan’s economy, generating one of the world’s most rapid rates of industrial growth.”

 CITATION

The career of a concerned civil servant never is easy. Yet, despite the internal and external pressures that have ravaged China during his 58 years, Ll KWOH-TING has sustained through adulthood his commitment to help his people through effective government service. Schooled in his native Nanking and in England, LI returned to China in 1937 to teach physics. Within four years he was drafted to spur defense production in the remote interior where the Chinese maintained their resistance against the Japanese.

A gifted planner of China’s postwar industrial rehabilitation, LI transferred his efforts to Taiwan as Communist armies seized the mainland. From organizing shipbuilding he rose to help plan the island’s industrialization. In 1958 he became responsible for coordinating U.S. economic assistance which LI and his colleagues used so efficiently that by 1965 aid no longer was needed. Through successive posts LI overcame internal resistance to chart sound policies attracting private domestic and foreign capital and management and international loans to create an ever-expanding economy based on balanced encouragement of both agriculture and industry.

Spurred by government actions largely designed or actively supported by LI, Taiwan’s foreign trade grew from US$420 million in 1960 to US$1,173 million in 1966. The island became the world’s leading exporter of canned mushrooms. Processing of other agricultural commodities has continually expanded. Increasing sales abroad of electronic components, chemicals, plastics and metal manufactures and appliances bespeak a growing sophistication of industry. Over the past 10 years, the annual rate of industrial growth has averaged 13.8 per cent.

Widely acknowledged as a model for agricultural modernization—complete with effective land reform—and of diversified industrialization, Taiwan is now helping other developing countries. Nearly 4,000 foreign technicians have come to learn on farms and in factories. More than 30 teams of Chinese specialists now are working in some 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, sharing their experience.

As a chief architect and promoter of the industrial miracle that has emerged following the growth in Taiwan’s rural productivity and buying power, K. T. Ll has channeled national resources where they were most needed. With the cooperation of his peers he has shown that what counts more than material resources and funds for national development is enlightened and discriminating use of human skill and determination.

In electing LI KWOH-TING, Minister of Economic Affairs of the Republic of China, to receive the 1968 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his vigorous, rational guidance of Taiwan’s economy, generating one of the world’s most rapid rates of industrial growth.

 RESPONSE

I am highly honored to have been nominated the recipient of the 1968 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. In accepting this award and the honor that goes with it, I consider myself no more than a representative of all of my fellow countrymen, both in and outside of the government, who have contributed toward the postwar industrial development on Taiwan, the island province of the Republic of China. To me, the Board of Trustees’ decision is more of a recognition of the swift and orderly transformation of my country’s economy than a reflection of my own part in it. The industrialization of any developing country is such a complicated and complex process that success can be achieved only through well-coordinated efforts on the part of government officials, farmers, workers, businessmen and professionals.

It is perhaps no coincidence that another of my fellow countrymen, the late Dr. Chiang Mon-lin, received the first Government Service Award from this Foundation 10 years ago for his inspiring leadership in establishing a sound rural economy and improving life in the countryside of Taiwan. Indeed, rural prosperity has been one of the most important prior conditions for our economic growth in the early stage. Even though the emphasis has gradually been shifted to industrial development in more recent years—and Taiwan’s industry is undergoing a process of sophistication which is extremely heartening to all of us who have been involved in it—our policy has remained one of maintaining a balanced growth between agriculture and industry. As the Board of Trustees rightly pointed out, this has been the basis of our expanding economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the part of the world we are living in is still largely a developing area. People are impatient for a more rapid growth of their national economies so that their hopes and aspirations for a better life can be fulfilled at an early date. This has tended to expand the traditional role of government. It is no longer enough for a government simply to collect taxes, maintain law and order, or provide basic services. Active government participation in development activities—such as planning for more effective allocation of resources—has become increasingly necessary. And this has, in turn, pointed to the increased need for government workers of competence and dedication. The inclusion of government service as a field of endeavor from which persons are selected for the Ramon Magsaysay Award testifies to the importance the farsighted founders of the Foundation have attached to it and, I feel, it is a source of great encouragement to those Asians already engaged or about to join in government service to make their contributions to the cause of more rapid economic development and growth. Personally I know of no other international award that is offered specifically to encourage better performance in government service.

Finally, speaking of encouragement and inspiration, there is nothing that can compare with the very story of the man himself, whom this Award has been established to honor. Ramon Magsaysay rose from very humble beginnings to legendary height in both stature and in fame. His example as a great patriot and outstanding leader of our epoch is truly “a source of strength and confidence to men everywhere who are sincerely concerned about the well-being of their fellowmen.”

 BIOGRAPHY

LI KWOH-TING was born in Nanking, China on January 28, 1910, son of businessman Li Pei-lou and his wife Li Liu Cheng. Tall and both athletic and studious from boyhood, he was regularly a member of school soccer and basketball teams and maintained high marks in the classroom. Of his favorite pastime of reading classical Chinese novels, frowned upon as risqu? for the young, he reminisces with a broad smile: “I improved my Chinese that way.”

While an undergraduate at National Central University in Nanking LI was an active participant in the Natural Science Society of China formed by “young Turks” of the University who were eager proponents of new ideas and methods in science. He also served as editor-in-chief of the Society’s publication Scientific World.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1930, LI taught mathematics and physics for three years at Ginling College in Nanking, one of China’s leading colleges for girls. In July 1934 he won in competitive examination a government fellowship to pursue postgraduate study abroad. Proceeding to England he did graduate work from 1934 to 1937 on the beta and gamma ray spectrum at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University, and on the superconductivity of thin film at very low temperatures at the Royal Society Mond Laboratory. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937 LI sought the advice of his professor, Lord Rutherford, who agreed he would be needed at home to join the war effort against Japan.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)