National Day party reflects growing clout of Taiwanese community
When the United Nations kicked Taiwan out of the general assembly in 1971, some wrote off the island nation's prospects of ever having much influence in other countries.
The People's Republic of China was emerging as a global powerhouse, and other countries wanted to be at the table with it.
So the island known to westerners as Formosa—and called the Republic of China by then-Kuomintang leader, Chiang Kai-shek—was doomed to be viewed diplomatically as a province of China in name, if not in fact.
But Taiwan, which has 23 million people in an area the size of Vancouver Island, has defied those early expectations.
It's taken its place as a vibrant democracy, a regional centre of arts and culture, and a major economic engine in the Far East. And recently, Taiwanese aviation officials were granted guest status at the UN-affiliated International Civil Aviation Organization meetings in Montreal.
Last night, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver held its annual National Day celebration to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Chinese rebellion against the Qing dynasty in October 1911.
The presence of so many Canadian politicians indicates that Taiwan's influence shouldn't be underestimated.
The director general of TECO Vancouver, Michael Tseng, pointed out that Canada is an important trading partner for his country. Last year, according to Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada statistics, Taiwan exported $4.6 billion in merchandise to Canada, while importing $1.37 billion.
John Weston, the Conservative MP for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country, offered greetings to the large crowd as chair of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Weston, a former resident of Taiwan, impressed many with his command of Mandarin. He fondly described the National Day celebrations when he lived in Taipei.
Peter Julian, NDP MLA for Burnaby–New Westminster, also spoke a fair amount of Mandarin from the podium. His riding has more residents of Taiwanese descent than any other community in Canada.
Other MPs in attendance included Conservative Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country), New Democrat Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North and critic for Asia-Pacific Gateway), and Liberals Stéphane Dion (St-Laurent-Cartierville), Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre), and Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra).
The B.C. Liberals were represented by MLAs John Yap, Marvin Hunt, and Linda Reimer; the B.C. NDP sent MLAs Kathy Corrigan, Bruce Ralston, Jane Shin, and Bill Routley.
Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan offered gushing praise to Tseng and his wife Josephine, calling them very good friends. He was accompanied on the podium by Coun. Anne Kang, one of two elected politicians on Burnaby council of Taiwanese descent, as well as Coun. Pietro Calendino and Coun. Paul McDonell.
Other politicians at the event included Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie, Vancouver councillors Kerry Jang, Andrea Reimer, and Tony Tang, and NPA Vancouver school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo.