The new director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office arrived in Vancouver at a pivotal time in Canada's relationship with the People's Republic of China.
Lihsin Angel Liu was greeted by staff and some Taiwanese Canadians at Vancouver International Airport on September 28, one day after China had released Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from jail.
Canada doesn't officially recognize Taiwan under the Trudeau government's "One China policy", but there are signs of a warming relationship.
Earlier this month, for example, Canada and the U.S. sent warships through Taiwan Strait after repeated Chinese government incursions of Taiwanese airspace.
Canada has also backed Taiwan's efforts to obtain observer status at the World Health Organization—something adamantly opposed by the Communist government in Beijing.
In an interview with the Straight in Vancouver, Liu said that Taiwanese people appreciate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's support for Taiwan obtaining observer status at the WHO.
"We hope that Canada can continue to give us more support regarding our meaningful participation in the [world] public health agency," the director general stated.
In addition, Liu expressed the hope that Canada would also support Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in Interpol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"We are not asking for formal membership yet because we know that is impossible," Liu acknowledged.
Prior to her transfer to Vancouver, Liu was chief secretary of the Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs in the Taiwanese government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The institute trains diplomats before they go abroad.
During her 22-year career in Taiwan's foreign service, Liu has been stationed in Houston and Los Angeles, two U.S. cities with large Taiwanese populations. Liu attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University.
Taiwan is a sovereign island nation off the coast of China with its own elected president, national assembly, flag, currency, and health-care system.
She pointed out that Canada has many things in common with Taiwan, including democratic elections, growing appreciation for its Indigenous peoples, a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and support for LGBT rights.
Taiwan was the first country in East Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
The People's Republic of China has purported that Taiwan is a province, even though historical accounts have shown that former Chinese dynasties did not consider the island to be part of China for centuries.
Deceased Taiwanese historian Su Beng has documented how the Ming and Qing dynasties colonized Taiwan much in the same manner as the Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese over the years.
In the 1980s, Taiwan and China were both under authoritarian rule. But in the late 1980s, then Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui ushered in democracy on the island nation.
China's leaders, on the other hand, used tanks to crush pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, 1989.
Taiwan's current president, Tsai Ing-wen, was first elected in 2016 and was reelected in 2020.
Since Taiwan chose the path of democracy, its technology and arts and cultural sectors have blossomed. Today, it produces 60 percent of the world's semiconductors, according to Liu.
Its leading company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, has a market capitalization of US$557.4 billion.
"I know many countries—including the United States, Japan, and Germany—they want TSMC to invest in their country because of the restructuring of global supply chains," Liu said.
That's due in part to a trade war between the U.S. and China. And in recent years, semiconductors have been in short supply.
"Actually, we have restrictions on Taiwanese semiconductor investment in China," Liu said.