Though held in Atlanta, Taiwan‘s centennial birthday bash was a Southeastern affair.
States from around the region sent lawmakers and officials to the event, which was hosted by the local Taipei Economic and Cultural Office at the Westin Perimeter North Hotel.
A proclamation from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was read, as were similar pleasantries from Kentucky and Tennessee.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens made brief remarks on the strong legal ties between the state and Taiwan, a fact illustrated in that Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein was an honored guest and main speaker.
The packed celebration featured a birthday cake illuminated by tea lights forming the numeral 100.
Taiwan marks “double-10 day” on Oct. 10 each year. This year marks a century since the Wuchang Uprising of 1911, which sparked the revolution that would topple China’s Qing Dynasty during the next year.
Anna Kao, director general of the Taipei office, and Ms. Hunstein cut the cake next to an ice sculpture while a musician played a twangy “Happy Birthday” on a guzheng, a Chinese harp.
While the mostly Taiwanese crowd mingled and munched on a full buffet of seafood and steak, speakers praised Taiwan for its commitments to democracy, human rights and friendship with the U.S.
The island of 23 million people, which is self-ruled but claimed by mainland China, is the 16th largest exporter in the world, with leading positions in LED lighting, personal computers and other high-tech products, said Ms. Kao, who took up her post last fall.
She said 117 nations now grant Taiwanese citizens visa-free status and that she wishes the U.S. would soon “follow suit.”
As the sixth largest market for U.S. agricultural products, the friendship between Taiwan and the South is strong, she said. That fact was illustrated by Taiwan’s donation to victims of tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and parts of Georgia in April, said Ms. Kao, whose territory covers six states.
“We also very much appreciate the U.S. government’s approval weeks ago of the $5.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan in order to maintain our defense capabilities,” she said, adding that Taiwan in its next century wants to be a contributor to peace and stability and a “standard-bearer of Chinese culture” around the world.
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