The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tops Maggie Tien’s list of friends that she has accumulated since arriving here two years ago as director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta (TECO).

          “The CDC came to our rescue in our time of need because of the SARS crisis,” Ms. Tien told GlobalFax during a farewell interview last week before she hands over her responsibilities to R.C. Wu on Wednesday, Aug. 13.

          Ms. Tien said that she has been reassigned to the Foreign Ministry in Taipei, Taiwan. Mr. Wu most recently served as the chief liaison officer between the Foreign Ministry and the Taiwan’s legislative body.

          Unlike the World Health Organization (WHO), which refused to be of any assistance when notified of the outbreak of SARS in Taiwan, Ms. Tien said that CDC officials responded immediately.

          She also professed relief that Chesley Richards, the epidemiologist who was feared to have contracted SARS while working as part of the CDC team in Taiwan, is in good health.

          Taiwan lost its membership in the WHO and many other international organizations in 1971 when the United Nations recognized China and admitted it to the U.N.

          As director general of the Taipei office here, Ms. Tien has been responsible for Taiwan’s political relations with the Southeast and oversees commercial and information activities here, much like the consuls general who are posted in Atlanta from other countries.

          But due to the U.S.’s  recognition of China, she is not permitted to be an official member of the Consular Corps. Nevertheless, she counts the members of the corps among her friends.

          “I appreciate the way that my fellow counsels have treated me,” she said, “They have been very gracious and treat me as an equal even if there are some official events to which I was not invited.”

          She also says that she has made friendships with the local politicians and has invited Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and others to visit her country, encouraging them to keep Atlanta’s Sister City relationship with Taipei vibrant.

          Despite the tension in relations between Taiwan and China, she said that she “would not be bothered at all” to see trade and investment increase between mainland China and Georgia.

          “This attitude is in line with our government policy,” she said, noting that Taiwan would “never provide any hindrance” between the U.S. and China.  She said she hoped that, likewise, China prove no hindrance in the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

          In addition, she said that she would like to see more trade and investment between the Southeast and Taiwan. “I think that there is great potential to attract many investments here from Taiwan,” she added.

          To reach the TECO office, call (404) 870-9375 or send a fax to (404) 870-9376.