Officials and dignitaries gather in Atlanta to sing "Happy Birthday" to Taiwan on the Republic of China's 102nd national day.

Beyond the cake, music and dances, economic ties with the Southeast U.S. were on display as the Taiwanese community in Atlanta celebrated the Republic of China‘s 102nd birthday this week. 

Steven Tai, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, presided over his first national day celebration in Atlanta since taking up his post earlier this year.

Although Taiwanese community gathered this year on Oct. 9, the official day is Oct. 10 and is known as double-10 day, marking the founding of the Chinese republic in 1911. Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China, its leaders having fled mainland China after defeat in the 1949 civil war by communist forces. 

Mr. Tai’s speech was heavy on trade themes, noting that Taiwan’s economy has grown by an average of nearly 3 percent over the past five years.  Exports from the six states served by the TECO office to Taiwan reached $1.9 billion in 2012, while imports from Taiwan amounted to $4.1 billion. 

Taiwan remains the 11th largest trading partner for the U.S. overall. 

Mark Hammond, secretary of state for South Carolina, said these trade links are vital to creating jobs. His state sends more gas turbines to Taiwan than any other state besides Texas and more cars than any state other than Michigan, he said. 

Mr. Hammond highlighted Taiwanese motor scooter manufacturer Chemco and plastics giant Nan Ya as examples of stellar corporate citizenship. Nan Ya has invested more than $1 billion in its Lake City, S.C., manufacturing complex, which employs more than 1,000 people. 

Political leaders including Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett and Georgia House Minority Whip Stacey Abrams of southeast Atlanta, also sang Taiwan’s praises, pointing to its strong democracy. 

Repeating a common refrain at Taiwanese events, Mr. Tai noted that Taiwan continues to seek more meaningful participation in multilateral bodies like the United Nations

Very few nations maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Most that do so are located in Central America or the Caribbean. The local consuls general of El Salvador and Guatemala, neither of which have turned toward to mainland China, were both in attendance. 

“Taiwan looks to the future with hope and confidence. Our country is determined to be a valuable international citizen, cooperating with our American and global allies to make the world a better place for us all” Mr. Tai said.  

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...