SANTIAGO – The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chile hosted a celebration of Taiwan’s 108th anniversary at the Ritz-Carlton. The event sought to celebrate and reaffirm Chilean-Taiwanese relations. Relations that go back a long way.
On Oct. 7, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Santiago held a celebration of the foundation of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Many organizations and figures linked to Taiwan attended the ceremony, including the Association of the Electric Industry.
Countries across Latin America held similar ceremonies to celebrate Latin American-Taiwanese relations. At an event in Buenos Aires, the Taiwanese delegate to Argentina, Antonio Hsieh, spoke about Taiwan’s international relations: “We have great desires and the ability to cooperate with the international community: proof of this is the constant agricultural, medical and computer assistance we give worldwide; in addition to humanitarian aid in natural disasters.”
Chile and Taiwan have solid economic and academic ties. The strength of these relations has steadily increased since the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chile was established in 1975, first known as “The Far East Office in Santiago,” and the Chilean Office of Commerce in Taipei in 1988.
The two governments reached an agreement in Jan. 2016 on a visa exemption for a period of 3 months for citizens travelling between the countries.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chile reported figures from the Department of Statistics in Taiwan which demonstrated that in 2011, the trade volume between Chile and Taiwan reached USD$2 billion (CLP$1.5 trillion). Taiwan imports mostly copper, seafood, and fruit from Chile and exports computers, vehicle parts, screws, and hand tools.
The government of Taiwan offers a scholarship program to international students who wish to study Mandarin or undertake an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a Taiwanese university. This program aims to strengthen ties between Chile and Taiwan through cultural and educational exchanges.
Tension with Mainland China
In recent months, the tension between mainland China and Hong Kong has reached Chile.
Officially, the Chilean government recognizes the “One China Policy.” This is the policy that asserts that China exists only as one sovereign state and not two, “The People’s Republic of China” (Mainland China) and “The Republic of China” (Taiwan).
A food store in Santiago was attacked on Aug. 23 by a group of Chinese citizens who reside in Chile. The owner of Pollo Chang, a man of Taiwanese origin, had publicly supported the protests that are currently happening in Hong Kong against the Beijing government.
José Wang, the First Secretary of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, spoke about the incident to La Tercera: “We are a democratic government that allows freedom of expression, just like Chile, and we defend these values: democracy and respect for human rights. Therefore, we respect each other’s expression on public and international affairs, but we condemn and cannot support any type of irrational behavior and anything that is against public order.”
Ana Truesdale is a British student, studying Liberal Arts at Durham Univeristy, who is currently interning at Chile Today on her year abroad. She has a strong interest in Latin American culture and journalism and wishes to experience all that Chile has to offer.