By Ben Anson
Caribbean News Now associate editor
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Director general Philip T. Y. Wang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Miami recently led a delegation to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to donate checks for US$20,000 in hurricane relief funds on behalf of the government of Taiwan.
The delegation included Adata managing director Brian Chang; honorary coordinator of Diaspora affairs in Puerto Rico Jason Dey-Chao Zorrilla; deputy director Sara Chen; and consul Claire Chen from TECO in Miami and, while in San Juan, Wang was invited and delivered presentations at the Rotary Club of San Juan, the Ana G. Méndez University System campus, and the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association regarding the political democratization and economic internationalization development of Taiwan.
In his presentation, titled “Taiwan – An Island of Innovation,” Wang spoke about Taiwan’s rapid development from firstly successful land reform, then import goods substitute and evolving through labor, capital, and technology intensive industries to today’s innovation intensive industry, which can serve as a development example for Puerto Rico.
Taiwan is an economic powerhouse in East Asia and as of November 2017, the country’s foreign reserves ranked third in the world with US$450 billion and it had no foreign debt.
During his stay in Puerto Rico, Wang met with Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Speaker of the House Carlos J. “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, former Secretaries of State Antonio “Tito” Colorado and Kenneth McClintock, Ombudswoman Iris Miriam Ruiz Class and the Board of Directors of the Ana G. Méndez University System.
The US$20,000 donation check was presented to executive director Mariely Rivera of the relief foundation Unidos por Puerto Rico.
In his presentation at the Rotary Club of San Juan and throughout meetings with Rosselló and other high-ranking officials, Wang spoke about the Taiwan’s Reciprocal Agreement for Mutual Acknowledgement of Driver’s Licenses with Puerto Rico signed in 2015. Wang said that the agreement is one of his government’s many efforts to try to promote bilateral relations, which also include the existing visa waiver program and global entry privilege granted by the United States to Taiwan citizens since 2012 and 2017, respectively.
Wang also encouraged the Ana G. Méndez University System to visit Taiwan to promote Puerto Rico’s bilingualism and competitive tuition to recruit more students from Taiwan and further enhance mutual relations.
After Hurricane Hugo hit Puerto Rico in 1989, Wang visited San Juan with his superior at the time, Ambassador SU Ping-Chao, to donate US$20,000 to then-Governor Rafael Hernández Colón for hurricane relief efforts. Wang said the donated funds are Taiwan’s humble show of appreciation of its friends in Puerto Rico and demonstrates how much Taiwan cares for Puerto Rico.
Wang invited Rosselló to visit Taiwan at his earliest convenience and updated Méndez Núñez and Colorado and McClintock and Ruiz Class about the recent developments in Taiwan since they last visited the country several years ago. Former Secretary of State Colorado has a 32-year long friendship with Wang and they have worked closely together since the framework of the Caribbean Basin Initiative in the 1980s.
Colorado is widely recognized by trade and economic development leaders in Taiwan and is known for his enthusiasm in promoting Puerto Rico, Wang said. In his interaction with local community leaders, Wang mentioned that some 60 years ago, Taiwan could only export bananas and sugar, but now high-tech and value-added products occupy a major portion of Taiwan’s exports.
In the USVI, Lieutenant Governor Osbert Potter, in his capacity as acting governor, accepted a $20,000 check from the government of Taiwan, which will go towards the recovery of the territory following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Wang presented the check to Potter as an expression of Taiwan’s support of the US Virgin Islands during the hurricane recovery period.