Hawaii, Taiwan mark 30 years of sister-state relationship

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Hawaii’s sister-state relationship with Taiwan – a democratically self-ruled island claimed by China.
Published: May. 14, 2023 at 8:44 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year marks the 30th anniversary of Hawaii’s sister-state relationship with Taiwan – a democratically self-ruled island claimed by China.

State lawmakers passed resolutions this session to establish a Hawaii-Taiwan Friendship Task Force and support Taiwan participation in international forums like the World Health Organization’s annual assembly, scheduled to meet May 21st.

Most countries, including the United States, do not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, due to its complex history and relationship with China.

The head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu spoke to HNN about the importance of Hawaii-Taiwan ties amid rising tensions with Beijing.

“The bilateral exchanges in terms of trade, education, cultural and even in teachers’ cultural exchanges too so these are the the main function of mine, but besides that we have consular affairs to serve our Taiwanese American communities living in Hawaii, and our job is also to enhance the exchanges between the INDOPACOM with Taiwan in terms of, to uphold US commitment to help Taiwan self defend itself against any potential aggression on the other side of the Taiwan Strait,” said Director General Richard Lin.

“The US severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. But they’re continuing to uphold its commitment to help Taiwan with arms sales and with self defense capabilities,” Lin said. “They have continued to display this resolute to help Taiwan in case there’s a war in the Taiwan Strait, because the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is very vital to the US.”

When asked about Taiwanese migration to Hawaii, Lin said: “In the early 60s and 70s, Honolulu is one of the stop for the airline between Taipei and in the US mainland so they have to stop here in order to get to the U.S. So some of the Taiwanese came for studies, for business and their eventual destination is in the mainland, but some of them decide to stay because of the islands. So much similarities between the island of Oahu and Taiwan. So some of them stayed here becomes an entrepreneur, becomes a doctor, professionals and some of them pursue the degree program with the University of Hawaii, so that constitutes most of the Taiwanese Americans living in Honolulu. The numbers of that population, it’s about 4,000.”

Lin noted the growing number of Taiwanese businesses in the islands, including Fooki restaurant in Aiea.

“Taiwan and the state of Hawaii, we have such similarity similarity in geography, in history,” Lin added. “So in Bishop Museum, we saw the traditional clothes, they keep in the museum, that marking the same resemblance of the people in terms of the indigenous culture. And and by the way, both the islands we residing we have been colonized by the different foreign entities. So, that gave us a very strong way of us, we have to be the master of our own lands. So this strong likeness has propelled the people of the two sides to cooperate, to exchange in terms of education, trade and indigenous culture, as well as the the support for Taiwan to uphold the universal values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. So we have such a strong bonds that we think that we can always find common in between the two sides.”