By Patrick B. McGuigan
Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma celebrated 30 years of close ties between his state and the province of Taiwan at a state Capitol ceremony today (Thursday, August 19). Governor Jung-Tzer Lin of Taiwan joined Henry in signing official documents renewing longstanding economic, cultural and business ties between the two states.
Henry recalled leading a delegation of Americans to the island Republic last year, just days after a devastating typhoon wreaked havoc in key coastal regions. He recalled that “even in that terrible time, we as visitors were treated with incredible warmth, friendship and hospitality.” Henry said he was happy to celebrate Oklahoma’s $16.3 million in export business directly to Taiwan last year.
He said the relationship has not only brought economic benefits, but has “enriched the lives of both our peoples.” Henry also touted the University of Oklahoma’s ties with two of Taiwan’s leading universities. He described the relationship as “strong and unbreakable.”
Governor Lin brought greetings from his national government and said Taiwan wants to keep the ties to Oklahoma “strong.” He said Taiwan’s people were “emotionally touched,” after the devastating typhoon, by the outpouring of assistance from Oklahomans and other Americans.
Lin expressed gratitude for the foresight of former Governor George Nigh, who initiated the link to Taiwan in 1980. He called on attendees to “help Taiwan to get more commercial trade and to make more money.” The latter comment evoked both applause and laughter.
After signing the sister city documents, Governor Henry presented Lin with a Frederic Remington bronze reproduction of a bucking broncho. Governor Lin presented to Henry the original 1980 accord between the two states.
Notable guests at the event included General Jing-Ling Tseng (retired), now minister of the Veteran Affairs Commission, Republic of China, and Hans H.S. Song of the Overseas Liaison Department. From Taiwan’s office in Houston, director John Chi and his assistant, Michael Lin, were present.
Chi earlier sent a note of thanks to Oklahomans that was posted as a letter to the editor at CapitolBeatOK and printed in the August 19 edition of The City Sentinel.
Several state officials also participated in the Blue Room ceremony, which was coordinated and moderated by Secretary of State Susan Savage. These included House Speaker Chris Benge of Tulsa, state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond, and cabinet Secretaries Natalie Shirley (Commerce) and Oscar Jackson (Personnel).
The Blue Room was packed with state officials, visitors from Taiwan and advocates of the Sister Cities accord, including Oklahoma County Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor, who represented Brian Maughn, now vice president of the national Sister Cities group.
Before introducing the formal signing ceremony, Secretary Savage noted 6,000 Taiwanese are now resident in the Sooner State. She highlighted longstanding sister city ties between Oklahoma City and Taipei and Tainan on Taiwan; and the historic ties between Tulsa and Kaoshung.
Savage recalled the past several months of cultural and artistic events marking the three decades of close ties, including the “Taiwan Sublime” photography exhibit that adorned state Capitol walls earlier this summer.
Following the Capitol ceremony, representatives of the two states adjourned to the Oklahoma History Center for an evening reception featuring native music from both nations.