Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Overseas compatriot minister visits San Francisco

On March 19th, the minister of Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) Dr. Wu Ying-yih stopped in San Francisco to allay concerns about the planned merger of his organization with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Rather than a downgrade of services as some have worried, Wu announced that the consolidation of government departments would in fact result in an upgrade of services to the overseas Chinese community.

Wu’s arrival in San Francisco was the first stop on a week-long tour of the United States. He was accompanied by Dr. Jiang Yi-huah, Taiwan’s minister of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) who heads the government’s reorganization. During their visit, the two ministers held a series of seminars to dispel concerns about the merger.

While in San Francisco, the overseas Chinese community expressed their concerns over the proposed merger, as well as their fear that their voices will go unheard and their opinions ignored in the future. With over a million ethnic Chinese in the US, the San Francisco community urged the government in Taiwan not to deny them a say. These overseas compatriots cited Dr. Sun Yat-sun, the founding father of the Republic of China (ROC), who described the overseas Chinese as “the mother” of the republic because most of the funding for the ROC’s revolution in 1911 came from overseas Chinese pockets. More recently, the overseas community has played a crucial role in Taiwan’s democratic transformation. Even today, the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament) still reserves some seats for overseas Chinese.

According to the World Journal, one of the most widely read Chinese-language newspapers in the US, Wu explained that the OCAC will not be “swallowed” up by the Foreign Ministry, instead the new body will have a bigger budget and a dedicated special vice minister to deal with the interests of the overseas Chinese community.

Wu tried to allay the worries of the local overseas Chinese community by explaining that they will be better served with more regional offices after the consolidation. Currently, the OCAC has only 16 overseas offices while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains 121 overseas offices.

While addressing a group of Taiwanese expatriates from Japan, President Ma Ying-jeou assured them that the efforts to streamline an overly bureaucratic government will result in the provision of better services to more overseas compatriots.

Ma emphasized the value of Taiwan’s overseas compatriots in playing a positive and effective role in humanitarian work and cultural exchanges - one that is more effective than government aid could ever be alone. The president said services to overseas Chinese will be improved after the reorganization is implemented in 2011, reported Taiwan News.

The OCAC will not be the only organization affected by the streamlining plan of the Ma administration, the government plans to whittle down the number of ministries and commissions from 37 to 28.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.