On June 8th, the first steps toward improving relations within overseas Chinese communities were taken in Taipei. The Taipei-based Federation of Overseas Chinese Association in Taiwan (FOCAT) and the Beijing-based All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese (ACFROC) signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation and communication. The agreement outlined how the two sides would co-sponsor regular forums, mutual visits and other activities to advance rapprochement and unity among overseas Chinese communities.
Both Taiwan and China maintain cabinet-level ministries to deal with overseas Chinese affairs, and both have overseas legislative representation. Among the overseas Chinese communities, there is an existing standoff between pro-Taiwan groups and pro-China groups. This can be seen by some of the disputes in the Chinese communities in San Francisco in recent years and the changing of national flags flown in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
According to the United Daily News, Wu Po-hsiung, chairman of Taiwan’s Nationalist Party (KMT) visited Beijing to meet Hu Jintao, the secretary general of China’s Communist Party in May. They talked about how to end the confrontation between the two parties concerning overseas Chinese affairs.
Later Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said that the “diplomatic truce” between Taipei and Beijing could be applied to overseas Chinese affairs. There is no need for overseas Chinese loyal to different sides of the Taiwan Strait to fight in their resident countries, said Ma. His remarks on an “overseas Chinese truce” were instrumental to the signing of the cooperation and communication agreement between FOCAT and ACFROC.
The World Journal reported the response from the overseas Chinese community in San Francisco toward the signing of the agreement:
Harrison Lim, former presiding president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco, commented that the agreement does not carry much weight since both signatories are private organizations. He continued, had the agreement been signed by minister Wu Ying-yih of Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) and by his Chinese counterpart Li Haifeng, it would have been more meaningful. Also, according to his understanding, ACFROC serves Chinese returning to China from overseas, not overseas Chinese in their resident country.
Ms. Florence Fang, a leader in the San Francisco overseas Chinese community, said she was pleased that the signing of the agreement would bring positive influence to the various overseas Chinese communities.
Wang Long-wen, representative of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Silicon Valley, said that immigrants coming from elsewhere in the world should fully participate in and work for the benefits of their adopted country on this issue.
In his speech of June 13th in San Francisco, Wu Ying-yih, head of the OCAC, called on the pro-Taiwan overseas Chinese associations to extend an olive branch to pro-China groups that they could work with in order to promote “harmony and development of Chinese communities abroad.”
- 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.
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