Thursday, February 11, 2010

President Ma transits through San Francisco

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou arrived in San Francisco on Jan 25 for an overnight layover en route to Honduras and the Dominican Republic. He was greeted at the San Francisco International Airport by Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and by Jason Yuan, Taiwan’s chief representative in Washington, D.C.

During his stay, he met with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Congressman David Wu, and talked on the telephone with 11 US senators and house representatives on the issues of US beef imports, US arms sales and Taiwan’s aid to Haiti.

According to the World Journal, Ma made the most of the telephone conference calls which were attended by Taiwan’s Secretary General of the National Security Council Su Chi, Agricultural Minister Chen Wu-hsiung, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang and Information Minister Su Jun-pin.

The congressional members Ma spoke to included US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Kit Bond (vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee), Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, (chairman of Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Global Environment), Robert Menendez (chairman of Senate Taiwan Caucus), Saxby Chambliss (ranking member of the Senate Agricultural Committee), and Congressman Dave Camp, who joined with three other representatives in a letter to the US Trade Representative demanding Washington suspend trade talks until Taiwan lifts its ban on US ground beef and bovine offal.

Ma’s delegation emphasized that the calls were defined as “communications with Congress” only. Over half of the senators and house representatives Ma talked to were from agricultural states or constituencies. They all expressed their concerns about Taiwan’s policy toward US beef imports. Ma explained that Taiwan welcomes American bone-in beef with the exception of ground beef and bovine offal over public health concerns.

The Central News Agency reported after listening to Ma’s explanation, that most of the US congressmen understood Taiwan’s attitude and stance. Ma expressed his hope that they would communicate with their constituents to avoid further misunderstanding about Taiwan’s position.

Ma also met with prominent Asians, such as John S. Chen (chairman of the Committee of 100), David Ho (well-known Taiwanese American AIDS researcher), and Steve Chen, (the co-founder of YouTube and another famous Taiwanese American entrepreneur). He also visited the pharmaceutical company IMPAX Labs, run by a Taiwanese American entrepreneur in Hayward, CA.

The president continued on to Central America where he attended the inauguration ceremony of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa. He then traveled on to the Dominican Republic for a short visit to express his concern for neighboring Haiti, which was struck by a catastrophic magnitude-7 earthquake on January 12. His chartered flight carried 10 tons of disaster relief supplies that were unloaded in the Dominican Republic and driven into Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

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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.