Overseas Taiwanese in San Francisco were excited to see Chou Mei-ching (President Ma Ying-jeou’s wife) join them at the Golden Gate Bridge Walk at noon on Sept. 24. Her surprise visit was met with tremendous excitement by the 3,000 people at the bridge who participated in a commemorative walk marking the Republic of China’s (ROC) 100th anniversary.
Taiwan’s first lady arrived from Los Angeles a day earlier and spent the weekend visiting students studying Chinese at Taiwanese primary schools in San Jose and Fremont. While there, she met some of the students and read them stories. She decided to join the walk to convey her greetings to the overseas Taiwanese who converged on the bridge that Saturday. She also accepted the torch relay at the Golden Gate Bridge, and then held hands with children as she began walking across the bridge. She was accompanied by Jason Yuan, Taiwan’s representative in the US, and Jack K.C. Chiang, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco.
San Francisco played an integral part in the birth of the ROC because Sun Yat-sen, the republic’s founding father, visited the city four times to promote his revolutionary ideas against the Qing Dynasty. Given San Francisco’s importance, the local overseas Taiwanese community chose the iconic San Francisco bridge as the venue for the centennial celebration.
The first lady traveled light and arrived at the bridge without any pre-announcement and at the climax of the event. She was welcomed with thunderous applause, with the crowd rushing to shake her hand and to have their pictures taken with her. She graciously greeted everyone and agreed to have her picture taken with all who requested it.