Tag Archives: Director-General Bruce Fuh

Grandriders’ California Trip

On August 20, ten Taiwanese senior riders from the original documentary, Go Grandriders, gathered in front of the Santa Clara County Government Center to begin their ride from San Jose to Los Angeles. Gathered to celebrate the occasion were a wide group of volunteers, fans and curious onlookers who stopped to see what all the cheering was about.

The ceremonies started soon after 10 am with a welcome offered by Janice Sung, chair of the Ad Hoc Taiwanese-American organization working together to give the grandriders a grand send off. Among the attendees were local politicians with proclamations and certificates of recognition to present to the group. In the photos below, are Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith and TECO Director-General Bruce Fuh greeting one of the riders from the BMW Club of Northern California.

Since the grandriders did not have California licenses to drive, generous volunteers from the BMW Club of Northern California kindly offered to give them a lift down to Southern California. Each grandrider was paired with an American motorcyclist for the three-day trip down Highway 1. The trip was completed on September 23, with the grandriders now back in Taiwan enjoying a much more sedate schedule.

To learn more about the kickoff, you can also read CBS’s article and news story by linking to their site at, http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/08/20/seniors-on-motorcycles-begin-tour-of-california-coast/.


In dispute with the Philippines, Taiwan flexes its muscles

Relations between Taipei and Manila have been especially tense since the recent killing of a Taiwanese fisherman, Hong Shi-cheng, by a Philippine Coast Guard vessel on May 9. This incident has strongly stirred Taiwanese anger. So much so, that Director General Bruce Fuh of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco penned a letter to politicians and opinion leaders saying, “I hope you can see the merit of keeping abreast of this escalating situation. Please join us in seeking justice for Mr. Hong, and to prevent such a cruel murder from taking place again by putting pressure on the Philippine government. Your attention to this incident and support for a fair, transparent investigation is greatly appreciated.”

In his May 21 letter, Fuh explained the situation that has been brewing between Taiwan and the Philippines as one that could influence the stability of the region. His letter was a part of the global protests launched by Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry after the incident.

Coldblooded murder, callous attitude

On May 9, a Taiwanese fishing boat Guang Da Xing No. 28 was fired upon by a Philippine government vessel in the overlapping Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between Taiwan and the Philippines. The coldblooded attack left Hong Shi-cheng, the 65-year old Taiwanese captain, dead and the fishing boat adrift. The use of excessive force was apparent by the 48 bullet holes that riddled the defenseless fishing boat.

The attack was so shocking that the Taiwan government immediately asked for a formal apology, compensation, an expedited investigation with the appropriate sentencing of the perpetrators, and a forum to negotiate fisheries matters to prevent a repeat of such an incident.

Although the Philippine government made an apology, it has done little to soothe the anger felt by Taiwan’s people, particularly when Manila characterized the shootings by its coast guard as “unintended”, and postponed a joint investigation by turning away Taiwan’s investigative team on May 18. Furthermore, the Philippine government claimed that the GDX 28 rammed its official ship and the latter acted in self-defense. Both claims are outlandish, given that the fishing boat is seven times smaller.

Unnecessary use of force on an unarmed fishing boat truly violates international law, especially the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Piracy in the Philippines, sometimes under the guise of the coast guard, is rampant in the waters south of Taiwan. In the past, many perpetrators were not punished by the Philippine government. Seeking justice for the murdered fisherman, the Taiwanese government has instituted contingent measures, ranging from ceasing to process the applications of Filipino laborers, imposing sanctions on bilateral economic exchanges, to stepping up its Navy patrols in these EEZ waters.

Neighbors, yet strangers

The shortest distance between Taiwan and the Philippines is only 141 kilometers (87 miles). There are now about 88,000 Filipino laborers in Taiwan, half of them work as caregivers for the elderly or disabled, while the other half are mainly construction workers. However, the squabbling resulting from the GDX 28 incident shows that Taiwan is ignorant of its next door neighbor, reported Commonwealth monthly.

After the incident, Taiwan sent an ultimatum to the Philippines to apologize within 72 hours coinciding with their parliamentary and local election campaigns. Manila ignored it on the grounds that it was “off duty on weekend.” Although close in proximity, the distance culturally is clearly apparent.

Commonwealth reported that Filipinos are the second happiest people in Asia, only after Thais, according to the latest poll by Gallup. Whenever disaster strikes the Philippines, victims are often seen smiling and happy in pictures taken at inflicted areas. However, what has riled the Taiwanese is learning that the Philippine coast guards laughed while firing upon the GDX 28, and worse, when the Philippine government spokeswoman addressed the incident at a press conference, she did it with a smile. Although Filipinos have a reputation for being happy people, their lack of remorse in this case has not endeared the country to Taiwanese people, but rather, added fuel to the fire.

Sea of troubles between Taiwan and the Philippines  

Taiwan’s territory is smaller than three-fourth of the UN’s member states, but the island has maritime clout in the world, the Taipei-based Business Weekly reported.

According to UN statistics, Taiwan’s tuna fish catch is the fourth largest globally, only behind Japan, Indonesia and Spain. The big purse seine fishing boats Taiwanese own rank No. 4 in the world in terms of the number of vessels. Taiwan’s small and medium sized fleets of tuna longline fishing vessels rank No. 2 only behind Japan. Taiwan’s annual production value of offshore fishing reached NT$40 billion (US$1.33 billion) last year. This figure did not include those from actual Taiwanese fleets but those registered under foreign countries. If all were included, the total Taiwanese fishing value would reach NT$100 billion (US$3.33 billion).

Sixty percent of the global tuna fish comes from the mid-Western Pacific Ocean near Taiwan, but the largest tasty black tuna favored by many connoisseurs mainly come from the overlapping EEZ between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwanese fishermen from Donggang and Lamay Island, both in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan, catch tuna for a living; while the Philippines depend on these Taiwanese fishermen entering this overlapping area for money. Captain Lin Han-de of Lamay Island told the weekly that they have been catching black tuna fish for three generations – from his grandfather to his father, now to himself. They have apparently come under numerous attacks from the Filipino Navy, coast guards and militia. A member of the Donggang Fishing Association said, “The Taiwanese fishing boats are expensive, and equipped with advanced devices. Besides, Filipinos believe Taiwanese are rich anyway.”

Given these circumstances, Taiwanese fishermen always carry up to US$10,000 onboard to pay ransoms in case they are arrested by the Philippine Coast Guard. When confronting greedier Filipinos, their boats would be towed in the direction of the Philippines, and their US dollars confiscated. At times, the sailors have been asked to pay more – sometimes from US$60,000 or even up to US$300,000. In all cases, the fishermen were released, but only after their families had wired the ransom money, Business Weekly reported.

However, before the GDX 28 incident, there were over 600 Taiwanese boats going there to fish with only a catch of 50 tunas. Up to 90 percent of the Taiwanese fishing boats returned empty-handed. So far this year, the catch of black tuna by the fishermen from Donggang are at record lows, only 119 tunas, a contrast with the historic record highs of 300-500 tunas a day.

Professor C.C. Hsu, from the Oceanography Institute, National Taiwan University, told Business Weekly that the GDX 28 incident is only the tip of the iceberg between Taiwan and the Philippines. As the ocean resources get scarcer and scarcer, the struggle to grab those precious resources will get fiercer, not less so.

Following a similar model with Japan

Lacking membership in the United Nations, Taiwan is not able to be a signatory on many international fishing agreements. Taiwan usually concludes separate memorandums of understanding that obligate the island under regional or global fish-quota systems.

The relations between Taiwan and the Philippines have never been tense before. Both sides signed a memorandum on fisheries cooperation in 1991, designating two routes for Taiwanese fishing boats to pass and in turn Taipei offered financial aid to Manila for fisheries cooperation. It was not until 1998 that the Philippines passed their own fisheries law and unilaterally abandoned this memorandum. Thus this part of the ocean became a point of conflict, Business Weekly reported.

After the GDX 28 incident, the Taiwan government asked the Philippines to restart the fishing negotiation, following the model of the fisheries agreement between Taiwan and Japan, regulating the fishing operations of both countries in these overlapping territorial waters.

Taiwan and Japan finally signed a fisheries agreement this April after 17 negotiation talks since 1996. At a time of conflict over the sovereignty issue of the Diaoyutai Islands between Taiwan and Japan, the two sides still reached an agreement on fishing operations in the overlapping EEZ, without touching upon the sovereignty issue. The agreement has been effective since May 10.

According to the Central News Agency, on June 14, Taiwan and the Philippines reached an initial consensus during a preparatory meeting in Manila over fisheries issues. Both sides agreed to address the mechanism: to not use force during enforcement, to notify each other in the event of fishing boat incidents and to immediately release fishermen and boats detained.

President Ma Ying-jeou stressed if the dispute between Taipei and Manila are not solve soon, it will affect the bilateral relations and the peace and security of the region as well, reported the United Daily News.

Winning greater regional influence

According to the British newspaper, the Guardian, Taiwan’s fishing deal with Japan “may have finally been clinched by China’s recent naval assertiveness, about which both Japan and Taiwan are wary… Taiwan is winning for itself greater regional influence.”

The Central News Agency reported that Taiwan is seeking to revise the principles of protecting its fishing boats in the overlapping EEZ by considering expanding patrols to the area surrounding the whole Batan Island off the Philippines, and letting its Navy and coast guards regularly patrol further south to protect fishing boats.

Near to the Batanes Archipeligo lie important navigational channels for commercial vessels passing through the Bashi Channel. The expansion of Taiwanese Navy patrols in the EEZ will show the island’s determination to stand toe to toe, so that neighboring countries need to pay more heed to the situation.

The Navy’s expanded area of patrol will go a long way to protecting Taiwan’s fishing rights and sovereignty. Through the routine protection of its fishing boats, Taipei will force the Philippines to face the reality of Taiwan’s regional power and seriously sit down with Taiwan in negotiations, stressed the Central News Agency.

Among 12 US states, Utah passes resolution supporting Taiwan

On February 25, the Utah State Legislature passed a joint resolution reaffirming their sister-state friendship with Taiwan, and called on President Obama and Congress to support the signing of a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the US. Additionally, Utah’s representatives encouraged Washington to support Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization and President Ma Ying-jeou’s East China Sea Peace Initiative.

On the same day, Bruce Fuh, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, flew to Salt Lake City, to thank the state’s representatives for their continued friendship and support of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. On behalf of the Taiwan government and people, Director General Fuh conveyed his gratitude to the people of Utah and promised that the island will continue to serve as a model of democracy in East Asia.

In view of the destabilizing influence of the territorial disputes in the East China Sea, the Utah resolution praised Taiwan’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, which hopes to reduce regional tension. Believing that the peace initiative is in the interests of all the parties involved and serves as a stabilizing effort, the resolution calls on all parties to refrain from taking antagonistic actions, and encourages open dialogue and other peaceful means to resolve the East China Sea disputes.

The resolution points out that Taiwan is the world’s 18th largest exporting country, the US’s 10th largest trading partner and the 6th largest importer of American agricultural products. Nevertheless, there is still no free trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States. The Utah State Legislature urged the US president and Congress to support the signing of a free trade agreement with Taiwan, and to support Taiwan’s participation in the multi-lateral free trade negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Utah resolution also supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the United Nations and its umbrella organizations. It specifically mentions support for Taiwan’s effort to gain observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), since the island’s airlines carry Taiwanese travelers worldwide, including  over 580,000 businesspeople and students traveling between Taiwan and the United States each year. Still, for over 40 years, Taiwan has been barred from participating in ICAO and prevented from gaining full and timely access to international flight safety requirements and information. This has hindered Taiwan’s airlines from practicing international aviation norms.

Since 1980, the State of Utah and Taiwan Province have established a close sister state relationship. The resolution reconfirms this relationship, and praises Taiwan for its democratic development. It noted the core values shared between Taiwan and the United States such as freedom, democracy, human rights, open markets, peace and prosperity.

As a long standing supporter of the ROC, the Utah State Legislature has passed many resolutions in support of Taiwan in recent years, including the country’s participation in the World Health Organization, the US Visa Waiver Program, United Nations specialized agencies, and the island’s efforts to re-open bilateral free trade talks with the United States.

According to the Central News Agency the ROC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude to all the state representatives in the twelve states for passing resolutions in support of Taiwan. The states include Alabama, Washington, Rhode Island, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Utah and New Mexico. The various resolutions on Taiwan cover a wide range of topics, ranging from support for Taiwan’s participation in the international arena to an affirmation of friendship between the state and Taiwan. In addition, the resolutions also commended Taiwan’s democratic and economic achievements, and the island’s contributions to international humanitarian relief.

Taiwan promotes tourism at Orchid Expo

The 61st Pacific Orchid Exposition, the largest orchid show in the United States, kicked off this year with a Gala Benefit Preview on February 21. The exclusive preview gave orchid collectors and enthusiasts an opportunity to see this year’s winning orchids, bid in silent auctions, sip wine from over 20 top Northern Californian wineries and, more importantly, allow them first pick of the orchids on sale. Organized by the San Francisco Orchid Society, Taiwan was mentioned often throughout the evening.

Since the island is the world’s largest orchid exporter, the opportunity allowed Taiwan to promote its tourism campaign, designed to entice visitors to visit Taiwan and see its renowned orchids. Plenty of tourist information about Taiwan was available at the booth centrally located close to the competing orchids.

In 2003, Taiwan established the Taiwan Orchid Plantation (TOP), a research and orchid breeding center. Since then, Taiwan’s orchids have gained a reputation for their first class quality and beauty internationally. Today, the island’s orchid exports generate more than US$110 million annually.

As guests previewed the displays and enjoyed the delicious hors d’oeuvres at the gala, Liam Mayclem, the Emmy award-winning host of CBS-5’s “Eye on the Bay”, welcomed them.  He shared with the audience the exciting news that he was getting on a plane for Taiwan that night, and encouraged the audience to visit the island as well.

Mayclem then introduced Bruce Fuh, the director- general of of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco. Fuh told the audience that since Taiwan is famous for its orchids, his office was glad to be a part of the expo. He also explained how easy it is to visit the island given Taiwan’s entry into the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. The program allows visa-free entry for Americans visiting Taiwan and for Republic of China passport holders to enter the US for a stay of less than 90 days without requiring a visa. Moreover, United Airlines will open daily flights from San Francisco to Taipei soon, making a trip to Taiwan even more convenient.

Among the other honored guests present was the first lady of San Francisco, Anita Lee, who wished the crowd peace and prosperity on behalf of Mayor Lee and herself. The mayor’s wife then spoke of San Francisco’s special Sister City relations with Taipei. California State Senator Leland Yee also attended the gala and took a moment to tell the audience about Taiwan’s beautiful scenery. He particularly mentioned Tainan in southern Taiwan, where many of the orchids are grown.

The gala raised money to further promote the San Francisco Orchid Society’s mission of educating its members and the public about orchids. The expo continued from February 21 to the 24 with over 155,000 stunning orchids on display at Fort Mason Center’s Pavilion in San Francisco.

TECO chief welcomes first visa-free Taiwanese visitors

On November 1, as Tsai Mong-han disembarked from a flight from Taiwan to San Francisco, he was surprised to be welcomed by two giant Nezha Third Prince puppets, an iconic figure in Taiwanese temple culture. Tsai, an employee at a Taipei fashion technology company, was among the first group of Taiwanese tourists to take advantage of visa-free travel to the United States, which started that day.

Besides being greeted by the Nezha Princes, he was also welcomed by Bruce Fuh, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, Mark Chandler, director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of International Trade and Commerce, Doug Yakel, San Francisco Airport spokesman, and Elizabeth Liu, co-chair of the Taipei Sister City Committee. Director-General Fuh said that the visa waiver status is a milestone in Taiwan-US relations. It will certainly go a long way towards strengthening bilateral trade and cultural relations, he said.

Chou Pei-yu, who came to visit the US while she was a freshman in college a few years ago, recalled that “at that time I had to fill in a lot of forms to apply for a visa to the US, in addition to going through interviews and strict regulations. I was very nervous, afraid I would be denied for saying something wrong.” This time when applying for a visa for her two-week tour, she just “downloaded the application forms from the web, filled them in, and paid US$14. I quickly passed. It was so easy, saving a lot of time,” she said.

Huang Wei-ming, a software engineer, said he came to the United States for a business trip, which happened to be the first day of the visa-free entry. He received a warm welcome, making him feel like he was on a tour instead of on a business trip.

Mr. Lin, who works at the Taiwan branch office of Trend Micro, said he felt lucky his trip happened to coincide with the first day of visa-free entry for Taiwanese tourists. He has previously been to the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan – countries that already grant Taiwanese travelers visa-free treatment. “It is really convenient to hold a Taiwan passport abroad. This is really a small step for me but a big step for Taiwan” he said.

Chandler said he expects a dramatic increase in the number of visitors from Taiwan, bringing a stimulating effect to the San Francisco economy.

On the same day that Taiwanese visitors received visa-free treatment from the US, Americans also received reciprocal treatment from Taiwan, together with an increase in the duration of stay allowed from 30 to 90 days. With this added convenience, the director-general hopes that more Americans will also travel to Taiwan.

TECO chief explains Taiwan’s position on disputed islets

In an October 18 letter to garner support for President Ma’s Ying-jeou’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, Bruce Fuh, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, wrote to leading politicians and scholars in California, Nevada and Utah to update them on the Diaoyutai Islets dispute.

“On September 11, the Japanese government officially nationalized the Diaoyutai Islets in the East China Sea, further escalating tensions between Japan and mainland China. Given the huge concentration of Asian-American residents in your community and the nationalistic intensity surrounding this dispute, I would like to bring this regional security issue to your attention” Fuh began.

He wrote that the Diaoyutai Islets were discovered in the period of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644, China) and then passed to the administration of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), under the jurisdiction of Taiwan. Rich in fish such as mackerel and bonito, the surrounding area of these islets has been the fishing ground for Taiwanese fishermen for over a century. Because of the relationship between the monsoon and ocean currents, it is easier for Taiwanese fishermen to get there than for Japanese vessels, which must sail against the wind and currents.

In 1895, during the war with the Qing, the Japanese cabinet incorporated the islets confidentially into Japanese territory by unilaterally classifying them as “uninhabited land without owners.” After the Sino-Japanese war, “Taiwan and its appertaining islets” were ceded to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The treaty was later nullified after WWII, restoring the islets to the pre-1895 status and returning them to the Republic of China in 1945.

Fuh stressed that from 1945 to 1971, the Diaoyutai Islets were under US administration, but the US made it clear that the 1971 transfer of administrative rights of these islets to Japan did not constitute sovereignty. The refueling of this dispute took place this April, when Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said he had started negotiations to buy the Diaoyutai Islets from a Japanese family.

Director-General Fuh pointed out that while claiming sovereignty over the disputed Islets, President Ma has called for constructive dialogue among the parties concerned by championing the East China Sea Peace Initiative. The initiative is already well-received by the US administration and senate, Japan and the European Parliament.

As anger and nationalistic feelings in Japan and mainland China are stirred up, President Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative promoting cooperation between the countries—in fishing, mining, marine scientific research, marine environmental protection, maritime security and non-traditional security issues—is a winning compromise. A similar solution worked in the North Sea, where sovereignty disputes were put aside to jointly develop that area’s resources for the benefit of the whole region.

With more territorial disputes in the Asia Pacific region brewing, Taiwan’s strategic position is quietly becoming more important. The Taiwan government peace initiative means it is willing to play a key role in maintaining regional stability, which is definitely important to US interests, Fuh stressed.

TECO’s chief and friends celebrate National Day

On October 10, a reception celebrating the 101st Republic of China National Day was held at the stately Palace Hotel, San Francisco. Hosted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco, TECO’s new Director-General Bruce Fuh and his wife, Joan, were on hand to welcome the thousand-plus guests who walked through the door of the grand ballroom. Honored guests came from as far away as Utah, with international representatives from El Salvador and Guatemala.

In welcoming everyone to the gathering, Director General Fuh thanked everyone for their generous support for Taiwan. He said, “The Republic of China was founded 101 years ago. It remains the first democratic republic in East Asia. A century ago, there were few democratic countries, so the ROC only had the United States, Britain and France for company. Today a majority of the 195 countries in the world are democracies. In hindsight, one realizes that the ROC really was ahead of its time.”

Fuh continued to talk about Taiwan’s economic strength, mentioning that Taiwan’s hi-tech supply chain continues to bolster the international market. Without the contributions of Taiwanese manufacturers, the global supply of mobile phones and PC tablets would quickly shudder to a stop.

Early arrivals strolled through the orchid-filled foyer decorated by McLellan Botanicals, and enjoyed the beauty of Liuli Glass Art, Franz Porcelain, and sipped tea from Ten Ran Teas. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau also decorated the hallway with lovely pop-up scenic pictures and handed out information about Taiwan’s sights.

Inside the elegant ballroom, an array of appetizers were served before lion dance performers thundered into the ballroom to begin the evening’s entertainment. This year, the National Taiwan University Alumni Choir led the audience in singing the American and the ROC national anthems.

A long list of distinguished guests attended the festivities to wish Director-General Fuh and the Republic of China well. Among them was Michael Waddoups, Utah State Senate President, who presented the director-general with a certificate of recognition and also passed on the good wishes of Utah Govenor Gary R. Herbert. Peter Knudson, the State Senate Assistant Majority Whip of Utah, also presented Fuh with a certificate and spoke of the resolution supporting Taiwan he had sponsored. Knudson continued by mentioning the close connections that have developed since the sister-state relationship was initiated 30 years ago.

The State of California was also well-represented by State Controller John Chiang, along with State Senator Mark Leno, Leland Yee and Richard Pan. Each congratulated the director-general on his new appointment. Chiang and Pan talked of their direct connections with Taiwan. Chiang said his parents came from Taiwan and “like so many, they had great pride and hope.” Pan spoke of how his parents emigrated from Taiwan, and of his frequent trips to the island with his Taiwan-born wife. He spoke of Taiwan’s importance saying, “Taiwan is a beacon of freedom and democracy in Asia, it’s so important that we protect that.”