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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times A tale of two National Day events

A tale of two National Day events

A few days ago the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US hosted its annual Double Ten National Day banquet at Twin Oaks estate in Washington.

A week earlier, the Chinese embassy in the US also hosted a national day reception. The contrast between the celebrations reflects the two nations’ state of relations with the US.

The Double Ten National Day banquet at Twin Oaks showcased Washington’s support for Taiwan. The highlight of this year’s event was the presence of US Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, who was attending the celebration for the first time and stayed from beginning to end. McCaul’s attendance was especially important, as it came as former US House speaker Kevin McCarthy was being ousted.

Furthermore, two US representatives cochairing the Congressional Taiwan Caucus also attended the banquet, further showing that the US Congress has always been a key force in supporting Taiwan.

In 2011, TECRO held the Double Ten National Day banquet at Twin Oaks for the first time in decades, breaking with convention that the celebration could only be held at a hotel after the US severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979.

In 2012, then-American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Raymond Burghardt was invited to speak at the banquet, which has since become tradition, with AIT Chair Laura Rosenberger attending this year’s event.

Although Rosenberger only assumed the position in March, her appointment as AIT chair is significant. She had worked closely with US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. She had served as a special assistant to the president and the US National Security Council’s senior director for China and Taiwan.

In April 2021, the US Department of State announced new guidelines for interacting with Taiwan, allowing US government officials and their Taiwanese counterparts to meet in official settings. With that restriction eased, US officials can participate in Taiwan’s events at Twin Oaks Estate. However, some more significant occasions, such as Double Ten National Day celebrations, are still restricted to maintain the appearance of the US’ “one China” policy.

In 2019, the celebration of China’s national day in Washington marked a turning point. Although it was the 40th anniversary of the establishment of US-China relations, the two countries were caught in a serious trade dispute, and the reception was anything but festive.

The highest-ranking US official attending the event was the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, whose name was not even mentioned in China’s news release on the celebration.

This year, despite having a new Chinese ambassador, Xie Feng (謝鋒), who assumed the post in May, the Chinese embassy’s reception — held for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and marking the 74th anniversary of the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China — was not as grand as it used to be.

Three US officials attended: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink; former AIT director and current Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kin Moy; and US National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs Sarah Beran, Rosenberger’s successor in that position. Kritenbrink stayed for less than half an hour. No US officials were invited to speak.

Before attending the reception, Kritenbrink met with Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong (孫衛東). Clearly, the two sides did not see eye to eye. China’s reception and Kritenbrink’s brief attendance also showed that US-China relations remain cold.

Chen Yung-chang is a company manager.

Translated by Emma Liu

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/10/10

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