The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam reopened last Saturday after a three-year hiatus, coinciding with Taiwan’s celebration of its 109th National Day, popularly referred to as Double Ten Day or Double Tenth Day.
The opening, attended by top officials of Guam and Taiwan in observance of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, was shared with the public online. Guam and Taiwan official said the office’s reopening ensures their continued cultural and economic exchange.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu, who opened the celebration, said that Taiwan and Guam enjoys strong bilateral relations especially in trade, tourism, and medical cooperation.
“…Taiwan enterprises…have long invested in Guam and laid strong foundation for future economic relations. …Before the pandemic, 30,000 people from Taiwan traveled to Guam this year, making Taiwan Guam’s third largest source of tourists and, in recent years, an increasing number of people from Guam have traveled to Taiwan for medical treatment,” he said. “On behalf of the people of Taiwan…I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to the United States government and the government of Guam for their cooperation and assistance as well as to all our friends who made the re-establishment of our Guam office possible. Thank you to Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero for the support… as well as her recognition of Taiwan’s leadership in the global response to COVID-19 and I am confident that we will overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic and enhance economic and people exchanges.”
Leon Guerrero, who sent a message via video, echoed Wu’s message about TECO’s reopening as a testament to the strong ties between the two governments. “Under this office, Taiwan and Guam will be able to engage in economic and cultural exchanges and increased services and assistance for Taiwanese travelers and businesses. …Taiwan remains as one of the success stories in this global pandemic and we commend your leadership for what you are able to accomplish. It is accomplishments such as these that would make Taiwan’s participation in international organization like the World Health Organization an invaluable resource.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, who was at the event, said that Taiwan has been supportive of Guam since the onset of the pandemic and thanked Taiwan for its donations of thermo-scanners and pandemic readiness kits that will be distributed to the Guam government, the Legislature, the Guam Memorial Hospital, and the Guam Regional Medical City.
“If there is a lesson that this pandemic taught us, it is that global cooperation and friendly relations with our neighbors are important and we hope that the presence of this office can help facilitate even stronger ties between Taiwan and our region,” Tenorio added.
TECO general director Paul Chen assured that the meaningful exchanges between Guam and Taiwan will never stop. “Now we are welcoming the next phase of this longstanding partnership. …Guam remains [a] top travel destination for Taiwanese citizens. …With the reopening of the consular office, we do not only offer assistance for Taiwanese residents traveling or residing here, but also meaningful exchanges between Taiwan and Guam. We look forward to be the…bridge of communication and process between Taiwan and Guam as the solid foundation is already in place and together we are stronger.”
The reopening also featured messages of goodwill from Guam Legislature Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Chief Justice Philip Carbullido, and Mrs. Lily W. Yu.
The TECO was established in 1999 but was closed in 2017 due to budget and manpower issues.