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Mayor Ko Hosted a Year-End Appreciation Banquet to Strengthen International Ties and the Collective Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mayor Ko Hosted a Year-End Appreciation Banquet to Strengthen International Ties
In the evening of 17 December 2020, the Taipei City Government had hosted a year-end appreciation banquet and International Affairs Advisory Council meeting at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel of Taipei. The attendees of the banquet comprised 44 guests of honor from 28 foreign embassies, consulates, and representative offices in Taiwan; this included the ambassadors of seven countries having diplomatic relations with Taiwan, such as Ambassador Jasmine Huggins from Saint Christopher and Nevis; and 23 representatives and directors-general of foreign embassies and consulates in Taiwan, such as Director William Brent Christensen of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Several key officials of the Taipei City Government—including the committee members of the International Affairs Advisory Council, the Bilingual Environment Consultant of Taipei City, and the Directors of the Taipei City Government Office—also joined these distinguished foreign guests in this appreciation banquet.

Appreciating the assistance and support provided by all sectors of the community and urging for future collaboration
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for the world. Taiwan is one of the few countries that could still host a gathering amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making this banquet an experience to be treasured. With 2020 coming to an end, the Taipei City Government hosted this appreciation banquet to express their appreciation to key individuals who have contributed to Taipei’s City diplomacy and internationalization. The Taipei City Government also hopes for this banquet to strengthen international ties with the countries represented by the distinguished foreign guests and recognizing their continued support of Taipei City toward being an active player on the international stage.

In his welcoming address, Mayor Ko Wen-je noted that Taipei City remains undaunted by the pandemic in fostering international exchange and promoting the city’s development. While keeping up the fight against the pandemic, Mayor Ko and his team have already begun envisioning and planning for Taipei’s development in the post-pandemic era. Mayor Ko hopes that the distinguished foreign attendees will continue to work with the Taipei City Government and to provide any suggestions for transforming Taipei into a more advanced and pleasant city.

Ambassador Huggins gave a speech on behalf of the diplomatic envoys that were present at the banquet. In her speech, Ambassador Huggins noted that 2020 is Taipei City’s 100th anniversary, and she felt honored to have been able to witness and participate in the city’s many pivotal moments. She believes that in the next 100 years, Taipei City will become a city of the future, given the present-day efforts of Mayor Ko and his team toward green energy, urban renewal, and social housing. Ambassador Huggins also hopes for greater exchange with the outstanding team working for the Taipei City Government. Finally, she led guests in proposing a toast to Mayor Ko, as an appreciation of his outstanding leadership in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in how his efforts have made foreign embassies and consulates in Taiwan feel safe and welcome in Taipei despite the pandemic.

During the appreciation banquet, a special roll-call welcome was given to the newly appointed foreign representatives by Ambassador Tom Chou, the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for External Affairs. Subsequently, Ambassador Chou discussed the Taipei City Government’s diplomatic achievements, including the donation of pandemic prevention supplies to Taipei’s sister cities. Finally, Ambassador Chou shared the Taipei City Government’s objectives for 2021 and called for collaboration from all guests in meeting them.

The diplomatic trilogy of Taipei City under the pandemic
Because countries are increasingly interconnected, the COVID-19 pandemic recognizes no borders. Although Taiwan has checked the spread of COVID-19 through stringent measures, to combat the pandemic, countries must work together in solidarity rather than in isolation. Although in-person foreign exchanges and diplomatic visits have been suspended due to Taiwan closing its borders because of the pandemic, Taipei City has not let up in its efforts to connect with the international community.

The Taipei City Government has done so through the implementation of the “pandemic prevention–based diplomatic trilogy” initiative. Earlier this year, Taipei City brought the pandemic under control through meticulously formulated standard operating procedures and the cooperation of Taipei City’s residents. The Taipei City Government also established the world’s first ever quarantine hotels and a COVID-safe taxi program, and the importance of these policies have been recognized by the Central Government of Taiwan. After keeping the pandemic in check, the Taipei City Government looked toward rendering aid to its international partners. On April 2020, the Taipei City Government translated its standard operating procedures for pandemic into English and shared them with its 51 sister cities. The Taipei City Government also set up an English pandemic prevention website with resources for policymakers from other cities to use as they see fit. This goodwill initiative has been well received, as evinced by the expressions of thanks from many sister cities. Furthermore, the Taipei City Government has been invited to participate in numerous international conferences, held through video conferencing, to share their pandemic prevention experience with Taiwan’s international partners.

Slated to begin from the fourth quarter of 2020, the “Taipei Friendship Tour” project initiated by the Taipei City Government involves visiting foreign embassies, consulates, and representative offices in Taiwan and briefing diplomatic envoys on the administrative focus of the Taipei City Government. This project aims to invite international partners to collaborate with the city government in the fields that they are interested in and to uncover business opportunities that benefit both Taipei City and its international partners.

Lastly, the Taipei City Government has organized various cultural events, since October, for foreign representatives situated in Taiwan. These events have included the 100th Anniversary Special Exhibition and the Shilin Residence Chrysanthemum Show. Through these events, foreign representatives get a chance to better appreciate Taipei’s history, admire the exquisite views of Taipei suburban area, and witness Taiwan’s world-leading technology in cultivating Da Li chrysanthemum.