The Dallas Morning News

Dallas County forging closer ties with Taiwan

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Several North Texas cities have sister-city relationsh­ips with cities in Taiwan. Among them: Dallas (with Taipei), Plano (with Hsin Chu), Carrollton (with Yung Ho) and Addison (with Pan-Ch’iao).

Now, Dallas County is following suit.

Taiwanese officials were in town last week to formalize a sister-county agreement between Taoyuan County in Taiwan and Dallas County.

Eric Liluan Chu, magistrate of Taoyuan County government, said he was excited about the new partnershi­p.

“First, this relationsh­ip will bring the people of our two counties closer together,” Dr. Chu said during an interview in Dallas. “This will afford us greater opportunit­ies to foster relationsh­ips between Taoyuan and Dallas.”

Dr. Chu also said he hoped the counties consider establishi­ng student-exchange programs. “I’d also like to create a cultural exchange program,” he said. “We can send Taiwanese cultural programs to the United States in exchange for American arts programs.”

The Taiwanese magistrate also pointed out the economic benefits for both counties.

“Taoyuan County is one of the top producers in the high-tech industry in Taiwan,” he said. “And Dallas is also a leader in the hightech field. I believe that this could be beneficial to both our counties.”

Newly elected Dallas County Judge Jim Foster agreed.

ESTHER WU

“We in Dallas County are delighted to be a part of this new partnershi­p — a first for Dallas County,” he said. “We’re excited about the potential for the future relationsh­ips between Taoyuan County and Dallas in such areas as culture, trade and economics. The partnershi­p will benefit both our residents as we seek to build bridges between our two large counties.”

According to Taiwan’s 2005 census, Taoyuan County has nearly 1.9 million residents. The county is in the island nation’s northwest region and is considered the fastest-growing of Taiwan’s five metropolit­an areas.

The Pingpu aboriginal tribe is the first known group of people to live in the area of present-day Taoyuan County. However, during the Qing dynasty in the 1600s, people from Fujian province in China began to migrate to the area. They excavated land and built irrigation channels. They also began planting peach trees.

When the trees were in full bloom, the area looked like a pink cloud on the ground. According to Taoyuan County’s official Web site, the area was so beautiful that it became known as Taoziyuan, which means “Peach Garden” in Chinese.

Today, industrial­ization has long since replaced the peach orchards, and Taoyuan County has developed into a major economic center of Taiwan.

Each year, more than 20 million people arrive and depart from Taiwan through the Taiwan Taoyuan Internatio­nal Airport. The airport has also become a hub for internatio­nal freight transport. For these reasons, Taoyuan is often called the “door of Taiwan.”

A group of Taiwanese-Americans, led by Dr. Charles Ku, has been working to establish the sister-county relationsh­ip for the last two years.

Dr. Ku, former president of the Dallas/Fort Worth Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, initiated the discussion with former Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher.

“This project was very important because Taiwan does not have a formal diplomatic relationsh­ip with the United States,” said Dr. Ku, a Lewisville dentist. “The only way to foster a relationsh­ip with Taiwan is through people-topeople programs, through the Sister Cities model.

“Though I am a loyal U.S. citizen and I’ve become fully immersed in the American way of life, socially and politicall­y, I cannot help but think about Taiwan,” Dr. Ku said. “After all, my earlier years were in Taiwan and roots are there.”

The partnershi­p

will benefit both Taiwan and the U.S., he said.

“Now we can begin the process by encouragin­g more exchange programs,” he said. “Each year Plano sends a group of students to its sister city in Hsin Chu. The city also hosts a group of young people from Hsin Chu. This program has done a lot to help establish better understand­ing and tolerance of different people. We need to do all we can to foster more relationsh­ips like this.”

While in North Texas, the fivemember delegation from Taoyuan visited Texas Instrument­s, Lockheed Martin, Dallas/Fort Worth Internatio­nal Airport, the Gaylord Texan resort, the Sixth Floor Museum and the Dallas County Commission­ers Court.

When asked about the packed two-day agenda, Dr. Chu, the Taoyuan magistrate, said it was important to visit as many places as possible. He even made an ad- dition to the schedule: He needed Mavericks basketball team souvenirs. Dr. Chu said he has been a big fan for many years.

“I love the Mavericks,” he said. “This year it’s all the way to the championsh­ip.”

It sounds as if the sister-county relationsh­ip between Taoyuan and Dallas counties is off to a good start.

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