But I’ve also been learning more about the economic relationship between NZ and Taiwan.
And, most interesting here, is that the indigenous connection has official recognition in the free trade agreement that New Zealand has with Taiwan.
More on that in another post, but as some brief background, the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan is:
- Situated in the Pacific Ocean about 160 km off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland with a population of 23 million.
- A multi-party, fully-fledged democratic country with all public officials from president to county magistrates directly elected by the people in Taiwan.
- Currently, New Zealand’s 7th largest export market, 14th largest import market, and 11th largest trading partner.
I already knew that New Zealand’s relationship with mainland China makes things complicated for Taiwan.
But things made more sense to me though after I was fortunate enough to meet with Representative Bill Chen of the Taiwan Economic Cultural Office (TECO) in Wellington recently. He explained that:
- The ROC Taiwan established full diplomatic ties with New Zealand in 1961. However, on December 22, 1972, the New Zealand government switched recognition to the People’s Republic of China.
- In order to maintain trade relations between Taiwan and New Zealand, the Taiwanese government established the East Asian Trade Center in Auckland in May 1973.
- This office was later moved to Wellington and the name was changed to Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in November 1991.
It was at the TECO office in Wellington where we met with Representative Chen. His office represents the Republic of China on Taiwan.
And it has the same function as an embassy except for the name. That also means that Representative Chen has the same function as an ambassador.
I learned that TECO serves and protects the interests and welfare of Taiwanese in New Zealand.
It also promotes economic, trade, cultural, educational, scientific, financial, and other exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and New Zealand. I’m mostly interested in the educational aspects, but you can read more about everything here.
And that brings me back to the official recognition of the indigenous connection between our two countries.
It’s called Chapter 19 and it sits inside a free trade agreement known as ANZTEC or the Agreement between NZ and Taiwan on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC).