Greetings from the other side of the world

Lin-ho’!

As you’re reading this, I already will have touched down, God willing, at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after my nearly 14-hour flight from Los Angeles.

I’m traveling this week with an international delegation of journalists, invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan, intended to introduce the media — and hence, the world — to Taiwan’s political and economic development.

This island nation, still considered part of the Republic of China, seems to be growing ever more independent — much to China’s chagrin.

Last week, China exercised its might, possibly as an attempt to send a message to the island that recently was described by the Washington Times as the Rodney Dangerfield of nations because, well, “it don’t get no respect.”

China has, for years, considered Taiwan, which is self-ruled and democratic, to be a wayward province that is ineligible for state-to-state relations.

That’s probably why China’s Foreign Ministry reacted the way it did, by expressing its “resolute opposition” to American legislation known as the “Taiwan Travel Act” when it passed in March. The act encourages the United States to send “U.S. officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts” and vice versa, while encouraging “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan to conduct business in the United States.”

The Taiwan Travel Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by “voice vote,” action that allows simple passage unless a member of Congress objects and speaks up. It’s safe to say, therefore, that our local representation, including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, held no objections to the bill’s passage and the recognition it gives to Taiwan.

So, while America is adding tariffs to Chinese imports, calling on that country to reduce its trade imbalance with the U.S. and further increasing strains to that relationship, we simultaneously are reaching out to build bridges to China’s smaller, democratic neighbor.

Taiwan, of course, has welcomed the new U.S. legislation, and is looking forward to continuing to deepen its relationship with Washington.

Taiwan also is hoping to obtain other recognition, including having a seat at the table in the 71st World Health Assembly, for example.

I hope to get an opportunity while I’m in the Far East to speak to Taiwanese officials who may be able to offer some insight into what the new Travel Act might mean for both of our countries.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have been invited to take part in what I expect will be a wonderful experience, especially during this time when there are so many new developments there.

My traveling companions and I are, in some sense, bringing what some might describe as a mini-United Nations delegation to Taiwan this week — in the form of journalists, of course. Along with four of us traveling from the United States, nine other journalists are representing media organizations from around the world. My international colleagues are based in Slovakia, Estonia, Canada, Hungary, Austria, France, Greece and Portugal. Other than myself, American journalists will be representing Breitbart, the National Review and the Pasadena Weekly.

Our travels will include several days in Taipei, which is the northernmost part of the island, and then a 225-mile trip south by high-speed rail to Kaohsiung City, on the island’s southwestern tip.

I’m very excited to be traveling to this part of the world, as the closest I’ve ever come to Taiwan was time I spent a few years ago, and wrote about on this publication’s pages, to India.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and insights with you throughout the week.

On a side note, I have a very special thought I must share for my husband, who is back home in northeast Ohio today as I’m traveling around the world on this, our 23rd wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary, honey! I love you!

blinert@tribtoday.com

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