By Assunta Ng
We received a tip that both Taiwan and Chinese officials would be attending the Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s annual Lunar New Year dinner at China Harbor Restaurant last Thursday.
It could be a historical moment for the Chamber, having both sides present for the first time since 2004, or it could be an awkward situation, we thought.
Even though China and Taiwan both have direct air, shipping, and mail exchange, there are tensions between the two sides at Seattle’s Chinese events. The United States has a one-China policy and does not recognizes Taiwan, as it does China.
Chinese officials showed up early from San Francisco and sat at table 1, the table with the high U.S. officials of Washington state. There were two empty seats reserved for Taiwan officials at table 3. The tables were deliberately placed, so they were not next to each other.
Late in the night, it was obvious to guests that the Taiwan officials would not come. A former Chamber president even received a call from the Taiwan officials, who said that they would not come. They didn’t give any reason. Two media representatives took their seats instead.
One guest whispered to me, “Taiwan officials would not want to come. I remember your 2004 article telling us that Taiwan officials perceive the table with U.S. officials as the important table. Just look at the seating arrangement. Who’s sitting at table 1 and who’s sitting at table 3? That’s a snub for Taiwan officials!”
How did the Taiwan officials know about the seating arrangement even without coming? Well, there were many Taiwanese immigrants in the room. Anyone could have tipped them off. (end)