With a huge ice sculpture of the Kremlin as a party centerpiece, hundreds of well-wishers gathered in Taipei to wish Russia a happy birthday and toast Russia-Taiwan ties last Thursday on the eve of Russian National Day.
Although Taiwan and Russia do not have formal diplomatic relations, they have forged strong cultural and commercial ties, with trade volume reaching a record US$4 billion last year, said Sergey Gubarev, the head of the Representative Office for the Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation.
The commission was established in 1992, one year after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
Gubarev, who has been posted to Taipei for three-and-a-half years, said he has never encountered a “cold attitude” in all his interactions with Taiwanese officials and that mutual efforts will strengthen bilateral cooperation.
In addition to fruitful business relations, Taiwan and Russia have developed active and frequent cultural and academic exchanges, Gubarev said.
Taiwanese and Russian scientists are engaged in more than 50 joint projects and each year, he said.
Russia welcomes more than 300 Taiwanese students while about 200 Russians study in Taiwan. There are about 1,000 Russians in Taiwan at present.
One Russian student, Alexander Avgust, came to Taiwan on a scholarship almost four years ago. After getting his degree in politics from the Chinese Cultural University, Avgust has decided to stay to work in Taiwan.
“I like Taiwan a lot, especially the weather and the friendliness of the people,” he said.
Gubarev said more than 10,000 Taiwanese visit Russia annually but less than 2,000 Russians come to Taiwan. The main reason for this discrepancy, he said, is the lack of a beach culture in Taiwan.
For many Russians, a vacation means a break from the icy cold weather of their hometowns and so they are more interested in countries with beachfront resorts, he said.
Guests at the reception enjoyed typical Russian cuisine such as borscht and cabbage rolls, along with Russian wine.
Four Russian members of the Kaohsiung Philharmonic Orchestra performed during the reception.