A former British representative to Taiwan was awarded the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy by the nation’s government on Tuesday in recognition of his contributions to promoting Taiwan-UK relations.
The medal was conferred on Michael Reilly by Taiwan’s Representative to the UK, Katharine Chang (張小月), on behalf of Foreign Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) at a ceremony held in London.
Reilly described the medal as a “great honor” that serves as a perfect conclusion to his 30-year diplomatic career.
“I’m very pleased to have been recognized in this way. I’m very grateful to Taiwan and to the people of Taiwan for the recognition,” he said.
Chang said that during his 2006 to 2009 term as director of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan, Reilly spared no effort to boost investment, trade and cultural exchanges between Britain and Taiwan.
Reilly’s most important achievement was promoting UK visa-free privileges for Taiwanese nationals, Chang said.
After Taiwanese were granted visa-free access in March 2009, the number of Taiwanese visitors to the UK increased by 150 percent that year compared with the previous year.
According to Chang, even after his return to Britain, Reilly continued to demonstrate concern for Taiwan-UK ties on many public occasions and to show his friendship and support for Taiwan.
Reilly said that the three years he spent in Taiwan left him with many happy and pleasant memories.
“I miss the food a bit. I miss the people. Taiwanese are such a friendly, helpful people,” he said.
An avid hiker, Reilly has visited Taiwan’s famous Yushan (玉山), Hsuehshan (雪山) and -Hehuanshan (合歡山), saying that the serenity and fresh air of Taiwan’s mountains is what he finds the most unforgettable.