Taiwanese officials hosted a reception on Wednesday at the Twin Oaks Estate in Washington — the official residence of nine former Republic of China (ROC) ambassadors to the US — to mark the upcoming 101st ROC National Day.
It is only the second time in the past 33 years that Taiwan has been allowed to hold National Day celebrations at Twin Oaks rather than at a hotel, and the event is seen as a sign of warming Taiwan-US relations.
The facility ceased being used as the ROC ambassador’s official residence after diplomatic ties were severed in 1979, but it still belongs to the Taiwanese government.
Representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) said it was a great honor for Taiwan to be able to hold ROC centennial celebrations there last year.
“I’m overjoyed and excited to be able to celebrate the 10lst birthday of the ROC today at Twin Oaks Estate again,” he said.
Yuan was scheduled to depart the following day for Taiwan, where he is to assume his new position as secretary-general of the National Security Council.
Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, said that although he had been to Twin Oaks many times, this was the first time he had attended an ROC National Day celebration at the facility.
Burghardt dismissed speculation that the absence of high-ranking US officials from the recent Taiwan-US Defense Industry Conference was a show of Washington’s displeasure with the standoff between Taiwanese coast guard vessels and their Japanese counterparts in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) late last month.
Rather, he said, the frequent contact between officials from the two sides in recent years means that they no longer need to use occasions such as the defense industry conference to meet each other.
Taiwanese officials can now hold direct talks with their US counterparts at the Pentagon, he added.
Just a day earlier, in fact, Vice Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) visited the Pentagon to talk with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert.
Yang later also met with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro at the AIT’s headquarters, Burghardt said.
The National Day reception drew more than 4,000 guests, including US politicians, think tank-affiliated experts, diplomats and Taiwanese expatriates.
The attendees included Representative Dan Burton, AIT Managing Director Barbara Schrage, former AIT chairman Richard Bush, former AIT Taipei Office director Douglas Paal, former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.