Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) declared Netherlands Office Taipei Representative Guy Wittich an honorary citizen of the nation’s capital at a ceremony at Taipei City Hall yesterday morning.
Wittich, who has headed the office since August 2015, is scheduled to return to the Netherlands after his term ends next month.
Ko said he was glad to represent the city in presenting the honor to Wittich, as he had facilitated many exchanges between Taipei and several Dutch cities in the past few years, as well as helping arrange several events during the mayor’s visit to the Netherlands in January 2018.
“Wittich has been very enthusiastic, attending many international events held by the city government, including the 2017 Summer Universiade, the annual Smart City Summit and Expos, the Taipei Lantern Festivals and Taipei Film Festivals,” Ko said.
Thanks to assistance from Wittich, visitors to the Shihlin Residence Tulip Shows have increased annually, and the Netherlands Office Taipei also presented healthcare staff at Taipei City Hospitals with tulips and stroopwafels during the COVID-19 outbreak, the mayor said.
Wittich has shown support for the city government and allowed Taipei residents to feel the Netherlands’ friendship, so he hoped Wittich would continue to strengthen the connections between Dutch cities and Taipei after he returns to the Netherlands, Ko said.
Wittich joked that he and Ko are close neighbors, as his office is close to Taipei City Hall, and he and Ko even presided over a wedding for chimpanzees at Taipei Zoo.
Noting that his wife is Taiwanese and their children were born in Taipei, Wittich said: “Taipei is their home and my home, we will return to Taiwan from time to time.”
He would continue to promote relations between Taipei and the Netherlands, he said.
Wittich has called Taipei home for more than 25 years. He arrived as a university student in 1984 to study Mandarin for a month, before returning in 1988 to work with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
After 11 years with the airline he founded Acer/China Times Travel Service before becoming chief executive of the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan in 2002.
He left Taipei in 2009 to take up a post as consul and executive director for the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency in Shanghai, before returning in 2015 to become director of what was then the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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