Taiwan, officially still called the Republic of China (ROC), celebrates its National Day on October 10th to commemorate the events which led to the downfall of the Qing-Dynasty and the establishment of the first republic in Asia.
For me it brings back memories of the many official receptions I attended on the occasion while working for the Taiwanese government. Initially they were held at the Taipei Guest House, during the 50-years of Japanese colonial rule the residence of the Governor-General of Taiwan, which was built between 1899 and 1901 and then remodeled between 1911 and 1913. It has been serving it current purpose since 1946, following Nippon’s defeat in World War II.
While the former underwent a very extensive renovation, they later took place at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, constructed between 1976 and 1980 in the heart of the city to honor the late ROC president.
Despite Taiwan’s international isolation, as at the beginning of the 21st century due to Peking’s “One-China policy” less than 30 countries around the world officially recognized Taiwan as an independent state, there were some very interesting figures among the Diplomatic Corps.
Not only at this event, I enjoyed the company of the Ambassadors of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, the Chargé d’affaires of the Holy See, as well as the Representatives of the Czech Republic, the European Union, Germany, South Africa and Spain.
I had quite interesting conversations about foreign policy and other subjects with these versatile, experienced, well-traveled diplomats.
That was a lot of fun, as most of them possessed a great sense of humor and also liked to drink, which for many years was one of my favorite pastimes.
I remember that while commemorating the founding of a non-allied, but friendly nation, as some of us were already in high spirits and there was enough alcohol left, the host spontaneously talked to the hotel manager. In consequence, the party in the rented hall went on until after midnight.
As all of us were quite obviously over the limit, the late homecoming must have created at least some domestic problems. The next year all the spouses were present to make sure that their partners left more or less on time.
Even when I temporarily lost my job because of a weird personal intrigue, I continued to be a well-received. Without a doubt, those gatherings will remain an unforgettable experience as long as I live.