Taichung saw a change of leadership on Dec. 25, 2018, when long-serving Legislator Lu Shiow-yen was elected to lead the city over the next four years. One of the new mayor’s tasks was selecting three deputy mayors, including veteran diplomat Bruce Linghu, who has represented Taiwan at various global postings, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Auckland, Marshall Islands (as ambassador) and Ottawa (as Taiwan’s top representative to Canada). He retired as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2016 after over 30 years of service and then taught at various universities as what he jokingly calls a “stray professor” before being asked by Mayor Lu serve in his current post, with the main task of using his experience and background to fulfill the mayor’s vision of expanding Taichung’s international connections and visibility.
Compass Magazine Co-Publisher Douglas Habecker recently had the chance to sit down with Deputy Mayor Linghu to chat about the new administration’s goals for the city’s internationalization.
Compass: If we can jump forward to four years from now, what do you think you and Mayor Lu would like this administration and this government to be best known for?
Deputy Mayor: I see Taichung as a well-planned city, going back to Mayor Hu and development projects like National Taichung Theater, and we can’t deny that Mayor Lin has continued some of this development. When people around the world think of Taichung, it’s known as a place where citizens are very happy and contented. It’s also a friendly city for foreign visitors and friends, welcoming to everyone. Its scenery is good. Its services are good. It is an efficient, service-oriented city and smart city. So people like to come here and, when they do, they may not want to leave. Because it’s a city of happiness and contentment, no matter where you come from, you can say “I’m from Taichung and I’m a Taichung person”. It’s that feeling. I’m not a Taichung person but when I came here I felt it was that way. It has food, fun, culture, and nice sunny weather. Auckland promotes itself as the “City of Sails”. Perhaps Taichung can be the “City of Happiness and Contentment”, “The Friendly City” or “Smart City”. Under Mayor Hu, it received an international smart city award so we can continue these achievements to give everyone a very deep impression of Taichung.
Compass: With all your international background/experience, what can you do to help promote Taichung internationally?
Deputy Mayor: First, Taichung has many sister cities and we will continue working with them. I have a lot of familiarity with this. Over 10 delegations from various Japanese cities and counties have already visited, in addition to others from Canada and the United States. I always find time for them and host people on behalf of the mayor and city government, allowing these foreign friends to feel we’re a friendly city that welcomes them. Then they encourage their own citizens and friends to keep visiting. My past international connections know I’m here and since January there have been many delegations to be hosted. It’s a lot of work, with responsibilities divided up between different city government departments, hosting friends from New Zealand, Los Angeles, the Marshall Islands and Canada—places I’ve served in before. There have also been over 10 mainland Chinese delegations of local, provincial or city officials. They know that Mayor Lu supports and is open to cross-straits exchanges.
Compass: Over the next four years, are there any bigger plans to make Taichung an even more international city?
Deputy Mayor: We want to hold more international events like conferences and tournaments in Taichung. Our Flora Expo was an international event, held with the AIPH (International Association of Horticultural Producers), with a very big international result. Next year, we are going to host the World Orchid Conference and Exhibition in Taichung. We will also have a world university golf tournament next year at Taichung International Golf Club. At the end of this year, we will also host games for the WBSC Premier12 baseball tournament, which will have the top-ranked 12 national teams participating. International events like these bring publicity and visibility. Sports, economic and trade events and functions and cultural exchanges can all help boost internationalization and Taichung City Government can facilitate these. Our budget is limited but we can coordinate with the private sector and allow everyone to support these events, which bring economic benefits and results, too.
Compass: There are times when international residents companies and residents don’t feel connected to the local government here. Is there any way the city government can communicate and connect better to the international community in Taichung so that its members know who they can go to if they have a need or question?
Deputy Mayor: I think the city government Secretariat’s International Affairs Office and Economic Development Bureau have helped with this. I think this is a great question and feel that we should work with Taichung American Chamber of Commerce, the Japanese and Korean chambers of commerce, and mainland Chinese in Taiwan to see how we can reach out to the international and mainland Chinese communities here. The Information Bureau also helps connect us to the international community. I think this very good because Compass is also a window to the world for us and our goodwill ambassadors. I think many things need interdepartmental coordination and I’m willing to do this kind of coordinating. I think we can reach out to the international community through [Compass Magazine]. Your visit is a great opportunity and exposure and, in the future, we can keep in contact to make more local connections to community organizations and associations.
Compass: On a more personal note, what do you like doing around in Taichung when you’re not working?
Deputy Mayor: I like to combine work and pleasure together. When I don’t have any appointments, or scheduled events, I take these opportunities to go to different areas and districts to visit and understand them better. For example, I went to Waipu to visit the farmers’ association, whose director-general took me to see Waipu’s Shui Liu Dong Agricultural Recreational Area. Taiwan’s waterways usually flow westward but the one here flows eastward, making it very unique. In Waipu, they have wineries, flowers, including places you can see Tung blossoms, and HSR’s highest point of elevation in Taiwan. Taichung has many secret scenic spots. On weekends, I go to places like these and look at them, bringing work and pleasure together to better understand Taichung.