Baseball city diplomacy wins again: Tainan and Chandler, Arizona sign friendship agreement

On October 27th, Tainan City Government held a ceremony for the signing of a friendship agreement with the City of Chandler in the U.S. state of Arizona. Mayor William Lai signed on behalf of Tainan, while Chandler Deputy Mayor Jack Sellers signed on behalf of the American city. The agreement provides for the two parties to jointly promote cooperation and exchanges in science & technology, economy & trade, tourism, culture, education, sport, and other spheres, to enhance the friendly relationship between the two cities. This agreement will provide the future basis for strengthening bilateral exchanges, opening substantive interaction, establishing communication channels, and developing more diverse and deeper ties of friendly mutual assistance.

Welcoming the American guests on behalf of all Tainan citizens, Mayor Lai expressed wholehearted hope that the signing of the agreement would enable the two cities to greatly enhance their friendship and steadily increase their exchanges. He remarked that the connection between Tainan and Chandler had deep roots, and that thanks to the influence and endeavors of a number of Taiwanese-Americans, Tainan had gained the recognition and trust of Arizona's governor, mayors, and people in all spheres of life.

The mayor recalled that, when members of the Tainan City Little League baseball team had visited Chandler for training in 2014, the host city had not only looked after them extremely well, but had even arranged for them to be coached by a retired professional player who had been a World Series championship winner in America's Major League Baseball. Thanking the City of Chandler and all concerned for making such kind arrangements, Mayor Lai added that he had been struck and deeply impressed by such thoughtfulness.

Chandler Deputy Mayor Jack Sellers said he felt greatly honored to come to Tainan and take part in this historic moment for their two cities. Chandler and Tainan had already established a deep friendship through their baseball exchanges in recent years. This was his third visit to Tainan, and it was already like a second home for him. He liked Tainan very much indeed, and thanked its people for treating him like a family member. Last year, he had been very pleased to bring the Chandler National Little League All Stars to play exhibition games in Tainan. That had been a very precious experience for the young baseball players, enabling them to get to know Tainan's way of life and culture, and had been a very good way to deepen understanding between the people of the two cities.

In the last three years, Tainan and Chandler have engaged in frequent exchanges, particularly in baseball, with young players visiting and playing games in each other's cities. When Tainan's little leaguers made their trip to Chandler for training and exhibition games in August 2014, with Mayor Lai accompanying them to conduct baseball diplomacy, Chandler not only accorded them a most enthusiastic welcome, but also set August 21st as their city's Tainan Baseball Day. In September of the following year, their visit was reciprocated when Jack Sellers, who was then a Chandler City Councilman, led the Chandler Little League All Stars team to take part in the Giant Cup 2015 International Little League Championship in Tainan.

This year, Deputy Mayor Sellers and his accompanying delegation from Chandler attended the Giant Cup 2016 National Little League Championship, with Sellers and Mayor Lai jointly opening the tournament by throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

Other members of the visiting delegation included Tony Kao, a member of the Arizona Governor's Asian-American Advisory Council, and Shen-Yi Michelle Chang, a member of the City of Chandler Human Relations Commission and the City's General Plan Update Advisory Committee. These two prominent members of Chandler's business and public service community have been closely involved in organizing the little leaguer exchanges between Chandler and Tainan, and in promoting the budding friendship between the two cities.

Later this year, in December, the principal of Tainan's Sie-jin Elementary School will take 25 little leaguers to America for a three-week training tour. Sie-jin Elementary School is renowned as a baseball nursery, producing many well-known basketball players, and still basking in the glory of its crowning as world champions in the Little League World Series of 1971 and 1973.

Source: Tainan City Government