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Key to our economic success is on other side of the Pacific

Taiwan is a small nation. It's about the size of West Virginia, but it has a population of 23 million people and its economy is the 17th largest in the world. That's one reason the Mountain State opened a trade office in the Taiwanese capital. Our economy is undeniably and inextricably tied to other nations.

This was brought home last week during a meeting of the Association of Chinese Professionals in West Virginia. The group's keynote speaker, Lyushun Shen, deputy representative for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the United States, said that the West Virginia trade office has been successful in bringing business and jobs to the state. "If you keep on this kind of path," he said, "you will probably see even more international investments and joint ventures here."

"How important is Taiwan to you?" Shen asked. His country's total investment in the U.S. has created as many as 1 million jobs.

Shen answered his own question. Taiwan -- as well as the many other Asian countries -- is a very important component of our economy. We hope our state and national leaders continue to pursue additional ties with potential business partners across the Pacific.

One student attending last week's dinner expressed another, perhaps more important reason for keeping open the lines of communication. Howard Shen, a senior at Bridgeport High School, said if we are able to attract more Asians to the area, "there will be more diversity in the schools. That might help prepare students better for the world."

Smart kid.

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