By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Vincent Gentile has traveled halfway around the world in the interest of strengthening ties between Asia and New York City.
Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) was hand-picked by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to join her as a member of a City Council delegation visiting Taiwan.
Focus Taiwan News Channel reported that the Council delegation also includes Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant), Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Julissa Ferrera (Elmhurst) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Morrisania-Highbridge).
The group arrived in the capital city of Taipei late Sunday night.
The six-day trip was organized by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, a Washington, D.C. office that serves as Taiwan's de facto embassy in the US in the absence of diplomatic ties.
The New York Daily News reported Monday that the city of Taipei is footing the bill for the trip.
The delegation has a packed agenda for the trip, including meetings with the Taipei City Council. The New Yorkers will also be visiting the Ministry of Education, the Council for Economic Planning and Development, the Bureau of International Trade and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Transportation and technology will be a focus of the trip, according to Gentile, who said he and the other members of the delegation plan to visit the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation and discuss how to strengthen ties between Taiwan and New York City's technology sector.
“I am looking forward to a very busy, working trip of great mutual benefit. And I hope some of my Mandarin Chinese lessons will pay off!” Gentile said.
Mark-Viverito sent out a tweet on her Twitter account shortly after she and her fellow Council members arrived. “In #Taiwan, 12 hours ahead of #NYC, fighting jetlag, want to sleep but NO I shall resist,” the council speaker wrote.
There will also be some trash talk in Taipei. Gentile said that the city’s approach to garbage collection has been lauded for its efficiency and that the delegation planned to meet with the Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan and tour the Mucha Refuse Incineration Plant.
In a statement he sent via email upon landing at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport Sunday night, Gentile said he looked forward to meeting with the leaders of Taipei’s high-tech sector, exploring ways of improving civic engagement through technology, learning about Taiwan’s innovative sanitation system and discussing ways to strengthen the already-strong ties between Taiwan and New York City.