Norwegian expatriates in Taiwan held a parade and a flag-raising ceremony Sunday to celebrate Norway’s National Day in what may have been the only parade around the world marking the occasion this year.
More than a dozen Norwegians, some with their families, and about 60 members of the Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association (TDDA), participated in the 40-minute parade that started in Daan District in Taipei and ended at the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab, where the flag-raising ceremony was held.
The activities were jointly organized by Norwegian nationals in Taiwan and the TDDA, a Taiwanese NGO dedicated to public diplomacy.
“Interactions between Norway and Taiwan usually involve business or government issues. We hope today’s event will bring the civil societies of the two countries closer,” said TDDA Chairwoman Kuo Chia-yo (郭家佑), who began connecting with Norwegians in Taiwan three months ago.
Other activities had been held in recent weeks to mark Norwegian National Day, including Norwegian cooking classes, a workshop on drawing a map of Norway, and a language-learning class, she said.
Geir Yeh Fotland, a Norwegian born in Taiwan, told CNA that Norway’s government has suspended all gatherings, including its National Day parade, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, making the Taipei event special.
“I think this might be the only Norwegian National Day parade in the world, at least the longest with more than 60 people. So that’s a great event,” said Fotland, fondly called “Norwegian grandpa” by many Taiwanese who know him.
Oslo is usually not keen on promoting Taiwan due to Beijing’s influence in recent years, but major newspapers in Norway started to mention Taiwan in May because of its good performance in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, he said.
“Taiwan has shown the world that we are independent from COVID-19 while the rest of the world is occupied by COVID-19, as Norway.”
Oslo cut its official ties with Taipei in January 1950. Neither government has a liaison office on the other’s soil after Oslo closed its trade office in Taipei in 2004 and Taipei closed its representative office in Norway in 2017.
According to Fotland, there are about 10 Norwegian students and six to with Norwegian nationals living in Taiwan, some of them retired and others here doing business.