In November approximately 200 leaders of various Chinese organizations within the Pacific will arrive on Guam for the 29th Conference of Oceania Regional Association of Chinese Organizations. The three-day conference is set for Nov. 16 through the 18 and will center on topics of humanitarian cultural and social significance according to Fong S. Wu president of Sunny Plastic (Guam) Inc. Wu is president of the United Chinese Association of Guam and secretary general of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce the organization that is hosting the event.

The sponsor of the conference is the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission R.O.C. "" a Taipei-based governmental organization. Wu said a unifying element for conference participants through the years has been the recognition and support of Taiwan’s promotion of democracy human rights and freedom Wu said that although much has changed over the years the conference will continue to carry this focus. "Only groups from democratic countries are invited to participate. This event is a testimony of support for the defense of Taiwan in promoting peace within the Taiwan Straight." Wu told the Journal.

Those participating in the conference will represent various Chinese organizations throughout Oceania. Professional business cultural and philanthropic leaders from Australia to the Mariana Islands are expected to attend. Although the formal program is not drawn up yet Wu said that discussions would center on how to support Taiwan’s promotion of democratic ideals.

The galvanizing force of these regional conferences around the world is the OCAC an organization that maintains close contact with about 4 262 overseas Chinese associations. The number of overseas Chinese according to OCAC statistics is moret than 36.7 million. About 77% make their homes in Asia while 18% live in the U.S 3% in Europe 2% in Oceania and 0.4% in Africa. On the OCAC’s Web Site Chang Fu-Mei chair of the organization openly credits overseas Chinese for "making a tremendous contribution to Taiwan’s development playing a pivotal role in spurring democratic reforms". She also rates those abroad as "a most valuable asset in support of Taiwan’s survival and development" under the principles of freedom democracy and human rights.

"We believe in the Taiwan government that’s why we support this organization." Wu said. "The belief of promoting capitalism in China has clearly faded the lines that used to exist (between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China Taiwan) I believe China is catching up. Even when the governments do not believe in each other the people are still trading and doing business together every day." He said this event is mainly for goodwill but also serves to strengthen Taiwan’s ties between overseas groups and the governments of those localities.

Those are lucrative ties to hold. In 2002 the OCAC invested over $43 million in the business projects of overseas Chinese migrants. In 2003 this amount was reduced to $11 million with a majority of the funding going to banking insurance construction and textile industries. Credit guarantees amounted to $90+ million for more than 300 recipients in both 2002 and 2003 as reported in the Taiwan 2005 Yearbook published by the country’s Government Information Office.

Locally the conference is also an opportunity for Guam to recognize Chinese contributions to the community. Like other Chinese migrants around the world the entrepreneurial endeavors of Guam’s Chinese are embedded into the economy and add to the island’s rich variety of cultures. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam has more than 140 members giving representation to many of the dining business medical and industrial services offered to island residents. Although population estimates on Guam usually group Chinese residents with others of Asian heritage it has been published that Chinese represent 5% of the total island population (2001

Wu is quick to point out that this event is not a business-oriented gathering as the OCAC sponsors a separate conference for this purpose. However he does believe that the event gives Guam a chance to be appreciated and promoted as a tourist destination. Akin to the rise of the convention industry in Las Vegas Wu said Guam has similar opportunities. Wu told the Journal "All kinds of gatherings like this can be done here "¦ should be done here." MBJ