TOPEKA — In March 2018, the Kansas House of Representatives enrolled House Bill 6050, an official resolution describing efforts to strengthen the relationship between the state of Kansas and the country of Taiwan.

While this may seem like an odd pairing, Kansas and Taiwan have engaged in a close relationship since 1989, when the pair of political bodies entered a sister-state relationship. Sister states, similar to sister cities, are “a formal declaration of friendship between two regions, states, or nations”. Taiwan maintains a bilateral trading agreement with the United States and remains the U.S.’s 11th-largest goods trading provider, with over $50 billion in imports in 2017. This number is even higher in Kansas — as of 2018, Taiwan is the state’s fourth largest import destination.

However, the wheat state’s bond with Taiwan extends beyond trade. In 2017, legislators from Kansas and Taiwan signed a memorandum allowing drivers from Kansas to convert their license for use in Taiwan without having to take any written or road tests. The opportunity to apply for a Taiwanese Class B license is open to any Kansas resident with a valid passport, Kansas driver’s license, Taiwanese Alien Residence Certificate (ARC), and Motor Vehicle Record that has been certified by the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Americans aren’t the only ones to benefit from this relationship either, with the state of Kansas supporting many of Taiwan’s initiatives, such as “appropriate participation in international organizations,” “the signing of a Bilateral Trade Agreement between the United States and Taiwan” and “Taiwan’s mature and vital democracy.”

Marissa Ventrelli is a University of Kansas junior from Chicago majoring in journalism.

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