In a friendly gesture, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott presented the president of Taiwan a clock with the Texas seal when they met in Houston on Sunday.
“The governor’s choice of a clock was untimely,” the Taiwan News reported wryly.
“Fortunately, Tsai did not seem to be phased by the culturally inappropriate gift as it was surely well intentioned.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen gave Abbott a Taiwanese vase.
The governor’s office later released a letter from the Taipei Cultural and Economic Office in Houston that said of the gift: "Please rest assured that the President loves it very much because in our culture the word 'clock' pronounced as 'zhong' also means 'zhong xin' (in English 'wholehearted, heartfelt and cordial' or 'best wholehearted wishes'). So it is no problem at all!"
The meeting in Houston was controversial to begin with, as the Chinese government discourages U.S. encounters with Taiwanese leaders. China claims Taiwan, a democracy, as its territory.
Tsai also met with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who suggested that the United States’ One China policy was not “sacrosanct,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Abbott’s office said the governor and Tsai discussed energy, trade and other economic interests, “particularly in the exchange of natural gas and agricultural products.”
"I look forward to strengthening Texas’ bond with Taiwan and continuing my dialogue with President Tsai to create even more opportunity and a better future for our citizens,” Abbott said in a statement.
Let’s hope he doesn’t present her a green hat the next time they meet. That would suggest a woman cheating on her husband. (Presumably, the hat would be passed along to her husband.)
Bonus cultural advice: Never try to bite or cut noodles on your birthday: This will lead to early death.