Remarks by AIT Deputy Director Brent Christensen Launching the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Logo
September 12, 2013
AIT Official Text #: OT-1312


President Ma, Madame Koo, Chairman Su, esteemed guests and friends, good morning!

I am honored to be here today to participate in this special occasion to inaugurate the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies at the Brookings Institution. The significance of this endowed chair in promoting understanding of Taiwan is appropriately matched by the prominence of the Koo family in Taiwan society and the importance of their contributions to U.S.-Taiwan relations.

I would like to especially thank Chairman Su, the Taipei Forum and, Brookings for their excellent work in organizing this exceptional event and for allowing me to say a few words about why an understanding of Taiwan plays such an important role in U.S. policymaking. I also have the privilege of introducing the guest of honor for this special occasion, Dr. Richard Bush.

The United States and Taiwan have a long history of cooperation together, a history we recently celebrated with AIT’s landmark exhibition “U.S. Footsteps in Taiwan.” Over the years, the foundation of our relationship has been our common values, which includes a shared commitment to freedom and democracy.

For more than six decades, through our common values and our cooperation, we have forged a mutually beneficial friendship. The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is a unique relationship that is uniquely valuable to the United States in many ways.

Although U.S.-Taiwan relations are, by definition, unofficial, we maintain a comprehensive and robust relationship with Taiwan. This relationship includes strong political, economic, security, and people-to-people ties that continue to expand day by day.

And this mutual benefit is further solidified by successes like Taiwan’s joining the Visa Waiver Program which has opened up more avenues for business and increased travel.

As former Assistant Secretary Campbell once said, “Our commitments to Taiwan must be seen in the context, and as an integral part, of our larger interests in the region. For that reason, a critical component of our Asia-Pacific strategy is a growing, diversified relationship with Taiwan and a strong and consistent pledge to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Our relationship with Taiwan is a key part of the Administration’s strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific, and the course of U.S.-Taiwan relations has a great impact on the way our partners view us from across the region.”

The strength of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship has helped support Taiwan’s own efforts to develop closer ties across the Taiwan Strait with the mainland. This peaceful cross-Strait engagement has contributed to the stability and prosperity of the entire region — an important priority for the United States.

U.S. commitment to Asia has been a factor in enabling and advancing economic integration, prosperity, and human development. As a result, the region is now one of the most economically dynamic drivers of the global economy. Taiwan is one of our most important economic partners, and our bilateral commercial ties are especially strong.

The importance of U.S.-Taiwan relations is precisely why efforts to promote Taiwan studies in the United States are so important. This initiative by the Koo family to encourage related research and debate will provide U.S. and Taiwan policymakers, and the entire international community, with important insights, recommendations, and lessons that will have very real and practical implications for policy formulation in the future.

Promoting debate and educating policymakers — both current and future leaders — is an important aspect of fostering effective and coherent policy decisions. With this in mind, I applaud the Koo family for their role in facilitating our greater understanding of Taiwan.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this time it is my pleasure to introduce to you Dr. Richard Bush, a man who has few peers in the understanding of Taiwan’s relations with the United States and China. In truth, Dr. Bush needs no introduction to this distinguished audience, but perhaps I could review just a few elements of his impressive background.

Dr. Bush received his undergraduate education at Lawrence University followed by graduate work in political science at Columbia University, obtaining an M.A. in 1973 and his Ph.D. in 1978.

His ensuing professional career has been primarily focused on East Asia, and he served in various important positions with the China Council of The Asia Society, several committees of the U.S. House of Representatives, and at the National Intelligence Council.

From 1997-2002, Dr. Bush served as Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, setting the standard for those of us who would follow as stewards of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. His time at AIT further cemented his status as the preeminent authority on U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Since July 2002, Dr. Bush has been with the Brookings Institution and is currently a Senior Fellow and Director of its Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. Through the Brookings Institution, Dr. Bush has continued to inform and educate policymakers on the pressing political, economic, and security issues facing Northeast Asia and U.S. interests in the region. Among the many books he has written about China, Taiwan and East Asia is his acclaimed recent work: “Uncharted Strait: The Future of China-Taiwan Relations.”

Dr. Bush’s contributions to U.S.-Taiwan relations and the universal respect he commands from all who know him or know of him make him the ideal choice to receive the first Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my great pleasure to present to you Dr. Richard Bush.