July 3, 2014
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Former Vice President Siew, Speaker Wang, Secretary General Yang, Deputy Minister Shih, TECRO Chairman Lee; Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this celebration of the 238th birthday of the United States of America. We are deeply honored by the presence of so many friends of AIT, and friends of the United States.
On July 4, Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate our most important holiday. It is a time when we reflect on the values we cherish. Democracy, respect for the rule of law, human rights and free markets are among the shared values at the heart of the enduring friendship and close relations between the people of the United States and Taiwan.
This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. Signed into law in 1979, the TRA has served as the cornerstone of the relationship between the United States and Taiwan ever since. Today our cooperation and interactions span commercial, economic, cultural, security, environment, science, technology, health, and other areas.
Countless exchanges characterize the cooperation and close ties among our people, institutions and organizations. These interactions deepen mutual understanding, inspire creativity and invention, generate economic prosperity, advance scientific development, and help to make our world a better place today and for tomorrow.
We were delighted to welcome U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to Taiwan this past April. Her visit celebrated two decades of cooperation and progress in environmental protection. We have seen a steady stream of visitors to Taiwan from the U.S. Executive Branch, the U.S. Congress, and from states and localities. Travel for business and tourism from Taiwan to the United States is up 35 percent in the first year since Taiwan entered the visa waiver program. Today, nearly 22,000 Taiwan students are enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at U.S. universities, and, thanks to strong support from our Taiwan partners, our Fulbright programs continue to expand. Last November, Taiwan sent one of the largest delegations to the SelectUSA Summit, and we are working together to further enhance our robust commercial and economic relations through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks.
Taiwan is a top-10 destination for U.S. agricultural and food exports. We were pleased to have 24 U.S. companies participate in last week’s Taipei International Food Expo. And, speaking of food, AIT is pleased this year to participate in a special U.S. culinary diplomacy initiative. So today, I’m very happy to welcome award-winning Chef Bryce Gilmore, who has traveled from Austin, Texas to join us. We hope you all enjoy the dishes Chef Gilmore and Hyatt Executive Chef Tan Ban Khim prepared for you today, which use many American and local Taiwan ingredients.
In closing, my AIT colleagues, my wife Loretta, and I are delighted that you have taken time to join us in celebrating our Independence Day. Thank you for the work so many of you and your colleagues do to bring the people of the United States and Taiwan closer.
Allow me to offer a toast — to the depth and strength of the relationship between the people of Taiwan and the people of the United States.