June 24, 2021
Remarks by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen at
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Grand Medal of Diplomacy Award Ceremony
June 24, 2021
Foreign Minister Wu, colleagues and friends:
It is truly an honor to be here today to receive this award. As I prepare to leave Taiwan, I am reminded of the first time I arrived here over 40 years ago when Taiwan had yet to become the economic powerhouse and democratic success story that it is today. It was my early experience as a missionary in Taiwan that later inspired me to join the Foreign Service. Fortunately, I was able to return to Taiwan for my first Foreign Service assignment as a visa officer at AIT, then some years later served as the Director of the Taiwan Coordination Office, followed by my assignments as Deputy AIT Director and finally as AIT Director. Each of these assignments has given me an opportunity to observe the continued progress of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. When we were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act in 2019, I could often refer to my own 40 years of history with Taiwan. When I first joined the Foreign Service, I had no idea that I would be able to return again and again to Taiwan. But I am very grateful for the yuanfen that kept bringing me back.
As I have said before, being the AIT Director was my dream job, and my experience over the past three years has exceeded my expectations in every way. Upon arriving in Taiwan to be the AIT Director, I announced my four priorities, also known as my 《四個增進》:增進美台安全合作、增進美台經濟與商業關係、增進台灣在全球社會的角色、增進美台人民的關係。 To me, these are the most crucial elements of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership. And I am very pleased that we have achieved so much over the past three years in every one of these areas.
I was especially happy that I was able to see the arrival of 2.5 million doses of vaccine in Taiwan on Sunday – as a donation from the United States to Taiwan in its hour of need, which also allowed us to reciprocate Taiwan’s generous donation of millions of face masks and other medical supplies during the darkest days of the U.S. pandemic. And we have been touched by the numerous expressions of gratitude we have received from the Taiwan people – the notes, flowers, and messages of thanks on the Grand Hotel and Taipei 101.
Another goal of mine before I left, was to see the resumption of the U.S.-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks. I am very pleased that these talks will be held in the very near future.
I would like to acknowledge the many contributions of my colleagues at AIT – and especially those of AIT Deputy Director Ray Greene, who also has a deep knowledge of Taiwan and a strong commitment to the relationship. I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation to my wife Brenda for her unwavering support during the past three years.
I would also like to recognize the vital role of Foreign Minister Wu. His vision, his innovative ideas, his energy – these were all essential to everything we have accomplished together. Minister Wu, in the various roles you have played in the Taiwan government – whether as Foreign Minister, National Security Advisor, Secretary-General of the President’s office, Chief Representative at TECRO in Washington, DC, or Secretary-General of the DPP – you have tirelessly pursued stronger ties with the United States. And with impressive success. Minister Wu, I salute you and your team for the impressive work you do to strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. We could not have asked for a better partner.
And I thank you for your steadfast support and friendship throughout my assignment as AIT Director.
Thank you for this honor.