Remarks by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen
at GCTF Fifth Anniversary Press Conference
June 1, 2020
(as prepared for delivery)
Foreign Minister Wu, Representative Izumi, members of the media, good morning.
It is my great pleasure to be here on this occasion to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, or the GCTF.
The GCTF was born out of a very simple idea, which MOFA recently adapted into its slogan: Taiwan can help. In today’s context, the value of Taiwan’s assistance is almost too obvious to mention. But in 2015, Taiwan’s generosity, expertise, and valuable experience were not nearly as understood by the international community or well-known around the world. While we were prepared to keep fighting for Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations and forums, we didn’t feel that the world having access to Taiwan’s vast knowledge and experts should hinge on the political whims of these organizations’ leadership. The stakes were too high and the problems too complicated.
I am proud to say that in 2015 I had a hand in creating the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (and naming it, for better or worse). I can also say that the GCTF has been one of the most durable and sustainable contributions to the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, and really to the world.
Unlike other international fora whose gatherings are often symbolic exercises constructed as platforms for speeches by high-level leadership, GCTF workshops are practical. They are narrow in scope. They are comprised of practitioners, not holders of honorary titles. They are held behind closed doors to allow for a candid exchange of ideas. They focus on areas of greatest need, not areas of greatest popular interest. They are not designed to grab headlines; they are designed to produce tangible results…and they have.
And while I don’t want to minimize the dozens of successful and high-impact workshops we have co-hosted over the past five years, I do want to bring us back to the present.
Talk about an idea whose time has come. Taiwan has managed the COVID-19 pandemic better than any place in the world. Even as countries around the world clamor to better understand the Taiwan Model, Chinese pressure still prevailed in shutting Taiwan out of the WHA. If ever there was a moment to be grateful for the existence of the GCTF platform – free from political motives, designed solely to help professionals benefit from Taiwan’s experience, expertise, and generosity – that moment is now.
I look forward to continuing our hard work, now with our partners from the Japan Taiwan Exchange Association, as we recognize and amplify Taiwan as a reliable partner, a democratic role model, and a force for good in the world. I am also pleased that other countries are stepping up to co-host GCTF workshops, including Australia, Sweden, and later this year the Netherlands. With all of this growth – new partners, more workshops, participation from more regions – I am also thrilled that MOFA has created a GCTF Secretariat to support this important work and help us continue to scale our efforts to respond to the increasingly difficult and complex problems faced by the global community.
I’ll close by saying that we often describe the U.S.-Taiwan relationship as “Real Friends, Real Progress” [真朋友, 真進展]. And while that characterizes our bilateral relationship, it also describes the way the United States and Taiwan jointly approach our engagement with other countries, both in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. There is no better example of this than the GCTF. Thanks again to MOFA, the Japan Taiwan Exchange Association, and to all of the hundreds of our GCTF alumni who have made this platform a success.