National Chengchi University, Taipei
April 28, 2016
AIT Official Text #: OT1603
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Overview: Shaping the Future of U.S.-Taiwan Relations
I am speaking to you today at a historic moment in Taiwan’s history, just a few months after voters once again demonstrated the vibrancy of Taiwan’s democracy, and just weeks before Tsai Ing-wen takes office as your first woman president. With her inauguration on May 20, Taiwan will witness its third peaceful political transition, a remarkable achievement for this young democracy. Taiwan’s success as a beacon of democracy and a prosperous and free society is not only good for the people of Taiwan, but also for the people of the United States. That is why we see Taiwan as a vital partner of the United States and a key component of the U.S. rebalance to Asia.
This broad regional strategy has been a cornerstone of President Obama’s foreign policy, and for good reason. The Asia-Pacific is the single most dynamic part of the world today, where some of the most exciting history of this century is being written. With nearly half of the earth’s population and one-third of global GDP, Asia and the Pacific are increasingly the world’s political and economic center of gravity. The region’s dynamism, expanding trade and investment, growing ranks of capable powers, and increasing people-to-people ties with the United States present extraordinary opportunities for the United States – a Pacific nation – to work together with friends in the region like Taiwan to tackle pressing challenges and create a prosperous future.
We at AIT are involved in a wide variety of activities to promote U.S.-Taiwan relations, advance our shared interests and values, and lay the groundwork for our common future. I’m here today at a university because I think that, as students and future leaders, you have a decisive voice in this shared future.
Of course you have all heard about AIT. I hope you are all following us on Facebook. Since I arrived in Taiwan in June to serve as the Director of AIT, one of the things I have especially enjoyed is communicating with the people of Taiwan on Facebook. Many of AIT’s activities are quite public, but a lot of what we do isn’t as visible, so we like to let people know what we are doing by posting on Facebook. We are excited about the cooperation that we have with Taiwan, and we want the people of Taiwan to know how important U.S.-Taiwan relations are to us, and about all the many things the United States and Taiwan have achieved by working together.
So, if you haven’t already, I hope you will check out our Facebook page and follow us. And before I leave today, I’d like to take a picture with you so I can tell the rest of Taiwan how much I enjoyed exchanging views with students at NCCU.
Today, I’d like to talk about what we at AIT are doing to promote strong relations between the United States and Taiwan and to shape our common future. With our shared values and shared interests, our futures are intertwined.
I’d also like to talk about some of the ways the United States and Taiwan are connected, and describe how we at AIT, as we advance U.S.-Taiwan relations, are doing things that are having an impact, including on the issues that matter to young people.
When my team at AIT and I speak to young people in Taiwan about Taiwan’s future and what most concerns them, we hear many different answers. But some themes resonate again and again. Let me address some of them and tell you how they relate to what we do at AIT.
You are an incredible generation, born on the cusp of an economic boom that has transformed the world. And Taiwan has been at the center of this information, communication, and technology transformation. The young people of Taiwan have inherited an incredibly successful legacy.
But times are, of course, different now, and the world is changing more rapidly as a result of our innovations. I have observed that young people in Taiwan and in the United States share many of the same hopes and aspirations; they have a desire to be heard and to make the world a better place. Young people tell us they are concerned about getting a good job once they finish their education–a job that not only offers professional and personal fulfillment, but also one that provides them with upward financial mobility as well.
One of the most debated issues in Taiwan’s democracy is how best to address this issue. Many developed democracies are facing this challenge, including the United States.
Ultimately, the leaders of Taiwan elected by you and your fellow voters will need to enact policies that address these challenges. Ensuring that Taiwan maintains its competitiveness in a changing world will be a top priority for the new administration. As Taiwan’s second largest trading partner and its number one source of foreign direct investment, the United States has an interest in a vibrant, innovative Taiwan economy that is open to the world, and whose young people find fulfillment in the exciting opportunities of a diverse economy.
We at AIT are engaging Taiwan’s business community and political leaders in a wide range of activities to promote economic cooperation and help ensure the strength and vitality of Taiwan’s economy in the future.
Our current $66.6 billion in two-way trade includes things like airplanes that the United States sells to Taiwan and integrated circuits that Taiwan sells to the United States. Our two markets are very important to each other, and highly complementary.
More than 600 Taiwan companies, including famous companies like TSMC, Foxconn, Eva Airways, and Formosa Plastics, have invested in extensive operations in the United States that employ thousands of Americans. U.S. companies, in turn, like Corning, Micron, and Citibank, employ thousands of people here, including college graduates from universities such as NCCU. A passion for food is something Americans share with Taiwan, and I am glad to see some famous niche brands from both our economies investing and expanding. I occasionally enjoy devouring a Krispy Kreme donut or chugging a Jamba Juice. Californians enjoy Din Tai Fung xiaolongbao and the 85 degrees bakery café.
One thing that makes Taiwan such an attractive place for investment is its respect for trade secrets and intellectual property. Entrepreneurs in Taiwan all rely on the effective regulatory system to protect their innovations and content. As top consumers of online and offline content, students and universities play an important role in creating an environment where innovators can succeed and help our economies and job markets grow.
We know that by enabling more trade and investment in both our economies, we can create more jobs for young people, raise salaries, and ensure an even more prosperous future.
And it’s not all about business, either. Beyond the world of business, the United States and Taiwan are cooperating on cutting-edge scientific and environmental initiatives that have real economic impact, such as a groundbreaking satellite program that is helping scientists monitor global weather and climate change.
Taiwan’s Place in the World
Young people tell us that they want to maintain their ability to travel and engage the rest of the world free of limitations set by outside forces, and that they want the world to engage Taiwan with dignity and respect.
We believe that the world can learn a lot from Taiwan, and we feel it is important to promote Taiwan’s capabilities as a responsible global citizen.
Taiwan is deservedly proud of its achievements in many fields – such as science, arts, health, environment, respect for human rights, and its charitable activities and humanitarian assistance to peoples in need.
At AIT, we actively work to call the world’s attention to Taiwan’s achievements. We do this for two reasons. It helps Taiwan earn the respect it deserves, and it allows Taiwan to use its experience and expertise to address many of the common challenges that we face in the world. Let me cite just a few examples of what AIT is doing with Taiwan on this front.
As recent tragedies in Brussels and Paris demonstrate, terrorism does not stop at anyone’s borders. We have been cooperating closely with Taiwan authorities to address the challenges that terrorism poses to our security and way of life. Back in 2014, for example, when we asked the global community to support efforts to combat ISIL, Taiwan stepped up to the challenge, building shelters and providing humanitarian assistance to displaced families in Jordan and Iraq fleeing ISIL and the Syrian civil war.
The spread of pandemic disease is also not limited by borders. You have all heard about the Zika virus that is spreading rapidly around the world. Taiwan has tremendous expertise and experience dealing with pandemic disease, and just two weeks ago we at AIT cooperated with Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control to train 24 experts from 15 countries in the region on how they can best prepare their countries to combat the Zika virus.
Earlier, we conducted similar training for experts on MERS, dengue fever, and Ebola. We did this through an agreement we call the Global Cooperation and Training Framework – or GCTF – in which the United States and Taiwan cooperate to train experts from around the region on any number of global challenges and problems that we face.
I know that pollution is a big concern here, like it is in the United States, so we have partnered with the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency for the past two years on numerous projects, including the Cities Clean Air Partnership, to strengthen air quality management across Asia.
As we saw from the tragic earthquake in Tainan and recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, natural disasters can strike any of us. Taiwan has impressive capacity to help countries respond to natural and manmade disasters, as its support for earthquake victims in Japan and Haiti, or its response to a typhoon that devastated parts of the Philippines, have demonstrated. We want to work more closely with Taiwan to develop our respective abilities to respond to natural disasters in the region, and we will stand with Taiwan when it is affected. For example, AIT donated $500,000 to help Taiwan deal with the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Tainan.
I know that Taiwan’s young people care deeply about their rights and freedoms. Young people tell me that they want their elected leaders to be responsive to their needs. They tell me that they want their leaders to respect everyone’s human rights and to ensure fairness and equality under the law for all. They tell me that they want unfettered, uncensored access to information, whether it be online or on television, on the radio or in the newspaper. They also tell me that they want to speak their mind freely, without coercion or intimidation.
Taiwan’s youth share these values not only with the American people, but also with people around the world, many of whom cannot choose their leaders, speak their minds freely, or access uncensored information.
Taiwan is deservedly proud of its democracy and respect for human rights. It is a model for the region and the world on how a society can transition from an authoritarian political system to a democracy in a peaceful, non-violent manner.
We are also proud of Taiwan’s democratic development. More than anything else, our shared values of democracy, human rights, rule of law and freedom of expression are what bind the United States and Taiwan together.
Protecting Taiwan’s democracy, and ensuring that democratic traditions can grow even deeper roots in Taiwan, is a fundamental interest of the United States. Taiwan’s elections in January were yet another example of your vibrant democracy at work. We will continue to stand by Taiwan’s democracy, and we at AIT are actively working to advance our shared democratic interests.
For example, my team and I meet on a regular basis with representatives of all viewpoints in Taiwan. Our relations with Taiwan have continuously improved as we worked closely with the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, and our relations with Taiwan have never been better. I meet regularly with President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, and we look forward to working with her and her administration to build on the solid foundation established during the past eight years.
AIT doesn’t just meet with Taiwan authorities or work with business leaders. Among the core pillars of our relationship are the ties between the people of America and Taiwan. My decision to come to your university today is a testament of AIT’s commitment to engage with universities, NGOs, arts organizations, media outlets, and other civil society groups.
We are delighted that so many Taiwan students choose to study in the United States, and that many of the faculty here in the room today are alumni of U.S. universities. If you are considering studying abroad, please know that we welcome you!
Assisting Taiwan students who are interested in studying in the United States is one of the many ways that my staff and I support people-to-people ties. AIT offers free resources for students under our EducationUSA program, and we provide advising, school resource information, pre-departure sessions and more.
We know that, like American university students, you are thinking about – and are probably tired of being asked about – your plans for after graduation. AIT also offers programs under our EducationUSA program that address employment opportunities and jobs. We welcome students from NCCU and around Taiwan to join us for these events which are advertised on our Facebook page.
AIT works with local partners to promote our shared values. Over the last year we have hosted programs including: training programs for coaches and educators on girls’ participation in sports; workshops for start-up companies; mentoring programs for young entrepreneurs; workshops and roundtable discussions focused on LGBTI rights and the rights of persons with disabilities; and youth leadership camps for college students.
We recently cooperated with Taiwan authorities and NGOs to organize a workshop attended by experts from throughout the region on how to promote women’s economic and political empowerment – an area in which Taiwan excels.
The U.S. Special Envoy for LGBTI rights, Mr. Randy Berry, traveled to Taiwan in February to meet with administration officials, civil society groups, and journalists to discuss our worldwide efforts to protect the human rights of and combat violence and discrimination against LGBTI individuals. I am proud to note that we have LGBTI employees at AIT, and that many major U.S. corporations are implementing the same standards of workplace equality in their overseas operations as they maintain in the United States.
AIT also brings Americans to Taiwan and helps send Taiwan’s up-and-coming leaders, teachers, students, and others to the United States. The Fulbright international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government is perhaps the best such example of these efforts.
Over the past 50 years, Fulbright Taiwan has financed over 1,600 Taiwan Fulbright grantees to the United States and more than 1,400 U.S. Fulbright grantees to Taiwan. In fact, there are both American Fulbright scholars and students studying here at NCCU this year as well as a professor from NCCU conducting research at a university in California.
Over the years, AIT has also sent many representatives of political parties, administration officials, artists, journalists, scholars, NGO leaders and civil society activists to America on short-term exchange programs. There are more exchange programs than I’ll list here today, but AIT is delighted to count among our alumni many of Taiwan’s cabinet members, university presidents, artists, and other leaders including President Ma, Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan, Mayor Chu Lilun of New Taipei City, Mayor Lai Chingde of Tainan, Mayor Chen Chu of Kaohsiung, and Founder of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre Lin Hwai-min, who I understand is also an NCCU alumnus.
Security Relationship and Cross Strait Relations
Thirty seven years after the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act that created AIT, this law continues to serve as the strong basis for our relationship with Taiwan. It has also demonstrated its flexibility as the geopolitical environment has evolved, our shared values have expanded along with Taiwan’s democratization, and our overall ties have deepened. With the Taiwan Relations Act as its basis, our relationship has thrived and we have developed innovative ways to strengthen our ties.
Since 1979, every U.S. President’s administration has remained faithful to the letter and spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act. President Obama’s administration, for example, has notified to Congress over $14 billion in new arms sales to Taiwan.
As impressive as these numbers are, U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation should not be measured in dollar terms alone. In fact, our security cooperation is much broader and deeper, with exchanges, visits and training taking place in both Taiwan and the United States on an ongoing basis.
Our security cooperation has been a tremendous success story, as it has allowed Taiwan to engage China from a position of confidence, free of coercion.
Our consistent approach to cross-Strait relations has proven to be successful even as the mainland and Taiwan have both undergone dramatic changes in recent decades. We have encouraged dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect and made it clear that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.
We have witnessed dramatic improvements in cross-Strait relations in the past eight years. Relations are now more stable than at any time since 1949, and cross-Strait dialogue and engagement have increased notably.
The United States has welcomed these improvements in cross-Strait relations, and we have encouraged the two sides to continue to engage in constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect. We believe that the pace, scope and manner of cross-Strait engagement should be acceptable to people on both sides of the Strait.
Our approach has demonstrated that the tremendous growth in the scope and complexity of U.S.-China relations and the deepening of our ties with Taiwan are not mutually exclusive.
Even as we adapt to changes in our societies and around the world, our time-tested and successful approach to cross-Strait relations will remain consistent.
As I said at the beginning, we are witnessing a historic moment here in Taiwan with a peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. As Taiwan approaches this political transition, nothing gives me greater confidence and hope for the future of Taiwan than the young people in this room. I know that youth in Taiwan will do more than inherit this future. You are going to build this future. And as you build a better future for Taiwan, remember that Taiwan has no better friend than the United States. The United States supports Taiwan’s democracy, and we are committed to working together with Taiwan to promote our shared values and create a peaceful and prosperous future.