As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific. Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship. The United States and Taiwan share similar values, deep commercial and economic links, and strong people-to-people ties, which form the bedrock of our friendship and serve as the impetus for expanding U.S. engagement with Taiwan.
Through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a non-governmental organization mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act to carry out the United States’ unofficial relations with Taiwan, our cooperation with Taiwan continues to expand. Taiwan has become an important U.S. partner in trade and investment, health, semiconductor and other critical supply chains, investment screening, science and technology, education, and advancing democratic values.
The United States approach to Taiwan has remained consistent across decades and administrations. The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means. We continue to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability -– and maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan.
The American Institute in Taiwan performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts. The Department of State maintains a contract with AIT and funds a large part of AIT’s operations. Sandra Oudkirk is the Taipei-based AIT Director and James Moriarty is AIT’s Chairman. Other key personnel are listed on AIT’s website .
Taiwan maintains the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) in Washington, DC. Taiwan has representation throughout the United States through Taipei Economic and Culture Offices (TECOs).
Taiwan is a highly advanced economy producing an estimated $786 billion in goods and services in 2021. The United States and Taiwan have deep and growing commercial, financial, and trade ties, which advance U.S. interests and help create economic opportunities in the United States. Since 2020, the United States and Taiwan, under the auspices of AIT and TECRO, have held the Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue to enhance economic and commercial ties, including supply chain security and resiliency, investment screening, health, science and technology, and the digital economy. The Department of Commerce launched the Technology, Trade, and Investment Collaboration framework with Taiwan in 2021 to provide a platform to develop commercial programs and explore actions to strengthen critical supply chains.
Taiwan is the United States’ eighth-largest trading partner, and the United States is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner. U.S. exports of goods and services to Taiwan supported an estimated 188,000 American jobs in 2019. AIT and TECRO have a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and recently resumed regular TIFA Council meetings.
Taiwanese cumulative investment in the United States was nearly $137 billion in 2020. Taiwan’s direct investment in the United States is led by manufacturing, wholesale trade, and depository institutions. These investments directly support an estimated 21,000 jobs in the United States and $1.5 billion in U.S. exports.
Science and Technology Cooperation
AIT and TECRO signed a Science and Technology Agreement in 2020 to enhance scientific cooperation and joint research. The United States and Taiwan also engage in joint scientific cooperative endeavors in areas including meteorology, nuclear science, environmental protection, thoracic cancer research, atmospheric research, and public health and preventative medicine.
People-to-people ties between the United States and Taiwan are strong and continue to grow. Through 2019, travel for business and pleasure from Taiwan to the United States had increased 70 percent since Taiwan became a member of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program in November 2012. Taiwan is the United States’ seventh largest source of international students, sending more than 20,000 students to receive a high-quality education each year for the three decades leading up to the pandemic. The United States also sponsors study abroad opportunities in Taiwan for U.S. students from the high school to post-graduate levels, with a particular focus on Mandarin language learning. Since 1957, the Fulbright Program has supported 1,700 individuals to study and teach in Taiwan and 1,600 to come to the United States. In December 2020, AIT and TECRO, with participation from the U.S. Department of Education, launched the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative . The goal of this initiative is to provide increased opportunities for more Americans to teach and study in Taiwan, and for more Taiwanese to pursue education and Mandarin teaching opportunities in the United States.
Taiwan’s Role in the International Community
The United States will continue to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement and encourage Taiwan’s meaningful participation in organizations where its membership is not possible. Taiwan and the United States are members of several international organizations and bodies, including the World Trade Organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the Asian Development Bank. In June 2015, AIT and TECRO established the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, a platform for showcasing Taiwan’s technical expertise to the world. Under the framework, Taiwan and its partners offer technical trainings in fields as diverse as public health, supply chain resiliency, energy, women’s rights, and disaster relief. Japan joined the GCTF as a global partner in 2019 and Australia joined in 2021.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is a non-profit, private corporation established shortly after the United States Government changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on January 1, 1979. The Taiwan Relations Act (PL 96-8) of April 10, 1979, authorized the continuation of “commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan.” It also provided that “any programs, transactions, or other relations conducted or carried out by the President or any Agency of the United States Government with respect to Taiwan shall, in the manner and to the extent directed by the President, be conducted and carried out by or through the American Institute in Taiwan.” The Department of State, through a contract with the Institute, provides a large part of AIT’s funding and guidance in its operations. Congress, in passing the Taiwan Relations Act, also assumed an oversight role with respect to the Institute’s operations.
AIT Washington, located in Arlington, Virginia, is the headquarters office of the American Institute in Taiwan. It serves as a liaison with its counterpart organization, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), as well as with U.S. government agencies.
AIT’s Taipei Office (AIT/T) with a total staff of over 450 people undertakes a wide range of activities representing U.S. interests, including commercial services, agricultural sales, consular services and cultural exchanges. AIT has a branch office in Kaohsiung, and the AIT Kaohsiung Branch Office (AIT/K) handles local commercial promotion, consular services, information and cultural work.