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2009-10-16 | Remarks by AIT Director William A. Stanton at Welcome Reception

Remarks By AIT Director William A. Stanton at Welcome Reception

OT-0918E | Date: 10/16/2009

Good evening!  I am honored by the presence of so many distinguished guests here, who have each made important contributions to U.S.-Taiwan relations.  I have already met some of you and will meet the rest of you soon.  I look forward to working with all of you over the course of my tenure as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

I am impressed by how much Taiwan has changed since I last lived here 23 years ago, notably its economic development, its vibrant press and its embrace of democracy.  The notion of some that Chinese culture and democracy are somehow incompatible is belied by Taiwan's shining example.  The United States has warmly welcomed these long-term trends in Taiwan, as we do the recent improvement in cross-Strait relations, which bring a stability to the region that benefits everyone.

In my short time here, I have appreciated the willingness of senior Taiwan officials to meet with me, engage in frank dialogue, and make progress on issues important to everyone.  I have also seen the depth and enduring nature of our ties.  Tough times show you who your friends really are.  During Katrina and the American Samoa tsunami, Taiwan helped us.  During Typhoon Morakot, we helped Taiwan.  That's what true friends do. 

As I have re-acquainted myself with Taiwan, I have heard many people talk about the significance of the United States for Taiwan.  Understanding that importance, though, is akin to understanding only one half of a math equation.  Let me give you three quick examples of why Taiwan is important to the United States.

First, the United States exports more to Taiwan than to India or Italy.  In other words, Taiwan is a very significant market for us, and very important to the health of our own industry and agriculture. 

Second, Taiwan is the 6th largest source of foreign students in the United States; and higher education is one of America's most successful endeavors, both domestically and internationally. 

Finally, over 50,000 American citizens live, work and study on this beautiful island.

While our relations are good, I want to make them even better to promote the interests of the American people and the people of Taiwan.  I like to get things done.  In the next three years, among other goals, I want to expand U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment, improve our law enforcement cooperation, make travel to the United States more secure and convenient, and expand our people-to-people exchanges.

One important issue on which my staff and I have been working hard is AIT's New Office Compound.  I want to thank Premier Wu and Mayor Hau for tackling this issue with great energy.  The New Office Compound will be the first foreign representative office in Taipei built for that purpose alone.  We are breaking new ground, both literally and figuratively.  Our New Office Compound will symbolize the importance and vibrancy of U.S.-Taiwan ties.

My job is made much easier by the great staff at AIT, both American and local.  Many of them are here tonight.  Among them, I am also lucky to have my talented and newly-arrived Deputy, Eric Madison, whom it is now my pleasure to welcome to the stage. 

Thank you all for your attention.

Director's Speeches