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Press Release

AIT Director Douglas H. Paal on Fourth of July

July Fourth is a special day for Americans, and particularly for Americans who are abroad. On behalf of my colleagues at the American Institute in Taiwan, I extend greetings to all Americans in Taiwan as they celebrate this day. To the people of Taiwan, I express gratitude for the constant warmth and hospitality of your welcome to my countrymen.

Since the last July Fourth celebration, the world has changed profoundly. We have found that our freedoms, which we often take for granted, are being challenged in new and dangerous ways. Terrorist attacks have made us appreciate our freedom more intensely, and made us more determined to protect it.

I have been on assignment here only a few days, but I bring from Washington fresh appreciation for Taiwan's contribution to the war on terrorism. America's leaders appreciate as well Taiwan's contribution to reducing tensions across the Strait.

President Bush spoke publicly last February of the American "commitment to Taiwan." He remains firm in his often stated determination to help Taiwan to defend itself.

These common security objectives are underscored by our common values, our faith in democracy as the best means of governance and our determination to protect our freedom. These are the values we celebrate on this holiday.

Last month in New York, Secretary of State Powell expressed his confidence in Taiwan and our common values when he called Taiwan a "success story" to be emulated, and not a "problem to be solved." The Taiwan Relations Act, created by a far seeing Congress in 1979, has given us a means to reinforce our cooperation to achieve our common aspirations.

The American government is also resolved to put into effect our common interests with Taiwan in freer trade, regional stability, and in fighting cross-border crime. Over the next few months, in particular, I hope we can work closely together to facilitate bilateral trade and investment by creating an environment in which this important aspect of our relationship can flourish.

Leaving Washington last week, I reflected on the monuments prominently sited there to honor our revolutionary founding fathers. The obelisk monument to first President George Washington at the center of the capital’s mall reminds us that he gave us our freedom through his generalship of the successful war of Independence. The domed monument to third President Thomas Jefferson reminds us that he put our ideals into words in the Declaration of Independence.

There are no marble monuments to two of the other founding fathers, however: second President John Adams and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. When we think back on the founding of the United States, I think it is important we not forget these men’s contributions. They helped to complete the work started by Washington and Jefferson.

For today's generation Adams is currently the subject of a new collection of biographies and letters, and so he is gaining recognition for the hard work he invested in building an effective set of institutions through which the U.S. would be successfully governed. He struggled to create an executive branch that would effectively provide vision and leadership, impartial governance, innovative diplomacy, and military preparedness. He single handedly pressed for the creation of the American Navy.

Hamilton is less well understood by today's generation, but nonetheless deserves great respect. He forged key compromises with disparate factions from the original thirteen colonies, or states, to reach necessary support to ratify the U.S. Constitution. This was the first and remains the longest-standing democratic written constitution in the history of mankind.

More profoundly, Hamilton saw an economic vision for the new-born United States of America. Against great opposition, he pressed for the creation of a central bank that would make America internationally credit worthy, and thus a new and important trading partner and host to foreign investment. It is fair to ask today whether America's values of freedom and democracy would be as much appreciated at home or in other countries if Hamilton had failed to build a foundation for American prosperity in the rich soil of our ideals.

Taiwan and the United States share these core values and aspirations. Together, through hard work and vision, we have the realistic prospect of keeping our peoples both free and prosperous.