《TAIPEI TIMES》 US-Taiwan ties show they are real friends: AIT head
American Institute in Taiwan （AIT） Director Brent Christensen speaks at the fourth and final Digital Dialogue Public Forum cohosted by the AIT and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Taipei New Horizon in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park yesterday. Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
‘REAL PROGRESS’: Brent Christensen said that the relationship was in stark contrast to some countries that ‘use the cover of friendship to dominate and manipulate’ others
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter
The US-Taiwan relationship over the past 40 years has shown that they are real friends and invested in each other’s successes, unlike some countries that “use the cover of friendship to dominate and manipulate,” American Institute in Taiwan （AIT） Director Brent Christensen told a forum in Taipei yesterday.
The event was the fourth and final Digital Dialogue Public Forum, as well as marking the conclusion of a year-long AIT program celebrating its 40th anniversary.
In his opening speech, Christensen again congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） on her re-election and said that “I echo [US] Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo’s words of congratulating President Tsai and hope that Taiwan will continue to serve as a shining example for countries that strive for democracy, prosperity and a better path for their people.”
He reiterated the four priorities for his tenure as head of the US’ de facto embassy: promoting bilateral cooperation in security; economic and commercial ties; Taiwan’s engagement in the international community; and people-to-people ties.
The US and Taiwan have cooperated in ways that “have immeasurably benefited both of our societies and the entire global community,” Christensen said.
“These ties allow us to confront new challenges head-on and side-by-side, and these ties are the inspiration for AIT’s theme for 2020: ‘Real Friends, Real Progress,’” he said, emphasizing the theme by repeating the phrase in Mandarin.
Bilateral ties have not been defined solely in terms of dollar signs or how well they conform to global trends or views of the day; instead, they are sincerely invested in each other’s successes and in forging a shared future together, Christensen said, again repeating “Real Friends, Real Progress” in Mandarin.
Such ties stand in stark contrast to some countries that “use the cover of friendship to dominate and manipulate, promising mutual benefit, but instead delivering extortion, and exporting problems rather than solutions,” he said.
The US and Taiwan are “members of the same family of democracies” bonded by shared values, he added.
In the light of those political values, both are dedicated to the rule of law and the protection of human rights and freedoms, as well as an appreciation of diversity, Christensen said.
In terms of shared economic values, both are committed to free markets, growth driven by the private sector, protection of intellectual property rights and adherence to international trade rules, he said.
In international values, the US and Taiwan contribute to global problem-solving, show generosity through foreign assistance and humanitarian relief, and work to lift up other nations as they strive toward greater prosperity and more democratic systems of governance, he said.
Christensen also announced that workshops under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, a US-Taiwan platform established in 2015, would be cohosted not only by Japan — which joined the framework in March last year — but also by a rotating fourth cohost.
A record 11 workshops are to be held this year, with the first on sustainable materials management and the global marine debris challenge cohosted by the Netherlands, he said.
Workshops would also be held outside of Taiwan, including in one of Taipei’s diplomatic allies, to provide a platform for Taiwan to share best practices and expertise, as well as highlight the benefits of strengthening partnerships with Taiwan, he added.
As Tsai told Christensen after her re-election, “the Taiwan-US partnership has already grown from a bilateral partnership into a global cooperation partnership,” Taiwan Council for US Affairs Secretary-General Constance Wang （王雪虹） told the forum.
The council, affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was in May last year renamed from the Coordination Council for North American Affairs.