Brent Christiansen, the new head of the American Institute in Taiwan, recently spoke to the press for the first time, where he said promoting security cooperation and economic engagement with Taiwan were top priorities.
Christensen, effectively Taiwan's U.S. de facto ambassador, also said his priorities were boosting Taiwan’s role in the international arena and people-to-people ties between the two nations.
Christensen began his talk with local and foreign media by describing Taiwan’s political and technological achievements as a positive development for Asia.
“As the American Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner once wrote: ‘The past is never dead, it’s not even past,’” Christensen said.
“That has never been more true than in Asia, where past historical grievances and unresolved conflicts remain so much in the present.
“But at the same time, we are seeing many new, positive political and technological changes in the region. And Taiwan is an important part of that more positive story line.”
Christensen also stressed that current cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan would continue.
“We will continue to cooperate with Taiwan to promote our shared democratic values and nurture improvements in our economic relationship,” Christensen said.
“And we will continue to honor our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, in July announced new U.S. investments of US$113 million in the Indo-Pacific region.
In his speech, Pompeo said the investment plans included US$25 million for promoting digital connectivity, US$50 million for energy projects and US$30 million for infrastructure.
Christensen alluded to Pompeo’s remarks as he stressed the vital role Taiwan would play in this investment strategy.
“As we look ahead, our shared traditions of innovation and entrepreneurship will ensure that the United States and Taiwan both benefit from our continued economic engagement,” Christensen said.
Besides economic engagement, the AIT director also said he wanted to promote people-to people ties, including immigration and tourism.
“ Hundreds of thousands of people from Taiwan have immigrated to the United States. Among these immigrants are Nobel Prize laureates, high-tech pioneers and award-winning actors and directors,” Christensen said.
America’s Visa Waiver Program, which is marking its sixth anniversary, is another other program that Taiwan has joined.
In conclusion, Christensen said he is looking forward to more substantial cooperation between U.S. and Taiwan.
“Over the next three years, I look forward to further strengthening the many U.S.-Taiwan connections that have made this such a positive relationship for the U.S., Taiwan and for the world. “