William Stanton, the incoming director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said he was “honored and delighted” by his appointment and that he would work to maintain peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.
He will take over next month from Stephen Young following top-level consultations with the US State Department in Washington.
Stanton introduced himself to the Taiwanese press corps in Washington on Wednesday, made a brief statement and then took a series of questions on an off-the-record basis.
His statement revealed almost nothing about his professional plans and goals, but he stressed how much he enjoyed Chinese food and how he attended university in Taipei in the 1980s to learn Chinese.
“Although I last lived in Taiwan 22 years ago, I have many fond memories of my time there. My older daughter was born there and so you could say that she was 'made in Taiwan,'” he said.
“It is amazing to me to see the enormous progress that Taiwan has made. It is, of course, an economic miracle. My view is that the intelligence, the hard work and the determination of the Taiwanese people account for this fact. I am also truly impressed by the progress that Taiwan has made politically. When I left Taiwan in 1987, it was still under martial law. Now it is a vibrant democracy, a very energetic civil society and this is a personal achievement of which the Taiwanese people can be proud,” he said.
“The United States is also proud to the extent that we have been able to give the people of Taiwan support in achieving these goals. The success of our policies is based on the Taiwan Relations Act. Our commitment to these policies is firm and we will continue to do everything we can to strengthen ties between the United States and Taiwan,” he said.
He made no reference to published allegations that during his foreign service career, he has been seen in some quarters as overly influenced by Beijing.
Stanton said that the US-Taiwan relationship was built on shared interests and that he had “an awful lot to do when I get back to Taiwan.”
“I will try to listen very carefully to the people of Taiwan and to get their views on how we can continue to make progress,” he said. “I plan to meet with people from all walks of life — from political leaders to entrepreneurs and people from the cultural world and workers and students and get the best sense that I can of the views of the Taiwan people. I look forward to continuing contact with the Taiwan media.”
Stanton's most recent assignment was as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Before that he was deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Australia.
He served two tours of duty at the US embassy in Beijing.
He is married to Karen Clark Stanton, who is also a foreign service officer. They have two daughters, Katherine, 22, and Elizabeth, 18.