Sat, Feb 02, 2019 - Page 1 News List

AIT events to celebrate anniversaries

‘EXPERIMENT’:Brent Christensen said that at the time of the TRA’s passage, many hoped for the best, but were skeptical about what unofficial ties alone could achieve

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen, left, and Premier Su Tseng-chang leave the Executive Yuan in Taipei after Christensen’s visit yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

A year-long campaign is to be launched in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the 40th birthday of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), AIT Director Brent Christensen said yesterday.

Christensen made the announcement at the Executive Yuan in Taipei prior to a meeting with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

The campaign, called AIT@40, would celebrate 40 years of friendship and partnership between Taiwan and the US since the signing of the act, Christensen said, adding that it would be held with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington.

It is to feature 12 monthly themes ranging from trade and investment to shared values and education, he said.

The campaign would not only recognize accomplishments in Taiwan-US relations, but also address ongoing and future efforts, and thus would be true to the AIT’s motto: “Strong Foundation, Bright Future,” Christensen said.

As February is science month in the US, Christensen provided a preview of science-themed events scheduled for this month, including the US-Taiwan Space and Astronomy Exhibition at the Taipei Astronomical Museum, which is to open at the end of this month.

The exhibition, organized with the help of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Space Organization, Academia Sinica and the Taipei City Government, would showcase Taiwan-US collaboration, Christensen said.

As part of the campaign, the AIT has declared this year US-Taiwan Travel Year and has planned a series of events with the Tourism Bureau to promote travel between Taiwan and the US, he said.

The AIT is also to take its AIT@40 Exhibition to more areas of the nation, including the Kaohsiung History Museum, where it is to run through April, he added.

Looking back at US Congress’ passage of the act, Christensen said that many people at the time viewed it as an “experiment” — hoping for the best, but skeptical of what could truly be achieved through unofficial ties alone.

Quoting former US representative Pat Shroeder, who said she was “cautiously optimistic” when she voted for the act, Christensen said that today, Shroeder and US lawmakers across the political spectrum have expressed amazement at how the act has served as a foundation for some of their greatest aspirations: a Taiwan that has combined the core features of a liberal democracy with the best elements of its own cultural heritage, as well as a Taiwan-US partnership that has flourished and benefited Taiwanese, the US and people worldwide.

People on both sides are part of the “US-Taiwan story,” one of friendship, progress, partnership and peace, he said.

“I am so humbled at the opportunity to help carry this relationship into its next phase and begin work on our next 40 years together,” Christensen said.

Recognizing the act as an important cornerstone of Taiwan-US relations, Su said that it has played a significant role in stabilizing cross-strait relations, bolstering national security and promoting economic and social developments.

To honor the importance of the act in the establishment of a close Taiwan-US partnership and the maintenance of peace in the Taiwan Strait, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to hold a series of commemorative events in Taiwan and in the US under the theme “TRA@40: An Enduring Partnership,” which is to feature a symposium held by Taiwanese and US think tanks on bilateral ties and Taiwan’s role in Washington’s “Indo-Pacific strategy,” Su said.

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