Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director David Dean died last month at the age of 88.
Dean, who died on Oct. 27, was a major figure in US-Taiwan history and is credited with writing the “six assurances” that former US president Ronald Reagan used as a cornerstone of the relationship.
Under heavy Chinese pressure and on the strong advice of the US Department of State, Reagan signed a communique with Beijing in 1982 saying the US would gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan.
However, Reagan was unhappy with the development and wanted to reassure Taiwan that the US would not abandon it.
James Lilley, AIT director from 1982 to 1984 and US ambassador to China from 1989 to 1991, revealed later that it fell to Dean — the AIT chairman at the time — to actually write the reassurance in the form of six promises.
The promises were that the US had not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; had not agreed to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan; and would not play a mediation role between China and Taiwan.
Furthermore, the US would not revise the Taiwan Relations Act; had not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; and would not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with Beijing.
Reagan signed the assurances.
Dean was born in New York and educated at Harvard. After joining the US foreign service he was assigned in 1957 to the language school in Taichung and spoke Mandarin and Cantonese.
In the 1960s he was counselor to the US ambassador during the US-China talks in Warsaw and officer in charge of mainland Chinese affairs before serving as deputy principal officer at the US Consulate General in Hong Kong. Earlier, he served as political counselor and charge d’affaires in Taipei.
He was deputy chief of mission in Peking from 1976 to mid-1978. In 1979 he became chairman of the AIT and served as director from 1987 to 1989.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has extended his condolences on behalf of the government and the people of Taiwan.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said that the government had been touched by Dean’s firm friendship and his long-term concern for Taiwan and devotion to promoting bilateral relations.