On Thursday, September 14th Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) held its inaugural annual symposium titled “Upgrading US-Taiwan Relations for the 21st Century.” The symposium, which was attended by over 150 policymakers, Asia experts, and students opened with remarks from GTI Chairman Robert Lai, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office Ambassador Stanley Kao as well as an opening keynote by US Representative Ron DeSantis. In his address Representative DeSantis offered personal anecdotes, warm congratulations, and expressed unwavering support for Taiwan saying “it is very important that our commitment to Taiwan be unshakable and that the whole world knows it. It’s the right thing to do.” (below: video and audio of opening remarks and panel one)
The symposium featured four moderated panels highlighting methods for further cooperation between the United States and Taiwan. For the first panel titled “Grand Strategy and Taiwan’s Role in the Indo-Pacific,” panelists Toshi Yoshihara (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), Mike Green (CSIS/Georgetown University), Daniel Kliman (Center for New American Security), and Gordon Chang (Independent Analyst) discussed past and current strategies used by the United States in the Indo-Pacific region specifically related to US-Taiwan strategy.
Panelists for the second session, “The TRA & Taiwan’s International Space” included Ambassador Stephen Young (former AIT Director), Walter Lohman (Heritage Foundation), Richard Bush (Brookings), and Shelley Rigger (Davidson College), who offered their reflections on the Taiwan Relations Act and its current role in US-Taiwan relations, as well as the role they anticipate it will play in the future. (below: video and audio of panel two)
Over lunch, John J. Norris Jr., Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan-Washington Office, offered remarks on the current state of US-Taiwan relations. He notes “The United States and Taiwan have built a comprehensive, durable, mutually beneficial partnership grounded in our shared interests and values.” In addressing the generous contributions of Taiwan following Hurricane Harvey, Norris says “A measure of friendship is how one responds when the other is most vulnerable and in the greatest need. In this respect, it is clear that the United States and Taiwan are indeed true friends.” (below: video and audio of lunchtime keynote)
Panel three “Regional Security and US-Taiwan Defense Cooperation” featured panelists Abraham Denmark (Woodrow Wilson Center), Lt. Col. Mark Stokes (Project 2049 Institute), Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson (Center for the National Interest), and Oriana Skylar Mastro (Georgetown University/American Enterprise Institute), and focused on bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and the roles of both the United States and Taiwan in ensuring safety and stability. (below: video and audio of panel three)
During the final panel of the day “Taiwan’s Economic Strategy and Regional Economic Trends,” panelists Robert Wang (CSIS), Derek Scissors (American Enterprise Institute), Shihoko Goto (Woodrow Wilson Center) and Peter Chow (City University of New York) debated the feasibility of increased FDI in Taiwan by US companies as well as steps Taiwan may take to ensure its future economic success. (below: video of opening portion of panel four*)
(above: complete audio of panel four and closing keynote)
The symposium closed with a keynote by David Helvey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, who strongly affirmed that the US government intends to continue to work alongside Taiwan to ensure the peace and prosperity of the region. He states “…the United States views a strong, secure, prosperous, and confident Taiwan as fundamentally in its interests, and we are committed to supporting Taiwan’s efforts to develop the defensive capabilities to resist coercion and deter aggression. We face many challenges in the region, and ensuring peace and security in the Taiwan Strait is a vitally important one.” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Helvey’s prepared remarks are available for download here.
*Unfortunately, due to a technological glitch made by our venue, the final portion of the panel and closing keynote by DASD Halvey was not recorded on video. We know that many of you were looking forward to viewing the full panel and closing keynote, and apologize for the inconvenience. We encourage you to listen to the address on audio and to read DASD Halvey’s prepared remarks at the link above.