New AIT director seeks to strengthen Taiwan-US relationship

At an event co-hosted by Taiwan and the US, Taiwanese officials expressed interest in working with other countries to fight against transnational crimes

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AIT Director William Christensen attends the opening ceremony of a GCTF workshop in Taipei on August 14 (Teng Pei-ju/Taiwan News)

AIT Director William Christensen attends the opening ceremony of a GCTF workshop in Taipei on August 14 (Teng Pei-ju/Taiwan News)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — At an event co-hosted by Taiwan and the U.S. Tuesday in Taipei, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) William Christensen, who assumed the office just a few days ago, said he would continue to work to strengthen the partnership and friendship between Taiwan and the U.S.

The new AIT director made his first public appearance on Tuesday morning for the opening ceremony of a workshop on combating transnational crime and forensic science. He and Premier William Lai (賴清德) walked into the auditorium together, after a few minutes of delay reportedly due to a traffic jam that held up the premier on the way.

Speaking in front of professionals and officials from 16 countries across three continents, the U.S. representative to Taiwan praised the country for its rule of law, referring to Taiwan as a model for the international community. “The United States certainly believes so. That’s why we have included Taiwan in our Global Entry and Visa Waiver programs.”

“Taiwan has always contributed to the international law enforcement community,” said Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥). “We are keen to build a cooperation platform to enhance the law enforcement capability in countries on the basis of ‘mutual assistance for mutual benefits’ and to maintain regional stability and safety with countries.”

Following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) earlier pledge to fight against illicit drugs in the country, Premier Lai emphasized that these tasks can only be properly undertaken with transnational cooperation. He said of Taiwan, “We never avoid any challenges. We do our best in order to be a regional peacemaker” and to contribute to regional progress.

The premier also said the government is determined to work with other countries and make contributions to international society. “We fulfill our obligations, and actively establish relationships with other countries based on esteem and respect.”

▶︎ Premier William Lai (賴清德) speaks with AIT Director William Christensen at the opening ceremony of a GCTF workshop on August 14 (Source: CNA)

The two-day workshop is part of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), a joint project initiated by Taiwan and the U.S. in 2015. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the AIT, Tuesday’s event is the 12th such workshop under the framework.

The GCTF is “a prime example of the multifaceted cooperation” between Taiwan and the U.S., said Christensen. “I believe that the U.S. and Taiwan not only have much to share with one another, but also have much to share with other countries in the region and across the globe.”

Serving as AIT Deputy Director from 2012 to 2015, Christensen also expressed his delight to have come back to Taiwan and to potentially contribute to a stronger relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. “I can’t think of a better, more important way to spend the coming years than to continue to strengthen the partnership and friendship between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

▶︎ A GCTF workshop on combating transnational crime and forensic science opens in Taipei on August 14 (Source: CNA)