Facing economic challenges from China, the US seeks partnership with Taiwan

'I have every confidence that Taiwan will succeed in its goal of transitioning to an innovation-based economy,' said AIT Director

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AIT Director Brent Christensen (second-left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (third-left) open the forum on smart cities on August 28 in Taipei

AIT Director Brent Christensen (second-left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (third-left) open the forum on smart cities on August 28 in Taipei (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Brent Christensen said Tuesday that China remains an economic challenge to both Taiwan and the United States, and while the U.S. government is pushing for the free and open Indo-Pacific region, it will continue to strengthen its partnership with Taiwan. 

AIT held a forum about smart city technology on Tuesday morning in cooperation with the American Innovation Center and Taiwan Design Center. The opening ceremony was joined by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生), deputy minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Uber’s Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford, who later also delivered a keynote speech on Uber’s upcoming cooperation with Taiwan. 

▶︎ Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and AIT Director Brent Christensen attend a public event together on August 28 for the first time (Source: CNA)

The AIT director remarked that China, which is “aggressively using market-distorting subsidies and other practices, including intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer”, has become a common challenge to the United States and Taiwan, where talent in the semiconductor sector has also been a target China aims to procure for itself. 

“The United States has a clear vision for a free and open Indo-Pacifc,” said Christensen. “We are compelled to sometimes take steps to dissuade those who would flout global rules and principles.”

Speaking of the development initiatives the Taiwanese government is promoting, covering such fields as infrastructure, energy, and digital economy, Christensen said the United States wants to help Taiwan with its Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Plan, 5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan, as well as to provide for the energy needed by Taiwan as it moves towards a nuclear-free nation. 

“I have every confidence that Taiwan will succeed in its goal of transitioning to an innovation-based economy,” said the director. “As we look to the future, one important aspect of this [U.S.-Taiwan] partnership will be our cooperation in developing the world’s emerging technologies, including smart cities and smart transportation.”

As a promoter of smart city technologies, Mayor Ko said the goal of Taipei is to become a livable and sustainable city. “As a smart city, transportation plays an important role.”

Tapping the sharing economy as one important principle shaping Taipei City’s transportation policy, Ko said the city government will continue to develop shared scooters, shared cars, and shared parking space, as the city’s shared bike system, Youbike, has come to maturation and received wide acclaim. 

Speaking of road safety, the mayor said with the initiative to increase pavements and rearrange public parking lots in place in more than 100 neighborhoods across Taipei, the city’s road casualties in 2017 reached the lowest point in 50 years. 

I believe when the initiative is fully implemented in all of the 456 neighborhoods of Taipei City, the number of casualties resulting from road accidents will diminish further, said Ko.