Taiwan can count on U.S.' commitment to a shared future: AIT director

Brent Christensen, director of the AIT (CNA photo)

Brent Christensen, director of the AIT (CNA photo)

Taipei (CNA) -- Taiwan can count on the United States' "unwavering commitment to our future together," while China is cause for concern, Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Tuesday at a forum in Taipei.

"The United States has serious concerns about China's market distorting subsidies, threats, theft of intellectual property, and lack of a market oriented approach," Christensen said at the Indo-Pacific economic forum.

In contrast, Taiwan' close collaboration with the U.S. proves it is a model for the kind of partnership the U.S. is seeking in the region, he said.

The bilateral economic relationship "has never been stronger," Christensen said, noting that Taiwan is the U.S.' 11th largest trading partner, while the U.S. is Taiwan's second largest.

He said a common misperception is that Taiwan's economic outlook is bleak while China's is rosy.

"The truth is China is entering a very predictable slowdown," Christensen said.

Meanwhile, the economy of Taiwan, 14th highest per capita GDP of any economy in the world, remains strong and robust, as exemplified by the fact that several major American technology firms have substantially increased their investments in Taiwan, he said.

Christensen said he is "very optimistic" about the future of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship, based on their shared values of freedom, democracy and rule of law.

"Taiwan will always have a home in the community of democracies, and it can count on the United States' unwavering commitment to our future together," he said at the forum, which was jointly organized by the AIT and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

Also addressing the forum, TAITRA Chairman James Huang (黃志芳) said the Taiwan government's New Southbound Policy that was launched 2016 is convergent with the U.S.' Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy as they are both focused on ASEAN and South Asia.

The 14,000 Taiwanese companies operating in the region "have formed a very big family" and a strong business network, which stand ready to work with the U.S. and other partners in the region, Huang said.

Meanwhile, Australian representative to Taipei Gary Cowan and Japanese deputy representative Shigehiro Nishiumi both said at the forum that their countries are looking forward to deepening cooperation with Taiwan to create peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Wahyu Utomo, Indonesian Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, expressed similar sentiments in a pre-recorded video.

The half-day forum brought together representatives of like-minded partners in the region to reaffirm a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and Taiwan's role within it.