Next AIT chairman to visit Taiwan regularly: Burghardt

The next chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) will be visiting Taiwan periodically to bring views from Washington and will also play a role in the policy process toward Taiwan, just like his predecessors did, outgoing AIT Chairman Raymond F. Burghardt said Thursday.

Burghardt made the comment in response to a question regarding what role his successor will play in Taiwan-U.S. relations.

The AIT is the agency that represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.

Burghardt is expected to retire later this year, and James Moriarty, a former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, has reportedly been tapped as his successor.

Washington has yet to make an official announcement on the appointment.

Citing Kurt Campbell, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Burghardt said the chairman of the AIT is the U.S.-based representative to Taiwan, while the director of the AIT office in Taipei is the Taiwan-based representative to Taiwan.

"This is an unusual arrangement required by our unusual way in which we carry out our relationship with Taiwan. And that will continue to be the case," he said.

Burghardt said he felt very honored to be able to contribute to U.S.-Taiwan relations over a period of 12 and a half years, including the time he was in Taipei as the AIT director.

He said U.S.-Taiwan relations have made a lot of progress in the last few years, mostly due to an approach by the administration of President Barack Obama to treat Taiwan with respect and to recognize that Taiwan can make a contribution to the world and that relations with Taiwan are important.

"It's not simply some sort of footnote to our relations with mainland China," he said. "It's an important trade relationship, an important people-to-people relationship, security relationship, relationship with a government that has a great capability in areas like public health that can make a contribution to the world."

On the call for Washington to review its policy toward Taiwan with the goal of cementing U.S. ties with China, Burghardt said he did not think that suggestion "even qualifies as a minority view" because only three or four "obscure academics" hold that opinion.

He said he did not see any support in Washington for that kind of thinking, given the strong support for Taiwan and relations with Taiwan in the U.S. Congress today.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel