Richard Bush on U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

Richard Bush, one of the leading authorities on U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, spoke on that subject to AmCham Taipei members and guests on October 25, filling the Lincoln Room to capacity. Besides his prepared remarks, which included a salute to AmCham for its contributions to fostering strong U.S.-Taiwan relations, he took questions during a lengthy Q&A period.

A former Chairman and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (1997-2002), Bush is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. where he holds the Chen-fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies. Prior to AIT and Brookings in 2002, he worked on Taiwan and other Asia issues at the House Foreign Affairs Committee (1983-1995) and National Intelligence Council (1995-1997).

Bush is the author of such books as At Cross Purposes: U.S.-Taiwan Relations Since 1942, Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait, and Uncharted Strait: The Future of China-Taiwan Relations.

From left to right: Richard C. Bush, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy of Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman

The Lincoln Room is made possible by the generosity of a number of sponsoring companies:

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AstraZeneca Taiwan Announces Expansion Plans on 70th Anniversary

AmCham Taipei member AstraZeneca Taiwan, the local arm of the global biopharmaceutical firm, celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding on September 25. It became one of the very first foreign investors in Taiwan when its forerunner, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) of the UK, set up operations in Taiwan in 1948 to bring an anti-malarial drug to this market, contributing to Taiwan becoming the first malaria-free area in the Western Pacific in 1965.

Zeneca, a spin-off from ICI, merged with Astra AB of Sweden in 1999 to form the current London-based company.

At a press conference and later at a reception at the Westin Hotel, AstraZeneca used the occasion of the anniversary observance to announce plans to invest an additional NT$1 billion (over US$32 million) in Taiwan over the next three years. AstraZeneca Taiwan president Simon Manners said the company will launch 10 new medicines by 2021, three of which have received priority approval from the Taiwan Food & Drug Administration. It will also triple its spending on clinical research and development in Taiwan and create more than 140 new jobs in medical affairs, clinical research, and marketing and sales, increasing the total workforce to 430 employees.

A statement from the company said the investment “reflects our commitment to address the unmet needs in non-communicable diseases, to enable high-value job creation, and to advance biopharmaceutical innovation in Taiwan.” The anniversary ceremony also involved the signing of a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of Science and Technology to help develop local R&D talent.

In an interview with AmCham Senior Director and Taiwan Business TOPICS Editor-in-chief Don Shapiro, Manners stressed the significance of AstraZeneca’s initiatives for Taiwan’s increasingly elderly population. He noted the company’s “rich pipeline of innovative new medicines” for such diseases as diabetes, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disorders – all illnesses that occur with greater frequency in older people. “The new medicines we are bringing will not only help people live longer, but also live longer with a good quality of life,” he said.

Manners also praised Taiwan as a location for conducting clinical trials, citing the excellent professionalism of its doctors and the high quality of the data produced. “We are the number one initiator of clinical trials in Taiwan of any multinational company, and the number two overall,” he said.

While visiting Taiwan for the anniversary festivities, Joris Silon, AstraZeneca’s Vice President for the Asia Area, told Shapiro that “we are very proud of our 70 years of heritage here.”

“This is a day of celebrating the very successful delivery of benefits to patients in Taiwan since 1948,” he noted. “It’s very exciting. Taiwan is an important part of our business, and we’re very committed to this market.”

Promoting Taiwan as a Liver Health Center of Excellence

Republic of China Vice President Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist with a background in researching hepatitis B, was the keynote speaker at the Taiwan Liver Health Forum sponsored by AmCham Taipei together with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The event, held at the Howard-Plaza Hotel on October 3, was attended by 90-some guests from government, the medical community, and industry.

The idea for the forum grew out of a suggestion by AmCham Taipei’s Public Health Committee in the 2018 Taiwan White Paper that Taiwan strive to become the “Liver Health Center of Excellence in Asia.” Participants in the forum confirmed the validity of that goal, citing Taiwan’s pioneering work in past decades in controlling hepatitis B through vaccination and the government’s progress toward eradicating hepatitis C in the coming decade in line with World Health Organization objectives.

Hepatitis is endemic in this part of the world, and is considered a major health risk because it often leads to liver cancer. Among the points made by speakers at the forum were the importance of increasing the amount of screening conducted in Taiwan for hepatitis C. Although the effort would lead to higher healthcare expenditures in the near term, in the long-run it will substantially save costs due to reduced hospitalization and mortality, as well as heightened productivity.

Speakers also called for further expansion of clinical trials in Taiwan, more public education to raise awareness regarding liver health, and workplace programs to encourage more screening.

Opening remarks at the forum were delivered by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen and MOHW Deputy Minister Ho Chi-kung. In his half-hour keynote address, Vice President used a PowerPoint presentation to brief the audience on Taiwan’s past successes in combating liver disease. Other speakers were Dr. Kao Jia-horng, president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver; Dr. Pwu Raoh-fang, director of the MOHW National Hepatitis C Program Office; Dr. Homie Razavi, managing director of the U.S. Center for Disease Analysis; and Dr. Chiu Chang-fang, vice president of China Medical University Hospital.

Two panel discussions were moderated by Ramanathan Velayutham, Taiwan general manager for AbbVie Biopharmaceutical, and Pang Lai-li, Taiwan managing director for Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), respectively. Aside from the speakers, the panelists included Dr. Lee Po-chang, director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration; and Bristol-Myers Squibb General Manager Sophia Lee. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman gave closing remarks.

Platinum sponsors for the event were Abbvie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead Sciences. MSD was a silver sponsor.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Forum Highlights Benefits of Private Equity

AmCham Taipei, along with the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council based in the Washington DC area, provided support for a Sept. 14 forum entitled “Private Equity in Taiwan: A Pathway to Growth.” The event was jointly organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In recent years Taiwan has attracted very little private equity (PE) investment, following some high-profile cases in which investment applications by PE firms were either rejected or dragged on until the applicant withdrew. The forum appeared to be a welcome indication that the Taiwan authorities are now actively seeking to woo PE investment.

Speeches by three government speakers – MOEA Deputy Minister Kung Ming-hsin, National Development Council Deputy Minister Cheng Cheng-Mount, and Financial Supervisory Commission Vice Chairperson Huang Tien-mu – all stressed the value that PE investment could bring to the Taiwan economy, aiding in industrial upgrading, innovation, and expansion of global markets.

Two panel discussions – one of them moderated by AmCham Vice Chairman Leo Seewald, chairman of BlackRock Taiwan – provided an opportunity for prominent financial-services executives from Taiwan and elsewhere in the region to explore the benefits of PE for Taiwan in some detail. One theme was the large number of successful family-owned enterprises in Taiwan in which the founder-chairman is quite elderly but the younger family members lack the ability or interest to take over. Cooperation with PE investors can offer a solution, enabling the family to continue to benefit financially without having to take responsibility for the management.