AmCham Taipei’s 2020 Hsieh Nien Fan banquet was held successfully at the Grand Hyatt Taipei on August 25, despite a long postponement from the original March schedule due to the disruptions of COVID-19. Under the circumstances, this year’s celebration was especially meaningful, bringing together nearly 700 AmCham members and guests, including more than 130 government officials.
Attending the banquet for the fourth time – and the first since her inauguration for a second term, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the keynote speech. AmCham Chairperson CW Chin (see the full text and video here) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen made additional remarks.
Chin opened the ceremony by expressing his thanks to the Taiwan government for the support and cooperation given the Chamber in the past year. He especially praised the administration for its excellent performance in handling the coronavirus pandemic.
In her speech, President Tsai stated that the partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. was made even stronger in the face of the combined challenges from the pandemic and security concerns. That cooperation was exemplified by the recent signing of an MoU on health cooperation during the visit of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Tsai urged that the bilateral relationship be further deepened by entering into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement. She emphasized that the Taiwan government is “committed to securing a robust investment environment to the benefit of us all.”
AIT Director Christensen commended Taiwan’s progress in advancing shared political, economic, and international values of the U.S. and Taiwan during the challenging times of COVID-19. “It has been our pleasure to work closely with Taiwan to share the Taiwan Model with both U.S. institutions and countries around the world,” he said.
Besides the President, high-ranking Taiwanese officials that attended included Secretary General of the Presidential Office David Lee, Secretary-General of the National Security Council Wellington Koo, Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin, Minister without Portfolio John Deng, Minister of the National Development Council Kung Min-hsin, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua, Chairperson of the Financial Supervisory Commission Huang Tien-mu, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang, Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, Chairperson of National Communications Council Chen Yaw-shyang, and Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. This event was also joined by several members of the Legislative Yuan and Taipei City Council.
A host of generous sponsors helped make the event possible: Platinum Sponsor Citi; Gold Sponsors Corning, Franklin Templeton Investments, and Standard Chartered Bank; Wine & Liquor Sponsors Diageo and Sergio Valente; Silver Sponsors 3M, HSBC, JTI, and Micron; Bronze Sponsors Air Products, Amgen, Baker McKenzie, Bechtel, Dun & Bradstreet, GE, Merck, Philip Morris Taiwan, and Semi; and General Sponsors Airbnb, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and the Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China.
AmCham Taipei announced that Leo Seewald has been appointed as the Interim President of American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei to succeed William Foreman who resigned for personal reasons.
C.W. Chin, Chairperson of AmCham Taipei, expressed appreciation for Mr. Foreman’s two years of service to the Chamber and stated that AmChamTaipei will begin its search for a suitable candidate for President.
Leo Seewald is well known to AmCham, having served as Chairperson of AmCham Taipei in 2019 and Standing Vice Chairperson in 2018. He has also helped lead the group’s delegation during its annual CEO Mission to Washington over the past two years. Mr. Seewald has been an active member of the organization’s Asset Management Committee and is familiar with the organization’s strategic direction as well as daily operations.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 52nd annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on August 25 in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.
A transcript of the chairperson’s remarks is as follows (as prepared for delivery):
President Tsai, AIT Director Christensen, Distinguished Guests, and Chamber Members:
Good evening and welcome to the 52nd annual Hsieh Nien Fan of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei!
As you are undoubtedly aware, we are gathering for this event a bit late this year. It was originally scheduled for March as usual…before COVID-19 rudely intervened and disrupted our plans. But as a result of this year’s special circumstances and the change in timing, I believe it’s fair to say that the Hsieh Nien Fan this year has become even more meaningful than ever.
After all, the main purpose of this event is for AmCham and its member companies to express our thanks to our counterparts in the Taiwan government for the support and cooperation they have given the Chamber in the previous year. Normally that cooperation means the access that officials have granted us and the progress that has been made in resolving White Paper issues. This year, those considerations are still relevant – and we wound up with an excellent record in tackling our committees’ White Paper concerns.
But during a period of catastrophic pandemic that has put peoples’ lives and health at risk and wreaked havoc on economies around the world, we have something much more important to express our gratitude to the Taiwan government for. Thank you, President Tsai and members of your administration, for keeping us and our families and our employees safe and healthy over the difficult past half year. The competence and efficiency that Taiwan has demonstrated in combating the coronavirus has won it the respect and admiration of people all over the globe. As integral members of this community, we are proud that Taiwan has been a model of transparency and good governance internationally.
So even more than usual, our gathering tonight for Hsieh Nien Fan is an act of celebration, and we appreciate that so many of our friends in the Taiwan government were able to join us for this happy occasion. In fact, I am told there might be enough cabinet ministers in the room tonight to make a quorum for a cabinet meeting.
Although time constraints prevent me from recognizing each one of our government guests individually, I want them to know how much we value their presence tonight and the good work they are doing all year long. But considering our theme of gratitude for the able handling of the pandemic, I would like to recognize the attendance of one cabinet minister in particular, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung. He has proved to be not only a highly knowledgeable and capable healthcare professional, but also a skilled communicator who has been a calming influence on the public during a period of challenge. You might say he has been Taiwan’s Dr. Fauci…but with more support from his president.
That brings me to another important aspect of the Hsieh Nien Fan banquet –celebration of the strong relationship between the United States and Taiwan. In the past year, we have heard both U.S. and Taiwan official say that those relations currently are the best they have ever been. There is plenty of evidence to support that statement, including the recent visit of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the highest-ranking U.S. official to come to Taiwan in many decades.
In addition, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation in support of Taiwan, some significant arms deals have been concluded, and trade and investment levels in both directions has been strong. In the first half of this year, Taiwan moved up from 10th to 9th place among American trading partners, and during at least one month it was number 8.
Given that warm relationship and large volume of trade, as well as Taiwan’s economic and strategic importance in this part of the world, it makes perfect sense for the two sides to enter into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement. AmCham plans to make that goal one of its priority objectives for the coming year.
Before concluding, I would like to mention that AmCham joined the people of Taiwan in mourning the recent passing of President Lee Teng-hui and honoring his legacy of promoting democratic values in Taiwan. President Lee was the first head of government in Taiwan to give the keynote speech at Hsieh Nien Fan. That was in the year 2000. He established a tradition that has annually been followed by each president since then – tonight by President Tsai Ing-wen as she has done each year of her presidency.
It is now my honor to invite the President to the podium. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming President Tsai Ing-wen….