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….