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Overview:

The United States established the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Jan. 1, 1979, after it switched diplomatic recognition of China to the communist mainland. The AIT is a private, nonprofit corporation that received federal money and serves as a de facto embassy.

 
more
History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 22-year Chinese Civil War informally ended in 1949 when the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, fled to Taiwan and a handful of surrounding islands, leaving the Chinese Communist Party in control of the mainland. The nationalists established the Republic of China, while the communists set up the People’s Republic of China. For about two decades, many of the world’s countries continued to formally recognize the government of Taiwan, which eventually introduced democratic reforms, as the legitimate power in all of China.
 
The 1970s, however, saw most of these countries switch diplomatic recognition to the mainland, with the United States following suit in 1979. The AIT was created shortly thereafter under the auspices of the Taiwan Relations Act. This act, by virtue of careful phrasing, establishes diplomatic relations with Taiwan - without formally doing so. It also pledges that the United States will maintain the ability “to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.” Many believe this language would commit the United States to defending Taiwan if it were invaded by China; it has also been used as the justification for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
 
Beijing rejects the act as an infringement on its sovereignty, staunchly asserting that Taiwan is one of its provinces in its One-China policy. In 2005, China passed an anti-secession law, legitimizing the use of force to maintain China’s territorial integrity. The law was directed squarely at Taiwan, which was governed at the time by an administration that was an outspoken proponent of formal independence.
 
As a result of this history, American-Taiwanese relations are complicated and delicate. AIT directors, who act as informal ambassadors, must perform a difficult balancing act. Right now, the United States has an interest in maintaining the status quo, as strong potential exists for any China-Taiwan conflict to engulf the United States as well. The Bush administration has been pushing Taiwanese officials to increase their defense budget, and is worried that resignation about China’s flourishing military capability is infecting the Taiwanese military elites. Some U.S. officials and scholars have also suggested that the Taiwanese have grown dependent on U.S. defense guarantees and have come to expect that the United States will help them in any conflict with the mainland.
 
The Taiwan Relations Act - Past, and Perhaps Future (by Harvey J. Feldman, Taiwan International Interchange Foundation)
The Taiwan Relations Act (by Richard C. Bush, Brookings Institution)

Taiwan Sets Self-Defense Objectives: Island Seeks to Preserve Autonomy With Boost in Military Spending

(by Edward Cody, Washington Post)

 

more
What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AIT has signed a private operational contract with the U.S. State Department, from which it receives most of its funding. It is governed by a board of directors appointed by the secretary of state, with the U.S. Congress exercising oversight authority. Its staffers are employees of the U.S. government who, during their AIT tenure, are technically separated from the federal agencies with which they normally work, while still maintaining their government benefits and promotion timetables. The AIT director is accorded the same rank and privileges as other ambassadors.
 
Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the AIT performs many of the same functions as any embassy, including the promotion of American interests and the establishment and fostering of bilateral economic and cultural ties. The AIT also issues tourist visas and passports. Taiwan has a similar organization based in Washington, D.C., known as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.
 
The agency maintains a small headquarters in Arlington, Va., that coordinates with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and federal agencies. Its main office is in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, with a small branch office in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung.
 

Agricultural Affairs

 

more
Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush administration has been prodding Taiwan to pass a “robust defense budget,” in an attempt to make up lost ground militarily between Taiwan and China, whose power is widely thought to be growing by leaps and bounds. An agreement for the Taiwanese to buy missile technology from the United States has been stalled since the 1990s.
Grim Future for Taiwan’s Defenses (by Michael A. Needham and John J. Tkacik, Jr., Heritage Foundation)
PLA rapidly expanding: US military specialist (by Jenny W. Hsu, Taipei Times)
Taiwan urged to pass defence bill (by Caroline Gluck, BBC News)

U.S. should view Taiwan as constructive partner: Foreign Minister

(by Rachel Chan, Central News Agency)

 

more
Debate:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critiques - from the Right
The Taiwan Relations Act at 25 (by Sam Brownback, Heritage Foundation)
Taiwan’s Defense Budget: How Taipei’s Free Riding Risks War (by Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter, CATO Institute) (PDF)
Strengthening Freedom in Asia: A Twenty-First-Century Agenda in the U.S.-Taiwan Partnership (by Dan Blumenthal and Randall Schriver, American Enterprise Institute)
 
Academic Critique
The Taiwan Relations Act: Durable Agreement or Fraying Framework? (by Avery Goldstein, Foreign Policy Research Institute)
 
Related Issues

U.S.-Taiwan Relations: What’s the Problem?

(by Richard C. Bush, Brookings Institution)

 

more
Former Directors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIT/Taipei Directors

 

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Comments

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Founded: 1979
Annual Budget: $16.4 million
Employees: 450
Official Website: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/
American Institute in Taiwan
Marut, Christopher
Director

A career diplomat who has specialized in Asian affairs, including U.S.-Taiwan relations, will be the next director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and as such the de facto ambassador to Taipei. Christopher J. Marut, who served previously in Taipei, will succeed William A. Stanton, who held the post for three years, in August 2012. Since 1979, when the U.S. recognized the government in Beijing as the legitimate government of China, instead of the one in Taipei, the U.S.-funded but technically private AIT has conducted relations between the people of the United States and the people in Taiwan. 

 

Marut was born in Connecticut in 1952. His father, Walter, was an aeronautical engineer at Pratt & Whitney, and Christopher earned a BBA in Finance at his father’s alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, in 1974, an MBA at the University of California at Berkeley in 1981, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies at the College of Naval Warfare in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

According to his official biography, before joining the Foreign Service in 1984, Marut was managing director for China Operations for a large, but unnamed, U.S.-based multinational medical equipment manufacturer and supplier.

 

Early State Department career postings included service as a science and technology officer at the embassy in Beijing, China, from 1984 to 1986; as a consular officer and science and technology Officer at AIT from 1986 to 1989; as an economic officer at the consulate general in Hong Kong; and as economic counselor at the Embassy in Malaysia from 1997 to 2001. Stateside appointments have included deputy director for economics in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs and director of the EAP Office of Regional and Security Policy.

 

Marut served as deputy consul general at the U.S. consulate general in Hong Kong, one of only two U.S. consulates general that function as independent missions similar to embassies, from July 2007 to July 2009, and as acting consul general from August 2009 to February 2010. Marut’s most recent assignment was director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs in EAP, where he has served since February 2010. 

 

Marut and his wife, Loretta, have two grown children, Carolyn and Kenneth, both of whom were born in Taiwan.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Marut Easygoing and Friendly: Diplomatic Source (by Nancy Liu, Taiwan News)

 

more
Stanton, William
Director

A veteran diplomat with more than 30 years of experience, William A. Stanton has served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan since August 2009. The Institute has served as the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan since 1979, when the United States switched its official diplomatic recognition to China.

 
Born in New Jersey, Stanton attended college at Fordham University in New York, earning a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received his master’s degree and PhD (1978) in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during which he received a National Defense Education Act Fellowship.
 
He also spent a year studying at Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany.
 
During his 31-year career in the Foreign Service, Stanton has served as the consular and political officer at Embassy Beirut (1979-1981); as watch officer in the State Department’s Operations Center (1981-1982); as staff assistant for the Assistant Secretary for Near East and South Asian Affairs (1982-1983); and as country officer for Lebanon (1983-1985). He was stationed in Taiwan in 1986 and then served as political officer in Beijing (1987-1990), where he also served as chief of internal political reporting (1989-1990).
 
From 1991-1993, Stanton was political-military affairs officer in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was then special assistant for East Asia and Pacific affairs for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (1993-1994); and deputy director for the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs (1994-1995).
 
He returned to China for two assignments at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing (1995-1998), including one as minister counselor for political affairs.
 
From 1999-2001 he served as director of the Office of UN Political Affairs, and then as director of the Office of Egyptian and North African Affairs (2001-2003).
 
He served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia (2003-2006) and deputy chief of mission in Seoul, South Korea (2006-2009), prior to his appointment to the American Institute in Taiwan.
 
William A. Stanton Biography (American Institute in Taiwan)
William A. Stanton’s Speeches and Remarks (American Institute in Taiwan)
more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The United States established the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Jan. 1, 1979, after it switched diplomatic recognition of China to the communist mainland. The AIT is a private, nonprofit corporation that received federal money and serves as a de facto embassy.

 
more
History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 22-year Chinese Civil War informally ended in 1949 when the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, fled to Taiwan and a handful of surrounding islands, leaving the Chinese Communist Party in control of the mainland. The nationalists established the Republic of China, while the communists set up the People’s Republic of China. For about two decades, many of the world’s countries continued to formally recognize the government of Taiwan, which eventually introduced democratic reforms, as the legitimate power in all of China.
 
The 1970s, however, saw most of these countries switch diplomatic recognition to the mainland, with the United States following suit in 1979. The AIT was created shortly thereafter under the auspices of the Taiwan Relations Act. This act, by virtue of careful phrasing, establishes diplomatic relations with Taiwan - without formally doing so. It also pledges that the United States will maintain the ability “to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.” Many believe this language would commit the United States to defending Taiwan if it were invaded by China; it has also been used as the justification for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
 
Beijing rejects the act as an infringement on its sovereignty, staunchly asserting that Taiwan is one of its provinces in its One-China policy. In 2005, China passed an anti-secession law, legitimizing the use of force to maintain China’s territorial integrity. The law was directed squarely at Taiwan, which was governed at the time by an administration that was an outspoken proponent of formal independence.
 
As a result of this history, American-Taiwanese relations are complicated and delicate. AIT directors, who act as informal ambassadors, must perform a difficult balancing act. Right now, the United States has an interest in maintaining the status quo, as strong potential exists for any China-Taiwan conflict to engulf the United States as well. The Bush administration has been pushing Taiwanese officials to increase their defense budget, and is worried that resignation about China’s flourishing military capability is infecting the Taiwanese military elites. Some U.S. officials and scholars have also suggested that the Taiwanese have grown dependent on U.S. defense guarantees and have come to expect that the United States will help them in any conflict with the mainland.
 
The Taiwan Relations Act - Past, and Perhaps Future (by Harvey J. Feldman, Taiwan International Interchange Foundation)
The Taiwan Relations Act (by Richard C. Bush, Brookings Institution)

Taiwan Sets Self-Defense Objectives: Island Seeks to Preserve Autonomy With Boost in Military Spending

(by Edward Cody, Washington Post)

 

more
What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AIT has signed a private operational contract with the U.S. State Department, from which it receives most of its funding. It is governed by a board of directors appointed by the secretary of state, with the U.S. Congress exercising oversight authority. Its staffers are employees of the U.S. government who, during their AIT tenure, are technically separated from the federal agencies with which they normally work, while still maintaining their government benefits and promotion timetables. The AIT director is accorded the same rank and privileges as other ambassadors.
 
Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the AIT performs many of the same functions as any embassy, including the promotion of American interests and the establishment and fostering of bilateral economic and cultural ties. The AIT also issues tourist visas and passports. Taiwan has a similar organization based in Washington, D.C., known as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.
 
The agency maintains a small headquarters in Arlington, Va., that coordinates with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and federal agencies. Its main office is in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, with a small branch office in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung.
 

Agricultural Affairs

 

more
Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush administration has been prodding Taiwan to pass a “robust defense budget,” in an attempt to make up lost ground militarily between Taiwan and China, whose power is widely thought to be growing by leaps and bounds. An agreement for the Taiwanese to buy missile technology from the United States has been stalled since the 1990s.
Grim Future for Taiwan’s Defenses (by Michael A. Needham and John J. Tkacik, Jr., Heritage Foundation)
PLA rapidly expanding: US military specialist (by Jenny W. Hsu, Taipei Times)
Taiwan urged to pass defence bill (by Caroline Gluck, BBC News)

U.S. should view Taiwan as constructive partner: Foreign Minister

(by Rachel Chan, Central News Agency)

 

more
Debate:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critiques - from the Right
The Taiwan Relations Act at 25 (by Sam Brownback, Heritage Foundation)
Taiwan’s Defense Budget: How Taipei’s Free Riding Risks War (by Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter, CATO Institute) (PDF)
Strengthening Freedom in Asia: A Twenty-First-Century Agenda in the U.S.-Taiwan Partnership (by Dan Blumenthal and Randall Schriver, American Enterprise Institute)
 
Academic Critique
The Taiwan Relations Act: Durable Agreement or Fraying Framework? (by Avery Goldstein, Foreign Policy Research Institute)
 
Related Issues

U.S.-Taiwan Relations: What’s the Problem?

(by Richard C. Bush, Brookings Institution)

 

more
Former Directors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIT/Taipei Directors

 

more

Comments

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1979
Annual Budget: $16.4 million
Employees: 450
Official Website: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/
American Institute in Taiwan
Marut, Christopher
Director

A career diplomat who has specialized in Asian affairs, including U.S.-Taiwan relations, will be the next director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and as such the de facto ambassador to Taipei. Christopher J. Marut, who served previously in Taipei, will succeed William A. Stanton, who held the post for three years, in August 2012. Since 1979, when the U.S. recognized the government in Beijing as the legitimate government of China, instead of the one in Taipei, the U.S.-funded but technically private AIT has conducted relations between the people of the United States and the people in Taiwan. 

 

Marut was born in Connecticut in 1952. His father, Walter, was an aeronautical engineer at Pratt & Whitney, and Christopher earned a BBA in Finance at his father’s alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, in 1974, an MBA at the University of California at Berkeley in 1981, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies at the College of Naval Warfare in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

According to his official biography, before joining the Foreign Service in 1984, Marut was managing director for China Operations for a large, but unnamed, U.S.-based multinational medical equipment manufacturer and supplier.

 

Early State Department career postings included service as a science and technology officer at the embassy in Beijing, China, from 1984 to 1986; as a consular officer and science and technology Officer at AIT from 1986 to 1989; as an economic officer at the consulate general in Hong Kong; and as economic counselor at the Embassy in Malaysia from 1997 to 2001. Stateside appointments have included deputy director for economics in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs and director of the EAP Office of Regional and Security Policy.

 

Marut served as deputy consul general at the U.S. consulate general in Hong Kong, one of only two U.S. consulates general that function as independent missions similar to embassies, from July 2007 to July 2009, and as acting consul general from August 2009 to February 2010. Marut’s most recent assignment was director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs in EAP, where he has served since February 2010. 

 

Marut and his wife, Loretta, have two grown children, Carolyn and Kenneth, both of whom were born in Taiwan.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Marut Easygoing and Friendly: Diplomatic Source (by Nancy Liu, Taiwan News)

 

more
Stanton, William
Director

A veteran diplomat with more than 30 years of experience, William A. Stanton has served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan since August 2009. The Institute has served as the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan since 1979, when the United States switched its official diplomatic recognition to China.

 
Born in New Jersey, Stanton attended college at Fordham University in New York, earning a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received his master’s degree and PhD (1978) in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during which he received a National Defense Education Act Fellowship.
 
He also spent a year studying at Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany.
 
During his 31-year career in the Foreign Service, Stanton has served as the consular and political officer at Embassy Beirut (1979-1981); as watch officer in the State Department’s Operations Center (1981-1982); as staff assistant for the Assistant Secretary for Near East and South Asian Affairs (1982-1983); and as country officer for Lebanon (1983-1985). He was stationed in Taiwan in 1986 and then served as political officer in Beijing (1987-1990), where he also served as chief of internal political reporting (1989-1990).
 
From 1991-1993, Stanton was political-military affairs officer in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was then special assistant for East Asia and Pacific affairs for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (1993-1994); and deputy director for the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs (1994-1995).
 
He returned to China for two assignments at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing (1995-1998), including one as minister counselor for political affairs.
 
From 1999-2001 he served as director of the Office of UN Political Affairs, and then as director of the Office of Egyptian and North African Affairs (2001-2003).
 
He served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia (2003-2006) and deputy chief of mission in Seoul, South Korea (2006-2009), prior to his appointment to the American Institute in Taiwan.
 
William A. Stanton Biography (American Institute in Taiwan)
William A. Stanton’s Speeches and Remarks (American Institute in Taiwan)
more