AIT chief urges Tai­wanese youth to strive for progress

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Christo­pher Marut, direc­tor of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan, on Wed­nes­day urged young Tai­wanese adults not to be dis­cour­aged by the dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing Tai­wan in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and he ex­pressed con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence.

In a rare face-to-face dis­cus­sion with Tai­wanese stu­dents, Marut said stu­dents and youth have be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tive in shap­ing the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, and eco­nomic land­scape in Tai­wan.

Not­ing that more than 60 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is un­der age 30, he said “that de­mo­graphic, in­creas­ingly em­pow­ered by new tech­nolo­gies, is one of the fore­most po­ten­tial driv­ers of eco­nomic and so­cial progress, and we have seen that play out here in Tai­wan.”

Fol­low­ing a speech ti­tled “Three Years at the Helm of AIT: Re­flec­tions on the U.S.-Tai­wan Re­la­tion­ship,” Marut took ques­tions from the stu­dents who at­tended the ses­sion at Na­tional Ts­ing Hua Uni­ver­sity in Hs­inchu City.

Asked about his views on Tai­wan’s Sun­flower protest move­ment last year, he said the U.S. re­spects Tai­wan as a vi­brant and free democ­racy and that the peo­ple have the right to speak out.

The U. S.’ stance is that it hopes the de­bate in Tai­wan over a ser­vice trade agree­ment with the main­land, which sparked the protests, will be con­ducted in a peace­ful and civil man­ner, Marut said.

The Sun­flower Move­ment, which lasted March 18 to April 10 last year, was a stu­dent-led protest over the trade-in-ser­vices pact, amid con­cerns that it would hurt Tai­wan’s in­ter­ests and give main­lan­ders greater in­flu­ence over the is­land.

In his dis­cus­sions with the stu­dents Wed­nes­day, Marut also ad­dressed the con­cerns of a sob­bing young woman who asked whether he thought PRC sup­pres­sion of the ROC on the in­ter­na­tional stage would end any time in the next few decades.

“My per­sonal view is that young Tai­wan peo­ple are in­cred­i­bly strong and in­cred­i­bly mo­ti­vated, and have very strong be­liefs and very strong ide­ol­ogy,” he said. “Don’t be dis­cour­aged and look for­ward, be­cause young peo­ple can ac­com­plish a lot and will ac­com­plish a lot,” Marut said.

Young peo­ple should not un­der­es­ti­mate their in­flu­ence or the con­tri­bu­tions they can make, he said, ex­press­ing the opin­ion that Tai­wan is see­ing a gen­er­a­tional change.

On the is­sue of Tai­wan-U.S. ties, he reaf­firmed that Tai­wan is an im­por­tant part­ner of the U.S.

“We en­joy a ro­bust re­la­tion­ship” that en­com­passes trade, se­cu­rity, en­vi­ron­ment, science, tech­nol­ogy, health and en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­tural ex­changes, hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, and dis­as­ter re­lief, Marut said.

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