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Roundtable: The Foundations of U.S.-Taiwan Relations

NBR’s Kenneth B. and Anne H.H. Pyle Center for Northeast Asia Studies hosted a private roundtable discussion in Seattle on May 4, 2017, with Ambassador Stanley Kao, Taiwan’s representative to the United States.

Amb. Kao spoke about the foundations and evolution of U.S.-Taiwan relations, Taiwan’s role in the international political system, and Taiwan-China relations. NBR experts William McCahill and Tiffany Ma offered comments before a discussion that focused on U.S.-Taiwan economic and security relations, the relationship between China and Taiwan, and the prospects for cross-Strait stability over the next five years.



Keynote Speaker


Amb. Stanley Kao, Representative of the Republic of China to the United States

Ambassador Stanley Kao has been the Representative of Taiwan to the United States since June 2016. Amb. Kao previously served as Taiwan’s head of mission in Rome (2013–16) and Budapest (2008–10), and as Deputy Chief of Taiwan’s Permanent Mission to WTO in Geneva (2002–04), respectively. His Ministry of Foreign Affairs positions in Taipei include Director-General of the Department of North American Affairs and Director-General of the Department for Economic Affairs and International Cooperation.

He was a fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs of Harvard University and served as the executive director of Harvard Club of Taiwan. Amb. Kao obtained his undergraduate degree in political science from National Taiwan University and his graduate degree in international law and diplomacy from National Chengchi University.

Amb. Kao is married to Sherry Sung and they have one daughter, now a university graduate student.



Roundtable Commentators


Tiffany Ma, Senior Director of Political and Security Affairs, NBR

Ms. Ma directs several initiatives for NBR’s Political and Security Affairs team, including the People’s Liberation Army Conference, Strategic Implications of Russia-China Relations, the Maritime Awareness Project, and Asia’s Emerging Nuclear Dynamics. Prior to joining NBR in 2013, Ms. Ma was a Research Associate at the Project 2049 Institute in the Washington, D.C., area. She has also worked at the International Crisis Group in Beijing; the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.; and the Refugee Council of Australia in Sydney. Her research interests include Asian security, U.S.-China and cross-strait relations, and the Arctic. Ms. Ma holds an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School.


William C. McCahill, Jr., Resident Fellow, NBR

Mr. McCahill joined NBR as a Resident Fellow in November 2016. He focuses on Chinese domestic politics and policies, and on how those affect foreign investors and businesses in China. His professional experience in China dates from 1976. Before joining NBR, Mr. McCahill had been senior advisor for China at Mirabaud & Cie., a Geneva-based Swiss private bank and from 2012 to 2014, had done similar work with the emerging markets investment bank Religare Capital Markets. A 25-year Foreign Service career preceded Mr. McCahill’s China business activities. He began his diplomatic service in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Beijing; subsequently held senior posts at U.S. missions in Europe and Canada; and in 2000 retired from his last government posting as Chargé d’Affaires at the American Embassy in Beijing. His academic credentials include undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston College and Harvard University.


Asia’s Orphan: Taiwan's Strategic Culture in Context

Steven M. Goldstein (Harvard University) explains how Taiwan’s perception of its "orphan" status in the international system shapes the island's strategic culture and approach to its relationships with China and the United States.



The report "Taiwan: Asia's Orphan?" analyzes Taiwan’s strategic culture and argues that the island’s perception of its own orphan status is central to how Taiwan defines its place in the international system.