On July 3, during an Independence Day party in Taipei, William Stanton, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) announced his upcoming retirement at the end of July. He continued his announcement by saying, “ I have enjoyed living in Taiwan so much that I have decided to stay on here to teach at the Taipei American School.”
With a PhD in English literature, Stanton will teach US-Taiwan-China relations, comparative government and politics in literature, including George Orwell and Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Although he confessed to making limited progress with his Mandarin, when he gave the toast, he said “Bottoms up” in the Taiwanese dialect, endearing him to his audience. The United Daily News reported that Stanton, though not the first foreign diplomat to stay in Taiwan after leaving his post, is the first director of the AIT Taipei office to do so. In his speech, he said, “It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Taiwan as the AIT Director. Where did the 3 years go?”
Unlike his processors, Director Stanton has already turned down a few jobs in Washington, DC, saying, “I do not want to join the think tanks or lobby groups.” He has maintained a low profile in Taiwan as he connected with the different sectors of Taiwan’s society. His style has been likened to that of Darryl N. Johnson, who served as AIT director from 1996-99.
Addressing the AIT reception, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang said that Taiwan has maintained very close economic and trade ties with the US. Taiwan is the 10th largest trading partner with the US, the 15th largest export market and sixth largest agricultural product export market. It is also the world’s fourth largest holder of US government bonds. The two sides also have close non-governmental exchanges.
Nearly 25,000 Taiwanese students study in the US, making Taiwan the fifth largest source of foreign students there. Taiwanese travelers enjoy visa waiver status or landing visa status in 128 countries, and the country has been nominated as a candidate for the American Visa Waiver Program. Taiwan hopes to join the VWP soon to further strengthen bilateral civilian exchanges.
Minister Yang stressed that Director Stanton had spared no effort to promote Taiwan-US relations over the past three years and his decision to stay in Taiwan after retirement shows his deep love for Taiwan.
The United Daily News reported that President Ma Ying-jeou conferred upon Director Stanton the Grand Cordon of the Order of Brilliant Star on July 17 in recognition of his contributions to enhancing Taiwan-US relations. Stanton is the second dignitary to get such an honor since President Ma took office in 2008. The president also presented him a Taipei Metro Rail Transit Easy Card printed with Stanton’s photo with a credit of NT$999 (US$33.00) as a symbol of the permanent relationship between the US and Taiwan. In Chinese, nine is a homonym for forever.