Taiwanese diplomat states necessity of embassy

Laura Schocker

Taiwanese diplomat deputy Stanley Kao told about 100 students at Harris Hall Saturday that he’s been spending a lot of time on the golf course lately. Instead of improving his swing, Kao, Taiwan’s Deputy Representative in Washington D.C., is hoping to improve his country’s trade relations with the United States.

“The biggest sorrow is that we don’t have an embassy in Washington,” Kao said, explaining that much of his business has to be conducted on golf courses, at Starbucks’ and on tennis courts. “We have to double and even triple our efforts. We don’t like it, but we take it.”

Students from Northwestern’s Taiwanese American Students Club brought Kao to campus for an annual Midwestern conference of the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association.

The conference, which NU last hosted in 2000, included roughly 40 NU and 60 non-NU students from Midwestern universities. They spent the weekend participating in various events, including a debate over the multi-party political system in Taiwan and an American Idol spoof competition called “ITASA Idol.”

The educational programming culminated Saturday evening with a presentation by Kao. He emphasized the need to bolster U.S.-Taiwanese relations through the creation of a formal embassy in the United States.

“Without an embassy, all we can do is go like those Avon ladies with our cases and knock on doors to make our voice heard,” Kao said.

Kao said he is directing his efforts to Washington to negotiate a free-trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States. The current trade relationship is not enough, Kao said, arguing that a free-trade agreement could increase two-way trade by up to 20 percent.

Taiwan’s movement away from its rigid authoritarian government has allowed citizens to express their opinions on trade issues, he said.

“The people speak their minds and they want to have a say,” Kao said. “We have to tell Uncle Sam that we’re not the same as we used to be.”

Conference co-director Stephanie Chuang, a Medill sophomore, said NU’s central location was the best fit to host the conference. She added that the value of the conference made the work worthwhile.

“I’m very passionate about my identity,” Chuang said. “For me, there is a definite culture of Taiwan that I want Americans to experience.”

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