Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) The outgoing chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) lauded Taiwan's democratic and economic development over the last several decades, saying that Taiwan is an important partner of the United States, in a video released Tuesday.
Raymond F. Burghardt is on a Sept. 11-15 visit to Taiwan, his 20th visit since his appointment as AIT chairman in February 2006. He will step down from the post later this month, said the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties.
In the video to convey a farewell message, he recalled his relations with Taiwan over the years. He first came to Taiwan in 1970 on a brief stopover on his way to Vietnam, and came back again in 1976 to study Mandarin Chinese at a language school in Taichung, he said.
Over the past 40 years, he has witnessed Taiwan's transition "to a vibrant democracy and a global economic powerhouse," he said.
"Taiwan is an important partner of the United States," he said. "We share the values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights."
Burghardt has also seen at first-hand Taiwan's three peaceful transitions of power between political parties over the past years.
He was AIT director in Taiwan in 2000 when the country saw its first transition of power from the Kuomintang (KMT) to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). He also attended the 2008 inauguration of former President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT, and most recently, the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP on May 20 this year.
"As I look back now at my 10-and-a-half years as AIT chairman, I am struck by the tremendous progress that we've made between the United States and Taiwan to expand our cooperation and friendship," he said.
"I'm very glad to have been able to play a small role in helping that relationship to deepen and grow," he said in the video, which includes photos of his meetings with Ma and Tsai, during his previous visits to Taiwan.
He also expressed hope that Taiwan-U.S. cooperation and friendship will continue to grow stronger.
On his last visit to Taiwan as AIT chairman, he is scheduled to "meet with a number of senior political and business figures," the AIT said.
Burghardt met with Tsai earlier Tuesday.
Before taking up the post as AIT chairman, he was director of the AIT's Taipei Office from 1999 to 2001. His other previous posts in public service include U.S. ambassador to Vietnam and U.S. consul-general in Shanghai, as well as assignments at U.S. embassies in Asia and Latin America, according to the AIT. (Courtesy of CNA)