The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), signed in 1979, is the cornerstone on which Taiwan-U.S. relations have been built. It has played a large role in governing U.S. policy in East Asia over the past 35 years by demonstrating support for Taiwan’s vibrant democracy. The Asia-Pacific region has changed greatly since the signing, however, and voices in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere have begun to question the relevance of the TRA. 

Through six presidential administrations the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has been the instrument for management of the U.S.-Taiwan and cross-strait relationships. Thirty-five years after the TRA was signed into law, a panel of former AIT officials joined Carnegie’s Douglas H. Paal to discuss the past, present, and future of U.S.-Taiwan relations.    

Lyushun Shen 

Lyushun Shen was recently appointed representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. Before assuming his current position, he served as representative for the Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom. 

William A. Brown

William A. Brown is a career diplomat whose postings have included U.S. ambassador to Israel and Thailand. He was the acting chairman of AIT and previously served as deputy chief of mission, acting director, and trustee of AIT during the switch in U.S. diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.

Richard Bush

Richard Bush is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution where he holds the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies and is director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies. He previously served as the chairman and managing director of AIT. 

Barbara Schrage

Barbara Schrage retired in January 2014 from her position as managing director of AIT, a position she assumed in 2006. A specialist in East Asian political and security affairs, Schrage joined AIT in 1997 following a thirty-year career as a senior foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State. 

Douglas H. Paal

Douglas H. Paal is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously served as vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase International (2006–2008) and was an unofficial U.S. representative to Taiwan as director of AIT (2002–2006).