Latest AIT director approved, says report
Chris Cockel,The China Post, Washington D.C.With all the administrative hurdles now cleared the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is scheduled to arrive in Taipei later this month, according to a report in the Chinese-language World Journal on Tuesday.
April 4, 2002, 12:00 am TWN
Quoting an unidentified source within the U.S. Congress, the report named Douglas Paal as the AIT’s new director, ending months of speculation surrounding the appointment.
Paal’s name was first associated with the position even before former director Raymond Burghardt vacated the position in September last year to become the U.S. ambassador in Vietnam. However, Paal’s appointment has been gripped by controversy over apparent differences of opinion with certain members of administration of President George W. Bush, his pro-mainland stance, his criticism of President Chen Shui-bian and suspect dealings of his think tank, the Asia Pacific Policy Center.
In addition, the AIT in Washington is drawing up a list of candidates to replace Richard Bush as chairman of Washington’s quasi-
official body authorized to handle relations with Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic relations, according to the report.
The only name disclosed to date is that of Therese M. Shaheen, co-founder, president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Asia Commercial Development Corporation, a private Washington-headquartered high-tech investment strategy company.
Shaheen is known to be a keen supporter of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to allow the island to defend itself in the event of aggression from mainland China.
Richard Bush, appointed under the Democratic administration of former President Bill Clinton, will be replaced by an individual chosen by the current Republican administration.
In related news, both the AIT and the State Department on Monday dismissed reports that the position of AIT director in Taipei may be upgraded to that of ambassador as laughable.
Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said any such move would signify a significant shift in Washington’s relations with both Taipei and Beijing and would not be seen as a priority issue.