UCF Launches New Program Focused on China-Taiwan RelationsJanuary 21, 2009
UCF Launches New Program Focused on China-Taiwan Relations

By Mark Freeman
View original press release on UCF's website.

Contacts:
John Bersia, UCF Global Perspectives Office, at 407-823-0688
Chad Binette, UCF News and Information, at 407-823-6312

The relationship between China and Taiwan, which has improved in the recent past, will be the focus of a new program at the University of Central Florida. The program will examine the ties between the two governments in the context of their regional impact, as well as their importance for the United States.

Supported by the C.T. and Jean Hsu Fund of the Global Connections Foundation, the China-Taiwan Cross-Strait Program at UCF will sponsor public discussions featuring top speakers and panels, encourage scholarship and research, offer fellowships and work with partners worldwide. The program will also provide the base for other opportunities on campus related to cross-strait relations.

C.T. Hsu and his wife, Jean, are principals of the C.T. Hsu Group, a globally active diversified company. They have supported UCF programs dealing with Asia, along with other international issues, for many years.

In discussing their backing of the new initiative, C.T. Hsu said, “It is an ideal time to launch such a program. Stability across the Taiwan Strait is important not only for Taiwan and China, but also the rest of the world.  For more than a half-century, the United States has played a pivotal role in resolving often highly contentious issues between Taiwan and China, as well as maintaining peace between them, however fragile.”

Both Taiwan and the United States are moving forward under new leadership, Hsu continued. Each clearly is focused on change with regard to political direction and expanded levels of discourse, conciliation and partnership. To him, this similar vision provides fertile ground for new socio-economic opportunities, especially with China, and a new frontier for research and study. “It is an exciting time, full of potential and possibilities,” Hsu said.

“This program is very complementary to UCF’s ongoing, university-wide Asia emphasis,” said John C. Bersia, the special assistant to the president for Global Perspectives at UCF who spearheaded the initiative and will serve as one of its interim co-chairs. “Opportunities abound to focus on a relationship that has expanded, particularly in the past several months, because of greater cooperation between China and Taiwan. In the coming years, this shift could redefine how we regard cross-strait dealings and what they mean for the region and the United States.”

The program will be neutral and favor neither China nor Taiwan. Rather, it aims, in an objective fashion, to promote awareness, understanding and discussion of the key issues in the China-Taiwan relationship.

The program will be part of the Department of Political Science in the College of Sciences. Roger Handberg, chairman of the department, will join Bersia in co-chairing the program on an interim basis.

“As China’s role in the world grows, its relations with Taiwan will be a critical piece in its connections with the United States, both politically and economically, with obviously profound implications for world peace,” Handberg said.

Peter Panousis, dean of the College of Sciences, emphasized China’s expanding role in the global economy.

“China was recently recognized as the third largest economy in the world.  As its association and cooperation with the entrepreneurial Taiwan economy grows, so should its influence on the global economy. Any real understanding of future changes in the global economy will require a much better grasp on the very complex and sometimes contentious interaction between Beijing and Taipei,” he said.

The program will be assisted by an international advisory board that includes such prominent Asia/China/Taiwan scholars as Amy Chua, author of "World on Fire" and "Day of Empire" and the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale University; Gerrit Gong, author of "Taiwan Strait Dilemmas," special assistant to the president at Brigham Young University and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.; Minxin Pei, author of "China’s Trapped Transition" and a senior associate in the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.; and Kate Zhou, author of "How the Farmers Changed China" and a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii.

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