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Fu Tong Hsu: New Taiwanese's Pride, Former Member of President Clinton's “ Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiation,”
Lifetime advocate of Taiwan 's “sustainable development”
By Chiu Li Wen, Photographed by Guo Hong Dong, Photos provided by F.T. Hsu
New Idea Magazine May 2000 No. 139
Fu Tong Hsu's extensive resume exemplifies his enthusiasm and devotion towards Taiwan . Ever since his work in the “ New York Taiwanese Association,” (in 1964) he has continued to participate in and establish new organizations in the hope to provide more opportunities for Taiwan to voice its opinion in the international arena. Due to these activities, he was blacklisted by the Nationalist government on Taiwan, and it was also through these activities that he began to participate in political activities in Washington , DC . Through his continued efforts, he was eventually appointed as a member of President Clinton's “Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiation,” during the Presidency of Bill Clinton which allowed him to help Taiwanese people find new political leverage in Washington , DC .
While he was in Washington , DC , he was not able to use his position in the Clinton Administration to visit Taiwan because Taiwan and the U.S. did not have official diplomatic ties. Due to these experiences, Dr. Hsu decided to return to Taiwan and continue his work by becoming the Chair for the Taiwan Renaissance Foundation and the Coordinator of the New Taiwan Sustainable Development Committee. Through these roles, he continued to utilize his international trade expertise to advocate for Taiwan 's visibility in the international arena. His love for Taiwan has been clearly demonstrated by his actions throughout the years in the United States as well as in Taiwan .
Dr. Hsu believed in showing his love for Taiwan through actions, and one of these actions, becoming the founding chair of the New York Taiwanese Association, made the then Taiwanese government blacklist him.
He believed that for the first 25 years of his life, he was only focused on successfully pursuing his high academic goals. It was only when he went to the United States to continue his studies that he began to see the great need to devote his time and efforts to advocate for the sustainable development of Taiwan , his homeland. In his early childhood, he lived through the time when the whole nation was fighting against Japanese rule while he was being educated in Japanese culture and language. It is precisely his experience in such a turbulent age that allowed him to become fluent in Japanese, Taiwanese, Hakka, Mandarin Chinese, and English, and to become a natural diplomat.
Dr. Hsu was only attending 3 rd grade when the 2-28 incident occurred. He was not aware of the “white terror” that followed. However, his mother, one of the few female teachers in her times, has deeply impacted Dr. Hsu and his actions throughout his life through her concern and devotion towards politics. Today, Mrs. Hsu is already 98 years old but still continues to make incisive commentaries about current events.
After completing his studies in National Taiwan University's Civil Engineering major, he obtained his Masters degree at University of Oklahoma, participated in designing New York's longest suspension bridge (the Verrazano Narrows Bridge), and continued his studies in Case Western University and Kansas State University. He earned both a Masters and Doctoral Degree in Management Science and Operations Research.
It was only when he was blacklisted by the Nationalist government on Taiwan that he realized that some of his Taiwanese peers made a living by “turning people in” for the blacklist. In 1971, he obtained his PhD. in industrial engineering and management science, and his father also passed away that year. Since he was blacklisted at that time, he was not allowed to fly home to attend his father's funeral. It was only then that he realized that he has been living in an ivory tower; Taiwan 's white terror was in fact a clear indication of the absence of human rights in Taiwan . In response to the current situation in Taiwan , Dr. Hsu began to participate in political activities in Washington , DC . His communications with his family during those years were brief, and he never mentioned his political activities in the United States.
These political harassments pushed Dr. Hsu further towards his political activities in Washington , DC . Through his work as consultant and general manager of different firms, he had the opportunity to meet many U.S. Congress members and became the coordinator of many fundraising events. While he tried to use his political connections to return to Taiwan , his visa application was always denied; it was only when he went to Beijing for a conference that Taiwan allowed him to return to Taiwan . He became a VIP because Taiwan 's authority claims that “we welcome anyone who has gone to Beijing to come back to Taiwan and compare.”
By the early 1980's, Dr. Hsu was listed in the “Who's Who in Finance and Industry.” He also became the founding member of FAPA (Formosan Association for Public Affairs) through which he arranged meetings with certain Senators when some of the pro-democracy activists in Taiwan were arrested or otherwise were in trouble with the Taiwan government.
In the early 1990's, Dr. Hsu became the leading coordinator, and then chair of Taiwan's Economic and Trade Forum,” and also a member of Bill Clinton's New York Area Campaign Chairs. He was the only Asian-American Chair. When Clinton was elected President, Dr. Hsu was appointed as a member of President Clinton's “Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiation.” Dr. Hsu earned his White House position not through his own financial backings but through his long-term devotion to and networking in various sectors in the United States, which allowed him to successfully raise sufficient campaign funds. This position allowed him to have greater impact in speaking for the rights and well-being of the Taiwanese people.
In this position and also the Chair of the U.S.A.-Asia Economic Council, Dr. Hsu began to attend international economic and trade meetings. Due to his concern for Asia 's economy and trade, he immediately attended the Tokyo G-7 Summit and met with high level officials in Japan . Since his job reflected on the President, it entailed a great deal of pressure. He subsequently attended numerous international meetings to provide policy advice and negotiate on behalf of the White House. Naturally, his greatest concern was the relationship between the U.S. and Asia.
Dr. Hsu communicated desire of then President Lee Teng Hui to attend the meeting of APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Council) in Jakarta , but due to Indonesia 's political stance, Vincent Siew, the Economic Development Committee Chair, attended instead. When President Lee wanted to visit Cornell University , Dr. Hsu also expressed Lee's desire to Vice President Gore. During a private meeting with Clinton , Dr. Hsu recalls that Clinton said, “I wonder what the Taiwanese really want.” During his term at the White House, he was equally frustrated with Taiwan-U.S. relations.
By 1996, Dr. Hsu decided not to be involved in White House Economic and Trade affairs. His children had all established themselves financially; Dr. Hsu decided to return to Taiwan with his wife after 35 years in the U.S. Dr. Hsu was appointed the Vice President of Chang Jong University at that time. Although he wanted to internationalize the school, he realized that the school administration had other ideas in mind. Due to some ideological differences, he decided to resign his position at the university.
In 1997, at the 110 th anniversary of Dr. Lin Mou Sheng's birthday, Dr. Lin's second son Dr. Lin Tsung Yi invited Dr. Hsu to Chair the newly founded Taiwan Renaissance Foundation (TRF). Dr. Hsu is Dr. Lin Mou Sheng's son-in-law.
Dr. Lin Mou Sheng was the first Taiwanese to achieve a BA at Tokyo University and later in 1929 a PhD from Columbia University. He brought his exposure to both the East and West, facility in various languages, and brilliant intellect to his lifelong devotion to Taiwan 's education and cultural development, freedom, and democracy. He was one of the Taiwanese elites who disappeared after the 2-28 incident.
The Taiwan Renaissance Foundation was established to “develop the love for the homeland, express self-awareness, and re-establish Taiwan 's culture.” TRF founder, Lin Tsung Yi created and executed the mission and vision of the Foundation while Dr. Lin's daughter, Lin Yung Mei translated into Chinese their father's English manuscripts from his time at Columbia University, as well as other manuscripts.
The Foundation had only seven staff, including Dr. Hsu and his wife Lin, but were highly productive. Within three years, they published 4 books, 11 magazine issues, and 4 Lin Mou Sheng Memorial Lecture Series, as well as held two concerts. In addition to Chairing the TRF, Dr. Hsu also established the New Taiwan Sustainable Development Committee in 1998.
This February, just as the tension around the Presidential Election was at its height, Dr. Hsu invited 30 representatives from political, economic, and business sectors of Taiwan , China , and U.S. and held a Roundtable Forum on “Creating a New Order in Cross Strait Relations.” Issues discussed included: Cross-Strait Relations, Trade, Environmental Protection, Social Development Cooperation, One Country-Two Institutions Policy and Execution, and Cross-Strait peaceful resolution beyond reunification and independence.
Dr. Hsu indicates that he will continue to hold such roundtable discussions to develop another special channel of communication. During the meeting, the participants concluded with the following principles:
After he returned to Taiwan , Dr. Hsu was never formally appointed by the government. A President's Office staff once said that Dr. Hsu “has Democratic Progressive Party tendencies,” so neither his former relations with the White House nor his international commerce and trade expertise were fully utilized by the Taiwanese government.
As an optimist, Dr. Hsu continues to show his love for Taiwan and his desire to advocate and support greater international exposure for Taiwan . While no longer working in official political capacities, he continues to devote his time to better Taiwan in his own way.
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